Sunday, June 17, 2012

Parasol Workshop, Part 3

This is a follow-on post to my earlier posts documenting steps in recovering a parasol:

Parasol Workshop, Part 1: canopy seams.
Parasol Workshop, Part 2: attaching to the frame.

In this post I describe another odd and unique step in recovering a parasol, which, well, really goes in between parts 1 and 2 above, but anyway, here it is now.

This step describes setting and reinforcing the hole at the center of the canopy. I have found this reinforcement on several extant canopy remnants, and on the modern umbrella that I'm converting into a parasol. My antique frames generally have little to nothing left of the canopy, so I can't tell you that the reinforcement is universal.

In some cases, the reinforcement isn't necessary. In the couple of cases where I've seen it, the seam of the canopy was shorter than the length of the rib. This difference is length is one way to manipulate the shape of the canopy. What happens, though, is that as you pull the canopy to attach it to the rib tip, the hole at the center of the parasol stretches and pulls out of shape. Now every time you close the frame, it'll slip down over the ribs.

So, here is what you do:

1. Put the canopy onto the frame tip. Keep the frame closed. With a double-length of thread, secure the thread about 1/4" from the opening.

I like to place my stitches through the seams, since it's
a sturdy point.
Pass the needle between the threads and under the knot.
2. Back stitch around the opening. Pull the stitches snug against the tip of the frame.

Don't ask why I'm going left to right instead of right to left.
It made sense at the time, and ultimately it doesn't matter
which direction you go.
3. When you're done you have gathered the fabric a little. The stitches should be snug against the frame tip.

Now you're basically ready to finish attaching the canopy to the frame.


  1. Hello. Very good common sense guidance on recovering. Renewed my self confidence that I was on the right track for the techniques. However, my current dilemma is having a beautiful frame completely uncovered an uncovered (no scrap of any fabric)...
    1) How do I create my sections for proper fit (it's a 7 rib frame)?
    2) How do I decide the right fabric that will provide the proper tension for the frame?
    I'm looking at a steampunk print that comes in several different fabric options.
    I assume I need to add a hem to certain fabrics, and is it best to add my lace before or after attaching to frame?
    SO very much thanks!!!!

    1. Hi Mare! Thanks for stopping by my much-neglected blog.

      Period fabrics include silk taffeta and tightly woven cottons and linens. I have seen a few variations from that, but those were the most common. Synthetics work poorly because they don't have enough stretch.

      It was common to use the selvedge for the outside edge, if it's decent looking. Otherwise, hemming before assembling the canopy is also common.

      You should add any trims after putting the canopy on the frame, since the canopy needs to stretch and probably your trims won't.

      Unfortunately I can't give you easy advice on how to size the panels for your canopy. It's a bit of an art. The best you can do maybe is to steal the cover off of an umbrella that's about the same size, and use it as a base pattern.