Make at 140, Plymouth

It’s an exciting bit of news to hear that there’s a new local craft shop on the scene, and even better when it’s not just a shop but home to a café with a mouth-watering menu and enough workshops to keep any craft addict happy for at least a good few months.

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Make at 140 is the latest addition to Plymouth’s craft scene, situated just between the city centre and historic harbourside. It opened its doors in November 2015 as a ‘creative space to craft, make and create’, run by Lizzy, who has a wealth of experience in button and jewellery design.

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Tutorial: Making Buttonholes

The pyjama saga has finally come to an end! They are now with the intended recipient, who sadly was too shy to model them for the blog, but they fit perfectly and look fantastic. Great success all around!

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Finished!

The final steps were mostly making the buttonholes, pressing out the material so it didn’t look like it had been in the bottom of a project bag and tidying up any hairy seams that hadn’t quite gone according to plan. There were also a few finishing touches, like sewing in some loops to the top and bottoms, so they can sit on a hanger.

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Bit of gift wrapping

Buttonholes have a, somewhat undeserved, reputation for being really difficult to do. I think it is because they are generally one of the last things you will do on a garment and there is the lingering terror that you’re going to butcher your project and have months more work to do.

It is always a good idea to have a practice of these things, particularly if you’re doing them for the first time. I also recommend trying a sample on the material you will be using for the garment as well – I’ve found machines have a tendency to chew the polyester with dense areas of stitching.

So how do you make a buttonhole then? As sewing machines have moved a long way from the days of the cast iron Singers, there’s a few different methods, with varying levels of automation, for doing buttonholes.

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The Pyjama Saga

Like most people, I’ve dreamed of being able to have beautiful, well-fitting garments in whatever colours and fabrics I wanted without ever having to go near a clothes shop again. When I finally bought my own sewing machine, I thought it’d be a good time to try learning dressmaking as well as developing some level of competence with my rather grumpy machine as well.

Dressmaking has turned out to be a rather different beast from everything else I’ve done before. I’m used to very fine work, mostly done by hand. Learning to cut some approximation to a straight line for garments was a bit of a learning curve for me and it’s taken a few horrendously rolled seams for me to be confident machining on both straight lines and curves. Luckily my teacher has the patience of a plurality of saints, every bit of which she’s needed for the pyjamas I’ve been making for longer than either of us care to remember.

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Simplicity 2317

The pattern is Simplicity ‘2317’ and in many ways, this project was a terrible choice for a beginner. I bought the material (relatively lightweight polyester) and pattern from John Lewis, on the assurance from the staff that this was completely suitable for a numpty who could just about work out how to press a pedal on a sewing machine. I’m not sure if I had offended them or they’d never known the horror of trying to deal with a sleeve where the fabric wants to go anywhere but where you want it to go. It also frays when you as much as look at it for too long and is generally a nuisance to handle.

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