Created 1 October 2010
updated 11 March 2011
minor changes 27 December 2011
coda 26 November 2019

This page is for my personal reference, but I've put in some explanatory material.

It will be easier to read if you view the source -- that's the way *I* read it.

Linen Sheets

I took advantage of a rare opportunity to buy linen sheeting. It wasn't wide enough to make a king-size sheet, so I used it sideways — as factories always do, since a king-size sheet is wider than its length. (This is why store-bought sheets larger than "double" never have woven-in edges.)

I cut off a one-yard sample (which I later made into a pair of pillowcases), washed it thoroughly, measured it, and pinned a note to the remaining linen. I also cut off enough for one sheet, hemmed the ends, and put it into the linen closet to see whether I wanted to make the rest of it into sheets.

Since I had a vast oversupply of cotton sheets (long boring story left out), matters froze there for some years.

The very sturdy cotton sheets already had decades of wear on them, so it wasn't too many years before they replenished my supply of pillowcases, then began to accumulate on the rag shelf. Now there are only three — that's enough, and the linen sheet allows for the possibility of dirtying two at once, but the sheets were used in rotation. Though they look sound, it can't be too long before they follow the others.

So it's time to cut the remaining linen into three sheets. The sample sheet is long enough, but just barely, and the fuzzy selvage won't wear very long, so I cut eight feet off a roll of pink cotton-and-linen fabric a tad more than half as wide as the sheets, washed it thoroughly and machine dried it hot, and drew threads to cut it into sixteen six-inch bands to piece into eight bands to finish the ends of the four sheets.

I cut the pink fabric along the middle drawn line, sewed the two pieces together (carefully matching the drawn lines), zig-zagged over the fuzzy selvages to keep the seams pressed open and keep the selvages from ravelling, cut off a band, sewed it to one end of the sample sheet, used the lessons learned to do a better (but not perfect) job of attaching another band to the other side.

Then I started to hem the raw ends of the remaining three sheets — and realized that I couldn't attach the bands until the sheets had been used and washed several times, lest they shrink and pucker the bands. By then I will have forgotten how to do it! So where can I write down instructions and be able to find them when the time comes?

How to Attach Pink Bands to Linen Sheets

Remove one band by cutting along drawn line, being particularly careful where it crosses the seam. Mark fold side for next band by pinning the start of the fold.

Trim corners of seam allowances.

Press quarter-inch fold to wrong side.

Pin 1.5-inch hem, using custom guide in upper left drawer of treadle. (Lines drawn on a 5"x2" white card that came inside three yards of bias tape.)

(I inherited a whole bag of these useful cards; they may no longer be available.)

Sew hem on treadle, leaving six inches unstitched at beginning end and a bit more eighteen inches at the end that will be cut.

Pick out three or four inches of the half-inch hems at the sides of the sheet.

Pin band to sheet, right sides together. Let the fuzzy selvage of the sheet extend beyond the cut edge of the band. Match the selvage of the band to the fold of the sheet at the beginning, snip to match the cut edge of the sheet at the end. Match the cut edge of the band to the cut edge of the sheet at the beginning, snip to match the cut edge of the sheet at the end. Draw a thread and cut off excess band. Put scrap with roll of pink fabric.

Sew, guiding edge of treadle foot along raw edge.

Press the seam as it lies, then press the allowances toward the band. Best accomplished from right side, pulling band into position. (Seam allowance of sheet should completely conceal seam allowance of pink band.) Brush fringe as required.

Trim excess seam allowance at each end. Cut both at once, then trim away a tad more of the band.

Zigzag allowances in place, guiding edge of Necchi foot along stitching. Bear in mind that your goal is to have the right zigs pierce outside the solid fabric, in the fringe, and the left zigs firmly in solid fabric.

Press as required and trim away unwanted side-hem allowance inside 1.5-inch hem. Repair unpicked side hem, continuing it to edge of band. Zig-zag over fuzzy selvage at one end of the pink band. (This involves dashing back and forth between treadle and Necchi.)

Finish 1.5-inch hem, closing the ends in the process.

Revise above instructions in light of experience.

Revise above instructions as you go along.

Attach other band, return sheet to linen closet.

Both bands were worked at the same time; start on remaining two sheets — working on all four bands at once.

7 January 2011

At last, a chunk of time big enough to do some serious sewing! But I can't get into sewing mode. Perhaps something trivial will get me warmed up.

So I darned a hole in the calf of my new cotton stockings, after a fashion — I ran a thread around the hole and puckered it into a little knot, good enough for such cheap tights, and most of my skirts are ankle length. Then into the parlor, where my WIPs are stored. Better start by putting away the sheet draped over the drying rack — hey, this sheet has been washed enough to receive its pink bands.

So far, it's all going according to the above instructions. I was much struck by my cleverness in pinning in the beginning of the fold in addition to putting wash-out arrows in the selvages to indicate right side, wrong side, and this end up.

But now it's time to eat lunch and take a nap.

After supper (and after reading my funnies and some Usenet), work resumes. Trimming done in the morning neatened by pulling all threads to wrong side, quarter-inch fold pressed, . . . there's nothing in this drawer but old wooden spools, a print-out of a manual for a slightly-different treadle sewing machine, and some stuff left over from when this machine was in the room where I met clients for my typing service. GAACK!

Found it in the upper-right drawer of treadle, where it might have been confused with my other custom hem guides.

Hem pinned, guide returned to left drawer of treadle, time to read Usenet and maybe a Web forum or two, then go to bed.

Bands carefully hung in laundry room; I'll seriously need my nap when I get home from school tomorrow, and the next day is Sunday, so I might not get back to them for a while.

10 January 2011

Once again, I warmed up by darning my new cotton pantyhose. And I darned the same hole — I hadn't secured my thread well enough. This time I worked two rows of buttonhole on one side of the slit, worked one row that scroonched the hole closed, and worked two more rows to anchor the working row in sound fabric. The next time these stockings tear, it's going to be a new hole!

Time to open the treadle, fetch the bands from the laundry room, and re-read my instructions.

Also turn the washing machine on. My cotton sheet is soaked enough. The three cotton sheets are still going strong, presumably because they are in rotation with four linen sheets. Clutters up the linen closet, but I like having spares.


Bed made, wash on line, bands hemmed, inspected, corrected, and hung in laundry room, DH is waiting for the plumber (great relief when I realized that it was the last wring that came up in the bathtub!). Time to eat lunch and take a nap.

13 January 2011

I spent five or ten minutes picking out hems the day before yesterday, today I began to pin the band to the selvage. Over a foot left over — that can't be right; I must have stretched the band. Set out to re-pin, making sure that the sheet was taut, then reflected that the band might have been stretched while ironing it. arranged the band to lie loosely, sprayed it with water. Will do further after my nap.

I washed the darned tights this morning, along with other black clothing. Will inspect them next Sunday!

Thoughts of my poncho shirt and tunic/jeans suit are entering my head.


It pays to stop and rest when you get into trouble — when I got up, I measured the sample sheet against the one I'm finishing, and the sample is five and a half inches wider.

On the other hand, when I re-pinned with a little more attention paid to not easing on the sheet, I had only ten inches of band left over. Seems to be a trend: when I false-hemmed the sample sheet, the first band left a three-inch scrap and the second left four and a quarter. Deducting five and a half from ten, we get four and a half for this one — an increase, but not as much as I thought before doing the math.


My nap must not have rested me as much as I thought — after sewing the first band on, I decided that since I was sitting in good natural light with a seam ripper handy, I'd pick out the last three or four inches of the hem to facilitate making the side hem later on. And carefully picked out the last four inches of the seam I'd just sewn!

Didn't take long to correct, but I then did a beautiful job of pinning the other band to the other end of the sheet — only to discover, as I was about to stick the last pin, that I'd pinned right side to wrong side.

But I did get it pinned and cut and the last few inches of hem picked out before time to start cooking supper, and after supper I cleaned up the last of the mess that had fallen where I couldn't reach it until I had to move everything to make a path for the duct cleaners. Now I can sweep the floor and start moving stuff back — just in time, because I'm only a step or two from needing to use the Necchi, which is now in the parlor. I suppose I could roll my typing chair in there as I do for the White in the bedroom; just checked: I could shove it close to the window and plug the machine in. But a rolling chair doesn't work at all well on bumpy carpet.

14 January 2011

Morning: sewed on both bands, swept floor, pressed, trimmed corners of allowances. Brought Necchi back in.

Suppertime: There's more to bringing the Necchi back in than just rolling it into the room! And the bobbin of 100/6 cotton didn't look adequate to two long zig-zags, so I wound a new one — after finding out where the balls of 100/6 went when I cleared the room.

But the seams are zig-zagged and the oven is heating. Marinated duck breast tonight.

15 January 2011

All done and in the linen closet! Repaired the side hem, was about to hand-over-hand to the next corner — why not finish this corner before going on to the next one?

Uh . . . Because I meant to zig-zag over the selvage before sewing the 1.5" hem, that's why. I shrugged, did the other one the same way, and cut the selvage off the beginning end of the remaining four bands — which haven't been separated yet, so that was only one operation.

I also worked on the poncho shirt.

Since both of the sheets I intend to sew the four bands to are on the bed, it may be some time before I resume work: notes still needed.

And, strictly off topic: we had duck-salad sandwiches for supper tonight.

18 January 2011

Washed one of the sheets today. Will wait for the other before resuming work.

The cotton sheet I put on the bed has a small hole in it. I'd better start keeping an eye out for bargain wide linen; these thin sheets won't wear near as many decades as the heavy "scenery muslin" sheets.

1 March 2011

Frittered most of the morning, but did cut the four bands apart before nap time.

2 March 2011

Started pressing in the quarter-inch turn without reading the instructions first, forgot the bit about trimming the seam allowances. Remembered exactly halfway through the first of the four strips, though.

Got them all trimmed and pressed before lunchtime.

Woke up from my nap early enough to pin two bands and sew one. From a pinning point of view, I sew the hem from the end to the beginning. I wonder whether that has confused me in previous iterations.

3 March 2011

Right after breakfast I sewed the band I pinned yesterday, dampened both and laid them out to dry, pinned another, started to sew it, absent-mindedly pinned half the remaining hem (which was all the pins I had, since a few remain in each hem until it's sewn to the sheet), finished sewing the hem and dampened it, took a break to write this.

I intend to finish the remaining hem and start picking out the ends of the side hems on the sheets before breaking for lunch and a nap.

The ruler inlaid in the treadle has been handy during this procedure. It's inlaid in two colors of wood, and has both inch and centimeter scales.

I neatened the ends of the zig-zagging that I picked out to trim the seam allowances by pulling both ends of the thread to the wrong side and tying them together in a square knot. This is needlessly fussy. And any knots not inside hems will wear off.

4 March 2011

I did finish the hem and pick out the side-hem ends by suppertime.

Began this morning by dry-ironing the fringes on one sheet, using the whisk broom liberally and occasionally turning down the edge to brush the other side. I put a drop of water on one particularly stubborn spot.

I was surprised at how flat and smooth the sheet got without being dampened or steamed.

I did not revise above instructions to reflect this addition — this job will soon be done, complete, over with, finiti, and the custom gauge is in the baggie with the others.

A snack-size zipper bag is just right for storing two-by-five cards.

Sewed both bands on the sheet that I ironed, and zig-zagged one of them today.

I found it better to guide the edge of the sound fabric inside the right toe (right from my viewpoint) of the zig-zag foot than to guide the left toe on the stitching. Didn't bother to update the instructions — with any luck, I'll complete the job before I forget.

In metric, two-by-five would be 5.08 x 12.70 cm. I wonder whether European bias was sold in three- meter pieces, and what size card they were wound on.

5 March 2011

Whoohoo! Despite fiddling with the Web, then taking a strenuous practice exam before starting work, I got the next-to-the-last sheet into the linen closet before lunch!

6 March 2011

After supper, I pressed the fuzzy selvages and pinned and stitched one of the bands, then closed the treadle and put the lampshade back on the sewing light.

Had two "well, duh!" moments while pressing the selvages. First, "well, duh! I should pick out the ends of the side hems before pressing, so I can flatten the stitched-in creases a little." Then, "Duh! I did that days ago!" — the hems were staying in place out of habit.

Also noticed that the machine that separates the cloth as it comes off the loom seems to have taken a fresh grip while cutting this sheet — on one side the fringe is wide at first, then it tapers out extra wide for an inch, then jogs back to medium for the rest of the sheet.

I wonder whether the fabric on the other side of the cut was spoiled.

It would be cool to tour a factory that uses those enormous looms.

7 March 2011

Pinned the remaining band, prepared to roll the typing chair into the bedroom and park it in front of the treadle — not over all this spilled cat food. Better get a broom and a dustpan and take it up, then vacuum. Fetch cleaning tools, notice that the hallway carpet is revolting. I swept it with a broom first, because a lot of long threads have tracked out of the sewing room and the vacuum can't reach the gray fluff in the angles. It's good that I did; I had to stop every few seconds to pull a great wad of my hair out of the broom — it would have broken the belt on the vacuum. And the hallway blends seamlessly into the parlor — I settled for sweeping the track between the door and the hallway.

Finally at the bedroom; shake doormat and the cat's tablecloth, sweep up the dry food, sweep around the pile of dust that missed the doormat, finally vacuum. Smell hot rubber, call spouse to remove inspection port. Band seems fine, but hot. Use seam ripper to remove as much hair as I can, leave inspection port open while finishing job, partly re-install port & learn where the screwdriver to remove port *before* starting next time.

And now I want my lunch.

8 March 2011

Hash made of frozen sausage with fresh celery, onions, pepper, and potato — yum!

Woke up from my nap early enough to stitch the seam that I'd pinned, pressed and zig-zagged both hems this morning. I find that I'm guiding on both the stitching and the edge of the fabric: the stitching running down the middle of the left toe (my viewpoint) and the boundary between fabric and fringe running along the inner edge of the right toe.

I'd just warmed up the iron to begin work on repairing the ends of the side hems when mine spouse came home in a car he's thinking of buying. By the time I'd looked it over, driven it around the block, and parked it, I was no longer in sewing mode.

And now I'm hungry. No more work to be done today, as I've an afternoon appointment and an evening appointment.

10 March 2011

The last sheet is in the linen closet, but it was a bit of a struggle.

Leaving out some details to make a better story, I pressed the corners of the hems, then went into the bedroom and shut the door to reduce interference to the piano tuner — who is still here, so that sentence made me remember to shut the door to the sewing room; keyboards are noisy.

I trimmed the excess allowance on one corner, started to sew, and the White Family Rotary made *most* alarming noises. Bit of consternation — this machine is too old and reliable to have mysterious failures. Then I bethought me that it's been a looong time since I oiled it, dug a downloaded instruction manual for a slightly- different model out from under a collection of wooden spools in the drawer, and oiled all the oiling points, with some difficulty in finding one of them.

All of them were on the opposite end of the machine from the noise, so after I'd cleaned up, put the oil away, and taken the oily clean-up rag out to the garage, I took the sheets of paper back out of the drawer and took a closer look. I found three more oiling points, on the correct end of the machine. Fetched the oil and another rag and set to work again. (The second rag is still in my pocket; must get out to the garage before it stinks up my shirt.)

Oiled those three points, but they were all in the top of the machine and the noise seemed to come from below. I took off the cover of the bobbin- case compartment and took out the bobbin; nothing here that looked like an oiling point.

Took off the needle plate — after fetching the Necchi's screwdrivers; the screwdriver in the drawer of the treadle serves to change needles, but attempting to use it on the needle plate proved most definitely that it isn't the one that came with the machine. (I vaguely remember buying it at a thrift shop or something.) It's rather odd that the White had lost its screwdrivers — if you buy a sewing machine at an antique store, it's almost certain to be missing the screwdrivers because antique dealers have no idea what they are for, but this antique was a trade-in at the sewing-machine store where I worked, and has all its attachments.

I found some lint under the needle plate — not nearly as much as would accumulate in the Necchi in a much shorter time — but no oiling points.

(I hear music coming from the parlor; the tuning must be about over.)

Cogitating, I noticed the post at the right end of the front edge of the machine, and remembered that it's a catch to let you lift the machine on the hinge at the back so you can look at the bottom. So I figured out how to release the catch, then figured out that I also had to unship the drive belt.

I found some holes that looked exactly like the oiling points on the top of the machine and squirted oil into them. None seemed to serve the shuttle race, though.

Every now and again one must take the shuttle race of the Necchi apart, oil one of the surfaces, wipe it clean (leaving an invisible film) and then put it all back together. This shuttle race didn't appear to be made to take apart for routine maintenance, and I was most reluctant to take a screwdriver to it.

Eventually, I realized that I could see an edge of the shuttle race through a window in the machinery. This edge appeared to be a homologue of the edge that I oil in the Necchi. So I put a little oil on the end of my finger (which is how I oil the Necchi), put it on the edge, and turned the handwheel. Poking through a window didn't quite have the same effect as smoothing it on. At this point, I noticed oil running down from one of the oiling points, mopped it up, then pressed the oily rag against the edge and turned the wheel. Voila! Smooth turning!

So I put the machine back down — careful to hold the catch open instead of snapping it shut, as a jeweler once told me to do with old catches — treadled briskly to see whether it was still noisy, put the belt back on, treadled again — we are back in business!

Sewing the remaining three corners — I'd completed the first one during "details left out" was anticlimactic.  

26 November 2019

Today the last sheet goes onto the rag shelf. It lasted years longer than its companions, rotating with three muslin sheets. I think the first three had flaws in the goods.

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