Thank you for patiently waiting for something weaving related. My back is slowly improving and I'm able to do more, but that's the rub! I have to resist doing more and setting myself back. I'm happy to pass on vacuuming but I now seem up for other duties.
I have been asked by a friend to share my hemming techniques and so along with the final unveiling of the guest towels, there will be a step by step details of what I normally do when finishing off towels or runners.
Once the warp come off the loom, I fire up the serger. (If you don't have one, then a straight stitch on the sewing machine will do. Just adjust the stitch length so the warp ends are all caught and held in place)
In addition to my Rowenta steam iron, I use a small slide ruler sold at fabric stores, straight pins. I firmly press the towel and then measure the hems at both ends to ensure they are the same length. I divide the depth of the hem by three and make the first turn.
In the picture above you can see the folded hem (shown front side up) and ready to be stitched. It stays put after the pressing but I do add some pins to keep it in position during its move to the side table in the living room.
It took a bit of time but all twelve towels finally were turned and ready for the next phase. I was getting a lot of couch time recently and so having these to work on was a nice break! I really enjoyed hand sewing the hems and it seemed to help me feel useful and still working on weaving how ever thin a thread!
I like to use quilters sewing cotton. Its a bit heavier than the polyester thread and less likely to twist. I also feel that I wove a natural fibre towel, so use a natural fibre thread to finish it. Above I'm drawing the thread through the Thread Heaven to reduce twist and improve the movement of the thread through the cloth. It seems to reduce 'tug' if that makes sense!
I always start at the side fold....
Then once I get to the main part of the hem, I switch to my running blind stitch. (I think its called this)
Then you slip the needle through a weft thread or two and through the leading edge of the hem and pull snugly but not so tight as to misshape the appearance in the front. Slip the needle back into the fold and move along. That's it. When you get to the other end, you move down into the side fold and flat sew that closed as well. The pictures above show the non-fancy hem. It works the same for the fancy hemstitched hem allowance too.
I gently snip off a portion with sharp scissors, then ease into place with my needle and then flat sew it with extra small stitches to keep it firmly closed!
So to review:
- press firmly into thirds with a heavy steam iron
- use small stitches and take your time
Next step is to wet finish them! I placed them in the washing machine and set them for delicate. When they came out I took each one in turn and worked them between my hands and pulled them into shape and and then lay them flat on towels and left them for a couple of hours to absorb moisture.
Back to the ironing board... same disclaimer as before :) I pull and shape the towels giving particular attention to the edges near the hemstitching as it can draw in here. I carefully snip off all weft tails and fire up the iron. Since they are already damp, steam isn't required this time.
small steam press like Lynnette has for my birthday... wish me luck! I see the store she bought it from doesn't have them listed anymore!
Once the towel is well pressed front and back, I like to fold it into thirds lengthwise, pressing as I go. I'm one of those weird people who actually likes ironing! I'll have to show you my 1950's rolling press some time I scored a few years ago.
As a bonus for reading this far, I have included here all details of the project plus a copy of the draft. The basic draft came from A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns by Carol Strickler and I modified it slightly from there. Click to enlarge the draft or any of the pictures in the post.
Maltese Cross Project
Warp Yarn: merc cotton
Cost, source: roughly $7.95 per 250 gram cone; Brassards, Quebec
Warp length: 8 yards
Warp Width: 13.42" at the reed
Set: 36 epi
Reed: 12 dent
Sley: 3 per dent
# Ends: 484 plus 2 floaters
Weft Yarn: cottons (various) bamboo
Count: 16/2 and 8/2
Colour: white, gold, navy, mushroom
Sources: mainly Brassards
Pattern is taken from " A Weaver's Book of 8 Shaft Patterns" by Carol Strickler
Page 89, 323-4
19" per towel (4" for hems+15" main part of towel)
x 12 towels
15" take up
20" loom waste
275" divided by 12 = 22.92' divided by 3= 7.64 yds (rounded up to 8 yards)
each pattern group =27 ends x two=54
54 times 8 repeats= 432 ends+ 27 1 repeat to balance+ 24 ends borders= 483
Plus 2 ends for floating selvedges.
Warp wound in two bundles of 242 ends each.
Beamed onto Louet Spring.
Various hemstitching to tart the towels up!