Darning can cover a hole in your clothing, but it can also add some pizzazz to your clothes. Create this custom woven star patch and see how your garment transforms from plain to pretty. This excerpt is from Mend It Better (Storey Publishing, 2012), a how-to text that adapts traditional techniques for today’s crafty sewers.
Sure, a patch can work well to cover up a hole, but sometimes you want something a little more decorative. This technique is based on the traditional darning method used to repair knit garments, but we’ve used it to create a sturdy woven star patch on the surface of the fabric. The same process can be used to darn a hole in any knit (starting at step 4), but use matching thread for a less obvious finish.
Water-soluble fabric marker
Crewel needle with a large eye and sharp point
Pearl cotton embroidery floss*
Lightweight fusible interfacing and iron
* It’s best to use only colorfast floss for this and any project. To test your floss, fill a small bowl with warm, soapy water. Soak a strand of floss in it for about 10 minutes. Rinse it in clean water, press out excess moisture, and lay it on paper towels to dry. If any dye ends up on the paper towel, the floss is not colorfast.
Step 1. Cut a piece of fusible interfacing about 1” larger on all sides than the shape you plan to weave. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse it to the wrong side of the garment, under the spot where you’ll be weaving.
Step 2. Draw an outline of the shape you want to weave onto the outside of the garment, using a water-soluble fabric marker. You can draw freehand, or cut a shape from card stock and trace it onto the garment. If your garment is dark-colored, you may prefer to use tailor’s chalk, so the lines are more easily visible.
Step 3. Place this section of your garment into an embroidery hoop. Stretch it as taut as possible. Try to place the hoop in a place on the fabric so it doesn’t catch any buttons, zippers, or bulky seams, all of which will cause the fabric to sag in the hoop.
Step 4. Thread a needle with about 24” of embroidery floss. Tie a secure knot in one end.
Step 5. Starting in the center of the shape, bring the needle up from the wrong side on one of the marked (or stitched) lines. Pull the floss through and insert the needle back down straight across the shape on the opposite marked line. This long stitch is the first “warp” thread for your weaving, and it will be the guide for the rest of the warp threads.
Step 6. Continue making stitches on each side of the first one, keeping them parallel and spacing them about 1/8” apart. The ends of these stitches should follow the outline of the shape that you traced, stitched, or drew. Keep these stitches pulled taut. If your shape is complex, you may need to place some shorter warp stitches in portions of the design. Just follow your outline and add stitches where needed to fill it in.
Step 7. When you’ve finished the warp stitching, knot the floss securely on the inside of the garment.
Step 8. Thread a 36” strand of floss onto your needle, and tie a secure knot in one end.
Step 9. You can begin at the bottom or top of your shape — whichever offers the simplest contours. Bring the needle up just outside one of the outer warp stitches.
Step 10. Carefully weave your needle under and over the warp stitches, pulling the floss along, until you have woven your way across the shape. Pull any excess floss through and gently slide it so it rests neatly along the edge of the shape. Pass the needle back down through the garment just outside the outermost warp to tack the woven piece to the garment.
Step 11. Bring the needle back up close to the end of the previous row of weaving. Then, weave the needle over and under the warp threads, this time, weaving them opposite to the previous row. (Meaning, if you passed under a warp stitch in the previous row, you’ll pass over it in this row.) When you’ve woven your way across the row, pull the floss through and adjust it so it lies smoothly against the first row. Then, pass the needle down through the garment at the end of the row.
Step 12. Repeat step 11 until you’ve filled in the entire shape with weaving, following the traced (or drawn or stitched) outlines. Knot the floss securely on the inside of the garment.
Step 13. Remove the embroidery hoop. You may wish to fuse another layer of interfacing over the back of your stitches to smooth them and seal them in.
Step 14. As a finishing touch, you can also embroider around the edge of the star patch with backstitches.
Excerpted from Mend It Better (c) by Kristin Roach, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
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