Saturday, November 12, 2011

Monk's cloth

I decided to start preparing the monk’s cloth I bought to make a Swedish weaving afghan. This is going to take me a while since I do all my sewing by hand (I just don’t get along with sewing machines), and I don’t plan to work on it constantly.

The first thing the instructions in Marilyn T. Magly’s books say to do is square off the ends of your fabric by pulling out threads until you get to one that goes all the way across. I started to do that, but soon realized that not only would it take forever, but that I would end up wasting a huge amount of fabric.

So, I found the first thread that went all the way across the fabric, cut along the line of holes one thread closer to the edge in case my scissors slipped, and then pulled the thread.

This piece of fabric was incredibly crooked. I don’t think the manufacturer even tried to cut it reasonably straight. I was left with two good-sized scraps of fabric. To give you some sense of size, the larger piece is 5 ¼” at the widest point, not including the shredded bit.

The next step is to either machine stitch around the edges or to hand baste a hem in order to prevent the fabric from raveling when you wash it (prewashing is necessary because the fabric shrinks). Starting with the narrow cut ends of the fabric (there are selvedges on both lengthwise edges), I folded the edge of the fabric up and temporarily pinned it in place. Since these are strictly temporary hems which will be ripped out later, I made no attempt to make them even and I didn’t press them.

Then, I folded the edges again so that the raw edges were hidden inside the hem, repositioning the pins as I went. 

The next step will be to hand baste those hems in place. I plan to hem the selvedges as well, since I’ve heard that – unlike those on most fabrics – the selvedges on monk’s cloth will fray. Looking at them, I don’t find that hard to believe.

The next step after that will be to machine wash and dry the fabric. I also plan to hem the scraps and wash them at the same time since they’re large enough to be useful. At the very least, I could cross stitch a few bookmarks.

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