Handmade wardrobe 2020

My me-made sewing challenge

Hi Guys!

I’m Debbie, Sammy’s assistant and all round crafty person.

I am mummy to my gorgeous little girl Audrey and my two cheeky dogs, my husband let me take over the basement in our new home for all my sewing stuff… so he is the best 😉

Since I can remember I have always been crafting. From making Fimo jewellery as a child, to studying Womenswear at the London College of Fashion (and a fair bit in-between!). My work has appeared in Mollie Makes, Simply Sewing Magazine, Love Quilting as well as the Samantha Claridge Studio blog! I have sold my designs at craft shows across the South East and now am a freelance crafter…a dream come true!

 

I ran design label Duck & Duffel for 5 years (now Hila Studio) and made lots of lovely dresses and prints, designing my own fabric and illustrating. Then life got in the way as it often does and I had to get a day job, but I’m back freelancing now and working with Sammy, happy days!

But, despite having a degree in fashion and more than 20 years dress making expeirence I rarely use my skills to make clothes for myself…crazy huh!

I have just bought a new house with my husband and in an effort to spend less and shop more sustainably I am challenging myself to make myself some clothes this year.

To give you a bit of background…I love shopping, I mean LOVE it, in fact at some stages in my life you could definitely have called it a “problem”. I don’t know whether it was boredom and frustration during my twenties and early thirties when I didn’t work in a creative environment and felt like buying beautifful clothes helped me express my creative side, or, I just love buying pretty things, but I spent a lot of money on clothes and shopped nearly every day, buying things on a whim which ultimately ended up in the charity pile. I was always seeking out the next trend and giving it my spin but never feeling satisfied…I never had anything to wear despite having a wardrobe fit to burst!

As I’ve got older I’ve found my ‘style’ and it’s been this way for a number of years now, I know what works for me and my lifestyle and body shape and I’m keen to make some amazing pieces that I’ll get lots of wear out of and the satisfaction of having crafted them with my own hands.

My aim isn’t to replace everything in my wardrobe with handmade, as I have some amazing garments by indie designers in there, which I will cherish for years to come (that’s you Lucy and Yak and Dreamland Clothing!) But If I feel the urge to shop, instead I’ll think carefully about why I need a certain peice, how it will fit into my wardrobe and if I can make it! If I can’t make it I will aim to thrift it (I’ve just discovered a great charity shop down the road which colour codes and separates it’s clothes into categories…it’s Uh-mazing!). 

I’m going to document my journey on this blog. In the next post I’ll tell you about where I get my inspiration from and how I plan my makes…spolier alert I’ve just got a fresh Dressmaking journal from the Samantha Claridge Studio shop so that is going to be my new sewing best friend! I’ll also talk you through choosig fabric, the tools I use and of course show you what I make.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey and if there are any specific topics you would like me to cover then do leave a comment!

So until next time, here is my me-made rail below. So far it’s got two Indigo dresses on it because I love a smock dress and cute prints!

Gingham (Samantha Claridge Studio -now sold out) But you could also use this plaid

Figo Treehouse Zig Zag 

I promise I’ve only got one more smock dress planned…but that might change 😉

Leave me a comment if you are also going to be making more for yourself this year, I’d love to give you a follow and see what you are making!

Debs x

Jersey Binding Tutorial

Finishing edges with jersey...

This post shows two uses for the Jersey Folded Binding which is available in the shop in a variety of colours. 
 
This is a great way to neatly finish the edges of garments made from stable knit fabrics, or could also be used to bind craft projects such as quilts in the same way as woven binding. It has a slight stretch but wouldn’t be suitable for very stretchy jersey fabrics or on areas of a garment which need to stretch a lot, such as tight neck openings.
 
The first way I used this binding was to finish the neck of a dress I made for my Christmas party. It had a high front neck but low back so didn’t need to stretch for me to get it on and off.
To start with, sew your garment as you normally would; you can do this step at the end or once the should seams have been sewn together, before constructing the rest of the garment.
 
Measure your neck opening and cut a piece of binding slightly longer than the opening. Mine overlapped by a few inches.
 
Pin or clip the binding to the outside of your garment with right sides together and edges aligned. Don’t stretch the binding at all while you do this or it’ll be too tight to turn under! I used wonder clips to attach it as I prefer them to pins. Trust me, if you get some you won’t regret it!
 
 
 

Using a narrow zigzag stitch or other stretch stitch, sew along the fold closest to the edge of the fabric. You could overlock this but it would add some bulk under the binding. Leave an inch or two of loose binding at the start and sew all the way around until you meet your stitching again. Backstitch or tie off ends to secure.

 

Bring your two loose ends right sides together and sew along the width of the binding where your stitching ends. I used a straight stitch here to help it lie flat when finished. Trim the excess fabric and press open.

Turn the binding to the wrong side and tuck under the other folded side of the binding. Press to help it lie flat and clip or pin to secure. 

Go back to your machine and stitch down using a zigzag, stretch stitch or twin needle. Backstitch or tie off your ends to secure and you’re done!

The other way I used this binding was to hem a dress. It had ended up a bit short and I wanted to avoid losing any more length by turning up and sewing so I used the binding and it worked really well.
 
Once again, measure the length of the hem and cut a piece of binding slightly longer. Pin or clip it right sides together with edges aligned, leaving an inch or two loose on either end. Don’t stretch the binding at all or it won’t turn under easily! (Ask me how I know this 😛 )

Sew using a zigzag, stretch stitch or overlocker, starting an inch or two from the end of the binding, and sew all the way around until you meet your stitching again. Backstitch or tie off your ends to secure.

With right sides together, sew across the width of the binding. Trim the excess and press open.
 

Turn the binding to the wrong side, press then clip or pin. Stitch using a zigzag, stretch stitch or twin needle.

Ta da! This is a really nice, neat way to do a hem but not one I’ve tried before so I’m glad it worked well. (Obviously black binding would have been better than navy but no one will notice 😀 )
 
I hope this is useful and gives you an idea of how you can finish your knit projects in a slightly different way! See you soon for another post!

Bubble satin review

Satin blouse project

Hey everyone, I’m so pleased to be back on the Samantha Claridge studio blog today.

I’m delighted to tell you all about this beautiful satin!

I’ve owned the Named clothing, book “Breaking the pattern” for a while and really like the Sade blouse pattern. When I saw this fabric on the website, I was very keen to make a version of the Sade with it.

I must admit I did have some reservations before I ordered this from Sammy. I have worked before with super slippery fabrics, and was a little concerned that this would be one of those.

                                                                                                                                                         

Sammy is always happy to send swatches of fabric out, she’s very passionate about the fabrics she sells and is very keen to make sure her bloggers and customers alike are happy with their fabric choices. So quickly she popped a piece of this in the post to me.

As you can see, I wasn’t put off, after I’d seen and handled it. In fact, quite the opposite, I basically had to have this in my wardrobe!

It cut and sewed beautifully. I put the basic principles into practise. I used a new rotary cutter blade and cut the pieces singly. It cut just fine and didn’t slip over itself at all, I think the “bubble” texture actually made it grip to itself, not slip around at all and when I sewed it, it behaved really well too.

I used a fine point needle and pinned in the seam allowances.

 The quality is divine, so soft and drapey its delightful against my skin.

The fabric feels like luxury itself; I cannot believe the quality of this for its price tag, for a very reasonably priced fabric the quality, colour and feel of this bubble satin is mind blowing. I absolutely love my Sade blouse but if I’d not made this, the satin would have been gorgeous made up into a beautiful dress or luxurious night attire (think luxury robe or slip) or lingerie (so sexy)!

 

So that’s all from me for now, till next time keep chatting and stitching, Carol 😊

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!

Clementine skirt!

Carol's star wardrobe basic...

Hey, you guys I’m back on the Samantha Claridge Studio Blog today to talk to you all about this lovely cord!

It’s so soft, and lovely to touch and wear. I’ve made the Clementine “Made in Denim” skirt before but really wanted to make one in this olive-green cord (olive green now out of stock). It’s super soft and has a great stretch. This is due to its 3% spandex content; this means it’s really easy to wear and doesn’t get stretched out when you sit down in it for a while.

As usual I prewashed my fabric and line dried before I began, it washed and pressed beautifully.

It’s a great idea to lay a second section of cord face down on top of the garment sections whilst pressing, this stops the nap being flattened. Also be mindful when using cord to make sure that all your pattern pieces are cut in the same direction due to the nap of the fabric.

I really wanted to personalise the top stitching with this make and drafted a little motif which I’d love to share with you.

I free hand copied my sewing shears onto paper, which I then cut out and stuck to my pocket with 505 spray.

Then I stitched around the template with top stitch thread in a contrast colour.

I tried two different colours out, a dark grey which I really liked (but I was a little concerned that might be a bit too understated) then a second one in a lovely rust colour. But when I compared them both together, I reverted back to my original choice.

That was it, decision made, and I completed the rest of the top stitching in that colour. The cord made up beautifully and I chose to make my skirt up at just below knee length. I think this is going to be perfect through the winter with some cosy tights and boots. 

If I’d not chosen to make my corduroy into a classic jean skirt, I think it would be gorgeous made into some dungarees or trousers, maybe the Ash or Ginger jeans, or even children’s wear. It is certainly soft enough for the most delicate of skin!

 That’s all for now till next time keep chatting and stitching Carol 😊  

Papercrafting for Xmas Part 2!

Paper garland making

This Christmas project is inspired by these beautiful paper garlands that I saved on Pinterest…it’s nice to actually be making something that I’ve saved…finally!  

Once again I’m reaching for the Rico Confetti paper pack! If you havent seen I already wrote a gift bag tutorial perfect for all your xmas gifting! Read here

These paper packs are so versatile and such good value for the quanitity and quality of the card. I think I’m going to make gift tags with any remaining card and string them with gold ribbon 🙂

This is so simple it doent really need any sort of tutorial but I would recommend buying yourself a good paper punch! I got my from a well known craft store and it’s a 2″ punch…I’m tempted to buy a star shaped one too!

You could always cut these by hand…or do different shapes. Triangles would work well…or just random shapes!

Layer 2 or 3 of the circles on top of each other and stitch together on your machine back to back in one long line with a regular straight stitch making sure you leave a nice long length of thread at either end so you can string it up!

Once they are stitched together simply un-fold each set of circles to give a 3D effect!

I love how simple but effective this is! It’s a lovely way of using up paper scraps too. 

Tag us on #scblog if you make one. We’d love to see your take on this fun craft!

Papercrafting for Xmas!

DIY gift bags with Rico papers

Not your traditional Christmas colour combo I know, but anything with gold counts right? When I saw this pack of Rico papers and card in their confetti design  I knew I wanted a modern theme for my decs and wrapping this Chrimbo…and I wanted to get started right away!

This simple craft will add the extra wow factor to your xmas gifts! It’s really simple and you can make them any size. The Rico pads are A4 and this makes an (approx) A5 size bag.

All you need:

One sheet of paper

Glue/ washi tape

Hole punch

String/ ribbon

Fold the short edges of the paper to the middle, over-lapping by 2cm and glue them together.

Fold up the bottom…the bigger the fold the bigger the bottom of the bag

Fold the sides in flat creating two triangles

Fold the top and bottom in towards eachother so they meet in the middle 

Tape in placeusing washit tape or clear tape depending what you like! Then push the sides out creating your bag!

Now you can fill your bag with goodles…this is great for jewellery, homemade sweets and cookies…or the best gift, sewing accessories!!

Punch a hole in the top and thread through some string or ribbon. I also made a gift tag with some matching card from the Rico paper pad.

I’ve made about a tonne of these with any bit of paper I can find in my house…it’s addicitve let me tell you!! Tag us if you make some using #scblog and take a look at our gorgeous range of Rico Papers and xmas trimmings …trust me it’s way more fun that buying normal xmas wrap!

Cosy up…

Hot Fix sweater!

So I’ve made a lot of coats recently but what cold days, when the sun is shining, really need is a nice chunky sweater with a cosy neckline. something that can be thrown on over anything from dashing to the gym gear to school run jeans.  
I have also been seeing a fair bit of hot fix vinyl popping up on Instagram and then watching a bit on YouTube recently and really fancied having a play myself…… so the idea for the Hot Fix Sweater came about.  

I put together my shopping list: lovely snuggly fleecy back Jersey in this beautiful dusty pink, teamed with some sporty stretch mesh and Hot Fix Vinyl in black flock and rose gold glitter, obvs used Samantha Claridge’s fantastic thread match service too. Extra bits needed came from my workshop, black zip, black eyelets, black cord and cord stops all reclaimed or accumulated from charity shop finds and old pieces of clothing.   

My starting point for this make was a tried and tested raglan sweatshirt pattern, (McCall’s M6992 cut in a size 14). I now have 4 tops from this pattern, all with sleeve hack variations.   

I wanted four separate bands along the arms plus cuffs. Originally I envisaged having the black mesh as a single layer but with the difference in fabric weight I though it better to layer the mesh over the jersey sections I had cut out. The couple of centimetres lost by cutting and re-joining the sections was easily made up by cutting a slightly deeper cuff section.  

The thin neck band I replaced with a deep band about 14cm deep, leaving the right front arm seam open to about 2/3 of the way down to accommodate the zip I wanted to insert. I attached the neckband simply by cutting it slightly longer than needed then trimming to size once it was on.  

The hemline on the original pattern runs straight round but I quite fancied the idea of a stepped hem so I needed a facing for both front and back hems and these needed to go on before the side seams were sewn. I drafted a little sample to check the turning and how the top stitching and internal finish would turn out before extending the hemline at the back of the sweater to be 10cm lower than the front.  

One more thing to note about the construction of this sweater is that I actually went old school and did the whole thing on my sewing machine, zig zag 1.5/1.5 for the seams, overcasting 2.5/5.0 to neaten the edges, top stitching length 4.  

The reason for this is that my trusty overlocker has for some reason stopped slicing and started chewing anything thicker than a light cotton. ‘Change the blade’ I hear you cry…. Yup, I’ll do that just as soon as I can undo the screw that holds the blade on, it appears to have been welded into place circa 1745 when this overlocker was made!!! Then to find a replacement…. Hey ho, that’s a job for another day…… 

Anyhoo! I digress, back to this lovely sweater. So we have had a chat about what I did and the changes I made to the pattern, now let’s look at the how. 

I started by cutting out all the sweater pieces in the pink jersey, sleeves were cut out in full to be sectioned up later, neck band was cut out longer than needed to be sized up later. Originally I cut out the cuffs according to the pattern but when I decided to re-join the sectioned sleeves instead of inserting the mesh panels I cut a second set a little longer.  

 

I sectioned the sleeves by cutting through both sleeves at the same time (this ensured they were matched symmetrically), sectioning them into four by making three cuts. Working down from the neckline I made one slightly arced cut at roughly where the shoulder would be, another cut straight across about 14cm further down and the third cut was 14cm up from the cuff. I cut a sports mesh shape to match the 14cm sections, and overlayed them before re-joining the seams. I only used about a 0.5cm seam allowance when re-joining them so only lost 3cm from the sleeve length over all and added this back to the cuff to give the same final sleeve length. I top stitched each join to make sure the joins would lay nice and flat and were not too bouncy.  

Next I had a play with the hot fix vinyl. I knew I wanted to use the markings on my sewing machine as a loose reference so created arrows in black flock and lengthening ‘stitches’ in rose gold glitter.  

I worked out that it would be easiest to apply the hot fix vinyl while all pieces were still flat so that was the next job. Glittery stitches went on to the front and back of one sleeve running up from the cuff. An arrow was positioned on the opposite sleeve pointing out from the neckline toward the shoulder and two arrows were positioned pointing inward on the front waistline (I later added a gold glitter section to the end of the waist arrows once the side seams were sewn) 

Once all the vinyl details were in place the sleeves were held in place with clips then sewn together. For this kind of bouncy fabric I find clips a little better to hold the layers together. 

Before the side seams were sewn I went back to my hem sample and attached the front and back hem facings.

Then the side seams running right from cuff to hem were brought together.  

I attached the neck band around the neckline, the zip was next inserted into the front sleeve seam and topstitched into place. Before folding in the top of the neck line (by a nice chunky 4cm) I hammered in an eyelet at each side of the zip top, I popped a small square of jersey attached with fabric glue to stabilise and thicken the area behind where the eyelets were going in. This worked well and they are still in place. I finally top stitched the neck band and folded in and topstitched the hem facings before giving them all a good press. 

I am so chuffed with the overall look of this sweater and can see it being worn constantly this winter, I’ll also be thinking about more projects with hot fix vinyl as now I’ve seen how easy it is I’d love to flex my wings a bit with more complex shapes, lettering and layering…… 

Gingham dreams!

Vintage style ruffle dress project...

 
I have been dreaming of giant gingham for a long time. I’m not sure what started it but I thought it would be a super cute dress when I found the perfect fabric. When I saw this fabric on Samantha Claridge online I knew it was for me, but I NEVER sew dull fabrics especially not black fabrics! After I wrestled with myself a little while I settle on the black and white gingham because I thought I could spice it up a bit with the pattern I used.

I planned on making the Jennifer Lauren handmade Mayberry dress so thought I would use awesome big buttons, but when the fabric arrived I knew I had to reconsider. The fabric arrived with a much thicker texture than I was expecting. It’s got a lovely linen feel to it but with a bit most structure, and less wrinkles too! I thought I would find a dress with a big full skirt and make something really vintage but with the checks being directional I wasn’t sure how that would make my shape look.

Then I saw the Alice & co free pattern in partnership with the V&A. It’s a pattern based on one of Mary Quants dresses to celebrate the exhibition on at the moment at the V&A. The fabric was perfect for the ruffles making them stand up around the neck and fluff out at the elbows, so I made a decision!

This project has almost turned into a zero waste one too! I cut out all my pieces and realised I didn’t have enough fabric to make the skirt three times the width so only made it twice. The only fabric I had left was a small section big enough for pockets, maybe on this dress in the future!

 

The checks made making the pleats super easy as I just used the squares as reference folding the over neatly. I’ve never pleated so much before, and the instructions tell you how to use a form to measure your pleats, which sounded terrifying so I was glad I had the squares already there to use. I had to top stitch the sleeve ruffles down as they were so fluffy they were flouncing in the wrong direction but I think that says more about my elbows than the fabric..! ha!

This fabric is super easy to wash and wear too as I was worried the linen feel would leave it wrinkly. Luckily I washed it and just hug it to dry and didn’t have to do any more to it. The pleats stayed lovely and the bodice didn’t crease so it’s perfect for perhaps packing in a bag or wearing all day and still looking smart at the end of the day!

 

I recently wore this dress to our new nephews christening, and I got lots of compliments. The wrap over front is very flattering on me and the smallest part of the waist hits me just at the right point. I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern and just made it as it was which was perfect for me. It has a fully lines bodice too, which made it feel even fancier, but helped it come together surprisingly easily!

 

Whilst this dress isn’t the vintage era I’d normally gravitate towards (normally 40’s and 50’s) I think it was a perfect pairing to this fabric and made me a lovely outfit for the christening which I can now wear again and again to the office and know I’ll be smart and comfy!

Costa Tote

Handy Tote!

This month I thought I’d give my wardrobe a break and make the Helen’s Closet Costa Tote. This is a pattern she released recently which you can get for free if you sign up to her newsletter. It is a lined, reversible tote bag with large pockets and shoulder straps, and there’s nothing I like more than a big bag to hold all my ‘essentials’, you know, purse, phone, wet wipes, kids toys, emergency snacks! 

I thought I’d use this beautiful cotton denim chambray  for the outside and line it with a bright rainbow triangles cotton. Then I had the idea to embellish the pockets with a bit of embroidery because, well, why not??!! 
 
When I received my fabric I couldn’t believe how soft they both were. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with chambray before but, oh my goodness, I’ll definitely be using it again! It’s sooooo smooth and buttery to touch and drapes wonderfully. I can see a button down shirt dress in this! And the triangles cotton was also beautiful, I just loved the colours and could see this as a Kalle shirt!
Anyhoo, it wasn’t long before the fabric was cut out and I was thinking about starting my embroidery. I chose colours to compliment the lining and took inspiration from an image I’d seen on Pinterest, but mostly doodled my own design. 
 
I wasn’t sure how to transfer my design onto the fabric. I thought a fabric pencil wouldn’t give me a crisp enough line and I didn’t have any transfer paper to hand. I’m sure there are lots of ways to do it but I went with a plain old biro! I embroidered outside of the lines so you can’t see them.
 
See that little yellow button below? Well I decided I didn’t like it so I unpicked it and used a different technique.
 
I think I need to clarify here that I am clearly not an expert in hand embroidery! That’s plain to see! It’s not as neat as I’d like but I wasn’t going to rip it all out and start again! The whole piece took me a couple of evenings to complete and once that was done I could start constructing the bag. 
 

The instructions are brilliant, just what you’d expect from Helen’s Closet. I tweaked my bag slightly as I decided to line the pockets to protect the back of the embroidery. I also put a small pocket on the inside. It all came together in a  couple of hours and is a really sturdy bag, deep with good sized pockets, and what seamstress doesn’t like a pocket, right??!! I’ve already used it loads and think I’ll be making a few more of these as gifts.