Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Tutorial Tuesday: 45 Minute Butterfly Tunic Dress & Happy Birthday to us!

Looking for a quick and simple make?  How about a dress for any shape/size which you can sew in 45 minutes? This 45 Minute Butterfly Tunic Dress by Ashley of Make It & Love It is cute, comfortable to wear, and easy to make...what more could you ask for? With a dress this effortless and chic you might want to make one for all the ladies you love! 
This tunic dress can be easily adjusted to fit any size! Since there is no pattern, all you need to do is take down a few basic measurements and determine your desired length. 
Ashley takes you every step of the way, with plenty of sewing tips to help you move along.
The finished dress is great for the summer, lightweight, comfy and airy but still stylish. We love it!
You can use pretty much and of our fabrics for your dress but Cotton Jersey or Cotton Lycra is probably best, some Summery suggestions below
For more ideas, patterns and tutorials, follow Girl Charlee's board on Pinterest.
This weekend we celebrated out first birthday!
We wanted to say a big thanks to you all for making us so welcome in the sewing community and for all your kind words and support.
We took a 5 minute break from packing your orders to raise a glass to you all! (We didn't have any champagne glasses but there is bubbly in the mugs!)
Mark, Ben & Jen
Don't forget to sign up for our email updates to keep up to date with all our New Fabrics, Sales, Giveaways and all our Knitty News!  The sign up box is top left of the blog. 

Happy Sewing!
~ Mark & The Girl Charlee Team

Friday, 24 June 2016

Girl Charlee 1st Birthday SALE!

This weekend Girl Charlee is commemorating our first Birthday (Yay!) and to get everyone in the mood to celebrate we have a massive sale!
Everything* on the site has 20% off, plus a whole range of Sale items have been reduced by up to 50% off! 
The sale runs up to and including Monday 27th June.
You don't need a code, the 20% will be taken off your final basket total.
Thank you to everyone for all their support, kind words and love over the past year, it's been amazing!
*Wholesale, PDF Patterns, Gift Cards, Sale Items & Bargain Lots are not included in the 20% discount.Sign up to our email newsletter to keep up to date with all our new fabrics, competitions/ giveaways and all the Knitty News! The sign up box is top left of the blog or on our website.  
Happy Sewing!
~ Mark & The Girl Charlee Team

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Tutorial Tuesday: Guest Blog by Kerry Green featuring Named Kielo Wrap Dress, plus A Guide to Hemming Knits

Hi there, I am Kerry from verykerryberry sewing and quilting blog.  I like to sew pretty much everything, especially quilts and clothing and since Girl Charlee UK was launched last June, I've collaborated regularly with Mark and the team.  They are a lovely company to partner up with - no pressure, lots of freedom and great service.  Mark got in touch recently to ask if I'd like to sew anything up from their newer arrivals.  I like having a big range of different knit fabrics to choose from and I'm a sucker for ditsy florals whether in quilts or clothing and this mint/pink daisy on navy fabric was definitely calling my name so I said yes, I had a week off work and a pattern idea...
At Maddie's bra making workshop a few week's back I met the lovely Shiona and she was wearing a Kielo wrap dress by Named Clothing in a Ponte grey/black wide stripe.  I recognised the design straightaway but it was the first time I'd seen it in person.  It looked so elegant and easy to wear, I was smitten.  It shows what a difference it can make to see something in real life.  I always like seeing Named Clothing's new season look-books and admire the freshness and modern look of their designs but from the original pattern picture, it was not a dress I imagined on myself.  It looked narrow and restrictive  in the skirt - not what I like in a dress. Then when I saw Shiona's I realised that is was quite the opposite, fitted at the top, flowing elsewhere and a dress that I could happily sit sewing in, walking Lottie or wear going out in the evening for drinks (a rarity but you never know!).  Girl Charlee have downloadable patterns from Named Clothing (just the Kielo dress at the moment, but more to come!) and the lovely Laura from Named sent me the pattern to try.  
  • Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress.  Sewn in size EU 36/US size 4/UK size 8 size. Length reduced by 6¼" measured upwards from the original hem to maintain the curved hem shape.  Mark for the top of the split moved upwards accordingly.
  • Fabric used: Pink mint daisy on navy blue cotton/rayon jersey blend, 142cm wide 2.5m.  Width is just under the required 150cm but pattern pieces fitted with a little room to spare. 
  • Because the pattern pieces are placed to fit together in opposite directions to make the most economic use of fabric length, this dress is  best sewn with non-directional prints, prints that work vertically in both directions or solid fabrics. This print is mildly directional but is so busy that you cannot tell the back is running the opposite way to the front.  Stripes would look good but require a lot of accurate pinning. Drape and lightness works well with this style as it reduces bulk round the waist and hips.
  • Pattern: Needs to be traced.  Pattern is nested, two sizes at a time and for the front and back you  trace the top of the dress, make a matching mark, then switch the tracing 180 degrees to match up and trace the skirt section.  There are only three pieces so the tracing didn't take long and there are only 12 pages to print and join together so although it's not for everyone, I like this method a lot! (I hate printers and printing!)
  • It is a bit of a challenge to trace between sizes because of the way the PDF patterns are arranged on the page.  However on this style,  it's the bust measurement that is most critical as the waist hip area is very wide to allow for the wrap.  The lower skirt could be tapered out easily for extra width at the hem.  
  • As the fabric is quite slippy for marking dart lines with chalk, I used tailor tacks and soft pencil for the front and back darts.  I have a tailor's tack video here.
Handling and Sewing the Fabric
Prewash - Always prewash clothing fabric following any manufacturers instructions if you can find them!  Some knits benefit from a light press but this one was fine.  The fabric is very drapey so it will slide off surfaces easily.  I cut it on the floor, laid out on a Durabac board equivalent to this.  Take time to get the fabric flat and even and the selvedges together- this step can take a long time with knits.  This fabric does roll at the edges.
Sewing - Sewn on a mix of Bernina record 830 sewing machine with walking foot and size 75 stretch needle and using a small zig zag (length 1, width 1) for open seams/split and a Brother 1034d serger for closed seams and edging.  It could be sewn entirely on a sewing machine and edges do not need finishing as they won't unravel, it just looks neater. 
Instructions - The pattern instructions are quite brief as is the Named style.  There is a lot of detail in the first few pages covering methods which apply to most garment sewing, assembling PDFs etc.  There are only a few pieces to fit together so not a huge amount of instruction is needed.   There are a few diagrams which are most relevant to sewing up with a woven fabric.  There are no particular instructions for knit fabrics.  I sewed the neck and arm band edges using an excellent tutorial on Colette pattern's website.  using a zig zag stitch to catch the binding. A double needle hem would've been a struggle to sew with the layers.   I raised the armhole by approx. ¾" as the weight of the wrap was showing a lot of side bra!  I was careful at all times to support the fabric as I was sewing. The drapey fabric has a bit of weight to it so use your knee, table or ironing board to help hold up different sections as you sew.
Stages in making the back split:
  • Applying stretch interfacing- ½" wide strips along length of split plus ½" above
  • Serging the split edges starting 2" above the split notch/mark on each side
  • Serving the centre back hem to the point where the separate serged edges begin
  • Stitching the spilt down using straight stitch- following pattern instructions, then turning hem
  • Adding hem using double needle, ¾"interfacing and sewing the hem approx. ⅝" from folded edge.

Extra techniques
Interfacing for knit fabrics (Perfect fuse sheer) used on split and hem.  For the hem, I cut the strip so the stretch is horizontal to create extra 'give' in the hem.
Interfacing tape (Vilene) used on back shoulders.  This has a line of stitching built into the interfacing to stop the shoulders stretching.
This seam can then be pressed to the back to prevent irritation.  You could also use woven tape or clear elastic.   
Binding tutorial: Colette's excellent 'How to Bind Knit Edges": 4 Complete Methods for neck and arm holes.  I used the 'clean finish' method and cut the bands cut according to their calculations and sewn using a ⅜" seam allowances (as is the rest of the dress).

Guide to Hemming Knit Fabrics

How you hem jersey garments depends on three things:
  1. The fabric- how thick, how stretchy?  
  2. The hem function- does it need to be strong enough to stretch?  Straight stitches will pop one when stretched. 
  3. Appearance: how do you want it to look?  Zig zag?  Copying ready to wear garments with two lines of stitching, created by using a double needle for stretch fabrics?  I use Hemline (Klasse) size 75, 4.0mm (gap between the needles) twin stretch and a wooly nylon thread hand wound on to the bobbin to help with elasticity and stretch. For more details on this technique, see here. 
I sewed up five different hem samples to show you the difference when adding stretch interfacing, using wooly nylon, how close to the raw edge the hem is stitched, cutting away excess, using a double needle, using a zig zag.  All samples were sewn using a walking foot and G├╝termann thread on the thread spool and all were pressed- click to see extra large! 

Hem details
1. Double needle
Tension increased.  On my machine it is a +/- wheel (see below)  Most machines have 4.5 as their average tension setting, the increase would be to around 6 or 7 maybe higher.   On my Janome Horizon, my tension is set at 9 for a double needle knit hem.  The aim is to have the wooly thread forming a well-defined zig zag stitch on the back, not pulled too tight and two lines of straight stitching on the front
Stitch length 3.5
Wooly nylon in bobbin (hand wound)
Sewn at edge of 0.75" (three quarter inch) hem turn up
Note the tunnelling- the bumpy ridge between stitching line, even after pressing.
Tension- arrow shows wear the vertical line is usually positioned

2. Double needle
Tension increased
Stitch length 3.5
Wooly nylon in bobbin (hand wound)
Sewn edge at approx. 0.5" (half inch) of 0.75" hem turn up
Excess hem then trimmed off
No tunnelling!  This method used on the dress,

3. Zig zag stitch
Stitch width 3, length 1.5
Extra thread on surface for tension whilst sewing- the zigzags sew over the top of this whilst you are holding it tautly,  pulls out for easy removal afterwards (this idea came from my  1974 Bernina 830 record handbook)
Normal tension setting
Sewn edge at 0.5" (half inch) of 0.75" hem turn up
Excess hem then trimmed off
Sewing zig zag using a surface thread for tension, removed afterwards
4. Zig zag stitch
Stitch width 3, length 1.5
No interfacing, no extra thread tension as in example 3
Normal tension setting
Sewn edge at 0.5" (half inch) of 0.75" hem turn up
Excess hem then trimmed off

5. 4. Zig zag stitch
Stitch width 3, length 1.5
No extra thread tension as in example 3
Normal tension setting
Sewn edge at 0.5" (half inch) of 0.75" hem turn up
Excess hem then trimmed off

It's a great summer dress, flowing because of the width of fabric at the wrap area but elegant and column shaped from the tapering side seams.  I raised the split to compensate for shortening the hem and it is easy to walk in- I am a strider!  The dress can be bundled in a ball and thrown into a case- perfect for holidays so I know it will be going to the beach with me in a few weekend's time.  I've worn it for dog walking, hitching up my skirt to scoot up a hill with no problems and in hot weather it is light and airy and benefits from the cool-to-feel touch of rayon in the blend.  It's a dress to store in a drawer or on a shelf rather than hang as the weight of the fabric could stretch it out of shape.
I would definitely sew another knit version- potentially suitable fabrics from Girl Charlee would be:
(watch out for the placement of the larger flowers over the chest and bear in mind that stripes will require lots of pinning!)

These are all chosen because they are lighter in weight, have a cotton component, and some have rayon in the blend. I've avoided lycra as I didn't feel this dress needed it, but Cotton Lycras could also work.  A lighter Ponte might be good too.  It's a versatile pattern as I've seen woven versions as well as knit and for stretch fabrics, different amounts of stretch seem to work as well as the lower stretch fabrics.  It's a flattering and forgiving fit- the ties can also work wrapping to the back or just loosely fastened for a tent-like fit on sultry days.

Thank you to Mark for sending me the fabric and Laura from Named Clothing for supplying the pattern PDF.    Fabric and pattern provided for free, all opinions are my own. 
sib blog

Thanks for the wonderful tutorial Kerry! The dress looks fantastic and the Hemming guide will be invaluable for anyone sewing knits!  
As Kerry mentioned, we now have the Kielo Dress available to download HERE and will be adding lots more lovely Named Clothing Patterns in the coming weeks so sign up for our newsletter to be notified of new arrivals!
For more ideas, patterns and tutorials, follow Girl Charlee's board on Pinterest.
Don't forget to sign up for our email updates to keep up to date with all our New Fabrics, Sales, Giveaways and all our Knitty News!  The sign up box is top left of the blog. 
Happy Sewing!
~ Mark & The Girl Charlee Team

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Tutorial Tuesday: Happy 90th Birhday Your Majesty - Union Flag cushion

With the Queen’s official birthday on the 11th of June, the Trooping the Colour (and of course the European Football Championship, ED. Mark), I decided to make a Union Jack cushion! I also love using little all my spare bits of fabric and applique so this was a perfect project.

I started by looking at various tutorials and was inspired by this video tutorial by Crafty Gemini.

I liked the idea of cutting strips and layering them so decided to go with this idea and add my own ideas along the way!

First of all, I cut my two cushion squares (approx 40cm squared) although a rectangle would be just as good! I used the navy sweatshirt fleece and much as I love a button backed cushion, I decided to add a zip to this one.

To make the Union Jack design, I had a little practise run with some strips and triangles and laid them out on the right side of my cushion front. I decided to use our white cotton jersey to make the two crosses, red cotton lycra, the classic blue gingham cotton jersey, white stitched arrow on blue and red and white stripe cotton spandex.
To make my crosses and triangles a bit sharper, I decided to use bondaweb. That way, I could draw my shapes straight on to the paper.
Once I had ironed on each piece, I used the double zig zag stitch along each edge. This stitch takes a little longer but you do get a nice bold outline.
I then made my piping with cord and the red cotton lycra. Before pinning it to the front of the cushion, I curved each corner slightly to make it easier. Don’t forget to snip into the seam allowance on the piping before you bend it, it makes it so much easier.
Once the piping was sewn on (using a zipper foot), I pinned and basted my zip. I stitched this in, once I was confident that it was in the right place! To finish it off, I top stitched the zip on the side without piping. The red adds a nice contrast.
I then sewed the two cushion faces, right sides together, taking care to tuck any flappy bits from the piping in!
And there you have it - a slightly different look to the traditional Union Jack but a very funky cushion! This design lends itself beautifully to so many different fabrics and you don’t even need to stick to the traditional colours (and of course if you are not British you can use the appropriate colours for your own flag/design!).
You can use pretty much and of our fabrics for your cushion.  Some red white and blue suggestions below, but we have lots more colours to choose from for other flags/designs!

For more ideas, patterns and tutorials, follow Girl Charlee's board on Pinterest.
Don't forget to sign up for our email updates to keep up to date with all our New Fabrics, Sales, Giveaways and all our Knitty News!  The sign up box is top left of the blog. 

Happy Sewing!
~ Jen & The Girl Charlee Team