Finishing woven bookmarks with machine stitching

I love to weave bookmarks. I find that they’re a great way to experiment with a new pattern and to use up small bits of yarn that end up on cones. Bookmarks make great gifts for teachers, office-mates, Dads and grads, and, if you live in New England like me, Yankee swap recipients!

Here is my latest design, which features a “broken twill” pattern:

Black broken twill bookmark

I’ve received questions from my Instagram followers and fair attendees about how I finish my bookmarks. After a lot of experimenting with hemstitching and machine finishing, I found something that works for me and I’ll share it here.

  1. This method works best with a closely sett warp. I thread my ends at 30 epi.
  2. Throw a few picks of tabby/plain weave before beginning your bookmark pattern. You’ll be machine stitching over these picks during the finishing stage, so they won’t detract from your finished piece.
  3. When you’ve finished weaving your bookmarks, get ready to finish. First, make sure you’ve got a good, sharp sewing machine needle in your machine. A dull needle will not pierce the woven fabric cleanly and you will be unhappy.
  4. You’ll be sewing three rows of machine stitches over your tabby bookmark border picks. Commence to sewing your first row, a very short straight stitch. On my Janome machine, I set my straight stitch length to 2.2.
  5. Pivot your needle and rotate your bookmark so that you can sew right over the straight stitches that you just made. Set your machine to zigzag stitching.
  6. Adjust your zigzag stitch setting so that you will end up with stitches that will closely resemble a buttonhole stitch width and length. For me, I set my zigzag setting to 2.5 width and .7 length. I did a fair amount of trial and error to determine what works best for me. If you want a different look for your bookmarks, adjust the settings to, for example, yield a wider width stitch.
  7. Sew two passes of zigzag stitches over the first row of straight stitches, pivoting your needle and rotating your bookmark ends after each row.
  8. Snip your threads and clean up any loose ends from the tabby rows of your weaving.

I recommend experimenting with your stitch settings before diving right into finishing one of your woven pieces with this method. Once you find the right settings, though, I think you’ll like the results. I’ve found this to be a durable and attractive finish, and also one that is much less tedious to complete than hemstitching on the loom.

Happy weaving and sewing and reading.

Be well,

Kate K.

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