How to Choose the Right Darning Needle

darn how to mending

Darning needles may not be the most exciting topic. For most projects, a basic 2-3", not too thick, not too thin darning needle will do the trick, but in some cases using the right needle can make a difference in how your darned patch turns out. 

When I first started darning, I was so mired in the darning process that I didn't pay much attention to needles. Once I started darning more frequently, and taking on larger, or more nuanced, mending projects, I started paying more attention to which needle I used to complete various darns and why I chose that particular needle.

What makes a darning needle? 

Darning needles have some basic characteristics like a larger eye, thicker body, and a rounded, or dull tip. Darning needles do vary in length, thickness, and eye size, having mostly to do with the thickness of the yarn or thread. Additionally, needles may have a bent tip to help lift individual strands for weaving in pattern

Darning Needles

The following is a collection of darning type mending projects I've completed, and the needles that I chose for each of the projects. Each project includes a brief description, reference to the thickness of thread or yarn and the type of darning needle used to complete each project. Some of these needles are available in my shop. If that is the case, they will be linked directly. 

Jean Jacket Darn:

The below jean jacket had a little stupid, manufactured rip on the pocket flap. I repaired/covered by darning a patch over the top of the worn area. A needle with a sharper point was needed to pierce through the thick woven fabric. I could have also chosen to use a sashiko needle here.   

Yarn Darners

Thread/Yarn Used: Olympus Variegated Sashiko Thread 22m #76

Needle Used: John James Yarn Darners A variety of sizes, longer, thinner with a pointier tip, for poking through denser surfaces. 

Tip: When weaving the patch, flip the needle around, leading with the eye to make weaving easier with a blunt end than the sharp tip. 

Favorite Sweater Darn:

My trusty wool gardening sweater is double layer, so most of the repairs don't go all the way through to the other side. I used a huck embroidery needle to repair because the slight bend in the tip made plucking a loop from a single layer of the sweater easier. 

Huck Embroidery Needles

Thread/Yarn Used: Green wool yarn of unknown origin from my stash & Valley Girl wool yarn made by Spincycle Yarns

Needle Used: Clover Huck Embroidery Needles These needles are thinner, longer, and have the slightest bend in the tip. The tip is dull. These are also helpful to use with a mini-loom. 

Cotton Pullover

A thrifted, plain white cotton sweater was in great shape, but a little flat for my taste. Using a duplicate stitch, I "traced" the stitches with a thinner thread than the sweater was knit with, so the original stitching can be seen. This is just a series of weaving over and under stitches on a smooth cotton knit, so a smaller straight needle was sufficient to weave under the 2 stitches at a time. 

Darning Needles

Thread/Yarn Used: Daruma 20/6 30m sashiko thread (#206, 214, 221, 227)

Needle Used: Clover darning needles This is the basic set I referred to in the beginning. It is a set that works for most darning, includes 3 sizes, all with a dull tip. 

Cute Vintage Cardi

This classy pink sweater was begging for a rebellious streak to repair some missing stitches, so I knit a few duplicate stitches in line with a similarly sized bright white wool yarn. Using a thicker needle to match thicker yarn, the needle  passes along the path of the knit stitches easily. The slight bend at the tip can make it easier to scoop up the stitches. 

Darning Needles

Thread/Yarn Used: thrifted wool yarn

Needle Used: John James Bent Tip Deluxe Knitters This is a set of shorter, thicker, dull tip needles. 

Moth Mends

My sweetest, yarn eaten thrifted sweater has a loose knit with thinner yarn. The yarn is rather hairy, so a short thinner needle with a bent, dull tip helped to scoop up only the stitches I wanted without getting wrapped up in the hairs. 

Bent Darning Needle

Thread/Yarn Used: thrifted wool thinner yarn. I thought it would be too hard to match color and texture, so I opted to go with a similar texture but darker shade. 

Needle Used: John James Bent Tip Deluxe Knitters These needles are a little shorter, with a deeper bend, and rounded tip. 

Shredded Blanket

Oh, the big darn. This spaghetti plate sized patch of holey wool blanket called for large darned patches over several areas. The longer needle was key to being able to weave all the way across the patch. 

5" Darning needle

Thread/Yarn Used: From my stash, thicker wool purchased new for this project and the label discarded. 

Needle Used: 5" Susan Bates Weaving Needle  This one is sold as a single needle. Not used often, but good to have around. 

My darning needle collection has grown so much that I was in need of a place to keep them all. The 5" needle doesn't fit, but that's not usually the type of project that I take on the go anyways.

I found this Altoids container and glued a couple of my practice darning patches to give the inside some flair. Add a tiny pair of snips and some thread or yarn, plus your project and it's all you need to darn away from home.

Needle Collection

 See, sew cute! Sorry, couldn't resist.

Mending Kit

 Oh yeah, the tin can also be used in place of a mending mushroom. You'll need 2 rubber bands, the thicker produce rubber bands are perfect for this. Stretch 1 rubber band around the outside of the tin, so it holds the fabric in place by giving it a little grip. Then lay your project over the top, and the 2nd rubber band to secure it when centered. 

Darning Mushroom Alternative

 And when it's not in use, the rubber bands will keep the tin shut. 

Darning by wrenbirdarts

A special thanks to this rubber band tip from one of the members of Mending Club! It's great to be able to share tips chat all things mending. Learn more here. 

Want to know how to complete a basic darn?

Click here:

Click here for a video tutorial of darning (click Visible Mending Tips):

Do you need darning supplies? 

Click here:

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  • javamyworld on

    Your site is a Godsend to me! I’m so glad to find it plus having the opportunity to buy the recommended needles and other notions from you. Thank you for taking the time for creating this blog.

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