Mending a sweatshirt, or, How small can I swiss-darn?

Spoiler alert: smaller than I can photograph well.

I love this sweatshirt, and it’s had one mend before, but now the sleeve cuffs are going and there’s a couple small stains that bother me, so it’s top of the pile again.

I picked more or less the same colours I used on the last mend, that bring out the colours of the sweatshirt, and happen to be colours I love. I’d planned to do weave mends again for all the areas, but once I’d started it over one of the stains on the front, I realised my swiss-darning skills could do with some practice, and I was curious whether I could manage it small enough to blend on cotton sweatshirt knit. (The practice is necessary because I’ve just had added to my mending pile a cashmere cardigan of my dad’s where the elbows are *just* about to wear through – I should still be able to darn it, but it will need to be very smooth with no knots because it’s elbows, and it will need to be so neat as to be invisible to untrained eyes because it’s a fancy navy work jumper. If the darning fails plan B is to carefully pick out some suede elbow patches instead.) So I unpicked those first few warp rows and started trying to remember how to Swiss darn instead.

I started out doing the swiss-darning with two strands of cotton embroidery floss, like I normally would for a small weave mend, because one strand alone is easy to break. But it was hard to see what I was doing, and kinda lumpy, so I switched to one strand, and it worked great! I just had to be gentle with it. And since this is to cover a stain, it’s not stress-bearing, and the fabric underneath is intact, so I’m not worried about strength once it’s complete.

Obviously with these colours I’m going for a visible mend, but if I bothered to colour match then I’m pretty sure I could’ve covered these stains almost invisibly.

One tip I’d note for the swiss-darning is to note, at the very beginning, whether you are seeing the columns of ‘V’s in your fabric when the piece is right way up or wrong way up, and then make sure you stay tuned in to that orientation. If you get muddled up halfway through and start working halfway across columns, you’ll be lost in the woods. I will say also that I needed to take several breaks during this to rest my eyes (wait for my vision to stop being blurry), and it’s not something I’d attempt in anything less than full daylight.

Another tip, for the weave mends this time, is not to sew it too tight, because your weave will not stretch, but the knit around it will, so you can easily distort the knit if you sew too tight. Especially the warp threads (the first direction you lay in), because some of their slackness will get taken up when you weave the weft/second direction through.

On the right: warp threads laid in with a bit of slack
A 2 colour theme doesn’t mean you have to use the same arrangement every time

All done! And this one is back out of the mending pile onto top rotation.

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