Closet Case Patterns – Clare coat

I’ve wanted to make a coat for a while, mostly to challenge myself, but also because I’ve got a couple of coats which have seen better days! But this particular coat has been quite the undertaking – but then I knew it would be and the understanding was that I would take my time with it because there are so many techniques that I hadn’t done before… but more of that later.
 
For my next project for the Samantha Claridge Studio Design Team I wanted to make the Closet Case Patterns Clare Coat since I’d had the pattern hanging around for about six months! I’d also been looking at the fuchsia wool mix coating on the website and thought that the pairing would work beautifully. And, of course, back in December it was the perfect time of year to make a wool coat! I needed 3m of the coating and 2m of a lining and chose a silver polyester lining from the website.
The wool is washable so the first thing I did was put that and the lining in a 30 degree wash. The wool came out totally uncreased but the lining needed a good press and I found throughout the project that the lining creased easily and regularly needed ironing. I was careful not to use too much heat on the wool just in case, which didn’t help with the seams. It also took on an orange tinge when too hot but this faded with cooling.
 
Before I started I did some research on the coat and found a few references to it being tight across the back. The sizing put me in the 14 range but I decided to size up because of these concerns – and I’m glad I did. The size across the hip is fine but the shoulders would have been tight if I wanted to wear a thick jumper underneath.
 
I’m not one to trace the pattern pieces, I just go ahead and cut them out.  And for this project I’m glad I did because there were 9 pieces of main coat to cut out, 6 pieces of lining and 12 pieces of interfacing, 27 in total… phew! That little lot took me long enough, but then I had another hour and a half standing at the ironing board fusing the interfacing to the shell pieces and I am generally NOT a person who irons! Had I not been so excited about my new coat I might have given up at the first hurdle! But on I went since the first few steps were relatively simple and this filled me with confidence. 
 
As I said earlier, there were a few techniques in the construction of this coat that I’d never done before, and this was one of the reasons I wanted to make it, to try and challenge myself. 
Never have I ever…
 
* worked with wool
* made a two piece sleeve
* lined a garment
* used the bagging out technique
 
I must admit, every time I put the coat to one side I found it increasingly hard to come back to. As it got further along I became more and more daunted at the prospect of finishing it. My brain was telling me that the next steps were difficult so I kept putting it off, when in fact all of it was a series of relatively simple tasks, it’s just there was a lot of them! I found the sew along on the Closet Case website really useful, especially in the latter stages. With hindsight I think a tailors ham or clapper might have been useful for the sleeves but I made do. 
 
But finish it, I did! And since the fabric was gifted I kinda had to!!! But I do really love it and the colour… oh boy, all the heart eyes!!! The thing that drew me to the pattern was the collar. It’s a real statement piece and I’m looking forward to wearing it with pride!
 
The giant poppers were from Amazon, 12 for about £5, and are about 1″ in diameter.
 
 
Thank you so, so, sew much to Samantha for agreeing to this project and letting me have this beautiful fabric and the time to do it justice. Everyone should have a coat in this colour – it induces all the happy feels and makes the dreariest of days significantly brighter!
 
 

Simplicity bag project

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all keeping well and are able to distract yourselves from the mad world we find ourselves in. I normally live and work in London but decided to decamp to my parents’ house for the duration and luckily brought my sewing machine with me, so have been finding some escapism in that every evening.

I decided on this project before any dreams of a holiday were dashed, so I’ll just have to enjoy my new toiletries bag from home.

I fancied making something that wasn’t clothes and have had this pattern in my stash for years – I think I bought it in my first year of sewing. It’s described as a jewellery roll in the pattern but it’s quite big – I never take that much jewellery away with me – so I think it’s better used for toiletries. I though it would be a nice, easy project but it was actually quite time consuming. I’ve never quilted anything before and that was quite a long process, so I can’t imagine quilting a whole, bed-sized quilt! Quilters of the world, respect! But I had my trusty walking foot which was essential and made the process a lot easier.

I used the lovely rainbow fabric (now out of stock but this is also lovely)  with a pink contrast cotton (similar here )with the pockets made from this mesh and clear PVC 

 

I did enjoy seeing it come together, and it was fairly easy once I got my head around how it was constructed. You quilt the main body and top and bottom pockets, and then sew the middle pockets and zips together separately. Then you attach them all at the end and bind around the edges.

It was a bit tricky to sew by the end as it gets quite thick with all the layers and on my machine you can’t adjust the presser foot height, but we got there in the end. I foolishly cut my bias binding too narrow so it was quite hard to attach, but it’s fine if you don’t look too closely!

I’m really happy with the finished object and will definitely be using it to keep my toiletries organised. I also added a cute Kylie and the Machine label so everyone knows I made it (though I’d probably tell them first anyway)! I might try to add a popper too to keep it closed when it’s rolled up. There are plenty of other items in the pattern set but I’m not sure I have the patience to make a whole bag!

 

What have you been making while you’re stuck at home?

 

 

My handmade wardrobe – saving a sewing fail!

We’ve all been there…got excited about a new pattern, ordered the perfect fabric and made it up while dreaming of when and where you are going to wear this brand new me-made dress…then the disappointment when you try it on and it just doesn’t quite look right! URGH!!
 
One of my make nine this year was the McCall’s M7590…
I chose to make this in plaid from the shop…
 
I happily started cutting. When I got to the straps I felt that were too thin…but I’d already sewn the bodice together and understitched so I couldn’t be bothered to un-pick it all! I added the full skirt (it’s huge and so long…bearing in mind I’m 5″8, I’d have taken a good few inches off it) The dress swamped me, I’m not sure if it was the fullness of the gathers or the way the pattern lay on the bodice but it was not good, the proportions of this were just off on me…I didn’t even take any pics as I was so disappointed!
 
I don’t know about you but when I have a sewing fail it really knocks my sewjo and I just left it on my dressmaker dummy for about a month not knowing what to do with it. I thought about cutting it up and making something for my little one but I loved the fabric so much and was determined to have a dress from it. About a week ago I made myself a #hinterland dress (pattern from Sew Liberated) ina gorgeous rusty linen mix fabric and it came together so easily and was so flattering I had the idea to cut up this McCall’s dress and see If I had enough fabric left over to make a bodice to add to the full skirt.
 
Luckily I had about a metre left, just enough to get a bodice front and back and some short sleeves.
So I cut away the bodice from the skirt (which I had so carefully hand stitched the lining in place…wahhhh!)
 
Then I also cut the placket off the front of the skirt as it was just too full, that reduced some of the bulk but I still had a fully made up skirt with pockets ready to add to a new bodice…very happy! I took a few inches off the skirt at the top and re-gathered it, ready to attach to the new hinterland bodice.
 
It worked so well and I’ve worn this dress out on a (Social distancing) stroll with my sis in law already! It’s so comfy and just my style! I’m so glad I managed to rescue this one. I think I’ll try the McCalls pattern again but make some adjustments next time. I think it needs a lighter weight fabric (my bad) and thicker straps and it will be a lovely summer dress…I’ll keep you posted!
 
Who else has had any fails recently, did you manage to rescue them? I think with the amount of sewing I’ve been doing some of it is bound to go wrong!
 
Debbie x

Fennel Fanny pack review- with A Beautiful Mess fabrics

Bum Bags are back in a big way…and I for one am grateful! I love them for gigs, festivals and dog walking, so I can be hands free but access my phone/ keys/ money/ poo bags really quickly if I need! I also feel safer with my valuables where I can see them!

So when I saw the Fennel Fanny pack all over Instagram I was keen to give it a go. 

It’s a downloadable pattern from Sarkirsten.com and it’s only $12! So I bought it and printed it off, then the hard part was deciding on fabric…

I went with the ABM Flower Market range but decided in the end to use the Succulents green fabric for the inside and out, I just love that sage green and thought it would go perfectly with the pink hardware I bought…so summery and fun!

I made a few mistakes and got myself in a pickle while making this I’m not going to lie! I thought the instructions for the side tabs could have been slightly clearer as I managed to put them in upside down the first time! I also found stitching round the corners of the bum bag a real pain…but that’s probably because I mis-read the pattern instructions fo the front of the bag…this picture shows that I somehow left the top of the bag above the zip too big…not sure how that happened but I trimmed it down and carried on!

The finished result, however, is incredibly pleasing and I can see how this bag is an addictive make! It would be a fabulous gift for a friend and you easily make a whole bacth of these up for Christmas pressies! Hey, why not start on them now and get ahead of the game!

I’ll definitely be making more and will remember my mistakes from the first time…that’s how you learn right?!

Who else has made one? What did you think of the process?

Just a heads up, there will be a discount code in this weeks Newsletter so make sure you are signed up to recieve this, you can do this on the homepage…scroll to the bottom!

How to make a Macrame wall hanging

Macrame is back and we are LOVING it! 

This textile craft based on knotting strings in patterns can be used to make bags, wall hangings, jewellery and plant hangers.

We’ve just had some beautiful Macrame cords and metal hoops delivered, you can find them in the New In section of the shop. So give this cheap and easy craft a go!

Below is a little tutorial to get you started…

Step 1.

I started with one 25m ball of cord and a 20cm hoop in brass. I love the cmbination of this peach cord witht he brass ring 🙂

Firstly cut 9  x 1m strands of cord

Step 2.

Take your first piece of cord, find the middle of the rope. attach to hoop with a larks head knot

Step 3.

Make sure the rope is underneath the hoop and attach with a double half hitch knot.

Step 4.

Then attached a rope either side 

Step 5.

Taking the inner strand wither side create a square knot

Step 6.

Start your knot approx 1.5″ down from the top of the hoop.

Step 7.

Attach the ends to the side of your hoop as in Step 3

Step 8.

Taking the outer strands and create a reverse square knot then attach the ends to the hoop as before

Step 9.

Repeat all steps adding the remaining rope and reversing the square knot each time until you have used all 9 cord stands.  Then trim the ends to form a point.

Et voila!

Ideas with Washi Tape – 5 fun crafts to make…

We’ve probably all got a few rolls of washi tape in our crafting stash. It’s great for wrapping gifts and sticking up those fun motivational postcards you get with your fabric orders 😉

But, what else can you use these pretty rolls for? Well, we’ve scoured Pinterest and found 5 fun projects you could try this weekend!

 

Clockwise from top left…

Organise your charger cables by covering the cords with washi tape and allocating a designt o each erson in your household…great for stopping those pesky arguments about whose cable is whose!

Decorate plain white envelopes by trimming the edges with washi tape

Jazz up tea lights with a strip of tape…so cute!

Organise your keys and make them easy to spot in your bag with some bright tape on the ends

Why not DIY yourself a new phone case with strips of washi inside a clear case…

 
 
We have the Rico Paper Poetry set of washi tapes in stock so why not give these fun crafts a go. These projects would be great to do with the kids too, minimal mess, lots of fun…this definitely counts as an Art lesson!

Carol’s Closet Case Ginger jeans with stretch cord

Ginger Jeans review

Hey there, hope you’re doing okay? #sewingkeepsmesane is certainly relevant right now!

I know I’m really late to the game with my first ever pair of Closet Case Ginger jeans, but I must admit to being a bit nervous of making jeans. I kept thinking, I don’t need to make my own I can just buy the ones I want, I’ll make all the pretty things and leave jeans to the experts!

Well, I’m so pleased I finally bit the bullet as I absolutely love my custom fit Gingers and I’m sure you will too!

For my first pair of Gingers I chose this lovely soft stretch cord from the Samantha Claridge Studio, I confess to loving corduroy its so soft and cosy, just perfect for these colder months!

I ordered the black cord along with a matching colour of Gutermann sew all thread, its so great to order the thread along with your fabric. Sammy chooses the best matching colour and sends it along with your fabric delivery, how great is that!!

I recently made a pair of Carolyn Pyjamas in size 18 and the trousers are a perfect fit, so I cut my Ginger jeans in a size 18. Well they are supposed to be skinny and there is no way the 18 was skinny fit on me!

So, I unpicked and cut down to a size 16, this was still too big, so I enlarged the seam allowance from the 5/8” up to ¾ and that was much better.

The Closet case sew along is really great, even as a seasoned dress maker I found it really helpful and informative, so I’d definitely recommend it at least for the first attempt at jeans!

I had a few attempts at pocket placement, my final version is actually the third attempt, but do you know what I really enjoyed making these, it was so satisfying working towards the best fit, I never once got fed up.

 It was so satisfying, and I really love my Ginger Jeans, this cord is so soft and the stretch makes them so comfy, they are real secret pyjamas!!

Thanks for reading!

Quick Guide to Sewing Machine Needles

Quick Guide to Sewing Machine Needles

Whether you are just starting out on your sewing journey or have been sewing for while we thought we’d write a quick and easy guide about how to choose the right needle for the job!

So, lets get started…

Machine needles:

  • Most brands of machine needles will fit any domestic sewing machine. When you are looking at needles their sizes (ie. 90/14 or 80/12) refers to the thickness of the needle and therefore which fabric they should be used on. The lower the number the finer the needle and the finer the fabric you will sew with that needle. 
 
  • There are different needles for different types of fabrics too. Jeans needles are especially for working with Denim and densely woven fabrics, Ballpoint needles can be used for jersey fabrics, but also for silk. Stretch needles are for use with Lycra or swimwear fabrics and quilting needles are designed to go through lots of layers at once. Try and stick to using the right needle for the right job. 
 
  • We advise that you mark up your needles so you know which are which when they are out of their packets. I use nail polish, but you can use coloured sharpies. The sizes are written on the needles but it is so tiny it can be hard to read. 
 
  • If you have put a specialist needle in,  remove it when you have finished the job and put it back in the packet so you don’t forget which needle is in your machine. 
I hope that was helpful. Let us know what other guides you would find useful!

Sammy’s Top Tips : Zips

Right, it is that time that I am sure some of you have been waiting for, today I am going to be revealing our top tips about those pesky fasteners that lots of people are a little scared of… Zips. Warning its going to be a long post so go and get a cuppa and we will get stuck in.

What kinds of zips are there?
Nylon Dress/Skirt are the most commonly used. Don’t be put off using these in soft furnishings (cushion covers) and craft projects though, it simply refers to the weight of the teeth. They are light weight and durable with metal runners and usually come in a wide selection of colours. They have a metal or nylon stopper at the bottom.

Concealed or Invisible zips are used predominantly in clothing for their hidden appearance, or rather lack there of, Light weight and inserted (usually with a specialist foot) so that the opening simply appears to be another seam. With a narrow light weight coil to the inside of the garment, a dainty metal runner and droplet tag they are perfect for evening wear. If used on very light weight fabrics like chiffon they do have a tendency to get fabric caught in the runners and given their delicate nature, can split if put under too much strain.

Open Ended zips are a section all to them selves as there are a few different types, You can have them in different weights (light weight to chunky to metal) and teeth in different materials, but the one thing they all do is split completely in half. Imagine the front of your hoodie or rain jacket, the zip has a metal or plastic slot on one side where you place the end of the other side before pulling the runner up. This slot enables the teeth to level up before joining together and for the zip to come apart.

Metal zips are the most hard-wearing of zips and come in short lengths for jeans and work-wear and longer open ended versions for waxed jackets and heavier garments.

Decorative or exposed zips are a relatively new idea, usually the tape that hold the runners is printed or edged in some way and designed to be shown on the outside of the project or garment, rather than being hidden n the inside.

There are of course lots more variations, but these are the main ones that you will come across.

How do you choose the right zip for your project?

It can be confusing when you are faced with a wall of zips at your local haberdashery, or pages of choice online but most of the time you can find the information you need in your pattern. If not there are some simple ways to decide which type of zip would be best for your project.

  • Measure your project before you go to buy your zip. They can be cut down to size, but you don’t want to buy on that is too short. 
  • Think about the weight of fabric you are using and choose the weight of zip accordingly.
  • Do you want the zip to be hidden or on show as a feature? if you are nervous about making a neat job, pick a decorative zip to take attention away from wobbly seams.

Do you need a special foot on your sewing machine?
You don’t NEED a special foot, but it does help when sewing in zips using your sewing machine to have a zip foot or a concealed zip foot. The zip foot shifts from side to side to enable you to get as close to the zip teeth as possible. Whilst the invisible zip foot helps to ease open the gap under the teeth where the stitching will go and be hidden from view.

Do you have to sew them in with your sewing machine?
Not at all, if you are nervous or unsure of sewing something tricky with your machine, you can stitch in your zip by hand. Some times it is easier, when replacing broken zips, to sew it in by hand.

My pattern said to put it in this way, but I would rather do it differently, is that Okay?
Sometimes the person who has designed the pattern has given the style of zip for a aesthetic reason, for instance a side zip on a pair of trousers without a waist band will most likely ask for a concealed zip, in order to keep the look of the hip and waist area as smooth as possible. In this case it is up to you, have the choice to change it to a regular one if you feel the look is not so important to you i.e. if you will always wear them with a top that covers the zip. However occasionally the zip is chosen for a practical reason, for instance strapless bodices will often call for an open ended zip in order to be able to get in and out of the garment whilst getting a super fitted finish. In this case it would not be a good idea to alter what the designer has requested.

My Top Tips:

  • Take your time. Don’t rush putting in a zip, and don’t do it when you are tired, it’ never going to end well.
  • Tack it first. If you can tack it in by hand first, it will give you a guide and help to stop it from moving round as you stitch.
  • Use quality product. As we always say with haberdashery, you get what you pay for, use the best supplies you can afford. 
  • Use existing garments as a guide. If you are unsure of how it is meant t look, or if it is the right place, check on a piece you already own to give you a clue. 
  • Practice makes perfect. If you see some cheap zips at a car boot or charity shop, pick them up and use them to practice, particularly using your zipper foot, or invisible zipper foot on your machine, with out the pressure of completing a project.
I hope that has cleared up some of your questions and maybe given you a little more confidence when thinking about tackling zips in the future. If you have any questions that I haven’t answered in this ask me in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. 
 
Sammy xxx

Sammy’s Top Sewing Tips Vol. 2

I’m back with a second round of sewing tips for you today, these are quite a mixed bag but they are all things that I tell our customers all the time, so I’m sure at least a few will be helpful for you too.

Zips: Not sure about which size zip you need, don’t panic Zips can be cut to size. If you buy one that is too long, as long as you stitch across the ends to stop the runner from coming off you can cut off the excess to make it the right length for your project.

Patterns: Make your patterns last longer by tracing them off onto greaseproof paper rather than cutting out from your pattern sheet. It means you never cut anything important away and if you need to make adjustments you don’t spoil your original pattern papers.

Pattern Sizing: The big brand patterns, Simplicity, McCall’s etc, often work from fashion sizing measurements, not retail sizing measurements. You will often need to make up your patterns in a larger size than you would buy in the shops. If in doubt always check the body and garment measurements on each pattern and make to the size it recommends for your stats.

Fabrics: Always wash your fabric before you start a new project, even if you aren’t using cotton fabric (which can shrink when washed) or the project you have in mind won’t be washed afterwards, it is still worth giving it a rinse and an iron before you start to get rid of any dust or creases.

Tools: Invest in a small ruler, it is helpful to have a small measuring tool to hand so you don’t always have to reach for your tape measure.

Storage: Rather than a pretty but not totally functional sewing basket for all your machine parts and sewing notions, why not invest in a toolbox or vanity case. The mix of large and small compartments are perfect for keeping all those little bits and bobs in order.

Button Holes: Pop a pin at the end of your buttonhole to stop cutting too far and ruining your buttonhole.

Machine Stitching: Always check your machine top and bottom tension before you start to sew. If you have a machine with a removable case dangle it with the bobbin inside, if it shakes down slowly its perfect, if it falls it’s too loose and if it doesn’t move it’s too tight.

Seams: Always press your seams as you go, you will never regret it later.

Seating: Make sure your sewing machine chair is at a good height for your machine and is comfortable. But do make sure you get up and take breaks every so often, so you don’t get too stiff.

Equipment: Always try and buy the best equipment you can afford. Cheap haberdashery is usually cheap for a reason. This is most important when referring to thread. The time it takes to make a garment to have the seams pop the first time you wear it is not worth the saving!

That’s it for this round, but if you have any questions feel free to add them in the comments!

Sammy x