August 11, 2012

Do It Yourself: Storing Your Silver Serving Pieces

Round tray on top of storage pouch
Silver and silver plate pieces are so lovely- but require some extra care.  However, you may not have the right storage for them!  You might have family pieces that didn't come with storage bags or boxes, you may have purchased some at an antique store, or what may have worked previously may have lost its effectiveness.  While working on this post, I discovered that silver cloth is intended to be used for 5 years, then the effectiveness of the chemical treatment of the cloth starts to decline.

What inspired this post is that while in Maine, I picked up some lovely antique silver and silver plate items at a few antique stores, but I don't have the right storage for them.  So, why not make my own?  First I ordered silver cloth.  What is silver cloth?  It just means a cloth, most often a flannel, that has been treated with chemicals similar to silver polish.  Protecting your silver from the air, and with silver cloth, will help keep it from tarnishing.  Why is tarnishing a big deal?  Two reasons, the first is that once something has tarnished, it starts 'pitting,' these look like little holes on the surface of the silver.  There is nothing you can do about them once they are there!!!  Second, you'll have to polish less!  And everyone likes that- less work!

So let's get started!  First, determine what you need to make storage pouches for- I had several items, and a few of them were rather large and three-dimensional.  So I estimated the yardage I would need before I ordered my fabric.  I went to to order my silver cloth, the search yielded a lot of different choices.  You can get several different colors, so have fun with it!  Take note of what the fabric says in the notes, I noticed that some of them listed the duration of effectiveness in years, some did not, and some had one side of the fabric that was more effective, so keep track of what you end up with.  I chose maroon, which came from Vogue Fabrics, they had several colors.

Hand sewn seam example with a modest 1/4" seam allowance
We'll go through two examples here, a flat tray, and a rectangular dish that is 3" tall and required more adjustments.  Basically, the more three dimensional the object, the more thought you'll need to give it.  To begin, let's start with the tray.  First, I measured this round tray, which was 13.5" in diameter.  I wanted to cut out a piece of fabric that would leave me enough room for seam allowances and a flap to close it with.  So, I cut out a piece that was 29" x 14".  I like to use a yardstick for this type of project- a tape measure is not as reliable, because you aren't sure if you are a very straight line.  So, you might consider using a ruler or a yardstick, or something that has a firm, straight edge.  If you're unfamiliar with the term 'seam allowance,' that simply means the difference between your seam and the outer edge of the fabric.  In this case, the fabric is somewhat thick and plush, so you can have less of a seam allowance than if the fabric were thin and prone to unraveling- if that were the case, we'd be having a much different conversation about finishing the seam!  Thankfully, we are not, because that is more work.

Wrist pin cushion with quilting pins
On to construction!  Fold the piece of fabric with the wrong side out- meaning that the side of the fabric that you want touching the silver on the inside of the pouch is on the outside.  For the silver tray, where we want extra fabric at the top to fold it over in a type of flap, arrange the fabric so that is the case.  Next, we want to pin the fabric where we intend to sew it- some thoughts on pins.  I like to use quilting pins when I sew, their heads have little round ends that show up well against the fabric.  Regular pins that have small heads can be hard to see.  In addition, I also like to use a wrist pin cushion, that way, I can wear it on my wrist while I sew and remove the pins and place them there.  In this post, I didn't want to use a sewing machine because I wanted to encourage everyone to feel that they could do this, even if you don't have a sewing machine.  You can do this with just a needle and thread!  If you do have a sewing machine, though, the project will go a little faster if you use it.  But either way, you'll have a practical finished product.  Using a needle and thread (and the thread does not need to be special), sew, using relatively small stitches the two sides of the pouch.  This is a good thing to do in front of the TV!

Finished silver tray storage pouch
Turn your sewn pouch right side out.  Now, to finish the silver tray pouch, I sewed two ribbon ties at the top, to hold the flap down.  The ribbon is just basic ribbon, you may use any color.  Make sure the ribbon pieces are long enough to tie.  To make the ties secure, you can either double bow them, or, this is a fishing knot trick my husband uses on our son's sneakers, proceed as if you are tying a regular bow, and when you get to the part where you make the bow, instead of pulling the loop through once, wind it around twice before pulling tight.  This stays very securely, and is easily released by pulling (both at once) of the non-bow ends.  Seriously, we use this fishing knot on so many things!!!  Toddler sneakers, baby clothes, silver storage pouches, hair bows...  There you go!  A wonderful, functional silver storage pouch for a tray!

Closure on rectangular dish pouch
Next, let's tackle something a little more challenging.  This dish is 13.5" x 7" x 3" and will need a little more thought in how we measure.  What I want to create is a pouch that is long enough, tall enough, and has enough fabric at the opening to be tied with a ribbon to keep the air out.  Therefore, I cut out a piece that is 36" x 10" to provide enough space.  Then, I sew both sides of the pouch, as we noted before.  I provide only about a 1/4" seam allowance.  Once the seams are sewn, I turn it right side out.  Now, I only need one long piece of ribbon and I sew the center of it to the center of the opening of the pouch on the underside, a few inches in from the edge.  Now, all I need to do to close it is tie it around all of the fabric that makes up the opening of the pouch.  There you go!  Easy and functional!

Rectangular dish pouch
As you can see, these are simple and do-able, and whatever shape or size item you have, you should be able to make a functional and helpful storage pouch for it!  Happy sewing- by hand or by machine!

This item's storage will take some thought!

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