Sometimes we look at something so simple, watch someone do it and think “I got this.” It wasn’t until I started taking heir-looming classes that all the itty-bitty things and boo-boos I was doing started to really come out. The tiny tricks of the trade can make you re-think what you are doing right down to the tools you use and the steps you take. Now I learned most of my stuff from my Mom. I remember actually explaining somethings to my Home ec teacher in highschool! But..
The real head spinner for this old-gal, learning all this stuff in the context of here and NOW, can really be really different. Ya-know… I darn near BUY all that new fangled stuff to get things done. I am glad some lovely women are using their skills and coming up with fancy smancy do-dads to get sewing projects done but…. The voice of reason always taps me on the shoulder now and says “Wait a minute! You got 12 rulers at home already honey!” I can just imagine all those New sewers becoming overwhelmed at the supplies they think they need! One of these topics concerns the simple and no cost ways to thread elastic through a casing.
The picture at the start shows 3 ways I will talk about, that I use these days.
A threader a safety pin and a home-aide bodkin.
I do have a fancy threader (I got years ago) that cost me an entire dollar. I have unfortunately spent a lot of money on turning tubes and other fancy gadgets that went into the trash after 1 use. The Dritze threader is still under $3 and there is a Japanese on on-line that is metal for 2 dollars. As Always ADD IN shipping and, your little deal just became a Non-deal.(total for a dritz threader order is almost $10..I just checked.)So what are you supposed to do?
Skip past the threader for a look at the old ways!
- 1st measure the elastic length you need by using your pattern guide or
- Take a piece and wrap i,t pulling just slightly, around the arm or leg of the person you are sewing for (not tight!) .Pleave a pin at the length you just measured. Leave at least an inch on each end to “fiddle with”, (I like to leave 2 inches because I have fumble fingers) and cut the elastic strip.
- Now check that your tool will fit the casing.
5. Attach it to your “tool”. I like to tie mine but some use a safety pin. Keep reading for the trouble I have with safety pins. leave at least an inch on each end to “fiddle with”.
6. I double the elastic when I pin it to make sure I have some bulk to stop at the opening.
7. Now all you have to do is pull the tube backwards throough the casing. Do this slowly, trying to keep the elastic from twisting.
8. Once you get to the end, contrary to simple thought, you need to anchor that puppy with 2 pins, especially if it is tiny elastic. You may THINK that 1st one has it anchored but …if not you just made more work and frustration for yourself.I do not cut the extra off. There is more to do now.
9. I need to measure the gathered area. If I have “slipped up and gotten it too tight, no is the time to figure that out, not after you sew it down.
10. Now to the machine. I have pins sticking out and need to place it so that it doesn’t miss the elastic when it stitches nor break the needle. I place the pins like so, pointed in a specific direction, so that I can remove them easily when the time is right.
11. I do the one closest first using a 1.5 stich length and go over it 3 times back and forth. Then I move the fabric over to the other pin appoz 1/4 inch away. and place the foot firmly on the area right over the pin. THEN i can remove the pins.
12. After sewing, you can SEE why I needed to do this. The elastic ooched it’s way from the foot and movement of the feed dogs up. If I hadn’t done all this it would have slipped, twisted and..frustration gallor!
Safety pens to the rescue (and other ways)
Historiccally. We did not have these neat threaders. They are relatively new and affordable thanks to plastic (and trade agreements:). There is another way to do this and spend NO money to get that elastic through.
The first way is using a safety pin or blunted large eyed needle or old bodkin.
When using a safety pin you need to know few things to make it work:
- Fold the elastic over on itself as pictured. Pressure from pulling it through the casing will fray it and it will come apart INSIDE your casing (time wasting and frustrating, after digging it out, re-threading etc, you are exhausted and need a vacation!))
- Make SURE your safety pin clasp head closes securely. These day the little boogers are not as well made as in the past. The clasp doesn’t hold and pops open. You loose the elastic and the thing is stuck inside your casing OPEN. Nasty situation involving seam ripping sometimes. If my pin is “iffy” I have a pair of pliers I can use to mash it totally closed. I would rather throw the thing away afterward than go through seam ripping and re-sewing.
A bodkin is an old idea. Go here to see what it is. (NEAT place). You can buy cheap platic ones or make your own with a large eyed tapestry or upolstrey needle. Just file it down to blunt.
It works for those tiny casings. There is a problem with your figures holding on however…. It is difficult to grasp as you work the needle through the casing and is slower than either of the other methods however but,when using <1/4 casings, nothing else may fit! Go slow and be careful not to accidentally pierce the fabric inside the casing. I did one leg using this method.
You can buy bodkins modern kinds… (with a price I find hysterical. They are flimsey blunted things that look like they cost a cent to make I can not believe people actually spend money on those things but hey…Go with what makes you comfortable.)
If you ever find an historic one of bone spend that money and send me a pic!
Here is a sight that carries them in bone and wood. The site is fascinating for those of us who love old things and the old ways!
I remember my great-grandmothers that was made by her grandfather. Long gone now as those in the “they know not what they do” category threw away (like in the dumpster!) all of her sewing stuff. I have the thimbles, pin cushions, patterns, books and sewing table because Lady Iris Jean was smart enough & humble enough to actually jump in said dumpster and try and save what she could….oh for that bodkin though! But thanks Mom for the things I do have. They are priceless when I sit down and use something I know my mom’s mom’s mom’s mom was sitting and using 100 years ago!