Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Hand Sew a Simple Blanket

Most people detest hand sewing and normally have a long list of reasons why. My mother never taught me to sew, by hand or machine, so it's been something I have had to pick up on my own out of necessity and a skill I think all young ladies should know how to do.In fact I am teaching my 13 year old how to do this as we speak./type.  There are alot of perks to hand sewing. It offers great mobility and you take your project with you basically anywhere you go-the doctor, friends house, park, on trips, etc. The possibilities here are endless! I also find hand sewing great for quiting my soul and thinking on God while I am stitching. I think my favorite reason why I hand sew is its reversible and I control the speed every step of the way.  

I got into hand sewing when my son was born. I wanted to make something special for him that he could keep as an heirloom to pass down. What I made was a blanket. I picked my favorite color (green) and his fathers favorite color (blue) and combined them. I also wanted to include his name on the blanket (Jesse Drake). Since I did not know much about hand sewing at the time I went very basic. I did a block style blanket, all the same size.

I knew I wanted the blanket to include his name in the middle so the first thing I did was count out how many squares I was going to need. I was lucky in this regard because both names have 5 letters to I cut 7 squares. I measured out each square and placed a green on one side and a blue on the other. I then fastened each square section to the other so I would not loose them. Then I laid them all out how I wanted the blanket to look. I wanted alternating colors so it went blue, green, blue, green...you get the idea.

Once I got which of my squares would go where I had to separate out which ones for each letter of his name so the color scheme would flow. I did this by using a stencil and drawing out the letters wtih pencil while I had the blanket all laid out. Otherwise I probably would have thrown off my whole color scheme. I know I mentioned that you should match your thread and material as closely as possible, but I wanted his name to stand out, so I picked a blue and green color and used the green thread on the blue squares and the blue on the green squares so there would be a contrast and his name would pop. I also used a thread a few colors bolder. Then I followed the Steps 1 &2:


Step 1: Match your thread and material as closely as possible. Cut about a 3 foot length of thread. You don't want it too long or it will become tangled and irriate you to know end. You want to match the up your thread and thread lengths and then tie a knot in the end. Dont know how to thread a needle? Here are some simple steps you can follow to help guide oyu through the process:

How to thread a needle:
1. You will need sharp scisors-dull ones frey your thread and make it difficult to get therough the eye of the needle.
2. Cut your thread at a 45 degre angle.
3. Hold hte yee of the needle close you your eye so its facing upwards towards you.
4. Slip the thread into the needle
5. Knot one end of the thread, leaving one end loose to sew with one thread or knot them together to sew with two threads.
6. Straighten the thread and begin sewing.

Tips:

  1. If you are unable to see the eye of the needle, place a contrasting color behind the needle.
  2. Coating the thread with bees wax will strengthen and stiffen the thread.
  3. Use the proper needle for the project.
Step 2: There are several types of stitches you can use when hand sewing, some more time consuming than others. I went with the straight stitch which is pretty well described by its name. It's well used for very simple hems, sewing two pieces of fabric together (such as my blanket), and gathering fabric. If needed iron your fabric so it will all be straight and smooth.(if you want to add bedding to your blanket,read step 4 before you sew)  Knot your thread to the inside of the fabric, and then simply weave the needle in and out of the fabric in a straight line. The length of your stitches can be very short or very long, depending on what you are working on. I used the finger tip for measuring stitch length. So in between each of the stitches my finger tip would fit.I actually ended up making to runs at this with my stitches side by side so it took on the look of equal signs(=) running along my blanket. I did this simply for stability due to the use I hopped the blanket would get.Using the same in and out weave, work your way down the seam towards the end of the material. Sew in as straight as line as possible. When you get to the end, repeat the lock in loop. You'll need to knot the thread off before you cut it. Thread the needle under the last stitch and pull it through just until you have a small loop left, then thread the needle through this loop and pull it tight. Cut the thread off . I actually tied my stitches off every could hand lengths for stability as well. I used this technique for my letters as well as my blanket.

Tip: Thimbles make sewing easier for sure, but if you are not use to uisng them they can feel akward and bulky. I suggest starting out with the rubber ones and working your way to the metal ones as you become more accustumed the the weight and feel.


Excuse the car hair, I coul dnot keep them off of it the whole time we were sewting!

Step 4: Bedding-I wanted my blanket soft and cuddly, so I added bedding to the middle before I sewed it up so I had a few more steps to complete. I first had to sew the letters into my fabric before I could sew the blanket together. Once I had all my letters sewn on the fabric (using steps 1 and 2), then I could sew each section of blocks  in lines. I had 6 sections to my blanket; two above my sons name, 2 with my sons name and 2 below his name. I had to weace each section of blocks into one line then sew it all together. I placed my bedding into my top row and used Step 2 to sew the top row together. Since I used block patterns I sewed across the top and then down each block as well to combine everything. I did this all the way through the blanket gradually adding each line. So my blanket literally looked like blocks sewn together. Obviously if you are just doing a solid stitch this wont apply to you.



This is when hand sewing comes in handy. I messed up a whole line going across and was able to revome it easily and redue it.  you can easily see were I removed the "bad" line. Once again ignore the lovely cat hair :)

This is my sons blanket after i had to recove rit because he wore the origianl donw so much I could stitch it up. since i did not want to loose it and it had "The Smell"  and "Feel" that comforted my littl eman I did not dare get rid of it instead we gave his bkaney a protective "cover" to keep it safe.


This was my first time to close a stitch up when I had to flip it, not the correct way, but a learning process


Practice: As with anything you do, practice makes perfect-or close enough to it. Take out old pieces of wash rags and cloths and use them to practice your sticches and before you know it you will be an old pro. Have fun with it and enjoy.


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