Wedding preparations!

So, we’ve booked the Wedding, had a peek at the hall and are currently writing lists of all of our favorite foods and then I remembered (after having a very graphic dream where no-one turned up!) that we should probably tell people about it!!

So I have illustrated some Save The Date Flags!

1 flag

We’re seeing a lot of our families over the next week or so and I thought they would be super fun to hand out! These are the illustrations behind them… if you look closely they give a little flavor of what the wedding will be like!

lauramartin

I’m rather pleased with them however; it did take me quite a while to get us ‘right’. I kept making artistic changes and suddenly I was looking at a weird girl and a guy I’d never met!

Untitled-1

In other news, I do believe I have decided upon the Dress Patterns for my Wedding Dresses! Eek!! Two because we will be getting married on the Wednesday, then partying on down with everyone we can think of on the Saturday! Yay!!

Happy stitching!

 

 

Week 2: Inserting the Busk Pt II

So, having perfectly inserted the Right side of our Busks in to our Eventide Corsets, today I shall be showing you how to insert the Left.

I think this is a little simpler than the Right, but should still be sewn with care. You will need your Awl for this bit.

Place the Left hand side of the Front Corset panels Right Sides Together and draw a line 2.5cm from the Front as illustrated. Again, using a Patternmaster will make this easier.

Sew along the line, remembering to reverse stitch at the beginning and end of the seam. Iron, with the Seams out and then roll the Front Fabric  around to the Back as you did for the Right hand side so that no Coutil can be seen from the Front. Pin.

Stitch a 5mm (or half a centimetre) seam along this Front edge- shown below right- this line is now our Centre Front Line of the Corset. You may need to attach the Zipper Foot to your Sewing Machine to see where you are sewing a little more clearly.

busk2 1 busk2 3

Place the Right side, over the Left side, and in line with the Seam you have just stitched (below left). Using a Fabric Pencil mark through the holes of the Busk Hooks… if your fabric is highly patterned you may need to use pins. Mark- or pin- at the far edge of the Busk Hook as illustrated.

Take away the Right hand side of the Corset.

busk2 4 busk2 6

Next, you will need your Awl. On the mark, push the Awl through the two Fabric layers- NOT the Coutil layers- until a hole has formed.

The aim is to gently push a hole and not snap any of the threads of the Fabric, as this will keep the structural integrity of the Fabric. If a hole is punched, or many threads snapped, when the Corset is worn and the Fabric put under stress the hole will rip larger and look incredibly messy.

When you have made a hole, from the back push the correct Busk Post through (the two together should be at the bottom as for the Right side of the Busk). This needs to be done gently so as to not damage the Fabric.

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When all of the Busk Posts have been pushed through (below left), pin the Busk hard in as you did for the Right hand side of the Busk.

Attach the Zipper Foot to your Sewing Machine, measure the Seam Allowance and make a mark on your Sewing Machine as you did before.

Stitch along the edge of the Busk from top to bottom of the Corset panel (below right).

busk2 9 busk2 10

Easy as pie, right? And look… it’s a Corset Front! So pretty… …

busk2 12

So, it’s not all that difficult. Just remember to stitch nice and close to the Busk so it is held in nice and tight- not baggy! Remember also that it can be unpicked at any moment if you are unhappy.

At this point you may find your Fabric has ‘stepped’ or mis-aligned. Do not worry about this too much. It can be trimmed at the end of the sewing up process and is quite common as the Corset is sewn up. In fact, the Eventide Pattern has been made a little longer than necessary for this very reason.

Join me again tomorrow next week as we start to stitch the Corset up, and fit it to your figure. Also watch this space for a cheeky little Book Review of one of my favourite Corset Books and more Sewing Tips.

Don’t forget, the Eventide Corset Pattern is available in a number of options including Instant Download here, and you can join in with Corset Month on FacebookTwitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Week 2: Inserting the Busk

So, today we’ll be seeing how to insert a Busk in to our Eventide Corsets! I love this bit of Corsetry, it’s when the Corset starts to look, well… like a Corset! It is also the first time we will be sewing with metal, which whilst not difficult, has it’s own set of rules.

The most important thing to remember is that your Sewing Machine is perfectly capable of sewing over the metal however; the Needle is not! I have clipped the edge of the Busk or Boning many times and the Needle not only breaks, it can fracture into small pieces which is not fun! It with damage the Fabric and invariable flies towards your face…

Firstly, you will need to select the Right hand Fabric and Coutil sections AS YOU WOULD WEAR THEM. To do this, lay the Fabric out, upside down as illustrated. With Right Sides Together, lay the Coutil on top then put the Left hand side to one side.

busk1 busk2

On the Coutil side, draw a line 3cm away from the edge. As you can see from the Pattern, this is the Centre Front Line. If you have a Patternmaster this will be super easy as you can line up the 3cm line and simply draw down as illustrated.

busk3 busk4 busk5

Place the Busk against this line, equidistant from the top and bottom, then draw either side of the Hooks. The two Hooks together go at the Bottom of the Busk, and the Busk should be laying as illustrated- with the Hooks against the Centre Front line.

 busk6 busk6a

After you have marked either side of the Hooks, Pin the layers together. On the Sewing Machine, sew in between the gaps (as shown below, far left with a pink dotted line) remembering to reverse stitch at the beginning and end of each little seam. Try not to stitch too far in to the gaps or the Busk Hooks will not fit through.

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Don’t also forget that you can unpick at any moment if you are unhappy with the stitching.

Once happy, iron the Seam as follows… Iron the Seam out on the wrong side (below left), then wrap the Front around to the back so that on the Coutil side you can see a little of the Front fabric (below right) but none of the Coutil on the Right side.

busk10 busk11

Push the Busks Hooks through the holes, then push the Busk up against the Seam and hold firmly in place whilst pinning. The Busk needs to be hard up against the edge so that, when sewn, it is not baggy. A baggy Busk simply wont do!

Push the Pin in, then scrape the Pin along the back of the Coutil until you can feel the edge of the Busk, then pin through. Pinning like this will make sure the Pins hold the Busk in place nice and tightly.

busk12 busk13

When pinned, measure in from the edge of the Busk as as illustrated then, on the Sewing Machine, raise the Presser Foot and roll the Needle into the Machine. Place the measuring tape against the Needle, and use a Pencil to mark the Seam Allowance needed to stitch alongside the Busk.

Doing this makes sure that, above and below the Busk, you are able to sew in a neat line that is the same distance from the edge for the whole length. Marking with a Pencil means that you will be able to rub it off, alternatively you can use Washi Tape.

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When you have you Seam Allowance marked, stitch along the side of the Busk from top to bottom. You will need to attach your Zipper Foot to do this. Because the Busk starts and finishes 5 or 6cm after the start or before the end your Seam Allowance mark will come in handy to guide you in a straight line to sew next to the Busk.

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Voila! One beautifully inserted Busk!!

How easy was that? Join me tomorrow as I continue Corset Month with how to insert the Left side of the Busk.

Don’t forget, the Eventide Corset Pattern is available in a number of options including Instant Download here, and you can join in with Corset Month on FacebookTwitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Week 2: Cutting the Eventide Corset out

Now, after a week of taking it easy it’s time to get stitching your Eventide Corset!

After having made any adaptations to fit on the Pattern, you’ll need to cut out the Fabric. Diagrams and more information can be found in the Eventide Instruction Book however; here are a couple of hints… … and dire warnings!

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After having traced off, adapted and cut out the Pattern, pin to the Fabric remembering to measure the Grain Line. Fold the Coutil in half, Selvedge to Selvedge and Right Sides Together (so you are pinning to the back of your Fabric), and lay it on a flat surface.

It is incredibly important that each piece of the Pattern is cut out ON GRAIN. The Grain runs parallel to the Selvedge, which is the woven, finished edge of the Fabric. Cross Grain, or Bias, runs at a 45 degree angle to the straight Grain. Corsets must be cut out DIRECTLY ON THE STRAIGHT GRAIN to ensure the Waist Line in particular maintains the strength provided by the Straight Grain. Cutting the pieces of the Corset even slightly ‘off grain’ will mean it will twist uncomfortably as you wear it.

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Now, dire warnings aside!, after you have pinned each Pattern piece you will need to draw on your Seam Allowance… which is 1.5cm.

To do this, use a Tape Measure to measure out 1.5cm from the Pattern piece, and mark with some Tailors Chalk or a Fabric Pencil in a contrast colour. As you can see, Tailors Chalk is available in a variety of colours and it is useful to have a selection. Continue around each Pattern piece, measuring out and making a mark every few centimetres or so. Use a ruler or Patternmaster to connect the dots.

cut5 cut6 cut7

Cut each piece out, and before you un-pin it, make a little snip no more then 1cm deep at the Waist Line. This is called a notch and will assist you in sewing the Corset up. It is another important little detail!

Repeat for the Coutil.

cutting diagram

You may have noticed that each piece looks similar to the next, and you can choose to cut out some paper markers to Pin on to each piece. To do this simply write what the piece is on a little scrap of paper and pin to the piece BUT pin to the piece as you would WEAR it. To do this, lay the pieces out upside down so the top is closest to you.

And that’s it!

Don’t forget, the Eventide Corset Pattern is available in a number of options including Instant Download here, and you can join in with Corset Month on FacebookTwitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Preparing to Sew with Difficult Fabric

For this weeks’ Notions, I thought I would discuss something which, whilst being relevant to Corsetry, is also good basic knowledge for using unusual fabrics for all types of projects.

There comes a time when we all would like to use something a little more adventurous! Preparing the Fabric well is half the task of sewing Lace, or Sequinned Fabric.

Lace Overlays

When using Lace for Corsets, you will need to consider the pattern of the Lace- is it large or small and do you need to take this into consideration when placing the Pattern Pieces? You will need to re-trace off your Corset Pattern (from your adapted Pattern) and add in Seam Allowance before cutting out. This will ensure you do not have to draw the Seam Allowance on to the Lace which can be difficult for a number of reasons- the Lace will move about and can stretch out of shape, it will also be delicate and should not be overly handled.

After tracing the Paper Pattern off, pin the Paper Pattern on and cut out as you would Fabric. If the lace is very delicate, you may wish to use Pattern Weights instead of Pins to ensure you do not damage the Lace. I do not worry about being overly accurate- as long as the Lace is cut out within 1cm of the edge of the Paper Pattern and all Waist Notches are marked you will be fine.

Once all Lace sections are cut out, lay the Fabric pieces of the Corset out, then lay the Lace sections on top. Double check your Waist Notches are all in line throughout the Corset pieces, and that you have a left and a right of each piece.

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Pin the layers together, pin carefully so as to not damage the Lace.

Tack each section together as illustrated. Use a contrast Tacking Thread, and try to keep within the 1.5cm Seam Allowance so you will not have to remove it. If, when the Corset is sewn up, you can see the Tacking Stitches, the contrast thread will help you to see where to remove them.

Once the pieces are tacked, you can trim back any excess Lace to the edge of the Fabric.

sequin 3 sequin 4

Alternatively, and you may wish to Sew a couple Corsets having tacked them before trying this method!- you can pin the sections together as illustrated. Pin along the Seam Allowance as shown, and keep the Pins in until they are stitched up. Of course, whilst this method is quicker there are some obvious drawbacks! If you have to adjust the Corset or unpick it for any reason, these pieces will become separated and need to be pinned again, it will take a little more experience to be able to control the layers of fabric with just pins holding them together… you also use a lot of pins!!

sequin 5

This is a technique I often use when manufacturing multiple Corsets.

Sequinned and Beaded Fabrics

Sewing with Sequinned and Beaded fabrics has another set of rules. Because you are unable to Sew over Beads or heavier weight Sequins, you will need to remove them from the Seam Allowance.

It is easiest to trace off the Pattern, and add the Seam Allowance as for working with Lace Fabrics before pinning in the Pattern and cutting out.

Using a Tape Measure, measure in 1.5cm (which is the Seam Allowance for the Eventide Corset Pattern) and mark with a line of Pins as illustrated.

beaded 1 beaded 2

With a contrast Thread, tack along the line of Pins.

beaded 3 beaded 4

When you have tacked a line of stitching 1.5cm in, you will need to remove all of the Beads and Sequins from the Seam Allowance. And yes, this takes ages!! I keep the Beads and Sequins I remove, in case I need to add a couple in again. The stitching which holds on the Beads or Sequins is actually a chain so sometimes a couple of centimetres can unravel when it is cut, and will need to be carefully sewn back down, or added in by hand.

I will insert the Busk by hand if I am making a Corset from Beaded Fabric so as to not disturb the pattern of the Beading at the front of the Corset.

Pattern Matching and using Patterned Fabrics

This tip for Pattern Matching Fabrics is enormously helpful however; if you are using a Patterned Fabric you may wish to select the sections you wish to use, or even Pattern Match the Front Panels so that the Pattern runs across them. This isn’t too difficult BUT please do try to remember to cut out a LEFT and a RIGHT of each Panel!! For this you will need to flip the Pattern Piece over.

pattern matchAs illustrated above, I have chosen which piece of the Pattern I would like to run down the front of the Corset. Folding the Pattern Piece back along the Centre Front line, I have matched it so that- when the Corset is sewn together- the Cyclist will pedal across the Bust!

Remember to fold the Pattern Back along the Centre Front line, then match on the Fabric. As you Pin the Pattern Piece on to the Fabric you can un-fold it and pin it down.

Matching along the Centre Front line is incredibly important because- and you’ll see this from the Instruction Book– the Fabric beyond the Centre Front is used as a Seam Allowance when inserting the Busk, so any pattern will be lost.

By the way, this awesome Fabric is available from Spoonflower, and I may just have to snap up a bit!

Don’t forget, the Eventide Corset Pattern is available in a number of options including Instant Download here, and you can join in with Corset Month on FacebookTwitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Week 1: Recommended Tools and Equipment…

… to help you make the Eventide Corset, and for Corsetry in general, these Tools and pieces of Equipment come highly recommended.The full list of supplies, with recommended Suppliers etc comes in the Instruction Book with the Eventide Pattern or can be found in The Little Book of Corset Tips.

recommended tools and eqt for corsetry

Later, I shall be discussing how to adjust and alter the Pattern to fit! Don’t forget to join in with Corset Month on Facebook, Twitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Best Tips, Notions and Tutorials of 2013

Roll up!, Roll up! The first Laura After Midnight retrospective is upon us!

2013 has been quite the whirlwind! Here are my favourite Blog posts from each month… so without further ado, and not a whiff of preamble take my hand and follow me down the yellow stitched road!

January   Book Review: The Handmade Marketplace by Cari Chapin

As Fella tells it, I just ‘had it one day’; and to be honest I can’t remember where I found out about it, or heard about it or even saw a copy. I really did just have it one day and I haven’t looked back since! I strongly advocate a read if you are in the first stages of starting a business- hand made or otherwise!- or if you find yourself in a rut as following Cari Chapin’s words of wisdom has helped me through more than once!

February   Notions: Measuring Yourself for a Perfect Fit

WELDONS The Correct Way to Take Measurements          TAPE MEASURE          MODERN NEEDLECRAFT How to Measure Yourself

So, you’ve picked out the perfect Pattern, you’ve chosen your fabric & are generally wildly excited about learning how to make your own clothes, but where to start? With accurate measurements of course! Using beautiful Vintage Illustrations like the above and sage advice from my collection of Vintage Sewing Books this post illustrates exactly how to take your measurements, which ones to take and how to do so accurately.

March   Notions: Herringbone Stitch

Quite literally my all time favourite stitch, ever! I use Herringbone Stitch for stunning invisible hems and this Tutorial will take you through the steps. March also saw my popular article on The Best Haberdashery Shops in London, which is well worth a read too.

April   How to Make a Simple Pattern Free Skirt

header 3 patternless skirt 2 skirt 3 patternless skirt 4

In April I hosted my first Sew-a-Long… only I didn’t know then that’s what they were called! The Patternless A-Line Skirt is a technique I teach many Beginner Sewers’ and these Tutorials take you through each stage of creating your very own, fitted A-Line Skirt. Watch out for my soon to be released Skirts Zine too, which will take you through adapting the Pattern you draft in this Tutorial to make different styles such as a Circle Skirt, Pleated Skirt and more. Click each picture above for each stage.

May   Notions: How to Pin

Continuing my ever popular ‘Notions’ series this is a handy little Tutorial for an oft asked about technique.

June   My first Zine…

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High excitement was in the air as I researched, designed, hand illustrated (no Wacum Tablet back then!) and put in to production the first Zine in the Notions Series. Understanding Vintage and Modern Patterns has been updated and reprinted and has sold out again, and again much to my absolute joy. More have since joined the first and what started out as a bit of a personal challenge has now turned in to one of the true Laura After Midnight pleasures. Many more are planned and I can’t wait to release the first colour one! Click here to buy.

July   Notions: Fan Darts

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A lovely technique to make alterations or hand made dresses unique.

August   Notions: Concealed Zips

Fully illustrates guide to insert these tricky little buggers!

September   Pattern Month!

What a month September was! Pattern Month was a huge, rip roaring, smash of a success with competitions, tutorials on Drafting PatternsRe-Sizing Vintage Patterns and more, interviews with independent Pattern Companies like the gorgeous Gals’ over at Colette, with all sorts of additional hintstips and tricks it has to have been the most fun one girl can have Blogging! Planning the next one has started already…

October   Techniques and Tutorials

Finally, slightly exhausted after September I’m not gonna lie!, I organized myself and designed the now familiar Vintage Techniques and Tutorials Page. Here you can find all of the Tutorials I have written, projects and very much more. Enjoy, and don’t forget to make a request!

November   Hand Made Gift Baskets

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Prompted by an image I shared on Facebook, I whipped up this little Tutorial as part of the many Christmas Tutorials I did throughout November and December. From Stockings, to Pyjamas I had your Hand Made Christmas covered and they’re well worth a look through!

December   How to Make a Mans Tie inc. Pattern

Throughout December I was rained on… lots!, made over 100 meters of Bunting for sale on my (rainy!) Market Stalls, worked harder than I had all year, managed an (almost) completely Hand Made Christmas, hosted a Christmas Pop Up Sewing Emporium and posted some Christmas Makes in amongst the madness! It was a satisfying end to a year which has been incredibly interesting to live/survive through.

I am not entirely sure I enjoyed all of 2013, but I am damn certain it has taught me valuable lessons, encouraged me to work harder in 2014 and given me a firm grounding with which to take Laura After Midnight to the next level. In my plans for next year I have more Pop Up Sewing Emporiums, Kits for some pretty exciting and super cool makes and patterns, Zines a plenty and so very much more!

Happy 2013, Happy New Year, and here’s to 2014… each and every one if you!!

Happy stitching!

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!

Week 4: Making Working Patterns

Making a Pattern from a Basic Block is an art form, and it is at this point in the process that it would be beneficial to have a Pattern Cutting book to hand. Obviously I would recommend Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting however; there are many others out there.

I shall try to impart as much advice as possible however; I will be writing this article as if you have some help at hand in the form of a Pattern book. Towards the end of the piece I shall list some helpful websites if you do not.

Really, the hard work has been done at this point, you have a Basic Block which has been adapted to fit your form from your Toile. Now all that is needed is a little imagination and magic to create the pieces about the Basic Block to create your design.

You will need to start by creating a Technical Illustration of your design. this differs from a Fashion Illustration in that it should be a picture of what you would like to make however; it should contain all of the seams, pleats, details and information you need to work from to make the Pattern. You should illustrate both the front and back, as this is what you will be using to create your Pattern. It is incredibly important to create a Technical Illustration to work from, as it will stop any second guessing and random making up of details!

pat1

I have chosen to make a simple Top with some small design details. As you can see, I have illustrated everything I’d like to be included in the Top, with annotations to explain the finer details. The next step will be to decide which patterns I need to draft, what changes will need to be made to those Patterns and finally, what details I will need to draft to create finishing details for the garment. The easiest way to decide and start forming an action plan is to make a list:

  1. Most obviously I will need to draft the Sleeve Block, then adapt it to create the pleat at the Sleeve Head, and the Scallops at the Hem. I will also need to make a facing for the Hem as it is the easiest, neatest way to finish a Scalloped Hem.
  2. I will need to re-shape the Neckline of the Front Bodice to make it a V-Line Neck.
  3. A Collar will need to be drafted for the Front and the Back.
  4. The Front Bodice will need to be adapted to allow room for the series of Tucks I want to place at the Waistline, and a Button Stand will need to be added to the Centre Front.
  5. I’ll have to split the Back Bodice in to two sections to make the Yoke, then add in allowance for the Pleats/Tucks I want along the bottom of the Yoke.
  6. Seam allowance will need to be added to all of the Pattern Pieces as I complete them, and all will need to be annotated with Grainlines, Piece Names etc.

The following illustrations annotate how I would break down making this pattern up. Each change needs to be traced from the Basic Block- which I cannot stress enough- needs to remain intact, unharmed and unchanged! I am sure none of you relish the idea of starting from scratch all over again, which is what has to happen if you start cutting up Basic Blocks!

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As you can see from the above, listing the things to do and components needed for a Pattern is very important- it’s so easy to forget something, or get a little bit sidetracked!!

pat2

There are nearly as many changes to be considered on the Back however; a lot of the time these can be simpler because there are not the fitting considerations to be made as there are for the Front Bodice.

As ever, click the images to enlarge.

If anything more complicated is to be attempted, a Pattern Book of some description will need to be purchased. They are invaluable when drafting more fitted garments, or for drafting things like Sleeves and Collars.

So, at the start of this post, I mentioned that I would be sharing some other posts on Pattern Making however; I have a confession: there aren’t many!! Burda have some helpful advice, as always, and this article will take you through making a Princess Line Dress from your Basic Block. I have shared Madalynne’s great Pattern Cutting Tutorials before but they are well worth a look as she has Tutorials on some interesting finer points of Pattern Making. A pretty straightforward Tutorial on how to lift basic Pattern from clothing can be found over at Sweet Verbena, there are  many Tutorials on YouTube which take you through the process but I am going to reiterate that trial and error are the best teachers. Until you give it a go, and make up your first pattern it will all be academic and you simply wont know if it works or not!

Happy Patterning!