Saturday, May 2, 2009
A tutorial: How to make button loops or spaghetti straps
Today I get to share a really useful technique for those of you who sew, and that's how to make button loops or spaghetti straps. I just learned this and have to share in case anyone out there is looking for a solution.
I've always avoided spaghetti straps and button loops because I never could get the darned things turned. Most instructions tell you to thread a needle, attach it to one end, and work it through backwards with the eye first, "turning the fabric as you go." Well, for me, the result was lots of cursing but no turned button loop. I also know of devices called loop turners, and I have one but have never gotten it to work for me. So in the past I just gave up in frustration and either made them with the stitching on the outside, or else just didn't make things requiring spaghetti straps or button loops.
Until now. I'm sewing a blouse and it calls for 7 button loops for the front closure, and I really wanted them to look nice, so I thought I'd give it another try. After about an hour of no success turning this long, tiny thing, my husband came home and we both worked on it. He's a techie type and came up with the perfect idea for a loop turner that he could probably patent. But I did some more searching online and found a solution so simple and brilliant I'm still amazed by it. It came from Woody on Pattern Review, but she didn't have pictures to illustrate, so I am offering this tutorial with pictures.
Here's how to do it. Cut a strip of your fabric on the bias. Mine is 1 1/2" wide but for narrow straps it doesn't have to be this wide. It can be quite long.
I sewed 1/8 inch in from the fold for mine (it depends on how wide you want your straps/loops). I used a narrow zig zag stitch and stretched the fabric towards me as I went. I think this will make the loops stronger and less likely for the thread to break on the finished strap--I got this bit from the Sewing Divas' blog.
Trim the seam. I trimmed mine about the width of the seam I just sewed (don't make it any bigger, for sure). I tapered the seam a bit towards the end just to make the feeding through process easier.
Now for the cool part. About 1/2 inch from the end, snip the folded edge up to the stitching, making a hole into your tube.
Insert one half of a bobby pin into the end, and the other half into the hole you just cut. You might want to bend the end of the bobby pin that flips up a bit just to make it straighter and easier to get into the tube.
Then start pushing the bobby pin through. The coated ends make it easy to slide through, and once you've jiggled that first end through (unlike other methods, this should take seconds), it's smooth sailing. Really!
When I finished turning mine, I gave it a steam with my iron and stretched it a bit to plump it up (that's why you want some seam allowance inside--to give it some roundness).
There, all that frustration turned into elation! As you see, you can make incredibly small spaghetti straps using this method (and no jabbed fingers like my poor husband!).