Hollywood Old Timey Jazz Glam!

Given the chance to design a Chorus Line for a show I of course went Old Timey and pulled influences from old school Hollywood!

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Who wouldn’t, right?

Working with a very limited budget, I decided to create some stand out Tail Coats, then add different Costume elements to them to create different looks. Most of the budget for this show went into these Tail Coats, and I think they really sell the piece… not so much on this mannequin though! Why are store mannequins so weirdly shaped?!

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I thought that Black Sequin fabric was a super swell find, and would really pop on stage, but I didn’t want to over use it. The Black fabric was also sequined, but a little more gently, and simply shimmered but provided real movement.

We also made silver waistcoats, hot pants (girls) and trousers (boys) with silver sequin tuxedo stripes. For the more modern dance numbers which were a little more energetic we created t-shirts with stars and others with music notes on them, also from the silver sequin fabric (actually, the silver sequin fabric scraps! We were really using every last piece!!)

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Finally, and I was super duper over the moon with these bad boys I can tell you!, I made some silver mini top hats with shooting stars… ta da!!

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And put it all together and… … …

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That’s some pretty hot jazz!

Happy stitching!

Wordless Wednesday

Internal finishing and detail on a pair of bespoke jeans. This service is available by appointment in Savile Row.

I’ve never really thought much about finishing garments for myself like this inside… after finding this I might have to channel some of this beautiful Savile Row detailing for my Jeans as I get a little over excited about using scraps of beautiful fabrics to make scrumptious Bias Binding! I also rather like the contrast pocket detail.

Have you drafted your Basic Trouser Block yet?

Happy stitching!

Corset Kit & Pattern News

I thought I would just post a quick update on Corset Month, and the Corset Kit/Pattern… pre-orders are being taken (simply email me at laura@lauraaftermidnight.com to add you name to the list) however; I have run in to some last minute technical issues. These shouldn’t effect the start of Corset Month but I shall probably have to reorganize the running order slightly to accommodate for people ordering the Kits and Patterns so that there is time for them to reach everyone before the start of Corset Month.

So, what’s been happening?

Well, I have been working. A lot! And it turns out releasing a Pattern is kind on an insane task, but hey- I’m nearly at the end of it now! I have learnt so much, mainly that if you want something done well… you’ve guessed it… do it yourself!! I had initially tried to have the Patterns I wish to release digitised professionally however, and I am not entirely sure why, no companies were that willing to help, assist or work with me. Maybe because I was ‘small fry’? This little thing has meant months of research and planning going out the window, and that I had to learn how to draft in Illustrator. Not ideal as this also meant everything has taken quite literally months longer that I had anticipated! But hey, now I can draft in illustrator… not brilliantly and with many, many swear words and cups of tea, but I can!

So having mastered this side of things, we were on to the printing and ‘PDF-ing’ of the Patterns. Again, so many little issues to iron out. It turns out that- only being able to print A4 at home (the other Pattern I am designing needs to be A3)- that this section needed to be done at my local copy shop. And they’re soo rude!! I have found a new copy shop, willing to scan and print for a much more reasonable price and we are inching towards our goal line.

With a selection of processes- and I am sure none of them are conventional!- I am now able to draft Patterns, digitize and clean them up/test, print and convert them to PDF. Boy, has it ever been a learning curve!!

As I said, we’re nearly there and only a week late. Which I am counting as a win!! To be honest, I’m so proud of myself and wonderfully amazed that I will have released a Pattern in the next week. It’s just that everyone has to be a little patient for a little while longer, and I thank you so much for that.

As a little bonus, and as part of the Sew-a-Long I shall be posting a Waspie ‘hack’ so the Corset Patter you buy from me will actually be able to be adapted and changed into two wonderful pieces. I shall also be running a competition for the PDF (as I have just reached over 700 followers on Facebook yay!!), so definitely watch this space!!

The Corset Kits I am producing are limited in number for the first run but there are a few left if you would like to put your name down. I’ll be shipping next week, and they’ll be on sale as wells as the Hard Copy with Instruction Book, and the PDF Download. The Sew-a-Long will start on the 14th April with a HUGE post on suppliers so if you wanted to join in you can grab your equipment in time for the Sew-a-Long. This information is also included in each Instruction Book. The Sew-a-Long proper will start a week later with inserting the Busk.

Phew, I’m off to Devon for a couple days to try to decompress (stress dreams are oh so fun!), and meet Fellas Ozzie family. Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Happy stitching!

A-Line Skirt hack!

Hello lovelies! Having been very inspired by The Great British Sewing Bee a couple weeks ago, here is my A-Line Skirt Hack based on my super duper popular Patternless A-Line Skirt Tutorial to make an Inverted Box Pleated Skirt as they did.

The original Tutorial is amazingly simple, and I highly recommend it if you are learning to sew or want a quick make for a cute Skirt. You need just 1 and a half meters of fabric for the A-Line version, but you’ll need 2 meters for this Pleated version, which will make a knee length Skirt just as beautiful as Tamara’s was!

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Firstly, you will need to make up the Pattern for the A-Line Skirt. In the original Tutorial this is simply drawn on to the fabric after taking a couple basic measurements (a la Chinelo!) however, for the Pleated Skirt you will need to make it up on Pattern Paper.

Once you have your Pattern, divide the waist line and hem in to three, and draw a dotted line between the markings as illustrated. Cut up these lines to separate the pieces, the tape the first piece on to another piece of paper. Decide how deep you would like your Pleats- the Great British Sewing Bee had 8cm, and I like 12cm- then measure from the first dotted line out by this measurement… i.e. 8cm. Measure and mark out along the whole line, then tape the second piece along this line, effectively moving it 8cm away. Repeat for the third piece.

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Mark a circle at the top of each of the the dotted lines. This is to mark where you will need to make Tailors Tacks which will help you see where the Pleats are to be made, and keep the Skirt the same size as it is made up.

Fold your Skirt Fabric Selvedge to Selvedge (so you get a long, thin folded piece), then lay the Pattern on the Fold, pin the pattern and cut around. Move the pattern down, flip over and lay next to the Selvedge as illustrated and pin and cut again. If you have an obvious print, you will need to match it.

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Before you un-pin each piece, place Tailors Tacks on each mark. Tailors Tacks are a great way to mark your fabric without resorting to a pencil or snipping the fabric as you can with Notches.

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To make the Pleats, fold the fabric, right sides together, so that the Tailors Tacks lie on top of each other. Pin, then press the Pleat flat, distributing the Pleat evenly each side…

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… thanks to The Great British Sewing Bee for that! Once pinned, you can follow the rest of the A-Line Skirt Tutorial and sew the Skirt up.

Alternatively, and this word strikes fear in to my classes because they know what I am going to suggest will probably be exciting enough they want to do it but difficult!, you can sew the Pleats down before continuing to sew up the Skirt! I love this technique, it makes the skirt incredibly flattering, and distributes the flair about the Hip and not the Waist (which is great if you aren’t stick thin).

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Fold the Pleat so that the Tailors Tack matches as before. Place the second Pin 12cm down. Using the Tailors Tack as a guide, sew straight down (for example, if you have done 8cm Pleats, you will have 4cm Seam Allowance at this point and will need to sew 4cm away from the edge from top to bottom) until you reach the Pin marking 12cm. Remember to reverse stitch at the top and bottom. Distribute the Pleat evenly on each side as before, pin and then Top Stitch down each side of the Pleat on the Front as in the last picture.

Once you have pinned your Pleats, or sewn them down, you can continue to sew up the Skirt at in the A-Line Skirt Tutorial. You can choose to sew it up with the Simple Zip method included in the Tutorial or use an Invisible Zipper, or a Lapped Zip as in The Great British Sewing Bee.

As ever, I’d love to see your makes! Happy stitching!

The Great British Sewing Bee: Week 2

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Well, it all felt a little calmer this week didn’t it? All of the contestants seem to have settled down with the idea of the time limits, and we saw a lot more finished pieces! Yet again however; I feel I have been sent upon a whirlwind of Stitching terminology and techniques!

It was all about pattern this week. Matching, using, working and up-cycling with… stripes, florals, patterns!!

First up they made a Box Pleat Skirt in the Pattern Challenge however; they Inverted the Box Pleats which is infinitely more flattering. Matching those patterns across the pleats proved a challenge for many of the contestants, and I shall be addressing a couple tips on this later on in the week as well as sharing how to adapt the Simple A-Line Skirt Tutorial in to a pleated skirt.

During the second challenge- to take two Men’s Shirts and use them to create something new- Chinelo stunned me with her cute Summery top, with sculptural Bow. Patrick was quite right- to have the vision both Chinelo and Tamara had to see something that different was fantastic.

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Chinelos wonderful bow!

During this week they also inserted a Lapped Zip, Top StitchedSlip Stitched– which was how Julie finished her Waistband off on the inside instead of Top Stitching- Stab Stitched, attached several more Patch Pockets, stitched up Button Holes in a trice, and stitched on Buttons even quicker, and Piped those Pyjamas in the final challenge to within and inch of their lives.

I am being well and truly put through my paces as a Seamstress here, and I can only imagine how their heads must spin after their Sewing Bee days!! If you fancy making yourself some Pyjamas, see my Tutorial here. It’s a great introduction to simple Pattern Making and, made well, Hand Made Pyjamas are a luxury and a great gift! They’re far simpler than the Pyjamas the contestants attempted however; watch out for Tutorials over the next week which will cover Piping, Lapped Zips (a great Vintage technique, which I shall be sharing from my stash of Vintage Dressmaking books), Stab or Hand Pricked Stitch, making the Perfect Bow, and Marking Fabric.

As ever, click the link above to watch the show which will be live for two whole months!! Follow along here- don’t forget to sign up for my Monthly Newsletter in the side bar which contains exclusive offers and info- PinterestFacebook and Twitter.

Happy stitching!

The Cushion Gallery is open…

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As many of you are aware, I teach Sewing at several different locations, and post tutorials here to share what I have learnt over the years and hopefully encourage others! One of the courses I teach is a beginners Sewing Course at Cordial & Grace in Clifton, Bristol and I have been teaching it for over two years now. The first lesson is a Patchwork Cushion, the second a Tote Bag and the third an A-Line Skirt.

Everyone starts off with a Patchwork Cushion. They all look at my sample and don’t believe they’ll manage it, some take longer, some unpick endlessly, some crash into it with glee and untidy seams but all make a Patchwork cushion in three hours (stopping for some much deserved tea and home made cake of course!), and every single one of them goes home happy and brimming with pride.

At the beginning of the year I realised I must, in my time at Cordial & Grace, have taught well over 100 students to make this simple design, and I posted the tutorial for it for others to use. Then I really got to thinking! I decided I was pretty proud of myself for inspiring so many, and came to the conclusion that I would like to record this years Cushions!

Somewhere between a New Year’s Resolution and a mini Manifesto I shall share them here.

If you would like to join in, email, comment, sharetweet your Patchwork Cushion using the Tutorial and I shall add it to the pile. At the end of the year I’ll add ‘em up and maybe even run a prize for the most outstanding!

As you can see, many students take my suggestion to switch the design up on board, each is unique and beautiful, some fabrics are obviously liked by many and most owners don’t want their picture taken!! See the full Gallery here!

Happy stitching!

Christmas Presents: Pot Pinchers & Oven Gloves!

How is this for a useful gift? As I have said before I really like to make Christmas Gifts for everyone each year however; I also like to make them useful which can sometimes be a challenge!

A couple years ago I discovered that Thermal Wadding is on the market- for a very reasonable price- which meant that that year I made everyone Pot Pinchers. These fabulous items are like mini Oven Gloves but they can also be laid flat on any work surface and used a Pot Stand to protect the surface from hot trays and dishes! How cool?

I was going to write up a whole Tutorial for how I did mine however; upon looking I have found the below Tutorials from various Blogs across the ether which show just how diverse this gift can be. They also illustrate some nifty techniques- like the Quilting. You honestly don’t need to spend much on the component parts either so this is the ideal Hand Made gift- thrifty, interesting, useful and pretty! Voila!

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Click on the pictures above to be taken to the Tutorials. The first in courtesy of Adrianne from On the Windy Side. I just love her fabric choice! The Tutorial comes with a free PDF Pattern, and uses Fat Quarters. There are also some super tips on Quilting and preparing for Quilting which made this a very interesting read. If you have been wanting to get in to Machine Quilting this would be an ideal project to get a feel for it.

That darling little Heart Pot Pincher comes from Sew We Quilt. This is a great, straight forward Tutorial to make something pretty, and even comes with a free Patterns and Machine Embroidery template! I adore these little things, they use up larger pieces of scrap material very well, don’t take too much time to make up and look so cheerful in the Kitchen! As you can see you can lay them flat as illustrated, or us the pockets to ‘pinch’ and take things out of the Oven. These make up relatively small so you can skip the Quilting if you would like a simple make.

The last Tutorial comes from Skip to my Lou, and makes up this pretty swish Oven Glove! In this Tutorial, you Quilt the fabric, then cut the Pattern out which is a lovely, simple way of making up and the cuff is a nice finishing touch.

Don’t forget to check out my Bias Binding Tutorial! It takes you through all the steps to create your own Bias Binding to match, or contrast beautifully with makes like these!

Why not make a couple up this Christmas for that difficult to buy for relative, they even make excellent Gifts for Men! Wrapped up with a new Pie Plate, Casserole Dish or even some beautiful utilitarian wooden spoons (maybe decorated like this?!), they also make a pretty amazing Hand Made statement. For the ten or so sets I made my Family I chose to use Fat Quarters I had stashed, with a little add in here and there for the linings. For mine, I literally wasn’t allowed to go buy any fabric because they were the ‘samples’… … I had to patch together Bias Binding which I now think adds to the charm! I Quilted a different pattern on each side- for the Mustache fabric I only Quilted on the pocket side and whilst this looks fine I think I would always Quilt both sides in the future as I think it makes them a little more durable. I also used a little Costuming technique for the Bias Binding! I first sewed it on plain, then used a fancy stitch to set in place! I do this all the time now for Bunting and I really think it adds a little something, especially when done in a contrast colour.

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Easy! As ever, I would love to hear if you have made any of the Tutorial I have posted for Christmas Month! Share here, on the Christmas Month page or on Facebook!

My Christmas Pop Up Sewing Emporium is in full swing and is happening on the 14th December!! I’m so excited!! Click here for all of the details, and do join us if you can! Watch out for more exciting Present makes all week.

Happy stitching!

Making your own Christmas Cards

bauble2Making your own Christmas Cards is a very satisfying experience! For years I have grabbed a couple potatoes and happily stamped away however; for this tutorial I have updated the technique slightly to produce permanent stamps which can be re-used again and again.

You will need:

Sticky Back Foam (click here to buy)

Acrylic Blocks (Click here to buy)

Scalpel

Paper

Scissors

Stamp Pad and Acrylic Paints

Blank Cards (Ebay is an excellent resource to buy these in bulk, cheaply)

Paint Brushes, Pencils, Pens and Paper

Firstly, use the Pens, Pencils and Paper to sketch out a couple Designs. You should keep them super simple to start, and just have a little fun before refining your technique. As I am an avid fan of different printing techniques- I love Lino Cuts and have been producing them since I was a child- I wanted to attempt the most Christmassy of things… Vintage style Baubles!

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Having sketched out a couple designs, I liked the 3rd the best. It’s not overly complicated but it will look good in silhouette as a stamp.

Once you have chosen a Design, draw it on to the Foam. Proceed to use the Scalpel and Scissors to cut the Design from the Foam. Loosely cut around, then cut the finer details out until it is finished. Lastly, you will need to neaten up the edges

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Peel the back of the Sticky Back Foam away, and stick to one of the Acrylic Blocks. This enables you see where you are Stamping the image, and hold on to it properly.

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Press your beautiful new Stamp on to the Stamp Pad, rock slightly then move and stamp and rock again to properly cover the Stamp with Ink.

Gently press the Stamp on to your Card, and press down in each corner to make sure the Stamp prints properly.

I will stamp a couple of practice runs to make sure I am happy with the result before I stamp the final cards. I also like to mix in different coloured paints to make the result you can see in the far right picture above.

Squeeze out some paint on to some card, and using a paint brush spread it out as evenly and thinly as possible in a large enough area to cover the Stamp. Gently press the Stamp in to the paint, then in to the Stamp Pad to cover with Ink (this works best if the Stamp Pad is a Gold, Silver or shiny colour), then stamp on to your Card.

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So, what do you think of mine? Shown above are some of the Bauble Stamps I have cut, my paint trials and a finished Card. I think I like these best in a single colour, and I am going to do some in Hot Pink, Teal and Purple with Gold. They will be available on my Market Stalls, and through my Etsy store soon.

Of course, you could use these stamps to make Gift Tags, Wrapping Paper or even purchase some Fabric Paint and make your very own Christmas Fabric!

Christmas Month continues with Presents!!

Happy stitching!

Bramaking extravaganza!!

I have finally had time to completely review my Bra Making knowledge, the rather helpful advice over at Cloth Habit, buy some equipment and generally take stock to move forward with this project. Why is this so daunting?! I have attempted bras’ before, I am constantly making other pieces of lingerie, and with over 20 years of sewing experience I should not be this afraid! Man up, Laura!!

As I think I have mentioned before, instead of drafting a pattern myself, this time I have opted for a store bought Pattern (Elna No.645), and I have to say it has proved annoyingly easy to make up… annoying because now I feel even more of a light weight for not manning up sooner!! I shall be drafting my own Pattern as soon as I am happy with my construction abilities however; I have actually already been drafting Bra Patterns all day with a Private Student! We have been happily drafting, designing and demystifying Bras all day before she embarks upon a Lingerie Intern Ship (if you are interested in Private Tutoring contact me at laura@lauraaftermidnight.com). Our next lesson is on Friday but, despite finishing up at about 7pm, I couldn’t quite leave it and I have been happily engrossed in Bra making ever since, so I thought I’d share my progress!!

I have decided for the first attempt to make up the size of Bra my measurements dictate, completely and with no fitting. I wanted to make a Bra from start to finish, without hesitation, so as to consolidate all of this fact finding, previous experience and current insights I have been building up. Having a stash of great fabric helped as I was able to choose a delightful Shell Pink Silk which, even if the final Bra doesn’t fit, will look stunning when finished and completely spur me on to further creations! I can then use it to draft a newer version of the Pattern, with fitting adjustments to make up.

I traced off the Elna pattern, as instructed, so that any changes I make to personal fit will not mean I can’t use the Pattern again.  The pattern includes sizes from 32A through to 42D, so hunting the pieces out was the first challenge!

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Tracing off a Pattern is a useful thing to do, it completely familiarizes you with all of the Pattern pieces, any notches or markings, helps you consider grain lines as well as conserving the original.

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After cutting out, the first thing to do was to neaten the top of the Top Cup. Using a little trick I learnt from Cloth Habit, I used a strip of light weight Fusible Interfacing. Sewn non-iron side down, the seam is then trimmed back (to reduce bulk), the Fusible Interfacing is then rolled over to the back and ironed down. To assist me in this I pinned the piece in place to the ironing board, then ironed. This is a simple, yet effective trick which stops those little finger burns!!

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This means that, from the front, no seam or neatening is visible! Marvellous!!

Now, I wanted to get a little jazzy with this Bra, simply because I want to learn as much as possible from this make. So, to the Lace shelf in the Midnight Workroom! Yes… … I have a Lace shelf, and it is varied and many coloured! I waited until I had neatened the top edge of the Top Cup, so that I could mount the lace without worrying about judging the Seam Allowance. Clever, no?

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Despite thinking I would like to have the scallops of the lace peeping out over the top of the Cups, I preferred this way, showing a little of the Shell Pink Silk. To attach the Lace to the Silk, I set my Sewing Machine to a narrow, small Zig-Zag Stitch and in key places- mainly the very top of the Scallops- made a couple of stitches on the spot. This method sinks nicely into the background of the Lace, but doesn’t stitch the Lace directly to the Silk. I am not too sure, but I didn’t want to stitch the Lace completely down because the Lace and Silk may want to move separately from the Silk when I am wearing the Bra.

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Matching all of my notches religiously  the next job was to sew the Top Cup to the Bottom Cup. Pinning carefully, and very slowly with the edge of the fabric in the air despite the extreme curve this was completely manageable. Bra Seams are only 6mm, which allows for extreme precision, and I am finding having a smaller Seam Allowance is extremely beneficial when sewing such tight curves.

I then attached the Back Band, and inserted the Cups in to the Bridge and voilà!  Here is my Bra so far… …

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I am super pleased with the result so far. In trying it on- not very accurately without straps!- I can already see that the cups will need to be re-shaped and possibly the Side Seam too however; as an exercise in Bra Making this has been extremely informative. It is nice to finally put all of my information I have gathered and previous knowledge to good use!

Because I have chosen to make a Fabric Bra, the Back is Lace only, which has some stretch to allow for movement when wearing. Tomorrow I shall be purchasing the elastics and straps needed to finish the Bra, and I literally can’t wait!

Look at these gorgeous creations from one of my favourite Lingerie companies, Buttress & Snatch… …

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This is what I aspire to!

Happy stitching!

Pattern Month, signing off.

So, it is all over… and what a glorious, action packed, fun Month this has been!

I would very much like to thank all who have joined in, commented and taken part in Pattern Month. Congratulations to the winners of Pattern Making Musings- but don’t forget to comment until Midnight on the 4th October on my interview with Madalynne!- and a HUGE thank you with sprinkles on to those who allowed me to interview them! IN-HOUSE Patterns, Colette, Sinbad & Sailor and Madalynne were all very gracious and enthusiastic.

The reception to everything I posted, wrote about and shared has  been so lovely that I am sure I shall soon be declaring Pattern Month again… there’s just so much more to talk about!! I sincerely hope it has inspired creativity, and even adventure in some of you. It’s so wonderful to be able to create your own designs and then make them up that I strongly urge anyone thinking about it to give it a go. Once the maths has been mastered- there’s a lot of it, sorry!- and you become more accustomed to thinking 3D whilst looking at a 2D Pattern you will be fine.

If you have been following along and created either Flat Patterns, Blocks, Toiles or even a Working Pattern or final Garment please share! It would be so lovely to see what you have come up with.

I shall be teaching a Garment Construction Course over the next month specifically designed to teach my Pattern Cutting Class how to make up their designs. I’ll be posting about their progress, and sincerely hope you share yours.

I’ll be taking a well earned break over October but November is another matter… stay tuned for exciting news! Eek!!

Don’t forget to check out Laura After Midnight exclusive Zines, and the original Pattern Month post. Find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter too.

Happy stitching!