When I first started sewing, I remember being bemused by beeswax. No, scratch that and rewind. Specifically, I remember being bemused by the knots that would appear in my thread whenever I tried hand sewing. So I did some research, and learnt that beeswax would help. I just didn’t know how!
I thought I’d write a blog post about something that may appear obvious to some. To others who may be similairly bemused, I hope this helps!
So, beeswax. You can buy it in most haberdasheries. If you don’t know what it looks like, check out the above. Or ask for a shop assistant’s help. Or just wander around looking for something that resembles a giant’s gobbet of dried up snot. (Too much information?)
Here are my tips for working with beeswax.
Cut a length of thread for hand sewing. My rule of thumb is that it shouldn’t be longer than about 80 cm/ 31 inches. Any longer and it will knot, even with the help of beeswax. To guesstimate this length, I hold the end of the thread between forefinger and thumb. I stretch my arm out horizontally from my body. I then pull the spool back in my other hand until it’s pressing against my collar bone, thread extended between both hands. I imagine I’m Katniss in The Hunger Games, pulling back the string on my bow before releasing an arrow straight into the heart of an enemy. Because sewing is just like The Hunger Games.
Thread cut, I run it through my beeswax…
Very Important Next Step. I then seal my beeswax into my thread by running a moderately hot iron over it. I’ve heard people say this should only be done between two layers of absorbent cloth. Never bothered, myself. But, I have found that this step really helps strengthen and smooth the thread.
If I have quite a lot of hand sewing to do, I’ll cut three lengths of thread and prep them. Then I’ll gather my thread in a small container – an espresso cup does just the job! – and take it with my thimble, needles, pins, and embroidery scissors and settle on the sofa for a good, long session of hand sewing. I come from the camp that loves hand sewing. So meditative, so satisfying, so easy to do in front of the telly.
I use the Sunny Gal Patented Method for tying a knot in my thread. (Do click through on the link for a very detailed explanation of this small but useful technique.)
Then I thread my needle (thoughts on needles here) and am all set for some knot free hand sewing. Thank you, bees of the world. I salute you!