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Hi-low Top Tutorial – The “hide it all but still chic” Top

Hi guys!!!

Its been a long time since I posted a tutorial, but it has all been for very good reasons, aside from expanding my waistline with one to many treats (as you do), I have had a lot on and promise to spill the beans all in good time. Talking about expanded waistlines, dont you just hate it when we get those sudden bursts of sunny days that you haven’t conditioned your body for? you know, that “OMG summer is here and I still haven’t kicked these kgs” moment. Well, worry not!! I have taken it upon myself to provide you with this tutorial for an uber cute top that will hide all your wintry sins; yes I am that considerate (and I have an occasion to attend tomorrow, the sun is shining and quite frankly my summer body isnt ready, but I still gotta look cute, O the dilemmas of a Lady!!!) .

Ok, so here’s what we are making:

image (6)

You will need;

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Fabric

Fusible interfacing

scissors

Pinking sheers

Measuring tape

Ruler

large piece of paper (I have brown paper roll but even newspaper will do)

Chalk and a pencil (with a rubber at the end)

Steam iron.

Measurements needed

Back

Bust

shoulder to bust

shoulder to waist

shoulder to hips

Round sleeve, Round Elbow

Sleeve length, Elbow length

Method

Essentially your piece of paper is going to be used to make a template that will be laid on the bias folded fabric; this is what gives you the voluptuous fall in the back of the top; however, since I always cut the front and back of a bodice together, we will make a template for the front and back in the same manner. I would normally do all what I’m about to show you directly onto the fabric but I have chosen to do a template because of how we will angle it on the folded fabric.

The piece of paper you are using needs to be shoulder to hip measurement long and half the bust measurement +6″ wide. Once you have cut this out, fold it in half and you are ready to start. Note: remember you always work from the centre out, unless otherwise stated.

Step 1

From the top corner, measure 3.5″ along the top edge, then along the folded edge measure down 5.5″ and join these two marks with a rounded semi “v”; this is your front neck hole. Working again at the top edge mark half your back measurement+ 3/8″

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Step 2; place the top of your tape on the top edge of the paper measure down 7″ and mark. then mark your vertical measurements+0.5″ (shoulder to waist and shoulder to hips)

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These marks will now serve as reference points, along which you will place your horizontal measurements.

Step 3; along the line of your first reference point (the 7″ down mark) mark a quarter of your bust measurement+2″. Along the last reference point (shoulder to hips, this should actually be the bottom edge of the paper), mark a quarter of your bust measurement+3.5″.

DSC_1025DSC_1026

 

Step 4; From the bottom centre corner, measure up 2.5″ , from here curve a line down that meets with the mark along the bottom edge. Now join the horizontal measurement marks with a straight line; it should look like this.

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Step 5; At the top of the straight line draw a straight line 2″ in towards the centre, then from the furthest marking from the centre, along the top edge, draw a deep curve the joins the 2″ line you just made. It should now resemble the second picture.

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mark 0.5″ along the top of the curve and slant a straight line that meets the corner of the neck hole; this will form your shoulder slope, like so

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Step 6; return to the 2″ line you drew and repeat the same, exactly 2″ below it

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Step 7; back at the shoulder slope (outer edge) draw a shallower curve that meets the second 2″ line.  Inside the neck hole, draw a shallower curve that will form the back neck hole, this really shouldn’t be more than 2″ deep. return to the

DSC_1038DSC_1037

 

Step 8; You are now ready to cut! please pay close attention to this statement; only cut around all outer lines. This is because you are cutting front and back pieces together and not all lines are the same, as you can see.

when you have cut out your pieces it should look like this;

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cut along the fold, and separate the pieces. Transfer the armhole markings unto the back piece, from the front piece, cut this out, then cut the front neck hole, erase the bottom half of the back armhole curve and cut the deeper front armhole curve.

DSC_1042 DSC_1043 DSC_1044

Templates done and ready to be used. The back piece has the higher neck line and lower armhole, mark them accordingly so you don’t get confused. Believe me, this is a very easy and annoying mistake to make.

Step 9; for the back piece, fold the fabric at a 45 degree angle (raw edge folder over to line up with selvage edge)

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Lay your back template piece on the fabric as shown in the picture (note; the centre of the template is facing the folded edge),

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along the bottom draw a curve that is lower at the folded edge, and slopes upwards to meet the bottom outer edge of the template. It should resemble this:

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cut this out and set aside.

Step 10; Fold another piece of fabric as you normally would if you were cutting out a pattern piece, line the centre of  your front template with the fold and cut out.

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This top will need some side bust darts, although the top is not fitted, darts will help it hang better on the body. To create the darts, place the top of your tape measure at the highest point of your shoulder seam, measure down your shoulder to bust measurement and mark. along the side seam place a mark about 1″ lower than the mark you just made;

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draw a straight line that connects these two marks, then press along this line:

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Unfold the piece and use your iron to invert the right side facing crease. these are your dart lines (the centre of your darts), use your tape to measure a dart that is 1″ deep and 5.5″ long, draw this with chalk:

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set this aside.

Step 11: To make the facing for the front and back pieces, lay the template pieces on the fold of fabric cut right around the neck, shoulder and armhole, stopping 1.5″ beyond the armhole, along the side seam. lift the template up and draw an arch that curves towards the neckline.

DSC_0003 DSC_0004

 

Cut this out and use the pieces as templates for cutting the matching fusible interfacing.  Fuse the interfacing to the facing, snip along the bottom edge with pinging sheers, turn up a single 3/8″ hem and sew.

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Construction

Step 12; sew your darts

Step 13. Lay the facing over the relevant piece, right sided facing each other, pin (if you must) and sew with a 3/8 seam allowance. Press the seam allowance towards the facing and top stitch on the right side of the facing (this is done right at the edge of  the seam). press

step 14. You will now treat the facing and the top pieces as one. Lay the front piece on top of the back piece, right sides facing inwards, pin the side seams

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sew with a 0.5″ seam allowance.

step 15; open the shoulder seams so that the right side of the facings are facing each other and the right sides of the front and back piece are facing each other, sew it like this:

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your top will now look like this inside out:

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Finish the hem by doing a double turned hem, I thing this is the best way for this top.

for sleeves follow my tutorial on sleeves, the link is: http://chinelobally.com/2014/02/04/busy-bee-how-to-cut-a-sleeve-without-a-pattern/

sew in your sleeves and there you have it, the most forgiving top ever.

I have added a leather appliqué to the neckline of mine and also added shoulder pads for extra sharpness. I’m thinking, black skinny jeans and heels?.

I really hope give it a go, and please send me pictures of your completed garments, I get sew excited (sorry, I couldn’t help that) when I see what other people have done. As ever if you have any questions just send them over and I will try my best to answer.

Have a blissful week

xxx

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The six piece top

Hiya Stichers

I have some FANTASTIC news, I am gonna be on the Great British Sewing Bee (Series 2) !!!!!!! so please make sure you tune in to watch me in action on the 18th at 8pm on BBC2 yipppie #teamchinelo . I’m sure you can tell how excited I am…

here is a link for the trailer and a link to see all the contestants

http://tellychat.co.uk/the-great-british-sewing-bee-2014-series-2-contestants-lineup-judges-0311/

OK!!!! Back to class

What comes to your mind when you hear “stretchy fabric”? I have recently found out that loads of people are quite afraid of it, however you really need not be. Whenever I teach people to sew using the freehand cutting method, I find that using stretchy fabrics like a double jersey, helps them get the concept of the cutting quicker, than using lets say a cotton fabric which requires darting and becomes somewhat more complicated.  Once you understand the basics involved in the craft of freehanding (to coin an awkward term), introducing darts becomes far less complicated, if you’re a complete novice, and will make soooo much more sense to you if you already sew.

The top I am showing you how to make today is quite easy and super cute, it will flare at the waist creating a peplum without you having to join at the waist (Its worth me mentioning, I love a peplum, it helps create an hour glass shape and hides a multitude of sins). I have uploaded loads of pictures to help you along the way, here is a pic of the finished top to encourage youtop finished , happy sewing!!!!!!

You will need

  • Fabric 60 inches wide and 26 inches long (make the length longer if you want more of a tunic)
  • Measuring tape
  • Your measurements written down ( http://chinelobally.com/2014/01/16/sew-essential-how-to-measure-yourself  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkywf2kGthg&feature=youtu.be )
  • Something to mark your fabric (tailors, chalk, chalk pencil, pen)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler (or any straight edge…..Yes I can be THAT basic; who’s going to run to the shop because they don’t have a gadget when they fancy a midnight sew, improvise if you don’t have, that’s what I say)
  • Sewing machine (the only alternative to this is a looooooot of patience to hand stitch the whole lot)
  • Steam Iron

Tip: you will always use a 1/4″ seam allowance unless otherwise stated.

Method

Fold your fabric in half width way, right side facing in, and press (TIP: always press after every fold), then fold in 1″ of the raw edge in towards the folded edge and press; these two opposite ends are now your centre front and centre back (the centre back is the side with the 1″ folded inwards this will usually be for a zip insertion but you will not need a zip for this top)

Bring the centre front over to meet the centre back and press

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On the top edge, starting from the centre front and back mark a 4″, then from the centre edge again make another 4″ where your shoulder to waist measurement point is. At the bottom starting from the centre front and back, measure in 6″ and mark. Using a ruler draw straight lines that connect the marks you have just made, it should look like this:

DSC_0207 cut it out.

take the top layer (the front of the top), of what you have just cut, flip it up side down, lay it on the remaining fabric with the cut edge facing outwards and as close to the edge as possible then cut around the cut edges like so:

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mark the centre front’s top and bottom corner with a pin on the remaining fabric. flip the front top (which you have just used as a template) so that the cut edge is now facing the other way. now using the pin markers as a guide lay slide the front top inwards so that the centre is 0.5″ inside the pin markers. cut around the cut edge again, these are now your side panels and it should look like this:

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With the front top still laid in position, notch the top outer corner (just a tiny notch, this will help differentiate the side panels from the centre front as the difference in size is so minimal. the centre front will have a notch on each side whilst the side panels will only have the notch on one side)

There are now six pieces; centre front, centre back. and 4 side panels; sew a side panel to each side of the centre front and centre back panel. Remember the centre back panel is still open in the middle! sew this shut (like I said you really wont need a zip for this, I feel the novice smiling 🙂 ). When you are finished it should look like this (but sewn, sorry I forgot to take a picture at that stage):

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Now you are ready to “shape out” the top

Fold the tops back into their centre folds and be sure to lay the front top, on top of the back top like so:

photo

Now mark all your vertical measurements from the top (shoulder to AF, shoulder to AB, shoulder to 9″ (this is the conventional bust line for freehand cutting I will always specify when you need to use a more personal one), shoulder to waist, shoulder to hips; or wherever you want to top to stop)

vertical refernce mark like so (these are just reference points for your horizontal measurements)

half your back measurement + 1/3″ and mark in from the centre front and back, along the top edge, like this:

back measurement

then along the same edge mark 4″ in from the centre again< this is the point for your neck hole. Along the centre edge measure down 2″ and then 5″ and mark. These are the points for your back and front neck hole. draw quarter-circular  arch that connects the 4″ mark to the 5″ mark, the draw another arch that connects the 4″ mark to the 2″ mark. It should look like this:

neck hole front and back

Using your first vertical measurement reference (shoulder to AF), half your AF+ 1/3″ and mark this, do the same for your across back. Now along the 3rd vertical ref point (shoulder to 9″) mark your bust measurement divided by 4. Draw a curved line that connects the back measurement to the AF and the bust, with the deepest point of the curve at the AF. now do the same for the AB and you should send up with something that resembles this:

arm hole back

Divide your waist measurement by 4 and mark this along the 4th vertical ref point (shoulder to waist), like so:

waist measurement

Using a ruler, join the bust and waist marks and the from the waist mark angle your ruler out towards the bottom edge corner and connect with a straight line:

join dots

Cut out. make sure that at the armhole curves and the neck hole curves, you only cut around the outer ones because essentially you are cutting out the back first although the front and back a still together. Then separate the front and back pieces and cut out the remaining arm and neck curve lines left on the front top, you will now have something that looks like this:

front and back cut

Make a mark 3/4″ down from the outer shoulder seam and connect with a straight line to the top corner of the inner shoulder seam: cut this to get the shoulder slope:

shoulder slope cut

Now unfold the top front and back and lay on top of each other with the right side inside. Sew the sides and the shoulder seams together.

top to sew

If you want to add a sleeve as I have, check out the post on cutting a sleeve freehand ( http://chinelobally.com/2014/02/04/busy-bee-how-to-cut-a-sleeve-without-a-pattern/ ) and follow those instructions.

The choice of finishing is up to you, you could either do a rolled hem or use some bias binding. I used bias binding for the hem, I  also decided to have a little play and put my signature on this top 🙂 , I put a Kabani collar on it (whats a Kabani collar? I hear you ask, all will be revealed very soon 😉 ), and some shoulderpads. In the meantime here are a couple of pics of my top to wear out tomorrow 🙂 .

swaggar finish  swagg fin

Give it a try and please send me pics of your own 6 piece top attempt, I hope this post is clear enough, apologies for the somewhat unclear pictures, I am working on getting a better camera; but if you have any questions just leave a comment and I will be happy to help. Have a great night and make sure you tune in to BBC2 on Tuesday 8pm to watch some sewing bee action, its gonna bee heaps of fun. Follow me on twitter and instagram @chinelobally.

Busy Bee – How to cut a sleeve without a pattern

Hi everyone.

So I haven’t posted anything in a while, I have been so busy with an exciting new project; I am currently making some beautiful pieces for the photo shoot for my website (I will update everyone once it is up and running) and my clients have kept my sewing machines rumbling with plenty of orders, no complaints there however 🙂 . Stay tuned because there will be loads of exciting news to share with you guys over the next few weeks and beyond *wink wink*.

If like me you do not like showing your arms, and I believe this is the case with so many women I come across, this tutorial might just be a life saver. The ability to add sleeves to ready made sleeveless garments is a very handy skill because it means you don’t have to pass up on that dress you wish had sleeves in the shop, you can be creative with the kind of sleeve and your fabric choice and it is a great way for a newbie to get used to working the sewing machine. so here goes……

You will needImage

Fabric

Tape measure

Scissors

chalk, or something to mark you fabric with

ruler

sewing machine

steam iron

Measure the circumference right at the top of the arm, (Round Sleeve RS). Don’t wrap the tape too tight here because you will need a some ease.

Measure the circumference around your elbow area, (Round Elbow RE), do this by bending your elbow at a 90 degree angle and then measure.

Measure the wrist circumference, bare in mind that your hand has to slip in and out of the wrist comfortably, so if you are not using a stretchy fabric then you must make this measurement accommodate your hand (I usually make a loop with the tape and test for ease of entry)

Measure your sleeve length and your elbow length (watch this link as it shows you how to measure for freehand cutting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkywf2kGthg&feature=youtu.be )

Half the RS, RE, and wrist measurements

Cut out a piece of fabric that is the length of your sleeve+4 inches and the width of your RSx2 + 3 inches

Fold the fabric in half width-wise and press and in half again width-wise and press, you should have one edge that has two folds and the opposite edge should have a cut edge and a folded edge, the edge with the 2 folds are now the centre of each sleeve.

Working on the folded edge (cdenter sleeves) mark your sleeve length adding half an inch to the top and one inch to the bottom of the sleeve

Then mark your elbow length along the same edge.

Measure 6 inches down from the top of the sleeve centre edge and mark (this is the RS point)

Those are your vertical measurements for your sleeves done, now the horizontal measurements and remember you are working with the halved measurements now

from the RS point mark the halved RS measurement+0.5 inch horizontally

Do the same with the elbow and wrist from the previously marked round elbow and wrist points (the wrist is the bottom of the sleeve)

using a ruler draw a line the connects the RS, RE and Wrist marks

At the top of the sleeve freehand a curve that slopes down from the RS point and climbs up to round the top of the sleeve

Image

This is how your sleeve should look, now cut it out and notch the centre edge at the bottom and the top. you are ready to sew your sleeve!!!!

To set in your sleeves, match the notch at the top centre of your sleeve with the edge of your shoulder seam and sew.

Here is what I made.

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please send me pics of garments you reinvent with a sleeve addition, and message me if anything is unclear

Sew Essential – How to Measure Yourself

Hi guys,

Hope you have had a lovely day today, I sure have, I was out doing one of my favourite things; FABRIC SHOPPING and I got some amazing stuff, new dress alert!!!!.

So, today I want to show you how to measure yourself for freehand cutting. It includes the measurements you would usually need when working with a commercial pattern but I have added a few more which I find gives my clothing a much better fit; please pardon the terms I use for them, I am hardly politically correct when it comes to sewing terms so I make my own terms up and correct them as I find out their actual names, for instance I called box pleats kissing pleats until late last year when I found out what the real term was 🙂 :$ . I have included a video link so you can watch me taking my own measurements.

Firstly I believe that every woman should know her Bust, waist and hip measurements at least. When you do your own measurements now, try to keep them in your head because they do come in useful. I will suggest that when you take all these measurements, you write them somewhere safe so you don’t have to keep taking them.

I split my measurements into 2 main categories and a sleeve section. horizontal and vertical measurements; as the names imply, the horizontal measurements are the measurements that run horizontally across the body and the vertical measurements are the ones running vertically along the body. Below is the list of measurements I draw up when I measure myself or a client.

Horizontal Measurements– Back, Across back(AB), Across front(AF), Overbust, Bust, Underbust, Waist, Hips.

Vertical Measurements– NOTE: all of these measurements will be taken from the mid point of the shoulder where the neck joins the shoulder so they are all prefixed with “shoulder to” …. for example Shoulder to Across back, shoulder to Across front ……and so on. The list continues like this for the rest of the horizontal measurements to make up the vertical measurements. also add shoulder to: knee and floor

The final set of measurements to note are the Sleeve Measurements. I note them like this: Round sleeve, Sleeve length, Round elbow, Elbow length.

This is how mine actually looks  DSC_0177

Make your own list, then we are ready to start measuring. Below is the link for the video tutorial. I think a video will be much more useful in showing you how to do this properly, excuse the recording quality, I had to recruit my dear husband for the job of filming it and as you will see, he is no pro, but it is clear enough.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkywf2kGthg&feature=youtu.be

I hope the video was helpful, please send me you questions if you have any. I will be uploading a tutorial on how to make a top with the freehand method next, so stay tuned for that one. Till next time, Adiós!

Welcome To My Blog

welcome to my blog pic

Hello Everyone,

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. This first post is just to tell you a little bit about myself and my journey into sewing.

I have never written a blog, this is my first time so apologies in advance for any strange acts :). Ok back to the matter, my name is Chinelo Bally, I am 20 something, I was born in Nigeria but I have lived in the England since I was 8 years old so the two cultural backgrounds have played a major role in shaping my sense of style and who I am today, as my belief in God has also done. I am a Media and Creative Industries graduate from the University of East London, I loved my time there mainly because of the diversity of students and staff background, it really gave the learning experience a richness and I have made friends  from all walks of life. I am the second of four children (one sister;who steals all my clothes-more on her in the future, and two brothers). I got married to the most wonderful man (most of the times) 4.5 years ago, no kiddies yet. He is my biggest fan and my worst critic, forever pushing me to do better, thank you baby xxx. With the great encouragement from him and my fabulous family and friends over the past two years, I have been able to acquire and grow my sewing skills and pursue my dream of being a fashion designer and owning my own clothing brand; the launch of which will be announced on this blog. So here is my little thank you to all the ladies in my life who wore, with pride (I think *covers face*), the garments I made for them in the very beginnings of my sewing journey, even though the fits were hardly spot on, you offered me your different shaped bodies as my mannequins so I could learn how to cut and sew for all body shapes and I am truly grateful.

Right! how I got into sewing. I have always been quite passionate about fashion, I love clothes and I love to look good. before learning how to make my own clothes I always found it very hard to find tops that I loved, you know the kinds that you look at and think WOW! I would try on a top in a shop and think, if only this was like this or if only this bit had that on it it would be perfect so after many years of thinking like that, I would buy two tops, cut them up and take it to the tailor to create what I actually wanted, I’d do sketches of tops and dresses that I wanted, get some fabric and take it to my tailor. Everyone would always ask me where I got my clothes from; this planted the seeds of getting into designing and creating my own clothes. Determined to learn how to sew, I got my first sewing machine from a second hand store in Grays, Essex. This old Singer sat idol in my house for three months after my first attempt at (clueless) freehand cutting of a top failed woefully.  I decided that I wanted to learn to sew, but not the conventional way; no offence to all the people out there who use patterns for their sewing projects, but I really found them quite restrictive, and I wanted everything i made to be totally original to me, plus I knew that my tailor never used pattern and on the odd occasions that I caught her whilst she was cutting, I found the craft immensely fascinating, on that note I called her up and begged her to teach me and she was happy to let me come and watch her work. The spark was lit and I have fallen in love with dressmaking ever since. I have made my entire wardrobe (bar jeans, vest tops and jumpers) for the past two years, I have turned my passion into a business, making bespoke clothes for several customers who love my style.

This blog aims to teach you guys who share my passion of sewing, a completely unique way of dressmaking; freehand cutting. hopefully you will learn how to cut without using a pattern and make clothes for yourself that hardly ever need an extensive fitting out process, because it should just fit once it is made.

I’m sure that if you are reading this blog,  you must have an interest in sewing and making clothes for yourself and maybe even others, so in that sense we are like minded. I really want you guys to get involved, I would really appreciate all your comments and suggestions as I upload step-by-step projects. I would love to know what you will like to see me make, your suggestions on making the blog better and more beneficial to you and I will also appreciate your criticism (be kind 🙂 pls).

I hope you enjoy my blog and become a faithful viewer

Have a blessed day