Completed: fabric bunting

200505_2Like many other parents right now I am often struggling to find indoor activities that are fun to do for my daughter and that I also enjoy doing. My daughter usually likes drawing and I wanted to make some bunting to use for birthday celebrations. Several weeks ago I thought I’d combine the two.

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Flag decoration in progress. I cut some cardboard to put inside the flags to prevent the ink from the markers seeping through to the other side.

I prepared some white flags from old sheets, covered the table, put my daughter in some protective clothing and handed her my fabric markers. Was she excited to be allowed to use real markers instead of pencils or crayons? You bet.

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We decorated them together and it was quite fun to do. I had only sewn 6 of the white flags to decorate, which wasn’t really enough for proper bunting so I created some more from a fun IKEA fabric that also has a white background.

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I then may have gotten distracted by a certain tree project, but eventually I created binding using a 25 mm bias tape maker, glued the flags to the binding at regular intervals with Prym wonder tape and sewed it all together.

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Just in time for my youngest daughter’s first birthday.

Completed: Bunting for the office

Fabric buntingI’m still too tired to tackle complicated projects so I made something I said I’d make months ago: bunting for our office. We decorate the desks of people that have their birthday but the decorations that we have are old, worn and tacky. Some of it is only held together by adhesive tape.

Fabric buntingOne day, (much) earlier this year, a colleague and I were hanging up all the stuff and discussed that it would be nice to get some new decorations and I figured I could easily make some fabric bunting that would look loads better than the plastic bunting we’re currently using. Of course, I never got around to actually making any until this weekend.

I used 3 fat quarters for the flags and some Kona Pepper for the bias tape.

  • Trellis turquoise from “Bonjour mon ami” by Amanda Murphy for Blend Fabrics
  • Yellow “Swirl basics” by Windham Fabrics
  • Wine from “Sophia” by Blank Quilting
Prym Wonder Tape

I love this stuff…

Here I got the idea to use iron on hemming tape to attach the flags to their ribbon instead of pins. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this myself and while I don’t have iron on hemming tape, I do have Prym Wonder Tape. This stuff is amazing. It is double sided adhesive tape that you can sew through. I usually use it for installing zippers so I don’t need to struggle with pins. For the bunting I used it to stick my flags in between the folded bias tape and this worked like a charm. The tape doesn’t stick so much that you can’t reposition it but it is sticky enough to be used instead of pins.

Now, I really want to continue with my next Lady Skater and while this dress is easy to sew I’m still in the process of improving the fit even more and for that I do need my thinking cap on. Hopefully I’ll get it finished by next weekend. I want to wear this dress and cross another UFO from my list.

Fabric buntingWhat do you do when you are tired? Do you stubbornly continue with the project you’re working on even if the next step is to tackle that welt pocket that you’ve never made before? Do you, like me, switch to something easy or do you simply not do any sewing?

Sewing tip: Bias tape maker

Bias tape has been on my mind for the past two weeks or so. Perhaps not so strange since I made a top with bias tape facing and wrote a tutorial on how to fit bias tape in an armhole or neckline. So, I thought I might as well turn this into some sort of mini-series by giving a sewing tip for using bias tape makers:

“A fabric strip with the end cut at an angle will feed much more smoothly through a bias tape maker than a fabric strip with a straight end”

make your own bias tape

Cut the end of the fabric strip at an angle.

When you think about it, this is not all that surprising, but seriously, this tip can save you lots of frustration! The small tip of the fabric strip won’t meet much resistance inside the bias tape maker, and once the tip peeps out of the front, it is really easy to pull the rest of the strip through. No more fussing around with a pin trying to pull the fabric through.

When the tip of the strip comes out of the front you can easily pull the rest of the strip through.

For those of you that are not familiar with bias tape makers I’ll also show you in more detail how to use them.  A bias tape maker is, as the name suggests, used to make bias tape. I think they’re nifty devices that are a very useful addition to your sewing room. They’re not very expensive and come in (at least) 5 different sizes, 6 mm (1/4’’), 12 mm (1/2’’), 18 mm (3/4’’), 25 mm (1’’) and 50 mm (2’’). I own the 4 largest ones. Making your own bias tape has several advantages. You are not limited by the colours of store bought bias tape. You can use much nicer fabrics for your bias tape (store bought tape is usually very stiff) and you can make your garment look really unique by using a special print.

bias tape makers

My bias tape makers, don’t they look pretty all lined up?

The instruction leaflet that comes with the bias tape maker will tell you what size to cut the fabric strip but roughly this will be more or less twice the width of the finished width of the bias tape. For the really small bias tape makers it will be a little bit more, for the larger ones a little bit less. For the following pictures I used the 25 mm bias tape maker and cut my fabric strip just under 50 mm wide. The fabric strip is usually cut on the bias (45 degree angle to the grain line of the fabric). This gives the fabric a little bit of stretch and makes it easier to fit around curves. If you are going to use the tape to bind something that doesn’t have any curves it is totally ok though to use a strip of fabric that is cut on the straight of grain.

back of bias tape maker

The back of the bias tape maker is U-shaped. This is where the fabric goes in.

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When the fabric comes out of the front of the bias tape maker the edges are folded in.

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An iron is used to press the bias tape as it comes out of the bias tape maker. You can pull on the metal handle to pull more fabric through.

That was easy wasn’t it? I hope I have convinced you that making your own bias tape is totally worth it!

Tutorial: How to perfectly fit bias tape to an armhole or neckline

bias tape finished top

Inside (left) and outside of top finished with bias tape facing.

During the construction of my Sorbetto top I suddenly realised how I can guarantee that bias tape will fit perfectly in any armhole or neckline (or any other place where the beginning and end of bias tape meets such as bag tops, hems and quilts). Until now I was somewhat mystified by how to do this properly and usually managed to fit it by a process of trial and error. Not anymore! It turned out to be very easy and since I am guessing that I am not the only one who could do with some clarification on this topic I thought I’d share my newfound knowledge in my first tutorial.

I prefer to match up two ends of bias tape with a seam that is at a 45 degree angle with the length of the tape instead of a 90 degree angle.  A huge advantage of having a seam that is at a 45 degree angle is that it will create much less bulk when the tape is attached to the project, especially when the bias tape is used to encase a fabric edge. I also think that a 45 degree angle seam will be more stable because this seam will run parallel to the grain line of the fabric since the fabric from which bias tape is made is cut on the bias.

The problem though with the 45 degree angle is where exactly to sew this seam to ensure that the tape will fit your opening perfectly and this is what I am now able to explain to you. I figured it out while trying to apply a method for attaching a binding to a quilt to the neckline of the Sorbetto and failing miserably. The bias tape turned out much too long. Then in a true light bulb moment I realised that for the quilt binding I had to add 5 cm (2’’) to the length of the binding at a certain point because the unfolded binding strip was 5 cm wide. The fabric strip I used to make my own bias tape for the neckline was only 2.5 cm (1’’) wide so that is why I ended up with a much too long strip to fit my neckline. When I added 2.5 cm instead of 5 cm my bias tape suddenly fit perfectly!

How to match up two ends of bias tape to sew the 45 degree angle seam.

I made another Sorbetto to demonstrate two methods for creating perfectly fitting bias tape. In sewing there are usually several ways to the same end result and it’s up to you to figure out which method works best for you. For the top in this tutorial I used bias tape to create a facing on the inside of the garment, but these methods can also be used to create an outside facing or for encasing a fabric edge in bias tape (which I think is what bias tape is used for most often). Please note that this tutorial is only to be used with woven fabrics. When attaching stretch bias tape to knit fabrics other rules apply.

Method 1: “Leave a gap”

Step 1.1: Make your own bias tape or get a piece of store bought tape that is a little longer than the opening you want to attach it to. If this is the first time you are attaching bias tape to an opening I suggest that you make it at least 10 cm (4’’) longer.

Step 1.2: Pin the bias tape to the opening, leaving the ends of the tape trailing off. I try to make sure that the place where the seam will end up is in a spot where it is hardly noticeable, such as under the arm when attaching the tape to an armhole or near the shoulder seam when attaching it to a neckline. I wouldn’t match it up exactly with another seam though as this will create unnecessary bulk.

Step 1.3: Stitch the bias tape to the opening leaving approximately a 10 cm/4’’ gap between the start and finish of your stitch line. Backstitch a couple of stitches at the beginning and end to secure.

Step 1.2 and 1.3.

Step 1.4: Cut off the left end of the bias tape so that the end stops in the centre of the gap. This is not something that you need to measure accurately but your cut should be straight.

Step 1.4

Step 1.5: Align the right end of the bias tape with the gap. It might be helpful to use some pins to secure the tape if the opening is very curvy.

Step 1.6: Fold the left end of the bias tape over the right end. Mark on the right end of the tape where the left end stops. This is something that you do want to do accurately.

step 1.6

Step 1.7: Now it is time to add enough length to the right end of the bias tape to be able to sew the 45 degree angle seem. The amount that needs to be added is the unfolded width of the bias tape. In my case this is 2.5 cm (1’’). Use a ruler (or a piece of the unfolded bias tape) to measure this distance on the bias tape. Draw a line across the bias tape to indicate where this measurement stops.

Step 1.7

Step 1.8: Cut off the right end of the bias tape on the second marking that you made.

Step 1.8

Step 1.9: Match up the edges of the bias tape as indicated in the picture and sew the two ends together as shown. It can be helpful to draw the line that you want to stitch with chalk or disappearing marker so you can sew on the line. After sewing the seam check whether you didn’t accidently twist the bias tape. Press the seam open and trim the seam allowances.

sew bias tape together

Step 1.9

Step 1.10: Pin the bias tape to the gap and stitch in place.

Step 1.11: Fold the tape over to the other side and edge stitch in place.

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Step 1.10 and 1.11

You are done and should now have a lovely looking bias tape bound opening!

Bias tape finished armhole!

Method 2: “Create a circle”

Step 2. 1: Carefully measure your armhole or neckline and write down the measurement. This step is very important, if you do not do this accurately you run the risk that your bias tape will not fit as perfectly as you hoped it would! For the top that I used for this tutorial the neckline measured 75 cm.

Step 2.2: To the measurement from step 1 add the width of your unfolded fabric strip or store bought bias tape. Write down this measurement as well. I my example I used 12 mm (1/2’’) bias tape, which was made from a 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide strip. So I added 2.5 cm to my measurement from step 1, which was 75 cm and ended up with a total of 77.5 cm.

Step 2.3: Make your own bias tape or use store bought tape. Cut it exactly to the measurement that you wrote down in step 2. Do, however, slightly stretch the bias tape when you measure it. It has some stretch due to being cut on the bias and if you don’t stretch it out just a little bit, it might end up too long when you fit it into the opening.

Step 2.4: Now it is time to create a circle with your bias tape. Match up the edges of the tape as shown in the picture and sew the two pieces together as indicated. Check whether you didn’t accidently twist the tape and ended up with a Möbius strip, which will be impossible to attach to the opening (this, of course, totally didn’t happen to me…).  Press the seam open and trim the seam allowances.

create a bias tape circle

Step 2.4: The careful observer will notice that this is not the actual piece of bias tape that was used to face the neckline. I didn’t think my original picture was clear enough so I took another one with a shorter piece of bias tape.

Step 2.5: Pin your bias tape to the opening and sew it in place.

Step 2.5

Step 2.6: Fold the tape over to the other side of the garment and edge stitch in place.

Step 2.6

You are done and should now have a lovely looking bias tape bound opening!

Bias tape finished neckline!

I would love to hear from you whether you found this tutorial useful and which method is your favourite! Also, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll do my best to help you.

Completed: Colette Sorbetto

130905_Sorbetto1I came across the Sorbetto from Colette patterns while searching for a top that I would be able to squeeze out of a 60 cm long piece of fabric. The Sorbetto seemed to fit the bill perfectly as there are not too many details that take up precious fabric.

I first made a muslin in size 6 and from the waist down I blended to in between size 8 and 10 at the hem because I thought my pear shape would need it. When trying it on I decided that this definitely created too much flare at the hem (the pattern itself already has quite a bit of flare) so I changed it back to size 6. The only thing I changed was to remove ½’’ at centre back. The muslin also proved to be good practice for the construction because in my muslin the pleat ended up on the inside…

130905_Sorbetto3The main fabric is a 100% extra combed shirting cotton from Tessitura Monti that I had left-over after making a classic tailored shirt for my brother. The cutting instructions for the Sorbetto tell you to fold the fabric once and then to cut both pattern pieces on the same fold. My fabric was 160cm wide and by creating two fold lines by lining up the selvages I had more than enough room to cut out both pieces from a piece of fabric that was a little over 60 cm instead of the 1.5 yard that is called for in the instructions. So, for the smaller sizes you can definitely make this top with less fabric!

Unfortunately, I did not have enough fabric left to make my own bias tape. I intended to use store bought bias tape from my stash, but when I held it next to my good quality fabric it looked extremely cheap so that idea went out of the window.

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Just look at that edge stitching!

Instead, I chose to use a quilting cotton from the Desert Daydreams collection of Anthology Fabrics to make my own bias tape with. Because the print is small scale it is clearly visible on the ½’’ bias tape and I feel this adds a nice detail to the top. I am also really happy with how my edge stitching on the bias tape turned out, it is probably the best I have done up until now.

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French seam on the inside of the top.

I am rather pleased with the fit, although if I were to make this top again I think I would lower the armholes a little since they are just a bit too tight. For the shoulder and side seams I used French seams. In Dutch, funnily enough, a French seam is called an English seam, which makes me wonder what it is called in French… These seams make the inside of the garment look much tidier and with this top there are only 4 seams that require finishing so it doesn’t even take that much longer to complete the garment.

Overall I am happy with how this top turned out. In the future I will definitely try another Colette pattern as I thought the PDF pattern was easy to assemble and the instructions were very clear.