Pattern Darning – A beginner’s Guide

What if you could repair holes in fabric as well as do embroidery at the same time – functional as well as decorating stitch – a dream stitch. This is what pattern darning is all about.

Most sewing girls who value a good dress must have done some darning in their lifetime or be aware of the possiblities of a darning stitch. Pattern Darning is the pretty cousin of the darning stitch. It is basically darning done in a pattern – such an obvious thing- with regular even stitches made as per a design you have pre planned. The basic stitch used here is the running stitch, which is made vertically or horizontally in a regular pattern

You generally donot folllow any design or pattern when doing your darning. It is mostly done with the same colour as the repairing fabric. But not so in pattern darning. It is an embellishment and hence needs a design.This is basically a counted thread embroidery technique which also happens to serve a purpose.

Pattern darning has been known for centuries but it is not as popularly used as other embroidery stitches . But the possibilities of this stitch are endless. As a border design nothing to beat it.

pattern darning

A similar stitch is popular in Japan by the name Kogin stitch.Kogin-Zashi embroidery much like Sashiko embroidery originated among the peasant class of Japan but later became common as embellishment for festive and wedding attire. Kogin embroidery pattern has beautiful patterns evolved through the years. This flickr page  has some very beautiful Kogin embroidery patterns 

What fabric is used to do Pattern Darning

Mostly evenweave fabric like linen where the weave (the warp and the weft thread) is visible is suitable for this embroidery . You need to count the threads so that you will know how many threads will be filled and how many will be left alone

You can use embroidery floss to do this darning. Basically it depends on what fabric you are doing patten darning. If you are using pattern darning to mend a hole in a socks, sock wool is ofcourse the obvious choice. Usually a contrast colour or complimentary colour is used so that the pattern will be visible.

How is pattern darning done

Usually this stitch is used as a border stitch or as a filling stitch. Small running stitches are worked on the warp thread or the weft thread of the fabric.Sometimes they are worked diagonally as well though it is very rare.

As this is a counted thread embroidery , the number of threads covered by each stitch is counted each time for the regularity of pattern.

You can do the pattern darning across the warp thread of your fabric or across the weft thread of your fabric or both. When the darning stitches are made across both the warp thread and the weft thread it is known as a Damask darn.

pattern darning

pattern darning

pattern darning

pattern darning

Further reading : History of pattern darning

Checkout the The pineterest board – Pattern Darning for inspirations and designs . 




Comments 3

  1. There is a book out on Norwegian pattern darning, entitled SMOYG: PATTERN DARNING FROM NORWAY. In it, there are instructions and beautiful patterns. The Croatians – particularly along the Adriatic Sea, in and near Dubrovnik – do this same exact embroidery. They have done so for probably at least 100 years, if not more. I know because several members of my extended family, who come from that area, do this embroidery: they just call it Croatian embroidery. Do a Pinterest search on “Croatian embroidery”, and you will find many pieces that have patterns very close to many that are in the abovementioned book. I was thrilled to find this book because none of my family members who do this beautiful and exacting work have received any new patterns from “the old country” recently. Now I can design some pieces myself, based in part on my relatives’ designs and partly on SMOYG designs. Thank you!

  2. Hi
    Can you give more patterns to do this – looks very interesting. I would like to do this on a shawl I have

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