Monday, 31 March 2014

Making Your Own Fabric Covered Buttons.

I haven't really gone down the 'sewing tutorials' route on this blog - preferring to refer to other blogs when needed, but hey, I am now officially on maternity leave and conquering the weirdly odd sentiment of not having to work with a  bit of crafty button covering !

If you have not recognised the fabric already, these buttons are for the vast pockets of the Marci Tilton dress. It made sense - rather than going on a 'button search' (fun as those are !), to use some leftover fabric and make matching buttons for the pockets that blend in, whilst serving their purpose. These are so easy to do and with great results.

First off you need to purchase a set of plain, ''self cover' plastic buttons in the size of your choosing, (I went for 29mm/1 1/8 inches) You don't require any tools with these self cover buttons. They have a separate back that is pushed on once your fabric is in place and keeps the button securely covered.

Next you need to cut out rough circles in your chosen fabric, a little larger than the button you are covering This is to allow for the fabric wrapping round the whole of the button and to be secured underneath the plastic plate on the back. 
If you are working with patterned fabric, you may wish to pick out a matching detail for each of the buttons, as above. or you can choose a different detail for each if they are in a row, like the little 'sweetie' buttons below, the choice is yours !
Next you need to run a few loose, tacking stitches around the edge of your fabric piece, leaving the tails long. A great tip here is to dampen the fabric at this stage. This helps your fabric covered button to be crease and crinkle free. As the fabric dries it tightens around the button with a smooth finish. 
With the fabric dampened, you can pull the ends of the threads to gather the fabric around the button, so that it looks like a little Wonton dumpling.
Next, with all the hands you have...! you need to hold the fabric around the button in place, keeping the tightness by holding onto the end of your threads, whilst securing the plastic plate onto the back of the button, tucking away the gathered fabric. Push it on hard until it clicks or you can tell it is secure.
And there you have it ! Self-made, fabric covered buttons to use as you choose.

Pin It

Sunday, 23 March 2014


The excitement of my recent foray into French seams has now been matched by a new adventure, with shirring elastic! (#threadgeek) Having experimented the 'pattern's way' to achieve some gathers in the central, contrast panel of my 'nearly there' Marci Tilton number, it was decided that a trial with some shirring elastic would be worth a go. The results were much better and the cause of some machine-side jubilation. In fact I went a step further, adding a couple of extra rows of gathering to the pattern's direction, just because I could ;0)

Having wound the shirring elastic on to your bobbin by hand, (and this needs to be done adding some tension on the thread), you then sew away with a straight line of stitches in the usual way. I had a play with stitch lengths on a piece of scrap fabric first. Once you have done your first row, you then need to hold the fabric out straight again for the next row and thereafter. The effect is pretty and very gratifying for such an easy sew. Also, far less fiddly than the pattern's direction of securing a piece of heavier top stitch thread at each end, then sewing a zig zag stitch over the top, (taking care not to catch the top stitch thread as you go) and then pulling the thread each end to achieve the gathers. 
Initially I thought I preferred the zig zag feature that this creates, but having worked with elastic thread and seeing the magic 'gathering' itself before your eyes, I don't think I will be looking back. It is just worth remembering that as you are working with a thicker, elastic thread, you can get to the end of your bobbin sooner than expected and yes, that happened mid-row this very afternoon! As a wise sewing instructor once said : ''you do your best sewing with an empty bobbin''! It was quickly remedied however  ;o)
Only other thought so far is that the pattern asks for a small dart at the top of this central panel, over which the gathers, or shirring is placed. Given that darts are usually inserted to give a bit of extra shaping and we have the shirring doing the work in that department here, I am not convinced it is necessary. Moreover, it also creates a 'break' in the rows of gathers. If I were to make another, I think I would forego this element.
Next stop was sewing the contrast panel into the rest of the dress - it now looks less 'dressing gown' and more like the Marci Tilton number it set out to be !

Pin It

Friday, 14 March 2014

Spring Yellows.

Spring is in the air! And with a bit more sunshine and less rain, I've been lapping up the positive vibe. The Sewing Tree is full with bud and emerging leaves and the chiff chaffs are marking a new season with their song. I've even made some progress on my slightly neglected Marci Tilton dress, this week being the week for matching up the sometimes vast fabric pieces and seeing it come together. There are elements of the 'Krypton Factor' about this pattern and it feels sometimes as though you are feeling your way a bit, following the pattern instruction whilst still waiting for it to make visual sense, (which it does eventually) ! Certainly this has been a case for using a tailor's mannequin in order to work in 3 dimensions, rather than flat on a table, in this instance our trusty classroom mannequin, AKA Dolores ;o)
                                                So, I have managed to move from this :

to this :
Currently it is falling somewhere between the kimono / nightgown vibe , (the fabric was purchased in S.E. Asia which may partly account for it !). It currently awaits a central contrast panel of yellow, which will have a shirring effect detail at the top, achieved with a heavier top stitch thread. 

Today's task was the lining and construction of the fabulously huge pockets, inviting plentiful suggestions as to what I will be able to keep in them once the baby arrives - or even the baby !?
Pocket inside out and in progress.

The pockets are a quirky feature of the dress, (and which drew me to the pattern in the first place) and it was ultimately happy circumstance that saw me without enough grey fabric left to line the pockets in the same grey floral, (its a long way back to Vietnam) and instead laying my hands on a contrast fabric in a daffodil yellow.
I love the contrast an the flash of sunny yellow, like you've got sunbeams in your pockets ;o) Ultimately the pockets can be left loose and baggy, or else the pattern also uses a pleat and a button as below. 

The other joy of this pattern has been my introduction to the French Seam - yep! Am loving the neat finishes that these give, with no raw edges on the inside, or indeed in the absence of an overlocker, any zig zag sewn edges to keep frays at bay! 
French seams can only be used if you are sewing in a straight line, but this has been the case for most of the dress so far, (apart from round the sleeves if course). It's a bit strange getting your head around sewing wrong instead of right sides together at first, but the result is a neatly finished seam that wouldn't embarrass if you happened to wear it inside out by mistake ;o) I am now a new advocate of the French seam and think I may be in to a new habit.

Pin It


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...