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, stay as in keeping things from moving or stretching. 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 trim and 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! Ever notice how pins make your zipper kind of lumpy to sew on? Use Wonder Tape and some interfacing and your zip will be as smooth as can be.
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. Great for those with sensory issues.
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.
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