Showing posts with label Tutorials. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tutorials. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Let's Talk Piping

Whether brightly contrasting or sublimely subtle, piping can be that little extra element that takes a simple dress, pillow, or bag from "nice" to "wow". It adds a finished, tailored element to the simplest designs. Adding a bit of piping isn't complicated, but it can appear intimidating for inexperienced makers. Once you've gone through the process, you'll be surprised at how truly easy it can be.

I'm going to talk a bit about piping in general, explain how to make your own, and then show how to place any piping into the seams of your project.

You can to buy ready made piping by the yard in most fabric stores. It's often seen in huge displays right next to zippers and bias tape.  More specialized styles and sizes are availabel in some craft stores and online.

The packaged tape on the above left, is the right weight for shirts and lightweight dresses. Although it's inexpensive and comes in multiple colors, this product is not the best choice for most bags and pillows. The poly-cotton broadcloth fabric used in the piping doesn't hold up well to the wear that bags and pillows often receive, and the cord is too narrow to stand out on quilted or stuffed projects.

Spooled tape sold by the yard may be made with sturdier materials, but it can get pricey. Choices of color and fabric are limited, as well.

If you're going to put the effort into adding piping to a bag or decorative pillow, it usually makes more sense to make your own piping. You can choose a fabric of the same weight and in the perfect color to make your project stand out as special. The process is uncomplicated, no magic involved. You only need basic sewing tools: a quilter's ruler, a cutting mat, a rotary cutter, and a zipper foot.

How to make your own piping:

1. Gather necessary materials
  • piping cord at least 1" longer than the seam it will be inserted into
  • fabric strip  to encase the piping at least 1" longer than the seam (Width will depend on the thickness of the cord. See #3 below.)
  • thread to match the fabric of the piping
  • A zipper foot
  • Strips cut on the straight grade work fine for straight seams, bias strips are necessary for curved seams. (Commercial piping is cut on the bias.)
  • To sew strips together for long or multiple sections, cut the ends of the strips at a 45 ยบ angle. Sew together as you would strips for binding. 

2. Choose the cording that is the best size for your project. You can buy cording in weights from barely there, to heavy duty.

For totes and pillows,  I almost always use polyester cord with a diameter of 5/32". If you only need a small amount, it may pay to purchase it by the yard. I use a lot, so I buy packages of 10 yards each.

3. Cut the fabric for the cord casing.

A rule of thumb to determine the width of the fabric strip is to double the diameter of the cord and add 1 1/4".  Cut the fabric strip and the cord about 1" longer than the seam the piping will be sewn into.

If the piping will be in a straight seam, the fabric strips can be cut on either the straight grain or on the bias. If seams are curved, the fabric strips should definitely be cut on the bias. 

4. Encase the cord inside the fabric strip.

Attach the zipper foot to your sewing machine. If using 5/32" cord, cut the fabric 2" wide.

Center the cord on the prepared strip of fabric.
Fold the fabric over the cord and match the edges.
Sew along the cord, getting as close as possible to the cord.

Use the fingers of your left hand to push the cord up snuggly against the zipper foot. When stitched, the fabric should fit tightly around the cord.

5. Trim the prepared piping.

For regular seams, trim the fabric 1/2" beyond the edge of the piping. This is the same width that most ready made piping has been cut.

This job will be much easier if you have a 1/2" quilter's ruler. If you are using a wider ruler, align the 1/2" mark on the seam next to the cord.

Watch your fingers! Rotary cutters are sharp!

For quarter inch seams, trim the fabric at 1/4" from the edge of the piping.

The piping is ready. Next comes stitching it into the seam of your project.

How to sew piping into straight seams 

1. Cut the fabrics being used with the piping.

2. Lay the piping along the edge of the right side of one of these fabrics. Align the edges. Position the zipper foot against the cording inside the piping. When stitching, try to sew directly on the row of stitching that encases the cording.

3. Place the two fabric sections right sides together.  The section with the piping should be on top.  Sew directly on the line of stitching that holds the piping in place.

4. Fold the fabrics open and press the seam open.

6. When the piping will lay on the outside edge of the seam, fold the fabrics back from the piping and press.

How to sew piping around a curve
The process for sewing piping into curved seams is basically the same as for sewing it into straight seams. 

1. Align the piping on the edge of the right side of one of the fabrics being used. Sew directly on the stitching on the piping. You will need to manipulate the piping around the curve as you stitch.

2. Pin the second piece of fabric right sides together with the piece to which piping is attached. Make sure the edges of the two fabrics are exactly together and stretched over the thickness of the piping between the fabrics.

3. Flip over so the stitching from step 1 is on top. Once again stitch directly on the previous line of stitching.

4. Clip the seam with little "v" shaped cuts to reduce bulk.

5. Open the seam and press. (In this case, you would turn the band right side out.)

That's it! Easy as pie.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

When the Creative Muse Doesn't Strike, Sew Anyway!

A jillion ideas for new mug rugs and wall hangings are bouncing around in my head, but nothing is actually taking hold. It happens now and then - more frequently as time goes on. I'm sewing anyway - just not something totally original.

My daughter likes these little microwave soup bowl holders that are all over Pinterest.  There wasn't time to make some for her Christmas, but January is a good soup month. This was also a super way to use some of those 10" precuts that I keep collecting.

 I was having fun, so when the bowls were finished, I made a bread basket to match, and gave it  button-on handles that can be placed up or down. Then I added a reversible napkin for the bread basket. Playing with my favorite toys is always fun.

I haven't made a pattern for the bread basket, because it isn't all that impressive, but I will be playing with more basket ideas in the future. 

I did make an actual pattern for the soup bowl holders, though. The idea of drawing lines from corner to corner and side to side on each 10 inch square seemed a bit much. A pattern shortened the process considerably, and the measuring was finished when the pattern was done.

Make a pattern for 10" fabric squares.

1.  Cut a 5" x 10" rectangle from your paper. Draw a dotted down the center to make two 5" x 5" squares.


2. Measure 2 1/2" down from the top on the dotted line. Make a dot.

3. At the very top of the dotted line, measure 1" to either side of the line and make dots.

4. Make dots 1" up from the bottom on each side edge of the paper.

5. Make dots 2 1/2" in from each bottom side edge of the paper.

6. Connect the dots. These are the stitching lines for the darts.

7. Measure exactly 1/4" to the inside of each dotted line and cut.

 8. Two pattern sections can be taped together for a complete pattern.

Cut and sew the bowl holders:
1. Place a 10" x 10" square of fabric right side up on a piece of 100% cotton batting.

2. Pin the fabric and batting at the corners and in the center. Use the pattern to cut out the "v" shapes on each side of the square. (It took a few turns of the paper, but the half pattern worked just find for cutting darts.)

3. Mark the dots for the inside corners on the batting with a fabric marker or ball point pen. 

4. Fold the cut edges of the "v" together. Stitch the dart 1/4" from the edges of the cutout, ending right at the dot.

5. Snip the end of the four darts open almost to the dots and press the seams open.

6. Pin two of the fabric/batting sections right sides together. Using a 1/4" seam, stitch all the way around leaving about a 4" opening to turn the soup holder right side out.

7. Turn, stitch the opening closed, and press.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Christmas Place Mats, Part 2: The Mat

Hooray! All eight of my Christmas place mats are finished! They really were quite easy and fast. I intentionally made them without binding for two reasons. 1) I didn't want to spend the time it would have taken to hand stitch the binding on the back side of the mats. Eight is a big bunch. 2) I wanted the outer edge to have no extra bulk in the seam.

Figuring out how to go about this process quickly became an irresistible challenge. An extra step or two had to be added in order to do the job right. Did it save time in the long run? Yes, but not as much as I'd hoped. 

The instructions shown here are for a set of four place mats. I made two sets.

 Place Mats: 14" x 18"
 Use 1/4" seam allowances.

Fabrics needed for four place mats
  • 1/2 yard inner background fabric  
  • 1/4 yard or one fat quarter contrast fabric for narrow, inner border
  • 2/3 yard coordinating or contrast fabric for wider, outer border
  • 1 yard backing
  • 1 yard batting

Cutting for four place mats

From inner background cut:
  • four rectangles, 10" x 14"
From narrow border fabric cut:
  • eight strips, 3/4" x 10"
  • eight strips, 3/4" x 14 1/2"
From outer border fabric cut:
  • eight strips, 2 1/2" x 10 1/2"
  • eight strips, 2 1/2" x 18 1/2"
From backing fabric, cut:
  • four rectangles, 15 1/2" x 19 1/2"
From batting, cut:
  • four rectangles, 15 1/2" x 19 1/2"

Sewing for each place mat

1. Position the tree from on the 14" x 10" background fabric. Fuse and stitch in place with a machine zigzag stitch.

Instructions for making the trees are found in last week's blog post. Christmas Placemats, Part 1

2. Sew a 3/4" x 10 strip of inner, narrow binding to either side of the 10" x 14" rectangle of background fabric.

3. Sew a 3/4" x 14 12" strip of narrow binding to the top and the bottom of the background fabric. Press.
Strip piecing makes the process quick.
4. Sew a 2 1/2" x 10 1/2" strip of outer border fabric to each side of the quilt top. Press seams to the border.

5. Sew a 2 1/2" x 18 1/2" strip of outer border fabric to the top and to the bottom of the quilt top. Press seams to the border.

To make place mats with binding, add the batting and backing at this point, quilt, and bind.

The following instructions are for making the place mats without binding.

1. With a removable fabric marker and a ruler, draw a line all around the outer border of the place mat top. Make the line 5/8" in from the edge of the border.

2. Center the place mat top right side up on a 15" x 19" piece of batting. Pin in place.

3. Stitch in the ditch on one side of the narrow, inner border. This will hold the batting securely in place under the place mat top.

3. Stitch on the line with a very long machine stitch to baste the place mat top to the batting.

4. Trim the batting to 1/4" beyond the edge of the basting stitch.

The edge of a cutting ruler can be used to flip the edge over so that the batting can easily be trimmed to 1/4"
5. Trim the corners of the batting.

6. Place the quilt top right sides together with the backing fabric. Center and pin together.

7. Stitch together, 1/4" from the edge of the place mat top. Leave an opening of about 4" on one side of the place mat for turning.

 8. Trim off the excess lining and pull through the opening to turn the place mat right sides out.

I use a large knitting needle to poke the corners out, then I smooth the seam open with the needle, pressing it flat as I go.
9. Tuck the edges along the opening inside, press, and pin in place.

10. Sew very close to the edge all around the place mat enclosing the opening at the same time.

11. Remove basting stitches. Quilt as desired. I kept the quilting very plain and simple to complement the minimalistic design of the place mat.

Simple, straight line stitching on the outer border.

Quilting around the tree with a walking foot.

Drawing the quilting lines with my removable marker.

I'm so ready to move on to other things. The last two months have been so disrupted with health issues that I decided not to try sewing Christmas gifts this year. I've ordered everything online, instead.

The place mats were the first thing I'd made just for myself in quite awhile. It felt good to be sewing for me. I think I'll sew myself something else. Let's see .... I need a new robe, a pretty spring table cloth, everyday place mats, a cozy lap quilt ...  Well, maybe not all at once.

Wishing you a very happy December!