Whenever I set up a booth at an event, my over the collar dog bandanas receive a lot of love. Since I put a lot of love into my bandanas, I appreciate that - thank you, Hound Street Boutique, fans!
Sewing was still taught - a little bit - when I was in middle school, and it's somewhat of a "lost art" to many people. Machine embroidery is usually only tackled by "die hard" sewing fashionistas and quilters. So I thought it might be fun to share with you an inside peek into the making of a bandana.
All fabric is first washed and dried. Why do I do this? It would save a LOT of time if I skipped this step. The first reason this step is important to me is that fabric comes from the factory floor with all kinds of chemical residue from the manufacturing process. Washing removes it. Second, brand new fabric shrinks - a lot, especially 100% cotton. I've seen a yard of fabric shrink up to three inches. Fabric shrinkage can distort embroidery, the shape of the finished garment or item, and make items that fit before washing not fit after their first wash. (It's one of the reasons I started sewing my own clothes. Very few mass-produced clothing manufacturers pre-shrink their fabric.)
Next comes the "fun" part - ironing! Ironing is actually probably the most important part of creating a high-quality sewn item. When I see a poorly sewn item, it's most often due to lack of proper ironing techniques. I iron more then I actually sew. I like to save my ironing for big "ironing fests" because, let's face it, even seamstresses don't like ironing. So I like to save my ironing for a Netflix binge or a good podcast.
Next, all that fabric is cut up into squares of various sizes for the embroidery process. I load up my embroidery machine with the proper thread colors and "hoop" each fabric square with stabilizer. The stabilizer keeps the embroidery "stable" both in the hoop and during normal wear and laundering. Next comes the fun part - the embroidery! The hooped fabric gets placed into the machine and the design stitches out. Depending on the design, the embroidery process takes between 15-30 minutes for each bandana. That is, if everything goes according to plan!
Here is what a finished design looks like in the hoop.
I like to make bandanas in big batches - about 10 of each size at a time. Embroidering a complete "set" of this size can take between 2-4 days depending on the design, my machine's persnicketyness, and what else I'm trying to accomplish on any particular day.
I hope you enjoyed this glance into my creative process. Stay tuned for Part II!