Finishing Techniques

Date: 9/9/2007
Time: 1:30-4:00
Type: Meeting
Location: Glen Ellyn Library
Teacher: LMSG-Carol Schaal

FINISHING!? Do you hate to hear that word? Wish someone else would be available to finish your ornaments, name tags, or small pieces? Then attend our September meeting to learn about various finishing techniques. Ornaments will include pillow style as well as flat; dress them up with buttons, beads, and ribbons. Make a twisted cord, use purchased cording/tassels, or join them using backstitch or chain stitch. Directions for finishing your name tag as a pouch will also be given. You’ll be able to practice joinings and keep them as a reference. Once you get started, you’ll enjoy doing finishing for yourself!


Katie Simmer, our president, began the meeting with some announcements. Next year, the $25 deposit must be paid when you sign up for a workshop. The balance of the kit fee for the workshop will be due 30 days before the workshop. The teaching fee may be paid on the day of the workshop.  The second announcement was that the DAR museum in Washington, D.C. is putting together an exhibit on 19th century American samplers. They are looking for a Michigan sampler to include in the exhibit. If you own one or know of one, please contact Katie so she can put you in touch with the exhibit co-ordinator.

Katie reminded everyone that our October meeting will be our 9th anniversary celebration. We are all looking forward to the anniversary surprise from the Phine Phriends. If you signed up, please make sure that you pay the $25 fee to Katie. We hope you will be able to join us for the fun and the cake! 

At our November meeting, Leslie Lewis will demonstrate the stitches used in the Plimoth Plantation butterfly ornament kit (detached buttonhole and detached trellis). If you are interested in participating, you can order a kit for $45 direct from the Plimoth Plantation at The kit fee includes a $20 donation to the museum. Even if you don’t order the kit, you are still welcome to attend the meeting and learn how to do these challenging stitches.

Our program chair for next year, Carol Schaal, announced one of the programs on our 2008 schedule. Carol Humphrey, textile curator for the Fitzwilliam Museum, will  present a program on April 13th on Ackworth School samplers.  If you own Carol’s book, you are welcome to bring it along for her to autograph. You won’t want to miss this great presentation, so make sure you mark your calendar!

Amy Keaton now has the catalogues from the Colonial Dames’ sampler exhibit at the the Clarke House and the Chicago Cultural Center. The price is $25. Please contact Amy if you are interested in purchasing one.

We had several items for show and tell.

Katie introduced our program by saying “I assume all of you have finished your Christmas ornament…”, which brought a laugh from those at the meeting. The meeting was turned over to Carol Schaal who talked about how to finish ornaments. She provided a handout to each person on different types of finishing techniques along with a piece of skirtex big enough to finish several ornaments.

Carol began by talking about cardboard cut-out ornaments and passed around many samples of the technique. She encouraged everyone to use skirtex to stiffen the ornament instead of cardboard. Over time, cardboard bends and bows while skirtex holds its shape. She demonstrated techniques for assembling the ornament and suggested that we use acid free double sided sticky tape instead of glue to put them together.

Next, Carol talked about the pillow finishing technique. She provided a number of tips including:

  • Sew the ornament together with strong thread like beading or tatting thread.
  • A sharpened stick, like a chop stick, can be used to flatten seams and smooth corners after you turn the ornament right side out.
  • To avoid lumpy stuffing, shred it before you stuff the ornament.
We learned about diagonal pillow ornaments, quilted pillow ornaments, tuffets, and cording techniques (and tools which are available that can make the creation of cording easier). Carol concluded by showing us joining techniques. She demonstrated the reverse chain stitch and showed us how to sew ornaments together. Doodle cloths were handed out and we got to try our hand at doing the demonstrated sitiches. Completed ornaments using the techniques were passed around for us to admire.

Carol brought dozens of ornaments to share with us. At the end of the presenation, we asked if we each could choose our favorite to take home. She said, no, but we were welcome to come up and take a closer look at them. We hope that you were inspired by Carol’s presentation and that you will go home and try out what you learned. As a result of Carol’s presentation, we hope that there will be more completed ornaments for our 2007 Christmas ornament exchange. Thanks, Carol for a very enjoyable and informative presentation! See you in October for our 9th anniversary celebration.

Show and Tell