Tricks and Tips for Dyeing Fabric Ready For Dressmaking

sewing machine

Don’t be limited to choosing standard colours for your fabrics, instead get your hands dirty and experiment with adding your own colours with the help of fabric dyes. In this article, we’ll run you through some tips and tricks to help you master the art of fabric dyeing and show you how to create some spectacular colours that you’ll love.

Use natural fabrics
Fabrics with natural fibres will generally be easier to dye than their synthetic counterparts as the dye will take more readily to the natural fibres. For your first dyeing project you’ll want to stick with cotton, linen, silk and wool before moving to other fabrics as well as trim and other accessories.

Start with a blank canvas
While it is always best to start with white fabric this is not always possible, especially if you are looking to reinvent a coloured item. Use a colour remover to help rinse the previous colour from your fabric to help whiten or lighten it ready for you to dye.

Fabric dyeing guide
Once you’ve prepared your fabric you’ll be ready to get started and begin dyeing following the simple steps below:

Step-1: If your fabric is new then make sure you wash it prior to dyeing. Cover your work surface with a waterproof cloth and then fill a large bucket, bin or other suitable container with very hot water (use warm water for wool) you want the fabric to be loose in the container so make sure it is big enough.

Wearing rubber gloves follow the instructions on your dye to add this to the water and add salt for cotton or linen and white vinegar for wool or silk as this will help the fabric take the dye.

Step-2: Add your fabric to the dye mixture and thoroughly wet the fabric using a stainless steel spoon to move the fabric around the water. You should keep the item in the dye for approximately 10 – 15 minutes until it is slightly darker than the colour you want.

Step-3: Once you have achieved the colour you want from the dye you will need to carefully remove the fabric from the due and rinse it in running water, starting warm and going cooler until the fabric runs clear. You could also use your washing machine’s rinse cycle to do this. Remember to wash out your dye bucket immediately afterwards.

Step-4: With the dyeing complete you’ll need to wash the item with a mild detergent on the cold cycle of your washing machine which will help to lock in the dye and keep the colour.

Creating your own colours
Once you’ve got used to the dyeing process you can start creating your own colours and shades. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to make a very small dye batch and using a measuring cup to make a note of how much of each colour you are adding. Using a paper towel, or fabric off cuts you can keep checking the dye until you find a colour you are happy with.

How To Make Blackout Curtains Without Sewing

chair upholstery grass

Have you been struggling to get a good night’s sleep because your room is flooded with light in the early morning? While finding a nice pair of curtains for your bedrooms is easy, finding a pretty pair of blackout curtains is much more difficult. In this blog, we’ll look at how you can transform a pair of standard curtains into your very own blackout blinds without needing to sew.

Step 1 – Hang and measure your curtains

Before you can line your curtains you’ll need to hang and measure your curtains to work out if they need to be taken up at all. Ideally, you want your curtains to sit around 4 to 12 inches from the floor, 6 inches below your window sill or ½ an inch above your window sill. A lot depends on the position of your radiators and whether you want your curtains to be full length and trail to the floor or would like them to hang slightly higher.

Once you have decided on the length you will need to decide on the size of your hem and add this onto your length. You can now cut your fabric to length using a sharp pair of fabric scissors to cut along the line that you have created at the bottom of your curtains.

Step 2 – Cut out your lining

Once you have got your curtains to the right size you can cut out your lining to fit inside the hem at the bottom and sides of your curtains. One of the easiest ways to do this is to place your lining fabric over the top of the back of your curtains flat on the floor and hold it in place with sewing pins. This will then let you check the size and make sure that your hems overlap the lining.

Step 3 – Join the fabrics

One of the easiest ways to join your blackout lining to your curtains is with the help of something called fusible hemming web. This can be used for joining two fabrics together. Simply place the hemming web tape between the two fabrics and then using a standard iron press together until they are bonded. Start by working from the top of the curtain to the bottom keeping the hemming tape and fabric in place with the help of sewing pins.

Step 4 – Hem the bottom

Once the blackout lining is fixed along both sides of the curtains you can fix it at the bottom of the curtain in the same manner. You’ll then be left with the extra hem fabric hanging loose below the lined curtain. To finish this off you’ll need to add a second layer of hemming tape to the hem fabric and the lining to join the hem together and create a neat and professional finish that you’ll be proud of.

Step 5 – Hang your curtains

With a completed set of curtains, the final job left to do is to hang your curtains and start enjoying a darker room and a lot more sleep. This is one of those jobs that will make you wish you’d tackled sooner, and all this without the need to sew.

Simple sewing projects for beginners

Interested in taking up sewing but not sure where to start? Just got a sewing machine and looking for inspiration? In this article, we’ll run through some simple sewing projects to help inspire you and develop a passion for all things sewing. So without further ado, let’s look at some sewing projects that anyone can tackle, regardless of skill or equipment.

Fabric pillow cover

One of the easiest projects around the humble pillow or cushion cover makes a great starting point for anyone just beginning. There are many types of pillow and cushion covers to choose from with some of the easiest designs using the envelope style which requires no closures such as buttons or zippers. Common skills you’ll learn include basic straight stitching, seam finishing and hemming, and all skills that you’ll use on more advanced projects.

Tote bag

Another beginner-friendly project is a tote bag. Not only are they incredibly versatile and useful, now that the majority of people are eschewing plastics, but they also make a fantastic gift item. Using similar skills to that of a cushion cover, a tote bag is the next natural progression and will help teach you about different shapes.

Pyjama Bottoms

Everyone loves a comfy pair of pyjama bottoms and if you’ve mastered the first two projects then these should be well within your comfort zone. One of the great things about pyjamas is that they are designed to be a forgiving fit, which means that you don’t have to be overly worried about the sizing of your garment. Elastic waistbands or drawstrings are a great way to add an element of flexibility and help create a nice comfortable fit.

Zipper purse/pouch

Zippers are one of the things that most people get hung up on the most and seem to have trouble with when it comes to sewing. One of the easiest projects to tackle is a zipper pouch or purse as it involves attaching the zipper to a seam that is open on each end. Unlike a skirt or a dress, an open pouch lets you practice working with zips without needing to sew the ends into a seam.

Like anything the more you sew, the better you will get and the more comfortable with different techniques. All of the projects above can be completed without any special equipment other than a good pair of sewing scissors, needles, material and threads. Of course, a sewing machine will help speed things up, but it is not necessary for the majority of beginner projects.

Making your own cosplay armour using thermoplastic

A growing number of people are getting into cosplay and while shop bought outfits can be appealing a lot of people are choosing to make their own costumes. Using thermoplastics can help anyone who is looking to take their outfit creation to the next level and lets cosplayers create complex armour, weaponry and detailing. In this article, we’ll take you through some tips for making your own armour with the help of thermoplastic such as Wonderflex and Worbla.

Tools you’ll need

We’re going to assume that you already have common items such as marker pens, rulers and a craft cutting board. Some of the essential tools you’ll need to make your own cosplay armour include heat gun, craft scissors, hand punch, roller, sanding sponges, soldering iron, safety glasses and gloves.

Pattern making

In a similar way to how you need a pattern when sewing a costume the same is true when it comes to making your own armour. Luckily there is a simple way to make sure that your armour fits perfectly. Cover the part of your body in cling film and then wrap this in a couple of layers of masking tape. You can now draw the armour shape on the tape and then cut this out to make your pattern. Once you’ve cut out your patterns make sure you test them before tracing these onto your thermoplastic sheets.

Sculpting your armour

Wonderflex and Worbla are both for sculpting but in order to form armour, you’ll probably want to add two sheets together to help add more structure to your creation. Craft foam can also be used as a base to help give even more rigidity where needed. Most thermoplastics can be bonded together by simply heating and rolling together to form a stronger sheet.

To make curves you’ll need to heat your thermoplastic sheet and mould over a form, this is where having a mannequin can really help for creating a chest or back plate for your armour. For arms and legs, you can use different sized pipe or bottles to make the curves that you want. Once you’re happy with the shape and curve you can now cut out the shape of the armour. It is best to cut once the armour has been shaped as this stops the shape from distorting when being stretched and moulded.



 Add details

The great thing about working with thermoplastics is that it is easy to add new pieces to your armour including additional detailing. Spikes, borders and layers can all be created using thermoplastic and then bonded to your armour by heating and putting in place.

Priming and painting

When you are happy with the look of your armour it’s time to start priming and painting it to get the look that you want. A primer will help you create a nice smooth surface and make the finished paint job that much better. If you’ve already put the time and effort in so far then it is well worth taking the time to properly prime your armour.

When painting start off with a base paint that is darker than the end armour as you’ll also be adding highlights and shadows to create contrast. Don’t be afraid to go bold with your highlights and shadows as this will help your finished armour stand out.

Armour fixing

There are many ways to fix your armour but the most important thing is to make sure that it is comfortable to wear. It doesn’t matter how great it looks if it is uncomfortable then you won’t enjoy the experience. Test different fixings including magnets, buckles, belts, and Velcro until you find something that works for you.

Satin dressmaking – steps for sewing success

Whether you are an experienced dressmaker or are relatively new to the world of dressmaking we’ll talk you through how to sew with satin. The shiny and slippery surface of satin makes it one of the most difficult fabrics to manipulate, but in this article, we talk you through how you can tame satin and use it to create the perfect dress.

Duchess satin – this is a versatile, heavyweight and low-lustre fabric that is popular for creating evening wear, bridal and bridesmaid dresses and prom dresses.

Step 1 – Cutting

The first step when using satin for dressmaking is to cut out your pattern. Because of the slippery and shiny nature of satin, this can be extremely difficult to do accurately. There are however some simple tips that will help make your job easier.

  • When using lightweight satin such as charmeuse starching the fabric will help to make it stiffer and sturdier and ready to cut. This technique should only be used for polyester satin and make sure you test a piece of fabric first
  • Where possible use a rotary cutter for satin as this means that you will not need to move the fabric around during cutting
  • When cutting satin with scissors make sure you sharpen them first and use long cutting strokes to help avoid snagging the fabric
  • Make sure that all satin pieces are the same way up as the shine will vary based on the direction

Step 2 – Ironing and pressing

Satin and ironing don’t mix particularly well, that’s why it’s important to make sure you use a pressing cloth. A pressing cloth is placed over the satin and acts as a barrier to ensure that the sheen of the satin below is not ruined. Make sure that you don’t press too hard on seam allowances as these could show through the fabric.

Keep your iron on a very low setting as, even when using a pressing cloth, polyester satin will melt if overheated and you don’t want to ruin your fabric. This is why you should always use a scrap piece as a test and check for damage while pressing before working on your main fabric.

Step 3 – Sewing

With your fabric perfectly cut and ironed it’s now time to sew the pieces together. Make sure that you have the right pins and needles for the job with silk pins and needles recommended as they will help to keep your satin snag and run free. Thread quality is also important when it comes to working with satin. You want the best quality thread you can find, so something along the lines of Gutterman.

sewing thread

Step 4 – Finishing

Neatly finished hems and seams are the sign of good dressmaking and will help to ensure that your finished garment is the best it can be. Here are some tips to help you neatly finish your hems and seams off:

  • With its tendency to fray easily finishing seam allowances can be tricky when using satin. For reasonably heavy weight fabrics such as Duchess satin serging, pinking and zigzag stitch can all be used. Lighter weight fabrics should either use fray check or pinking.
  • French seams are the perfect way to finish satin seams because of the risk of fraying. They may be a little more time consuming but offer beautiful results.
  • Narrow rolled hems are the ideal choice for satin as they provide a nice clean finish. Whether done by hand with a narrow hem foot or using various methods on a sewing machine.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to sewing with satin.