Sew Useful...This month our Stitch Evenings & Stitch Weekends tutor Deborah shows you how to tie the perfect knot. Handsewing can often make up the last part of a project whether it's a hem or a buttonhole but it's the tying of a secure knot that proves to be a big headache. Watch the video and never again will you find yourself in a tangle.
Emily took our 'Pattern Drafting Course' and went from learning how to make a block, to creating a unique and perfectly fitted skirt of her own! Here's how she got on...
Pattern Drafting (Cutting) Coursestudent blog A friend of mine had recently completed a pattern cutting course. “Look,” he said, showing off a newly made waistcoat, “Look how well it fits!” It indeed did fit well and I was sold, I decided that I was going to have a go too. I found a course (advertised in the window of Fabric Land), booked it up and best of all, my parents paid for it as my Christmas present. The first evening began with introductions. “Hello, my name’s Emily and it’s been one day since my last sewing session.” Nods and smiles all round and slowly we all got to know each other’s names. Then it was on to the course for real. With lots of measuring, drawing, checking and re-measuring, we all began to draft our pencil skirt blocks.
This is my block -
From these, we created our patterns. After hours of careful, close work, attention todetail and ultimate concentration I unpinned my pattern pieces from the calico to see… some square bits of fabric with slightly rounded corners. Never in the history of humankind has so much work gone into creating some square bits of fabric with slightly rounded corners BUT I knew, they were my square bits of fabric and the slightly rounded corners would fit me perfectly when I made up the toile (fingers crossed). It’s actually quite hard to sew when you’ve got your fingers crossed but anyway, I did make my toile and it did fit. Yes!What a great sense of satisfaction.
Back view of my toile -
Over the next few weeks, there followed a great deal of guidance and teaching from Kat about how to achieve different stylesand fits, including how to: reposition darts, add volume, inverted pleats, waistbands, facings, splits, wrap skirts, asymmetric designs, ruching, gathering and ruffles. We’d got to the stage where we were ready to start designing our own patterns. I was wavering between two designs that I’d seen and wanted to emulate.
Two skirts I liked -
In the end I went for the green skirt design. I have always loved 1960s clothes and liked the retro feel of the mini skirt. It reminded me of the skirts my Mum used to make for me when I was a teenager, so from hereI drew up some designs.
Designs for my skirt -
I have some fab yellow 1960s shoes and they inspired me with the colour choices. I was all set – original pattern here I come. I was a bit gung-ho and forgot to make a plan, I just started drafting pattern pieces at will, I thought I was keeping track of what needed a seam allowance and what didn’t…
Some of my patterns on the curiously named 'spot cross' paper -
When it came to making up my garment, I clearly hadn’t kept track of where seam allowance had been added and the skirt tuned out way too big!
This is the plan I made after I’d made the skirt! I’ll know better next time -
Still, all was not lost, as Kat had shown us what to do when this happened and I corrected my sizing in order to produce a skirt that fitted just right.
My final skirt! -
So, my final thoughts - I loved the course. It gave me a great sense of achievement and satisfaction. Funnily enough, it’s made me appreciate commercial patterns a lot better, which will be really helpful with dressmaking classes and making my own stuff at home.
I feel inspired and equipped to continue some more skirt patterns on my own and I’m ready for the next challenge, maybe dress patterns or even jackets. Thank you sew much (I couldn’t resist one sewing-based pun).
If you'd like to follow in Emily's footsteps and create an original garment of your own you can find details of our next Pattern Drafting Course here.
Ever had trouble matching pieces when making up a garment from a bought pattern (Simplicity, Burda etc)? On my Making Clothes from Patterns course last night we were having a right old time working out which was the side seam, which was the back etc once the pieces were cut out - which made matching the right pieces together slow & frustrating. Once you've cut out the pieces there's often no indication on the cut fabric pieces as to the right way up or round to put things together. Taking a tip from the way we make patterns on the Pattern Cutting course I suggest adding extra notches to your patterns before you pin them to your fabric.
But what are notches? Have you noticed little black triangles on the edges of pattern pieces? They're notches & they help you match pieces together, like a jigsaw puzzle e.g. a back sleeve head has 2 notches on the edge that correspond with 2 notches in the same place on the armhole. You cut them as tiny half-cm-deep snips at a right angle to the cloth (don't cut out the whole triangle, it'll fray!). I often find there aren't enough notches to help you match up effortlessly when sewing though, so I suggest, when making clothes from patterns that you add more of your own:
1. Cut out the paper pattern pieces to your size as usual.
2. Before you pin them to the cloth, look at the illustration below to see where I've drawn extra notches on the paper pattern pieces (the triangle shapes on the edges). Lay the pattern pieces together as you would when you sew and draw little notches on both pieces: for example half way down the side seam on the front and back piece, and 2 notches two thirds of the way down on the centre back, so there's no way you can sew a side to a back, as the notches won't match up. Put even more notches if your garment is cut on the bias as it will help you match up when the fabric stretches.
Adding notches is even more important if like my student Heather's skirt below you have 3 panels in the front and 4 in the back. We added extra notches so it was a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, with each seam having a different notch position from the next seam - then we just couldn't fit the wrong pieces together!
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