Felted Spinning Fibre

This week I had my first dyeing disaster.  I have had many occasions when yarn or fibre has emerged from the dye pot looking completely different to what I had intended but this has always been either a nice surprise or something that can be easily rectified by over dyeing.  So this week I was dyeing four lots of spinning fibre and three came out perfectly, but the fourth (a blue faced leicester and silk fibre) felted really badly for some inexplicable reason.  Well, I say inexplicable but we all know it’s because I overcooked it!  (Next time I will use a thermometer. Probably.)  I initially thought the fibre was destined for the bin, as I couldn’t even pull pieces off it so drafting was definitely out of the question, which would have been a shame as the colours were perfect.

So what to do?  Well, I could have used it for a felting project, either on my felted art pictures or on a nuno felted scarf.  Or my favourite idea, at that point, I could prise the fibres apart width ways and make it into a cobweb felted scarf.  Before starting any of these projects I thought I would first try to see if there was any way to revive the fibre and still use it for my original spinning project.

I have to warn you that I did not exactly treat the fibre in the way I normally would and I’m sure a lot of people will be horrified by this, but I didn’t really have a lot to lose.  Fortunately, it did work out very well and I didn’t damage my carders.

First I pulled the mangled, felted fibre out width ways as far as I could (it was still all in one long piece as I was unable to pull it apart lengthways)  and I carded the end off and rolled it into a rolag.  I spun this first rolag before bothering to make any more as it was quite hard work and didn’t want to go to all that effort if the finished product was not going to be up to scratch.  It spun up very well; a few tiny bumps occasionally which I could twist flat with a finger and thumb or just pinch off.

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Disaster averted, I continued to card all the rest.  To keep the variation in colour I tried, where possible, to only card each section twice.  I wanted to avoid the colours from completely blending together.

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The singles were not as smooth as I would normally expect Blue Faced Leicester and silk to be but once plied they became much better and I don’t think anyone would suspect its origins and journey to that point.  The real test will come when I have knitted it up but so far it’s looking good.

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So, felted spinning fibre can be revived and spun.  Obviously it would be preferable to treat your fibre better and not to felt it in the first place.  It would save time too!

Knitting With Cotton

Most of the clothes I sew are made from woven cotton.  I love it.  You can iron it into really sharp creases, pleats, hems and seam finishes.  It stays put while you sew it.  It behaves.  Cotton fabric does exactly what you ask it to.  Cotton yarn does not!

Yarn made from wool is just great to knit with.  It feels nice and soft.  Wool yarn seems to merge together hiding any joins and inconsistencies.  Cotton yarn does not.

I long ago learnt various ways to join wool yarn in my knitting and whichever method I choose (and I am always changing my mind as to which one is best) there are a few rules I always follow: never join in new yarn at the edge of my knitting, never ever knot my yarn and one of the most invisible ways to weave in ends is to use a duplicate stitch from the right side.  Each wool garment I make has fewer mistakes and looks more professional than the previous one but I was close to giving up with the cotton ones until I discovered that the rules I needed to follow were exactly opposite to the ones I use for wool: only join in new yarn at the edge, you need to knot the ends or it will unravel and don’t attempt to do duplicate stitches when weaving in ends because it will be very visible!

So, knowing the rules, I have now completed a couple of cardigans that I am really pleased with.  I still don’t really like knitting with cotton, it’s hard going and quite tough on your hands.  But it is nice to overcome problems and learn new skills and I refuse to be beaten by a ball of cotton.

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I was so pleased with the little shrug I knitted for my new niece that I decided to make one for myself.  The small version was from a pattern called Entrechat by Lisa Chemery that I found in One Skein Wonders For Babies and the adult sized one is called Madame Entrechat which you can find on Ravelry.  Rashly, I chose some purple cotton from my stash and it’s not turned out too badly, except for one minor hiccup.  It was knitting up really quickly and three quarters of the way down the back I tried it on for fit (perfect) and was quietly congratulating myself on creating such a lovely garment (mainly because I was following the simple, but essential rules for knitting with cotton) when I made an error in judgement and decided to play yarn chicken.  Why do I do these things?  I am normally very cautious and, frankly, it was obvious I did not have enough yarn left in the ball to get to the end of the row.  But I did it anyway and only got half way across.  So, obviously I undid that row…  No, I did not!  I decided that the reason the shrug was looking so good was because my knitting had miraculously just improved and that I could cope with a join in the middle and carried on knitting…  I can see the join, so everyone else can see the join!

The reason my recent cotton garments are successful is because I followed the rules.  The second I decide not to do that – disaster strikes.  I will not make that mistake again.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  This post also contains links to other products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend books, patterns or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

How To Print Up a PDF Pattern

Most of us have printed up a PDF before.  It’s easy, you just click on ‘print’!  Unfortunately, most of us who have tried to print up a PDF pattern have found that if we just click on ‘print’ we get a printed PDF but it’s not the right size.  Most PDF patterns have something on them such as a shaded square that you can measure to see if yours has printed up correctly.  It is very tempting to measure this and think ‘Well, it’s almost right, it’ll be fine.’  With PDF patterns it won’t be fine.  A small discrepancy in that measurement will multiply over the whole pattern and you will end up with a garment that is totally the wrong size.  Very disappointing!

In the past I have spent hours getting advice about this online and altering all the settings on my printer and computer (like the incredibly clever IT geeks told me to do).  So frustrating.  Their advice would be fine for most things but every time it printed up just slightly off, only slightly, but over a whole pattern…  PDF patterns really do need to be accurate.

Finally I stumbled across the way to do it and it is so simple.  I mean really simple:

Do not alter the settings on your printer, do not alter the settings on your computer, do not even view the PDF through your browser or ANY programme that comes with your system (not even Adobe Reader if it came with your computer).

Download Adobe Reader for free.  View the PDF pattern with your downloaded version of Adobe Reader.  Set the size of your paper on Adobe Reader.  Set Adobe Reader to print up your pattern (only the front sheet initially so you can measure to make sure it is accurate before printing the whole pattern) with ‘no scaling’, ‘100%’, ‘no re-sizing’.  Each system varies as to which setting of fit and scale you require, so make a note of what works for you, but it will work.  Viewing your PDF through your browser and trying to get the correct scale will not work.  I know, I’ve tried it and wasted lots of time, paper and ink.

If you are conscious of the cost to yourself or the environment in ink and paper, you could choose to only print the pattern pieces and to view the instructions on your computer.  Again this is really easy to do.  View the whole pattern on your computer to see which pages are pattern pieces and when you go to print just type in the page number range with a hyphen in between or individual page numbers separated by a comma eg. ‘4-9’ or ‘2, 6-8’.  There are advantages to this other than saving money and the environment.  PDF pattern instructions are often much clearer on a computer and you can enlarge any pictures you need to.   Which brings me onto the last thing you need to know.  Most PDF pattern instructions consist of written text, diagrams and photographs.  The vast majority of these photos will have been taken with a digital camera and will be very detailed.  Most people, me included, have their printer set on a low resolution to print text and drawings/ diagrams (not photos) for speed and to save on ink.  So if you try to print without changing your settings your printer will only receive half the information it needs to print a clear picture.  If you were unaware of this you might think the designer has sold you a pattern with poor quality images which is frustrating when you’ve handed over your hard earned money.  (Also slightly embarrassing if you only discover this after complaining or leaving them a bad review.)   My printer does have several settings for this (again, I alter these settings through Adobe Reader not the actual printer) and it is worth spending a few minutes checking yours.  I set mine to ‘photo quality’ printing and I also set it to the type of paper I am using eg. ‘glossy’ or ‘plain’.  But in all honesty, mine prints up adequately on a low resolution setting (not perfectly, but good enough).

Hopefully, this saves you hours of experimentation leaving you time to make your beautiful creations!

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.

 

Attaching A Facing

Facing a raw edge is a really great alternative to using a binding.  I have also used these techniques in my girls’ blouses.  They are similar to bias binding but they are completely on the wrong side of the fabric instead of being around the edge.

Facing A Seamless Neck Opening.

Cut a rectangle or square of facing fabric.  If you are using interfacing, cut it to the same size and attach it to the wrong side of the fabric.  Neaten the edges with a zigzag stitch.  Place and pin it onto your fabric with right sides together and draw a line to show where your opening is going to be.

Stitching really close to the line, sew down its length, across the bottom and back up the other side.  Cut along your drawn line, clip into the corners and turn to the wrong side.  Iron and top sew the edging if needed.

The dark coloured fabric I used so that you can see it easily does not do this technique justice.  It is really effective when you use the same fabric for the facing.

Using Bias Binding As A Facing.

Pin the bias binding to the right side of the neckline, armhole or hem.  Sew along the first crease.  Turn the whole strip of facing to the inside and top sew along the bottom edge.

Again, this looks a lot better when you haven’t got a dark colour showing through your fabric.

 

 

Binding A Neck Opening

Some of my new girls’ tops patterns have an opening at the neck but no seam, and need to be bound.  I have noticed online that people are very inventive in how to deal with this situation, some with more success than others.  I haven’t seen anyone use the traditional tried and tested way, which is a shame because it produces really good results and is not difficult to do.  So I thought I would share this technique with you and a variation of it.

I have used two different colours for the main fabric and the binding and also a contrasting colour for the stitching so you can see what I’ve done.  They will look so much better in the same fabric with matching thread.  In fact, you will hardly notice it at all and you won’t have a gap in your fabric, just an opening which closes completely.

First measure and draw a line on your fabric in tailor’s chalk where the opening is going to be (but don’t cut it).

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Cut some bias binding (on the diagonal) four times the width of your finished binding.  (I want my binding to be 6 mm wide, which is tiny but good practice for sewing children’s clothes, so I have cut my bias binding 24 mm wide.)  Iron the binding flat.  You will need to cut two strips about 1 cm longer than your drawn line.

Place one strip on your fabric with one edge along the chalk line and pin.  Repeat the other side of the chalk line with the second strip.  Next sew the first strip to the fabric 6 mm away from the line.  Repeat with the second strip.

Cut along the chalk line to about 6 mm from the bottom, then turn the fabric over and clip a small diagonal cut into each corner leaving a triangle at the bottom, being careful not to cut your binding strips.

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Double fold the bias binding over to the back of the fabric and hand sew in place around the cut raw edges.  (If you wish to machine sew them, cut them 2 mm wider initially, make sure they cover the stitching at the back and stitch ‘in the ditch’ from the front.)

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From the front, lift the fabric and push the small triangle through to the back.  Sew a line of stitching across the triangle and both strips of binding.  This forms the base of the opening.

You now have a neatly bound neck opening with no gaps.  When I use this on a garment, I then trim the ends of the binding strips and neaten them and the triangle with a row of zigzag stitches – but I am extra fussy, you don’t need to do this!

For the variation you will need your bias binding strip to be four times the width of your finished binding and two and a half times the length of the finished opening.

Start by pinning your strip next to your chalk line.  At the bottom fold the strip at right angles.  Then fold it underneath and back up the other side of the chalk line, forming a triangle at the bottom.

Remaining 6 mm from the line, sew down one side, across the bottom and back up the other side.  Cut along the chalk line and clip into the bottom corners towards the stitching, forming a small triangle as with the first variation.  Push the binding strip through the gap, double fold on the back and hand sew or top stitch in place.

These both work really well and they join all the way down!  I know I’m really picky, but I don’t like to see a gap.  Keyhole neck openings are gorgeous and I often make them, but these straight bound or faced openings can be made without a gap.

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These techniques are used in my new blouse patterns for girls and can be found in my Girls’ Patterns section in my Etsy shop.  I will be doing a tutorial in a couple of weeks on attaching facings which will also be useful for sewing clothes.

 

 

Binding Raw Edges

Bias binding is simply a strip of fabric cut on the diagonal to make it stretchy which is used to bind a raw edge.  I have used these techniques in my girls’ blouses.

To make your bias binding find the diagonal by folding your fabric into a triangle and cut a strip off the fold, four times the width of your final binding**.  Fold the bias binding in half lengthways and iron.  Fold both sides into the centre fold and iron.  Then fold the whole strip in half and iron again.

If you need to join two pieces of binding, place them at right angles to each other with right sides together and sew a diagonal seam.  Trim and iron.

I have seen people (including a professional wedding dress maker) sewing to near the end of a strip of binding, folding over the raw edge of a second piece, placing it under the end of the first piece and continuing to sew.  I’m not sure about this, it does leave a noticeable bump.  But it is easy and quick, so it’s up to you.

Hand Sewn Bias Binding.

This will produce a decorative edge with no visible stitching.  To bind a raw edge pin the bias binding to the right side of the fabric.  Sew along the first crease, fold over to the inside and hand sew in place.

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This is the one I use the most.  The stitching is invisible but it takes a while to do which is not normally a problem for me as I like to hand sew.

Machine Top Stitched Bias Binding.

A neat row of machine stitching will be visible.  Pin the bias binding to the wrong side of the fabric.  Sew along the first crease, fold over to the right side and sew a line of top stitching close to the edge.

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This is not a bad result.  It is neat and was quick, but it is a bit flat and you can see that stitching.

Traditional Machine Sewn Bias Binding.

**Cut your bias binding 2 mm wider than normal.  When you fold and iron it, remember to have the crease 2 mm off centre, so that when you fold the sides into this crease and iron you will have the second side of binding wider than the first.

Pin it to the right side of the fabric.  Sew along the first crease (the narrower of the two).  Fold over to the wrong side, ensuring it covers the stitch line and pin in place.  From the right side sew a line of top stitching ‘in the ditch’ just below the binding.  It will catch the binding on the back but miss the binding on the front.

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This one has definitely turned out the best.  The stitching cannot be seen, but as I used a machine the stitching is firm and has pulled the fabric together giving the actual binding a more rounded appearance and it didn’t take any longer than the machine top stitched version.  (I just need to remember to make it 2 mm wider and to fold it 2 mm off centre.)

It has been really useful to make all three versions at the same time with the same fabric for comparison.  I will probably use the third version the most from now on instead of sewing it all by hand.

To avoid a lump at an underarm seam, whichever method you have chosen, once you have pinned your binding on, sew the ends together, trim and iron open before sewing the binding to the garment.

Self Binding For Gathered Edges.

This is for when you want to neaten a seam that is made up of a gathered piece of fabric and a flat piece of fabric such as attaching a sleeve or a gathered skirt to a bodice.

Sew the gathered fabric to the flat fabric with a straight seam and trim half the seam allowance from the gathered fabric but not the flat fabric.  Double fold the flat piece over the trimmed gathers and top stitch in place.

This provides a really good looking, non bulky finish that doesn’t really take any longer than trimming and zigzag stitching or over-locking the edges.

A Driftwood Christmas Tree

 

Something a bit different this week as it’s Christmas (well nearly).  We did need a new Christmas tree this year.  I have been putting it off for a few years.  Ours is a bit pathetic.  Although I would like a real tree it didn’t seem right to cut down a living tree that had been growing for years just so that we could decorate our home with it for a couple of weeks.  So I looked around for a nice-looking artificial one.  I was slightly shocked at the prices, to say the least.  We definitely did not pay that much last time!  So I decided to make my own.  Home made stuff is better anyway.

We’ve had a few storms in Cornwall recently, so, perfect for beach-combing which is one of our favourite things to do.  Gradually, over the past few weeks we have collected loads of driftwood and sea glass to make a Christmas tree and some tree decorations.

We went up onto the north coast one morning after a storm and found, amongst other things, a heavy piece of sawn timber which was not quite as heavy once it had dried out, but did fit in my husband’s backpack which saved me from having to carry it!  It proved to be just the right size and weight for the base of the tree.

After several trips, and several storms, I sorted out all of the bits of wood.  I wasn’t overly hopeful I would have enough as a lot of the driftwood in Cornwall gets used to fuel fires and barbecues on the beach and sometimes when you collect it it is not always clear whether the wood looks a dark colour because it’s wet or because it has been blackened from a fire.  This time I was lucky and it mostly dried out a lovely pale, driftwood colour.

The only things I bought to complete the tree were a metre long threaded metal rod, some washers and nuts.

The tree was not difficult to make.  Basically, I drilled a hole through the middle of the longest piece of driftwood and through the base, slotted a long threaded metal rod through both and secured underneath with a nut and washer, counter sinking the nut to ensure it did not stick out from the wood.  (The tree would not stand up otherwise.)  Then I drilled the centre of the next longest piece of wood and slotted it on top of the first and so on until the tree was tall enough.  Regarding the tree, when I say ‘I…’ I really mean my husband as he does not trust me with power tools!

Due to breakages, we managed to end up missing the vital top piece so had to go out beach-combing one more time (shame).

Then for the tree ornaments.  Again, really simple; I wrapped some silver coloured wire around the pieces of sea glass and hung them onto the tree with cotton thread.  I added to a couple of them by attaching them to some more wire shaped into angels.  They’re not going to be that strong as the wire was quite thin so I will have to pack them away carefully to save them for next year.  I didn’t manage to make as many as I could do with but I have plenty more pieces of sea glass and can make some more decorations when I have a spare minute or two.

Our old Christmas lights would have been far too big for my new tree so I bought some very cheap battery operated lights.  I’m not sure what their lifespan is but they’re exactly what I needed for now.

I already had the cute clip on white bird, and my favourite fairy that I’ve had for about ten years went on the top.

I’ve saved myself a lot of money making my own tree.  (In total I spent about £7 and the trees in the shops were all over £100.)  I think a unique, hand made item is so much nicer at Christmas as well and I hope we get to use it for many years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Wash Wool

Why buy items made from wool or spend hours making things from wool when it is so high maintenance and there are so many synthetic ‘easy care’ ready made items of clothing/ carpets/ rugs out there?  Well, the manufacturers of the synthetic products have done a really good job of advertising those products and they’ve made a lot of money.  But I think more and more people are becoming aware of the short comings of these fabrics and how good our natural fabrics actually are.  Maybe you can’t just throw your handmade woolens in the washing machine and tumble drier – or can you?   I’ll come onto that in a minute.

Why Wool?

Wool is actually quite awesome.  Completely natural and renewable.  Anything you wear made from wool keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer.  It does not need washing nearly as often as any other fabric.  Even socks can be worn for several days without washing as long as they are aired at the end of each day, and your wool carpets will not need a coating of chemicals on them to resist the dirt.  Wool does that anyway.

Wool has a memory;  it’s elastic.  It takes dyes easily, even completely natural ones and it already comes in a range of colours straight from the sheep!

There are literally hundreds of breeds of sheep all of which produce wool with different characteristics.  Some produce really fine soft wool to make baby clothes from (obviously, that’s not why the sheep produce fine wool), some produce wool that is suitable for outer clothing like coats while others produce wool which is really tough and can be made into bags, rugs and carpets.  The others fall somewhere in between.

Caring for your woolens:

So, first of all what to wash it with?  You could use just water!  What you must not use is your standard chemical laden biological detergent, however tempting that maybe.  Biological detergents contain enzymes which eat and destroy wool.  So, unfortunately, you do need a special cleanser made for wool – they have a woolmark symbol on them:

If you don’t have any in or don’t want to buy one just for your woolens just use water; it should work fine.  There are lots on the market such as Eucalan Lavender 100ml No Rinse Delicate Wash.   I use  NIL Ecover Delicate 500 ml which has the woolmark image on the front.

Can you put your woolens in the washing machine?  Well, yes and no.  It depends.  (Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)  Some wool is ‘super-wash’ treated.  Most shop-bought wool garments will be super-washed and can be put in the washing machine.  But always put it in a netting laundry bag first to stop it stretching.  Many people also partially tumble dry these items on the lowest temperature setting.  Personally, I have never been brave enough to do that so couldn’t recommend it.

Also, some sheep produce wool that does not felt easily, such as wool from the Perendale sheep, so items made from their wool should also be fine to put in the machine without it felting.  Oh yes felting.  You know the ‘felt’ fabric we’ve all used (especially as children) to make small items or to add decorative applique to things because it does not fray.  It’s the same thing (in fairness nowadays most felt is synthetic but traditionally and in my house felt is made from wool) and you don’t want your gorgeous wool jumper turning into that!  Most wool will felt, though, if you subject it to too high temperatures, sudden temperature changes, or just by agitating it.  This sounds scary but is actually a really good excuse to do less.

Washing wool is really easy:

  1. Pour slightly warm water into the sink and add a cap full of wool wash.
  2. Drop your wool item onto the top of the water.
  3. Go and have a cup of coffee or catch up on your emails for twenty minutes.
  4. When your wool garment has sunk to the bottom, you know it has absorbed enough water and cleanser.
  5. Drain the water and refill with water of the same temperature to rinse without agitating your woolen. (Some wool cleansers do not even require rinsing.)
  6. Rinse once more then drain.
  7. Very gently squeeze out the excess water.
  8. Roll your wet garment up in a towel and squash to remove as much water as you can.
  9. Gently pull your garment back into shape and air dry flat, out of direct sunlight.  I have a Leifheit 72408 Mesh Clothes Drying Rack Sensitive Air which is a folding, pop-up net hoop which is very good for this as it can be rested across the bath.

Remember to make sure it is completely dry before packing away as wool can feel dry but still contain over thirty percent water!

Moths are attracted to wool so you do need to protect your woolens from attack.  Traditionally cedar chests or cedar lined drawers were used to store items to prevent insect infestation and this is still the best method today.  Most of us don’t have cedar chests of drawers, though, and have to resort to sealing them in plastic bags.  I really don’t like plastic but it is very effective in keeping out moths.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a few draw string bags or bowls of wood shavings impregnated with drops of lavender or cedar essential oils nearby. Just like our grannies used to do.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

Winter Door Curtain

Winter is nearly here again.  All the apples from our old Bramley have been turned into jams, chutneys, crumbles and sauces.  I’m even attempting cider making at the suggestion of my brother in New Zealand.  I asked him for ideas as he’s a really good cook and expected some exotic recipe to come back.  But he just said ‘make cider’ and actually that’s a really good idea as that requires a lot of apples and my pile of Bramleys wasn’t diminishing very quickly.  The Christmas cake, pudding and mincemeat have been made and stored away to mature.  I’ve even made a few Christmas presents and have been looking forward to lighting the wood burner again now that the evenings are drawing in.  I love this time of year but it is becoming apparent that the house is not that warm so I’ve decided to draught proof the front door with a new  interlined curtain.  I do realize it will take a lot more than that to make this house warm, but it’s a start.

This curtain is really easy to make.  I’ve made a few over the years when I’ve decided I needed a new colour scheme as they are quick, simple and inexpensive.  We have a portiere rod above the door which we leave turned away from the door during the day (and all through the summer) and we swing it shut across the door in the evening during the winter.  So I will be making a channel in my curtain for the rod and I won’t need any heading tape or rings to hang it.  But, because you see the front of the curtain during the day and the back of the curtain during the night, I will be using the main fabric on both the front and the back.  My summer curtain does have lining on the back because it is really for decoration only.  If I actually used it I would be able to see the lining at night when the curtain was across the door.  Shop bought curtains do not often have interlining so if you have an old draughty house it is worth tracking some down and having a go at making your own. The interlining I bought is made from cotton and feels soft and fleecy similar to quilt wadding.

To start, I need to measure the height of the portiere rod that the curtain is going to hang from.  Then I add 15 cm (10 cm for the hem and 5 cm for the frill at the top) and double the total to get the amount of fabric required.  As well as the curtain fabric I need some thread and one length of interlining.   The height of my portiere rod plus 15 cm came to 2.4 m.  So I need 4.8 m of curtain fabric (2.4 m for the front and 2.4 m for the back) and 2.4 m of interlining.

First I need to fold the main fabric in half with right sides together and with the interlining placed on top.  Then I will sew down either side leaving a 5 cm gap, 5 cm from the top on each side.  If you do not want a frill on the top, just start sewing 5 cm from the top and continue straight to the bottom.

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After hand sewing a 10 cm deep hem all the way around, the curtain needs to be turned the right side out.

Lastly I will sew a line of stitching right across the curtain 5 cm down from the top and a second line of stitching 5 cm further down to form the channel.  If you are not putting the frill on the top you will only need the one row of stitching 5 cm from the top to form the channel.  If at this point you realize you forgot to leave a 5 cm gap in the side seams, it’s not the end of the world you can easily unpick the few stitches from the ends after sewing the channel.

Now all that’s left it to thread the portiere rod through the channel on the curtain.

 

 

Shell Tuck Stitch Hems

Shell tuck stitch hems this week.  The shell tuck stitch makes a really decorative hem.  You could use it on a variety of garments: blouses, baby clothes, lingerie and accessories.  It  is a very versatile stitch and it’s easy to do!  The shell tuck stitch hem can be done on a sewing machine and it can also be done by hand.  The methods are very similar to the rolled hemming techniques from my last hemming post (you could almost imagine I planned that).  There are a few ways of sewing a shell tuck stitch hem by hand but I shall just show you my preferred one which is, I think, the most durable because you secure every third stitch.  Again, as with rolled hems, the shell tuck stitch works best on a finer fabric.

For both of these shell tuck stitch hemming techniques you need to match in your thread to your fabric to make them as inconspicuous as possible,  but I shall be using a contrasting colour so that you can see what I’m doing.

You need the same sewing machine presser foot that you would use for a rolled hem and it is basically the same technique, except that you need to increase the top tension on your machine so that the shells are pulled in tighter and you need to use a blind hem stitch; you might need to use a mirror blind stitch depending on your machine so that the zigzag part goes to the right.  You will probably need to experiment with the correct length and width for your stitch but it should be about 1.5 mm long and between 3.5 and 4.5 mm wide.  The needle needs to miss the actual hem both sides.  So, your straight stitches need to fall in the single layer of fabric to the left of your hem and the zigzag stitch in the middle needs to fall off the right hand side of your hem to pull in the shell shape .  If your machine won’t line up properly (like mine today; annoyingly my old machine does this really well, but this one does not want to play ball) you can sew the hem first with a long stitch then try to align the blind hemming stitch again. Afterwards remove the original hemming stitches.

For the hand version, you need to turn under a very small double fold about 6 mm deep and hold it with your left thumb and working from right to left (apologies if you are left handed).  Secure your thread to the lower edge of your hem and take a very tiny stitch from the fabric below it.  Insert the needle back into the hem in the same place it came out and push it along the fold and back out about half a centimetre along.  Take another tiny stitch from the fabric below, and again insert the needle back into the hem the same place it came out, push it along the fold and out again about half a centimetre along.

This time, taking your needle over the top, insert it into the back of the hem and out through the front, pulling the hem down into a scallop.  Repeat this stitch so that each scallop has two threads pulling the fabric down, and as you tighten it catch the thread with your needle to secure it (this is not the type of hem that you want to unravel).

You have now completed the first scallop or shell and you just need to repeat this all the way around your hem.

The machined version of the shell tuck stitch hem is more subtle but more uniform and very fast.  Obviously it would be better with a matching thread but I still think the stitches would show quite a lot.  But the hand sewn version I love.  I could work on uniformity!  But apart from that I do prefer the result to the machined one and I enjoy hand sewing a hem as well.  Now I just need to think of a project to use it on.