Friday, September 16, 2011

More Caftans and other fun things to do with linen

I finished the black linen caftan the day after my last post.  I was too impatient to wait till the next week to stitch the side seams by hand on my rides to work, so I just whipped it up on my machine.  Wore it that evening, and quite often since.  It is very comfortable

Both other linen fabrics, the black with turquoise embroidery and the lovely blue, were washed and dried several times.  I have started on the embroidered one.  This time I used the full width of the fabric and I made the overall length longer, ankle length.  I'll have to pick the bottom up when I use the stairs, which I don't have to do with the shorter black one.  Because the length is longer I found that the outside edges ("sleeves") dragged the ground, so I cut the bottom hemline at a much greater curve on each side.  I'll see how I like this longer length after it is made, knowing that I may need to shorten it.

Like the plain black, I am hand stitching the hem while I ride to and from work.  First I did the neckline.  I cut this a bit differently than the plain black, a bit more of a curve in the front with a shorter slit.  As with the black I used a narrow, 1/8 inch hem.  I wanted this to be done first because the loose threads of the neckline were subject to rubbing around as I moved the fabric to hem the outside edge.  Taking the fabric out of the bag I'm keeping it in in order to hem it, and moving/folding it back to put it back away could result in too much fraying.

It took me a day and a half or so of riding to/from work to finish the neckline.  Once the neckline was hemmed I started hemming the outside edge several inches above the bottom curve on one side, moving across the bottom using the same 1/4 inch hem that I used on the black.  I found that I needed to pick the embroidery out if it was right next to the hem, otherwise the fabric and embroidery together were too thick to turn and stitch down for the hem.  Because the embroidery motifs are large and spaced apart I only needed to do this a couple of times.  I have finished one bottom edge and am currently moving along quite well up the next side.

Last weekend I decided that the extra fabric that I hadn't needed to make the black caftan would make a nice, simple carry bag.  This didn't take very long at all, stitching it up on the machine.  It probably took me longer to decide what size to make it and then cut it out than it did to stitch it up.  Finished size is 15 1/4 inches tall by 15 inches wide.  The folded top hem is 3/4 inch.  The 2 straps are 1 inch wide, made from 1 1/2 inch strips turned into tubes.  Each strap is 32 1/2 inches over all length, including the attachment, making the finished strap length 31 inches.  This is long enough I can hang it over my shoulder and still easily get things into and out of it.

I'm thinking that I'll make another, similar bag, out of a similar size of the embroidered linen.  My idea for this one is to line it with the plain black and put a small side pocket or so inside it.  I may make this one with a zipper or other closure, too.  It will be more substantial with the lining and look a lot fancier with the pretty embroidery.

Earlier this week I decided to stop back by Hancock Fabrics again.  I decided that I would make my husband a linen sheet.  He gets hot easily, and linen is so nice at keeping one cool and dry.  I've thought about this several times, but he always said no.  This time I decided I wouldn't ask, I'd just do it.  So I did! I came home with several yards of a very light weight linen in a pretty dark sort of rose red.  I don't even have a good word for the color.  It's not brick, but it's not rose, either.  He likes red, and it is dark enough not to stain easily, and it is a color I'm happy with so with the limited options I took it.

Usually I prewash all fabric before making anything from it, but this time I didn't see any reason to bother.  I got 5 yards, which is enough to make 2 sheets large enough for his use.  Pulled threads to make sure the fabric was true to the grain on the ends and also for the cutting line, then stitched a simple 1/4 inch hem.  Washed and dried after the hemming.  I didn't stitch the selvedges, just left them. If they start to fray at all I'll trim and stitch them as well, but this allowed me to get him something done very quickly.

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