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!

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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

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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!!

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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!

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!

Simple Pattern Drafting: Pyjamas!!

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Who wouldn’t want a gorgeous, hand made pair of Pajamas? Over the years I have whipped up a few pairs to give as gifts, so I thought I’d share how to make them up Pajamas, without having to buy a Pattern!

I have sorted out the following, super simple printables’ for you all to follow, which illustrate how to make up your own pattern (from just two simple measurements!), how to cut them out and then full instructions at the bottom to sew the Pajamas up… all you really need to worry about is which fabric you’re going to choose first!!

If this is your first foray in to Pattern Cutting take a peek at Pattern Month. You may want to load up on some basic supplies too like a Meter Ruler or Pattern Master and some Pattern Paper however; you can make do with Baking Paper and a Tape Measure just as well too!

Click on the images to enlarge, and print.

Easy Pattern DraftingPyjamas

Pyjama Pattern Page 2

Pyjama Instruction Sheet

Wasn’t so difficult was it?! I like to simply buy nice, plain t-shirts, tank tops and lacy vests to match the fabrics I have chosen to serve as Pajama tops, which can be great fun if you are making for someone else!!

For all my old school followers the conversion of inches to centimeters is 1″:2.5cm, but there is a handy conversion calculator here.

When choosing fabric for your Pajamas, remember that they should be soft and lovely so fabrics like Cotton Flannel, Brushed Cotton and Winceyette are perfect, as are printed cottons. Anything silkier or satin-y can prove a little too static inducing for my liking, and fleece a little heavy and hot. Why not have a trawl through the wonderful world of Spoonflower for something truly unique… or even design your own?!

Don’t forget to share your makes with me over on Facebook!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Insert a Zip

The following instructions illustrate how to insert a Zip simply, which can be used in Dresses & Skirts. It is not specifically concealed however; when sewn correctly there should be two folds of fabric which fit neatly over the Zip as in the final photograph. It is hands down the simplest way of inserting a Zip, very difficult to sew so badly it doesn’t work & quick!

As in the majority of sewing, inserting a Zip is all in the preparation. Firstly, mark the length of the zip on the seam it is to be placed- line the top of the Zip up with the top of the seam, & put a pin in the fabric alongside the metal Zipper end.

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With 1.5cm Seam Allowance, sew straight down the seam. From the top to the pin marking the Zip end use a large stitch, which will be easy to unpick. Reverse stitch a couple of times over the Pin, then change the stitch length to a normal straight Seaming Stitch & continue to the end of the seam, as illustrated above.

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Iron the Seam ‘out’ (also known as ‘Busting your Seam’ in the U.S.), as illustrated above from top to bottom. 

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Lay the Zip- with the opening lying down as shown- along the seam. Pin at the top, then continue to ‘roll’ the Zip down, matching the opening of the Zip, with the opening of the Seam, along the length of the Zip. It is important to make sure the opening of the Zip is lined up as closely as possible with the opening of the seam, this will ensure the finished Zip opening runs neatly along the opening of the seam.

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Pin at a 90o Angle to the Zip, & Pin every few centimetres to ensure the Zip is lying directly over the Seam & wont move too much as it is sewn in. The pins replace the need for Tacking (or Basting) however; the Zip can be hand Tacked/Basted if you feel the pins aren’t holding it as straight as you want.

You will need to attach your Zipper foot on to your Sewing Machine, then Sew neatly down each side of the Zip.  

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Start at the top & at the edge of the Zip, then curve the seam in to Sew alongside the Zip.  Because the Head of the Zip is so large, this ensures you leave room for the Zip Head to slide closed, whilst still being covered by the fabric. 

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I always Sew on the Outside of the garment. Whilst this is slightly more difficult, & you have to use the Zipper foot to ‘feel’ the edge of the Zip so as not to Sew too close (or the Zip wont open!), it gives a more polished look to the garment. 

Remember, you are able to unpick at any point! Don’t worry if you make a little wobble, or are unhappy. Just unpick & start again as it is worth getting this right so your seam looks as nice from the back as the front.

Once you have Sewn in the Zip, unpick the Central Seam, remove all threads & check your Zip works!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Pretty Lace Edge

lace edging 1 NEW

To achieve this pretty Lace edge detailing- ideal for Slips, Pyjamas, Lingerie or Skirts- first decide upon the Lace & measure the garment to ascertain the length needed. There are some beautiful, & colourful, Lace edgings out there & it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Next, fold the wrong side of the material over to the right side, to form a narrow hem. Then fold the hem back again to the wrong side.

This should have formed two folded edges on the material as in the above illustration.

Sew the Lace edging to these folded edges with small overhand stitches however; be sure not to use this type of French Hem on a curved edge. This is due to the straight grain of the lace, which wont curve.

To machine stitch this edging, make the 2nd fold in the fabric at least 1cm deep. Tuck the lace in to the fold as deep as possible. Top stitch the folded edge of the material with the machine with care to sew beautifully straight.

Happy stitching!

Dedication…

This is the dedication in my newest Vintage Sewing book purchase & I have just added it to my Welcome page because I think it is a lovely sentiment…

This […] is dedicated to women & girls-

   & especially to teachers of sewing everywhere-

who enjoy the feel of fabric, the beauty of textures,

   the precision of stitches, the smoothness of seams,

& who delight always in appropriate fabrics

   carefully cut & made up for a happy purpose.

From Singer Sewing Book, Mary Brooks Picken 1949

I have received a small library through the post over the last few days (much to the detriment of my bank balance of course!), including the Singer Sewing Book by Mary Brooks Picken, McCall’s Complete Book of Dressmaking (which pre-dates the one I already have  & is already proving to be very interesting), & Underwear & Lingerie Parts 1 & 2 which is an American Women’s Institute publication & very highly thought of. I am sure I shall be sharing ideas, pictures & techniques from these books over the coming weeks, but I just had to share this dedication I found with you now!

I am planning further book reviews, & helpful guides to buying Vintage Sewing books because they are so very much better than the majority of books on the subject published today. For example I have found out six different ways of Shirring this morning, & some handy tips for Scalloped Hems, all beautifully illustrated- which I find much easier to follow that confused colour photos- & written in the snooty instructional style I have come to love from these old gems!

Please share your Vintage Sewing book loves with me, I am always on the hunt for more & would love to hear about the ones you use regularly…

Happy stitching!

Work in progress…

Tonight I figured out how I’d use my Rouleau Loops… to make a beautiful collar!

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Deciding to sew up a simple version of my final design, I drew the pattern on to a piece of paper, then pinned the Rouleau Loop to the pattern & hand stitched the Rouleau where it overlapped. Quite simple in the end really!

I haven’t ironed it yet because I can’t decide if I’d like it to be flat or still rolled however; for a first attempt I am very happy. Eventually I’d like to add it to a simple top or T-Shirt but I think I’ll design something a little fancier first because I like the idea of a teeny tiny loopy edge!

What do you think?

Happy stitching!

Notions: Final Touches for the Simple Skirt

Only a few steps left before the Simple A-Line Skirt is complete! Thank you for staying with me this far…

Having cut your Pattern here, started to stitch up & insert the Zip here, & starting to finish the Skirt here; you will undoubtedly be eager to add your buttons & hem so as to proudly show off your wonderful new Skirt to all!

Firstly, Buttons need to be chosen, then Button Holes need to be marked & made. As you can see, I have chosen to have two Buttons, I thought it looked best & I happened to have a couple Vintage Linen covered Buttons which suited the job.

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Measure the chosen Button, & add .5cm for ease to calculate the measurement of the Button Hole. For mine, I stitched 2cm Button Holes

Place the left hand side of the Waistband over the longer, right hand side of the Waistband. this longer edge is now the Button Stand & will support the Buttons. If using more than one Button, place them on the Waistband to decide where they will look best, & where the Button Holes should be placed. Mark where the Button Holes will start- evenly spaced is best, 1cm from the edge- & end (Button measurement + .5cm for ease).

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The Button Stand should lie directly under the shorter Waistband edge, which should run in line with the Zipper as illustrated above left. Above, centre illustrates laying the Buttons out to arrange where they should be placed. Above, right illustrates the proper marking of a Button Hole with a line across & a line at each end showing where to stop stitching. 

Once the Button Holes are marked, the Button Hole Foot will need to be attached to the Sewing Machine. Without it Button Holes are worked by hand (which I shall cover in another post), or Hooks & Eyes are used.

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With the Button Hole Foot attached, follow the Sewing Machines instructions to stitch the Button Hole. Mine starts at the bottom, then stitches the left hand side backwards, goes across the top, then back towards me to finish the right. A few practices should be made so that, when the final Button Holes are attempted, they are as neat as possible. The markings on any Button Hole Foot can also be used, as well as the markings drawn on the fabric, to ensure the Button Hole is stitched to the correct length. 

Cut the Button Hole open- carefully!- with Snips, Small Scissors or a Quick Unpick. It will fray a little however; with use this will stop. Match up the Waistband at the top again, and pin together. Use a pencil to mark the right hand side of the Button Hole through to the bottom layer, un-pin & place pins over the markings to make sure they aren’t lost. Sew the Buttons on over the markings, a tutorial for this can be found here.

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Illustrated above is the proper marking of the Buttons, highlighting the markings & the finished Buttons & Button Holes. 

The only thing left to do is Hem the Skirt, & I am afraid I am one of those dreadful bores of a teacher who insists this is done by hand! It just looks simply beautiful, & gives a truly professional finish.

Firstly, you may need to trim the Hem slightly to make it eve all the way around.

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Line up & trim off any excess fabric by eye. 

Secondly, turn up and pin the hem 1cm. Iron. Then turn up & pin the hem 2cm. Iron again, then set to Herringbone Stitching!

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Measuring & pinning the Hem up 1cm, then ironing. 

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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. Herringbone Stitch is a wonderful Stitch to use, as it incorporates a back stitch which means if the thread is broken in the future the Hem doesn’t completely & immediately fall down. Click here for a tutorial.

Once finish you are completely entitled to jump, dance, shout & whoop because you are finished!

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Detail of the Herringbone Stitch, & the completed Hem!

You’ll notice that I haven’t, as I had intended, added in the Velvet Trim & pockets. This is because I suddenly didn’t like the idea of the pockets- the skirt should really be cut a lot fuller for pockets so there is room to move it. I shall tackle them in a further post, as I definitely do want a skirt with pockets! As for the trim, it was simply disappearing on this fabric so I shall have to think about what I can use it on in the future…

Thank you so much for joining me in making a lovely A-Line Skirt, they are a wonderful Sunday afternoon make & get easier with a little practice. I love making a couple for the Summer from wild & wonderful Cotton prints…

Confused? See page 1 here, page 2 here and page 3 here.

Happy stitching!

Notions: How to Pin

MCCALLS Pinning a Seam for Stitching

From McCall’s Sewing in Colour

When sewing a seam in garment construction, first match all notches or tailors tacks then pin at a right angle to the seam as illustrated above. This will mean that when sewing, the machine will stitch straight over the pins.

This is an especially neat trick when sewing more complicated, or curved seams as the pins will hold everything in place as you sew. Try to use the thinnest pins possible so as not to damage your fabric, & to ensure the machine does not get caught up on the pins.

Happy stitching!

 

Notions: Finishing your Simple Skirt

Well, phew! I have finally gotten around to finishing my instructions for this Skirt, & am even now wearing it! Even my Mum would be proud as I have hemmed it beautifully & sewn the buttons on- there was a phase in my teens where I didn’t do any finishing & I know she despaired!!

Having cut out the Pattern here, & started to sew the Skirt up here you’ll need to stop for a fortifying cup of tea. Suitably replenished the next thing to do is sew up your side seams, then try the skirt on to check fit. If it is a little loose you can choose to take it in at the Side Seams or by constructing a couple of darts in the front. To construct Perfect Darts click here, the main thing to remember is to hand tie the ends for a really professional finish. I shall be tackling this in a further post however; for the moment lets continue…

Once the Skirt fits, you can construct & attach the Waistband. First, iron on the Interfacing to the back of the Waistband, then Iron the Waistband in half. Finally on one side Iron under 1cm as illustrated.

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Using a nice, hot Iron fold the Waistband over & Iron along the fold. It should lie completely flat. Use your tape measure to measure the 1cm turn up as you Iron. When completed it should look like the lower illustration. 

When you are happy, attach the Waistband to the Skirt. Find the Centre Front of the Skirt by folding in half, place a pin there to mark it. Fold the Waistband in half & place a pin at the half way point of the Waistband. Match the un-ironed side Right Sides Together to the Centre Front of the Skirt as illustrated. Continue pinning all around the Skirt until you have the Waistband completely pinned to the Skirt from Zip edge to Zip edge.

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Pin at a right angle so that your sewing machine will sew straight over the pins. Leave the excess fabric at the end, do not cut it off yet!

Sew, with a 1cm Seam Allowance, from one Centre Back Zip opening the other. Remember to go backwards & forwards at the beginning & end of your seams so they don’t fall open.

Once the Waistband is attached, fold back on itself & line up the pre-ironed fold with the freshly stitched one as illustrated. On the left hand opening cut the excess Waistband fabric down to about 2cm. On the right hand opening cut the excess down to 5cm. Pin both as illustrated, & so that each centimetre Seam Allowance fold is up/back.  Stitch each closed. The Left opening stitching should run parallel with the Zip. The right approx. 3cm away from the Zip. Cut excess fabric & clip the corner.

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Try to line up the Seam Allowance folds accurately as illustrated above left. Once trimmed place at least two pins in to hold everything securely as you stitch. Remember to go back & forth at the beginning & end of each little seam! Trim & clip as illustrated above right so that when turned out a sharp point will be formed. 

Turn the Waistband out the right way, making sure the corners are sharp, & start the pin the Waistband down along the Waist every few centimetres.

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Match the pre-ironed fold to the stitching around the top of the Skirt & pin. Try to match this as exactly as possible- do not pin too high or too low. 

When the Waistband has been completely pinned down as best you can, sew along the edge to hold in place. Normally I would do this by hand with a regular Slip Stitch however; for this example I have done the more commercial Machine Top Stitch which; when performed neatly, provides an excellent finish.

You will need to attach the Zipper Foot to the sewing machine before proceeding, this will enable you to stitch as close to the edge of the Waistband as possible for a neater finish however; if you do not have a Zipper Foot just use the regular Foot & be aware you need to watch carefully as you stitch to get as close as possible to the edge.

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Be aware this may take a couple of goes to get right, keep your Quick Unpick close! As illustrated in the first picture above, line the fold of the Waistband up with the Machine Stitches already sewn & pin. Then- & this is where the Zipper Foot comes in handy, because you will be able to see what you are doing- sew along this edge neatly. The finished effect should be that of the centre picture (back), & the right hand picture (front). 

Now, I do believe that is enough for one day! I need at least one more cup of tea before starting the Buttons, Buttonholes & Hem!

Remember, click the images to see enlargements.

Confused? See Page 1 here, page 2 here and page 4 here.

Happy stitching!