New Carders need new covers
In a recent post, I was asked about carder covers. I made mine quite a few years ago, ok at least 20 years ago, but had not got around to making ones for the other hand carders I own. (it’s just the others didn’t get out much and I got distracted, you know how that can happen I am sure!) I had picked up 3 pairs second hand I think as part of a box lot at an auction. They were ones with curved backs and not as old as some hand carders I have seen. These probably come from the 1970s. I have no guess as to the manufacturer. The only clue is a mysterious symbol on the back of each set. “A”, “B”. “C”, I am afraid that these mystic symbols are not illuminating as to their origins. Luckily these strange symbols have not affected their ability to card wool.
Last week I picked up another hand carder, this one with significantly stiffer teeth than my present collection. I have also found that my safety carders have been coming with the Mers and will also need some safety covers (but not today). I have used a thin packing foam for the pet combs until I can make them covers too.
First, let’s have a look at the new carders;
My latest acquisition is made from a soft wood that is ruff on the end grain. I suspect it is probably pine. The handles, although the same colour, seems to be made of a slightly firmer wood. The teeth are embedded in a canvas fabric, then glued and tacked to the wooden carder. Bernadette said she had a similar pair and that the stiff teeth are excellent for courser wool.
As I said the teeth are very stiff and have little flexibility. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to protect them.
1-2 The new to me, carders before sanding
3 close up of Foam drying pad cut to cover the carder teeth
What you will need to make these carder covers
4-7 Items used to make the carder’s covers
- 1 Dish drying foam mat
- 2 Elastic and velcro straps
- Interesting fabric
- (you may need a sanding block or sandpaper if your carder is a bit ruff)
- A ruler, pen and sewing machine are also helpful.
When I made my first cover, I wanted to have something a bit softer than just the fabric cover to protect the teeth. I found a bathroom soft scrubby pad, it said polyurethane foam covered by a “new” microfiber top. They were available at Walmart and then Dollarama, so picked a few up. Silly me I did not reserve all I had purchased for the hand carder protection as planned but used some for their original purpose of cleaning!!! they were available for about 3 years and then mysteriously disappeared from both my sources. They were replaced by a much larger, but similar, product called a “microfiber dish drying mat”. Its tag says Polyurothatin foam and 100% polyester cover. It is very much like the original pad but huge at 15” X19.5”! (I could cover a large drum carder rather than just small hand cards with it! ….HUM………NO! NO! That will have to be a later project!!) Luckily it is easy to cut to the correct size to fit the little carders with my cheap paper scissors. Ok, now I have the foam pads to protect the teeth.
For my newest set of carders, because the end grain is ruff, I will also need a sanding block to smooth it and prevent splinters. (Splinters are never good, they wind up in either your fingers or the wool.) I found a two-pack of foam sanding blocks at Dollarama. The local hardware store will have them or some old fashion sandpaper and a block of wood. In a pinch, a foam nail file will work as sandpaper too
8 sanding the back of the hand carder taking out chips at the edges and little scratches and punctures
9 half the handle is sanded(lower half)
10 working at smoothing the end grain
Now that I have the worst of the roughness smoothed and have pieces of foam to protect the teeth. now I can get the fabric and measure it out to make the covers. The overall pattern is simply, a rectangle with long tabs attached at one end. Depending on the shape of the fabric you have, changes where you will put your seams. If you don’t have much of the fabric you like (say one with sheep), you can use a different fabric on the inside. luckily I have just enough!!
To make the cover closure you have a few options, sew-on Velcro is easy to use and seems to be common. If you haven’t quite got around to sewing on the Velcro, you can try what I have been using “Stretch utility straps” (elastic with Velcro on the ends.)I wrap the elastic over the tabs and connect the velcro to hold it closed. I remember seeing closers made from ties, and even buttons, but I like the Velcro and strap closer the best.
Shark Boy has offered to help show you the old carder cover so we can make a pattern.
11 Sharkboy volunteers (his parents are cuddling in their project bag so he offered to help)
12-21 Shark boy removing the cover and foam pads off my old carders
Now that Sharkboy has opened the carder cover, we can look at the shape and make measurements.
22-28 measuring the original carder cover
29 This is the size I am going with, yours may be a bit different depending on your carders size
We should also notice you have three main options as to how you orient your carders for storage. (the variations are more dramatic when viewing the curved cards than the flat ones but it’s still worth considering the options available for both styles.)
30 teeth to teeth
Option 1 stored teeth together – this leaves the teeth inter-meshing, while it may keep the teeth from snagging on any nearby object it is not great for the teeth. It also causes the handles to point outward if you have a curvature to the paddle part of the carders. This is the way most naked carders are stored.
31 Back to back/ teeth out
Option 2 stored teeth out – this is a bit silly (but it is a possibility even if it’s silly), it will put the teeth in contact with anything in the vicinity (including your fingers) and give the carding cloth surface no protection. The only advantage is that the handles don’t stick out oddly. (I am trying to be positive.)
like the 3 bears looking for the perfect bed, this brings us to the final configuration.
32 teeth to back
Option 3 stored teeth in the same orientation – Since one carder sits above the other, this would cause the teeth to be stored against the back of the upper carder. Ah, this is where the foam pad comes in. There were masks on the backs of the new second-hand carders which suggested this was one of the ways they had been positioned. This orientation also alines the handles which makes them fit easily into a bag or basket when they need to travel.
Now let’s make the pattern. There are two main rectangular shapes for carders; a shorter rectangle for wool carders and a longer rectangle for cotton carders. I have now seen “Student” carders which are smaller than the standard wool carders. Both shapes of carder require a very simple pattern so just adjust it to fit your size. If you are not trusting of numbers you can make a pattern using a couple taped together pieces of paper to check the fit.
I had been over at Walmart looking in their craft/sewing department. There was a selection of precut “quilting squares”, which were actually rectangles, that I looked through. They were not the finest of thread counts but they had 3 patterns with sheep, the odd cat/alpacas and one with mice. The size works out to approximately 16” wide by about 20.5” long, close enough to what I had used last time!! this is not like sewing an Elizabethan corset so if your fabric is a bit shorter in length it will still work, but with shorter tabs. As long as you have fabric adequate to cover the width and enough length to wrap around the carders with their foam spacers protecting the teeth, the extra will be the tab length. Two of my older carders have lived with a stretchy elastic with velcro and the foam pads for many years (they’re the ones that don’t get out much!) so you can fudge it if you are a bit tight on your favourite fabric.
Your other option is to make the cover out of 2 different fabrics if you’re short. This could be a fashion statement, flipping whichever side out that seems to fit your outfit that demo.
Let’s get sewing
33 End and side seem in, locating tab length
Since I am folding on the long side, I will have a seam at the end and down the opposite side. (seam is on the left short side and at the top long side)
34 Making wider tab ends
35 marked for sewing
This time I wanted to try a wider end tab to give a bit more protection for the carder. I found the center on the unsewn end and estimated the seam placement. I used the edge of the pressure foot to give a thin seam allowance. Remember to leave the center area between the tabs open so you can turn the cover inside out. (I almost didn’t on the first one! It has been a while since I have been sewing, I should practice more.)
36 NO WRONG WAY!!! (leave the space between the tabs un-sewn)
Trim the area between the tabs to about 1 inch from the end of the sewing line. clip back to the corner (see the pictures). The flaps will get turned into the opening and the nail pressed down after the cover is turned inside out.
38 Turn out the body of the carder through the opening left between tabs
39 turning out tabs
Turn the body out through the open space then turn each tab right side out. Tuck in the extra wide seam allowance at the opening. If your iron is not handy you can nail-press the opening.
Lastly, take a rounded-end chopstick and get the corners poked out. There are more expensive tools for sewers to get into corners but this works and was in with the felting tools.
The elastic straps with Velcro
41 Sharkboy shows you the two different lengths of velcro (short and long)
The elastic straps at Dollarama come in two sizes which are not always the same length. pick one that is not too tight and compressing the foam covers but not so loose it won’t hold the carder cover on. (I know that was obvious but some really are quite different small or large than the previous ones I have purchased.)
If you want to make yours extra fancy, top stitch along all the edges. You can add two strips of sew-on velcro to the tab and the main body of the cover (try it on your carder to get the best position. If you want a fashionable 2-sided carder cover I would go with the elastic and Velcro arrangement my first cover has. (so you can turn it either side up)
For odd-size carders, you need to add teeth protection and stack them as you would like to store them. measure the distance from the base of one handle (at the edge of the carder) going directly across the width of the carder down to the underneath carder, across it stopping when you reach the other handle base. Call that X. Now decide how long you would like your tabs (t). X+T+ seam allowance= the long side of your rectangle. The width plus seam allowance x 2 is your other dimension. When in drought just use a string with knots or make a mock-up in paper. (I have found numbers can be just as tricky as letters!)
I do hope this is somewhat clearer than mud! If you decide that this is all too much work or you can’t remember where you put your sewing machine or your hand sewing needles there are a number of people selling premade covers on etsey.
Lastly, Sharkboy got all the new covers on the carders and staked them up for me. He has been working very hard and needs a treat to reward him.
42-43 Sharkboy is determined to organize the newly covered carders
This weekend (back willing) Mrs. Mer and her son Sharkboy will be going to a fibre festival south of Ottawa in search of hair. I will let you know how all our shopping goes.
44 Sharkboy has had a busy day helping with this project and says goodnight