Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Cording Technique

I've been asked by the lovely Karly Perez of Cheekie Bottoms Art Dolls - - to explain
the cording technique I used for Mary Shelley's petticoat, so have tried my best below. I'm afraid my diagram might not be too clear as I couldn't find a good one online and have made this up myself. I hope it makes sense. The lines shown are fabric, and the black circles the cords.

I found two different ways of cording suitable for the petticoat in my favourite sewing book, Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff, as shown in the diagram.
You can use this technique to create any raised design, not just straight lines. But through trial I found that the straight bands held their shape better for the petticoats I was making. And I followed a pattern I'd seen on an antique corded petticoat of bands or cording with spaces in between, the bands getting narrower as they went up the skirt.

Enclosed Cording - Top Diagram
This version uses one piece of fabric and encloses the cord completely inside, with a flat back to the finished piece. It also shortens the fabric, so extra needs to the included if you need a certain length in one piece, or it can be made as a panel and added to another piece of fabric. I made Mary's petticoat in one, but will make it as a panel next time as I think this will be easier to handle. I added a backing to hide the stitching and front cover over the top of everything anyway, so it would have made no difference.
- Draw a line on fabric where you want the first cord to be, and fold the chosen cord into the fabric so that you can pin along this line. Like turning up a hem, but with cord inside.
- Sew along the line.
- Using the first cord as guide, fold the second cord into the fabric in the same way, very close to the first, leaving a gap just wide enough to let the cords stand up when you straighten the fabric out. I found the width of the cord itself to be the best gap to do this. Sorry it's not a very mathematical explanation.
- Carry on adding cords until you’re done. And if you want to leave a gap, just draw another line further up the fabric and start again.

Sandwich Cording - Second Diagram
This version uses two pieces of fabric to enclose the cord. You would be able to get just as stiff a result with this method using a sewing machine as you'd be able to butt the cords up tighter together, but as I hand sew I found it difficult to handle. It also produces a less raised effect than the first version, with the same profile on both sides of the fabric. I also found this way harder to get even in profile by hand sewing.
- Sew a straight line through both pieces of fabric where you want the cords to start.
- Insert cord between the two layers of fabric as tight to the sewn line as you can.
- Sew a second line on the other side of the cord, fitted as closely to the cord as you can (for stiffness).
- Insert second cord, and sew another line of the open side as before.
- Repeat for however many lines you want. And again, if you want to leave a gap, sew another start line and start again.

Any cord can be used depending on the width you'd like your cords to be and the stiffness you want, from garden twine to wool for softer raised designs. I also found the top diagram version stiffer that the lower one, so used that for Mary. But have included both in case you might find one easier than the other. I hand sew everything, so found it tough going on the fingers, but if you use a machine it should be quite easy as it's all straight lines.

If I've not been clear I'm more than happy to answer any questions.

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