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Category: Sewing Hints

  1. Student Jacqui Replicates Her Favourite Tunic Top

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    I’m now onto my third project with Sew-in-Brighton (in Hove Actually) ….
     
    Having already accomplished a 1940s style tailor-made dress from just a picture, and a converted kimono jacket, it was time to press on with my next (ad)venture - making a facsimile of my favourite Monsoon velvet devore tunic top.  I learned so many tips along the way, I've shared them below with you.
     
    In the first lesson, in order to create an accurate pattern,  I was instructed to fold my tunic in half lengthways and pin it out onto cross and spot paper.  

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    This proved to be tricky with the slippery fabric but lots of pins close to the edge helped to secure it in place ready for drawing round the shape.
     
    This procedure was then repeated with the other side of the garment and the sleeves.
     
    Cutting out my new slippery crepe fabric was really difficult so I was advised by Kat, the teacher, to use lots of pins close together to help hold the shape - a very helpful hint!
     
    Prior to sewing the garment together, the neckline was machine stitched to prevent the fabric from stretching.
     
    On the original tunic the seams were first sewn together and then overlocked,  so this procedure was adopted for the new garment, thereby providing a neat, fray-free finish.
     
    I then secured the neckline with matching bias binding to create a neat finish.
     
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    The hemline of the garment was marked out by Kat with the use of a practical device which delineated the bottom line of the hem measured from the floor in chalk.
     
    I decided to hem the bottom of the tunic and sleeves by hand.
     
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    The finished article looked wonderful.  But the crepe fabric I had chosen, had more give in it the dezore fabric of the original garment, so it felt slightly roomier.  The neckline had stretched slightly when I put the binding on and we remedied this by making a coupld of tucks at the front which actually looked great and even improved the design.
     
    Kat recommended if I were to make it again to use fusable or sew-in stay tape before applying the binding to stop the neckline stretching at all.  Not all fabrics need this apparently, stay-stitching is often enough but I had picked a fabric with a lot of give in it.
     
    All of these things have added a new learning curve to my skills and i'm pleased with my new top.  I'm delighted to have the pattern so I can make some more at home.
     
    Jacqui made her top in a few of our weekly Stitch Classes.  Find out more about them here.   
     
    You can also learn these skills in our 1 day workshop - Replicate Your Clothes. 
    View more info/book here
     
    Contact us here with any questions!
     
  2. Notch-tastic!! Adding your own notches to bought dressmaking patterns for easy matching of pieces

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    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!

    resized notch tastic