How To: Shibori Dyeing Large Pieces

As I continued to experiment with shibori dyeing I began to wonder how to approach dyeing large pieces of fabric. In our last post I shared a variety of dyeing techniques each resulting in a very unique look, but all of my pieces were quite small- about 14″ square. While small pieces like this are great for napkins, pillows or patchwork, they aren’t so great for garment making!

Line Drying Shibori Pieces

Line Drying Shibori Pieces

In thinking about taking on larger pieces for garment sewing I figured there are two ways to approach it- 1) dye the finished garment or 2) dye the yardage required for the garment I want to make. Either seem like a valid approach and I can think of advantages and disadvantages for both.

After pondering it a while, I settled on dyeing the yardage. While this will produce a bit more waste, use more dye and be a bit harder to handle, I will have more control of the overall outcome of the piece. It is easier to manipulate and anticipate what will happen at large rectangle rather than a finished top or dress. Right? You can also then fussy cut your garment pieces from the larger fabric giving you more control to your finished look as well.

Time start planning fabric and pattern choices! I, of course, started with the fabric and may have gone a little overboard by picking five very different fabric types. The natural indygo dye kit that I am using calls for natural fibers- preferably plant based- so rayon, linen, cotton, bamboo, etc. Since I wanted to make a variety of projects I selected on the following: a more structured cotton twill, a drapey linen/rayon blend and a soft tencel/cotton shirting all in white/vanilla (it is shibori after all!).

1 | 2 | 3

I also picked a couple of reach fabrics, choices that are a bit less conventional. The first is a white-on-white printed gauze, I wasn’t sure how the synthetic printing would react but I thought I would give it a try. The second is a cotton/silk blend– the manufacture of my kit says silk may not react well in the dye vat due to the basic environment. I figured, the blend is more than 50% cotton and the results will be amazing if it works so why not?

1 | 2

For pattern choices I was mostly thinking about tunics and tops and settled on dyeing 2 to 2-1/2 yards of each piece except for the twill, which I only dyed 1 yd. I did’t finalize my pattern choices ahead of time because I wanted to see how each piece turned out and pick the pattern to really show off the stunning shibori designs.

Now let’s get to the fun part- methods and results! I decided to dye each piece differently and chose the technique based on what I thought would look best with that particular fabric.

1) Japanese Tencel Shirting + Mokume Shibori (Stitched)

This was probably the most time intensive piece to prepare. With two yards of 45″ wide fabric, we marked a 1″ grid across the entire piece using a washable fabric pen. My mom then spent an entire afternoon stitching each of the rows (thank you mom)! Based on the results of our test run, I knew the basting stitches needed to run selvage to selvage so that the resulting lines would run the length of the fabric.

Once all the stitches were in place, I pulled each of the strings gathering the fabric up and tied them off. This gave me a 72″ long snake of gathered fabric that was actually pretty easy to maneuver in the dye vat. After a series of dips, I rinsed the piece and began popping the strings to open it up. I didn’t wait for the piece to dry completely because I wanted a more fluid look and the results were amazing!

Stitched Mokume Shibori with Japanese Tencel Shirting

Stitched Mokume Shibori with Japanese Tencel Shirting

I have no idea yet what I want to make with this pieces but I love how this technique and the fabric paired together. This tight stitching method looks amazing with lighter weight fabrics where you can gather it easily and tightly. We used a 1″ grid, but I would love to see what a larger grid and stitches would do- similar look but wider lines and more indigo, maybe?

2) Radiance Cotton/Silk + Kanoko Shibori (Bound)

For my cotton/silk blend I was thinking a soft camisole and thought large bursts would be really interesting. I settled on binding it with rubber bands as I liked the bolder lines and patterns it created in our trial.

I randomly started pinching bits of fabric and binding it with rubber bands. It was incredible how small 2 yards of fabric can shrink into in a matter of a few minutes! I just kept binding until there wasn’t any fabric left to grab.

Prepared Cotton/Silk and Linen/Rayon Pieces Ready to Dye

Prepared Cotton/Silk (Right) and Linen/Rayon (Left) Pieces Ready to Dye

Again, I used a series of dips to get the density of dye that I wanted and untied it before it dried. I love the randomness of the bursts and the variability in the indigo color. The subtle shine the silk gives the piece is really unusual and striking look as well.

Cotton/Silk

Bound Kanoko Shibori with Radiance Cotton/Silk Sateen

3) Linen/Rayon Blend + Itajime Shibori and 4) Cotton Twill + Itajime Shibori (Folded Resistance)

With the heavier fabrics I thought it would be easiest to use a folding technique and go for a larger geometric design. I had no idea how the folds would translate but decided to take the techniques I learned from before and apply them in a larger scale. Rather than 2 inch folds, go for 8 inch folds or whatever they would end up being.

For the linen, I accordion folded the fabric in eighths across the width of the fabric giving me a 2 yard giant fan. I then folded one corner up into a triangle and continued alternating the triangle fold from the front to the back across the entire length of the piece. Bound with 2 rubber bands, I ended up with a tight little triangle bundle (shown in photo above). When dyed I knew the edges of these triangles would be what would take on the most dye creating a triangle or diamond pattern.

Fold Resistance Shibori with a Linen/Rayon Blend

Fold Resistance Shibori with Linen/Rayon Blend

The results were a bit different from what I expected, I think because of the thickness of the fabric. There was also more white than I wanted in the final piece so I ended up over-dying the whole piece again to give it more a blue color. I love the resulting distressed look! P.S. Don’t ask how the fold pattern turned from the triangle/diamond print to squares, I have not idea but it still looks cool and totally unique! I’m dreaming of the Lottie Pattern for this piece (pattern from Christine Haynes), it will be fun to plan out where the pieces will go and what design elements to highlight.

For the twill I did a similar technique, a bit easier to do since the piece was only one yardm  and used the folding instructions included in the kit for a chevron pattern. The results gave me more of an arrow pattern, I think it could have used a lot longer in the vat to let more dye absorb, but I love the look. Perfect for the Stowe Bag I have planned for it!

dfhsoif

Folded Resistance Shibori with Cotton Twill

5) Printed Gauze + Dip Dyed

Rather than compete with the pattern already on this fabric, I decided to dip dye it as a whole piece and see what it looks like. The biggest challenge with this was keeping it as small as possible while still letting it flow and open up so that the dye would apply evenly. Remember the goal is overall, even coverage.

After a series of dips I ended up with this amazing indigo piece with great texture from the printed leaves. The printing took on less dye giving it a slightly lighter shade and produced a really cool effect.

Indigo Dip Dyed Cotton Gauze

Indigo Dip Dyed Cotton Gauze

So simple, but very impressive all the same. This will be perfect for a summer tunic or cover up! Light weight and airy and a beautiful shade of medium blue!

Each piece turned out better than I imagined. I thought dyeing larger pieces would be much more difficult. While they do take a bit more planning and have some limitations, it is so impressible to open up your two yard piece and reveal the amazing shibori pattern you created. I can’t wait to get sewing with these pieces- I think my linen/rayon Lottie will be up first. If you have any other pattern suggestions please leave them in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you would make!

~Michelle

How To: Shibori Dyeing Techniques

Like me, you were probably captivated with tie-dye when you were a kid. Folding, tying knots, mixing colors and not knowing how it would turn out. This summer this childhood fascination resurfaced in the form of Japanese shibori. A trend that has popped up all over in fashion and home decor, indigo dyeing is everywhere and I can’t help but be in love.

Shibori Inspiration Pinterest Board

Shibori Inspiration Pinterest Board

While we have added a selection of ready-made shibori style fabrics to the shop, I really wanted to try my hand at dyeing my own. I started researching the art of shibori and discovered it truly is an art. Totally unlike your childhood tie-dye it is very meticulous and planned, there are specific techniques each used to produce a different look to the resulting piece. I decided to try my hand at some of these techniques to see what worked, what I liked and what I wanted to try in a larger piece.

Natural Indigo Dye Kit

Natural Indigo Dye Kit

To start I gathered my supplies. For the indigo dye I used the Natural Dye kit found in our shop and I prepared the dye vat using the detailed instructions provided. Not only does the kit come with the best all natural components/reagents, it also includes gloves, cotton string, wood pieces and a practice piece (amazing value)! For my test fabric I selected this fine cotton poplin that I pre-washed and cut into various size pieces (roughly 14″ square). With my dye vat ready, my fabric pieces and supplies at hand, I was set to prepare my pieces. I settled on trying out some traditional Japanese techniques and a couple less conventional styles. Here are my methods and results!

Shibori Techniques:

1. Kanoko (Tied/Bound Methods)

This technique covers a wide range of patterns and designs that are tied or bound using string or more common nowadays rubber bands. The combination of binding and folds prevents the dye from spreading and creates some amazing burst and ring patterns.


To start I tried the common burst design- pinch the middle of the fabric and bind however many times you would like, each bind creating a ring.

Comparison of Tied Dyeing (Cotton String vs. Rubber Bands)

Comparison of Tied Dyeing (Cotton String vs. Rubber Bands)

To add a little interest I experimented with the difference between using string (top) vs. rubber bands (bottom). Which do you prefer? I think I am leaning towards the rubber bands- a bit more of a statement, bolder lines.


I also experimented with folding the fabric first and then pinching and binding. In the piece shown below I folded the fabric in quarters and alternated binding portions on each side.

Folded and Bound Dyeing

Folded and Bound Dyeing

With this method I got lots of smaller burst in somewhat of a geometric pattern. A really cool all over pattern without a lot of work.


Last but not least for the bound methods I experimented with actually tying the fabric! I tied each corner of our sample piece and then decided to wrap tie the center. I pinched the center, secured a piece of string to the end and then wrapped the string up the fabric creating kind of a spiderweb look.

Knotted and Spiderweb Bound Dyeing

Knotted and Spiderweb Bound Dyeing

The knots were a little difficult to get out in the end, next time I might not tie them so tight. But the look is really fun and if you just tied the whole thing, no string or rubber bands required!


2. Itajime (Resistance Method)

This method uses objects to create resistance and prevent the dye from permeating the fabric creating crisp, bold designs. In our experiment I used the wood pieces and diamond pattern instructions included in our kit.


Pretty simple, you simply accordion fold the fabric in quarters and then accordion fold it in quarters again the other direction. Place a wood piece on either side of the fabric at an angle and tie them tightly together.

Diamond Pattern Resistance Dyeing

Diamond Pattern Resistance Dyeing

The results are really striking! Next time I might try some different shaped wood pieces or I have even see where people have used keys and other found items to create unusual designs. One tip I learned, for really crisp lines let the fabric dry completely before removing the wood pieces to prevent bleeding. Although the slight bleeding does give it more of a authentic look.


3. Nui (Stitched Methods)

Rather than binding the fabric on the outside as in the kanoko technique, this method uses various length basting stitches to create the gathers and designs. Pulled tightly these stitches create a different sort of internal binding that restricts the movement of the dye. I tried two different nui techniques, mokume and karamatsu, creating lines and bursts respectively.


For mokume, I created a 1″ grid of dots on our piece of fabric with a washable fabric pen. I then stitched the length of each “line” using various length basting stitches. When pulled tight these strings gather the fabric up into really interesting, intricate folds. Tightly secure each end of the string, trim and it is ready to dye.

Stitched Lines Dyeing

Stitched Line Dyeing

Looking at our sample above, the far right shows what happens when the basting stitches have the same length and placement creating more structured gathers. The left side is how it looks when the lengths are all random creating more of an organic look. Moral of the story- the more random the better! Use the grid as a guide to keep your lines nice and straight but change up your stitch length.


Karamatsu is a very similar technique just a slightly different style. For this I folded portions of the fabric and drew a series of half circles on the fold using the washable pen. I then stitched long basting stitches on each of the half circles, pulled the strings tight and secured them place.

Stitched Bursts Dyeing

Stitched Burst Dyeing

The result gave me these intricate bursts, much more detailed than the tied bursts we saw earlier. While these are rather small scale (about 4 inches across), can’t you just imaging them with 5 or 7 rings on a much larger scale!

By far, these stitched methods are my favorite- Sewing + Dyeing = Amazing!


4. Folded and Bound Method

Last but not least, I wanted to try another stripe method to compare with the mokume stitching technique. Really basic, I accordion folded the fabric in eighths, rolled it tightly and secured it with a rubber band.

Folded and Bound Dyeing

Folded and Bound Dyeing

Not as impressive as the mokume stitched lines but still a great look. I love how the dyed portions kind of have an ombre effect due to how it was bound.


Overall, I love how my first experiment in shibori dyeing turned out! It was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. Although it does take some time (and patience is key!), it was a ton of fun and so exciting to see each result! Since finishing these I have dyed a few larger pieces, each a couple of yards, that I can use to actually sew up some garments. Watch for another post with all my lessons learned- same principles just on a much larger scale!

Until then, happy dyeing!

Michelle

P.S. Here are a couple other posts that you might find helpful! DIY Shibori and Seamwork’s Shibori Dyeing

Sorbetto Tanks and a New Look at Bias Tape

Today I am excited to share a special project that I have been working on over the past couple of weeks- a tutorial and closer look at working with bias tape!

Sewing with bias tape is one of my favorite methods to finish off the neckline or to use as an accent on a new garment. Bias tape is also showing up more and more in the patterns from our favorite indie pattern designers. Something I have noticed, however, is that it seems like everyone has a different method for joining the ends and finishing it off. I couldn’t help but wonder why that is and why people haven’t taken a tip from their fellow seamstresses- quilters!

Before I really dove into garment sewing I was a quilter. I still dabble now and then but my sewing focus has really shifted over the last couple of years. One day it hit me, why can’t I use the same methods I used all the time on quilt bindings on my garments? Couldn’t I just apply the same methods to other sewing projects? After a little experimenting and a collaboration with Sew Mama Sew, I put together a tutorial to share some secret quilting tips and tricks with my fellow garment sewers. Check it out HERE over on Sew Mama Sew’s blog!

Finishing Tips for Bias Binding Collaborative Tutorial with Sew Mama Sew

Finishing Tips for Bias Binding: Collaborative Tutorial with Sew Mama Sew

As part of my tutorial, I used Colette’s Sorbetto tank as my sample garment. A great tank for summer, it is perfect on its own or even layered with a cardigan or jacket. Not only is the pattern free, but it also has the potential for any number of variations. A few months ago, I tested out the Sorbetto tank pattern as is and quickly realized that is was much to short for me and my 5′ 9″ frame. For this project I played around with lengthening the pattern and removing the from pleat- both proved to be really easy changes!

Linen Sorbetto Tank Paired with Stripe Morris Blazer

Linen Sorbetto Tank Paired with Stripe Morris Blazer

To lengthen the pattern, I simply used the lines that already existed on the pattern pieces at the natural waist. Cutting along this line and moving the pieces 3″ apart, I lengthened that pattern by 3″. You can either slip a bit of pattern paper between the pieces and tape it in place or trace a whole new piece. Use a ruler to fill in the gap in the pattern lines and you are good to go. For removing the front pleat, I simply used the “pleat” line as my new center front. I didn’t even need to cut this portion of the pattern off, I just folded it to the back side!

Finished Sorbetto Tank with Self Bias Tape

I finished my Sorbetto off with matching bias tape made from the same fabric and I am really please with the results. It was a actually a really quick sew and I couldn’t help but sew up another one immediately!

Shibori Rayon Challis Sorbetto Tank

Shibori Rayon Challis Sorbetto Tank

For this my second version I used this stunning shibori rayon challis that just arrived in the shop. Paired with some pre-made navy jersey bias, I had another incredible Sorbetto in about an hour. Due to the layout of the double border on this fabric, I did have to shorten my pattern piece a bit so that I could get the design just the way I wanted. It made the tank a bit shorter but totally worth it, don’t you think?

A closer look at my shibori Sorbetto

A closer look at the shibori Sorbetto.

Don’t forget to to check out the tutorial with tips for sewing with bias tape! You might pick up a few tips to add to your own secret stash of skills. You never know when they might come in handy!

Michelle

P.S. For those of you new to Style Maker Fabrics– be sure to sign up for our email newsletter and blog in the margin on the right! We’d love to stay in contact with you and share more of our projects, inspiration and new arrivals!

New Linden Twist- Knit and Woven with 3/4 Sleeves

Lately I have been on a mission to find more ways to combine knit and woven fabrics into the same garment. With so many amazing knits, rayon challises, crepes and lots more, how could I not want to mix and match them? With a few ready to wear (RTW) items in heavy rotation in my wardrobe and other ideas from various boutiques, I started a new Pinterest board to gather my inspiration and figure out where to start first. Replacing whole pieces with a woven or knit, “blocking” with different fabrics or simply adding woven trim or accents- the possibilities seem endless.

Pinterest Inspiration Board: Knits + Wovens

Pinterest Inspiration Board: Knits + Wovens

I decided to tackle one of my favorite warmer weather pullovers that combines a polyester woven body and a light weight rayon/poly sweater knit for the sleeve and bands. I love this combination of a small geometric print and the soft solid in a raglan style pullover. In looking at pattern options I immediately decided on Grainline Studio’s Linden Sweatshirt. A staple in my wardrobe already, this pattern already had the same kind of look and style as my RTW top- a little slouchy but classic- and will make the perfect jumping off point for my new top.

A favorite RTW garment- ready to assist on a new version.

A favorite RTW garment- ready to assist on a new version.

To get started I traced all of my pattern pieces for my size 8 Linden (View A). I have made this size in the past and know that is fits great. I was not sure what changes needed to be made to accommodate the woven fabric on the front and back so having all the pieces on something that I can tweak/alter was a good place to start. For fabric choices, I picked two similar to those in my RTW top- a soft black sweater knit and a tribal print rayon challis.

This is where having a good fitting RTW reference came in handy-I was able to match up the corresponding pieces and see where there were dramatic differences is size and shape. Lucky for me there was almost no difference in the pattern width- maybe a 1/2″ but for the slouchy look I decided that wasn’t an issue. The biggest differences came in the length- the Linden was an 1″ or so longer. This happens to be my one issue with the RTW top, it is too short, so this is a welcome change and saved me a step from having to lengthen the pieces. With the woven figured out, I went ahead and cut the front and back out!

Next, on to the knit sleeves and bands. My preferred sleeve length is three-quarters which is also the length on my RTW pullover. As it not one of the options in the Linden pattern, I had to do a bit of experimenting to create a new pattern piece. The dilemma was, do I shorten the long sleeve (View A) or lengthen the short sleeve (View B)?

Unaltered Linen Sleeve Pattern Piece

I posed the question to the sewing community on Instagram and got mixed results- although most people said shorten the long sleeve. I decided to start there, shorten the long sleeve. With my RTW reference I knew I wanted the sleeves to be between 18 and 19″ before the cuff.

Determining the Sleeve Length and Altering the Pattern

Determining the Sleeve Length and Altering the Pattern

First, I cut along the Lengthen/Shorten (L/S) for the long version and slid the bottom piece under the top until the sleeve was the correct length. As you can see this difference is quite drastic taking almost 7″ off the sleeve length. I also became concerned about the narrowness of the bottom of the sleeve- perfect for your wrist but probably too small for mid arm.

Results of Shortening the Long Version

Results of Shortening the Long Version

I decided to see what lengthening the short version would look like. Again cutting at the L/S line and moving the pieces apart until the sleeve was the correct length. This was only a difference of about 3″, much less drastic. I slipped an extra piece of pattern paper underneath and taped the pieces in place. I thin filled in the missing lines by lining up my ruler with points from both pieces.

Now how did this change the cuffs? The cuff were originally designed to go at the wrists so the pieces are a bit to short. Again, I called on my RTW version to help estimate the cuff size. It just so happens that the hem band piece was about the perfect size (not cut on the fold of course). It never hurts to experiment with the pieces you have, rather than trying to create all new! I left the real hem band and neck bands alone and decided to see how they work as is. Since the sweatshirt fits normally, I figured this was a safe bet.

Determining the Size of Cuff Pieces

Determining the Size of Cuff Pieces

To test things out I sewed up one half of the garment to make sure I wasn’t completely off base. In the raglan style I attached one sleeve to the woven front and back at the angle. Sewing the woven and knit was surprisingly easy. I did carefully pin everything to make sure the pieces stayed in place. Next I sewed down the sleeve and side seam, turned it right side out and tried it on. I was pleasantly surprised about how well it fit and decided to continue onto the other side.

Finished Linen Pullover Styled with Vintage Jewelry

Finished Linen Pullover Styled with Vintage Jewelry

The most time consuming part of this whole process was pinning ALL of the bands in place- all four of them. You now pinning each quarter of both the opening and the band and matching them up- it takes forever especially when you are anxious to get things done! I sewed every seam of this top on my serger and didn’t have to do any finishing work. Amazing and totally worth the extra pinning time!

Loving My New Linden Pullover

Loving My New Linden Pullover

The end results were better than I ever imagined, especially on the first try at a new “experiment”. My new top fits like a dream- just like my RTW version but better. Plus it’s handmade! Paired with an amazing vintage necklace of my grandmother’s and I am set! The only change I might make would be to narrow the bottom of the sleeve just a bit to take a way a bit off the “puckering”. Leave the cuffs the same but decrease the amount of fabric attached to them.

Woven Meets Knit Linden Pullover

Woven Meets Knit Linden Pullover

There are sure to be more of these hybrid Lindens in my future, maybe I’ll try one with French Terry next time? This project has also encouraged me to really go after these knit/woven combo garments- watch for more to come this summer! I’m thinking maybe a new Lane Raglan next…

Michelle

Day Nine: Cozy Cowl

On the Ninth Day of Sewing…

We are in the home stretch of the 12 Days of Sewing. For today’s gift idea we thought about something extra toasty to keep you warm on a chill day- a cozy cowl. The question was… how do we want to construct it? Then we had the great idea to use the same technique that we used in for Day Three’s Infinity Scarves and they turned out perfect! So quick and easy to sew, these snuggly neck warmers are a great last minute gift. You could sew up a few of them in just an evening!

Cozy Cowls using Faux Fur and Shearling

Cozy Cowls using Faux Fur and Shearling

For our cozy cowl we chose two soft and warm fabrics, a cotton flannel and faux shearling. We cut our fabrics to be 12″ x 30″- for wide fabrics you get 2 cowls with just a 1/3 yard of each!

Cowl Supplies

Cowl Supplies

Layer the two pieces, right sides together, and pin along both long edges. Stitch each side using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Pinned layers of the cowl.

Pinned layers of the cowl.

Just like the infinity scarves, pull one end of the cowl up through the middle matching the raw edges of both ends. You will be matching up the like fabrics- flannel to flannel and shearling to shearling. Take care to match up both seams and pin securely.

Carefully stitch the layers together starting just before one of the seams. We started on the flannel side- we thought it would be easier to whip stitch the opening closed on the flannel than the plush shearling. Leave about a 3 to 4″ opening for turning when you get all the way around. Turn the cowl right side out and whip stitch the opening closed.

Remaining opening to whip stitch closed.

Remaining opening to whip stitch closed.

This shearling cowl went together so quickly we sewed up another one right away using faux fur and a coordinating woven. You can totally customize this project with any combination of fabrics. The shearling is a nice choice for one side since it is so plush and warm but it would be great paired with any knit or woven.

Here are our finished cowls- you can even wear them as a hood for even more warmth.

We also used the same technique of using two fabrics to make another infinity scarf, with the full width of the fabrics. We chose matching sweater knit dots– so that the two sides ended up being reversed. Another great project and gift!

Opposites attract- dot knit infinity scarf.

Opposites attract- dot knit infinity scarf.

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 9th Only! Save 20% on select warm and cozy fabrics and our Precision Stiletto is just $10! Shop Here

Day Seven: Fringed Scarf & Throw

On the Seventh Day of Sewing…

We are giving the sewing machine a break again today and making a simple, but very cozy, fringed scarf. On trend for the cool weather, this scarf can be made from a warm flannel, wool or other plush woven. Anything that is soft and warm and that you can separate and pull the threads to make fringe. We have found there is something very therapeutic about fringing fabric- once you start, you just want to keep going- Fringed scarves for all!

Fringed Mammoth Flannel Scarf

Fringed Mammoth Flannel Scarf

For our scarf, we cut a square of this wonderfully thick Mammoth flannel. It is roughly 44″ wide, so start with 1-1/4 yards. Next, cut off both selvages and square up the piece. It is very important that the grain of your fabric be square, otherwise when you go to fringe the edges, your fringe will be all different lengths and will end up crooked.

Close up of one corner on fringed scarf.

Close up of one corner on fringed scarf.

Once you have your piece all squared up, carefully start separating the threads at one corner (Note: If you need a little help getting started or along the way, the point on a good seam ripper can be very handy). You will basically unweave the fabric along the edges. Get a thread or two, going one direction, separated from the rest and pull them all the way out. Repeat this process a couple threads at a time until the fringe is the desired length. We gave all four sides of our scarf 1″ fringe. Note: If you wanted to add fringe to a particular side- take care to only pull/remove the edge threads running parallel to the desired side.

For the flannel that we used, we didn’t find it necessary to secure the threads in any way due to the tightness of the weave. If you feel your fabric might continue to unravel, use a row of short machine stitches just above your fringe to secure things in place and prevent any further separation.

Completed fringed flannel scarf.

Completed fringed flannel scarf.

Like I said, fringing can be very addicting- after completing our cozy plaid scarf, we took this “project” a step farther and created a soft throw to use during the holiday season. Again, we only used 1-1/4 yards, creating a throw approximately 45″ x 58″ (Note this was a wider fabric). You can make your scarf or throw any size and the fringe any length- it is all personal preference and what will suit your desired use or look. Our official “Blog Dog,” Toby, kind of adopted the finished tartan throw as his own… he loves anything that is soft and cuddly that he can snuggle up with! Guess I know what he is getting for Christmas…

Fringed throw with our official "Blog Dog."

Fringed throw with our official “Blog Dog.”

Either of these projects would make great gifts this holiday season. And so easy to finish when you have some down time- a perfect TV or movie project!

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 7th Only! Save 20% on All Plaids and our Favorite Seam Ripper is just $3.50 Shop Here

Day Six: Tote Bag

On the Sixth Day of Sewing…

We took inspiration from one of our favorite fabrics in the shop. This tape measure canvas has been calling to us for some time now to make it into a tote bag and today was the perfect day to do just that. You can never have too many tote bags- especially adorable ones like this! An easy project to complete in just a few hours, this handy tote bag would make a great handmade gift for anyone on your list.

Gift Idea: Canvas Tote Bag

Gift Idea: Canvas Tote Bag

Here are our instructions and tips for sewing this amazing tote bag. It includes one of our favorite methods for bag construction- a bit unusual but it will change you sewing life! At least it did for us when we first learned it.

Tote Bag Tutorial:

Note: All seam allowances are 3/8″ unless otherwise noted.

1. Gather your supplies- cutting tools, matching thread and fabric amounts listed below:

  • 2/3 yd for bag exterior- we prefer canvas or other durable fabric (you can take a lighter fabric and fuse interfacing to the wrong side to strengthen it)
  • 5/8 yd for bag lining- this can be any weight woven
  • 1/4 yd for bag contrast- canvas or other durable fabric is preferred
  • 1/3 yd for bag handles- canvas or other durable fabric is preferred
  • Fabrics used here: Measuring Tape Canvas, Plaid Sateen, Brushed Twill Magenta, Cotton Twill Black

2. Cut out your pieces.

  • Cut (2) 18″ squares from exterior fabric
  • Cut (2) 18″ squares from lining fabric
  • Cut (2) 7″ x 18″ rectangles from contrast fabric
  • Cut (4) 2-1/2″ x 27″ from handle fabric
Cut tote bag pieces.

Cut tote bag pieces.

3. If desired- fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the exterior pieces and (2) handle pieces. (We did this on ours for a more stable tote.)

4. Prepare the handles.

  • With right sides together, match up (2) handle pieces and stitch along both long sides. Carefully turn handle right side out and press. Repeat for other handle.
  • Topstitch the length of both sides of each handle using a 1/4″ seam.
  • Find the center of each handle and make a mark 2″ on either side. Fold the handle in half and stitch along the open edge between the two marks. This creates a nice hand hold.
Sewn handles.

Sewn handles.

5. Prepare other pieces.

  • Exterior and lining- cut a 2″ square out of the bottom (2) corners of each lining and exterior piece. This will be used to create the gusset/bottom of the tote during a later step.
  • Press contrast pieces in half lengthwise, wrong sides together- they should measure 3-1/2″ x 18″ when folded.
Preparing the Exterior and Lining Pieces.

Preparing the Exterior and Lining Pieces.

6. Attaching the handles.

  • Find the center of each exterior piece along the top edge. Center both handle ends along this edge, right sides together, spacing them approximately 4″ apart. Pin in place.
  • Lay a contrast piece over the top, unfolded, and pin along the top edge. The handles should now be sandwiched between the exterior and the contrast band. Stitch in place and press seam toward the exterior.
Attached Handles- between exterior and contrast

Attached Handles- between exterior and contrast pieces.

7. Attach Lining- stitch each lining piece to the opposite side of the unfolded contrast band. Press seam toward the lining. You should now have two halves of your tote that look something like this.

One half of the tote bag.

Completed one half of the tote bag.

8. Now for the cool part! Sewing the bag together.

  • Match up the two halves, right sides together and carefully pin all the way around. Take extra care to match up any seams and pin securely.
  • Stitch all four sides leaving a 4″ opening in the bottom seam of the lining for turning. Leave the (4) cut out corners unstitched.
  • Carefully press all seams open.
Sewing the two tote bag halves together.

Two tote bag halves pinned right sides together.

9. Creating the gussets.

  • At each corner, match up the raw edges and seams creating a new seam- pin carefully.
  • Stitch across each of the new seams being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end for security.

10. Turn bag right side out and tuck the lining inside the bag, folding the contrast band along the pressed fold. Topstitch around the top of the exterior fabric using a 1/8″ seam. Also topstitch each handle in place to the contrast band.

Topstitched exterior and bag handles.

Topstitched exterior and bag handles.

11. Hand stitch the opening in the lining closed and your tote bag is complete!

We hope you love this tote bag as much as we do. Isn’t that a cool way to construct a bag- two halves make a whole in a couple of easy steps! A great gift idea for fellow seamstresses, readers or really anyone who loves a good tote! Customize the fabric to suit their personality or how they will use it and this bag is sure to be a winner!

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 6th Only! Save 20% on select twills and canvas. Plus, get 2 sets of our favorite pattern weights for just $35! Shop Here

1 2