The sewing machines and overlocker will be in great demand.
As Christmas turns to New Year, we start to think of starting again, of resolutions and making a difference. I am no exception, but this year I have got to thinking about what I have learnt over the years. Most of my sewing misconceptions I have seen my students have and I’d like to share some of them with you here:
The machine needles that come with your sewing machine are all that you are ever going to need.
It took me many years to figure this one out. I now use so many needles that I have a tin to collect the broken and dull ones. In the drawer in my sewing machine table I have over a dozen types and sizes of needle. I have adopted a pincushion to take the “not quite blunt” needles for future use. This has sections drawn on it with the size and type written in the sections, so I can easily pick one out that I need.
If the tension on my machine is out, or it’s skipping stitches I change my needle. This surprisingly helps. I service my machine once a month and the needle gets thrown then. When I go from one project to another the needle will get changed then. The list goes on, but the next time someone says that my sewing is very neat – I know it is mainly due to the needle.
All threads are the same.
My husband and anyone coming into my sewing room look in wonder at the amount of thread I have. Gütermann and Superior are the ones I use. But I have also tried YLI and Metler and I need to study these in more depth. I use Gütermann, as they don’t shed as many fibres when you are sewing, this is turn leads to the shuttle case in your machine not clogging up as much. I love working with the very fine Superior thread. It is a long staple Egyptian cotton and very strong. YLI have plenty of specialist thread, the invisible thread is great for applique and Metler have the same range as Gütermann, so maybe I won’t be changing over to them just yet.
I once used over locking thread in my sewing machine to make garments and did so for quite some time. I thought this would save money, but in the long run it cost me. The garments didn’t hang right and the overall finish wasn’t great and my machine needed some urgent repairs.
I want a sewing machine with lots of stitches
We’ve all been there. We’ve sat in awe at the array of stitches and dream of the things we will make. My present machine has over 300, but actually I only use 6 stitches and sometimes the alphabet.
My favourite stitch on my machine is the button sewing on stitch. I hate sewing on buttons with a passion, but love to do it with my machine. The other stitches that are used are obviously the straight and zigzag, and the buttonhole. The other two are a bit out there. I use the blind hemstitch for applique. I’ve never mastered the art of doing blind hemming with a machine, I do try now and again, but I’ve not been able to do it. But for applique, the blind hemstitch is almost invisible (especially when using the invisible thread from YLI). Then lastly the stepped zigzag gets lots of use. Some of you know I make my own lingerie and this stitch is invaluable for sewing on elastic.
Making a toile is a waste of time
Why make the same thing twice, and one of them you are going to throw away? My mannequin has just as many clothes as me now that I have learnt a very expensive lesson. Ok, I confess I don’t make a toile for everything I make; simple skirts and dresses are ok. But complicated dresses, trousers and even skirts need a toile. What is a toile you may be asking? Basically it is a mock up of the finished garment in a cheap fabric of the same weight. Almost anything will do. One of the cheapest ways is to buy bedding sets from Asda or Primark etc. Have you ever calculated how much it would cost to buy the amount of fabric in these sets? A duvet has over 4m of fabric in it, plenty for a couple of toiles. When a toile is made, you can decide what to change, or in my case, whether to make it or not. Saving your expensive material for another project.
What to do when someone asks you about your garment
Most people know I make my own clothes, so I nearly always tell them that I have made it. But occasionally you meet someone you don’t know very well and they ask you where you got your dress/skirt/top. It will depend on who they are. I go with either, “Oh, I’ve had it some time, can’t remember” or my favourite, “I have a special little lady who makes things for me”.
I have lost count on how many times a bride has said to me, “You make clothes don’t you? I have my wedding dress and now need 6 bridesmaid dresses.” How I cringe inward at that one. Usually I ask how much they have paid for their wedding dress and how much they want to pay for their bridesmaid dresses. Their answer is usually something like £300 and £50 each. Wow, It would cost about £40 for the fabric for each dress!!! I usually politely tell them that there is just the same amount of work goes into a bridesmaid dress and I couldn’t make one for under £500 each. Usually puts them off, and then I recommend a decent dress shop that I know have occasion outfits.
It is now coming up to the New Year. I’ve decided not to have a resolution, but intend to complete all the projects in my sewing room! Notice I haven’t put a time scale on that!
Life has been pretty hectic and although I am in the middle of two weeks off, nothing seems to be slowing down.
With most people thinking now of Christmas, I had forgotten about it, thinking more of what I could sell on my stall in the spring. Lead times for making things running into months. Hubby was great last week looking after my market stall, but he came back with lots of requests. These included Christmas ribbon, and gifts for Christmas.
I have now duly purchased some ribbon, and made a few Christmassy things. Along side my normal things I have fairy lights, Santa sacks, Christmas bunting, large decorated pinecones and some Christmas trees. Hopefully my stall will look Christmassy tomorrow.
My new van has finally arrived, and I really don’t know how I coped with my small car. Everything fits so much better in larger boxes. Packing and unpacking her is a breeze and she was a really lovely ride over to the coast yesterday.
I am running an offer in December. Anyone buying something from either my market stall or classes will get a discount card for 10% off purchases in January, and February 2018. This excludes the purchases of lessons. So come down to my stall and see some of the wonderful things I have to offer.
Next Years Classes
To see what classes I am running in January through to March pop over to the community page.
I have been very busy over the last three months, so haven't had time to write in my blog.
Starting in September, I have started to have a market stall every week, so for this I have been busy making things to sell along side my haberdashery. Aprons are easy and are a great seller, so I have made several varieties.
Shirts made into aprons:
Reversible aprons for children:
Egg collecting aprons:
Make-up or cosmetic bags that are waterproof lined:
Also fully waterproof toiletry and make-up bag combo:
Bags are always a favourite of mine. So a messenger bag with Alexandra Henry Sugar Skulls fabric:
Also, bags for dog walkers. The small ones are snap closured, with a detachable wrist strap. The green one with dogs, I have only just finished, this has many pockets and a cross body strap:
Halloween has been and gone and a couple of these cheeky bats have made a new home:
With winter on the horizon, I have made a stack of bowl cosies. A couple of these have made it to our kitchen and are great for home made soup:
Other things I have made for us include, a panda insulated lunch bag for me, a waterproof treat pouch for hubby and I finished the Sashiko/indigo quilt:
But by no means last, presents for friends, a cat pencil case and coin case for my cat mad friend and a felt cake for Café Crème – gluten free and vegan to boot!
I have thoroughly enjoyed making these and have many more items that will be coming out of my sewing room. So why not come and check my market stall or my Etsy page?
Most of you buy the dress and then accessorise after. What if you had small feet? What if your feet were only a size three? Well, there is my dilemma, being 5' 6" tall, big busted and with small feet I have to get my shoes first. I know what you are saying, there are always loads of size 3 shoes on sale, but be honest have you seen them. How can I wear 3" heels? My feet are too small, my bust is too large and I'm too tall!
In September I will be presented with my long service and good conduct medal for having worked for local government for 21 years and, obviously, I am going to need a new outfit. In mind I have a 1950's wiggle dress. But maybe not too wiggly as I will be in full view of everyone. My latest shoe brand that I have taken to wearing is Ruby Shoo. They have ankle straps and come in a size 3. Colours that I wear that suit my complexion are dark blue, emerald green, fuchsia pink and burgundy.
These are just perfect, ok they have a high heel - but that will make me wiggle!
Now, I'm off to buy some wool crepe.
Here they are:
I haven't bothered pattern matching the main seat covers, and to help, hubby did cut them out. On the scatter cushions, I have fussy cut so that the best pictures show on the front.
To say that I was bored was an understatement. I calculated that in total I stitched for 1.5 km. I could be Olympic champion!
Everyone I have shown them to have loved them, even so much so that they have asked me to make some. I am going to over quote the price, as I hate doing them!!!
Creativity will now resume. Now where are my Gertie dress patterns?
To check the colours I arranged them and took black and white photographs, wow they were stunning!
Planning was next underway and I had designed the mini quilt.
The first couple of blocks looked great, but I soon got to realize that something was wrong.
The block patterns were disappearing in the beautiful patterns of the collection. My fault. I should have bought some solids to mix it up.
Lesson learnt and I pulled out another fat quarter bundle from my stash. Funny how that happens – that we sewers just seem to happen to have some “spare” fabric. But with this I added some solids and the results were so much better.
As for the Dashwood Bloom, I’ll put it in the UFO box and finish it when I fancy. Or is that just Claire speak for never, or frogged?
It is fully waterproof as all the seams have been taped. The front has two pockets, it has pit zips and also a hood. The pattern is the Green Pepper Fairbanks Pullover, and the pattern is s dream to use.
The pattern doesn't have a pocket on the left hand sleeve, but hubby wanted one for his ski pass. So he got one. IF I was to make this pattern again, I would make the longer one as I think this one is too short, but hubby loves it.