Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Great Video Tutorial Inserting Zips Made Super Simple

Inserting zips can be a bit scary but this tutorial will ensure that you get great results every-time.

Prior to starting the tutorial steps, it's important to ensure that your opening and zipper tape are well prepared:

  • It's worth steam pressing your zipper tape before you start. This will ensure that your zip lies flat and there are no puckers or ripples. Moreover it acts as a pre-shrink, ensuring that the tape doesn't shrink in the wash and ruin all your hard work. If you're using a plastic zip, don't let the iron touch the teeth.
  • It is worth considering if the seam allowances that you're attaching your zip to need to be interfaced. If you're using a lightweight fabric, stitching on the bias or curve, or if this is a side-zip fusible interfacing would help to stabilize the seam and support your zipper.  You'll just need to cut two pieces of medium weight fusible interfacing, double the width of your seam allowances so that it crosses the seam line onto the main fabric; and an inch longer than your opening so that it extends below the bottom of the zipper. Fuse, following the manufacturer's instructions, on the wrong-side of your seam allowances.

Muse Zipper Tutorial from Muse Attire on Vimeo.

Great Video Tutorial Inserting Zips Made Super Simple


Monday, 25 April 2016

My Ideal Daily Schedule For Stress Free Sewing

After quite a few years of creating I've found the daily structure that works best for me. Like everyone, I can't stick to this rigidly: kids have clubs, I get sidetracked and life happens but I try not to deviate too far from it. On days when I'm not teaching this is what my scheduled looks like.

6:00am | Study

I almost always start the day with half an hour bible study. Sometimes I feel like I'd rather have the extra half hour in bed but once I start I'm never disappointed. It's then Earl Grey and hot cross buns before getting the boys up.

7:00am | Prepare

It usually takes me about an hour to get ready. I try really hard not to look at any digital devices before I'm dressed; it's so easy to get sucked in and find myself still in my robe at 9:00am otherwise.

8:00am | Plan and Review

Check my planner. In the last year I've converted to Livescribe which I love. My sister bought me a Livescribe 3 smartpen which uses Bluetooth to send everything I write to my phone and iPad. There's two things I like about this:

  • I don't really like typing so handwriting that can be turned into digital text is perfect. Obviously I only bother converting extended pieces of writing but there's also something comforting about knowing everything's backed up;
  • it's made me better at recording and checking tasks. Before I was one of those people who created lots of plans and reminders but never bothered to read or check them!


9:00am | Pattern Drafting

I'm a morning person so this is the best time for me to focus on pattern drafting. Currently, I'm working on a super day dress called ‘Kate'.  The sketching work I do in the evenings feeds into this process as does the research that goes into the Fashion Lookbooks.


12:00am | Pressing and Tidying

If I can avoid pressing in stages, I do. I'd rather complete 3 or 4 construction stages and then press. It's not always possible as sometimes you can't move onto the next stage until you've pressed. I do this for two reasons: it's my least favorite job and it's quicker to work this way.

This is also the time that I use to tidy my work-space and check supplies for future projects. Currently, my workroom is a converted loft but I'm planning a purpose built space in the garden so am collecting ideas on Pinterest. 

1:00pm | Lunch

This tends to be leftovers from yesterday's dinner! If the weather's half decent I'll often pop outside to catch-up on gardening jobs.

2:00pm | Blogging and Social Media

This is when I return to my calendar and prepare what's due to go out for the following week. I like to set my schedule at least six months in advance so I know what's ahead.  If I don't do this, I find myself sitting in front of blank screen wondering where to start or having lots of good ideas that never end up getting done.

3:00pm | Sewing

My favorite bit. This is when I construct samples for future patterns, create vintage dresses for my own wardrobe and work on our current sewalong. I'll usually be listening to Radio 4 or an audio-book and the time just flies. I always try to finish any tricky bits so that the next day I start with something easy.

5:00pm | Dinner

I'm not a particularly adventurous cook and my sons are quite fussy so nothing too exciting. Again, I might pop into the garden for some quick jobs. My grandfather's gardening advice was spot on: “little and often.” That's not bad advice for sewing either, it's amazing what you can get done even on half an hour a day.

6:00pm | Fashion Illustration

This probably happens about 4 times a week as this can sometimes turn into catch-up time for other tasks that have over run.  When this goes well it's relaxing and exciting all at the same time but sometimes the ideas just don't work out. Watercolor is my preferred medium: the fluidity is great for fashion. Watercolor also forces me into a more loose and creative way of working; being a perfectionist this is just what I need.


7:00pm | Hand-sewing and Knitting

I try to save up anything that can be done by hand until the evening. I do all hand-sewing and removing of basting whilst watching the television for 2 reasons: it's a great way to fit everything in and relax; secondly I can't sit and do nothing anyway.

10:00pm Reading my Kindle

It took me years to let go of books but I think I've managed it. Right now my favorite writers are Rachel Joyce and Kate Morton.



My Ideal Daily Schedule For Stress Free Sewing


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Sewalong: How To Sew Your Perfect Summer Dress

Welcome to our sewalong for creating your perfect summer dress. We're on week 3 (seams and sleeves) of our Saturday Sewalongs for our Beth Sewing Pattern. Last week was all about preparation, this week we're starting stitching. Although all the sewalong posts will be available once the sewlong finishes, this is the last week that our sewalong pattern is on sale, 25% off!

Sewing Your Sleeves

1. With right sides together, pin side seams. Stitch and press open.

2. Now we're ready to construct the sleeves. With right sides together, pin sleeve underarm seams. Stitch and press open.

3. On your sleeve cap create two rows of ease stitches. These are basting stitches and can be hand or machine stitched. Stitch these parallel rows on the seam allowance, close to the seam-line.


4. Hold your bodice wrong side out with the armhole towards you. With right sides together, pin sleeve to armhole edge, matching the underarm seams and notches. Pull up ease-stitches so that the excess fabric is evenly spread across the sleeve cap and the sleeve fits the armhole. Distribute the fullness evenly to avoid puckers and tucks.

5. Now add more pins at right angles to the seam, to fully secure your sleeve.

6. Stitch, go slowly and keep checking that you're not catching any of the fabric layers. Check there are no puckers on the right-side, before you remove all basting stitches. Depending on the finish you want the seam can be pressed: towards the bodice, sleeve or open. I've pressed mine open as I want it to lie flat.

N.B: If you'd like more detailed information and diagrams on setting sleeves we have covered this in one of our tutorials.


7. To hem your sleeves, press up the sleeve hem along the marking.

There are two ways to edge finish your sleeve hem:

  • stitch ¼” (6mm) from edge, turn under along stitching and slip-stitch your hem in place;
  • alternatively you can zig-zag stitch or serge the raw edge before you slip-stitch your hem in place (to avoid a bulky hem, this was the option I used).

Next week, we'll be focusing on constructing the skirt.

Future Sewalongs

You can keep up with this and future sewalongs, by subscribing using the link in the right margin. Saturday Sewalong posts appear on the blog every Saturday but I'll be posting images on Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram during the week so if you follow using the buttons on the right you'll be right up to date.

Sewalong: How To Sew Your Perfect Summer Dress


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

How To Make Smooth Seams Simplified



In preparation for this Saturday’s sewalong, today’s tutorial is focusing on creating smooth seams. Layering and clipping are essential skills for supper smooth seams.


Final s2

final s1

If you’d like more sewing resource cards, you can access them on our dedicated sewing resources page.


How To Make Smooth Seams Simplified

Monday, 18 April 2016

Create Your Own Sewing Pattern: Bodice Block

To create your own sewing pattern for a bodice block simply follow the instructions below. The example measurements are for a UK size 14. To get your perfect fit, simply replace the measurements below with your own.
Create your own sewing patterns


Size 14 (UK)

bust 92 cm

shoulder 12.5 cm

nape to waist 41.4 cm

back width 35.4 cm

waist to hip 20.9 cm

dart 7.6 cm

armscye depth 21.4 cm

chest 33.6 cm

neck size 38 cm

Square down from 0; square halfway across the

0–1 1.5 cm
1–2 armscye depth measurement plus 0.5 cm; square across.
2–3 half bust plus 5 cm. Square up and down; mark this line the centre front line.
3–4 = 0–2 Add an extra 0.5 cm for each size up above size 14.
1–5 nape to waist measurement; square across to 6.
5–7 waist to hip measurement; square across to centre front line. Mark point 8 (this gives half hip measurement plus 2.5 cm ease).

0–9 one fifth neck size minus 0.2 cm; draw in back neck curve 1–9.
1–10 one fifth armscye depth measurement minus 0.7 cm; square halfway across the block.
9–11 shoulder length measurement plus 1 cm; draw back shoulder line to touch the line from 10.
12 centre of shoulder line.

12–13 draw a dotted line 5 cm long and sloping inwards 1 cm. Construct dart 1 cm wide with this line as centre (make both sides of dart the same length).
2–14 half back width measurement plus 0.5 cm ease; square up to 15.
14–16 half the measurement 14–15.
17 midway between 2 and 14; square down with a dotted line to point 18 on waistline, and point 19 on the hipline.

4–20 one fifth neck size minus 0.7 cm.
4–21 one fifth neck size minus 0.2 cm; draw in front neck curve 20–21.
3–22 half chest measurement plus half width of dart; square up.
3–23 half the measurement 3–22; square down with a dotted line to point 24 on waistline and 25 on hipline.
26 is the bust point 2.5 cm down from 23; draw a line joining 20–26.
20–27 dart width measurement; draw a line joining 26–27.
11–28 1.5 cm; square out approx. 10 cm to 29.
27–30 draw a line from 27, shoulder length measurement, to touch the line from 28–29.
22–31 one third the measurement 3–21.
32 is midway between 14 and 22; square down with a dotted line to point 33 on the waistline and point 34 on the hipline.

Draw armscye as shown on diagram, touching points 11, 16, 32, 31, 30; measurement of the curves:

sizes 6–8 from 14 2.25 cm from 22 1.75 cm

sizes 10–14 from 14 2.5 cm from 22 2 cm

sizes 16–20 from 14 3 cm from 22 2.5 cm

sizes 22–26 from 14 3.5 cm from 22 3 cm

Draw round the outer edge of the shape from 1–21 to complete the block. When shoulder seams are joined it is essential that the neck and armscyes are smooth curves.

In our next post on how to create your own sewing pattern, we’ll explain how to draft a skirt block or sloper.  To ensure you don’t miss out, why not use the button in the right margin to subscribe?

Create Your Own Sewing Pattern: Bodice Block

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Darts and Facings- Beth Sewalong

Welcome to week 2 (darts and facing) of our Saturday Sewalongs for our Beth Sewing Pattern. Last week was all about preparation, this week we’re starting stitching.

1.To prevent stretching out of shape, stay-stitch the following curved edges: neck, armscye and sleeve cap.

2. To make darts:

  • with right sides together, fold the fabric through the center of the dart, bringing the dart legs together.

  • On inside, place pins at right angles to the dart legs.

  • Stitch the dart from the wide end to the point. Slowly sew along the marked line. After sewing off the fabric, leave a long thread tail. Knot the tail close to the edge. This keeps the thread from coming undone. Take care not to pull the knot tight against the fabric as it will cause puckering just as backstitching at the end will.


  • press along the stitching first then press the dart flat, (downwards for bust darts, towards the center for waist and shoulder darts). When pressing, try to focus on the seam if you press over the whole area you can end up with an unsightly ridge. A tailor’s ham is really useful when pressing darts.

  • continue this process for all the bodice darts, front and back.

3. With right sides together, pin front to back at shoulder seams. Stitch and press seams open.

I’m going to show you how this pattern can easily be adapted to include a scalloped neckline if you’d like to do the same, don’t interface the neck facings.

Regular Curved Neckline

  • For the curved neckline on the pattern, following manufacturer’s instruction, apply fusible interfacing to neck facings.

  • Pin front facing and back facing together at the shoulders. Stitch, press open.

  • The outer edges of the facings can be finished in the following ways: serging, zig-zag or 1/4″ (6cm) hem.

  • With right sides together and matching seams, pin your facing to the bodice neck. After stitching, it’s essential to clip the curves so that the neck can be pressed flat.

  • Lastly, understitch your facing around the neck edge.

Alternative Instructions for a scalloped Neckline

  • Size: find a glass or lid the size of the scallops you’d like. To determine the scallop size I like to play around with the scallop size and depth on a piece of paper until I decide on my final design.

  • Placement: on your paper pattern tape the shoulders together. Take your circular object of choice and center the semi-circle in the middle of the neckline. Once you have this marked out, work out towards the sides and back. When you’re happy with your placement, cut out the shape.

  • Check: place the pattern on your neckline to check you’re happy. Adjust as desired.

  • Markings: transfer the markings to your fabric. Remember to mark in your regular depth of seam allowance as well.

  • Stitch: stay-stitch just inside the marking line so that when you clip the curves the fabric is still secure. Pin front facing and back facing together at shoulders. Stitch and press open.


  • Edge: the outer edges of the facings can be finished in the following ways: serging or zig-zag.

  • Attach: with right sides together and matching seams, pin your facing to the bodice neck. After stitching, it’s essential to clip the curves so that the neckline can be turned out and the scallops pressed flat.


For each of our sewalongs, we’re creating a Sewalong Progress Checklist; ideal for pinning up in your sewing space.

Beth Story2

Darts and Facings- Beth Sewalong