27 May 2015

Sewing Tips: Bias Binding


At Sew Crafty I get asked a lot about bias binding, like how to use it and what it's for, which is understandable, if you have never been taught about it, it may seem like a bit of a mystery. I love how it can take a project from okay through to polished and it really isn't as complicated as it may appear. So I thought for this month's sewing tips post I would write a definitive post including everything you ever wanted to know about Bias Binding.


What is Bias Binding or Bias Tape?
Bias Binding is a strip of fabric cut at a 45 degree angle to the straight weave of a fabric. It is cut this way to take advantage of the ability to curve around corners when fabric is cut on the cross.

What do you use it for?
Often it is used to edge quilts and bags, it can be used as a narrow facing, particularly around arm holes in clothing. You can use it to cover piping cord to make an edging or you can sew it together to make a rouleaux style tape to use as ties or cord.


What different kinds are there?
At Sew Crafty we stock cotton bias, polyester satin bias and printed bias. You can also make your own out of pretty much any fabric and you can also get stretch or Lycra bias, although I prefer to cut my own if I'm sewing with Jersey from the same fabric if needed. I usually buy an extra half a metre of any stretch fabric I buy to allow me to cut bias. 


How do I make my own?
To make your own bias tape you simply need to cut strips across your chosen fabric at a 45 degree angle to the straight weave of the fabric. You can then with or without a bias binding maker, fold the edges in and iron it to set the edges in place. If you are going to be using it as single fold it is easier to do this before you start to sew it in place, if you are using it as double fold, you wont need to do that step.



What is the difference between single fold and double fold bias?
When talking about single fold and double fold some people get confused, the bias you traditionally see with the two raw edges folded in, is actually single fold and bias tape with the raw edges unfolded is double fold bias. 


Single fold is attached by unfolding the pre-folded edges and sewing the raw edge to the raw edge of your project with right sides together using the fold as a sewing guide. It is then folded over and the other raw edge folded under and hand catch stitched in place so that none of the stitching shows. 

Double fold is usually much wider, usually hand cut. You sew the two raw edges to the raw edge of your project and then fold the whole thing over to the other side before catching it down by hand. It is designed to give an easier finish as you are catching down a fold and not having to fold under a raw edge as you go like single fold. However it does make the finish a little bulkier as you are using a double layer of fabric. 



Are there any special tools you need to sew it?
You may remember I mentioned in my Top 10 Sewing Machine Feet post about this little wonder that is a bias binding foot. This little guy takes all the faff out of sewing bias tape in place as it holds the bias in the attachment as you sew it, so basically it feeds the bias through sewing it perfectly in place every time. Some people don't like it because you can see the stitching but it makes big jobs so much easier. As I explained above it is not necessary to buy one, you can just sew bias with a regular sewing machine foot, or by hand.


It curves!?
The best advantage of bias binding being bias cut is that it will nicely curve around corners, this is great for edging around things obviously, but it is also a great help when finishing off necklines and armholes on clothing. It is also great if you struggle with hemming flared skirts as it will curve with the hem and give a smooth wrinkle free hemline.


How would you use it as a facing? 
If you don't want to line a piece of clothing but you want a nice neat finished edge you can use bias binding to help you get a nice professional finish. By sewing the bias as you would normally, but folding the entire tape to the inside of the garment and sewing it with a line of top stitching you get the benefit of a crisp finish without the bulk of a lining. 


What else can it be used for?
Bias tape is also great for covering piping cord, again because it is so great at going around curves it sits beautifully when wrapped around cotton cord or simply sewn into the seams for cushions and detailing on clothing. 

Wow! That is a lot to take in, sorry, I wanted to be thorough.  I hope that has answered everything you ever wanted to know about our flexible friend.  If you have a question that isn't answered in this post, let me know in the comments below and I will do my best to answer it for you.

Sammy xxx


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25 May 2015

Make it: Fox and Bunny Chopsticks


As Sammy mentioned last week, we took a dive into what Tiger had to offer a couple of weeks ago and I found these training chopsticks which I thought would look great with a little additional fun to them.  As these training chopsticks would probably be used for children (although any age need a helping hand with chopsticks sometimes - am I right?!), I thought that making the ends a little more fun with some animal faces would be a good idea.


You will need: Training Chopsticks (mine were from Tiger), Acrylic Paint, paintbrush, black and coloured pens, paint palette (or plate like me) and water pot.  You may want to varnish these aswell, but acrylic should hold up well to washing - just maybe not the dishwasher.

So first you need to decide on your characters, I went with a bunny rabbit and fox as I felt that the pointed ends lent themselves to these animals.  I did a little sketch first so that I had an idea first, but you many want to just go for it.


I gave the ends of the chopsticks a base coat of the colour I wanted and then gave it another coat to make it a nice solid colour.  For the bunny it was white and for the Fox I went with a brown and orange mix.  I did both sides of the chopsticks but you could always just do one side if you preferred.

I added in a few of the features with the paint, pink ears for the bunny and a bit more orange for the fox ears, then left them to dry.  I used my water pot to stand them up to dry, so that one side didn't get smudged.

Then, to add detail, I used a black pen to do the eyes of the fox and outline detail on both the fox and bunny ears.


Then voila, all done.  A really simple customisation of some training chopsticks, just to make them a little more fun for your dinner.


Which animals would you make, or would you make them with patterns on or something completely different?  Let us know in the comments below.

H, xxx

This Post is in collaboration with Tiger

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22 May 2015

Make it: Colour Pop Headphones


Last time H and I popped into London we headed to what is becoming our go-to place for DIY friendly home-wares, Tiger.  We picked up loads of fun bits and bobs, one of the things I got was some white headphones. I loved them white but I wanted to give them a bit of a make over. I have seen so many really cool decorated ones around lately and I thought these would make a great base for a little colour pop.

To make these colour pop headphones you will need: a scrap of colourful jersey fabric, a pair of white headphones from Tiger. Scissors, needle and thread, double sided tape, a thin flat ended tool (a flat head screwdriver would work)


Step1. Start by removing the ear pad from the earphone head and removing it from the headband.
Step 2. Find a good piece of your fabric where you like the pattern and draw around the earphone leaving about 2.5cm seam allowance.
Step 3. Cut out your circle of jersey.
Step 4. Take some double sided tape and stick it around the edge of the earphone. Using the tool or screwdriver start to poke the edge of the jersey in the gap between the outside and inside of the earphone.
Step 5. Once you have tucked the raw edges in all the way around, pop it back in the headband and replace the ear pad.
Step 6. Repeat on the other earphone.


Step 7. Cut a length of jersey long enough to cover the band over the head.
Step 8. Fold the jersey over the band and hand stitch it in place, turning the edges in as you go.
Step 9. You can leave the sewn edge to the side or twist it to the centre.
Step 10. Enjoy your new headphones.


I am so in love with these beauties! The thing I love is that the possibilities are endless. You can use any jersey fabric, you could even use an old band t-shirt and if you change you mind after a while just remove your first go and start again. 



Do you have a Tiger store near you? H is lucky enough to have one near her in Woking. I am hoping Maidenhead might be next on their list, that might be wishful thinking. I am loving visiting when I am in London though. Have you picked up any must haves from their spring collection? What DIY's are you up to this bank holiday? Let us know as always in the comments below.

Have a lovely weekend
Sammy xxx


This post is a collaboration with Tiger Stores UK.


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20 May 2015

Let's Meet: Oh Squirrel


This month we had a little chat with Katie from Oh Squirrel.  After admiring her work for ages we eventually plucked up the courage to ask her if she would be interviewed by us and she said yes!  In between Renegade and Craftacular and making many many sashes for the Wedding season of course!

So let's have a look at what she has to say and look at all the gorgeous things she has to offer of course too!

 
What was the first thing you remember making?
My mum used to make clothes for us when we were little and with her scraps I had a habit of making tiny pull string bags! I have no idea why…

How did you find your creative side?
At school I was more academic than arty, but when I discovered all the fun I could have with a sewing machine that quickly changed. It was probably after Art College and University that I really become creative though - I think having the space to create in my own time was what really gave me the chance to grow and find my style. Oh Squirrel's signature style has evolved over time, but in a very natural way. The ethos is to produce fun and original handmade products that are different to other things out there, and have a sense of humour at the root of them… especially the cards!

 
What has been your favourite ever make? Whether that be for your business or pleasure – tell us about it.
It has to be the hen party sash. It sounds like such a cliche, but it started out as just a fun thing for a friend. I've now hand-made and sold thousands of them all over the world! I still get a sense of satisfaction when pinning on the badge and packing them up each time. It started out as a solution to a problem of there being nothing nice to buy for a friend's hen party, and then after getting a load of enquiries based on a photo I shared online I realised there might be something in it!

 
What are your favourite ways to stay inspired?
Doing something new - especially visiting a place for the first time. Last year I discovered Immersive Theatre and that opened up a whole new world to me! That said, a simple evening with my phone off, good friends and lovely cocktails works pretty well too.

 
Who are your favourite Designer/Makers right now?
I met the lovely Hannah from Pup Tart at a craft market and she's since become a really good friend. I think she's a genius - everything she makes is incredible and so much fun! Her watermelon purses are ridiculously good! I was lucky enough to mentor a few lovely makers in the run up to Crafty Fox Market recently and one whose work I just adore is You Are Small. Hannah (another one!) makes the loveliest kids clothes and hand dyes tights in an array of shades. I'm hoping she'll branch out into tights for grown ups too *hint hint*


 
What crafty item is top of your wishlist?
A magical printer that prints on 300gsm card and never runs out of ink?! I don't think that is a thing sadly. Oh and a sewing machine that can sew at double speed!

 
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Last year has been a bit of a whirlwind and time off has been a bit of a rare luxury. I fell in love with New York when I visited last year so am trying to use any opportunity I have to spend time wandering around London and discovering new things in the same way that I enjoyed New York. I spent an afternoon at an exhibition at the Barbican a few weeks ago and had the nicest time! I then shared cupcakes and a film with my flatmate in the evening so that was a really nice and relaxed day! Now it's summer I can't wait to get out and enjoy the parks again. I'm really trying to sort out the work/life balance!


 
Tell us a bit about what you have coming up?
It's full scale wedding season and so very busy! I love the variety of my job - it changes all year around! Although there are sashes to be made most days still.

 
Wow, looks like Katie is going to be pretty busy!  We saw her at both Renegade and Craftacular and her stall is always busy and full of people.  I have the 'Don't be a Knobhead' pencils on my wishlist for sure.

H, xxx

Photos courtesy of Holly Both and Lisa Jane Photography, except first photo.

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18 May 2015

Love it: Craftacular Haul


Yesterday was Bust Magazine's Craftacular day and what a lovely day for going to spend the afternoon looking at more pretty things!  Of course we went to see some of our friendly faces and met some lovely new designers too, which is always good, although maybe not for the bank balance!  I am now on a spending ban before our holiday next month.

There was such a huge queue when we got there that it took us a while to get in, but once in the place was already buzzing at half past 12, it only opened at 12.  I think it must have been the lure of goody bags for the first 100!  Needless to say we didn't get one of those, but we did pick up lots of goodies, of course.

So here goes:



H's Stash: Geometric necklace from Promises Promises (Yes its the one I mentioned in last week's post), Artist Palette necklace from Kate Rowland, Owl in the moon necklace from Lucy Alice and the very lovely Claire from Claireabellemakes gave us a little goody bag each, mine had this great Nailed it print inside and blog life postcard, love it.


Sammy's Stash: Cat prints, cards and notebook from Miss Ella, Star note book and card from Nikki Strange, Neon thread spirograph from Alison McIntyre, Typography cards from Ros Shiers, 'You Got This' print from ClaireabelleMakes, Candle from East Wick, Copper diamond studs from Promises Promises, Peeping Cat necklace from Lucy Alice Designs, Scissors Necklace from Frilly Industries, Gem Slice necklace from Miri Shalom and Resin Gem necklace from Katze Shop.

So as you can see, another bumper crop of designer/maker buys from us.  I think they do it on purpose, making all the pretty things, knowing only too well we won't be able to resist!

H, xxx


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15 May 2015

Top Ten Sewing Machine Feet



I am aware that there are in fact twelve feet in the picture above and even worse there are actually more than ten feet mentioned in this post, I never have been able to stick to a budget! I have been asked alot recently after introducing the Teflon foot in our Pastel and Neon clutch bag tutorial about sewing machine feet. There are lots of different kinds of presser feet depending on what you need to do and which machine you have. I thought today I would just run you through my ten...sorry twelve most used machine feet.
 
I have three machines, a Janome 525s a Babylock 1600 and a mint green John Lewis mini and I am lucky enough that they all take standard low shank snap on feet. I have used contrasting threads to make it easier for you to see what each foot is capable of. 


Zig Zag foot
The zigzag is the most versatile of all the feet that come with your machine. This is the foot that you cannot live without. With the ability to stitch almost any stitch through the oval opening, you would be lost without this little one.


Zipper foot
For sewing zips into anything a zipper foot is essential. Depending on your machine, your foot or your needle will shift from side to side to be able to get up close to the zip coil without the foot veering off the edge of the zip and without damaging the coil, so that you can attach your zips with neat straight stitches.


Concealed zip foot
You don't need a concealed zip foot to insert a concealed zip but it is jolly useful if you do. The foot helps to roll the coil of the zip away whilst you stitch so you can get as close to the edge as possible to make a neat closure with no stitching showing on the outside of the project. 


Teflon foot/ Walking foot
These two for me count as one foot, as they are both designed to aid in moving sticky, slippery or bulky fabrics through your machine. The Teflon foot is recommended for fabrics like PVC and leatherette where the surface has a tendency to stick to the underside of a metal foot. The walking foot can also help with this issue, but it can also be used for sewing bulky fabrics and slippery fabrics like Minky fleece which tend to shift when sewing with a regular foot. In the photo above you can see the results sewing on Minky fabric with the walking foot on the left and with a regular foot on the right. So much better with the walking foot I think you will agree. 


Blind Hem Foot
The amazing invisible hem that you can achieve from this foot and its corresponding stitch is brilliant. Sometimes practice is required to truly appreciate what a wonder this foot can be, but once mastered it is a skill you won't forget. 


Embroidery/darning foot
If you have a need to be free with your stitching, an embroidery or darning foot will be your best friend. Once you lower the feed dogs (the little rough teeth that move the fabric through with your other feet) the bouncy foot will hold the fabric whilst the stitch is being made but will jump up so you can move the fabric in any direction you wish. Great for creating stitched art, appliqué and free motion quilting. 


Gathering foot.
Again a rather specific use and a little temperamental but good fun if you are in the mood to play around a little. This foot will stitch and as the name suggests, gather your fabric as it goes. I find that it does better with light weight fabrics and small amounts, but it is a time saver when sewing long lengths of trimmings. 


Piping foot
You can get different sizes of foot depending on the size of your piping, but basically the groove in the bottom is designed to hold the cord in place whilst you stitch the casing or cover in place. You can also use it when sewing the covered piping between two layers of fabric. Like the zip foot with zips, it is designed to get the stitch as close to the piping as it can, so as  little of the stitching is visible on the finished product. 



Button hole foot/guide
As the name suggests it is there as a guide when sewing a button hole by machine. It usually has markings on it so that it is easy to judge the size you need whilst sewing (if you have a manual button hole stitch). It also holds the fabric in place all the way around the button hole area whilst stitching to get a neat even finish. 


Bias binding foot
Designed to make the dull task of sewing on bias binding a little easier. It holds the fold of the bias in place with consistency to get a straight line when sewing your binding on the straight or round a curve. You just wheel the guide in to place and sew!
 

Roll Hemming Foot
A simple and efficient way to get a narrow neat finishing edge is to use a roll hemmer. It is a little fiddly at first but once the technique has been mastered you will love it.  Really good for finishing edges on silk scarves and fine or sheer fabrics. 


There are a couple of things I would suggest if you are thinking of trying or buying any of these feet for your own machine. Make sure you buy the right foot for your brand of machine. Keep all your feet and accessories together in one place and keep it in a safe, clean and dry environment. If you are using a foot for the first time, or for the first time in a while practice on some scrap fabric before you sew on your final project... just in case.

If you are nervous about even approaching your machine check out our post about how to fall in love with your machine. Want to find out more about other sewing machine feet and more on how to use any of the feet specifically? You can head over to our friends at the Sewing Directory where they have more articles about all the feet I have mentioned and more.

Do you have a tool or technique that you love?  Is there something about sewing or crafts you have always wanted to know about?  Let us know, we would love to write some more posts like this.  Look out for my much requested 'Bias Binding' Top Tips special coming up next week.

Sammy xxx


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