Top Tip: An easy way to store your sewing machine needles!

An easy way to store sewing machine needles

So having dealt with the issue of storing my hand sewing needles with my origami needle wrap (free pdf pattern here) my attention turned to my machine needles. Up until now I’ve had them stored in one of the drawers of my Ikea Moppe mini drawer unit. I think every craft space must have one of those right?

In any case, that storage method was certainly adequate. But for some reason it bugged me that I had to rummage around to find the needle pack I needed and couldn’t see at a glance when I was running low. So I’d occasionally go in search of a particular type of needle only to find I’d run out of that size/type. Not a massive issue as other needles will always do the job at a push. But I find my machine produces a better stitch when it has the right needle for the right job…An easy way to store sewing machine needles

I had just restocked all my machine needles. So it seemed a good time to sort out an improved storage solution for them. As it happened, I’d been on a bit of a purge/sort out mission all week. Among the things I’d  donated  to the charity shop was an old organiser/ring binder; (like a cheap filofax thing) but I’d kept back the plastic inserts above. They had multiple sections for business/credit cards and it occurred to me they were the perfect size  for machine needle packs!

An easy way to store sewing machine needles

So I simply cut them into separate pieces…

An easy way to store sewing machine needles

Hole punched each corner…

An easy way to store sewing machine needles

Then whacked in a split ring with a lobster clasp connected.

An easy way to store sewing machine needles

So every needle pack now has it’s own little see through pouch. So I can find the one I need quickly and easily and see at a glance if I’m running low etc…

An easy way to store sewing machine needles

And the whole thing hangs right next to where I sit at the sewing machine for easy access and makes the little organisational addict in me smile inside, lol!

An easy way to store sewing machine needles

There!! Much better than having them bundled in a drawer or strewn across my worktop!

How do you store yours? Any other nifty storage tricks you use in your sewing space?

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FO: Denim Kimono (+ maybe a future pattern?)

So one of the first gaps I noticed in my wardrobe a few days into Me Made May was a Spring jacket that went with everything. When it comes to a versatile little jacket that goes with everything then denim jackets are a classic. However, a classic denim jacket is not quite my style. So I decided to have a play and come up with a slightly different take on the wardrobe staple that is the denim jacket, but a little more aligned with my personal style. And I have to say, this hasn’t been off my back since I finished it!

Enter the denim kimono jacket…denim kimono diy (2)

So we all know I love a kimono as evidenced here, here and here 😉  Originally this was going to be a longer length. But during construction I tweaked and played with the proportions and decided that actually, the cropped proportions of the body and sleeves were exactly what I needed to complement the looser trousers and shorter tops I’m wearing most at the moment. And indeed more of a reference to the proportions of the classic denim jacket that was my starting point….denim kimono diy (7)

There are some fit issues at the back that I need to address. I ended up taking a big tuck out of the CB to get it to hang the way I wanted. The back neckline needs to come in closer to the neck so the kimono band sits a little snugger to the neck, (which will involve a little shaping to the band itself too). Then there’s the width across the back at armhole level. Excess fabric there so I need to have a play with the sleeve and armhole configuration and remove a little of that. BUT, that said, for something that started out as an experiment I am MORE than happy with how this turned out. It’s kinda my perfect jacket! And none of the above is going to stop me from wearing this all Summer. They’re issues that only us sewists would notice. (Although I can’t help myself pointing them out to everyone that says they like my jacket. Sewist or not, lol!)

I wanted to reference the classic denim jacket a little further by adding little details like contrast stitching and jeans hardware…denim kimono diy (8)

Which brings me onto a close up of those pockets. The long rectangular shape was initially to do with what I felt best fit the overall proportions of the jacket. Then it occurred to me that they were almost identical in size and shape to my my mobile phone!! Which of course I have on me at ALL times because I am addicted. So naturally, they are now sized perfectly to accommodate my Samsung Galaxy, ha ha! Well…what is designing your own clothes about if you can’t add in little details like that to perfectly suit your needs 😉 (And no, as someone asked me on IG, I don’t have two mobile phones. But one pocket would’ve just looked weird 😉 )denim kimono diy (1)

My other favourite detail on this make are the split cuffs. They echo the kimono band on the jacket opening and kinda unify the style I think…denim kimono diy (9)

The fabric is this denim from Remnant Kings, who incidentally are celebrating their 70th anniversary this week! So basically, they were around the last time that sewing was this popular, and they rode out the dry spell of the intervening years between then and now. Which to me is pretty darn impressive. So I’m taking this opportunity to wish them a very warm and heartfelt Happy Anniversary and a thank you for the way they continue to support this blog 🙂 Mwah to Hazel and the team there!

 

Now, onto the (hopefully intriguing) subtitle of this post! I’ve had a few people on social media ask if I am thinking of releasing this (and previous self drafted makes) as a pdf pattern. Well….there’s a short answer and a long answer. And being of a slightly verbose disposition I will give you the longish answer! And also because I am AWFUL at keeping secrets, and now that the question has arisen, yes. I HAVE, behind the scenes been working towards the goal of developing a line of sewing pattern designs under the “Makery” brand. And yes, this jacket has now been added to the list of patterns that I want to develop further. There is alot more that I could say on this subject, but that’s kind of another blog post. Which I will write in due course. Suffice to say for now, in all likelihood, I will be releasing a line of sewing patterns in the near (ish) future. But as this is a new avenue for me, with lots to learn, explore and consider, I can’t yet say exactly when that will be. I have not yet figured out how long the process will take.  But essentially I’m gradually building up a stack of “personal” patterns that I think will appeal to some of you out there. It feels like a natural progression for me now, to start working towards the goal of refining and making these available online. So yep. There’s my little bit of news. Watch this space over the coming weeks 😉

 

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DIY: Origami Needle Wrap (+ free pdf pattern)

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

Sometimes I need a break from sewing and just need to get my craft on! For ages my sewing needles have been scattered about between my pin dish and various other little pots and drawers; and I could never find the needle that I wanted, when I wanted it. And so…this little leather origami needle wrap was born…ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

The origami needle wrap features  a simple envelope shape, with a wrap around magnetic closure. The whole thing opens out to lay flat on your work surface and 3 separate felt inserts allow you to organise needles by type/size etc. It’s super simple to make and you can download the free pattern at the end of this post if you want to make one of your very own 🙂ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

I made mine from 1mm natural leather. I got the whole thing out of a 20cm  x  20cm square purchased on ebay here. I used 1mm wool felt for the inside. Also purchased on ebay here. Magnets used here are strong neodymium disc magnets that I had left over from my air dry clay fridge magnets and are available here. ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

First step is to cut out and trace the template onto the leather. I used a Frixon pen for this, as the marks can be removed later simply by applying heat from an iron (through a pressing cloth as opposed to directly onto the leather)…I use these quite alot directly onto fabric when I’m sewing too. Awesome pens!ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

To mark the position of the slit opening for the strap, I simply used the tip of my seam ripper to make an indentation through the paper pattern and onto the leather…ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

Cut the whole thing out carefully…

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

Then using a scalpel cut the slit opening as indicated on the pattern. Note the pen marks that are currently still visible…

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

…and after the application of a little heat, magically vanished!!

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

The wrap is then assembled as above. The strap slides through the little slit from the RS. Magnets are super glued in place. Make sure before you stick the magnets down that they are the right way up. If you stick them the wrong way, the closure magnets will repel away from eachother as opposed to fastening.  The placement marks on the pattern are right for the materials that I used. But different materials will have a different “turn of cloth” value (they will fold slightly differenly) which may subtly affect the placement of the fasteners. Tape the whole arrangement above in place, and just test it all wraps up and closes to your satisfaction before you commit to gluing the magnets in place and securing all the element permanently. ( I use magic tape as there isn’t the sticky residue that you get with sellotape)

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

The strap is stitched in place from the outside, and there is a dotted line on the pattern piece for the strap that lines up with the slit to help you get it in the right position. (if you sink it too far in to the slit, it will effectively reduce the length of the strap which then won’t wrap around fully).

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

Cut and stick in the felt (magnet is now nicely covered!) I used bondaweb for neatness , but glue/spray adhesive should be fine too; as long as it doesn’t soak the felt too much or seep out onto the leather around the edges

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

Add your needles and stand back and admire!

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

I really am a little in love with the neatness and simplicity of this shape…

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

The absence of any visible closures adds to the clean lines 🙂

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

The pattern is available, free to download, here and conveniently prints onto just one sheet of A4.  I’d love to hear from you if you make one so do let me know in the comments, or tag me @portialawrie over on Instagram so I can see!

ORIGAMI NEEDLECASE - FREE PDF PATTERN FROM MAKERY.CO.UK

Enjoy your new “luxe” needle wrap!!

 

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FO: Ponte Linden (+ thoughts on achieveing the perfect knit neckband!)

Well what do you know? The sun was shining on Sunday (as it is today, hurrah!!) so I ducked out to get a few daylight shots of this new Linden…I’ll preface this post by warning you that I meander into alot of theorising and calculating the length of the perfect neckband based on the stretch percentage of the fabric you use. So if that is likely to make your eyes roll back in your head….look away now, lol!ponte linden

I cut down a size this time round and went for view B. The fit across the upper bust, neckline and shoulders turned out way better. I haven’t quite fathomed why there is so much excess at the hem and under the bust. Although to be fair I haven’t given it a great deal of thought because I’m not overly bothered. I suspect it’s a combination of the need for an FBA and perhaps that the ponte that I used has more drape (and stretch, which I’ll come to in a bit!) than the recommended sweatshirt fabric. No matter. I still love it and it’s worn as soon as it comes out of the drier. (Also, the folds are nowhere near as exaggerated IRL. I think perhaps the photo being taken in full sun ramped up the shadow and contrast somewhat!)

ponte linden

So…the fabric!  It’s this beauuuuutiful ponte from Dragonfly fabrics in the Bark colourway. Now on special so probably won’t be around for long!. So.Freakin.Soft.  What’s more, I was really taken with the contrasting RS and WS of this fabric and decided to play with that on this make…

ponte linden

Construction was as per pattern instructions…except as I said, I reversed the fabric on the front and back pieces so the body contrasted with the sleeves…

ponte linden

Oh…and  I added a split hem band similar to my Maya top here

ponte linden

Regular readers will perhaps remember that I raised the neckline on my Linden pattern as it sat a little too wide on me. You can read the simple “how to” on that adjustment here. But of course, adjusting the width of the neckline means you need to cut a new neckband piece because the circumference of the neckline has changed. As luck would have it the width of the pattern piece for the neckline band is more or less the same as my 2″ wide roll of masking tape. And you know how I love a bit of a masking tape cheat, lol!

So….all that remained was for me to establish the new circumference of the neckline and cut a new neckband piece to fit. Up until this point I’ve always just cut a neckband approx 2″ smaller than the circumference of the neckline. To varying degrees of success. Sometimes that would work pretty well. Sometimes not. So I decided to delve a little into the maths of the perfect knit neckline. Somewhere, and for the life of me I can’t find that post no, (**update: it’s here! Thanks Gillian!) I read about a slightly different way of measuring the neckline for a knit….ponte linden

Instead of measuring the circumference, you take the total measurement between those 3 points above….and cut the neckband to that size. This made good sense to me so I though I’d give it a go. To give you an idea, the neckline circumference was 61cm. Measuring between those 3 points gave me a measurement of 52.5cm. So a difference of 8.5cm which is a little over 3″ shorter than the actual neckline (I usually cut about 2″ shorter so I was optimistic that shortening the band by that extra inch would yield an improvement)…

ponte linden

So….with my trusty roll of masking tape I marked out a strip 52.5cm long on my fabric (plus a small serger SA)…

ponte linden

Joined it, folded it, then marked the centre and side points…

ponte linden

And lined those up with the corresponding CF/CB and shoulder points on my neckline. So you can see the theory in practice here. The band should stretch to fill in those gaps and therefore turn the neckline in, so it lays flat once sewn. Awesome.

ponte linden

Now, it actually yielded a pretty good neckline! It lays perfectly in the front, but is a teeny bit baggy in the back neckline. Meaning the neckband was probably, among other things, still slightly too long. But seriously it’s miniscule, and doesn’t really  warrant the geek out I’m about to embark on. But sometimes I just fall down a geeky rabbit hole and need to get it straight in my head. So…..I started ruminating on how I needed to tweak my technique and play with the math to establish the correct length of the neckband. I think I made an error on 2 fronts….

ponte linden (6)a

Referring back to that picture of my neckline I’ve now marked in those 3 points as A, B, and C. Now, when I marked the alignment points on the neckline band I just defaulted to CB/CF and crucially, put my shoulder alignment marks midway between those two points. But , (and this is where I think I went wrong) the distance from shoulder point to shoulder point, is different across the back neckline (A to B), than it is at the front neckline (A to C to B). So actually it’s not an even distribution of the neckband around the neckline, but a proportional one….

ponte linden (10)a

So what I’m thinking I should have done (and I’d like to hear your thoughts on this peops), is measure from A to B, and mark my shoulder points along the back neckline according to that measurement. However, moving those points back will mean more neckband length needs to be absorbed into the front neckline. And well….that’s no good because at the moment it’s sitting perfectly. Gah! Which means, actually it’s still too long. Which brings me onto the dreaded stretch percentage…

I actually don’t think there is a hard and fast formula/rule that will work on every project I suspect it’s a combination of factors….and stretch percentage HAS to be factored in. So I needed to work that out in order to try and reverse calculate what my perfect neckband length should have been, with stretch percentage taken into account…ponte linden

What you’re looking at here is my metre rule, laid flat on my cutting table and butted up against a wall so it won’t go anywhere. A folded band of my fabric bulldog clipped to the end of my ruler.

ponte linden

I take hold of the fabric with my thumbnail at the 10cm mark…

ponte linden

Then stretch it along the ruler until I feel it reaching the limits of it’s stretch capacity, and note the number my thumbnail reaches. 15 in this case.

So, to calculate stretch percentage it’s the second measurement (15) divided by the first (10) then minus 1. Which in this instance is 0.5. Which means this fabric has a stretch percentage of 50%.

Now, here’s my theory, that I intend to test out on my next neckline. And again, I’d love your thoughts on this. Using the “triangle measurement” method I cut my neckband at 52.5cm. (Apologies for flitting between metric and imperial peops!) The actual circumference of my neckline was 61 cm. Same calculation as above  (61/52.5)-1= 0.16.  So the neckband that I’m attaching is stretching by 16% to get round the circumference of the neckline.  For a fabric with 50% stretch, that’s less than half the potential stretch available to me on this particular neckline. Now I know, from how the neckband turned out that it’s not quite stretching enough to lay completely flat all the way around.  Which means I’m close, but not quite close enough.

So how about this….if I theorise/guestimate that I want to use half of the stretch percentage available to me, (to get a balance between stretching but not over stretching my neckband), then I would need this band to stretch by 25%….and therefore be 25% smaller than my neckline. So….if I take my original neckline circumference of 61cm and reduce that by 25% as follows 61 x 0.25 = 15.25 then 61 – 15.25 = 45.75cm.

So, if I had cut my neckline at 45.75 cm instead of 52.5cm….would it have laid flat all the way round?  It’s a difference of 6″ to the neckline circumference so it sounds extreme. Hmm…not sure about that one. 6″ seems alot doesn’t it? 3″ shorter than I actually cut it. The finished neckline wasn’t THAT far wrong. Perhaps I should strike the middle ground between the 16% difference the “triangle method” gave me and the 25% figure and opt for a neckband 20% shorter than the neckband circumference. That would make my neckband 4.8″ shorter than my neckline. 1.8″ shorter than I actually cut it. That sounds more feasible to me. Knowing how the back neckline turned out that 1.8″ less in the neckband would probably have done it

In any case, I’m beginning to conclude that using the triangle method of measuring the neckline will get me in the right ball park; but that needs to be counter checked with the stretch percentage of the fabric I’m using. This COULD be the key to getting the right neckband ratio for any given project. (I don’t think it’s as simple as just cutting the neckband 3″ shorter than the neckline every time, when you take into account that some fabrics will need to stretch more in order to sit flat.)  I’m leaning towards calculating the stretch percentage of the fabric, then using somewhere between a third to a half of the stretch potential of the fabric, (so basically 2/5) to calculate the neckband length, based on the neckline circumference. Clear as mud right, lol?!

What say you?? Does the above make sense? Are any of my calculations off? (I’m no maths genius, lol!) Do you have your own method??? Share away peops. Let’s geek out together!

 

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