Lauren Guthrie talks us through her latest Liberty print project and tells us about a life wrapped up in all things sewing.
Author of popular sewing blog Guthrie and Ghani, Lauren Guthrie has a true passion for sewing. When she’s not teaching workshops or completing her own sewing projects, she runs a haberdashery in Birmingham with her husband, Ayaz. As she shows us how to ad a statement Liberty print trim to a summer loungewear staple, we asked Lauren how her crafting empire came about.
How did you get into sewing; what was the first project you made?
I first got into sewing when I was only 4 years old. My Mum was a dressmaker and worked from home, so the house was always full of sewing projects. She taught me how to make a hand sewn stitch sampler that came as a kit – I’ve still got it up on my wall now!
Did you ever see yourself owning a shop dedicated to crafts?
When I was younger I used to dream of having a shop that was full of things that I had made, but now I absolutely love selling fabrics and creating notions for people to make things themselves. I think sewing has so many positive benefits, it’s really rewarding to see that thrive in the customers that come to the shop.
How did the ‘Love Liberty’ section on your blog come about?
I have always loved Liberty fabric and can remember going on a trip to the haberdashery department, all the way from Scotland, when I left school. I was allowed to pick a fabric for my Mum to make me a special outfit. I’m so drawn to the colours, patterns and amazing softness of the fabric that I love to include it in my projects, even if it’s just a little splash here and there – like the lining of a pocket, a bit of bias trim or some buttons. So I thought it would be good to have a whole category on the blog that pulled all of these projects together for people out there who love Liberty.
Do you have any favourite prints?
That is such a hard question… but if my life depended on it, Betsy – in any colourway!
Which sewing skill did you find the hardest to master?
Getting the perfect fit on a garment is always tricky. I’m lucky that usually my proportions fit more or less into the size options on sewing patterns, but there is always something new to learn in terms of getting it spot on.
What tips do you have for someone who wants to start making their own clothes or accessories?
Embrace the mistakes – you can always unpick something and you will learn so much from it so it’s never a waste of time.
Be brave – try something you’ve never attempted before, work through it slowly step by step. Soon you’ll see how it all comes together.
Get the right tools – I know it seems like a big investment but it will make life a lot easier if you have good quality equipment.
Lastly – work with a Liberty fabric! Even if it’s not perfect it’ll still look lovely if it’s made with beautiful fabric!
THE PROJECT: HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SHORTS WITH A LIBERTY PRINT TRIM
A basic in everyone’s wardrobe, this lovely pair of comfy pyjama bottoms in a soft cotton fabric is easy to wear and simple to make, too. This project is a really good place to get to grips with following a garment pattern, as you don’t need to worry too much about getting the fit right. This simple shorts version has a contrast panel at the hem.
You will need:
Up-scale and print the ‘Short’ Shorts Pattern
1.2m (1yd) of main fabric at least 114cm (45in) wide, such as medium-weight cotton
60cm (yd) of contrast fabric at least 114cm (45in) wide, such as medium-weight cotton
Piece of 2cm (in) elastic half your waist measurement
Piece of iron-on interfacing at least 5cm (2in) square
How to make:
Cut out the fabric pieces following the cutting layout and, using the pattern, cut out the fabric pieces in the two fabrics. Also from the contrast fabric cut two strips 50 x 5cm (20 x 2in) for ties. Transfer all pattern markings onto the fabric.
Sew the inside leg seams: pin a front piece and a back piece together, right sides facing, along the inside leg edges. Stitch the seam with a 1.5cm (5/8in) seam allowance (used throughout). Press the seam allowances open and finish them off. Repeat to join the other inside leg seam.
Sew side seams: pin and stitch the side seams, with right sides facing. Finish off the seam allowances together and press them towards the front.
Add contrast border: pin and stitch the front and back panels together at the side edges; press the seams open. At the top (un-notched) edge of the panels press 1.5cm (5/8in) to the wrong side.
Turn the pyjamas wrong side out and pin the border, also wrong side out, around the lower edge of each leg, matching side seams and notches and with the pressed-back edge at the top, as shown. Tack if you wish, then stitch 1.5cm (5/8in) from the lower edge.
Finish attaching border: press the border down, away from the pyjamas. Turn the pyjamas right side out, and fold the border up over each leg; press it so that the seam you stitched in Step 4 is at the edge. Pin and tack, then topstitch the border in place 2mm (scant 1/8in) from its top (pressed-under) edge.
Sew crotch seam: turn one leg right side out. Place it inside the other leg (turned wrong side out) so that the right sides of the fabric are facing. Match up inner leg seams and front and back notches and pin in place; tack if you wish, then stitch the seam. Press the seam to one side and finish off the raw edges together.
Make the buttonholes: turn under and press 3cm (1 1/4in) along the upper edge of the pyjama bottoms, then turn under and press another 3cm (1 1/4in). This will be stitched later to form the casing for the elastic.Now open out the folds. Iron the small piece of interfacing to the marking for the buttonhole on each side of the crotch seam. Stitch two buttonholes and cut them open.
Stitch the casing: re-fold the casing and pin it in place. Topstitch 2.7cm (generous 1in) down from the top folded edge, leaving a gap of 8cm (3in) along the back. Repeat with a line of topstitching 3mm (1/8in) from the top; this will stop the elastic from twisting.
Attach waist ties to elastic: press each tie piece in half lengthways, wrong sides together. Open out this fold and fold the raw edges in to meet the crease.
Re-fold the tie, enclosing the raw edges. Topstitch close to the turned-in edges. Tie a little knot at one end of each tie. Attach the un-knotted ends of the ties to the elastic with two or three rows of zigzag stitch.
Feed elastic and ties through casing: attach a safety pin to each end of the waist ties. Feed the ties through the gap in the casing you left at the back and out through the buttonholes at the front. Pin the elastic to the top edge of the pyjamas at each side seam, then topstitch it in place. Topstitch the gap in the casing to close it. (You will have to stretch the elastic to make the fabric lie flat when you do this.)
You can find even more details, tips and projects in Learn to Sew with Lauren by Lauren Guthrie, published by Mitchell Beazley, £25 (www.octopusbooks.co.uk)
Images by Nassima Rothacker