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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

How to sew two beautiful blouses from one very easy pattern, and a visit to Abakhan.co.uk at Mostyn.

Sewing blouses and my visit to Abakhan.co.uk in Mostyn 


I often read sewing magazines and in issue 12 of Make It Today magazine there was a free pullout for a lovely Liberty print blouse.





I then set about thinking about how we could make two very different versions of this blouse with very simple alterations and different fabrics.



The thing I love most about ABAKHAN FABRICS  is that they do not pressure you into purchasing expensive fabrics. Sure they are there if you want to buy them, but they also provide alternatives. Take this cotton Lawn for example, how much do you think it cost?  It comes in (at time of writing ) at £4.99 per metre! That is amazing value for money don't you think? Do look at all the different colours and prints, the  COTTON LAWN






For this first blouse I used Print cotton Lawn from Abakhan.co.uk FLORAL GREEN, PEACH COTTON LAWN
I used this particular fabric just to prove that you do not need to pay the earth for a superb quality fabric like this one, it comes in many other colours and designs too.


The pattern is simple enough to put together. As with any hand made  garment take your measurements and cut out the corresponding pattern size.Whatever you do not rely on your ready to wear size, I promise you that you will regret it as pattern sizes and ready to wear dress sizes now bear little resemblance to each other.


Pin and tack the darts, pleats and side seams together, then the shoulder seams  before machining them to give you an opportunity to check for fit.
Finish each seam as you go along.  I am very lucky to have just been given a brand new overlocker by Jaycotts.co.uk,  see it here, Brother Overlocker , so I am keen to use it at very single opportunity!


The blouse is easy to put together and the instructions are easy to follow, but if you do get stuck then contact me on the "contact me" form on this page and I will try to help.
When you get to the buttonholes you may need to refer to your sewing machine manual. Some machines have a buttonhole foot which if you insert a button into it will stitch a buttonhole automatically.  I have a Bernina sewing machine, again from Jaycotts.co.uk To make buttonholes on this one you need to first measure your button, set a marker and sew the first one in two steps. After that the machine remembers  the length of the buttonhole and stitches the same size automatically until the machine is turned off. Which ever machine you have remember that  buttonholes are easy if you just remember to do a few practise ones first!


Please do not tell me that you use a seam ripper to cut buttonholes...... use a sharp, pair of scissors if you want to avoid disasters!
Try the blouse on and decide where you want the top button to go and measure the rest from that. On a blouse I like plenty of buttonholes to avoid gaping.
Sew the buttons on, finish the hem. and give it a final press


So, you want to make the pattern again? And why not. Patterns are expensive and we cannot afford to throw them away after just one use. 



The fabrics used in making this blouse are plain Dark Blue 4oz Denim, CLICK HERE to view it on the web site.
And a very small piece  of Liberty Tana Lawn  TANA Lawn  the current price is just £11.24 a metre! So it is affordable. I do love Liberty fabric,  so I wanted to incorporate a small piece into my blouse. There are many ways to add design touches to a blouse or shirt, this is just one. Those of you who know me well will remember  that I love making men's shirts, different men's shirts! And I only have the one pattern from which I have made 20+ shirts and no two are the same.

 We are going to make a contrast facing and collar.  Make a copy of your blouse front pattern,  I use greaseproof paper. Cut the facing off along the fold line, add 5/8" seam allowance too both the front and the facing to enable you to you stitch the contact facing in place.


 This is the facing with the seam allowance added make up the blouse exactly as before, adding a contrast collar too.


Don't you think that this Liberty fabric complements the denim nicely?



As a final touch buy some buttons which you can cover yourself and following the instructions cover then in your contrast fabric.  It is easy to do I promise you and ties the whole garment together.


This is the finished garment after its final pressing


And this is a close up of the lapel and collar.


 The two garments could not look more different!


So,  go ahead and try to use your pattern again, whatever it is, but try to incorporate at least one  change.




I know that some of you dislike buttonholes, so my next blog post will feature non-sew buttons on a button through skirt!




This is me last Autumn pictured outside Abakhan.co.uk in Mostyn. It is quite a long drive for me but I try to make the journey a couple of times a year. They have plenty of other stores which I visit in addition to ordering online but I just love the Mostyn site



.

This is me leaving the fabric section with bag in hand!  Shh, but the others were sneaked into the car earlier......



Inside, you will find the usual rolls and rolls of fabrics but also huge piles of end of rolls and offcuts to rummage through. I usually am quite happy here for a good couple of hours!

The site has a fascinating history, and remains of the original site have been lovingly preserved where possible. Very briefly, I would like to tell you some of the facts compiled by the local Historian Anthony Lewis Jones of Mostyn.

Apparently the site was, in 1684, a lead smelting works. Lead smelting required charcoal as fuel which is why it was situated near a small dock on the Dee estuary, Eventually the small smelting company grew and expanded  under the domain of the London Lead Company

By the 19th century the Llanerch-y-Mor site,to give it it's correct name,  was owned by North Wales Lead Works company and during this time it is estimated that over a quarter of the lead in the UK was smelted here.
Of course smelting needed water and there used to be a large lake in the grounds as well as a  sizable waterwheel to exchange water to energy. The wheel chamber is still there today. The mill chimney can also be found in the trees, so do go exploring the site, there is much more to see than fabric you know!



During the last war the works were much in demand as you can imagine and were taken over by the Ministry of supply to produce ferro-manganese.  The mill was in decline by this stage because, as happened with steel, it was already becoming cheaper to import it than to manufacture it here.  This could not happen during war time of course, so the industry enjoyed a temporary revival.


In 1955, the year of my birth, the mill was forced to close, as much of our other industries did, years later it was bought in a very run down state by Michael Abakhan Ltd who started to transform the old buildings, eventually adding new ones, until it started to look like the site we all love today.The first retail site opened here in Mostyn over 30 years ago by the way.

The site is fantastic as there are individual buildings dedicated to various  crafts such as knitting, sewing, interior etc etc



You will see parts of very old buildings next to brand new buildings all making up the
Heritage site that it is today.
Did you know that the company has a Prince of Wales award , actually presented by the Prince of Wales himself to Nick Abakhan in 1988


 A visit to the coffee shop, restaurant is an absolute must.  Please note,that there is not only a beautiful interior there are tables outside too along with a children's play area where the little ones can let off steam for a while.





So, when you next fancy a day out do go to Abakhan.co.uk in Mostyn,  but don't just buy lots and lots of lovely fabrics,  take a walk around the grounds, discover the old abandoned ship (once a nightclub - I know,  I was there) and see for yourself the astounding history of the place.

THANK YOU TO ABAKHAN FOR THESE BEAUTIFUL FABRICS.  My next blog will, as I said, be a skirt using both  the denim and the peach/ green lawn.

Happy sewing

Angela x

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