Tips For Sewing With Velvet

By Molly Hamilton
on January 13, 2021

Tips For Sewing With Velvet

This month Folkwear is featuring the 111 Nepali Blouse Pattern, which is a beautiful piece, often worn by Nepali women as an over blouse.  While this blouse is considered a traditional garment, typically made of velvet, it has a truly contemporary feel, which makes it a perfect complement to any wardrobe.

This versatile pattern can be made for any season or occasion. For everyday wear it would be lovely made of fabrics such as cotton, linen, rayon, light wools, or even knits. Any fabric with a bit of drape and a light to medium weight would be suitable. When made in velvet or silk it is transformed into an elegant and comfortable garment whether for a special occasion or for blissfully lounging about. Shorten the sleeves for warmer temps and enjoy year round.  The blouse can be worn open at the collar (simply omit the top sets of ties and cut just four ties for the waist). The ties could also be made of ribbon or even be replaced with buttons, hooks, frogs, or snaps.

Dark red velvet wrap blouse, close up of front.

Since the Nepali Blouse is traditionally made of velvet, this is a perfect opportunity to learn more about velvet and how to handle it.  Velvet can be a tricky fabric to sew with, but the tips below will make it much easier and less intimidating to work with.

Most velvets available today are made of rayon or silk. They generally have a very drapey effect and sometimes a bit of stretch, that work well for tops, blouse, skirts, dresses, pants, and scarfs. The photos below shows the soft silky drape of silk rayon velvet. This type of velvet has a distinct nap, which captures the light creating a beautiful shimmer.

photo showing soft drape of silk/rayon velvet
Photo showng drape of silk/rayon velvet

 Velvet can also be made of cotton and polyester blends, which generally have a more stiff hand or feel, and are perfect  for  more structured pieces, like coats and jackets. The velvets in the photos below are made of cotton and have a stiffer drape and the sheen is typically more subdued than silk and rayon velvets.

photo of stiffer drape of cotton velvet
photo showing cotton velvet drape


While silk and rayon velvets are stunning and rich fabrics, they are not the easiest fabrics to control and require a bit of extra attention. This blog will help provide some tips to ensure successful sewing for any velvet sewing project on your list. Use these tips for making the 111 Nepali Blouse, as well as the 120 Navajo Blouse and the 124 Bolivian Milkmaid Jacket, which are also traditionally made in velvet. 

Also view or download these tips as a PDF.


  • Velvet is a napped (or pile) fabric.  This means that the right side of the fabric has a direction that the pile (or fuzzy stuff on top) runs.  The fabic has a different feel and look depending on whether the nap is running up or down. To determine the direction of the nap, rub your hand along the lengthwise grain. The fabric will feel smooth in one direction (with the nap) and rough in the opposite direction (against the nap). Also, the fabric’s color or shade will appear darker with the nap going in one direction than the other. An upward nap creates a deeper and richer effect. A downward nap creates a more glistening or shimmering effect. There is no right or wrong when deciding on the nap effect you like, just personal preference.
  • Once you have determined the desired nap direction, be sure that all pattern pieces are placed pointing in the same direction (e.g., top edges of all pieces pointing in same direction). In pattern directions, this is a “With Nap” cutting layout, which usually requires more fabric than a “Without Nap” layout.  
  • If you cut the pattern out of a double layer of fabric, baste the two layers together along the selvage edges before pinning the pattern to the fabric. This will help keep the material from shifting and sliding.
  • If working with a double layer of fabric is too slippery and difficult, cut the pattern out of a single layer of fabric. Just be sure to cut both right and left pieces when appropriate (e.g., fronts, sleeves, facings). To do this, place the pattern piece on the fabric printed side up and cut out; then place it printed side down and cut out. Remember to point the pieces in the same direction.
  • Working with a single layer of velvet can be easier. Adding a layer of disposable fabric as a base, such as muslin or a thrifted cotton sheet, can make all the difference in creating more stability. Lay a single layer of stabilizing fabric on a cutting surface, then sandwiching the velvet between the disposable fabric base and the pattern. Pin and cut through all the layers of fabric. Paper could be substituted for the base layer of fabric, but this is not generally recommended because cutting paper dulls scissors or blades. The extra layer of disposable fabric really does a good job to stabilize squirmy velvet and silk fabrics.
  • Pin pattern pieces to the fabric only in the seam allowances. Pinholes often remain visible, because they punch out some of the pile threads, and you won't want these holes to show in the finished garment.
  • If the fabric frays or unravels badly, apply a small amount of fray retardant to all raw edges as soon as you cut out the pattern pieces.
  • Use silk thread for marking and basting, as it does not leave holes or imprints in the fabric.


  • Fusible interfacing is generally not a good choice for velvets or other pile fabrics, be­ cause the pressure you apply with the iron to fuse the adhesive also crushes the pile of the material. Therefore, select a sew-in interfacing and baste the interfacing to the wrong side of the pattern pieces before assembling the garment. Baste only in the seam allowances.
  • You can purchase different weights of non­fusible interfacing, or you can use a light­ weight cotton (e.g., batiste) or silk organza for a low-bulk, sew-in interfacing. Test a sample of fabric to see how it feels and drapes with the different interfacing possibilities.
  • For a more structured result, cut the interfacing on the straight grain. For a drapey, less structured effect, cut the interfacing on the bias.
  • There are very-low-heat fusible interfacings on the market today. If you choose one of these, place the fabric’s right side on a needleboard (or another piece of velvet set right-side-up) before fusing the interfacing to the wrong side, so you won’t crush the pile, and use as little pressure as possible. Experiment on fabric scraps first!
  • It is not recommended to iron or press the right side of velvet, this will crush the pile or nap. Remove creases by steaming. Steam the wrong side with an iron, but avoid placing the weight of the iron on the fabric. Using a clothing/fabric steamer on the wrong side of the velvet is ideal.


  • When sewing with plush velvets or other heavily napped fabrics, increase the stitch length a bit. Experiment with different stitch lengths on fabric scraps to achieve smooth, secure, pucker-free seams. 
  • Use silk thread for stitching, which result in easier and smooth stitching. 
  • Baste all seams before stitching, to keep the various layers from shifting. Use a baste stitch and then make a small backstitch every three inches or so as you go. Baste diagonally across the stitching line, rather than along it or parallel to it (see illustration below). If the layers still shift, baste on each side of the stitching line as well as diagonally across it.

  • You may want to shave or trim the pile or nap from seam allowances before stitching, to reduce bulk in the seams.
  • Double-check the sewing instructions before stitching any seam permanently, to be sure you are completing the next step correctly. Ripped-out seams leave behind unsightly holes that cannot be hidden.
  • Stitch seams in the same direction as the nap, as much as possible. If the nap is running down the garment, stitch seams from top to bottom; if the nap is running up the garment, stitch from bottom to top.
  • If the fabric is especially slippery, encase it between two layers of tissue paper. Stitch the seam through tissue and fabric, then tear away the tissue paper.
  • Stitch slowly! Stop every few inches, with the needle down in the fabric, and lift the presser foot to let the fabric relax. Lower the presser foot and continue stitching. 
  • When sewing pile and non-pile fabrics together, such as velvet and lining, stitch the seam with the non-pile fabric on top and sew in the direction of the nap.
  •  When hand stitching, catch a thread in the foundation fabric only, leaving the pile threads free.


  • Use scraps left over from cutting out the pattern to experiment with different heat settings and pressing surfaces, to determine what’s best for the selected fabric.
  • To avoid crushing the pile or nap, use a needleboard, fluffy terrycloth towel, or piece of velvet fabric as the pressing surface. Press garment with nap down against the needles, towel loops, or fabric pile. Press very lightly and use lots of steam if appropriate for the selected fabric.
  • If you must press the right side, use a piece of self-fabric or terrycloth as a pressing cloth and apply as little pressure as possible, to prevent crushing the pile.
  • Steam the seams open. Finger press the seams to secure an open seam. Do not directly touch the iron to the velvet.
  • To ”refresh” the nap of a garment made out of pile fabric, put it in the dryer with a few terrycloth towels. Set on air fluff (no heat) and run for just a few minutes, checking it often.


Because of the different nature of velvet fabric, it is a good idea to practice and experiment on a few scraps before you make your final project. Here are a few experiments to try using velvet.

  • Try cutting two layers of velvet to see how it behaves.
  • Experiment with how the naps directions look when stitched.
  • Pin and baste in the seam allowances before cutting.
  • Practice machine stitching the seams to see how the fabric behaves on the straight grain and in a curve.
  • Evaluate the thickness of turned seams.
  • Experiment with different stitch lengths and adjust if you get any puckers.
  • Practice steaming to remove creases.
  • Practice steaming and finger pressing the seams open.
  • See how the velvet behaves going through a serger.
Making swatches will help you get better acquainted with how velvet behaves. With a bit of experimentation, velvet is a pleasure to sew.  

While working with velvet takes more time and effort, the benefits are well worth it. No other fabric compares with the unique quality of a stunning velvet. Use these tips to make a 111 Nepali Blouse and for all your other velvet sewing projects. 

View or download this as a PDF.

 Back of dark red velvet blouse



Make a Parasol... for a perfect promenade!

By Molly Hamilton
on August 24, 2020

Woman standing in a garden holding a parasol with her back to the camera

Parasols are not only a convenient and stylish way shield yourself from the suns rays, but a perfect accessory companion to one of Folkwear's most favorite and popular patterns. The Folkwear 261 Paris Promenade Dress is made even more perfect when paired with its very own parasol.

The 1920's styling of this easy-to-sew and easy-to-wear, pullover dress has a carefree, yet sophisticated aesthetic. The unique construction of this dress makes it easy to imagine all sorts of creative fabric combinations. Complete your 261 Paris Promenade Dress ensemble by coordinating the vintage-style drawstring hand bag that comes with the pattern and now a parasol, for the next time you want to make a truly vintage-inspired statement.

And, today we are going to show you how to make your own parasol!

Photo of 261 Paris Promenade Dress and Parasol in garden

Photo of 261 Paris Promenade Dress and Parasol in garden

For a bit of inspiration in making your own parasol read the History of the Parasol blog for an interesting stroll through the history of sun protection and much more. Learning to make your own parasol is not as difficult as you might imagine. 

Knowing what to look for in a parasol or umbrella frame is important because the frame is the foundation of your project.  Due to the superb quality and craftsmanship of antique umbrellas and parasols, their frames and handles can be found in good condition and are not hard to find if you know where to look. Flea markets, thrift shops, ebay, Etsy, and historical reenactment website shops are all excellent resources. Consider using an umbrella you already have... if the quality of the frame is good, don’t toss it out… recover, re-purpose, reuse. Enjoy anew!

Frame Structure

When looking for a frame to use, remember that the more sections or pie-shapes a frame has, the easier it will be to make the canopy fit. This is in part because the more reinforcing seams you have, the more stable the fabric will be.  The narrower the width and the more seams there are, the more stable the fabric and therefore it will be easier to fit the canopy to the frame. The number of pie shapes corresponds to the number of ribs. The number of ribs corresponds to the seams. Parasols tend to be more elegant and daintier then umbrellas. So, parasols usually have more ribs, pie-shapes sections, and seams.

Parasol frame and parts

 The frame and pieces needed to make a parasol.

The parasol frame and parts I am using in this tutorial were sourced at Vena Cava Designs (they also carry Folkwear patterns!).  I ordered the Parasol Frame (Skeleton) kit (adult, straight handle). 

This is an inexpensive and good quality frame. This frame is suitable for either a parasol or umbrella and a great option for trying out your making skills. The pattern we are providing here fits this particular frame. However, you can use this pattern, with some modifications, to fit most other frames that you might find. 

Please note that I am referencing the parasol frame that is sourced in this tutorial. The pattern included has been made to fit this frame.

The Proper Fabric

The fabric you use to make an umbrella is different than fabric used for a parasol. Parasols were generally made of natural materials like silk, cotton, and linen and these fabrics are available at most fabric stores. Most natural fibers such as the ones mentioned have enough stretch and sometimes too much stretch when cut on an angel. For this reason the pie shaped pattern piece should be cut with the grain line indicated on the pattern (aligned with selvedge of the fabric).

When choosing a fabric, it is best to choose a fabric that is the same on both sides since you will see the wrong side of the fabric when he parasol is open.

Modern oil cloth and waxed cotton are fabrics that come the closest to original umbrella fabrics. Suitable waterproof fabrics will be made of synthetic nylon and woven from fine threads. These types of fabrics will not have much stretch, so pattern pieces will need to be cut on the cross-grain or with a curved edge on the bottom edge.  Nylon frays easily (can cut with a hot knife or serge immediately). To avoid disappointment, do a bit of research if considering the use of waterproof fabrics.  

Using the Folkwear Parasol Pattern

If you are going to make the parasol canopy for the kit, or modify it for your own use, instructions are below.

You will need:

  1. Folkwear parasol pattern (or piece as show with measurements below).  This is a PDF pattern piece that fits on 4 pages of 8.5x11" or A4 paper.  Print at home (at 100% or "actual size") and tape the four pages together to create the pattern piece.  Then cut out or trace the pattern piece to use to create your parasol.
  2.  Swedish tracing paper
  3.  1 (0.9 m) to 1.25 yards (1.1 m) fabric (see notes on fabric above)
  4.  Thread (strong polyester thread)
  5.  Parasol kit (or your own parasol frame)
  6.  Fray Check
  7.   Wood glue

Fabric Layouts and Cutting Guide

Layout your pattern piece on your fabric and cut out 10 pieces to make your parasol.  The diagram below shows how to create the parasol pattern piece used in this demonstration, if you do not print the PDF piece provided in the link above. Notice the grain line and lay your pattern out with the grain line parallel to the selvage.

Diagran of parasol pattern piece

Ten pattern pieces laid out on a 45" (114.3 cm) or 60" (152.4 cm) wide fabric, requires just over a yard (1m) of fabric. Note that these illustrations shows the fabric laying open and flat. 

Parasol pattern layout on 45-inch fabric/on grain


Parasol pattern layout on 60-inch fabric/ on grain

Note: The pattern pieces in the illustrations above are placed close to the edges of the fabric. If you think you may need more hem at the bottom edges, then allow for a bit more yardage. To be safe add an additional 1/4 yard (0.2286 m) of fabric.

If your pattern pieces are a different size than ours, you can lay the pattern pieces out on a piece of fabric the width you intended to use, and have a look at how the pattern pieces lay out and how you can make them fit. The illustrations above should help.

Sewing Guide

The 1/2" (13 mm) seam allowance for the long edges are included in the pattern. The 1/2" (13 mm) bottom edge seam allowance is included to produce a 1/4" (6.35 mm) hem.  The narrow top edge of the pattern piece does not get a hem. This pattern is intended for a natural fabric to be cut on the selvage grain. I used a light weight linen for the purpose of this demonstration.

MAKE A MUSLIN FIRST!! This is my best piece of advice in attempting the making of a parasol or umbrella. Frames are not always perfect. Especially if your frame is an antique. Plus experimenting without feeling the pressure of messing up good fabric is always wise.  And, you get to practice getting it right.

Step One:  Sewing the Canopy

Once the fabric pieces are cut out, I recommend working with wedges in pairs. With the right sides of the fabric together, pin one long edge and stitched a 1/2" (13 mm) seam allowance.  Then, move the needle over one or two notches and stitch again just OUTSIDE of the seam allowance.  Back stitch at each end. This extra stitch line will help to create a bit more seam strength and stability.

If you want add a strap to fasten your parasol neatly closed, now is the time. Just pick a seam and insert the strap into the seam allowance, sewing all at once. Use a snap or a button to fasten the strap.

View showing a second reinforcing stitch just to the outside of the seam allowance.

View showing a second reinforcing stitch just to the outside of the seam allowance.

Continued this method, working in pairs until all ten of the pie piece shapes are sewn together creating the circular canopy. There should be a hole in the center of the canopy. This is where the tip will come through.

Canopy sewn up.

Canopy all sewn up.

Press all seams in the same direction on the wrong or under side of the canopy. Press to set the seams and create a clean finish on the right or top side of the canopy as well.

Finish all the underneath seam allowances. Either, serge, pink, or trim. You could also do a faux flat felled seam.  French seams and bound seams will be too bulky and are not recommended.

 Parasol seam finished with a serge.

 Seam finished with a serge. Notice the seam allowance stitch and the second row of reinforcing stitches.


Step Two:  Top Strengthening Detail

The entry point where the tip-ferrule-post or top point, inserts into the fabric of the canopy is a major stress point and needs reinforcing to provide strength. The hole at the opening needs to be made smaller without adding fabric bulk. A couple of simple tricks will take care of both of these issues.

Make a short stay stitch approximately 5/8" (16 mm) around the hole opening in the top of the canopy. This will ensure all the panels stay in place and not over stretch when the parasol is opened and closed repeatedly.

A simple circle of fabric sewn to the underneath at the hole opening, will provide another layer of support and to be sure the canopy hole fits tightly to the tip-ferrule-post base.

From a scrap of the same fabric you are using to create your parasol, cut a 2-1/2" (6.35 cm) to 3" (7.62 cm) circle, using pinking shears. The idea is to not add any bulk to this area so finishing the edges with pinking shears serves the purpose well.

Fold the fabric circle in half and then in half again. Snip the tip of the point off with your scissors. Smooth out the circle and press to remove the ceases.

Pinked circle folded twice

Fold the Circle of fabric in half and then in half again.


Depending on the nature of your fabric, it might be wise to Fray Check the edges to seal the edges. The linen I have used needed a bit of Fray Check for this very reason. Allow the Fray Check to dry.

Reinforcing linen fabric circle getting a touch of Fray Check

 Reinforcing linen fabric circle getting a touch of Fray Check.

On the underneath side, make sure all seam allowances are pressed in the same direction, align the hole of the small reinforcing circle with the opening of the canopy and sew the circle to the canopy approximately 1/2" (13 mm) from the center hole.

Push the tip of the frame through the hole of the circle to see how it fits. Clip the hole of the circle a tiny bit more if needed. The idea is to have the hole of the circle to fit snugly to the base of the tip-ferrule-post.

View of pinked linen circle sewn to the parasol canopy.View of pinked linen circle sewn to the canopy.

Below are a series of images showing you how the simple circular piece of reinforcing fabric is attached to the canopy and what an important role this little bit of fabric performs in maintaining the strength and integrity of a highly used stress point. 

View of the pinked linen circle with the frame attached.
View of the pinked linen circle with the frame attached.
View of the pinked linen circle peaking through on the outside of the canopy

 View of the pinked linen circle peaking through on the outside of the canopy before the being stretched and fitted to the frame.

With the canopy stretched over the frame and closed-up you can appreciate how much this simple bit fabric reinforcement provides to the integrity of the parasols construction. 

pinked linen circle peaking through on the outside of the closed canopy

 View of the pinked linen circle peaking through on the outside of the closed canopy after being stretched and fitted to the frame.


Step Three:  Hemming the Edge

Turn the widest edge or the bottom edge of the pie pieces under 1/4" (6.35 mm) and press. Turn under another 1/4" (6.35 mm) and press creating a straight edge. Press and pin the hem in place. Manipulate the connecting seam edges to lay as smoothly as possible. Top-stitch close to the turned edge, taking care to create a clean finish.

Pinning the hem of parasol

Pinning the hem.


Step Four:  Adding the Rib Posts

Using button twist thread for extra strength, hand sew all the wooden tips to the wrong side of the canopy, at the seam allowance. Use the turned under hem as an anchor spot for sewing the tip to. You do not want to see any stitch work on the right side or top side of the canopy.


Photo of gutermann button twist used to sew on parasol tips

Gutermann button hole twist is ideal for attaching and strengthening the tips to the canopy.

The extra thickness of the turned under hem makes an excellent spot to sew on the tips and prevent the stitches from being seen on the top side.


 Wooden tip securely sewn to the hem of the parasol canopy

 Wooden tip securely sewn to the hem of the canopy.

Step Five:  Test for a Proper Fit

Once you get a few tips sewn in place, give the fit a try. It will work best to sew your first few tips on opposite sides of the canopy from each other, to help with the tension. Place the top hole of the canopy over the tip-ferrule-post base. Then gently pull the fabric over the rib and insert the metal rib tip into the wooden tip sewn at the canopy edge. You want the fabric of the canopy to fit tightly over the ribs (each seam should correspond to a rib), once the rib end is inserted in the wooden tip. There should be some tension, but not so much that the rib begins to distort or twist from its intended position along the seam. If this does happen, there is too much tension, the panel is too short. To remedy, let out the hem a bit to lengthen the panel.

With the rib inserted in the tip you can see how the tip needs to be secure and strong due to the tension required for a proper fit.


Tension created when metal rib is inserted in wooden tip

Tension created when metal rib is inserted in wooden tip.


Note: It is important the fit is good before proceeding any further.

Parasol  fit outside view

A perfect fit on the outside!

Parasol fit inside view
 Perfect fit on the inside!


Step Six:  Secure Ribs to the Seam Allowance

Your canopy should now be installed to the frame and fit perfectly. Even if the canopy fits beautifully to the frame, a bit more stabilization never hurts. Adding a thread tack will easily accomplish this task.

I have placed and sewn each tack 5" (13 cm) from the hem edge inwards along the rib. Using regular thread, double the thread up, and sew a few hand tacks as shown below.

Measuring where to place tack on parasol

 Measure to determine tack location to help added extra stability for each rib.

Start on one side of the seam allowance, inserting the needle between the seam stitch line and the extra stitch line previously made in the assemble instructions. Make the stitch through the seam allowance and under the rib. Pull the needle through to the opposite side.

First pass in making tack on parasol rib

First pass through the seam allowance and under the rib.

Insert the needle over the rib, through the seam allowance at the extra stitch line, to the opposite side. Continue in this manner until you have made 5 to 8 passes, creating a neat and secure hold. The idea is to prevent any stitch work from showing on the top side of the canopy. Tie the thread off with a couple of knots on each side of the tack. Trim the thread close to the knot. Repeat for each rib.

Photo demonstrating the making of the rib tack.

 Passing thread over the rib and continuing to make the tack.


Photo of inside of parasol with tacks.

Making tacks all the way around for each rib.


The Top Finishing Detail

One last finishing touch is required to tidy up the top of the parasol, where the canopy and tip-ferrule-post meet. This will conceal the reinforcing stitching lines and create a clean yet simple finishing flourish of interest. This not the only creative way to finish the top of your parasol, but it is quick and easy and adds just enough detail without being fussy.

 View showing the reinforcing stitch lines to be covered by the final detail.
View showing the reinforcing stitch lines to be covered by the final detail.

Start with a strip of fabric measuring 1-3/4" wide by 8-1/2" long (4.445 cm x 21.59 cm). I like to utilize the selvage edge when ever possible to give an extra bit of strength and stability. So, I have cut my strip of fabric including the selvage. I turned and press the opposite long edge under 1/4" (6.35 mm). Then top stitched to create a finished edge. This edge will eventually show.

 Finishing detail strip with finished turned under edge edge

 Finishing detail begins with a linen strip. Notice the top stitched turned under edge.

Next, sew a long gathering stitch 1/2" (13 mm) from the top stitched edge. Leave long thread tails on either end to make gathering easier. Make another long gathering stitch 1-1/8" (3 cm) from the top stitched edge. Leave long thread tails again.

Strip of linen with gathering stitches and long tails.
Strip of linen with gathering stitches and long tails.
Now gather pulling on the thread tails to gather up the fabric strip. Remember that the bobbin thread will pull easier, helping to create an even gather.
Gathered finisheing detail made from strip
Finishing detail gathered and taking shape.
After you are satisfied with your gathered finishing detail, place it on the top of the parasol and see how it looks.
Finishing detail in place.
Trying the finishing detail on for size.
Is it too tight? Is it too loose? Remember this detail should cover the reinforcing stitching lines and fit securely around the tip-ferrule-post. Once you are satisfied with the look and fit, turn the short edges right sides together and stitch a seam allowance that will work for your piece. I am not providing a seam allowance measurement due to the nature of gathering. 
Finishing detail sewn up and complete.
Finishing detail all sewn up and ready.
The raw edge of this detail will need to fit into the finial cap and then fit onto the ferrule, so too much gathering may necessitate a bit of a trimming away. This will depend on the weight of your fabric. The weight of my gathered linen proved to be too much fabric to fit in the finial cap so I trimmed it down.
After trimming enough fabric away to fit into the finial, I stuffed the eraser end of a pencil into the finial to create as clean a hole as possible. This will help to make this combination fit onto the post tip. Since this parasol post and finial is made of wood, I am always cautious to not to crack or break the pieces due applying too much pressure. So take your time in making sure these pieces will fit comfortably.  Fabric that is thick is generally the culprit. So trimming to ensure a good fit is the remedy. If the fabric was not heavy enough to insure a good fit, then wrapping the top-tip-ferrule-post with bit more fabric or felt would work. So would a touch of glue.
Finishing detail in finial with pencil
Use a pencil to help create a clean hole.
Hole made in finial and final detail
The nice clean hole left after removing the pencil.
Finishing detail with finial in place
The finial fits nicely after a bit of fabric trimming.
Whether to glue your finial on permanently depends on whether your finial fits tightly and whether you want to possibly use the frame again for another parasol design.  I often use a touch of hot glue, when I am not keen on things being truly permanent.
Anothe view of finished parasol details
Finishing detail nice and simple.
Photo wearing Folkwear 261 Paris Promenade Dress with parasol
 Trying out my new parasol in the garden.
Make A Carrier/Holder for your Parasol!
I admit to being a parasol purist. Perhaps this is due to parasols I have coveted featured in period piece films? I have never noticed a securing strap dangling about on the canopy surface. This of course, this is personal preference or bias, depending on how you look at it. If your prefer a strap... one is easily added... just pick a seam, determine the perfect location, and insert the strap end in the seam allowance and stitch... encasing the strap in the seam. Use a snap or a button to fasten the strap.
However, my preference is having a carrier for my parasol. To me this seems so civilized for everyday carrying about. When not unfurled the parasol has a handy holder, with a shoulder strap that allows for hands free carrying.  Plus, a carrier will hopefully help ensure that your parasol does not get laid down and forgotten.
You can make your own carrier/holder as well. Here is a PDF pattern to use as a guide. Make a carrier/holder for a parasol or umbrella that you already have as well.

You will need:

  1. Folkwear carrier/holder pattern or use your own measurements. This pattern is a PDF pattern that will print on 3 pages of 8.5x11" or A4 paper.  Print the pages and tape them together to get the parasol carrier pattern piece (trim the edges first).  Be sure to print 100% or actual size to get the correct size.
  2. Swedish tracing paper
  3. 3/8 yards (0.34 m) to 1/2 yards (0.46 m) fabric (includes carrier and the strap if using at least a 45" (114.3 cm) wide fabric)
  4.  Thread (strong polyester thread)
  5.  Fusible interfacing (for the strap) measuring 1-1/2" (3.8 cm) wide and 43" (109 cm)
To make your own carrier, measure the length and widest end of your parasol or umbrella. Decide if you want the most narrow end of the carrier to be open or closed. I decided to leave mine open. Draw a pattern using the simple illustrated guide below or use the pattern piece we provide in the PDF pattern.  
Lay your parasol onto the pattern and decide if the pattern is wide enough and long enough to accommodate your parasol. If the carrier is too tight of a fit it, this will impede being able to insert and remove the parasol easily. Adjust the size of the carrier pattern of needed.
Pin one long edge of the pattern on the fold of your fabric. Cut the fabric out using the pattern piece and set it aside.
Carrier/holder pattern pinned on the fold.
Carrier/holder pattern pinned on the fold.
Next, make the shoulder strap, cut a length of fabric measuring 3" (7.6 cm) wide and 43" (109 cm) long. With right sides together, fold the strap in half lengthwise. Press a length of fusible interfacing that measures 1-1/2" (3.8 cm) wide and 43" (109 cm) long, on one side of the wrong side, of the folded strap.
Interfacing pinned to wrong side of strap.
Interfacing pinned to wrong side of strap.
With right sides together, pin the raw edges together and sew a 1/2" (13 mm) seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance and turn right side out.
Turn strap right side out.
Turning strap right side out.
Press the strap flat and sew a top stitch close to the seam edge for added strength and stability. 
With right sides of the carrier/holder fabric together, insert the entire strap into the inside of the carrier/holder. Check to be sure the strap is not twisted. Inserted the strap ends between the seams where you would like them to be placed in the carrier/holder seam. Leave approximately 1" (2.5 cm)  of the strap pulled through the seam allowance depending on how long you would like the strap to be.
Carrier with strap inside and sewing up the seam

The carrier/holder strap in place and seam allowance sewn before turning right side out.

Note: Predetermine the length you would like the strap to be before sewing up the seam allowance.

With right sides together and the strap length out of the way of catching in the seam allowance, sew 1/2" (13 mm) seam allowance on the longest side and at the smallest end if you are sewing the end up. Trim the excess strap. Press the seam open. Finish seam or trim.

Turn right side out and hem the remaining ends using a 1/4" (6.35 mm) turn under and then turn under another 1/4" (6.35 mm). Top stitch close to the edge to finish. I chose to leave the bottom edge open so I hemmed it too.

Parasol in the carrier with strap
The finished parasol and carrier/holder.
Close photo of carrier with parasol
Full photo back view parasol in carrier
Enjoy your next sunny day outing, in the Folkwear 261 Paris Promenade Dress!  This beautiful pattern when paired with a parasol will likely make you feel as though you are in your very own period piece film.  
I hope this blog will inspire and encourage you create your own beautiful ensemble, complete with sun protection. We look forward to seeing your parasol creations and all the many possible Folkwear patterns you pair it with!
Thank You for joining me... I had a lovely time.
Sew Well,

Flamenco Rose Tutorial

By Molly Hamilton
on February 06, 2020

Flamenco Rose Tutorial

by Cynthia Anderson, Folkwear Creative Assistant

With Valentine’s Day literally just around the corner and the thought of spring inspiring me, my sewing aspirations have turned a bit romantic as I start to day dream of the clothes I want to make and wear.

What better project to satisfy romantic yearnings, as well as creating a nod to spring, than the Fabric Rose Accessory featured in the Folkwear Flamenco Pattern.

This project is easy to make and lends itself to so many possibilities. Of course, roses say Valentine’s Day, as well as notions of spring, gardens, weddings, parties . . . .  This project is simply the romantic touch only roses can conjure up.  Besides being easy to make with endless possibilities, you can practically make this project from scraps of fabric.

To get started you can use the pattern piece provided in the Flamenco Pattern, labeled Rose “Z”.  This pattern piece is quite large and would make a stunning statement piece be it for a dress, a purse, or even a pillow. You can make your rose any size you like. Use the “Z” pattern piece as a guide or make your own. Your rose size will vary depending on the width and length of the strips you cut. Cutting the piece longer will make a fuller flower, cut the piece wider for a larger flower.

Once you decide on the size of roses you want to make, you can cut out your fabric using a pattern as a guide or simply cut out your fabric freehand. This rose looks great cut on the fold as the pattern instructions suggests or it can be cut out as a single layer of fabric as well. Ribbon and seam binding work great too! When using mere scraps of fabric there is no excuse not to experiment. 

I chose scraps of silk dupioni left over from I dress I made for myself as a starting point for my Romantic Spring Rose Corsage. I wanted to work relatively small and vary the sizes of my roses to make my corsage. I ended up using scraps of silk haboti, linen, and silk organza to make additional roses. You can see the great effect of using different fabrics to make the different roses in the photo above and at the end of this tutorial.  

To get started, using the Rose “Z” pattern, fold fabric in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together. Do not press the fold… in order to make the edges of your rose softer. I am showing the "how-to" photos below with a blue fabric for the rose, set over a white fabric for contrast (sorry the fabric is wrinkled!).

Turn the lower corner of your fabric strip with the squared off edge (right angle) upward to create a 45 degree angle as shown.

Now sew a LONG gathering stitch (by hand or on a sewing machine) along the raw edge, about 1/4 “ from the edge. You might want to try making the gathering stitches in three of four sections, rather than trying to gather up the entire length with one thread. I did find this helpful because my thread would break when I attempted to do just one gathering thread. 

Next, start at the pointed end, draw up the gather stitches… roll the strip around itself. This is where you will want to do a bit of experimentation in shaping your rose to see what effect you like.


As you roll up the strip, hand sew the rose to itself, using the gathering stitches as a guide. Try different techniques with the look of your rose, pull the gathering stitches lightly for a more tightly closed flower, and pull tighter for a fuller rose. Do a little of both for a more varied look. I used a small hot glue gun to secure my rose on itself. This technique allowed me to shape my rose more quickly because I am not stopping to sew.  As with most things concerning sewing, you will find the techniques that works best for you.

Continue to gather, roll and stitch the entire strip of fabric. I manipulated the shape and edges with each small turn. Trim away any thread ends and frayed edges. 

To finish off the underside of your rose trim a bit of the fabric to make it easier to turn under. Secure the base with a round circle made of felt or fabric to create a backing. Iron a bit of fusible interfacing on the wrong side of your circle to help give it some stability. Then secure your finishing circle backing to the turned under edges of your rose with a slip stitch - or in my case I used hot glue. The idea in doing this is to cover up the rolled up raw edges and provide a nice finished surface.

You could to attach a pin, barrette, or ribbon, etc. and accessorize any number of things. I ended up attaching my roses to a piece of silk organza and adding a couple of strips of silk dupioni to create ribbons, then I pinned my corsage to a silk scarf to finish off the look of my dress.  On some of the rosettes in this corsage, I  left the outer edges raw (as opposed to folding the fabric in half so there are no raw edges exposed), and I really like the look of this as well - a bit rustically romantic.  



Potpourri Sachets - from the Victoria's Boudoir

By Molly Hamilton
on December 11, 2019

Potpourri Sachets - from the Victoria's Boudoir

Here is a simple and sweet pattern from the many that are included in the 302 Victoria's Boudoir pattern from Folkwear's home wear collection.  Our pattern includes three different shapes for the sachet (we are only including two shapes here).  Optional lace trims the outside of the sachet.  And, this is a great pattern to try out those rarely-used embroidery stitches on your machine.  You can add pretty stitching along the sides of the sachet before putting it together and make this a really beautiful and special project.  You can also hand embroider initials to the sachet for a unique and special gift for someone.  Our pattern includes templates for beautiful Victorian style letters.  A romantic and easy project to sew a thoughtful gift or stocking stuffer (or host gift) for those on your holiday gift list.  Or to use in your own clothes drawers!

I made the sachets above as gifts, and even embroidered one with my daughter's initials.

All these instructions, plus LOTS more are in our 302 Victoria's Boudoir pattern (40% off all this month).  



The pattern pieces, and the embroidery designs, are found in the file Pattern Pieces 302 Sachets.  They can be printed on two pieces of regular printer paper from a home printer.  First download the file to print the pattern (we made it to fit A4 paper too).  This file also has an embroidery design and all the monogram letters.

For the Square Sachet you will need Piece R.

For the Round Sachet you will need Piece S.

If you plan to embroider your Sachet, do so before cutting pattern pieces from fabric. Trace outline and embroidery motif onto fabric before cutting the pattern out from the fabric.  Allow enough fabric around traced outline to fit into embroidery hoop.  Or, if you are using embroidery stitches on your sewing machine, it can help to draw a line that you want the embroidery to follow.  And, make sure you stabilize the area where you will be stitching with embroidery stabilizer paper or interfacing.  You should be able to tear away the stabilizer after embroidering.  After embroidering, cut pieces from fabric.


NOTE: Shading denotes right side of fabric.

Prepare scented floral Potpourri for your sachet as explained below. (Or you may buy ready-made potpourri or lavender)

Instructions for both Sachet shapes are the same. The square sachet will be illustrated here.

Right sides together, stitch two (unembroidered) sachet pieces  together as a lining, leaving an opening between boxes for stuffing.

Turn right side out and press.Fill as full as possible with Potpourri. Slip-stitch opening together.



Optional:  Baste pre-gathered lace to one remaining sachet piece, right sides together, with edge of lace on seam line, turning under first short edge of lace ½”/13mm.  (If you have embroidered your Sachet, this will be the embroidered piece.)

Right sides together, stitch remaining sachet pieces (this will be the embroidered piece if using) together, sandwiching optional lace, leaving an opening between boxes. Turn right side out.

Insert stuffed Lining into lace-trimmed Sachet. Slip-stitch opening together.


You can also make this sachet with just two fabric pieces from the pattern:  Make as for the outer layer of the sachet and fill with lavender or potpourri. 




"The drying of fragrant, natural ingredients and blending them into a potpourri became popular in the sixteenth century, when sanitation was primitive at best. Chamomile, lavender and fennel leaves were often sprinkled around the rooms of a castle to cover up unpleasant odors. In those days, herbs were also thought to possess mysterious, strange, and powerful properties. Aromatic leaves were supposedly able to cast out demons and save lives.
In the 1500's, a Swiss pharmacist theorized that herbs embody the 'quinta essentia', the fifth essence, which medieval philosophers believed was the highest element after earth, air, fire, and water. Aromatic botanical compounds commonly became known as 'essential oils.'
The term is still used to indicate pure fragrance oils such as those that are added to the ingredients in... potpourri to enhance and extend their natural scents.
Today, the herbs, flowers, spices, and essential oils...have no magic powers - they just look and smell wonderful, adding a decorator touch to any room with a delightful, fresh fragrance."
 --Used by permission of Patti Howard of Victorian Fancies.


This recipe comes to us courtesy of Patti Howard of Victorian Fancies.

1 c. dried rose petals

½ c. dried, crushed geranium leaves 1 tbsp. dried, slivered lemon rind

1 tbsp. whole allspice 3 crushed bay leaves

6 drops Rose-Geranium oil (available at many health food/craft stores)

Mix, sniff, and enjoy!

Note: The essential oil is not required, but it will prolong and enhance the natural fragrance of the ingredients. If you use the oil, it is nice to mix everything in a plastic bag, close it tightly, and place in a cool, dark place for a few days, shaking it up occasionally to blend the oil with the leaves and petals. This procedure can be repeated whenever the fragrance begins to fade.



Use this as a guide to select the right stitch for each particular motif:

  • Satin Stitch- leaves, flowers and ribbons
  • Stem Stitch-Tendrils on wreath and monogram motifs.

Use 3 strands of embroidery floss or size 8 Pearl cotton.

Satin Stitch

This looks like the simplest of all embroidery stitches, with its over-and-over stitch, but in reality, it requires practice, patience and even tension. Stitch placement must be precise, entering and exiting exactly on the motif outline with the same distance between parallel stitches.

To fill in body of motif, work a series of straight stitches perpendicular (or slightly angled) to the transferred outline and parallel to one another.

Fig. 5 shows the satin stitch: out at A, in at B, up at C.

Where the design narrows down to a single line (as on the monograms), you will not be able to work the stitches parallel, but will have to stagger them. Fig. 6 shows an exaggerated scheme to handle the curves. (These stitches will closely resemble the stem stitch.)

Stem Stitch

Bring thread up at A- down at B- and up at C which is halfway between A and B (Fig. 7). Be sure to keep your needle on the same side each time. (Fig. 8).


For the downloadable PDF version of this pattern, go here.



Shirt-tail Reinforcements: finishing touches

By Molly Hamilton
on October 11, 2019

Shirt-tail Reinforcements: finishing touches

On old fashioned shirts (such as the 202 Victorian Shirt), as well as many well-made modern ones, the tops of the side openings are often reinforced with small tabs to prevent the shirt-tails from ripping.  As in so many of our patterns, Folkwear teaches a technique used in the era and that is still relevant and interesting today in the 202 Victorian Shirt pattern.  There are three versions shown and taught for making these tabs in the pattern.  Each version is one that we found on antique shirts in the Folkwear collection.  Here is one on a sheer blouse. 

These tabs are great for reinforcing shirt-tails or side slits on shirts or dresses.  I will show you how to make one of the versions below.  

This simplest reinforcement consists of a triangle stitched on the inside of the shirt.  Cut a rectangle 1" (2.5cm) by 1 1/2" (4cm), tuck the edges under, and topstitch the folded edges to the top of the side slit.

First, cut the rectangle from the fabric you want to use - 1" (2.5cm) by 1 1/2" (4cm).  I am using the main fabric for the tab, but you could use something bold to add fun detail.  Most of these tabs are on the inside of the garment, so they generally won't be seen.

Then, using an iron, press the first fold:

Press the second fold, folding over the top point of the first fold:

Press third fold, folding the corner of the second fold into it:

Press the forth fold, folding the corner of the first fold into it:

Press the fifth fold, enclosing the lower edges of the first and second fold:

The tab is now finished.  Press it well and make sure all raw edges are neatly tucked to the wrong side.  I made this sample a little asymmetrical, but symmetry for the tab is probably better!

Place this tab, with the pointed side toward the top of the garment, and with the long flat side at the top of the slit - inside the shirt with wrong sides facing.  Then topstitch around the folded edges of the tab. I used a contrasting thread here so you could see it better, but, if you want it to blend in and not be noticeable, use a matching thread.  




Handmade cording and knotted buttons - how to

By Molly Hamilton
on August 28, 2019

Handmade cording and knotted buttons - how to

Our 104 Egyptian Shirt pattern comes with detailed information on applying applique to the shirt front, back, and sleeves.  It also has instructions for applying soutache (narrow braid used for trim), creating your own cording to apply as trim, and how to make knotted buttons from soutache or your own cording.  Here, I am going to briefly cover how to make your own flat cording and then use it to make a knotted button.

To make self-cording, cut bias pieces at least 1" (2.5cm) wider than the cord you are using, and at least 12"-15" (30.5 to 38cm) long.  Cut cords about 5" (12.5cm) longer than your bias strips. 

Fold the bias strip in half lengthwise, rights sides together, over the cord.  Pin cord in place, butted up against fold, and using a zipper foot, stitch down the length of the strip, making a 1/4" (6mm) seam. 

Backstitch at beginning and end to secure.  Secure one end of the cord by stitching several times through cord and fabric about 1/2" (13mm) from end of fabric at one end.

Now grasp the fabric near the secured end with thumb and index finger while bulling the loose end of the cord with the other.  Ease the fabric over the secured end and continue pulling, turning the tubing so the raw edges are on the inside.  When it is all turned, you will have a piece of flat tubing.  Trim the cord off of the handmade cording.

The small knotted round button is a three-dimensional Josephine knot, tied with one piece of cord.  Soutache or a small flexible braid or fabric tubing are recommend.  In Middle Eastern clothes, soutache made of metallic thread is commonly used.

Make a loop with the cord.

Bring cord around and make another loop on top of the first.

Bring the same cord end around, underneath the first loop cord.

Bring that end over the first cord in the loops, under the second, 

over the third cord in the loops, and under the forth cord in the loops.  Creating the shape you see below.

Now pull the center loops slightly tighter, then pull gently on the cord ends to tighten.  Continue to do this until you have a fairly tight knot.

The finished button size will depend on the size of the cording and how tight you pull the knot.  You can use the "tails" of the knots to create the button hole loops.

You can print this by using this link

Here is a video of how to make flat cording and tie the knotted button.




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