Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Make your own bias binding for dresses and quilts

My own self made, continuous binding
Bias binding is an essential item in the sewing tools of a dress maker.

Bias binding a wonderful thing, it finishes edges nicely, can be used for trims, with piping and to enclose seams. Buying it is expensive and also you are limited in colour and choice.

I've been making my own bias binding for years and this post will show you how to make your own as well. Saving you time, money and ensuring your bias trim matches or contrasts as you wish. Basically you use a square of your fashion fabric and from that you end up with yards (metres) of bias binding.

I was taught this technique in a quilting class in the dim, dark, past. I acknowledge that teacher, but sadly I don't remember her name. I have no idea who originally invented this technique either, its been lost in the mists of time.

Step 1
Cut a square of your fashion fabric, I use my large 15" square quilting ruler for this, as it makes me approx 4.5 metres of bias binding from a 15" x 15" square of fabric. Pretty amazing eh! If your ruler is metric, work in metric. Basically you cut a big square.

Step 2
Fold your square so it forms a triangle, press the diagonal with your iron.
Step 3
Open up your square and cut it in half along your diagonal.

Step 4
Then form a trapizoid with your two halves of the square. Don't worry, I had no idea what a trapizoid was either, look at the following picture and you will go, aha! Its kind of like a 'skew wiff' kite.
Step 5
Place right sides together, pin and stitch then your two halves together. You will have two 'tails' on the right and left if you have put it together correctly, see the following image. I use a very narrow seam, 3/8ths at most. You don't need to back stitch at each end.
Step 6
Press your stitched seam open
Step 7
Rule lines on the wrong side of your trapizoid, length ways, as per the following picture. Now these lines represent the width of your bias binding, I usually do 1.5" spaces between my ruled lines, this gives me a bias binding of 1.5" wide. I was taught 2" but I find that's too wide for dressmaking but works well for quilt binding. It can be as narrow or as wide as you want. Remember, narrow means more bias binding, wider will mean less. See the following photos to see how its done. You must rule your lines exactly as demonstrated across your traizoid, otherwise the next steps won't work.

Step 8
This step creates a tube of fabric, its hard to describe, so if my words confuse, view the pictures for a better understanding. Fold the top of your trapezoid to the bottom so the vertical lines join up. Offset the seam line by a 1.5", you will have a small 'tail' at either end, this ensures that you can cut in a continuous spiral from one end of your tube to the other. What you are doing is offsetting the seam by the 1.5" width of your bias. Before you pin and stitch, make sure that your lines are meeting each other across the seam. Press seam open.
Aligning the seam, note the 1.5 'tail at both ends.
Pin seam, doing this creates a tube of fabric
See, you have a tube of fabric

With seams pressed
Step 9 and final step!
Now the fun begins, start at one side and cut around your lines, if you have offset your tube correctly you will cut continuously to the very end creating 4.5 metres of 1.5" (yes I know, mixing measuring systems) self fabric bias binding! How good is that. If you haven't offset your tube, you will only be able to cut circles. If this happens, unpick and offset your seam.

Out on the interwebs are many tutorials on calculating the size of square required for a particular yardage/meterage of binding. I'm mathematically challenged and just cut bigger and smaller squares, lol! I either make just enough, am slightly under, bummer and need to make more, or have too much and I use left overs for all sorts of small jobs that need bias binding.

I hope you found the tutorial useful and I hope you understood it. If not, leave me a comment and I can always add more photos to the tutorial. I make bias binding on a weekly basis.

I'm The Tailor's Apprentice and I have created The Miss Page Vintage Pattern Collection. 1940s WWII dress making patterns for the 21st century woman. Patterns created by me from my extant 1940s gowns. All my patterns are available on Etsy and my website where you'll find out more about me as well. This year I am publishing an 1820s gown wardrobe pattern.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rescuing the wedding dress started by the Mother of the Bride

Rescuing a Mother of the Bride (MOB) from a fraught bride who hated the wedding gown she had created for her two weeks before the wedding day!

The MOB is the neighbour and friend of good friends who live locally. I met bride and mum four weeks ago and offered help if the very competent MOB dressmaker got into any difficulties. She started well, made a toile, bodice only sadly, then went onto the wedding gown. When bride had the final fitting, she burst into tears and hated it! They called me, I thought it looked beautiful, but not on the bride. Beautiful stitching, technically perfect dress making, piping to die for, hand stitched lace, but the style chosen did not suit the bride at all and the fit could have been better.

First problem:
They had chosen a 50s reissue Vogue pattern, with a boat neck, the one on the left. When they were shopping for the pattern the bride had 'decision' fatigue and chose it even though it didn't resemble her 'design board' ideas. She was 'over it' and 'this will do'.

Second problem:
The bride had not tried on any gowns in a bridal store to see what suited her figure and use that to decide on the style that would make her the perfect bride she wanted to be on her wedding day.

Third problem:
The MOB only made a bodice toile and this did not show what the gown would look like completed.

The first thing I did was create a new toile of the dress and work through the issues with the bride. The boat neck did not suit her small frame, she felt big shouldered and 'hulky'. The bodice was too short waisted, she has been wearing long bodiced dresses and low slung jeans all her fashonista life, a natural waisted dress was out of her comfort zone, she felt it made her look short. The skirt was too gathered and bulky and she felt fat.

Now the bride is lovely and slender, she is 5ft 2" in height and short in the waist. So the above style was creating an illusion of bulk, hulk and was not what she had in her head.

I looked through her design board on Pinterest and her book of images that she liked. I asked her to find a dress in her wardrobe that she liked, had the fit she was looking for. This dress, and most of her fashion images, were long waisted with the gathered skirt under the belly button and on a curve.

So out came the scissors, we lengthened the bodice, we changed the neckline completely into a wide U shape and the made the shoulders narrow. The toile skirt was gathered to have more bulk over the hips and less at front and back and I rigged up some tulle 'panniers' on the hips as well. Sadly I took no photos :(

Once we had the fit and the look right, which took a long while of discussion, fitting, moving darts, changing neckline, dropping the back of the bodice lower than the front and other changes, we then moved to the fashion fabric.

The MOB did most of the sewing, however I did all the hand sewing on the day before the wedding as the MOB ran out of time. I sat in her studio watching historical movies, being brought cuppas, then wine and nibbles, I finished at 9 PM that night, phew! Sadly my images of the completed dress are pretty poor.

Here is the gown with the remade bodice and without the petticoat
Without petticoat
Thankfully there was enough lace overlay and silk to make a new long line bodice. The original skirt was fine, the length just dropped to long ballerina and the bride liked the graceful line that gave the gown.

With petticoat
Then we had to create the skirt 'flower blossom' look that she was after with a petticoat.Thankfully we were able to reuse the MOBs wedding crinoline from the 70s as it turned out to be just perfect. I added the tulle 'panniers' to the side and this is the final result. The piccies aren't that good I'm sorry.

I think it looks like a 1920s Robe de Style, what about you?

When your working to create your daughter's wedding gown it can be hard to get her to be honest about what she wants, she doesnt want to hurt your feelings and you don't want to  bully her.

A bride is happy to be honest with me, happy to say no I don't like that, or its too loose or can you change it here please? I'm very happy to do that as I want what my client wants.

So if you want to make your daughter's wedding dress, why not work with me and together we will ensure that the gown is what your daughter really wants?

I'm The Tailor's Apprentice and I have created The Miss Page Vintage Pattern Collection. 1940s WWII dress making patterns for the 21st century woman. Patterns created by me from my extant 1940s gowns. All my patterns are available on Etsy and my website where you'll find out more about me as well. This year I am publishing an 1820s gown wardrobe pattern.