Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tips for a machine Rolled Hem

There are two types of rolled hem that we see made by machine - the rolled hem we use in Heirloom Sewing and a machine rolled hem that we make with a special machine foot.

Three sizes shown here for each for a different weight of fabric.
Some machine brands only offer one size but if you are lucky you will find that your machine has the option of more than one. The largest is for heavy weight fabrics or wider hems. The medium sizes is for fabrics like broadcloth.  And the skinny one on the left is for very light weight fabrics like organdy. The best thing to do is experiment. 

Starting a rolled hem so you have a beautiful, even beginning has always been the toughest part. Here is a little trick that will hopefully give you success.

Cut yourself a piece of waste fabric - it can be interfacing or scrap fabric but should be straight on two sides and about 6 inches long and 1- 2 inches wide.
The fabric you are going to hem should be trimmed of all the little threads left from tearing or raveling. These will just make the job harder.

Butt these edges of the waste fabric to your garment fabric. Now join these with a zigzag stitch or preferably a bridging stitch if you have one on your machine.

Here you can see my waste fabric attached with a bridging stitch. I've used coloured thread to make it easier for you to see what is happening.

Thread up your machine and bring the threads to the surface so you can put them behind the foot. Slide the waste fabric into the foot so it curls within the foot. Begin your stitching a couple of inches from the end of the waste fabric so you can get a good roll going. Stitch at an even medium speed even if you are tempted to rush through - it is not worth it to make an error!

While you are working on the waste fabric, check to be sure your stitching is to the left edge of the roll. This is the time to make any adjustments of this type.

Once this is checked you will want to watch the fabric feeding into the foot. This needs to be constant and the right amount of fabric. Not enough and there will be no roll. Too much and the raw edge will peek out of the roll.

Too little fabric
Too much fabric

Just right!
Note how the fabric just rolls over my index finger.
When the stitching is finished, you can simply cut off the waste fabric, pick out any stray threads from the bridge stitching and voila you have a perfect rolled hem!

From the wrong side

From the right side

If anyone is interested, there is a neat way to finish a sleeve edge using a rolled hem so you don't have raw ends of seams exposed. Just let me know....

In the mean time, keep on stitching.....

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Taking the mystery out of the Bullion Knot...

Bullion Knots are best worked with a lovely long milliners' needle sometimes called a Straw Needle. Both names refer back to the days of hat making when long needles were used and thin needles didn't break or punch big holes into or break straw hats forms .

In this type of needle the eye of the needle is the same size as the shaft allowing wraps to pass off the needle without getting stuck. Many of us smock with embroidery/crewel needles in which the eye is long, wider and flatter than the shaft to make it easier to thread. Unfortunately this wider eye make it very difficult to make any kind of knot that involves wrapping the needle.

The size if the needle will greatly influence the size of the knot. The finer the needle, the finer the knot will be. A #11 milliners' needle is great for a single strand of 'floss'. A #3 will work for a single strand of Pearle cotton. Fortunately milliners' needles come in a good range of sizes so you can match the needle to the fibre with which you are working.

The neatest knots are made with one or two strands of 'floss'. The needle should be slightly larger for two strands. Regardless of how many strands are used, they must not cross over one another on the needle but be wound in a smooth coil. Keep a pencil and piece of paper by your work to record the number of wraps you put on the needle so you can match a second knot to the same size as the one you have just created. If your floss begins to wear or look fuzzy, switch to a fresh piece.

Bullion knots can be created on flat fabric (skip the hoop if you use one) or on pleated fabric for  smocking embellishments. In smocking they are easier to do on the crest of a pleat, running lengthwise but they can be done in any direction. Just be prepared to work through the pleats when traveling from point B to point A. For this reason they are usually left to the end after the smocking has been let out to full size - they have no stretch and will restrict the pleats.
Pleated fabric or flat - come up at Point A, take stitch from B to A

Come to the surface at point A. Take a stitch from point B to point A but do not pass the needle all the way through the fabric. Leave it 'parked' in the fabric to wrap the needle.

With the floss that comes out of fabric at point A, wrap the needle travelling towards the point of the needle. Gently slide the wraps on the needle towards the fabric without disturbing their order. The number of wraps should be as long as the stitch. You can add a couple of extra to be safe. You can take wraps off but you can not add them. Record the number of wraps. 
On pleated fabric right handed
On flat fabric left handed

More wraps than length of stitch...

Hold the wraps, the needle and the fabric in your hand and grasp the needle between the finger and thumb of your other hand to pull the needle through the fabric and the wraps. Do not let go.

Keep pulling until you cannot pull any more. Now you can let go and gently pull the ‘core’ thread (the one that has passed through the wraps) towards point B. If there are too many wraps and the knot bulges too much, you can remove one wrap at a time by passing the needle under the wraps. Gently tighten the ‘core’ thread each time you do this and note the changes on your paper. “Groom” your knot and pass the needle to the back at point B to finish your knot.
Hold to pass needle
Pull until  you can pull no further

Gently pull into place and groom 
Take needle to back at Point B

Come up at Point A, Take stitch from B to A
Wrap as before

To do a second knot, repeat the process by coming up at A, taking a stitch from point B to point A. Usually one starts with one knot or a pair of knots in a dark colour for the centre. The knots around the centre get paler and larger with more curve as the flower builds outward.

Note: To make pairs, when you wrap clockwise the knot will want to curve in one direction. When you go to make its mate, wrap in the opposite direction. 

Note: When you are making a long bullion knot you may wish to anchor it to prevent it slipping out of place. When the knot is completed, come up on the inside with the floss and take a stitch as you would when making a lazy daisy stitch. Stroke the knot to work the stitch into the wraps. It will become invisible and your knot will stay put!

Note: If you are left handed, you work the knot exactly the same way only reverse the hand positions. 

Simple Bud - two bullions
Complex rose made up of several bullions

Tulips in a smocking design - Bullions are horizontal
There are so many configurations of knots and many excellent books out there. This is just to get you started.

So till next time, keep on stitching.....