Fashion · Useful Thing

A Minimalist Bathrobe Part 2: Edge Finish and Seam Experimentation

Before I started putting the robe pieces together, I tested out some ideas for seam and edge finishes. I was looking for a good compromise between durability, attractiveness, and lack of bulk.

For the raw edges, I looked at applying binding and different overcast treatments. I wanted to work with supplies I already had, so I wasn’t able to get exact color matches. I chose several bias tapes I thought might work and two colors of nylon serger thread. I liked the way the blue tape looked, but none of the others. I played with different settings on the serger to get a nice decorative edge that completely covered the raw edge (already starting to fray). While both the white and the purple were a nice match for the plaid, only the purple completely covered the edge. The purple is Wooly Nylon and the white is Guetermann’s textured nylon. The wooly fills in the edge much better than the textured. I decided to go with the purple wooly nylon edge because it was best of the less bulky overlock finishes.

 

Since raveling was going to be an issue with the material, I went ahead and finished the raw edges on all of the cut pattern pieces.  I left the edges that were going to be inside a seam unfinished while I decided how to sew them.

Next, I took some more scraps and tested out a few types of seams

Seam 1 – Bound seam

There are a number of options for what to bind the seam with.  I could make my own bias tape out of the robe fabric; I could use seams great; or, I could use a pre-made tape from a package. I already looked through the packages I had on hand when looking at edge finishes and couldn’t find a color I was happy with. Seams great would work, but for something that is going to show, it is too sheer to look right. So I moved on without even testing bound seams.

Next, using my regular sewing machine, I tried out 2 different kinds of enclosed seams.

Seam 2 – Mock French seam

I really like the way this looks from both sides.  Having two rows of stitching makes the seam more durable. The extra weight from having essentially 3 layers of fabric stitched together actually makes the seam more structural. The very lightweight fabric really is pretty shapeless, so the extra stability really helps.

Seam 3 – Flat felled seam

The flat felled seam has the same advantages as the mock french.  The main difference is that it is started with wrong sides together and trimmed and stitched from the right side. Technique aside, it’s slightly less bulky and slightly wider.  I’m familiar with flat felling from other projects, so for me, this is the easiest one to consider.

I have never used the serger for any other seam than a 3 or 4 thread overlock. I knew that I could go that route and it would be fast and easy.  I really wanted to try something else for this project though.

Seam 4 -2 Thread flatlock with serger

This seam is really fun to do.  It’s cool to make what appears to be a plain overcast edge, but then pull the two pieces of fabric apart and have them lay flat with a neat decorative join. I’m glad I tried doing the sample first, though. It just didn’t look as “finished” as the enclosed seams.  It would be really fun to use on a thicker material, like a neoprene or fleece.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The winner: Flat felled on the regular machine.

BONUS Technique: Covered Cord

I came across a neat idea while I was browsing my copy of Serger Secrets.  One of the examples illustrates a technique where a serger can be used to make decorative covered cord. I probably never would have thought of this on my own, but now that I know about it, I am sure I will find all kinds of ways to use it.  This will definitely be the go-to choice for belt loops.

It’s super simple to do, too.  Just cut a length of gimp or thick thread. I used white crochet thread.

Set up the serger:

  • Needle position: right
  • Stitch length: 1mm
  • Stitch width: as narrow as your machine will go.  Mine is 4.5mm
  • Presser foot: a gimp foot is recommended.  I don’t have one, so I used my cording foot instead.  I think anything with a channel on the sole of the foot would probably work.
  • Thread: decorative thread in the upper looper, all-purpose in the needle
  • Stitch finger: rolled
  • Tension: set for 2 thread rolled edge

Make a few inches of chain.  Pull the chain threads towards the back of the machine. Slip the cord under the presser foot so it feeds through the channel and exits just to the left of the needle. Add the cord to the other threads and hold them together to start. Then just hit the pedal and watch it go. Magic!

Next time: putting it all together.

Find Part 1 here

Fashion · Useful Thing

A Minimalist Bathrobe Part 1: Making Plaid Work

robe_plan
Step one: make a plan

Now that I have a bathing suit that I don’t mind wearing to the gym, I turned my thoughts to making swimming at the gym easier.  When I do a swim, I have to carry a bag with a minimum of a towel, swimwear, shower shoes, bathing cap and toiletries. Ideally, I would have a bathrobe to come and go from the dressing area to the showers.  I never bring one, though, because the ones I have take up too much room in the bag.

Somewhere in my past, I picked up a few yards of soft double-faced cotton.  One side is plaid, the other stripe.  I realized that reversible fabrics don’t necessarily need facings or hemmed edges.  I could use bias tape or a densely stitched overcast to neaten the edges.

I took a pattern for a short, shawl collared robe I have already made and made some modifications. I eliminated the seam allowances and hem length on all of the outer edges.  The original sleeves were slightly puffed 3/4 length, which wasn’t what I wanted. I measured the front and back of the arm opening at the seamline and wrote the numbers on my pattern. Then I looked for a simple, full-length sleeve with the same measurements.  Luckily, the first one I tried was a very close match.  The belt didn’t need a pattern, since it was just a long rectangle.  Although it added a little extra bulk, I thought it was worth it to add patch pockets, a loop at the back of the neck, and belt carriers.

plaidlayout
Fabric pinned to itself and taped to mat. Pattern pieces aligned to match plaid at seams. Plaid sorted!

I knew if I wanted the finished product to look good, I would have to be careful about placing my pattern pieces. There are a few things I do that make this process much easier. Before even starting, I try to choose a symmetric plaid. I think about how I want the plaid to be arranged on the garment, then make the foldline on the stripe I want to run down the center back. I lay out the doubled fabric on a large, gridded cutting mat. If the fabric is slippery or hard to align, I use blue painter’s tape to keep it aligned to the grid.  To make sure the upper and lower edges stay aligned, I pin the bottom and top together on a prominent stripe every few inches or so. It probably goes without saying that I have pre-washed and ironed first. I carefully examine the plaid and make sure the stripes align to the cutting mat’s grid in several places.  They almost never do at first, but a little patience smoothing things out always pays off.  Then I arrange the pattern pieces so they line up on the sides. Commercial patterns almost always mark the waist, so that’s a convenient place to check alignment.  Otherwise, you can use notches to match a horizontal stripe. I usually start with any piece I want to go on the foldine.

After all of that, I cut the front and back. I decided where I wanted the patch pockets to go and cut squares in the right size, again being careful to match the plaid.

In the next post, I will be trying out different types of edge and seam finishes.  See you there!

 

General · Useful Thing

20 Ways to Use Your Scraps

While I wait for a replacement for my leaky iron, I’ve been thinking about how to use what I already have.  Lately I have been pondering what to do with my scraps.

You can always use your scraps to practice on, or rip into strips to tie up your tomatoes. But you love that pattern!  Every time you see it in your stash you sigh and put it back.  It’s just too small.  Or is it?

Here are some things to do with that piece that you may not have thought of:

  1. Bias tape
  2. Quilt squares
  3. Pocket linings
  4. Facings
  5. Doll clothes
  6. Covered buttons
  7. Multi-colored projects
  8. Accent stripes
  9. Color blocking and piecing
  10. Contrast welting
  11. Headbands, barrettes, bows
  12. Luggage tags
  13. Pattern weights
  14. Applique
  15. Patches
  16. Baby clothes
  17. Patches
  18. Napkins  (assemble a mixed set)
  19. Small bags (coin purses, earphone case, etc.)
  20. Sachets for your drawers

Of course, these are just a few possibilities.  What do you do with your scraps?

 

 

Useful Thing

Coupon Wallet with Owls

couponwallet - 6
Pattern has 8 dividers arranged accordion-style for expansion

Here’s a cute quilted coupon organizer with divided sections and a magnetic snap closure.  This pattern is a great choice for playing with color.  You can vary colors on the bias tape, sections, sides, lining and cover.  It’s also a good choice for using up small pieces of pretty fabric that aren’t quite large enough for a major project.

The pattern I used is the Coupon Organizer from iSew.biz.  If you love it, but don’t want to make your own, you can buy finished ones on the iSew etsy page.

The pattern comes as a pdf file which you print yourself.  Instructions are detailed and come with lots of pictures.

Cutting is super simple.  Compared to clothing and home dec, it’s a treat to cut all of your pieces on a small surface!  The other side of the coin is that small pieces make assembly a little fiddly.  If you take your time, you shouldn’t have any problems though.

couponwallet - 1
Interfaced divider pieces and vinyl labels in “curlers”

I opted to hand-write my labels, but there are excellent instructions for making printed versions if you prefer.  You can choose from fabric labels, vinyl tabs with paper, or whatever works for you.  I chose vinyl.  Although I read the clear instructions, somehow I still managed to sew all of my labels on upside down.  Fortunately, I only had to rip out 8 2-inch seams to get back on track! (Yes, I didn’t notice until I finished all of them).

couponwallet - 2
I can’t believe I sewed all 8 labels on backwards!!!

TIP: In order to get a sharp folded edge on the vinyl labels, I pinched the vinyl closed with wonder clips over small pieces of fabric.  Without the fabric to protect it, the vinyl would get imprinted with little divots from the inside of the clips.  I only had to leave them on for a few minutes to get the nice crease I wanted.

If I were to do this again, I would interface the divider pieces before cutting.  That is, just fuse a large rectangle, then cut all of the small rectangles from that.  That would cut the amount of effort for the divider cutting almost in half.  I used Pellon SF101, but I think any midweight interfacing would work.

I would also consider using a spray adhesive to keep the layers of the cover together while quilting.  Even using a walking foot, mine shift a little.

TIP:  Consider using a different color in your bobbin if you are quilting very different top and bottom fabric colors in your quilt sandwich.  I chose pale pink on top and black in the bobbin.

For years I have been toting around my coupons in paper envelopes.  This organizer is a huge improvement.  I already have my coupons in it.  Maybe matching grocery bags next?  Hmmm…..

Travel · Useful Thing

Travel Trays

I love this idea!  I think I first saw this on pinterest and have been looking forward to making a few ever since.

All you need is enough fabric to make two small rectangles, a matching piece of batting, and either snaps or velcro to secure the corners you pinch together.

It’s clever, quick and a fun way to use up scraps or play with embroidery.

You can get instructions as a free download from Craftsy here.  Credit for the pattern goes to Angela Padilla.

Three rectangles
Cut rectangles ready to sew.
Travel trays
Finished travel trays

I chose to use hook and loop tape for closures, but snaps would work equally well.  I also found that the tray looks neater if you press a crease into the corners and along the bottom edges of the assembled tray.

I also omitted the optional bottom quilting, but I would put it in if it did not disrupt the pattern of the patterned fabric.

Some ideas for future versions might include trimmings on the edges or ribbon around the bottom side.  An embroidered monogram or monochromatic design would work well centered on either side.  This could be a fun part of a set of travel organizers.

 

 

Fashion · Useful Thing · Vintage

Vintage Vogue Apron V8643

Here’s the basic information:

Vogue 8643 – Aprons

I made View A in size M (12-14), but shortened to the view B length.  View A is the yellow one in the envelope illustration.

This was a little difficult to make, but the instructions were clear and I am really proud of the results.  I am definitely keeping the pattern and will pull it out again whenever the mood to make an apron strikes again.

If I make it again, I would consider using the serger on the vertical seams.

The fabric is a cotton quilting print from Jo-Ann.  The pockets are lined in white with pieces of an old sheet that had also seen duty as a dropcloth.  Yay, recycling!

And…  here is the finished product: