Making A Double Sided Cosy Woollen Throw

Making A Double Sided Cosy Woollen Throw

We still have a couple more cold winter months to endure, so if you're feeling the chills and need a project to create simple but cosy throws, here it is .........
There's no difficult stitching when making a double sided throw, but there is some maths, and I always like to check (twice) before committing to stitching, because unpicking a 2m length through mohair or other longer pile fabric isn't fun. 
 
 A lot depends upon the width dimensions of your two fabrics, once washed by hand and dried flat. I have found the mohairs are actually remarkably stable in shrinkage and do not cause a problem.
 
You can simply take two fabrics of the same dimensions and seam them as if a duvet cover, leaving a small opening to turn right side out, and then hand stitching the closure. However, unless you then tack the two together and run quilting style lines through the throw, you will have something which also moves about like an empty duvet cover. It will keep you warm, but is nothing exciting to look at. So I ‘frame’ my double sided throws with a padded hem, and at least the ends of the showier fabric visible on the reverse. I did this with my first throws (see the final Pictures 7 and 8 below) but now try and frame all four sides.
 
The fabric which wraps round to form the ‘picture frame’ border of the throw is hereafter called the OUTER fabric, and the fabric which is the cuddlier and often more open reverse fabric will be called the INNER. You can design your throws however you wish, but I generally have the outer in a very stable wool, with a nice drape to it, and patterned in weave/colour, and the Inner fabric as the soft and cuddly lining, though that does not mean you cannot show it off as the top fabric when the throw is on a bed or over a sofa. It is usually a fabric in a solid colour and with mohair or cashmere in it for that snuggle factor. You may also choose to use  two stable wool fabrics, if they combine well for your colours, and they work in terms of drape. By this I mean that if you use two fabrics which do not drape softly, the resulting throw would be more an expensive form of picnic mat, and if both fabrics are loose weave, very unstable in bias and droopy rather than draping, you will end up with a shapeless (if cosy) heap.
 
One of the most fun parts of making a double sided throw is creating your combination. You can go for a contrast in fabric but close in colour, one plain and one a check, stripe or plaid, a happy union of two that highlight each other, or the surprise throw - one side something like a charcoal grey and the other a bright cherry red, pink etc. Plan your throw carefully, and if the fabrics are not ones you have already used and know, do invest in swatches. So much of the success will be in drape and feel.
 
So you select your fabrics. Wash both by hand and dry them as flat as possible. This is important to get the sizes right. Now you can begin to make up. I am showing them being made up in Tranquil Cerulean with Summer Sunshine, and in Dreaming of Sheep with Seascape Stripe Herringbone. 
 
The throw uses the full width of the fabrics, and I use a 2m length as standard. 
 
1. Measure the hand-washed widths of your fabrics. You need the Outer fabric to be wider, and so sometimes this will mean trimming the width of the Inner fabric. I like to have a border of between 3cm and 4cm, but if your Outer fabric has a pattern this may dictate a slightly wider border to make it look right. With a narrow 3cm border the Outer fabric needs to be 6cm + the seam allowances wider than the Inner fabric. I like a padded hem, usually using the Inner fabric covered by the Outer fabric. This means you have a deep seam allowance (ie 3cm for a 3cm for the Inner fabric), and this is not cut off. If your Inner fabric is a lot narrower than your Outer, you may consider using the Outer fabric as the padding. In that case you double the border width ie add 6cm - 8cm, and again do not trim.
 
DO NOT CUT YOUR FABRIC UNTIL YOU HAVE DONE A DRY RUN
 
2. Lay your OUTER fabric right side down on a large flat surface. If you have a large table, that is perfect, but you can use a bed as long as it is at least a double. Place the INNER fabric on top, right side up. Smooth the fabrics and align so that you have the OUTER fabric showing each side by the width of the border + seam allowance. Fold in and pin ( using large headed pins is helpful when working with thicker/denser fabrics) for about a half metre of the length. This is when you can see if you need to adjust the border because of a line in the pattern or weave. In my example using Summer Sunshine Check there is a very convenient line, where colours change, 1 3/4 inches inside the obvious thicker selvedge. (Do not be afraid to use imperial measurements when they fit better) You can use the line of a colour change, or the ridge of a herringbone, as your guide line down the length of fabric.
 
3. Look at the ends of the fabric which will form your shorter sides. This is the time to consider moving the Outer fabric up or down to avoid having just half inch of colour change showing on a check.
You may even decide that your fabrics dictate a slightly wider or narrower border than the sides. If you do this, ensure both ends are the same, and ideally the difference between the sides and ends is clear, rather than looking as if you did not quite measure it accurately. Fold over an end  to see the overall look. Do not worry about the corners at this stage as you can either metre them or have a simple fold over end if the fabrics are not too thick. 
 
THIS TIME CHECKING THE LOOK IS IMPORTANT
 
4. Write down your required dimensions. It sounds obvious, but border widths are easy to forget. Now you can prepare for the stitching together. Take out your pins and lay the Inner fabric right side up on your flat surface. Place the Outer fabric right side down on top. Allowing for your wider Outer measurement, pin and then tack down one side, setting the seam allowance at about 1cm for your Outer fabric (or at a convenient pattern line) and the depth of your border (ie 4cm) for your Inner fabric.
 
 5.Now fold your Outer fabric so that it covers the wider seam allowance.   
 
 
You can then smooth the fabric to the other side and repeat the process. Check that your two unmade ends are still straight and have the same border, just in case there has been a bit of a bias stretch. If you are happy all is well, stitch the two seams. Repeat this process with the other sides, but do leave an opening large enough to turn the throw right side out.. You will see you have a pleat of fabric at the corners at this stage.
 
 
6. Turn the throw right side out. Smooth it out so that you can check it lies correctly without  excess fabric in odd places (if you have let it stretch or ‘walk’).  If you are happy with your seams, close the opening by hand. Now you can either mitre the corners and close with a ladder stitch, or  make a square end, which is simpler. However, you have to remember whether the ends will run all the way across or up and down, so they match. You now have a throw, but you need to keep that nice border you have created. 
 
 
7. I press at this stage, which also evens out any slight stretches. Tack in the ditch of your ‘frame’, but if the Inner fabric is a long pile that hides the stitches anyway, pay more attention to getting a very neat line showing on the Outer fabric. Whilst you risk catching your frame if you stitch with the Outer fabric facing up as you machine it, you can make sure your stitching is nice and straight, and follows any pattern lines on your Outer fabric, which gives a good finish. You now have a very individual double sided throw with a padded border. Snuggle down and be proud of yourself!

 

Elizabeth Binns

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