Handy Hand Stitched Closures Guide

I’ve just happened upon this brilliant Hand Stitched Closures Guide from Burda and thought I’d share as this weeks Sewing Bee mentioned Snap/Popper Fastenings amongst others. Many of these should be sewn on using the same stitch used for making the Button Loop. With a little practice they look very neat, don’t they? I am sorely tempted to make up a sampler like this for my classes! I’m finding it very pretty!!

burda fastenings image

Here is a guide to all your basic mini hand stitched closures!

1– Metal push snap: This snap button is manually sewn blind so that it is not visible from the right fabric side. Thanks to the S-spring in the top cap it also holds a lot stress. Available in different sizes and colors.

2– Plastic push snap: It is sewn by hand and is therefore not visible from the right side of the fabric. Great for application on baby clothes or to keep shirt collar tips flat (button-down effect).

3– Jersey push snap: A jersey push snap has five metal prongs that you push through the fabric. It is easy to install, without leaving holes in the fabric. They can handle a light to medium amount of stress, so they are great for cardigans!

4– XL Push snap: The fashionable mega-push snap is sewn by hand and also makes a good garment feature. Comes in gold, brass or silver and not visible from the right side of fabric. Can take more stress, just make sure to use a strong thread as well.

5– The “Non-sew” push button for anorak and sportswear. In order to apply it, small holes are punched into the fabric and riveted metal parts with supplied special tool. An S-spring ensures high permanent closure force. Available in various colors and sizes.

6– Velcro: This closure is popular especially in the sports and leisure sector and can be sewn or glued depending on the type. There in different colors and widths.

7– Hooks and eyes: Popular on corsetry, blouses and waistbands. Available in black, silver and gold in different sizes.

8– Pants and skirt hooks: Flat and invisible from the outside with a secure hold even under heavy stress. The closure is applied at the waist to secure a waistband overlap at the top of a zipper.

9– Fur hook for thick fabrics: Upholstered in fabric, the hooks can easily grab and be sewn. Like all the hooks it is sewn by hand and available in several neutral colors.

Click on the above image to be taken to the original post.

Happy stitching!

A-Line Skirt hack!

Hello lovelies! Having been very inspired by The Great British Sewing Bee a couple weeks ago, here is my A-Line Skirt Hack based on my super duper popular Patternless A-Line Skirt Tutorial to make an Inverted Box Pleated Skirt as they did.

The original Tutorial is amazingly simple, and I highly recommend it if you are learning to sew or want a quick make for a cute Skirt. You need just 1 and a half meters of fabric for the A-Line version, but you’ll need 2 meters for this Pleated version, which will make a knee length Skirt just as beautiful as Tamara’s was!

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Firstly, you will need to make up the Pattern for the A-Line Skirt. In the original Tutorial this is simply drawn on to the fabric after taking a couple basic measurements (a la Chinelo!) however, for the Pleated Skirt you will need to make it up on Pattern Paper.

Once you have your Pattern, divide the waist line and hem in to three, and draw a dotted line between the markings as illustrated. Cut up these lines to separate the pieces, the tape the first piece on to another piece of paper. Decide how deep you would like your Pleats- the Great British Sewing Bee had 8cm, and I like 12cm- then measure from the first dotted line out by this measurement… i.e. 8cm. Measure and mark out along the whole line, then tape the second piece along this line, effectively moving it 8cm away. Repeat for the third piece.

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Mark a circle at the top of each of the the dotted lines. This is to mark where you will need to make Tailors Tacks which will help you see where the Pleats are to be made, and keep the Skirt the same size as it is made up.

Fold your Skirt Fabric Selvedge to Selvedge (so you get a long, thin folded piece), then lay the Pattern on the Fold, pin the pattern and cut around. Move the pattern down, flip over and lay next to the Selvedge as illustrated and pin and cut again. If you have an obvious print, you will need to match it.

cutting diagram pleat skirt

Before you un-pin each piece, place Tailors Tacks on each mark. Tailors Tacks are a great way to mark your fabric without resorting to a pencil or snipping the fabric as you can with Notches.

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To make the Pleats, fold the fabric, right sides together, so that the Tailors Tacks lie on top of each other. Pin, then press the Pleat flat, distributing the Pleat evenly each side…

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… thanks to The Great British Sewing Bee for that! Once pinned, you can follow the rest of the A-Line Skirt Tutorial and sew the Skirt up.

Alternatively, and this word strikes fear in to my classes because they know what I am going to suggest will probably be exciting enough they want to do it but difficult!, you can sew the Pleats down before continuing to sew up the Skirt! I love this technique, it makes the skirt incredibly flattering, and distributes the flair about the Hip and not the Waist (which is great if you aren’t stick thin).

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Fold the Pleat so that the Tailors Tack matches as before. Place the second Pin 12cm down. Using the Tailors Tack as a guide, sew straight down (for example, if you have done 8cm Pleats, you will have 4cm Seam Allowance at this point and will need to sew 4cm away from the edge from top to bottom) until you reach the Pin marking 12cm. Remember to reverse stitch at the top and bottom. Distribute the Pleat evenly on each side as before, pin and then Top Stitch down each side of the Pleat on the Front as in the last picture.

Once you have pinned your Pleats, or sewn them down, you can continue to sew up the Skirt at in the A-Line Skirt Tutorial. You can choose to sew it up with the Simple Zip method included in the Tutorial or use an Invisible Zipper, or a Lapped Zip as in The Great British Sewing Bee.

As ever, I’d love to see your makes! Happy stitching!

The Great British Sewing Bee: Week 2

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Well, it all felt a little calmer this week didn’t it? All of the contestants seem to have settled down with the idea of the time limits, and we saw a lot more finished pieces! Yet again however; I feel I have been sent upon a whirlwind of Stitching terminology and techniques!

It was all about pattern this week. Matching, using, working and up-cycling with… stripes, florals, patterns!!

First up they made a Box Pleat Skirt in the Pattern Challenge however; they Inverted the Box Pleats which is infinitely more flattering. Matching those patterns across the pleats proved a challenge for many of the contestants, and I shall be addressing a couple tips on this later on in the week as well as sharing how to adapt the Simple A-Line Skirt Tutorial in to a pleated skirt.

During the second challenge- to take two Men’s Shirts and use them to create something new- Chinelo stunned me with her cute Summery top, with sculptural Bow. Patrick was quite right- to have the vision both Chinelo and Tamara had to see something that different was fantastic.

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Chinelos wonderful bow!

During this week they also inserted a Lapped Zip, Top StitchedSlip Stitched– which was how Julie finished her Waistband off on the inside instead of Top Stitching- Stab Stitched, attached several more Patch Pockets, stitched up Button Holes in a trice, and stitched on Buttons even quicker, and Piped those Pyjamas in the final challenge to within and inch of their lives.

I am being well and truly put through my paces as a Seamstress here, and I can only imagine how their heads must spin after their Sewing Bee days!! If you fancy making yourself some Pyjamas, see my Tutorial here. It’s a great introduction to simple Pattern Making and, made well, Hand Made Pyjamas are a luxury and a great gift! They’re far simpler than the Pyjamas the contestants attempted however; watch out for Tutorials over the next week which will cover Piping, Lapped Zips (a great Vintage technique, which I shall be sharing from my stash of Vintage Dressmaking books), Stab or Hand Pricked Stitch, making the Perfect Bow, and Marking Fabric.

As ever, click the link above to watch the show which will be live for two whole months!! Follow along here- don’t forget to sign up for my Monthly Newsletter in the side bar which contains exclusive offers and info- PinterestFacebook and Twitter.

Happy stitching!

Notions: Hand Made Button Loops

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As seen on this weeks Great British Sewing Bee, this lovely hand finishing detail is time consuming but excellent for finishing delicate fabrics and lingerie. It is a useful technique to accomplish as it can be used for Button Loops- as illustrated- the ‘eye’ for a Hook and Eye fastening, delicate Belt Loops, and even swing tacks for petticoats and linings!

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Start by lining up the top edges of your garment, then placing the Button where it is destined to be sewn. Place a Pin underneath the Button to mark its position, and put the Button to one side.

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 Thread your Needle (I’ve used double thread however; single is fine), and stitch through the edge of the Fabric from Front to Back where the bottom of the Loop should be (above left). Anchor securely. Where the top of the Loop should be, stitch from Back to Front (above middle). To clearly see where the Loop should lie, place the edges of your garment together, and wrap the second stitch around the marker Pin. Pull gently and if the tops of your Garment remain in line the Button Loop is balanced (above right).

I also like to make the loop slightly shallower then the Button itself- I think it makes it a little tidier and less likely to gape. To do this I place the Button next to the second stitch and make sure it is slightly lower (middle picture above).

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Anchor the stitch again (by either taking a couple of stitches on the spot or tying a knot), then thread the Needle from back to front through the Loop. Before pulling too tightly, thread the Needle through the back of the stick. Pull tight so that a small knot forms. Repeat all the way around the Button Loop. If you become tangled, un-thread the Needle and smooth out the thread. Sometimes running a little Beeswax over the Thread helps- an old Quilting technique- as it enables the Thread to pass smoothly through the Fabric.

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 Wrap your beautiful Button Loop around the marker Pin again to check the tops of your Garment are still in line. If they are not, sometimes you can adjust the positioning of the marker Pin (which is why we do not sew the Button on first!) however; you may have to unpick your work and re-make the Button Loop if they are still misaligned.

Finish by sewing your Button on!

As I am having to work quickly to fit The Great British Sewing Bee in to my schedule, I am utilising other blogs too! Find a similar Button Loop Tutorial over at Oliver & S, with a slightly different Crochet technique, and another at Pattern Scissors Cloth.

I am nearly done making the alterations needed to make up my sure to be gorgeous Tunic Top-Colette’s Sorbetto– which I hope to be making up tomorrow. I am so pleased that The Sewing Bee has inspired me to make some clothes for me again!

Don’t forget to join me on FacebookTwitter or Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Studio snippets

It’s been a hard week over here to be honest. Both Fella and I have had some upsetting news about family members, and it has been a strange, quiet, sad and stressful time. We are both trying to be positive however; as with anything unexpected like this is has taken it’s toll and I have found myself unable to write, create or do much other than read or be still. It is at times like this that I am least able to take control of my m.e. and depression so I have been sleeping a lot which I actually find to be very depressing in itself.

Last night I didn’t sleep, I read until it was light then napped for a while before Fella made me some tea (he selflessly used the last of the sugar on me, aw!), and I rushed off to work. Today I taught a Beginners Sewing Class where we made Christmas Stockings, Patchwork Cushions and Door Stops, then a Children’s Tea Party where I helped seven nine year olds make delightful appliqué Owl Cushions.  It was also the West Bristol Arts Trail today, and Cordial & Grace, where I was teaching, were hosting a gorgeous Artists’ work which meant a lot of foot fall, with people popping down to the Sewing Parlour to take a quick peek at what we were so feverishly working in. In all of this I simply forgot to be sad, contemplative or even quiet. I wrapped myself up in my days sewing and assisted, chatted, stitched and laughed with everyone, and I think it has broken the spell. I am still contemplative, and sitting here at my work table I find I am still unable to concentrate for very long, but I am writing and that is a true pleasure.

My heart goes out to my wonderful auntie Karen, who is possibly the rudest of all of my aunts!, and to my Fella’s Mum. Nothing like this could ever beat us but it has made us all pause, reflect and will take some time to process.

So, I though I would share some photographs I have been snapping of work in my studio over the last month or so, just little snippets really, but flicking back through them today made me happy so I am going to share them with you.

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This is me a couple days ago. I had wanted a small, black button. That was all however; my button collection- which contains anything from Victorian Green Painted Wooden Boot Buttons, to Art Deco Mother of Pearl gorgeousness- was strewn between a Vintage Sewing Box, my Vintage Kilner Jar collection and various zip-lock bags. So I quietly sorted through them for nearly a whole day. I love that my view now includes all these Vintage jars and buttons, and I am finding them endlessly fascinating.

Also, there is a sneak peek in to one of the tutorials I will be hosting for Christmas Month in the 2nd picture…

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I shipped so many orders a couple weeks ago, I had to snap the process. As I was just finishing packing them all up another one came through, for a couple of my Zines. I received a wonderful message from  Joan, the buyer, about them yesterday…

Just received the Zine, and I love it. I am an avid sewer, and have been all my life. I read in the Zine a few things I didn’t know and learned from it. I attended fashion school fresh out of high school. I had a partial scholarship to attend (FIT) The Fashion Institute of Technology here in NY/USA. Unfortunately, the scholarship was for only 5 months. My parents could not afford the tuition, so I had to leave. In those short 5 months I learned a lot. How to work on a mannequin, pattern making, etc. Thanks for sharing your little booklets. I have lately given much thought to writing my own zines. I use to publish newsletters, and have thought about doing again, but online.

Joan, I say go for it! Making up those little Zines made me unspeakably happy, and the return has been enormous. I didn’t really ever study Fashion somewhere glam like FIT, and I am envious even of the few months Joan spent there! Sewing, I have discovered, is a living, breathing thing with a life all its own. You can always learn something new, or a new way to do something. I am so pleased my Zines were received so well, and I a very much looking forward to releasing the next batch.

The first of the Sewing Tidys’ is winging its way across the Pond as we speak, to the last competition winner of Pattern Month, and I have been hard at work manufacturing more for my Christmas Markets Stalls. They’ll also be for sale in my Etsy shop so look out for this wonderful Christmas present idea. The picture shows a small selection of the many patterns I am making them from- my favourite is the Eiffel Tower blue and yellow print.

Finally, I made up some great Pattern Weights- the eco friendly pin!- and there will be a tutorial soon for these little darlings. Although these match, I am looking forward to making many, many more from the scraps of extravagant fabric I have stashed away over the years. I love the idea of having a Silk Shantung pattern weight, next to a Liberty print one, next to one made from fabric salvaged from a Vintage hanky. I may even decorate them…

I think this is the first glimpse I have given in to Midnight Heights. It is a cosy,ramshackle place but full of love, too many DVDs and lots and lots of fabric! I think I may have mentioned that I intend to move in to a dedicated Studio space in the next few months however; after a long time working from home, and despite having dreams of large open spaces with proper Pattern Tables at the right height, I am sure I shall miss it.

I’d love to hear others tales of working from home, and I sincerely hope everyone reading this is happy, healthy and creating like billy-o.

Happy stitching!

Spats n Hats… not just for Chaps!

Okay, okay… I just did that title ‘cos it rhymed!

I have a fabuloso new offer in my Etsy shop:

spats n hats deal

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Choose from any listed pair of Spats and a Mini Top Hat Kit to complete your look this season!!

SPATS:

Maybe try a Pinstripe? Or a Rootin’ tootin’ Old West Victorian Blood Red Silk pair?! Or the dandy Pirate Print? Whichever style you decide upon these ankle high Spats fit to the floor, and curve gracefully towards the button fasteners. The top of these Spats has been designed to fold down to create different shapes whether you are wearing boots, heels or shoes! A great addition to a Costumed night out, or a smart finish to any outfit.

Hand made and hand finished by Laura After Midnight the finished ankle measurement is 30cm/12”. All pairs of Spats to come out of Midnight Heights are delivered wrapped in acid free tissue paper. Simply convo your choice when purchasing.

MINI TOP HAT KIT:

Laura After Midnight’s Unique Mini Top Hat Kit is available in many stunning Silks and Cottons both plain and patterned. Included in each Kit is a decoration pack with Satin Ribbon, Lace, feathers, Vintage Buttons and many other details to decorate with.Each pack includes all fabric needed to create your very own Mini Top Hat with pins, needles, pattern sheet and full instruction booklet and decoration pack to inspire.The very first of its kind and stuffed full of wonderful little illustrations, this excellent little kit guides you through every step of properly constructing a Mini Top Hat using basic Millinery techniques that have both been taught and picked up over many years of Costume Making here at Midnight Heights! With added insights into stitch terminology and hints and tips any one who can hand sew can make this little darling hat, or learn to refine their technique. The pattern included is re-usable so with one quick trip to the haberdashery store you could make more for your friends, to give as gifts, add the finishing touch to a wedding party or just for you! All you need is a pair of sharp scissors, and thread to match. Finished height is 8cm/3″.Simply convo your choice when purchasing. If you do not see the colour Spats or Hats your heart desires please convo me! Midnight Heights is stuffed to the gunnels with delicious fabrics to please everyone innermost fantasies!

Visit my Etsy store now to purchase!!!

Had some fun at Midnight Heights!

Look! Look what I made!!

pincushionringfinger      pincushion rings

Aren’t they fun? They’re available in the shop to buy, along with a new Teeny Tiny Kit to make your own!

They are surprisingly useful, and mine (the Green Liberty one) makes me smile every time I pick it up. I wear it sideways on my index finger, or on my thumb and it’s great for all of the hand sewing I have been doing recently.

The White one is made from a Vintage Handkerchief with the sweetest flower embroidery. They all have Vintage Button centres, and measure about 1″ or 2.5cm across.

ring white 2 ring flower 2 ring pink flower 2

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Click the photographs to buy!

What colour would you choose… or do you fancy a Laura After Midnight Pin Cushion Ring in another colour entirely?

Happy stitching!

Midnight Makes

I have taken a little absence from blogging recently. This was in part due to the fact that I was super busy however; it was also because I have been feeling a little aimless and adrift from my creativity recently. The time off has been incredibly helpful, I have been reading up on information on marketing, and ways of expanding your business. I have also been reading a lot on making targets, strategies and deadlines for your business, whilst measuring what I class as ‘success’, and this has been enormously helpful. It is easy to get waylaid by other peoples successes, and it is important not to let their version of success affect yours.

Taking what I have learned from the past year of Laura After Midnight, and looking towards the next few months, I have managed to form a coherent business plan which centers around Christmas. A lot of what I make under the guise of Laura After Midnight sold extremely well in the last quarter of 2012, and I think this is due to the inherent ‘gifty’ nature of the products. I shall be booking in to as many Christmas markets as I can find in and around Bristol, and indeed I have booked two already!, as well as re-marketing my Etsy store towards this angle too. I am having a  slight re-brand also and just these few simple decisions have infected me with creativity!

I have made several new products already- it feels weird to be making Christmas products in this heat wave- which has proved very informative. Working on these now has allowed me to use them, and have others use them and re-design where necessary. It has also relaxed me towards my sales month-to-month. I have a target in place for sales over the Christmas period, and I am finally working towards something again which feels fantastic!

The first new product is this delicious new Sewing Tidy. I am so super, wonderfully excited about this! Don’t you just love how neatly it packs away, with sweet little buttons. It’s just a little over A5 size, so it will fit all the small paraphernalia needed for a spot of sewing. I just took this camping with me and it was enormously useful. It will come with a Seam Ripper, Tape Measure, Pencil, Pins and Needles to get you all started. Hand made from colourful 100% Cotton, with a gorgeous utilitarian Calico liner, pocket and elasticated loops.

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aura After Midnight Sewing Tidy, available soon £8.50. 

As a response to my Etsy sales I have started to develop a range f Teeny Tiny Kits. They will be given away with larger orders, as I felt customers spending over £50 should really be thanked properly!

The first is the Beautiful Covered Buttons Kit, with a Rosette Badge, Mini Bunting and Fabric Flower Brooch to follow soon. I’m going to try to always make these from the excess fabric I have collected over the years- the fabric that has been ‘paid for’. This will mean that they can be created for next to nothing so they can be given away. It also means that when they are for sale they will only be £2.50! Shiny!

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Laura After Midnight Teeny Tiny Kit, available soon £2.50. 

And finally, I have put my Up-Cycling hat on! I have hoarded some stunning images over the years torn from the pages of such iconic magazines as Italian Vogue, and I have decided to put them to use! Designing an envelope template I cut them, pasted them with yummy Washi Tape and Voila! Gorgeous, useful and interesting notelet envelopes. I shall use them to give the Teeny Tiny Kits away, care information for my products and as notelet sets. I think they are so cool I hurt looking at them… completely channeling the 90’s too, with the electric blue string to tie them closed!!

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Envelopes and Notelet Sets, available soon from Laura After Midnight. 

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Envelope, Note Card, Product information with Discount Codes and Teeny Tiny Kit with Address Label… this delightful little package will be enclosed in all orders over £50 however this is how all Teeny Tiny Kits will be packaged.

I am working away- after midnight in true form because it so much cooler then!- and will share more soon.

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!

 
 

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!