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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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
HOW TO ENTER:
To enter the competition and be in with a chance to win a day with Jules…
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:
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.
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.
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.
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’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are taking our Retreats on the road in the hope that more people will be able to enjoy a weekend away and some time for themselves just sewing and chilling.
Cornwall here we come!
We have been trying to find a venue for our first retreat away from home and I think we have really come up with a humdinger!
Hendra Barns is not only beautiful it’s easy to find, and has everything we were looking for in a venue. It is set in the stunning Cornish countryside halfway between Newquay and Truro so you get the best of all worlds.
The accommodation is split into 3 areas, Hendra Barn, The Old Coach House and Little Hendra. All the rooms are different, some are have an en suite and some shared bathrooms, so they are all priced accordingly. Hendra Barn is the largest so we will all eat there together, but all of the other locations have their own kitchens so you can make your own coffee or tea just how you like, and relaxing lounge spaces too.
Hendra Barn has 3 double rooms (one with an en suite) and that is also where CL and I will be based. The Old Coach House has 2 double (one with an en suite) and a Twin room. And Little Hendra has one double and a twin room.
It is just the perfect place to relax and surround your self with nature and sewing machines!
Looking after yourself
In a hectic and busy world we often end up at the bottom of the list of people we look after. But if you’ve ever been on a plane and listened to the safety talk from the cabin crew we are told to put on our own oxygen masks first before helping anyone else. Having some time just for you, to re-energise yourself and find your focus is incredibly precious. And doing it with like-minded people who enjoy sewing as much as you do makes a huge difference.
Grief can take care if itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
Not only can we share what we know we can learn from each other too. We have written more about why we have chosen to make it a residential retreat and what you can hopefully gain from it in another blog.
What to look forward to
Well apart from the stunning location and the fabulous accommodation and catering what can you look forward to when joining us?
Hendra Barns has provided us with an excellent sewing studio space in their function Barn that we will fully equip with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting tables and pressing stations. You can choose to bring your own machines if you prefer to work on something more familiar. Sometimes it’s just easier to use your own machines and we can help you set those up when you arrive on the Thursday evening.
Making what you want to wear
One of the things I really love about our Retreats is the freedom you have to make exactly what you want to. Unlike some who give a prescriptive list of what you are allowed to make, we are happy for you to bring along whatever project you want to work on. We will give you an idea of the types of things you’ll be able to achieve during the time we have together to give you an idea as to the projects you may wish to bring.
The wealth of expertise and experience Claire-Louise and I have means you can ask us anything. You can bring any project you are working on for help and advice. Obviously there are particular patterns that are more suited to a Retreat than others. You may want to consider bringing something that you can make up fairly quickly so you have that sense of achievement in getting something finished. Equally feel free to bring along something a bit more complex that you might need help and support with on particular techniques or the fit, but you’re not worried about finishing.
Helping YOU make the clothes YOU want to wear.
But really it’s all about helping you to make the clothes you want to wear. If you need help fitting or with specific techniques or processes, you’ll have the time and space to work through any issues or projects with expert help and tuition on hand if you need it. So you may want to nail the fit on that pair of trousers you’ve been wanting to make for ages. Or have a go on an overlocker and whizz up a Bianca coat before working on a couple of other projects. Or perhaps you want some space to cut a few projects out and then decide which to make – the choice is yours!
Take your sewing up to the next level.
There will be help and guidance on the machines when required and also we will be running a few Masterclass Demonstrations on some key processes we know are the ones people find tricky. If there is something you are really keen to cover, just let us know and we can include it in the Retreat. We will even be bringing some of the Sew Me Something Haberdashery with us in case you need any emergency supplies. But if you would like any of our fabrics for the projects you want to make up over the weekend you can always place an order online and we will bring it with us for you. So it’ll be at the Retreat ready and waiting for you.
This Retreat really will give you time to focus and relax.
There will be plenty of tea coffee and cakes to keep you sewing throughout the weekend and a fabulous wholesome and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner each day too.
This time around we are introducing a more meditative element to the Retreats with Amy Williams from Next Wave Yoga. Amy is based in Cornwall and runs retreats herself. In fact Claire-Louise and I went on one last May and it was amazing! Amy will be leading a guided contemplation walk in the peaceful and calming countryside and some gentle yoga to help stretch out those tired muscles at the end of a day sewing. Both are purely optional of course but will certainly add to your whole sense of well being over the weekend.
What’s included in the Sewing Retreat….
A cuppa and cake on arrival
Help to set up your sewing machines if you’ve brought your own
Help to make your sewing plans for the weekend using our sewing planner
Use of all the sewing machines, overlockers and equipment from 9am to 6pm over the 3 days of the retreat
Hand delivered Sew Me Something orders of fabric and haberdashery
Expert help and advice on all your sewing projects
Expert help and advice on fitting and pattern alterations
All your meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as plenty or tea coffee and cakes to keep you going
Comfortable bedrooms for four nights
Guided contemplation walks and a yoga session each day
I am so excited about what a fantastic weekend this is going to be. I have tried to create the type of retreat I would love to go on myself. Don’t worry if you are thinking of coming on your own you will soon make friends and we will do all we can to look after you and make you welcome.
This is what some of our past Retreat Attendees have said about joining us. . . .
“Very enjoyable. Venue excellent. Jules and CL were fantastic. So patient, attentive and professional. As well and warm fun and friendly. Have left with a pattern block that fits!! Invaluable! I’m delighted!” Susan
“Great weekend! Learned loads! The trousers I made were great and fit perfectly. I just wish I’d had time to finish the Agnes top too. CL and Jules were so calm and knowledgeable – amazing mentors! Thank you for a great weekend.” Ruth
“There was a great atmosphere and the venue was lovely. Excellent support from both Jules and CL, and huge thanks to both. I learnt a lot of techniques which I wanted to learn. Thank you both for your calm expertise and generosity.” Kate