Tuesday, 18 April 2017

6 months...

6 months of neglecting this blog.
6 months of not sewing.
6 months of trying to keep my head above water.
6 months of figuring out who I am.
6 months of working out where my life is going.
6 months of planning, preparation and assessing.
6 months of living the job.
6 months of dating, breaking up and dating again.
6 months of trying to remember who I was before this career.
6 months of relishing change and the 'new me'
6 months of not going to the gym yet paying £16 a month.
6 months of somehow still losing weight.
6 months of doing nothing but planning lessons.
6 months of realising my job is actually my hobby.
6 months of missing sewing and my online community.

6 months is too long. I'd love to say things are changing from here, but I can promise nothing.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Another Blogging Break

And these are the reasons why...

1. Work. Work work work work work work work work work work. And repeat. I'm in my first official year of teaching and did not find a substantive position before my course ended. Because of this, I have been in two schools within the last half term and will be moving to my third as of January. It's all exciting and happy and good though, just mega busy!

2. Social life building. I've been living here for nearly 3 years now and have built up some solid friendships around me. I've not done too badly. but I'm still living in the sticks away from said friends. For two of those years I was in a long term relationship and when that ended so did a fair part of my social life. Obviously, I am in no way blaming my lack of life on this, I just should have prioritised finding my own group of people to be with before romance hunting back when I returned from Poland. Everything happens for a reason and what I'm building up now is extremely positive (and exciting!), but I don't want to be in the position again where I find myself single and with very few chances to go out and socialise. Anyway! Clubs are being joined, hobbies entered into and I'm very close to getting my own set of wheels! This time next year I want to have my own place in Leeds, so it's project life right now. The quiet life is over for me.

3. Exhaustion and sickness. So I had the flu, then a chest infection, for like 3 weeks, and continued going to work with it. So it was a case of teach, mark, home, plan, bed for that time. I'm all better now though and a certain someone is now happy with being around me again since I'm no longer a (and I quote) "snotty mess".

4. Have I said work?

So that's pretty much why I've been on a break. I haven't been sewing and whilst I miss it, I haven't been able to get excited about making anything lately! Trying to change that since it's now half term break but number 2 on the reasons list is getting in the way of it!

I was approached last month about being featured as a 'Sewing Superstar' on Cut Out + Keep so I am finishing my projects for that as I am super excited to *finally* get that done.

So that's an update from me and stay tuned this week for posts about how to make your own patterns from your favourite pieces of clothing.

Til then, peace out :)

Kat xxx

Saturday, 24 September 2016

How to Make a Circle Skirt | Free Tutorial

Afternoon all! I hope you've all had a lovely week! As promised, here is part two of my circle skirt tutorial. If you have not yet drafted your pattern and want to make this, go here and follow my tutorial. Once you've done this you're more than welcome back into the loving sewing embrace of this tutorial. (That was an odd sentence...) 

What You Will Need

  • 3m - 4m of 45" width fabric, or 2m - 3m of 60" width fabric. (I'd go with a medium weight cotton, and steer clear of stretchy fabrics)
  • 20cm zip
  • A hook and eye (optional, and dependent on your zipper skills)
  • Corresponding thread
  • 1m of medium to heavy weight fusible interfacing
  • Pattern pieces from previous tutorial

Let's just remind ourselves what we ended up with after we made our pattern pieces:
We have piece 1, which needs to be cut on the fold; pieces 2 and 3 which are cut from the same pattern piece, and the waistband which is also cut on the fold.

Layplan and Cutting
1. How you devise your layplan depends on what the width of the fabric is. My sister's circle skirt was 45" width, and so the layplan looked like this. 45" width fabric is more common when it's the pretty patterns you're likely to want to use for a circle skirt, so hopefully this helps!
The waistband got cut from a length of scrap after this. Whether or not this works for you depends on your waist size and the length of the skirt, so you may have to alter things if it's not fitting.

However, the one I made for this tutorial was 60" width and I had 2.5m of it, which actually made life less complicated (and more economical).I folded it in half length ways so that piece one could be cut on the fold, and piece two could be pinned and cut to produce two pieces of fabric. Like so:

Cut all the pieces out (my favourite bit!) and you're ready to sew!

Sewing the Skirt

1. Sew the front skirt to the back skirt pieces at the side seams with a 1.5cm seam allowance. I sewed my skirt and my sister's using French seams, which gives it a nicer finish but it isn't necessary! Leave the centre back seam unstitched at this point.

Press open the seams on each side.

2. Affix the fusible interfacing to your waistband. My mum calls this iron on Vilene. Resist the urge to sing Iron-On Vilene to the tune of 'Come on Eileen'.

Step 3
3. Along the length of your waistband, fold up and press 1cm from the edges, like you're hemming it. Do the same on the other side. Now fold the waistband in half along the width and press, so each hem is meeting.

4. Fold the waistband again gently lengthways and give it a wee press to find the centre. Match the centre of the waistband up with the centre fold of the front skirt, right sides together, and pin from the centre to each end of the waist of the skirt.

Step 4
Step 4

5. Now, stitch the waistband onto the skirt right sides together along the pressed fold line. Take this slowly and steadily, as waistbands are a pain to take out and redo if they're wobbly.

6. Press seam up towards the rest of the waistband (I originally wrote wardrobe, brain fart...).

7. So, this was the first circle skirt I made where I inserted zip before I finished the waistband. I was a bit sceptical but thought it might eliminate some difficulties I've had with zips before, and to my delight it did! It's the best zip insertion for me yet and I am so happy it was on a skirt I was making for someone else!

Place the zip where you want it and then mark where the end of the zip is onto the centre back seam. Once this is done you want to sew the centre back seam from the hem up to this mark using a 1.5cm seam allowance. Once this seam is stitched you can start inserting your zip.

Insert the zip with the top of the zipper tape just going past the fold of the waistband. This way it'll be sewn to the very top of the waistband and you won't actually need the hook and eye. If you find you've done it too low though and there's a gap at the top then just pop a hook and eye on and it won't make a great deal of difference.

Tack your zip first in different coloured thread so that you can easily take these stitches out once the machine stitches are done. 
 My only tip for zips is to tack them first, for all other advice with them go to YouTube or give it a Google, as they rarely go so well for me!

8. Now, with the zip in fold the waistband over so that it meets your first waistband seam and hides it. Pin it in place.

 Now, top stitch the waistband in place, either along the first seam so no stitches are visible or as a neat top stitch about half a centimetre from the bottom of the waistband. I did the latter on this skirt and as it's level all the way along it has a nice effect!


Hemming a circle skirt is notoriously difficult as the whole hem is on a curve and tricky to make the same length all the way around. In order to do this correctly I have tried many things, I've put it on Matilda the mannequin and measured and pinned meticulously for hours all the way around; my mum and I have fashioned together a sewing plumb line out of a box of staples and a scrap of fabric (doesn't work); I've laid down on the floor and looked right up the skirt with a spirit level. Finally, the most simple technique worked. I make life difficult for myself.

Get out your ironing board and rotate the skirt around, measuring the desired length from the waistband to the hem all the way round, plus 1cm for the hem. Work round, marking as you go, then go round again folding, pressing and pinning the hem in place, making tiny snips into the hemming allowance to reduce the bulk.

THEN! GET A HEMMING FOOT! This was the first time I'd ever used mine and it made a beautifully level hem that didn't gather or anything. Seriously, I was blown away! Keep to a 1-1.5cm hem, as too thick a hem will affect the way it hangs.

And with that, you're done! I add in this little label to the things I make for other people, until I get Sew Well Travelled ones made that is.

If you use this tutorial to make your own circle skirt please send me pictures on my social media profiles, which are linked at the top of the blog. OR, if you really don't want to make your own, visit my Etsy shop where you can commission me to make one for you (for a very good deal, taking into account the cost of fabric and the time it takes!)

Let me know how you get on, and until next time lovelies!

Kat xx

Sunday, 18 September 2016

How To Draft Your Own Circle Skirt | Free Tutorial

Evening all! 

So this year I have taught myself how to draft my own patterns in a way that makes sense to me, which is pretty amazing! So as this was requested by a fellow seamstress I thought I'd do a tutorial on how I draft and make my circle skirts. This is part 1, where I will focus on drafting the pattern pieces using your own measurements. Part 2 will come later this week and will be all about making the actual skirt! So let's jump right in...

What You Will Need:
Pattern drafting paper (or A3 paper and a good glue stick)
A ruler (I had to edit this post as I actually forgot to include this!)
A set square or a protractor
A calculator (unless you're excellent at dividing by decimals in your head)
A large table or area of hard floor
Patience and flexibility
About 1 hour

Optional extras include a cat who doesn't like your attention being on anything but him.

STEP 1. Measure
You need to take your waist measurement and the desired length of the skirt. I take the waist measurement snugly so I can just fit 2 fingers between the tape measure and the waist. This way it will hug the body when worn and accentuate your waist. To take the length of the skirt, measure from the point of your waist down to where you want it to stop. For the one I was making it was 67cm, which stops at my friend's knee. But obviously, everyone is different!

STEP 2. Draft

1. So I don't use pattern paper or anything for circle skirts, since the pieces are so large it would cost a fortune. Instead I always have a pad of A3 paper on hand and stick about 9 sheets together like so:
People laugh at me when I ask where my "good" glue stick has gone. Some glue sticks are just better than others. 
2. Once all the pieces are stuck together you need to draw a right angle in the corner, it doesn't matter which one!

I knew taking Standard Grade Graphic Communication would come in handy one day!
3. You now have to do some maths magic, and don't get too excited when I tell you that you get to use pi. Divide your waist measurement by pi (or 3.14 if you don't have a pi button) and then by 2. This will give you the radius of the circle which will form the waist of the skirt. I usually round it to 1 decimal place, but I don't think it would cause too much difficulty if you rounded it to the nearest whole number.

4. Draw from the point of the right angle straight lines which are the length of your radius. (This was a really difficult instruction to phrase... see photo below)

Label the right angle A, the vertical line B and the horizontal line C

Like you're drawing a triangle basically but don't join the points to make it one. 

5. You then need to take your radius and mark a series of points from your right angle between the space B to C. This will form a curve.

Join the dots (YAY!) and you have your waist for your skirt (DOUBLE YAY!).

6. Now draw a straight line from points B and C - this line should match your skirt length with about 2cm added for seam allowance. Label your new points D and E. 

You should now have a corner called A; waist labelled BC; a straight line BD and another CE.

7. Repeat the join the dots interval measurement trick that we did with the waistline to create a curved hem for the skirt. 

8. Now add a 1.5cm seam allowance to line CE. You can do it from point A to E if you want but we don't actually need to talk about A anymore. A can go.

9. Add a fold line to line BD like this one here:
10. Cut out and copy this exact pattern onto another piece of pattern paper, but with adding the 1.5cm seam allowance to BOTH lines (CE and BD) this time. 
If it helps you keep track, the first pattern piece we made (with the fold line) can be labelled front skirt and piece 1; and the second pattern piece can be labelled back skirts and pieces 2 and 3. Pieces 2 and 3 are cut by cutting 2 pieces of fabric but not on the fold, as we need that centre back seam for the zip.

STEP 3: Make the waistband:
Take your original waist measurement and add 8cm to this. This is because of stuff to do with pi which I don't fully understand but intend to work out! Draw a rectangle which is this measurement divided by 2 (in my case 87cm + 8cm = 95cm/2 = 47.5cm ) by 12cm. You can change the 12cm around if you want a wider or narrower waistband, I just think 12cm is a nice width). Add a fold line to one of the shorter sides to the rectangle so that you can cut this on the fold.

And once you've done all of that, you should be left with all the pieces you need to make your very own circle skirt which *should* fit you perfectly!

Be sure to check my blog later in the week on part 2 of this tutorial, which is when we will make the actual skirt using these pattern pieces! Til then, happy drafting!

Lots of love,