I just finished embroidering my 18th century pocket and, since I’m waiting for the wool for my next project to arrive, I thought I’d be indulgent & embroider myself a nice handkerchief to use during our humid summers. I had ordered a couple of yards of white voile in December to use for chemises but there wasn’t enough length. After much debate, I decided it would be perfect and cut into it before I could change my mind.
This interim project presented me with a good opportunity to post another hand-stitching tutorial. Rolled hems are great for projects like handkerchiefs because they create a narrow hem with little bulk and a delicate appearance. They do feel a little tricky at first but as you work you’ll quickly get the hang of it, I promise.
To start, fold the edge of your fabric over desired amount (in my case, a little over a millimeter) and pinch between your fingers.
With your needle, pick up one to two strands of thread from the fabric right before the edge that’s been folded over.
Then insert the needle through two to three strands of thread from the fabric on the fold.
And just pull your needle and thread through and repeat!
I hope that makes sense. I’m crap at explaining instructions verbally since I’m a visual learner and so I tried to take photos that were fairly clear. Also, our gas company has been laying new pipe and jack-hammering three feet from my bedroom window for a week, so I’m running on pretty minimal sleep. If I’m not explaining this well, drop me a comment, I’ll take a nap & try to explain it better when cognition has returned.
I received a pleasant surprise for Christmas this year. Though my grandmother died several years ago, sorting out her affairs has been a nightmare for her children. Her house, while semi-organized, was a hoarder’s paradise. Food that expired before I was even born. More Christmas decorations than a dozen families would need in a lifetime. Pots and pans, books, clothes, toiletries. I believe my mother said she hauled away fifty-seven bags of items to Goodwill and it’s still full of “junk.”
For Christmas, though, while my parents were up to visit, they took me to her home to look around and pick up anything I might want or need. Besides more cookbooks and gauzy scarves than I could shake a stick at, I came home with four large containers of fabric and trim. Serious jackpot but it has taken me forever, obviously, to work through. I’m not even close to having sorted it all out. I did discover some surprising finds, however. Buried in a container full of old crochet trim and lace were these items.
I’m not sure if these are family items or not, what with my grandmother having been born in 1922. They’re in surprisingly good shape, though, with only a few stains here and there. I could actually use them with confidence if I were so inclined. At the moment, though, I’m more interested in preserving them. The structure of crochet is such that it can’t be reproduced by machine, which means these were hand-created for wear and I can almost feel the history when I hold them. That’s something, I think, that should be honored and treasured for as long as I can keep them around.
Over the last year and half I have lost 70lbs and I’ve been building a new wardrobe now that I’m within a few pounds of my goal weight. It’s slow going since I don’t have much time to work on it and also because I’m terrified of sewing my first corset. So, I’ve been working on base underthings like chemises and drawers, and trying to incorporate as much hand sewing as my patience will allow for. Today I’ve been sewing on a waistband using a simple whipstitch and I thought I’d share a tutorial, since there are so few hand-stitching tutorials available online.
A note about materials: I really do recommend using linen, cotton, or silk thread for hand-stitching. However, I’m poor and using what I’ve got available, namely cotton thread with a polyester core. It works well enough, doesn’t tangle too badly, and can take a beating. Unless you’re working on an historical reproduction or heirloom piece, it isn’t necessary to be too picky.
On to the tutorial!
So, I’m sewing a waistband onto drawers, which are made of just a natural broadcloth. I’m using a single thread. To insure everything is secure, you want to sew 16 to 18 stitches per inch.
Insert needle through the first layer – be it a waistband, cuff, collar or just the first layer of material. Broadcloth is wonderful for hand-sewing as you can visibly see how much of the weave on the fabric you’re picking up. I try to pick up as little material as possible to keep the stitch unobtrusive.
Next, insert needle into the second layer of fabric – in this case the drawers themselves. I try to only pick up two or three threads of the second layer to keep the stitch on the opposite side as unobtrusive as possible as well. The stitch is still perfectly strong, so long as you keep to the 16 to 18 stitches per inch criteria. I prefer a slant to my stitch and, thus, when inserting the needle into the second layer, pick up fabric slightly to the right of where the needle is on the first layer. This creates a left-leaning stitch.
Then, simply pull the thread through until taut.
Ta da! If you’ve not done a lot of sewing by hand, I know it seems tedious at first. Well, it is – at first. But, like with anything, the more you practice, the faster you become. Don’t fuss too much over how straight your stitches are at first, either. That will come with time. And, if all else fails, use the sewing machine. No need to stress yourself out.