Making your own extra-swell tartan flashes
I've been experimenting lately with a variety of materials for easily making really nice-looking flashes from tartan scraps. I wanted them to look nice both front and back, not be prone to raveling, be fast to make, and be comfortably flexible (not stiff as a piece of cardboard).

The instructions below use what’s called fusible web, an iron-on material that is heat activated on _both_ sides (unlike fusible interfacing which is heat activated on only one side). I’ve experimented with making flashes with lots of different double-sided fusible materials. Some don’t stick very well to tartan. Some types aren’t readily available in strips that are wide enough (about 1 ½”) to make good flashes (e.g., Stitch Witchery is great, but the widest that's available is 1 1/4"). And lots of fusible materials are too heavy and make flashes that I don't like because they are too stiff.

The best fusible material that I’ve found is called Lite Steam-A-Seam 2. It’s available at Joann Fabrics stores and at Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 irons well to tartan and also has the convenience of sticking temporarily before ironing. Flashes made with Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 are stiff enough to be attractive but retain a nice flexibility. And the fusible aspect keeps the tartan from raveling.

The instructions below produce four flashes, two for each garter. I like to match the tartan in all four, or make them in two sets of mirror image pairs. But, if you have a tartan with a big sett, this actually uses up quite a bit of tartan. If you have only a few scraps of tartan (such as those left over from cutting out the pleats), you can certainly make non-matching flashes.

For the flashes, you'll need:
-four 3”x7” rectangles of tartan (7" is an approximate length and will make a finished flash that's about 5 3/4" long) - shorter or longer is OK)
-four 1 7/16”x7” pieces of fusible web (see note above)
-four 5” lengths of black iron-on hem tape

If you need to make garters too, you'll need:
-two 18” lengths of ¾” no-roll elastic (this will fit just about anybody)
-two 4” lengths of ½” Velcro (gives lots of adjustment)

Peel one side of the backing paper off a strip of the fusible web. Center it on one of the tartan rectangles; don’t peel off the other paper. Iron the paper side of the web.

Leaving the paper on, fold the two sides of the tartan rectangle so that they meet in the center of the back of the flash. Press to set the crease. Leaving the paper in gives you a nice sharp line to fold along for pressing the edges. Open up the back of the flash, and peel off the other paper backing. Fold the sides down again, and press the flash well to fuse the web.

Flip the flash over, and press again from the front side. Lay the piece of iron-on hem tape over the join on the back side of the flash, having the end even with the lower edge of the flash (the tape doesn’t need to go to the top of the flash because you’ll fold it over). Iron the hem tape.

Zig-zag the top raw edge of the flash, if you want. Then fold the top edge over about 1 ¼”, and stitch close to the zig-zagged edge. If you don't have a sewing machine, you can cut another little strip of fusible web, slip it under the edge of the flash, and stick it together with the iron. Just be sure to leave enough of a channel for the garter. Cut a notch out of the bottom edge of the flash.

If you need to make garters, too, stitch the hook and loop parts of the Velcro to opposite ends of the lengths of elastic. Make sure that you put the hooks on one side and the loops on the other.

String two flashes on each garter, and you’re done!

Barb T.