Stitchy discoveries

As I have been separated from my beloved sewing machine for the festive period, I’ve been taking some time to catch up with some sewing reading and social media! As a result I’ve found a couple of lovely things that I’d like to share – I’m sure some of you will know them well already as I get the feeling I might have been missing out for a while! 

The first one is the Seamwork online magazine! Funnily enough I got the first issue of Seamwork when it first came out (over a year ago – where does the time go?!) but never really got round to reading it. Since then there have been 13 issues! I ordered the Seamwork annual as a little Christmas treat to myself and I enjoyed reading it so much I thought maybe I would be keen for a subscription after all! I love the mix of crafty cosmetics, garment industry history, patterns and techniques! 

 For those of you who haven’t heard of Seamwork, the subscription is $6 per month – you receive the magazine to your tablet/phone or PC and you also get two credits to download 2 patterns of your choice! I was amazed to discover that I have access to use those credits on any of the patterns from the extensive library and if you don’t use the credits they just roll over to next month! I was also happy to discover that I could download all 13 previous issues so I have been merrily reading those! 

The hardest part is choosing what to spend my credits on – so far I want to make all of the patterns! Seamwork promise that all patterns take 3 hours from cutting to finished garment so they are perfect for weekend projects! My particular favourites are the Brooklyn skirt and the Camden cape, so I know what my first two credits are going on! Expect to see some Seamwork garments on the blog in the new year … 

The other discovery I have made (facilitated by reading Seamwork) is a world of stitchy podcasts! I suspect I’m quite behind the rest of the craft world in discovering these, but they are such fun to listen to! My new favourites are Seamwork radio, Modern Sewciety and Thread Cult. They’ve inspired me to do a bit more research in to finding new favourites for when I’m traveling! When I’ve compiled my ultimate playlist, I’ll be sure to share it with you! 

How about you? Are there any other crafty discoveries I’ve missed? Do you like listening to podcasts and have any recommendations for me? 

I hope everyone is enjoying the festive period! 

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A Visit to Gay Paris! 

This last week has gone flying by and hasn’t left much time for sewing! On Thursday evening I set off for Paris for a full day in the office on Friday followed by a fun Friday night in Paris with my mum and her friend Alison. We spent the evening wandering the streets of Montmartre and eating Confit de Canard, which was absolutely delightful! Today the wandering continued and after we’d stopped for a Pain au Chocolat for breakfast,we accidentally stumbled across the most delightful sewing and knitting shop! 

     

Le Comptoir is situated in the 9th arrondissement and is such a treasure trove of wonders! We spent ages perusing patterns and notions and just marveling at the wonders of the interior. The owner was super friendly and helpful, she even gave us a little history of the shop and told us that the interior was the original from the habadashery shop in 1861. 

  
The wool and all the draws were so enticing, it practically made me wish I was a knitter. Maybe I’ll get something on the needles soon, especially as it’s really getting chilly enough now to make me want to wear something woolen!

  
Even though I have done much too much sewing shopping of late, I couldn’t resist buying myself a souvenir from this lovely lot! In the end I settled on two patterns (in French – ooo la la!) and three little packets of buttons. The patterns are for a drapey jersey style dress and for a button down play suit! I’m very excited to make them both! 

    

Have you ever done any fabric shopping abroad? Is there anywhere I should make a pilgrimage to?

Make Your Own Scissor Pouch

   
This week I started my first sewing class and the lady sat opposite me had a rather attractive scissor pouch. On deciding that I too need an attractive scissor pouch (like having a cool pencil case on your first day at school!), I set about making one! 

Seeing as I feel all autumnal at the moment, I decided this would be a great time to use my owl fabric and this lovely tree print … I was tempted to use some lovely catch kidston style florals, but I’d sort of promised those to my mum so I showed some restraint! 

  
This is a great project for using up any cute prints that you have and suitable for quilting cotton or even an old pillow case. 

If you would like to make your own tie scissor pouch (owls optional), you will need: 

  • Two fat quarters in complimentary prints or colours or two pieces of fabric 18″ x 22″
  • Matching or contrast thread (let your creative juices run wild)
  • A hot iron
  • A chopstick (or similar long instrument for poking and turning) 

  

  1. Give your two fat quarters a good press to remove any creases
  2. Lay your two fat quarters right sides together 
  3. Place your scissors on the bottom right hand corner of your fat quarter one and half inches from the selvedge. Measure one and a half inches to the other side of your scissors (got to make sure they will fit in your finished pouch!) and draw a straight line along this measurement
  4. Cut straight up through your two fat quarters – you should now have two matching rectangles! 
  5. Pin your two rectangles together and then sew carefully all the way around the edges with a 3/8 seam allowance in straight stitch. Don’t forget to leave a gap for turning in the top of the pouch and to back stitch whenever you start and stop sewing! 
  6. Turn your square of fabric inside out through the opening and with a chop stick poke out the corners and seams so they are nice and square. 
  7. Give your new double sided fabric rectangle a good press with a hot iron.
  8. As if you were folding an A4 sheet of paper in to thirds for posting in a letter envelope, fold up the bottom third of your fabric. Press along the fold.
  9. After pinning this third in place, stitch a row of straight stitching down each side, one inch from the edge of the fabric. Don’t forget to backstitch at both ends! 
  10. You now have a cute fold over pouch! Next step – making the ties! From your remaining fat quarter fabric, lay right sides together and cut two long strips by cutting from the bottom of your fat quarter to the top. They should each be about 18inches long and about 4 inches wide.
  11. Pin each set of strips right sides together and sew all around the edges as you did with your main pouch, using 1/2″ seam allowance. Leave one end open for turning.
  12. With the aid of your chopstick, turn your ties right sides out and give them a good press. 
  13. Fold the open end in on itself (as if you were sewing a hem) to hide the open seams and press to secure in place. 
  14. Attach your ties to the pouch. Open your pouch and place your ties on the inside of the flap in the middle. Make sure to use the tie ends which you have just pressed (where the opening for turning was). Pin in place. From the outside of the pouch, stitch in place. Back stitch and forward stitch on this line of stitching to secure tightly.
  15. You’re done!! Put your scissors and any other bits and bobs in your new pouch and tie in a bundle like so ….

  
 
16. Feel smug about your pouch making prowess! Feel free to share your pouch and tag @amyjune2015 #makeamymake #scissorpouchbonanza

I hope you enjoy making this one as much as I did guys! Let me know how it goes if you do decide to make one and any improvements to the instructions that may be required. Next time there will definitely be step by step pictures for starters! 

 

Sewing Space Organisation

As some of you may know, I don’t really have a proper sewing space yet, and am already developing master plans of amazing sewing spaces for when we move in to our new flat! In the meantime I have to satisfy myself with making little tweaks to the little table that sits in our lounge where my sewing machine lives. Tweak of the week was my discovery of these super cute Mason Jars.

I normally use Mason Jars to put salads in for my lunch at work, but when I discovered these with ceramic geometric design lids, I thought they would be great for holding sewing notions. I like the way that they almost make a feature of all the bits and bobs that come with sewing!

The jars of bits and bobbins currently sit on top of a slightly boring looking little Ikea organiser. It’s actually really helpful though for holding all sorts of sewing related little things.

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Boring but useful …

I’m planning on jazzing up this little box with Washi tape, as per this tutorial I found online. Any tutorial called “how to unboring-ize a desk organiser” has to be a winner! I might see if I can find some Washi tape today in some cool colours, so check back later to see if I have any success!

The last thing I wanted to share with you is my absolute favourite part of my mini sewing corner – my Ikea Raskog trolley. These trolleys are well blogged about by sewers across the internet, and they really aren’t wrong. What is particularly helpful for me is that I can wheel it out to my dining table, so it’s like having a portable sewing room! It can get a little messy sometimes (this is the tidy version!), but it usually only takes 5 minutes to get it back in order. Dave the Dachshund now proudly rides around in the trolley and keeps my sewing cheery!

Dave’s Chariot

How do you organise your sewing space? Do you have any inspiration for me for when I move to my new home?

A New Discovery

I’m going to just come out and say it … I hate tracing patterns! I’m definitely the kind of seamstress who likes the actual sewing with a sewing machine, and not the kind of seamstress that likes tracing off patterns from ginormous and cumbersome pattern sheets. However, I have come to acknowledge that the better your tracing and initial pattern adjustments, the better your finished project. I have also learnt that if you trace one pattern really well you can come back to using it time and again – so it’s worth doing it well to make it only one painful experience!

In an effort to minimise the aforementioned pain and my hatred of pattern tracing, I went on the hunt for professional materials that would make my life easier. In fairness to the process of pattern tracing, this is the point that I need to admit that until now I have either used baking paper or flip chart paper. Having made my exciting new discovery, I now wonder why I persisted with this method for so long!

So what did I find? Pi-dy! (Yep, I’d never heard of it either!) For those of you who don’t speak German, the packet promises “high transparency, easy pattern copying, no ripping, exact pattern cutting and creativity” (a high promise indeed!). It also states “lay it, copy it, finished!” and includes a special pen for tracing, all for EUR 3.50! I have to admit, I was sceptical – could this really live up to the packaging’s promise?

Pi-Dy … My New Discovery

From my perspective this little package did exactly what was promised … I was really impressed. I don’t think I have ever traced off a pattern so easily, didn’t miss a single marking, and definitely did not need to put a lamp underneath my glass table to use as a lightbox (yes I may have been known to do that!) Essentially Pi-Dy is like a really really thin plastic bag … super easy to see everything, and also surprisingly not slippery. The special pen also lives up to expectations. I thought I’d get covered in ink as I traced, but no!

Tracing in Action

Here are my pattern pieces post being cut out in use on fabric. They pin really easily and nothing tears ….

Pattern Cutting

So all in all I am delighted with my purchase. I only needed to use 1 sheet and there are about 20 in there … so for EUR 3.50, a bit of a bargain! I thought it warranted it’s own blog post as to be honest until I saw it in our department store haberdashery corner I’d never heard of it, never seen it recommended or blogged about. I’d be curious to hear if any of you have heard of it? Maybe it’s a German thing? Who knows! What do you use to trace your patterns? Anyone else hate it as much as me? I guess now I’ve found Pi-Dy I can’t say I really hate it anymore ….

Oh and if anyone is curious what’s on the cutting table … the Pi-Dy was used to help production of the Jersey Top from this SimpleSew Pattern … coming to my next blog post!

How to Choose a Sewing Machine … The Amy Way

It’s what you make … not what you’ve got 🙂

When I decided that I wanted to start sewing, in a typically Amy fashion, I wanted to start sewing immediately! I was so excited at the prospect of something new to learn, I just wanted to run out, grab a machine and give it a spin. There is so much great advice out there online, and none of it said what I wanted to hear, which was “pick a machine, they’re all just fine, just order one online and go for it!”. Needless to say, I ignored all of the advice available to me, and yet here I am, still happily sewing!

Here are the things I learnt by choosing a sewing machine the “Amy way”:

1) Whichever machine you buy for your first machine, it will be the best decision you could have made, knowing what you knew at the time that you bought it! No regrets!

2) All sewing machines sew … some of them might make learning to sew slightly more seam ripper heavy, but fundamentally, you can sew stuff!

3) You can buy a really cheap machine and still sew some quite cool stuff – you just really need it to have different feet. The real essential – a zipper foot!

4) You don’t absolutely have to test a sewing machine before buying one. If you don’t know anything about sewing with a really nice machine, you won’t know any different!

5) For the majority of projects you need a straight stitch and a zig zag stitch. Unless you buy a Hello Kitty toy children’s machine, whichever machine you choose, it will do that. (Hell, I may even be doing Hello Kitty a disservice – those machines might do that too!) Do not get distracted by all of the fancy stitches on more expensive models – they are fun but rarely used!

6) Having a machine that happily sews both forwards and backwards will improve your sewing life drastically. This was one of the great failings of my first machine and one of the things I love most about my upgrade. It didn’t stop me sewing though!

7) Know your machine’s limitations and when it will be time for an upgrade. When I started I wasn’t making a lifetime investment, I was testing something out that I thought I might enjoy. When I knew I would enjoy it, and I knew what kind of sewing I enjoyed, THEN I made my lifetime investment!

8) Do your absolute best not to be distracted by pretty coloured casings (I know how hard that can be!). Both my sewing machines have been white and funnily enough it makes no different to the outcome of my sewing projects!

If you are looking for a machine right now, I wish you lots of excitement and fun with your new toy! If you already have a machine, I’d love to hear about how you chose your first!