Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tutorial: Sewn & Embroidered Wrist Cuffs

I had an idea in my head for a fabric cuff bracelet, and the only way to get ideas out of my head is to try them out. On the third try, I got something I was happy with.

One of the things I like most about this project is how customizable it is, not to mention easy, and you don't need a sewing machine. In fact, my first try was machine-sewn and I didn't like it at all, so I switched to hand-sewing the entire thing. At any rate, without further ado, here's what you need:

Fabric for front of cuff and back of cuff--these can be the same, or not
Interfacing--I used thin flannel in a neutral color
Thread, needle, pins
Cutting mat, straight edge, and rotary cutter--optional, but they help make clean, straight lines
Embroidery floss

1. Decide how big you want your cuff to be. I have thin wrists, so I decided on 9 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, and I think I could have gone shorter. Add 1/2" to each measurement to account for 1/4" seam allowance on all sides, and cut strips from your front, back, and interfacing fabric. So I cut three strips each 9 1/2" by 2". If you want your front to be two fabrics, like in the photo, cut two coordinating strips for the front, for a total of four strips.

(Note: I have one extra strip, the muslin one, in this photo.)

2. For the front of my cuff, I wanted both green and purple, and I wanted them stitched together. So I sliced up a strip of each color with a straight edge and my rotary cutter.

3. Then I arranged the cut pieces on the alternate color strip until I was happy with it. Line up your side edges neatly. I used four strands of embroidery floss and the blanket stitch to sew the contrasting pieces to the main strip. I didn't turn the edges under; I was after a bit of raw edge. The blanket stitch isn't going to let it fray dangerously, just enough to give it a nice slightly deconstructed look. Use whatever edge-appropriate decorative embroidery stitch you'd like.

(Here, I was stitching purple onto green. Remember, I did this three times before I was happy!)

4. Sandwich your strips to prepare to sew them together. You want your right sides facing and the interfacing on the outside, so it will end up on the inside when you turn your tube. I like to arrange it with the interfacing on the bottom, the bottom piece right side up, then the top embroidered piece right side down. Pin it all together with a few pins and sew around both long edges and one short edge, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance all around. (I used the two leftover strands from the blanket stitch, because I hate having stray strands lying around!) Don't stitch right to the end of the open edge; it will make it easier to turn the edges under later if you don't. I like to sew with the wrong side of the embroidered piece facing me. It helps me keep everything straight, since I'm (sort of) looking at the public side of the cuff while I sew.

5. Turn your tube right side out and press the seams flat. Turn the raw edges under, press, and slip stitch closed, burying the loose end in the seam when you're done.

6. Fit it around your wrist to figure your snap placement and then use this wonderful tutorial to attach your snaps. Think carefully about orientation. This is what the snaps look like on mine, front and back.

(When I realized I'd be working this idea out a few times, I switched
to muslin for the back.)

Alternately, you could use a button and a buttonhole, or a button and a loop, or some other method of closure that I haven't thought of. And instead of piecing the top, you could use one solid piece decorated with buttons or embroidery or anything else you want. (Lace? Ribbons? Rick-rack?) I recently finished this slightly shorter one (although I haven't installed the snap yet).

It's the same fabric front and back, with a spring-like doodle of flowers embroidered on the front. Although it's so easy to turn your own doodles into embroidery, I'm including my doodles here for you. (This is the first time I've linked to an uploaded PDF in Google Docs, so let me know if you have problems with it.)

I think I will be making many, many more of these! I hope you enjoy this tutorial. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or email me: SalamanderDreams21(at)gmail(dot)com.

Happy Sewing!


Michelle said...

Thanks for the tutorial! Can't wait to try this one. And I love the flower doodles!!!

bellsknits.com said...

oh i like that. You could add all sorts of lovely fabric highlights to your wardrobe with those couldn't you!