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March 2017

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opening night gala

Project: Recovering a parasol!

I know, i have slacked on the second half of the Bryner millinery text. It's on my laptop at home and i am now at work, my contract having commenced today, so rest assured that it is coming, next time i haul my laptop somewheres that has wireless.

However, i was inspired to get cracking on this ongoing project i've had in the works--recovering a vintage bakelite-handled parasol with a ten-panel canopy--by the forecast that we are going to hit 105 in the heat index here in piedmont North Carolina.

Now, there are a variety of ways of making a parasol canopy pattern, all contingent on the frame you intend to use. Parasols can have six, eight, ten, or more "pie-slices" comprising the canopy, and can be a range of diameters. This is why you can't just go get a parasol pattern and have it work on any parasol frame. I'm writing a book on parasol canopy patterning, so for copyrighting purposes i'm not going to go into the various ways you can generate your canopy pattern. The method i used in this case is pretty intuitive though: Take the old cover off and use a panel of it for your pattern. This can prove problematic, because the old fabric has been distorted by the stretch and tension of the frame, but you can true it up and make it work with a bit of fussing.

So, i'm lame and didn't photograph the frame with the original cover on it, but know that it was navy dotted silk which was ragged and shattered. Here's the frame with its old cover removed and parts of my new fabric mid-construction:

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Fully seamed canopy not attached to frame

Note the "pooch" in the center: it's not a flat donut shape! The parasol cover I made actually has a slight pagoda shape to it when it's finished.

I finished off my circumference edges with a roll-hem on an overlock machine, and serged my radial seams at around 3/8". You can also french-seam the radials for a pretty finish. I'm going to eventually line this parasol though so i didn't do that.

The cover attaches to this frame with detachable rib tips. (Some parasol frames don't have removable tips; you stitch the canopy points directly to holes or wire loops at the ends of the ribs.) Here is a close-up of one safety-pinned on for checking the fit of the cover:

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Experimenting with trim options.

Note the SAFETY GOGGLES there: i am not even kidding, you need them if you are recovering a parasol, because in the course of putting the cover on, you can jam a rib right into your eyeball. You know what they say here at work about that? "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Then it's just a game: find the eye." Yeah, i know, but seriously. Get yourself some goggles and wear them when you work on parasols.

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I liked this double stripe the best.

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Finished canopy view
I took the cover back off and machine-stitched the trim on.

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side view

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Haven't lined it yet, but i'll get to that.

At least i got the new cover on in time to carry it this week on my walk to and from work. I am debating on my lining fabric--what i'd really like is a soft pink china silk. History fans will be pleased that i salvaged and retained the original manufacture's spike baffle label inside:

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Spike baffle


That came out beautifully -- the pattern is so you!

I bought a nylon Chinese-patterned parasol this weekend for just five of your American dollars. Now I just have to work up the courage to carry it somewhere and not care about the looks I'll get.
Thank you! I love the fabric like what-for. It is hard to tell in the pix but i love the trim too, which is this narrow red ribbon with fuzzy fringe on either side of it.

Here is something i have discovered: people seem to have a very positive response to a cute parasol. Strangers often smile at me when i carry a parasol, which, being the melanoma-prone pink-eyed mayonnaise-eater that i am, is all summer long.

I had to make a parasol icon, especially since i suspect i will making a fair number of parasol posts this season.
I'd be tempted to use some of that sunblocker fabric as a liner. Or a center layer between outer and lining if it wouldn't be too thick.
That's a good idea, but i wonder if it wouldn't be too thick? All the sunblock fabric i've seen is that vinyl-treated stuff for making lightblock window shades and such, which is definitely too thick (compared to like, china silk)--whatever the lining is has to fold up double inside without distorting the stretcher bars' alignment when the parasol is closed and furled. Granted, i've not been to a store actually looking for such a thing in years.

I should look into whatever the cutting-edge options on UV-protective fabrics. I would imagine that, given the advances in stuff like microfiber sports fabrics, there might be a thin UV-protective fabric that's not stiff and crunchy...?
There's some out there that may be do-able. http://www.therainshed.com/ has some nylons that might be light enough- they recommend them for linings.
http://www.rockywoods.com/sunprotective_main.htm has a poly microfiber that they say works for dresses. I don't know how thin it would be, though.
I really wanna have a go at this now. Being a very pale English girl, the sudden very sunny days are hell. I have to walk around with a children Tinkerbell Umbrella as I have no parasol just to keep shaded...not that Tink is a bad thing.

I can't wait to see it fully lined!
Hah, you've just reminded me of something i'd forgotten--a few years back, i used to carry a little kid's Powerpuff Girls umbrella for a parasol. It was cute! Didn't exactly go with every outfit, though. :)

It's not that hard, but parts of it are counter-intuitive so it helps to actually just sit down and do it. I would say, get a super-cheap umbrella (one you find in the park after the next rainstorm, for example, or one of those at the charity shops, etc) and some totally throwaway cotton fabric (maybe a bedsheet from the same charity shop!) and just try it! If you do it once with fabric and a frame you don't care about, it doesn't matter if you mess up, and you'll get a MUCH better idea of what it's like.

Then you can find a good frame and invest in some pretty fabric and make yourself one for the sunny days!
It's all about practice isn't it. :D Thanks for the advice, I always understand things much better when it's there infront of me and I can see exactly where things can go wrong and right. I'm gonna have to pop down the charity shops.



I have a parasol frame I would like to cover (got it in an antique store years ago), but it is a very strange frame. It has 5 sets of "double" ribs...five coming from the part you push up, which then branch into two separate ribs each going out to the ends. I've never seen anything like this, and can't seem to find another one like it on the Internet. I'm not really sure how to go about covering it, since it didn't have the original fabric on it and I have no idea how it would go on with those double ribs.

Re: Parasol

Can you take some pictures of it? It sounds like something i've seen in a book i've got at home (currently at work so can't check it)--i'll look into it and see. It sounds like an excellent find!

discomedusae haeckle parasol project

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