Saturday, September 29, 2018

Ridiculously Easy Zippered Cushion Covers (with lovely Sharp Corners)


I spent Thursday this week at the Royal Melbourne Show, at the Spotlight Inspiration Space, showing people how to make cushion covers. I promised a free tutorial on my blog, so here it is (sorry - a day later than planned!).


The method I chose was one that hid a multitude of sins if a beginner were to give it a go. There is a zipper, but it's well-hidden beneath a wide overlap of fabric. And of course, I included tips to make the whole process a lot easier and faster than you'd think. And of course, I used fusible/hemming tape (I always use fusible tape).


YOU WILL NEED

1 x Square cushion insert (any size)
1 x dress zipper - at least 10cm (4'') longer than the cushion insert
Hemming tape/fusible tape/cut a strip of Vliesofix (Bondaweb)
Thread to match back fabric (see below)

Fabric -
FRONT- Cut a square of fabric 4 to 5cm (1.5 '' to 2'') longer and wider than the cushion insert.
Eg. For a 41 x 41cm cushion insert, I cut a 45 x 45cm square of fabric.


BACK - Cut fabric same width as front, but cut length 7cm (a little less than 3'') longer. (Length doesn't have to be a very accurate 7cm measurement - a little more or less wont hurt).



HOW TO MAKE THE CUSHION COVER

1. On the back fabric, divide the length (including the extra 7cm) into thirds. Round this measurement to the nearest centimetre or half-inch, and cut 1/3 from one end of the backing fabric.



2. On the bigger piece (we'll call it the bottom piece) of the backing fabric, lay the zipper face down along the cut edge. Align the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the fabric, with the end stopper of the zipper at least 2cm (3/4'') from the side edge of the fabric. The head of the zipper should be hanging off the other end of the fabric.


3. Using a zipper foot, stitch the zipper to the fabric.


4. Turn the zipper to the right side, and all the seam allowances will fold underneath the fabric side of this seam. Topstitch along the edge of the fabric - about 2mm (a generous 1/16'') from the seam.


5. With right sides of fabric together, place the smaller piece (we'll call it the top) over the zipper. Align the cut edge of the fabric and the zipper tape, and check that the side edges of the smaller and larger pieces align on both side seam edges. Stitch the zipper tape into place along the fabric edge.


6. Place the square front piece on the table and then place the back (zippered) piece over the top, right side facing up. Align the bottom edge of the back with the bottom edge of the front and smooth the back piece over.


7. Now align the top edge of the back piece with the top edge of the front, allowing the extra fullness to fall over the zipper area.


Use your hands - and then an iron - to flatten this fullness into an overlap over the zipper. If your fabric is in any way delicate, use a pressing cloth under the iron when you press.


8. Fold back the top piece so that you can see the seam where it attaches to the zipper. Place hemming tape (or fuse paper-backed fusible tape, or a strip of fusible webbing) along the seam (taking care not to let it overhang the edge of the zipper tape and stick to your ironing board).


7. Fold the top of the cushion back into place and press it again. This will stick the fabric into place exactly where you need to sew it.

8. To make it easier still, feel through the fabric for the top edge of the zipper chain and run your thumbnail along, to mark a line to follow with your stitches.

9. Use a zipper foot and stitch along the thumbnail-indented line.


10. Open the zipper  little way and then align the open ends as if the zipper were closed. Stitch through the overlapped fabric, across the ends of the zipper. You can now safely trim those zipper ends off (without risking accidentally losing the zipper head).


Hurrah! you've inserted a zipper!

11. With right sides together, match the back to the front, aligning all the edges. Take one (any) side and seam it together with a 12mm (1/2 '') seam allowance, backtacking/backstitching at each end of the seam. Don't pivot and turn the corner... this is where the "neat corner" trick comes in!


12. Overlock/serge/zigzag the raw edge of the seam allowance.


If your fabric type is not likely to fray during laundering (eg, gentle handwash or dry clean only), you can skip this step, but if you are using a fabric that will be put into a washing machine, it's always a good idea to finish the seams.

13. Fold the seam over - right on the seamline - and stitch the next seam, capturing the folded seam allowance. Overlock/serge/zigzag that edge.


14. Continue folding, seaming and finishing each edge until all four sides of the cushion cover are sewn.



15. Turn through the corners:
Push your index finger right up into one of the corners, with the inside (fingerprint) facing the folded seam allowance. Fold the other seam allowance over the top of the first, and hold it with the thumb of the same hand (basically making an OK hand-sign with fabric in between).


Pinch your fingers together with the folded seam allowances in between, holding them as close to the corner point as you can, then flip the fabric through to show the right side (don't stop pinching the corner).



Voila! Sharp corners! (This works on fine fabric for collars and cuffs, too - anywhere where the build-up of bulky seams doesn't matter.)


16. Press the seams flat and then press the cushion cover.

17. Pop the cushion insert in and do up the zipper.

18. Feel a bit clever and make lots more cushion covers. Play with embellishment ideas.


And have a great weekend. xx

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Everyday Pants Pattern is here!

It's taken a while (life threw a few curve-balls my way), but the formerly "nearly-a-pattern" is now an ACTUAL pattern. A finished one. Wow. 


In line with my whole "teach a person to fish" philosophy, I wanted to make a pants pattern that is a base for teaching sewing techniques with a focus on tips for a better finish, which is infinitely variable with design details and fabric choice.  

These easy-fitting pants have a fly front, hip pockets and an optional jet pocket on the back. 

I've made them in crinkly, crumply fine linen (which was possibly not the best choice for my original cover shot...).

I've made them in drapy tencel, various wool blends and brushed cotton, and I've made them in heavier (still crumply) linen. They work for all seasons and everyday occasions. 


And of course, I tweaked the design and made lots of other versions. I used them for the base pants in my book The Savvy Seamstress. In the book, I show you how to change or remove the pockets and how to change the fly front for a discreet invisible zipper on the side or back, and even how to remove the waistband and replace it with a facing.  


The patterns are divided into two sizing groups - Sizes 6-14 and Sizes 12-20. The pattern is available in paper and pdf versions.




Thursday, May 3, 2018

Blog Tour Wrap-up


If you've followed me on Instagram or Facebook this week, you'll have seen daily posts about The Savvy Seamstress blog tour and all the giveaways on various blogs and Instagram accounts.  The winners will be drawn tomorrow (or the day after that, for the USA blogs), so there's still time to do the rounds and get your name in every barrel. (Some giveaways have more participants than others, so the odds might be in your favour if you look for the smaller barrels...! ;) )

Here are the links...

If you take a look through the blog posts on the tour, you'll get to see what others have made and learned through using The Savvy Seamstress, and you'll get a better idea of what it's about.



In case you've missed what the book is all about... It's about altering design features on your existing sewing patterns. For example, the above two photos are other variations of the little blouses I blogged last time (and they're the same size blouse, only on different sized kids). Yep - techniques for adapting the designs of collars, necklines and sleeves are all in the book - from patternmaking to sewing instructions.


Pants (above) can be made with infinitely variable pockets, zippers (fly front or side/back invisible or lapped zippers) and the waistband could be removed and replaced by a facing - instructions for all those things are in the book....



The version below (straight, angled hip pockets, fly front) is actually going to be a finished You Sew Girl sewing pattern soon. Watch this space!



Thanks to all the bloggers, Instagrammers and to my publishers for participating in the blog tour.  And good luck to all who are in the draw for a free copy of the book.




Monday, April 23, 2018

Collars, Facings, Necklines and a Blog Tour

The days of having a four-year-old in the studio to model for me are long gone (she's in secondary school now!), so I had to make do with a clothes line.  Still, these little blouses swinging in the breeze looked sweet and made me happy today.


They're all made from the same base pattern, with the collar, necklines, sleeves and facings altered to vary the design. You guessed it... using the patternmaking and sewing techniques from my book The Savvy Seamstress.


We launched the book at Can Do Books in December, but until recently, I haven't had much time or brain-space to to promote the it (you might have followed my "why" on Instagram ).  However, now I'm all about the BLOG AND INSTAGRAM TOUR.

You can see what other people have made and sneak a few more glimpses inside the book if you follow along. There will also be givaways, so you might like to hop on board.

The tour schedule is as follows:

And now, a closer look at those little blouses...

This is a simple little button-fronted number with cap sleeves and a round neckline. It has a full neckline facing that also covers the button area. (The book will also show you how to make this design detail on a pattern that originally had a zippered back and no front opening, or on one that previously had a collar.)

An easy alteration from here is to change the shape of the neckline (and maybe the arrangement of the buttons into 3 sets of 2...?).


Alternatively, you can add a Peter Pan Collar. This one has a simple binding on the neckline and a folded facing.


Or you can raise the neckline and add a collar. This one (below) has a higher neckline and a slightly higher "roll" on the collar. It also has cute little 3/4 sleeves (..ahem... because of a "design opportunity" that arose when I cut two sleeves in the same direction from the small amount of fabric that I had, and then arrived at my local fabric store half an hour after the last on the bolt was sold... and I had a deadline.... Aargh...).

And it has cuffs on the sleeves. Aren't they cute in a kids' size 5?


And just like this one, it has a Convertible Collar style finish (with a neckline facing on the garment front).


(But this one has full length sleeves.)

The same kinds of alterations can be made on dresses, shirts and blouses, and all these patternmaking and sewing techniques are included in the book.  

Please note that this blouse pattern is one that I use in classes and is not yet developed for sale. There was a plan to have this done before the book was launched, but life and its curve-balls got in the way.... It's on the to-do list!  

So - watch this space, and watch the blog and instagram tour. There'll be more Savvy Seamstress news and opportunities to win yourself a copy.


Monday, November 27, 2017

The Savvy Seamstress - It's a real book!


This box of books arrived a couple of weeks ago. A slight glitch behind the scenes means that it's taken this long to post about it here. But here is The Savvy Seamstress.


As I've mentioned before, the concept behind the book is that once you have a pattern for a garment, you can keep changing design features on it to make it into many different garments.


For example, a casual short sleeved shirt (or pyjama top) can become a classic long-sleeved shirt with cuffs, collar stand and button placket. These are teeny little boy's shirts, but the same could be done for mens' or womens' garments.


It's the way I make most of the clothes that get made around here - for myself and for my girl - and the same processes can be used for tweaking designs from basic blocks/slopers.


I've already used my book a few times to help explain things to my Fashion students... which is how I originally came up with the idea of writing it.


All the processes are broken down into baby-steps, with cheat's methods for getting a better finish. It's not about couture - more of a blend of industrial fashion production sewing and handmade techniques, which is how I sew when I'm sewing for myself.


I've included simple processes to get beginners started - pockets and closures - but I've included a few more advanced methods, like draping new necklines and making classic shirt collars.There are lots of diagrams and photos to help you through...


It's a strange thing to write a book... to work so closely on a document that you can no longer actually 'see' it. Trying to turn off my critical eye is a tricky thing. But I'm the author and that's what authors do. You are the audience, and I hope that you like it and find it useful. 

Go forth and tweak those patterns. Make beautiful garments!

BTW - my critical eye spotted a little mistake (which makes me feel a bit sick...).
Page 45, Step 1: inside brackets should read "or fuse a strip of interfacing" instead of "sew stay tape". Not a big one, but still... that critical eye. I'm sorry that this slipped through the multiple edits and checks that were made in the making of this book. We did our very best.