Mending

Machine mended 3-corner tear

Have you ever done darning on a sewing machine?

I have a feeling the White can do this too, but as I was perusing the manual that came with my spanky “new” Pfaff 360 (yay, manual!) I happened on the page about machine darning.

And, well, I was feeling sewing-deprived after a week visiting home. Generally speaking, I enjoy mending about as much as alteration. Which is to say, not at all.

So on the Pfaff, at least, you don’t need to clamp your mending in an embroidery hoop. This makes it much easier to darn stuff like, say, pant legs. The darning foot is this cute little round nub, the presser-foot equivalent of a peg-leg. It isn’t as long as a regular foot, and doesn’t reach all the way to the needle plate when the foot is down. Well, it does sometimes, but it hops up and down as the needle does, pogo-sticking across the fabric.

You darn with the feed-dogs dropped, so you control speed, length, and direction of stitching by moving the fabric by hand. This means you can go back and forward and side-to-side without needing to rotate the fabric. Also a big win for fixing, say, pant-legs.

After a bit of experimenting, I dove in: loaded up the blue jeans-sewing-thread I picked up on a whim ages ago but never actually used, and pulled out some of my failing pairs of jeans.

To start, something simple: the three-corner tear my computer desk inflicted on my most recent pair of jeans a few weeks before Christmas. I threaded the  jeans over the free arm, started on the back-and-forth part of the tear, and stitched up and down the length, back and forth, and then side-to-side on the vertical part of the tear.

It was startlingly easy. I don’t think these jeans will be back on the A-list, but they’re no longer stuck in bumming-around-the-house land. Win.

Next.

Guess Jeans (taken last year, pre-tearing)

These skinny jeans are two years old, originally from Guess. The left knee is gone (typical) but a little more troublesome was the state of the rear yoke just below the belt-loops. This is a high-stress area, and holes had pulled where the bottom of the belt-loop attached.

Stitchy-stitchy magic! Back and forth, side to side.

Guess jeans mending

I still need to topstitch down the loops themselves again, but the holes are closed—my underwears will no longer be poking out! Yay!

Darning white jeans

My final masterpiece was a frayed side-seam on a pair of white jeans Osiris scored at a thrift store back in the summer—everything about them was absolutely perfect (and unworn) except for this one strange flaw. He’s been wearing them (as you can see by the grubbiness in the photos) as is, but a repair was pretty welcome.

It’s not exactly pretty, but it’ll do, and it’s not a hole!

Just yesterday I did a bunch of darns on another of Osiris’ pants, a goth/industrial pair of black cargoes that came complete with patches and a veritable forest of studs. I didn’t photograph (black, people) but repairs included the edge of one patch where it had ripped out, several worn spots in the seat and on the front, and that weird thing on the waistband with a zipper that isn’t actually a pocket. Even bought at Winners these are some of the most expensive pants he owns (not to mention his favourite) so WIN. I find myself eyeing my children’s wardrobes to see if they need any prophylactic darning…

… yeah, I’m probably in sewing withdrawal. I should have a bit of real time later today to work on my Bird on a Wire tee

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32 Comments

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32 responses to “Mending

  1. Yay for undies not peeking out! I tend to think about alterations/repairs when I don’t have time for a big project, but need a sewing fix, too. I’ve never darned anything; I don’t know if any of my machines can do it or if I have the right foot. Hmmm, good food for thought.

  2. Cool. I’ll have to try this on Q’s pants. I always tell people to read their machine manual, but I’ll admit that I haven’t to my big spiffy machine that does everything because the manual is a textbook. That really just means that I’m missing out on cool things like this, I’m sure.

    • Hehe. The Pfaff 360 manual is pretty extensive (although I’m sure not nearly as big as a fancy machine like yours). I like the manuals, but nothing beats a good ol’ tutorial for letting you know where the iffy bits are going to be… I find the manuals tend to gloss over the bits where manual dexterity and precision are important and make everything sound easy…

      • Well, I actually learned to sew from the manual that came with the machine that I bought in high school, which was the cheapest Brother machine that Wal-mart had to offer. This was pre-internet and when the San Antonio libraries weren’t joined and our local library had no sewing machine books. So I know what you mean about it seeming easier that when you actually try it.

  3. I think I can honestly say that this is a type of sewing that I will never, ever do :). I have a large box of alterations/mending in the corner of my bedroom that I don’t think has even been opened in the past year. My cats like to sleep on top of it though, so it is useful.

  4. I have tons of mending! I should see if I have that foot or if I can buy one. Cool beans.

  5. Very cool. I can’t say I’ve done this. I’m with you on not enjoying alterations and mending, Mr. Lina has waited months to have a button sewn on. I figure if he wanted it that badly, he’d break out a needle himself. Your end results look pretty good.

    • I am firmly of the belief that everyone, EVERYONE should be able to sew on their own damn button.

      … I have been attempting to convince Osiris of this for rather more than a decade at this point…

  6. Oh yeahhhh! This just sparked the solution for me!! Last year I *hand-stitched* homemade patches on both knees of 5 pairs of my elder son’s jeans… by necessity as he had no other pants (well, that’s ’cause I’m too cheap to pay for new jeans when Value Village has them for $6 or so!) Now I’ll *darn* the patches on by machine!! Thanks!

    • Oof! I’ve done that (although maybe not since Tyo was two… it was a cute heart-shaped patch, too). This isn’t quite as pretty, but it’s a lot faster. (You can do machine patches with a nice zig-zag on pants if you open the outseam temporarily, but I’m usually too lazy to do this except with my extra-favourite jeans…

  7. I used to do this to my sons jeans – they’d always wear out in the same place on the L knee within a couple of months of wear, so frustrating!
    In the manual for my Mum’s old Elna, and it has a whole section on darning silk stockings!

    • Left knee is my weak spot, too.

      I got the Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook for Christmas (yes, so much unblogged…) and am kinda yearning for a sock-darning attachment now…

  8. This is perfect timing! My husband just bought two pairs of designer jeans on super-duper sale, and came home raving about his find, only to add “Oh, and btw, they both have tears near the crotch that you need to fix.” And now I have an excuse to go look for a darning foot.

  9. I’ve done the equivalent SO many times inclusing a repair to re-attach a waistband on an almost new pair of cords that one of my son’s “friends” literally ripped off by yanking on a belt loop. I generally fuse a scrap of light fusible interfacing underneath before darning.

  10. It’s a free-motion quilting/embroidery foot.

    I love that you’re calling him Osiris full stop now. ;)

    Some of my husband’s pants are almost nothing but darning in the seat… Do you stick some fusible interfacing behind the hole first?

    • Yeah… I’ve been considering it (the name) for a while… what stopped me was trying to look up Tanit’s consort, and that just got unwieldy. But most people should be able to figure out Isis and Osiris, I figure.

      I am thinking the fusible is a damn good idea. This is why internets are better than manuals. ;)

  11. ElleC

    I do mending far more often than I do real sewing lately. My husband wears scrubs to work, which mostly I make for him out of insane fabrics that burn your retinas. One of his hobbies is trying to tear the pockets off of them. Hence the need for mending. One of the reasons I haven’t been sewing is, I am dieting and don’t want to spend time sewing something that Goddess willing won’t fit soon. A quick question, would it be weird if I posted the above photo of you on my fridge for inspiration?

    Yeah. Thought so.

    • I discovered after my second pair of jeans that the pockets all need to be bar-tacked on, otherwise they will be coming off in a few minutes.

      I should probably post that photo on my fridge for inspiration. Mr. Scale and I are not getting along well right now… (off to eat another butter tart…)

  12. I’ve done this, mostly with jeans and mostly at the back pocket corners. We are a family of 5 people, and for some inexplicable reason, 4 of us rip holes there before we rip holes anywhere else on our clothing.

    Youngest rips out knees, but I have yet to patch any since those pants are all on their last legs (ha, pun) anyway.

    • Ah, the trials of being youngest. Syo is working to get out of it by refusing to wear anything Tyo did on stylistic grounds. *headdesk*

      I find it fascinating how different people wear their jeans out differently. Some of my friends go through the crotch. With me, it’s either the knees (left first) or belt-loops, either the loops themselves or the supporting fabric.

  13. “prophylactic darning”. i hate you.

    i have ONE pair of my favorite jeans left, and kenny has a darn button. thanks girl!

  14. My machine (a plain Janome) has a 3-step zigzag (i.e. R-R-R-L-L-L) that I use for mending (with a regular foot). I put a piece of fabric (usually lighter weight than the garment) behind the hole and glue it in place to stabilize the hole and give the machine something to stitch through. I sometimes put a nice patch overtop (skip the pins and use more glue) to hide the strictly functional stitching.

    • I’ve done patches on my machine, too, with decorative stitching on top. The trouble is to do them on the machine on the knee of pants, you need to be able to maneuver the fabric around, which requires opening up the side-seam, which moves it from “quick fun fix” to “pain in the butt” territory. With the free-motion darning, I can go in any direction.

      It’s definitely not as pretty, though.

  15. Pingback: Double Updates: Hemp T-Shirts and Lobster Surprise « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  16. Joy

    Hmmm, that looks like a very useful foot. I’ll have to dig in my little box of feet and see if that is one of those feet I’ve never identified. The biggest trouble is fitting the pant leg on the machine!

  17. Amy

    All my jeans get ripped above the hemline (too long, get walked on). I have a whole stack full of such things and a darning foot for my older machine–maybe I need to find a day and just go at all of them at once, as you have done!

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