Sewing Tips, Tutorials

How to Sew Perfect Scallops

I’ve been sewing a lot of projects with scalloped edges recently, and my new Highland Avenue House pattern features a scalloped roof. The pattern contains sewing tips to help you create clean and professional scallops. But there’s no reason not to share my tips with everyone. Would you like to learn how to sew perfect scallops? (Okay. We all know our sewing won’t be perfect, but that’s what people are searching for, right?)

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Sewing Scalloped Edges | Radiant Home Studio
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I’ll be using the top scallop from the Highland Avenue House to demonstrate, but the technique works for any scallops. You can even make your own scalloped edge using a cup or other round item. I won’t cover that in detail, but it’s pretty easy if you can measure precisely. (Or, check out this awesome quilting ruler that helps you to create perfect scalloped edges!)

Highland Avenue House Pillow Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

You’ll need your fabric, a hem gauge or ruler, a marking tool, and blunt pointed object to push out the edges.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

At the peak of each scallop, make a mark directly above the point. My seam allowance is 1/4″ so my mark is 1/4″ from the point. This will be your pivot point. If you are comfortable sewing an even curved line, that should be all of the marking you need.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

If you need a better guideline to get an even curve, go ahead and make a dotted line by measuring in 1/4″ and making dots along the edges.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Using a short straight stitch, begin sewing along the first curve using the dotted line as a guide. At the peak, where you marked the pivot point, leave your needle down in the fabric, raise the presser foot and turn the fabric to sew the next curve. Continue to the end.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

When you finish sewing, clip the curves. If the seam allowance is more than 1/4″, trim that as well. Clip into the peaks, as close to the stitches as you can, and cut the excess fabric out around each peak.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Turn the scallops right side out. The scallops will not look even yet. If you haphazardly press them at this point, you’ll have a very uneven scalloped edge. Don’t just plop the iron down on top of it!

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

To even out the curved seams, use a thin blunt object such as a paintbrush end or knitting needle.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Push the curves out using your pointed tool. It’s best if you can stretch each curve a little bit to get the seams lined up properly. I work in small sections, pushing out the curve, holding it in place, and pressing as I go. Working slowly and methodically while pressing is the key to getting (nearly) perfect scalloped edges.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Continue along the curved edge until you reach the end, working to get the curves as smooth as possible.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

If you like, you can also topstitch along the scalloped edge. Then add your scalloped detail to your sewing project!

You can use my Mini Highland House pattern to practice sewing scalloped edges. It’s a free gift when you subscribe to my newsletter!

Mini Highland House Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

Or try the Highland Avenue House Pattern

How to Sew Perfect Scalloped Edges | Radiant Home Studio

Highland Avenue House Pillow Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

P. S. If you can’t stop sewing scallops and want some more sewing ideas, you’ll love 18 Beautiful Scalloped Craft Projects!

Sewing, Tutorials

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter

Here’s a tutorial showing you how to make bias binding from a fat quarter. (After making these pencil pouches with the girls last week, I realized I needed a tutorial they could reference!) Why make your own? Well, store-bought bias binding is typically a poly/cotton blend of fabric. It’s a little bit stiff and can melt at high temperatures more quickly than cotton and linen. If you are making something like a pot holder, you’ll definitely want to use cotton binding so you don’t melt your hard work. (Yes. I learned this from experience…)

Store-bought binding typically comes only in solid colors, but when you make bias binding the design possibilities are endless. You can make your projects uniquely yours by adding extra pops of pattern with floral or striped bias binding. I used this method to make bias binding for the pencil pouches I made with the girls. I also shared this technique when I made the Hot Mitt House Potholder for Betz White’s blog.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

Starting with a fat quarter, you can make about 5 yds. of bias tape. There are many methods for doing this, but I find this method to be less confusing than some of the others I have tried.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter:

Materials:

1 fat quarter of quilting cotton
rotary cutter, quilting ruler, and cutting mat
iron and ironing board
bias tape maker (optional, but recommended)

Instructions:

1. Start by folding one corner of the fat quarter of fabric up diagonally and press.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

2. Cut along the diagonal crease using a rotary cutter and mat.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

3. Move the left piece over to the other side and match the straight edges. You should have a parallelogram.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

4. Align the straight edges right sides together, stitch and press.

5. Using a rotary cutter and mat, cut 2” strips of fabric across the diagonals. The last piece will probably be too small and can be discarded.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

6. Connect the strips using a ¼” seam, matching the ends as shown. See how the corners are offset by ¼”? It’s important to align the edges this way to account for the seam allowance and to ensure that you have a nice straight edge when you open it up.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

7. After stitching and pressing the strips together, trim the excess corner pieces.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

8. Push one end of the fabric through the wide end of the bias tape maker and pull it through to the narrow end. See the small, straight opening in the top of the bias tape maker? You can use a pin or seam ripper in that space to guide the fabric through to the opening. Adjust it until the fabric comes out folded equally on each side.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

9. Begin pressing the folds in place with a hot iron as you gently pull back the bias tape maker. Continue pulling and pressing in small sections until you reach the end of the fabric strip.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

10. At this point, you have single fold bias tape. To make double fold bias tape, fold the binding in half one more time and press as you go.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

When you finish, you’ll have about 5 yards of ½” double fold bias binding to use on your projects!

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

Though it’s a few minutes of extra work, making your own bias binding for your sewing projects is worth trying. You’ll have new design options and you’ll be able to make higher-quality binding than you can find at the craft store.

If you use the “pin it” button on your browser, you’ll find a hidden full-length step-by-step image to pin! Try it!

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio
Sewing Tips

5 Tips to Help Fix a Bag Lining That is Too Big!

Last week I received an e-mail with a really good question about bag linings. So today I’m sharing 5 tips to help you fix a bag lining that is too big!

% Tips to Help You Fix a Bag Lining That is Too Big | Radiant Home Studio

I just wondered if you’ve found (and/or have a way to deal with) linings can sometimes turn out too big, even with measuring?  I’ve found that to be the case for me, especially with tote bags!  So now I’m tweaking how to “fit” the lining…If you have any tips, I’d be happy for the advice!

I remembered that I struggled with bag linings a few years ago, but since then I have learned a few tricks to fix bag linings that turn out too big. I’m guessing it’s a common problem, and one worth addressing. I have a few helpful tips, but my best advice is to keep practicing!

Evelyn Handbag | by ChrisW Designs | Radiant Home Studio

5 Tips to Help When Your Bag Lining is Too Big:

Double check the measurements.

Did you use fusible interfacing on any of your pieces? Sometimes the iron can stretch out the fabric. It’s a good idea double check the size and trim off any excess after you add interfacing. One way to help avoid this problem is to make sure that you press the iron down and pick it up to move it. Sliding it around can distort the fabric shape.

Don’t cut on the fold.

I recommend tracing the full-sized pattern piece, instead of cutting on the fold. I find that I end up with as much as an extra 1/2″ of fabric when I cut on the fold. If you can cut with the fabric flat your pieces will be more accurate. One example…I make a lot of organizers using the Noodlehead Divided Basket pattern, but in order to get the top edges to line up perfectly, the pieces have to be cut accurately. I always cut this pattern flat to ensure that my top edges will fit together properly.

noodle head divided basket top

Taper the seam allowances.

To cut down the extra bagginess in the bottom of the bag, you can try using larger seam allowances. This will make the lining slightly smaller than the exterior. Just taper back to the correct seam allowance when you get to any spot that needs to match up with the exterior (usually the top of the bag). I’ve done this on a couple of bags recently and it seems to make the lining fit better.

Try some hand stitching.

If the lining is loose and moves around, you can try hand-stitching the corners of the lining to seam allowances inside the bag exterior to keep them in place. Just a couple of small stitches in each corner will keep the bag lining smooth and tight.

Divided Tote Bag | Water Bottle Tote | Radiant Home Studio

Don’t worry about it!

Sometimes extra bagginess might just be the way the designer designed it. For example, in my Fairport Purse & Pouch pattern, I debated about adding the pleat to the inside of the bag in the lining. Leaving it out would have made a smoother lining, but it also would have made the usable space smaller. I chose more space.

Keep sewing! The more you practice, the easier it will be to sew straight, line up seams, and keep the seam allowances accurate. Start with some easier projects like adding a lining to canvas tote bag, and then move on to more complicated patterns. Professional looking bags take time and attention to detail. Go slow and take breaks. Pretty soon you’ll have expert looking bags with beautiful linings!

Tutorials

Learn How to Add Magnetic Snaps to Bags

I think sometimes bag hardware can be a mystery to those that have never used it. Magnetic snaps might look intimidating, but they are very simple to add and only require a couple of small tools that you probably already have around the house.

How to Add Magnetic Snaps to Bags | Radiant Home Studio

Let me show you how to add magnetic snaps to your fabric for bag making…

First, gather your supplies. You’ll need:

  • one set of magnetic snaps (4 parts, including a male and female part with prongs and a washer for each)
  • a washable marking pen
  • a small craft knife (or tiny scissors)
  •  needle nose pliers
  • scraps of interfacing

Magnetic Snap Set | Radiant Home Studio

If you are using a pattern, it most likely instructed you to apply interfacing first. If not, iron a small square of interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric where the snap will be placed.

Place the washer on the wrong side of the fabric (the side with the interfacing) and mark the 2 holes in the sides of the washer. I marked around the outside here to show you where I placed the washer, but it’s not necessary to mark the outer circle.

IMG_7078

Next, use your craft knife to cut a small slit at each of the marks you made.

How to Add Magnetic Snaps to Bags | Radiant Home Studio

From the right side, insert one snap by placing the prongs through the slits you just cut.

How to Add Magnetic Snaps to Bags | Radiant Home Studio

How to Add Magnetic Snaps to Bags | Radiant Home Studio

Place the washer over the prongs.

How to Add Magnetic Snaps to Bags | Radiant Home Studio

Bend the prongs toward the outside. I can often do this with my fingers, but it helps to have a pair of pliers nearby if you need them.

How to Add Magnetic Snaps to Bags | Radiant Home Studio

Iron a small scrap of interfacing over the prongs to keep them from rubbing through your fabric. (Be careful with the hot metal!)

How to Add Magnetic Snaps to Bags | Radiant Home Studio

Then it’s the same process for the other side of the snap. I took tons of pictures, but it really only takes a couple of minutes to finish adding a set of magnetic snaps to a bag. The result is professional and much easier than a button hole!

How to Add Magnetic Snaps to Bags | Radiant Home Studio

This little magnetic snap tutorial is in anticipation of my next pattern release! My instructions assume you already know how to add magnetic snaps to your bags. Don’t forget to bookmark this so you can come back to it later when you are sewing!

 

News

Free Tablet Bag Tutorial at Sew Mama Sew

Two exciting things to share today! I spent a lot of my summer writing sewing patterns for publication. After a few months of keeping secrets, I can finally share some of them!

Today I have a free tablet bag tutorial on Sew Mama Sew. This is a beginner level bag—no zippers or complicated pockets—just the right size for carrying a tablet or e-reader. And you can use up some of your favorite scraps. Please head over to the Sew Mama Sew blog for the full tablet bag tutorial!

Sew a Tablet Bag Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Second, I’m excited to share that I have a bag pattern available in the Winter 2015 issue of Stitch magazine! (affiliate link) The digital edition is now available, and the print issues are available for pre-order. I haven’t seen the finished photos yet, so I’m in suspense as I wait for my issue to arrive in the mail. Stitch is available by subscription, or you can find the single issues at your local craft store. It’s a bit more expensive than a typical fashion magazine, but you worth it when you consider that you are  getting 30 sewing patterns with it! (The pattern I used for the men’s waxed canvas messenger bag was originally published in Stitch…) This issue looks like it has a great variety of projects and tutorials.

Stitch Winter 2015 Cover and Contents  | Radiant Home Studio

Don’t forget that today is the last day to get Perfect Pattern Parcel #5!

Finally, if you would like to keep up with my latest patterns and projects, please…