New poster! Dressmaking Classes in Bristol…

Aprils Poster

 

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!

Pattern Ponderings

Another Monday, and another Pattern Ponderings!

I do so hope you had a wonderful weekend, full of Sewing, tea and cake. This week I have some wonderful finds from the world of Independent Pattern Making and I have had such fun finding them! There are Pattern Makers the world over, all happily drafting away and selling their wares. First on my list today is the Mimosa Blouse from SBCC Patterns.

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This is a Raglan T-Shirt Pattern, made pretty! You can choose to make it with or without the Ties, but that’s the bit I love! SBCC (which stands for Skinny Bitch Curvy Chic), make Patterns from XXS to 3X… in layman’s terms that’s teeny to extra big and I’m sure they do something for pretty much every size out there. This would be an excellent Pattern to bring along to the T-Shirt Project Day!

Okay, after making my Tea Dress a few weeks ago (yay #MMAW15!!), I am a new fan of the gathered bodice as it turns out it suits me. Yes, even after sewing for as long as I have and Pattern Drafting for almost as long I can learn something new about my own body shape! So my new current obsession is the Giselle Dress from Kate & Rose Patterns.

Image of Giselle Dress PDF Sewing Pattern

I just love the long sleeve, shorter version. Inspired by the flowing Dirndl Folkware of the Alps, this Pattern is classed as Advanced Beginner, and you would learn so much! I think this could also be an awesome dress to play around with mixing patterned prints, or prints with plains. If you like this idea but are worried, why not put the question to Sewing Club? They’re very good, y’know!

I think I am in a bit of a girly, dressy mood today because my final choice is the Cami Dress from Pauline Alice.

Camí dress 1

How happy does this dress look? I think I would have to add in a little to the length but I love the in-seam Pockets and retro feel of this dress. I also adore that little cuff!

Don’t forget, if you like these Patterns, buy and support an Independent Designer like me! You can see my Patterns here, with more to come. A lot of them come as PDF Downloads which makes them cheaper, and instantaneous yay! If you’re struggling, pop along to a Sunday Sewing Bee for some help.

Happy stitching!

New Sunday Sewing Bees!!

sunday sewing bee image Are you as excited as me about the Sewing Bee? And have you seen my first crazy challenge?! I have had many, many enquiries recently about all sorts of Sewing related projects so I thought I would pop a few Sunday Sewing Bees in on the Calendar to help everyone out!

You can book up here, and they’re only £25 for the whole session or £5 an hour. There are six spots for each Sunday. I think they’re a super way to create your own course- book two and make yourself a Dress or something new and lovely to wear whilst joining in with Make Me A Wardrobe!!

They will also be a chance to learn at your own pace, without having to keep up with a class, and whenever you want! Alternatively, if you have been inspired by last years Sewing Bee, one of the many glorious Sewing Magazines or have a Sewing Machine secreted away somewhere, use them as a way to dip your toes and see if you like this crazy world!

Bring a Pattern and Fabric or use The Midnight Atelier’s extensive Pattern and Book collection to trace off a Pattern to make for just the price of the Pattern Paper!

Contact me for ideas and suggestions, or join the Bristol Sewing Club’s Facebook Page and talk to the group! Alternatively, you could use them to learn a specific skill… ever wanted to try your hand at Pattern Cutting? Designing? Embroidery? Have you liked a Course I have been running but couldn’t make the time slot? Come now and learn at your own pace!!

Find out more information or book here, and I look forward to seeing you soon!!

My Sewing Bee Challenge

Have you been watching this years Great British Sewing Bee? I love it and everyone already, I must stop being such a complete softie!

As ever, they covered such a vast amount on the first week from Pattern Matching to sewing Curves beautifully, Bias Binding and the correct application thereof (sorry Matt!) that it left my head in a spin! My favorite piece was Lorna’s Trousers. I loved the beautiful print laying diagonally across the fabric. Here at the Midnight Atelier there has also been much discussion of how nervous they all seemed, which is fair as it must be very stressful! Previous years must just have taken it all in their stride a little better, I’m hoping they settle in this week.

Well, this is all very well and good you may be thinking, but why am I prattling on about it? It’s because I have decided to challenge myself! Each week I shall be giving myself the same time limitations and re-creating the Alteration challenge right here at The Midnight Atelier and, having completed one already, I have to say it’s amazing fun!

I know I have a slightly unfair advantage in that each week I shall have longer to think about what I am planning to do simply because I have to go out and buy the supplies however; I am hoping you’ll forgive me as I intend to auction off the final pieces at the end of The Great British Sewing Bee for a local Charity. My time limit is also technically a little shorter as I have to make the piece as well as take pictures as I go so I think I’m making amends!

The minute Patrick revealed the Denim Shirt last week I thought ‘Red Gingham’, so mu so that I was very surprised no-one else did!! I blame my ultimate decision to make a Retro themed Beach Set on my new Class Schedule planning as I have lingerie on the brain… but what do you think?

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I draped the whole thing on the Mannequin super quick to get an idea of the curves, then used the Cuff for the front of the Bikini, and parts of the Sleeves for the rest as I used the Front of the Shirt for the Front of the Shorts- cut so that the Buttons and Button Holes lined up to create a feature!- and the Back of the Shirt for the Back of the Shorts. Ta daa!!

So, without further ado, here’s the whole Photo Story…

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I don’;t know who it was that said it, but making a little sketch right at the beginning of a timed challenge is super helpful

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Draping the Shorts from some scrap lining fabric, and marking where I wanted the buttons, pocket etc with a felt pen.

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Placing the Pattern Pieces on the Denim Shirt, then lining them up before I cut to make sure the Buttons and Button Holes lined up. I had to add in a Button Hole but all others worked out beautifully!

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Re-sewing on the Patch Pocket at a cheeky angle! the shorts are nearly finished, just some Lingerie Elastic for the Hem!

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Draping the Bikini from the Cuff! I was so pleased about this! after I draped the Front, I marked the pieces with pins on my Dress Mannequin then traced over them to cut the real piece. Quick as anything!! I draped the Gingham insert then Cut and Spread to make the Gathers.

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Pinning the Order of Sewing on to the Mannequin… then sewing! The Bikini took about twenty minutes to drape (and I was worried for a split second) but then only about five minutes to sew up! Voila!! Just some Ribbon straps and Gingham Ties to  finish!!

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I finished with about five minutes to spare… and look at the devastation something like this wreaks upon your work space!!

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Such fun! I love the final outfit, and can’t wait to see what I’ll be up against tonight… eek!!

Catch up with The Great British Sewing Bee here, and don’t forget my new Class Schedule will be out on Monday and ready to book. There’s so many treats and fantastic Classes coming guys, I’m so excited!!

Happy stitching!

Great British Sewing Bee Weeks 4 & 5

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I am trying to write about the Weeks Bee a few days after it has happened because I think a couple of times I have given away the ending to people! Oops!! Having said that, I missed last weeks- Midnight Atelier is very, very busy at the moment!

So, what did we all think of Week 4, and the departure of Cerina? I liked this week, we saw a variety of different skills and problems the sewers had to think though, and some really varied outcomes! Who among us has made little people clothing? I have done my fair share however; it’s always been for historical costumes! What a fantastic little make those Dungarees were, they really reminded me of Dungarees my Mum made me and my Brother when we were little. Not so fashionable these days, but really lovely I think!

Whilst making up the Dungarees, the Sewers used a variety of Skills including attaching Snap Fastenings, Top Stitching, Flat Fell Seams (which I find delicious!), much talk was had about finishing off the inside of garments and some of the extra details the Sewers attempted like Cerina’s contrast Top Stitch and Tamara’s odd Piping detail.

Watch this space for a Flat Fell Seam- or Run and Fell as it is sometimes called- Tutorial. It’s a super strong Seam which you’ll find on Mens’ Shirts, Jeans and clothing which needs to be strong and durable. If you are hankering after a pair of them Dungarees, you’ll find them in the Great British Sewing Bee Book, which is well worth a peek. I shall also be posting about neatening the inside of your garments as there are several options!

So, on to Week 5, and the surprising departure of Jenni. To be honest, I think the larger issue this week is: what was Tamara wearing?! What a strange T-Shirty over top thingamy!! That being said, what an interesting week this was. The main lesson being: never make a man a pair of Velvet Trousers tee hee! But seriously, this week saw sewing a Cagoule up with Waterproof Ripstock Nylon- the pattern for which is in the Sewing Bee Book, sewing Leather and finally, Velvet.

Nick named the ‘Tricky Fabric week’, I am not entirely certain all of these were actually tricky. Having the Walking Foot would have helped them with all of these fabrics, and in fact my beautiful, wonderful, amazing Pfaff Industrial Machine has an in-built Walking Foot and I hardly ever sew anything without it. Fantastic machines Pfaffs, they are stuffed full of German engineering, never need servicing and mine can sew up to 10 layers of Denim and 8 of Leather without batting an eyelash! Highly recommended!! Any way… why don’t I think these fabrics are tricky? Because any issues the Sewers had were entirely down to handling and fabric choice.

Ripstock, whilst it shouldn’t be pinned in the traditional sense, can still be pinned in the Seam Allowance as you sew but parallel to the seam instead of at the more traditional angle. You will need to remove the pins as you reach them however; this will enable you to concentrate on feeding the fabric and stop it slipping. The Pattern for the Anorak is on the Sewing Bee Book and I think, with their instructions and watching the Sewing process from this week you would be able to stitch one up in a trice!

Leather is beautiful to sew, and has the added advantage that Patrick pointed out- it doesn’t need to be hemmed and can be left as a cut edge. I think that Jennis use of the Leather was the best. Didn’t the back of her Top look divine? Working as the sewers were, just on the two layers, the Sewing Machines should have had no issue stitching. I was left completely baffled as to what David was doing with that sticky tape. This isn’t a product I have ever heard of, or would use as Leather marks terribly when anything sticky gets near it! My advice for sewing Leather would be, don’t pin, take it slow and try to use simple shapes when seaming. Also, if you are sewing by hand, please do not use Chinelos ‘tip’ of using your teeth to pull the needle from the fabric!! Use a leather sewing needle, and small jewellery pliers!

With both of the above fabrics, cutting out can be tricky so you may want to employ Pattern Weights instead of the more tradition Pins. Take a peek at my Tutorial here to see how to make yourself up a few!

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Velvet was the final challenge, and again I think the Sewers who excelled used the correct Velvet for the job. Cotton Velvet is perfect for making trousers as it makes up like a Drill or Denim would and you only have to worry about the fabric walking. What Jenni had to content with was too much for the time constraints of the challenge. With a slippy Viscose Velvet she had to worry about stabilising the fabric, it moving about as it sews and walking as it sews. Too much!

Velvet has a definite nap, which is the direction the cut threads lie in. When you run your hand over the fabric, you will be able to tell whether the nap feels smooth to the touch (the Nap is down) or pushing against the pile (the Nap is up).

From Threads Magazine

Traditionally Velvet is sewn so that it feels rough as you stroke down your body (the Nap is up),  this way will show off the deepness of the colour as it is non-reflective. If the Nap is smooth (or down), as you stroke down your body it will look shiny but have a paler colour. Click the above article by Threads Magazine to find more handy cutting tips for Velvet.

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Lots of really handy information about using and inserting Zips can be found in my Zip Zine, available from Etsy now.

One last thing I’d like to share, is Chinelo’s Blog. She explains exactly how to cut garments using measurements, and cutting the fabric without a pattern. Whilst this method is perfectly fine (and is in fact how I cut costumes, Saville Row operate and a lot of Upholsterers work), I would explore it with care if you are considering it and are a beginner. Maybe follow Chinelo’s instruction on paper first, or use cheap and cheerful fabric! If you would like to see how I approach this method you can take a peek at my A-Line Skirt and A-Line Skirt Hack Tutorials. Each teach basic Pattern Cutting methods and, if you make them up on paper first, you will have a pattern to use again and again!

As ever, I’d love to hear what you think!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Hemming by Hand

I am afraid I am one of those dreadful bores of a teacher who insists that Hemming is done by hand! It just looks simply beautiful, & gives a truly professional finish to a garment that has been carefully stitched together, by hand.

I have taken this Tutorial from my Simple A-Line Skirt Tutorial because this subject has come up a lot lately and I thought a refresher was a good idea… see, I told you I was a bore about this!! 

Turn up and pin the hem 1cm (3/8″). Iron. Then turn up & pin the hem 2cm (6/8″). Iron again, then set to Herringbone Stitching!

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Measuring & pinning the Hem up a further 2cm, then ironing. There will be slight puckers which need to be ironed plat as small pleats, to be Hand Sewn down. This will help the fabric manage the curve, whilst remaining flat in front. 

With the Hem still pinned, & nicely ironed!, start Herringbone Stitching it down…

MCCALLS Herringbone Stitch

Illustration 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!) and 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.

  

Often called Catch Stitch, as you can see from the above diagrams, it is a version of Back Stitch, in Cross Stitch form.

Firstly, thread the 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 a thread 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 folded part of 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 thread. 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. Click here for the original Tutorial.

I like to put on a good movie and settle in when I have a Hem to do…

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Detail of the Herringbone Stitch, & the completed Hem!

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.

cutting diagram pleat skirt

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!

Sew Your Own Wardrobe!!

With much trepidation, I purchased the new Great British Sewing Bee book a couple weeks ago. Finally, it popped through my door. We’ve had a little trouble with the Royal Mail this neck of the woods, and much apologies to all of my customers who have been affected. A little heavier than expected, I unwrapped it and was immensely surprised when I saw the Book and HUGE Pattern Pack!

I knew the Book came with Patterns however; I wasn’t prepared for how many, how usable they are, and how many I want to make up, like, right now!!

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For some reason I had read ’5 Pattern Sheets’ as 5 Patterns however; the Book actually comes with Patterns for all of the designs in the Book. These include Leggings, a Waistcoat and Mens Shirt Pattern- just some of the Patterns for Men!- Tops, Skirts, Dresses and even a Coat. There are a couple projects to do based around Up-Cycling and Patternless sewing and loads of tips. It’s a real bargain to be honest.

I have a couple of favourites already, which I’d like to start stitching up as soon as possible. I love this Bowling Shirt and 1930s Blouse, and I even have fabric in my stash so there is really no excuse! I am tracing both out for use at Sewing Club, as they’re both excellent Beginner and Intermediate Sewing makes.

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I may even go crazy, and make that 1930s Blouse in to a dress! Watch out for my posts about making these up, as I am going to have to make many, many adjustments to make them fit. As I measure it I’ll have to add in 6″ to the length of the body alone! Eep!! The Bowling Shirt will definitely have to have some darts or shaping added in for me above the bust as well and I’ll post on how to do this as I make them up.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your copy here… happy stitching!

Great British Sewing Bee: Week 3

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Well, what did we all think about week 3? Poor Julie, I shall definitely miss her. She brought a wonderful normality to the Bee!! Click the above lick to watch…

This week the Sewers tackled Leggings, T-Shirt Up-Cycles and sewing Jersey dresses. Which was all a bit the same really, and I found myself zoning out a little to be honest! Probably because I sew a lot of Historical Costumes I don’t sew much stretch, don’t worry though, I have tracked down some helpful links and tips for you and some even more helpful tips if you don’t own  an Over Locker/Serger if you’d like to work with stretch fabrics.

First things first. I find that when tackling a new fabric or technique it is important for me to be stitching up something I really like, or want! I’ve been on the hunt, and there are some lovely patterns out there from some great Independent Pattern Companies which should get anyone excited about sewing with stretch.

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From left: Sewaholics Pendrell Blouse, Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi and IN-HOUSE’s Kimono Tee.

For help stitching up the above, you should really check out The Thrifty Stitcher for some greatTutorials for using stretch fabrics. The Burda Style Blog is also worth checking out for a great no nonsense tips for Sewing Stretch Fabric without an Overlocker video tutorial. The Papercut Collective also have a some Knit tips, and and article about sewing with Knits without an overlocker.

As with anything, take your time and stitch up some samples to get used to your fabric if this is your first time working with Jersey. In my experience, each and every Jersey fabric is different and contains its own unique properties and samples will help you understand and manage it to the best of your abilities. A super neat trick to remember: if you like it and your garment sews together well, buy more Knit fabric in a different colour and make the same thing again! This applies to most things to be honest however; Knits are easy to wear and a little more versatile than some styles.

That’s about it, told ya I zoned out didn’t I?! If you would still like a bit more help Sewaholic has put together this exhaustive list of many varied Tutorials on the subject! Hurrah!!

Happy stitching!