I was sewing for many years before I discovered beeswax. I knew about it and I scoffed at it. What was the use of adding one more step to the sewing process? I wanted to have my project finished already!
From all the notches in my beeswax,
you can see I have waxed many a thread.
It wasn't until I took a couture course at Fashion Institute of Technology that I changed my tune. My professor was a young Russian woman who was so meticulous in her sewing skills. Everything she created was absolutely beautiful. Just to watch her work patiently and steadily was a joy.
A big part of couture work is basting. The mantra is "Pin, Baste, Stitch." That's how you can ensure that seams line up correctly, that you don't lose or gain fabric in the stitching line, and so forth.
On one of the first days of class, she said, "I am going to teach you how to baste." "Really," I thought, 'this is going to be a very short lesson."
It was not short at all.
First, she laid the layers of fabric on the worktable and worked standing up. She insisted that this was important for keeping the fabric flat and stable. Then she pulled out the beeswax and recommended using silk thread. She ran the thread through the beeswax notch and then ironed it carefully. Ironing melted the beeswax into the thread and made it pliable and smooth.
Next, while standing and keeping the fabric as flat as possible, she basted a perfectly even running stitch through the layers. The needle and thread slid smoothly through the fabric, with nary a pucker. Very different from the bunched up basting I had been doing previously.
I was a convert, and as you can see from my beeswax, I have waxed many a thread.
For more on hand sewing and couture technique, order the new Handsewn book in the Sew Daily Shop.
I am so excited by the renewed interest in hand and couture sewing. It is a beautiful art, well deserving of revival. Have you started to become more interested in hand-stitching and couture techniques? Or has it always been your passion? I would love to know.
Happy (hand) stitching!