Monday, 23 February 2015

How to Make a 1950's Bow

Make a pattern

  1. Cut 2 pieces of fabric on the straight grain, making the main piece twice the length and twice the width of the finished bow, plus ¼" SA all around on both pieces. The bow will be about half the length of the main piece.
  2. Interface if the fabric is very drapey.

Sew the main piece

  1. With RS together, sew a ¼" seam on the long edge. Press the seam open over dowel and turn. Position the seam line in the middle and press.
  2. Make horizontal pleats on the CF and sew them down using a wide zig zag, about as wide as the centrepiece
  3. Pleat the raw ends of the main piece and tack in place.
  4. Fold the ends under so that they meet at CB. Sew through all layers using a wide zig zag (won't show -  will be covered by the centrepiece).

Sew the centrepiece

  1. With RS together, sew a ¼" seam on the long edge. Press the seam open over a wooden chopstick and turn. Position the seam line in the middle and press.
  2. Finish the raw edges and press.
  3. Topstitch, if desired.

Assemble the bow

  1. Wrap the centrepiece around the main piece, overlapping raw edges at CB and hand stitch in place.
  2. Using teeny weeny stitches, stitch the folded edges of the centrepiece to the main piece - this puffs it up.
  3. 1950s Bow

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Inserting an Invisible Zipper

This is the most accurate way to insert an invisible zipper - the result is always perfect.

First of all, don't sew any part of the seam where the zipper will go - leave the whole seam unsewn.

Also, choose a zipper that is about 5cm longer than the zipper opening. This allows the zipper end to be pulled out of the way when completing the garment seam.


  1. Interface both sides of the seam with long strips of iron-on interfacing.
  2. Lightly press under 1.5cm seam allowances in the zipper area. This fold line provides a guide for the zipper placement.
  3. Lay the garment fabric pieces wrong side up with the pressed seam allowances lined up.
  4. Position the zipper with the right side down over the lined up fabric seam allowances. Mark the top and bottom (not the metal stopper but 5 cm up) of the zipper opening on both the seam allowances and on the zipper tape.
  5. Open the zipper. Unfold the seam allowances and position one row of zipper teeth along one folded out seam allowance, matching marks on the zipper tape and seam allowance. The teeth should lie exactly over the foldline, not inside. Pin in place using lots of pins. Don't pull the tops of the zipper into place, let them splay outwards.
  6. Sew the invisible zipper into place from the top down, through the seam allowance only, using a slightly looser top tension in your seewing machine and guiding the teeth feed through the foot channel. Sew as far as the lower mark on the bottom of the opening (not to the bottom of the zipper).
  7. Sew the other side of the zipper in the same way.
  8. Close the zipper.
  9. Place the garment pieces with right sides together, and the zipper sandwiched in between, and pin the seam below the zipper opening. Sew the seam from the bottom up using a normal zipper foot. About 2cm below the zipper opening, shorten the stitch length and overlap the stitching line of the invisible zipper for about 1cm.
  10. Hand bind the teeth at the bottom mark of the zipper, effectively creating your own stopper, and chop off the rest of the zipper. If you like, machine stitch the lower 2cm of the zipper to the seam allowances.
  11. Lightly press the closed zipper from either side, on the wrong side. On the right side, steam and finger press the zipper seam in place.


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Vogue 8691

I made this tunic top for Claudie to combat the cool weather in Canberra. It's the shorter version, with front zip, and she loved it. Hard to go wrong when you're a size 8!

This was the third time I'd made the pattern so I obviously like it. The first time I made it was the longer version, sans zip, and you can read the pattern review here.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Crafty cushions

I made these couple of cushions after seeing the idea in an online store called Hard to Find which stocks a wide and varied collection of fashion, jewellery, prints, homewares, etc etc.

I made the cushions using sturdy upholstery fabric from Spotlight, not overly gorgeous but a good background colour and texture. I didn't add a zip closure, I cut the back of the cushion as two separate pieces, created a double fold-over flap on both edges and added buttons. I cut the front as 22 x 22", the back upper as 22 x 8 and the back lower as 22 x 17. I used upholstery thread in the needle and in the bobbin because the fabric was backed with some sort of lining, and therefore a leather needle - large eye, slicing edge to the needle.

To make the animal shapes I first of all got Paul to draw the animals freehand then enlarged them on the photocopier, and used this as a template to cut out a patchwork I had made from cotton leftovers -I quite like being able to identify skirts and tops I've made in the cushions on my lounge! I used Tearaway to bond the applique to the cushion cover and then edge-stitched around it using a decorative stitch, I think the buttonhole stitch. I thought this would be more difficult than it proved to be, really just a matter of predicting where the needle would go next and moving the fabric around it. I made the cushion 4" bigger than the size 18 cushion inserts as I wanted to a) sew a 1" flange all around the edge and b) make the cover looser around the insert - I prefer this to the overstuffed look. I was so happy my lines lined up, I even did it on purpose!

I made a couple of these cushions in taupe for Ross and Fi's house down in Berry, they turned out really nicely, maybe even nicer than these ones, and they suit the farm vibe down there. I can't see me making any more of these, I don't want the whole farmyard them to continue, but if Claude and her friends come for a sewing day, which they've threatened to do once their HSC trials are over, this might just be the project for them.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Claudie's skirt

Claude is not what you'd call a budding sewist - no patience, can't see the point of pins, just wants it done. But she does love the hand-made look and is a regular at some of the crafty markets around. She particularly likes retro and vintage and has collected some beautiful garments that I'm sure she'll enjoy for years to come.

So, as a special surprise I thought I'd make her a casual skirt with a bit of shabby chic, something hand made especially for her. I spent the morning at my favourite fabric shop, Tessuti's at Chatswood, where I got lots of tips and clues on how to achieve the look I was after. I ended up with a base fabric of nude cotton elastane with five coordinating fabrics to make varying widths of 'shabby' strips from. My favourite is the gorgeous latte lace. And the shell pink suede. The plan was to 'wrap' the strips around the skirt, layering all the different textures, everything a bit patchwork-ey and not quite perfect.

The base skirt pattern was one I had in my stash, young Burda #8237, a low waisted mini which I lengthed to a finished CBL of 44cm (it was 35) - heaven knows what this pattern was doing in my stash.

To start with, I tore all of the coordinating fabrics (except the lace) on the straight grain. I wanted to make sure they would fray easily and I didn't want to have to buy oodles of fabric just to get bias strips so I used the straight grain. I sewed down each side of the strip at about 1/4" using a small straight stitch then deliberately frayed the edges right up to the stitching line. This sounds like a perfectly simple process, and it is, but time consuming - I spent the better part of four long hours doing this. I could have sewn the skirt twice over!

I sewed the strips onto the base fabric using a slight zig zag because of the stretch of the cotton elastane, using my eye as a guide and not being too precious about the placement. I left the tails hanging down at the back, not sure how they would look on but thought I can always cut them off if Claude doesn't like them. A bias binding of stretch velour from the stash and a hook and eye and the skirt was done - a fun project that I hope Claude will enjoy.

Paul, like Bob, is a staunch supporter of all things sewing.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Bias binding maker

My friend Jeanine introduced me to the new Simplicity bias binding maker.  It takes 2" strips of bias fabric strips and irons them into 1" single fold bias.  You can see how easy this is here in this demonstration on youtube but the process really is very intuitive - you roll the strips onto the spindle and it feeds it through the bias tip and then the iron. The result is beautifully crisp bias binding produced literally in seconds.  I like that it has the uneven turnbacks of real bias binding which lets you fold and stitch in the ditch, catching the wider fold underneath.

I bought the maker at Spotlight for the bargain price of $99.  It only comes with one tip, the 1" tip, but there are 5 other tips of varying widths available.  I'm not sure what the price is for these.  I used the bias binding maker to make the self binding on the blouse reviewed here and was happy with the result.