My Sewing Blog
If you've never tried using zips in your sewing projects, don't be scared to give them a go - practice makes perfect in this case, and once you've got the knack of the zipper foot, you'll find you breeze through it in no time! Everyone has a different way of showing you how to do it, so here's our top tutorials from across the web on how to insert different types of zips in different ways.
How to Insert Zips
This comprehensive guide from Make It Love It shows you how to insert both regular and concealed zips - and uses tape to help hold everything in place with concealed zips!
We also love these tutorials from popular pattern designer, Sew Over It - the afficionado's at dressmaking! Lisa shows you how to insert zips on actual garments and offers loads of top tips along the way.
For those who want to try more advanced zip techniques, we also like this lapped zip tutorial from Coats:
Spring is in the air, with lighter days and buds beginning to bloom! So we thought it was about time to turn our hand to some spring and Easter sewing projects...
5 Spring Sewing Projects You Have to Make
Add some fun to your Easter eggs with this cute little guy to pop your choccie eggs in - you can even use for non-edible gifts like plants too!
Make a cute lil bunny to brighten up your home, sit her on your mantel piece to bring a bit of spring inside!
Brighten up your dining table with a pop of spring, with this fresh mini table runner - chick fabric makes it even CUTER!
If you prefer a subtle bit of spring style, why not try this fun pot holder for the kitchen?
Make a cute bucket bag suitable for your Easter Egg hunt but also practical for storage afterwards!
Spring Bucket Bag Project
According to what we've seen on Twitter today, it's International Joke Day. So we thought it would be fun to join in and bring you our favourite selection of sewing jokes from around the web!
Best Sewing Jokes - International Joke Day
I shouldn't tell sewing jokes, I'm always running out of new material
Don't be silly doctor, this is a fabric collection not a hoarding disorder!
Up, down, up, down..Now out to the sides and down and across... Aaaand stretch, stretch! - This sewing class is working wonders for my aerobics!
Husband: You're not buying all that fabric, are you?
Wife: Yes, but look at how much I'm leaving behind!
I'm a fabricaholic on the road to recovery... just kidding, i'm on my way to the fabric store!
I was getting annoyed with my latest sewing project when my hubby helpfully came declaring, "You seamstressed!"
My friend composes songs about sewing machines. She's a Singer songwriter!
Hope these made you chuckle! Don't forget to follow us on Twitter to get daily updates, inspiration, news and chats!
So you've seen all the new cute crochet yarns and patterns on our website right? And you've looked at them wistfully, wishing you could create something as lovely as that... well guess what, you can! Although it can seem daunting, crochet is a great needlework to have a go at, and in some ways much simpler than things like knitting - so why not have a go?
It's always hard to learn from written instructions, so we're here to show you the top youtube videos we've found for beginners crochet, to teach you all the tricks and techniques you need to know!
And once you feel like you can give it a go, take advantage of our fab offer - grab yourself a FREE pattern of your choice when you spend £15 on crochet yarn!
Top Videos for Crochet Beginners
How to Crochet a Granny Square for Beginners
First up, here's a great little video that clearly explains how to get you going on a few basic crochet techniques. It's quite a long video (about 25 minutes), but well worth the time as it takes you through step-by-step to create a sweet little granny square. Granny squares are one of the most popular projects for crochet beginners as they are fairly easy to complete and come together reasonably quickly.
Learn to Crochet - Chain Stitch and Single Crochet Stitch
If you've got a little less time on your hands and just want to try out some basic techniques without a specific project in mind, this little 5 minute tutorial on chain stitch and single crochet stitch is great. It's supposed to end up being a crochet dishcloth project but you don't necessarily have to continue all the way to the end. It's handy for showing you how to crochet lines of stitches across and back, and for practising these two stitches.
How to Crochet in a Round - Magic Ring and Chain Stitch
If you're looking to have a go at crocheting things like hats and mittens later down the line, one of the best methods to learn is how to crochet in a round - and this video is great for teaching you two techniques to do so. Once again, it's really only a technique tutorial so you won't get a project out of it but it's great for practising before you start on something new.
How to Crochet a Rose for Beginners
One of the most popular crochet projects out there is how to make a crochet flower, and this tutorial is a fab walk through how to do a pretty little rose. You'll need a standard needle to sew it up a little at the end, but this is a great little crochet project for beginners to get started!
With today's announcement of the upward trend for female board members in FTSE 100 companies, I thought I'd explore the ideas behind the issue, and why women matter when it comes to management of a smaller scale business.
Why the Small Women of the Business World Matter Too
As a quick summary, in case you haven't yet read about it, today's news features a story about the improvement of women's position on the boards of FTSE 100 companies. Whilst in 2010, some of the top 10 improvers in this category had as little as 0% women on their boards, in 4 years, many have improved their inclusion rate by over 20%. If you want to read the full article by the Department for Business, you can find it here. Whilst this is something to be celebrated, it's important to look further into this issue to see why women really matter in business, especially as business drivers, and how this filters down to smaller businesses across the country.
What is about women that is so important to include, equality for gender aside? We do actually bring definable benefits to a business. For one thing, we tend to be great multitaskers. As so many of us are mothers and/or carers for those around us, whether they be family or friends, we have learned to adapt to having many things to do and think about. This means we often prioritise well and can get things done efficiently, as well as being able to see the bigger picture - when you've got 2 screaming kids, a dirty house and paperwork to be done, you learn to deal with the immediate problems first (kids) and see that in the bigger picture, the housework can be delayed for a while until the paperwork can get done.
Homemaking aside, traditional qualities attributed to women have in the past been said to hold us back in the working environment. The fact that we are classed as "more emotional" creatures is supposedly placed against us, but this is in fact one of our greatest strengths. We are able to empathise well with our clients and customers, and often have good gut reactions. More than this, our passion is one emotion that is clearly a great driver for good businesses. But we are more than gender stereotypes.
Some of the best small businesses I have seen, have been ones run by women. Now, you may argue that they prove a point against women as business drivers, because these businesses are not necessarily growing, but you would be naive to consider only this factor as a reason for their supposed stagnation. Lack of growth can be down to many factors outside our control, whether male or female. And sometimes, gender discrimination against us is a part of that.
Small businesses owned by driven women, however, can be called successes in their very sustainability. Considering a lot of these small businesses are owned and run by mums and wives, working around their family life, the fact that they are managing to keep their business afloat as a one-woman band (most of the time) says a lot for their strength and tenacity in business. Many of these woman produce, price, sell, market and do the accounting for everything in their business, which might ordinarily be done by a team of at least 4 people in a larger business. They maintain an online presence, and communicate with their customers, offer a personable customer service and fantastic customer satisfaction time and again.
More than being benefits to their own businesses, women as business drivers in these small businesses also help other businesses around them, something I have seen particularly prevalently in the handmade/craft industry. Women here inspire each other, support each other, and drive others forward, building good business bridges along the way. They collaborate and co-operate with those around them to bring around development and new avenues of business, still often only operating as a one-woman business. You only have to look on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to see this community of driven women working their magic. Having at least one woman at the head of businesses is, therefore, vital.
As I write this article focusing on the 'smaller' women of the business world, a TED talk I watched a few months ago comes to mind, called Women Entrepreneurs, Example Not Exception. In it, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon talks about women as entrepreneurs not being the exception but actually being essential to so many businesses, driving business on more than simply a micro level. It's a really great talk, I urge you to watch/listen to it. She explains that women are so often thought of at a micro level, whereas in actual fact, they are so much bigger than that. What keeps them micro are factors such as micro-funding and economic situations surrounding them rather than their own ideas and business ability.
She explains that women manage to set up and keep business running even through war zones, and that women have a strength and tenacity as entrepreneurs and small-business women that surmounts many problems standing in their way. What can often hold women back is the micro view of women, telling them that they can only have "micro hopes and micro dreams." She paints women as the face of resistance, using their own stories of survival to reach out to customers and grow their business. She describes women as an "emerging market", but a group who are often hard pressed to find an economic solution for their business, reasoning that women are often only offered micro loans, rather than larger loans because these larger loans are based on capital, often which women don't necessarily own.
One of the most powerful comments she makes is that when we say 'entrepreneur' we often automatically think 'male', not female, and that female entrepreneurs are the exception to the rule. She calls us to challenge this and celebrate female business owners and drivers as examples, not exceptions, of how businesses keep growing and sustaining despite the circumstances against them.
So I reckon it's time that we celebrate the 'smaller' women of the business world today, alongside all those women making it into the boards of the Top Dogs, because women really do matter in business. As a small business headed up by two women, and dreamed up by three enterprising women in one family, we know how tough it can be as women in business, both in the business world and in the social world. And to be a woman making business survive, and even grow in small ways, in what is still a predominantly man's world, means you're doing pretty damn well. So chin up, all small business women out there - and keep going! Like all those women we meet every day on social media, we want to support those women working to make things work, so we're always here if you want some advice or need some help on anything.
Looking for a new magazine to have a flick through every month for ideas and inspiration? Here's our pick of the top magazines to subscribe to for those that love sewing - and they're not all solely magazines for sewing!
Our Top 5 Magazines for Stitchers to Subscribe To
One of our favourites, Mollie Makes is fab for new sewers and those that like all kinds of stitching as well as sewing. It's more craft-focused than sewing-focused which is sort of nice, as you get to try out different things and also appeals to people that enjoy a bit of crochet or knitting alongside their sewing! Best of all, their free gifts are usually fun little projects that you actually want to use!
Craft seller is another great magazine, especially for those that sew for business as well as pleasure. While this is also a mixed-media magazine, they always have super trendy and super cute projects in there. The one amazing element of this magazine is the handy business tips and finance tips for each project - it will tell you what you can make a project for and roughly what you can expect to sell it at. Like Mollie Makes, the mix of crafts can be really helpful and inspire you to make something along the same lines.
Sew is another classic, offering a range of projects specifically for sewing. Most of the time they tend to be a bit more home/item based sewing than garment sewing, but the magazine is also great for info about new products and techniques. They also cover a range of techniques, which is good for beginner to intermediate sewers.
Burda Style Magazine
Burda Style is one of my favourites because it's more fashion based than other sewing magazines. Whilst a lot of them feature a few clothing patterns, this is much more tailored to the dressmaking market, which is my kind of sewing! It might be a little unsuitable for a beginner though (unless you're feeling ambitious!), as it can include more complex techniques and sewing. The big bonus is that they feature soooo many patterns, it's amazing!
For more ideas and inspiration, why not take a look at our range of Books - including books on sewing, knitting, crochet, creative stitching, toy making and quilting!
How to Make a Makower Christmas Stocking
There's nothing as special as a handmade Christmas stocking, but if you're still feeling a bit unsure about your sewing skills, don't fear! Makower have these fabulous pre-printed stocking panels to help you create a beautiful traditional stocking using basic sewing skills.
By Makower Fabrics
Materials Needed (makes 2)
- Makower Stocking Panel
- 1 metre squared of wadding
- 1m of lining fabric
How to Make
- Cut out each stocking and use as a template to cut one of each shape in wadding and lining.
- Place wadding to wrong side of each stocking and quilt as desired, (if wadding catches on machine dog feeds place a light fabric (eg Muslin) under the wadding).
- Place stocking pieces right sides together and sew round edge leaving the top open.
- Clip into seam allowance around curves for ease of turning. Leave right sides inside.
- Lining - Place right sides of lining together and sew round with a seam approximately 6mm / 1⁄4" larger than the stocking seam, leaving a gap of 15cms / 6" down the middle of one side (to enable turning inside out of stocking). Once again leave top unstitched.
- Clip around curves and turn lining right sides out. Place lining inside stocking matching seams. Insert a hanging tab if required and place between stocking and lining. Next sew completely round top of the stocking.
- Now pull the stocking through the gap in the lining and then sew the gap together. Push lining inside the stocking.
- Top stitch around the top of stocking to keep lining in place and make top more stable. Stitch approximately 1cm / 3⁄8" From the edge.
How to Make Makower Stocking Advent Garland
Fabric advent calendars are pretty cool, but you can go one better on the fun-factor with Makower Stocking Advent Panels! When complete, you'll have 24 individual mini-stockings to fill and hang whilst you count down the days to Christmas. If you're feeling quirky, you can string them together to make some stocking bunting!
By Makower Fabrics
For each stocking on the panel you need a back and two lining pieces and a three and a half inch piece of ribbon.
How to Make
Cut out a stocking, a back and two lining pieces.
With wrong sides facing, pin the tops of the front and front lining and the back and back lining
pieces together. Stitch along the top edge to neaten the raw edge – zig zag or serpentine
stitch for example.
With the front and back units facing each other, stitch a 1⁄2" seam down the side, heel, toes
and back up again.
Trim the seam allowance to a scant 1⁄4" and carefully clip the inside curve.
Turn over the top neatened edge up to the printed design.
Stitch around the top edge of the stocking.
Turn the stocking right side out and gently ease out the heel and toe with a blunt tool.
Take a 3 1⁄2" piece of ribbon or tape, fold it in half and stitch in place along the previous line of
10.Repeat this process for the other 23 mini stockings.
Looking for a present for Father's day with that special touch?
We've found this fab bow tie project that can all be sewn by hand, with any fabric you think your dad would like. You could go for a quirky pattern or even an ode to Doctor Who with a classic red cotton! Great for those new to sewing who don't have a sewing machine, and suitable for beginners.
All you need is 0.25m of fabric and a set of bow tie clips which you can find in our haberdashery section.
More traditional bow ties would look great in plain or our range of Spraytime fabrics, a take on plain fabric in a range of beautiful and unusual colours.
For instructions on how to make the bow tie, check out http://www.boho-weddings.com/2014/05/26/diy-tutorial-handmade-bow-tie/X