How to sew right angles

On the surface, sewing right angles looks fairly simple - until you reach the corner, and find that the next two seams to be sewn together happen to be at opposite ends of the sewing machine...

Cutting corners is usually ill advised - however if you are sewing a right angle, you literally need to cut into your corner. It is a straight forward process, but one that requires a certain accuracy. I break the method down into a few simple steps in the video and photos below.

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Before you begin sewing its a good idea to mark the EXCACT point of your corner. On the piece that has the square cut out, I have marked this point on the right side of the fabric. On the square that will be inserted into the cut out, the point is marked on the wrong side of the fabric. Lay both your pieces right sides together. Place a pin in the corner point to ensure that the seams don't move or shift while you're sewing.

Step 1.

Step 1.

1. Sew your seam, ensuring to stop EXACTLY on this intersection point. I usually stop a couple stitches away from the point and hand wind my needle into place. Lift the presser foot up, but keep the needle DOWN.

Step 2

Step 2

Rotate the whole garment clockwise until the next seam is lined up in front of the presser foot in the correct position to sew. You will then need to cut a small slash line from the inside of the bottom corner towards the needle. Dont cut it right to the needle, stop about 1-2mm away from the needle. This cut will release the tension of the seam allowance, letting it open up so you can perform the next step.

Step 3.

Step 3.

Step 3. With the needle still down, and the presser foot still up - hold the lower piece in place as it is, then pivot just the top piece (Anti-clockwise) back around the needle so that it is placed in front of you again. The two raw edges of the unsewn seams should match up and be sitting edge to edge on top of each other. Before continuing to sew the second part of the corner, it is important to check that you have pushed all fabric out of the way and you haven't got any pieces caught under the seam (very easy to do). Put the presser foot down and continue sewing.

The photos above show what the finished corner should look like. Note the picture on the left shows the slash you cut into it.

TIPS:

-If you are using delicate or a loosely woven fabric that has a tendency to fray you can place a small patch of fusible on the corner (of the wrong side of the fabric) that will be cut into before you start sewing.

-It is also a good idea to turn your stitch length down at the corner. Usually 1-2cm before you hit the corner, then turn it back to your regular stitch length 1-2cm after you have turned the corner. This also helps prevent any holes or the corner from fraying away.

There are four corners on the Kabuki Tee - so its a great chance to get your technique perfect.

 Happy making!

KABUKI TEE: Tips for changing the neck binding for a neck band.

Linen with concealed binding under neck.         Grey Marl Jersey with a 2cm neck band.


The original pattern is intended to have a concealed binding on the inside of the neckline. But what if you want to make it in a stretchy fabric like T-shirting? If I was making it in a t-shirting fabric I would probably choose to change the neckline to have a neck band and possibly cut that band in a ribbing.

Why? A) Its more appropriate style wise for the casual nature of the fabric and B) Its also quite fiddly to sew a concealed binding in jersey without stretching it out of shape so I would avoid that purely out of laziness. But how you choose to finish your top is entirely up to you – so here are a few tips to help you out... 

jersey neck band.jpg

If, for example, if you wanted to swap the concealed binding for a 2cm deep rib band you should cut away 2cm from the existing neck pattern so after you have applied your new band - the neck edge still finishes in the same place on your body. If you don’t cut away the neckline, it will end up being much closer up your neck and it will make the opening much smaller – you might have a hard time getting it over your head. 

You can use the existing neck binding pattern that comes with the Kabuki Tee. But you would need to add to the width to make it deep enough to fold over in half. For a 2cm deep neck band you should add 2.5cm total to the width of the existing pattern. (that will make the pattern piece 5.5cm deep) 

When sewing with stretch fabrics – you should as a general rule of thumb cut the neckband along the width (not the selvedge) of the fabric. Why? So you make the most of the stretch of the fabric. 

The length of the band should be smaller than the neckline – but how much smaller? Every stretch fabric has a different amount of stretch – so the only way to get it perfect is to test it yourself first. I usually start with deducting 4 or 5cm from the total measurement.  

Sew the ends of the neck band together (right side together) so you have a loop. Fold it in half (wrong sides together) and pin it to your neck line. When you sew it onto the neck, remember you will pull and stretch it onto your neck. If it doesn’t look quite right adjust the length and recheck it again before finally sewing it on. Pressing the seam allowance down into the body.  

I would also recommend chopping off some of the hem allowance on the sleeve and body if I was sewing this in jersey. 1.5cm - 2cm would be a fairly standard hem allowance on a jersey fabric.  

Happy sewing! 

 

 

FRILLS VS FLOUNCES

AW17 images from Maggie Marilyn and Balenciaga 

AW17 images from Maggie Marilyn and Balenciaga 


Frills, ruffles, flounce, froufrou, furbelow... The terminology is sometimes used interchangeably, and to the untrained eye they can look the same, however the pattern for a frill is very different to the pattern for a flounce.

In essence, both frills and flounces are a way of adding additional fullness and volume to a garment, E.g the ruffles on the edge of a flamenco skirt, or the flounce in a peplum.

However, the main difference between a Frill and a flounce is that a frill has the volume added all the way through the pattern piece, from top edge to circumference edge - then it is gathered at the top edge where it is attached to the garment.

In contrast, a flounce - only has additional volume at the lower circumference edge, not all the way through. So the edge that is sewn to the garment is flat, creating fullness but with a smooth look at the seam. 

 

 

In a regular, mid weight fabric like calico the difference between a frill and a flounce is noticeable, but it isn’t huge. However, as soon as you move to either side of the fabric spectrum (e.g a light weight chiffon or something heavy like leather) the results will be vastly different, and this is where understanding the principles behind cutting the pattern as a frill or a flounce really come into effect.

Fabric choice is generally the most important factor to determine before starting your frill/flounce pattern as it really makes a difference to how the frill/flounce will hold its volume.

Light weight fabrics like chiffon or georgette lend themselves to becoming frills really well, but aren’t very effective when cut as a flounce as the light fabric tends to fall flat. Fabric that is stiff like leather or denim can be tricky to gather at the seam. Therefore the most effective way to create fullness in heavier fabrics would be cutting the pattern as a flounce, these fabrics are also very effective at holding themselves out from the body, giving the illusion that there is much more volume than there really is

As a general rule of thumb the lighter a fabric is the more volume I add into the circumference.

 

Why you should wear Organic

burberry chemical textiles

The shift to organic food is clearly not a new trend in our modern lifestyles. We’ve been conscious of food miles and the impact chemicals have on our bodies for a while now. Many of us are careful about what we put IN our bodies; however when it comes to what we put ON our bodies we’re not so vigilant.

The fabric your t-shirt is made from is washed, scoured, bleached, rinsed and sometimes dipped in acid. Cotton is one of the most pesticide-ridden of all crops. 7 out of the 15 most carcinogenic chemicals known to man are used to grow cotton and that amounts to 25 percent of the worldwide total use for chemicals. These chemicals are in everything, from exclusive luxury designs to affordable fashion, and from T-shirts to shoes.

Many of these toxic chemicals are banned in the US and Europe, but in the race to produce clothing as cheaply as possible most of the big brands resort to production in countries like China and Bangladesh who also happen to have lax regulations when it comes to using hazardous chemicals.

The latest investigation by Greenpeace demonstrates just how far-reaching the problem is. Of the brands they tested, every single one of them was revealed to have traces of hazardous chemicals in at least one of their clothing items. This is an issue, because when these chemicals are released into the environment they can break down and develop hormone-disrupting and even carcinogenic properties. The worst of the chemicals included toxic phthalates and cancer-causing amines from the use of certain azo dyes. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) were found in just under two-thirds of the 141 garments Greenpeace tested.

In separate tests some exported clothing was found to have traces of formaldehyde up to 900 times higher than the prescribed safety limit which unsurprisingly has been linked to skin irritation and allergic reactions.

The production of cotton has chemicals seeping into the environment where clothes are made, affecting rivers and waterways that local communities often depend upon for their livelihoods. But the toxicity doesn’t end there. As charity shops are starting to refuse second hand clothing due to over supply a lot of clothes are now destined for the landfill. And when they reach their final destination, all these chemicals then leak into the earth.

It is definitely time to ask yourself: As well as eating organic, is it time to start wearing organic too?