Thursday, April 2, 2009

What is the Darning foot really for?

With the exception of my first two years of college I always lived within quick driving distance to a Korean dry cleaners. If any of you have ever lived anywhere near a Military base you will know what I am talking about. You drive up with your uniform (or something you want altered, or cleaned or some patches sewn on) and the super efficient lady snatches it out of your hand, she doesn't need to ask who you are (because she remembers you from you other visit 2 years ago) and she already knows what you want done to whatever you have in your hand. She asks when you need it by and if you need it soon, she tosses it on one of her 3 giant Toyota or Juki sewing machines and stitches it up so fast you don't even have time to peruse the old army patches in the glass case.

Well...I guess I am that lady here in Alice Springs. I have never wanted that position, but sewing skills are sadly lacking here in town (among ladies who know where patches belong and where ribbon should go on sleeves). Men here know I have a sewing machine, so to them that means I can repair whatever they have laying in the laundry heap. most of you know I am NOT a quick turn around gal. It is not that I don't want to have your stuff finished quickly, I just am too busy with all the other things I am doing. Right?

Well sir, one of my husband's friends (who is a bachelor and in the Australian Army, fine looking man, but quite single) wanted to bring by a sheet that he needed some lace repaired. Lace? Are you kidding me? What soldier do you know who sleeps under lacy sheets? Well, it was so funny to me I agreed to repair his lacy sheet. (he promised me a nice bottle of wine, and while not a wino, I do like a nice bottle of New Zealand Sav Blanc). So like most other of my local clients he not only brought his lacy sheet, but the fitted sheet that was wearing thin in places and a shirt he tore a hole in while taking pictures. Ok...get in the door with one, might as well make a stack on the table.

I am great at repairing tears along seams, but tears in the body of the fabric is a bit of a different matter...and this brings me to the point of my blog post. Do you know what your Darning foot is really for on your sewing machine? I use mine all the time, but for freehand quilting....lots and lots of freehand quilting. It is one of my favorite sewing machine feet. Well this little tutorial is what the darning foot is really for. How to repair tears in the body of fabric. Now the repairs are not perfect. The garment will not be good as new, but it will be worth a bottle of New Zealand white.

This picture really does not show much...but I didn't decide to make the "tutorial" until I was already to this step. Basically all you missed was me cutting a piece of white scrap fabric that I cut a bit bigger than the hole and I pinned it inside the shirt behind the tear.

That is a better close up of one of my darning feet. I like darning feet so I think I have 5 or 6 of them, but you certainly do not need that many. If you look closely you will see that I have gone over and over the hole with a zig zag like pattern. NOT the zig zag stitch that most machines have, but I lowered the feed dogs and went over and over back and forth to close up the hole. I don't think "close up the hole" is the proper term, but his shirt is mended. He said it was not one of his best shirts, so it is fine for a driving across the country shirt (he probably is not going to run into a great deal of fashion critics between here and wherever he is driving.)

So, this is the inside of the shirt. See that the patch was a good bit bigger than the hole?

Go ahead and trim down the patch...oh and see the back and forth stitching?

I did the trimming with scissors...duh.

See here it is all finished. Not bad for something that will be resting against a seat for about 2 days.
Oh and I mended the lace on his sheet too...simple zig zag stitch (on the sewing machine) secured that back to the body of the sheet.
Mending sheets and shirts really brought home the differences of Australian culture and my American culture. I love it when my husband messes up a shirt or a pair of pants...heck the kids too! I have a big bin in my sewing room where all the messed up or outgrown clothing (that I love) go. I cut them up and make quilts with them. It makes me quite happy. Now I buy nice stuff for my family...and by nice I mean fabric that I would like to use again later in a quilt or pillow. Isn't that crazy? But the Australians repair theirs and carry on. I love the Australians...have I said that before? I do. Such a forthright lot. I will miss them.
OK, I need to stick my little tribe in bed, take care everyone!


marguerite said...

Gosh thanks for sharing that Tia ! I tried exactly the same with a big tear in my son's jeans, put the fabric behind and sewn over the top. I did however use a zigzag with the zigzag foot, and did not lower the feeddogs. It ended up in a bit of a mess with bits to thickly covered in yarn because the material got stuck, and bits too thinly... Son not impressed, tear repeated just above the mended bit... Will give it a try your way ! Thanks !!

the Campfollower said...

It should work pretty well this is not as pretty as I am sure it could be, but it is very functional!

Good Luck!

LauraJ said...

You are a clever lady! How was the wine?

Ulla said...

We Finns seem to be a lot like the Australians: we learn at school how to crochet, knit and sew, and at least my generation can mend. But I also choose DH's and FIL's shirts with my quilts in mind. Nowadays I refuse to mend collars when they are worn out, I take that as a sign the shirt needs to be handed over to me! You have seen my shsirt choices in the star quilt top I sent for bushfire quilts.

soggybottomflats said...

Hi Tia, I wanted you to know about an incident where I was nearly carted off to the loony bin. My dh and I went to pick up a few things at Wally World here in Canton, Texas. Now, imagine this: you're slowly making your way down the Easter aisle when you hear the shriek, "OH MY GOD, HONEY, LOOK AT THIS MAGAZINE! I ALMOST KNOW THIS LADY FROM BLOGGER!", as the shopper grabs her 3 y/o and hurries off. I found the article on you in Country Woman magazine and was very excited to read all about you. We both, dh and me, love your work and would love to welcome you home too. Good work on the shirt, I'll remember that one. Have a great week, Elaine.
Check out my blog for some great Moda giveaways:

belinda said...

Once again...just reading your posts 'cracks' me's a good thing!!

Kristin L said...

Your storytelling cracks me up. :-)

the Campfollower said...

The whole situation cracked me up too....Oh and wine was very nice, but he drank it not me (he has since brought over 2 bottles of wine to make up for his binging)that I am considering hiding. But that would be odd wouldn't it? I do hide my chocolate from the kids.

I liked your story Elaine about finind my magazine article. That was funny.

Ulla, I LOVE what you did with your shirts. I can't wait to quilt your quilt!

jan said...

Hi Tia,
I too use the darning foot for FME but I have to admit I also use it for its correct purpose. Mind you I dont put a piece of cloth behind like you, I put a piece of washaway vilene, do the darning, pop it into water, just the stitches stay. Tada! On your shirt, I would have done a couple of lines of blue on the front so it carries on the pattern. Just a thought for you!! Great job. Oh and I am going to copy your idea of buying really NEAT stuff for the family for future ideas!! nudge nudge wink wink!! hahahaha

jan said...

Oops I also meant to say I think I see the quilt from me and the blocks from Annette in your flickr site. Hope it means they have arrived for you. :-) jan
Keep up the good repair work, I used to work in a DC by the way, we didnt do the mending tho. I kept quiet!!! Do you blame me? hahaha

Marianne said...

I darn and love it. Tea towels, sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers, table cloths, shirt bodies, not collars and cuffs and trousers. If a seam rips I'll repair that too. I do this because I buy the best quality I can afford so it's worth while darning and mending. Mostly I do the darning by machine but sometimes I do it by hand because it looks neater. Taught my daughters (26 and 21)how to, but it's up to them whether or not they want to. I don't however darn socks unless I've knitted them. Shop bought these days, even good quality ones, don't darn well and it's becoming impossible, where I live at the moment, to buy suitable darning yarn.
I sometimes wonder how many years the skill of darning has left.
Enjoy your week-end

Ranio said...

Although I like quilting I find it too difficult to sew, so I think I will never be able to do something like you did.

julochka said...

now i know what that foot is for! :-) i always learn something when i come here. :-)

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