Blue Velvet Tabard, Part II: Stitching and Binding


Once I had my design, it was just a matter of cutting the pieces out. The great part about this tabard is that it’s just geometry– no detailed ins and outs or anything like that. The only thing I had to worry about was getting the nap of the fabric right– because two of the arcs were facing in basically the same direction while the third was opposite, I cut the odd one in half to form the half-arc inserts, figuring that it would be better to keep things symmetrical. Interestingly, once things were cut and pinned there was surprisingly little difference between the two directions, so it didn’t matter much in the end.

See how few scraps I had left! Efficiency!


I attached the arc sections to each side of the tabard’s back using a 1/2″ seam allowance, then trimmed the allowance down to about 3/8″ and bound the raw edges together with blue-gray Hug Snug seam binding. It’s great stuff, especially when you’re working with a fabric that can fray or shed if you look at it funny. This made a nice finished inside seam, which was important to me since the inside of a cape can be visible as you move.


For the same reason, I bound the front edges of the cape as well and set aside enough blue seam binding to bind the bottom hem. (I didn’t sew it right then because I wanted the hem to be the last thing done, just in case things started to hang funny once I’d finished.) Annoyingly, I’d miscalculated the amount of binding I’d need when I bought it, so I didn’t have enough to bind the front section of the tabard with blue. Instead, figuring that the inside of the front section would never be seen (it would be against his body, under his arm), I used leftover ivory binding from the Grey Lady dress. (and yes, I’d have purchased gray for that dress as well, but I was on a limited timeline and ivory was the only color available for Amazon Prime shipping at the time).

Once I had attached the cape and bound the edges, I had to figure out what to do with the front of the tabard, which looked kind of shapeless. I wanted to make some little “wings” on the shoulders to make them stand out a little more; however, the fabric was drapier than I’d expected, so I tried to find some stiff interfacing (the sew-on kind, not the iron-on kind, since ironing velvet is asking for trouble) to help strengthen the shoulder line. Annoyingly, the only sew-on interfacing at the store was too soft to make much difference, so I instead bought some petticoat netting– it’s stiff, it’s sewable, and it worked pretty well. I cut out two 4″ wide strips, stitched them along one edge of the wrong side of the fabric to keep them in place over the shoulders, then folded the fabric under to make a little “wing,” just over each shoulder section. This way I had a double layer of netting on the inside, providing just enough stiffness to make the wing stand up straight instead of draping down over the shoulder.



The line of stitching showed from the front, which was fine by me because I wanted to make the wings stand out visually. Since I wanted to maintain as much fullness in the fabric as possible, though, I didn’t continue the fold/stitching all the way down in front or in back– I tapered it towards the edge on either end, then let the fabric hang free below. This had the interesting effect of tucking the cape in a little at the shoulder line, forming deep pleats on each side of the back. I kind of liked it.


The last structural issue was the neckline– since I hate visible hems on necklines I found some plain navy blue cotton and cut out a facing for the neck. I stitched it all around, clipped the curves, and then did a line of understitching just inside the seam. This helped the facing lie flat when it was flipped to the inside, but not enough due to the light weight of the cotton. I ended up topstitching about 1/16″ away from the edge, just to make things lie properly. Oh well, it’s barely visible anyway.



Finally, I had my husband try on the tabard and used painter’s tape to mark off a hem that was even all the way around. This was harder than it looked, since the cape didn’t hang the way I thought it would, and the hem kept shifting as he moved. I turns out that I needed a lot less fabric on the sides than I thought I did. Once I got the hem marked, I trimmed 1/2″ away from the tape and bound the edge.

king costume tape

I’d been intending to do a blind hem all the way around, but I was running out of thread in the right color and really didn’t feel like going to the store to get more. The seam binding was so closely matched to the actual fabric color that I decided to just let it stay the way it was.


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