Friday, 24 February 2012

Threads Insider, Part 1- Coming Soon (From: Threads Magazine)

Looks like Threads Magazine are upping their digital offering to sewists. I got the email above in my inbox yesterday. And, according to their website ...

As a Threads Insider you will have exclusive unlimited access to our new 
 features. Including:
  • Our growing video library (Teach Yourself to Sew, Industry Insider Techniques, Couture Basics, & more)
  • The Threads pattern database
  • A collection of our all-time favorite Threads articles
  • Digital access to our most recent issues of Threads (on the iPad for the first time, too!)
  • Automatic entry into monthy giveaways
  • Other special insider-only discounts and offers
 In just a few weeks you will be able to enjoy the ultimate sewing experience. Sign up for
 our enewsletter to get your invitation."
I'm guessing iPad owners will be curious to see if they will eventually move to being able to purchase the latest issue/s on e-edition? It will be interesting to see how this pans out methinks!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Goldhawk Road: BBC1 TV 'Inside Out London' 7.30pm

If you've seen Melissa's blog, then you'll know that the shops (amoungst them the famous Fabric stores) along Goldhawk Road face demolition and closure.

Part of tonight's BBC1 TV 'Inside Out London' at 7.30pm (UK time) talks to the retailers about their plight, and their struggle to stay open. I for one won't miss it.

Friday, 17 February 2012 - Website for Sewers!

I've just joined
I entirely blame VickiKateMakes for my latest sign up ;) ... I now know that I'll be spending hours uploading my pattern stash to my profile LOL! I think I'll have to bring a list of pattern numbers with me to work - so can add them in in my lunch hours.

The site is relatively new, and it's apparently a bit like the equivalent of the Ravelry site which is for knitters and crocheters. But, MySewingCircle is run by different people.

I'm already a [FREE account type] member on and also But I like the idea of being able to track my projects, and pattern / fabric stash on a free to use site. The reviews from members on PatternReview are great, and I enjoy the experimentation you get to see on BurdaStyle. But as first glance the MySewingCircle site looks to have great potential for future growth and expanded functionality too :)

Thursday, 16 February 2012 Sew a Suit Jacket - Gertie's Latest Online Sewing Class

Okay, I now officially love courses 'n' classes! Having signed up for a trouser fitting class yesterday, I have now succumbed to the advertising, and I have signed up for my 3rd Craftsy online class.

I paid via PayPal and the current 50% offer that they are running brings the class price down to $39.99 USD (usually $79.99) - which came out as only £26.32 GBP - a veritable bargain in my book for such a comprehensive class :)!

Yes, the delectable Gertie, of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing has come up with her second online sewing class at Craftsy: Sew Retro - The Starlet Suit Jacket.

Now, I may not have started any of my other Craftsy classes, but as they say...
"100% money back guarantee!
Enjoy your class as many times as you want, whenever you want.
Your access never expires. " 
 ... so, they'll always be there for me to access whenever I want!

And, I'm not the only devotee to a sewing class - Dibs and VickiKateMakes have already signed up (as have a few others too).

The course cost includes the pattern for the suit (+ bonus skirt) as designed and drafted by Gertie. You download the pattern in either the Misses size range 2-16 (Bust 32"-46"), or the Plus size range 18-24 (I can't currently see the Bust sizes in the instructions but I assume it's 48"-54"). I think it's fab that the pattern covers such a great range of sizes - giving many sewists the opportunity to take part!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Will This Class End My Trouser Fitting Woes...?


Ahhh, trousers, I've not really re-visited the pair I started for Sunni's sewalong this time last year. And it's been bugging me every since :(

I did go on the pattern making course I mentioned last year (in fact I took 2 short courses on the subject - but that's a topic for another post/s), and I did draft a trouser block/sloper based on my own measurements. But (should that be butt?), I never cut and sewed them up - therefore I never got to check the fit (my bad I know!).

Pics from last year's trouser muslin:

01 Trying on the trousers

02 Trying on the trousers - Muslin #1

So, now I want me some properly fitting trews! So, I've sent the Princely sum of £48 (approx. $75.30 USD) to attend The Perfect Trouser short course run by Morley College (yup - the same place where Melissa recently attended her course on the Pattern Magic 2 book, and where Karen went to make her fab dress).

Course Description:
"  The Perfect Trouser   
   •  Course Code VFC083A
   •  Saturday 28th - Sunday 29th April 2012 - 2 sessions
Times 10:00 - 16:00

If you find it difficult to achieve a successful fit when making trousers, this practical course is for you. The principles of what constitutes a good fit and how to achieve it will be discussed and demonstrated. Not suitable for beginners.

Every body shape is different and a pair of trousers that fit well is difficult to find for some people. Commercial patterns are for an ‘average’ shape and even patterns you may have made for yourself do not necessarily give you that perfect fit.

This practical course is for clothes makers and pattern cutters who find a successful fit difficult to achieve. It will allow you to explore fitting techniques and methods in a creative and supportive environment. The principles and skills learned can be transferred to other garments in general so will have a beneficial impact on all your clothes making or pattern cutting.

Previous experience in clothes making or pattern cutting is essential.

    What will I learn on the course?
    You will learn:
to make a toile for a basic fitted trouser
to apply appropriate techniques and methods to create a good fit
to adapt a pattern accordingly

           [All text above taken from the course brochure found here]

The course runs over a weekend from 10am-4pm on both days - so perfect, I don't have to rush anywhere after a long working day.

According to the course brochure I'll need to purchase my own copy of McCalls Pattern 5239 in my hip size.

Image Source: McCALLS (Pattern 5239)

5239 is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern - and they are known for their great fitting advice and these great steps/tips are shared in their pattern instructions.

There are a number of favourable reviews for this pants pattern on It's not a style I'd usually go for when pattern shopping (or in ready to wear clothing) as I'm usually a low-rise fit kinda girl - and this pattern is cut to fit the waistband on your natural waistline. However, I sincerely do hope; that buy attending this short course and getting to [fingers-crossed!] sort myself out with a well fitting pattern, I can the move forward with other styles and have fewer woes!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

So What Do These Singer Things Do Then...?

I've been shopping again (yeah I know Quelle surprise!). 2 weeks ago I bought this mixed lot of mysterious Singer 99 sewing machine accessories. The final winning bid price of £6.19 including the P&P ($9.77 USD approx.) was too good to resist, besides it was after work I was tired and sometimes you just need a teenie-tiny retail fix - youknowhatImean?

03 Singer Feet - Bought Feb 2012

I knew what a couple of the items were from the listing photo (the seam guide, binder foot, thumbscrew and the roller hem foot). And I could tell that they are all low-shank attachments (apart from the seam guide and thumbscrew - which are generic in terms of high/low shank machine fitting). Luckily, I have a Low-Shank to High Adaptor to use with them :)

But, there were 3 weird-to-me contraptions that had me flummoxed!  So, here's where the internet and my trusty collection of books came in handy!

I had a quick whizz around the web to check on UK prices for brand-new versions of my 3 "weird" attachments (or even ones in great vintage condition) it seems they're EACH going for around £8 to £16 ($12.50-$25 USD) in the UK, and some in the US are selling for $25-$30 each (eekk! that's £15.80-£19 GBP approx.). So, for £6.19 I've got 5 different feet for a fraction under £1.24/$1.95USD each (that's not counting the 2 extra bits: the seam guide and thumbscrew)... can anybody say B-A-R-G-A-I-N!!

01 Singer Feet - Bought Feb 2012

2 of the 3 mystery attachments had part numbers stamped onto them (apparently Singer parts often have the word Simanco on them along with the part number too). I was able to search for them on the web, and to learn a little about how to use them too. Their real names were: 35931 - Adjustable Hemmer, 36583 - Tucker / Tuck Maker, and Ruffler (though oddly enough it seems rufflers didn't get a part number allocated to them - and there's in fact several different styles of them out there, which confused me a wee bit!).

I then looked up the names of my new attachments in my 2 sewing machine attachment books: The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible by Wendy Gardiner and Lorna Knight and Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook by Charlene Phillips.

Books - Sewing Machine Attachments and Presser Feet

I find the later book by Charlene has better diagrams and explains the different working parts of the attachments better, and it's got a better coverage of those more vintage style presser feet you'll come across. The former book by Wendy and Lorna seems to cover more about modern-day feet - although there is definitely cross over between the two books, I am glad I have both as they both bring something different to the sewing-table so to speak :) I've not read either of them cover-to-cover, I think I'll always just dip into them when I'm trying to figure out how to get a new presser foot to co-operate with me!

Unfortunately, the 'Tuck Maker' is missing it's 'Tuck Guide Adjusting Screw'. I only knew what part it was called because Charlene's book has handy diagrams which label and describe the different parts 'n' do-dads of the various attachments.

I did get very industrious and cut out a bunch of calico scraps ready to try out the 'Ruffler' on different settings (and I was trying to follow the instructions in Charlene's book) sadly it doesn't seem to work (poo!). I guess it could need oiling, as they are pretty rusty. And, that's something else I need to check out - how to clean rust off of vintage attachments without ruing them!

I did come across this nifty YouTube video demonstrating a Ruffler in action though:

Monday, 6 February 2012

Well... If It Was That Good, Let's Do It Again - In Walthamstow!

Okay, so last Saturday was just too much fun not to do it all again, and soon ;)!

Where we ARE going :) !

So, who's up for another meet-up, swap 'n' shop - this time in Walthamstow, London? The last one I went to there (back in Feb '11) was organised by Karen and it was an amazing time.

I propose we meet up on Saturday 7th April 2012 at Walthamstow Central Station - we can go and have something to eat/drink straight away, swap our little hearts out and then go hit the market stalls and shops! 

NB: The UK Easter Bank-Holiday weekend this year is Friday 6th (Good Friday), and Monday 9th April (Easter Monday).

Whatdoyousay? How can you possibly NOT join in (hehe!)?

                   Place: Walthamstow Central Station (in the ticket hall inside)
                   Date: Saturday 7th April 2012
                   Time: Meet-up from 11.15am till 11.45am
                   Swap-a-thon + Lunch: 12pm - 2.00/2.30pm
                   Market/Shopping: 2.30pm onwards!
We'll meet up from 11.15am at the ticket hall inside of the station. Then, we'll aim to walk to a cafe/bar (venue as yet to be announced) to start eating an early lunch at roughly 12pm (it won't take too long to walk there I promise!). There, we'll swap, de-stash, chat, eat lunch and make merry until 2.00-2.30pm. Afterwards there'll be plenty of time to visit the lovely bargain-a-cious market stalls and shops.

                      Wanna join in the fun?...
                       If you fancy coming along to this meet-up please email me at:   
                       (please mention Walthamstow Meet-Up in the email subject line).

Maps and mobile phone numbers for contacts on the day itself will be emailed to attendees nearer the time once a list of names has been confirmed.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Ahh... It Was Brisk and Beautiful In Brighton!

Last time we met up in Brighton was June 2011 last year. And, whilst the weather was icy this time around - the atmosphere was still a roasting hot success!

01 The Brighton De-Stash Peeps (4th Feb 2012)
The Swap-ettes!
Left to Right: My floral trolley, Kathryn, Stevie, Laura, Shivani, Julia, Ally, Rehanon, Zoe,
Alana, Santie, Leah (non-blogger), Camilla (non-blogger) and Laura

For this meet up Zoe and I thought we'd switch things around. The last Brighton meet-up had started off with a trip round the shops, and finished off with food and swapping. This time we all met up at the station for 11.30am (where I handed out the homemade cakes), we then warmed ourselves up with a brisk walk to All-Bar-One where we ran cheeky-chappie John off of his feet fetching our food 'n' drinks. We then had several fun-filled hours swapping our sewing treasures.

My own trip down from London did not get off to a good start - the 9.27am train from London Bridge was delayed from departure for 25mins because our driver "Paul" could not be found (I kid you not!). They made 3 announcements over the tanoy to apologise for the wait, and saying they were awaiting the arrival of the driver - and final announcement sounded like they were mightily p*ssed off as they asked "Would the Paul *****, the driver of the 9.27 train to Brighton please make himself known to the station staff" (or words to that effect), I mean - naming the guy's full name is clearly sending a message that he's been a bad boy, and to get his arse into gear wherever he was hiding!

Anyway, I'd planned on getting the 9.27am train as it would get me to Brighton at 10.48am (a good 42mins earlier than the planned 11.30am meet up time). So, all in all I was there on time (phew!).

I'd brought quite a lot of stuff with me to swap (I had 2 trolley's worth at home, but could only manage 1 on the day - so a good excuse to hold another swap soon methinks ;) LOL!). I brought lots of knit fabric, some ribbons, trims, buttons, loads of magazines - plus scissors and a fold-out 2metre ruler to help cutting up stuff!

I wasn't the only one with a trolley on the day Laura (there were 2 Lauras at the meet) had a fab leopard print one with her - packed full of goodies too.

Zoe had made these really cute little fabric bags with zippers and a set of buttons from her own stash inside (plus some black piping from moi) - so everyone had a sweet little gift to start of the proceedings!

Everyone then took turns to swap their stuff - Alana got my pile of magazines some complete with enveloped patterns. Stevie got one of my knit fabrics, as did Kathryn. There were knitting patterns, and quilting blocks and curtains, and duvets and all sorts being swapped :)

02 The Brighton De-Stash (4th Feb 2012) 
03 The Brighton De-Stash (4th Feb 2012) 04 The Brighton De-Stash (4th Feb 2012)

Bits I received in the swap-a-thon were a Burda Magazine (09/2007 issue) and some fab drapey polyester blend fabric in a toffee/fudge polka dot print - both from Shivani. A wool(?) tartan/check/plaid fabric in blue and off-white from Santie, and a vintage dress pattern 4429 by Simplicity (which forgive me here - I can't remember if it was from Julia, Laura, or Kathryn?). Afterwards we visited only 1 shop - the fab Ditto Fabrics. I bought only 2 things (as opposed to the vast haul of last summer): 4 metres of 150cm polyester dark navy blue Ponteroma knit - which I intend to make a cardigan from in the style of the cream one (top centre of the front cover of the Cal Patch book), and the 2nd piece of fabric is 4 metres of 100cm wide bright, deep pink 100% cotton - which will be a second go at the Scout Woven Tee (once I finish the 1st one successfully). I'm dead chuffed with my haul - and I hope everyone who got a piece of my old gear is happy with their acquisitions too :)

05 Claire's Haul - The Brighton De-Stash (4th Feb 2012)
My haul from yesterday in Brighton!

Handmade Jane couldn't make the meet-up but she sweetly sent some things along to Zoe in the post for the swap (and Zoe posted her some bits in return too) - thanks Jane!

After Ditto, some of us headed home - and a few of us hung out at the 'Wai Kika Moo Kau' cafe with Chi-Chi (the crochet manikin made by Pat) and we were joined by Chi-Chi's creator himself, aka the groom to be for coffee and veggie/vegan cakes.

Then it was time to make our farewells at the station. Alana, Kathryn and I caught the 18.07 back to London Bridge. I had fun on the train chatting to them about sewing stuff - I'm sure the other passengers thought we were bonkers, as our seats were strewn across different sections, so we were talking across the aisle. Also, as I'd forgotten about the bag of breakfast stuff I'd had from Burger King
that morning - I managed to spill the dregs of the cold coffee cup all over my lovely new acquisitions when I popped my trolley up onto the overhead rack :( It was fun trying not to spill drops of coffee onto my fellow passengers whilst try to keep my balance on the train as I wiped the mess up LOL! Luckily I was able to rescue the vintage pattern. But, but the fabric got wet (even the new Ditto stuff in it's carrier bag) - along with my brand new Sew Today magazine I'd bought at the station in the morning - and when I got home the pages were tearing part when I tried to separate them *sighs*. As soon as I got in the door I put all the fabric into the washing machine, and what with the central heating being on it's now all dry and clean (hurray!).

Thank you so much for the fantastic day yesterday Ladies - I had so much fun, I wish I could do that every weekend now (regardless of how cold it gets LOL!). It really is the people that make it such a great time - and you all looked like you really enjoyed yourselves (I know I certainly did!)  :)

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Baked Goods in Brighton...


Well peeps it's 11.30am, and if you're not with Zoe and me in Brighton right *now - then you're sadly missing out on this box of home-baked goodness made by yours truly! See I said yesterday that we'd be having fun - icy weather shall not hinder us in the quest for sewing fun 'n' swapping :)

Marvellous muffins - double choc-chip and vanilla with icing 'n' sprinkles... what's not to love?!

Another note to self!!! I must, must, must fish out my photos and notes from the last fab meet-up that happened back in November '11 at Goldhawk Road in London - as organised by the lovely Stevie of Beebee'sVintageDress as it was another amazing day out too, and it so needs to be recorded here on my blog for my later reference and happy nostalgic recollections.

*Ahhh the magic of automatically scheduling your blog posts eh ;)?

Friday, 3 February 2012

Close But No Cigar...


[Inside-out on the hanger]
Darts sewn, collar drafted and made, sleeves cut - so nearly there!

Pah! I don't smoke anyway!!

Well I had hoped to get my Scout Woven Tee finished in time so I can wear it with pride tomorrow at the The Brighton De-Stash Meet-Up!. I've been working on it every night after work this week.

However, "best laid plans" 'n' all that happened. I spent 2 hours earlier this week re-threading the overlocker several times over with the navy thread (I now no longer need to follow the diagrams in the manual to do this - perhaps it's a hidden bonus LOL?!).

Loose stitches from my overlocker - boo!
No matter how carefully I tweaked the tensions the needle threads always seemed to produce a weak seam - although when I used the different coloured threads (blue, green, red and yellow) on the exact same original settings that worked so well in my little sample-swatches I got what I considered a perfect result (for me anyway!). I need to spend more time with my books to investigate the problem. At one point I had the tension dials on both needles full dialled up to the max and it made not one jot of difference to the seam finish *sighs*. (Hmmmm... it's my birthday next month maybe I need a new machine - nope, best try a bit more before I give up the ghost on this one!).

In the end I got it slightly better and went with that to finish the seams - basically I straight stitched them first, and used the overlocker to neaten the inside edges. I'm not confident enough yet to use the overlocker straight-off to sew a garment together without using my "normal" Novum sewing machine to do the initial construction first off. Because I knew that the seams actual strength came from the original straight stitching, I was happy to know it wouldn't fall apart on me when I eventually get to wear it (which might of happened had I constructed it solely on the overlocker). I even used up 2 sets of full bobbins worth of thread just fiddling around with fabric scraps trying to get the overlocker to cooperate with me - running out on a bobbin half way when stitching is no fun - and requires re-threading (yuk!). However, I did remember to watch the bobbins the next time one got very light on thread - and I got to try out the re-threading method where you tie the new thread onto the end of the old one and that worked fab (so another small victory in the face of adversity haha).

I am however, super pleased with the Peter Pan collar I drafted myself - from the course notes I took from my Pattern Cutting course I attended last Autumn '11 with the London College of Fashion! (You can see it on the table in the top photo.) I made separate top and under collar pattern pieces, I shortened the leaf edge at the shoulder seam overlap etc. etc. and I even interfaced it with calico - as a sewn in interfacing. The outer edge (leaf) of the top collar pressed and rolled under beautifully, so you don't see the seam or stitches along that edge - I was soooo chuffed :). 

However, somehow the seam line of the neck edge on the collar piece is nearly 2" longer than the seam line on the neckline of the top - huh!?*! I used my special Japanese measuring tool to check the length on the sewn fabric pieces. No wonder when I went to pin the collar onto the neckline I had a tonne of ease I could distribute smoothly - poo! :(

I think I can save it though! Because I used a 1.5cm (5/8") seam allowance when I drafted my collar pieces - it gives me room to play. Whereas on the pattern for the top they have a 6mm (¼") - because they don't expect you to add a collar but instead you're instructed to bind the inside with a strip of bias cut fashion fabric. Therefore, if (without cutting the collar fabric down) I reduce/or shift the seam allowance towards the fabric edge - thereby halving the existing allowance I should reduce the length of the resulting curve and therefore reduce the excess ease - and make my life much easier when I come to stitch it in.  Also - note to self, next time make the neckline seam allowance on bodice front and back pieces 1.5cm too - to make matching it to the collar easier, then trim back after facing or binding has been stitched on.

P.S. If you're coming to Brighton tomorrow yippee!  Zoe and I can't wait to enjoy the swapping-sewy fun with you guys!!