Rockin’ Handmade.

The reason I learnt how to sew was so I could make my own clothing. I love fashion but I’ve never been an ‘on trend’ type of gal. Opting more for choosing my clothing based on whats inspiring me lately or what type of mood i’m in – mainly tired mum mood, which pretty much consists of leggings & vest. Every now & again though, I go through a phase where I want to dress up every day, and when that happens I have a constant urge to make every design that has crossed my mind over the past month. My process for making clothing is pretty simple, I see a fabric I like & automatically my mind starts ticking over, planning what I would make with that fabric, or even if I see something on the high street.. what would I do to it to make it more me?

Having the knowledge to be able to work a piece of fabric into a finished garment is really rather amazing and something I feel so proud of myself for – especially seen as I’ve had no formal training.

Tonight I’ll be rockin’ handmade, wearing the gorgeous Indian embroidered fabric crop I made on Wednesday & the Black Midi-full skirt I made last night. A little bit classy with a boho twist. I feel amazing in this outfit, which really is the most important thing.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

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maybe 2

Sewing tutorials- Retro style head tie.

headtie2

 

Finally! We’ve hit the point where we can actually make things! I thought this would be the perfect choice, its simple and something that I know so many of you want.

As you’ll see from the first picture I’ve given this a difficulty rating of… Easy, because it really is! And this project should take you no more than 15 minutes.

So heres what you’ll need:

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-Fabric of your choice (we’ll be working out how much in the next step)

-Tape measure

– Dressmaking pins

-Fabric Shears

-Chop stick (Yep, really!)

-Your sewing machine.

And here’s what we’ll do.

First, we need to take your head measurement – Simply wrap your tape measure around your head (or whoever’s head you’re making the tie for). You want it nice & snug, not too loose, not to tight! Pull the tape measure from around your head, using your finger to secure the size.

Now take that measurement & add 12″. Measure that out on your fabric and mark it off. (My head measurement is 22″ + 12″ = 34″). If your making up one for a child add 8″ on to the head measurement  instead of the 12″

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Next,  we need to mark off the width. I like my head ties to be a bit chunkier, so I make mine around 4″ wide. The easiest way to do this is to fold your fabric over, mark your 4″ up & cut, making one whole piece that is 8″ wide. Again if your making one for a child make it less wide, starting from around 5″ altogether for a newborn, adding more as they grow.

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Now, use your markings and cut out your head tie fabric.  So  34″ Length by 8″ Width. Don’t worry if its not super straight, as long as you don’t cut into the measurements, better to have a little extra fabric if you tend to get a bit scissor happy.

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 Next, we need to fold your fabric over, front to front (you want your pattern to be on the inside) & pin down the open edge at half an inch in.

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And now we sew. You want to place the top left hand corner ( the fold side) under your machine foot at an angle, pointing out towards the pinned side. You want a nice gradual decline and then manoeuvring into a stitch that runs straight across the open (pinned) end of your fabric.

*DONT forget your back stitch to secure when you start*

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Once you get to the centre point you want to stop, do your back stitch to secure & cut your thread. Give a 1″ – 2″ gap & then start again, remembering to do your diagonal stitch up to the fold at the end. This gap will be how you pull your tie the right way out.

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Next, we need to trim the excess fabric from the ends of your tie, give about half an inch excess. If you want you can secure your seam (see last post if your unsure how).

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And now we can turn the fabric the right way out, simply pinch inside your gap, and pull – be careful, you want it to come out smoothly, not ragged out with the stitching coming undone. If its too difficult to pull through, you may need to snip back a few of the stitches, secure using your back stitch on your new end point & this will make your gap a bit bigger.

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Next, poke the chopstick through the gap, and up to the end of your tie, use the thin, blunt end to gently turn out the corners.

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Now can give it a run over with the iron, giving it a nice crisp finish. You can either leave it as it is ready to wear, or sew further with a top stitch. If i’m making for others I will use the top stitch, closing the gap as I go, but as its for me I don’t tend to bother.

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Now your head tie is ready to wear! The perfect way to glam up ‘Mum-hair’.

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And you know they’re are a billion and one combinations for the head tie, so many fabric choices, something to go with every outfit you own – if you want to make that many!

Feel free to send me pictures of your head ties, I’d love to see how your getting on!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Sewing & securing a seam.

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So now i’m going to teach you how to sew a seam.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1

-Two small squares of fabric,
-Snips
-Dressmaking pins
-Tape measure.
-Sewing machine.
-An iron.

And here’s what we’ll do:

Place both pieces of fabric front to front. I’ve used a one sided patterened fabric to show you this.
You ALWAYS sew your seams inside out -so to speak- that way once you turn your completed item the right way out …. Voila… you cant see the sewing on the outside.

2

So you have your fabrics on top of each other & lined up. Now I want you to grab a couple of your dressmaking pins & your tape measure. Measure 1/2 of an inch inwards like this. (mind my torn tape measure, I do have ones that aren’t shredded… but I’ve never used another – i’m kind of attached to it!)

3

And pop a couple of those pins through your fabric to secure – you don’t need to pin the entire length of the fabric, just a few separated out.

Before we sew we want to double check a few things –

-Is your machine & bobbin threaded up properly? If it isnt you’ll soon know. *Check my last post if your unsure on how to do this*

-Have you set your tension correctly? I’m using a simple cotton for this, so mine is set to 4.

-Set your stitch, usually you’ll have a guide either as a sticker on your machine or on the dial, switch it to the shortest straight stitch.

 

Okay so now we’re ready. Next we want to place the top of your fabric under the foot of your machine, take your first pin out, lining up where your needle will drop to where the pin just was & lower your machine foot.

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And your ready to go, I want you too slowly press the pedal of your foot, only making two or three stitches, then you should have a leaver on your machine that will make it do a back-stitch, if your unsure of where this leaver is, look for a curved arrow symbol – press that leaver/button as you press your foot on the pedal & you’ll back stitch.

Go back two stitches & then continue forward down the rest of your fabric, taking out pins as you go. At the end of your fabric, repeat the backstitch *Doing this will secure your stitch, keeping your seam nice & tight)

seam
You have a seam!!

Next we’ll secure it further, now as I mentioned in my last post, you dont need an overlocker for this, I use it just because I’m used to it & I like having a professional finish on things I’ve taken the time to make up.

But to secure it further without an overlocker is really very simple. First, we need to fold the edge of your excess fabric over a little bit, no more that one quater of an inch.

7And then again, forming a loop.

Pin as you did earlier to secure.

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And pop it back under your machine. sewing down as you did before – Dont forget your back stitch!

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The last step is so, so important for the final presentation of your seam! You’ll need to pop your iron on, first iron the inside you have just sewn, flattening it. Then turn your fabric over & iron across the seam.

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And there you have it! Easy as that!! You’ve just sewn two pieces of fabric together!

Thats pretty much the process for anything you make, just getting two pieces of fabric & sewing them together, obviously the more extravagent the project, the more seams to be sewn – and thats the tricky part! But the basic principle is the same.

Have a practice, go slow until your confident enough to just whizz through a seam.

Now I think I really have covered all the basics! So in the next post we’re going to make up a head tie, Y’know those super cute retro style head bands? They’re so simple to make & are so stylish!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Threading your machine – in 15 easy steps.

15 easy steps threading your machine

 

All week I’ve been trying to film a video tutorial on how to thread up your machine. There is no video – what can I say?! the camera hates me! I’m a complete amature when it comes to my Camera, I am constantly pushing myself to learn more and do better, so I wont be too hard on myself! But on my list of goal for the near future is to figure out the record function & get some great video tutorials to you.

So heres what I do have.

I’ve simplified the process for winding your bobbin & threading your machine as best I can, lets begin.

1.bobbin                                           1- Place your empty bobbin onto the bobbin winder, pushing the winder to the right.

2.Thread                                                                         2. Place your thread on the spool pin.

3. thread around                                                          3. Pull your thread around the tension disk/bobbin winder.

4. wind round bobbin                                                          4. And wind it around your bobbin a couple of times.

 

5. switch to wind mode                                                              5. REMEMBER! Switch to ‘Bobbin winding’ mode.

6. wind your bobbin up                   6. Slowly press your foot down on the pedal, powering the machine to wind the bobbin. When the bobbin is full the little leaver to the right of it will stop any more thread from winding round.

7. snipp bobbin thread    7. Cut your bobbin thread, and take the bobbin of the winder – Remember to switch your bobbin winder back to the left hand side.

8. switch to sewing mode 8. Switch back to ‘Sewing mode’

9. pull thread bobbin case      9- Place your bobbin back in its metal case, pulling the loose thread through the opening, around the groove and through the gap. Give it a little pull to make sure the thread pulls out smooth. If you have to tug at the thread to get it through, you’ll have to loosen your bobbin tension slightly – you can do this with a screwdriver, only turning slightly before trying again (and so on until you get a nice smooth pull).

10. fit bobbin back    10. Fit your bobbin case back into your machine, usually you place it in with the little leaver pulled back. Place in & turn clockwise until it locks, then you can push the little leaver back down. *Remember to leave some of your thread hanging loose out of the machine.

11. channel through guides  11. Next, you need to pull the thread from up by your tension plate down and through the guides. More often than not there are markings on your machine for you to follow.

12. thread needle   12. Once you’ve pulled your thread through your machine you can then guide it through the little hoop on the needle shaft. And then down through your needle. Always thread it from the front through to the back.

13. wind side hand wheel13. Next hold your needle thread with your left hand & wind the hand wheel on the side. This will lower your needle down to where your bobbin is.

14. raise wheel bobbin thread14. Keeping tight hold of your needle thread, wind the hand wheel at the side of your machine again until it pulls your needle back up. This should bring up your bobbin thread as a loop – this is why you had to leave thread loos from your bobbin before.

15. put back extension case.15. Now you can pull the hoop of bobbin thread, as well as the needle thread out and place it to the side. Close up the extension case.

16. finished.And there you have it. Your machine is threaded up with a full bobbin of thread ready to sew.

 

If you’re still struggling to understand how to thread up your machine (Don’t worry it took me a while too!) you can also watch this video, I think it explains it pretty simply!

Alternatively you can always email me with any questions at info@thelittlewomanpretends.

or on any of my social media accounts

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/TLWPBlog?ref=hl

Instagram: http://instagram.com/thelittlewomanpretends/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobynKSwain

I will always get back to you as soon as possible, as well as promising to help you get threaded up as best I can.

 

So now thats pretty much all the basics covered (I did try to cram them all down into as many posts as possible.. honest!) we can now move on to actually using your sewing machine! I’ll have your first lesson actually on the machine posted up tomorrow afternoon.

Hope you’ve all had have a nice weekend!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

The Basics (Part two)

Sewing tutorials

 

So now we’ve covered materials needed, lets move on to prepping your machine.

First up: Maintanace.
Extremely important! I have to admit, I am terrible for postponing this until I really have too, mainly because my machine has been on 6+ hours a day for the last year and I just keep putting it off. But I soon know about it when my beloved friend starts making all sorts of wierd noises! Maintanace is actually fairly simple, you’ll need three things. (Screwdriver, small soft bristled brush & machine oil)

machinemaintanace

You can follow these steps to clean your machine as regularly as you want. After every project, once a week, once a month, there isn’t really such a thing as cleaning it too much.

First use your screwdriver to take off your needle plate, take out your bobbin & the case fitted inside your machine. *Note, if you aren’t completely certain on how to put it back together again, or you dont have your machine manual to hand which will tell you how to put it together again DO NOT DO THIS! Instead pop into your nearest fabric/sewing machine shop & enquire about proffessional machine cleaning – It would be cheaper to learn how to do it yourself though, its not hard.. just remember where things have to be put back.

Next, use the brush to budge dust & fibres, whatever you do DO NOT blow these fibres, they can get wedged between mechanacism & ultimately damage your machine. Its best to use a small brush – I got mine with my overlocker, its perfect for brushing everything out & getting into tiny corners, any other soft brush will do.

And lastly, oil. You only need the tinyest bit, mainly around the bobbin area (your machine manual will let you know if there are any other place you should put it) After oiling and putting all your parts back in, you need to run quite a lot of thread (I like to use white) through on scrap fabric to soak up any excess, once your thread sews clean you are then ready to get back to work.

Thats it! Maintance done, easy as that! *Note if your machine is new & hardly used, you dont need to do this just yet!*

Next up, machine needles.

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Sewing machine needles. when was the last time you changed yours? I’ve heard many different things about machine needles, some say change every project, some say change every 8 hours worth of work. I tend to change either when needed, i.e my stitches arent right, but its threaded completely as it should. Or once every few days if i’m powering through work.

So purchasing machine needles, they make it a lot more complicated than it needs to be! The sizes are made up of two numbers (the first being European metric size, the second being the American number system for them- or so I’ve read) and you choose the needle size you need by the fabric you’ll be using it on – why they cant just name them Lightweight, medium, heavy i’ll never know!

Anyway for most of my tutorials you’ll be using the medium 90/14 size, these are perfect for cottons, linens, pollycottons ect. (If/when we start working with a more lightweight/heavy materials I will let you know in advanced what size needles you’ll be needing).

*VERY IMPORTANT!! When ordering/buying your machine needles you need to specify its Domestic machine needles you need, Industrial needles are a different shape & wont fit into your domestic sewing machine.

To change your needle, you simply loosen the screw holding your existing needle in place, pop the old one out & put the new one in, tighten & your done! I mentioned about the difference in domestic and industrial needles. When putting in a domestic machine needle, you position the flat part (top back of the needle) facing to the back of the machine, on an industrial the flat part is positioned to the side. (The needles are still very different so dont try squeezing an industrial needle into you’re domestic machine or you’ll damage it & yes, I say this from experience!)

And thats it. Another lesson in the basics.

I’m still working hard on the ‘Threading your machine’ tutorial, I tried taking pictures, step by step, but there are just so many & I dont see that actually helping you. So my next plan is to do a video tutorial, I tried yesterday *Biggest failure* 90% of the footage was blocked by my arm, I also have a cold, so you couldnt understand what I was saying & then the kids kept jumping on me. So I’m going to try again this evening. Hopefully i’ll I’ve have an easy, clear video tutorial for you to work with tommorow/friday.

Another step closer to having you on that machine & making pretty things up!

Robyn,
The little woman pretends.

P.S. I know this isn’t the most exciting of stuff, but once we’ve worked through, the fun can really begin!

Sewing Tutorials – The basics (Part 1)

Sewing machine

Happy monday!

I’m back with a brand new style, my very first post on the new & improved TLWP blog & today I thought we’d start our first lesson in getting that sewing machine -you bought 6 months ago but havent yet used- plucked from its dusty box & finally put into use.

As much as I’d like to just throw you in the deep end & give you something amazing to make, first we need to go over a few things.

I’ll make this as quick as possible, hopefully it wont be too boring!

I bought my first machine back in 2009, after hearing a discussion in the workplace, one of my collegues made some pretty gorgeous laptop covers, and so I hopped onto amazon & purchased my Toyota RS . I knew absolutely nothing about sewing machines, how hard could it be?

The first time I actually used the machine, easy. It was pre threaded, I Used a scrap of fabric making lots of pretty patterns, testing every stitch, until disaster struck. My bobbin thread snapped.
I spent two hours throwing a paddy, not a single clue how to fix it. And so emotionally exhausted I packed it back in the box, took it to the far corner of our spare room, and left it there for six months.

I cant remember what exactly made me pull it back out, I do however remember picking the most disgusting, 80’s style surfer print fabric & vowing I was going to make a jumpsuit. I did actually make a jumpsuit to be fair, but it was hideous, the crotch was far to high (very uncomfortable) and I looked like a scuba diver. – Oh I wish I had a picture to show you!-

It was a disaster of course, but this was my first step in learning how to sew.

Jumping in head first & just figuring it out as I go!

To some extent this is what I want you to do. Lose the fear of doing it wrong. Its okay if you sew the wrong piece, thats what snips are for. Its okay if you completely botch the whole thing up & have to start again. All of the tutorials I will be starting you off with will be quick & easy. Something you can do once the little one/s are in bed, or when you’ve finally settled in from a long day at work & just fancy doing something a little bit crafty.

So, now I’ve rambled for a while lets get started.

Basic tools:
When I first started I was convinced I needed everything and anything to do with sewing, I’d obviously be using it all wouldnt I?

No, no you wont. And the more money you spend on useless stuff, the less money you have to spend on Fabric – Life philosophy right there!

So as Beginner, here’s what you’ll actually need:

– Fabric Scissors. They dont have to be expensive, so dont feel pressured to spend any more that a tenner on them just yet.

– Machine needles. (More on how to choose the right ones in my next post)

– Hand sewing needles.

– Safety pins.

– Tape measure, one of those loose round the neck ones.

– Thread. You can go out & buy every colour under the rainbow, but really as a beginner just having Black & white is more often than not enough.

– Dress makers pins. These are like hair grips, you buy 5000 & one month later your left with two. Maybe hunt down a small magnet aswell, handy for sweeping over the floor of your workspace & picking up loads in one go.

– Snips. I hate seam rippers, Snips are way quicker & easier for un-doing a wrong seam.

– Bobbins. Its handy having a couple of spare ones, just makes it quicker & easier when you need to change thread colour on your machine.

– A chop stick. Believe it or not, I use this on a daily basis. Its small enough, but blunt enough to turn out corners, without piercing the fabric.

– Fabric. This is the best one! Go crazy! buy it all! No, not really. Cheap & cheerfull is best at this point, it must be pretty or else there’s no motivation to make something from it, but dont spend too much on a single piece or you’ll be too scared to use it.

-This last one is optional. In my next post I will be explaining basic seams. Now, you can go out & purchase an overlocker, however they are quite pricey, and I would hold off until you know you actually want to continue using your sewing machine regularly. So alternatively you can purchase some pinking shears, or nothing at all as I’ll be showing you how to finish & secure seams using just your sewing machine.

So thats it. All the basic tools you’ll need.

Tools

With each tutorial I will specify other materials you’ll need, but all will be easy to get hold of & most importantly none of them will break the bank.

I’ll be back on Wednesday (if not before)  for your first lesson on the actual machine, we’ll be covering:  Starting up your machine, setting it up so its ready to go, basics on how to take care of your machine & then actually sewing with it.

By the end of the week you’ll be ready for our first actual tutorial.

Robyn,
The little woman pretends.