The Marks & Spencer Shwop & Sew Lab

On the 20th June, I shall be setting up shop inside Marks & Spencer’s, Broadmead as part of The Bristol Big Green Week! Excitement!!

I’ll be running two Workshops, the first being for Beginners to Up-Cycle a T-Shirt in to a Shopping Bag or Infinity Scarf, the second for more intermediate Sewers will turn a T-Shirt into a Shirred Skirt or Tunic! All T-Shirts are being donated by Oxfam, and the event is completely free BUT it’s first come, first served so you’ll need to get in fast!!

You can see all of the details here, and the full Schedule is below:M&SYes, you can meet the winner of The Great British Sewing Bee! Eek!! And just look at all of the good things you can come along to learn, Up-Cycle or repair. I shall definitely be hanging around to take a peek at the Refashion Competition and for Matt’s talk (and a cheeky glass of something!).

I’ll be sharing the makes over the week as I put together the samples and instruction sheets so watch out! I love the idea of Up-Cycling all of those old T-Shirts into useful Shopping Bags (did you know the UK stops giving Shopping Bags out for free at the end of the year? Well, we do so make your own re-usable one now!!).

See you there, can’t wait to meet you all.

Happy stitching!

Notions: Herringbone Stitch.

MCCALLS Herringbone StitchIllustration from McCalls Sewing in Colour, 1960. 

I know this seems complicated but I use Herringbone Stitch for all my hems. I first got taught this technique when I was working at the- now sadly closed down & sold off for parts- BBC Costume Department in West London.

The reason it was being used on costumes was twofold… firstly it doesn’t show from the front, at all! Secondly, it’s super strong. If your heel gets caught & rips one stitch the rest don’t immediately unravel because of the way Herringbone Stitch is worked.

  

Herringbone stitch, often called Catch Stitch, is a most useful little stitch to know. As you can see from the above diagrams, it is a version of Back Stitch, in Cross Stitch form. Turn your hem up as needed, or refer to your pattern for instruction.

Firstly, thread you needle in a complimentary colour, then stitch a couple stitches ‘on the spot’ to start. This stitch is worked backwards so the first stitch you take will be through the main body of the fabric. Take a stitch from right to left but only take up a couple of threads of the fabric. This stitch should lie directly above the hem fold as illustrated.

Secondly, and roughly 1.5cm to the right of the first stitch, take a larger stitch through the fold in the fabric. Do not go all of the way through to the front. Move to the right again and take another stitch through the main body of the fabric, as illustrated, and only taking up a couple threads. Continue until the hem is complete or you need to re-thread.

The examples above I have completed in black & white, so you can imagine how the stitches disappear when executed in a complementary colour.

Happy stitching!

*This was originally posted on 19th March 2013 but I have been talking about it so much recently I thought it would be helpful to re-share! 

 

New Sewing Courses!

Phew! I have just finished updating the Class Schedule, and I have to say I am mighty proud of this one!

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There’re Classes for beginners and more advanced Sewers alike, and I have tried to plan in fun projects like the Playsuit Course or Beginners Dressmaking Course which both have three different Patterns to choose from (and they’re all great, I promise!), as well as Project Days including an Introduction to Patchwork Day and the completely awesome and fun T-Shirt Project Day.

You guys who have already been stitching up a storm are also catered for and can choose from the Sew Anything Course– which starts soon!- as well as Lingerie, Corset and Vintage Pattern Courses. I’m almost envious, but I get to be there too, yay!

I also have a Social Media Training for Small Businesses Seminar which I am completely thrilled to be offering. I seem to spend a lot of time spouting off about how important SEO is, why I try to maintain an Editorial Calendar and why everyone with a Small Business should Blog in the first place, as well as blithering on about Internet Marketing and all the many minutiae of running a Small Business in this wondrous Internet age that I thought I would  share all of the bits and bobs I have learnt over the years to help y’all out!

Click here for more information but loosely this seminar will feature group discussion and worksheets plus handouts for future reference and is the perfect next step for your Small Business as you build your Brand and start to create more business through your website, shop and in person! It’s going to be such fun guys, I’m hopping with excitement!!

Places are limited by space so I’d book quick for all of the Courses and Classes.

Happy stitching!

Top 5 posts of 2014!

Well readers, it’s been an interesting year! These are the posts published in 2014 which have been viewed time and again… thank you!

Whilst that’s self explanatory, I’d also like to say that the Pattern Free A-Line Skirt Tutorial and Pattern Month Tutorials beat these posts by a Country mile (but were published in 2013, so don’t count) however; this has made me so happy because I shall be concentrating on Pattern Cutting, Drafting and Making Up in the near future as I start to design and sell more Patterns.

I am so excited about this. I’ve got a new computer, new workroom and new passion and drive after a very hard end of the year which had left me questioning pretty much everything. But more of this later… on with the show!

1.

Simple Sewing: How to Make a Patchwork Cushion

cushion43This is a fantastic make for any young or new Sewers out there, and you end up with a pretty fantastic Cushion at the end of the make too… and who doesn’t like a Patchwork Cushion?! You can make this with a couple of Fat Quarters and some backing fabric too so it’s pretty cheap. I love Patchwork for instilling straight lines and perfectly sewn seam allowances, I’m such a dreadful old bore of a teacher!

cushion5 cushion6 cushion7 cushion8

See the original Tutorial here.

2.

Corset Month

corset month button

Following on from the release of my very first Sewing Pattern- the Eventide Corset Pattern- this March I did a Sew-a-Long for the next month with hints and tips to sew up your very own Eventide! With such a fantastic reception (and despite the evil new VAT regulations)  I shall be releasing more Patterns in 2015, all of which will have a slightly Victorian/Edwardian or unusual flavour. I can’ wait!

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See the first article here which has links to all of the posts.

3.

5 Tips for Product Photography

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Covering tips on Backdrops, placing your Products, Framing, Lighting and Editing Software it’s no wonder this tutorial is so popular! It’s part of an occasional series and was recently followed by 5 Tips for Craft Fairs.

See the original article here.

4.

Notions: Concealed Zips

czip12

The first entry from the Notions Series, which is (or is supposed to be!) a weekly photo tutorial on a specific technique. Lamentably abandoned in recent months, I will be resurrecting it as soon as I can as they are ridiculously popular, and exceptionally useful in class! It is no surprise to me this is the most popular as Concealed Zips are a problem for a lot of Sewers’, I’m just pleased this has helped a little bit!

See the original Tutorial here.

5.

The Sorbetto Top from Colette

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Who else is looking forward to The Great British Sewing Bee in 2015? This is a post I wrote to accompany last years Sewing Bee, when they made a simple top… which covered an awful lot of Sewing Techniques! A lot of my students were left in a spin and I like the Sorbetto for teaching these techniques, whilst making a garment from not much fabric (also known as, if it mucks up, don’t worry it didn’t cost too much!). Covering making Bias Binding and sewing it on, Slip Stitching, Understitching and a couple other techniques this is a most informative little post and the Pattern is still free over at the Coletterie! Wow!!

slip8 understitch1 understitch4

See the original Tutorial here. Added bonus, click here to see my Interview with Sarai from Colette!

Well, that was 2014, I didn’t do so bad upon reflection. I am trying hard to think which was my favourite post from 2014 and I think it has to be this one. There’s much to look forward to in 2015, and it all started in that little Studio!

Happy stitching!

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!

Christmas Makes

Last year I shared several Christmassy things I was making for my family, and as the Christmas lights have just been switched on here in Bristol I thought I would share them again in the run up to the holidays!

First up is my tutorial to make the popular Christmas Jewel Birds. I had readers from all over the globe sharing theirs, and I would love it if you shared yours this year…

christmas month button

Make these pretty little felt Birds in different jewel colours. They look so lovely about the house, on the tree or as a little gift in a stocking…

You will need:

Felt in Different Colours

Embroidery Threads in Different Colours

Stuffing

Scissors, Pins and Needles

20131103_235528-1Pattern for the Pretty Jewel Bird, with suggested Flower and Leaf decorations with suggested Stitching Lines. Click to enlarge and Print. Re-Size by hand, or at a Copy Shop if you would like to make a larger or smaller decoration. 

bird 1 bird 2

Using the Pattern, for each Bird you want to make, cut two Felt bodies and two Felt Wings. Starting where illustrated, Stitch the two Bodies together using Blanket Stitch. Leave a portion open as illustrated so you can stuff the Body easily.

Blanket Stitch, click to see source. 

bird 3 bird 4 bird5

Stuff the Body of the Bird, using a Pencil to push the Stuffing in to the Head and Tail, then continue to Blanket Stitch the Body closed.

Cut Flowers and Leaves out of Felt indifferent colours, and place on the Body. You may need to cut the Flowers and Leaves a little smaller, or you could cut several! Position as you like…

bird6 bird5

Use Back Stitch to Stitch the Flowers and Leaves on, and Chain Stitch to decorate too if you’re feeling fancy! Use different thread colours- it’s Christmas so the more colours the merrier after all!- until you are happy with the effect.

When you have finished Appliquéing Flowers and Leaves to the Body move on the the Wing. The Wing is not stuffed, so first pin the two layers together, then Stitch around using Blanket Stitch to finish. Two layers of Felt ensure the Wing holds its shape.

Decorate the Wing as before, I think a contrast to the Body looks lovely but you could also make the Wing out of a different colour too!

 

Chain and Back Stitch, click to see source. 

When you are happy with the decoration, sew the Wing to the Body and add a loop of thread to hang the Pretty Jewel Bird by. I have made several now, but these are by far my favourite! I am very much looking forward to hanging them on the Christmas Tree but I may also use them to add a pretty extra to Presents as well!

bird7 pink bird

Don’t forget to share pictures if you make some of these pretty little things. You can share here or onFacebook!!

Look out for more Christmassy Tutorial shares over the next few weeks here at Laura After Midnight. Don’t forget I also have some great little Sewing Kit Stocking Fillers on my Etsy  shop, with Stocking, Christmas Bunting and Patchwork Coaster Kits coming soon!

Happy stitching!

Stitch n Bitch

The new Zine from Laura After Midnight!

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This little Handmade and Hand Bound Zine contains Stitch illustrations taken from my collection of Vintage Sewing Books. I have been collecting all manner of strange and wonderful Vintage Sewing books for years now, and I love the different things they contain which simply aren’t in modern day Sewing Books. 

Many of these stitches aren’t worked any more, and some have been long forgotten… including stitches called Rosette Chain, Camel Knot Stitch and Single Pekinese Stitch… and more! They’re so pretty, and would look adorable as decoration on a Collar, or worked as a cuff detail or on soft furnishings. 

 s n b 2 s n b 1 s n b 4

I have been wanting to try my hand at Book Binding for some time now, and I think I may have found a new hobby! I have stitched these very simply with Linen Thread and Brown or Black Card with a beautiful Red printed End Paper.

I have also started stitching up my first proper book…

book bindong

I just need to make a quick trip to the craft shop for some glue, and I’ll be able to attach the Hard Cover! Eeep!!

If you would like to give this a try- and I highly recommend it!- the Tutorials I used are here and here. All you need is some paper, card, thread and a needle. I’m definitely going to be making more and I think I may have to make some up as gifts. Who wouldn’t want a Hand Made and Hand Bound Book? I can’t wait to choose Fabric to cover it and see it made up!

If you would like to try your hand at Hand Bookbinding, check out the Tutorials I followed here and here.

Grab your copy of the Stitch n Bitch Zine here.

Happy stitching!

You can learn anything…

… at The Midnight Atelier!

Recently I had a one-to-one Class booked with Philippa Robbins, a Painter who lives and works in Wales. Philippa has been creating some stunning Papier Mache Puppets with casts of Teeth based on an illustration she has exhibited (and which I love)… …

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Her mission for the time she was with me was to figure out how, and try to start clothing the Puppets she had made Heads, Arms and in some cases Legs for. With her she had brought about seven however it was with the Frida Kahlo inspired Puppet and Russian Prisoner Puppet we started. I fell in love with the Russian Prisoner almost immediately! He has tattoos all over his body, some of which are highly surprising, and which have been painstakingly adhered to his skin. There was also something about his sad, sorrowful expression which I liked too!

puppet4 puppet6 puppet5

We began by loosely sketching Philippa’s ideas for the Costumes. She then arranged each Puppet with his or her correct appendages, then attached their custom made ‘glove’.

To make the Costumes, we made a Toile and ‘fit’ it to each. Because each Puppet differs in size and shape I thought this would be the easiest way to get a working Pattern. I can honestly say it was the smallest fitting I have ever done! This method did indeed provide a workable Pattern and we proceeded to create Frida a lovely dress with teeny tidy Chemise underneath (smallest Button and Button Loop EVER!), and some striped Prison Pj’s for the Russian.

puppet3 puppet1

Aren’t they the sweetest?! Philippa will be ‘knocking’ them back with a little Tea Dye to age them which I think will look fantastic. I can’t wait to see them, and the others as they progress and get finished!!

I really think I can now say I have pretty much taught everything… and enjoyed every minute! Contact me if you would like to book a one-to-one session at learntosew@lauraaftermidnight.com.

Happy stitching!

Notes from the Atelier

Well, I have completed the move from Midnight Heights to Midnight Atelier, and a very happy Seamstress I am too!

I have already taught my first one-to-one Class in the space (more on that soon), which seems to work very well, and today was my first day of work… and boy did I work!

Orders were stitched, packed up and shipped. New designs patterned and sewn up, including the below- quite frankly- stunning Waspy Bustle Skirt and tidying and sorting continued apace!

bustle skirt 1 bustle skirt 3 bustle skirt 4 bustle skirt 5

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This Bustle Skirt will be on sale next week and is one of two Bustle Skirt Designs I have been working on. Adapted from a Vintage Pattern, I am quite literally in love with it! I may have to make a Mini Tricorn Hat to match… I am also loving my new Labels… printed Purple Satin Ribbon, with a flourish of Vintage Taffeta behind. So much fun!!

Corset Month will continue Monday, which will also be the day I release my Course List for the Midnight Atelier and Workshop. Courses will include Vintage Lingerie, Corsetry and Bullet Bra making! Places are limited to just three lucky Sewers so booking early will be encouraged.

Happy stitching!