Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Chopping A Wrap?

by Rebecca Hickman

So you found the wrap you want but you want it in a shorter length, or as a ring sling. You have some basic sewing skills and a sewing machine, but aren't quite sure how to proceed. This post will walk you through chopping or splitting a wrap, and re-hemming it into a shorter length. If you plan on reselling, keep in mind that chopping and re-hemming, particularly yourself, can reduce the value.

What size do you need?
In order to get two usable pieces of wrap, you need a minimum of a size 5. A size 5 (~4.1m) or a size 6 (~4.6m) will give you enough to make two ring slings. A size 7 (~5.1m) will be enough to split into two ring slings, a ring sling and a size 2 (2.7m) or 3 (3.1m), or possibly two size 2 wraps if the original wrap is a bit longer than standard. You may or may not get some scrap fabric left over depending on how long of a ring sling you want, and how long the original wrap is. In this tutorial, I'm turning a size 7 Oscha Starry Night Nebula into a size 2. The remainder will be a ring sling, which will be a later tutorial.

  • Soft tape measure 
  • Pins 
  • Stitch ripper 
  • Removable marker or chalk (optional) 
  • Rotary cutter, mat & rulers (preferred) or scissors & large flat surface 
  • Iron 
  • Hem measuring tool (optional)
  • Sewing machine with new needle 
  • 100% cotton thread that matches thread used in existing hems (I used Mettler silk finish here, but Gutterman is also good and readily available) 
    Matching thread - can you see where it's laying across the wrap? 
To start, measure the whole length of your wrap. Even though wraps come in standard sizes (Wrapyourbaby.com has a good list), every wrap will differ slightly – some will be longer than expected. Occasionally they will be shorter. Wrap length may be shorter after it’s been washed, particularly if it’s been dried in the dryer, and they often lengthen after they've been wrapped with repeatedly. Measuring soft tape in hand is a common way to measure a wrap. Basically, you take a soft, flexible sewing measuring tape and run it along one rail to get the length. Measuring both rails isn't a bad idea. The length of the wrap I'm working with is 5.46m, slightly longer than the expected 5.2m. Once you know how long your wrap is, decide how long you want your shorter wrap to be. I decided to cut mine 2.8m from the hemmed edge to leave a little extra length for hemming. Place a pin the desired cutting length from the finished edge.

Cutting Tapers 
The most intimidating part of shortening a wrap for many people is the tapers. Since a wrap is a parallelogram rather than a rectangle, recreating the angled end is trickier than making a straight cut. You want your new hem to have the same angle and length as the one you’re cutting off to maintain the existing wrap shape. Drawing a straight line between the two pins you made in the last step should do this, but I like to check to make sure. One way to do this is to take the hem you’re keeping, twist so the bottom rail is at the top, and then compare how the top and bottom of that hem line up with your pins, and adjust the pins as necessary. The frustrating thing about fabric is that it tends to slip and slide and twist. Once you’re happy with how the taper looks, you can go ahead and cut. To cut the taper, lay your wrap out on your cutting mat. You’ll likely need more than one quilting ruler due to the width of the wrap. Line up the ruler with the pins at either rail, creating a straight line. If you need two rulers, line up the edges so they’re exactly aligned. You can check this by making sure the marks on the ruler also align. Once you’re ready, remove the pins and cut along the edge of the ruler with your rotary cutter. Do not try and cut over the pins! This is a bad, bad idea. I always need a minute and a deep breathe before being able to go ahead and cut. Don’t rush it – once it’s cut, you can’t go back.

If you don’t have a cutting mat and rotary cutter, you’ll need a long enough straight edge and removable marking pen or chalk to draw a straight line from pin to pin. Once you have the line draw, use scissors to cut along the line.

So you went ahead and cut your wrap. Yay! Now you've got a raw edge that needs finishing. You can finish it with a Serger or zigzag stitch if you like, but you’ll want that covered anyway, so it’s not necessary. But how big of a hem should you make? To blend in best with your existing hems, measure those. Looking at your cut edge will probably let you peer inside to see how it was originally done. My original wrap had a 3/8” hem, with ¼” turned under to hide the raw edge, so I'm going to do the same. This is where a hem measuring tool comes in handy.
Folding & pinning the hem
You've created a bias edge with your cut and they tend to get warped and stretched out of shape much more easily than a cut going with the grain of the fabric. Lots of pins and careful pressing (not ironing) will help you get the straight, flat, untwisted hem you want. Set your iron to the appropriate setting for your fabric. Many wraps are 100% cotton, which can withstand a higher heat than more delicate fabrics. Linen also does well with high heat, but silk and wool will need a lower temperature. My wrap is 25% wild silk, so I used the silk setting on my iron.

What do I mean by pressing rather than ironing? Lift the iron up when you want to move to a new area and then set it down on the next section, rather than pushing the iron along while still in contact with the fabric. Using my hem measuring tool, I turned over the
raw edge ¼” and pressed along the whole length. Then, I turned it over another 3/8” to hide the raw edge and pressed again, pinning as I went. Getting the corners nice so they don’t stick out past the edges of the wrap is a little tricky. I folded it over a bit more, and cut a tiny bit of the corner out to reduce bulk. If you do this, be careful not to cut too much or it can be hard to have all the raw edges tucked under. Once you've got it all pressed and pinned and you’re happy with your corners, it’s time to sew.

Set up your sewing machine with thread matching your wrap or the thread used on the other edges. Then, go ahead and sew a straight line close to the folded edge of your hem. Just about every sewer has experienced a tangle of threads when they start a seam. To avoid this, either hold onto the ends of your top and bottom threads with some tension as you start to sew, or start sewing on a scrap of fabric and then continue onto your wrap without cutting the threads. Sewing at the corners can be a bit tricky unless you have a heavy duty machine. I found it easier to start a bit past the bulky part and sew to the end, reinforcing at the end by backstitching, then turn the wrap around and sew the other corner from the middle out, reinforcing again.

Moving Middle Markers
When you cut your wrap shorter, the location of the middle also moves. If you want to keep the middle
Marking where markers were
markers in the middle they are fairly simple to move. Using a nice, sharp stitch ripper, very carefully unpick the stitches holding them in their existing place. Restitch along the existing stitches to reseal the hem where you remove the markers. I used a pin to mark where I’d removed the middle markers so I knew where to go back and fix the hem. Locate your new middle. Keep in mind that
Offset middle markers
because the wrap is a parallelogram, the middle of one rail does not line up in a straight line with the middle of the other rail. Fold the wrap in half along one rail and mark the centre with a pin. Repeat with the other rail. Carefully unpick a small amount of the stitching on either side of your pin to open up a space big enough to insert the middle marker tag. Pin the tag underneath the hem and stitch across where the old stitching was, making sure to overlap on either end with existing stitching.

And you’re done! Enjoy your new wrap!

Finished wrap!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your easy to follow guide! I'm about to chop a Pavo Fruit Stripes (size 8) to a size 1 for a rebozo. I might even take a bit out of the width since it is a bit wider than other wraps and my toddler and I are both tiny. If I do, I'll use the scrap to make a doll ssc or doll wrap. :)