Tag Archives: bias tape

Full Circle

Many sewists start out sewing circle skirts, so suprisingly this is my first. I found some polyester gaberdine in my local op-shop but didn't buy it because I thought I had too much fabric (well, I do but what sewer doesn't) and didn't have a plan with what to make with it. But then, I started thinking about making a circle skirt while I was on holiday and realised that fabric would have been perfect. I kicked myself for not buying it when I had the chance. So it was with little hope that I went back to that op-shop weeks later to check out their fabric bin, and lo and behold, there is was, still waiting for me! To top it all off, the lady that sold it to me only charged me $4.50 for the 4 and a half metres. That's only 50c/m (they usually charge $2/m which is still cheap though)! It was meant to be. But this skirt had to wait it's turn unitl after I finished making my first Elisalex and then the peplum top.

I looked at a few tutorials like this one from By Hand London and just used the measurements I wanted. I was very eager to start this project and cut it all out right after I finished the peplum top, but then I froze. I haven't had a great track record with getting skirt waistbands to sit right and I think it's because in the past I've been a bit slack with using interfacing when necessary. So, it just sat there for about a week until I found the courage to continue (I'm such a wuss!). I don't know why I was worried, I've come a long way with my sewing since my first few skirts.
I included in seam pockets (big suprise) and used an invisible zip from my stash. (I only had a white zip so I think I'll paint the zipper pull with nail polish to make it less noticeable.) When I first sewed on the waist band and tried it on, I got this;
So, I unpick that waist band, cut a new one and cut the inside circle (waist) slightly larger, then tried again. Sucess! I let the skirt hang for about 24 hours before I trimmed and evened out the hem. Then I attached some home-made bias tape to the hem and hand stitched to finished. The hand stitching took me FOR-wait for it-EVER. I worked it out and there is about 4.5 metres of hem on this skirt.
When I originally designed this skirt, I was going to have a quote from Pride and Prejudice all the way around the bottom hem. My first idea was to print the quote on some Lesley Riley's TAP and my second was to use my Stained fabric pens and handwrite the quote. After I finished the skirt my husband said it liked it as is, so now I'm not sure if I should add the quote or not. It really was quiet easy, I don't know why I haven't made one before now. My husband likes it so much that he said I need one in red, and when I told him I didn't have any red fabric, he told me I could always go to the fabric store and buy some. Does he understand how much damage I can do at a fabric store? Especially with his blessing?
Total cost of this project: Fabric $3 (I only used about 3 metres of the total 4.5 that I had), dark mid weight fuseable interfacing that I bought for a different project (maybe ~$1), invisible zip (harvested from a failed project), 2 hook and eye closures, home-made bias tape and thread all from my stash.

 

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Pram Insert

I finally finished this pram insert for some friends on the weekend, but I forgot to take a photo of the finished product, so imagine you see the holes for the shoulder straps, ok?

I used a thin weight cotton for the front, and a polar fleece for the back, although there is no real front or back as I made it reversable. I bought a cotton/wool blend batting for the middle and self made bias tape for the edging. Using measurements I took from the pram, I drafted up a pattern for the insert and traced this on to the cotton layer. I then cut all layers slightly larger and “quilted” them together. After all the layers were sewn together, I cut them out to the dimensions required. I thought this way if any of the layers moved during the “quilting” stage I didn't have to worry. Then came binding the edges.

I realised I needed 1″ double fold bias tape as the 1/2″ bias binding I had was way too small. I still wanted to use a patterned bias tape and I decided to make my own again. I only have 1/2″ and 3/4″ Clover bias tape makers, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to try out a few different techniques for making bias tape. Last time I used the method from the Colette handbook and Prudent Baby, but I found them both very time consuming and fiddly. This time I cut all my strips with my rotory cutter and sewed the strip together one by one. This was suprisingly much quicker. I used the pin method (you need a long pin) to make the 1″ bias tape, and it worked a dream! Who knew that the simple cutting/sewing/pin method would be the easiest way? I wish I had known this before spending money on the bias tape makers, but you live and learn.

 

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Making Bias Tape

I never realised the value of bias binding tape until I started using it more and more over the last year. The tipping point for me was when I purchased a pattern from Megan Nielsen. She uses bias tape instead of facings. For the last couple of attempts at the Darling Ranges dresses, I used store bought bias tape. As I intend to use bias tape instead of facings more in my future projects, I thought it was about time I made some of my own. Not only is it much cheaper, but you can make it out of much cuter fabrics which will make the use of the bias tape more of a cute suprise inside the garment rather than an obvious omission of facings.

I followed the tutorial in The Colette Sewing Handbook, using a square of fabric which you turn into a parallelogram. I used a thrifted pillowcase and made a 46cm square. The lines I drew on the fabric were a ok but it sewed together a little wonky. I thought I lined it up correctly, but as I was cutting the continuous bias strip out I noticed that it got more and more out of line. This meant that I often didn't have a perfect 1″ strip at one of the seams. I also forgot to press my second seam open, which probably led to extra bulk at that point in the bias tape.

I made over 7 metres of 1/2″ bias tape from that one 46 cm square, which is more than I thought I was going to get and maybe more than I'm going to need. A problem with this method might be how many and how close the seams are in the bias tape, but I guess that depends on how large or small you make your square.

 

The next tutorial I was going to try was the one from Prudent Baby. It is very similiar but used a half a yard (~45 cm for the metric crowd) of fabric selvedge to selvedge. But as I made so much just from a small square, I thought I would give it a miss and just try the same method again with a slightly larger square, paying extra attention to matching up the lines and sewing it using a very narrow seam.

And then come the fun cutting part! (Not really, my hand ached after this.) The extra time I spent drawing the lines and then aligning them all was worth it, as I ended up with a fairly consistant width bias strip all the way along.

I have two different sizes of the Clover Bias Tape Maker; the 1/2″ or 12 mm and the 3/4″ or 18 mm. So I thought I would try making the 3/4″. I've had the 3/4″ tool for a while and I can't even remember why I bought this particular size, as it is such an odd one, but it might be better for using as facings on slightly heavier weight fabrics. We will see. Using a 23″ square, I made over 6 metres of 3/4″ bias tape.

I did notice one difference between the two methods was how wide they tell you to make your bias strip. In the Colette Sewing Handbook it tells you to use twice the final width bias tape you want, and Prudent Baby say to use twice the width minus 1/8″. I'm not sure as to the reason for the difference, but as my bias strip is less than perfect, I'll stick with double the width. When lining the marks up, remember to offset them so you get one continuous bias strip and not a bunch of loops. I also learnt that if you are likely to be interupted by your children don't use an air eraseable pen to mark your lines or when you finally get a chance and come back to it you'll find your lines are gone. Whoops! And use a hot steamy iron to press your bias tape, or you'll find yourself going over what you've done.

Next time, I might try making 1″ double fold bias tape using the pin in the ironing board trick as seen here on Miss P and here on Coletterie.

 

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