Monday, January 12, 2015

NLS #13, Tape Talk




What do you really need in the way of notions when you first start sewing? Not too much really, some good scissors, pins, a marker or two.  But as your garments get a little more involved you  may find your pattern specifies a notion or two that you are not familiar with. What is that stuff? What is grosgrain, twill tape, washaway tape, and more? Do I really need these things? These items can seem a bit mysterious to a new sewist.  Can I wing it my way, which is a way I haven't discovered yet?  What are substitutes?  So many tapes, so little time! Here's a rundown of some tape type notions you may need one day or even every time you make a garment. You won't find any info on elastic "tapes" or quilting related info. We are talking garments here and elastics later.

Why Tape Talk? This weekend I did a bit of oganizing in the studio. My various tapes seemed to jump out at me and the light went on. We'll do Tape Talk.

There are so many different types of tapes used in sewing. First there is bias tape. It can come pre-packaged or you can make your own like you see in the dish above.  Wrights makes the tapes that most of us are familiar with. Most are made with poly cotton blends today.  But if you can find some vintage bias tapes they are 100% cotton.  Gotta love those prices! These were a gift from a dear friend along with the DMC case to hold them.


Retail bias tapes come in various styles, There are w i d e  blanket bindings out of satin or cotton poly. There are single fold bias tapes which are what we traditionally think of when we bind a collar or armhole. Double fold bias tapes are just that, folded into the center so double the amount of fabric. Both double and single fold bias tapes come in a huge variety of solid colors and in 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch and wider varieties. The 1/4 inch tape is great for making swirly designs, scallops, etc on the skirt of a child's garment. You would secure the tape down and then just topstitch on either side. When using your pattern to get all you need for your project, check the notions list on the back. It will tell you exactly what kind and how much you need to purchase. Follow the pattern till you get more experience or venture out and make your own bias binding. I make 95% of all the binding I use, therefore the well stocked drawers. But once you learn how to make your own bias bindings you won't go back. You can use nearly any fabric and get exactly what you want, not just solid colors picked by Wrights. I have tried many ways to make bias binding over the years and have finally settled on the method that gives the most accuracy in cutting and is the easiest to achieve. Here's my preferred method for when you need lots of bias binding. When you need just a little bit, ie, a child's tiny neckline or sleeve cuff, simply cut your strips with a rotary cutter on the diagonal of your fabric, quick and done.

Other retail tapes are lace hem tapes, a nice touch on a lining hem. Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic uses this method and it is a lovely accent.

This Soft and Easy hem tape is a poly and feels stiff to  me. I am not a fan. But in the right situation it may be the right answer. I would preshrink/wash any of these tapes before using. I find Wrights tapes to have a tremendous amount of sizing in them. I don't like that so wash it out. Just lay the tape, cardboard and all, in a sink of warm water with a drop of dish liquid, swish and let soak till room temperature. You can then slip out the cardboard and let the tape dry flat in the sun the way it is wound on the cardboard.



Hug Snug is a tape I really really like. Why? Its made of rayon. It is washable, It is comfortable against the skin and it gives a lovely finish to a hem. Disadvantage? depends. It comes on 100 yard spools for a ten spot but can be found on Etsy by some genius entrepreneur who has cut it shorter and therefore sells it for less in smaller quantities but actually more in comparison. Highly recommend. A hem sewn with this on the edge is close to invisible.

Let's move away from hems and bindings to some tapes that do other things for us sewists.

This is twill tape. It comes a half inch or 1/4 inch wide. IT HAS NO GIVE. It is used to stay necklines, waistbands, armhole seams and more. The 1/4 inch wide is used to make the roll on a tailored lapel collar. I like using twill tape to stay edges that are doomed to stretch bigtime, particularly in tailored garments. Cut a piece of twill tape the exact length of the area to be taped minus the seam allowances, in other words, around the neckline but no SA at CF. Use your pattern to get the exact measurement. The wise sewist, which I am often NOT, will tape the seam ON THE SEAM LINE, pinning the ends of the cut tape to the neckline or such right where the SA ends and do this before getting deep into the project and stretching it out. But more often than not I think of this technique later when I realize I need it. I cut the tape, measuring against the pattern as mentioned,  then pin each end to each end of the seam I am staying. I then pin again in the middle of the tape, then divide those halves into halves again and keep pinning. I keep dividing the areas into halves and pinning until the  neckline is under control and all eased in to the stay tape. Then I will fell stitch the tape down to control it and bring back in line the stretched out area. It won't stretch any more!  This technique is great for slanted pockets on pants, center fronts on stretch fabrics, collars, armholes, any place prone to stretch out.

Wash Away Wonder Tape, above, is one of my most favorite notions ever and I would be lost without it. It is double sided sticky, a 1/4 inch wide and washes out. It is FABULOUS for inserting zippers, applying trims, acts like a third hand to keep buttons stable while sewing on and so much more. I find I use it a lot for all sorts of things and stock up when I have a fifty percent coupon. I highly recommend this for beginners, particularly when installing zippers. Use Wonder Tape, not pins!

Above are 5/8 inch nylon tricot tapes, not fusible, not sticky, just tape and called Seams Great. These are used for binding edges where no bulk is wanted. They are great for putting in the clothes of little ones who don't like itchy seams. To use, you pull the tape while on the spool and it will curl in a certain direction. The is the way you will wrap it around the seam allowance raw edge. Sew for about a 1/4 inch then slightly pull the tape to curve around and hug your seam edge while you stitch it in a 1/4 inch seam. A little work but a very nice finish to an otherwise itchy edge.


Another big favorite of mine is above, "Batting Fusing Tape". It can be found in the quilting notions area of your big chain stores. It is GREAT for hemlines on knits. It stretches very little and has some oomph to it with it's brushed finish. It is fusible. I fuse it to my hem edge, matching raw edges on the wrong side. Fuse, Turn up and topstitch on the front for a great hem on your latest tee. You can also get it 1 1/2 inches wide as well if you like deeper hems and cuffs. I really like the finish this gives a hem and much prefer it to  Steam A Seam in knit hems. I find the SAS can be stiff and can flare. This tape just hangs beautifully with no stiffness. Highly recommend.

 Tapes starting to all look alike? Bear with me, ;) . This little nugget above is 1/4 inch masking tape. I like to use it to mark faux leathers, and for marking topstitching. It is inexpensive, seems to never run out and makes a perfect 1/4 inch seam in places that are difficult to mark. It is easy to damage faux leathers but this tape doesn't.

Above we have  a roll of tape, coming apart, of Stitch Witchery. One side sticks to the fabric and the other side is fusible to iron the two areas together. I use to buy a lot of this but now I simply cut Steam A Seam sheets into strips in the widths I need. I find the SAS is much sturdier that SWery and can take washing and drying much better. I cut a bunch of strips every now and the and just stick my tapes in a jar to pull out when needed, which seems to be pretty often. Again, great for positioning trims and zippers and those quickie hem fixes. Many use if for knit hems but I prefer the softer thicker batting tape for that.

 If you can find it, Tiger Tape is great to have on hand, particularly for those who like hand picked zippers or topstitching. Heirloom sewists love this as well. Tiger Tape is a 1/4 inch tape marked every quarter inch with black lines. It is great for handwork that requires precision spacing, like  those hand picked zips. It is hard to find. Martha Pullen had it for a while. You can order some here.

There are so many types of tapes to help your get professional results with your sewing. Learn to make your own bias binding. Use twill tape to control stretching in more tailored garments or jeans waistbands. Wash Away Wonder Tape will get you to love zipper installations without using a single pin. And Fusible Batting Tape will make for a lovely hem on your knit tops.

There are many more tapes out there and those will be for another day. These are the ones I depend on. Buy them as you need them and give them a try.

All of this information is my personal experienced opinion and nothing more. I have no affiliation with any of these products or their manufacturers other than I want you to know about them. I like it that way. Till the next time.............Bunny

33 comments:

  1. Thanks for the summary. We have an old clothing factory in town and my dad found a whole roll of snug hug on the floor! (It is in the process of being converted into a market, he wasn't just creeping around an old factory lol.) It really is the best stuff.

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    1. Lucky you and how great your Dad knew you might like it.

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  2. Thanks for providing this. One of the key things I taught my boys was how to use fusing tape to hem pants.

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    1. Many mothers have done this! Love a man who can fix his own hems.

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  3. Thanks for this info. A few, new to me and I will check them out.

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  4. Thank you for this post. The most comprehensive, best written on fusibles!

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  5. Thank you. Very helpful. Now I need to find a UK supplier. I've tried for ages to get nylon tricot tape but maybe using name 'Seams Great' I'll have more luck. I'm right in saying this can be used for Hong Kong finish? That's what I want it for.

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    1. Occasionally you will see out on the web the suggestion to cut your own out of fusi-knit type fusible tricot interfacing. I've tried this numerous times and find the strips curl up to the point of ruin as soon as I cut them. Maybe it's my rotary cutter and you could try scissors for better results. I'll have to give that a go. If the scissors work, you will have the same thing without searching out the product in the UK. Good luck.

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  6. Thank you, very useful. And i came across tiger tape today, didn't know what you'd use it for. Now I wish I'd picked some up, would have been perfect for the Alabama Chanin stitching I'm trying.

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    1. Definitely! Her designs are so popular right now and this would be perfect to get the stitching uniform. Care to share your resource?

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    2. Amazon has it, as does equilter.com. Though I think part of the Chanin charm is somewhat uneven stitches for the hand-sewn look.

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  7. One of the handiest posts I've ever read. I have been trying since forever to figure out how to stabilize knit collars! Do you use anything special if you're stabilizing t-shirt collars made from the same jersey fabric?

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    1. You can stabilize a knit collar several ways. Twill tape is not for knits other than maybe a golf shirt type of knit, IMO. I think it is too bulky for some of the lighter weight knits and could show lumps and bumps. For knits that are more like ITYs and Pontes I would use FUSIBLE knit tricot tape. It stretches to a point but the fusing will help stabilize the neckline. The other option is sewing in to the seam a length of clear elastic. Stretch out the clear elastic before you stitch it in. It's available at the chains but the good kind that doesn't lose it's stretch over time or dry out is from Fashion Sewing Supply.

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  8. Great information, thank you. Oddly, my local sewing shop doesn't sell lace tape, which is what I learned to use when I was growing up. Many great tips here I was not familiar with.

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  9. Thank you! I look forward to trying some of these, especially the batting tape in place of the steam-a-seam. I don't like the way it flares, either.

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  10. Wow, Bunny, I learned something new today! I've always used light-weight stitch witchery to help hem my knits as I don't like steam a seam. Now I'll try your advice and purchase some batting fusing tape. Thanks.

    Karent

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  11. Thanks for reviewing all the tapes, Bunny. I'm familiar with most of them but even some of those I'm not confident about the application. It would be great if you could show us some applications for the different tapes. Sometimes the words don't work for me and I need a picture or two!
    Thanks again.

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    1. That's a great idea and I think might be next week's post. Thank you for that.

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  12. I want to mount a Hermés silk scarf on an artist's canvas and hang it on my wall. My plan is to hand sew it, with silk thread. But how to I keep it perfectly straight and centered? Could I use a tape of some kind to hold it in place which I could later remove? I dont want to ruin the scarf. I'm afraid to use temporary spray adhesive or basting glue. Any thoughts?

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    1. I definitely would not use any sort of glue. I would mark your canvas, which would be cut yardage, not yet framed. It would have the corners marked and the center of each side. Iron your scarf to find the same and then match the two pieces up and baste together. I would then flat fell stitch it to the canvas. I have only one worry with this - that the silk over the canvas or whatever you use underneath, would be prone to billowing out. Bast the two pieces together and see what happens before doing the handwork and mounting. Good luck.

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  13. Thanks Bunny, it's useful to read this for those of us who can't get most of these products, so I know what other bloggers are talking about! :) We gave up on steam a seam tape also in favour of cutting our own. I am trying to find a wholesale source of seam binding tape but so far no luck. Our bias is actually made in NZ so we sell it by the metre, which is great, but when people come and ask for a packet because that's what their pattern specifies, we can never remember how much a packet usually is! (this is very common for recipes too, as we are more likely to have a loose version than a sacheted up version of an ingredient) So I ow feel a lot better educated! :)

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  14. I went to Joann today and got Wash Away Wonder Tape and Batting Fusing Tape per your suggestions (quilting notions are 50% off this week!). I really love using Knit Fusible Stay Tape on knits. I order mine online from Londa's Creative Threads, but there may be other places to get it. It has made sewing knits so much easier. Thanks for this series!

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  15. Sew Keys also makes beautiful very, very fine knit and woven fusible stay tapes. Beautiful to work with.

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  16. Thanks for a very informative lesson....even as a seasoned sewer, I learned several tips. You are a very busy lady with all the projects you have in progress. A side note..couldn't help but notice the hobnail dish containing the tapes. Looks like a Fenton piece made in WV.

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  17. I bought it many years ago from a store that carried a lot of Fenton so it might be. I just can't remember. I've always been a bit of a glass collector.

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  18. Great post Bunny! It's hard to believe but in all of these tapes you missed my favorite: Design Plus Double Sided Ultra Soft Fusible. It changed my life with regards to invisible zippers. I use it instead of basting. It has a similar function to Steam a Seam, but is of much higher quality IMHO. Costs a bit more, but totally worth it!

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    1. I'm not familiar with that one at all. Where do you get yours? Thanks for your recommendation.

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    2. You can buy it online at The Sewing Place. http://www.thesewingplace.com/
      Fred Bloebaum recommended it to me years ago in a class. Haven't turned back since!

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  19. Thank you for a great post! I learned so much. The "Tape Talk" post does not appear under your Next Level Sewing tab, so it is a little difficult to find.
    I love your blog and read it faithfully.

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