Tag Archives: independent sewing patterns

MIY Workshop Gift Vouchers

sewing gift voucher brightonWhat more perfect gift for the sewer in your life than a MIY Workshop gift voucher?!  You decide what £ value you spend and the lucky recipient can use it as full or part payment for any MIY Workshop sewing classescourses or workshops taught by Wendy or MIY Collection sewing patterns or tools.

Vouchers are valid for 6 months from date of purchase.

If you’re a sewer and would like your loved one to buy you the perfect Christmas present, simple, send them this link!!  Don’t be subtle, subtle never works!!

Get in touch with Wendy on 01273 693451, call into MIY Workshop at 33 North Road, BN1 1YB or email her on post[at]wendyward.co.uk to buy yours.

How to Sew Jersey Fabrics on a Domestic Sewing Machine – Part 1: Seams

Many sewers both new and experienced are unnecessarily scared of sewing stretch knit fabrics.

Most knit-phobes believe these popular myths about sewing knits:

  1. I need to use an overlocker to sew knit fabrics
  2. I can’t sew knit fabrics on my sewing machine
  3. knit fabrics are harder to sew than delicate silk fabrics
  4. knit fabrics have to be stretched when I sew them
  5. it’s hard to cut out knit fabrics accurately
  6. I won’t be able to get seams to match accurately using knit fabrics
  7. it’s difficult to buy nice knit fabrics
  8. I don’t want to make really tight figure hugging clothes.

None of these statements are true!  Let’s go through them again and tell you the truth:

  1. No, you don’t need to have an overlocker to sew knit fabrics.  You can and an overlocker will make the job quicker, easier and neater, but if you’ve never used an overlocker before, definitely don’t start on one with a knit fabric!
  2. All reasonably modern sewing machines have a selection of stitches specifically designed for stretch knit fabrics.  I’m going to show you the best ones for joining seams in this article.  Even if your machine only does straight stitch and zig-zag a narrow zig-zag stitch will do the job.
  3. Some knit fabrics can be a bit more difficult to handle than a standard woven fabric, especially the lighter weight ones, but even a lightweight jersey isn’t going to be as difficult as a slippery lightweight silk.  A few more pins when cutting out and a bit of tacking when you might just have pinned are the only extra steps you’ll need.
  4. I’ve actually seen this recommended in some of the bigger commercial pattern brand’s pattern instructions.  This is absolutely the last thing to do unless you’re after stretched wavy seams!
  5. When cutting stretch knits you need to make sure the fabric isn’t hanging off your table because it will stretch the fabric, resulting in pattern pieces that ping up a lot shorter once you’ve cut them out!  If you don’t have room for the whole length of fabric on your table, pile it up over the back of a chair beside the table. Also use a few more pins than you might do normally to hold your pattern pieces accurately in place.  Using a few weights (or tins of beans!) to hold your pattern in place while you pin it will also help.
  6. To match seams accurately pin them first and if necessary tack them. Also use the nature of the fabric to your advantage…..it stretches, which means it’s very forgiving if something doesn’t quite match perfectly and you can get away with a bit of stretching to fit (as long as that bit of stretch is spread out along the whole of the seam).
  7. Have a read of my previous blog post about where to buy stretch knit fabrics, the different types of stretch knit fabrics available and their uses – knit fabric is a broad category.
  8. You can make some really flattering, draped styles using stretch knits.  They’re not just for leotards and leggings!  Think about the clothes you own that you enjoy wearing…..I’ll bet a lot of them are made from knit fabrics.

So, hopefully I’ve made a start at converting you and you’re willing to have a try.  The first thing I’ll show you is some stitches to use for seams.  I’ll go through hems and finishing edges in separate posts.

NEEDLES

The first thing you need for any machine is:

how to sew jersey - ballpoint needlesa pack of jersey or ballpoint needles.  They’re a bit more blunt on the end than a regular sewing needle meaning that they won’t ladder the knitted structure of the fabric.  You can see they also come in different sizes like regular sewing needles.

Here’s a guide for which size will best suit which fabric:

70 – very lightweight silk or viscose jersey

80 – light t-shirt weight cotton jersey

90 – interlock, ponte roma, some cut and sew knits.

MACHINE SETTINGS FOR SEAMS

The first and easiest stitch to use for seams is the stretch straight stitch:

how to sew jersey fabric

how to sew jersey fabric

how to sew jersey fabricThis stitch is useful when sewing with thicker knits whose edges don’t need any neatening and where you need to be able to press your seam open.

A stitch we use a lot for sewing knit fabrics in my classes is the overlock stitch:

how to sew jersey fabrics

how to sew knit fabric

sampleseam-HtrimmingThis stitch mimics an overlock stitch and can join the seam and neaten the edges in one go.  You can trim off the excess seam allowance close to the stitching as shown in the second picture.  The seam then has to be pressed flat to one side rather than open, so it’s not suitable for more bulky fabrics.  It works well on most t-shirt weight jerseys.

The final stitch for seams is the narrow overlock stitch used with an overcasting or overlock foot.  (See this blog post for more about what an overcasting foot is and how to use it).

how to sew stretch knits

how to sew jerseyHere’s the machine with the overcasting foot attached.

how to sew jersey on a domestic machine

how to sew knit fabricThis stitch again joins the seam and neatens the edge of the seam allowance in one go.  By also using the overcasting foot it means you don’t need to then trim off the excess seam allowance after sewing.  It also means though that you can only use it on narrow seam allowances (the overall width of the stitch).  It’s another stitch that results in a seam that has to be pressed to one side and gives a nice neat finish to lightweight jersey fabrics.  It’s not suited to heavier and thicker knits.

PRESSER FOOT PRESSURE

If your sewing machine has the ability to adjust the presser foot pressure, this can be helpful when sewing some knit fabrics to stop them being stretched by the machine as you sew.  You can read more about how to adjust the presser foot pressure in this blog post.

TENSION

how to sew jersey fabric

As with all sewing, make sure the tension on your machine is set at the right level for the fabric you’re sewing.  If your machine’s tension dial goes up to 9, 4 should be fine for joining two layers of most medium weight woven fabrics.  A lower number means a looser stitch which you need for lighter weight fabric or fewer layers.  A higher number means a tighter stitch which you need for thicker fabrics or more layers.  You shouldn’t need to adjust the tension up or down by more than one number, meaning you will usually stay within the range of 3-5.

Most lighter weight knit fabrics eg. t-shirt jersey and lighter need a looser tension of around 3.

So there you are – how to sew seams in a range of knitted fabrics on your sewing machine.  I hope you’re turning from a knit-phobe into a knit-fan!  In my next article I’ll show you how to get nice hem finishes on knit fabrics using a sewing machine.

Start of my Series for Sewing World Magazine

I’m really pleased to be writing a series of monthly projects for Sewing World magazine.  The first one is out now in the November issue which is currently on sale.  In the first project I show you how to use stencilling and shirring to customise a plain t-shirt on pages 60-62.

Both techniques are quick and easy and give really professional results.

customising-tshirts-web

Here’s some more pics of the finished samples:

stencil print t-shirt customising

shirred t-shirt customising

If you need a bit of help with designs for the stencilling, you could always treat yourself to a pack of my new stencils to use for appliqué, fabric painting and quilting designs.

stencils

They’re available for £5 a pack from my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/MIYcollection

In the next issue of Sewing World I’ll be customising a skirt with ruffles…………just in time for the party season…..!

New Pattern and Tools Available From my Etsy Shop

After much talking about it, my Pull-on Loose Fitting Shift Dress sewing pattern is now available to buy from MIY Workshop and online from my Etsy shop.  It was a very popular purchase at the Knitting and Stitching show this weekend at Alexandra Palace!shift patternThe pattern is suitable for beginners; there are no fastenings or openings to deal with and there are lots of ways to make it your own style – it can be made with or without the collar, optional side seam pockets and the pleat can be put in the front and/or back or completely left out.  There’s also an optional tie belt.  It works in woven and knitted fabrics and I’m planning on making a few that mix different fabrics for the skirt and for the bodice……..

It’s a quick pattern to make, here are a few made by students this summer at my Summer Frock Making one day workshops:

shift-studentsMy neon green perspex tools are also now available at MIY Workshop and online from my Etsy shop:

neontoolset

The perspex is called “live edge” and you can see why!  There’s no way you’re going to loose either of these tools in your sewing stuff.  Even when they’re just sat on the table with not much light around, they somehow seem to glow…..

neonbigtool-detail3

You can buy the little sewing tool and seam gauge in cm’s and inches and the bigger sewing and pattern cutting ruler in cm’s only.

And well I hate to say it but……Christmas is just around the corner…….one for your own list or for your crafty friends?!

Sewing with Knits….again!

Sunday’s Sewing with Knits workshop started with an interesting discussion during which everyone agreed that knit fabrics made the kind of clothes that they actually want to wear.  It’s true, when you think about the kind of clothes that you wear most often (and usually feel most comfortable in), I’ll bet that most of them are made from knitted fabrics.  Yet most sewers that I meet, even experienced ones, feel daunted by the prospect of sewing knitted fabrics.

Well I’m happy to say that this workshop is the cure to that fear and here are Sunday’s fantastic and wearable results……

octknitsFrom left to right Debbie, a long-time sewer but a self-confessed knit-phobe was very happy with her drapey cardi.  Elena who hadn’t sewn since school came in with a dress made of very slippery fine jersey knit fabric and went home with it transformed into a separate skirt and top!  Amandine has been loving sewing Colette patterns using lots of woven fabrics, but now is a convert to knit fabrics after making my straight neck dress and matching up her stripes perfectly.  Laura has also done a fair bit of sewing, but has avoided knits and couldn’t find a way of edging knitted fabrics nicely, she was surprised by how quick and easy my fold-over waist skirt was to make and took it home very neatly and professionally hemmed using a twin needle.

octknits-cowlAnd last, but not least, Tricia was camera shy so Elena stepped in to model her lovely cowl neck top.  This one got lots of admiring comments from the rest of the class!  Tricia was another experienced sewer and knit-phobe at the start of the day and now feels confident in being able to tackle slippery lightweight jersey knit fabrics.   This pattern isn’t yet available to buy but is one of the next ones on the list….!!

Here’s what the students themselves thought of the workshop:

“Enjoyable day as always – Wendy’s patterns are so easy to use and well designed.  Am delighted with my skirt, thank you!”  Laura

“I really enjoyed the workshop – lovely atmosphere, lovely people, a day very well spent.  Thank you Wendy!  I had a great time and I am happily back to sewing after some 20 odd years!”  Elena

“Really enjoyed the day.  Very informative and now feel more confident to work with jersey.”  Tricia

“Thanks for a great day.  Tacking tacking tacking – essential for a perfect finish!!”  Debbie

“Thank you very much Wendy for a lovely Sunday!  I feel much more confident sewing with knit fabrics with your advice regarding stitches and needles to use.  Jersey fabric is so great to sew with and I loved using your dress pattern.”  Amandine

By the end of the day everyone’s fear of knitted fabrics had been overcome and I feel sure that these 5 garments are going to get plenty of wear!

If you’d like to overcome your fear of sewing knitted fabrics the next date for this workshop is Sunday 8th December.  Get in touch on 01273 693451 or miyworkshop[at]gmail.com to find out more and book a place.

If you want to have a go at using one of my patterns to sew knit fabrics at home, you can find out more here: www.miycollection.co.uk

What a Brilliant Skirt Making Workshop!

Yesterday was a super productive and successful day at MIY Workshop.  I had five students for my Skirt Making workshop, who each turned up a little bit unsure, clutching bundles of lovely fabric that they were afraid of making a mess of.

Six hours of focussed hard work later, look what they produced!

skirtworkshop-sept29

Five perfectly fitting, finished skirts ready to wear home and to work the next day.  From left to right, Romy in a very autumnal skirt in a beautiful soft wool from Ditto, Alison’s skirt uses a lovely floral print on a lovely quality cotton/linen fabric from Ray Stitch, Kerry made a lovely Parisian print skirt, Claire went for polka dots which will look great for work and Taruka used a soft lightweight denim.  Three of these students have only just started sewing and these are the first garments they have made.  I think they will be the first of many…!

All five students seemed surprised by what they could achieve in a day and the standard of their finished skirts.  I don’t know why, what else did they expect?!

Here’s what they all thought of the day in their own words:

“I was really impressed with the skirt making course – Wendy is a great teacher and although I was nervous as a beginner when I arrived, by the end of the day I felt very proud with what I had achieved and had a lovely skirt to take home with me.  I would definitely recommend this course!”  Kerry

“A really fabulous day which re-ignited my love of dressmaking.  I love my skirt, thanks very much!”  Alison

“A really great day, I feel so much more confident to sew at home now and have overcome my fear of zips!”  Romy

“I have never sewn for myself and have learnt a lot of things.  I really enjoyed learning and would like to come back again, thank you!”  Teruka

“Thank you Wendy!  I’ve learnt some new skills and made a lovely new skirt – all in a day!  what a great way to spend a Sunday.  Looking forward to having a go at more on my own.”  Claire

More dates for this workshop will be coming in early 2014.  If you’d like to be able to advance book I can add you to my mailing list.  Just contact me (Wendy) on 01273 693451 or email miyworkshop[at]gmail.com

This skirt pattern will also soon be available to buy from MIY Collection.

The British Sewing Awards 2013

Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 14.06.05

Sew Magazine are currently looking for nominations for the British Sewing Awards via their website and in their magazine.

You can vote for your favourite sewing machine brand, best book and best of all……..Best Sewing Workshop / Course and Best Sewing Blog.

Now I’m not so presumptuous as to assume anyone would nominate me, but……..if you happen to enter, I hope I will be fresh in your mind!

It’s easy to do, this link takes you straight there: http://www.sewmag.co.uk/awards/ just nominate in the categories you want and put N/A in the ones you don’t.  Takes only a few mins…….

I’ll send some happy sewing fairies your way :o )

The Best Ways to Start and Finish your Sewing

It might sound obvious – how to start and end sewing, but it’s one of those things that is most likely to get new sewers instantly in a tangle and put them off sewing.

To my amazement, it’s also something that never seems to be well explained in sewing machine manuals.

I’m sure all sewers have experienced these scenarios…….

  1. you start to sew and instantly the machine seems to get tangled up, won’t sew and you take out your fabric to find a great big tangle of thread on the underneath of your fabric,
  2. you get to the end of what you’re sewing, lift up the presser foot to find the fabric appears to be stuck, you force the fabric out of the machine and instead of just 2 threads, find about 4.

If you follow these simple ways to start and finish your sewing, you will never find yourself in these annoying situations again, I promise!

startingandstoppinginfographic

If you’re not sure where all the different parts of the sewing machine are to be found, have a look at my whistlestop tour of the sewing machine here.

Where to Buy Organic Fabrics?

Organic and fair trade fabrics are becoming more and more popular, just like organic and ethical fashion, although it’s not always easy to know where to find organic fabric.  As I’ve been asked this question a few times, I’ve put together an organic fabric shopping list, although I must credit most of the research to one of my students – Mary Parnwell.  Mary came to me initially for a one-to-one session to get to grips with her sewing machine, then started some weekly sewing classes and did a Summer Dress Making workshop and now is regularly walking around in outfits she’s made herself!  Particularly keen to work with organic natural fabrics, this list is the result of Mary’s search.

BISHOPSTON TRADING:

http://www.bishopstontrading.co.uk/shop/products.php?category_id=112

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.54.29

**UPDATE**  It seems that Bishopston Trading is about to be no more which is very sad.  You can read the reasons why on their website: http://www.bishopstontrading.co.uk/shop/article.php?article_id=210

FAIR TRADE FABRIC:

http://www.fairtradefabric.co.uk/epages/rz8us86k7vgt.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/fairtradefabric.co.uk/Categories/Shop_Online

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 09.00.10Not the easiest online shop to get around, but they’ve got a pretty big range of fabrics.

ORGANIC TEXTILE COMPANY:

http://www.organiccotton.biz/store/

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 09.02.09Another online shop that’s a bit busy on the eye, but it is pretty well organised and there is a comprehensive range of fabrics and you can also order a comprehensive sample pack.

RAY-STITCH:

http://www.raystitch.co.uk/fabric/organic-cotton-plains.html/

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 09.05.32

THE ETERNAL MAKER:

http://www.eternalmaker.com/fabric/fabric-by-type/organic-fabric

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 09.09.07

SAINTS AND PINNERS:

http://www.saintsandpinners.co.uk/department/organic/

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 09.10.30

THE VILLAGE HABERDASHERY:

http://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/sewing-patchwork/fabric?fabric_type=57

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 09.13.27

And if you live near Brighton, “The Cloth Collective” in Lewes (which used to be Gossypium) has some organic cotton jerseys and wovens alongside vintage French furnishing fabrics and naturally dyed fabrics from India.  The Cloth Collective is at 19 High Street, Lewes and is open 9.30-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 12-4 Sunday.  MIY Workshop students can get a 10% discount by getting a card from me!

 

Last Summer Frock Making Workshop for this year

On the hottest day of the year so far, the third Summer Frock Making workshop was timely and delivered yet more lovely frocks.  Here they are:

frockmaking-21july3Clare’s first foray into sewing knitted fabrics turned out beautifully and she was pleasantly surprised by how easy jersey was to work with!  Clare used a lovely drapey viscose jersey from C&H Fabrics.  You can buy this MIY Collection pattern here.

frockmaking-21july2Joy and Hannah both made the simple shift dress, both with pockets.  This was the first time Hannah had made something to wear and the first time she’d done any sewing for 15 years!  Joy is a knitting convert (!) and will be adding this lovely frock to the cardi she made at my Sewing with Knits workshop.  Hannah’s spotty fabric was from John Lewis, Joy’s cotton/linen mix grey fabric that has a really nice sheen is from Ditto.  This pattern will be available to buy soon from MIY Collection.

frockmaking-21julyJo is another knitter and crocheter and is dipping her toe into the dressmaking water!  I think she’s made a fantastic start with this fitted shift dress.  If you look closely the fabric print has lots of sewing related illustrations and works really well in this dress – a simple style to suit an intricate print.  This fabric was from online fabric shop Frumble.  They have a whole range of sewing related prints, I’m particularly taken with a scissor one……

All 5 students worked extremely hard to produce some beautiful dresses by the end of the day.  Hannah happily went off home in hers.  I’m eagerly awaiting pictures of Mary’s as we had a last minute change of mind over some sleeves!

Here’s what the students thought of the day:

“From the friendly atmosphere, the patient and detailed help and guidance to the utterly splendiferous finished frock (even if I do say so myself!) it has been an absolute pleasure and delight to go on the course today!  I heartily recommend it to the less experienced and slightly clueless but enthusiastic sewing machine users (like me), to those who want to try something new.  Thank you again for such a lovely day and you’ll be seeing me again in the future!”

“Thanks Wendy, the class was a lot of fun and it was great to get back into sewing.  It’s so wonderful to be going home with a dress and I look forward to coming back soon!”

“Fantastic dress making day with Wendy.  Can’t wait until this pattern is available so I can make another one of them!”

“Really enjoyable day.  It was the first time I had used knit fabric and I finished a dress and am pleased with the results!”

You might see a “Party Frock Making” workshop appearing towards the end of the year!!