Hail to the King!

Midnight Costume Services is finally at the end of a long run of Costumes for an Entertainment Park, and this job comes to a close with a Panto! Dick Whittington… and I thought I’d share the process of making some of the pieces, like King Rats Tail Coat!

Easily my favorite Costume to make so far, I decided to loosely Hand Tailor the Tailcoat to support a couple of incredibly dramatic Shoulder Pads. To get the right look I played about with layering existing Shoulder Pads and felt but in the end- even though it was more work- I had to resort to a more traditional technique and ended up layering the felt in decreasing sizes to build up a pointed, exaggerated Shoulder. As you can see in the first picture using the existing Shoulder Pads looked super clunky!

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Using a mixture of hand stitching, machine stitching and a little bit of glue, each Shoulder Pad has about 20 layers of felt and is quite malleable, allowing me to gently sculpt a curve. I haven’t some this in a while and I was super pleased with the results!

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I found some (pretty disgusting, but amazing for the purpose!) quilted fabric which I thought looked a little like Bin Bags… it’s the kinda thing I thought the King of Rats’ would have a tailored jacket out of!! In a concession to the performers I created the sleeves from a stretch Leather- which is why they look a little like they’re pulling- but means the Jacket will fit multiple performers and wont restrict movement.

The mannequin this is pictured on is a little too large, but I think it still looks majestic!

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I find Panto a difficult beast to design for, I want to do character analysis to find their motivation and design around that, which doesn’t really work here. It’s all a bit too tongue in cheek, shiny and primary coloured for me but in starting with King Rat I helped myself a lot! Deciding that as a character he would have had quilted and embroidered bin bags fashioned in to a Tailcoat got me on my way.

I also fashioned medals and ribbons for the lapel, because of course he would be decorated!, and used lace and matt black sequins to applique and embroider detailing in the lapel and jacket. With a final sprinkling of darkly glittery hot stones and a Top Hat I think he turned out to be quite the dandy!

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The hat was hand stitched and created using strips and fragments from the Tail Coat machine embroidered on, with layers of sparkly net and sequins overlayed. Slightly battered- he does live in the sewers after all!-the ears were made from faux fur, a lot of dye and sprayed dye.

As I have a commission to create a White and Gold Louis XVI Sun King Tail Coat I am really pleased this turned out so well. The Sun King Tail Coat will have to be much more viciously tailored to create a base for a spectacular Gold Feathered Shoulder Piece, and I can’t wait to share it!!

Happy stitching!

Ding dong, the Witch is… sewn up neatly and shipped off in time thank you very much!

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I present… Elphaba! These photos were taken whilst we were constructing her (no sleeves!), and it took three of us about a week to make her… with a LOT of discussion, pinning, unpinning, more discussion and lots and lots of sewing!

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The Bodice was pattern cut, the pieces embellished with strips of sequin, lace, and other oddments in quite an organic way. It took time to place the layers in a way which didn’t add too much bulk to the costume- and therefore make the across look like she’s been eating all the pies!-  and there’s quite a few layers. Maya did the main bulk of the sewing for this section and I had to admire her patience!

We wanted to emphasis the ‘tornado’ effect, because of the character of Elphaba, which would pay homage to the original Broadway design but be a little different and put a Midnight Costume Services twist on it!

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The skirt was where we ran into some difficulties. We didn’t have enough time for this costume really, and we needed to some up with a solution which would look awesome, not use too much fabric and be quick… yeah, it was asking a lot, I know!

In the end we cut and alternately pleated and gathered strips, onto the panels of the bottom section of the Skirt. The top we stitched to match the bodice so it would ‘fish tail’.  The bottom of the skirt started to look do a really good impression of Madonna in her Material World phase and after panicking for a few minutes we discovered that sewing each layer down, and trapping some sequin trim as we did so, solved this issue whilst looking brilliant at the same time.

With a Crin underskirt, sleeves, lace tatters and some incredible Red Diamante Hot Stones which glittered brilliantly  we were finished and I promise to share pictures as soon as we have them!

Happy stitching!

A selfish Sewing week!

I have finally put my foot down and, because I am still awaiting news on the Dimpsy front, have decided to dedicate some time to myself this week and sew entirely for me! Yay!!

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So here’s the plan… starting on the top row, left to right we have 1. a pair of blue jeans, 2. a pair of black jeans, 3. a pair of spart-ish black trousers from a stretch Cotton Sateen, 4. a pair of crazy Coton Sateen print Cigarette Pants, 5. a nice retro t-shirt from Gerties book, 6. a 2nd 1940s Tea Dress, 7. a 3rd 1940s Tea Dress… deep breath… bottom row left to right we have 1. a unicorn Mimi Blouse, 2. a grey triangles (Primark Bed Sheet!) Mimi Blouse, 3. a retro beautiful woven vintage fabric Mimi Blouse with acid yellow buttons, 4. a tulip print Elisalex Dress.

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Lets get a little up close and personal with those fabrics shall we?

The Denim for the Blue and Black Jeans has a teeny tiny amount of stretch which I find helps both with the fit and the fabrics ability to ‘ping back’ and look lovely when you have been sat down. It also means it dries a little quicker and doesn’t need ironing. Double win! The Black Cotton Sateen also has a little stretch and I’m going to make a pair of simple Black work Trousers. I haven’t decided about the pocket shape on these yet. I definitely think I’m going to make a contrast pocket for all of the Trousers a la yesterdays Wordless Wednesday. The crazy floral Trouser fabric was a complete impulse buy and I’m seriously excited about it! It can’t wait to make up a Cigarette Pants Pattern and swan about all summer long in them! I’ve wanted a pair of floral Trousers since Lorna did hers on the Great British Sewing Bee and Fab Land (a.k.a. Fabric Land) have finally made my dreams come true!

The T-Shirt Fabric I saw as someone else was buying it and jumped on it because the roll was almost out! I think it’ll make a serviceable, pretty T-Shirt to go with my new Jeans.

I made my first 1940s Tea Dress a few months ago because of a Class I was teaching at the time and I just love it. I had to play about with the pattern a little- and still need to re-site the sleeve head on these next ones- but it makes up in about 2 hours and fits like a dream. I’m dead excited to have two more to wear to the studio, Happy days!

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So I’m going to make a cluster of Mimi Blouses! The Unicorn Fabric will have a contrast piping and buttons in a kinda Aqua colour to pick out one of the colours in the Unicorns and make it a little classier. The next is to be made from a Primark Bed Sheet- which is quite the done thing in Sewing Club at the moment!- it has grey triangles all over it and I’ve decided to make the collar black with black contrast piping and black buttons to make it less insipid. Finally there’s a beautiful Vintage woven fabric to be made in to a Blouse which photographs badly. It looks amazing with the Vintage Acid Yellow Buttons though, and will look fantastic with the Blue Jeans.

Last but not least is my first Elisalex Dress! Woop! I have decided to make this from a slightly crazy print but I think it’ll both suit me, make me happy and look amazing with Black (which is one of my favorite colours).

I’ve cut the Mimi Blouses, Elisalex and 1940s Tea Dresses out- boy do I hate cutting out!!- and I shall make them up in the next couple days I reckon. The Trousers and Jeans I shall make as I do the Sew-Along.

Phew!

What are you guys working on? Are you ‘doing’ Me Made May? I may do a capsule collection week for that… I wear handmade clothing every day of my life but none of it’s wildly special so I feel a little odd about showing it off for a whole month!

Happy stitching!

New Sunday Sewing Bees!!

sunday sewing bee image Are you as excited as me about the Sewing Bee? And have you seen my first crazy challenge?! I have had many, many enquiries recently about all sorts of Sewing related projects so I thought I would pop a few Sunday Sewing Bees in on the Calendar to help everyone out!

You can book up here, and they’re only £25 for the whole session or £5 an hour. There are six spots for each Sunday. I think they’re a super way to create your own course- book two and make yourself a Dress or something new and lovely to wear whilst joining in with Make Me A Wardrobe!!

They will also be a chance to learn at your own pace, without having to keep up with a class, and whenever you want! Alternatively, if you have been inspired by last years Sewing Bee, one of the many glorious Sewing Magazines or have a Sewing Machine secreted away somewhere, use them as a way to dip your toes and see if you like this crazy world!

Bring a Pattern and Fabric or use The Midnight Atelier’s extensive Pattern and Book collection to trace off a Pattern to make for just the price of the Pattern Paper!

Contact me for ideas and suggestions, or join the Bristol Sewing Club’s Facebook Page and talk to the group! Alternatively, you could use them to learn a specific skill… ever wanted to try your hand at Pattern Cutting? Designing? Embroidery? Have you liked a Course I have been running but couldn’t make the time slot? Come now and learn at your own pace!!

Find out more information or book here, and I look forward to seeing you soon!!

Notions: Pattern Weights

My new copy of Love Sewing Magazine has just landed satisfyingly on my doorstop and I notice they have a Pattern Weight make so I thought I would re-blog my Tutorial to be helpful!

These are fab makes to use up scraps you might want to keep- you know, the ones where the fabric was super expensive or beautiful and even though it’s tiny, you can’t quite seem to throw that last little snippet away!- or make from new, funky fabric to make you smile as you use them!

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Pattern Weights are super useful when you’re flat Pattern Cutting delicate fabrics (no pins!), laying out Pattern Pieces to figure out layouts or when simply cutting out. They’re also the super cool eco friendly pin!

So, first gather all those lovingly hoarded scraps of fabric that I know you all have in a corner some place! Next, you will need to draw an equilateral triangle with sides 5″ or 12.5cm long.  You need one triangle of fabric per Pattern Weight, I made mine to match however; I strongly advocate making each different… much more fun!

Once you have chosen your fabric, pin the Pattern to your fabric. Then fold one side of the triangle over, Right Sides Together, and pin. Sew from the fold along the edge using a 1cm Seam Allowance. Stop 1cm from the edge. Remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end of the Seam.

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Fold the next side over, Right Sides Together and matching the tip, and sew from where the last Seam ended (1cm in), to the fold. Finally, fold the last side over but only sew half of the side closed as illustrated, as you will need a place to turn the Pattern Weight out, and insert the weights. It is helpful to sew a little of this side closed so there is less hand sewing to do, and the finished thing looks neater.

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Turn the Pattern Weights out the right way, using a point turner to wiggle out the corners nice and sharp. Fill with Rice and a curtain weight or two to make as heavy as you need, then slip stitch stitch closed.

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Now, tell me you don’t want to make lots and lots! So useful to have around…

Happy stitching!

Happy stitching!

Learning to Crochet

I finally fulfilled a bit of a lifelong dream a couple months ago and learnt to Crochet! I’m so proud of myself, and it would appear that I have, after being patiently shown by a couple of my students in several classes, picked it up rather quickly.

All of the Knitting techniques I was taught as a child by my Nan came flooding back and I have experienced a real flash of joy as I have begun to create using a new medium… not something which happens a lot when you have had training in your chosen field as well as teach and work in it too. I adore the way Crochet Patterns work, as they are an illustration of the piece- how clever! I also love how quick it is to accomplish a piece and as you saw in a previous post I created a couple things for family members for Christmas however; with the advent of Crochet Club I have been inspired to start on a Cardigan!

This is all down to Jen Gales genius and her Make Me A Wardrobe initiative. I have decided to join in, and have already accomplished some really lovely Crocheted Fingerless Gloves for both myself and my Fella however; it’s about the get serious! I have, just this evening in fact, properly sorted through my fabric stash (or mountain!) and decided that a lot of the pieces I have tucked away simply wont suit me, so I have narrowed the pile initially down to four pieces of fabric to start with to make a pair of Jeans and three Dresses. My target is one outfit a month which, dear readers, should be more than do-able for me. Other members of Sewing Club are joining in and I am looking forward to seeing what they accomplish and being inspired by their efforts into creating for myself.

So, a Cardigan and a Dress are on the list of makes for January… oh ho I hear you say, there’s only 9 days left in January, but I am afraid that having been so ill for the last three weeks I am going to have to cheat a little and will probably end up finishing the Cardigan well in to February. Forgive me?

As it is the second Crochet Club tomorrow I thought I would share a couple of Tutorials and Websites I found helpful when I started (and still feel helpful now!)…

First up an ode to #crochet magazine. It’s so pretty!!

20150122_223129With pretty beginner and more advanced projects I found I was able to indulge in a little Crochet porn whilst being able to easily understand and make the smaller projects. The magazine is a real delight, and even has a super useful How to Crochet section at the back.

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Next up the infamous Attic24. This website was recommended to me by SO many people, and it is easy to see why! There are TONNES of amazing projects from pretty pot covers to Candle Holders and Blankets by way of Ponchos and posts about life in general. It’s ridiculously inclusive, and I promise you will want to get hooking immediately!

For instance, I have made a couple of her Candle Decorations and I think they’re great! My Mum loved hers!! They’re really quick to put together, and you use a couple of techniques so it’s interesting to learn… I think you can already see a vast improvement in my first one (for me, below left) and the one I made for my Mum (below, right).

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Attic24 also has a couple alternate Tutorials for Granny Squares here and here which I shall probably give a go soon. I like that they use different combinations of stitches.

There are a couple other places worth a visit if you are joining me on this journey, the first being this Tutorial for Granny Squares over at Little Tin Bird. There are step by step photographic instructions and I found it super easy to follow.

The second is a little bit of a catch all of Basic Crochet Techniques, and again has some pretty awesome illustrations which are easy to follow. See the Stitch Guide here.

Don’t forget to search on Pinterest too, I found some amazing Mittens and Fingerless Gloves the other day and I actually ended up making my very first Crochet Pattern!

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My first pair are on the left, and they’re ok. But then I decided to do stripes and what a decision!! I’ve made 5 pairs already I like them so much and I fully intend to make more for my Market Stalls this Christmas. I am going to post a Tutorial for them soon.

Obviously there are oodles of Books, You Tube Tutorials and many more magazines (yay!!) to choose from… which is your favourite? I would welcome any recommendations. Don’t forget, if you are in the Bristol area you can pop along to Crochet Club too!

Happy stitching… or as Attic24 says, Happy Hooking!

Notions: How to Make a Thread Holder

The renovations continue apace in my new studio however; it is a slow process! I have had a pretty grotty cold for a while now which isn’t helping things, but my main issue is spare cash. I would spend so much if I could!! So, I have started to think about which aspects I can create myself with a little dash of imagination. I have needed a couple more Thread and Bobbin Holders for a while. I have a beautiful one my Brother made me a while back however; in my new space I wanted a couple smaller ones to hang above the Sewing Machines to make the Thread which is available for anyone to use a little more accessible. It would also be fantastic to have Bobbins freely available and even loaded up ready to go with matching thread! My organizational plans know no bounds! I had borrowed a Drill from Fella’s work to put up the shelves, and with a couple scavenged lengths of timber from a skip, I spent a couple pounds on Dowling and hey presto… new Thread Holders! I thought I’d share how I did it so you can have a go, because dang if these things aren’t expensive! You will need: A Drill with an 8mm Drill Bit 9mm Dowling Course and Fine Sandpaper Rubber Mallet/Hammer Wood (I used a 9cm x 40cm length of Pine) at least 1cm thick Pencil and Ruler

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First, mark where you would like the stands for each Thread or Bobbin. I staggered mine so each one is 3cm apart. Because my wood was only 9cm wide I put two on one line, then just one on the next.

Cut your Dowling to 7cm long, then sand down one end of each piece so it is rounded. Use the Coarse Sandpaper first, then smooth off with the Fine Sandpaper

bobbin7 Next, you will need to Drill the holes for each piece of Dowling. This isn’t so hard but you’ll need to do it in a really specific way… First, Drill straight down for a couple millimetres to create a ‘dent’ in the wood. This will anchor the Drill for the next bit. Rest the back of the Drill on the table top and continue to Drill at an angle. You will need to press gently but firmly to drive the Drill in to the wood and each hole needs to be at least a centimetre deep. Drill all holes, then dust off the wood shavings. bobbin4Position each piece of Dowling on top of a hole and Hammer in. Check the depth of each as you go so they are all roughly the same height and make sure each is sturdily in place. Dust off the Thread Holder again, rub off your markings and it is ready to load up! I’m going to paint mine cheerful colours…

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Voila! I’d love to see your efforts… share on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Happy stitching!

Notes from the Atelier

As work continues apace in the new Workroom, I thought I would make a confession… I have already started work on products for Christmas 2015! I know, I’m mad!

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At Arnos Vale Christmas Fayre, where someone rushed over and said ‘Oooh, excellent! The Christmas Bunting is back!’ which pleased me no end!

You see, last Christmas was just so much fun I had to start. I sold out of many products and lines as well as having a blast on the Market Stall (which was hard work too!) however; the few notes and thoughts I took away from last years successes were these: I must have access to more stock, the stock needs to be organized and available online too and I also need to have made the stock months in advance. I also need a card reader! I had real trouble keeping up with demand during December and definitely lost sales because of it so the name of the game this year is organisation, organisation, organisation!

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At Retroville, at The Tobacco Factory which is always a fantastic Market to have some fun and buy some beautiful Handmade goodies!

I listed all sales, and made copious notes so I know my best sellers, and I shall of course be replicating them however; I’d like also to start offering variants upon the theme too and this is why I have started so early. I need time to work on things, experiment, take a step back then work again, and I am hoping by starting so early I will afford myself the luxury of time.

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At Picton Street Market, which was quite the talk of the town and the event of the Market season! The day started slowly but was huge fun. My day was made when a customer declared my Handmade Notebooks to be ‘better than Paperchases’!

Another new thing for this year was having someone with me at each and every Market. This was pretty cool to be honest, and not something I had planned… I actually was stocking a couple friends products and they wanted to be their on the day but this was invaluable. For the first time I could wonder off and take a peek at the other stalls, go to the toilet (much valued let me tell you!), grab a coffee and best of all, chat.

I’ll also be looking to be stocked in shops for the Christmas period, which is another reason I need to start planning now. I need to start approaching shops in July/August and it would be fantastic to have the stock in place and ready to be shipped if necessary. There is also extended prep time in taking and editing product photos, listing to sell or creating the wholesale information, advertising… oh the list is endless but I am looking forward to starting!

Did you attend or sell at any craft markets this year? I’d love to hear your tales…

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

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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!