vegan tailor, tying a bow tie

tutorial: bias-cut bow tie

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Bow ties never went out of style, but they are enjoying the spotlight again at the moment. My sons and partner all enjoy wearing this type of neckwear and it is not only satisfying to make them, it is the absolute perfect opportunity to add some panache to the wardrobe.

In order to make a bow tie, ideally you’d have a properly fitted one (or a mockup cut out of a piece of woven fabric) to make your pattern. If you are starting without a tie to trace, you will need to draw up your own. The shape of the tie is a long straight stretch for around the neck, ending in the trademark fish-like shape at the ends (there are doubtless many templates online). The bow tie shown here has a straight stretch of 5″ longer than my son’s neckline; that accounts for the knot to tie.

It can be fiddly getting the right length, but remember once you have it down you have the right tie for life. I recommend you purchase a high-quality adjustable tie (like the red swiss dot version shown below), tie it on your intended client, and make the pattern from there.

Shown below next to the tie I’m copying: the fabric I’ll be using – a gorgeous rayon faille – and a very lightweight knit interfacing. You will only need a feather- or lightweight interfacing and make sure it has stretch, or the loveliness of cutting on the bias will be for naught. If your interfacing is too thick the tie will be hard to turn.

You will also need blank paper and pencil, a transparent ruler, and tracing wheel and paper. We will be folding the example tie in half and tracing only 1/4 of the tie, then folding our paper and using our tracing implements to get the symmetrical shape.

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Below, I draw a “T” shape a little longer than 1/2 the length of the tie:

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Folding the tie in half, I place the short folded end a the base of the “T” with the wide end at the leg of this “T”, bisecting the entire tie. Then, I trace. Beware you don’t make the straight stretch of the tie any thinner than about 3/4″, or you may have trouble turning it.

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
After tracing add your seam allowance to this 1/4 of the tie (I used a 3/8″). Then fold your paper down that long center line and trace both the stitching line and the seam allowance, using your carbon paper. So when you are finished, you will have half a tie traced, including seam allownaces.

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Instead of having a bulky center seam down the middle of the tie, I drafted a bias-seam for the join. This can seem confusing but it is quite simple. The short end of the tie (the top of the “T” I drew above) represents the center line (back of the neck) of the tie. Simply draw a 45 degree angle through the center of the tie, and add your seam allowance to that line.

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
Now, take your fabric and fuse your stretch interfacing:

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
And place the tie pattern piece on the fabric; remember, you will want 4 of these pieces in total:

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
Now, we get to sew. You want a fairly firm stitch – say 2.0 mm or so – as you’ll be trimming these seams pretty closely before turning. Take the tie pieces to the machine and sew the short bias ends together; joining your four pieces into two:

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
Press these seam allowances open and grade them. You can use this opportunity to tie the tie around the neck of your recipient, to make sure the length is appropriate.

Now, place your long tie pieces right sides together, and stitch, leaving a 2″ or so gap in one of the long straight edges (but not where the bias seams are joined):

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
Go slowly around the curves; this is going to yield a beautiful result!

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Cut the corners of the tie ends, and then trim the entire tie down to about 1/8″. Again, this is where you need to make sure your stitches are tight and firm enough the seams will not unravel later:

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
Now, we get to turn the tie! This can be tedious, but is best accomplished gently and with a chopstick or similar high-falutin’ turning tool:

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
Now press, carefully! I was so pleased that my tie is the precise length I was aiming for, even with my fancy little bias-cut seam:

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
Next, all we have to do is slip-stitch our little gap closed:

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow TieTutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie+
And – all finished! Provided our finished accessory is the right size, we now have a paper template and can make as many gorgeous ties as we like.

Tutorial: Bias-cut Bow Tie
And of course: how to tie it:

vegan tailor, tying a bow tie

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

tutorial: a perfect sash

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash
You know, I rarely do a basic-basic tutorial, but recent events inspired me! I put together four maxi skirts from African wax print cotton (two adult and two matching toddler skirts), and the project was delightful. Besides the kidney-shaped pocket pieces, every aspect of the skirts were rectangles: the body of the skirt, the waistband, the sash, and the sash carriers.

I got to thinking that I can put together a lovely sash in my sleep, but I had troubles earlier on in my sewing career. While no tutorial can cover *every* eventuality, this is a basic tutorial from a sash made of a stable, woven, nonstretch knit. You need your sash strip – the width and length of the finished sash plus a seam allowance per side.

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

As you can see above, I cut my sash with a rotary cutter. Tearing is also a great way to get the sash right on the grain; not all wovens tear that well. YOu want everything along the crossgrain as much as possible.

Next, I fold the sash right sides together, lengthwise, and give them a light press. In this photo you can tell the strip is right sides together as the gold metallic print is only on the right side of the fabric:

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Then right sides together I sew up the long edge, leaving about a 2″ gap in the middle of the long edge. I backstitch firmly at this gap:

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Next, I sew the two short edges:
Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Next, I clip both the folded corner and the sewn corner at a 45 degree angle, right up to the stitching line:
Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Taking the piece to the ironing board, I iron the seam allowances back toward the main part of the strip – one at a time. I do this for both long edge seam allowances, and all four short edge seam allowances. This is a great time to really use that iron to press the strip into a flat shape:


Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

At the gap, I carefully fold down the seam allowance and press that too:

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Now, it’s time to turn the sash right-sides out. Leaving the gap in the center of the strip makes it easier to turn. If the sash is narrow, I use a wooden chopstick to turn:

C
Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

The ends should turn out nicely – no need to push and prod them. Here are my ends, before pressing:

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Close the gap of the sash by a slip-stitch or machine topstitch, give a final press – and voila!

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

 

 

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

tutorial: puffed taffeta patch

Shown here: patches in taffeta (silver) and satin (red), augmenting a hoodie and jacket, resp. I’ve long loved the look of a bit of posh on casual wear.

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
It took me a few tries to get the look I wanted – a raised puffy patch, quilted, that retained its shape accurately and really showed off that topstitching. Although the satin (red) is super fun – and will be the version I am showcasing today – I like the taffeta even more. It has a crisp but antiquated look I am just drooling for!

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

So let’s do this!Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

You will need (from left to right) your satin or taffeta, some fleece (no-stretch works best), and an interfacing. You also need basting spray, a pattern template (handmade or computer-made), and tracing wheel and paper. For interfacing, think about what color you want to use, as a little may show in the final product. You want a color that matches either the patch or the garment beneath; you can also use white and a bit of Sharpie to help with that (which is what I’m going to show you here).

And of course you need the things you always need for sewing: a machine, thread, scissors, iron – et cetera.

So first, iron your fabric nice and flat:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Next, pin the paper template to the satin/taffeta, and carefully slide the tracing medium underneath, to transfer markings to the right side of the satin/taffeta. Remember that the outer line of the template will not be stitched – it represents the turn of the cloth.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Trace carefully, making sure not to shift the paper template as you trace. You need to make sure you will be able to see the tracing marks while you sew; a red background, by the way, is one of the most difficult to read!

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Once you have both your patches traced, lightly – and I mean lightly – spray the rough side of your fleece, with a layer of basting spray. If you spray too liberally, the glue might transfer through the satin/taffeta and leave an icky mark.

By the way – I always lay my fabric in my waste can before spraying, so I don’t get any stickiness anywhere else in my studio. Then I remove the sprayed fabric and proceed.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Press your satin/taffeta wrong side to the glued surface of the fleece, and smooth by hand. Securely pin. Then machine-baste around the motif and move the pins; you won’t want to have them hanging out for all the rows of stitching you’ll be doing.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Begin stitching from the top (satin/taffeta) side, ending in the same location and carefully pulling all threads to the backside. When you’ve finished, you will be knotting those threads securely and clipping about 1/2″ from the knots.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Shown below: the fully-stitched patch. Note the outer line remains unstitched, with the basting line further out from that.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Now, cut 1/4″ to 1/8″ away from that traced, unstitched line. I know I can sew very accurately here so I have only cut 1/8th away.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Cut your interfacing according to the paper pattern, and pin to the right side of the satin/taffeta, with the sticky side of the interfacing either up or down, depending on what you want. If you put the sticky side up here, then when you turn the patch, you will be ironing the interfacing to the patch itself. If you put the sticky-side down, you will be able to use the fusing to apply the patch to the garment. I have used both methods and they both worked great.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now, stitch around the perimeter! Make sure to firmly catch the satin, fleece and interfacing:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Cut a small slit in the interfacing, and use this to carefully turn the patch right-side out:
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now if you like, you can use a sharpie and color your interfaced edge either the color of the patch or a color that works with the garment:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now – it’s time to press! If your sticky side is on the outside of the patch, you want to position the patch on the garment (see below). If, like for this patch, the sticky side faces the underside of the patch, this pressing will help anchor the patch into a firm shape.
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Pin the patch in place:Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
If you have two patches in symmetrical locations on the garment, I have a method to use. I like to pin the first, then lay the second patch right-sides together, then lay the respective pattern pieces on top of that. It’s a fast way to end up with symmetrical pockets/patches etc.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now you can certainly machine-stitch this patch to the garment – but having gone through all this trouble, a fell stitch is a gorgeous touch! Since this garment is lined, I went ahead and pulled the running part of the stitch to the backside of the sleeve; for the blue star hoodie shown in this post, since it was not lined, I enclosed the running part of the fell stitch into the patch itself – thus making for a completely invisible patch installation.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
The backside of the installation – halfway through:
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

And – all done!

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta PatchStar Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

[mc4wp_form id=”19978″]
Hold Up!

hold up!

[Stuart voice]: “Look what I can do!”

Hold Up!

Hold Up!
The Beyoncé “Hold Up” dress (here’s the original: yes, it’s amazing!) was my biggest project this Halloween. A friend saved up and went big – she not only requisitioned the dress, she acquired the hair, shoes (which were then hand-painted), and jewerly. There is nothing I like more than someone going all-out, and it was wonderful to be a part of that.

Hold Up!

Let me get right to the knitty-gritty of how (I think) the dress was originally constructed (it’s from a collection, so there is more than one version out there – which is confusing for a reconstruction effort), and how I duped it.

So, he dress appears to be made with tiered chiffon flounces, and lace appliqué on a mesh and spandex underdress. The flounces were also roughly pleated and lettuce-edged; the bottom two flounces were trimmed with lace. The dress is hardly structured at all, a lot of bare skin shows as well as the actual push-up bra. My client found the black bra herself and hand-stitched an interlining to emulate the double-strap look on the bra. I wish I’d paid more attention to that particular bra detail, as I could have done that job for her by machine; her handstitching failed at the party she was at (bras need to be very sturdy, especially for the large-busted)!

Because the dress is mostly a monochromatic garment, I had to figure out how to get four matching colors in the absolutely gorgeous yellow of the dress, and this affected my choice of fabrics. Notice in the photo at upper left a version of the dress looks warm and poppy-colored, at left – and greenish at right; you will also notice the dress appears several different colors in this post depending on the lighting I am working with. I ended up deciding to buy my 25 yards of chiffon, and dye the other fabrics to match using a local dye artist. Note that dyeing different fabrics (including fabrics with differing fiber content) is a bit of a technical challenge, and will likely involve lots of testing and different types of dye processes.

It took trial and error to get the fabrics dyed the correct color;  one nylon lace, for instance, simply didn’t take dye. My dye artist friend (Val from FiberPlay) had to do two washes to get the colors deep enough – but they were lovely and all matched, by the time she was done. Below, you see (from left, clockwise) the chiffon, spandex, mesh, and lace I used.

Hold Up!

One other major technical component was the pleating. I believe the flounces on the original garment were cut circular, not straight – which meant the pleats were formed that way as well (I think of this as sunray pleating although I’m sure it has other names). After lots of pleating research and a few phone conversations with the *amazing* Rusty at SF Pleating (415.608.1983), I opted to send Rusty labeled strips, and he pleated them all. The pleats arrived in these fabulous crepe paper bundles. Rusty was beyond amazing and I hope to work with him again!

Hold Up!

Hold Up!

Now that I had the pleated chiffon and all properly-hued fabrics, it was time to assemble! I build the mesh and spandex underdress, using carbon paper to trace my flounce positions. I then fussy-cut the lace motifs, and applied the lace to locations on the mesh underdress:

Hold Up!

The mesh needed a stabilizer to form a nice strong zig-zag stitch.

Hold Up!
All of the chiffon flounces had to be finished by serge, as chiffon likes to fray into these teeny tiny fibers. These flounces were then either edged by serge or edged by fishing line. The latter process is so fun! You wrap your fishing line around a form, use heat (boiling water or heat gun) to seal the shape of the circular culry-q’s, let cool, and feed this line into the chiffon while hemming. This process required a lot of trial and error; you have to find the right weight of fishing line – but was super fun. I’ll have to create a tutorial someday!|

After the flounces were hemmed, I applied them to the mesh in the locations I’d traced:

Hold Up!

One regret I had was not acquiring a twist-cord blank to dye. Instead I created cord from the spandex fabric, and used it for the dresses’ back-tie, as well as the three straps in the bodice.

Hold Up!
The original dress likely does not fasten by tie, but this is the most adjustable and comfortable way to go for a costume:

Hold Up!

So, obviously my friend K. stole the show at her event. It was both an honor and a privilege to get to make her something so special! And I can’t wait for my next pleated project!

Hold Up!