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PATTERN HACK…How to make an Off the Shoulder Top!

Off The Shoulder Tops…

THEWENDYARTISANSMOCK_OFFSHOULDERTUTORIAL_MAVENPATTERNS-28

 

…they’re everywhere this summer, aren’t they? I’m not one to usually bother with fashion trends. I’m not a big fan of buying or especially making clothes unless it’s something I really love and will wear loads. I do, however, like to get the maximum mileage out of a pattern, fabric and mostly out of my time. I thought about this trend for a while and came to the conclusion the off the shoulder top, or The ‘Bardot’ Top (or as my eldest called it Bar-Dot, worth writing a tutorial just for that!), could actually become a holiday summer basic.

I started with The Wendy Artisan Smock pattern and thought this would be a great little pattern hack to share. It does make the most perfect beach cover-up, just lengthen your pattern to get the leg coverage you are after. It would also make a delightful holiday dress with a little tie belt at the waist too. I’ve made it in an embroidered spot voile. Beautiful fabric – but be warned, it is quite sheer in the white if you are going down the dress route!

And I thought I should probably share it now as in England we’ve had more than 3 days of glorious sunshine this summer, and it’s now 50/50 (yes, I know that’s being optimistic) for the rest of August wether we get any more sunshine.

OFF THE SHOULDER TOP TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

| SUPPLIES |

Wendy Artisan Top Pattern, Tape measure, Scissors, 1 metre (approx) of 2.5cm wide Elastic, Safety Pin

I recommend, as always, making a toile: it’s a test run in calico or a cheap fabric – you don’t want to waste your favourite fabric on a less the perfect top!

  1. Cut out your pattern using VERSION B (with no centre front neck opening) and don’t cut the binding pattern.
  2. NECKBAND: cut one long rectangle 7.5cm wide  x  SMALL: 123cm long / MEDIUM: 128.5 cm long / LARGE: 134cm long. It can be cut along the selvedge or across the fabric width on the straight grain. 

OFF THE SHOULDER TOP TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

Make up your top, following the instructions in the pattern: Attach pockets and sleeves, close side seams.

Cut neckline down by 4cm. Of course you could trim down your pattern pieces before cutting out your garment.

OFF THE SHOULDER TOP TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

Press the neckband in half length wise

OFF THE SHOULDER TOP TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

Join with a 1cm seam allowance to make the neck band into a loop, press the seam open

OFF THE SHOULDER TOP TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

| Attach the band |

Pin neckband to RIGHT SIDE of the body. Depending on your fabric your neckline may ‘grow’ as it’s on the bias grain in places, just ease your garment onto the neckband.

OFF THE SHOULDER TOP TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

Stitch your band to the body with a 1cm seam allowance. Leave a gap of about 5cm to thread your elastic through.

To get your elastic length: wrap elastic around shoulders where you want your top to sit, pulling slightly so it stretches, and mark. It needs to be tight enough to stay up but not so tight it cuts off the circulation and if it’s too tight it will ride up, too loose and it’ll drop down! Everyone’s measurement will vary as it depends on a lot of outside factors how stretchy is your elastic/ how tight are you comfortable with etc?

OFF THE SHOULDER TOP TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

| Thread the elastic |

(This is the same process as the sleeve hem for the Smock) Attach a safety pin to your elastic to help thread it through the neckband channel. Once threaded lay the elastic with the ends flat on top of each other and stitch where you marked it earlier. Try your smock on and see how that elastic feels, now is the time to adjust if you need to. Once you are happy, make sure that elastic is stitched securely, and trim away excess elastic.

OFF THE SHOULDER TOP TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

Then just stitch the gap closed, and neaten the raw seam allowance.

OFF THE SHOULDER TOP TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS

 

Now just enjoy the sun in your off the shoulder top, like the fashionista you are!

 

 

 

 

 

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The How to Gather Fabric Tutorial

 

HOW TO GATHER FABRIC TUTORIAL_ MAVEN PATTERNS

I’ve always avoided sewing garments that had lots of gathering, it seemed like such a lot of work. But with my next pattern release, The Wendy Artisan Smock, I couldn’t really escape it as the whole neckline is gathered and then bound – talk about facing your sewing demons – I’ve now made so many samples, that gathering necklines has actually become quite therapeutic!

So anyway, there is always more than one way to stitch anything, but this is my straightforward method for how to gather fabric using a sewing machine.

Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial

Set your stitch length to the LONGEST possible stitch length for your machine.

You need to stitch 2 rows in the seam allowance, parallel to each other, the first about 3mm from the edge of the fabric. These MUST NOT CROSS each other! Leave long ends to the threads.

Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial

In the case of The Wendy Smock, we’re gathering a neckline that is to be finished with binding, so it’s quite a long run of gathering. I found the best way to manage this was to work in sections (front, back and shoulders), stopping and the restarting at each seam. If your run of gathering is too long, the threads break – trust me, that can be just a little bit annoying.

Pull up the two long threads that are facing you (ignore the ones at the back) and gently slide the fabric along until gathers form, you can work from both ends.

Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial Continue pulling up the threads until your fabric is gathered to the correct measurement, then wrap the excess fabric temporarily around a pin to hold. Continue along the neckline until it’s all gathered.

Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial

Double check your gathering is pulled up to the correct measurements, try your Wendy Smock Top on and see if it sits right on you. More gathers will make a smaller neckline and less will make a wider neckline, remember to make a note of the new measurements if you change them! When you are happy tie the threads securely together to fix them – you could stitch them in place by hand if you prefer, especially if you are not finishing your garment now.
Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial Then all you need to do is make sure all your gathering is spread evenly before you finish your neckline. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to set your machine BACK to normal stitch length, it’s not like I’d forget to do something like that…

Happy sewing!

Mrs M x

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How to make patch pockets perfectly – every time!

 | How to make patch pockets perfectly EVERY time! |

One of the tricks I learnt after first leaving college (when I was still just a lowly Design Room assistant) was how to make patch pockets perfectly EVERY time – even when they have curved bottoms! I worked with some great sample machinists, who showed me this little trick. Of course, they let me do it wrong a few times before revealing the easiest way in the world.

If you have downloaded The Maria Wrap Apron PDF pattern, or the as-yet-soon-to-be-released Wendy Artisan Smock Pattern (exciting…more to be revealed later!) you will already have seen the pattern piece labelled POCKET FORMER with the instruction to cut in card only – this is the same shape as your patch pocket pattern piece but WITHOUT THE SEAM ALLOWANCE and ladies that is the trick – just press your pocket AROUND a piece of card cut to the correct shape!

If you are using a pattern from another designer and don’t have a pocket former pattern piece – fear not! Just trace off your patch pocket pattern piece (or print an extra – oh, the joys of PDF patterns) and cut off ALL the seam allowances to follow along, but do remember to keep the original pocket pattern.

A MRS MAVEN TOP TIP: This is the same method that I used to ‘card’ my design patterns ready to send off to the factories for mass production. So feel free to card the whole pattern if it’s one you use a lot, it’ll last forever!! 

HOW TO MAKE PERFECT PATCH POCKETS_ MAVEN PATTERNS

If you are looking for a little help to make and stitch your pockets on The Maria Apron or The Wendy Smock, we have another patch pocket tutorial here.

To make a pocket former template in card you will need:

  • One patch pocket FORMER pattern piece (or a pattern WITHOUT seam allowances)
  • A piece of card bigger than the pattern piece, a cereal box is good.
  • Stapler ( and a stapler extractor is useful)
  • Ruler, paper scissors and pencil

Patch Pocket Tutorial - Maven PatternsTake your POCKET FORMER PATTERN PIECE and fold in half. Take your piece of card and fold in half scoring the fold flat – I use the handle of my scissors.

Patch Pocket Tutorial - Maven Patterns

Place together, make sure the folded edges of both are aligning or your card template will be the wrong size later! Staple to hold in place.

Patch Pocket Tutorial - Maven Patterns

Use the ruler and trace around the outside edge, taking care that you make a right angle at that centre fold line or you’ll get an odd pointy shape in the centre when you cut out the template.Patch Pocket Tutorial - Maven PatternsCut out carefully. Because you are cutting it out while folded you know both side are going to be symmetrical.

Patch Pocket Tutorial - Maven Patterns

Un-staple and remember to write which pattern it belongs to!

So now what do you do with it?

Patch Pocket Tutorial - Maven Patterns

Lay your card pocket former template on your pocket and press the seam allowance all the way around. You’ll get a smooth matching curve on EVERY pocket you make.

Patch Pocket Tutorial - Maven Patterns

Oh Look they match…how delightful!! Now all you need to do is stitch them on!

Need a little help bagging out your pocket corner, or doing the reinforcement stitch? Check out our other PATCH POCKET TUTORIAL here.

Happy Sewing!

Mrs M x