What my DIY project has in common with the Wolf of the West

Schooner Maple Leaf (1904) off the central coast of British Columbia.

Captain Daniel Blackthorne and I have more in common than either of us thought. It’s true that we both spend a lot of time in Corsair’s Cove and as it turns out, we both have a fondness for the stuff that captures the wind. Also for piracy in our different ways.

I’ll explain.

I recently found some bolt-ends of linen for sale at an irresistible price. Really, it was almost a steal.

The Wolf of the West loved this marvellously tough fabric for his sails, to catch the wind and make it carry him from one of the Seven Seas, the Caribbean, to the next, our very own Pacific. I, on the other hand, wanted it for my bed.

The pieces I bought (super cheap, no actual theft required) were just wide enough to cover the top of my vintage double bed. If I wanted to tuck the sides under, I was going to have to do some sewing. Soul Matey thinks linen sheets are gifts of the gods, so he was all, “Thread that needle, Me Hearty!”

So I hauled out my mother-in-law’s old Kenmore machine, dusted off the skills my mom taught me back in the last century, and then took a token step into the 21st century to Google how to make the kind of seam I needed.

Plain linen panels stitched together with flat fell seams

Over a couple of days, I created a pair of sheets that are both useful and, Soul Matey and I believe, kind of beautiful. Plus the whole time I was measuring, cutting and stitching, I felt like I was channelling Captain Blackthorne’s 1850 sailmakers – or the Women’s Institute of 1943. It was remarkably fun, and as a bonus, our new sheets should last for, well, ages.


Modern wind captors in the Hawaiian Islands. No linen in those sails, but they’re awfully pretty.


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