P1010891I first learned to sew about 18 years ago. The Peasant Guild had up to then only done Renaissance Faires, and we were branching out into the Golden Age of Piracy. I needed a new costume. This then led into my love affair with fabric and thread, needles and trim.

It was my mother-in-law who first taught me to sew with a sewing machine. My high school did not have a Home Ec. class, and I never learned from my mother, though she did make costumes and clothing for my sister and I as children.

My first foray into sewing with a machine taught me to put the foot down, or the fabric won’t go .

My with my current peasant costume, made seven or eight years ago, I found that the serger is a beautiful tool that makes my cuts look straight , and the edges don’t fray.

On my first co-operative project, the costumes for Our Captain and First Mate  that A. and I made several years ago; I learned  patience and how to walk away before I lit something on fire. (Those Pirate pants were very frustrating.)

 This brings me to one of my current projects, a Spanish Surcoat and Kirtle  for the mistress of our Blue Boar Inn. I will post about it in the near future.  I have learned some tips that are new to me. That I have tried today.

The first photograph to the is the cover of the surcoat pattern I will be using. The designer, Margo Anderson, is an expert  in reconstructing historical patterns of the Renaissance Period. This pattern includes a manual, which at first horrified me. I don’t want to read that much to make a costume. However, I have found some very interesting information from its pages.

Most of us know that once you have purchased fabric for a project, it must be washed in hot water prior to cutting. There are a number of reasons for this. It removes the sizing which gives the fabrics that nice crisp finish. It also  pre-shrinks the fabric to minimize the shrinking of the finished product.

P1010884I usually surge or use a zig-zag stitch on both of  the ends. I do not like loosing any more fabric then absolutely necessary, nor do I like having to trim off the frayed edges. I then wash the fabric. Once the fabric was clean, the battle would begin. First I would have to search for one of the ends. Once an end was found I would have to systematically pull out some of the fabric and untwist, then  pull more fabric and untwist some more, until all of it could be placed into the drier. This is a lot of work. Although I could use more exercise, this is not how I want to go about it.

What Margo recommends is to surge or zig-zag the two edges together. This minimizes the amount of twisting that goes on in the washer and dryer.

I have tried this twice today. The first was a 2 yard piece of brown linen, That I will be making into a Peasants Jerkin or vest for our Assistant Guild Master, D. When it came out to the wash it was not twisted at all. I then put it in the drier. Once again there was no twisting. Then again it was only 2 yards.

P1010894The second trial was a 90 inch wide cream-colored  linen cut of 15 yards long. This will become one or two table cloths for our Lord Mayor’s Pavilion. This piece was folded length-wise, twice and left on a bolt. One edge was not an even cut, so I zig-zagged that edge once, and again with the two edges together.

I washed the fabric. Once it was done I found that, although it had twisted, it was not nearly as bad as usual. It was much easier to pull out with minimum effort needed to untwist and stack to go into the drier. It took me about fifteen minutes. Previous efforts could last half an hour with only ten yards.