Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Covered Hangers – Minnesota Style

When Grandpa and Grandma traveled back up North to visit family, Grandma (of the ancient cookbooks) used to bring home big bags of leftover fabric that had been cut into long nylon strips, about 1” wide. Apparently there was an underwear factory somewhere up there that disposed of surplus in this way. These strips rolled in upon themselves length wise, resulting in long stretches of smooth, stretchy fabric. Grandma stitched the ends of these strips together and made up big balls like yarn. There was always white, usually black, and one of the last bags she brought back was orange.
When she taught me to cover hangers with these strips, she started them using black electrical tape to secure two strands of strips to the end of the hanger’s hook, with a ball on each side. I remember that a finished hanger reminded me of a swan with a black beak, but the tape would get worn with use and soon it wasn't very pretty. I suggested taping the fabric so that the strands extended downward from the hook end and then the initial knots could be made on top of the tape, to both hide and secure it. (She then declared me to be a clever child; too bad about all the brain damage that has occurred since.)
In these pictures I’ve cut a hideous neon pink top that Jane culled from Ellen’s wardrobe. We both agree she never will have worn it and guessed the care assistants had just distributed someone else’s clothes after a death.

I’ve cut the top into long strips. They don't roll in like Grandma's did, but they work OK anyhow. If you want to be lazy, stitch ends together as you run out of fabric rather than in advance. Getting two strands secured to the hook is the hardest part of covering the hanger. Make sure the tape lines up with the end of the hook.

Once that’s done, start on the right side by holding the strand in a loop, passing the ball (or end) under the hanger hook, over and down through the loop – that is, tie a knot on the right side. Pull until the knot is reasonably neat and secure on the hanger. Work slowly and make sure that the fabric lines up with the end of the hook and begins to cover the tape that holds it on.
With the other ball, make a loop on the left, pass the ball under the hanger hook, over and down through the loop, which makes a knot on the left side. Pull with the same tension as you did the right side to give a uniform construction.

Continue, alternating sides, tying knots down the length of the hook. Push the knots back against completed knots periodically to ensure good coverage.
When you come to the bottom of the hook’s neck, the balls of fabric will need to be passed through the centre of the hanger. It doesn’t matter which side of the hanger you work down, but I normally work with the hook away from me to lessen interference.
Carry on tying knots until you’ve returned to the bottom of the hook’s neck on the other side. Work carefully and make plenty of knots to ensure the twists of the wire are well covered.

If your fabric has neat edges, you may wish to tie a bow around the neck of the hanger, otherwise, just tie two tight knots underneath the neck and trim to finish off. I would show you a picture of this hanger finished, but you-know-who still has the camera.
You may experiment with using different colours on each side, different types of fabric and different numbers of knots on each side, particularly if using different fabrics on each side of the hanger. I sat down with a bunch of scraps, sewing and cutting into strips. I didn't bother turning the strips inside-out to hide the stitching. I just made sure that the right side was all made of green fabrics. The left was black and white, with a bit of orange thrown in. The result was...funky. It made me smile when I put my white shirt on it this morning.
I don’t despise wire hangers like many people do, but my clothes don’t slip off a covered hanger as easily. I can easily cover a hanger in an evening and, too, I like remembering Grandma in this way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this idea. I'm going to try it out! Thanks so much for sharing it!