Amy sewalong: finishing touches

Wrapping up

We have the solid basis of a skirt – but it just needs a little tidying up! Today we're going to finish the waistband to hide all the raw edges, and neatly take up the hem. Let's get started. 

 

Finishing the waistband

Fold half the waistband in toward the inside of the skirt. Fold the seam allowance in along the zip edges and pinch in place. You can pin at this stage, to keep your fold stable while you work. 

Using a slip stitch, attach the waistband to the zip tapes along the inside edge. To slip stitch, catch the fabric of the waistband with a tiny, tiny stitch, then catch the zip tape repeatedly until secure. Start slip stitching 15mm from the bottom edge of the waistband, moving up toward the top of the zip. 

Now you have a neat and tidy zip edge, but we can still see the raw edge of the waistband all along the inside of the skirt. 

Fold the raw edge of the waistband up, so that it's hidden inside the top of the skirt. Pin in place. 

Using a slip stitch once again, attach the waistband to the skirt. Be careful that your stitches don't show through on the right side of the skirt. I find it useful to stitch into the thicker, gathered areas of fabric around the seam of the waistband – it makes the hand stitching very stable and avoids visible stitches on the right side. 

 

Now for the hem!

Fold your hem up to the desired length and pin in place. I like the mid calf length on the Amy skirt, but you can really do as you wish!

I'm a little traditional and much prefer a hand sewn hem. I think it gives a lovely, neat finish; and there's something meditative about a spot of hand sewing! Slip stitch your hem in place, alternating one stitch in the hem allowance and one (tiny! almost invisible!) stitch in the garment fabric.

Ta-da!

You made it! That wraps up this Amy skirt sewalong. I hope you had fun making your new skirt, learnt something in the process! Share your Amy skirts with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #amysewalong, #amyskirt, #sewingamy and #afternoonpatterns

Amy sewalong: setting your waistband and zip

Setting the waistband and invisible zip

Today we'll be getting to grips with invisible zips! If you missed it, take a peek at how we gathered our skirts before you follow along to attach your waistband and put in your zip.

 

SEWING THE WAISTBAND

Iron your fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the waistband piece. While the iron is out, it's also useful to iron your waistband in half lengthwise, so it folds easily to the inside of your skirt later. 

Match the waistband to the gathered skirt piece, right sides together, all the way along the top edge of the skirt. Pin and stitch in place. 

 

INSERTING THE INVISIBLE ZIP

The invisible zip is best done with an invisible zip foot – shown here next to a regular zip foot (on the right). It has two grooves in the bottom to accommodate the zip teeth, making it easy to sew very close to the teeth for a neat finish.

Place your zip face down onto the left hand side of the back of the skirt. The edge of the zip tape should be line up with the edge of the skirt. Notice that the zip is placed halfway up the waistband piece – the top of the zip lines up with the lengthwise crease we ironed into the waistband. The rest of the waistband piece will be folded to the inside to neatly cover all raw edges.

Insert your invisible zip foot into your machine and move the needle so that it lines up to the far left. The needle can be moved by adjusting the stitch width. On my machine, the position of the needle is also indicated on the stitch width adjuster (0 for middle, 6 for left).

Guide the zip teeth into the left hand groove of the zip foot. The zip teeth tend to roll inward, so open them up a bit with your fingernail. Adjust the position of the needle to make sure you're going to be sewing close to the zip teeth, but not too close! You don't want to catch the plastic teeth in any of your stitches.

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Sew from the top of the zip right down toward the bottom – you won't quite reach all the way, the end bit of the zip starts to get bulky, but go as far as you can. 

Now, place the right side of the remaining zip tape along the right edge of the skirt back.

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It might look a bit twisty at the bottom, but that's okay! Move the needle back to the centre position. Guide the zip teeth into the right hand groove of the zip foot and sew once again from top to bottom.

Test out your zip and make sure you're happy with it! Then, turn your skirt inside-out and match the back seams of the skirt together. Pinch the zip end out of the way, and sew from where your stitch line ends at the bottom of the zip, right down to the hem.

I like to sew this bit with a regular zip foot, because the shape of the foot lets you get nice and close to the zip so that your stitches line up accurately.

 

HIGH FIVE

Well done! This really looks like a skirt now! Try it on, twirl around and celebrate your zip success. Next time, we'll do a bit of hand sewing to finish the inside of the waistband and the hem. 

Remember to share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #amysewalong, #amyskirt, #sewingamy and #afternoonpatterns

Amy sewalong: gathering your skirt

Gathering your skirt

Welcome back to the Amy sewalong! Let's get stuck in.

 

SETTING UP YOUR MACHINE

We're going to be running a large, straight stitch along the top edge of the skirt, so set your stitch length as long as possible.

 

MAKING THE GATHERS

I find it easiest to gather each panel one at a time – the front of the skirt, and then the two back skirt pieces. This is because sewing over the side seams can cause bulk in the waistband and make it difficult to gather. 

Sew right up to the side seam, but stop just before. Leave a tail of thread, and remember not to backstitch at the beginning or end!

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Gently pull your top thread to gather up the skirt. As the gathers are made, guide them along the thread to distribute them evenly.

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Don't worry too much about making tight gathers right up to the edges of the skirt. We're going to be setting the zip into the back seam, so you will want a bit of flat fabric to work with. So you can safely leave your seam allowance untouched.

 

DEALING WITH THE POCKETS

Fold your pockets in toward the centre front of the skirt, and pin them in place. 

By hand, baste the pockets in place with a contrasting colour thread. You can take this stitching out later, this is just done so that your pockets stay put (without any pesky pins) while you attach the waistband.

 

TA-DA!

Nicely done! We'll be attaching our waistbands 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 pockets.

It would be awesome to see your progress! Share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #amysewalong, #sewingamy, #amyskirt and #afternoonpatterns

Amy sewalong: setting the pockets

Getting started and sewing the pockets

Now to get stitching! If you haven't sewn in a while and need a refresher on how to wind your bobbin and thread up your machine, have a look at our quick YouTube videos below.

 

SEWING THE POCKETS

Start with your front skirt piece facing up. Take your pocket piece and lay it, face down, onto the front skirt, matching the placement lines.

Sew a line of stitching in between the placement lines. Do this for both sides of the front skirt piece, as well as the two back skirt pieces.

Use your reverse lever to backstitch a little at the start and end of your stitches, just to make sure that nothing unravels.

Note that the top of your skirt and pocket are separate. This is totally okay! In fact, it's like this so that the pocket piece doesn't add too much bulk along the waistline later when it comes to gathering the skirt.

Flip your pocket piece out to the side of your skirt front. The right side of the fabric is facing up towards you.

Matching the right sides of the fabric together, lay your back skirt piece down onto the front skirt, lining up the side seams and pocket edges.

 

TACKLING YOUR SIDE SEAMS

Pin your side seams together above and below the pocket piece. 

Start stitching the side seam! As indicated by the dashed line in the above photo, sew from the top, skip out the bit between the placement lines, and then continue your line of stitching right down to the hem edge of the skirt. Make sure you're only sewing together the side seams of the skirt – move that pocket piece right out the way!

 

JOINING THE POCKETS

Pin all the way around the curved edge of the pockets and sew together!

 

COOL!

Well done! Now we have some good-looking pockets for your skirt. Later this week, we'll move on to gathering and attaching the waistband.

Remember, you can share your progress with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #amysewalong #amyskirt #sewingamy and #afternoonpatterns

Running behind? Catch up with what happened last time when we cut out our pieces.

 

Amy sewalong: cutting your pattern pieces

Laying out and cutting out your pattern

Welcome back to the next part of the Amy skirt sewalong. In the previous post, we covered what you need to get started, and how to cut out your paper pattern. Today, we're cutting our pattern pieces out of our fabric. Scissors at the ready, let's get started. 

 

DEMYSTIFYING THE SELVEDGE

To begin, you need to find the selvedge – the selvedge looks like a woven band down the side of your material, and often has small holes (like a pin prick!) in the edges. 

Match the selvedge edges of your fabric and fold it in half, with the right sides facing in. I know it can sometimes be difficult to know which side of the fabric is the "right" side. If your fabric is printed, it's usually easy to tell but some fabrics are notoriously tricky. I'm using melton for my Amy skirt and it looks really similar on both sides. My go-to trick for telling the right from the wrong side is to look at the selvedge: the tiny holes in the selvedge are usually raised on the right side of the fabric, and flat on the wrong side. But, if you're still struggling to tell, don't stress about it – just choose a side and stick with it!

 

LAYING OUT YOUR PIECES

Place your paper pattern pieces onto your fabric, following the diagram in your booklet. It's important to note that the front skirt piece and the waistband are lined up with the folded edge. The front and back skirt pieces are cut from the same pattern piece; the front is cut on the fold, and then the paper pattern piece is reused to cut two back skirt panels.

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, the pattern has 15mm seam allowance on all sides (except the hem which is 30mm), so you can cut along the edge of the paper pattern when you snip into your fabric.

Once you've cut out your waistband, cut another in your fusible interfacing.

 

TRANSFERRING PATTERN MARKINGS

Using tailor's chalk or a dressmaker's pen, mark your pocket and zip placement lines.

 

NICE ONE!

It's a quick one today, next time we will be taking our skirt to the sewing machine!

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

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

Amy sewalong: welcome!

Welcome and introduction to the basics

Why hello there! Thanks for joining in on the Amy sewalong. Every few days this month, we'll take a look at each step of making the Amy skirt from start to finish. If you've ever wanted to start sewing, but weren't sure just how to tackle it, this is a great chance to jump in! During the sewalong, I'll post lots of pictures and explain concepts more fully so that you can follow along with confidence. 

 

BASIC EQUIPMENT

Before you get going, let's go over the equipment you'll need to have 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)

 

AMY SKIRT REQUIREMENTS

Now that that's in order, here's what you'll need to make the skirt itself!

1,8m dress fabric at 150cm wide

The Amy skirt is designed with lightweight, summer fabrics in mind. But since its winter here in South Africa, I'm going to go for a heavier, more cosy fabric. If you're dialling in from currently sunnier climes, stick to cotton lawn or rayon challis for a nice warm-weather Amy skirt. 

For those sewing a winter version like me, go for a fine suiting, wool blend, tartan or melton. Nothing too thick – melton is about the thickest you'll want to go – otherwise the gathers can get a little bulky around your waist! (If you're not familiar with melton, ask the shop assistant to show it to you. Lots of winter coats are made from melton, so you'll probably recognise its soft, felty feeling.)

Once you've found the fabric you love, ask the shop assistant to cut you 1,8 metres. Before they snip in, confirm the width of the fabric – we're aiming for 150cm here. But if your chosen fabric only comes in a 115cm width, you're in luck, you'll still get your skirt out of 1,8m!

For this sewalong, I'll be making the Amy skirt in this toasty melton. I love the biscuity colour, I think it will make a fabulous vintage-looking skirt. 

A 30cm invisible zip

The teeth of an invisible zip are concealed so that the zip can be sewn into a seam, completely hidden. Magical! 

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Invisible zip foot for your sewing machine 

This snazzy little zipper foot makes putting in an invisible zip a breeze. Definitely a good addition to your sewing kit!

Fusible interfacing

You'll need about 20cm of fusible interfacing, just enough for your waistband piece. Interfacing is used to stabilise areas of a garment. Fusible interfacing is a light, woven fabric that looks a bit bobbly on one side – this is the sticky side! This side will be placed face down and ironed onto the wrong side of your waistband. More on this when we get there!

 

CHOOSING YOUR SIZE

Afternoon's pattern sizing is based on an alphabetised 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. For the Amy skirt, the most important measurement is the waist, so base your size choice on your waist measurement.

If you're blessed with long pins, you might want to add a few centimetres to the hem edge of the skirt so that you get the desired midi-length.

 

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. 

If you're using a printed pattern, lay your pattern sheet out flat and trace off your size. It's best practise to trace off a copy of the pattern, in case you want to make another size for yourself or a friend in the future. 

Normal household baking paper works really well for the purposes of tracing your pattern, it's just translucent enough to see the lines and it's sturdy to work with. A sharp pencil and ruler should be all you'll need to get an accurate trace of the lines.

There aren't many boldly curved edges on the Amy skirt pattern, but if you have a French curve, that can help to get the shape of the curve neatly.

While you're tracing, remember to transfer all your pattern markings like the grainline and lines that show where to cut on the fold. Also make a point of labelling each individual pattern piece. For example, "Amy skirt, pocket piece, cut 4". If you come back to use the same pattern, unlabelled pieces can get a bit confusing!

If you're using a printed pattern in sizes D to F, assemble your skirt piece by matching the triangles to join the upper and lower halves. Along the joining line, I find it useful to cut one half of the skirt piece on the line, and leave a bit of paper space on the other. This makes it easy to glue together. You can tape it afterwards too, just to make sure it's not going anywhere!

Now to snip out those pieces! (As you can see, I'm cheating and cutting straight out of the sheet.)

 

WELL DONE!

Nice! All of this preliminary work is like the admin of sewing. But we've laid some solid groundwork for the next stage of our sewing adventure. See you back here soon for more!

In the meantime, share your progress with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook with the hashtags #amysewalong #amyskirt #sewingamy and #afternoonpatterns

 

STILL DON'T HAVE YOUR PATTERN?

It's never too late to join! Pop on over to the online shop here or pick one up at Fabricate in the Gardens Centre if you're in Cape Town. 

Announcing the Amy skirt sewalong!

We're feeling the winter chill in the air, and what better way to keep warm than with a spot of sewing? Flick on your kettle and fire up your sewing machine, because Afternoon is hosting the Amy skirt sewalong to keep you company this July.

For the uninitiated, a sewalong shows you how to sew your own garment, step by step. We post lots of pictures and more detailed explanations. Plus, because I'll be sewing along with you, I'm at the same stage of the project, and will be right here to answer your questions!

The first post will be going up on Monday, 3 July 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 show off your beautiful new skirt before the end of July.

Join in! 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, #amysewalong, #amyskirt and #sewingamy

Here's the class schedule, starting Monday, 3 July

  1. Welcome and introduction to the basics
  2. Laying out and cutting out your pattern
  3. Getting started and sewing the pockets
  4. Gathering your skirt
  5. Attaching the waistband and setting your zip
  6. Stitch your hem and share your makes!

Buy your pattern. You can get an Amy skirt sewing pattern in our online shop or over on Etsy. Choose between an old-school printed copy, or go for an instant PDF download that you can print at home. If you're based in Cape Town, you can also pop 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 Amy 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!

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