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Introducing the Afternoon Sewing Club

It's finally here! After months of threatening to host events and agonising over workshops, I now have the pleasure to present to you the Afternoon Sewing Club. 

More meet-up than lesson, more chit-chat than lecture, the Afternoon Sewing Club is here to give you a cool, relaxed space to explore your creativity. And pick up some badass sewing skills along the way!

Fill in the form to book your spot, first come, first serve! It's starting small, but don't worry, as it takes off there will be plenty more workshops in future.


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The Afternoon Sewing Club

Sewing the #AfternoonClutch

You're invited to an afternoon of creativity as we guide you through the steps of making your own clutch bag. The workshop includes fabric, thread and sewing pattern.
And wine. There will be wine.

WHERE
Afternoon Studio, Old Castle Brewery, 6 Beach Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town

WHEN
Saturday 20 May, 14h00 – 17h00

HOW MUCH
R300 per person

WHAT TO BRING
Your sewing machine (make sure you have a bobbin and a needle), paper scissors, fabric scissors, and an unpicker if you have one (hopefully you won't be needing it).

THE OTHER DETAILS
Only four spots available. I have one sewing machine available to rent. Otherwise, the workshop is currently only open to those who can bring a sewing machine. Payment on the day via cash, card or SnapScan.

Fill out the form below to book.

Name *
Name
Can you bring a sewing machine? *

Here's what we'll be making

You can have a look at the clutch and the steps involved in making it in more detail on this blog post. I look forward to meeting you!

Free pattern! The Afternoon Clutch

In honour of Fashion Revolution week, here's a quick and simple clutch pattern that you can use to transform something old into something fabulously new. 

Fashion Revolution is a campaign to demand transparency from an increasingly exploitative fashion industry. Someone has to pay the price for cheap fashion, and the system works to conceal it. This week marks four years since the Rana Plaza collapse, one of fashion's worst industrial disasters, that killed over 1,000 garment workers in Bangladesh. That's why we demand to know: who made my clothes, and at what cost? It is up to us to put pressure on the conscience of the people behind brands all over the world to rethink the ways in which fashion is made.

But revolution is not just for the big guys. We are complicit, too. In our own small ways, we need to take a stand against what the fashion industry has become, and find ways to change it for the better. Making a clutch bag might not do that. But by connecting with our clothing – appreciating the skill and art of making something, finding respect for those who make the clothes we wear every day – I hope we can begin to change our mindsets, our habits, our communities. Each change leading to the next in an ever-expanding ripple, until we get to see real revolution.

So on that macro-level note, I leave you with a micro-level project. Get in touch with the beauty of making something from scratch.


The Afternoon Clutch

I loved the hand-embroidered detail on this little cloth, but it wasn't getting any gigs on our coffee table. But I knew I'd love it as a pretty clutch.

Follow along and transform your castoffs into something you can use and appreciate once more.

CUTTING OUT

First things first, print out your pattern and stick it together. It's only three A4 pages, so it's a quick one. If you need guidance on how to put your pattern together, see the help section on our FAQ page.

Iron your fabric and lay it out flat. Pin your pattern piece onto the fabric, making sure the wrong side of the fabric is facing up.

With a fabric marker or tailor's chalk, transfer the pattern markings to the fabric. 

The pattern includes 10mm seam allowance,  so cut out along the edge of the pattern piece. 

In the same way, cut another piece out of lining. If you fabric is quite soft or flimsy, you might also want to cut another piece out of batting. This is totally optional. Batting is a kind of synthetic wadding that is usually used to line quilts. This will give your bag a bit more structure. 

SEWING

On your main fabric piece, sew two parallel lines of straight stitches for the base. 

With the right side of the fabric facing up, pinch between the parallel lines to form a small fold. Pin in place.

Fold the bag up along the base, right sides of the fabric facing. Pin the side seams. If you're using batting, match it up with the main fabric piece now.

Sew the side seams, but stop your line of stitching 1cm before the edge. Do the same for the lining piece.

Now you have two bag shapes, one from your main fabric and one from lining. Leave your main fabric bag with right sides facing in. Turn the lining right side out and insert into the main bag.

Match the lining neatly with the main bag. To prevent your lining from peeking out on the finished bag, it's useful to pin the lining ever-so slightly away from the edge of the main fabric. 

Now sew all the way around the curvature of the flap. Start and end on the same line as the side seams. You may have to push the fabric into place to expose the side seam.

Once you have sewn all the way around the flap, snip into the seam allowance, being careful not to cut into your stitches. This makes the bag easier to turn and ensures a lovely smoothly-rounded flap.

Pin the inside edges of the bag together. Sew together 1cm away from the edge, but leave a gap in your stitches in the middle.

FINISHING

Now for the fun part! Reach into the little gap you've left and pull the bag right side out.

Push the lining into the pocket of the bag. Sew up the little gap by hand with slip stitch.

You did it! Now you have an upcycled clutch to be proud of! Share your makes with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #afternoonclutch

Cali sewalong: finishing your dress

Wrapping up

All that’s left to do on your dress is the hem! I’m a little old-school, as I find the best finish is most often achieved by hand. Here’s how. 

 

FINISHING YOUR HEM

Fold the lower edge of your hem up by 1cm. Press in place with a warm iron. 

Fold your hem in once again so that the raw edge is enclosed. Press in place. 

Using slipstitch (just as we did to finish the armhole), secure the folded hem to the main skirt fabric with tiny, alternating stitches.

 

TA-DA!

You made it! The Cali dress sewalong is a wrap! I hope you have had loads of fun and learnt a bit along the way too. We’d love to see your makes, please do share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #calisewalong #calidress and #afternoonpatterns

Cali sewalong: setting the zip

Setting your invisible zip

Let’s demystify the process of putting in a zip. Once you’ve done it and seen how it works, you’ll never again avoid a pattern because you have to set in a zip!

 

DIFFERENT ZIP FEET

This is what a regular zip foot and an invisible zip foot look like side by side. (The one labelled E is a regular zip foot.) The invisible zip foot has two grooves on the underside which guide the zip teeth and keep them out of the way while sewing. This makes it much easier to get a line of stitches nice and close to the edge of the zip teeth which gives it that neat, invisible look!

 

POSITIONING THE ZIP

Place your zip face down onto the left hand edge of the back opening. Pin in place. Since we will be sewing from the top edge in a downward direction, it is easiest to angle your pins upward so you can remove them easily while you sew. 

 

SEWING WITH DIFFERENT FEET

If you are using an invisible zip foot, this is what it will look like when sewing this side. You can see that the zip teeth are tucked away in the groove of the foot. 

If you use a regular zip foot, this is what it will look like. You need to coax the zip teeth to lie away from the foot. It’s a bit more work to sew straight and manually prevent the teeth from curling in at the same time. 

 

ATTACHING THE ZIP

Now that you’ve attached one side of the zip to the dress, flip the zip tape under the opening on the left hand side.

Now this leaves you free to place the right hand side of the zip face down onto the right hand side of the opening.

As the second picture shows, it can look a bit twisty at the bottom. That’s okay, don’t let it scare you off!

For invisible zip foot users, sew from the top of the zip down in the same way as before. Your zip teeth will now be sitting in the right hand groove of the invisible zip foot and the needle will be sewing to the left hand side.

The only trick with using a regular zipper foot is that you have to sew the other way around – from the bottom towards the top otherwise the foot gets in the way of the zip. Get as close as possible to the bottom of the zip and sew towards the top. 

Now you have a lovely invisible zip!

Close the seam below your zip by sewing from the lower hem edge up to join the seam at the bottom of the zip. 

With the neckline facing flipped outward, neatly tuck in the zip tapes that are still sticking out at the top.

Fold the facing back to the inside, lining it up alongside the zip.

Slip stitch the facing in place by hand along the zip tapes.

 

ALL DONE!

Nice job! During the week, we'll finish the up the hem!

Remember, you can share your progress with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #calisewalong #calidress and #afternoonpatterns

Running behind? Catch up with what happened last time when we joined the skirt and the bodice.

Cali sewalong: sewing the skirt

Joining the skirt and the bodice

It’s a quick one for today. Last time we got to grips with bias binding and finished our bodices. Now for just a little bit of sewing to get your mind off the realities of the week!

 

SEWING THE SKIRT

Pinch the dart markings together at the waistline and pin. As you sew, gently taper your line of stitching out towards the point of the dart. You will sew two darts on the skirt front piece and one on each of the skirt back pieces. 

With your front skirt piece right side up, place both back skirt pieces right side down, lining up the sides. Sew the side seams and press open.

Using your iron, gently press the darts towards the side seams. 

 

JOINING THE SKIRT AND BODICE

With the right side of the skirt up, place the bodice right side down on top, matching the waistline. This may look a little confusing as the bodice is essentially upside down but that’s okay!

Pin the bodice and the skirt together at the waistline, taking care to match up each dart and side seam. Sew along the waist edge to join the bodice and the skirt. 

 

HIGH FIVE

Well done! This is really starting to look like a dress. Now you can try it on and get an idea of fit. It’s a short one today because next time we’ll go more in depth when we set our zips. If you're ready to forge ahead now, delve into the next step.

Remember to share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #calisewalong #calidress and #afternoonpatterns

Cali sewalong: finishing the armholes

Finishing the armholes and the bodice

Welcome back to the Cali sewalong! Today we're going to finish the armholes of the bodice with a strip of bias binding. This will act as a small facing, strengthening the armhole, and making it neat and tidy!

 

bias binding: to make or to buy?

Before we start sewing, a little more about bias binding. Fabric that is cut "on the bias" is cut at a 45 degree angle to the selvedge. (You'll remember that the pattern piece for the bias strip was placed diagonally across your fabric when we cut out.) This means that bias-cut fabric has more stretch, which makes it possible to guide around round shapes like the armhole!

The Cali dress pattern calls for you to make your own bias binding. Although this may seem intimidating, it's quite quick and simple. You've even cut the pattern piece for the bias binding strip already! Using your iron on a low heat setting (don't burn your fingers, it's a little finicky), iron your strip in half longways. This is just to mark the middle of the strip. Unfold. Fold each long edge in to meet the middle and press. Et voilà! You did it. 

Bought bias binding will produce just the same effect. I am using shop bought binding – the fabric I'm working with is very busy and it's much easier to see the detail of the binding without the print. 

 

PINNING THE BINDING

With the right side of the binding facing the right side of the armhole, pin the binding all the way around the edge of the armhole, with the edges neatly matching each other. I know it feels like we are attaching the binding to the outside of the dress – that's okay, we kind of are, but we'll hide it inside a bit later.

Pinch the ends of the binding and pin them together where the underarm seam meets.

Stitch the binding together and trim the ends if need be. You will notice that the far edge of the binding is still folded in.

 

SEWING YOUR BINDING

Many machines allow you to slide the tool box off the machine which frees up space around the base. If you can, this is very useful for "sewing in the round" as we are about to do. Stitch all the way around the armhole in the first fold of the bias binding.

Turn the bias binding to the inside of the garment and press lightly with the iron. 

turn-in.jpg

 

SLIP STITCHING

Now thread up that needle, because we're going to do some hand sewing! It's slower, but it produces a much cleaner finished product!

Using a slip stitch, secure the binding to the inside of the armhole. Catch the fabric of the garment with a tiny, tiny stitch, then catch the binding repeatedly until you've made your way all the way around. The stitch has to be very small so that you don't see it from the outside!

 

TA-DA!

Nicely done! Now you have a fabulous, finished bodice to show off. Try it on, twirl around the house in your half-made finery and have a celebratory drink. 

See you back here soon for more! We'll be making up our skirt pieces next. If you want to go back and catch up on what you might have missed, see what we did last time when we sewed the bodice.

It would be awesome to see your progress! Share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #calisewalong #calidress and #afternoonpatterns

Cali sewalong: sewing the bodice

Getting started and assembling the bodice

Now we get down to some real sewing! If you need a reminder on how to wind your bobbin and thread up your machine, have a look at our quick YouTube videos below.

So you've got your machine set up, let's get those darts in our bodice pieces. The front bodice, which we cut on a fold, has two bust darts and two waist darts. The back bodice pieces have one waist and one shoulder dart each. Here follows a quick breakdown of how to go about sewing a dart.

 

SEWING DARTS

Locate your dart markings on the edge of your fabric and match them together, with the right side of the fabric facing in. 

Pin your fabric together up until the apex of the dart, which we marked with a little dot. Essentially, the dart is creating shape in the garment by "sewing out" this triangular section of fabric. 

Begin stitching the dart from the bottom edge of the fabric. To secure the thread at the beginning, use your reverse lever to go forward and back a stitch or two. Sew slowly – don't be too worried about rushing. Slow gives you more control!

Gradually taper your line of stitching out towards the apex of the dart. Try to make this line of stitches as smooth as possible. This avoids a very pointy dart, which can mean Madonna boobs on the bust if you're not careful.

Gently knot off your stitches at the point of the dart. I find this less bulky than reverse stitching again at the end. Repeat this process for all the darts on your front and back bodice pieces.

 

PRESSING DARTS

Using your iron on a low heat setting, gently press your darts to the side. As a general rule, horizontal darts like bust darts are pressed toward the waistline, while vertical darts like the waist darts are pressed towards the side seams. 

 

SEWING THE SHOULDERS

Your bodice is taking shape beautifully! Place your bodice front right side up on your work surface. Then, place each back bodice piece right side down onto the bodice front, matching up the shoulder seams. 

Pin the shoulder seams in place and sew together.

Using your iron once more, press the shoulder seams open.

 

WORKING WITH FACING

The neck edge of any garment is subject to quite a bit of strain from movement – facing helps to stabilise this area and add a bit of structure. Your facing is going to sit along the neck edge of your bodice, so think about it as a miniature version of exactly what you have just sewn. 

Place your front facing right side up. Then place your back facing pieces right side down, matching up the shoulder line. Pin and sew in place.

Finish the edge of your shoulder seams to prevent fraying and press open. For this dress, I've used a combination of pinking, bias binding and French seaming to finish my raw edges. Don't worry if this sounds complex! Use whatever method you are most comfortable with. For beginners, this will most likely be overcasting with a zig-zag stitch or trimming with pinking shears. Perfect.

Place your facing right side down onto the right side of the bodice, and pin all the way around the neckline. These sentences are always complicated to read, refer to the image below! Always match up your shoulder seams – making sure that the seam allowances are pressed open.

Once you have sewn all the way around the neck edge, clip into the curvature of the neckline – taking care not to snip into your stitches. This makes it easier and less bulky to flip the facing to the inside of the garment.

Turn your facing to the inside of your bodice and gently press in place with your iron. Note that where you see white bias binding in this picture, yours might look a little different – maybe you've used pinking shears, a zig zag stitch or an overlocker – totally cool, it won't affect the final result!

 

TACKLING YOUR SIDE SEAMS

Last bit for today! Pin your side seams together from the underarm to the waist edge and sew together. 

Once again, press your seam allowances open.

 

JOB WELL DONE!

Cool! Pat yourself on the back and take a well-deserved break. That's it for today, and now we have a snazzy-looking top half taking shape! During the week, we'll finish the armholes and move onto the skirt.

Remember, you can share your progress with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #calisewalong #calidress and #afternoonpatterns

Running behind? Catch up with what happened last time when we cut out our pieces: Laying out and cutting out your pattern

Cali sewalong: let's cut out!

Laying out and cutting out your pattern

Welcome to the next installment of the Cali dress sewalong. Previously, we got started by choosing a size and cutting out our paper pieces. Now to snip into that fabric! Let's break it down. 

Before you cut out your pieces, make sure you have pre-washed your fabric. There is little more soul-crushing than lovingly crafting a dress only for it to shrink in the first wash!

 

DEMYSTIFYING THE SELVEDGE

You'll notice that the pattern calls for you to match the selvedge edges of your fabric and fold in half, with the right sides facing in. The selvedge edges of your fabric look like tightly woven bands running down the sides – you'll spot them easily because they're finished and don't fray. Often, the name of the fabric, design house or a colour bar is also printed in the selvedge. 

Match the selvedges and fold your piece of fabric in half. The right side (printed side or "correct" side) of the fabric should face inwards. This is because we are going to place markings on the surface of the fabric, so we'd rather they remained on what is to be the inside of the garment later. 

 

LAYING OUT YOUR PIECES

Place your paper pattern pieces onto your fabric, following the diagram in your booklet. That said, feel free to break the recommended layout here. For example, if your fabric has a stand-out motif that you want on the front of the dress, place your front bodice piece first and shuffle the other pieces to fit. Just make sure you get all your pieces in!

It is also important to note that the front bodice piece and front skirt piece are both cut on the fold. These pieces must be lined up with the folded edge so that you avoid a big seam running down the front of your dress.

As you place and pin your pieces, pay attention to the grainline marking on each piece. On woven fabrics, the grainline is the thread that runs parallel to the selvedge edge. The fabric is the strongest along this line and offers the least amount of stretch. It is important to line your pieces up with the grainline to make fitting and sewing easier.

 

CUTTING OUT

Remember, your seam allowance is accounted for on the pattern piece, so you can cut out directly along the edge of the paper piece. 

Now you should have all your pieces cut. But don't be too quick to take those pins out!

 

TRANSFERRING PATTERN MARKINGS

Now to transfer the pattern markings to your fabric. Take note of the darts – we are going to mark these on our fabric. First, mark the bottom two lines at the edge of the fabric.

Next, place a pin through the paper and into the fabric, marking the peak of the dart. Lift the paper and mark where the pin enters the fabric. 

And there you have it, dart markings transferred! I like to keep my paper piece attached to my fabric one until I come to sew it. That way, you know exactly what piece of the garment you're looking at. While there aren't that many pattern pieces in the Cali dress, it's a good habit for when you're working with more complex patterns.

 

NICE ONE!

The admin work is all done, promise. Next time, we will do a bit of real sewing when we put together the bodice

Want to show us how you're getting along? Share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #calisewalong #calidress and #afternoonpatterns

New here? Have a look at the first Cali sewalong session: Welcome and introduction to the basics

Cali sewalong: welcome!

Welcome and introduction to the basics

For the rest of the month, we'll be tackling each step involved in making the Cali dress from start to finish. With lots of pictures and more in-depth explanation, I hope it will inspire you to sew with confidence!

 

BASIC EQUIPMENT

Let's go over the basic equipment you need – make sure you have the following on hand:

  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scissors
  • Dressmaking pins
  • Tailor's chalk or fabric marker
  • Sewing thread (make sure it matches the fabric you've chosen!)
  • Measuring tape
  • A big table for laying out your pattern and cutting (I find a clean floor to be just fine if you're short on a good table)

 

CALI DRESS REQUIREMENTS

Now, let's break down the requirements for the dress itself!

1,7m lightweight dress fabric at 150cm wide

When you go into most dress fabric shops in South Africa, fabric is sold off the roll. For a soft and feminine Cali dress, good fabrics include rayon, cotton lawn or very soft denim. For something a bit more sharp and structured, consider a wax print or taffeta. Don't be scared to ask the shop assistant to help you! Once you see and touch the fabrics, you'll be able to choose based on what appeals to you.

Once you've found the fabric you love, ask the shop assistant to cut you 1,7 metres. Before they snip in, confirm the width of the fabric – we're aiming for 150cm here. It's likely you won't have a problem as that's the width of most dress fabrics.

For this sewalong, I'll be making the Cali dress in this gorgeous double gauze fabric by Japanese design house Nani Iro. Go to her website at your own risk, you will swoon from loveliness!

A 55cm invisible zip

Invisible zips look a little different from regular zips that you might be used to seeing on jeans or bags. The teeth of the zip are concealed so that the zip can be inserted into the seam of a garment without being seen. If you have a dress from somewhere like Topshop or Zara that zips up at the side, that's most likely where you will have seen and used an invisible zip. 

Invisible zip foot for your sewing machine 

This nifty little foot makes it easy to sew an invisible zip! While it's not strictly necessary (I will demonstrate how to put in your zip without one), it does make it MUCH easier, so I do recommend investing in this little guy. 

 

CHOOSING YOUR SIZE

Afternoon follows an alphabetised sizing chart. I feel that too many people are focused on what size they are, when really what's important is that you love what you're wearing and you're comfortable in it. Bear in mind that most people will fall across one or two sizes, so choose your size based on your largest measurement. For example, if your bust fits a size C but your waist is closer to a size B, rather use size C. You can always nip it in!

CUTTING YOUR PAPER PATTERN

If you're sewing from a digital download, follow the guidelines here on how to print and collate your pattern pieces. 

For those of us working off a printed pattern, take out your pattern sheet and lay it down flat. Now to trace off your size! Only cut out of the original pattern sheet if you're very, very sure that you won't won't to make another size for you or a friend in future!

I find that regular household baking paper works perfectly for the purposes of tracing off your sewing pattern. Use a sharp pencil to trace around all the lines and pattern markings. The paper should be translucent enough for you see what you're tracing.  

Use a ruler for the straight bits and – if you have one – a French curve for the curvy bits. It's not really a piece of stationery most of us use on a regular basis, so a dinner plate will do as a good substitute!

Just flip your plate over and use the rounded edge as a guide for making neat, curved lines.

While you're tracing, remember to transfer all your pattern markings like the grainline and lines that show where to cut on the fold. You're going to need these later. Also make a point of labelling each individual piece. For example, "Cali Dress, back bodice piece, cut 2". This is so that when you come to use it again (sometimes months later!) you know what you're looking at.

Well done!

We've laid some solid ground work for the next stage of our dressmaking adventure. See you back here soon for more!

In the meantime, share your progress with us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtags #calisewalong #calidress and #afternoonpatterns

Still don't have your pattern?

It's never too late to join! Pop on over to the online shop here or on Etsy and pick one up. 

Announcing the Cali dress sewalong!

Good news for all you intrepid Cali dress seamstresses! Afternoon will be hosting a Cali dress sewalong in the month of March. So if you're keen to do some sewing and haven't plucked up the courage to start, now's the time to get your gather your supplies and forge ahead. Safe in the knowledge that we'll be right here with you, guiding you along every step of the way!

The first post will be going up on Monday, 13 March so now's the time to get sorted before we delve in. We will be posting each step every two or three days so that you'll be ready to parade your Cali dress down the street before the month is out. 

Join the party! Just follow the steps and sew along with us. It would be great to see what you're up to and how it's coming along in your sewing room, so please share with us if you'd like. Post on your blogs, show us what's going down on Facebook, tweet us or Instagram those lovely pics! Our hashtags for this event are #afternoonpatterns, #calisewalong and #calidress

Here's the class schedule, starting Monday, 13 March

  1. Welcome and introduction to the basics
  2. Laying out and cutting out your pattern
  3. Getting started and assembling the bodice
  4. Making bias binding and finishing the armholes
  5. Sewing the skirt and attaching the bodice
  6. Setting your invisible zip
  7. Finish your hem and start a new week in style!

Buy your pattern. You can get our printed Cali dress sewing patterns here in our online shop or over on Etsy. If it's last minute and you'd prefer an instant download, no fear, we've got you covered on that front, too. If you're based in Cape Town, pop on over to Fabricate at the Gardens Centre to get your hands on a pattern. 

Get your fabric. Off to the shops with you! We'll be posting some inspiration pics and fabric recommendations to get you raring to go. 

Make sure you've got the basics covered. Sewing machine, fabric scissors, dressmaking pins, fabric marker or chalk, sewing thread, measuring tape and tracing paper are all integral to the process. Just read over your Cali booklet beforehand to familiarise yourself with everything you will need. 

Any questions, just pop Jenny an email or comment below, we'll be happy to help out!