Christmas Makes: Stockings

stocking 5

Quite a few people I know are going to be making gifts this year, and making a Stocking is a wonderful way to present them. Alternatively, if you don’t have very much time or have just started sewing then these are a quick and simple Gift to make up. Stuffed with presents or chocolate and brought out each year for ever more who wouldn’t want one?

Because they use such a small amount of fabric these are a wonderful quick, cost effective make. They can be decorated any way you like, personalized and made as big or as small as needed! Delightful!

You will need:

a large sheet of paper or some pattern paper

half a meter/yard of Fabric for the outside of your stocking

half a meter/yard of Fabric for the inside of your stocking

Ribbon, Felt, Bobble Trim, Sequins or anything else you want to decorate your stocking with

20cm Ribbon for the tag

Sewing Machine, Thread, Scissors, Pins

stocking 1 stocking 2

First, use the paper to draw out your stocking pattern (or click the above image to enlarge and print, then use to scale up as you need). Once you are happy, you will need to add on 5cm/2″ to the top- for the turn down- and Seam Allowance around the rest of the Stocking Template. I use just 1cm/ 3/8″ for small projects like this or I find myself using a lot of fabric… which I then end up cutting off so the Stocking turns out properly!

When you are happy with your template you will need to start cutting out your fabric. If you would like to check your Stocking- if you need it to be a particular size for instance- simply make up a sample from some Calico or scrap Fabric.

Fold your Fabric, Right Sides Together, and pin your Template on. Remember if you have a Directional Pattern on your Fabric to Pin the Template the right way up! Folding your Fabric helps you to cut a left and a right side. I have seen too many people cut two lefts or two rights!!

Repeat for the Lining so you have two outside Stocking pieces, and two inside Stocking pieces as above. With Right Sides Together, Pin a Lining piece to an Outside piece as illustrated, then sew using your chosen Seam Allowance.

At this point, if you would like to decorate your Stocking, you need to do it before you start to stitching it up. Remember your Seam Allowance and don’t stitch anything too close to the edges! Also, and this is a little odd but I promise it’s right!, any decoration sewn on around the top edge of the Stocking which will be seen when the top is turned down needs to be sewn on to the Lining and upside down. This means it will be the right way up when the Stocking is made up and the top is turned down.

stocking 3

When you have sewn both, lie flat and Iron your Seams ‘out’ as illustrated. Then, with Right Sides Together, pin both Stocking pieces together which should match the two outer pieces and two lining pieces on either side.

stocking 4

Fold the piece of Ribbon in half and Pin. On the Lining side, tuck in as illustrated about 5cm/2″  and -using the same Pin- Pin on the the Stocking. This will mean your Tag is sewn in as you sew the Stocking up which is very neat and tidy!

Starting on the Lining side (and remembering to reverse stich a little to anchor), start to sew just below the Ribbon Tag as shown. Continue to sew all around the Stocking, remembering your Seam Allowance, until you are just above the heel on the Lining side. Stop and reverse stitch to anchor again leaving a gap in the stitching in the Lining to turn the Stocking out.

Clip your threads, then clip all of your curves. This is really important as your Stocking will not turn out nicely!

Turn the Stocking out, then push the Lining in to the outside of the Stocking. You may need a ruler or pencil to help you push the Lining all the way down in to the outside. Turn the top down about 5cm/2″ and stuff full of chocolates, or other goodies and hang up!

MARKET5 MARKET6

As ever it would be lovely to see your makes! Kristen C tweeted me the below from my Jewel Bird Tutorial. Kristen made these stunning Birds as gifts last year, aren’t they delightful? I adore the blue one, and I am loving all of the different colour choices, which were so different from mine. The White were made as a Gift in traditional Dutch colours for her Grandmother.

       

Share your makes via Twitter (@MidnightLaura), on Facebook or here! You can join me for my Christmas Workshops or at the Royal York Crescent Christmas Fair in Clifton, Bristol on the 30th November to buy Stocking Fillers, Christmas Bunting, Gifts or a cheeky pair of Christmas Knickers or Boxer Shorts… see you there!

Happy stitching!

Notions Zines

As you may have noticed, I am following along with the Great British Sewing Bee, and I am hoping you are finding the many and varied Tutorials, hints and tips useful!

If you are a beginner Seamstress, you may want to check out my Notions Zine Series, which is a collection of mini magazines all with a theme and all about helping you sew more professionally!

zine promo

Included in the series so far are booklets on ZipsUnderstanding PatternsSeamsDarts, Tucks, Pleats and Gathers and a mini mini booklet all about the Vintage Sewing Books here at Midnight Heights. They are fully illustrated either with unique and original illustrations or examples taken from my Vintage Sewing books.

All are available as either a hard copy format, or as an instant downloadable PDF, individually or as a lovely bundle of sewing goodies!!

To buy, visit my Etsy shop, happy stitching!

5 Tips for Product Photography

A couple days ago I was asked to provide some Product images for a Craft Magazine and  I used it to light a fire under my bum and get my new Bunting Kit finally finished! It is something I have been illustrating ever since my Mini Bunting Kit’s started selling so well, and with the success of my Hand Made Christmas Bunting over Christmas I decided it was the first Kit to be released in 2014.

20140108_01283420140108_01272420140108_012739

Running alongside this, I have started a Branding and Zine conversion which is fairly epic… all products are to be re-branded with my new logo (you may have noticed it above! I’m so super chuffed!!), and all Kits and Zines are to be available as a PDF Download… soon! So, having someone contact me for Product Images was as good excuse as any to finish the Kit, with the new Branding.

It’s been a little manic but… mission accomplished! The Kits will be released a little later in the week and today I thought I’d share a little about what goes on behind the scenes when I am organising Product Photos. Quite a bit goes in to the organization, the Pictures them selves and even more in Post-Production… especially when you are re-branding!!

The best piece of advise I have ever read on this subject is: you want to sell a ‘lifestyle’. In my case, I want customers to look at my Product Images and think ‘ooh, yummy’!

1. Think about your surface, backdrop or setting.

You may have noticed the trend for pure white backdrops recently, which is lovely if your products suit this. I happen to think that sewing needs a little bit more of a tactile backdrop so I compromise. I use a Vintage White Lace edged table cloth, which adds texture but will not look out of place or too different when placed next to other products from other shops on-line, or in a magazine. Don’t be scared to try different backgrounds, at this point you’ll only stand out!

2. To Prop, or not to Prop?

It’s funny, I used to think Props were too messy, that people would think they were included with the product or even just too distracting. I’m pretty sure I was wrong, I love my newer Product Photos, which sell the idea of gathering equipment and notions around you to get ready to use the Kit. The use of Props can also bring in carefully placed elements of colour which can lift the whole picture. They can also add in a Vintage feel, or suggest things to the buyer within a theme which can be a useful tool.

20140108_01302120140108_01313520140108_012159

 As you can see, I started with an image in mind that was very different from the final picture! All of the Props disappeared to make way for one glorious Prop- one of my Vintage Glass Dish Pincushions (which is a cheeky way of getting another Product in the Pic!). It’s less cluttered but I feel still sells the Kit well. 

LauraAfterMidnight_Image01_lowThe final Product Photo, ready for both the Magazine and Etsy! None of the complicated filters have been used, it’s clear, concise and looks great!

3. Products

The most important thing about this whole process! I always make the best product I can, or select the nicest version to be photographed. They’re like peaches in a supermarket! I’ll freshly iron, check for threads, make sure none of the packaging is bent, anything to make sure everything is at its best.

4. Framing and lighting

This is personal taste, I prefer to show as much of the product as possible, photographed head on as simply as possible with nothing in front of it or obstructing the view! Of course, I also try to sell the ‘lifestyle’ with the aforementioned props however; the main focus should always be the product. Because I sell on Etsy and Folksy, I also need to take in to consideration the fact that my wonderful picture will probably be first viewed as a thumbnail. This means I will need to be able to crop it without loosing any of the detail, and intent.  Lighting doesn’t need to be anything more complicated than an Anglepoise Lamp with a daylight bulb in (blue light rather than yellow as it’s easier to edit with). I used to tape a sheet of heavy tracing paper to my Anglepoise to diffuse the light so my shadows weren’t as hard too. Bright, white light will always make your Products look awesome because the colours will pop!

ring1 ring2 20140108_012706

 Same Product, different ways! In each photograph I have tried something a little different however; each displays the Kit, and the finished Kit. Because of my Re-Branding you may have noticed I am trying some filters however; my favourite layout is the far left. The snippet of Vintage cloth, the fact that you can see the reverse instructions (but not too much, have to pique their interest!), and the final made up Kit just really works for me. Clear lighting and close framing help to see this picture even when it is a thumbnail. 

5. Photoshop or editing software.

I am incredibly lucky because Fella is a Film-maker and Photographer (which makes me feel like I am cheating a little bit) and means I have access to a couple things I probably wouldn’t have normally. Well, one thing at least: Photoshop. I know that there are many other Photo Editing programmes out there, many of which are either free or at least very cost effective (see a good list of available optionshere) however; Photoshop is just glorious! Also, and this is a very valuable lesson, stick with the software you like and can use efficiently, Photoshop works and makes sense to me but if it had felt tricky and awkward I would have tried another. I try not to follow ‘trends’ for things like this… just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work better than your tried and trusted programme!

LauraAfterMidnight_Image03_low20140108_010409

LauraAfterMidnight_Image02_low      20140108_010935

 On the left are the Photoshopped images, on the right the filtered images using a free downloaded Programme to my Phone called Repix which is kind of wonderful for a quick edit on the go! I still love the bright, clear imagery I get from Photoshop which I think works well for my on-line shop.

You may have noticed throughout this post I have been trying out some Instagram style filters. This is in response to my new Packaging. Because it is brown paper and string, Vintage style I felt it was important to try a more tactile photographic technique. I’m not sure I like it as it is a little too generic however; I shall continue to play with it as I continue this process.

Well, those are my top tips, I shall be taking many more photos over the next few days as I slowly work through the re-branding of all my products! Wish me luck.

What are your Top Tips for taking awesome droolworthy Photos? I’d love to hear!

Happy stitching!

Alice in Midnightland!

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

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

3 4

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

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

Happy stitching!

Midnight Makes

I have taken a little absence from blogging recently. This was in part due to the fact that I was super busy however; it was also because I have been feeling a little aimless and adrift from my creativity recently. The time off has been incredibly helpful, I have been reading up on information on marketing, and ways of expanding your business. I have also been reading a lot on making targets, strategies and deadlines for your business, whilst measuring what I class as ‘success’, and this has been enormously helpful. It is easy to get waylaid by other peoples successes, and it is important not to let their version of success affect yours.

Taking what I have learned from the past year of Laura After Midnight, and looking towards the next few months, I have managed to form a coherent business plan which centers around Christmas. A lot of what I make under the guise of Laura After Midnight sold extremely well in the last quarter of 2012, and I think this is due to the inherent ‘gifty’ nature of the products. I shall be booking in to as many Christmas markets as I can find in and around Bristol, and indeed I have booked two already!, as well as re-marketing my Etsy store towards this angle too. I am having a  slight re-brand also and just these few simple decisions have infected me with creativity!

I have made several new products already- it feels weird to be making Christmas products in this heat wave- which has proved very informative. Working on these now has allowed me to use them, and have others use them and re-design where necessary. It has also relaxed me towards my sales month-to-month. I have a target in place for sales over the Christmas period, and I am finally working towards something again which feels fantastic!

The first new product is this delicious new Sewing Tidy. I am so super, wonderfully excited about this! Don’t you just love how neatly it packs away, with sweet little buttons. It’s just a little over A5 size, so it will fit all the small paraphernalia needed for a spot of sewing. I just took this camping with me and it was enormously useful. It will come with a Seam Ripper, Tape Measure, Pencil, Pins and Needles to get you all started. Hand made from colourful 100% Cotton, with a gorgeous utilitarian Calico liner, pocket and elasticated loops.

new2 new1

aura After Midnight Sewing Tidy, available soon £8.50. 

As a response to my Etsy sales I have started to develop a range f Teeny Tiny Kits. They will be given away with larger orders, as I felt customers spending over £50 should really be thanked properly!

The first is the Beautiful Covered Buttons Kit, with a Rosette Badge, Mini Bunting and Fabric Flower Brooch to follow soon. I’m going to try to always make these from the excess fabric I have collected over the years- the fabric that has been ‘paid for’. This will mean that they can be created for next to nothing so they can be given away. It also means that when they are for sale they will only be £2.50! Shiny!

new3

Laura After Midnight Teeny Tiny Kit, available soon £2.50. 

And finally, I have put my Up-Cycling hat on! I have hoarded some stunning images over the years torn from the pages of such iconic magazines as Italian Vogue, and I have decided to put them to use! Designing an envelope template I cut them, pasted them with yummy Washi Tape and Voila! Gorgeous, useful and interesting notelet envelopes. I shall use them to give the Teeny Tiny Kits away, care information for my products and as notelet sets. I think they are so cool I hurt looking at them… completely channeling the 90’s too, with the electric blue string to tie them closed!!

new10  new 11

Envelopes and Notelet Sets, available soon from Laura After Midnight. 

new8

Envelope, Note Card, Product information with Discount Codes and Teeny Tiny Kit with Address Label… this delightful little package will be enclosed in all orders over £50 however this is how all Teeny Tiny Kits will be packaged.

I am working away- after midnight in true form because it so much cooler then!- and will share more soon.

Happy stitching!

Sale!

Uh oh… I have been reading business stuff again! How to market yourself, how to self advertise, how to boost sales!! It’s all swimming about in my head, whilst I am having a HUGE clear out of my Studio to give myself some much needed space so… I have decided to have a crazy sale in my Etsy store!!

Use Coupon Code JuneSale13 to receive 25% off when your spend £25, easy peasy!

Black and White Stripe Spats Butterfly Mini Top Hat Garden Flowers Mini Top Hat Kit

Primrose Yellow Silk Mini Top hat Kit Pirate Ship Spats Red Silk and Lace Mini Top Hat

all 25% off at Laura After Midnight!!

Happy stitching!

Exciting times at Midnight Heights

Whilst remaining acceptingly sceptical with a healthy dollop of nerves I am in the process of sending out my first Press Release and Wholesale Order information. It has taken several months of preparation, photos being taken then discarded and taken again, re-writes and editing however; finally I am more happy than I am not so I have decided ‘heck, lets just do this thing’!

All of this planning has put me in mind of all the Mini Top Hats I have sent off across the World, and I wanted to take a moment to thank all of the many people who follow me, help me and who have been supporting me in this endeavour as I take the next step.

If you are reading this as a proud owner of the Laura After Midnight Mini Top Hat Kit, please gain as much inspiration for decorating your creation as possible, as you can see sometimes a bow is enough!

black hat photo shoot

This gorgeous little Black Silk Mini Top Hat was the first I ever made, and the first I sold! Taking inspiration for Victorian Riding Hats, I simply made an outsize silk bow to attach to the back, with a Birdcage Veil trimmed with some Organza Ribbon to finish the effect. It was bought by a photographer in L.A. who very kindly sent me the above photograph.

Black Hat 1 Black Hat 2

As you can see, it is super simple however; I just adore that! The next hat was a private commission and it was the first time I started to bring some more of my Costume knowledge in to the Mini Top Hats. Created with overlays of Cotton, Net and Lace, this little Hat looks like a slice of beautiful antique China.

IMG_2143_1 IMG_2145_1

It also has some stunning Vintage Button adornments, with a ruffly lace edge to offset and emphasize the Tricorn. Also my first Tricorn, I was very pleased with the result. So I made another…

Tricorn 1 Tricoen 2

The thing I love about making Tricorns’ is, you get to use more Buttons! Again however; this has some pretty simple decorations which help to make the Tricorn shape stand out. This little darling went to live in Georgia, USA.

White Hat 2 White Hat 1

 

Another Mini Top Hat destined for a Wedding ensemble was this gorgeous Silk and Pearl pure white Hat. I overlaid Antique Victorian Corset Lace around the Brim and added a Vintage Art Deco mother of pearl Button and Feather. Sent off in its little Hat Box to Germany, this Hat was worn for a Victorian Steampunk themed Wedding!

And a couple more…

Gold Hat 1 Dark Blue 3 red hat 1

purple hat Red Hat 2 pink hat

 

I had no idea they’re were so many out there in the World! How glorious!! Remember you can purchase your own little bit of Midnight visit the Laura After Midnight Etsy store where you can find Hats, Kits and many more delights. 

Happy stitching!

Some stunning new Mini Top Hats.

New things have been listed (finally!) in the Laura After Midnight Etsy store, hooray!! I feel as if I am a whirlwind of activity at the moment, and had actually given myself today off. What do I find myself up to? Writing a new Zine, and excitedly photographing things for Etsy then listing! Oh well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead and all that!

Gold Hat 1 Gold Hat 4 Gold Hat 2

In the spare time that I do have, I’ve been hand embellishing some Mini Top Hats I made a while back with all sorts of lace, spangles and adornments I have found in my stash, and I do have to say that I am mighty impressed with the results! I bought a Vintage Embroidery book a while back which was all about the results Chain Stitch can give you if you layer it up.  As you can see I have used it to make Flowers and mixed it in with Spangles for a very effective and highly embellished look.

Cream Hat 3 Cream Hat 5

Above are just two, there are more in the shop! Because my line of Spats have proven so very, very popular, I have been working towards make a new and slightly more colorful range. What do you think? I adore the Pirate Spats soo much!!

Red Spats 1 Ship Spats 2

Stripe Spats 1 White Spats 1

In other news: I am on target for my 2nd Zine! Eek!

I am furiously commanding Photoshop to do my bidding as we speak, scanning in illustrations and generally having a high old time. This one is actually going to be given away as a free little extra with any Zines I sell and is all about the Vintage Sewing Books I use, and find most helpful. As I think every Seamstress (or Seamster!!) should own a couple and I have hand illustrated the covers and written a small review for a teeny tiny yellow Zine.

Right, time for tea me thinks…

Happy stitching!

Free Give-away!

 Yellow Hat Kit 1 Red Print Hat Kit 1 Kimono 2 Hat Kit 1

I am giving away one of my lovely Mini Top Hat Kits tonight during The Great British Sewing Bee tonight on Twitter. Simply Re-Tweet me (@MidnightLaura) between 8pm & 10pm BST to be put in to the draw! I’ll ship anywhere in the world, & you have a choice of any Kits currently stocked in my shop.

They are a fabulous way to gain new or refresh old Hand Sewing techniques, & you finish with a unique & stunning accessory for the Summer Wedding season.

Good luck & happy stitching!

Sugar Pastel Inspiration

Have you noticed the change in the winds? Summer is coming, I can smell it on the breeze, the Magnolias are soon to bloom & everywhere I look there are Daffodils & Tulips! I love this time of year, it is not yet too hot for me & the winds can whip all the cobwebs & tiredness of a long Winter away.

Because I am soon to officially launch my Mini Top Hat & Fascinator Kits I have been thinking about colour ranges & new ideas have been bursting forth! I am in love with Sugar Pastels with a little oompf… what do you think? I am pretty sure any Bride, Bridesmaid or Vintage party go-er would love one of my Kits in these colours!

2  4 5 6 7

Happy stitching!