How to Finish a Bellpull

The idea of the bellpull was that one yanked on it, and through a series of Rube Goldberg pulleys and whatnot (I'm no engineer and some days I can't even spell it), a bell rang in the servants' quarters to let them know A Person of the House needed assistance. Now they are used simply as wall decor. (Well, MOST people use them that way! I guess there are a few people who call servants with them!)

To mount your finished bellpull, you need what amounts to a doll-clothes hanger for the top. This keeps the top nice and even and also helps distribute the weight of the piece so it doesn't "hang" out of shape. This top piece also serves as the hanging point--a loop, hole, hook, etc.--for attaching bellpull to a nail on the wall.

A decorative piece may be mounted at the end of the bellpull--symmetry, donchasee? Sometimes there's even a bell (!) mounted on the bottom piece. The extra weight at the bottom also helps the bellpull hang straight. If you prefer, sew a tassle on the end of the bellpull itself (and forget the bottom part of the hardware).

Needlepoint shops and general needlework supply houses have bellpull hardware (ex: Mary Maxim, Herrschner's, Nordic Needle). If you can't find any, you might be able to fashion some from wire; or use lengths of dowel rod, perhaps with a decorative knob on the ends.

After stitching the bellpull, line it completely. (This also helps it to hang well.) If you are not using anything decorative on the bottom, consider slipping drapery weights that look like a string of beads into the bottom between the bellpull itself and the lining; this will substitute for the weight of the bottom half of the hardware.

Flop the top end of the lined bellpull through the slot in the upper part of the hardware and sew the fabric in place to keep it there. Mount the bottom half of the hardware in the same way or substitute a tassle, etc. (If you want to be fancy, flop the bellpull thru the hanger and then tack the lining in place over the "flop" so your mechanics are covered. My mom says, "Always cover your mechanics.")

copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis
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