Choosing fabrics

Choosing the right fabric for your project can make or break the finished result. If the fabric is too lightweight, the garment will not hold its shape or structure; if it is too heavy or stiff, the garment will not hang properly. Take note of the suggested fabrics in the pattern as the designer will know which will work best.

There are several points to consider when selecting the right fabric for your project.

WHAT IS THE GARMENT FOR?

Consider the occasion and what you will be doing while wearing that particular piece of clothing. Are you making an outfit for a wedding or a piece of new running kit? These projects will require very different fabrics that will need to perform different tasks.

Fibre
Think about the fibre content with regards to the purpose of the garment. A polyester satin fabric may have a beautiful pattern, but will be rather hot and uncomfortable worn next to the skin – a silk crêpe de Chine would be a better choice for that purpose. However, the polyester satin would work well as a jacket lining where it will slide over other clothing worn under the jacket.

Sheen
A satin fabric with a sheen will catch the light, but could also highlight a host of lumps and bumps. A more matte fabric will cover these and give a smooth overall look to the garment.

Drape
The stiffness of a fabric is described as ‘body’. Fabrics with more body will prevent the fabric from draping as much as a fabric with less body. The best way to check this in a shop is to unroll the fabric from the bolt and drape and hang it yourself to see the level of drape it has.

PLAIN OR PATTERN?

Plain fabrics are easier to work with, but sometimes a pattern is what’s called for. Be mindful of how the pattern works on the garment pieces. For example, if you have a large circular pattern, think carefully about where to place the front bodice pattern piece to avoid an embarrassing faux pas. Similarly, a small delicate pattern may get lost if used all over a garment – it might be better used as a contrast or for a collar.

Stripes and checks
When matched perfectly, stripes and checks look great, but wonky stripes do not. Take the time and effort to match stripes up. It will not always be possible to match up all the stripes across the garment, so focus on the ones that are most visible. Stripes can run horizontally across the body and vertically from the bodice down into the skirt.

  • Mark on the bodice pattern pieces where you want the stripes to sit
  • Mark on the sleeve pattern where those lines fall on the sleeve head
  • Match up the lines on the pattern pieces with the stripes on the fabric

Which way up?
Patterns can sometimes have a particular direction. Always check, even if you think it’s an all-over pattern, otherwise you may find the odd flower or bird that will be sitting on it’s head! Decide on the top of the pattern and mark clearly so that you don’t forget. You could even pin a note to the edge of the fabric to help.

Nap
Even when using plain fabrics, there are factors to bear in mind. Some fabrics, such as velvet or corduroy, have a pile or ‘nap’, which needs careful consideration. As the pile stands away from the base of the fabric, the light will catch it in various ways. It will also feel different stroked up or down. Decide which is top and place your pattern pieces accordingly. It is usual to have the nap of a velvet running down the body.

Making More of Your Patterns: Celia mitred corners

As much as I love a frill (and they don’t come much frillier than Celia!) sometimes I just want something a bit more simpler.

Just taking off the frill is a bit too simple though. Giving the hem a mitred corner gives a neat and clean finish to corners, and look great if they are top-stitched as well.

  • Draw on the original hem line
  • Add an extra 5cm on from the hem line
  • Draw on the side seam allowance
  • Add an extra 5cm onto the side from the seam line
  • Mark the split to end about 8cm or 3” from the finished hemline

I wanted to sew the hem by top stitching 4cm away from the finished edge to give a border to the hem and split, I thought it would look quite neat to have the split sewn with a gable (or point) above it. So I drew on the top-stitching line and created a gable over the split so the point of the gable was 4cm above the end of the split. I could then trim off the excess paper to give me the shape I needed.

Follow this tutorial on How to Sew Mitred Corners. Then, once the corners are completed, give yourself some guidelines for the top-stitching.

The hem and splits once sewn need a really good press – use a pressing cloth and plenty of steam if you need to.

This is a very straightforward pattern hack to achieve and I hope it shows how easy it is to adapt a pretty simple pattern to include a few interesting details.

If you haven’t yet got your Celia Top pattern then you can purchase yours here.

A patch pocket with a difference!

Sewing the Desdemona pocket

We have used this pocket on our Desdemona Skirt pattern- its an unusual style patch pocket with has an opening at the top – the button & buttonhole is just a design feature. Its simple to do but looks quite impressive (or so we think!)

You will need two pattern pieces- one pocket and one pocket facing. Our pocket piece is 21.5cm (width) x 23cm at the sides and 34cm at the centre. Draw a fold line 4cm down from the sides and pop your grain line on. The pocket facing is the same shape but the sides are 13cm in length. I chose to add further interest to this pocket by using the stripes vertically on the pocket and horizontally on the pocket facing.

Interface the pocket facing piece by attaching a light weight interfacing to the back. This will support the fabric later when you make a a buttonhole. Neaten the bottom edge of the pocket facing, then place it on top of the pocket piece with right sides together. Sew around the facing, pivoting at the corners. Trim the corners and turn through the right way around.

Press under the remaining seam allowance and mitre the corners. To do this press the seam allowances along the side and the bottom, open out and then fold the corner in so the point of the crease is on the edge. Then fold back in the side and the bottom and press again. Top stitch across the bottom edge of the facing to hold in place.

Mark and sew the buttonhole. Fold the point over along the fold line (marked on your pattern) and mark and sew the button in place. You could cheat and just sew a button on here as its a decorative feature and not a usable button/ button hole.

Place and pin the pocket onto your skirt, making sure its in the right place for your length of arms! Lift the edges of the point of the pocket to be able to start and finish sewing along the edge of the pocket to hold it in place. You can reinforce the pocket at the corners by sewing a triangle or rectangle at the start and finish points.

Happy Sewing!

Meet Cressida – the pattern I never thought I would make!

Our latest pattern is a jumpsuit!

Those are words I never thought I would utter. After all I am a lady entering her middling years, more into comfort and style rather than ‘high fashion’.

There have been plenty of pictures floating around on social media this Spring/Summer of people wearing jumpsuits and looking amazing – but it really wasn’t for me!

Or so I thought!

After playing around in the studio with different shapes and trying to adapt existing patterns I was encouraged to “let go of your prejudice Jules, and just stick some trousers on it.” At first I wasn’t sure about the neckline, and it needed some kind of a sleeve, but in the end I got there and I have to say I am totally in love with this pattern. I spotted a lady at a show wearing something similar and she looked amazing so she became my inspiration. Shows are a fabulous opportunity for ‘style spotting’ and I love watching how people put together their own individual looks. (But that is a whole other blog.)

My initial concern about having to take everything off just to go to the loo were unfounded. I tested out the toile for a day wearing it around the studio to see for myself. It really isn’t that much hassle – I promise!

I chose one of our new Linen/Tencel mix fabrics as it had just the right amount of drape to it but was also substantial enough for trousers, that part gets a fair bit of wear and tear, and I just love the way it feels next to your skin. It’s so soft!

Navy can be a tricky colour to photograph so I used some top stitching to emphasise the style lines of the collar and pockets. I used white for this one for a slightly nautical air, but the next one will probably be in a soft denim with some yellow top stitching.

Pockets have to feature in more or less everything I make and Cressida is no exception. Cut-away pockets on the side seams and patch pockets on the back, mean you can go the whole pocket hog or just choose what’s right for you and the style and fabric you’re making your Cressida up in.

Someone has already called this pattern ‘Secret pyjamas’ and I think they could be right. This pattern is so comfortable to wear you might as well be wearing your PJs. It’s also very simple to alter too, if you need to shorten or add length to the body or trousers sections and I will be doing some tutorials to show you how easy that is.

I would strongly urge you to have a go and make your own Cressida Jumpsuit, especially if you’ve thought jumpsuits weren’t for you. You might surprise yourself.

Order your Cressida Jumpsuit today.

How to Sew a Cargo Pocket

Cargo pockets are utilitarian, solid-looking pockets. There are a whole range of variations that can be achieved but this one uses a pleated pocket with a flap. It is generally a good idea to make the flap about 6mm wider than the pocket, so that the flap will sit neatly over the pocket and the pocket will not be visible along the sides of the flap.

I drafted my own pattern, this one measures 31cm (width) & 24cm (length) with cut out square corners (2.5cm square). Draw a line down the centre (CF) and mark a line either side of this 5cm from the CF as the fold line. The size of the actual pocket will be 13.5cm (width) x 16.5cm (length).

The pocket flap is 16cm (width) x 9.3cm (at the centre front, longest point). The sides are 3cm smaller than the centre front. You will need to cut 2 pocket flaps, one is the lining, this is a chance to use a contrast fabric for the pocket flap lining.

Create a box pleat down the centre of the pocket piece . Finish the pleat by sewing a small distance along the pleat fold line at the top and bottom of the pleat. Press the pleat flat.

Fold under 1cm across the top edge of the pocket, then fold the top edge under again along the fold line, this creates the pocket facing. Topstitch along the bottom of the facing to secure it in place.

Press under the seam allowance of 1cm along the three remaining sides of the pocket. This will act as a guide later. Fold the pocket with the right sides together to pinch together the bottom corners. Sew across the corners. Trim off the excess fabric from the corners and turn the right way round.

Fold the seam allowance under the sides and base of the pocket and press in place to create a crease that runs around the front of the pocket. Edge stitch along each of these creases, stopping at the corners and starting again once the corner has been turned.

Mark out the pocket placement lines on your garment/ project and place the top of the pocket at the top placement line, line up the base of the pocket at the bottom points, and win pin in place. Make sure that the four corners of the pocket base are directly under the four corners of the front of the pocket. Edge stitch around the pocket base, pivoting at each corner before continuing.

A small rectangle or triangle can be sewn at the top corners of the pocket to reinforce the pocket opening.

Apply interfacing to wrong side of the pocket flap lining- the contrast fabric piece. The pocket flap lining should be just a fraction smaller than the pocket flap so trim it by a 1mm. This allows the lining to be eased onto the flap and ensures that the pocket flap has to roll under very slightly, keeping the lining hidden.

Pin the flap and the lining right sides together. Ease the lining so that it will fit the flap and all the raw edges are sitting flush. Sew around the the side and bottom edges of the flap, pivoting at the corners to keep them nice and sharp. Clip the excess fabric off the corners and turn the flap right side out. Poke out the corners and press flat, making sure that the lining is not visible from the right side. Topstitch around the sides and point of the flap.

Tack the open edge together through all the layers.

Place the pocket flap right side down on the right side of the garment along the placement line.

Stitch in place along the placement line and trim the seam allowance back by 6mm

Fold the pocket flap back down, press in place and topstitch the pocket flap down, enclosing the trimmed seam allowance.

Our competition winner’s VIP Day

Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting Tracey, the winner of our VIP Day competition at the Sew Me Something studio .

Our VIP Days allow you to spend the entire day with Jules, picking her brain on whatever subjects you want to cover, whether it be fitting, pattern cutting or just general techniques. Tracey wanted to spend the day working on our Hero Trousers pattern and achieving the perfect fit.

“An absolutely amazing day with Jules learning how to make a pair of Hero Trousers that fit me. I’ve learnt so many tips and tricks, how to get a good finish and had some laughs along the way. Lovely stocked shop, beautiful location and a goody bag with two more patterns and haberdashery items. If you are thinking of doing a VIP Day – stop thinking and do it!”

We run VIP Days every month so if you’d like a taste of what Tracey has experienced find out more and book yourself a day (TIP: they are great for birthday and Christmas present lists!)

Win a day with Jules!

We regularly get asked if it’s possible to book a one-to-one with Jules, and up until now it hasn’t, but that’s about to change as we launch a VIP Day package for anyone wishing to get direct expert advice.

To celebrate the launch of our new VIP Days we’re offering one lucky person the chance to win their very own day with Jules on Thursday 4th July.

PRIZE PACKAGE INCLUDES:

  • A day to pick Jules’ brains and cover anything you want. It could be fitting advice, pattern cutting, how to master zips…absolutely anything!
  • Lunch (and there will be cake!)
  • 20% discount on shop purchases
  • Goody bag

HOW TO ENTER:

To enter the competition and be in with a chance to win a day with Jules…

  • Sign-up to receive our weekly newsletters
  • Follow us on Instagram and share our competition post
  • Follow us on Facebook and share our competition post

Competition closes at 11:59pm on 16th June 2019. COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER TRACEY HARPER!

It’s as simple as that. So good luck and we look forward to hosting our winner very soon! If you’d rather not wait to see if you’re our lucky winner and would like to book your day with Jules now, there are dates available.

Competition Terms & Conditions:

  1. The VIP Day prize is only available and must be taken on Thursday 4th July. The option to move the prize to another date will not be available.
  2. By winning and accepting the prize you will be agreeing to give a video testimonial on the date of Thursday 4th July which will be distributed across all Sew Me Something marketing collateral, including social media networks.

NEW PATTERN ALERT…Introducing Regan

Say Hello to Regan our brand new pattern.

Regan Top Sewing pattern
Version 1 Regan in Flower Glory Rayon and Blue Striped Ribbing

Regan is a simple but classic sweatshirt shape. A great all rounder and a pattern to make dressy or more casual depending on your fabric choices. It works brilliantly in both sweatshirt knits and in silky viscose rayon.

Version 1 Regan in Blue Birds Organic Cotton French Terry and Blue Striped Ribbing

It has an open crew neck and the finished top sits just on your high hip. It is a slimmer fit than a lot of our patterns and will give you more of a paired down silhouette. This makes it perfect to wear with the Desdemona skirt or anything else that needs a shorter top for more balanced proportions.

The sleeves fall straight from the shoulders giving it a tapered more streamline look. But they are sewn in flat like a shirt sleeve making it a wonderfully quick and satisfying make.

All the openings are finished with a knit or rib band again making it a clean, neat finish and quick to sew as well.

Version 1 has a full length sleeve, and narrow band at the waist.

Version 2 has shorter sleeves with the ribbing band ending just above the elbow. The length in the body is slightly shorter to allow for a deeper waistband giving it a slightly retro look.

Our pattern testers have loved this pattern for its quick and easy sew and its versatility.

‘Construction wise this went together very easily and quickly and the fit is relaxed and comfortable. I made view one but am already planning my next one using view two’

Emma

I hope you enjoy making up your own Regan and do remember to share your pictures with us on social media. You can use the hashtag #SMSRegantop and we’ll be sure to comment and share.

Purchase your Regan Top from our online store

Happy Sewing Jules

How to Sew a Circular Patch Pocket

Patch pockets are traditionally square-ish or rectangular in shape, but that doesn’t have to be so!

You can make a real feature of a pocket by making it circular.

Where you want to place your pocket will determine the size you want to make it. It could look very sweet as a small top pocket on a blouse or larger as a proper hand-sized pocket if you wanted to add your own twist to the Viola Skirt.

This is how we made ours:

We wanted a hand sized pocket so used a side plate as a template. You could use anything circular as your own template or even a pair of compasses (from your old school geometry set).

Draw around the template on some paper to create your pattern. To find the grain line just fold the circle in half, and the crease will be your grain line. You can then decide the angle you would like for the faux flap and draw that in too.

Make sure the interfacing extend over the fold line for the faux flap.

Cut out a pair of circles using the template and also a small piece of interfacing the size of the faux flap but just extended past the fold line slightly. This will help to support the folded over flap when you sew on the button later.

Attach the interfacing to the wrong side of one of the circles over the flap area. And then pin the two circles with the right sides together.

Remember to leave a gap at the bottom!

Sew around the circles starting and finishing at the bottom, but remember to leave a gap so you can turn the pocket through to the right side.

The closer the V shapes the better curve you’ll get

Snip out small V shapes all around the seam allowance. Leave the seam allowance  un-snipped across the gap to make sure the snips don’t go too far.

You’ll sew the gap closed when you sew around the pocket on the garment.

Turn the pocket through to the right side and carefully press out the circle shape. Tucking in the seam allowance across the gap.

Fold over the faux flap and attach a button as decoration.

Edge stitch the pocket in place onto your garment making sure to secure the top corners.

This would look great as a hack on the Viola Skirt or Kate Dress.

Have a look at our Pinterest Board for some more Patch Pocket Inspiration.