Oh Darn! Saving Hole-Filled Socks

Grandmothers around the world would have been embarrassed if they’d seen our stash of socks six months ago.  We were definitely the wear-until-there’s-a-hole kind of people.  Then when the holes got too big for me to handle, I tossed the socks in the trash with a big loud, “Oh darn!”

…until we started this No New Clothes Challenge.

Since the beginning of the summer, Martin and I have purchased no new clothes, as many of you know.  We’re using what we’ve got – a challenge that’s really done little wonders for our wallets and made us rethink the clothes we already have.  At the rate we used to go through socks, this challenge was going to have to

  1. Come to a screeching halt soon, or
  2. We’d become those people who wear shoes without socks all winter long, or
  3. I’d need to figure out how to patch the weak fabric before it became a huge hole.

So I decided to teach myself how to darn socks.

mend sock

I keep a little pile of socks in the pocket of my sewing machine (a sweet birthday present from Martin), and once a month, I sit down to darn socks.  Yes it makes me feel a little grandmotherly, but darning holes in socks is actually really easy.  You don’t even know have to know how to sew straight.  If you want to join me, I promise I won’t tell.  You can patch one of three ways:

  1. Machine Sewing with a darning stitch. This method is the easiest.  Look at your sewing machine manual to see if you have a darning stitch so that all you have to do is push the pedal.  The straight stitch will work its way forward and backward, strengthening the weak fabric.
  2. Machine Sewing without a darning stitch. Use a straight stitch to sew forward across your worn fabric, then push the back button to sew backward and slightly to the right.  Work your way forward and backward, inching your way to the right until you’ve covered the hole.
  3. Hand Stitching. With a needle and thread, you can certainly patch socks yourself.  Annie has a beautiful and descriptive post on darning holes in clothing by hand.

Oh and a word of the wise – start patching before the holes get big.  The easiest way to spot them is straight off the drying rack or out of the dryer.  As you fold socks, just look for any places where the fabric seems to be getting thin or spreading, especially the toes, heels, and ankles.  This hole should have been darned sooner:

sock hole

But it’s not a problem.  Just pinch the hole closed a little like this:

darn sock

Then start on the far left and sew up and down, up and down in tall stitches (like half an inch tall) until you’ve reached the other end.  If you need to, reposition the angle of your sock and do it again.  It’s not rocket science once you figure it out.  In fact, it’s kind of like getting a king size candy bar in your trick-or-treat bucket.

So think you’re up for the repurposing challenge?  Could you see yourself sewing socks?  Or maybe you could share a few tips for salvaging or repurposing clothes and fabric?  You know every little tip adds up these days.