Notions: Herringbone Stitch.

MCCALLS Herringbone StitchIllustration from McCalls Sewing in Colour, 1960. 

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

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

  

Herringbone stitch, often called Catch Stitch, is a most useful little stitch to know. As you can see from the above diagrams, it is a version of Back Stitch, in Cross Stitch form. Turn your hem up as needed, or refer to your pattern for instruction.

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

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

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

Happy stitching!

*This was originally posted on 19th March 2013 but I have been talking about it so much recently I thought it would be helpful to re-share! 

 

Wordless Wednesday

From La Belle Epoque: Edwardian Fashion 1900-1914, the ‘Beautiful Era’ of Edwardian fashion currently running at Peterborough Museum until 6th May 2013.

Happy stitching!

Notions: The Language of Patterns.

No doubt the sketch of the design on the front of the envelope will catch your eye first.

From McCall’s Sewing in Colour

McCALLS Understanding Patterns 1   McCALLS Understanding Patterns 2

A beginning seamstress may feel Einstein’s theories are as easy to understand as the intricacies of a first pattern. Here is a place where first steps should be taken slowly […] &, whether you are a beginner or an experienced home-sewer, every pattern should be carefully studied before you lay out your pattern & start to cut.

A pattern […], not only gives complete instructions for constructing the garment, but also suggests the proper fabrics to use & provides basic information on preparing fabric, adjusting the pattern, cutting, marking & sewing techniques.

No doubt the sketch of the design on the front of the envelope will catch your eye first. On the back of the pattern envelope there is quite a bit of information to digest. Beginners may wish to avoid certain design features such as gussets, long button front closings, complicated collars & intricate darting. These features may not be clearly shown in the sketch, but will be noted in the description. Use this information to judge whether the construction of the garment is within your level of skill.

From McCall’s Sewing in Colour

Other useful information detailed on the Pattern Envelope is a section on Suggested Fabrics. Here the manufacturer has listed what fabrics would best suit the pattern such as light weight cottons for dresses & shirts or heavier weight fabrics for jackets. It is incredibly important to follow these guidelines as they will have taken into account things like the drape &  fall of the fabric to best suit the design & silhouette of the pattern. If you do decide to use a different fabric you may create a silhouette which is entirely different from the one intended.

Once you have decided upon your size using the measurements you have taken, you can use the Yardage Chart to buy the right amount of fabric for your design. By reading down the column from your size, & across from the widths of fabric listed, the exact yardage/meter-age needed is listed. I always tend to buy a little more to be on the safe side. This enables me to make things a little longer if needed. When interfacings or linings are required the amounts will also be listed according to your size.

There will also be a section for Notions. A strange word, I’ll grant you! Notions covers any Buttons, Hook & Eyes, Zipper, Ribbons or Ties, & any other items you may need to complete your design.

You will save time by buying everything at one time, & it’s easier to match colour of thread, zipper, buttons & trims if they are all purchased at once. Be sure to buy all the notions listed. It’s frustrating to have to interrupt  a sewing session just to run out & pick up a forgotten item

From McCall’s Sewing in Colour

Don’t you just love these Vintage sewing books for their pithy & helpful yet slightly rude advise? Brilliant, & so very much more to come!!

Also, check out our publication Understanding Vintage and Modern Patterns, available now on Etsy!

Happy stitching!

New Fascinator Kits!

I have been hard at work here snuggled up at Midnight Heights, whilst the blizzards blow & the world turns to white.

There are a couple new listings in my Etsy store however; the long anticipated Fascinator Kits have finally been designed, illustrated & put into production. The first batch have turned out delightfully retro & super colourful, & I couldn’t be happier about that!

I am also running a Facebook/Twitter competition so if you fancy giving one a twirl share this & in return for some feedback on the making up process, & a couple photos I’ll send you one for free…

Fan of Fascinators 1

Because these are samples I have used all sorts of scraps & Up-Cycled snippets of fabric! All these have been used for various projects in the past but I think they have found their home in these Kits, don’t you?!

  Fascinator Construction 11. Fascinator Construction 22. Fascinator Construction 33.

Step 1: The instruction Booklet, Pattern sheet, Veil & Binding… Step 2: Add the Bow, Button and Vintage Lace embellishment… Step 3: Add in the Ribbon & it’s on to the exciting part! Choosing the fabric combinations!!

Fascinator Construction 4

The finished Fascinator Kit. Each pack includes a top fabric, lining Fabric (up to the maker which one you choose), Stiffener & an Instruction Booklet which takes you through the process of making the Fascinator & also has illustrations on how to make things like a Birdcage Veil, Rosette & other decorations. Also included are various Decorations however; you are more than encouraged to have a snoop about your local haberdashers & add to these!

Retailing at £10, they’re a snip! Also available as a Party option, I can theme them or even host your party for you! What do you think?

Happy stitching!

Wonderful little tutorial from Vivid, Please!

sugar skull brooch

Not just for Halloween!!

For this, my first Tutorial Thursday, I wanted to share this because I love this little Tutorial, and I love Vivid too!

Click on the above picture for the Tutorial, then have a good poke around the Vivid Blogspot site, they’re crazy talented & I always see something I want, or want to make, or just plain drool over. I recently read a great book on owning a small growing business & it said to find people you admire to follow & take inspiration from to act as sort of unknowing  mentors, & these guys are definitely one of mine. I really take courage from other growth businesses in the same crafty field as me because it means there is a market out there, & that I am not being delusional!

Happy shopping stitching!

Laura After Midnight at Retroville

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I have had somewhat of an exciting time over the last few days.

To tell you the whole story I feel I need to rewind to the beginning of the year, & start by saying that- for Laura After Midnight as a small start up business- I had only a couple of goals for 2012. The main goal was to make an average of £50 a month from my Etsy shop by the end of the year. My first sale was in August & I am now averaging £105. The other loose goal was to stick at it, remain strong & try to grow the business slowly! All of which is very loose I know!!

Because of the above, I had initially decided to wait to do markets so I could concentrate on just one thing at a time & not spread myself too thinly but, as I was smashing my Etsy targets so thoroughly I decided I would choose one Christmas market & use it primarily as an opportunity to advertise Laura After Midnight. To ‘get my name out there’ & introduce what I do, my brand if you will, in to the marketplace.

After a lot (a lot!) of researching & pondering I finally decided upon Retroville at The Tobacco Factory in Bristol. It is an established market, the regular market happens weekly with food, veg and some Vintage and Handmade stalls but for one Sunday of the month it becomes a mix of Retro, Vintage, Handmade & eclectic stalls. They have been doing this for a while now & the reception to it has been fantastic but it still manages to retain a strong air of individuality, which was important to me. I thought Laura After Midnight would fit in well with the feel of the market & because of the buzz, reputation & almost guaranteed footfall I knew I held a strong chance of selling something!

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A selection of the Mini Top hats I took with me including two new ones- the Butterfly is simply divine!

I had been reading a lot about markets & stalls & not a lot of it had been very positive but I had managed to glean a few salient points- always take a decent float, get there on time & set up quick, be friendly, smile & talk about your work etc, but the most useful snippet of information started a thought process. Someone mentioned about carrying smaller, cheaper items to attract buyers who don’t want to spend too much. This started me thinking about my approach to markets as a buyer, & I am so very glad that it did.

I have a very strict code when visiting Vintage Fairs, markets or anything where tempting frippery is displayed in suggestive ways! I take between £30 & £50 in cash depending on the size of the market. That is all. No cards, no cheque book. Nothing. Would I spend that all on one stall? Never. So I needed to think very carefully about what I displayed, & how I displayed it. I wanted to draw people in with bright, shiny, expensive things but keep them there with interest in all the things on the stall, then send them away with something.

Firstly, I decided to reduce the price of all of my items by a fraction- between £2 & £10. This was decided because I don’t have the handling fee I do when selling online- the packaging, the postage, the long queue in the Post Office! Secondly I decided to sell smaller things. This actually made me think about what I am selling on my Etsy store- I haven’t sold any smaller items on there, so I removed them from Etsy & made more of them for my market stall, & they were all priced well below £10.

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A bowl of Vintage trims, Handmade Button display and a slice of the action.

Finally, I decided to take one expensive item- a Corset I had made from an Antique Victorian Silk Scarf- for display purposes only, labelled to inform people they could order clothing & to ask, & fliers clearly stating what Laura After Midnight is, does & could be to the customer.

As ever I also set myself a couple targets. I wanted to talk to everyone about my new Mini Top Hat Kits, but I only wanted to sell two, and I wanted to sell the same amount of the Fascinator Kits too. I didn’t expect to sell any hats as they are a higher end item and start to retail at £25 which is a bigger ask on a market stall, but I did want to sell at least one of every small item I had. All of this added up came to a target of £112 so I split it with my Etsy target & made my target for the day £80 which would cover the price of the stall itself, hot drinks for the forecast freezing cold day & materials used for the extra things I had made specifically for the stall.

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A beautiful Kilner Jar Pin Cushion, the Mini Top Hat Kits, the extremely popular Fascinator Kits and my favorite thing of all (and made by by exceptionally talented brother) one of the mini chalk boards!

Well Ladies and Gents. . . it worked! All of my prep, thinking, scheming & effort bloody well worked!

I sold five Mini Top hat Kits & SIX Fascinator Kits (which were quite the hit of the day) & of the smaller items I sold several rings and brooches. Finally & to my utter shock & pleasure two Mini Top Hats! Displaying the Corset really caught peoples eye, & I had a couple of lovely conversations with people about it & my other work, one of whom has already contacted me about a commission. Everyone who stopped & chatted got offered a flier & many took them away & they were all exceedingly complimentary about my stall, & the work I was doing (except a few husbands who were quite clearly baffled!!).

Keeping it simple & not out-laying too much financially was really important, talking to anyone who stopped & was clearly interested helped me, & taking the time to explain what the stall was about, & what I was selling made the difference to most of those sales. It helped that I had some wonderfully jolly company in my family & fellow stall holders as the day was bitterly cold & I was very tired (having decided at the 11th hour to create the Fascinator Kits), but I am over the moon at how well it all went, the positive response I received from customers, friends and students visiting me, family & the market itself.

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Fliers, my gorgeous bowl of Rose Rings and some of the Mini Top Hats.

I had been endeavoring to keep a very firm eye on all of my family- which had been out en masse to help/support me- to try to see what they spent throughout the day. In thinking back now I am pretty sure they all spent between £30 and £40 each (they were there all day!), at a variety of different stalls so my theory works!

I have been fatally bitten by the market bug & have spent the last 24 hours scrambling to try to book another stall before Christmas. I am currently on the waiting list for The Full Moon Market at Stokes Croft, Bristol for the 8th. I do hope I can sell there as the customer base is very different, it is smaller & more intimate and that area of Bristol has a deserved ‘artsy’ reputation. I also have a stall booked for the 21st for a night time market, but more on that later!

Finally, I am surprised by my continued reaction to all of this. I find myself constantly humbled by peoples kind words & support- to my utter delight several ladies I have taught over the last year came out specially to see me & my stall- & I think in the new year I may have to start believing I can do this!

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Me, hiding behind my stall!

Happy stitching!

On sale now!!

Get them while you can!! Mini Top Hat Kits on sale now…

    

    

 

Please go to my Etsy store- click any of the photos above- to buy. Great as an unusual Christmas Gift, as something to make for yourself for the Party Season or to learn basic millinery skills with I guarantee you wont stop at one!! The pattern included is re-usable so with just a short dash to your local haberdashery store you could be making them for all your friends, for your bridesmaids or wedding party, as gifts or to wear yourself to the envy of all!!

Pictured above is our basic range, I also have some special little treats in store including Kits with Vintage Kimono Silk, Embroidered Silk & some funky Moustachioed Fabric too!!

Laura After Midnight can also Gift Wrap and send to the recipient so don’t forget to buy that option too for a fuss free Christmas… We are urging all who buy to share their creations by sharing the photos on Facebook  or by emailing heresmyhat@lauraaftermidnight.com & I can’t wait to start sharing everyone’s wonderful creations.

Currently you can also buy them at Flo-Jo Boutique on Gloucester Road in Bristol too. Please do not hesitate to contact for Wholesale prices, samples or to discuss bulk orders and Hen Parties.

Happy stitching!

A kit is born…!

Finally, I have just finished putting the finishing touches to my Mini Top Hat Kit & I have to say I am enormously proud of myself!!

      

So, I am off to the printers in the next couple days to have them printed up & they will be available to buy (in many colours & all with decoration details included), from my Etsy store from the 1st November along with many other scrumptious goodies for Christmas!

Happy stitching!

 

 

Machine Embroidery insights

I am teaching a course on Machine Embroidery tomorrow & thought I share the worksheet… I absolutely are free hand Machine Embroidery for its many and varied uses!

General Free Hand Machine Embroidery tips:

Always make sure you keep your hands on the edge of the embroidery hoop. This is essential for safety and will ensure you don’t sew over your fingers (which is easily done!).

Unless you want a random design, it is always best to sketch out your design onto the fabric you are going to use first in pencil. If you are trapping or appliquéing fabric cut and pin these in place as you sketch. Outline any design first, then go back and work more detail in to it. Don’t try to be overly careful- follow your design approximately, but not precisely. You will start to build up texture, and it will start to look delightfully sketchy!

 

Place the fabric tightly in your embroidery hoop, so that when you tap it your fingers bounce off it like a drum. When stitching your fabric should lie flat on the sewing machine.

When starting to stitch drop your dog feed, then hold the top thread in your left hand. Roll the needle towards you to take a full stitch, catching the bottom thread. Pull the bottom thread up and fully out. Push both towards the back and start to stitch. Follow this and you’ll have trouble free embroidery!

When using fancy threads- like metallics and ombre thread- always make a bobbin of matching normal thread. Never use the fancy thread in the bobbin, your machine will hate it!

Remember, this type of stitching goes against what your machine wants and is designed to do! Don’t pull your fabric jerkily or too hard in one direction as this can cause the needle to catch in the fabric and ruin your stitching, and even break.

Play around with stitch length, and even stitch style:

 

To make sewing easier, you don’t have to finish the ends and cut the thread whenever you want to move to a different part of the fabric. Simply sew a few stitches on the spot, then raise the foot, pull the hoop to move it to another area of the fabric, lower the foot and carry on sewing. Once you have finished, just cut the threads that you don’t need. If your fabric won’t move, turn the needle towards you to ‘dis-engage’ your needle from the current stitch. This should enable you to move your fabric freely.

It is also a good idea to back the area being stitched, particularly if working on a stretch fabric like T-shirting. A tearaway stabiliser is ideal. This is then torn away when the stitching is complete.

Embellish your designs once they’re complete with beads, buttons, sequins and even hand embroidery. Water soluble fabric is also an amazing thing to play with.

Now, aren’t you inspired to create?! I found the amazing photographs above- and many more, along with a very helpful blog post- from the very creative Clutterpunk. Just doing a simple Google search for images has really quite inspired me, & I can’t wait for tomorrow’s class!!

Happy stitching!

 

Birthday sparkles!!

It is my birthday today!!

My gorgeous Fella has made Laura After Midnight all official & purchased my domain name… so now Laura After Midnight is a ‘dot com’!! I feel a little bit grown up!!

In other news, I have added a Custom Spats listing to my Etsy store… this means anyone can purchase any spats they like by buying this option & messaging me with their requests. How fancy is that?! I shall be adding more as necessary so remember to check back with my Etsy store… click the picture for the link!

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With that I am off to make a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea & eat far too much cake!

Happy stitching!!