Pattern Ponderings

A cheerful, Monday morning to you all. I have my delicious Phoenix Latte in front of me, and today I’d like to chat about Free PDF Patterns. Yes my lovelies, truly free Sewing Patterns! What bliss! Using a Pinterest or Google search will pop up quite a few, even 1000’s of these however; I thought I’d share a few of the ones I like the most.

This week, I am still lusting after dresses, and easy to wash, wear and care work wear… which rhymes. So I have found, for your delectation and delight the following…

An Urban Outfitters Ecote Dress Knockoff. Now, as a lifelong Pattern Cutter I love a bit of searching the High Street for what you like but can’t afford and then popping home and making it up. In doing this I normally add/take away elements the original may have had or been lacking and end up with something unique in the process.

free pdf patterns postThis includes a hand made Pattern, full Sewing Instructions and would be a super easy make. There’re also instructions for making it larger (as I would have to)… I think I’d also be adding a little flair to the hem because this suits my body shape, and maybe some side seam Pockets. You’ve gotta love a bit of a Pocket in a contrast fabric!

This Pattern comes in a Small but you can find info on re-sizing Patterns here.

Next up is the Hemlock Tee Pattern from Grainline, which you may have heard talk about as it seems to have been endlessly made by many a Blogger! Paired with some Jeans or maybe some Capri or Cigarette Pants I think I would be happy with several of these! They’d also be a fab way to introduce yourself to sewing with Jersey (if you can’t make my T-Shirt Project Day of course!).

Britex x Grainline Studio | Hemlock Tee Pattern

The Pattern can be split to create a Two-Tone effect which I rather like. She also has some great tips for working with Jersey (She actually uses Tissue Knit, which can be awkward as hell but lovely!) and the Tutorial is very easy to understand however; you will need a Serger/Overlocker if you want to create it as it is in the Tutorial. A simple Stretch Stitch on you Sewing machine will enable you to create the top if you do not have access to one.

This Pattern comes in a S/M but you can find info on re-sizing Patterns here.

Finally, this fab-o Cropped Jacket Pattern from Camelot Fabrics!

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This also comes in a S/M so check out re-sizing info here. I love the balance of this little Jacket, the Collar and the Short Sleeves. I think it would look amazing over a little dress for work or over Jeans and a Tee as they are wearing it. I’m always getting chilly so maybe this could be the answer for those awkward Spring into Summer days?!

It too includes a free PDF download, and The Coletterie have a great Blog Post about using PDF Patterns here. Having used quite a few, my advice would be to stick all of the A4 sheets together as explained then trace off on to Pattern Paper as this is much easier to use and pin onto Fabric. This has the added advantage of being able to pass the Pattern around if you know someone who would also like to make it! Ta da!!

Can’t wait to share more of these with you all, I am also working on a new Pattern Month all about Trousers so watch this space… it’s about to become Pattern Drafting central!

As ever, if you are in the Bristol area, why now check out my Classes and Courses, join me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter?

Happy stitching!

 

 

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!

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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!

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

3.

5 Tips for Product Photography

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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

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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

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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!!

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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: The Sorbetto Top from Colette

My lovely new issue of Love Sewing Magazine has just arrived- a much anticipated event!- and I have just been reading the article written my Sarai of Colette (click here to see my Interview with Sarai last year) about making their free PDF Sorbetto Top. It reminded me that I wrote a little about making my Sorbetto up earlier this year for The Great Bristish Sewing Bee!

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I am completely in love with this Pattern! The scoop neck is just right, the armholes and straps fit wonderfully- they’re a pretty interesting shape to be honest,  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 BEST thing? It only took an hour, yippeee!!

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!

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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 (which was hotly contested during The Great British Sewing Bee!) and why even this 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 this and just pressing the Neckline down! No more! Here is my Tutorial to make us all Under Stitching superstars!!

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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! Remember that all Laura After Midnight Patterns are also available at PDFs here!

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?

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 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!

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.

 loop12 loop13

 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!

Sew-a-Long News and The Sewing Bee excitement!

You may have seen my post recently about the Laura After Midnight Corset Pattern release and Sew-a-Long. I have made the decision to postpone this because… deep breath of excitement…

The Great British Sewing Bee is back!!

Until about a week ago the BBC had said this would air in April, and I was organising some pop up events and blog posts etc to follow along however; they have decided to start airing from tomorrow night! Eek!! After a quick panic, I have decided to support the classes I will be running alongside The Great British Sewing Bee, which meant that the Sew-a-Long had to be pushed back as I do not want to rush it!

So, the Corset Pattern and Kit will be available for pre-order from the 3rd March, and the Corset Sew-a-Long will now take place from 7th April, and I have changed the dates in the original post to reflect this.

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Do not worry however; I shall be sharing all sorts of sewing, pattern and stitchery goodness over the next 8 weeks- it promises to be quite eclectic!- and might even run up a couple quick Sewing Bee Sew-a-Longs from their new book! I have some more interviews with a couple of Independent Pattern Companies in the return of my popular Pattern Making Musings series, I shall be hosting drop in classes every Sunday and blogging alongside the programme to help highlight some of the information, tips and tricks, and choices the programme makes. The biggest comment I noticed coming out of last years Sewing Bee was that some elements were either not explained, or explained too quickly and I hope to assist in rectifying this. They only have an hour after all!!

The first show will test the contestants on the three core fabrics in a dressmaker’s cupboard: cotton, wool and silk. In the surprise pattern challenge, the sewers must create a simple tunic top from straightforward cotton. For the alteration challenge, a plain high street woollen skirt must be dramatically altered within a 90 minute time limit. Lastly, the contestants must then create a made-to-measure silk nightgown. (Original source here)

I shall be making up Colettes Sorbetto‘ Top as an excellent illustration of making up a Simple Tunic Top. I shall also be talking about grading the patterns in the first Great British Sewing Bee book, different fabric choices, their treatment, usage and wear-ability (and some top tips on where to buy fabrics!). For their alteration challenge I shall be altering a skirt I made up a couple years ago with a slightly curious hem detail which I now don’t like! I’ll be creating a scalloped Vintage style hem instead!

Because this series has been slightly sprung upon us all, I am not sure that every week will be as good as this but I shall endeavour to write as much as I can- because it’s so much fun! I really do feel that you get a little glimpse in to my life as a Costumier when viewing their 90-minute challenges!! On many an occasion I have had to sew up pieces at lightning speed, and I think this is the bit of the programme I like the best.

So, whose with me?

There are several ways you can follow along with me. I shall be continuing to Pin Techniques and Advice on to my Sewing Boards on Pinterest here. Share your makes, or take a peek at what I am up to on Facebook here, Tweet me your burning Sewing quandaries here and finally to get all the latest news, offers and general loveliness why not get yourself on to my monthly Newsletter?

I think that you will agree from the above that the wait for the Corset Sew-a-Long will be worth it as I am going to use the time to add in a Waspie Pattern, and I shall be releasing my much anticipated Button Up Spats Pattern in just a few short weeks!

Because The Great British Sewing Bee is a BBC production there won’t be any repeats from last year however; you can watch the first Series of the Great British Sewing Bee on-line in various places such as here.

If you are itching to get stitching why not have a peek at my range of Sewing Bee inspired posts. Clickhere to see all of them, but here are my favourite… …

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How to make a Simple A-Line Skirt from start to finish.

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Basic Patch Pockets.

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Inserting Concealed Zips.

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Making fabulous Roulaeu Loops.

Happy stitching!

Pattern Month, signing off.

So, it is all over… and what a glorious, action packed, fun Month this has been!

I would very much like to thank all who have joined in, commented and taken part in Pattern Month. Congratulations to the winners of Pattern Making Musings- but don’t forget to comment until Midnight on the 4th October on my interview with Madalynne!- and a HUGE thank you with sprinkles on to those who allowed me to interview them! IN-HOUSE Patterns, Colette, Sinbad & Sailor and Madalynne were all very gracious and enthusiastic.

The reception to everything I posted, wrote about and shared has  been so lovely that I am sure I shall soon be declaring Pattern Month again… there’s just so much more to talk about!! I sincerely hope it has inspired creativity, and even adventure in some of you. It’s so wonderful to be able to create your own designs and then make them up that I strongly urge anyone thinking about it to give it a go. Once the maths has been mastered- there’s a lot of it, sorry!- and you become more accustomed to thinking 3D whilst looking at a 2D Pattern you will be fine.

If you have been following along and created either Flat Patterns, Blocks, Toiles or even a Working Pattern or final Garment please share! It would be so lovely to see what you have come up with.

I shall be teaching a Garment Construction Course over the next month specifically designed to teach my Pattern Cutting Class how to make up their designs. I’ll be posting about their progress, and sincerely hope you share yours.

I’ll be taking a well earned break over October but November is another matter… stay tuned for exciting news! Eek!!

Don’t forget to check out Laura After Midnight exclusive Zines, and the original Pattern Month post. Find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter too.

Happy stitching!

 

Pattern Making Musings: Madalynne

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Welcome one, welcome all to the last Pattern Making Musings! Boy, what a month it has been, and we are ending on a high with some great advice from Maddie of Madalynne.

Starting as something to occupy her during a holiday, Sewing turned out to be the most amazing transition for Maddie and you should hop on over to her website to have a read of how she got where she got! Starting out as a self confessed ‘Science Nerd’, she attended college yet never graduated, deciding instead to do something which I strongly advocate- get industry experience and stay there if someone offers you a job! Starting out as a Production/Technical Designer- which means tons of Pattern Making!- for Urban Outfitters she now teams Dressmaking and Pattern Making with Blogging for Urban Outfitters and Madalynne.com… but I’ll let Maddie introduce herself properly…

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Hi, my name is Maddie Flanigan and I am the blogger behind Madalynne, the cool sewing and pattern making blog. If Steve McQueen was the ‘King of Cool,” then Madalynne is the “Queen of Cool.” My blog covers everything from how to draft a Sloper (Basic Block) to interviews with seamstresses and what projects I’m currently working on. For two and a half years, my day job was in the technical design department for a very large fashion company in Philadelphia, and about a year ago, this company took note of my personal blog and asked me to start an intranet blog that would create a cohesive voice for all their brands. Sweet, right? I consider myself one lucky lady to be able to do what I love both day and night (blog and sew), not to mention I receive a stellar discount off some really fancy clothes!

Do you have any other Blogs or Websites you would recommend?

All sewing and pattern making blogs provide a lot of useful information and each one has their own vibe. If you’re looking to strengthen your patterning and sewing skills, don’t focus on a particular blog, instead, pay attention to the post content. Any post about a garment that a blogger just made will detail the construction steps and tricks they used – that’s where you gain a lot of information.

What has been the best piece of Pattern Cutting advice you have been given?

The best pattern making advice that was been given to me was “use common sense.” At the time, I was working as an assistant technical designer and the woman I reported to, Alla, was a Russian pattern maker with over 30 years experience. I was a newbie in the industry, so I asked a lot of questions, but a woman can only handle so many, “Should I reduce the rise? Can I bring in the width from the side seams? What if I increased bottom opening?” After asking my umpteenth question, Alla turned to me and said, “Use your common sense!” So simple, but so true. Pattern making is not rocket science – a pattern’s curves and shapes must make sense and if they don’t, just put two brain cells together and make it make sense.

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What is your must have item of equipment?

For this question, I’m going to have to answer with one of the simplest tools – a ruler or a measuring tape. Because I have experience in technical design, I’m a numbers kind of pattern maker / seamstress and I rely on my “specs.” When drafting, sewing, or altering a shirt, and this concept applies to other garments as well, I know that a body length spec (HPS to bottom opening) of 24” is perfect for my height and that anything longer than 29” long will look like a tunic on me. I stick to my numbers so much that I know my armhole depth by heart!

What Pattern, that you have you made, makes you the most proud?

I used to make elaborate garments that would take months to complete, but after finishing them, those clothes sat in my closet unworn because, well, where the heck am I going to wear a ball gown?! Over time, I’ve simplified the things that I make and as a result, I’m wearing more me-made clothing. Now, what makes me proud is not only that a garment is beautifully constructed, but that it’s wearable.

Which if the Independent Pattern Companies out there do you love at the moment?

Right now, my favourite pattern line is actually a book – Stylish Dress Book. It’s a Japanese sewing book that contains 15+ simple patterns. The designs are simple but also feminine and pretty. What I like most about these books is that even with a demanding full-time job, I can complete projects within weeks, not months, and that’s a great feeling.

How super cool is Madalynne? I especially love her advice about using your common sense. I am always telling my Pattern Class to use their eye, and if it looks a little odd on the Flat Pattern, it probably will make up odd. Don’t be timid- ironing out mistakes is what Toiles are for!

As ever, I would love to hear what you all have to say, comment below to join in! If you would like to read the other Pattern Making Musings the first was by Alexandra of IN-HOUSE Patterns, the second was from the lovely Sarai of Colette and last weeks was from Hannah of Sinbad & Sailor. Don’t forget to comment on Hannah interview to be in with a chance of winning a fandabbydozey Pattern from this new but oh so cool Pattern Company!

This weeks give away is all me baby! I am offering up the below bundle of goodies…

win1      win2

A delicious Vintage Butterick Skirt Pattern, a stack of Dressmaking Zines including my newest Zips Zine, and one of my soon to be launched Sewing Tidy’s! Wow!! As ever, comment below to win. I’ll close the competition at midnight GMT 4th October 2013.

If you have just stumbled upon Pattern Month feel free to catch up through various posts from making the Basic BlocksToile and tips like Marking your Patterns, the Order of Sewing,  and Scaling Up Vintage Patterns! It’s great to have you with us!

Happy Patterning!

Notions: The Order of Sewing

As we have started to develop our Final Working Pattern, it is important to start thinking about the Order of Sewing.  I find it helps me work out what Pattern pieces are required, I am forever forgetting Facings, and Seam Finishings for some reason, but when I start to think about making the final garment up I remember all the small details which are needed.

The following is an Order of Sewing from the McCall’s Sewing in Colour book. The whole book is a gem and has some exceptionally helpful advice about preparation, and the stages which need to be mastered before you start to sew and make the garment up.

Click on the images to enlarge- the pictures really are quite charming!- and have a read.

order of sewing 1

order of sewing 2

As we near the end of Pattern Month, I am in reflective mood! From the wonderful comments and conversations I have had with so many of you, to the inspiring advice handed out via my Pattern Making Musings series and the many new cyber-friends I have made because of my obsession I am sad it is coming to en end however; I am enormously happy and proud to have carried this off!

Please don’t forget to check out past Pattern Making Musings from IN-HOUSE Patterns, Colette and this weeks from Sinbad & Sailor. Remember to comment on this weeks to win a great Sinbad & Sailor Pattern- they’re super fun so check them out!! To find out what all this is about, and see a breakdown of all the posts so far, click here.

From Basic Blocks, to Toiles and Working Patterns this has been quite the month!

Happy Patterning!

How To: Etsy’s Sew Your Own Leggings

I don’t often re-blog things (having had some super nasty comments from the owners of the original post despite following all the rules!) however; this was just so dazzlingly, fabulously, wonderful that I had to share it! Especially because it’s Pattern Month. I also know that many of you aren’t Etsyians and maybe don’t get their emails with tutorials, helpful advice and general news in them so here goes…

Etsy’s How-Tuesday: Design and Sew your Own Leggings 

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

See the original post here, or click any of the pictures to be taken to the original post too.

This post was written for Etsy by Cal Patch. Check out her Blog here

I adore leggings. I live in leggings. I always wish I had more leggings: colored ones, printed ones, stripey ones, long cozy woolly ones in winter, and shorter lightweight cotton ones in summer. I wear  them under dresses or tunics, I wear them to the gym, I lounge and sleep in them. As a clothing designer, I’m glad I can make my own, because when I look around I don’t see nearly enough options out there in fun colors, prints, and natural fibers. Today I’m going to show you that you can make your own leggings, too!

You’ll need to measure yourself, draft a pattern, get some stretchy knit fabric, and stitch it up. This isn’t a difficult project, but I’m assuming you’re at least a competent beginner sewer. Let’s get started!

Materials You’ll Need:

For the pattern:

  • Paper to make the pattern. Get a pad or roll; bigger is better. (I like an 18 x 24” pad of drawing paper.)
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Scissors (for cutting paper)
  • Tape measure
  • Ruler (clear 18” x 2” sewing ruler is best)
  • Clear tape

For the leggings:

  • About 1 ½ yards of nice stretchy knit fabric, like cotton/Lycra jersey.
  • About 1 ½ yards of cheaper stretchy knit fabric, like cotton/Lycra jersey (for the muslin).
  • All-purpose thread to match.
  • Pins
  • Scissors (for fabric)
  • Sewing machine

You’ll need the following measurements:

  • Length
  • Half Waist (Waist divided by 2)*
  • Thigh Circumference*
  • Knee Circumference*
  • Ankle Circumference*
  • Front Rise Height
  • Back Rise Height
  • Distance from Thigh to Knee
  • Distance from Knee to Ankle

Okay, now let me explain how to go about measuring each one, as I’ve no doubt you might have a question or two! I’ll explain them as though you’re making the leggings for yourself, but you can make them to fit anyone, even kids. All of these measurements can be taken while holding the tape fairly snugly; you might want to wear something close-fitting (like a pair of leggings) as you measure. Actually, if you have a pair of leggings that fit well, putting them on will help you in determining some of these measurements that you may never have thought about before, such as where you’d like the waist to sit.

Length: This is really a design decision, but it will also relate to your body.  Hold the tape measure at your side, where you’d like the waist of the leggings to sit (anywhere from waist to hip), and drop it down to your ankle. A full-length mirror should help you see the measurement of your desired length. If in doubt, I recommend going an inch or two longer. You can always shorten!

Half Waist (divided by 2)*: Measure around your waist, at the point where you want the top of the leggings to sit (and where you measured your length from). If this is more like your hip, that’s fine! Just measure yourself there. Then divide this number by 2, for your half waist.

Thigh Circumference*: Measure around the full circumference of one thigh, at its highest point (just below the crotch).

Knee Circumference*: Measure around one knee.

Ankle Circumference*: Measure around one ankle, exactly where you want the leggings to end.

Front Rise Height: This might sound odd, but here’s the best way to get this measurement: Take your ruler and hold it between your legs, as high up as is comfortable.  Be sure the ruler is parallel to the floor. Now measure up from the ruler, in a straight line, to where you want the waistline of the leggings to rest. (Note: The rise seam will be curved, but for now you just want the height, which is a straight line, so don’t measure all the way from where the inseams intersect.)

Back Rise Height: Same as Front Rise, but in the back.

Distance from Thigh to Knee: Along your side, measure from the point where you took your thigh circumference down to where you took your knee circumference.

Distance from Knee to Ankle: Same, but from knee to ankle.

Now that you have all of your body measurements, we just need to do a tiny bit of math before we begin drafting the pattern. First though, we need to talk about an important concept in pattern making: ease. Ease is the difference in size between you and your clothes. In a woven fabric, the garment needs to be bigger than you in order for it to fit and be comfortable, because wovens generally don’t stretch. This is called positive ease. When working with knits, the garment might be bigger than you, or exactly the same, or even smaller, depending on the style. The latter is possible because knits stretch and mold to fit the body, and is called negative ease. Leggings are generally meant to cling snugly to the body, so you will want to incorporate a bit of negative ease. If you prefer a looser fit, you can skip this step.

You also need to decide on the type of knit to use. Different kinds of knits have vastly different amounts of stretch. 100% cotton sweatshirt fleece has very little stretch, while 90% cotton/10% Lycra jersey has lots of it. Lycra or Spandex (same thing, just different brands) give a fabric the ability to stretch and will also give it recovery, or the ability to return to its original shape after stretching. So if you’re not a fan of baggy knees, you might want to choose a knit with 5-10% of an elastic fiber added to it. My favorite fabrics to use for leggings are cotton/Lycra jersey or rib knits, and wool jersey or rib (with or without Lycra; wool has better recovery on its own than cotton does).

Assuming you’ll be using one of these types of knit, you can deduct 10% from each of the measurements with a * after them for negative ease. These are your four horizontal circumferences. If you are using a knit with less stretch, you might want to deduct only 5% or none at all. You will now use these adjusted numbers in place of the original measurements.

Next we need to figure out the depth of the rise seam. Take your Thigh Circumference (after deducting ease), and subtract from it your half-waist (also minus ease). Let’s call this D (for Depth). Multiply D by 1/3; this is your Front Rise Depth. Multiply D by 2/3; this is your Back Rise Depth. Write these down, you’ll need them in a little while.

So we’re ready to draft our pattern! It’ll be just one pattern piece (there’s no need for a side seam), from which you’ll cut two pieces (one for each leg) to make a pair of leggings.

This is what your pattern piece will look like after you follow the steps below.

Patternmaking Directions

1. To begin, you need to cut (or tape together) a piece of paper that measures at least 4” longer than your Length measurement, and at least 2” wider than your Thigh. Draw a vertical line down the center of the paper (or fold if it’s easier); all of your drafting will originate from this line. Imagine that this line will run down the side of your leg, where a side seam would be; this will be the center of the pattern, and I’ll refer to it as the Center Line (CL).

2. On CL, make a small mark about 2” down from the top edge of the paper. Then measure down the full Length measurement, and make another mark. At this mark, draw a line, perpendicular to CL, that measures your Ankle Circumference. Half of the measurement should extend from either side of CL.

3. From the Ankle, use your Knee to Ankle Height measurement to determine where to draw your Knee Circumference, also centered over CL. Draw the Knee line, perpendicular to CL.

4. Repeat this step, using your Thigh to Knee Height, to Draw the Thigh line. Connect the dots from Thigh to Knee to Ankle on each side. You will probably have a slight angle at the knee point; smooth it into a gentle curve.

5. Now let’s work on the rise seams. On the Thigh line, measure in from the right side your Front Rise Depth, and make a mark. From this mark, draw a line upward, measuring your Front Rise Height, perpendicular to the Thigh line. From the left side, measure in your Back Rise Depth, and mark. From here, draw a perpendicular line upward, measuring your Back Rise Height. Connect the Front and Back Rise points, starting out perpendicular from the top of the Front Rise line, and gently curving up to meet the Back Rise line. This is the Waist line. Next, slope the Back Rise by holding your ruler along the Waist line, at the top of the Back Rise, and drawing a perpendicular line which intersects the Thigh line. Draw curves to fill in the lower corners of the Front and Back Rise lines.

6. All that’s left is to add seam allowance. I use ½” seam allowance on all seams except for the bottom hems, where I add a full inch for hem allowance. Draw the seam allowance around all sides of the patterns, and cut it out. CL becomes your grainline, and you can label the pattern and write the cutting instructions of Cut 2.

Now you can make a muslin, or fit sample. Try to find a cheap fabric that has similar stretch to the real fabric you plan to use. All you really need to sew are the inseams and rise seams to test the fit and make corrections. Don’t bother finishing the waistband or hems since you may want to adjust them; just remember that you will lose a little height at the waist and length at the hem when you do finish these edges in the final garment. If you see anything you want to change or adjust, pin or mark with chalk on the muslin. If you need to add fabric, such as if you want to raise the waistline, just pin on a scrap to extend the edge to where you want it. Then be sure to correct your pattern accordingly. Every body is unique, so are likely to need a few tweaks to get the fit just right. If you only make slight adjustments, you can probably jump straight to your final fabric, but if you change the pattern drastically, I’d suggest making a second muslin.


How to Sew Your Leggings

When sewing knits, you need to use a stitch that will stretch as much as your knit does, or the seam will break. Test a few options on a swatch of the same fabric, until you find a stitch that works well. I recommend using either a stretch straight stitch, or a small (I like 1.5 x 1.5mm) zigzag stitch on your sewing machine (or a serger, if you happen to have one). Fold each piece upon itself, right sides together, along the inseams, pin and sew. You’ll now have two individual leg pieces.

The edges of most knits won’t unravel, so you don’t really need to finish the seam allowances, but you might want to trim them to ¼” and either zigzag over the edges, or sew a second stretchy seam right next to the first, in case any stitches do break. Turn one leg right side out and place it inside the other, matching up the front and back rise seams and pinning together. Sew the rise as one continuous curved seam front front to back. Finish as you did the inseams, if necessary.

Finishing the WaistbandThere are several ways you can finish the waistband. I usually use ½” elastic, cut to waist size, and seamed into a loop. Lay the elastic loop on the wrong side of the leggings waist, right at the top edge, pin and zigzag the edges together. Then turn the elastic down, so the waistline seam allowance covers it, and stitch again along the lower edge with a stretch straight stitch or a wide 3-step zig zag.

Another way is to make a folded waistband casing (with or without elastic inside) made from a separate piece of fabric. Cut the piece to your waist measurement (minus ease, plus 1” for seam allowance), by twice the desired casing width (plus 1” for seam allowance). With right sides together, sew the short seam. Sew the elastic into a loop if you’re using it, and fold the casing over it, wrong sides together. Pin the raw edges of the folded casing to the right side of the waist, and stitch around. Zigzag the three seam allowances together to finish.

To hem, turn the bottom edges under by ½”, then turn them again by another ½”, and pin. Sew with a stretch seam along the fold that is ½” from the edge.

How amazing is that? I know I have re-blogged the whole post but Cal just has some brilliant advice on things like sewing Knits and Ease (which is as important as she says it is!), and the Pattern info is especially relevant at the mo. See the original, full post here.

You can get some lovely Jersey and Knit fabrics from Etsy, below are just a couple of examples. If you don’t have an Etsy account you should! It’s like a stylish Ebay and all the sellers are independent small traders like me producing some truly amazing products like these Jersey Knits…

Organic Jersey fabric - Lillestoff - Peacock Love - 1/2 yard   Cotton Jersey Knit Stars - Pink - per Yard (59 x 36") 37677 - 227   Cotton Jersey Knit Cats per Yard (70 x 36") 34412

Grey on White Chevron Zig Zag Print Cotton Blend Jersey Knit Fabric-BTY-Presale-Gray Chevron   Cotton Knit Vintage Stars By the Yard 3400   Organic Jersey fabric - Lillestoff - Snowwhite Apple - 1/2 yard

Click on each picture above to be taken to the product to buy. I am loving the Chevrons and Blue Stars for some leggings!

Hope you have found this as interesting as I did, comments always welcome, and more so if you have tried making your own Leggings or have more helpful advice to impart. Remember to comment on this weeks Pattern Making Musings with Colette to win yourself some fabric, and look out for Fridays which is with Sinbad & Sailor, yay!

Happy patterning!