Finding a new way to use a pattern is one of the best ways sewists can challenge themselves. Martha Demere did just that when she created this delightful “Cherry Bliss” dress featured in our September / October 2006 edition of Sew Beautiful. Wendy Schoen’s “Daisy May” dress, originally designed for an heirloom approach, becomes an entirely different dress with Martha’s small change of collar, the addition of a petticoat and a pulled thread fringe. Below is Martha’s technique for creating a pulled thread fringe trim on handkerchief linen, which works great for sewing projects yearround. Test out your own alteration skills by trying it on a fall outfit or a special Christmas dress! Shown here on the “Cherry Bliss” collar, the technique could just as easily be applied to garment hemlines, table linens and more.
NOTE: Before you begin, trace collar design onto linen. Trace a second line 1/4-inch inside previous line. This will serve as the stitching line for the pulled thread fringe technique. Work embroidery before cutting out collar.
Pulled thread fringe technique:
(Warp threads run parallel to the selvedge edge; weft threads run perpendicular.)
1. After completing embroidery, stitch around collar on traced stitching line using white thread and a stitch length of 1.5 or shorter.
2. Cut out collar on traced cutting line 1/4-inch from stitching line (Photo 1 – shown without embroidery). The collar is a single thickness of linen.
3. To make fringe, begin at the points of the collar. This is important because as you work around the collar, there are places where the warp and weft threads will merge and you will need to determine the right threads to cut. Begin at the center point (Photo 2).
4. Using a needle to carefully separate the threads, begin pulling out the weft threads one at a time. You will easily see them because they will be longer than the cut edge. With a small, sharp scissor, carefully clip the threads you pull just at the stitching line (Photo 3). When the shorter threads are left, a 1/4-inch fringe starts to form (Photo 4).
5. As you move around the curve of the collar, there comes a point where the warp and weft threads get a bit crossed. The longer ones should still be cut at the stitching line, and the remaining threads will face the right direction. Eventually you will find you need to cut the warp threads and leave the weft threads intact. It will be obvious when you get to that point. The desired effect is to have one thread beside another around the edge and not one on top of another.