Category Archives: Monterey Bay Apron

Working with 1/4″-wide double-fold bias tape (Part 3)

Part 1 of this tutorial, joining two lengths of bias tape, is available here.
Part 2 of this tutorial, overlapping ends of bias tape on an apron, is available here.

Part 3, Joining ends of bias tape on an apron

If you have ever finished attaching binding on a quilt by joining the two loose ends with a diagonal seam and then sewing the newly-joined strip to the quilt edge, this method will look familiar. On a quilt edge, you are normally working with binding that’s at least 2″ wide, 1″ when folded. On an apron edge, you are working with bias tape that’s 1″ wide and a mere quarter-inch when folded. That makes finishing the seam both challenging and time-consuming but the result is a seam that is almost invisible. Take a look at the bias trim on this apron belt piece:

Look for the Diagonal Seam

On my Monterey Bay Apron, I use the overlapping method (described in Part 2 of this tutorial) on the inside edge around the neckline. There’s just no straight stretch long enough to accommodate the method described below. But you can use this method on the outer edge of the apron (along the bottom front, for example) and on both belt pieces. Look for straight lines on other apron patterns using bias tape to see where the most unobtrusive joining spots are.

Remember that ¼”-wide double-fold bias tape is pressed in such a way that one side of the tape is slightly narrower than the other (from the fold to the outside edge). The narrow side always goes on the right side of the fabric. When the fabric of the apron is inserted into the fold of the bias tape, the wider side of the tape, underneath, is always caught in the line of stitching from the top.

1. Leave 6″ between the beginning and ending points of stitching and leave 6″ tails on each side. Make a mark at the midpoint on the apron and 3″ from the starting point of stitching on the right-hand tail. The marks should be at the same point, as shown below:

Marking the Midpoint
Allowing 6″ between the beginning and ending points of stitching leaves enough room to manipulate the loose ends of the binding before they are joined, and the binding strip after joining is short enough that it can be stitched to the apron edge without getting distorted.

2. Press the right-hand tail open about an inch and a half from the end. Don’t try to press the fold lines completely out. With the right side up, make a diagonal cut as shown about 1/4″ to the left of the mark on the bias tape:

Trimming the Right-Hand Tail

3. Lay the left-hand tail over the edge of the fabric. Lay the right-hand tail on top. With a removable marking pen or pencil, make a diagonal mark next to the cut edge of the right-hand tail.

Marking the Left-Hand Tail

4. Open out the left-hand tail and press open about an inch and a half from the end. With right side up, draw a diagonal line exactly 1/2″ to the right of the mark made in Step 3. Cut along that line.

Trimming the Left-Hand Tail

This is what the two cut ends should look like:

Left and Right-Hand Tails Cut on the Diagonal

5. With right sides together, pin the two ends as shown, overlapping 1/4″ at each end.

Pinning the Seam
Be sure ends are not twisted!

6. Draw two lines 1/4″ apart on a small scrap of paper. Lay the pinned edges of bias tape on top, aligning the two cut edges with the line on the right. Leaving tails at both ends, sew a 1/4″ seam, using the drawn lines as guides. Use 15 stitches to the inch or 2.0 on a computerized machine.

Sewing the Seam — on Paper

7. Gently tear the paper away. Trim seam to a scant 1/4″ and press open. Trim dog ears from seam but leave thread tails in place. Carefully press folds back into place, using just the tip of the iron. Be very careful not to stretch or distort the length of tape.

Pressing Folds Back into Place
In the photo above, you are looking at the back side. You can tell it’s the back because the stitching is not as close to the inside folded edge of the bias tape.

8. Now open the bias tape and trim the thread tails. On the right side, encase raw edge of fabric between the folded edges of the bias tape and finish stitching the seam, beginning and ending with tiny stitches.

Behold: The Finished Seam

 

Posted in aprons, bias tape, Monterey Bay Apron, tutorial, update | 4 Comments

Working with 1/4″-wide double-fold bias tape (Part 2)

(Part 1 of this tutorial, joining two lengths of bias tape, is available here.)

Part 2, Overlapping ends of bias tape on an apron

Several of the vintage apron patterns in my small collection feature aprons edged in double-fold bias tape. As I was working on my Monterey Bay Apron pattern, I consulted my vintage patterns to compare notes on how the edges were finished. To my surprise, none of them – not a single one – explained in detail how to finish the edges. “Turn under one end” was the most common instruction. I tried that, every way I could think of. The result was always a lumpy bump (a bumpy lump?) where the edges overlapped. After much experimentation I was finally satisfied with two methods. The first method is described below, and the second method is described in Part 3 of this tutorial (coming soon).

I really like the method I am showing you here because it’s fast and easy. It leaves one cut edge of bias tape exposed but the cut is made perpendicular to the folded edges of the tape, i.e. on the bias, so it won’t ravel. It leaves a crisp clean finish, but you can cover the cut edge with a tiny satin stitch if you wish. Here’s what the joined ends looks like:

Bias tape ends joined

Before you begin, determine where on the apron you want the bias edges to be joined. Look for straight stretches of fabric at least 4” long. My Monterey Bay Apron pattern calls for the bias tape ends to be joined in the places least likely to be noticed: on the back left inside neckline just below the shoulder seam, on the front right side close to the curve along the bottom edge, and in the middle of both apron belt pieces. Look for straight lines on other apron patterns using bias tape to see where the most unobtrusive joining spots are.

Remember that ¼”-wide double-fold bias tape is pressed in such a way that one side of the tape is slightly narrower than the other (from the fold to the outside edge). The narrow side always goes on the right side of the fabric. When the fabric of the apron is inserted into the fold of the bias tape, the wider side of the tape, underneath, is always caught in the line of stitching from the top.

1. On a straight stretch of fabric, insert fabric into the fold of the bias tape. Leaving a 2” tail of bias tape, insert the needle right next to the folded edge of the tape. Take two or three individual stitches to start. Continue stitching right next to the fold, stopping every inch or so to insert more fabric into the fold of bias tape and to adjust for any curves. 

Leaving 2″ tail

2. Stop stitching 3” from the starting point. Change stitch length to almost zero and take two or three tiny stitches. Clip threads. Cut off the excess bias tape, leaving a 3” tail from the end of stitching.

3″ tail on left, 3″ between beginning and ending stitches

3. Trim the right-hand tail to 1½”:

Right-hand tail trimmed to 1 1/2″

4. Trim the left-hand tail so that it overlaps the right tail by ½”. The cut should be perpendicular to the folded edges of the bias tape.

Tails overlapping by 1/2″

5. Cover the tape on the right side with the tape from the left side. Using the point of a small sharp-pointed instrument such as a stiletto (I use a bamboo skewer), coax open about an inch of the first fold of the bias tape on top and tuck it under the bias tape beneath it:

Fold of bias tape on top tucked under bias tape on bottom

6. Do the same thing on the back side:

Tucking under fold of tape on the back

7. Finish sewing the bias tape to the apron, beginning and ending with tiny stitches as shown:

Bias tape ends joined

And there you have it! In Part 3, I’ll show you how to join ends of bias tape on an apron using a diagonal seam, similar to finishing the binding on a quilt but with the added challenge of using inch-wide bias tape with multiple folds. This method is quite labor-intensive but it is definitely do-able and the result is a seam that is almost invisible.

 

Posted in aprons, bias tape, Monterey Bay Apron, tutorial, update | 1 Comment

Summer All Year ‘Round

A lot of folks think that summer ends with Labor Day. Here in the Pacific Northwest, where it usually doesn’t feel like summer till well after the Fourth of July, we hang on to summer as long as we can, and we are often rewarded with a few more weeks of glorious weather. The advent of fall is measured not so much by a holiday or page on a calendar as it is by the first evening we reluctantly close the windows and turn the heat on.

Fall officially begins tomorrow, Sept. 22. It will be nine long months before we can celebrate the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. You can bet I am savoring every ray of sunlight, even as the days grow noticeably shorter and the nights noticeably cooler.

In the middle of winter, when it’s raining and already dark by 5 pm, I want to remember what the tomatoes from our garden looked, smelled and tasted like just minutes off the vine . . .

summer bounty

. . . and what the hydrangeas in the back yard looked like at 9 pm in the middle of July:

summer beauty

 

Happily, I just finished making an apron for myself that combines all of the colors in the photos above, so I can carry a bit of summer with me all year ’round:

Dawn’s Monterey Bay Apron

 

 

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Working with 1/4″-wide double-fold bias tape (Part 1)

Part 1, Joining two lengths of bias tape

“Working with 1/4″-wide double-fold bias tape.” You may think that’s an overly-specific title for a tutorial but I have discovered that not all bias tape is created equal, and different widths behave differently depending on how they are sewn. I like the finished look of ¼”-wide double-fold bias tape and used it on my Monterey Bay Apron. I find it easy to handle, and I really like the way it just hugs the inner and outer curves. Here’s a close-up:

curves ahead? No problem!

I insert the raw edge of my fabric between the folded edges of the bias tape and stitch once to hold both sides down, rather than opening the tape up, stitching one side to the raw edge of the fabric and then turning it to the back and stitching again. Encasing the edge of fabric in the tape leaves a beautiful finish on both sides of the garment and is much faster than the other method. Take a look:

Encased edges. Top is right side of belt, bottom is wrong side

The process of joining two lengths of bias tape is almost identical to joining two strips of fabric for a quilt binding. Double-fold bias tape comes in a package with three folds already pressed firmly in place, however, so handling it can be a bit tricky. (I’ve made my own bias tape but find that the tight weave and the crisply pressed folds of the packaged tape make it easier to handle.)

Quarter-inch double-fold bias tape starts out an inch wide. Each long end is pressed 1/8” under and then the remaining strip is pressed in half . . . but not precisely in half. It’s pressed in such a way that one side of the tape is slightly narrower than the other (from the fold to the outside edge). The narrow side always goes on the right side of the fabric. The wider side, underneath, is always caught in the line of stitching from the top. You can clearly see that in the photo above.

Since a package of bias tape normally contains four yards, you may be wondering why it would it be necessary to join two lengths. Well, many apron patterns require more than one package to go all the way around an outside edge. Not wanting to be wasteful is another good reason. If two shorter lengths of bias tape will make a piece long enough for a specific purpose, why open another package?

1. Lay two ends of bias tape next to each other on the ironing board, narrow side up: 

two ends, narrow side up

 

2. Press each end open about an inch and a half from the end. Don’t try to press the fold lines completely out:

End piece pressed open

A straight pin helps hold the tape in place on the ironing board.

3. Without changing the position of the strips on the ironing board, turn the ends so the right sides are up:

Right sides up

I’ve written an R on the corners with a removable ink pen to indicate the right side. You can also easily distinguish the right side by the fold lines.

4. With right sides together, lay the left strip on top of the right strip at a right angle. Overlap edges slightly as shown. This makes it a bit easier to handle, since the bias tape is only an inch wide:

Right sides together at right angle

 

5. Draw a diagonal line from the upper right to the lower left corner, using a pen or pencil with removable marking lines. Pin in place:

Stitching line marked, pins inserted

 

6. Stitch the two strips together along the diagonal line, leaving a tail at each end to keep the seam intact. Use 15 stitches to the inch or 2.0 on a computerized machine. I used a contrasting thread for illustration purposes only; thread should be matched to the color of the bias tape.

Seam sewn

Because the tape was originally cut on the bias, the diagonal seam is on the straight of grain.

7. Trim seam to a scant ¼”, being careful to leave the tails on thread. Press seam open:

Seam trimmed and pressed open

 

8. Trim the dog ears – but leave those thread tails on. Press all three folds back into place, using just the tip of the iron. Be very careful not to stretch or distort the length of tape.

Dog ears trimmed, folds partially pressed back in place

 

9. Now open the bias tape and trim the thread tails:

Thread tails ready to be trimmed

 

10. A final press and voila! A beautifully joined seam, ready to be sewn onto your project.

Finished bias seam

 

In Parts 2 and 3 of this tutorial, coming soon, I’ll show you two methods of joining the ends of bias tape where they meet on an apron.

 

Posted in aprons, bias tape, Monterey Bay Apron, tutorial, update | 9 Comments

Introducing . . . the Monterey Bay Apron

My newest pattern, the Monterey Bay Apron, makes its debut this Friday, Sept. 14, at the Pine Needle’s Fall Festival Open House! I am so excited that the pattern is finally ready. Here it is in its little plastic envelope, ready to be displayed in the shop:

My Newest Pattern

I’ve had the design for this apron in my mind for almost three years but started seriously working on it just in the last year. In a future post I’ll tell you how the design process evolved; for now I’ll just say that inspiration struck in an aquarium, of all places. You can guess which one.

The apron pictured below, made from a charming line of fabric called “All About Coffee” from Exclusively Quilters, is hanging in the Pine Needle right now.

Coffee, anyone?

I learned a lot about using 1/4″-wide double-fold bias tape while developing this pattern. So much so that I will be posting a tutorial on it in the next few days.

The Pine Needle’s Open House runs from 10 am to 5 pm Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15. I’ll be there a good bit of the time both days. If you are in the Portland metro area, please stop by! The Pine Needle is in Lake Oswego, just a few minutes from downtown Portland.

 

Posted in aprons, Monterey Bay Apron, tutorial, update | 4 Comments