Tilly Walnes began her love affair with dressmaking a few years ago. She found information on the Internet, studied at the London College of Fashion and practiced, practiced, practiced!
She realized that many people would like to make their own clothes but didn't know where to start or were put off by the language and conventions of the traditional sewing world, so she began to break down the barriers to inspire, in her words, "the fast fashion generation."
She now teaches workshops, writes a column for Crafty magazine and has appeared on BBC television's The Great British Sewing Bee. She's also working on her first book, to be published in Spring 2014. And last, but not least, she writes her blog, Tilly and the Buttons, from which this tutorial comes. She has graciously given us permission to republish it. Thank you, Tilly!
Bow Belt Tutorial
A few people have requested a tutorial on making a bow belt like the one I made for The Birthday Party Dress. Why, certainly!
It really was very simple (well, once I discarded the cryptic instructions and blagged it) so I hope that maybe some readers who haven't sewn anything before might give this a whirl. You don't really even need a sewing machine! Reading blogs inspired me to start sewing this year, and I'd love to think that I could get other people interested in it in turn. With that in mind, I'm going to make these instructions fairly detailed. More experienced sewers will be able to whiz through it.
This is a great way of using up bits of leftover fabric. And it can transform an outfit. Last night I went to a party in honour of the 50th anniversary of Breathless and used this belt to add a chic touch to an old B&W stripey top. Ooh, la, la! Right, enough waffling, on with the tutorial!
Cut out three pieces of fabric to the following measurements:
Belt: (your waist size + 4") x 4"
Bow: 12" x 4.5"
Knot: 3" x 3"
Cut out interfacing the length of your belt minus 1", by 1.5" width. Position it on the wrong side (if you're using a printed fabric) of the belt as show above - so the bottom edge is along the centre lengthways, with 0.5" seam allowances above and on the sides. Iron or baste onto the belt.
Fold the belt in half lengthways, right sides together, so you end up with the interfacing on the outside.
Stitch the seam edges with a 0.5" seam allowance (i.e., 0.5" from the edges of the fabric), leaving one side open so you can turn the fabric inside out. Trim down the seam edges.
Turn the belt right side out so the interfacing is on the inside. This is easier said than done! I use a knitting needle or a chopstick. Put the stitched end of the belt on the blunt end of your chosen implement and slowly shimmy the... er... sheath down the length of the stick (ahem). Once it's about half way on, you should be able to turn the rest right side out quite easily. Now slip stitch the free end and press (iron) the fabric nice and smooth.
Fold the bow in half lengthways, right sides together, and stitch along the long edge with a 0.5" seam allowance. Trim seams, turn right side out and stitch the ends together (don't worry if the seams look rubbish, they won't be on show). Position this seam in the centre of the underside of the bow (you can mark this with a pin - see above).
Fold the knot in half, right sides together, and stitch along the long edge with a 0.5" seam allowance. Trim seams and turn right side out. Position the seam in the centre of the underside of the knot and press. Form a concertina shape to the centre of the bow with your fingers, then wrap the knot around tightly around the middle. Stitch in place, either by hand or machine, catching in some of the bow fabric in the stitching to secure it.
Sew two hooks onto the back of one end of belt.
Sew corresponding eyes onto the other end. Because I'm a classy kinda lady, I've put two sets of eyes onto mine for pre- and post-lunch roomage options. Oh yes! Sew the bow onto the end with the hooks on (on the opposite side).
Thank you, Tilly! Visit Tilly's blog, Tilly and the Buttons.
Now that you've sewn the bow belt, you need a dress to go with it! Here are some suggestions.
Have you made a bow belt? What dress did you wear it with? Tell us about it!