Thursday, 24 July 2014

Sewing a simple roll-up cuff

I love finishing t-shirt sleeves with cuffs that have no function other than decorative. The cuff can be cut as part of the sleeve and folded up, or it can be cut as a separate piece of fabric as below.

This tutorial is taken from my Kimono top pattern but it works for adding cuffs to any garment with t-shirt length sleeves. Measure the sleeve opening, add seam allowance and cut a strip of fabric accordingly. For width I recommend about 8 cm (3") plus seam allowance, which will result in 4 cm (1,5") wide cuffs (depending on method, see instructions below).

1. Stitch the ends of the cuffs together.

2. Press seams open.

3. Fold along the middle with wrong sides facing. Press.

4. With raw edges matching, pin cuff to the right side of the sleeve. Match the seam of the cuff with sleeve seam.

5. Stitch in place and finish the raw edge. Here, I've used a regular stitch to attach the cuff and an overlock stitch of my regular sewing machine to finish the edge.
6. Turn cuff outwards with seam allowance pointing inwards. Press.

7. Topstitch along the edge. This attaches the seam allowance to the sleeve and keeps it in the inside of the garment.

8. Option I: Now you have two options: You can simply turn half of the cuff upwards and attach in place following the instructions at the end of the post. For a wider, less bulky cuff skip this step and jump to the next image to follow the rest of the instructions.

8. Option II: Shift the folded edge of the cuff about 8 mm so that you get some extra fabric to cover the topstitch with.
Do this along the entire cuff and pin in place.

At the cuff seam do a few stitches in the crease of the previous seam to attach. ("Stitching in the ditch")

At the shoulder seam do some hidden stitches by hand. Depending on the material you might want to do stitches at four points, or even stitch along the entire cuff to keep it in place.

This tutorial was requested by a customer. What tutorials would you like to see? Are you struggling with any of our patterns? Post a comment and I'll do my best to add tutorials relevant to you! 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

How to print and put together a pdf sewing pattern

Every now and then I get a question from a customer asking how on earth does a digital pdf pattern on a computer turn into a full size printed pattern. It does require a few minutes to assemble the pages, but the upside is that you can go from purchasing a pattern to sewing in a matter of minutes!

1. Open the file in a pdf reader such as Adobe reader. Choose paper size A4 or US letter. Before clicking print, open the print settings to make sure you have un-ticked "scale to fit" or "fit to page". It's very important to print the pattern without scaling i.e. 100% scale. Often your computer will have "fit to page" set by default, so make sure to change these settings. To check that the scale is correct, you can print out the page with the test square only (second page on our patterns), and check that it measures whatever is indicated in the pattern.

How to put together a pdf sewing pattern image 1

2. Cut the pages along the blue borders (they will appear grey if you've printed in black and white which is fine). If you want, you can leave the borders on every other page and overlap the pages when taping. I prefer to cut off all borders as I find the patterns fold away easier without any extra layers of paper, but it's a matter of taste really!

How to put together a pdf sewing pattern image 2

Scissors work just fine, but if you already have a cutting mat and ruler for fabric cutting (I hope you do as it makes the cutting process so much more enjoyable), I recommend investing in a good utility knife as this is a much quicker way to cut paper. You can also use a rotary cutter but don't use the one you have for fabrics on paper as it dulls them out. Use an old one and save the sharp ones for fabric.

How to put together a pdf sewing pattern image 3

How to put together a pdf sewing pattern image 4

3. Tape the pages together, matching up the letters and numbers.

How to put together a pdf sewing pattern image 5

How to put together a pdf sewing pattern image 6

4. Cut out the pattern in your size.  Again, you can use scissors but a knife and a ruler save you some time.

How to put together a pdf sewing pattern image 7

With the knife you can go freestyle on the curves...

How to put together a pdf sewing pattern image 8

...and use the help of a ruler when you get to the straight bits.

How to put together a pdf sewing pattern image 9

Now you're ready to cut your fabric! Since the paper is heavier you will notice that it stays in place a lot better than regular sewing patterns which use tracing paper. You might not need any pins when cutting.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Book Tip - Colette Wolff: The Art of Manipulating Fabric

No matter how much I learn about making clothes I will never stop looking for books that teach me more.

One of my favourite books is this brilliant guide on manipulating fabric. It gives you a whole range of techniques, from basic pleats and ruffles to elaborate fabric art. Any decorative detail you can think of will be described here.

The instructions come with drawings and diagrams, describing not only drafting and cutting but also sewing techniques. For example the chapter on flounces gives you several methods on how to finish the edge neatly. I find this refreshing as a lot of my pattern making books give instructions for drafting the pattern but nothing on what sewing techniques to use.

It comes in black and white paperback and doesn't cost much. It always gives me inspiration and makes me want to add more ambitious detailing in my sewing projects. An absolute gem in my sewing library.

Book review: Colette Wolff: The Art of Manipulating Fabric image 1
Book review: Colette Wolff: The Art of Manipulating Fabric image 2

Book review: Colette Wolff: The Art of Manipulating Fabric image 3

Book review: Colette Wolff: The Art of Manipulating Fabric image 4

Book review: Colette Wolff: The Art of Manipulating Fabric image 5

Book review: Colette Wolff: The Art of Manipulating Fabric image 6

Book review: Colette Wolff: The Art of Manipulating Fabric image 7

Thursday, 20 February 2014

London & Milan Fashion Week DIY Inspiration

I love it how fashion evolves gradually. You see some styles that last season after season, while new things pop up and merge with the older styles. This gives the designers a chance to stick to current trends while at the same time introducing something new.

Some of the trends that have been around for years now include lace, leather panelling and exposed zips. Wide hems made an appearance last season and are now everywhere. My new favourite is the silhouette of fitted hip with flared hem.

Wide hems are mixed with materials such as leather to keep the look from being too girly.
Different coloured lace has been around for years now and is still popular, though it's changing its shape from flowery classics to large, geometric patterns.

Gucci Dress - Erdem Dress - fall 2014
1) Gucci 2) Erdem

Fendi's skirts are so on trend with the fit and flare shape, middle front slit, leather panels and exposed zips.

Fendi skirts fall 2014

My personal favourites: This look from Mary Katrantzou has it all: pleats, sequins, ankle boots and the combination of black and navy blue.
Gucci, a master of coats, has mixed the most delicious coloured wool with a matching leather panel. Simple and beautiful.

Mary Katrantzou dress - Gucci coat - fall 2014
1) Mary Katrantzou 2) Gucci

Photo credits:

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Tutorial - Understitching

If you have a habit of ignoring the instructions for understitching -I know I used to have- I'm here to tell you that you're never again allowed to skip this step! You'll thank me for it as it makes a massive difference in the quality of your finish.

The main reason for understitching is that it stops the facing or lining from rolling to the outside of the garment. It also stabilizes the edge and gives it a nice, sharp finish. It's used on all neckline and armhole facings, linings, pockets, whatever you can think of that is in the inside of the garment and not supposed to show on the outside.

On a curved edge you'll need to trim the seam allowance before understitching. This will allow the seam allowance to lie flat. You can clip into the seam allowance at regular intervals.

Understitching tutorial image 1

Alternatively, just trim the entire seam allowance to about 1/4" ( 5 mm ) or even less along sharp curves.

Understitching tutorial image 2

Press the seam open, pressing the seam allowance towards the facing. Stitch very close to the seam line -about 1/8"- attaching seam allowance to facing.

I do this from the wrong side simply because I have an obsession with trimming my seam allowances ridiculously narrow. If you're unsure of how neat a finish you can achieve from the wrong side you should stick to stitching from the right side. Make sure to catch the seam allowance underneath. 

Understitching tutorial image 3

On the wrong side the seam allowance will be firmly sewn onto the facing.

Understitching tutorial image 4

Right side will have a neat stitch along the edge of the facing.

Understitching tutorial image 5

Turn facing to the inside so that the shell fabric rolls slightly onto the wrong side. You can now start to appreciate your efforts: You should notice that the facing will lie like this naturally because of the understitching! Press carefully in place.

Understitching tutorial image 6

Match seams on the inside and do a few stitches along the seam from the right side to help the facing stay in place.

Understitching tutorial image 7

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Tutorial - Sewing a v-neck facing

Facing is a great way for beginners to finish a neckline since you end up with no visible stitch along the neckline. Here's how to sew the facing when you're working on a v-neck garment.

Always fuse the facing pieces with interfacing. This will help it not only keep its shape but also keep it in place on the inside of the garment.

1. Depending on what kind of fabric you are working with, you might want to staystitch the neckline. This will help keep its shape. Especially lightweight fabrics benefit from a reinforcing stitch.

2. Stitch shoulder seams

Tutorial - Sewing a v-neck facing

3. Stitch shoulder seams of facing pieces.

4. Press both seams open. Pin facing along neckline, right sides facing, notches and shoulder seams matching. Stitch in place along neckline.

Tutorial - Sewing a v-neck facing

5. Reinforce the v with an additional stitch starting and finishing about 1" (2-3 cm) from the corner. Clip into the v, clipping right until but not through the stitch.

Tutorial - Sewing a v-neck facing

6. Press the seam open, seam allowance and facing pointing away from the garment. Attach seam allowance to facing by understitching about 1/16" (1-2 mm) from the seam. This will help keep the facing on the wrong side.
7. Turn facing to the wrong side and press so that the shell fabric slightly rolls into the inside.

Tutorial - Sewing a v-neck facing

8. To help keep the facing on the inside attach it at shoulder seams. A few stitches back and forth is enough. Sew from the right side along the shoulder seam, so that the stitch disappears in the crease of the seam.

Tutorial - Sewing a v-neck facing