Top 5 posts of 2014!

Well readers, it’s been an interesting year! These are the posts published in 2014 which have been viewed time and again… thank you!

Whilst that’s self explanatory, I’d also like to say that the Pattern Free A-Line Skirt Tutorial and Pattern Month Tutorials beat these posts by a Country mile (but were published in 2013, so don’t count) however; this has made me so happy because I shall be concentrating on Pattern Cutting, Drafting and Making Up in the near future as I start to design and sell more Patterns.

I am so excited about this. I’ve got a new computer, new workroom and new passion and drive after a very hard end of the year which had left me questioning pretty much everything. But more of this later… on with the show!

1.

Simple Sewing: How to Make a Patchwork Cushion

cushion43This is a fantastic make for any young or new Sewers out there, and you end up with a pretty fantastic Cushion at the end of the make too… and who doesn’t like a Patchwork Cushion?! You can make this with a couple of Fat Quarters and some backing fabric too so it’s pretty cheap. I love Patchwork for instilling straight lines and perfectly sewn seam allowances, I’m such a dreadful old bore of a teacher!

cushion5 cushion6 cushion7 cushion8

See the original Tutorial here.

2.

Corset Month

corset month button

Following on from the release of my very first Sewing Pattern- the Eventide Corset Pattern- this March I did a Sew-a-Long for the next month with hints and tips to sew up your very own Eventide! With such a fantastic reception (and despite the evil new VAT regulations)  I shall be releasing more Patterns in 2015, all of which will have a slightly Victorian/Edwardian or unusual flavour. I can’ wait!

cut3sewing upstitched5 finishing9

See the first article here which has links to all of the posts.

3.

5 Tips for Product Photography

ring1 ring2 20140108_012706

Covering tips on Backdrops, placing your Products, Framing, Lighting and Editing Software it’s no wonder this tutorial is so popular! It’s part of an occasional series and was recently followed by 5 Tips for Craft Fairs.

See the original article here.

4.

Notions: Concealed Zips

czip12

The first entry from the Notions Series, which is (or is supposed to be!) a weekly photo tutorial on a specific technique. Lamentably abandoned in recent months, I will be resurrecting it as soon as I can as they are ridiculously popular, and exceptionally useful in class! It is no surprise to me this is the most popular as Concealed Zips are a problem for a lot of Sewers’, I’m just pleased this has helped a little bit!

See the original Tutorial here.

5.

The Sorbetto Top from Colette

slip2a

Who else is looking forward to The Great British Sewing Bee in 2015? This is a post I wrote to accompany last years Sewing Bee, when they made a simple top… which covered an awful lot of Sewing Techniques! A lot of my students were left in a spin and I like the Sorbetto for teaching these techniques, whilst making a garment from not much fabric (also known as, if it mucks up, don’t worry it didn’t cost too much!). Covering making Bias Binding and sewing it on, Slip Stitching, Understitching and a couple other techniques this is a most informative little post and the Pattern is still free over at the Coletterie! Wow!!

slip8 understitch1 understitch4

See the original Tutorial here. Added bonus, click here to see my Interview with Sarai from Colette!

Well, that was 2014, I didn’t do so bad upon reflection. I am trying hard to think which was my favourite post from 2014 and I think it has to be this one. There’s much to look forward to in 2015, and it all started in that little Studio!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Top Stitching

understitch4

Top Stitching- sometimes know as Edge Stitching- is as simple as it sounds however; there are a couple things you can do to make it a little easier and more professional looking.

The first is to attach your Zipper Foot. This will allow you to see a lot more of what you are stitching and, as you can see from the above picture, sew incredibly close to the edge.

The second tip is to try to line the edge of the Zipper Foot up with the edge of the fabric, which will act as a line to follow and keep you super straight!

The third thing to help your Sewing Machine accomplish this is to ‘help’ it sew over any seams, darts or other joins in the fabric. Because Top Stitching is on the edge of the fabric, there is normally at least four layers of fabric. Encountering seams on top of this extra bulk can sometimes cause the Sewing Machine to become stuck. Pre-empting this by stopping as you come to the seam, and rolling the Balance Wheel towards you to take stitches by hand until you are past the seam really helps stay neat, and keep even stitches.

Once accomplished, contrast stitching is a lovely detail and all of these tips are great for use on Under StitchingBias Binding and more!

Happy stitching!

Sewing Bee Snippets Week 1

As previously discussed, here are my insights in to construction details, tips and tricks, and practices used on The Great British Sewing Bee this week.

The contestants were really put through their paces this week sewing each basic staple fabric- Cotton, Wool and Silk. Their Cotton Tunic Tops displayed a very wide range in construction details- and finishing techniques!- and this week I set myself the task of making a Simple Tunic Top to remind myself of some of the basic, subtle techniques needed in a Seamstresses repertoire. Sewing something simple but very well is a fine art, and not to be sniffed at! I was not surprised that a few contestants ‘fell’ at this first hurdle, but managed to complete far harder tasks later on. In simple sewing projects, a lot of the sewing can be seen, and finishing- as May Martin said- is incredibly important to the final garment.

I chose to make Colette’s free PDF pattern ‘Sorbetto‘, which I have had on my makes list for quite some time now. Having fallen in love with a great Cotton Print fabric which was a little bit Mid-Century modern, this was the perfect excuse!

It differs from the Sewing Bees top in that it has a simpler Bias Bound Neckline but what do you think?

slip2 slip2a

 I am completely in love with it! The scoop neck is just right, the armholes and straps fit wonderfully- they’re a pretty interesting shape to be honest (I had to make an extra dart in the bust which didn’t help!),  and the fit and flair of the side seams is just perfect. I decided to Self Bind, meaning I hand made Bias Binding from the same fabric to finish the Neckline and Armholes however the hem is simply neatened and machined. Simple, and all sewn up and hand finished in under two hours!

As I said, this is a free PDF Pattern and I highly recommend it!

The essential tricks needed for a simple top like this are basic machine skills, good ironing and some simple hand stitch knowledge. Any top like this will only have two pieces- a front and a back- so a lot of the work you do will be in the neatening of the raw edges about the armholes, neckline and hem. Facings are one way to go however; Bias Binding is a another choice which I feel can make the garment look a little more unique. You can choose to Self Bind as I have, use a contrast, satin or even a lace edged binding!

slip3 slip4

 

Pin, and stitch the Bias Binding Right Sides Together on to your garment (Colette’s pattern instructions for the Sorbetto take you through this step in detail). Lay flat, and push the Seam and Bias Binding away from you as illustrated above right.

slip5 slip6

 Fold the top of the Bias Binding down by the amount of Seam Allowance you have (normally 1.5cm/5/8″), and pin. Then fold again to lie next to your original Seam. Pin parallel as shown.

slip7 slip8

 Thread a needle with thread twice as long as you need. Fold in half. Thread the loop through the Needle, and pull longer than the other threads (above left). Take a stitch through on of your machine stitches, and a small amount of the Bias Binding (above right) and, before the thread has been pulled though entirely, thread the needle through the loop and pull tight. this will anchor your thread.

slip9 slip10

 Continue down the length of the Bias Binding, taking stitches through the machine stitching and edge of the fold of the Bias Binding. Do not worry about making them teeny tiny, even lengths are better and mine are normally about 1cm or 2/8″ long. When you come to the end or need to re-thread simply thread your needle through the loop of a stitch to tie a knot.

slip11

 And there you have it, a nice simple Slip Stitch to finish any garment beautifully.

Pressing- not ironing!- is also essential and I have found a wonderfully demonstrative article on why ironing should be a firm part of your Sewing knowledge here. She makes quite the case doesn’t she boys and girls?!

A few notes on pinning and why even this jaded Seamstress still does it… … it means you often don’t have to hand tack pieces together. It is also a great way to keep things in place as you sew that may alternatively slip out of place. You can use Pins to easily control ease in a garment. They’re gorgeous, have you seen Merchant & Mills selection recently?! They’re invaluable when sewing darts and finally, they are often what helps a beginner or intermediate Sewer create a more professional garment. About the only time I don’t use pins is on straight seams I am piecing quickly. Having said all of that, use pins wisely as they can mark delicate fabrics- so pin in and parallel to the Seam Allowance- and sewing machines can snag on them.

Finally, to Under Stitching. A sadly neglected art I am afraid, and even I am guilty of ‘doing’ a Julie and simply pressing the Neckline down! No more! Here is my Tutorial to make us all Under Stitching superstars!!

understitch1  understitch3

 Pin the Facing to the Neckline and stitch the seam according to your Pattern Instructions. If you pin at a right angle the sewing machine will happily sew over the pins- especially useful when sewing curves! Remove the pins, and clip in to any curves.

understitch4

 Fit the Zipper Foot on to the sewing machine and, on the Facing side, and making sure the clipped seam lies underneath the facing, stitch round nice and close to the edge as illustrated.

understitch5 understitch6 understitch7

 The Under Stitch will immediately make the Facing ‘roll’ towards the back so that, with a little press, the facing will sit invisibly behind the front. Lovely!

The image to the far right clearly illustrated the technique of sewing the Seam Allowance at the same time at the Facing.

There was no discussion on hemming the Tunic tops however, I normally like to hem by hand.

I think these have been the most popular subjects raised since Tuesday however; I shall cover quick fix Skirt alterations in the next couple days just to make sure you all will be so up on your stitching knowledge you’ll be sewing in your dreams!!

Don’t forget to take a peek at Laura After Midnight on Pinterest, I have a great collection of free patterns and sewing projects over there from all corners of the globe!

Happy stitching!

Christmas Presents: Pot Pinchers & Oven Gloves!

How is this for a useful gift? As I have said before I really like to make Christmas Gifts for everyone each year however; I also like to make them useful which can sometimes be a challenge!

A couple years ago I discovered that Thermal Wadding is on the market- for a very reasonable price- which meant that that year I made everyone Pot Pinchers. These fabulous items are like mini Oven Gloves but they can also be laid flat on any work surface and used a Pot Stand to protect the surface from hot trays and dishes! How cool?

I was going to write up a whole Tutorial for how I did mine however; upon looking I have found the below Tutorials from various Blogs across the ether which show just how diverse this gift can be. They also illustrate some nifty techniques- like the Quilting. You honestly don’t need to spend much on the component parts either so this is the ideal Hand Made gift- thrifty, interesting, useful and pretty! Voila!

pot5

pot1 pot4

Click on the pictures above to be taken to the Tutorials. The first in courtesy of Adrianne from On the Windy Side. I just love her fabric choice! The Tutorial comes with a free PDF Pattern, and uses Fat Quarters. There are also some super tips on Quilting and preparing for Quilting which made this a very interesting read. If you have been wanting to get in to Machine Quilting this would be an ideal project to get a feel for it.

That darling little Heart Pot Pincher comes from Sew We Quilt. This is a great, straight forward Tutorial to make something pretty, and even comes with a free Patterns and Machine Embroidery template! I adore these little things, they use up larger pieces of scrap material very well, don’t take too much time to make up and look so cheerful in the Kitchen! As you can see you can lay them flat as illustrated, or us the pockets to ‘pinch’ and take things out of the Oven. These make up relatively small so you can skip the Quilting if you would like a simple make.

The last Tutorial comes from Skip to my Lou, and makes up this pretty swish Oven Glove! In this Tutorial, you Quilt the fabric, then cut the Pattern out which is a lovely, simple way of making up and the cuff is a nice finishing touch.

Don’t forget to check out my Bias Binding Tutorial! It takes you through all the steps to create your own Bias Binding to match, or contrast beautifully with makes like these!

Why not make a couple up this Christmas for that difficult to buy for relative, they even make excellent Gifts for Men! Wrapped up with a new Pie Plate, Casserole Dish or even some beautiful utilitarian wooden spoons (maybe decorated like this?!), they also make a pretty amazing Hand Made statement. For the ten or so sets I made my Family I chose to use Fat Quarters I had stashed, with a little add in here and there for the linings. For mine, I literally wasn’t allowed to go buy any fabric because they were the ‘samples’… … I had to patch together Bias Binding which I now think adds to the charm! I Quilted a different pattern on each side- for the Mustache fabric I only Quilted on the pocket side and whilst this looks fine I think I would always Quilt both sides in the future as I think it makes them a little more durable. I also used a little Costuming technique for the Bias Binding! I first sewed it on plain, then used a fancy stitch to set in place! I do this all the time now for Bunting and I really think it adds a little something, especially when done in a contrast colour.

pot9pot8

pot6pot7

Easy! As ever, I would love to hear if you have made any of the Tutorial I have posted for Christmas Month! Share here, on the Christmas Month page or on Facebook!

My Christmas Pop Up Sewing Emporium is in full swing and is happening on the 14th December!! I’m so excited!! Click here for all of the details, and do join us if you can! Watch out for more exciting Present makes all week.

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!

Notions: Bind a Corset

corset 2 corset 1 corset 3

When sewing bias binding to the top or bottom of a corset, match all seams & pin together as you would like them to be sewn.

Zigzag close to the edge (so that when the binding is applied you do not see it) across the top. This will keep all of the pieces nicely together & make the job of attaching the bias binding far easier.

With right sides together, stitch the binding along the edge of the corset. Stitch ‘in the ditch’ of the ironed fold of the binding. Remember to reverse stitch a little at the beginning & end to secure. Cut away any excess fabric to that the edge of the corset matches the edge of the binding- the the fabric is taller the binding will not lie neatly.

Cut the ends of the binding approx. 2cm long, fold in neatly then fold the rest of the binding over along the edge. Pin then slip stitch closed by hand.

Happy Stitching!

Please click on the images for the originals.

Notions: 6 ways to create a tip top Fascinator!

Fascinator Class 1 Fascinator Class 3 Fascinator Class 2 Fascinator Class 4

This week I taught my first Fascinator Class for Flo-Jo Boutique on Gloucester Road. As I am developing a fun little Fascinator Kit I found it especially interesting to see which elements people had difficulty with & I thought I’d pass on a few tips in case you all were thinking of making a tasty treat for your head this festive time of year…

1. To begin with make sure you have a firm base to sew things on to. You can use card or buckram covered with fabric, or felt it doesn’t matter so long as it will support everything you wish to sew on to it.

bias 1 bias 3 bias 5

2. Use Bias Binding around the edge to neaten, which comes in so many colour ways now it’s almost an art form in itself! I love to use Satin Bias in a contrast colour which I can then overlay with lace if I want. It is real easy to channel a Retro vibe with some of the patterned Bias Bindings! You could also go all out and make your own Bias Binding for all sorts of yummy effects, click here for a basic tutorial.

3. Pleat your base in to a cone to make it a little less flat. This will also give you a useful ‘platform’ to attach feathers & net & to decorate on to. Buttons look particularly fetching applied to the back of a cone shaped Fascinator.

skull  BlueCherry KER1619a

4. Although I tend to favor circles, your Fascinator base can be any shape you desire- heart, skull, star, anything!

5. You’ll be stitching through multiple layers to attach things & this can sometimes be tricky. Thimbles are an excellent way to help you with this however; I actually wind a thin strip of Gaffa Tape around the end of my finger. This doesn’t fall off & still protects me from gouging holes in my finger tips.

6. So, last but not least, what do you need or want to decorate you Fascinator with? I find the best way to approach this part is with a little planning… sounds dull I know!! I like to make a pile in the middle of the table of all the things I think I might like. Then I put my fascinator base against all of them and start editing! Also, more is more when decorating a fascinator. They are so small you may as well go all out for the fun of it!

Black and White Fascinator Flower Fascinator

I do hope you try to make your own Fascinator, they are so delightfully fun & frivolous & wearing one for the office party, or nice lunch out or even in the bath makes everything just a little bit more special & fun!

Happy stitching!