Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to thread something through a casing

I know this may be a little elementary for some folks, but I have been inspired to explain some simpler, beginner concepts for those that are just starting out.  So many blogs, pattern companies, DIY tutorials, etc assume that the reader has a basic knowledge of the subject matter when giving explanations.  I do it too.  Its essential, otherwise we would be bogged down in 100 page long explanations of how to do things.  However, I got to thinking: f no one ever showed ME how to do it, I wouldn't know how.  Based on that, I decided to start posting some simple explanations of basic concepts.  For starters they will probably be sewing related since that is honestly what I am best at, but hopefully I will get some inspiration to do other genres as well, like cooking and such.  If I ever get any readers or *gasp* even a subscriber or two, I would love to take requests.   Even if it is something I don't know how to do, I promise to give it a shot.  We can learn together!

Threading a ribbon/elastic/other through a casing:
I will start by assuming the casing is already stitched.  There are many ways to make a casing, so I am reluctant to broach that subject here for brevity's sake.  A casing (if done properly) will always have at least one opening, often two.  I am using the casing from my changing table cover project as the example here.  Since the ultimate goal of this casing is to completely enclose the elastic, there is only one opening.

To begin, you will need a safety pin that will fit through the casing.  They come in many sizes, including ridiculously small to get in those hard to reach places!  Take the safety pin and pin it through the end of the ribbon or elastic you are threading through the casing.  You will want to pass the pin to the back and then to the front again, piercing the item twice.  This gives it more material to grab on to which will prevent the material from ripping.  Don't do this too close to the end if you are using a very delicate ribbon or cord as it will encourage fraying and ripping.  If your ribbon or whatever is REALLY delicate, consider using a piece of tape or a dab of hot glue to reinforce the end, or fold the end in half and then pin through all the material.  If the elastic/ribbon rips while you are threading it through, you will have to start over and fish the safety pin out of the middle of the casing which is annoying at best.

Next, point the end of the safety pin through one opening of the casing.  It shouldn't matter which one unless there are special circumstances for your project that you need one end of something on one side and one end on the other, like a belt.  Holding the safety pin in your hand, push the safety pin through the casing, scrunching up the fabric as you go.  Push the safety pin as far as you can without letting it slip back, then let the bunched up fabric go behind the safety pin.  Pull the gathers out by letting more ribbon thread through the casing.  This will make it easier as you go, especially once you get to the end.


...Then pull.
Continue pushing the safety pin through a little at a time and pulling the ribbon or whatever through.  Be careful not to twist the ribbon, as it is really hard to undo once it is inside the casing.  Also, if you are threading a small amount of something through a long casing, you may consider pinning the other end of the elastic to the opening or to another part of the project so it doesn't accidentally slip through as well.  If the other end slips in, you can sometimes recover it, but often it means starting over, AFTER you finish threading it through and can pull the whole piece out again.  Not fun. :-)  Once you reach the other end, pull the end out a few inches so it doesn't slip back in, unpin the safety pin, and adjust the gathers evenly across the length of the ribbon or elastic.  If you are enclosing the elastic as in my project, stitch the ends of the elastic together and then stitch the casing closed.  If not, tie the ends together or fasten them down so they don't slip back inside.  Voila!  You are done!

I safety pinned my ends together until I could machine sew them.
Its really that simple.  My hand position in my photos is not the best for working, but I am right handed and can't snap photos with my left, so my left hand is just holding stuff in place.  Use whatever techniques prove easiest for you, but I like to think of mine as an "inchworm" scrunching a small amount over the safety pin with my left hand, then pulling it over with my right.  With practice, this will start to go very quickly!  Good luck!

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