Monday, May 27, 2013

DIY Bias Tape

Creating your own bias tape is so easy anyone can do it--and this method requires no special tools! All you need is an iron and a pair of scissors. You can make bias tape in any width and out of almost any fabric, which helps give your sewing a personalized, professional look.

How adorable are some of these bias tapes from printed fabrics? Can you just imagine the possibilities here--little kids' clothes, home decor items, etc.?

Begin with 1/2 yard or more of fabric. To start, you'll need to decide how wide you want your finished bias tape to be. I typically default to a 1/2" double-fold bias tape. Double-fold means that the raw edges will be tucked inside.

Take your finished width measurement and multiply it by four. To make a 1/2" wide tape, you will cut a piece of fabric 2" wide. (To make single-fold bias tape, where the raw edges will not be encased, multiply your width measurement by two).

Lay out your fabric and find the selvage (the edges of the fabric that are woven tighter than the rest of the fabric and do not unravel). The selvage runs parallel to the grain line of the fabric. You will not be cutting on the grain line, you will be cutting on the bias (hence the name bias tape), which runs at a 45 degree angle from the selvage.

Starting in one corner, make a cut across your fabric at a 45 degree angle.

Measure from this freshly cut edge to the width you need and cut a strip of fabric the entire length of your fabric.

I usually cut several strips, because you will typically need more bias tape than what one strip will yield.
When you have all of the strips cut, trim the little triangle pieces off the ends so your strips are now rectangular.

There is a small trick to joining strips of bias tape to make one longer piece. Because these pieces are cut on the bias, you do not want to just line them up end-to-end and sew them together. You want to stitch with the grain line, which is now at a 45 degree angle to your straight edges.

With right sides together, lay the pieces you want to connect together in an L shape, as shown in the picture below.

Pin the pieces together. Here I pinned them along the stitching line.

Stitch diagonally along the stitching line, essentially "chopping off" the corner.

I used a contrasting thread to enable the stitching to show up better in photographs; I would recommend using a matching thread.

Trim the corner off, leaving about 1/8" seam allowance.

Open up the tape and press the seam you just created.

Add any other pieces necessary in the same manner to achieve the yardage of bias tape you need.

Press the bias tape in half lengthwise.

Continue along the entire length of the bias tape until it is all pressed in half. (If you are making single-fold tape, you are done at this point. Wasn't that easy?)

Open the tape, wrong-side up, to see the crease line running down the middle of the tape.

Bring the raw edges in to the crease in the center and press. I do both edges at once; you may find it easier to do one edge at a time.

Keeping both raw edges folded in to the center, fold again on the original crease line and press again. Voila! You are finished with your own custom bias tape!

Now go have fun making all kinds of items with a couture finish!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Potholder/Oven Mitt

This is my favorite potholder design of all time. It has become a favorite of my family, too; they request new ones ever so often when the ones I have made before finally get worn out.

What makes this potholder so wonderful, you ask? I'll tell you. :) It's a combination potholder/oven mitt. There's a pocket for your hand to slide inside, like an oven mitt, but it lays flat when you set it underneath a pot, like a potholder.

It's also nice and big, so I feel like my hands are really protected. I hate trying to pull a full pan of bubbling something-or-other out of the oven with a tiny 4-inch square of fabric pinched between my fingers and the dish. With this design, I can really get a good hold on my casserole dishes, even the ones without handles, without worrying about burning my fingers or the back of my hands if something sloshes a little.

See how much room I have in there? But yet I have good control of whatever I'm carrying, unlike with a stiff oven mitt.

Anyway, that's why I think they're the best. As an added bonus, they are super easy and cheap to make! All you need is a cheap towel and a package of extra-wide double-fold seam binding.

I went with brown and turquoise to match my awesome dishes, which I love. The contrast also shows up well on camera, so you can easily see the process to make these. You can go with a more subtle look by matching the color of the seam binding to the towel, or you can mix it up and have some fun!

I was able to get 4 potholders out of one towel. One 3-yard package of seam binding is enough for two potholders, so you will need two packages if you want to use your whole towel.

For each potholder, you will need to cut 1 7" x 8" rectangle, and 2 9" x 8" rectangles.

The potholder will be 8" wide by 9" long. The two 9" x 8" pieces will be stacked together to form a nice thick layer of protection for your hands. The 7" piece forms the pocket on the outside.

Round 2 of the corners of the 7" piece, and 3 of the corners of the 9" x 8" piece.
On the 7" x 8" piece, you are rounding what I call the two bottom corners--the ones that will line up with the bottom edge of the potholder. You want a straight edge for the part that forms the pocket opening. On the 9" x 8" pieces, leave one of the top corners unrounded. Looking at the picture may be the best way to see which corners to round.

Take the pocket piece, and sew seam binding to the straight edge.

Just sandwich that edge between the two layers of seam binding and stitch it closed. Because the towel is thick, I recommend not taking the edge of the towel quite to the fold of the binding; give it a little wiggle room. See how I have a small space between the edge of my pocket and the center fold of the binding in the picture above?

When it is finished, it will look something like this:

The angle of this picture makes the pocket piece look really short and fat, but it isn't. I was just too lazy at the moment to get up and move to take a better picture. I'm eight months preggo, okay? :)

Set the pocket piece aside for a moment. Taking the two 9" x 8" pieces, layer one on top of the other, and then baste them together so they essentially become one piece.

Lining up the bottom rounded corners, lay the pocket piece on top of the pieces you just sewed together.

I would probably pin it in a few places; there's a lot of thickness going on there! Baste around the three unfinished edges of the pocket, sewing all three layers together.

If anything is a little uneven, like one piece is slightly larger than the others, don't worry about it. Take this time to trim it down a little before you put the seam binding around the whole thing.

Starting at the non-rounded corner, attach seam binding around the entire perimeter of the pot holder. When you get back to your starting place, keep stitching! You want a 3" tail of seam binding hanging off the edge, so stitch past the edge of the pot holder 3", stitching the seam binding closed to form a little tail, like you see in the picture. This will make your hanging loop.

Before moving on, flip your potholder over and check the back. When working with this much thickness, sometimes the seam binding doesn't "catch" in the back.

See the gap in the picture above where the seam binding is not stitched down? Just pull it over where it needs to be and stitch it down from this side. If you want, you can rip out the old stitches as you may have two lines of stitching now showing on the other side. I didn't bother, because I found you could barely notice them.

Now, flip the potholder back over. Fold the tail up and to the left at about a 45 degree angle, as shown.

Tuck the end back behind the potholder, forming a loop.

Pin the loop in place, lining it up straight in the back.

(Notice the above picture is from the back).
Stitch the loop down. I go over it a time or two with a straight stitch to hold it in place, and then again with a tight zigzag stitch, almost like a buttonhole stitch. That sucker isn't going anywhere!

With that, your potholder/oven mitt is finished!

Seriously, try these out for yourself. I bet you'll love them as much as I do. They're really awesome when they're personalized with a little embroidery on the pocket piece--add a monogram or a pretty design to match someone's kitchen decor and you've got a great gift!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bow and Headband Holder

So as you all know, I am expecting a little girl in about six weeks. :) Hubby and I are getting super excited to meet her, and, as we are both crafty people, we have both been making things to prepare for her arrival. I finally got all of the "big stuff" done (sheets, quilt, curtains...) and have moved on to some smaller projects like this one.

I have seen many bow holders using this basic concept--an initial or plaque with ribbons hanging down from which to clip bows. What I had not seen was one that could also hold headbands. My little girl has already got a collection of headbands, and I wanted to be able to hang these from the same bow holder--you know, to keep all her little hair accessories in one place--so I came up with this design. It's simple and involves no sewing (which is a rarity for me, lately).

*Don't have the time or inclination to make one yourself? Check out Apples to Applique on Etsy and have me make one for you!*

To get started, you'll need an initial (or plaque), ribbon (I used two different widths: 5/8" and 1 1/2"), acrylic paint, paintbrush, Velcro, and a good craft glue (I used E-6000). You will also want something to keep your ribbon from fraying, such as clear fingernail polish.

Paint the initial your desired color. My baby's nursery is sage green, so I went with that for my base color.

This was too plain for my taste, so I decided to jazz it up using a really simple but cute technique. I wadded up a paper towel and dabbed it in my second color, then dabbed away on top of my base coat of paint.

Super simple, but look at what a cute finish it gives.

After this dried, I also put a coat of Mod Podge over the whole thing because I thought my paint was too flat. If you use a glossy paint or prefer flat paint, you can skip this step.

Next, you will need to cut your ribbon. From the 1 1/2" wide ribbon, cut one piece 21" long. From the 5/8" wide ribbon, cut one piece 21" long, one piece 5" long, and 12 pieces 3 1/2" long.

(The really observant ones of you may notice that the list I wrote down in the picture above says to cut the one piece 5 1/2" long and not 5", but I was making this up as I went and discovered that the 5 1/2" I had cut was slightly too long.) :)

On each of the 21" long pieces, cut one end at a 45 degree angle. It looks best if these angles mirror each other--meaning that the shorter sides are both toward the middle.

Using clear fingernail polish or some other clear finish (I actually used Mod Podge for this step as I was out of clear nail polish), paint the ends of all your cut ribbons. Just run a thin amount on each end and let it dry.

Do this for each end of each ribbon piece you cut. This will keep your ribbons from getting ravely and scraggly.

When the ribbons are dry, flip the initial over. Take the 5" piece of ribbon and glue it to the top of the initial on the back, forming a hanging loop. Glue the non-angled ends of the 21" long ribbons to the bottom of the initial on the back. I put the wide ribbon on the wide side of the initial. Let dry.

When the ribbons are all nice and dry, flip the initial back over. If you want just a bow holder without the capability of holding headbands, you are done at this point. If you want a headband holder, keep following along!

Take the 3 1/2" pieces and lay them out upside-down in the center of the wide ribbon. I started at the top and worked my way down the ribbon, laying each new piece roughly 1 1/4" inches below and underneath the one before it. This sounds more confusing than it is; just make sure they are pretty evenly spaced before you start gluing them down, and remember that they will overlap.

When you have your spacing figured out, glue just the top end of the narrow ribbon to the wide ribbon. Yes, you want to glue it upside-down.

Keeping the first little piece back and out of the way, glue down the top of the next ribbon.

Keep going until you have all 12 ribbon pieces overlapping and glued on. At this point, they will hang off the end of the wide ribbon a little.

Here's what the whole thing looks like so far.

Once those little pieces of ribbon are nice and dry, you're going to attach some Velcro to them to make little loops to hang headbands from.

I used sew-on Velcro for two reasons. One, my first intent was to sew it on, but then I decided that would be a pain with all of the little pieces. Two, while sticky-back Velcro would work, I would have had to cut the pieces smaller, and I hate what that adhesive does to my scissors. It's pretty impossible to get off, and the scissors are never the same again. If you want to, however, you can easily use adhesive Velcro.

Cut 12 pieces each of the hook side and the loop side of the Velcro. Make sure they are no wider than your narrow ribbon.

Glue a hook side to the top and a loop side to the bottom of each short piece of ribbon, forming little closeable loops.

Note: I feel I should mention the importance of making sure the loop side (aka the soft side) of the Velcro is attached to the bottom (the free end) of the ribbons. The reason for this is that this is the end you will be feeding through the headbands to hang them up, and the loop side will not catch on any delicate lace or elastic and ruin it, while the hook side (aka scratchy side) might.

Once your glue dries, you are finished! Hang it on the wall and get ready to display the cuteness of baby hair accessories!

Clip barrettes and bows on the narrow side.

(Side note: How adorable are these ladybug barrettes? I mean, seriously.)

On the headband side, simply feed the free end of a loop through the headband...

...and Velcro it closed.

There you have it! A way to display and organize all those precious hair accessories!