Crafty sew and sew in Dorset

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My Top 10 Sewing Tools

I had a bit of a tidy up in my sewing corner today and started to think about the amount of sewing paraphernalia I own and what items I use almost every time I sew something.

I have shown my sewing space before here, it’s not huge but I’ve packed it with all the necessary sewing gadgets and some other bits that are just helpful occasionally.

I use a plastic tool box for my daily tools, mainly because I needed to be able to take them with me when I attended sewing lessons with Sarah and just kept it.

I have an Ikea desk with two drawers. The large drawer holds craft kits, sewing threads that don’t fit on the wall and haberdashery such as elastic and my bias binding makers.

Clearly my two machines are my best sewing tools but I thought I would run through my top 10 used items.

1.

My walking foot

I was fortunate enough to be given a walking foot with both of my machines. I ignored it for years on my husqvarna Viking machine until I made my Grainline studio Cascade duffle coat at my sewing lessons. Sarah showed me how to fit this scary looking machine foot and it transformed my ability to pattern match all those plaids!!

Now it almost lives on my machine as it makes all pattern matching so easy. I only switch foot if I need to add a zip etc.

2.

Long tweezers and washi tape

These tweezers came from my dad’s engineering workshop!! I was pulling my hair out trying to thread my old overlocker as he offered them to see if it would help. My new janome overlocker actually came with a pair of tweezers and it makes such a difference if you need to rethread (ie when you try to knot the new thread to the old but it gets jammed somewhere!).

The washi tape is really helpful to mark seam allowance on the machine or to tape slippery fabric to pattern pieces when cutting out.

3.

Seam ripper

Need I say more!! I have several cheap and cheerful ones so I have one close by at all times!!

I have seen a few people with larger clover ones and tempted to upgrade but unclear how they keep them sharp. I find these ones are great for a few months then get blunt but at £1 each I just replace them.

4. -7.

Magnetic pin holder

I tried so many different pin cushions over the years and this is definitely the best design.

The ones on my wrist irritate me and i always leave pin cushions in the wrong place (my sewing desk and cutting table are in different rooms). I also like the fact that i can throw pins at this one while sewing and it sort of catches them.

Tape measure

My aunt bought me this sheep tapemeasurebut have another Cath Kidston one and several basic tape ones.

Seam allowance gauge

I can’t remember where I bought this but I use it all the time. I’m pretty good at estimating 1.5cm seam allowance but always good to do a quick check. I also use this when extending pattern length to do a quick check or spacing buttonholes.

Point turner

This has made life so much easier where I need to turn a corner out either on a collar or mitred sweater corner. I tend to use a pin to get a sharp finish but this helps on the way.

8.

Tailors Ham and sleeve press

One of the basics of sewing is pressing seams and is something I always make time to do. I keep meaning to get a sleeve press like my fabric tailors ham but my mini ironing board does the job most times.

The tailors ham is great for armhole seams and darts etc.

9.

Rotary cutters and pattern weights

I always use my rotary cutters to cut out patterns. I find with scissors the pattern pieces move so I have to pin it down (or tape it- see washi tape above!).

I have two sizes inmy drawer, mainly due to availability of blades, this way I can buy whatever is in the sale. It’s worth changing the blade fairly regularly to avoid little inconsistencies when cutting and having odd sections that didn’t actually cut.

I made my pattern weightswith air dry clay and some acrylic paints. I need to varnish them really but think I’m lusting after the macaroon ones I’ve seen online and therefore procrastinating about it!

10.

Fiskars scissors

Invest in your scissors and then guard them with your life!! Mine live in my desk drawers and even my kids know they are only allowed to use the paper ones (with permission!!).

I was given my large pair with my first ever sewing machine 10 years ago ( a second hand singer bought to make curtains for our camper van).

I use the paper ones all the time to cut out my pdf patterns and the sharp ones to transfer pattern marking (I tend to cut little nicks in the seam allowance).

I bought the snips recently and I am a little disappointed for fiskars. They only work if at a certain angle or else nothing happens!

The little sharpening device is really effective and has kept these scissors like new.

What are your top sewing gadgets?

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The Great British Sewing Bee Live 2017

I was lucky enough to win tickets for me and a friend to go to the sewing bee live from Lovely Jubbly Fabrics last week.

This is the first sewing show I have been to so difficult to make any comparison but I absolutely loved it.

This is the first version of this show and was held in one of the units at Excel London. We had a very long day leaving Bournemouth at 6.30am and then risking an Uber taxi across London (which took an hour to go 8 miles at 9.30 in the morning).

We grabbed a coffee as soon as we arrived and sat down to watch one of the catwalk shows.

It was great to see lots of other bloggers and Instagram people walking around. It was a little surreal waving at people like we knew each other although we had never met in real life!!

I was rubbish at taking photos and only have a few to share I’m afraid! There were loads of fabric shop stalls all aimed at dressmaking or quilting with so many beautiful fabrics.

We were very reserved and I only bought a couple of fabrics and patterns.

I bought some French terry jersey from girl charlee uk and have already made a Papercut bowline sweatshirt with it.

I bought a Rosa shirt dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons and some cotton fabric from Fabrics Galore.

It was so great to be able to sample the quality of the fabric from stores I can normally only access online such as Higgs and Higgs and Guthrie and Ghani. Lauren had some beautiful kits put together for linden sweaters and ginger jeans.

Apart from the fabric stores there were displays of clothing from Liberty and also from the contestants on the tv show. It was amazing to see the quality of the finish garments the contestants had made under such pressure. I have to admit I had assumed that they probably weren’t finished well but the ones on display certainly were. Especially Jade’s beaded finale dress.

We also watched a few of the contestants at the mini theatre demonstrating how to insert zips or Sew with jersey.

We sadly didn’t get tickets for the super theatre so didn’t get chance to see Esme and Patrick.

So who’s up for going next year??! Anyone interested in Dorset look up @dorset_meet_up on instagram as it looks like there might be a few of us!!

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A Frilling Top


Back in June I braved the shops to find a smart top to wear to an interview. It was a painful experience even with the decent selection of shops available in Bournemouth for a couple of reasons; I had to find something plain and smart (no prints 😫); and I object to the cost when I know I can make it for less (even if I don't have the time!). I only went shopping this time to reduce pressure on myself before an interview.

So this is the top I settled on from Dorothy Perkins…. it cost £25!! For a polyester crepe top with a necklace. I got it home and looked at it and looked at it…the quality just wasn't there. The threads from the seam allowance were caught in the seam and the edge stitching wasn't very neat!
I decided I couldn't do it and it would need to go back to the shop….so the day before my interview I turned to my sewing machine and made a simple sew pussybow blouse.

The fabric was from fabricland (bought on the way home from the shop!) and the pattern was sent to me from Naomi after my last pussybow blouse was a disaster.

I still loved the design of the yellow top so I posted on instagram and Lynsey came to my rescue with a replica pattern.

https://instagram.com/p/BV1SuDmhvhx/


Lynsey recommended the Farah top from chalk and notch, which was a perfect match.
I picked up some mustard yellow fabric during the Dorset meet up with lovely drape that I thought would work well.

The fabric was lovely to work with, almost like a jersey.

The pattern is well drafted and ensures all edges are finished well with a mitred hem and French seams etc. It has a section to insert under the arm between the frills.

I am really pleased with the finished item and prefer it to the RTW version and only cost £8!!

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Dorset Meet Up 2017

We did it…..a group of us from instagram met up in real life to go fabric shopping together and talk sewing over lunch! It was an amazing day!

Left to right:
@patternographer (Nicky) @dogsinstitches_and_me (Sue)
@craftysewandsewindorset (Jenny/me)
@lynsey_makes (Lynsey)
@charlotterunswithscissors (charlotte)

We were a small but friendly group and had such a lovely time chatting away like we have known each other for ages. The online world is so strange like that and something I am still adjusting to having not grown up with it. It offers so many opportunities.

We met up at Hansons in Sturminster Newton as a central location for most of Dorset. They helped us with designing the logo and advertising.

It really is an awe inspiring place to go shopping for fabric. They stock tonnes of beautiful quilting fabric plus so much dressmaking fabric it's hard to know where to start. Plus they had 20% off everything and a stash of fabrics at 50% off!!

I bought 6 different fabrics plus a small sample of ripstop for my daughter to make her barbie a raincoat:

The yellow fabric is to make a farah top to replicate one I took back to the shops as I couldn't deal with the extortionate price tag.
The light denim was originally bought with a pair of Morgan jeans in mind but have decided to make another Sew over it Erin skirt (following an instagram vote):

I need some decent pjs in my life so the plaid cotton is destined to be a pair of Carolyn pyjamas.

I relented and bought the Cleo pattern from Tilly and the buttons last week in the summer sale, so I will use the pale blue cord for that.

The whale fabric and seaside border fabric are for my daughter. She wants shorts from the whales and another Flo dress in the border fabric. The pattern only goes to age 6 so I have had to scale it up and squeeze it on to the fabric.

After exhausting the shop we walked up to Stur of the moment for a delicious lunch.

After we had eaten and taught Sue how to use instagram we swapped some patterns.
I walked away with three new patterns including a sewaholics Minoru jacket pattern:

Lynsey left with a bag of leftover patterns ready for another meet up.
We have set up an instagram group for @Dorset_meet_up or look up #dorsetmeetup
We have over 40 followers already so hoping the next meet up will be bigger and better each time!

Hansons have another sale in January so we are thinking about another meet in the new year…..maybe with a themed sew along or theme to our outfits??!

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My sewing space 

I have been meaning to post about my little sewing space for a while now but getting my new machine has inspired me to tidy up.

I basically have an alcove space in our lounge with an orange Ikea desk and some shelving above for my paper patterns.


The cd boxes on the shelves are labelled by pattern type such as dresses or tops with envelopes in. All my cotton is on a reel holder from hobby craft with a matching bobbin underneath.

I have a radiator behind my desk so limited to wall space (no peg board for me sadly☹️).


I have a pin board full of my kids drawings and cute sewing related cards and photos above.

All my PDF patterns are printed and stored in a4 wallets in the wicker magazine basket by my feet. My husband bought me the cute pink metal bin for all my threads and overlocker offcuts.


My cupboard has a large bag of overlocker threads in various colours, my sleeve press and tailors ham plus homemade cutting weights.


The small drawer has all my scissors, rotary cutters, rulers and reinforcing elastic etc. The larger drawer has haberdashery such as poppers and bias binding makers. I also store spare cotton and my tin of buttons.


The jars were a gift from a friend and store my zips and spare change!!

The little hanging heart and signs were also gifts. The embroidery hoops I made a few years ago, there are three; the third one out of sight has my name on it.


This final photo is my stash of fabric, kept in an Ikea storage box in the dining room. We use it as a bench for extra seating space around the table. Our home is open plan so the dining room is easily accessible and houses the ironing board and my cutting mat on the table when I’m sewing.

That’s it. My tiny sewing space crammed with everything I need. Where do you all sew? Are you lucky enough to have a room to yourself?

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Inspiration planning

How do you organise your thoughts and plans for sewing?

I’m not very good with technology, mainly due to having a rubbish mobile with no memory space (due to my Sew Awesome app which held all my sewing patterns but alas is no more after my husband “fixed” my phone).
I prefer to have something physical to hold but not adverse to solutions to help me find patterns, a bit like kindle vs book, and similar to that debate I fall somewhere in the middle.

I have a lot of patterns, and even more now I have gotten over my fear of pdf files and what if I lost them or couldn’t download them!
I print my pdf patterns off and put them in clear a4 wallets to hold the instructions and cut out pieces and actually quite enjoy the process of sticking the pattern together, safe in the knowledge that I could share print out a new one of I needed to.

Recently I have tried to review my wardrobe to make it more cohesive and increase my ability to wear a fully me made outfit (which I love the satisfaction of telling someone if they ask where I bought it from).
I am finally winning on this challenge, although I need to look towards spring and summer and keep the momentum going, I now have an answer…..

…..I use croquis images to draw outfits combining already existing makes with ideas based on stashed patterns or other Indi based patterns I have saved in my ever growing favourites list on the foldline.

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I am not the best artist in the world but enjoy sketching ideas and colours while watching tv on an evening. Combining pattern ideas and thinking about what I already own and what colours I am missing.

How do you plan your sewing?

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Five years old today

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Wow,  wordpress just sent me a message to say craftysewandsewindorset is five years old today!!
Thank you to everyone who follows me and appears to actually read my posts from the lovely comments you leave me. 
Here’s to another five years!! 🙌

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I won a Bloggers Recognition Award

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I’m very excited to have been nominated for a blogger recognition award by Emma.  Thank you so much, although I have had my blog for a while it has only taken off in the last year so it’s really lovely to hear that others enjoy reading my witterings.

For those who haven’t seen this nomination before the rules for receiving this award are as follows:

– Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
– Write a post to show your award.
– Give a brief story of how your blog started.
– Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
– Select other bloggers you want to give this award to.

Right then,  I have said thank you above (and I really am grateful for the nomination)  and you can see Emma ‘s blog from the link on her name above.

I started my blog in February 2012 as I was doing lots of crafty things from knitting and crochet to jewellery making and my husband encouraged me to create a blog to capture it all.
It’s really great to be able to look back and see how my sewing skills in particular have improved over the years.  I tend to sew over every other craft now so I rarely post about knitting etc any more.

My two pieces of advice are:
1. Interact with your fellow crafters on blogs. The use of my blog has really increased in the last year or two as I started to follow others and they reciprocated.
2. Join in as many challenges as possible.  These are another great way of connecting with others. Since I joined the monthly stitch I use wordpress as another form of social media. I find everyone on here is more positive and supportive than you would ever find on Facebook!
I have joined #sew my Style this year so have another toaster on my cutting table to get finished by Tuesday!

The bloggers I am nominating are (sorry if you have already been nominated and I missed your post!):
1. Did you make that?
2. Life in a mads house
3. Gingerella
4.  Appleby makes
5. Creative little cwtch
6. Modern vintage cupcakes
7. Wear the ducky tie
8. Mousie makes
9. Randomly happy
10. navy blue threads
11. Spare room style

Big smile still on my face and hoping to pass that feeling on :mrgreen:

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Capsule wardrobe and filling the gaps

I really want to plan my sewing better this year now I have covered most of the basics (except jeans).
I am completely drawn to fabric by print and design but this has left me with a mismatch wardrobe.

I think I got away with it during the summer as I could just wear dresses and sandles and not worry about matching tops etc.
I almost have a totally home sewn wardrobe now and only bought a handful of items last year as RTW.  Therefore I photographed by whole sewn wardrobe to identify gaps for me to focus on….. Get ready for a lot of photos!!

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Read the rest of this entry »

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Signing up to bloglovin

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14968623/?claim=ssewvzmah2c”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I think I’ve managed to link my blog to the bloglovin site. Unfortunately, WordPress isn’t able to support the bloglovin button.

It would be great if someone could test it for me and let me know if it works.
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