Festival of mending, continued…

I have had plenty of occasions to get out my darning kit this week. Wendi of the Treasure’s comment on the post about moths and mending recently helped me decide to get organised for colour darning. I began by winding some of my silk embroidery threads onto reels.  Oranges from madder, tans from eucalypt and onion skins, purple from logwood, and fuchsia pink from cochineal.  I have other colours but ran out of reels!

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So… now that woollen items are being subjected to rigorous scrutiny before return to the cupboards… I give you indigo darning.

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Onion skin darning.

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And logwood darning. This may well be the place I failed to eradicate a couple of moths last year, as this top already has a series of darns dyed with Plum Pine.  As a washfastness test, those darns have continued to show that I have not found a way to make Plum Pine washfast–it is fading, but that has worked well with the mauve of the top.

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While I was on a roll, I appliqued a patch over this hole where two pieces of recycled fabric in the lining of a bag parted company.

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I don’t rate my applique but I have been practising!

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Then there was the worn through section of my quilt (made of recycled linen garments)…

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Now repaired with a piece of linen collar from a test-dye.

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Well.  My mending queue is getting plenty of attention, but it remains to be seen whether it will just continue to grow as washing exposes where the maws of those moth larvae have been…


Filed under Natural dyeing, Sewing

21 responses to “Festival of mending, continued…

  1. my advice would be to put everything that you have mended in the freezer for a couple of days, just in case there are eggs laid that you can’t see waiting to make more holes! washing won’t kill them.


    • No–washing just makes the existing weaknesses in the fabric show up! Unfortunately, freezing doesn’t kill them either according to the CSIRO. It is winter here right now, so they are dormant… and I plan to get these garments to 60C once the weather warms up, when that will be pretty easy with a car parked in the sun and some black plastic bags. And needless to say, I have other spring cleaning plans 😦


  2. I always thought they only like wool?


  3. freezing doesn’t kill them???? oh no! all the received wisdom says it does …… I like the idea of solar heating, but I don’t think even in a car with black bags that would work in the UK ….


    • We sure are blessed with hot weather here at some points in the year, Jane. I hope the wealth of information people have provided here will help you–I think it is clear that you’re storing things that are not infested in a freezer. They’re safe there, and even if there were eggs in those items, they will be unable to hatch in that degree of cold. Adult critters and pupae, if present, will be killed. I think the reason this method doesn’t fix an infestation is that the eggs can survive freezing. You can’t fault the little suckers munchers for toughness! May all your wool and cashmere be safe!


  4. one thing I found about freezing “Some sources suggest that a sudden change in temperature from warm to cold would make cold treatment more effective. Two sources offer the following method to kill clothes moths: Put infested item in a plastic bag, press out air (to reduce condensation) and seal, and put in your freezer for several days.”


  5. and this is a thought! “Household items infested with clothes moths that cannot be washed or disinfested by other means, can be fumigated using dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide). Place the item in a 30-gallon heavy duty plastic bag (4 mil) along with a one-half to 1 pound piece of dry ice. Do not let dry ice touch your skin! Loosely seal the bag and allow the dry ice to completely vaporize. After the dry ice is gone, seal the bag tightly and let it sit for another 3 to 4 days. Proper fumigation will kill all life stages.”
    dry cleaning helps, but one is against that rather …


  6. SubmarineBells

    I’ve personally found that a good source of moth-killing heat is my oven. Yes, really. I’ve been putting batches of fibrestuff – be it unspun fibre, spun yarn or even cloth – in the oven at the lowest possible setting (around approx 70-80C or so) and leaving it in there for an hour or so, to ensure that it’s all heated through and at that heat for at least 30mins. Seems to do the trick, as far as I can tell; and I’ve not observed the slightest bit of damage to my heat-treated fibrestuff. As a technique for moth-control I’m pretty happy with it. Given that it’s a long wait until summer and a moth can eat a lot between now and then, I think it’s a great alternative to the black-plastic-bag-in-hot-sun approach.


    • oh, gosh – well I have a gas oven, not sure it would be safe ……


      • Jane,
        Thanks to Allison Judge, I know freezing is only the first precaution, followed by direct sunlight, more freezing, and washing. She wrote an excellent article (Spin-Off Winter 2014) about moths and treatment options should you have an infestation. See if you can find a copy of the mag or online.


      • Thanks for clueing people in and taking the time to comment! This is also my understanding of how freezing can help–a bit like when you put bulbs in the fridge to fool them into ‘thinking’ that a cold winter has happened and the subsequent ambient temperature means it is time to sprout–this can trigger eggs to hatch which can be killed by subsequent heat. Good information about killing eggs and moths with heat is also avaiable at the CSIRO (our national scientific research organisation)


      • SubmarineBells

        So do I. 🙂 It’s just fine. I just put the fibre into a large closed container first.


      • Thanks for all the tips… I don’t have a good enough temp gauge on my gas oven to try this without an oven thermometer… but maybe I should get one!


    • Thanks for letting folks (including me) know… I think this is a bit like preserving in the microwave–lots of people wouldn’t believe it was possible (and not dangerous) unless they had spoken to someone who had done it!


  7. Just wanted to let you know that I linked to one of your older posts from mine:
    You’re a constant source of inspiration!


    • That’s very generous of you! 🙂 What an ingenious use of cuffs… I often use them as samplers in the dye pot. They don’t offer large amounts of fabric but sometimes a little piece is exactly what you want.


  8. Do you think about what type of cloth(ing) you would mend or do you mend everything? Are your mending choices simple for continued use or to make an aesthetic choice, or both?


    • Hi, and welcome to the blog. In answer to your question, it varies a lot. Prime candidates for mending are things in regular use that I don’t want to give up, and things that will suffer further damage if worn or used without mending. I also mend my friends’ treasured items no matter how well worn. Sometimes the fact they are well worn is precisely because they are well loved.

      There is a post that includes photos of the quilt and bag here. They are labour intensive things I made from recycled materials. I love them and use them and expected that since they were made of well worn used clothing, mending would be part of the deal (which it has been!). I’m happy to patch them.

      All this darning I am doing right now is my fine (thin, rather than spectacular quality necessarily) woolen underwear. Appearance isn’t a major concern, though I did enjoy dyeing them–the two newest are here. No one else sees them. But if not mended, those tiny holes will create ladders and shorten the lives of the garments. They make winter a lot better and I can’t see the sense in replacing them rather than darning them. And I’ve slipped into some kind of state where I can make myself do it 🙂 Sometimes the mending queue is much longer!

      Other items get mended if I can’t replace them just now, or I still need that thing. I mend for invisibility if the item requires it (work outerwear, for instance) or make the mend a feature if that seems more likely to succeed or simply can’t be avoided. I once bought a worn out but lovely hand knit cable jumper. I stabilised the cuffs and parts of the hem and darned massive patches in the elbows, then sewed suede patches over them. Clearly a choice made for love and not for any straightforward assessment of the money value of the garment as against my time. Are you a mender too?


  9. Pingback: So much mending… | Local & Bespoke

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