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After drafting a new slimmer fit trouser block and making them up into the below pair of trousers, I realised after wearing them a few times how much I missed having pockets. Often neglected, I decided to draft some side slanted to make up a new pair of trousers in this fabric (I also included a fly front - see later blog).

These pockets can still be applied to any garment - be it a skirt, dress (with a waist seam) or trouser - provided it has side seams.

1 - Draw the side slant pocket on the trouser front at the side seam. I have drawn a straight opening but it could be curved, just make sure the opening is big enough to get your hand in.

2 - Trace around the trouser front across the waist and down the side seam onto another piece of paper to make the yoke and pocket pattern piece.

3 - Draw in the pocket bag shape making it deep and wide enough to fit your hand in.

4 - Trace around the yoke and pocket pattern piece on another piece of paper to make the pocket lining. Mark the pocket opening on this and cut it away.

5 - Mark the pattern pieces as shown below.

Stitch pocket lining on front garment piece, right sides together (pocket opening can also be curved), matching notches.

Turn the pocket and press the edge (if curved, clip the seam allowance before turning the pocket).

Topstitch the edge of pocket to keep the lining from ‘rolling’ outside.

Sew the pocket piece to the pocket lining with right sides together, matching notches. Finish the raw edges

Machine tack the top and the sides of pocket to the garment piece.

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A tool roll is the perfect gift for Fathers Day and making it yourself makes it even that bit more special, so here it a simple tutorial to get stitching!

Finished measurements 32cm x 40cm

Materials:

Outside and lining - medium weight denim fabric

Cut two main 43cm x 74cm

Please note, a directional patterned fabric will not be suitable as the design would appear upside down as the fabric wraps over to the inside of the tool roll (A directional pattern is one where the design goes in an obvious direction, e.g. a fish in a bowl).

Tie - 1.2m length of webbing, cord or wide ribbon

Tape - 43cm length approximately 4cm wide (tape featured is from Merchant & Mills).

Co-ordinating thread

Equipment:

Sewing machine

Twin needle

Scissors

Iron and ironing board

How to make

Seam allowances are included in cutting sizes. Use a 1.5cm seam allowance throughout unless otherwise stated.

1 - Cut fabric pieces according to the above measurements

2 - Pin the wrong side of the tape to the right side of one of the denim pieces, 2.5cm below one of the shorter edges, so the short side of the trim are flush with the long sides of the denim.


Top tip - When you are pinning, always think about the direction you are going to sew in. Position your pins so the heads are nearest to you to make it easy to remove them while you are sewing.

3 - Stitch the tape in place on the top and lower edge approximately 2mm from the edge.


4 - Fold the length of the tie in half and pin in place below the tape on either the left or right side and 8.5cm below the top edge. The folded edge of the tie should be flush with the side of the denim.


5 - Stitch the tie in place using a 1cm seam allowance.


6 - Pin the two denim pieces right sides together so all the edges are flush.


7 - Sew the two pieces together around the edges, starting to stitch approximately 3cm above one of the corners on the long sides where the tape is attached, pivoting at the corners. Stop stitching approximately 10cm before meeting the starting point and turn your project through to the right side through the gap, this is known as 'bagging out'. Press.


Top tip - Position a pin at right angles at the start and the end of where you will be sewing to remind you to leave the 10cm opening.

Top tip - To achieve sharp corners, before turning the project to the right side, cut diagonally across the corner in the seam allowance to reduce the bulk. Use a point turner to gently push the corners out or carefully use the end of a pair of scissors if you do not have a point turner.

8 - Fold the bottom edge up 24cm and so the tape sits on the outside. Press the folded bottom edge and pin the side seams.


9 - Stitch the sides approximately 3mm from the edge using a twin needle to form 2 decorative rows of stitching and this will also close the gap used to turn the project through to the right side.


How to use a twin needle

Thread the sewing machine with two threads using the second spool holder. Feed both threads through the machine as one thread, and then thread each one through the separate holes in the twin needle. Check your manual which foot to use because the needle hole in the foot has to be big enough to take two needles.

10 - Mark the number and width of sections required to hold the tools using chalk, ensuring the lines are parallel to the side seams.


11 - Stitch on top of the lines to form the sections.


12 - Fold and press the top edge down 16cm to form the flap.


13 - Place your tools in place, roll it up, tie it closed and your done!

The roll can be made in different fabrics and sizes to be used as a pen roll, make-up brush roll, knitting needle roll and much more!


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It is so rewarding to have the sewing skills to not only make garments from scratch you like and that fit but to also be able to make changes to existing garments. Customisation (or hacking as it is more recently called) can mean just adjusting the length, changing the shape......


........or it could be making a completely different style using just the fabric from other garments. 


I don’t often buy from the high street these days but every now and again something may catch my eye when I am browsing in a charity shop or shopping for the kids. It may be the fabric design or a styling detail and in this particular case, it was both. I loved the colours in the fabric and the tied knot detail under the bust, however, the length and the width of the sleeves didn’t work for me, but I knew with a bit of customisation, all would be well.


I unpicked the hem of the sleeve and marked the new sleeve width at the underarm seam.

I overlocked the new underarm seams and stitched the sleeve hems back in place.


Next, the length was reduced changing it from a dress to a top. 

Instead of trying to hem the new length, I cut a strip of fabric from the discarded fabric and attached it as a band to the bottom of the top. 

It gave a much better finish than a regular hem on a stretch fabric (they tend to roll up). In industry a cover stitch machine is used to hem stretch garments, there is a domestic machine available but not something I have unfortunately.

It was tricky matching up the stripes on the band with the ones of the top but I think I did ok!

Voila! This is a garment I would like to copy on Clone your Closet but I know that knot detail is not going to be easy!

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Well done Anne for being awarded our latest Ministry Makes Winner! After attending Clone Your Closet, Anne went straight home and put what she had learnt into practise! 

I Thoroughly enjoyed the cloning workshop at the weekend, so on Sunday I had a practice and cloned this top from an old favourite.

 

 

As I didn't have enough fabric for the back I used a plain linen and brought the facings to the right side of add some contrast. It went together perfectly.

The deep facing along the bottom edges matched on easily, giving a very neat finish and adding to the hang.

I finished the sleeves by hand.

  

Well done ANNE, thank you for sending in your makes and thank you to your model too! We look forward to seeing you again soon and good luck making the trousers you cloned in the class.

A six-month subscription to Love Sewing Magazine is on the way to Anne.

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We are delighted to be collaborating with Play with Clay Mcr aka Soph Boobyer & Charlie Manthorp (chatting away in the below, probably talking about how muddy amazing clay is).

Soph and Charlie are two graduates from Manchester School of Art who have set up camp at Plant NOMA open design studio. Both exhibit their contemporary ceramics in galleries in Manchester and further afield, as well as delivering fantastic ceramic sessions.


Always a team throughout their degree, delivering workshops for clients such as the Whitworth Art Gallery and OHOK Ltd throughout their course, the natural progression was to continue working together after graduating. So they created ‘Play With Clay Mcr’. Their aim is to deliver workshops in Manchester that are super fun and super friendly, introducing people to the skills of ceramics with simple and interesting makes, but mainly to get people playing with some of that lovely muddy stuff they love; clay. 

Throw and hand-build ceramic planters with Play with Clay, is happening on Saturday 2nd June 2018 at Plant NOMA. Make two awesome clay planters, then craft your own macrame plant hanger (23 June), and bring a little extra cheer to your loft apartment / terraced house / tiny flat / creepy dungeon (delete as necessary). If you book this course AND book onto our Macrame for Beginners workshop too, you can get £5 off with code PLANT.

Two planters, two workshops, crafting joy!


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Thanks Rae for your second instalment and sharing your sewing story with us again. It's lovely to read about how you are adapting existing patterns and experimenting with different fabrics with much success.....the results are amazing!

So I have been experimenting a bit with the Staple Dress by April Rhodes, and have made some tops from the top part of the dress, I really like the way the sleeves fall, and it is very suitable for my active lifestyle, so I think I will make some more of these. I also experimented with extending the sleeves out - I was inspired by this blog: Sew Amy Sew but wanted to make it in an organic knitted linen, so I built up to it... I bought this very cheap green fabric in yorkshire from a charity shop - I think it was £3.50 for three meters, its quite an open weave wool and either cotton or silk mix. Its very warm and comfortable. So I firstly made a long sleeved top to try out my extended sleeve design, I had to make a toile as well and needed to adjust it a bit to get a good arm fit.


The green top worked out well (and I have worn it loads) and so I used the same arm extension and made the dress, which is a little bulky due to the fabric - but it is warm and cosy and I have been wearing it in this cold weather.


Next I moved on to the lovely organic linen (I first saw it here in her blog) and after some concern about how to do the neckline and sewing knitted fabrics - and not wanting to make a mistake because it was very expensive and a christmas present etc I needn't have worried - it was perfect to work with - much more stable than the viscose I used for the Date Night Dress, and just behaved beautifully.


The tee shirt I wear all the time - its so useful. And the dress is really exactly as I had imagined.


So I have now made four dresses and two tops out of this one pattern - but they all look very different in the different fabrics. It truly is a wardrobe staple and looking online I think it suits ladies of all sorts of shapes and sizes. Perhaps just a really good cut / design works! I am very happy to be able to make all these cool and stylish clothes without any darts or shoulder-fitting-arm seams! I will get back to those patterns at some point, but so far I haven't managed to get the perfect fit. Whereas these April Rhodes dresses fit and flow around your own body shop rather than being tailored to it. Suits me!

The Date Night Dress is a lot more 'dressy' than the staple dress - which fits with the name! But it is really a very easy to wear comfortable dress that feels good and was fun to make - I would not usually go for something as fussy as these sleeves, but the simplicity of the way the material falls just with gravity is very appealing (I used a viscose to get the drape). I will definitely make another one of these.

 

The slip is also part of the pattern design - so I made this with organic bamboo jersey - which is fabulous, (I also made a harimaki out of this fabric - which I have worn and washed over and over and it still looks as good as when I first made it - bamboo is very good for that).


Because the arm holes are large on the date night you get to see a flash of the slip underneath so I chose a coral colour to match the flowers on the dress.


We look forward to the next installment, (read part one here), keep up the good work!

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Well done Colette for being awarded our latest Ministry Makes Winner! Colette was VERY excited to show us the outfit she made for her son for World Book Day: he went dressed as "The Tiger who came to tea". Thank you for sharing the below pictures and information with us and to Thomas too for being such a wonderful model….

In the past few years I have attended a number of courses with the Ministry of Craft including A line skirt in a day, understanding commercial patterns, alterations, overlocking, bodice fitting, curtain and blind making, as well as knitting.

Unfortunately for me, between a full time job, a 2-hour daily commute, 2 small children and a huge fruit and vegetable garden to tend, I struggle to find time to put my sewing skills into practice.

With my eldest son Thomas in Reception this year, I had to come up with a dressing up outfit for "World book day" on 1st March, and I didn't feel like buying a standard super hero outfit from the supermarket.

Thomas wanted to go as The Tiger Who Came to Tea, so I went off to Leon's in Chorlton and bought a sizeable piece of tiger faux fur fabric. I only had a vague idea of what I was going to do with it, and I had no pattern. BUT I had a weird sense of confidence born from skill and understanding of patterns gained from attending Ministry of Craft courses!

So I went home and grabbed a roll of plain yellow paper I had in the attic, put a pair of Thomas's PJ bottoms onto it, and started tracing the half front piece onto the paper, then the half back piece. I used these tracings to cut out 2 half fronts and 2 half backs on calico, to make a trial pair of trousers. I stitched it all up and miraculously ended up with trousers that exactly fitted Thomas. When I say exactly: they were exactly the size of the PJ's I'd used as a template, except they were not stretchy... So, like we did in the bodice fitting workshop, I altered my pattern pieces, adding 1 cm at the waist on each piece, giving me 4 cm overall on the waist line. I then used these adjusted pattern pieces to cut out 4 pieces of the tiger fabric, taking care to cut out "mirror" pieces to end up with the fur facing the correct way.


As it was a thick fabric I found it easier to stitch it with a zigzag stitch, as you can see on the pictures. The fabric was great as it didn't fray and it was quite easy to work with despite the thickness of the pile.


The tiger trousers fitted very well, and I had odd oblong cut out bits left which gave me the idea to craft little over-shoe tiger paws. I even made little claws stitched to the end of the feet, out of shiny mock leather fabric (also from Leon's).


I attached the paws inside the bottom of the trouser legs, with a safety pin so they could be readjusted later if necessary.


With a spare band of fur, I made a simple tube for the tail which I stitched to the back of the trousers.


On another night (I have to do all this after 9pm when the boys are asleep!), I used one of Thomas's simple fleece tops to make a top pattern. This time I didn't feel like I needed to make trial on calico. I just cut out the front and the back pieces, with a V neck to make it easy to pass the head through once sewn up. That worked a treat. Lastly, I had to make sleeves, and I used the fleece top again to trace and cut out 2 sleeves. I carefully pinned them around the armhole and stitched them up.



I then finished up the trousers waist by folding it inwards and stitching it down, passing a piece of elastic in the channel created to synch it to size.

The next morning was D-Day, the 1st March, I tried it all on Thomas and he looked like a glorious Tiger! A perfect outfit for a snowy World Book Day!


I am so proud of what I've managed to do, starting out without a pattern, and I wanted to share it with you.

You are the ones who gave me the skills and confidence to have a go and make this, I am ever so grateful, thank you!!!

Well done Colette, you are a worthy winner. We look forward to seeing you again soon, I feel inspired, maybe we need a new ‘costume workshop’ for these occasions?

A six-month subscription to Love Sewing Magazine is on the way to Colette.


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Happy with the fit of my bodice and sleeve, I decided to turn the below into a finished garment. I extended the length (so it didn’t finish at my mid-rift!) with some piping inserted in the waist seam. I also added pockets using the same contrasting fabric used for the piping and finished the neckline off with binding.


I used my skirt block to create the extended section from the waist. I cut away a section at the side seam in the front garment piece to create a slanted opening, then cut a pocket lining (in black polyester), and pocket (in contrast red).


You make these pockets up as follows:

Stitch pocket lining on front garment piece, right sides together, it is a good idea to stay stich or fuse the pocket opening first to prevent it stretching out of shape.

 

Turn the pocket and press the edge.

 

Topstitch the edge of pocket to keep the lining from ‘rolling’ outside.

Sew the pocket piece to the pocket lining with right sides together, matching notches. Finish the raw edges

 

Machine tack the top and the sides of pocket to the garment piece.



Next onto the piping, I cut the fabric strips on the bias and joined a couple of lengths together, as it was not quite long enough to go all the way around the waist.


The bias strips are then wrapped around piping cord and stitched in using a piping foot (we cover piping on our Develop Your Sewing Skills workshop).


I then sandwiched the piped cord between the top bodice and bottom section and sewed all three together at the waist seam.


All that was left to do was insert a concealed zip and sleeves then finish the neck off with a binding and this is was it looked like.



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I am drafting a classic, set in sleeve to fit to the armhole of my bodice block ( see previous post), however, there are three basic types of sleeves, set in, kimono, and raglan. The classic sleeve has a high sleeve cap which has a more tailored appearance but restricts movement.


The sleeve cap is the curved top section of the sleeve from the front underarm to the back underarm. The sleeve cap height is that area of the sleeve from the biceps or underarm line to the top of the sleeve cap. Cap height for the classic sleeve should be about 12.5 cm -15 cm.


To establish the length of the armhole and notch points, I laid the front and back bodice together at the shoulder seam (matching seam lines) and pinned a piece of cord along the seam line. I marked the front single notch, back double notch and shoulder seam join on the cord in blue pen.


On scraps of paper I traced the front and back armhole shape up to the notches.


I measured the fullest part of my upper arm including ease and marked this as a horizontal line across the pattern paper, this is the biceps line. I drew the grain line at a right angle at the mid point. I then measured my forearm, including ease, the length of the sleeve, from the bottom of the armpit to the finished hem and my wrist. I used all these measurements to plot the lower sleeve shape. I slipped the armhole template under the paper to trace the sleeve cap shape up to the notches.

I pinned the cord in place matching up the notch points and shaped the cord into a curve and drew a line just inside it.


Additional cap ease of around 3.75 cm - 5 cm is needed to go over ball of the arm since the sleeve cap is high and bicep or underarm line is narrower. Personally, the less ease the better to make sewing the sleeve into the armhole less tricky. I removed the cord and drew a second line above the curve to add minimum ease, slightly more is needed at the back.


This is what the sleeves looks like sewn into the bodice I made in the previous post, I now just need to extend it into a top.



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I have been meaning to re-visit my bodice block for a while now as the one I always use is a standard size which always needs a bit of tweaking when I use it to make a pattern…..and lets face it, who is a standard size?

It is virtually impossible to fit a bodice on yourself so I gate-crashed our bodice fitting workshop to get some expert fitting from Jeanette.

Jeanette started the workshop by getting us all to take our measurements correctly to establish a starting size, then most of the class required a full bust adjustment as the standard patterns only go up to a mere C-cup. Being a B-cup, I was able to start checking my front and back lengths against the starting block and adjusting before cutting out in calico.

On my first fitting, I was surprised to see how much I needed to take out of the back width. This was a revelation in itself, as I would usually use an additional dart from the shoulder or princess style seam to remove the excess. I wanted to take an equal width out at the centre back seam, however, this meant it was a bit tight at the back waist so I would need to decrease the width of the back darts a fraction and I would still have a gaping back neckline so I needed to lift the shoulder seam at the neck.


The front was a must better fit across the width, however, the bust and waist darts needed repositioning to end at the new points marked on the calico. The front neck was also gaping so I needed to lift the shoulder seam at the neck and take some excess out of the neckline.


These are the adjustments I made to the back block:

-Remove width at the centre back seam

-Decrease dart width

-Reduce shoulder height at neck


These are the adjustments I made to the front block:

-Lower and shorten bust dart

-Shorten waist dart

-Reduce shoulder height at neck (more on front than back)

-Fold out excess in neckline and smooth away to nothing


Eager to test my new bodice out, I took it home and cut it out in some fabric from my stash. It will always look different in different fabrics but I am pretty pleased with the fit, I may just need to have another look at the bust dart position.


Most customers come back to our fit and flare workshop to use their bodice and add a gathered skirt to it, but I think I am going to make it into a longer top after I have tackled the sleeve!


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