Joan Keats’ Weaving Workshop Notes: Hemstitching

A piece of weaving done with a weft of bouclé yarn looks better if that weft is not used for hemstitching. Instead use either the warp yarn or a machine cotton which will blend in.

Insert 2 picks of the finer yarn leaving the usual length for hemstitching. Then join in the heavy yarn and weave for one inch. Hemstitch in the usual way, but take the needle up into one pick of main yarn.
To proceed with this sampler. Join in the normal weft and weave for one inch finishing with the shuttle at the left. Measure out the allowance of weft for hemstitching and proceed in the usual way. However this time work progresses from L to R and away from the reed, not towards it.
Before commencing to weave again lay in one pick of heavy wool as a spacer. Measure out the weft allowance for another row of hemstitching and, commencing at R, weave several picks so that the web is firm. Draw out the space weft and proceed to hemstitch again.
If the second row of hemstitching is done around the same warp ends as the first then it will be Straight or Ladder Hemstitching. If an even number of ends (say 4) was used in the groups in the first row of hemstitching, then the second row can be staggered and the result will be Vandyke Hemstitching. Hemstitch around two ends only in the first group, then around four (two from the first group and two from the second group of the first row of hemstitching) ending by stitching around two ends only.
A variation as a hem finish is to do the Ladder Hemstitching and then a hem allowance, turning up the hem in the centre of the hemstitching so that a Picot edge is formed — the wider the space left between the two rows of hemstitching the deeper the picots. Slip stitch the two edges of the hemstitching together to hold the picots in place.
As the loom holds the web taut it can be used like an embroidery frame and other types of hemstitching can be used, such as Italian Hemstitching and the 4-sided stitch (see Handweaver and Craftsman, Spring 1967 and many embroidery books).

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