THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

May 15, 2006

Graduation Dress – Part 3

Filed under: Fit/Pattern Alterations,Pattern Reviews,Tutorials — thesewingdivas @ 12:10 pm

by Diva Gigi 

I add spaghetti string ties to my garments whenever possible so I was excited that this pattern called for them. They are so fun and flirty! When I first started sewing I struggled endlessly with ties and started avoiding them whenever possible. Mine were always uneven, hard to control under the presser foot and, if I managed to actually sew a decent one, I popped some of the stitches while turning it. Sound familiar?

Here’s the method I use now. It is super easy and gives me great results every time. First, I start with a wide strip of fabric – anywhere from 1″ to 2″ wide, it doesn’t really matter. Cut these strips with your rotary cutter and a quilting ruler. When I am working with a knit I generally cut in the direction of the least amount of stretch (the lengthwise grain in this case). If you cut with the stretch your ties may end up a bit curly. If you’re working with a woven you’ll want to cut your ties on the true bias.

Now for the sewing. I find a 1/4″ (or patchwork) foot indispensible for this task. I set my machine to a small zigzag (.5mm width and 1mm to 1.5mm length). Using a zigzag will prevent stitches from popping. Next, simply fold your fabric strip in half right sides together and run the fold of the strip along the edge of the presser foot. This is much more accurate than using the cut edge as your guide. I also find it helpful to sew a funnel shape at the top or bottom of the strip – a wider “mouth” makes it easier to start turning the tube. Build some give into your tubes by stretching the fabric as you sew.

Once you have finished sewing the tube simply trim the excess fabric about 1/8″ away from the stitching. Now you are ready to turn it. I usually use the old-fashioned latch-hook loop turner but sometimes I’ll cut a small slit in the tube near the top and use a bobby pin instead. As you can see in the photograph, I have bent out the loop at the bottom of my loop turner. This allows it to accommodate longer lengths of tubing.

Sometimes you’ll have trouble turning certain fabrics that aren’t slippery – fabrics that want to stick to themselves. These will turn more easily if you will spray them lightly with silicone.

The last step is to steam your tubes well. I also like to gently press them by pinning them to the ironing board. If you’re working with bias you’ll want to pin one end to your ironing board and stretch well as you steam press, using a pin to secure the opposite end. Allow each section to cool and dry before you move on.

It goes without saying that, if you want to make very narrow string ties (or button loops), you’ll need to experiment with different feet (I’d try the all-purpose foot) and move the needle over to give you the desired width.



  1. This post has been removed by the author.

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — May 15, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

  2. Sorry, I managed to do a major typo – let me try again:

    Great directions Gigi! So are you making the tie version in the drawing on the pattern front?

    Love it!

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — May 15, 2006 @ 6:19 pm

  3. Ahhh, so nice to come home after a loong day of IT issues, to find an easy to follow, concise and logical tutorial with new ideas. I had never considered using silicon spray before. Gigi, thank you!

    Comment by Mary Beth — May 15, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

  4. Thanks for writing down this tip. It’s so much easier to make them this way. I’ve done it your way ever since you suggested it one time. Thanks so much and I can’t wait to see your dress!! -Jeanette

    Comment by jemgirlca — May 16, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

  5. I’m not a person who has any success with sewing and this worked for me! I can’t believe how long I have been trying to make teeny tubes by using teeny fabric strips. Cutting them AFTER–what a great idea!

    Comment by quinncreative — June 26, 2008 @ 10:38 am

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