Monday, September 13, 2010

Sewing Basket Challenge 1: Backing a Kilim - Polish Tapestry

In 2008, my parents visited Poland, and came home with a kilim - a polish tapestry, usually displayed as a wall hanging. This kilim, however, wasn't backed, so they couldn't hang it. The task was handed to me, and I started it - I got fabric to do he backing, and thread, and washed and overlocked the piece of fabric. I even began the process by catching the tassels at the top of the kilim, but I got stuck there. The kilim was placed in a bag with the backing fabric, and has been languishing in my sewing basket ever since.

Until now. With my sewing group resolution, I am attempting to finish everything in my sewing basket. The kilim now represents the first of my unfinished projects.

So, how did I go about backing the kilim?

Well, as I said, I had already caught the top tassels. I used a blanket stitch to do this, folding the tasel down so it sat invisibly behind the knots.
View from the front of sewed down tassels
View from the back of sewed down tassels

I left the bottom tassels hanging free.

Next, I went to the backing fabric. I had already overlocked the the edges, although this step is slightly unnecessary, as all the edges will eventually be turned to the inside.

To hang the kilim, a rod pocket is required. to do this, I firstly folded the sides in, so that they sat 1 cm narrower on each side than the kilim. The rod pocket was going to be about 5cm deep, so I sewed the side flaps down 10cm. This means that when the rod gets threaded into the pocket, it won't catch on the folded in sides. I used a small whip stitch to secure the sides. This gave me a row of tiny parallel stitches on the right side, and a row of tiny parallel angled stitches on the wrong side.

Small stitches visible on the right side of the fabric
Small whip stitches on the wrong side of the fabric

Next, I folded the rod pocket down and pinned it in place. I used a back stitch to secure this seam, with a small stitch on the right side and a longer stitch on the wrong side. To give this seam additional strength, I sewed a second seam about 8mm above the first. I should note here that I am fairly bad at sewing straight seams, so both seams were a little wonky.

Double row of stitching on the right and wrong sides of the fabric

Next, I had to secure the rod pocket to the kilim. I firstly folded the rod pocket so that the top crease sat flush with the seam. This meant that when folded down, the rod pocket would be invisible behind the kilim when it was hanging. I then pinned the rod pocket to the kilim. The top of my folded seam was flush with the top of the kilim, and the backing fabric was folded back. This allowed me to work on the back of the rod pocket, and the kilim.

I again used a whip stitch, this time slightly longer. Ensuring I didn't go through to the front of the kilim, I would catch one thread of the kilim, then  go through the rod pocket.

Ladder stitch to secure the rod pocket to the kilim
Ladder stitch to secure the rod pocket to the kilim,
The rod pocket secured, I flipped the fabric back onto the kilim, and folded the edges in, so that the backing fabric sat about 1cm from the edge of the kilim on the sides, and flush with the end of the thick wool threads at the bottom.

Pin the backing fabric to the kilim, leaving a border so the backing is not visible from the front.
I sewed the sides and bottom in place using a combination of ladder stitch on the sides, and whip stitch on the base.

And now, my parents have a backed, hangable kilim. Once it is hung, I will post a photo of it.

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