I am trying to sew umbrella panels together but have no idea
how to do this. My problem is learning how to sew a straight line, by
hand. Are there any devices or tricks that anyone can impart that will
help as I practice?
You can also buy a little ruler that has a sliding hook and measure your
seam every few inches. I would then get a removable pencil and mark the
line from dot to dot and then just follow that mark.
These things are available in places like Wal-Mart or Michaels, or any store
that carries either quilting or sewing fabrics and supplies.
Thanks for your help. Please remember that I know NOTHING about
sewing. Press a seam allowance, excellent idea. Is there something I
can do in order to ensure that my line is straight and equal distance
from the edge for the entire length?
"a sliding hook" Not sure I know what you mean, but I'll have a
look. Dot to dot, another good idea.
Ladies - How far apart should the stitches be? Rember this is
an umbrella, and will have lots fo pull on the seam. Also, what stitch
type should I use?
Well, you can use the gadget that Lucille talked about, or even easier
make one of light-weight cardboard and an exacto knife. Mark the
cardboard for 1/4" (or whatever hem width you need), and cut out a
V-shaped slice at that mark. I use a cardboard marker to make tucks
since it's actually more accurate for this use than a ruler.
What Lucille was talking about is a 6-inch metal ruler that has a
sliding (usually red) part with "wings" that you can use for marking
hems. I have several of them around and a local sewing store will have
plenty in stock. They're rather hard to describe but are made
specifically for marking at exact increments.
This answers both your questions: distance between stitches and what
stitch to use.
Backstitch. But that's tedious for any number of reasons. Backstitch
creates stem stitch on the reverse side. So why not do the easier stem
stitch, which creates a back stitch on the reverse side. :-)
By using either of those stitches there will be NO space between
stitches. Or very little, depending upon your prowess.
I don't envy you your project. I hope it's a small umbrella!!!
Thanks again ladies.
I looked at one of my machine made umbrellas, and what they've
done is put the two edges together, then fold them over and stitch the
four layers together. I assume that the stem stitch will work for that?
So what do I do? Draw a line about 1/4" in from the edge of each
panel, press along the lines, superimpose the two folds over one
another, and stem stitch right close to the edge? Am I getting the
picture here? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Hi, John. I went and got out my umbrella to see how it was constructed.
I think I'd have to take it apart to tell for sure, but it looks to me
like 3 layers, not 4. Then again, I'm known to be wrong in many
circumstances. I think you *get* the seam but are unsure how to sew it up.
Yes, use stem (or back) stitch. That will emulate machine stitching
with no spaces between the stitches.
How big is your umbrella that you're stitching! That could be quite the
project!!! Have you embroidered the umbrella?
I had another look at a couple of my umbrellas and it does
seam (I couldn't resist the pun) that the four layers are caught.
These make a mound, which is clean on one side and frayed on the other.
It is very hard to tell for sure though.
This is virtually a golf umbrella size. It has a wing span of
about 50". I suspect it's just as difficult to cover a small one as it
is a large. Yes, it's a majour project, especially when you don't know
what in h_ _ l you're doing. I started out trying to make it out of a
cone size piece of fabric, basically a circle with a panel removed.
Then I discovered a little thing called "bias". So I had to go the
traditional route - panels. (I still haven't completely given up on the
one piece construction idea.) I then had to learn how to cut a straight
line in fabric. (I expect you're rolling on the floor by now.) Now, I
have to learn to sew it, which is probably the last, and most difficult
"I think you *get* the seam but are unsure how to sew it up."
Indeed you're right. I'm really way over my head here, skill wise, but
I'm prepared to expend the necessary effort. When you overlap the two
folds, do you pin it in place before sewing? You, and Lucille, are a
You could pin it, but even better would be to baste it. Just in case that's
a new term to you, it means to take any old thread and make running stitches
that will hold your seam in place. Then remove these temporary stitches as
you go along doing the neater, more even, permanent stitches.
Good luck with your project. You've certainly picked one heck of a
difficult thing for a first timer. Be assured, if this comes out good you
can tackle most any other thing you choose.
Let us know how it's going.
I totally agree with Lucille's thoughts on basting first. You'll be
soooo glad you took that route. It's the long way, but it will make the
job shorter in the long run. :-)
Yes, please do keep us aprised of your progress. You'll get lots of
support here for those days when you wonder why you ever decided to
tackle this! Stem stitch is easy and should go quickly.
Thanks again ladies. You should see my first attempt... not pretty. I
think I've got the idea, but I would like to show you this description
I found on the net of the stem (back) stitch, and see if this is what
"Start the back stitch by bringing the needle from the under side of
the fabric to the top side. Then take a stitch backward. If you're
right-handed, you'll be taking a stitch to the right. Then, carrying
the thread under the fabric to your left, bring the needle back to the
surface of the fabric one stitch length to the left of your original
beginning point. Continue sewing, each time taking your needle back to
the beginning of the previous stitch before moving on. In other words,
take one stitch-length back on the surface of the fabric, and then two
stitch lengths forward under the surface of the fabric.
Don't pull the thread too tight; you want the resulting seam to be
smooth and free of puckers. The top row of stitching should appear as a
uniform row of abutting stitches, while the stitches on the under side
will overlap. If you're afraid your line of stitches will waver, you
might want to first mark the stitching line with a temporary chalk line
-- it will guide your needle placement. As always, practice the stitch
before you put it into practice."
If the above description is correct, does the backstitch go through the
same hole as was made by the forward stitch? Should I use a double
thickness of thread,or is single enough? Would about 1/8 inch back (1/4
forward) be too long a stitch?
I believe your directions are the correct method of doing stem stitch.
Well, I should say one method, and the correct for your use. For this
method, yes, the stitch goes back into the same hole as the last ended.
See if this doesn't help as well:
would think 1/8" would be sufficient (total length 1/4"). Rather than think of it in terms of a precise measurement, think of it as: how tiny can I make it?
Truly this stitch will get to be worked quite fast once you get the hang
of it and the seam basted down.
Thanks again Dianne,
The illustration you sent me, and indeed everyone I've seen,
depict the stem stitch as appearing like a braid. The only way I can
get that effect is if the down stroke starts a little to the right (or
left) of the seam line, then returns to it on the up stroke. Have I got
Nope. The proper method - to create a perfect back stitch on the
reverse side - is to go down on the stitching line (not up/down from
it). Then come back where the last stitch ended, which is on that
If you follow the links on the URL I sent you, you will see two other
methods for doing stem stitch. These methods will not give you an even
back stitch on the reverse side.
Go here, scroll down to the bottom, and you will see the backside,
depending upon the three methods you use:
In case you're interested in buying one of these gadgets, ask for a
Now, the question that *I*'d like to ask is: *Why* are you trying to
sew an umbrella, especially as a first sewing project????? :)
So, which one am I trying to do?
I've always had a fascination with umbrellas. Now that I don't
work I figured I would try my hand at covering and repairing them. The
mechanical part is easy, but I'm having a tough time getting my head
around the sewing. Lack of confidence I guess. I want to put on wild,
colourful canopies. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated.
O.K. I think I'm getting the idea. Still looks like a drunk did it,
but I think it's just a matter of practice.
Majour discovery - Nylon is MUCH easier to work with than polyester.
It's very easy to cut straight and seems to lie down better.
I came across a kite making web site that described how to tack
nylon with a soldering iron*. Works super well. Of course you have to
tack on the waste side of the seam. Does 4 layer easily. I tacked the
two panel edges, drew a guide line, folded the the two layers to the
line, tacked that, drew another guide line, then sewed on the line.
It's a lot of work, I know; and I'll probably drop some of it when I
get more comfortable and skillful, but for now it's O.K.
What kind of thread should I use on thin nylon?
* If anyone's interested, I can tell you what it said.
Boy, that's a good question, since nylon is hard on 100% cotton sewing
thread. I'd think that a polycotton thread would work. That's what
most of them are, today. Or a really good quilting thread, which is a
Soldering that nylon sounds interesting. The heat causes it to melt and
bond with the subsequent layers?
Good luck on your project! It's interesting how some individuals find a
project and just dig in and discover what to do whatever it takes!