All my scattering moments are taken up with my needle.  ~Ellen Birdseye Wheaton, 1851

Make Do and Mend

I have a love affair with socks… especially colorful socks.  One can never have enough socks; but when one wears a fave pair out… don’t throw away – darn it!

Mending Socks

Darning socks is very difficult, especially if you want your socks to remain comfortable. Never ever start off with a knot on your thread.

Cotton thread works well for light and medium weight socks; embroidery thread works best.

For heavy wool socks, two strands of strong woolen yarn (or mending yarn or scrap yarn, as it’s sometimes sold) work well because they stay in the wool fabric better.

First surround the weakened area to limit its expansion.

Use a horizontal running stitch to mark the area.

Then, fill in the surrounded area with a vertical, weaving-type running stitch.

If you have a gaping hole with no cloth grid, your horizontal lines will just be the thread, laying straight across the opening.

Make sure you aren’t sewing the stitches too tightly. You can prevent this by putting your sock over a light bulb and pulling very slightly.

Continue weaving, up and back across the hole, keeping the stitches parallel.

Make the thread go in and out at the end and cut it. Do not tie a knot.



Mending is certainly a skill that comes in handy and you’ll surprised by how quick and easy sock-mending is.  Tis a small, but satisfying act of rejuvenating a garment that would otherwise be thrown away.

:: Resources ::

Darning Tutorial

Daring Socks


  1. Elise says:

    As a child of The Depression, my mother, out of necessity, learned how to darn her own socks. She, in turn, taught me how to darn socks as well.

    Darning yarn used to be sold in stores. (Mostly before my time.) Today, I find cotton embroidery floss works very well. You can use as many strands as you wish, and can match the color of the sock.

    By the time *inexpensive* white “athletic” socks get a hole in them, the cotton has deteriorated; they are not worth darning. Socks made with quality yarn is usually worth darning. I have tried to darn holes in tee shirts, but have not had much success. As with cotton knit underthings, I patch them with a piece of (like) knit material and machine sew the patch on using a ball point needle. If the integrity of the material is there, it really extends the use of the garment.

    If I must mend a hand knitted sock or mitten, my preference is to weave the yarn as knitting. If this is not possible, I will then darn.

    Although substitutes can be used, I have a very small collection of egg darners. I have my grandmothers (born 1892), a new one I purchased at a knitting convention a good number of years ago, and a sweet small, but practical, vintage one.

    There is much satisfaction in mending!

    • Alice says:

      I patch T shirts. Use an logo cut off another shirt in the ragbag or a iron on embordery patch or even one cut off another piece of clothing. You can cover stains that way too.

  2. rachel says:

    I’ve never darned socks but my grandma is a pro – I just inherited two darning eggs from her so I think I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for the tips!

  3. elaine nieves says:

    My mother went through the Depression and knew how to darn our socks and mend all kinds of tears in our clothing. I remember her sitting after dinner in the evening with her egg darner and needle and thread at the dining room table (where there was the brightest light) darning socks. I have attempted darning socks, especially when the kids were young, but I just now found out there is a correct way to do it. Thanks for the info.

  4. Ginger says:

    I have to admit, I’ve never darned a sock. However, I wish I had done so with the wonderful cashmere socks my SIL gave me once upon a time. They were cozy warm in the winter.

  5. Rosie says:

    I demonstrated how to darn socks at a Civil War reenactment this summer. I used a As a darning egg I used a dipper, it works really well. You can also use a potatoe or a lightbulb. Depends on the hole.
    we used to live in Europe, where you can buy so called Norwegian socks everywhere. they are heavy, warm and of gray wool.
    My mother had conniptions, my teen daughter darned her socks in bright colors, pink green, yellow, each heel looked different. It was fun.

  6. c says:

    I have tried my hand at it and all I can say is: I will need a lot more practice before any socks I darn are wearable!

    Have you seen a show called Victorian Farm ? Is from BBC but is shown in parts on Youtube. It is based on an 19th century book called The Farm Book. Three Victorian museum specialists go back in time, salvage an abandoned english tenant farmhouse and fields on an english estate. The owner of the estate is an amateur specialist of farming of the victorian period and over the years has collected farm machinery of that period. So that family participates in the experiment as the landlords (which in fact they are) and the farm story unfolds over the course of a year.It is a bit chopped up on Youtube but still fun to watch.

  7. Ann Erdman says:

    Until I saw this post, I had forgotten that my mother darned our family’s socks when I was growing up. And made most of our clothes. And worked full-time as a teacher. And served a hot, sit-down breakfast and dinner to her husband and four children every single day. And did community volunteer work. And so much more. Remarkable compared to today’s standards.

  8. Alice says:

    I have a hand knit sock that needs mending now. I did not make this sock but it needs a fixing. I did get mom’s darning egg when she passed away. I think of the 6 of us I was the only one that knew what it was. She only ever had a black one. The dark ones were for the light socks and the white ones were for the dark socks. That way you could see the holes that needed filled up.

  9. Hannah says:

    Fascinating and such good timing! A really nice pair of my warm socks recently grew holes over the holidays, and I had that sad thought of throwing them away… but no longer! Thanks for the new insight, and for aiding me in salvaging a wonderful pair of clothing that no longer has to go to the landfill. Also, I continue to absolutely LOVE all of your posts about self-sufficient living, Anais. It has recently become a passion of mine, and there is nothing so satisfying as doing “it” yourself. Thank you!

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