In the Schwalm handwoven linen was used. Often the small farms did not have wide weaving looms. So, linen with a width of approximately 70–80 cm was common. (Only a few weaving looms were wider, making it very difficult to find old handwoven linen wider than 80 cm today.)
However, at the time, there was a need for wider linen pieces, and this was achieved by joining, in creative ways, lengths of linen. The joins were made either with overcasting stitches to get a solid join or with Plaited Insertion stitches (also known as Interlaced Insertion stitches) to get an elastic and flexible join.
This article deals with the possible ways of making a solid join. It assumes the linen pieces have a selvage on the edges, and it is these edges that should be joined.
First, because it may happen that two pieces, cut from the same linen roll and to the same length, will shrink differently, the linen pieces must be preshrunk by boiling, This ensures the join will not be wavy.
The pieces need to be ironed, and, while ironing, one has to avoid stretching the linen in one or the other direction.
Stitching by hand small overcasting stitches is the simplest way to join the two pieces of linen. The first example shows this method worked on more coarse linen – the top seam shows the front side, the bottom seam the back side.
The example below shows this method worked on finer linen – the top seam shows the front side, the bottom seam the back side. This piece is from 1866, making it more than 150 years old. And the seam is still intact.
Today, for larger table linens, a double seam is usually worked. A thread is withdrawn along the selvage. The selvages are laid on top of each other and fastened with Antique hem stitches on both sides. Such a seam can remain without further decoration.