Make Do and Mend: Darning
A few weeks back I wrote a post which served both to introduce a book entitled Make Do and Mend and to give a general overview of the deprivations effecting the civilian population, particularly in the UK, during the Second World War. Many people took the time to add some fascinating comments regarding this subject, I was so pleased to see that my fascination with the experiences of this time is shared by other modern-day sewers. I would like to draw your attention to a particularly dedicated and knowledgeable blogger, Susannah, who has set herself an amazing challenge she has entitled ‘Fashion on the Ration’. This is her attempt to spend one year shopping and sewing within the British wartime clothing ration imposed in 1941. I, for one, am very excited about following her progress and reading her observations throughout this challenge.
It was in this spirit that I decided to (literally) take a leaf out of the Make Do and Mend campaign and attempt to darn a hole that had appeared in one of my favourite pairs of socks. It really annoys me how quickly most thin mass-produced socks develop holes where the back of my ankle rubs against my shoe, and I was determined to get a bit more wear out of this particular pair. So, just like any self-respecting woman during WW2 already familiar with a needle and thread would have, I set about teaching myself to darn. I decided to use the techniques issued by the government and reproduced in the Make Do and Mend book (which can be seen above and below).
In true ‘making do’ style, I (in hindsight unwisely) chose to use three strands of embroidery thread to darn with. (This is because the trip to my local haberdasher without the necessary Spanish or Catalan vocab for ‘darning wool’ left me empty handed!) Well, as you can see from the image below, things started off reasonably well, but shortly after this point they swiftly went downhill! I was really hoping to be able to illustrate this post with an image of an exquisitely executed fresh piece of darning. But alas, though the sock has received a stay of execution of perhaps one or two more wears, a lasting and ultimately successful darn did not materialise!
- putting something behind the hole, other than your fingers, whilst darning is essential to achieve the correct tension (my mum has something for this that looks like a wooden mushroom).
- decent darning wool or ‘mending’ as they have called it here apparently cannot be substituted.
- darning is harder than it looks!
Of course, the type of wooly socks these instructions were probably designed for are very different from my thin modern kind, but I’m not convinced my socks cannot be salvaged! If anyone has attempted, and perhaps even mastered, the art of darning and has some advice, please let us know!