It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Two Teasers and a Tutorial for a Flat Four-Strand Fabric Braid

I do have a few more finished objects to blog, but new projects are just more exciting, so if you can kindly bear with me through some teasers for what's coming up, I'll get to those FO's soon.  er or later....

Ignore the Teaser at the Top:


First up, I'm mixing four fabrics for a birthday present piece for my darling niece, who is SO much fun to sew for!   For one thing, she loves my work (play).   For another, she's a fabulous collaborator who comes up with some great ideas.  She wanted me to incorporate some braiding in her present, a technique I used on a previous piece for her.

I wanted to do a flat, four-strand braid, and had a bit of a hard time finding a tutorial for this that was both easy, and had a good-looking finished project, so I thought I might as well create my own tutorial.

First I created 4 tubes, using this handy-dandy little bodkinish sort of tool (does it have an actual name?  Anyone?)

The end has a loop and a pointed thingy on a hinge
(thingy is a valid technical term - you all know that, right?)

I cut my strips of fabric 1" wide, then folded and sewed the long edges for 1/4"+ tubes.
After sewing, I trimmed the excess seam allowance.
I used a combo of knits and wovens -  the 2  knits were super easy to turn;  
the batik (a quilting cotton) - not so much.
The polyester slinky was also a bit of a problem because the edges frayed so badly!
I cut all of the fabrics on either the cross or straight grain, depending on the stability of the fabric.
I  didn't have enough of any of the fabrics to cut them on the bias, but I really didn't want too much stretch in the finished piece (a braid, as shown below) anyway.
In most cases, I would recommend cutting the tube fabric on the bias.

After sewing the seam of the tube, I cut one end in a point and added some Fray Check to it.

You then push the bodkin thingy into the tube, and push the point through the fabric, 
about 1/4" from the tip of the fabric point.
With the knits, this is easy.   
With the wovens, I ended up snipping a teensy tiny hole in the fabric in order to push the metal point through.

Then you pull the fabric all the way through the inside of the tube, 
praying that the point of the bodkin won't lose its grip before you're done. 

Praying does not always work.

Constructing the Braid

Sew the 4 tubes together at one end, and pin them to a pinnable surface.
I've labeled them 1-4, from left to right.
As you weave, the position of the tubes will change, 
but the numbering of the tubes will always remain at 1-4, left to right.

 Bring Tube #4 over #3

Bring #1 UNDER #2, and OVER #3 (the new #3)
I find it easier to treat this as one move, rather than 2,
because you're really only moving one of the tubes.

And that's it!!!
Really.
All you do now is keep repeating the above 2 moves.
The new #4 goes over the new #3

#1 goes under #2 and over #3

Keep repeating this sequence,
and be sure to keep the tubes flat as you weave - don't fold them over so that the bottom becomes the top - the bottom of the tube (i.e., the part that is touching the table...or in this case the ironing board, will always stay on the bottom.


And when you run out of tubing or have reached your desired length, you're done!

I had NOT reached my desired length, so I had to add more tubes.   I folded under one end of the woven fabrics and inserted the other end inside the folded tube.   For the knits, I didn't bother folding under a hem; I just used fray check.  I didn't worry too much about appearance of the joined tubes, so instead of hand sewing them, I just attached them with a sturdy zig zag.


The semi-finished pieces:

It may take awhile before the reveal, since the recipient doesn't live nearby, so fittings will be few and far between.   I will say one thing - this is a totally self-drafted piece, creating something that isn't even remotely like anything I've made before, and if a pattern for something close to it exists, I haven't found it.   So wish me luck!

Back to the Teaser at the Top:

This is a GAWjuss cut of silk charmeuse - a remnant that I have less than a yard of, 54" wide.  One of my sewing groups recently had a little brain-storming session where people brought fabrics that had them stumped as to what to create with them.  My wonderfully creative friends came up with JUST the thing for this piece.   Stay tuned for the solution...  (what do you think you would do with it?)

Meanwhile, Happy Creating!

21 comments:

  1. Officially it is a loop turner. I might suggest to anyone planning on doing a lot of tubes that they purchase the Fasturn tube turning kit. It's not cheap but will turn any tube and not put a hole in the fabric. Nice job on the braiding. I've done 3 but never 4 so good to know the steps.

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    1. I've turned more than a few tubes over the years; why have I never seen the Fasturn system before??? Thanks Gloria - now I have to look for a bargain on a set :)

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  2. That piece of silk is asking me to become an infinity scarf, by cutting and stitching it, reconfiguring it into a long loop

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    1. Alison I really wanted to showcase the beautiful print on the fabric, so a scarf, while logical (and it would be beautiful!), wasn't an option for me.

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  3. That braid treatment is fabulous! Can't wait to see the final result.

    Beautiful fabric. Just beautiful.

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  4. I'm envisioning some kind of simple, loose top made of the silk. And the Fasturn - get it, for sure. It's a great tool. I used mine just the other day and was so grateful to have it.
    I'm intrigued by the braids and can't wait to see what you'll do with them!

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    1. I went on a Fasturn search immediately, and found a reasonable price on eBay. It will be SOOOOoooo nice to have fun making skinny tubes instead of fighting them!

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  5. I used to have a Fasturn somewhere, but it's long lost. The braid is beautiful! (I can't wait to see the silk made up. ;) )

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    1. You Fasturn is buried under your stash. But you already knew that ;-)

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  6. The braid is beautiful. I was lucky enough to get a bit more insight into the garment the braid is for when I met up with you and the BABES In Berkeley. Its going to be stunning!
    -Sewingelle

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    1. Thank you Sewingelle - it was so great to meet you!

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  7. I am so glad you are on the mend and back to blogging and creating! Can't wait to see the big reveal!

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  8. Fabulous braid. My aunt once made an entire room size brided rug out of scraps she cut from men's wool suits.

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  9. Thank you for the tutorial! I'm looking forward to seeing how you use the silk piece.

    Rose in SV

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  10. Yes...thank you for the tutorial, Jilly! I wanted to make two wide, flat braids to insert on a top. I didn't know how to braid 4 strands. I'm printing out your instructions. I have a bunch of your tutorials in my notebook. Can't wait for the teasers!!!

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  11. Looking forward to the reveals!

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  12. Such a tease! That fabric really is cool. And thank you for the braid tutorial -- never tried a 4-strand braid before! I have a love-hate relationship with my loop turner -- I'll need to check out the fasturn too!

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