Monday, March 21, 2016

Sewing Extremes

For quite some time now, I've been making hexagons. I even taught a hexagon class at Home Ec. But I haven't done much else. This weekend, however, I did get a little sewing in, and I chose to sew two challenging substrates—one super stiff (oilcloth) and one loosely woven, with little body (gauze).

Students' hexagons



I've sewn lots with oilcloth previously, but after being plied with cerveza in Oaxaca, I promised my traveling companions that I'd make them oilcloth table runners with oilcloth we bought at the Benito Juarez and Abastos markets. It's a pretty simple job, really—they just had to bring me the dimensions of the runners they wanted, along with their oilcloth and some bias seam binding.
Karen picked two fabrics that are wonderful complements and I made her what seems to be more of a tablecloth (it's 39" wide by the width of the fabric). It was pretty much a piece of cake—those Clover clips really make it so much simpler to attach the seam binding than the hair clips I used to use. But the darned thing was so stiff and unwieldy that I had a little trouble—periodically as I'd sew I'd run into something on my sewing table and essentially sew in place until I realized what was happening. In the end, though, it turned out nicely.
Next up was gauze (and not double gauze, which I've used for tops and has a bit more body). It's become so popular for making baby blankets and we had a slow week at Home Ec (half the population away on spring break), so I started a sample at work. I thought I'd cut the gauze square, but after I brought it home to finish it I realized it was far from square—what started at 50" wound up at 42" by the time I was done, and it's still not totally square. One of the tutorials I read mentioned sewists who insist upon perfection may not enjoy sewing with gauze.) I ultimately used the tutorial from Sew to Speak as my guide.

Making continuous bias binding from a square—I used a Heather Ross lawn from Wyndham—is rather miraculous, but tedious nevertheless. The Sew to Speak tutorial links to this tutorial. I had done it before, but the method is not very intuitive and so a visual reminder was helpful.
 
Attaching the binding required lots and lots of pins and I worried about whether I'd caught the elusive gauze all the way around (I did). Like much of sewing, I swore I'd never do it again while I was doing it, but the end result is so cute that I'd be tempted. And the 23" piece I cut is enough to make bias binding for two blankets, so I probably ought to try again, if for no other reason than to use up the binding. It felt good to finish two tasks and spend time in my sewing room—it's definitely been awhile.


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