Since I try to make our clothing budget stretch as far as I can, I am often called upon to repair garments to make them last longer. This has meant patching numerous socks, and this chore recently led me to a great spring project!
If you have ever tried to darn a hole in the toe or heel of a sock, you know that it is a very difficult process because of the curve of the fabric. It is a tremendous help if there is something rounded in sock to allow the repair to have the proper shape and to prevent you from sewing the opposite side of the sock into the repair. In the past, repairs to socks involved using either a darning egg or sometimes, a darning mushroom. These were normally made of wood and came in a variety of styles and sizes. The darning egg might or might not have a handle, and some were even hollow to allow for thread, needles, and perhaps a small pair of scissors to be kept inside. In modern times, where socks that wear out are generally thrown away, these tools are no longer common, and an expedient has to be devised. I have heard of using a light bulb in place of the darning egg, but that struck me as being kind of dangerous in view of the possibility of broken glass and hazardous gas being released right under a person’s nose. I thought a more obvious substitute would be a child’s plastic Easter egg, so I set out to make a darning egg. Mine turned out to look very much like a maraca, and the instructions which follow could be used to make very inexpensive maracas.
Plastic Easter eggs come in a number of different sizes. The one I chose was larger than the standard ones that are close to the size of a chicken egg. I chose a larger one because I needed greater surface area for making repairs. The only requirement is to choose an egg that opens along its width and not along its length. To my egg, I added a short length of wooden dowel that was left over from some past project, and some used tissue paper in white and pastel blue.
Because my egg happened to be a very deep purple, I began my project by spray painting my egg white. This may not have been necessary, but I wanted my egg to look blue in the end, and I did not want the purple color to show through my tissue paper. I also took a heated ice pick and put a hole through the center of the pointed end of the egg.
My next step was to cover the inside and outside of the egg with layers of torn tissue paper using Mod Podge to adhere them to the plastic. The goal was to strengthen the plastic so that it would be able to hold a screw without splitting and to prevent it from cracking if dropped. It does not really matter what color is used on the inside since it will not be seen in the finished product, but I used white on the interior since I have a lot of it and saved my blue paper for the outside. I glued several layers inside the two halves first and allowed the tissue paper to extend up past the open edge. After the paper had dried, I used scissors to trim off the excess. The blue paper was added after the two halves were joined back together. After a layer or two of the paper had dried, I would open up the seam again with an exact knife. I still needed to be able to access the center of the egg, so I did not want to lose that seam! In the drying time between layers, I cut the dowel down to the size I needed and stained it a light brown.
When I was satisfied with the strength of the egg, I opened it back up and added two small squares of duct tape over the hole in the pointed end of the egg. I added the tape as an extra measure to help prevent the egg from cracking when I attached it to the handle. It may not have been necessary, but I thought it couldn’t hurt. After I re-opened the hole that I had covered, I attached the handle to the egg with a small wood screw. If I had been making maracas, I might have added a small washer under the screw for greater stability. This is also where I would have added something to the egg so that it would make noise -probably uncooked rice. For my purpose, I only added glue to the seam as I closed the egg and covered the seam on the outside with more tissue paper.
After the glue had dried on my final layer of tissue paper, I used fine-grit sand paper to smooth out the surface. If I had been making maracas, I could have painted decorations on this smoothed surface to make them more festive. Though I did not really need to do this for my darning egg to function properly, I added some brown paint spots to make it look like a songbird egg and sealed the paint with a coat of sealer.
My finished darning egg is in the photo below. It is very hard and should serve very well in its new role. Whether you make a darning egg or maracas, either could be a great gift for someone you love. I think the maracas might even be a possible craft idea for children in a group setting. However, if you makes some maracas with these instructions and don’t mind my readers seeing your finished project, please send me a photo (shadyswing at gmail.com), and I will add it to this post.
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.” Psalms 100:1