Darning

I made some darning samples a few weeks ago, inspired by the darning samples created by Ellen Mahon in her sampler book

(left page) darning samples by Ellen Mahon, 1852-4

I’ve never done darning before. I have mended clothes, obviously, but have never done ‘proper’ traditional darning, which is basically weaving. I am not a weaver. I had to draw a diagram to stop me getting confused about all the unders and overs.

darning sample in progress

I used a single strand of DMC embroidery thread on hand-dyed evenweave (32 count, I think). You can see that my attempts are nowhere near as fine as Ellen’s.

darning sample with different colours

If you follow the instructions in nineteenth-century needlework manuals, you are supposed to leave a little loop at the end of each row to allow for shrinking in the wash. As these are only ever going to be decorative, I didn’t bother doing that. I tried a few different patterns, and made a few mistakes, but overall I think it will do. I was a bit concerned about the tension, as I didn’t use a hoop or frame, but a quick (careful) press with the iron seems to have sorted it out. The rather shoddy-looking example top right below was my first attempt.

five darning samples

This sample overall measures about 7″ square.

Author: Karen

Textile and mixed media artist

7 thoughts on “Darning”

    1. For a non-weaver like me, a learning curve. Ha, a learning curve with straight lines… but very satisfying when it works, yes. I may make a sample book of weaving some time just for the extra practice.

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    1. How lovely to see you here, Liz, thanks so much for visiting and for the connecting thread via your post 🙂 I’m sure our paths will have crossed at some point. I love your blog post and the wonderful fascinating catalogue of stitches and samples you created. I’m very much looking forward to continuing with mine, when my broken finger heals a little more. I’ve had a little setback but hopefully nothing too dramatic. My hands feel empty without a needle and thread in them.

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