Darning is the process of repairing a hole in a garment or other textile. The term also refers to a particular stitch that can be used to repair holes or for decorative purposes in embroidery. Stitches used in darning are usually long, running stitches. When repairing a garment, a person may need to use a round object, called a darning egg or mushroom, to support the fabric. This process can extend the life of garments and other textiles or add a decorative touch to fabric if a contrasting thread is used.
Most stitchers darn knit or woven fabrics to close holes that form, either from wear or from moths. It's best to darn a hole when it is still small rather than wait until it becomes larger. When a person darns, she is attempting to repair the hole by creating a new weave or knit where the hole is. She's not simply sewing together two raw edges, but filling in the gap with yarn.
The mender starts about half an inch away from the hole and makes a series of vertical running stitches. When she gets to the hole, she stitches directly across it, forming several vertical stitch lines. Once she stitches to the other side of the hole, she makes another vertical row of running stitches.
After stitching vertically across the hole on a woven garment, the stitcher should turn the garment and stitch horizontally across the hole, weaving the yarn through the vertical stitches she just made. The darning will fill in the hole and should resemble the weave of the original fabric. If she is darning a knit garment, she should fill in the hole using diagonal stitches, not horizontal ones.
While a person can darn a blanket or hole in the middle of a shirt by laying the fabric on a flat surface, she will need a special tool to help her darn holes on rounded garments, such as the heel of a sock or the shoulder of a sweater. A darning egg is usually made of wood or plastic and slides underneath the rounded area of the fabric to provide shape and support while the stitcher works. As its name implies, it is shaped like an egg. A stitcher may also choose to use a tool shaped like a mushroom. Both eggs and mushrooms ensure that the mender will have the right amount of tension to properly repair the hole.