Tuesday, 17 April 2012

How to make covered cord/loops for a lace-up back

After lots of trial and error (as usual), I think I've figured out the way to make the loops for the lace-up back of my wedding dress. 


So in my previous toiles, I have used various shop bought ribbons and cords but have found that 1) they looked alright but not quite perfect, and 2) I always worried about the strength and the cords fraying from the ends so that a lot of force (oh the price we pay to look slim for the big day!) may pull it apart. Think that for a wedding disaster! So of course I kept trying. 


Then I found it! It's the best of both worlds - using cords covered by the fashion fabric, in my case, the silk dupion used for my dress. This way the colour will of course match, the cord should fray less as it's encased, and the loops will be really strong! 


As I spent ages trying this (and of course looking at the PR discussions and other useful sources), I thought I would share a tutorial in case it does make someone's life easier one day! 


So here we go...
What you will need:
  • A bias strip of your fashion fabric - mine was just over an inch wide
  • A bit of cord that is just more than twice as long as the bias strip - I tried different cords to find the best one for the real dress
  • Some thread, and
  • If machine sewing, a piping/zipper foot (alternatively this can of course be done by hand)

Step 1 - Fold the bias strip  
Fold the bias strip lengthwise in half, with right sides together. 

Step 2 - Wrap the bias strip around the cord
Here the position of the bias strip is important. I think the easiest thing to do is to show you a picture first (I have no idea why this has turned itself clockwise when uploaded...)


So the bias tape is placed from one end of the cord, leaving a small tail (end #1), and finishes around the centre of the cord (end #2). We will need to start sewing from end #2 first. 


Step 3 - Sew!
Using a piping foot/presser foot, start from end #2 (centre of the cord) and sew through the fabric and the cord and across until you are just over 1/8 away from the cord. 
Then for the first inch or so of the bias strip, sew along keeping this distance. After that, stitch closely to the cord, just like how you would make piping. Again a couple of pictures should help explain this:







I used my zipper foot to sew close to the cord (only after the first inch or so)


A close up to show the wider gap at the end #2 of the strip. I used a really wide bias strip to try this in fact so your version should have the stitches must closer to the edges. 
I hand sewed the first few stitches across to secure the cord. All this (the securing stitches and the wider gap) is to facilitate the turning out later on.  


Step 4 - trim seam allowances
OK I went a bit overboard with this step so my practice loops had some seams that popped open... but  consider this a lesson learned! At least I will make sure that this won't happen for the real wedding dress! 

As you can see, I did trim very close to the stitching line here. This was because I had made 2 attempts prior to this without being able to turn the fabric out! I would suggest trimming as closely as you can, bearing in mind the fabric you are using for the bias strip. In my case the dupion frays without anyone touching it (honestly!) so no wonder the stitches turned out not to be secure enough. 

Step 5 - crunch time
So from end #2, with the extra gap, you should be able to turn the bias strip out to the right side! If you've left yourself sufficient gap, you should be able to do this fairly easily! Good luck! I didn't use any special tools for this and it only took seconds... so trust me it does work!

There you have it! covered cord ready to be made into the loops for the lace-up back! You could also make this as button loops if your dress has a covered button back. 
I hope this is helpful! Do let me know if you have any questions and I'll try my best to answer them:)
Now I am going to post the progress on my revised mock-up lace-up back in a separate post. 



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