Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Little Fabric History

More than a year ago I wrote about my book The Home Sewing Reference: Fabric and Notions. For a variety of reasons that book was set aside while I worked on other things. Now I’ve picked it back up and am trying to work on it a bit every day. Here is a sample of what you will learn by reading it.

Hickory cloth [hik-uh-ress, hik-ree] is similar to other heavy duty cotton twill weaves such as denim or ticking, but lighter in weight. It was originally associated with overalls and caps for men working on the railroad and features a blue or black stripe contrasted with natural or white yarns. The name may derive from the idea that it was as rugged as hickory wood, or that garments made of the fabric were worn by “hicks”. Hickory cloth is a traditional American textile known at least as far back as the California gold rush and Civil war.

Unfortunately this special fabric is not easy to find and when it is, it is often mislabeled as denim. However the hand is much more supple than denim. It is a very durable fabric suitable for many purposes.

The photos at left show a bag made of Hickory cloth and a close-up of the selvage edge of this fabric. I made this bag as a prototype for my first Lady Bags line back in 2006.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to Miter Corners for Binding

I thought I had published these instructions on the blog quite some time ago, but since I can't find it now, here is a brief section from one of my quilt patterns that explains how to make nice square corners when binding a quilt. This method will work equally well for adding seam binding to a garment.

The final step to finish a quilt is to add binding around the outer edges. If you have not already sewn the binding strips together to form one long stripe, do so, and press the seams open. If desired you can fold and press the binding lengthwise by bringing the outer edges to the middle (wrong sides together) and then folding it in half again. Some find that this makes the binding easier to work with.

Once the binding is ready, trim excess backing and batting material to be even with the edges of the quilt top. Fold over the end of the binding strip about a ¼ inch matching wrong sides together. Then match the right side of the binding with the right side of the quilt and sew the binding to the quilt beginning in the middle of the bottom.

When you reach a corner, sew to ¼ inch from the edge, backstitch a few stitches and then cut the threads and remove the quilt from the machine. Fold the binding at a 45 degree angle from the direction you were sewing as shown at near right. Now fold the binding back on itself and sew ¼ inch from the edge, as shown at far right.

Continue in this manner until you arrive back at the beginning. Overlap the binding for an inch or so, backstitch, cut threads and remove from machine.

Next fold the binding to the back of the quilt and fold the raw edge under. Slip-stitch the edge of the binding to the back of the quilt with small stitches to enclose raw edges.

The final step in finishing your quilt is to wash it with cold water on the gentle cycle and tumble dry it on low. While washing and machine drying may not be recommended for some quilts, if you are making this one for a teen, it will need to be laundered regularly. You may as well wash it and make sure it is ready for use.