Adventures in Showgirl Corsets.

Using commercial patterns in Costuming feels like cheating, I don’t know why, but it does! However; ever since Yaya Han released her Corset Pattern I have been dying for an excuse to use it… which I know is super weird as I am not only a pattern drafter and cutter, I have my very own Corset Pattern for sale!

M7339, Misses' Overbust or Underbust Corsets by Yaya Han M7339, Misses' Overbust or Underbust Corsets by Yaya Han

I guess sometimes I just want to join in with the cool kids, the those CosPlayers are some pretty damn cool kids! Any hoo, I needed to make three Showgirl Costumes and, because this Pattern has a range of Cup sizes I thought it would be perfect, and save me the time of drafting my own. Win!

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These bad boys needed to be spangly, so after much hunting I finally decided upon this gorgeous (and very hard to locate!) Gold Sequin and Pink Sequin fabrics. Each had to be backed with matching Silk Habotai to ensure the sequins reflected as much as possible, and they were both lined with Coutil. They are fully boned with Steel Boning and have a quick rigged,open ended zip at the back because of quick changes.

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Offset with some gorgeous Indian Beaded Trim (eye wateringly expensive and used sparingly because no more could be ordered if there was a mistake as it takes about three weeks to arrive!), in the ‘V’ of the cleavage they shimmer gloriously in the studio, and look amazing on stage.

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Matching shorts were also made- in the Gold here, but also in Pink- as they are used in several different styles of dance including the Can-Can.

I think I did Yaya Han proud, and I am super impressed with her Pattern. I didn’t really use the instructions because we made these up a little differently that they would be for personal use. Here each panel is made and neatened separately in case of alterations, the cups are kept in alterable separate pieces and all of this makes the insides look a little messy as you can see all of the Overlocked channels. They aren’t laced, as the performers had a quick change, instead they zip up which in real life looks a little clunky but can’t really be seen from the stage when they’re performing.

All in all I’m really happy, and they fit great.

If you are thinking about sewing your own Corset this Pattern can be found here, and the Eventide Corset Pattern from Laura After Midnight can be found here. A full Sew-Along for the Eventide can be found here, and discusses many of the techniques used to make these up.

Happy stitching!

5 Sewing Tips from The Midnight Atelier!

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As we prepare to start sewing our Dimpsy Ts’ on Monday I though we could discuss some hints, tips and tools of the trade to make Sewing easier so you can concentrate on the good bit… Sewing up the perfect Dimpsy T!

1. The right equipment.

I cannot stress enough how having the best pair of scissors you can afford, good thread and everything you need close at hand and ready to use make the whole process of garment construction easier, neater and more professional. I like to use these Scissors, they’re not very expensive and they’re re-sharpenable so they will last you a good long while! I actually have a couple pairs because darn of they don’t get lost under fabric and I hate to get held up! Take scissors to your local Cobblers to have them re-sharpened for around £5.

Good thread is a must, don’t cut corners here! I like to use Moon Thread as again it’s relatively inexpensive, there’s 1000 meters on a spool (woop!) and it is excellent quality. Using cheap, Vintage or old thread is dangerous for your Sewing Machine. If you hold a line of the thread up to the light you will be able to see if it is ‘furry’ or not… if it looks like there is a dusty haze around the line don’t use it! The dust will come off in your Sewing Machine, get stuck to the oil in there and dry it out which causes the machine parts to rub against each other and seize up. Not good!

A few other things I can recommend, and which will make sewing up a project a little easier so you can concentrate on the details are having enough Bobbins, pre-loaded and ready to go (I thread up two or three for any projects so- you guessed it- I don’t have to stop!), a heavy Pin Cushion with lots and lots of lovely Pins- I’m a bit of a Pin Geek it would appear and I like long, thin Glass Head Pins. They’re fine enough to use on a variety of Fabrics and you can do things like sew and iron over them! Merchant & Mills have some amazing Pins, well worth checking out. The heaviness of the Pin Cushion is important to me as well, I hate it when you pop a Pin back and the Pin Cushion skitters away from you! I have several made from Vintage Glass, an added advantage being I can use them as Pattern Weights too!

2. Great Prep

how to make tailors tacks

I’m sure you’ve all gotten as fed up with Cutting Out as I have- I like to get to the Sewing as quick as possible! however; I seriously believe that if you get the Prep right everything else will run smoothly. Pin each and every corner of your Pattern to the fabric- within the Seam Allowances if it’s delicate- then at about 5 or 6cm intervals. Rest your Scissors on the table as you cut, they are ‘flat’ along the bottom for a reason, this will increase your accuracy and allow your arm to rest as you cut. If you hold the fabric in the air and cut you run the risk of the Pattern shifting despite how carefully you have pinned.

Pin all pieces first, cut everything out, then snip your Notches and make your Tailors Tacks. Pinning all pattern pieces means that you will know if you don’t have enough fabric before you cut. As you’re pinning check all of your Grain Lines are parallel to the Selvedge or the fold of the fabric. If your Grain Lines are even off a little it can really effect the hang and wearability of the final garment.

Another fantastic tip is to make sure you have everything you will need to sew to hand. Getting up and down to grab pins or a tape measure is annoying, slows you down and breaks concentration… I also have a bit of an old fashioned ritual in that I make sure I have a cuppa and give the Pattern a good read from start to finish then make a list of what I want to do… if it’s a Pattern I have self drafted, or a Pattern I have adapted, or need to adapt this really helps. If you are a new sewer this will give you a chance to flag the bits you may think you will have issues with, google them or ask your question on social media so that when you get to sew them you have some tricks up your sleeve to get through it!

3. Pattern Ponderings

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 Unfortunately many of the Sewing Patterns we see and fall in love with, thinking they’ll look perfect on us, need some love and adjusting before they get sewn up. One way to manage this is to make up a Toile however; whilst relatively inexpensive this can get tedious, Toiling every single piece of clothing you want to make!

Another way to manage this is to adjust the Pattern before you make it up. The best piece of information I can impart is this: every Pattern company has their own set of standard Measurements and often they are up to two sizes smaller than clothes you would buy on the high street. I am often telling students that if they buy a 16 on the high street, they’ll need to cut an 18-20 from the Pattern. Which can be exceptionally demoralizing! I came to terms with this years ago, and also tell everyone that a beautifully fitting piece of clothing looks better than cutting the wrong, or smaller size ever can! Another thing to remember about Pattern Sizing is this: most Pattern Companies cut to a B Cup. I’ll repeat that (because I’m still stunned!)… a B Cup, Ladies. If you are anything like me- and the many, many people I have taught to sew, you started to make your own clothes because of high street fit issues so this isn’t all that helpful. To manage this you may need to do a Front Bust Adjustment, and I discovered this great Tutorial from Colette a while back. Whilst you’re over there, check their Patterns out as they cut to a C Cup and, being American, their sizing is generous.

To adjust the Pattern the best thing to do is make up a Toile, fit then transfer your adjustments to the Pattern. Invariable the adjustments you make will need to be managed on the majority of Patterns you make up and you will get used to making them on the Sewing Pattern before cutting your Fabric. I have a few notes on this subject here

If you’re feeling adventurous you can even learn how to create your own Sewing Patterns here, in Pattern Month!

4. Swift Sewing

When you’re working do things like pin all of the pieces together that you can, then sew them all, then neaten and iron them all in batches. This will enable you to work faster and, I have found, neater. It also helps first time or new Sewers to become used to and familiar with the various techniques without stopping to pin the next bit, and breaking concentration. I find this helpful as I can make things up for myself in my spare, in-between hours which is brilliant if you work full time. It stops me from getting annoyed that it might take me too long to create myself a new garment and demoralized when I can’t finish what I want very desperately to wear! 

Having said all of that the Dimpsy T makes up in a couple hours so you’ll be able to make up several!

 5. It’s all in the details

MCCALLS Herringbone Stitch

Ensuring you stick to the Seam Allowances, neatening Seams as you go, Understitching, Ironing and unpicking if you go a little wrong are all things you should get used to as you sew up a handmade wardrobe. As you sew more, they almost become second nature! One of the things I am obsessed with is finishing, and I’ll do some of the finishing details by hand if I think this will look better. Hand stitching down Facings, hand Hemming and making small details like the Dimpsy T’s Handmade Loop Buttonhole make your finished garment so much better, and infinitely more unique.

The instruction book that comes with the Dimpsy T has information on every aspect of this!

I hope you have found my musings useful,

Happy stitching!

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!

 

 

The Great British Sewing Bee: Week 1

sewingbee

Well… what did we all think?!

Click the above link to watch (it will be available to watch until the 25th of February, if you are in foreign parts you may have to search the underbelly of the Internet!) the first episode, which was a tour de force of sewing techniques!

Those poor contestants, they were well and truly worked over! From pinning, to pattern matching, not pinning OR pattern matching (I’ll be watching Chinelo with interest!), sewing Dartsclipping curves, easing fabric and under stitching and the ever present Patch Pocket; our first introduction to this years contestants was fascinating. And this was just all on the first challenge!!

I thought it was very clever to use the different fabrics for each challenge. Cotton is obviously the easiest to use, and I was surprised when a couple contestants admitted to not having used Wool before however; I thought the Silk challenge really levelled the contestants!

Over the next few days, and as promised, I shall be sharing my tips on creating Hand Made Button Loops, a simple Tunic Top and customising a Skirt. Over the course of the next eight weeks I shall also be sharing my hints and tips on working with different fabrics- and finally using my beautiful Merchant & Mills Book to make my own Tailors Ham, which is a wonderful piece of equipment to have around when working with Wool.

Has this first episode inspired you?

Happy stitching!

Notions: Liberty Bow Tie

I love Liberty fabric, I may gripe and moan about the inflated cost but deep down, in my heart of hearts I love Liberty Fabric! My favourite designs will always be the Vintage 1930s patterns however; they bring out more and more each year and parts of their new season have sold out three times over already!

I am a regular reader of their Blog and this Bow Tie Tutorial popped up a couple days ago, and I just had to share it! It includes a free Pattern, and looks amazing made from any of their Fabrics… what an amazing gift it would make!

More and more projects for men seem to be popping up at the moment (both to make themselves and to make for ‘em), which is so lovely. I definitely have my eye on this for future gift giving!!

Ever wanted to make a bow tie for those special occasions? Or maybe you like to wear them to the office, like a certain Mr Louis Matthewman? We have chosen to use one of our new prints from theSpring/Summer 2014 Liberty Art fabrics collection called Queue for the Zoo, which we think is not only an awesome print, but would also make a great conversational accessories for your wardrobe. This Liberty print is designed by the illustrator and children’s author OK David, find out more about the inspiration behind this print here.

Follow our step-by-step guide on how to make your own Liberty print bow tie.

  

The Tutorial takes you through cutting out and sewing up the Bow Tie- there’s even a handy tip on sewing curves!, with distinctive Liberty flair. Everything seems just so much more luxurious when these guys are involved, doesn’t it? Even the PDF Pattern is pretty…

See the original Liberty Bow Tie Tutorial here. The Liberty Crafty Blog is well worth a visit as there are more lovely Tutorials there. See my range of Vintage Liberty Pin Cushion Rings here … happy stitching!

Notions: Handy Guide to Decorative Stitching

Look at this wonderful thing that I just stumbled upon!

stitches

 

I thought many of us would find this interesting and useful, I love the way Vintage Sewing Books use plain ol’ stitches to build up patterns, You just don’t see this very much nowadays!

Might have to try that Parallel Feather Stitch quite soon… and how beautiful would all of these look on the Pretty Jewel Birds, as a hand stitched trim on a Stocking or on a dainty scrap of Lingerie? So many uses, so little time!

Happy stitching!

Notions: a new Zine on the block!

Today there is no Notions Tutorial because I am releasing my new Zine in the Notions series, quite literally hot off the presses… …

Zips, Zippers and Slide Fasteners:

a Guide to Inserting perfect Zips, every time. 

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I am so excited about this one guys! It’s taken the longest because there are soo many hand illustrations by little ol’ me in there, and I have worked hard to ensure that each technique is described in as straight forward a way as possible. This is all down to the fact that beginners, and experienced pro’s alike, seem to have a healthy fear of inserting zips! As they really are a most important feature in Garment Construction I wanted the next Zine I released to be all about Zips and this one is stuffed full of helpful advice.

In it you will discover how to insert a Centered Zip with little or no fuss and a Concealed Zip easily. There are also tips on different types of Zips, quick tips to remember or try when inserting Zips, finishing Zippers with a Facing or Lining, what to do if you have to cut a Zipper down and a little Project at the back to sew up a Cushion Cover with a Zip in it!

Phew eck, that’ll keep anyone quiet!!

This is the fifth Zine in the Notions Series (and I think my favorite cover so far!), with ones on Machine Embroidery and Simple Sewing Projects on the way they are keeping me busy. I am also slowly getting more used to using my Wacom Tablet which is a welcome relief from scanning everything in. I have still included a couple of lovely Vintage Dressmaking illustrations however; most are Laura After Midnight originals which has been a lot to get my head around.

Also available is a Vintage Sewing and Dressmaking Bundle…

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Zips, Zippers and Slide fasteners is available now in my Etsy shop for just £2.50, as is a the Christmas Bundle for just £8.00!! Bargain, and super useful for yourself or as a present!! Look out for a lot of perfect Sewing related Christmas Presents which will be for sale soon on there too from Kits and Stocking Fillers like the Mini Kits (3 for 2!!), to my New Sewing Tidy’s and Christmas Gift Bags and Stockings. Hurrah for Christmas!!

Happy stitching!

Techniques and Tutorials

order of sewing ironing fan darts bias binding

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

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

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

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

Happy stitching!

Pattern Month on Pinterest

For an awesome selection of Vintage, modern, free and many more Patterns please take a look at Pattern Month on Pinterest. I’ve also made sure there are a great little selection of tutorials on how to re-size Patterns and how to deal with PDF printable Patterns. These are my favourites…

Panelled Slip Draft Pattern from Complete Dressmaking in pictures published by Odhams. 1950       Overalls

A 50s Slip, complete with Pattern information and advice, and 1940s Overalls complete with Pattern. If you know how to scale Patterns up- which there will be a post on in the near future- the Pattern world really is at your feet. I just adore those Overalls!

Lots of skirt block modifications

Have you tried making up your Basic Skirt Block yet? If so, why not trace the Block off and try splitting it as above for some truly gorgeous skirts!

There are further Patterns on the Pinterest page, scaling advice, hints and tips so be sure to check it out!

Happy patterning!

Alice in Midnightland!

My very first feature has appeared on A Very Curious Wedding!

There are more features to follow as the Kits are made up however; why not follow along as Michelle makes up her Alice in Wonderland themed Fascinator and Mini Top Hat Kits? Available now on Laura After Midnight on Etsy from just £10…

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The Fascinator Kit comes in Pale Blue Watered Taffeta and Paper Silk. Included in the Kit is a decoration pack with Cream Feathers, dainty and very pretty Daisy Chain Lace, Black and Cream Ribbons and Paper Silk hand made Flower with Vintage Button details to decorate with, and veiling to make a Birdcage Veil. The Mini Top Hat Kit is made up in 100% Black Silk Dupion. Included in this fantastic Alice themed Kit is a Decoration Pack with Red Velvet Ribbon, gorgeous Black Guipure Lace trim, a selection of Vintage mis-matched Buttons, Black and Red Satin Ribbon and to set it all off some quirky Vintage style Alice themed Playing Cards. Pretty cool!!

I’ll even pop in a Mini Kit of your choice to the first 5 sold! Click the link to buy and don’t forget, Augusts Discount Code is AUGUST13 for free shipping on orders over £20.00.

Happy stitching!