Simple steps to finish your clothes like a professional

When making your own clothes do you struggle to make them look professional? In this article, we’ll take a look at some simple steps to help make your finished clothes look more professional and give them that high-street finish. So if you want to create boutique worthy creations that are unique follow our top tips below.

Pick the right pattern

One of the best ways to get a professional finish is to ensure you choose a pattern that will flatter your shape. You’re the best person to know which styles and cuts work well on your body so use this knowledge to pick patterns that match these. Don’t let the images of models sway you into buying a style or shape that you don’t normally wear.

When looking for patterns make sure to check the recommended fabrics to get an idea of which fabrics will be suitable for making the end garment. Also if you are thinking of using a patterned fabric take the time to work out how difficult it will be to match the fabric once you start cutting out the pattern.

Wash your fabric before cutting

There’s nothing worse than spending hours creating the perfect garment only to have it ruined in the first wash. By washing the fabric first you’ll be able to see if there is any change in the feel or drape of the fabric, any colour change or if there is any shrinkage.

Iron frequently

When creating your project you’ll want to keep ironing during creation to help create a professional finish. For example, iron seams closed before ironing them open for a sharper finish. Use an ironing ham or oven gloves to hold fabric in place while ironing and prevent burnt fingers.

Select the right needle

When starting a new project we’d recommend changing to a new needle where possible for the best results. Dull or blunt needles can cause snagging, missed stitches and cause the needle to snap. Remember to always choose the most suitable needle for the fabric you will be using.

Sharp point needles – These are a great choice for woven fabrics such as cotton or linen as the slim needles have a sharp point that creates a nice even stitch with very little puckering.

Ball point needles – For sewing jersey or stretch fabrics ball point needles are the perfect choice as the rounded needle can slip between threads of the fabric without snagging it.

Universal point needles – The go-to choice for a lot of projects, universal point needles are a little bit wider than standard sharp point needles and have a slightly rounded point and can be used for both jersey and woven fabrics.

Hang before hemming

It’s important to let your fabric hang before hemming in order to let the fabric settle and drop. This is best done by leaving your garment on a dressmaker’s dummy or a padded hanger for 24 hours or longer. Once the fabric has settled you can finish your hems and be sure that you won’t be left with a wavy hem.

Don’t rush things

It can be tempting to stay up late to finish your garment but if you’re tired or trying to rush then chances are the end result won’t be as good as it could be. Sewing should always be pleasurable and the best results are always achieved when you have plenty of time to enjoy it.

A beginners guide to making unlined curtains

If you have small or large windows in your home then it can seem like an impossible job to find curtains that fit properly, but before you decide to fork out on custom made curtains why not read our beginners guide to curtain making. In this tutorial, we’ll take you through how to make your own unlined curtains and save yourself plenty of money along the way as well as creating something that’s fully bespoke.

Things you’ll need

  • Tailors chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing machine, needles and thread
  • Heading tape
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Suitable fabric

Measure your fabric

The first step to creating your curtains is to measure your windows to work out how much fabric you’ll need. Depending on the width of the windows and the pattern of your material you’ll also need to work this out based on how often the pattern repeats. It’s always best to order more material than you need to make sure that you have enough for pattern matching.

Cutting the fabric

Remember the old adage measure twice and cut once, well this definitely applies when it comes to cutting your curtains. You’ll want to cut the lengths of fabric to your finished length + 8 inches for the hem and the pattern repeat measurement. So if the pattern repeats every 12 inches then this will need to be added to the measurement to get the length you need. When cutting your fabric remember to use a sharp pair of fabric scissors to make sure you get a nice clean cut.

Joining the fabric widths

Unless your window is really narrow you’ll probably need to join at least a couple of widths of fabric together to make your curtains. Pin the fabric widths together matching the pattern as you go or for plain fabrics use a half inch seam. If you are using an odd number of widths for your curtains e.g. you need 5 widths for your set of curtains then join all the widths together first before cutting down the middle. The half width will then go on the outside with the full width in the middle.

Hem the sides

Using your iron press and pin a 1 inch + 1 inch hem on the outer edges of each curtain, this should be flat stitched with a colour matched thread close to the edge of the inner fold. If you want a professional finish then you can either hand hem the sides or use a sewing machine with a blind hem stitch.

Hem the bottom of the curtains

By now your curtains should be starting to really take shape and so the next step is to hem the bottom of the curtains. Turn up a 3 inch + 3 inch hem on the bottom edge of the curtain and use an invisible hem stitch or a blind hem stitch with your sewing machine. Slip-stitch the open ends of the seams to create a neat folded edge.

Add the heading tape

If you’ve made it this far then you are nearly finished. The final step is to add the heading tape to your curtains which will let you attach it to your curtain track or pole. Smooth the curtain out on a clean flat surface with the seams and hems facing upwards and measure from the bottom to the top marking out the finished length. Fold the top of the curtain over at the finished length and trim the folded material down to 2.5 inches and iron lightly.

Once folded you need to pin your heading tape to the top edge of the curtain to hold it in place. Now you can stitch along the top and bottom edges of the tape with a thread that matches your fabric colour. You just need to attach your curtain hooks to your heading tape and you’re ready to hang your custom made curtains.

How to care for your hat or fascinator

Whether you’re into making your own hats or just love wearing hats, learning to take care of your hats properly will help to keep them looking their best for years to come. In this blog, we’ll take a look at ways that you can care for your collection of hats and fascinators and cover topics such as handling, storing, cleaning and repair.

Handling

One of the easiest ways to keep your hat in great condition is to make sure that you handle it correctly. And while different hats may have different care instructions handling is one area that is fairly standard across all types of hats. Avoid picking up your hat by the crown and where possible pick it up by the edge of the brim with clean, dry hands.

When placed on your head put it into position by placing your hand on the crown, rather than the brim. For the majority of hats, you should avoid getting them wet as this can cause it to lose its shape. If your hat does get wet then let it dry naturally to help it keep its shape.

Sweatband cleaning

Although you won’t see the sweatband while wearing your hat it is often the most stained part of your hat due to perspiration, makeup and hair products. Luckily the sweatband is simple to clean to help keep your hat smelling fresh. Fabric sweatbands can be folded down and cleaned with a mild clothes detergent and water mixture. Use a soft brush to scrub the surface and blot with a clean damp white cloth to remove stains.

For leather sweatbands, you can use commercial leather cleaning products to remove stains and odours and fold down in the same way as you would a fabric sweatband to clean. Leave to dry naturally while still folded down and once dry use a leather conditioner to keep it supple.

Hat exterior cleaning

The most visual part of your hat the exterior should be cleaned frequently to help stop the build-up of dirt and dust. Use a soft bristle brush or lint roller to remove dirt, dust and lint and work around the hat slowly following the nap of the fabric. For delicate trim like feathers, ribbons and flowers you can use a hair dryer on a low cool setting to blow away dust. Sticky tape can also be helpful for removing dust and lint from your hat.

Dented crown repair

One of the simplest ways to remove a dent in the crown of a hat is to hold the hat over the steam from a kettle for a few seconds. The steam should help soften the material and let you simply push out the dent or crease in the material. Once the dent has disappeared you can simply let the hat dry out and the dent should have disappeared.

Feather repair

Droopy feathers can be resurrected by placing over steam for a couple of seconds, while broken feathers can be mended with a touch of PVA added to the broken section of stem. Bent feathers can be straightened with hair straighteners on their lowest setting when used on the stem. Feathers which have gone past the point of repair can be removed and replaced from most hats by pinching out of the glue if this fails you can always snip them off at the base.

Storing your hats and fascinators

For short and long-term storage of hats and fascinators, it really is hard to look past a decent set of hat boxes. Not only do they help to keep your hat free from dust and dirt, but they also help protect the colour from bleaching in the sun. Hats should be stored upside down on their crown or supported on a bed of tissue paper so the weight is not placed on the brim. Feathers, flowers and veils should also be propped up using tissue paper to make sure they keep their shape.

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.

Fun craft activities to keep the kids entertained this summer

 

Keeping the children entertained in the summer holidays can be a full-time occupation and one that will leave you trying to think of new and fun ways to keep them busy without breaking the bank. In this article, we take you through 5 fun craft activities that you can try with your kids this summer. So let’s get started and tell you what you’ll need to enjoy these craft activities.

1.     Decoupage

Transform an old shoebox into a treasure chest or a metal biscuit tin into a bank with the help of decoupage. Wallpaper, stamps, photos, magazine cuttings and wrapping paper are just some of the materials that can be used as decoupage material. The idea is to cut pieces of material out and stick them to your item of choice before finishing with a clear glue coating on top to protect and seal your work. Embellishments such as ribbons, buttons, rhinestones, glitter and charms can all be added with a final clear coat of glue.

2.     Make some slime

We’re yet to meet a child who doesn’t adore slime so this one should go down well with children of all ages. There are many recipes on the internet for homemade slime but most feature ingredients that are hard to come by in the UK. So here are the ingredients you’ll need: PVA glue, bicarbonate of soda, contact lens solution that contains boric acid, gel food colouring and glitter.

Method: To make your slime add 1 cup of PVA glue into a large clean bowl and mix in 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Next, add your food colouring – a couple of drops should be enough, and add in your glitter if using it and mix well until combined. Finally, add 1 tablespoon of contact lens solution and use an old wooden spoon to mix together until it becomes stringy, continue stirring until it no longer sticks to the bowl and then finish off by kneading with your hands.

3.     Soap making

Not only will soap making keep your kids entertained but it will also make bath time that little bit more enjoyable as they’ll want to use the soap that they made. Young children will need some adult help to make their own soap but older kids will be able to do this on their own. Things you’ll need: plastic soap moulds – cups also work, vegetable cooking spray, pure glycerine soap, microwave safe measuring jug, assorted soap dye colours, essential oils, small plastic toys or trinkets.

Making the soap is simple and involves spraying the inside of the mould with vegetable oil, melting the soap in the microwave and adding a couple of drops of your soap dye and essential oils before pouring into the mould. Toys can be embedded in the middle by pouring the soap in 2 stages and placing the toy on the first layer of soap prior to pouring the second half. Soap making is a fun activity for kids of all ages.

4.     Tin can skittles

Hands up who remembers tin can skittles from their childhood? Not only will tin can skittles bring back nostalgic memories but it also provides a great and fun way for you to pass on this fun game to your children. What’s more, you can eek out the time by decorating your own skittles using nothing more than empty food tin cans, we’d recommend using the ring pull variety as these have a smooth internal edge.

To make the skittles you’ll need 9 empty and clean food tins that have had their labels removed. You can decorate the tin cans with any standard paint such as emulsion or use chalk paint to create cans that you can write on. For those who don’t want to use paint the tin cans could be wrapped in wallpaper or wrapping paper for speed. Just line up and use a soft ball to knock them down for a game that your kids will love.

5.     Tie-dye a shirt

Have some fun on a warm summer’s day by making some tie-dye shirts and hanging them out on the line to dry. This is a great activity for groups of older kids as they can have fun with their friends creating something that they can keep and that is completely unique. It’s not just older kids who will love tie-dye as the whole family can get involved.

Method: Make sure that the kids are wearing old clothes that you don’t mind getting dye on. Mix the fabric dye in a large stainless-steel container and add a cup of salt to help enhance the colour. Tie rubber bands around different sections of your plain white t-shirt to create your patterns. Soak the t-shirt in hot water and then wring out any excess water prior to dipping in the dye bath. For multiple colour patterns hold each section in the different dye colours for between 10 – 20 minutes. Remove t-shirt from the dye and rinse with warm and then cooler water until the water runs clear, make sure you wear gloves so your hands don’t get dyed. Once rinsed just hang out on the line and admire your handiwork.