12 Feb Make the most of Waste Fabric
If you have a single retro bone in your body you will have come across a circle skirt at some point in your sewing life. And they are fabulous, no question. However they have two possible drawbacks in the making. They are: you waste a lot of fabric and you always have to level the hem and in some fabrics that can be an ongoing process. In this post I will only be dealing with the waste fabric from cutting circle skirts. You’ll find more information about Circle Skirts in my other blog posts.
After you have cut your circle skirt there will always be that large amount of waste you can see at the right hand side of the photo. It’s an odd shape and often not large enough to be useful in making garments. But I’ve found it can be extremely useful as a trim resource for making if you’re able to cut and make it into bias trim.
Working at a 45º angle (bias grain) to the grain of the fabric I have chalked in cut lines 4cm (1 5/8″) apart. For accuracy and ease of cutting I use a rotary cutting wheel and a cutting board to protect my worktable.
I’ll cut all the left over fabric into the bias strips and join them together to make my own bias trimming for future projects. Not exactly zero-waste but very close. Plus you end up with drawer full of very interesting bias to use in all your sewing projects.
To join these bias strips together you can see the image above has the selvedge edge together making a long strip of bias. To sew these together so it ends up in a long strip you need to follow the image below placing each piece at a 90º angle.
Overlap the ends so that the point at which they crossover is the sewing line or seam allowance. Stitch from crossover point to crossover point then press the seam open. Trim off the points for a clean finish on your bias strips.
When you press the seam open you will end up with a continuous strip of bias.
From this circle skirt example I have managed to make over 9 metres of bias at 4cm (1 5/8″) wide. For my Dior Dress project that ended up being enough to add a pleated trim around the full length of the circle skirt hem. The hem circumference measured 3 metres and I like to use three times that length in bias trim to make the pleated finish. I’ve sewn the pleated trim on featuring both raw cut edges on the outside of the trim.
Because they are bias cut they won’t fray in washing, they’ll simply go soft and a little fluffy. Place the wrong side of the pleating to the wrong side of the circle skirt hem and sew one line of stitching. Press the pleated trim through to the front of the skirt. Then stitch the second row at 6-7mm (1/4″) to hide the raw edge of the skirt hem and secure the trim in place.
To make this dress just a little bit special I’ve decided to add a decorative braid to the hem of the skirt lining. Fortunately I found a braid that featured all the same colours as the yearn dyed check fabric.
Overall the effect of the pleated hem trim is quite luxurious and the occasional peep at the skirt lining provides a sweet surprise of matching braid. You’ll find the full post for this Dior Dress here and the PDF Sewing Pattern here.
If you get a moment collect together all your fabric scraps of a decent size and cut them into bias trim. It is the most satisfying way to deal with fabric scraps and to also have a selection of interesting trims to add to your sewing.