And even more hemming…

Do you have special travel projects? Something small and not too complex, with few ingredients, perhaps? I do, although the latter criterion isn’t always strictly adhered to – last time I visited my mother I took a selection of Shisha minis, with all the beads, sequins and mirrors that entails. Great fun, but not exactly ideal airport stitching.

And talking of airports: there is an additional difficulty when choosing my on-the-go project as I travel with hand luggage only at the moment, so scissors are a no-no. It says at the luggage check that “scissors with blades over 6cm” are prohibited, implying that anything smaller is OK, but I have found the security people to be erratic in these things and I am not risking my favourite squissors or my small, very sharp, very pointy embroidery scissors on their benevolence. So I take this little gadget:

A safe little gadget for cutting threads

And very useful it is, too, for snipping threads, but obviously Hardanger is out of the question. As is hemming. And this time I had decided to take hemming. Lots of hemming, and nothing but hemming.

Six hemming projects

The plan being that I would finally finish this dull but useful work if I had no other projects to distract me. And it wasn’t until the airport that I realised I rely on my very sharp, very pointy embroidery scissors to cut the fabric very close to the hemming, something which is done every time one side is finished. My mother has a pair of serviceable dressmaking shears but they would hardly do for this, so I could see myself returning home with a stack of projects all with one side hemmed, and three-quarters of the work still to do.

Then I had a brainwave. I could buy a pair of sharp, pointy scissors in the Netherlands, use them, and leave them there for next time! I found a useful pair in the local sewing machine/quilting shop and set to.

First up was Cross My Heart, which I worked in blanket stitch. It is a very useful and relatively quick finishing stitch, but it has one drawback – any individual stitch isn’t very secure until the next one has been worked. If you let the tension on the thread relax after finishing a stitch, it Doesn’t Stay Put. This is annoying.

The normal way of working blanket stitch The finished stitch isn't very stable

Now I remembered that there is a blanket/buttonhole stitch variation which is secure the moment you finish the stitch, but I couldn’t remember how it was done, nor what it was called in Dutch, so the local library wouldn’t be any help. Thinking I might go and google the stitch in English at my aunt & uncle’s (my mother doesn’t do computers, let alone internet), I found my mind equally blank in that language. Something like tailored or tailor’s buttonhole, and something with a knot of sorts… I decided to experiment a bit on a scrap of fabric just cut off Cross My Heart, and found that if you take the needle through the blanket stitch loop from the front instead of from the back, the extra little loop formed around the thread keeps it firmly in place once you’ve pulled through and given it a bit of a tug.

The reverse way of working blanket stitch The finished stitch Stays Put

I’m not sure whether this is, in fact, the official way of doing knotted or tailor’s buttonhole/blanket stitch, but it works and it’s pretty much as quick as the ordinary blanket stitch, so I’m happy smiley. BonBon got the looped blanket stitchtreatment, as did Dying Embers and Vienna. I was on a roll!

But I still hadn’t started on the one that I really want to get done. Spring Romance is intended for my big canvas Going-To-London-For-The-Knitting-And-Stitching-Show bag. The problem was that, much though I liked the looped blanket stitch (LBS from now on), I still wasn’t absolutely sure whether to use that or the other finishing stitch I’d been considering, the hemstitch/nun stitch variation. Moss Agate was the only other unfinished piece left so I thought I’d try that in hem/nun stitch to see whether it worked as nicely as the LBS.

It didn’t. I know I liked it originally and I still like the look of it, but what at first seemed an advantage (that the attaching stitches would sit very near the edge) on second thoughts struck me as unwise – a little further in feels much more secure – and although it is a lot faster that four-sided edging (most things are…) it is quite a bit slower and more fiddly than LBS. So I unpicked the few inches of hemming I’d done and finished Moss Agate as I had finished the other four. And when I finally got round to Spring Romance, that got finished in the same way. Not a lot of variation, but then is anyone going to buy several bags and then complain that they all use the same finishing stitch? And using the same stitch for each piece certainly helped to get a rhythm going and speed up the process.

So here they are, 10 recently finished projects plus one I had lying around, some waiting to be put on bags and some waiting for more bags to be put on. I’d better put in another order at the bag shop!

Eleven hemmed projects

PS don’t tell anyone, but I had to do some creative counting on Spring Romance – a slight miscalculation at the start which I didn’t notice until I’d already cut one side of the fabric. But if you don’t mention it and I don’t mention it, I’m sure no-one will ever notice…