Every now and then a really exciting thing happens. We get an email from a creative entrepreneur inviting us to check out their concept.
Several weeks ago we heard from Hoxten Clothing, a social enterprise run from Waiheke Island by sisters Heather and Tracey Carter.
Heather designs fantastic versatile wardrobe basics, makes the patterns, and chooses superb quality fabrics and notions. Then boxes up these essential ingredients for subscribers to receive, all ready cut out and ready to sew!
I know that I'm prone to taking so long deliberating over the design and stressing about how to lay out the pattern to get minimum waste, that projects often flounder before they've really got started. I can see the advantages of receiving garment pieces all set to pin, sew and start wearing!
I quickly signed up as a tester to put Heathers new designers through their paces, hoping, maybe one day, I'd be lucky enough to receive a package.
That day turned out to be very soon! The following week I was the delighted recipient of my own little red bundle of joy:
Inside the beautiful box is everything (except the sewing machine) for sewing it together, all cut out and ready to go!
I don't always follow the instructions that come with patterns, but the tempting little tick boxes were enough to make me want to follow along.
I deviate from the instructions in one small extra step. Before I overlocked the edged, I hunted for any notches cut into the edge of the pieces to help with aligning the seams to ensure I would end up with everything sitting as intended.
Notches are well worth paying attention to!
Once that was done, on with overlocking the edges to help the finished garment stand up to the washing machine and other certain perils it will face in it's future use.
First some practice on my cornering!
Darts are the next challenge (in this case, on the shoulders of the raglan sleeves). To make things easy, I like to mark my sewing line with chalk. For really nice smooth darts, I use a french curve, aiming to stitch at the very edge of the fold by the time I get to the marker at the bottom of the dart.
Another little tip for sewing, employs those notches mentioned earlier.
If you're at all worried about your garment pieces lining up well once you've sewn them, here's my trick for where to pin. First, assume the pattern is correct, and the pieces are meant to line up at each end of the seam, and start by pinning the ends. Next, if you already have a seam to match up, pin there. Then look for notches and pin these points together.
When sewing, just keep your right hand at the next pin location and your seam will look great.
Speaking of pinning before sewing, my next challenge was a curved hem.
A lot of the people who come to our classes share a loathing of irons. Personally I find them just as necessary as my sewing machine in getting seams to look good.
I use my handy seam-gauge to measure the correct turn up for the hem, and pin liberally. Next I press it down, so the fabric is left with no choice but to obey, and there are no surprises at the sewing machine.
It's a challenge to completely avoid any puckering when curved hems are involved, but ironing first definitely helps in keeping these to a minimum, and ironing afterwards also helps straighten out any renegade twists.
I'm not sure what was more satisfying, feeling proud of a well sewn seam, or getting to tick off the step on the instruction sheet.
Either way, I'm pleased with the results :)
You can learn more about this project, and their other designs, on Hoxton's website.
Thanks Heather for letting me have a play!
Just Atelier is the brainchild of ethical fashion duo Fi (Clements) and Fiona (Jenkin).