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

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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!

Notions: The Sorbetto Top from Colette

My lovely new issue of Love Sewing Magazine has just arrived- a much anticipated event!- and I have just been reading the article written my Sarai of Colette (click here to see my Interview with Sarai last year) about making their free PDF Sorbetto Top. It reminded me that I wrote a little about making my Sorbetto up earlier this year for The Great Bristish Sewing Bee!

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I am completely in love with this Pattern! The scoop neck is just right, the armholes and straps fit wonderfully- they’re a pretty interesting shape to be honest,  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 BEST thing? It only took an hour, yippeee!!

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 (which was hotly contested during The Great British Sewing Bee!) and why even this 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 this and just 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.

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! Remember that all Laura After Midnight Patterns are also available at PDFs here!

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!

slip3 slip4

 

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.

slip5 slip6

 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.

slip7 slip8

 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.

slip9 slip10

 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.

slip11

 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!!

understitch1  understitch3

 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.

understitch4

 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.

understitch5 understitch6 understitch7

 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!

Notions: Hand Made Button Loops

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As seen on this weeks Great British Sewing Bee, this lovely hand finishing detail is time consuming but excellent for finishing delicate fabrics and lingerie. It is a useful technique to accomplish as it can be used for Button Loops- as illustrated- the ‘eye’ for a Hook and Eye fastening, delicate Belt Loops, and even swing tacks for petticoats and linings!

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Start by lining up the top edges of your garment, then placing the Button where it is destined to be sewn. Place a Pin underneath the Button to mark its position, and put the Button to one side.

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 Thread your Needle (I’ve used double thread however; single is fine), and stitch through the edge of the Fabric from Front to Back where the bottom of the Loop should be (above left). Anchor securely. Where the top of the Loop should be, stitch from Back to Front (above middle). To clearly see where the Loop should lie, place the edges of your garment together, and wrap the second stitch around the marker Pin. Pull gently and if the tops of your Garment remain in line the Button Loop is balanced (above right).

I also like to make the loop slightly shallower then the Button itself- I think it makes it a little tidier and less likely to gape. To do this I place the Button next to the second stitch and make sure it is slightly lower (middle picture above).

 loop9 loop10 loop11

Anchor the stitch again (by either taking a couple of stitches on the spot or tying a knot), then thread the Needle from back to front through the Loop. Before pulling too tightly, thread the Needle through the back of the stick. Pull tight so that a small knot forms. Repeat all the way around the Button Loop. If you become tangled, un-thread the Needle and smooth out the thread. Sometimes running a little Beeswax over the Thread helps- an old Quilting technique- as it enables the Thread to pass smoothly through the Fabric.

 loop12 loop13

 Wrap your beautiful Button Loop around the marker Pin again to check the tops of your Garment are still in line. If they are not, sometimes you can adjust the positioning of the marker Pin (which is why we do not sew the Button on first!) however; you may have to unpick your work and re-make the Button Loop if they are still misaligned.

Finish by sewing your Button on!

As I am having to work quickly to fit The Great British Sewing Bee in to my schedule, I am utilising other blogs too! Find a similar Button Loop Tutorial over at Oliver & S, with a slightly different Crochet technique, and another at Pattern Scissors Cloth.

I am nearly done making the alterations needed to make up my sure to be gorgeous Tunic Top-Colette’s Sorbetto– which I hope to be making up tomorrow. I am so pleased that The Sewing Bee has inspired me to make some clothes for me again!

Don’t forget to join me on FacebookTwitter or Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Sew-a-Long News and The Sewing Bee excitement!

You may have seen my post recently about the Laura After Midnight Corset Pattern release and Sew-a-Long. I have made the decision to postpone this because… deep breath of excitement…

The Great British Sewing Bee is back!!

Until about a week ago the BBC had said this would air in April, and I was organising some pop up events and blog posts etc to follow along however; they have decided to start airing from tomorrow night! Eek!! After a quick panic, I have decided to support the classes I will be running alongside The Great British Sewing Bee, which meant that the Sew-a-Long had to be pushed back as I do not want to rush it!

So, the Corset Pattern and Kit will be available for pre-order from the 3rd March, and the Corset Sew-a-Long will now take place from 7th April, and I have changed the dates in the original post to reflect this.

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Do not worry however; I shall be sharing all sorts of sewing, pattern and stitchery goodness over the next 8 weeks- it promises to be quite eclectic!- and might even run up a couple quick Sewing Bee Sew-a-Longs from their new book! I have some more interviews with a couple of Independent Pattern Companies in the return of my popular Pattern Making Musings series, I shall be hosting drop in classes every Sunday and blogging alongside the programme to help highlight some of the information, tips and tricks, and choices the programme makes. The biggest comment I noticed coming out of last years Sewing Bee was that some elements were either not explained, or explained too quickly and I hope to assist in rectifying this. They only have an hour after all!!

The first show will test the contestants on the three core fabrics in a dressmaker’s cupboard: cotton, wool and silk. In the surprise pattern challenge, the sewers must create a simple tunic top from straightforward cotton. For the alteration challenge, a plain high street woollen skirt must be dramatically altered within a 90 minute time limit. Lastly, the contestants must then create a made-to-measure silk nightgown. (Original source here)

I shall be making up Colettes Sorbetto‘ Top as an excellent illustration of making up a Simple Tunic Top. I shall also be talking about grading the patterns in the first Great British Sewing Bee book, different fabric choices, their treatment, usage and wear-ability (and some top tips on where to buy fabrics!). For their alteration challenge I shall be altering a skirt I made up a couple years ago with a slightly curious hem detail which I now don’t like! I’ll be creating a scalloped Vintage style hem instead!

Because this series has been slightly sprung upon us all, I am not sure that every week will be as good as this but I shall endeavour to write as much as I can- because it’s so much fun! I really do feel that you get a little glimpse in to my life as a Costumier when viewing their 90-minute challenges!! On many an occasion I have had to sew up pieces at lightning speed, and I think this is the bit of the programme I like the best.

So, whose with me?

There are several ways you can follow along with me. I shall be continuing to Pin Techniques and Advice on to my Sewing Boards on Pinterest here. Share your makes, or take a peek at what I am up to on Facebook here, Tweet me your burning Sewing quandaries here and finally to get all the latest news, offers and general loveliness why not get yourself on to my monthly Newsletter?

I think that you will agree from the above that the wait for the Corset Sew-a-Long will be worth it as I am going to use the time to add in a Waspie Pattern, and I shall be releasing my much anticipated Button Up Spats Pattern in just a few short weeks!

Because The Great British Sewing Bee is a BBC production there won’t be any repeats from last year however; you can watch the first Series of the Great British Sewing Bee on-line in various places such as here.

If you are itching to get stitching why not have a peek at my range of Sewing Bee inspired posts. Clickhere to see all of them, but here are my favourite… …

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How to make a Simple A-Line Skirt from start to finish.

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Basic Patch Pockets.

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Inserting Concealed Zips.

1

Making fabulous Roulaeu Loops.

Happy stitching!

Enlarging Vintage Patterns and Using PDFs

I’d like to talk a little on alternative methods of Patterning i.e. Scaling up Vintage Patterns either from a print out or book or dealing with PDF Patterns.

The internet presents rather an enormous resource for free Patterns, if you know how to deal with them. Often they are simply illustrations with measurement guidelines and it is intended that the user scales them up to size, then makes any fit adjustments necessary before making up.

I love Pinterest for free Patterns. I have a very specific way of dealing with them which is somewhat time consuming however; I find that the process informs me on different methods of patterning, design and simply furthers my knowledge so I rather enjoy it! The following method can also be used for Vintage patterns in books such as The Cut of Womens Clothes and Corsets and Crinolines however; these illustrations have usually been drawn to a scale which is enormously helpful!

Firstly, find a pattern you like the look of. I adore this c1940s Overall Dress so I am going to illustrate using this. You will also need a Tape Measure, Pencil, Ruler or Patternmaster and Pattern Paper.

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If you take a close look at the Pattern I have chosen you will see that there are measurements written on every single line which is a great start however; the first thing I will need to do is draw a scale grid across the entire illustration. The reason for this- which seems a little like I am making work for myself- is that it will be invaluable in showing me the correct angle of pieces like the Armhole, or Collar.

How I decide the scale of the grid I need to draw is this: I measure one of the lines which has a definite measurement on it. In this case it’s the dotted line from the Armhole to the Bust Dart which on the illustration measures 3″. I measure this in millimeters then divide the millimeters measurement by three to ascertain how many millimeters an inch is. Turns out it is slightly awkward: 3mm! Never mind, I like the Pattern so much I am more than up for drawing a grid 3mm x 3mm all over it! Now I know that every box on my grid will measure 1″ in real life which is ideal as Dot and Cross Pattern Paper is in inches!

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To actually draw the grid I find a straight line on the Pattern and extend it, then draw a line at 90 Degrees to it as illustrated above left. This forms the start of my grid, which it is important to make as ‘square’ as possible. Next, I start marking 3mm dots at the bottom, then the top of the Pattern as illustrated in the middle. I will then repeat this step at the 90 Degree angle- or ‘going the other way’- then join all the dots to make the grid, as you can see in the final illustration above.

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Now, a whole bunch of measuring ensues!

I mark point (1) on the Pattern then measure across then down to mark point (2), and join them with a dotted line to form the Shoulder. Using the measurements annotated on the Vintage Pattern I can mark points (3) and (4) easily. Counting grid squares down I can mark point (5), then join the three points to make the Bust Dart.

Proceeding in this fashion I slowly work across and down until I have marked up the whole Pattern.

Scaling Patterns really is relatively easy if you are willing to take time on the laborious job of marking your grid correctly. The final stage will be to re-size this Pattern to your measurements but this can be made a little easier if your draft of the Vintage Pattern is placed on top of your Basic Block. I would strongly advocate a Toile be made up of all Vintage Patterns which have needed to be scaled up not simply because there may be slight errors in the scaling but because Vintage Patterns were drafted to fit a very different body type that we have today, and are often very small.

The other form of Pattern popping up more and more frequently is the PDF Pattern which also requires a little work before it can be used however; much less that scaling!

PDF Patterns are great value for money, with the majority of the smaller Pattern companies offering them at a lower price because you print them out. They have essentially been ‘chopped up’ in to A4 pieces, which you print then stick together using the instructions provided. Some offer the options to have a file type which will be recognized by your local Printers. In this case you can pay a few pounds to have the Pattern printed onto A0 size paper much like a commercial pattern.

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PDF Pattern from Bettsy Kingston. 

The most important thing to remember when printing a PDF Pattern is to never ‘fit to paper size’ or tamper with it in any way which may effect the sizing. This can be avoided by carefully observing the scale the Pattern needs to be printed at and following the manufacturers guidelines. Every PDF Pattern will also have a ‘Test Square’ drawn on it somewhere which, when measured on the printout, should measure as indicated.

There are some amazing free PDF Patterns out there including Colette’s Sorbetto, and some pretty amazing free Dresses and Skirts from Burda among others. Vivat Veritas has a great article with links to many, many Vintage PDFs too.

Well, what’s stopping you?

Please also don’t forget to comment on my interview with Sarai of Colette Patterns to win fabric and notions to make your very own Sorbetto! Come back tomorrow for another stunning Wordless Wednesday and visit later this week to find words of wisdom on Fitting and transferring Fitting to a Flat Pattern. There will also be another pattern making Musings and give away on Friday!

Happy patterning!

Week 3: Fitting the Toile

Not wishing to sound too school ma’am-y, but I do hope you all have managed to draft your Basic Blocks, move the Dart across as well as add seam allowance to your Basic Block, cut from Calico and stitch up to form the Toile. Lovely! But now comes probably the most challenging part of creating your own Patterns… fitting!

Hopefully the majority of you will have a chum to assist you with this. If not you absolutely have to stand in front of a mirror whilst fitting yourself, so you can see the effect of any and all adjustments made.

The next step is to fit the Toile, and transfer the new fitting lines to the Paper Pattern accurately. This will mean that you now have a Basic Block which is your size… and fits!

You will need to put the Toile on, and pin up the front. Do not simply pin the front closed- you will need to pin along the Seam Allowance you added so as to have consistency when transferring to the Paper Pattern.  I had hoped to have some pictures of my class for this bit but it was far too hectic!! I also think, upon reflection, that the following will be more helpful… I always find illustrations clearer! Following the below beautiful Vintage illustrations and guidelines, slowly fit your Toile always remembering that it should not be too tight nor too loose- you have to allow room to move and breathe!

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Left: The Bodice Block as it will look when first put on. Right: The most common place for Darts above and below the Bust, and a great place to start when Fitting however; I will try to move these Darts to a more flattering place if possible. Please see further illustrations below. 

Some tips if you are fitting yourself:

  1. Fit whilst wearing the Toile inside out… in this way all seams will be easily adjustable and identifiable.
  2. Work on a section at a time. Look at your shoulder seam- is it lying flat? then, move to your neckline- is it too tight to your neck for comfort? If so, draw where you think it should be, remove the Toile and cut it away then put the Toile back on, pin and check. Next move to the Front- do you need darts? Pinch the fabric and pin in place to see how it looks. Continue slowly in this fashion and you shouldn’t encounter too many issues.
  3. When looking at your back, you will be unable to pin this in with any accuracy if working alone. I look in the mirror, pinch in the fabric and take an estimated guess at how much that may be, then I remove the Toile and pin properly the put it back on and check if I was correct!
  4. The Bust Point will signify the positioning of the Front Darts however; when looking at the back there is no obvious place to locate them. Winifred, on your Basic Block, has used a dotted line to suggest where they should be placed and you would be wise to follow her guidance. You will need to decide when and where to finish the Dart using your own judgement of the shape of your figure.
  5. If you are intending to do this more often it would be wise to invest in a Dress Form. There’s a brilliant Tutorial for making your own here.
  6. Please view the making up and fitting of a Toile as seriously as you would making the final garment. If you haven’t followed your Seam Allowances, Grainlines or other details correctly the Toile will always fit differently from your pattern.
  7. Balance Marks play a big part in the correct fitting of a garment, and the first thing to watch for is that they are correctly placed. You Balance Marks are the Bust Line, Waist Line and Hip Line which should run at the same level about your body, parallel to the floor. The Center Front and Center Back are also Balance Marks which should lie at a 90 Degree angle from the floor. This also ensures the Grainline isn’t off doing something odd causing the garment to twist.
  8. If you find the Toile is too small pin in pieces of Calico to make up for the short fall, then add on the same amount to the Paper Pattern later.

Some of the commonest fit issues are:

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Left: Sloping shoulders, adjust the Shoulder Seam to eliminate diagonal wrinkles between neck and underarm. Unpick the seam, smooth the fabric up gently until the wrinkles are taken up and pin at the correct line. Middle: If the Back is sagging, ensure the garment is properly adjusted at the waistline then smooth fabric up from the Waistline. Pin a Tuck across the Back to determine exactly how much excess length there is. Pin the tuck in place, alter the arm hole if necessary and remember to carry the adjustment over to the Paper Pattern. Right: To correct sagging as illustrated (commonly associated with a fuller Bust), place a Dart at the side seam. 

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Above: Placing Darts at the Neck Line to fit the Upper Back. 

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Left: Dart placement on the Bust. Right: alternative, and more attractive Dart placement on the Bust. 

All illustrations are from my wonderful collection of Vintage Sewing Books, and I highly recommend all of them. Uniquely they have a vast amount of Fitting advice- as Patterns were not as prevalent as they are today and Women often either made their own or adapted them- as well as information on creating and adjusting flat Commercial Patterns.

Once you are happy with the Fit of your Toile, remove it and transfer the new markings to the flat Basic Bodice Block. To do this, remove all pins and give it a light iron then, using the Balance Points Winifred has given you, measure each new fitting point and transfer. There is a wonderful tutorial on how to do this from Custom Style here and another from So Sew Easy here.

There are further resources for this stage of Pattern Making including a wonderful article by Burda, Some words of advice on transferring the markings from fitting your Toile to the Paper Pattern here, some fitting advice from Madyline here and Your Wardrobe Unlock’d have some amusing and very practical advice (albeit from a more Historical perspective) here. I have also just found a great photographic tutorial on the above here,

Finally, the below video tutorial from YouTube is enormously useful, and will take you through simple fitting, and transferring those fitting marks to your Paper Pattern in a straight forward, quick and practical way.

I do hope you find the above usable, it really is a very tricky thing finding the right fit, especially if you have also made the Pattern. Remember to look at the fabric- oftentimes it is ‘telling’ you when to place darts and fitting lines.

Remember to comment on this weeks Pattern Making Musings to win fabric and notions to make Colette’s Sorbetto Top. Also, if you are just joining us find out what this is all about here and don’t forget for some helpful advice buy a Laura After Midnight Zine!!

Happy patterning!

Pattern Making Musings: Colette

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A huge welcome to Sarai from Colette, who so kindly allowed me to interrupt her already busy days with questions about Pattern Making! At the end of this very informative Interview I am hosting a competition to win fabric and notions to make the Sorbetto Top by Colette, but more on that in a little while.

Founded in 2008 and ‘born out of a love of both sewing and the independent spirits of creative Women everywhere’, Colette are probably the most well known of the new independent Pattern Companies, with a gorgeous Vintage style, clearly illustrated and easy to follow instructions- their patterns include a super cute dinky little booklet stuffed full of illustrated instructions and even a glossary of sewing terms to help you in making up their designs- and an equally fabulous website supporting their Patterns and sharing sewing tips, they are definitely one to check out if you haven’t yet.

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Their goal, and it shines through whether you are using a Pattern, reading their weekly Snippets email or following a Tutorial, is to make sewing patterns which are exceptional, easily adaptable to a range of fabrics and despite being influenced by the past are modern and wearable.

I was rather in awe of receiving a positive response from Sarai, and yet again I have discovered a book I hadn’t heard of before! I do hope you enjoy the following, please do not hesitate to share in the comments box!

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The Eclair, Oolong and Hawthorne Patterns from Colette available here

Are there any books you love which you could recommend to beginner’s and old hands alike?

I really love the book Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele Margolis, especially for beginner’s! I think she does a great job of explaining the basics for a home sewer, and there are some good ideas and inspiration for more advanced Pattern Makers.

What is the best piece of advice you can give?

As someone who makes Patterns not just for myself, but for a large group of people, finding a good fit model has been key. Fitting on a Dress Form is a great start, but there are so many things that look different on a real, squishy, moving human body.

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Is there a piece of equipment you simply cannot do without?

We do our Patterns digitally, so for me it’s our massive 42” plotter. Having done many Patterns by hand, it saves so much time to be able to print and re-print our Patterns as we work out the kinks.

What detail of the Patterns you have designed makes you most proud?

My Negroni Pattern (a Men’s camp shirt), has long been one of my favorites. I find Menswear so fascinating, because it’s very constrained and there are definitely set ways of doing things. I love how traditional it is, but at the same time there are lots of little tricks you can use. I really enjoyed researching and writing about all the proper techniques.  I also love the Anise Jacket Pattern, and the little ebook of techniques we wrote to go with it. Again, I love the Patterns that are a springboard for learning.

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Finally, are there any other Pattern Companies you love at the moment? Are you dying to make any of their Patterns up?

My friend Tasia of Sewaholic does trades with me sometimes, and I’m so itching to make her Minoru Jacket! I just need more personal sewing time to make it happen.

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The Iris, Lady Grey and Jasmine Patterns by Colette available here

Thank you so very much to Sarai again for joining us for Pattern Month! Although difficult, if you are making Patterns for others it is very important to fit the Toile on the body itself where possible. Sarai quite correctly informs us that this is a very different experience!

For this weeks little treat, I am giving away fabric to make Colette’s Sorbetto Pattern, which is free to download here.

As you can see, you will receive all fabric, notions and a couple of Laura After Midnight Zines to aide your creation of the Sorbetto! It’s a great pattern, and a wonderful place to start if you are just beginning to stitch your own creations. If you are a little more adept, why not visit Colette’s website and change the Pattern up a little? Full confessional: I was supposed to have made up an example, and I have some utterly wondrous Cotton Lawn all at the ready however the ‘flu is still with me and I have just not been able to. I want one so badly however; that I may have to whip one up over the weekend!

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I have chosen some lovely Cream Cotton with a print in Green. The best colour match is the final photograph. Along with the Fabric you will receiver Laura After Midnight’s Seams Zine and the Darts, Tucks, Pleats and Gathers Zine as well as matching Cotton Bias Binding, Vintage Buttons and some dainty Trim!

All you have to do to get your name in the hat to win is comment below. Why not share some of your Patterning experiences with us? All comments are welcome! If you are just joining us here on Pattern Month get up to speed here and read the first Pattern Making Musings with Alexandra of IN-HOUSE Patterns here. The competition will run until midnight next Friday GMT as usual.

Next week, as well as the third Pattern Making tutorial all about making Working Patterns, another Pattern related Notions all about Lays and a great Wordless Wednesday, we have Pattern Making Musings from Hannah of Sinbad and Sailor, and another give away!

Happy patterning!