I have a pair of running tights that I love. I had gone for a run in January and was feeling pretty smug about myself...until I hit a patch of black ice and went down on my knee, which hurt--and to add insult to injury, I ended up with a small hole in the pants. Argh. The tights were pricey, and I knew that if I didn't fix the hole, it would just get bigger and the pants would be ruined. So, a lesson in darning, the modern way. I don't have a fancy sewing machine, just a basic Singer.
My first step was to stabilize the hole. I grabbed some iron-on Stitch Witchery and some satin ribbon. I slid the ribbon and fusible webbing into the pants and ironed it flat from the outside of the pants (this let me press all the edges of the tear into the fusible webbing). After it had cooled, the hole was nearly invisible, but I knew that it wouldn't stand up to the multiple washings that running pants would go through.
Next, find a thread that matches the fabric. I took the pants and my 40% off coupon to JoAnne's and found some thread that was spot-on for a match (no, not that gray, or that gray, or that charcoal, or that slate...ah, that one!)
Get your sewing machine all set with the bobbin and thread all loaded up. I set the machine to zig-zag with a short stitch length. Next time, I would recommend using a chalk pencil to draw a small circle around the area you are going to darn, then just fill in the circle (the dark fabric and good job of ironing the hole up made it hard to see if I had gotten it all covered with stitches).
I slid the pants onto the arm of the sewing machine--it was a bit tricky to get all the fabric bunched up and out of the way, but I managed it. I sewed on the top side of the pants (just the one layer though, so I didn't sew the pants closed), turned the fabric a bit and sewed again and kept turning and sewing (sometimes using the backstitch mode). It took about 30 seconds and I had it done!
Took the pants out for another run today, and they work great. I can't feel the patch and I know it will be fine in the washing machine. So, for the cost of a $1 spool of thread I saved my favorite running tights. I have tried this on jeans too--you can buy variegated denim thread that matches very nicely (or you can try using a lighter thread on the bobbin and darker on the spool).