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How to lengthen The Portland Shorts

If you wanted to change the length of your Portland Shorts, don’t let the curved shape of the hem confuse you! It’s a really straight forward alteration. The trick is just to avoid cutting through the curved area, if you are making your shorts longer, so the shape doesn’t distort and the proportions of the curve stay the same.

But I’m also going to talk you through shortening The Portland Shorts and cutting straight through the hem detail, so the split doesn’t get too high on the thigh!

We have the adjustment lines already marked on The Portland Shorts. It’s a staggered line so you can decide which method works best for you. The same principal can be applied to any pattern where you have a detail you’d like to avoid changing; in this case a curve but it could be a placket or a side split that you want to keep the same length. If you don’t have an adjustment line on your pattern just draw one on, keeping it at a right angle to your grain line.

Learn how to lengthen or shorten a shorts pattern

Tools

  • Your pattern (or copy of your pattern if you don’t want to alter your original)
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • tape
  • Paper

Things to be aware of

  • If you are doing lots of alterations to your pattern, do any length adjustments first.
  • Keep the grainline or “place to fold line” IN A STRAIGHT LINE, do not allow them to stagger.
  • The Chain Effect: when altering one pattern piece, also alter the corresponding pattern piece in the same way and remember to check they still fit together after your alteration. In this case, the length of the side seams and in-seams will need to match.

ADD LENGTH TO THE PATTERN

First decide how much longer you would like your shorts. You can measure yourself or an old pair of favourite shorts.

Cut along the adjustment lines marked lengthen (highlighted in the picture) and separate the pattern piece. The line is staggered to avoid cutting through the curve of the hem.

LENGTHEN 

Place a piece of paper behind your pattern and tape the top portion of your pattern to it.

Extend the grain line. Draw a line parallel to the your adjustment line the amount you need to lengthen the pattern by. Tape the lower portion of your pattern to the new line, matching up the grainline. 

Join the pattern pieces back together by re-drawing the seam lines so that they are a smooth line. Then cut away any excess pattern paper.

SHORTEN

When shortening your pattern if you use the upper section of the adjustment line, the split will move upwards and potentially could sit quite high on your leg and possibly interfere with the pocket. To keep the upper most point of the split in the same place when shortening your shorts, use the lower section of the adjustment line.

First decide the amount you want to shorten your shorts by. You can measure yourself or an old pair of favourite shorts.

Cut along the adjustment lines marked shorten (highlighted in the picture) and separate the pattern pieces.

Place a piece of paper behind your pattern and tape the top portion of your shorts pattern to it.

On the pattern, draw a line parallel to the your adjustment line the amount you need to shorten the pattern by.

Overlap the pattern pieces to shorten, taping the lower portion of the pattern to the new line and matching up the grainlines. 

Re-draw the in-seam and the hemline to make sure they are a nice smooth line. Then cut away any excess pattern paper.

REPEAT AND CHECK! 

Make sure to do the same alteration to the front and back leg, and double check they are the same length before cutting out!

All done! Off you go and enjoy those shorts!

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Learn to how to sew a narrow rolled hem

Sewing a narrow, curved or rolled hem can sometimes be a little tricky, especially in a delicate fabric. But we’ve got you covered with our free tutorial!

A shaped or curved hem doesn’t really like having a big hem allowance, it’ll look twisted and ‘ropey’ so a narrow hem is the best option. They can be tricky to finish neatly if you are working with a delicate or lightweight fabric, which is often the fabric of choice for a camisole. Different fabrics can require different construction methods so it’s always nice to have a little arsenal of alternative methods in your tool box should the need arise.

If you are ever in doubt of the best method to use just do a little test on a scrap of fabric. If you are testing the best way to hem a curve, remember to do your testing on a similar shape.

Sewing a Narrow, Curved or Rolled Hem

WS | wrong side of fabric  RS | right side of fabric  SA | seam allowance

TIPS |

  • Press at every step.
  • If you have a ‘bouncy’ fabric that doesn’t hold the press line (like the one I used!) use a few pins to help, but first check they don’t damage your delicate fabrics.
  • If you carefully tack your hem in place along the top edge of the hem allowance, it will give you a guide to follow when you stitch the hem from the RS, ensuring you catch all the allowance.
  • A good final press and steam will shrink any stretching that may have happened on the curved areas.
  • For reference: the fabric I have used for this post is a fine, slippery, (allegedly) silk crepe de chine that was lurking in the stash.

Double Turn Hem | 1cm Hem Allowance

This is my usual method and the one that you will find in The Simone Maker Instructions. The benefits are it’s easy and works for most fabrics. It gives a small, neat hem with all the raw edges enclosed.

  • Machine a row of stitching 5mm from the raw edge all the way around the hem
  • With WS up, press up the raw edge of the hem using the stitch line as a guide.
  • The stitch line should roll to the WS. (I’ve held the hem in place with a pin for the photo).
  • Fold again and press, enclosing the raw edge
  • Stitch the hem, being careful to catch all the hem allowance. (You can see, above, I have partially stitched the hem).

We have a tutorial for the Maria Apron Hem HERE it’s the same principal but there are a few more photos.

Overlock and Turn |

An overlocker (a serger) makes the edge easier to fold neatly, especially if you are double turning the hem. If you don’t have an overlocker you could experiment and see how it looks with your neatening stitch on your usual machine. You can adjust the differential feed of your overlocker on curved hems so the fabric gathers slightly and this will help when you turn up the hem, but I didn’t find it necessary for The Simone pattern in this fabric.

Single turn | The first example is turned once so you can see the overlocking to the WS

  • Overlock the edge of the hem
  • Fold and press the hem the width of the overlocking to WS. Once you’ve done this a few times you may be comfortable to just fold and stitch in one go.
  • Stitch hem

Double turn | This example is turned twice so the overlocking is enclosed, giving a slightly more expensive looking finish.

  • Overlock the edge of the hem.
  • Fold and press the hem the width of the overlocking to WS and stitch.
  • Fold again and stitch on top of your first row, keep folding as you stitch.
  • Again, once you have done this a few times, and are comfortable with the method, it is possible to double fold and stitch in one go.

Traditional Narrow Rolled Hem Method |

This is the usual rolled hem tutorial you’ll often come across. I usually use the first method I listed above because I’m not a huge fan of trimming SA (that’s most likely due to my industry training as it’s not a thing we would have done and I’m a bit lazy if I’m honest), but the benefits of this method is you can make a very narrow hem on trickier lightweight, sheer or slippery fabrics. It would be your go-to method if you ever needed to hem a beautiful floaty circle skirt.

  • 1.5cm Total Hem Allowance
  • Stitch 1cm from raw edge of hem. (yellow stitching)
  • Use the stitch line as guide and press up the raw edge of the hem to the WS, the stitch line will be close but not right on the folded edge.
  • Stitch as close as you can to the folded edge and through all layers and on top of the first row of stitching. Press. (green stitching)
  • Trim away the extra hem allowance as close as you can to the stitch line.
  • Turn the hem again, so all raw edges enclosed and stitch. (blue stitching).
  • Voila! The tiniest tiny, neatest hem!

You can of course use a special rolled hem foot, but I don’t own one so you are on your own if you go down that route!

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How To Sew The Perfect V-neck

I made Eve this V-neck version of The Joy dress. The brief was a shorter Joy with a V-neck and in black. Mission accomplished!  The centre back length of New Joy is 69cm (27”) and we used the Mr.M’s organic black cotton poplin, which gathers beautifully for a frill!

You may have met Eve at one of the shows, she’s our eldest daughter and head of the studio here. I actually made this last summer (you know me, never like to rush into anything, the Queen of procrasination), anyway I thought now would be a good time to share how I did it as the UK is having a heatwave and I’ve actually taken my cardi off!

This is a good little tutorial to have in your sewing kit and not just suitable for The Joy Dress as this is a good way of stitching any V-neckline finished with a facing.

I changed the front neckline but there’s no reason why you couldn’t add a sassy little V in the back too! 

For the purposes of this tutorial I’ve just made a sample of the neckline to show the process of how to sew a v-neck, I haven’t made the bust darts so the neckline lays flat in a photo but you should follow the Joy Maker instructions and pop over here for the neckline sewing bit.

How To sew the perfect V-neckline.

The Pattern

First, you’ll need to alter the pattern. As always when altering a pattern trace off a copy so your original stays intact (if you have the PDF version you can always print another). You will only need to trace the front body and the front facing.


On the pattern draw in the SA (seam allowances) I’ve marked the original ones in red. 

Decide how low you’d like your V to finish and mark on the pattern. I lowered Joy 4cm (marked on my pattern with the arrow).

Redraw your new neckline, my new lines are in green. I used part of the original neckline and used a slightly curved line to join to the lowered point. 

You could draw a perfectly straight line if you wanted to but, and it is a personal choice, I always feel that a V-neck with a slight curve to it looks nicer and less harsh.

Add the 1cm SA( ⅜”) on and cut away the excess pattern.

Repeat for the facing. Just lay the facing and body pattern together, aligned at the top and Centre Front, and trace your new neck shape. You may know that facings should be a slightly different shape to the main body to allow for ‘turn of cloth’ but in this case, because of the straps, we are going to ignore that and keep them the exactly same neckline shape.

The Interfacing

Follow the Joy instructions (steps 1 and 2) and apply fusible stay tape to the wrong side the body at neckline and armhole. I haven’t added any to the facing but if you have a soft or drapey fabric that you would like to give a little more support to, apply interfacing tape to both the body and the facing. 

Sew!

Follow the Joy instructions until you get to step 19. 

At this stage you will have the straps in place. The body and facing are made and placed with right side together, and stitched together across the back and around armhole with just the neckline left to stitch.

Tips for sewing a V-neckline

Make life easier and mark in the SA with a suitable fabric marker – i.e. one that is not going to leave a permanent mark! 

Nothing looks worse than an off centre V (that’s probably an exageration, but you know what I mean). I’ve marked the Centre Front line on the facing just so you can see it, you may want to mark yours.

Stitch with care so you don’t stretch the neckline.

Here’s the clever trick with stitching a ‘V’. 

Using 1cm S/A( ⅜”), start at the strap and stitch towards the point. Start with your normal stitch length, and about 3cm (1½”) up from base of “V” change to a smaller stitch length.

At the ‘V’ base, rather than stitching to a point, pivot (by keeping your needle in the fabric) and stitch HORIZONTALLY across one stitch and then pivot again to continue stitching back up the other side of the neckline.

Stitch for about 3cm (1½”) with the smaller stitch length and then change back to a normal stitch length. Press the stitchline.

Snip very carefully into the SA at base of the ‘V’, right up to but not through the stitch line. It won’t turn cleanly to the right side if you don’t clip in far enough but it will fray if you cut too far!.

Trim the excess SA to 6mm (¼”) so it will turn to the right side cleanly. I rarely use the ‘clipping’ seam allowance method, trimming the SA down to 6mm gives a much smoother curve and is quicker!

Turn to the right side and understitch. Press gently with the seam rolled to inside of garment so not visible on the right side.

There go … the perfect V neck!

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Meet the Maven Maker – Maria Thomas

We get so many amazing Maven Makes sent to us that we want to share even more indepth versions of your makes and story with our community. 

First up we’ve got Maria, a long-time friend of Mrs M and of course, the Maria Apron’s namesake. Maria Thomas is an exhibiting textile artist and lecturer and we bonded on the school run over our love of denim, a love of stitch and a loathing of cooking the tea.

Maria’s work focuses on rehousing everyday objects that have a specific association or meaning to her.  Notions of motherhood, shopping lists, food wrappers and graphic packaging – offering assistance to domestic chores – are carefully sourced, cut out and stitched before being absorbed into the fabric by patchwork and quilting techniques.  Shaping memories and experiences into her own visual language Maria’s work is a response to the events of her daily life.

Maria in her studio wearing her Apron

Do you find yourself reaching for the Maria Wrap a lot? 
Yes. I have two finished aprons that I use a lot, and several half done, waiting for their moment!  The first one I made in a dark-denim chambray fabric, this is my mucky one that I wear for my dye and print classes. The other, I have made in the MM large indigo polka dot fabric and I wear it to give talks or when I’m teaching a less messy workshop like hand embroidery. I love that it’s effortless to wear, its large pockets and there’s no straps to tie.

Maria Exhibiting at The Knitting & Stitching Show

How many have you made so far?

I’ve made around 15 aprons, some to wear and some as part of my textile art.

The Maria Apron was named after you! Why do you think that is?

Mrs M and I met on our local school run, gravitating towards each other through a joint love of fashion & textiles. We spent many a tea time musing over clothing design and avoiding the fish fingers.  So when she announced that the apron was going to be one of her pattern collection I couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and  offered to toile and test the pattern in its early stages, which I did with pleasure.

Any tips for a first-time Maria Apron maker?

Use a mid weight natural fabric like Chambray or  linen. Always wash your fabric first to avoid shrinkage and defiantly toile the pattern in your size first. An old duvet cover is perfect for this, if you haven’t got any calico.

‘Seven Sisters’

How have you personalised your Maven Pattern?

I have edged the straps and hem of my aprons in a self-made bias binding.  Sometimes I appliqué a spoon or denim pocket taken from a pair of jeans to them instead of the original pocket.  I’ve also used the apron pattern in various ways to create  ‘Seven Sisters’, a piece of work inspired by my grandmothers and their sisters, who all wore aprons at one time or another.

No Aprons here, just cheesy grins!

Many thanks to Maria for being our first Maven Maker, and for being a constant source of inspiration and joy!

You can follow Maria on instagram HERE