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!

New poster! Dressmaking Classes in Bristol…

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Some of the above only have a couple of places left, and the Bra Making Course is almost all sold out but I could squeeze one more person on to it! There are 3 places left on the Play Suit Course, which I think is going to be awesome as I have three different patterns including a super Retro 40s style Land Girl one! The UpCycle Sew Anything  and Vintage Summer Dress Courses are both booking up and have just three places left each… book quick guys!

I love all of the new Project Days I have put together too! You can learn how to make Pyjama Shorts, Patchwork or Machine Embroidery in just one day among other things, and for just £35 which is pretty darn spectacular if I say so myself.

You can still book most Classes and Courses for just a £10 deposit, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Happy stitching!

Notes from the Atelier

A week or so ago I ran a Freehand Machine Embroidery Class here at The Midnight Atelier, which was a blast!

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Starting with the basic principles and how to set the Sewing Machine up for Freehand Machine Embroidery, we quickly moved on to the fun of it all and started to create mini works of art!

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Throughout the day I demonstrated different techniques like freehand pattern building and writing as well as using Water Soluble Fabric, Applique and using Metallic Thread.

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I seriously loved the delicate leaves (above, left), and watching what you have embroider become an almost 3D object is wonderful!

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It’s difficult to be creative on demand like this, so I’m always super proud when everyone enjoys the day and gets inspired. It’s such a wonderfully easy thing to do, it really is all about what you want to do with it! Monogram something, make art work or create your own textiles? Embroider fabric to create Lingerie for sale? Embroider your logo, or use it to create new products for your Business? The list is endless…

Some samples were left in the workroom and I think I’m going to frame them to inspire everyone! This Class will run again on 25th April, 1-4pm and you can book here.

Happy stitching!

Advance Preview… and some exciting news!

Well Ladies and Gents (and I’m looking at you Gents!), here is a little sneaky peeky of what’s to come next Spring from The Midnight Atelier! And what treats there are!!

Firstly, we are on the move! Hooray!! B9 no more… I shall soon be found at A5 Pithay Studios which is a much larger room- and once was a Film Studio which I thought was very apt!- tucked away in a corner between a Gym and a Band! I have a month to do some serious maintenance, decorating and I shall re-open on 26th January. I can’t wait!!

I can fit in more sewing machines, a dedicated computer area for designing Patterns and Sewing Kits, and even an arm chair! I think the Courses already reflect my renewed passion for teaching, which has ebbed slightly because of the space and noise restrictions in my current studio, and I am definitely viewing it as an opportunity to re-launch and re-publicize what I am doing. I am SO excited to get started!!

And so, here it is, the new Class Schedule for The Midnight Atelier… booking will start on Friday where for 48 hours if you book a course you get 10% off of the Course Price! Woop!!

As ever, email me for any information at laura@lauraaftermidnight.com. If you are popping along to The Bristol Sewing Club Christmas Party you will be able to advance book any of the Courses with the above offer. I must love you guys (I do!).

I am very excited to introduce Crochet Club which starts on the 10th January, the proceeds on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month for FREE. Join me as I fumble my way through learning to master this dark art… other will be on hand to impart wisdom and advice and as it is held in the Pithay’s own Phoenix Cafe I can also promise nice cups of Tea and Coffee as well as a treat or two!

We’re off to a grand start aren’t we? Next up the first of my ‘Project Days’. Aimed at Beginner Sewers, or those who want to master a specific technique or just stitch up a simpler project in  a day, I am rather excited about them! They’re scattered across Saturdays, cheap as chips, often include Patterns and Fabric and should be excellent fun…

Vintage Bag Project Day

17th January 10-4pm £35 6 places

Re-Create a Vintage Bag in a day! Pattern provided, simply bring along fabric of your choice! All levels of sewing experience welcome however; some Sewing experience would be an advantage.

T-Shirt Project Day

31st January 12-4pm £25 6 places

Learn to sew stretch fabrics and make a T-Shirt in a day! Includes guidance sewing with Twin Needles and working with Stretch Fabrics. You will need to bring 1.5  meters of fabric, pattern included. All levels of sewing experience welcome.

The first of my Courses is here by popular demand, and there will be two patterns to choose from including this one from Sewaholic… I have tried to keep the Courses cost effective and included Patterns where possible.

Trench Coat Course

28th January 5 Weeks £75 inc. Pattern 6 places

Choose from two Patterns to make a beautiful Trench Coat for Spring. This course would suit adventurous Beginners or Intermediate Sewers, and will cover several different types of Seaming, Top Stitching and aspects of sewing up a more technical Coat. This course includes the Pattern, please email me if you have any questions regarding fabric selection or amounts.

Sew Over It’s Tea Dress Sewing Course

3rd February 5 Weeks £78 inc Pattern only 5 places left already!!

In January I shall be leading a cheerful, banish this Winter Blues Tea Dress Class! Using Sew Over It’s lovely 1940s Tea Dress Pattern– which is included in the price of the Course so you have reference material, and can make it again if you wish!- this Course will cover Cutting Out, making adjustments to the Pattern (if needed), sewing up and fitting as well as stitchery details like inserting invisible zips and hand finishing to make this lovely Vintage inspired Dress. You’ll need to bring your fabric but all other materials will be supplied, as well as a much deserved cup of tea and a biscuit or two. All levels of sewing experience welcome.

Perfect Jeans/Trousers Course

5th February 5 Weeks £70 inc. Pattern 6 places

Skinny, Retro, Hipster or Classic, on this course you will make the perfect pair of Jeans for you. From Adapting the Pattern, to inserting a Fly Front, Top Stitching everything and Learning to Fit Trousers, this course is not for the faint of heart, but will be so much fun! Previous experience sewing would be an advantage and this course would suit adventurous Beginners or Intermediate Sewers best. Bring your own Pattern to make the perfect pair of Jeans or Trousers, along with Fabric, Zip and Contrast Top Stitch Thread. Why not bring along a favoured pair of Jeans to gain inspiration from as well? Please email me if you are struggling to choose a pattern, or would like help with fabrics etc.

Machine Embroidery Project Day

14th February 1-5pm £25 6 places

Learn this super simple and incredibly addictive technique in a day. Includes guidance sewing with different types of thread (inc. metallic etc), free motion machine embroidery and embroidery techniques. All levels of sewing experience welcome.

Up-Cycling Project Day

7th March 10-4pm £35 6 places

Pop along to this raucous event and Up-Cycle a  to be photographed, popped on the Bristol Sewing Club Facebook Group and get voted on,a la The Great British Sewing Bee!! Best Up-Cycle will win big! Includes basic guidance on reinventing clothing, patterning, changing and altering clothing.  All levels of sewing experience welcome.

Shirt Course- Menswear or Womenswear

10th March 5 Weeks £85 inc. Pattern 6 places

Learn to make a beautiful Men’s Shirt; Ladies fitted Shirt or Shirt Dress on this Course which would suit adventurous Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Sewers alike, and Men are very much welcome! There’s nothing better than a crisp, handmade Shirt! Guidance will be given on fit, cutting out, plackets and collars and several different types of seaming. Pattern included, all you need to bring is fabric. Please email me at laura@lauraaftermidnight.com for information regarding fabric choices and quantities.

Vintage Pattern Course

12th March 4 Weeks £65 6 places

Bring that steal of a pattern you bought but don’t know how to make, or is the wrong size, along and create the garment you have been dreaming of! Includes guidance on Vintage Sewing techniques and terminology, as well as construction and altering  Patterns to fit. This course suits all levels of Sewers however; it could be a wonderful opportunity for intermediate Sewers to really make something unusual!

Leggings Project Day

14th March 1-5pm £25 6 places

Whip up a dangerously quick pair of leggings in this one day course and learn to work with stretch fabric, insert an elasticated waistband and hem with a double needle whilst sipping tea! Pattern included, simply bring 2 meters of brilliant v4-way stretch jersey! All levels of sewing experience welcome.

Mens Sewing Project Day

28th March 1-5pm £35 6 places

Learn to make a Tie, Bow Tie or classy Cravat in this afternoon of introductory Sewing for Men! Not for the faint of heart, as we stitch up a stylish creation which will be the envy of all. Pattern and fabric included however; feel free to bring fabric if you are looking for something particular. All levels of sewing experience welcome.

Well, what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts, or if you think I should be teaching something I’m not. For those of you begging me to do it, Pattern Making will probably run in April, and Patchwork towards the end of the Summer.

Don’t forget you can pop along to Bristol Sewing Club most Mondays and Wednesdays but remember to Book In here to avoid disappointment!!

Booking for the Courses goes live Friday, and you will be able to save 10% if you book a place in the first 48 hours!!

Happy stitching!

Studio Snippets

Today I thought I would share some images of some gorgeous Medieval inspired Costumes I Designed and Made Up a couple months ago. I think I am in love with quilting again, and intend to make up some Bolero Jackets and Spats featuring this rather elaborate technique…

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This is a technique I have employed before for Historical Costumes. Not only is it accurate (-ish, I do it by Machine), it is a cost effective trick to create a brilliantly elaborate piece!

I first made a Paper Pattern for the Doublet, then drew the Quilted Design on to it to make sure it would work, and that I liked it. It is very easy to become a little too intricate so drawing out the pattern is a very good exercise! I then- somewhat free hand- drew the Pattern on to the Jerkin with tailors chalk, making slight adjustments to ensure it matched both sides because there were to be eyelets and lacing down the front and a seam at the back.

I backed the Blue Linen with very thin wadding and a lining- cut about 10cm larger than the Linen as there is to be expected some amount of movement when machine quilting- then started in the middle with the circles and worked outwards. When employing this technique I use a medium large stitch on my sewing machine and just take it slow. The whole jacket took about 7 hours to quilt in full but I am so pleased with the results, and can’t wait to see pictures of it in action!

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Above is some fabric I created for a Dark Queen Costume around the same time as the Doublet. I made it up on to a Waspie for the Costume, which looked just fantastic.

I worked with some Black Coutil for the base, then placed two layers of Gold Lace, a layer of Matt Black Sequinned Lace on top. I then Machine Stitched in Gold to outline the Pattern of the Sequins. This looked simply gorgeous and I fully intend to create a full length, Victorian Corset using the technique. It only took a couple hours because tracing around the outline of the Sequin pattern was done semi-freehand.

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I think I am becoming a little ‘known’ for my Machine Embroidery techniques!!

This above is a sample of some freehand machine embroidery I created for Dark Queens costume. I adapted and echoed the pattern from the Sequinned Lace and added in my own embellishments to create this piece of fabric which was ultimately cut up in to little strips!

Whilst machine embroidery is a relatively quick technique- which is why I use it so frequently in my Costumes, as if done correctly it can look like Medieval style hand embroidery or Black Work- it can still take time and I think I spent about 20 hours Quilting and Embroidering for this commission! I was quite content though, and adore the out come.

If you like the look of Machine Embroidery, why not check out Bristol Sewing Club to learn? I am also working on a handy little Zine full of hints and tips for the budding Machine Embroiderer too. I think it is a wonderful thing to master and can be used so many different ways.

Happy stitching!

Sewing is good for you!!

CLINICAL STUDY REVEALS THE STRESS-REDUCING BENEFITS OF SEWING

Surprise! Sewing May Be Good For Your Heart!
A clinical study commissioned by the Home Sewing Association (HSA) reveals that women who sew – both skilled as well as novice sewers — experience a significant drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration rate when compared to women who participate in other leisure-time activities. Heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration rate are three key factors in the measurement of stress. The study’s results appear to indicate that sewing helps women to relax while they focus on a creative activity. 

I am always astonished when people I teach are surprised that they are having fun when learning to sew! I think it is one of the only activities a person can truly make something useful, whilst having fun and learning a new skill, all the while relaxing.  I regularly teach women with quite high profile jobs & it is always a pleasure to see them start to relax in to the activity & start to smile more, & even more so when they become repeat offenders & start to come to one of my drop-in classes!

So, whether it is a one-on-one session, or one of my one off classes like Machine Embroidery or Make do & Mend or something a little more challenging like Corsetry or Patchwork, why not learn something new in 2013? If you already know how to sew, why not join me for a quick brush up before heading off in to the world of the online marketplace and making yourself a few bucks? Or, as the article above tells us, why not just join in for a fascinating and completely absorbing new hobby which is good for you!

New courses for 2013:

Dressmaking

This 4-week course starts on the 8th of January from 6.30pm at Flo-Jo Boutique, Gloucester Road. Continues from the first Tuesday of every month on a rolling basis. This course is ideal for beginners, or as a brush up on skills you already have. Bring your own simple pattern from Shift Dresses to Kids Clothes, & your own fabric and learn skills to make a lovely garment to fit perfectly.

Make do & Mend

10am-1pm Saturday 19th January at Flo-Jo Boutique, Gloucester Road.

Bought something on a whim at a Charity Shop & it doesn’t fit? Want to learn something specific like piping cushions, inserting zips or hemming? Come along to this one off course and we’ll tackle all of them!

Machine Embroidery

10am-1pm Saturday 9th February at Flo-Jo Boutique, Gloucester Road.

This one off morning course is so cool! Learn how to create and build up patterns using a machine to freehand machine stitch.

Corsetry

6-8.30pm for 5 weeks from Thursday 7th Feb.

This includes all the materials except one meter of your choice for the outside of the corset. Over the course you will learn traditional corset making techniques  so that you have a finished product with steel stays and fastenings. I have made up complete instruction sheets, and give you support via email too so from Gothic to Victorian fantasies by way of Burlesque & Vintage glitz come along to make the corset, tailored to fit you, of your dreams!

Pattern Cutting

6-8.30pm for 4 weeks from Thursday 14th March.

In this introduction to pattern cutting you will learn how to take accurate body measurements and transfer this to paper to make pattern blocks. Learn the basics of pattern manipulation and the process of creating toiles to develop your own designs. This is a course which doesn’t run often so be sure to book your place soon!

Watch out for other courses like Patchwork and Basic Dressmaking too!! I look forward to meeting you soon.

Happy stitching!

Original article from The Thrifty Stitcher.

New courses!

I have some great new courses lined up for the Autumn, & some for our younger sewers out there over the Summer Holidays! Take a look at my Workshops & Courses page for all the details however; the brand spanking shiny new news is I shall be teaching several courses with Flo-Jo Boutique on Gloucester Road in this wonderful city of Bristol!

From Dressmaking- using their amazing selection of Collette patterns, and great selection of fabric- to a Sewing Surgery & Machine Embroidery this promises to be really exciting!

Known best for their Knicker making workshops- & great Knicker Kits- the store is still wonderfully new, delightfully 50s in style & overflowing with all sorts of yummy goodies. If you are of the sewing persuasion I highly recommend a visit, although if you’re anything like me your purse will end up much lighter upon leaving!

I’m really looking forward to seeing some of you there!

Happy stitching!