Saturday, January 26, 2013

Making Satin Pageant Sashes

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My daughter asked me if I would make 12 satin sashes for  awards at my grandson's swim team banquet.
I had never done a pageant sash & I looked all over the internet for instructions & didn't find any, so I took pictures along the way.  I hope this may help someone avoid my mistakes.   
I bought cotton or flannel backed satin to use, as it is a little less slippery & has a bit more body to it.  I did NOT pre-wash it, like I usually do ALL my fabrics, right when they come in the door to my house.  This stuff frays something awful & I was afraid it would shrink too much, too.

One tip to prevent fraying of fabric when pre-washing it, is to cut an angle across the corners of the yardage.  This will prevent all those long, tangled strings you sometimes get.  I wasn't taking any chances with this stuff though.

Normally, I starch the "HE-double toothpicks" out of any fabric that I'm cutting, but I found out really quickly that spray starch left water marks on this satin.

I just ironed it with a DRY a moderate temperature.  Be sure to check your iron's temperature settings & make note of it, so when you come back on the second or third or fourth or fifth day (yes, these took me THAT LONG to finish them all!!) you won't scorch your fabric by starting out with your iron too hot.   

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I used both a fusible stabilizer, ironed directly onto the back of the satin fabric as well as a cut-away stabilizer in my embroidery hoop.

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Through trial & error, I determined that my embroidery design needed to be approximately 14" down from the top of my fabric, so that it would be positioned correctly on the body.  I measured this prior to placing the fabric in the hoop, so I would leave enough at the top & marked it with just a pin until I got my embroidery hoop attached to my machine.

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Not all fonts do well on satin.  This is a script font that is built into my machine, but I read that the font, Perpetua, also works well.

Using my Embird software, I combined the 3 different thread colors of this crown & font into just one color, so as to save time in embroidering.  When you're doing 12 of anything, it takes awhile & this way I didn't have to keep running back to the machine to change threads time after time for each part of the design.

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 I found that if I pinned the satin to the stabilizer, all around the hoop, making sure the pins were out of the way of the needle, it helped to keep the satin taut & avoided puckering.  I was pleased that the pins did not leave marks or holes in the satin.

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 When finished, I trimmed off both stabilizers from the back & cut the strip of satin on each side of the embroidery design so that there was approximately 1 1/2" on either side of the widest part of my design.  In this case, it was the outer points of the crown.
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This photo, above, just shows my choice of long quilters ruler, not the correct measurement for cutting.  Your measurements for cutting the width of the sash may be different, based on your choice of embroidery design.  Mine were cut 6" wide prior to sewing a 1/2" seam on each side, & ended up 5" wide, finished, but a child's sash might be 3" instead.

Mine looked best with approximately 1 1/2" on either side of the widest part of the embroidery design.

  When cutting the sashes AFTER the embroidery was done, if I folded the embroidered satin fabric more than once, it would scooch all over the place & I was unable to get a nice, straight cut edge. I found that using my 6" wide quilters ruler helped tremendously in cutting the strips. 

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Another tip I found useful was to place a second ruler flush against the top & side of my long ruler, so that I could continue my cut in one very straight line.  If I had to move my large quilting ruler upwards to continue cutting, the fabric would move & distort the cut.  That satin is slippery & Very frustrating!

I soon learned that when I cut a very wide piece of fabric with the embroidery design in the midde & tried folding it with right sides together, sewing the long side seam, I had to struggle to turn it.  The stabilizer was especially difficult to turn through the tube & it left my embroidery wrinkled, as it did not want to bend in half nicely without distortion. 

Instead, I cut a back piece of satin the exact size of the front embroidered piece, placed the right sides together, sewed both long sided & across ONE bottom edge.  Turning this right side out seemed to be easier for me.  It also left 2 seams on either side to use as guides for pressing instead of one seam on the back that I would have had to center each time I ironed each sash.

For this embroidered design, my sashes were cut 6" wide AFTER embroidering.  You don't want to cut the fabric first & then try to embroider it, as that would make it difficult to hoop & also it might pucker & pull in from the sides.

I would have loved to have been able to use my serger for this project, since satin frays so much, but even a 3 thread overlock stitch left a thick bump of thread in the seams that showed up horribly when pressing from the front.  Instead, I just sewed at least a 1/2" wide seam.

I found that once I sewed the seams & turned the sashes right side out, if I placed my hand down inside & spread my fingers wide against the inside seams, then slowly pulled my hand back out as I ironed the sash, it would lay nicely & be evenly centered.

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 I sewed 2 more pieces of satin for the back sash in the same manner...right sides together, sew down both long edges & across one short side, then turned it right side out.
   For an adult, the sashes needed to be angled at the shoulder so they would lay nicely.  You may not need to do this for a child's size.

IMPORTANT so pay attention:

 Place the 2 sewn sash tubes together, with the embroidered FRONT sash facing upwards, towards you.  (the back piece is the same on both sides, so it doesn't matter which way you lay that one)

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Measure down 1" on the right side of the sashes & make a little mark.  Then angle your ruler from that mark over towards the beginning of the sashes on the left.  Cut through all 4 layers at once!  Keep them pinned together while you carry this to your sewing machine.  You are going to do a French seam here, so you will sew with the back sides (or wrong sides) together FIRST.  This is the opposite way you sew most seams, so pay attention!  Make sure you pin them together before moving them.

Once you've sewn across that top edge, trim it down slightly & fold your sash over so that the embroidery design in now on the INSIDE.  Sew across that same angle again, tucking in the corner edge, if it pokes out a little.  I had a bit of difficulty in getting the tip to stay inside on some of them, so I gave them a touch of fabric glue in that area, for extra security.

I'm sure there is a better way to connect the fronts to the backs but I couldn't wrap my head around it.  The French seam worked well for me, but if others have some suggestions, I look forward to hearing them.

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Press them all with a moderate iron.  I tried not to stress about some of the wrinkles & convinced myself that it was just the nature of the satin.

They looked great on these sweetheart swimmers & they seemed pleased!

Sweetheart Senior Sashes 

 Forgive me for covering their pretty smiles, but I would never put a photo of a child's face on the internet.
(Someday soon, I'll do a post on exactly why not) 

I know this was a long & detailed post but I hope it helps someone in the future with such a project.  I went through a lot of trial & error on these.

I'm linking up with Yvonne at StoneGable for her
Tidbits, Tips & Tutorials as well as Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Met Monday.  I hope you visit both these gals blogs because they are a treasure trove of useful ideas!



  1. Great job on the sashes. Your grandson is the only boy on the team? xo

    1. LOL No, I think there are 12 guys, too, but I wasn't asked to make anything for them! I wasn't at the awards banquet, so my DD sent me the photo. I don't even know what the boys got! I'll have to ask her.

  2. Wow, what you don't do for that lucky daughter and grandson of yours!! I hope they know how lucky they are!! They turned out beautifully!

  3. These are beautiful, Rhett. Your sewing skills never cease to amaze me!


  4. Great job on the sashes. I did arm bands for a horse rider. They were challenging...I put a rolled hem around them.

    1. I wish I could have done that, Jen, but the ugly back with the stabilizer would have shown then. I wanted it encased & hidden. Although, come to think of it, I might have been able to roll hem the TWO layers together at the same time. Hmmmmm...I have some satin left & shall go experiment shortly. You've given me an idea just in case I get roped into doing those Girl Scout ones. LOL

  5. Oh my goodness, Rhett - you are an amazing grandmother and seamstress! I'm sure there are people all over blogdom hitting the 'favourites' button!

  6. Wow! What a nice thing to do for your grandson's team, Rett! I am sure he was so proud that you made them. I really liked your Blue and Crystal table setting/scape in the last post. So VERY PRETTY!

  7. Your sashes turned out beautiful, what a labor of love! I'd like one that says Queen Of Bacon please:@)

  8. You deserve Grandmother of the Year! These were a labor of love and such a pretty award. Lucky girls!

  9. Whew!! What a project! And they turned out great! Thanks for stopping by my Chocolate Bar post! I could never leave it out all the chocolate calls me even when it's not out on the counter LOL!! You'll need to share pictures of your bar [the chocolate one, I mean :)] sometime. I'd love to see it. ~Zuni

  10. You don't have to explain to me about the picture issue! I'm on the same page.

    You did such a great job on these sashes. They are something that appears quite deceptively simple but obviously took much thought and effort. Great job, Rett!

  11. Oh my, I am so very impressed! Remind me to never do that...of course, I don't have an embroidery machine. You shared a marvelous tutorial with us! Thanks! Cherry Kay

  12. Morning Rett! Your family must be crazy happy over you! The satin sashes were pretty enough, but then to embroider them and the crowns with 3 threads!! Wow'd here!! It's a keep sake the girls will cherish forever. Tho I don't have an embroidery machine, it was fun to view how it works and what it can do. That's on my list now along with making a quilt. I never tire of viewing your side posts! Not only do I miss The Mikasa outlet there but the London Fog store, and Revere Ware..sigh.(drinking a cuppa from my Revere perk pot, nothing has improved upon it in decades) Atleast there's Lodi! Happy Sunday, Rett!

  13. Rett these are so adorable! You did an amazing job that would have been quite costly for them to purchase. What a wonderfully generous gift. I have found any type of sewing on satin to be difficult. LOL! I still want a home embroidery machine and have even been recently reading about them online. Would you mind sending me any advice you have on them again. I am working full time now so don't have the time to spend learning how to use it much but have the money now to purchase one. I am hoping this will be an investment into my future when I can spend the time using it. I would love to hear any and all tips from someone who has one and uses it. Thank you!!!

  14. Hi Rett, its Dianna again! Thank you for the help with the comment "button" It worked! It only took me an hour for a 5 minute correction to realize it was working. Many huggs! Di

  15. How sweet and generous of you to share your special sewing talent for your loved ones, Rett! I know that was a a lot of labor done with LOVE. Thank you for all your tips. They are much appreciated.

  16. I'm crying. Wanna know why? Because those girls will still cherish those sashes when they, themselves, are grandmothers.
    I'm glad you found me! I am now your newest follower!



  17. Good heavens, girl, that a project! I know how difficult satin is to work with and am really surprised you can embroider on it. That's quit a machine you have. I'm sure your daughter and all the recipients were thrilled with their beautiful sashes. You do amazing things with your sewing machine, Rett. Truly inspiring.

  18. What an amazing and tedious job Rett! You deserve your own sash that says Grandmother/Seamstress of the year!

  19. thank you so much for the tutorial. I have been scared of "big" projects and embroidering on satin, but with the way you explained everything beautifully, this looks do-able. Thank you!

  20. Hello. What you did is just AMAZING!!! I was wondering though what kind of embroidery machine do you use? I have tried to search for ways to make similar projects, but I am having a hard time trying to find out what kind of embroidery machine I need.


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