Pairing Fabric to Pattern

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Isn’t it the most difficult decision, choosing which fabric to make a pattern up in? If you’re anything like me you will invariably find beautiful fabric yet no Sewing Pattern for it, or worse! The Pattern yet no Fabric!

As the Dimpsy T Sew-Along get into it’s stride I’d like to share some fabrics choices for your own Dimpsy T, and indeed what properties different fabrics have for any and all sewing projects you may be contemplating.

My first tip is to evaluate what you already have… the Dimpsy T doesn’t need all that much fabric, benefits from a contrast Collar and can be a great ‘stash buster’ so why not delve into the carefully hoarded fabrics we all know you have hidden about the house and see if you already have anything you’d like to use.

These are the fabrics best suited to a Dimpsy T, and indeed any light weight Shirt, Blouse, Top or Dress. I have listed them as Fabric, Description and the Use so there is a handy reference guide for future Sewing projects!

Cotton

Cotton is the most versatile and easy to use Fabric there is. Not least because it is available in a variety of cheerful, fun and sometimes beautiful prints and colours! You will find it in many different weights from Lawn to Quilting Weight Cotton and even Denim and Corduroy. All are suitable for a variety of projects. Cotton irons crisply, stays where you put it, washes and wears well and is the first thing I suggest people learn to sew with.

Cotton suggestions for The Dimpsy T include Cotton Lawn, Poplin, Voile, Batiste, Dotted Swiss, Broderie Anglaise and lighter weight Cottons which are perfect for Summer days! These should be used for lighter clothing like the Dimpsy T and may need to be lined or interlined because they’re so thin. They work beautifully for clothing which needs a ‘floaty’ non-structured feel and, because they are very light, clothing which isn’t too fitted as the fabric will pull away from the stitching however; they will turn out a beautifully crisp Collar! 

Linen

Slightly heavier than Cotton, Linen has a natural sheen and creases easily however; it sews beautifully, comes in many, many different colours and is even available ‘shot’- the Warp is one colour, Weft another so the fabric ‘shimmers’ as you turn it, and even ‘double faced- the back is an entirely different colour from the front! You can also find Linen mix fabrics and it is often mixed with Cotton, which produces a less mobile fabric. A great source of interesting Linens is The Cloth House in London.

Use for non-structured, comfortable garments. Ideal for the Dimpsy T, the collar will look crisp but comfortable all day, and the Tunic Hack divine! Linen irons wonderfully, washes and wear well however; remember to neaten those seams as Linen can fray alarmingly! 

Silk

Le sigh, I do love silk! It comes in such a variety of textures, and holds colour so beautifully who wouldn’t want a Silken Dimpsy T? Lighter weight Silks- the ones recommended for the Dimpsy T- can be very difficult to handle so I would suggest these are not for the faint of heart and maybe samples need to be accomplished to get used to handling the fabric. French Seams must be employed for the more delicate, sheer Silks and hand finishing details like hemming are a must however; you are more than paid back for the effort with the final product.

Silk suggestions for the Dimpsy T include Charmeuse which has a shimmery, satin shine to the front and is Crepe backed. Both sides may be used as the front and Charmeuse is often used in evening wear because of it’s beautiful drape (but I think a Dimpsy in Silk Charmeuse would look simply stunning with a pair of jeans!). Chiffon, which is almost completely sheer, hates to be pinned but is relatively easy to sew because of its texture but will need the dreaded French Seaming… everywhere!. Finally Noil, a fabric I adore! It can sometimes smell a little funny as it’s often untreated and known as ‘raw silk’. This has many of the sewing properties of Cotton however; it drapes softly, resists wrinkling and can be home dyed with extreme ease. It has a slightly rough texture but feels soft. I think it is much underrated!

What a gorgeous list of scrummy natural fabrics!

I do hope you find this useful, and I can’t wait to see what you all choose to make your Dimpsy T out of… or indeed what this list inspires you to stitch up! Remember that you can buy your very own Dimpsy T Pattern here, to join in with this Sew-Along. Use Coupon Code DIMPSYOFFER for 15% off of your order!

The much anticipated Hack Book will be released at the end of this Sew-Along and will include details on how to change your original Dimpsy T Pattern into a Tunic, Dress and Button Back Shirt.

Happy stitching!

 

Sample Sale

Yes, the rumours were true! I’m selling a couple of Costume pieces off, as well as all of the Samples I have made for Laura After Midnight for products that I wont be repeating again…

A gorgeous Victorian Jacket made from Purple Silk and Black Lace, pictured with and without Bustle. Just £28 + P&P. Click here to buy.

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A small Victorian Bustle, which ties on at the front allowing for multiple Sizes. The pattern for this was taken from a Late Victorian extant Pattern, and it is fully Steel Boned and a delight to wear. Just £25 + P&P. Click here to buy.

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A more Steampunk inspired Victorian Jacket with Zip front and teeny tiny Skull details. this is also Fan Laced and ties in a bow at the front which is super fun!  Shown with a Bustle however; it can be worn without. Just £28 + P&P. Click here to buy.

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I am also selling these gorgeous Waist Coat Samples. I no longer can find the Dark Grey and Light Grey Pinstripe Fabric so these wont be repeated like this again. I am however; re-printing the ‘Rudey Nudey’ Victorian pornographic Fabric, but more on that later… Each is about half price at £30+ P&P and I have to say they really are quite beautifully made. Click here for the Light Grey and here for the Dark Grey.

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Finally, a little bit of an oddment I designed and made up a couple years ago… the Whipped Cream Silk Corset Topper. Designed to be worn over the top of a Corset, this Corset Topper will still show the wearers décolletage, but create a flight of pleated and circle cut silk about the wearers shoulders. A perfect statement piece! Just £30 +P&P. Click here to buy!

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I’ve also listed a couple new products too!

Happy stitching x

Week III: Sewing the Eventide Corset up

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Today I will be starting to actually sew the Eventide Corset up! Yay!! There’s so many little preparation tasks in Corsetry that actually sitting down and stitching can be a long time coming!

A few notes first, on the order of Sewing. What I have designed the Eventide to be is an excellent easy Corset to stitch up, whether you are a beginner, want a quick make or just want to explore a different part of sewing. Because of this, the Eventide is sewn together in a very specific way- the Seams are stitched, then fitted and then adjusted as needed and finally the Boning Channels are sewn either side of the Seams. Normally, the corset would be tacked together temporarily at this stage, fitted and then sewn together properly with internal Boning Channels. This is still possible with the Eventide pattern however; you will need to decide how you would like to stitch the Corset together at this stage. If you are unsure and this is your first Corset, I would recommend sticking with the Eventide method for your first try, and then attempting something a little flashier on your next Corset. If you would like to keep all options open, simply at this stage sew the Fabric and Coutil panels together as illustrated, fit and then decide later!

It is popular assumption, amongst my classes, that inserting the Busk is the most difficult task when assembling a Corset. Whilst this needs precision however; I think that it is in fact the Seaming which can be more troublesome as you are stitching together many different curves, whilst maintaining a Seam Allowance and trying not to stitch anything which shouldn’t be!

Once this is done, you can begin the Fitting process, which is exciting and tends to make students rush this bit… please do not be tempted! If rushed, you may have to unpick and if using a Silk, Lace or more delicate fabric you stand to damage it.  The seaming needs to be precise and rushing can cause less than smooth lines to be stitched which, when the Corset is worn, will pull and stretch the Fabric in an unsightly way.

So, further dire warnings aside, let’s start stitching!

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To sew the Corset together using the Eventide method, you will need to lay all of the panels out in front of you, with the Front panels in the middle. They need to be Wrong Sides Together as illustrated (below left).

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Remember those Waist Line snips I was talking about last week? This is where you will need them, and if you forgot, snip them now!

With Right Sides Together, match the Waist Line snips of the Front and Side Front panels of the Fabric (above, Centre). Pin at this point, then continue to Pin up and down the seam as illustrated. Smooth out as you Pin and concentrate on matching the edge of the Fabric. To do this you will need to Pin every few centimetres (above right).

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Sew, with a 1.5cm Seam Allowance, along the pinned seam. Remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end. Slow as you come to the Waist Line, as it is more curved and you may need to stop and start as you sew.

Continue by matching the Side Front and Side panels, then Side and Side Back and stitching all with a 1.5cm Seam Allowance until all panels are sewn in a line.

Repeat for the Coutil panels and then the other side of the Corset. You will notice (above right) that the Corset will very quickly start to take shape and begin to curve.

Of course, if you have the ability, or are wanting to sew quickly, pinning all of the Seams for the Fabric and Coutil for both sides, and then sewing them is an awful lot quicker than pinning and sewing individually. In fact, I do not pin at all! This increases my speed and efficiency and this technique is something I will be covering in more depth in my Video Series The Corset Sessions.

The Boning Channels will be sewn once the entire Corset has been stitched together, and fitted. Using the Eventide method, you are still able to get back in to the Corset seams whilst not unpicking anything which isn’t extremely necessary however; this will all be explained in further posts next week and I think that’s enough for today, lets all grab a cup of tea, step back and admire our handiwork, and have a little rest before making up out eyelet strips and preparing to Fit the Eventide Corset tomorrow!

Happy stitching!

Sewing Bee Snippets Week 1

As previously discussed, here are my insights in to construction details, tips and tricks, and practices used on The Great British Sewing Bee this week.

The contestants were really put through their paces this week sewing each basic staple fabric- Cotton, Wool and Silk. Their Cotton Tunic Tops displayed a very wide range in construction details- and finishing techniques!- and this week I set myself the task of making a Simple Tunic Top to remind myself of some of the basic, subtle techniques needed in a Seamstresses repertoire. Sewing something simple but very well is a fine art, and not to be sniffed at! I was not surprised that a few contestants ‘fell’ at this first hurdle, but managed to complete far harder tasks later on. In simple sewing projects, a lot of the sewing can be seen, and finishing- as May Martin said- is incredibly important to the final garment.

I chose to make Colette’s free PDF pattern ‘Sorbetto‘, which I have had on my makes list for quite some time now. Having fallen in love with a great Cotton Print fabric which was a little bit Mid-Century modern, this was the perfect excuse!

It differs from the Sewing Bees top in that it has a simpler Bias Bound Neckline but what do you think?

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 I am completely in love with it! The scoop neck is just right, the armholes and straps fit wonderfully- they’re a pretty interesting shape to be honest (I had to make an extra dart in the bust which didn’t help!),  and the fit and flair of the side seams is just perfect. I decided to Self Bind, meaning I hand made Bias Binding from the same fabric to finish the Neckline and Armholes however the hem is simply neatened and machined. Simple, and all sewn up and hand finished in under two hours!

As I said, this is a free PDF Pattern and I highly recommend it!

The essential tricks needed for a simple top like this are basic machine skills, good ironing and some simple hand stitch knowledge. Any top like this will only have two pieces- a front and a back- so a lot of the work you do will be in the neatening of the raw edges about the armholes, neckline and hem. Facings are one way to go however; Bias Binding is a another choice which I feel can make the garment look a little more unique. You can choose to Self Bind as I have, use a contrast, satin or even a lace edged binding!

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Pin, and stitch the Bias Binding Right Sides Together on to your garment (Colette’s pattern instructions for the Sorbetto take you through this step in detail). Lay flat, and push the Seam and Bias Binding away from you as illustrated above right.

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 Fold the top of the Bias Binding down by the amount of Seam Allowance you have (normally 1.5cm/5/8″), and pin. Then fold again to lie next to your original Seam. Pin parallel as shown.

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 Thread a needle with thread twice as long as you need. Fold in half. Thread the loop through the Needle, and pull longer than the other threads (above left). Take a stitch through on of your machine stitches, and a small amount of the Bias Binding (above right) and, before the thread has been pulled though entirely, thread the needle through the loop and pull tight. this will anchor your thread.

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 Continue down the length of the Bias Binding, taking stitches through the machine stitching and edge of the fold of the Bias Binding. Do not worry about making them teeny tiny, even lengths are better and mine are normally about 1cm or 2/8″ long. When you come to the end or need to re-thread simply thread your needle through the loop of a stitch to tie a knot.

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 And there you have it, a nice simple Slip Stitch to finish any garment beautifully.

Pressing- not ironing!- is also essential and I have found a wonderfully demonstrative article on why ironing should be a firm part of your Sewing knowledge here. She makes quite the case doesn’t she boys and girls?!

A few notes on pinning and why even this jaded Seamstress still does it… … it means you often don’t have to hand tack pieces together. It is also a great way to keep things in place as you sew that may alternatively slip out of place. You can use Pins to easily control ease in a garment. They’re gorgeous, have you seen Merchant & Mills selection recently?! They’re invaluable when sewing darts and finally, they are often what helps a beginner or intermediate Sewer create a more professional garment. About the only time I don’t use pins is on straight seams I am piecing quickly. Having said all of that, use pins wisely as they can mark delicate fabrics- so pin in and parallel to the Seam Allowance- and sewing machines can snag on them.

Finally, to Under Stitching. A sadly neglected art I am afraid, and even I am guilty of ‘doing’ a Julie and simply pressing the Neckline down! No more! Here is my Tutorial to make us all Under Stitching superstars!!

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 Pin the Facing to the Neckline and stitch the seam according to your Pattern Instructions. If you pin at a right angle the sewing machine will happily sew over the pins- especially useful when sewing curves! Remove the pins, and clip in to any curves.

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 Fit the Zipper Foot on to the sewing machine and, on the Facing side, and making sure the clipped seam lies underneath the facing, stitch round nice and close to the edge as illustrated.

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 The Under Stitch will immediately make the Facing ‘roll’ towards the back so that, with a little press, the facing will sit invisibly behind the front. Lovely!

The image to the far right clearly illustrated the technique of sewing the Seam Allowance at the same time at the Facing.

There was no discussion on hemming the Tunic tops however, I normally like to hem by hand.

I think these have been the most popular subjects raised since Tuesday however; I shall cover quick fix Skirt alterations in the next couple days just to make sure you all will be so up on your stitching knowledge you’ll be sewing in your dreams!!

Don’t forget to take a peek at Laura After Midnight on Pinterest, I have a great collection of free patterns and sewing projects over there from all corners of the globe!

Happy stitching!