Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hanging a Rug Part Deux

The top sleeve halves pinned in place.

As I mentioned in my previous post, making a hanging sleeve for a needlepoint rug has many similarities to making a hanging sleeve for a quilt: you have to leave extra room at the side edges to make sure the hanging rod is covered when the piece is installed; if the piece is large enough, you need to allow a gap in the top sleeve for additional hanging hardware; you have to decide on the type of hanging rod that will be used ahead of time, so that you can factor in the width and depth of the rod into the size of your sleeve calculations.

In this case, I knew I needed weighted steel rods, at least in the bottom sleeve. I also knew I didn't want them to be too thick, which causes a bump even in a pleated sleeve, and would risk straining and distorting the closes stitching on the front. But where to get these rods? I emailed my artist friend, Kathy Weaver, who often uses this type of hanging rod in her work. In her area, she finds them at a local hardware store. In my area, I only found them at Home Depot, and had to search the store before finally finding cutable lengths in the hardware aisle. The steel rods are narrow, about 1", and thin, less than 1/4". They can also rust. For this reason, they need to be sealed, and the sleeve needs to be a double sleeve, i.e. a width stitched and folded in half so that no part of the rod comes in contact with the fibers of the quilt or rug directly.

Top sleeve with separation in the middle. If you look closely, you will see that the sleeve is doubled, with the edges finished and the seam allowance, unseen, against the piece.

This type of hanging rod is thin enough that the sleeve probably would not absolutely have to be pleated. The pleating, however, allows extra depth for the hanging rod prevent distortion, is easy to make, and therefore is usually the best solution. To make a double pleated sleeve, add the depth of the rod doubled, plus the width of the rod doubled. Calculate the seam allowance and add that to your measurement. Then add the doubled depth of the rod again, which will create an allowance for a pleat on one edge. This is the minimum size needed.

In my example here, I made the sleeve extra wide, wider than I would actually need, because of the tight stitching on the front, and because I needed to stitch the bottom edge of the sleeve into the reverse side of the needlepoint stitches for added strength. I cut a 10" piece of canvas, stitched a 3/8" seam allowance, then pressed the sleeve along the length so that the seam allowance fell in the middle. I also pressed the seam open to reduce bulk. I finished all the side edges after cutting the length in half for the top sleeve.
Start your stitching with a hidden knot. Sew the top (outside edge) first.

Like many textiles, the edge of this needlepoint rug was not completely straight. I laid the sleeve out to determine the best place to sew it straight across, and pinned it down. Remember to leave room for your pleat at the top edge. My pleat is relatively small, just over 1/4", so I have allowed plenty of space. After stitching the top edge down with a blind stitch and glazed quilting thread, (knots hidden, please!) I created my pleat:

Once the top edge is stitched in place, gently pull the entire sleeve toward the top edge to create the pleat. Since the sleeve had been previously steam ironed, the ironed edge on the bottom of the sleeve will give you a visual guideline. Check to be sure that, when the pleat is in place, the top of the hanging sleeve does not show on the front. Make adjustments as needed, then pin the bottom edge of the sleeve in place and pull the extra sleeve bulk toward the previously sewn edge. This will help keep it out of the way while you stitch.

The sleeve bottom edge is pinned in place. Notice how the pressed line provides a visual guide.

Notice there is enough room along the top edge to accomodate my thin hanging rod to prevent it showing on the front when the rug is installed.

Do the same to the bottom edge (minus the two-piece sleeve) and you are ready to install.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hanging a Rug and other stuff to figure out

Magic Baby booth at a recent event.

Now that the Artist as Quiltmaker exhibition I curate has opened, and my daughter's wedding is over (I know, I never finished posting the pictures of the dress and jacket made for her...soon, soon, I promise!), I am back at work on my Magic Baby line and other artwork on my etsy store. I recently finished up several things I had cut out before the wedding. (Have you noticed my life has been defined by "pre-wedding" and "post-wedding?")

Although I had made several prototypes of this adorable little jacket for my granddaughters, I wanted to make one for little boys. This one is made out of snuggly flannel, is hooded, has adjustable sleeve lengths, and is completely reversible, part of my signature style. The first picture shows both sides of the jacket completed and ready to be measured for buttons before sewing it together.

One new thing I wanted to do on this jacket was to perfect my previous attempts to make completely handmade and baby-soft buttons. I have tried several different ideas previously, but wasn't completely happy with the results. This time, I used recycled plastic bottle cap rings covered with layers of quilt batting and flannel to create matching buttons. They turned out wonderfully!

I used the same style of handmade buttons on the inside. Since they are soft, they won't chafe the skin!

I also just finished a prototype for a new design, but will post about the separately. Suffice it to say that, each time I create a new pattern prototype, the goals are to a) have fun with it b) to solve some new problems and c) to try something new.

More on that later.

The other project that came my way in the past few weeks was designing a hanging sleeve. Because I have made art quilts for exhibition for the past 25 years, making a hanging sleeve isn't anything new. The twist for this project was that I needed to create an appropriate hanging sleeve for a very large needlepoint rug. Not only is the rug heavier than a quilt of the same size would be, but there is not backing layer of fabric to stitch into, and the entire large piece is stiff. I couldn't exactly curl up with it on my couch to work.

So, here you see my tools gathered, and the top sleeve pinned in place. Because of the weight of the rug, I opted to use unprimed, pre-washed and pre-shrunk canvas for the sleeves, both top and bottom. I needed very long, thin pins to be able to just graze the needlepoint canvas to hold the sleeves in place while stitching. I used glazed quilting thread that matches the canvas in a single strand to attach the sleeves.

In my next post, I will detail the logistics!