The Midnight Atelier Skirt Making Book, a Stitch Bitch Companion!

So, this little number is now available in my Pattern Shop!

Front Coverpages pattern drafting skirt book

The Midnight Atelier Skirt Making Book, a Stitch Bitch Companion… a 36 page long, handmade and hand stitched little Pattern Making tome! Each includes instructions to Pattern Draft your very own A-Line Skirt… Choose to draw the Pattern straight on to the Fabric, or make one up in paper as also included are four separate Pattern adaptations to turn your original A-Line Skirt Pattern in to a Circle Skirt, Pleated Skirt, Tulip Skirt or Vintage style Pleated Circle Skirt! Wow!!

Available as a PDF or Hard Copy Print. Grab your copy today…

Happy stitching!

New Sunday Sewing Bees!!

sunday sewing bee image Are you as excited as me about the Sewing Bee? And have you seen my first crazy challenge?! I have had many, many enquiries recently about all sorts of Sewing related projects so I thought I would pop a few Sunday Sewing Bees in on the Calendar to help everyone out!

You can book up here, and they’re only £25 for the whole session or £5 an hour. There are six spots for each Sunday. I think they’re a super way to create your own course- book two and make yourself a Dress or something new and lovely to wear whilst joining in with Make Me A Wardrobe!!

They will also be a chance to learn at your own pace, without having to keep up with a class, and whenever you want! Alternatively, if you have been inspired by last years Sewing Bee, one of the many glorious Sewing Magazines or have a Sewing Machine secreted away somewhere, use them as a way to dip your toes and see if you like this crazy world!

Bring a Pattern and Fabric or use The Midnight Atelier’s extensive Pattern and Book collection to trace off a Pattern to make for just the price of the Pattern Paper!

Contact me for ideas and suggestions, or join the Bristol Sewing Club’s Facebook Page and talk to the group! Alternatively, you could use them to learn a specific skill… ever wanted to try your hand at Pattern Cutting? Designing? Embroidery? Have you liked a Course I have been running but couldn’t make the time slot? Come now and learn at your own pace!!

Find out more information or book here, and I look forward to seeing you soon!!

New Sewing Courses!

Phew! I have just finished updating the Class Schedule, and I have to say I am mighty proud of this one!

patternss  crochet club  machines

There’re Classes for beginners and more advanced Sewers alike, and I have tried to plan in fun projects like the Playsuit Course or Beginners Dressmaking Course which both have three different Patterns to choose from (and they’re all great, I promise!), as well as Project Days including an Introduction to Patchwork Day and the completely awesome and fun T-Shirt Project Day.

You guys who have already been stitching up a storm are also catered for and can choose from the Sew Anything Course– which starts soon!- as well as Lingerie, Corset and Vintage Pattern Courses. I’m almost envious, but I get to be there too, yay!

I also have a Social Media Training for Small Businesses Seminar which I am completely thrilled to be offering. I seem to spend a lot of time spouting off about how important SEO is, why I try to maintain an Editorial Calendar and why everyone with a Small Business should Blog in the first place, as well as blithering on about Internet Marketing and all the many minutiae of running a Small Business in this wondrous Internet age that I thought I would  share all of the bits and bobs I have learnt over the years to help y’all out!

Click here for more information but loosely this seminar will feature group discussion and worksheets plus handouts for future reference and is the perfect next step for your Small Business as you build your Brand and start to create more business through your website, shop and in person! It’s going to be such fun guys, I’m hopping with excitement!!

Places are limited by space so I’d book quick for all of the Courses and Classes.

Happy stitching!

Notions: Easy Breezy Vintage Summer Skirt

vintage pattern wrap skirt

 

From Vintage Chic, this gorgeous Summer Skirt- and Top!- Pattern is so easy and would look gorgeous on a beech, sipping a Pimms or wafting about Paris as we so often do *ahem*.  Click to enlarge the image and take a read.

The cutting is clever, and uses every scrap of fabric, the instructions clear and I think this could be stitched up in a flash. If you want clearer sewing up  instructions, follow my A-Line Skirt Tutorial to create the Waistband, Zip and Buttons. Measure your Waist and divide in 6 to discover the top measurement but don’t forget to add Seam Allowance! As instructed for the A-Line Skirt, you could also draw this out on Pattern Paper to double check your measurements, length of Skirt and Size/Seam Allowances.

I am sorely tempted to sew one up this weekend, the shape just looks to pretty!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Simple Patch Pockets

What with The Great British Sewing Bee, the return of Project Runway and Channel 4’s new Vintage inspired show This Old Thing, I thought I would share a few basic sewing techniques which could be used to re-vamp Clothing or customize creations!

The first is Patch Pockets! Who doesn’t like a cheerful Patch Pocket or two? Great on a pair of re-vamped Jeans or Shorts, even better on a Top or T-Shirt, they can be made in contrast fabric, lace fabric, matching fabric… endless fun!

patch1 patch2 patch3

Cut out the pocket as indicated by your Pattern, or to the size you want (plus 3cm Seam Allowance at the top and at least 1cm Seam Allowance on all sides). Turn the top over 1cm (above, left) towards the back, then 2cm towards the front (above, centre). Pin and stitch- using a 1.5cm Seam Allowance- at each end remembering to reverse stitch at beginning and end (above, right).

patch4 patch5 patch6

Clip the corners (above, left), then turn out the right way (above, centre). Turn the rest of the pocket edges in by the 1.5cm Seam Allowance and pin. Turn over and pin on to the main fabric of the skirt, shirt or other garment you are making (above, right).

patch7

Using the Zipper Foot on your Sewing Machine- to Top Stitch nice and close to the edge!- stitch around the pocket evenly. You may choose to do a fancy top as I have done to strengthen the opening.

And that’s it, simple right? To make the slightly more swanky Curved Patch Pocket click here. You can add them to both the A-Line Skirt– for the Gathered, Pleated or Straight versions- and Pyjamas Tutorials I have in the Tutorials Section as well. Now be off with you to make Patch Pockets for everything!

Happy stitching!

Great British Sewing Bee Weeks 4 & 5

SEWING BEE2

I am trying to write about the Weeks Bee a few days after it has happened because I think a couple of times I have given away the ending to people! Oops!! Having said that, I missed last weeks- Midnight Atelier is very, very busy at the moment!

So, what did we all think of Week 4, and the departure of Cerina? I liked this week, we saw a variety of different skills and problems the sewers had to think though, and some really varied outcomes! Who among us has made little people clothing? I have done my fair share however; it’s always been for historical costumes! What a fantastic little make those Dungarees were, they really reminded me of Dungarees my Mum made me and my Brother when we were little. Not so fashionable these days, but really lovely I think!

Whilst making up the Dungarees, the Sewers used a variety of Skills including attaching Snap Fastenings, Top Stitching, Flat Fell Seams (which I find delicious!), much talk was had about finishing off the inside of garments and some of the extra details the Sewers attempted like Cerina’s contrast Top Stitch and Tamara’s odd Piping detail.

Watch this space for a Flat Fell Seam- or Run and Fell as it is sometimes called- Tutorial. It’s a super strong Seam which you’ll find on Mens’ Shirts, Jeans and clothing which needs to be strong and durable. If you are hankering after a pair of them Dungarees, you’ll find them in the Great British Sewing Bee Book, which is well worth a peek. I shall also be posting about neatening the inside of your garments as there are several options!

So, on to Week 5, and the surprising departure of Jenni. To be honest, I think the larger issue this week is: what was Tamara wearing?! What a strange T-Shirty over top thingamy!! That being said, what an interesting week this was. The main lesson being: never make a man a pair of Velvet Trousers tee hee! But seriously, this week saw sewing a Cagoule up with Waterproof Ripstock Nylon- the pattern for which is in the Sewing Bee Book, sewing Leather and finally, Velvet.

Nick named the ‘Tricky Fabric week’, I am not entirely certain all of these were actually tricky. Having the Walking Foot would have helped them with all of these fabrics, and in fact my beautiful, wonderful, amazing Pfaff Industrial Machine has an in-built Walking Foot and I hardly ever sew anything without it. Fantastic machines Pfaffs, they are stuffed full of German engineering, never need servicing and mine can sew up to 10 layers of Denim and 8 of Leather without batting an eyelash! Highly recommended!! Any way… why don’t I think these fabrics are tricky? Because any issues the Sewers had were entirely down to handling and fabric choice.

Ripstock, whilst it shouldn’t be pinned in the traditional sense, can still be pinned in the Seam Allowance as you sew but parallel to the seam instead of at the more traditional angle. You will need to remove the pins as you reach them however; this will enable you to concentrate on feeding the fabric and stop it slipping. The Pattern for the Anorak is on the Sewing Bee Book and I think, with their instructions and watching the Sewing process from this week you would be able to stitch one up in a trice!

Leather is beautiful to sew, and has the added advantage that Patrick pointed out- it doesn’t need to be hemmed and can be left as a cut edge. I think that Jennis use of the Leather was the best. Didn’t the back of her Top look divine? Working as the sewers were, just on the two layers, the Sewing Machines should have had no issue stitching. I was left completely baffled as to what David was doing with that sticky tape. This isn’t a product I have ever heard of, or would use as Leather marks terribly when anything sticky gets near it! My advice for sewing Leather would be, don’t pin, take it slow and try to use simple shapes when seaming. Also, if you are sewing by hand, please do not use Chinelos ‘tip’ of using your teeth to pull the needle from the fabric!! Use a leather sewing needle, and small jewellery pliers!

With both of the above fabrics, cutting out can be tricky so you may want to employ Pattern Weights instead of the more tradition Pins. Take a peek at my Tutorial here to see how to make yourself up a few!

weight11 pattern weights

Velvet was the final challenge, and again I think the Sewers who excelled used the correct Velvet for the job. Cotton Velvet is perfect for making trousers as it makes up like a Drill or Denim would and you only have to worry about the fabric walking. What Jenni had to content with was too much for the time constraints of the challenge. With a slippy Viscose Velvet she had to worry about stabilising the fabric, it moving about as it sews and walking as it sews. Too much!

Velvet has a definite nap, which is the direction the cut threads lie in. When you run your hand over the fabric, you will be able to tell whether the nap feels smooth to the touch (the Nap is down) or pushing against the pile (the Nap is up).

From Threads Magazine

Traditionally Velvet is sewn so that it feels rough as you stroke down your body (the Nap is up),  this way will show off the deepness of the colour as it is non-reflective. If the Nap is smooth (or down), as you stroke down your body it will look shiny but have a paler colour. Click the above article by Threads Magazine to find more handy cutting tips for Velvet.

zip pic

Lots of really handy information about using and inserting Zips can be found in my Zip Zine, available from Etsy now.

One last thing I’d like to share, is Chinelo’s Blog. She explains exactly how to cut garments using measurements, and cutting the fabric without a pattern. Whilst this method is perfectly fine (and is in fact how I cut costumes, Saville Row operate and a lot of Upholsterers work), I would explore it with care if you are considering it and are a beginner. Maybe follow Chinelo’s instruction on paper first, or use cheap and cheerful fabric! If you would like to see how I approach this method you can take a peek at my A-Line Skirt and A-Line Skirt Hack Tutorials. Each teach basic Pattern Cutting methods and, if you make them up on paper first, you will have a pattern to use again and again!

As ever, I’d love to hear what you think!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Hemming by Hand

I am afraid I am one of those dreadful bores of a teacher who insists that Hemming is done by hand! It just looks simply beautiful, & gives a truly professional finish to a garment that has been carefully stitched together, by hand.

I have taken this Tutorial from my Simple A-Line Skirt Tutorial because this subject has come up a lot lately and I thought a refresher was a good idea… see, I told you I was a bore about this!! 

Turn up and pin the hem 1cm (3/8″). Iron. Then turn up & pin the hem 2cm (6/8″). Iron again, then set to Herringbone Stitching!

48 49 50

51 53

Measuring & pinning the Hem up a further 2cm, then ironing. There will be slight puckers which need to be ironed plat as small pleats, to be Hand Sewn down. This will help the fabric manage the curve, whilst remaining flat in front. 

With the Hem still pinned, & nicely ironed!, start Herringbone Stitching it down…

MCCALLS Herringbone Stitch

Illustration from McCalls Sewing in Colour, 1960. 

I know this seems complicated but I use Herringbone Stitch for all my hems. I first got taught this technique when I was working at the- now sadly closed down & sold off for parts- BBC Costume Department in West London.

The reason it was being used on costumes was twofold… firstly it doesn’t show from the front (at all!) and secondly, it’s super strong. If your heel gets caught & rips one stitch the rest don’t immediately unravel because of the way Herringbone Stitch is worked.

  

Often called Catch Stitch, as you can see from the above diagrams, it is a version of Back Stitch, in Cross Stitch form.

Firstly, thread the needle in a complimentary colour, then stitch a couple stitches ‘on the spot’ to start. This stitch is worked backwards so the first stitch you take will be through the main body of the fabric. Take a stitch from right to left but only take a thread of the fabric. This stitch should lie directly above the hem fold as illustrated.

Secondly, and roughly 1.5cm to the right of the first stitch, take a larger stitch through the folded part of the fabric. Do not go all of the way through to the front. Move to the right again and take another stitch through the main body of the fabric, as illustrated, and only taking up a thread. Continue until the hem is complete or you need to re-thread.

The examples above I have completed in black & white, so you can imagine how the stitches disappear when executed in a complementary colour. Click here for the original Tutorial.

I like to put on a good movie and settle in when I have a Hem to do…

55

Detail of the Herringbone Stitch, & the completed Hem!

Happy stitching!

Techniques and Tutorials

order of sewing ironing fan darts bias binding

I have just updated the Vintage Sewing Techniques and Tutorials Page, click the above tab to see it in all of it’s wonderful shiny, new glory!

Now included are links to my Notions series including tips quick tips on things like Pinning, threading a needle, ironing and general dressmaking, as well as tutorials for making a Simple A-Line Skirt, inserting various Zips, Machine Button Holes, Darts, Gathers and Pleats and a multitude of others! There is also a handy quick reference to all four weeks of Pattern Month.

I have also included a larger cross section of the many, many blogs which I follow on a daily basis- they’re well worth checking out. Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin‘ to see all of them.

Please do not hesitate to comment below if you would like to see a tutorial or Notions post about something which is not already there… I’m always looking for ideas! For a more comprehensive guide to Understanding patterns, Pleats, Darts, Tucks and gathers and making various Seams hop on over to my Etsy store to buy a copy of my Zine. There are currently four available, with more in the works.

Happy stitching!

If you haven’t… get yourself a Pattern Book!

As Pattern Month draws inevitably to a close- sob!- I though I’d post some last helpful advice for people who are maybe a little newer to the world of Pattern Cutting. I really hope you have been inspired by all of my posts, interviews and the many lovely comments over the course of the month. If you are planning on taking this any further my best advice at this point is, get yourself a Pattern Book!

Obviously I can’t post the entire contents of my wonderful copy (which I inherited mine from my Mum… although I think she would say I stole it!), of Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich for all to see- despite wanting to!- but I thought I would post a couple of examples of what Metric Pattern Cutting contains, and why you should probably grab a copy.

First off, remember when we relocated our Dart on our Basic Block? Here are some other options… As you can see, each creates a different ‘look’ and would be useful for different garments or fashions. As you create more and more Patterns for yourself you will start to discover that certain things flatter your figure more than others. For example, an Armhole Dart look deeply unattractive on me whereas an Underarm Dart is much more flattering! If I want to put the Dart in to the Neckline I will always do it in the form of a Pleat, or series of Pleats instead of a Dart as I think this makes the fabric look less tortured. This has all been learnt through trial and error, and I am sure as many people agree as disagree!

Dart PositioningOne way of Shaping the Waist on either your Basic Block, or Toile is by fitting. Once you are a little more comfortable with Drafting however; you can start to place basic shaping in to the Block to begin the process of creating your garment. I love a series of Darts across the Back of a Bodice, my thinking is that is generates interest in a sometimes plain part of a Garment, even more I love a Fan Dart!!

Shaping The WaistOnce you have drafted the Basic Bodice Block and Basic Skirt Block you can make dresses!! Obviously the below is the Basic Dress Block, and much would need to be done to make it remotely wearable! A Pattern Book will take you through all the stages however; to create the dress of your dreams…

The Dress BlockThe true genius of any Pattern Cutting Book is in the pages which teach you to mould the Basic Blocks in to wearable garments and below are the examples from Metric Pattern Cutting for the prettiest Sleeve contained within its pages (at least, I think so!), and the Basic A-Line Skirt. Neatly and clearly illustrated, each style also comes with instructions on how to perform the Pattern Alterations. When using any of these Books, you will be able to illustrate your Design with a Technical Drawing, then select the elements needed to create the Working Pattern, with a few minor adjustments, from the Book.

Sleeve

A-Line Skirt

Hopefully you are able to see the potential from these snippets. Please don’t forget to comment below with your Pattern Cutting advice, successes or fails… we’d love to hear ’em all!

Remember to also comment on this weeks Pattern Making Musings to win a Sinbad & Sailor Pattern.

Happy Patterning!

The Great British Sewing Bee!

uktv-great-british-sewing-bee-5I am slightly alarmed to see that possibly only two of the people pictured seem to be wearing their own creations! And one of them is a judge! I do hope to be proved wrong… They look like a jolly bunch, & I already know I’m going to be envious of their work space!!

I have no idea if I am going to love or hate this!

I am a staunch addict of Project Runway- & have been for it’s entire run of 11 Seasons, I have various Degrees & qualifications in Fashion, Textiles & Design, I have been making my own clothes since I was roughly 13 or 14 but sewing since I was 5 or 6 & recently started to teach Dressmaking, Pattern Cutting & other garment construction techniques to all manner of students… all of which has made me realize just how much I know, & the magnitude of my unquenchable thirst to know more!!

Normally this sort of programming would make me feel queasy & annoyed because they can be too simplistic & talk down to the audience, but having watched The Great British Bake Off (my Nan & Granddad were addicted & sold it to me!), I have to say I am intrigued despite the rather insulting possibility of being crowned ‘Best Home Sewer’. I would honestly hate to be classed as such, & I am dubious that this doesn’t slightly diminish what can be achieved by home sewers!!

Honestly I shall be watching because, as I teach a regular beginners sewing classes at Flo-Jo Boutique in Bristol & Cordial & Grace I’ll be waiting to be asked how to do the things they are!!

In the first episode, there will be three challenges for the contestants; a simple pattern for an A-line skirt, transforming a high street top by altering the neckline and producing a made-to-measure dress for a model. Two hopefuls will be eliminated in week one, while one contestant will win the prize of ‘garment of the week’.

From: www.digitalspy.co.uk

So, as I have been looking for a small project to sew up with regular Blog posts I have decided to choose one project from each week & follow along with the contestants! It’s something I occasionally did back in the day with Project Runway challenges (it’s always good to know you can make a Couture level gown in under 10 hours… if only for the ego boost!). All of the press released so far is saying they are starting with an A-Line skirt which I have already shared a pattern for here, but I shall start at the beginning & write several posts as I make one up. Starting with making up the pattern, pinning & cutting out, inserting a zip, fitting, making a waistband & inserting a buttonhole & sewing on a button, & finishing with making the perfect hem.

I have just come across this advance review…

The contestants are a nice bunch & the history lessons mildly interesting, but the ‘How To’ guides too vague to be useful. Perhaps in future episodes we’ll be treated to some Couture of exquisite beauty, but so far watching people hunched over a table sewing clothes simply doesn’t appeal to the senses in the same way as watching people create & consume food. [Claudia] Winkleman talks of a quiet revolution, but this one’s positively silent – for craft enthusiasts only.

From: www.timeout.com

… & my class earlier today of 10yr olds decided the stricter the teacher the tighter their bun, so I shall be whipping my hair in to shape, adopting my strictest tone and will adapt my weekly ‘Notions’ to clarify anything they may have skipped over- I am so determined to teach people how to sew the proper way that skipping steps & wishy washy instructions make me madder than mad!! I know it is because they are working to a time limit but really!

I have also just purchased the accompanying book, so I’ll make sure & do a review of that too… ooh I’m all excited & twitching to get stitching!

Aren’t you?