Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tutorial Tuesday: Sewing a Continuous Lap Placket

Adding a placket into the skirt portion of a dress allows the dress to open wider, which can be handy when dressing wiggly toddlers or struggling with kids with big noggins. There are a few methods of adding a placket. One that I teach in several Tie Dye Diva patterns is the “continuous lap placket”. It takes a bit of skill and practice, but forms a durable, attractive and functional ‘vent’ into the skirt. You’ll find this method outlined in, for example, The Everyday Top pattern, Baby’s Party Dress Pattern, and Fair and Square Dress and Top pattern for Baby. Here’s how to add this type of placket to any pattern where you might want more room for it to go over the child’s head.

Before we start, let me point out that there’s another benefit to having a placket in a skirt – whether you have an overlapping button-back bodice or an abutted button-and-loop bodice, the placket allows you to enclose the skirt/bodice seam between the bodice and bodice liner for a really nice finish. So we’ll do this today also.

I’m sewing the Butterfly pattern with this gorgeous fabric provided to me from the Natural Wonder collection by Josephine Kimberling for Blend Fabrics. (Would Tim Gunn say I am too literal?) 

As a personal preference for this garment, I’m adjusting the pattern to make it an overlapped bodice with an enclosed skirt seam, but as I said before, this is optional when adding a placket. So, I added ½” to each back bodice for button extension before I cut my pattern pieces, and interfaced this area.

On your bodice, you’ll want to first press the edges of all of the bodice liner pieces under 3/8” to the wrong side. For the Butterfly dress, the curved bodice requires one extra step. Sew a line of staystitches along the curve, 3/8” from the edge. This might feel kind of odd if you haven't done it before - you are not sewing anything to anything else. Just sewing a line of stitching. Now, use a steam iron to press 3/8” under to the wrong side, using the line of stitches as your guide. See how easily they turn under right along that stitched line? That's what it's for.

Sew the bodice as set forth in the pattern and set it aside.
Cut your skirts as set out in your pattern. For the Butterfly pattern, go ahead and use the skirt cutting template to cut out that concave curve in the top.

Find the center back of your back skirt, and draw a line 1.5” long with a dot at the end of the line. After seam allowances, a 1.5” line will give you a 1” long placket and 2” total of extra circumference for putting the dress on. You can make this longer (or as short 1”) but be aware that a long placket on a classic length bodice might make a too-breezy gap.

Cut a placket from matching fabric 4” long x 1.25” wide . (If you’ve cut your slit longer or shorter, the length of your placket should be twice the length of your slit, plus 1.5”, and the same width.) Stitch all the way around the line you drew, ¼” from the line. Carefully cut down the length of the line, and make two angled cuts from the tip of the line to the very corners of your stitching to form a “Y” shape.

Now you can open this slit into a straight line.

Don’t let all the steps and photos that follow scare you away. All we are really doing in this next bit is enclosing that raw edge the same way we’d enclose an edge with double-fold bias tape.

Now I’m switching to contrasting fabrics for sake of the tutorial. Lay the open slit against the placket strip with right sides together. Your placket piece should be just a bit longer and this is fine, we’ll cut the excess later – we just don’t want it too short. Pin (or use fusible or wash away tape) and then stitch the placket strip to the slit ¼” from the raw edge, right over the existing stitches. In the photo the real stitches are shown in black and the white is where you should sew now. It is correct that at the peaks of the “Y” (which now looks more like a “W”) there will be only a few threads of your fabric between your stitching line and the inner peaks of the “W”. Go slow and smooth with your fingers so that you don’t stitch creases into the seam.

Press the placket strip up toward the seam. Then, turn the remaining long raw edge of the placket ¼” and press (both of these steps shown in top photo). Finally, turn and press ¼” again to cover the stitching line (bottom photo). 

Pin or use fusible/tape to hold this in place, and stitch from the right side of the fabric 1/8” from the seam edge, being sure to catch the folded edge on the other side.

As a final step, fold the placket into its V-shape and turn the left-hand side of the placket to the wrong side of the skirt fabric (this is for a back bodice with buttonholes on the left and buttons on the right). Press, and baste the top edge to hold it in place. You can trim any extra placket binding sticking up at the top.

Finish your pattern to the point you are ready to attach the skirts to the bodice. Pin the skirts to the bodice with right sides together, keeping the lining out of the way.

When I pin the placket in place, I like to scootch it just to the inside of the back bodice edges for easiest turning.
Sew in place using the ½” seam allowance. Press seam allowances toward the bodice, and fold the liner down so it just covers the line of stitching you just sewed. Pin or use sewing tape such as Wash Away Wonder Tape or Stitch Witchery to keep the liner in place. 
What is this Wonder Tape of which she speaks?

From the right side of the fabric, stitch along the bodice about 1/8” from the seamline, ensuring you catch the folded edge of the bodice liner on the inside. This is a little tricky on the curved bodice of the Butterfly dress, but go slow, check that you are catching the liner, especially near the armholes. 

I added snaps to this little dress. Look how pretty inside (top photo) and out.

And how terribly cute on. (Thank you Joyful Moments Photography by Thea!)
Butterfly Baby Top and Sterling Shorties
Hope you’ve enjoyed Tutorial Tuesday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tutorial Tuesday: How to Make Double Fold Bias Tape

Today I will show you how to make your own double fold bias tape from any fabric, how to sew it to your Tie Dye Diva creations (or any garment) and how to finish overlapping ends for for the most professional look.

Jen's patterns that require bias tape include a complete tutorial on how to make it yourself.  But sometimes you might want to add it to another pattern - it's a quick way to hem any pattern, for example. So today we'll go over the process here on the blog.

Today I'm using bias tape to hem the Fair & Square Top and Dress pattern, and also to make the elastic casing on the Pretty Pantaloons pattern.  I'm using fabric from the Sun-sational collection by Maude Asbury for Blend Fabrics This fun, beachy collection is sure to make you dream of tropical vacations, sand and sun! The fabric was provided to me by Blend Fabrics, but all opinions are my own.  

Double fold bias tape can be used in numerous applications, so lets jump right in with how to make your own bias tape and then we'll talk about some of the ways to use it.

First, just a wee bit of math to see what size square you need to start with.
  • Determine how much bias tape you need for your project.  In my case, I used bias tape for the hem of my Fair & Square Top which measured approximately 42" around. 
  • Decide how wide you want your bias strips.  I cut 2" wide strips for a finished double fold bias tape of about 1/2".  For a narrower finished bias try 1 1/2" strips, or cut wider strips based on your preference.
  • Next grab your calculator and use this simple formula to determine the size fabric square you need. (length needed) x (width of strips) so, 42 x 2 = 84. Use your calculator to find the square root of this number.  √84 = 9.165. Round this number up (not down!) to the nearest inch.  So I only needed a 10" square of fabric to make enough double fold bias for this entire project!
That's  it for the math! Now cut a square of fabric the size you determined above.

Here is my 10" square.
I love using stripes, plaid, or woven designs for bias tape.
Fold your square point to point so you have a triangle with the bias along the folded edge.

Trim of just the very edge giving you two triangles

Now cut your bias strips the width you previously decided.  Mine are 2" wide.

Discard the little triangles on top. Your bias strips are ready to be sewn together.  I know it doesn't look like much, but it will be enough!

These are the pieces you should now have.
Sew your strips together by aligning the edges as seen below. I like to sew a long piece to a short piece to spread the strip sizes out more uniformly.

Extend the points of your fabric edge 1/4" past the edge of your strips of fabric and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Join all your strips in this manner and take your long bias strip to the ironing board.  Almost done! Press your seams open. Then fold your strip in half like a hotdog bun (that's my elementary school teaching coming out!) and press using steam for a nice crisp fold. Open your strip back up.

 Now press each edge of your strip in to nearly meet the crease in the middle. Again use steam for a nice crisp fold.

 Refold your bias tape on the center crease you first pressed and give it one more shot of steam.

Congratulations, you've made your own beautiful bias tape!

Now, let's add it to your project.

Here I have finished my Fair & Square top up to the point of adding the hemband.  I added 2" of extra length to the skirt to accommodate not adding the hemband.

To flawlessly add your bias tape to the hem, use a two-step sewing process. First open up your bias tape and align the raw edges of your skirt and bias tape. Begin sewing about 6" from the end of your bias tape.  So I began sewing where you see the pink pin, leaving the tape before the pin free.

Sew right in the first crease of your bias tape. This should be about a 1/2" seam allowance.

Stop sewing about 6" - 8" before your beginning point, you should  have two bias tape tales and a short section of hem unsewn.

Now we will join the ends of our bias tape forming a loop exactly the size of the garment. Begin by opening up and trimming one end (I do the end on the left) of your bias tape so that you have a 90* angle.

Then place the other end over top of your squared off bias tape end so that the raw edges are matched with your hem. Measure and trim so that your bias tape is overlapped by the exact amount that it is wide.  In my case 2".  My bias tape is two inches wide so I overlapped my bias tape, measured two inches, and trimmed.  The arrows below point to the edges of my trimmed bias tape. 

Sorry, this is the one picture where they are lapped the opposite direction.
Overlap your pieces whichever way is most comfortable for you.
Next use a marking pen and ruler to draw a 45* sewing line on your end piece.

Now, this part can look confusing, but it's really quite easy, just follow the picture! Fold the strip on the left straight down so that the right side of the fabric is facing up. and lay the bias from the right side on top at a 90* angle as seen below.  Make sure this strip is not twisted. Sew on the stitching line you marked above.

Trim the seam allowance to 1/4" and press open.  You now have a continuous piece of bias that is exactly the right size for your hem! Head back to your sewing machine and sew the opening closed.

If you look closely, my seam is right about the middle of this picture.

As the final step, fold your bias tape down over the raw edge of your hem. A little Wash Away Wonder Tape or washable glue stick will be a great help in holding your double fold bias tape in place while you stitch. For easy sewing use your blind hem foot and run the guide along the edge of the bias tape. Topstitch in place about 1/8" from the edge using a slightly longer than normal stitch length.

Now you have a bias tape hem on your Fair & Square Top, or other any other skirted pattern. I paired this top with Pretty Pantaloons using the exposed casing option in the pattern for a cute and coordinated outfit!  Sweet Pea is ready to vacation at the beach, and what a sweet summer outfit this turned out to be!

The uses for double fold bias tape are numerous.  Add it to the hem of any skirt or dress as I have here.  Omit the ruffle from the RufflePOP skirt and instead finish with bias tape for a fun, non ruffled skirt.  Trim the sleeves on your LaTulipe Dress or trim the pockets on your Potato Chip skirts.  Double Fold bias tape is a great, easy way to add just a narrow pop of color when a ruffle isn't what you need!

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