Friday, 26 August 2011

Pirate and Harem Pants!

IN the shop we often have harassed looking parents needing a costume quickly. We have wide range off very lovely and easy to follow patterns. However sometimes they need a costume in about 10 minutes so I tell them about my method for making harem pants for belly dancers. These are very lose and baggy trousers which when made in something light and floaty have a genie type quality. Here I've made them in black and red for a more piraty look.  The dimensions here are for a teenager, the method remains the same for a younger person you just need to alter a few measurements for a smaller child.
You will need;
About 2 meters of fabric (something light and not stiff,  a light cotton or a satin lining works very well)
1 Meter of elastic 20-25 mm wide
1 meter of elastic 10 mm wide
Scissors (We recommend high quality dressmaking scissors which never gets used for anything other than fabric)
Thread cutters (thread cutters or embroidery scissors avoid you wearing a dull spot in the middle of your dressmaking shears. They only cost between £1.50 and £5.00 and will more than double the life span of your Dressmaking Scissors
Pins  (and I highly recommend a magnetic pin cushions, carefully putting pins back into a cushion may not seem like much time, but it adds up to quite a bit during the construction of a garment)

Also recommend : Pirates of the Caribbean DVD's to watch whilst sewing

Step1 Draw little arrows along the selvedge on one side and then cut the fabric in two across the width (leaving you with two lengths a metre long. Fold each in half selvedge to selvedge and lace one on top of the other making sure the arrows on both are pointing in the same direction (this stops the trousers having one leg in one direction and the other leg in the other, not so important with fabrics with a nap maybe, but under strong lighting even fabric with no nap can still look different if one piece is upside down)

Step 2. ON the selvedge side mark off a line 30 cm down and 20 cm across draw a curve at the corner.

Cut along the curved line

Now when you open out the fabric you should have two sections that look like this
The selvedge sides become the inner leg seams. One one section fold the fabric right sides together selvedge to selvedge. Pin along the selvedges (inner leg seams) and sew (seam allowance 5/8 inch or 15mm) Repeat for the other section.

 You now have two trouser legs, each with half of the waistband on top.THese are both insdie out. Turn one outside out and then slide it into the other trosuer leg, lining up the seams you've just sewn and the waistband.
Pin and sew long the crotchline.  Clip the seam at the curve and you're almost done.

At the waistband and at the end of the trouser legs you simply have to make a casing for the elastic. Fold the hem up on the inside of the fabric and then fold again (around 12 mm) sew  in place leaving a gap for the elastic, thread the elastic through using a safety pin. Repeat for the waistline, folding the fabric the width of the elastic you're using there.

And there you have it, a very quick method for making baggy pantaloons. I've been known to whack a pair together in 20 minutes, but take your time for your first few goes, never rush and always strive to enjoy yourself.

To make these  for young buccaneers and genies  follow these simple steps.
To find out how much fabric you need measure from their waist to the floor. Add about 20 CM and double the total.
For step 2 instead of marking down 30 cm, mark down the distance between the wasit and the chair seat when seated and add 5 cm. Instead of drawing the line 20 cm from the edge reduce this to about 12cm for under 12 year olds.

Happy pirating :)

Monday, 8 August 2011

A simple Pouch Tutorial.

Sewing has many benefits. To many it's a relaxing hobby and a way of creating beautiful things to wear or fantastic furnishings. But to me there is an extra use to being able to sew and that's the ability to make or remake useful little things to help in day to day life. Custom made backs, extra pockets in waistcoats a pillow with a hidden compartment for a frozen gel pack for hot summer nights are just a few examples where my sewing machine has provided me with the means to make my life just a little bit better each day. The most recent example was a pouch. Anyone who has come into the shop on a weekend may have seen me indulge in one of my other passions, magic. I perform quick card tricks to entertain board children of distraught  parents (although how they could be board in a wonderful little fabric shop I have no idea).  I recently picked up the classic trick "The Cup and Balls" for a friend and whist the cups themselves  are beautiful the pouch they came in left a lot to be desired.  They looked like part of a sports kit, hardly suiting for our arcane needs.  And thus the need for a new pouch was born.

Step 1 - Draught a simple pattern. This pouch is going to be made of two panels on the outside and two panels of lining. Therefore  the width of the pattern needs to be half of the circumference of what you'd like to put in the pouch plus twice the seam allowance (once for each side of the pattern) and with about 5 cm extra space for putting your hand in to grab the contents of the pouch.

Step 2 - Fold a piece of fabric for the outer shell  of the pouch in half and do the same for the lining, and then place the pattern on top. Pin Pattern to the fabric and then cut out. Leaving you with 4 panels of fabric, 2 outer pieces and  2 inner.

Step 3- Take one outer panel piece and one panel of the lining and place one on top of the other, right sides together. Pin and then sew along the top. Repeat this for the second outer panel and lining panel

Step 4 - Place the panels on top of each other again, outer panel on top of outer panel, Lining on top of lining right sides togehter. Pin and sew right around the edge leaving a 5 cm gap in one side of the lining.

Step 5 - Turn pouch right side out through the gab in the lining . You should now have a  good idea of if your pouch fits and what it will look like.  Stitch the gap in the lining shut with a ladder or slip stitch (or a regular stitch if no-ones going to see inside it)

Step 6 - Run two parallel stitches near the top of the pouch and gently unpick the side seams  in between the two rows of stitches.  Thread cord in between the two rows of stitches, pull tight. You now have your  pouch.
There are many very beautiful  pouch patterns available.  In particular Vogue do some fantastic patterns which I use for giving Christmas gifts an extra personal touch. However I find this method a great trick for quickly making something special. For  both the commercial patterns  and this simple pouch pattern I highly recommend saving any scraps of nice fabric left over from other projects for use in little projects like this.

If you ever find yourself  wondering about your place in the universe I think the words of the great Technomage- Elric  apply to those of us who sew and craft. "We are dreamers, shapers, singers, makers"