Mrs Bowden’s top tip – applying interfacing

Felixstowe Sewing School

http://www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – the dark art of applying interfacing

I know that some people have had tricky experiences with applying interfacing ending up with a curled up, sticky and singed piece of fabric and a messed up iron…….If this applies to you or somebody you know, or you think you would like to avoid this situation please do read on!

We often have to apply interfacing to strengthen or stabilise areas of a garment such as cuffs, collars, button stands, waistbands to name a few.  To apply interfacing you need the following equipment; iron, ironing board, pressing cloth and scissors.
If you are applying interfacing to a particularly lightweight or wriggly fabric it’s a good idea to trim the interfacing down a wee bit to avoid the interfacing creeping over the edge of the fabric and potentially adhering to the right side or knackering your iron and marking up your ironing board.  It also reduces bulk around seam allowances and intersections.  Here we have a Liberty Tana Lawn with a lightweight fusible interfacing ready for trimming.
I generally do not add tailor tacks to the interfacing as you can usually see through the facing through the fashion fabric which has been marked BUT check this before you proceed to make sure you can see the tailor tacks and if not get your needle and thread out and add these to the facing.  It will help you later in the construction of the garment as you won’t be scrabbling around trying to find this information.

Here we have a medium weight fusible interfacing which is suitable for a cotton needlecord.

Check you are confident of the following;

Which is the wrong side of the fabric?

Which side of the interfacing has the heat release glue?  This will be shinier than the ‘unsticky’ side it may even have a bumpy texture which are the spots of glue waiting to be released.

Pictured is a heavy weight fusible interfacing with some pure wool tweed.  Normally a heavy weight interfacing WOULDN’T be used in garment making as it has a tendency to make the fabric too ‘cardboardey’.  However, if I was making myself a lovely bag out of this tweed I certainly would use this weight of interfacing as I would require the firmness it provides.

Set the temperature of the iron suitable for the fabric you are using.  As you come to apply the interfacing press the fashion fabric to eliminate any creases in the fabric – it also warms the fabric up to make it more receptive to the glue on the interfacing.
Lay the pressing cloth over the sandwich of interfacing and fashion fabric and gently lower the iron to the middle of the piece.  The glue will start to release pretty quickly so use small circular motions to move the heat around.  Work from the centre to the edges of the fabric staying in each sport (whilst the iron is moving) for about 10 seconds.  You will be able to tell if the interfacing has adhered by gently lifting a corner to see.
Leave the fabric where it is and allow it to cool before checking if it has adhered evenly.  If it hasn’t you need to apply more heat.
I do hope you have enjoyed this week’s top tip and don’t get into any sticky situations!!

Until then,

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – Celebrate the tape measure!

Felixstowe Sewing School

http://www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk

Heavens to Betsy! – it’s National Tape Measure Day on the 14th July 2017.
Here I am wearing my tape measure dress….

A very lovely lady called Sian alerted me to the fact that there is a National Tape Measure Day on the 14th July.  Now, this is an American invention but I thought it was too appropriate to ignore to base this week’s top tip.  I must also apologise as I promised to give you the second part of the interfacing top tip about applying fusible interfacing.  I pinky promise to do this next week!

National Tape Measure Day – 14th July 2017.  First let’s have a few tapey factoids (which I have taken from https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-tape-measure-day-july-14/ ….

The first recorded use of the tape measure goes back to the Romans, utilizing marked strips of leather.

Alvin J. Fellows of New Haven patented the retractable tape measure on July 14, 1868.

Here are a few of my own tape measure musings.  This is a Tailor’s tape measure. You can see the metal end which allows the person conducting the measuring to push the tape (gently) to the gentleman’s crotch and take the inside leg measure without dealing with a floppy tape.
Did you know that a standard dressmaker’s tape measure should be 1.5 cm in width making it very handy to use when checking the seam allowance taken or where to position a stitching line.
A tape measure is extremely flexible which means it can be used to measure around curves.
If all else fails this Summer, you can amuse yourself or those around you by playing with a retractable tape measure.  If you are anything like me the charm of pulling a tape measure out to it’s full length and pressing the button to make it retract is too thrilling for words with the added element of risk to your fingers making it even more exciting!
I hope you have enjoyed this week’s top tip and I wish you a splendid day of measuring!

Until then,

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – interfacing intelligence

Felixstowe Sewing School

http://www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk

Mrs Bowden’s top tip; interfacing intelligence.
We had an interesting chat in one of my Dressmaking classes this week about interfacing and why/how it is used; also the variety of interfacings can sometimes be baffling.  Hence this weeks’ top tip – aimed to help you skip through purchasing interfacing – next week I will create a little tutorial about applying it!
Firstly we need to clarify why we use interfacing at all.  There are certain parts of a garment that require stabilising or strengthening and commonly this is where we use interfacing; collars, cuffs, button stands, waistbands and pocket flaps often require interfacing.   A lightweight interfacing has been used in the collar of this dress and on the button stand to support the fastenings.
Interfacing is available in three forms; woven, non-woven (or bonded) and knitted.  Fusible interfacings have a fine layer of heat release glue which bonds the interfacing to the fabric.  There are also non-fusible or ‘sew-in’ interfacings.
Fusible bonded interfacing is most commonly used and applied to woven fabrics.  It is easy to use (look out for next week’s top tip) and is widely available.
 It is important to use a knitted fusible interfacing on knitted fabrics as it allows the fabric to stretch and return.
There are also non-fusible or sew-in interfacings which are more frequently used for tailored items. You can see the inside layering of the lapel of a tailored jacket I made using traditional techniques for applying the canvas.
Commercial dressmaking patterns will tell you what kind of interfacing to use for the garment which will match the recommended fashion fabrics for the garment.  However there are a few little additional tips I would like to impart….
To avoid ‘shadowing’ use a white interfacing on pale fabrics and black/grey on darker hues.
Here we have a very beautiful open or loosely woven fabric.  Using a fusible interfacing on this could cause problems with the glue seeping through when applied.  In this case it would be wise to use a woven sew in interfacing or mount the whole piece with silk organza to stabilise it before constructing the garment.
I do hope you have found this useful.  Keep your eyes peeled for applying fusible interfacing next week.  If you fancy learning more about different types of fabric I am running the ‘getting to know your fabrics’ workshop.  Spaces are only available for the morning session being run on Wednedsay, 19th July.  You will have a take home swatch book filled with samples to refer to when buying on-line or at a market/shop.  The costs of the session is £25.00 all inc.  You can book on-line via the website www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk/courses

Until next time.

In stitches,

Amanda xx

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – zip stuff

Felixstowe Sewing School

http://www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk

A few zippy facts….
I would like to introduce this chap to you.  He is Mr Gideon Sundback, a Swedish-American electrical engineer who is commonly associated with his work on inventing the modern day zipper.  Funnily enough the basic principal of the zipper hasn’t really changed since he patented his invention on the 20th March 1917.  Just in case anybody is curious, we didn’t name our son after this particular Gideon!  

This week’s top tip is just a little snippet of some zip facts that will help you use them.  I’m also running a zip workshop on Saturday, 8th July 2017 if you fancy learning lots and lots of zip techniques!

The gap between where the runner sits and tape finishes should measure 1.5 cm – this allows you to insert the zip and still have a seam allowance to play with for finishing the edge, inserting into a facing or incorporating the zip into a waistband.
Zips are purchased according to the length of the teeth and not the tape.
To avoid pushing the fabric, machine both sides of the zipper in the same direction.  This should ease the likelihood of having a mismatched waist seam on a two piece dress or creating ‘drag’ down one side of the zipper.
If you have enjoyed these tips and would like to develop your zippy skills join me for a day’s Zip Workshop on Saturday, 8th July.  I will teach you how to insert both concealed and closed end zippers using hand and machine techniques as well as how to pop a zip into an internal lining.  The cost of the workshop is £60.00 including all resources and tea/cake refreshments.  You can book on line via the website www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk/courses or message me.

Until then,

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – flat straps!

Strappy summer frocks
Can we safely say that summer has arrived?  Certainly for the past few days I have dug out some of my most favourite summer frocks to wear and many of them feature straps in some form;  either as part of the bodice or to help with closing a wrap dress.
If you have seen me out and about or visited the Sewing School you may well have noticed my blue wrap dress I made from a Colette Pattern called ‘Crepe’.  It is a very easy make as there aren’t any closures to worry about and the fit is forgiving enough as it is a wrap dress.  The other clever feature of this garment is the back is cut with two layers of skirt so there is no risk of exposing your foundation garments with single layer dress flapping!
So onto today’s top tip; straps.   Many summer frocks feature these and they are mostly made by creating a long tube with a seam that runs down one side.  Once you have stitched the long seam and turned it through you can be faced with a bouncy pipe of fabric.  Trying to get the seam to lie on the edge of the tube is a challenge and so this tip deals with getting a beautifully flat and even strap.
Instead of trying to press the seam to the edge straight away, arrange the fabric so the seam is in the middle allowing you to press the seam line and settle the seam allowances down.  You may well think you’ll get pressing marks but you can steam these out later on.
Once you have pressed it roll the seam to the side – you should notice it

automatically lies flatter, press it again in this position.

A lovely flat strap ready for use on your glorious garment.
Here you can see the strap in action as the bow which will eventually be a glorious wrap dress featuring flamingo fabric and a sweetheart neckline with a row of wading flamingo’s – I’ll post a picture of this little cracker when it’s finished.
I do hope you have enjoyed this little tip – it would be lovely to hear from you.

As always,  in stitches,

Amanda x

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – tailor tacks

Tailor Tacks demystified! This is a stitch used to transfer information from a paper pattern to the fabric.  On a commercial pattern you will see little circles within the pattern piece.  These mark where a tailor tack should be made. image You can use tailor tacks as a temporary way of marking  fabric to show dart positions, pleats, pocket positions, gathering positions and fold lines to name a few. How to tailor tack Once you have cut out the pattern piece, keep the pattern pinned to the fabric.  Using a double thread, about the length of your arm and in a contrasting colour, thread your needle. image   Plunge the needle into 1 side of the circle,check you go through all the layers. image image Leave a tail about the length of your finger on top and gently pull the thread through. image You are now going to repeat the stitch and create a loop, leaving the loop the length of your finger.image Bring the needle back up again and cut the thread leaving a tail the length of your finger. image Cut through the loop. image Peel the paper pattern away from the fabric.   image Carefully separate the fabric layers and snip the threads in between. image You should now have a thread mark on both layers of your fabric pattern piece. image Ta dah!  Please do leave feedback if you have any comments and, as always, remember that sewing is good for the soul xx

Mrs Bowden’s Top Tip – using a border prints

Felixstowe Sewing School

http://www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – using border prints
I find border prints most alluring.  There is something about them that makes you feel that you are getting something extra with the fabric purchase almost for free!  Over the years I have been seduced by various border prints and here is one of them – a fine length of cotton.  However, I do realise that it can be a bit daunting when faced with how to actually use them – which is what this weeks top tip is all about. 
When you buy your border print fabric check if the border is only down one side parallel to the selvedge or if it runs down both edges – this is a little bit more challenging to use as you don’t have the full width of the fabric to play with by treating the border as the ‘hem’ edge.  I spotted this butterfly and floral print fabric on ebay http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SATIN-DOUBLE-BORDER-PRINT-BUTTERFLY-FLORAL-DRESS-FABRIC-FREE-P-P-/132178686591?hash=item1ec676b27f:g:X2UAAOSw71BXQHTO
The big pattern makers have helped us by producing dressmaking patterns specifically for border prints. Here’s a Butterick pattern B6453 with a simple gathered skirt which is easy to achieve and a really effective way of showing off the fabric.

This simple skirt pattern is also from Butterick 4686 and gives guidance in the cutting for using your border print.
If you like a rule of thumb for using border print fabrics it should be to consider disturbing the fabric as little as possible.  In other words, if you can just gather it up and pop it on a waistband you’ll have a simple skirt which allows the fabric to sing out.  This style of skirt was very popular in the 1950s and the range of border prints was dazzling!
Another tip is to use a pattern which has a straight hem rather than a curved one. For example; the dress on the left (Butterick 6167) is gathered at the waist and has a straight hem.  The one on the right is curved at the hem and therefore more difficult to use when laying the pattern piece onto the border edge.
I know this is difficult to see but it’s an excerpt from a magazine published in 1992 which gives some good ideas for using a border print.  You can isolate the border and then reapply it to the garment.  Food for thought.
I do hope this has inspired you in some way.

Until then,

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – elastic casings

Felixstowe Sewing School

http://www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – how to avoid a Knicker Elastic fail
Well – this would cause a bit of comment – failed elastic.  This week’s top tip is about inserting and stabilising elastic in a casing.  
Let us first deal with what a casing is.  This is a finished hem through which elastic or ribbon can be threaded.  You most often seen casings being used in fairly casual garments such as PJ bottoms, boxer shorts or in Gypsy style tops.  Childrens wear also relies heavily on using casings as elastic waistbands are not only comfortable but also allow for growth spurts (which for grown ups can be fleeting and may directly relate to how much pudding has been consumed before putting PJ’s on!).   I have used a black thread on the calico in the photographs to show where the stitching lines are – I’m sure you will use a more sympathetic colour in your final garment.
First top tip – before you turn the casing over stitch the seam allowances down on the side seams – this reduces the chance of getting your safety pin stuck when threading the elastic through at a later date.
Second top tip – extra allowance is made for the turning of the casing in the pattern and a foldline should be indicated on your pattern.  You will need to make a dainty hem on the edge of the fabric to prevent fraying and this is stitched down about 2 or 3 mm from the edge of the hem.  Remember to leave a gap for threading through.
Third top tip – edge stitch the top of the casing around the whole waistband.  This gives a much flatter and neater appearance and reduces the chance of the elastic twisting in the garment – which is very uncomfortable.
Fourth top tip – threading through.  Make sure you secure the end of the elastic to the garment before you start threading the other end through.  It’s amazing how the ‘ping factor’ in elastic can catch you out and you end up pulling the whole lot through !
Fifth top tip – overlap the elastic and use a wide zig zag to stitch together.  This reduces bulk and encourages the elastic to lie flat.  If you are using a wide elastic zig zag over both exposed edges to make it lie flat.
Sixth top tip – once the elastic is inserted and you are happy with the fit sew down the side seams ‘in the ditch’ to hold the elastic in place.  This prevents twisting and also encourages an even distribution of stretch around the casing.
Seventh and final top tip for today – remember to edge stitch the gap closed.
I do hope you never have the dilemma of dealing with an elastic fail!

Until next time,

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – Birthday Greetings

Felixstowe Sewing School

http://www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk

Mrs Bowden’s 50th Birthday Greetings to one and all!
Without meaning to be overly sentimental I thought I would share my ‘Stitched Story’ with you.  I orignally prepared this as a feature for a Sewing magazine and thought you might enjoy it?

 

Here is MY COPY of the Golden Hands book first published in 1972 – I cannot tell you how many hours I spent drooling over the pictures deciding what I was going to make!

 

Both my grandmothers were keen crafts women and kind with their time.  My mother was a primary school teacher and an extremely creative woman, in her later years she became a City and Guilds embroidery teacher.  With a great insight into how achingly long summer holidays can be for children, she started a tradition of setting a big summer holiday project for me to do every year.  The range of projects was impressive and covered making quilts, clothes, toys, embroidered pictures – all based around sewing.  There were always threads, fabrics, stuffing, beads, sequins, buttons, string – whatever was required and her generosity in both time and resources was a precious gift from my childhood.
Here is my ‘herbie’ and the quilt I made when I was 9/10 years old.

 

I still have the first quilt I made when I was 9.  It was made from cut-off’s which you could buy at bargain prices from Laura Ashley, some of which I still own and often stroke when passing!  I also have a battered, but much loved, Volkswagen Beetle felt toy with my parent’s heads stitched into the side and front view windows which now looks rather medieval in perspective.  We didn’t have a Beetle but I really loved them, it was the pinnacle of Herbie’s career and I can’t help thinking that had a lot to do with me making it.
Here is Herbie in all his beetlish glory! x

 

As I entered my teen years I used to hop on a bus or a train and attend junior embroidery and craft sessions at the Embroiderer’s Guild in Hampton Court Palace or Battersea Arts Centre.  Sewing was an everyday activity growing up and this has continued to this very day.
Embroidered signage – impressive!

 

Another big influence in my childhood were the copious antiques and precious items from the past, these were treasured, admired and used.  I still have my first hand crank Singer sewing machine I was given when I was 8 and a set of Victorian blackberry pins I bought with my pocket money.
Fine glass ‘berry’ topped pins

 

On reflection, become a sewing teacher with a massive interest in vintage clothing was almost inevitable.  I carried this inspiration with me through my years studying textiles and collecting vintage fabrics and clothes.  My mother’s patience and kindness when teaching has inspired my own teaching practice.    Not to be overlooked however, is also the therapeutic effects of occupying the mind with craft.  With a significant family history of mental illness, being able to lose myself in sewing has helped me in times of illness and I recognise how very helpful it is for many of my students.  Sewing is a beautiful antidote to the pace of life and a skill that has enriched, supported and brought me so much joy and fun.  I just want to spread the love!
So Happy Birthday to me and I look forward to learning and making for the next 50 years.  Heavens to Betsy – I really will have to get a bigger wardrobe for all those dresses!

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – ruffles and how to apply them

Felixstowe Sewing School

http://www.felixstowesewingschool.co.uk

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – ruffles and how to apply them!
There is no need to get your feathers ruffled when adding ruffles.  I do like the look of this little chap…..

Following are a few tips that can really help when adding ruffles to a piece of fabric.  The way you gather the fabric being ruffled is key so here we go.

Picture one – stitching the gathering stitches either side of the seam allowanceSet your machine to the longest stitch length it has.  I also often change the colour of the top thread so I can easily see where I have added the gathering threads.
You are going to make ‘tram lines’ of gathering threads either side of the stitching line.  So, if your seam allowance is 1.5 cm you need to stitch along at 0.5 cm and again at 2 cm.  This creates a more controllable line of gathers to sew down later on.
Picture two – Marking the centres

Use a pin or create a little notch in the centre of the ruffle piece and the centre of the piece it’s being stitched to.  Pin the pieces with right sides together at the centre point.  This allows you to create the gathers from both ends of the the threads giving you more control and making adjustments easier.  If you are gathering a particularly long ruffle stitch the gathering in smaller sections so that you have less fabric to manage at each stage.

Picture three – pulling up the gathers

Grab the top threads and pull evenly to create gathers until the ruffle is the same size as the base piece.  You can then arrange the gathers evenly and to your liking knowing.  Repeat on the other half.  Remember to set your machine back to the standard stitching length and backstitch at the beginning and end of stitching.  You can then remove the gathering stitches by pulling them out – which is quite satisfying!

Here I am ready to leap into action and help you with your sewing.

Until then,

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

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