Are Clothes Comfort or Clutter?

File 27-05-2017, 10 19 17My beloved, @thetallphotographer, has been reading a book over the last few weeks and has suggested that I have a look at it too. It’s called the Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo.

He has been clearing stuff out with gusto – only his own stuff mind you. You can’t tidy for someone else! Your rubbish may not be the same as theirs and concentrating on your own crap certainly avoids any “possible areas of conflict” arising.

So I started reading it and have taken on board the initial concept that we shouldn’t keep the things we do not need or that don’t “give us joy” any more. We can feel gratitude for what each item has provided for us – whether it filled a need, but has now broken or needs repairing; whether it was a new item and we’ve kind of changed our minds about it once we got it home, but it satisfied a need to ‘buy’ something at the time; or if we have been given something we don’t really like/want but it was a gift so we have to hold on to it.

Now I had previously gone through my main wardrobe sorting out what I wear and don’t wear and had put a few things in a bag for the charity shop. These were genuinely unloved items, but there was still a whole tonne of stuff that needed sorting through.

The book describes taking a category of ‘stuff’ to tidy rather than approaching a room or particular space. And sorting clothes is at the easy end of stuff to clear and throw out. Yes there is a hierarchy! It also tells you to hunt down all and I mean ALL items of clothing, shoes and accessories from all over the house, garage and shed.  Which I duly did and deposited it all on the floor in my bedroom.

Now I’m not going to show you any pictures, as it is a mountain of clothing shame! Let me tell you it was almost as tall as me!!!

So filled with a zen-like sense of gratitude for all of my items of apparel I started wading through my textile mountain.  Bras that were several sizes too small – banished. Knickers that were pretty but not really comfy went the same way. ‘Work’ clothes from a previous life as a fashion lecturer that just didn’t fit my lifestyle now – be gone! Evening and ‘special outfits’, some from over 20 years ago were similarly relegated to the charity pile.

I. WAS. RUTHLESS.

It took all day, in between bouts of painkillers for a dental abscess and emergency treatment (but that’s another story). By the end of this marathon chuck-out I had 3 bags of rubbish and 5 bags for the charity shop.

I had culled my clothes by three quarters! But what was left had to be put back again and Marie Kondo is a folding ninja! Her method of folding is genius.

I followed her advice and stroked and folded what was left of my clothes and lovingly and gratefully placed them back into the drawers and wardrobe. It really shocked me to see how sparse it all looked. This was what I actually wore, these were the clothes I used on a daily basis. I was in an internal conflict. The space and simplicity of what was left was physically lightening, but I was emotionally drained and nearly in tears. So I went and had a gin, (I know not generally a good idea on top of ibuprofen), to consider why I was so upset.

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Afterall I hadn’t actually worn anything I had thrown out for ages, and the vast majority of it didn’t even fit me anymore. Looking at and holding these items of clothing had brought back so many memories. There were the T shirts I had worn to various festivals with my best friend, although they were all way too small to fit me now. There was the gorgeous Oasis dress that I had bought to wear to a friends wedding, I just adored the fabric and had made a silk jacket to go with it. But that was over 20 years ago and my friends weren’t even together now. There were several beautiful evening dresses I had worn to some family black tie events, again they didn’t fit but could I really part with them?

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It was bit like like having to give up my memories. These times in my life were gone and past, I’m not 25 or a size 12 any more and never will be, but the clothes allowed me to hold on to those memories – like an old photo. Although they didn’t fit and I wouldn’t wear them again I still loved them for what they meant to me.

Was I really ready to give that up?  Are clothes comfort or clutter?

A week on and I haven’t actually taken my discards to the charity shop – just yet. But I do love the space and clarity I have in my wardrobe now. I can open my drawers and actually see what’s in there. I can’t promise it will all stay beautifully folded, but one lives in hope. It has also given me the mental headspace to start planning new additions to my wardrobe without the guilt associated with adding to “all the stuff I have already”.

Have you tried this method of tidying and how did it make you feel? Is there something you really couldn’t give up?

Jules x

Making More From Your Patterns – A Woven Peaseblossom

 

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Hark! I can hear the sewing machine calling!

I wanted to have a section on our blog that shows you how adaptable our pattern really are and to help with some suggestions as to the alterations and adaptations you can make at home.

After overhauling my wardrobe and clearing out what I don’t ACTUALLY wear I have focussed my mind on to the shapes and styles that I do wear more of and one is a boxy top that I can wear with jeans or wide trousers – otherwise known as a Peasblossom!

This is one of my favourites to make up in different fabrics. Now Peaseblossom is normally known as the draped or cowl neck top, but Version 2 of the pattern is just a round necked style.

My absolute favourite fabric is the laundered linen we have in the store, so what better combination!  Peaseblossom in linen!

 

A Bit of Pattern Hacking…

I did alter the pattern slightly as I wanted the top to be a more comfortable fit over my hips but not too big across my shoulders and around the neck as there will be no stretch in the fabric I’ve chosen for this project.

So I cut the size up from what I would normally cut – to make it roomier over the hips. But I closed the neckline slightly to make it a bit higher – I wanted it to have more of a traditional T shirt look.

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I then drew on a box pleat 2cm wide at the centre front and back to take the shoulders back down to my usual size. This would be made into an inverted box pleat.

The top needed a bit more interest at the hem so I decided to add a bit extra on to the hem to make it deeper and included a side split. The split needed a facing to neaten it off so that led me into thinking of including mitred corners. They give a neat and clean finish to corners on hems and look great if they are top-stitched as well. So I had to add a bit extra onto the pattern at the side seams as well.

 

This is what I did…

  • Drew on the original hem line
  • Added an extra 5cm on from the hem line
  • Drew on the side seam allowance
  • Added an extra 5cm onto the side from the seam line
  • Marked the split to end about 8cm or 3” from the finished hemlineWoven T pattern hack spilt.jpg

 

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.

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Now For a Bit of Cutting Out…

That was the pattern alterations done so it needed cutting out and making up.

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Ooops! Missed the timer!

The centre front and centre back went on the fold of the fabric and as there were only 2 pieces, that was pretty darn quick!

 

And a Bit of Sewing At Last!

Basic Construction

Stitch down the inverted box pleat by 5cm on both the centre front and centre back 2cm away from the fold.

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Open out the pleat and press into place. Sew/baste across the top of the pleat to hold it in place. (Not shown because I forget to take a picture! Oops!)

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Neaten the side seams and hems on both front and back separately.

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Sew the shoulder seams and neaten.

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Sew down the side seams to the end of the split and press open.

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Hem and Split

Then I constructed the mitred corners and you can follow our tutorial on How to Sew Mitred Corners to do this.

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Once the corners were completed I gave myself some guidelines for the top-stitching. I started at the top of one of the split gables so it wouldn’t notice too much.

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

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Neckband

Although the body of the top is a woven fabric I wanted to use something with stretch around the neck and cuffs. Luckily I had a bit of navy bamboo viscose jersey in my stash that would do nicely.

Because I had raised the neckline I needed to re-measure it to work out the length of the neckband. I’ve only shown measuring halfway around the neck in the image as it’s easier to do this then double the measurement, rather than to try and accurately measure all the way around.

Mark on the seam allowance around the neckline. Then measure out from the seam line the width you wanted for the neckband, I’ve used 2cm here.

woven T hack neckband marking

Then I measured around the neckline 2cm away from the seamline. This will be the length of the neckband.

If you think about concentric circles we want the inside finished edge of the neck band to sit flat against the body and then the raw edges of it to stretch out to fit the woven edge of the neckline. So that’s why the neckband is shorter than the actual neckline.

The strips of neck band and cuffs are sewn across the short edges to create a circle and then pressed in half to create the double layer.

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I have found the best way to sew on the neckband is to match up the centre backs and centre fronts on both the neckband and neckline and pin those with the right sides together.

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Then I use my little fingers and ring fingers to stretch out the neckband and hold it in place while my other fingers and thumbs manipulate the fabric and neckband into position.

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It can be a bit tricky at first, but it’s all just practice.

Overlock or machine stitch around the neckline. You can see from the image is that the inside edge is flat and the outer edge of the neckband is stretched out to fit the neckline. You can use the same method for attaching the cuffs.

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To keep it all neat and tidy I used a twin needle to topstitch around the neckline through the woven fabric and seam allowance.

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Give the neckband a gentle press to steam it into place if it’s stretched out a little bit in the sewing.

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I was really pleased with the way this particular hack turned out, and I’m planning another one already.

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Here Are Some of the Details…

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 decide to have a go let me know how you get on.

Jules x

Bianca Coat Tutorial

Bianca Coat large size jpegs web quality -8666Out lovely new pattern Bianca is so quick and easy to make up, but during the workshops we run one of the issues that crops up constantly is how to sew across the back of the neck with the overlocker.

So I thought I would create this tutorial to help you sew your own Bianca Coat with an overlocker. This tutorial focuses on the method we use in the workshop constructing and edging with an overlocker, (you will need a normal machine for some bits – but not many!)

Of course you can also use a normal machine to construct the coat as well and then either leave the edges raw or finish them with a different stitch, zigzag or mock overlock would look great.

Prep

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This is what you’ll need:

2.5m of fabric

Matching or contrasting overlocker threads

Matching or contrasting threads on your sewing machine

Pins

Scissors

Tape measure
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I can be a bit of a control freak when it comes to patterns and I really like mine to lay flat on the fabric so I iron them first. Sounds daft I know, but just set your iron to a low temperature with no steam and give them the once over. Simple! And it allows the pattern pieces to sit flat allowing you to cut more accurately too.

Cut

To make following the layplan a little easier I usually cut off enough fabric for the front piece first.

**Make sure that you have enough fabric

overall before cutting anything!!**

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Then I fold over just enough fabric to create a double layer for the back piece to sit on the fold. Measure both ends of the folded over section to make sure it is parallel to the selvedge, otherwise the back panel will be ‘off grain’.

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Lay out the rest of the pattern pieces, pin and cut them out.

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Remember to transfer all the pattern markings onto your fabric. The notches I mark with a small – I mean SMALL snip. You can use chalk or marker pen to mark in the small dots at the neckline.

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Make

Neaten the edges of the pocket pieces – but leave the edges with the notches unfinished.

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You can see from the image that there is a slight slope to the outer edges of the pocket pieces. The wider edge is at the bottom. So this should help to get the pockets the correct way up if you are using a patterned fabric.

This video show a neat way to overlock around corners.

Lay the pocket pieces onto the right side of the coat fronts aligning the notches on the side seam and pocket.

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Sew around the front edge and bottom of the pocket making sure to leave the top edge open otherwise you will have a patch – not a pocket! (I can’t tell you how many times I have done this myself!)

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Baste the edges together at the side seams to hold the pockets in place.

Staystitch around the collar and neckline on the coat fronts, pivoting at the small dot.

Blanket Coat Tutorial-39You only need to sew 2 or 3 cm either side of the dot.

Place the coat fronts with the WRONG SIDES together and sew down the centre back of the collar.

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Snip in towards the dot, making sure not to cut through your stitching.

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Attaching the collar can be a little confusing so I place the coat back with the right side up in front of me…

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…then place the coat fronts on top of the back, also with the right sides up.

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Then I fold down the collar so the back necklines match up and flip out the shoulder seams so the shoulder points line up.

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The snips into the front neckline will open out so the base of the snips should now sit on top of the small dots on the corners of the back neck and shoulder line. 

Here is a quick video to show you what I mean.

Only use the bare minimum of pins to hold the corners in place. Pins and overlockers DO NOT go together and the best way is to use your fingers as pins and hold in place small sections of fabric as you sew.

You can now sew along the first shoulder line, over the snip and corner, across the back neck, over the second snip and corner and finish along the second shoulder all in one seam.

So you should get a corner that looks a bit like this.

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If you do get a little hole you can always go back over it again either with the overlocker or on the sewing machine.

That is the tricky bit done!

It is easier to hem the sleeve now while it’s flat so zip across the cuff with the overlocker or sewing machine.

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The sleeves sew in flat, which means the notch at the sleeve head matches up with the shoulder seam and the single and double notches on the sleeve match up with those on the back and front of the coat.

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Sew across the sleeve head easing the fabric in as you go.

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With the right sides of the coat together match up the cuff, armhole seam and hem. You can clip or pin these together to hold them in place.

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To help with the bulkiness at the armhole seam, push one seam one way and the other in the opposite direction. This will help the machine or overlocker sew over the bulk of the seams.

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Sew all the way from cuff to hem, sewing across the armhole seams.

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Finish

Now the construction of the coat is complete you can either leave it raw edged or sew all the way around the edge with the overlocker or an alternative stitch on the sewing machine.

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We have lots of fabric and colour combinations used in our workshops and I have to say that a contrasting thread around the edge provides a real ‘pop’ of colour and can look amazing!

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But I’ve just stuck to grey!

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