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Shuffling around the house in my stocking feet working at home, has left me with pairs of socks; although originally thick wool, ribbed, elastic crew-length; with the heels thread-bare or worn through.
worn-through heel sock outline

They're beyond mending within my ability in my opinion. In the past, when this happened, I tossed them out. I don't enjoy wearing socks without heels. I have a few pairs that I've kept, thinking that there might be some other way.

I would like to find a hack to extend the useful life of the worn pairs of socks with as minimal effort as possible. The longer the hack works, the better — from simple conservation of resources if nothing better.

I thought if anyone could come up with an out-of-the-shoebox solution, it would be a lifehacker.

Ideas?

Edit: BTW, my sewing skills are great. I've made my own tunics, ditty bags and camping gear—but I'm LAZY and easily distracted. :) I have 3 pairs of different-style 'slippers' but enjoy walking on glass-smooth floors sans footwear. Yes, some rooms have carpet or rugs.

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  • Pictures, please?
    – Stephie
    Oct 14 '20 at 3:29
  • Do you walk around only in your socks or do you wear slippers or any other kind of footwear as well?
    – Elmy
    Oct 14 '20 at 5:15
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    have you heard of "darning" socks as a repair method? Oct 14 '20 at 6:27
  • @Stephie Here is a diagram/picture (not to scale; but, proportional.) While drawing this, you inspired a possible solution. Thank you.
    – Stan
    Oct 15 '20 at 21:41
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    Life is too short to shuffle. Stride, my son!
    – John Canon
    Oct 31 '20 at 20:58
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Your sewing skills might not be up to darning the hole up, but you could consider using a fabric glue (possibly heat activated, like hemming web) to bond onto the sock a circle of hard wearing fabric, like denim or leather, the size of your entire heel contact patch (or even the entire foot).. If you don't have any fabric glues to hand then perhaps (judging by how effectively it stuck to the work pants I wiped it on 7 years ago) something like bathroom silicone sealant or those "no nails" type adhesives, worked into the fabric of both the patch and the sock and left to cure, might make for a long lasting repair..

Before you sit down for a 4h work stint one day, cut a foot shape in denim, put some plastic bag or cling wrap on your foot, put the sock on and arrange it nicely, dope both the sock and patch with your chosen adhesive and then use the weight of your own leg resting on the patch - it should (with the body heat helping) be well on the way to being cured if you can sit relatively still for 4h. If you can't, consider recreating the shape of your foot by stuffing a bag with polystyrene beads into the sock, shape it and apply a weight for 24h

It might me more effective to do with the new pair of socks before they wear out. Perhaps in such a case your sewing skills might at least extend to tacking a reinforcement patch in place if the adhesive approach doesn't float your boat

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  • This is 'A Good Thing'™ for pre-hole preventative reinforcement as you wrote in your 3rd para. You're suggesting, in effect, that I make a special pair, or two, for use as 'slippers,'
    – Stan
    Oct 18 '20 at 14:42
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    I did actually briefly ponder recommending obtaining a can of a marvellous substance called plastidip and suggesting you pour some out into a tray and carefully dip a heel in the puddle. Normally used for "dip and then slowly withdraw" tool handles to coat them in a thick layer of liquid rubbery substance, I've no doubt it would turn a pair of socks into a pair of slippers in no time at all!
    – Caius Jard
    Oct 18 '20 at 18:35
  • Did you mean a pair of 'grippers'? Yes, I've used it before in 3 different colours. After you open a can, you must use it as fast as possible as it sets up quickly, and polymerizes. The result does anything but slip, though. It doesn't strike me as being that comfortable as footwear.
    – Stan
    Oct 18 '20 at 19:10
  • Hah, yes.. curious turn of phrase. It definitely wouldn't suit a shuffle, which was why I didn't mention it in the end..
    – Caius Jard
    Oct 18 '20 at 19:36
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My simple hack to extend the life of socks with worn-out heels, with the least effort, is to

  • Wear them the other way up.

The fabric now at the heel won't have the extra thickness that a heel usually has, and they probably won't go as far up your legs, but you should be able to squeeze a bit more life out of the socks.


Another suggestion when you wear just socks on your feet indoors is

  • fold the top of the sock down so that it goes underneath the heel.
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  • Yes. I have done this and it 'works.' If there isn't another way, I would chose this answer. I'm pushing for another more optimal solution.
    – Stan
    Oct 14 '20 at 14:05
  • If it results in too much fabric under the shoe laces you could just cut a bit more away from the worn out heel, or wear them sideways... hmm will that give 4x the life? Oct 14 '20 at 14:08
  • No other footwear is involved—only socks on hardwood parquet flooring. More cutting is even too much work. : )
    – Stan
    Oct 14 '20 at 14:31
  • In that case I have another suggestion I will edit into the answer. Oct 14 '20 at 14:36
  • In the past, I've also tried your additional suggestion. When folding the sides down to cover the hole, with the socks I have, they creep back up and the bottom catches on things as I shuffle around.
    – Stan
    Oct 16 '20 at 1:41
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Hosiery Heel Hole Hack.

Stephie asked for pictures; so, while sketching a diagram to illustrate the situation I hit on a no-frills hosiery heel hole hack.

  1. Begin by folding the sides of the sock inside itself to form a liner (ankle socklet.)

Heel Hole Hack 1Heel Hole Hack 2Heel Hole Hack 3

  1. Repeat for its mate if necessary.
  2. Pull 'em on.
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  • Works great and suitably informal for pandemic house wear. They're comfortable to wear and washable in normal laundry.
    – Stan
    Oct 15 '20 at 22:04
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Socks usually wear by mechanical friction: with your feet, and with the outside environment (shoes, floors, beds...).

Now what you describe is obvious: the heel takes the hardest physical in the body, which generates two favorable conditions for your socks to wear:

  1. The sock is repeatedly crushed between your heel and floor / shoe.
  2. The skin on the heel tends to become thicker and coarser, compared to the skin on other parts of the body.

Now it is easier to find ways to extend the life of the socks:

  • make sure that the shoes that you wear are smooth on the inside;
  • make sure that the foot applies uniform pressure on the inside of the shoe; otherwise, the parts of the socks getting the higher pressure / friction will die first;
  • make sure you have a proper skin care, especially in the heels area. Make sure that skin is soft and smooth.
  • wear some additional shoes / socks / whatever, which will take the most part of the abuse; either the additional footwear is more resistant to wear (like shoes), or is cheaper to replace them.

Once the material / fabric of the sock is gone, there is very little that can be done to revive it.

The way I see it, if a repair is done, it will either look bad, or it will be uncomfortable to wear. Or both.


Your question sounds similar to:

How can I prolong the life of a kitchen plate, after it has got a hole in the bottom?

Maybe as a frisbee?


Brainstorming: if the socks are long (they go up on the leg high enough), you might just cut the worn part out, close the cut by sewing, keep wearing them (obviously, they will be shorter this time). A new heel will form by itself, even though they might be slightly less comfortable to wear (compared to new socks).

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    Thank you. This all seems to be true, however, please re-read the question for necessary details relevant to me.
    – Stan
    Oct 14 '20 at 14:09
  • BTW, not my down vote @virolino.
    – Stan
    Oct 18 '20 at 14:39

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