Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Handkerchief Sampler, or Owen and the Paisley Skirt

One of our favorite storybooks is Owen, by Kevin Henkes.  Owen is a little mouse who is ready to go to school, but not quite ready to leave his favorite blanket behind.  His parents, egged on by a nosy neighbor, try increasingly desperate strategies to induce him to give it up, to no avail.  Finally, his mother has a brilliant idea--turn the blanket into handkerchiefs that Owen can carry with impunity.  I love stories with sewing solutions.
Of course, Owen didn't have a paisley skirt.  That was me.
It was already faded when someone gave it to me, years ago.  A button was missing.  A couple of pleats were coming unstitched.  Thinking back, I wonder, what was she thinking?  But I stitched it up a bit and wore it on many a Sunday afternoon.  It is softer and more faded now, but also more ripped, and I can't wear it anymore.  What to do?

I thought of Owen, and his mother, and the dwindling stack of handkerchiefs I share with Dandelionslayer.  We use them often, and gratefully.  And they disappear.  Usually they turn up again, in a pocket that hasn't been used for a while.  But the total has been diminishing. 

I also thought of the serger, and the cool presser feet that go with Grandma O's Duetta.  I decided that the edges of paisley handkerchiefs would be a perfect place to practice using them.  So I ripped up the skirt, and made four handkerchiefs.
First I tried the narrow hem foot.  The little curly part folds the edge so it can be neatly stitched down.  I learned some things.  For instance, the instructions in the foot package (which were the only way I identified the thing in the first place) are woefully inadequate.  I found some better advice online, but not until I'd blundered my way all around the perimeter.  Corners are tough.  And sometimes I let it fold too much over, so the hem is not as neat and narrow as it could be.  I'll do better next time.
I also used the 3-thread stitch on the serger, which turned out perfectly.  I tried a picot foot, which looks a lot like the narrow hem foot, but turns out a rolled hem.  And I turned a (not as) narrow hem under myself, and secured it with a decorative stitch.  The corners are not pretty on any of them, but I think they'll work.  My nose is certainly happy with my soft, new paisley handkerchiefs!

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