Notions: Adding in Tucks

For this Thursdays episode of the ‘Notions’ series I thought I’d talk a little about one of the Tutorials I have come across in the last week. This will start an occasional ‘Series within a Series’ as I’d like to start sharing some of the sewing discoveries I have made. Not only does this spread the blogging love, it’ll give you all an insight into the different Blogs I follow, and the magnitude of advice I encounter on a daily basis!

These often support the techniques I am teaching, writing and posting about myself.

First up, this wonderful Tutorial from Colette on adapting a pattern to add in Tucks. This is a technique covered in my forthcoming Zine Darts, Tucks, Pleats and Gathers so this will be handy if you, like me, love this type of one off bespoke detailing…

Above is the Violet Pattern by Colette, which is available to buy here.

I am intending to use this detailing as a way to shape the Shirt after I have made it. The pattern is a little too large and I intend to place three or more tucks at the Centre Front to reduce the Shirts size to fit. I also think I shall have to place a couple darts at the waist to I may ‘fan’ the Tucks into the Darts, but that is a whole other story!

Above left is the original pattern, and on the right is the adapted pattern with Tucks.

For the tutorial you need:

Violet pattern and necessary supplies (fabric etc), Ruler, Pen, Two colours of Chalk Pencil, Tape and Thread.

Click on the above image for the Tutorial which, if a little pink for my tastes, is simple and easy to follow but will produce a unique garment.

If you haven’t already, do sign up for their weekly ‘Snippets’ emails which I am very much enjoying.

Happy stitching!

Three weeks… three Zines!

I am just about managing to meet my target! The third Zine was finished last night, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

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Seams: the Simple Stitches and Techniques needed to Sew is all about the basic seams you need to know to sew with confidence. It covers Plain Seaming, French and Flat Fell Seaming as well as taking the reader through Curves, Hand Stitches and Finishing among other hints and tips.

Containing both original illustrations and some taken from my collection of Vintage Sewing Books- which I am so happy to be able to share in this way!- it even comes with a free gift! A handy piece of beautifully soft Calico, so trying out all of those seams and hand stitches is no problem. It also comes with a copy of my 2nd Zine Books We Like, which is an illustrated guide to the Vintage Sewing Books I love, use daily and even teach my classes with.

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Available soon through my Etsy store, I think it looks most effective next to my first Zine- I’m becoming quite the publishing Empire!

I hope you all are having a lovely Friday… I’m off to the post office. I have had a small deluge of orders and I have to post copies of all of my Zines to my Mum!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Making Bias Binding

Bias Binding is a wonderful technique to master, and can really add a great detail to finishing your garment. There are two ways to put Bias Binding on to your Garment. The first is ready made Bias Binding, which can come in any number of colours, Satin or Cotton and with fun lacy edgings however; the other is Self Binding- when you hand make Bias Binding from the same fabric as your Garment- and is well worth a go. I really like to make up contrast Bias Binding, to add a little piece of detailing often only seen by me!

MODERN NEEDLECRAFT Bias Binding

The above is an excerpt from Weldons Encyclopaedia of Needlework, and clearly shows the process of making up Bias Binding, and joining the strips to make continuous Bias Binding.

Firstly, ascertain the width of Bias Binding you would like to make- I normally make 5cm wide Binding which allows for a 1cm Seam Allowance on each end and 3cm to ‘wrap round’. Place a measuring tape on the seam edge you would like to bind and take a look at what you think would look best. Times this measurement by two and add Seam Allowance for both sides. For example, if I wanted 1.5cm of Binding to show, the strip I would cut would measure 5cm-6cm.

First, using a Set Square or Pattern Master cut strips at a 45o Angle and as wide as is required. Cut along the lines, making sure the ends of each is at a 45o angle to the strip.

Bias 1Bias 2

From McCalls Sewing in Colour

Pin, Right Sides Together, as shown in fig. 766. Mis-match as illustrated by 1cm to allow for the 1cm Seam Allowance. Sew, remembering to reverse stitch at the beginning and end of the seam, and iron with the Seams facing out.

Bias 4

From McCalls Sewing in Colour

Once you have made up, and sewn together, enough strips for the length of Bias Binding that is required place the flat Bias Binding Right Sides Together on the Seam you are Binding. Sew, remembering to keep to your Seam Allowance very closely.

Iron, with the Raw Edges of the Seam facing ‘up’ in to the Bias Binding. Fold the Top of the Strip of Bias Binding down to match the Raw Edges. Iron nice and flat. Try not to stretch the Bias Binding. Fold over so that the Fold you have just created in the Bias Binding now lines up with the stitched Seam. Hand Sew or Machine Sew to finish.

Ready made Bias Binding is a little easier to handle and, when ironed in half, can simply be ‘popped on’ to the top of the Seam to be bound and sewn down as illustrated below.

Bias 5

From McCalls Sewing in Colour 

The above describes how I make and handle Bias Binding. You can buy Bias Binding makers  however; I have never found them very useful as I often want to make custom Bias Binding, to fit the Garment I am making beautifully. Which is why I have  chosen not to buy ready made Bias Tape.

Like Covered Buttons, I find that hand made Bias Binding creates a beautiful and unique finish to a garment.

Happy stitching!

Exciting times at Midnight Heights

Whilst remaining acceptingly sceptical with a healthy dollop of nerves I am in the process of sending out my first Press Release and Wholesale Order information. It has taken several months of preparation, photos being taken then discarded and taken again, re-writes and editing however; finally I am more happy than I am not so I have decided ‘heck, lets just do this thing’!

All of this planning has put me in mind of all the Mini Top Hats I have sent off across the World, and I wanted to take a moment to thank all of the many people who follow me, help me and who have been supporting me in this endeavour as I take the next step.

If you are reading this as a proud owner of the Laura After Midnight Mini Top Hat Kit, please gain as much inspiration for decorating your creation as possible, as you can see sometimes a bow is enough!

black hat photo shoot

This gorgeous little Black Silk Mini Top Hat was the first I ever made, and the first I sold! Taking inspiration for Victorian Riding Hats, I simply made an outsize silk bow to attach to the back, with a Birdcage Veil trimmed with some Organza Ribbon to finish the effect. It was bought by a photographer in L.A. who very kindly sent me the above photograph.

Black Hat 1 Black Hat 2

As you can see, it is super simple however; I just adore that! The next hat was a private commission and it was the first time I started to bring some more of my Costume knowledge in to the Mini Top Hats. Created with overlays of Cotton, Net and Lace, this little Hat looks like a slice of beautiful antique China.

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It also has some stunning Vintage Button adornments, with a ruffly lace edge to offset and emphasize the Tricorn. Also my first Tricorn, I was very pleased with the result. So I made another…

Tricorn 1 Tricoen 2

The thing I love about making Tricorns’ is, you get to use more Buttons! Again however; this has some pretty simple decorations which help to make the Tricorn shape stand out. This little darling went to live in Georgia, USA.

White Hat 2 White Hat 1

 

Another Mini Top Hat destined for a Wedding ensemble was this gorgeous Silk and Pearl pure white Hat. I overlaid Antique Victorian Corset Lace around the Brim and added a Vintage Art Deco mother of pearl Button and Feather. Sent off in its little Hat Box to Germany, this Hat was worn for a Victorian Steampunk themed Wedding!

And a couple more…

Gold Hat 1 Dark Blue 3 red hat 1

purple hat Red Hat 2 pink hat

 

I had no idea they’re were so many out there in the World! How glorious!! Remember you can purchase your own little bit of Midnight visit the Laura After Midnight Etsy store where you can find Hats, Kits and many more delights. 

Happy stitching!

Fabric Encyclopedia and Vintage Lingerie wonderment.

Vintage Sewing Pattern French 1950's Pin Up Corset Garter Belt Printable Copy PDF -INSTANT DOWNLOAD- Vintage Sewing Pattern 1930's French Tap Pants in Any Size Depew 612 -INSTANT DOWNLOAD- Vintage Sewing Pattern 1930's French Bra With Lace Inset in Any Size Depew 167 -INSTANT DOWNLOAD-

a selection of the wonderful Vintage Lingerie Patterns available from A Few Threads Loose, where there are also tutorials and how-tos to help you create stunning Vintage pieces. 

As you can see from my Vintage Sewing Techniques and Tutorials page, I follow a selection of Blogs about Sewing. One of them is the glorious A Few Threads Loose, and upon logging in to Bloglovin‘ I stumbled across her recent post entitled A Fabric Encyclopaedia.

In it she lists as many fabric terms as she has come across whilst sewing Vintage Patterns, with explanations of the fabric type. A lot of fabric which was popular even 50 years ago is not now in production, or has risen in cost and may not now be available to the home sewer because of this however; with this handy chart you will be able to find something similar. There is also a very handy Burn Test Chart, which is a technique to discover what sort of fabric fibers you may be sewing with: for example very loosely Acetates and Acrylics will burn and melt whilst Cottons, Linens and Silks will burn and char. There is of course many other distinguishing factors in the time and way they burn, the smell and melting/charring which help tell between different fabrics also.

A Few Threads Loose is inviting comments upon the subject so, if you have discovered some Vintage fabric or indeed a fabric reference which is puzzling you head on over. She’s lovely!

A Few of my favorite fabrics are (from The Fabric Encyclopaedia by A Few Threads Loose)

BATISTE: A very fine, lightweight cotton with a lustrous finish. Used for baby clothes, lingerie and blouses.

DIMITY: A crisp, sheer, plain-weave cotton with cord stripes or checks. Can be white, plain or printed. Used for dresses, blouses, lingerie, baby wear, and curtains.

FAILLE: A fairly soft, cross-ribbed fabric usually of rayon, silk or cotton. It has ribs but they are flatter than those of Bengaline. Used for dresses, suits and curtains.

MARQUISETTE: A sheer fabric in different weights made from cotton, rayon, nylon, silk and wool. Can be dyed, printed or with woven dots. Used in curtains and evening wear.

MERCERIZED: The process of treating fabric or threads with a caustic soda solution to produce a greater sheen, better dying capability, and more strength.

PIQUE: A medium to heavy weight  cotton, rayon or silk in several weaves. Pin-wale pique has very fine wales running lengthwise. Wide-wale has wider wales. Waffle pique has woven honeycomb check. Birdseye pique has a closely spaced diamond-shaped design. Used for baby clothes, blouses, dresses, summer suits and slacks.

PONGEE: Is similar to shantung but lighter in weight. It has an uneven, slubbed texture. Used for dresses, lingerie, blouses and children’s clothes.

SHANTUNG: A plain-weave fabric with nubby, crosswise yarns. It can be made from silk, rayon, nylon, cotton or poly-blends. It occasionally has a figured pattern woven in. Used for dresses, suits, blouses and curtains.

I am fairly swooning at such talk of the loveliest of fabrics! Oh for the budget for a sumptuous Cotton Batiste or a glorious shiny Silk Shantung!

Weaving processes, fabrics, finishes and fibers are also talked of, and on the whole this is a treasure trove of terms undoubtedly lovingly collected over several years. I strongly recommend a read!

Happy stitching!

Found!

These amazing Rings by Catbird

 

Catbird have a wonderful eye for the unusual, bordering on piratical so I am a big fan however; be careful, they’re expensive!

Some gorgeous fabrics on Spoonflower

 Vintagescream_copy_shop_preview Tree_hearts_marine_and_cream_shop_preview

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I want dresses out of all of them!
And Cardiff’s amazing curly Shopping Arcade…
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I can’t wait to visit!
Among six Historic Arcades in Cardiff, Morgan Arcade- dated 1896- is the best preserved. I just love the curly, curvy glass roof! Some of the windows are Venetian Glass, still intact which is truly remarkable. I just want to go soak up the atmosphere of this amazing place, have tea and cake somewhere lovely and imagine times past… I have heard rumour of some fantastic Vintage Shops amongst these Arcades too… eep!
Happy stitching!

Notions: Machine Button Holes

It’s confession time: I love, love, love Buttons & Button Holes! I am fortunate to have a Machine (aah Pfaff, you are wonderful!), which eats Button Holes for breakfast. Having worked on many Machines- new & old- which don’t do such great Button Holes I appreciate how wonderful this is.

I collect & use Vintage buttons where possible & here I have used some Vintage Linen Covered buttons, which I think are so beautifully utilitarian. This mini tutorial is from my Simple A-Line Skirt Tutorial however; I get asked how to make Button Holes all the time so thought I’d post this little snippet again.

My best advice when contemplating Button Holes is to do many practice runs. This is even a good idea when more experienced sewers as it highlights issues with the Machines tension, thickness of fabric- if the fabric is too thin some backing or interfacing may be required & even the sewer themselves as it is very tempting to pull the fabric when making a Button Hole which creates uneven stitches.

Firstly, Buttons need to be chosen (woop!), then Button Holes need to be marked & made.

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Measure the chosen Button, & add .5cm for ease to calculate the measurement of the Button Hole. For mine, I stitched 2cm Button Holes

Place the Buttons on the garment to decide where the best placement is. If you have been using a commercial pattern, there will be a Button guide printed & included however; I like to have a bit of a play with this. If using small buttons sometimes they look nice grouped in twos  or threes’ for example. When you have decided use the Buttons to mark where the Button Holes will start- Button measurement + .5cm for ease- & end as below.

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Above, left illustrates laying the Buttons out to arrange where they should be placed. Above, right illustrates the proper marking of a Button Hole with a line across & a line at each end showing where to stop stitching. 

Once the Button Holes are marked, the Button Hole Foot will need to be attached to the Sewing Machine. Without it Button Holes are worked by hand (which I shall cover in another post) or Rouleau Loops, Hooks & Eyes, Slide Bars or other fasteners can be used.

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With the Button Hole Foot attached, follow the Sewing Machines instructions to stitch the Button Hole. Mine starts at the bottom, then stitches the left hand side backwards, goes across the top, then back towards me to finish the right. A few practices should be made so that, when the final Button Holes are attempted, they are as neat as possible. The markings on any Button Hole Foot can also be used, as well as the markings drawn on the fabric, to ensure the Button Hole is stitched to the correct length. 

Cut the Button Hole open- carefully!- with Snips, Small Scissors or a Quick Unpick. It will fray a little however; with use this will stop. Match up the Waistband at the top again, and pin together. Use a pencil to mark the right hand side of the Button Hole through to the bottom layer, un-pin & place pins over the markings to make sure they aren’t lost. Sew the Buttons on over the markings, a tutorial for this can be found here.

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Illustrated above is the proper marking of the Buttons, highlighting the markings & the finished Buttons & Button Holes. 

There, easy peasy when you know how, right? Watch out for my next Zine which is all about Seams, and beginning to Sew and will have all sorts of interesting snippets of information for the beginner sewer!

Happy stitching!

 
 

Cutting it fine…

Well, another happy Friday has been spent in creating another lovely little Zine.

This one is all about the Vintage Sewing books I love, admire- and still use!- and think every Seamstress, or Seamster should acquire. It is also the last step in being able to sell my first Zine Understanding Vintage and Modern Patterns as it completes a little pack! I’m so excited!!

Pic 6Final packaging for Understanding Vintage and Modern Patterns, with free HB Pencil and copy of Books We Like. 

I am so pleased with the way it has all come together. I chose Dove Grey for the front cover and I like the subtle contrast between that and the White of the interior, and black of the Washi Tape seal. Books We Like is my 2nd week Zine- so proud I am keeping this up!!- and although I shall be selling it separately I’ll also be including it in all of my current and future Zines because I think these Vintage Sewing Books are just great. I have hand illustrated the covers of the favorites from my Sewing Book library, and given a little review. Most handy if you would like to pick up some Retro pieces of sewing history but don’ know where to start!

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Head on over to my Etsy store now to pick up your copy- only £3.25 with P&P. they will also both be available as a PDF soon…

Happy stitching!

Some stunning new Mini Top Hats.

New things have been listed (finally!) in the Laura After Midnight Etsy store, hooray!! I feel as if I am a whirlwind of activity at the moment, and had actually given myself today off. What do I find myself up to? Writing a new Zine, and excitedly photographing things for Etsy then listing! Oh well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead and all that!

Gold Hat 1 Gold Hat 4 Gold Hat 2

In the spare time that I do have, I’ve been hand embellishing some Mini Top Hats I made a while back with all sorts of lace, spangles and adornments I have found in my stash, and I do have to say that I am mighty impressed with the results! I bought a Vintage Embroidery book a while back which was all about the results Chain Stitch can give you if you layer it up.  As you can see I have used it to make Flowers and mixed it in with Spangles for a very effective and highly embellished look.

Cream Hat 3 Cream Hat 5

Above are just two, there are more in the shop! Because my line of Spats have proven so very, very popular, I have been working towards make a new and slightly more colorful range. What do you think? I adore the Pirate Spats soo much!!

Red Spats 1 Ship Spats 2

Stripe Spats 1 White Spats 1

In other news: I am on target for my 2nd Zine! Eek!

I am furiously commanding Photoshop to do my bidding as we speak, scanning in illustrations and generally having a high old time. This one is actually going to be given away as a free little extra with any Zines I sell and is all about the Vintage Sewing Books I use, and find most helpful. As I think every Seamstress (or Seamster!!) should own a couple and I have hand illustrated the covers and written a small review for a teeny tiny yellow Zine.

Right, time for tea me thinks…

Happy stitching!