Find-it-at-home Darning Mushrooms!

Alternative Darning Mushrooms – (Clockwise from top) GU Pudding Jar, Reuseable Coffee Cup, Granite Pestle, Old Marmalade Jar

If you’ve come along to one of our workshops in the past, you’ll know we normally have some darning mushrooms on hand to help you get fixing your favourite pieces of moth-eaten knitwear. If you’re thinking about getting your own darning mushroom, there are lots of second-hand ones on Ebay and Gumtree that are worth checking out, but we understand that getting a hold of your own darning mushroom might not be an option for you right now.

So what can you use instead? The main thing you need from your darning aid is a flat, hard surface to work on – avoid using anything covered in fabric, as this could get caught on your needle as your darning. Look for something that is fairly light and easy to hold, you don’t want to feel uncomfortable as your mending. Finally, think about the size of the hole that you’re mending, you may find something that works well for a small hole but doesn’t offer enough support on a larger area. Just like when you are learning a new technique, play around with different options to find what’s right for you! Below is a round-up of a few options we found around the home to use…

Marmalade Jar as an alternative Darning Mushroom

Option 1 – Old Marmalade Jar

This works well when using the bottom of the jar as it’s a large flat surface, the rounded edges have a similar feel to a normal darning mushroom and the area around the lid is quite easy to hold. It is a bit wider to hold than a normal mushroom so may take a bit of practice to get a comfortable position.

GU pudding jar used as an alternative Darning Mushroom

Option 2 – Old GU Pudding Jar/Glass Ramekin

This is a great excuse for buying a GU pudding as a treat as well! This one works well as the jar is not too deep so you can hold the fabric underneath as you would around the mushroom handle. The base of the jar is large and flat so can fit lots of different sized holes on.

Reuseable Coffee Cup as an alternative Darning Mushroom

Option 3 – Reuseable Coffee Cup

This one is useful for smaller darns as the bottom is narrower than the top. This is a bamboo cup so the fabric could slip around a bit as you’re working on it, securing it in place with a tie around the bottom could help.

Granite Pestle as an alternative Darning Mushroom

Option 4 – Granite Pestle

This one is really nice to hold and has a similar feel to holding a Darning Mushroom. The pestle used here is quite narrow so would only work with smaller holes, but different sized pestles could be more adaptable!

Let us know if you find any alternatives around your home that we haven’t mentioned here. We’ll be posting a ‘Darning’ how-to video in the next week to give you more support with your mending at home.

Clothes Maintenance 101: How to build a repair kit

Are you new to clothes mending but don’t have any sewing equipment? It is easy and inexpensive to pull together a few pieces ready to repair your clothes.

Basic clothes repair kit (from left to right)

  1. Sharp pair of scissors – only use for cutting fabric and thread. They will become blunt if used for cutting paper. Regular stationery scissors are OK as long as they are new or have recently been sharpened
  2. Threads – Black and white are essential, a neutral colour such as beige and grey are useful as is navy. Poly/cotton thread is the most versatile for all garments.
  3. Seam ripper or unpicker – a sharp tool which helps to unpick hems for alteration or to remove broken zips
  4. Darning mushroom or egg – Makes it easier to darn holes in jumpers, t-shirts and socks
  5. Set of needles – a variety of sizes is useful. Some with bigger ‘eyes’ or holes to for knitting yarn to feed through. Plus thinner smaller needles for finer fabrics
  6. Tape measure – for measuring the hemline of trousers and jeans for alteration
  7. Safety pins and dressmaking pins – for patching and alterations
  8. Darning yarn – to repair jumpers and socks
  9. Tailors chalk or a fabric marker – for alterations
  10. Spare buttons
Use an old tin or plastic box to keep your repair kit in one place

Where to buy equipment

Many pieces in our repair kits have been donated by friends of Fast Fashion Therapy. We prefer pre-used equipment as much as possible. Ask around, you might know someone who has more sewing equipment than they need. Charity shops are usually an excellent place to find sewing odds and ends but sadly not at the moment with all the shops closed. Ebay and Etsy are a good online alternative, especially for darning mushrooms. Or try your local haberdashery store and see if they have an online shop whilst we are practising social distancing.

Darning and Patching Kits

We have created Darning and Patching Kits to help get started with various coloured yarns, swatches of fabric, different sized needles and an instruction card. All kits cost £10 (free shipping to UK). We also have a pack of spare buttons, all on our Etsy shop