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How to Insert Zips

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:

 

 

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How to Make a Nautical Lampshade

Think it's too complicated to make your own lampshade? Think again! Use this easy video and written instructions to be on your way to a beautifully handmade lampshade in merely a few hours. 

How to Make a Nautical Lampshade

 

 

For a 20cm lampshade, you will need:

  • 20cm lampshade kit
  • 0.25m Ahoy Yachts Sky fabric
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Metal rule (optional)
  • Weights (optional)
  • Lampshade base

How to make:

  1. Lay your fabric out flat, right side down. 
  2. Lay the backing paper from your kit onto the fabric and cut around the fabric if necessary to remove excess.
  3. Next you need to stick the backing paper to the back of your fabric. The easiest way to do this is to weight your fabric down at the far end, and peel away the backing of the paper gradually, using a metal rule to help stick down and remove any air bubbles as you go.
  4. Trim the fabric to the size of your backing paper.
  5. Bend along the perforations at the top and bottom of the backing, then tear off these strips.
  6. Using the double sided tape in the box, cut a strip long enough for one short edge. Stick down onto the edge which you would like to be on top on the finished lampshade.
  7. Next, use the double sided tape to cover the round edge of the lampshade drum top and bottom. Ensure that they are well covered.
  8. Peel off the tape covering and align your wire top and bottom at the opposite end to your double sided tape strip, remembering to ensure the bottom one is facing the right way.
  9. Gently and evenly, roll the wire circles down the length of your fabric, keeping the edges aligned right up against the edges of the paper backing.
  10. When you get to the other short edge, remove the tape covering on the double sided strip and stick down firmly. 
  11. Cut notches in the top and bottom areas of fabric where the cross wires are. This will help create a professional finish.
  12. Using your hands, roll the fabric in and over the wire circles, trying to stick down firmly and tuck the ends underneath as much as possible.
  13. Using the tool provided in the box, tuck under the remaining ends of the fabric to keep firmly in place.
  14. Trim any frays away, screw onto your lampshade base and voila - one lampshade!

Sewing Tips and Tricks: How to Sew Tricky Fabrics

Even the best of us can feel beaten when it comes to attempting to sew certain fabrics - chiffons, silks, satins and suiting can all be tricky fabrics to work with, to name but a few. If you're struggling, don't give up - have a quick read below and get back on track!

Sewing Tips and Tricks: How to Sew Tricky Fabrics

How to sew slippery fabrics - fine chiffon, charmeuse, satins etc

These can be a total nightmare to sew straight lines in, as the fabric is usually so light and/or silky that it moves with hardly any encouragement. To help eliminate movement you can try a number of different techniques.

The easiest (or rather, most convenient) method is to do a hell of a lot of pinning. If you pin every couple of centimetres, it ensures minimum slippage, although it feels like a total pain to sew. Remember, it's not as bad as attempting to sew the same hem three times and unpicking all the stitching!

Another technique is to use basting stitches to hold it in place. Whilst this can be a good way of keeping it together, I would highlight that this is not great for all fabrics - some fabrics show marks where the basting stitches were, so check on a bit of scrap before you start basting and sewing, then realise you've ruined the fabric. 

Some people also find using tissue paper or the actual pattern paper is helpful. You can sew over it, eliminating some of the slippage, and then simply tear off the paper afterwards. Don't forget, however, that this means you may not be able to use the pattern afterwards if it tears apart too much! 

If you're willing to invest some money and a bit of risk, there are also temporary adhesive sprays now available which create a slightly tacky surface on the fabric and help keep everything in place. Some people swear by these as miracle products, but be warned that you will need to patch test them as they cannot guarantee it won't mark your fabric either.

Finally - make a cuppa, take a deep breath and gather your focus! Half the battle is having the patience and mental energy to concentrate hard and take it one step at a time without getting flustered and letting it affect your sewing. Using a new, sharp needle can be helpful too!

How to sew stretch fabrics - knits like jersey, lycra etc

Stretch fabrics have to be treated with extra care when you're sewing them as they're easily prone to being warped and stretched as you sew - one key rule to remember is not to over-encourage the fabric under the machine. Let the feeder move it naturally.

Make sure you are using the right stitch for the fabric. I wouldn't recommend using straight stitch on stretch fabrics as it has a tendency to overstretch and warp the fabric as you sew, as well as risking ripping when wearing the garment. Select a zigzag stitch on your machine, and choose a width and length setting that you think is firm enough and pretty enough - practice on some folded scrap pieces before you begin to get it right. Zigzag stitch allows for more movement when wearing the garment as well as being more accommodating under the needle.

Another top tip - make sure you're using the correct needle! If your fabric has quite a bit of stretch, then I'd suggest using a stretch needle as these are specifically designed for handling your fabric. You can, of course, use a stretch needle on all types and weights of stretch fabric. A ballpoint needle is okay for lighter stretch fabrics, as its slightly curved/rounded which means it can loop in-between the knots of the knit, rather than catching on them. 

One more thing you can get to help with sewing stretchy fabric is a different presser foot - a walking foot is particularly helpful. It allows the fabric to be fed under the needle with more grip, stopping the two layers from stretching against each other. Some machines come with a walking foot, others may have a dual feed foot - you can use either, but check your manual for what is best.

How to sew bulky fabrics - suiting, coat fabric, wools and tweeds

 Sewing bulky fabric like denim or coat fabrics can get pretty tricky, usually just due to the sheer amount of layers of thick fabric you're trying to get under the presser foot. Simple tricks include pressing seams open and trimming seam allowances to help reduce bulk and create a flatter surface, but sometimes it requires a bit more help than that!

One of the best solutions to this problem could be to invest in a walking foot, which like for stretch fabrics, keeps the layers feeding through evenly without one getting stuck. 

Make sure you're using an appropriate needle too - a denim needle is ideal, and prepared for use with tougher fabric, whereas standard machine needles might break under the pressure. You might find that increasing the stitch length also helps.

If you're still having trouble getting the fabric to feed under the presser foot effectively, using the wedge method is another good solution. Often, and especially when starting to stitch your layers of fabric, the presser foot is lifted up at an angle at the front. This prevents the fabric from moving through easily as the back sort of jars the feed. In order to put pressure onto the front of the presser foot and make it lay flatter, fold a bit of fabric to a similar thickness and use this as a "wedge" at the back of the footer. This should even out the pressure and get your fabric under the presser foot fully, to continue stitching.

How to sew plush fabric

So I think you're probably starting to see a theme here... 

Plush fabric is often hailed as one of the hardest fabrics to sew with, often putting beginners off from using it. But fear not - the difficulties are easy to resolve with a bit of extra TLC to the process!

Firstly, make sure you don't overstretch the fabric when cutting. A good idea is to pin the edges together to keep everything equal and in place. If you've cut it wonky to begin with, you're already fighting a harder battle than you need to be!

Next, pin like your life depends on it! Like stretch and slippery fabrics, plush fabric is prone to being stretched out of shape easily, so the closer you pin it the less likely this is to happen - I recommend every 2cm or so. It seems excessive, but gaps that are too bag allow the fabric to slip still, and although its a pain to keep stopping to take pins out, it means you'll only have to stitch it once!

As with the other fabrics, a walking foot is a good solution to problematic stitching here. As with the other fabrics, it helps feed both layers in at the same rate, limiting the amount of warping or overstretching. 

Another great tip for sewing with plush fabric is to ensure you're stitching with the nap of the fabric, rather than against it. This doesn't affect the straightness of your stitching, but sewing with the nap rather than against it ensures that it lays flatter, giving a neater and more professional finish. 

Any other helpful tips or advice to add? Comment below and let others learn from your sewing wisdom!

10 Common Sewing Problems & How to Fix Them

Having some trouble with your latest project? Whether it's skipped stitches or funny sewing machine noises, take a look at our list of common sewing mistakes and how to get them fixed so you can get on with stitching your latest textile project! 

10 Common Sewing Problems and How to Fix Them

My machine won't turn on or sew

First of all, check that your power cable and foot pedal cable are plugged in all the way - you'd be amazed how many times I've done this (and forgotten to switch it on at the wall)!

If this doesn't work, check that your needle is inserted correctly and tightened enough, and your presser foot is correctly attached and down. This should sort out any non-technical issues with your machine that stop it from switching on or sewing.

The bobbin won't wind

The first couple of times I started using my machine, I did it wrong so many times. Make sure you follow your manual instructions for how to switch it to bobbin winding mode - I kept forgetting to switch my metal bobbin winder to the right to get the thread to start winding!

My thread keeps breaking when I sew or thread up my machine

This is usually a problem with your thread rather than with your machine. It's most likely that the quality of your thread is not high enough for the tension or type of sewing that you're doing. Most branded threads are of a higher quality than unbranded ones, but do cost more - we would recommend Gutermann for a high quality thread, and they're a pretty trusted brand worldwide so don't just take our word for it!

The thread keeps unthreading itself when I start sewing

Not an unusual problem, this could be that you have not threaded it properly - the issue is usually that you've not hooked it around the metal hook at the top of the machine properly or enough. Sometimes it might be that you've not got enough thread hanging out the back of the needle, so it's being pulled back through every time the needle starts moving. 

If that's not working, check that you've got the metal hook at the top up as high as it will go. You need to have the needle up when you begin sewing, so twist the wheel at the side towards you until you can see the metal hook at its highest point.

The thread is getting caught up and tangled underneath my fabric

This is usually to do with thread tension of the top (needle) thread, not the bobbin thread. Try adjusting the tension either way and go again. 

Another reason may be because you're getting the threads tangled up in the machine - quite commonly this happens when you start or end your stitching. Make sure you start a couple of millimetres in rather than right on the edge of the fabric, and then reverse stitch if necessary. If you start right at the edge of the fabric, you risk missing out the fabric and the needle and thread going right down into the bobbin thread chamber, tangling there and either getting caught up completely (sometimes dragging your fabric down with it) or stitching this knotty mess onto the back of your project.

I've got puckers in my fabric, around my stitching 

This usually means that you're feeding in the fabric too forcefully or misshaping the fabric in some way as it goes under the footer. This can tend to happen when you're new to sewing, as you learn how the feeder does its job. You only need to guide the fabric to keep it steady with your hand, not physically push it under the needle/footer. 

Puckers can also occur when you are stitching too fast without feeding your fabric through at a fast enough rate. Just remember not to get too hasty with your foot! If it feels like your machine is going too fast even with gentle pressure on the foot pedal, check that your stitching speed on your machine is set to low or medium.

I've got uneven or skipped stitches in my sewing

Uneven and skipped stitches are usually due once again to that bane of sewing, thread tension. Thread tension can be a tricky thing to work out, especially as a beginner, as it depends on the fabric you're using and sometimes can be affected by your thread as well. 

Tension is not the only factor that creates this stitching problem, however. The way you've threaded the bobbin affects how the threads are sewn in and brought together, so check that you've inserted your bobbin in the right way and that the end of the bobbin thread is not getting caught on anything. Make sure the bobbin is unwinding the correct way according to your instruction manual, and that it is properly hooked round the metal plate.

My fabric is moving about all over the place when I start stitching

Easy to forget, but simply make sure your presser foot is down! Use the lever that is to the side of the needle arm, at the back to lift and lower your presser foot. Without it, the fabric feeder doesn't do it's job properly so everything just goes everywhere and sewing in a straight line gets very tricky!

I'm trying to sew with oilcloth and it keeps sticking

Oilcloth is a horrible fabric to work with when you first start having a go, as it needs specialist equipment or techniques to be able to sew it effectively. If you've just slid it under your machine with nothing else changed, take it out! 

Because of the waxy nature of oilcloth, it's prone to getting stuck a lot, on every surface of your machine. There are generally two ways around this: first, the easier and quicker option, is to cover your fabric surface in greaseproof paper and sew over the greaseproof. This stops it sticking to your machine, and you simply have to tear off the greaseproof when you're done. 

The second option is to buy a special footer for sewing with oilcloth/pvc fabric, which helps stop the presser foot from sticking to the waxy surface of the fabric, therefore letting it go through the fabric feeder smoothly.

The sewing machine keeps jamming or not stopping properly when I lift my foot up

We've been having this problem recently, and sad to say, it probably means your machine needs a service. It might be that you're getting your threads tangled as you're sewing, in which case make sure that you start a couple of millimetres into your fabric and have the tension right.

Most of the time, though, it's a part of your machine that needs either repairing or just needs a bit of fine-tuning and TLC. Quite often, the spring in the foot pedal can begin to get stuck, especially if your machine is a bit old. Other times, it may be that a part of the motor is not working properly and needs replacing. Take it to a reputable sewing machine repairer - ask your local fabric/sewing shop if you need some help in finding one, as they can usually recommend someone in the area.

January 15, 2015 by Amy Gilbert

National Hobby Month: Setting Up Your Sewing Machine

Got a sewing machine for christmas or new year but too scared to tackle setting it up? Take a quick look at our guide on sewing machine basics and get your machine ready, we promise it's not too bad. (And once you've got the hang of it, you'll never stop stitching on it!)

National Hobby Month: Setting Up Your Sewing Machine

The Golden Rule: 

Read your instruction manual before you start! Although you may not understand all of it, they often have useful diagrams and ensure that you don't start trying to pull apart bits that aren't meant to pull apart...

As every machine is slightly different, it is best to refer to your manual alongside whatever guide you are using to find the correct part and action to take. For example, some machines disengage the needle by pulling out the wheel, others by just moving the bobbin winder - you don't want to be pulling out the wheel if it's not meant to come out!

What's What on your Machine

Reminder: your machine may not look exactly the same (unless you have the same make and model!) so the different parts may be located in slightly different places or look slightly different - refer to your manual for help in finding these parts if you get stuck.

How to Change the Presser Foot

For a lot of machines, presser feet are relatively easy to change as they just snap on, although some use screws to hold them in place. Remember to do this with your machine turned OFF - you don't want to accidentally start sewing over your hands!

To replace or change a snap-on foot, simple raise the footer using the footer lever to the right of it (usually black plastic). This should bring it up to give a little bit of space underneath to get your fingers under. 

There is usually a metal lever at the back of the footer bar that goes up and down. If you flick it up, it will release your current footer. 

To attach the new footer, raise this lever whilst you position the footer in place under the bar, then lower it to grab hold of the footer and "snap" on. This can be a bit tricky to position so just bear with it and do a bit of shuffling to get the footer into the right place. 

How to Insert a Needle

A lot of machines come with a needle already inserted nowadays, but this is useful to know as you may need to change the needle if it snaps or when you are sewing with fabrics that require a special needle.

Simply turn the black screw to the right of your needle a couple of times to the right, to loosen and allow you to pull out the needle. To insert the new one, ensure that it is facing the right way - rounded side facing towards you, flat side facing the back of the machine, on the top of the needle - and place it into the hole, then tighten the screw. 

How to Wind a Bobbin

Winding the bobbin is an important technique to know how to do, as you'll need to do it every time you change to different colour threads. As always, each machine is slightly different so refer to your instruction manual to begin with. 

To begin, place your spool of thread on the spool holder if you haven't already and attach the bit of plastic that holds it in place. Take the loose end of your thread and bring it over to the thread guide on the top of the machine - most newer machines have a little diagram showing you where exactly to put the thread for winding the bobbin. 

Most of the time, it sits under the lip of what looks like a screw. Draw your thread to hook around this and pull back over towards the right of your machine.

Next you will need to disengage the needle and engage the bobbin winder. Quite often this involves pushing the bobbin winder (metal pole thing on the top) to the right. As always, check in your manual for specifics as this is where machines tend to differ the most in method.

Now thread the end of your thread into your bobbin, from the middle out through one of the holes. Place your bobbin on top of the metal bobbin holder, keeping hold of the loose thread end which should be coming from the top of the bobbin.

To begin winding, switch your machine on and simply put your foot on the pedal. The thread should begin winding itself onto the bobbin at a reasonable pace. Keep going until you are sure you will have enough on the bobbin to complete the project - quite often I just wind them on for ages so I don't have to keep winding thread on for every project, although this means you may have to buy new bobbins for each colour. 

How to Insert a Bobbin

For most top loading bobbins, it's relatively easy - quite often instructions are printed on the bobbin cover in the form of a diagram. 

Remove your bobbin cover and place your bobbin in with the thread drawing to the right. Then hook the loose end of the thread back around the metal section highlighted on the bobbin cover, and back up towards the top of the bobbin tray. With the loose end sitting out the edge of the bobbin tray, replace the bobbin cover. The loose end should be trapped between the edge of the bobbin tray and the bobbin cover. 

How to Thread a Sewing Machine

This is often the part that most people find daunting when setting up their machine the first time - my word of advice, it only gets easier the more you do it! Begin by placing your spool of thread on the spool pin, and hold in place with the spool holder cover. 

Next, simply follow the numbered guide on your machine to help you with threading. Firstly, bring the loose end of your thread spool around the thread guide on the top of your machine, and down the gap. 

At the bottom of the gap, follow the arrow to pull it back up in the parallel gap to the left of the first one. At the top you will see a hook - pull the thread around this and back down the gap, making sure the thread is round the hook the furthest it can go in.

Now you need to thread the needle. Most machines come with a built-in needle threader, so you can either use this or thread it by hand. To use the needle threader, draw the thread to the left and then secure under the two hooks to the right whilst holding down the needle threader lever in place. 

Hold the end taught when you release the lever and the thread should be drawn through the needle. Simply untangle the end to let it sit freely over towards the back of your machine. 

Now you need to thread the bobbin in. Insert your bobbin according to the instructions above, or your own instruction manual (the process is different depending upon the type of bobbin loading your machine uses - front or top loading). With the needle in the raised position, draw the needle downwards by twisting the wheel on the side of your machine. Hold your spool thread (the one inserted through the needle) taught as you continue turning the wheel - this should draw up your bobbin thread through the metal plate on your machine. 

When you see it, grab hold of the end of the bobbin thread and untangle, placing it facing towards the back of your machine like your needle thread. It should look like this (with the bobbin cover on): 

Hope this helps and happy sewing everyone! If you have any questions, leave a comment or email us!

How to Do a Basic Hem

Starting to sew clothing projects and other larger projects often involves sewing hems to finish off. Although this may seem daunting at first, it's really not too bad! Check out this quick guide to sewing a basic hem if you need a bit of guidance to get you going.

How to Do a Basic Hem

You will need:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Your project
  • Thread, in a complimentary colour 
  • Pins
  • Iron 

How to Make:

  1. Take the project you want to hem and lay it out flat. Iron out any creases in the fabric if necessary - (I have chosen to hem the top of this pocket piece for an apron).

  2. Turn the fabric over so that the right side (patterned side) is against the table surface. Decide how big you want to make your hem - this usually depends on the type of fabric you are using, but the general rule is the heavier the fabric, the larger the hem. Hems usually vary from 0.5cm-2cm wide (I made mine a little wider than normal so it would show up better in the photos).  Fold your fabric up from the edge at your desired width.

  3. At this point, check that you have an equal width all the way along the hem. You may find it easier to press the hem flat at this point, though it is not necessary.
  4. Turn over from the folded edge by the same width once again, so you have no raw edges showing. Pin in place.





  5. Thread your machine up and place your hem underneath the needle, starting at the top edge (or where a seam is if an item of clothing etc). Begin by stitching forward by about 1cm, then use the reverse stitch button on your machine to go back over the stitching you have just done. This strengthens your stitching to give a strong hem that will withstand more wear and tear.

  6. Continue stitching normally down the length of your hem, ensuring that your stitching is straight. You can use the metal plate above the bobbin loader to help guide you - they often have lines etched in at different widths, to help with sewing straight hems.
  7. When you get to the end, reinforce your hem stitching once again by reverse stitching by about 1cm.
  8. Raise your footer and cut the thread. Trim any loose threads on your project (I didn't get around to doing this yet as I had more sewing to do after, but you want it to look neat!). 

  9. Check that the stitching is neat and correct on both sides. If you think you've sewn it too wonky or the thread is all caught up on the underside, you can always unpick it using a seam ripper and try again. Press flat for a neat finish. 



National Hobby Month: A Guide to Hand Sewing

Lots of people are reluctant to take up sewing because they are worried about investing in a machine. No worries! You can still get going on your sewing journey by beginning with hand sewing. 

National Hobby Month: A Guide to Hand Sewing

What can I make using hand sewing?

Hand sewing is a great way to get started with sewing, and build up your stitching skills slowly and confidently. Although it takes longer than using a machine, you can get your stitching looking exactly how you want it, where you want it! You can make all sorts of small projects - some of the most popular ones are pin cushions, small toys, felt projects and hanging decorations.

Basic hand sewing stitches

There are 3 basic hand sewing stitches: running stitch, back stitch and whip/blanket stitch. 

running stitch diagram

Running stitch is one of the most commonly used stitches, which is the easiest and quickest to sew. It involves simply inserting your needle into your fabric front-to-back and then back through from back-to-front at a space of about 0.5cm.

 

back stitch diagram

 

Back stitch is a little more complicated but used for more decorative purposes than running stitch, often used in embroidery detailing. It involves bringing your needle through the fabric back-to-front and pushing it back through like running stitch front-to-back (steps 1-2). At this point you then begin a Step 1 again, at point 3, starting where you want the left hand side of the stitch to begin. Repeat Step 2 to anchor your stitch at point 4, where your first stitch began.

 

whip stitch diagram

Whip stitch and blanket stitch are often terms used interchangeably, although there are two techniques for doing this.

Whip stitch is a little more simple, and is usually used on the edges of your material, to bind them together in a decorative way. It involves bringing your needle through the fabric front-to-back, but without bringing it back through back-to-front; instead, you simply pull you thread up and over the side of the fabric, and place a new stitch front-to-back to the left of the previous.

 

blanket stitch diagram

Blanket stitch is very similar and is used for much the same purpose, it just involves pulling your needle and thread through under the stitch you created previously as you begin the next one, to add a line of thread along the gap between the two edges of the fabric.

Starting and finishing your stitches

It's always important to start and finish your stitching properly, so all your hard work doesn't go to waste! Remember to knot your thread securely at one end before you begin - it sounds silly to remind you, but you'd be amazed how often you can forget or make a knot that is too small and gets pulled through mid-stitch. Always make sure your knot sits on the inside of your project for neatness.

When measuring out your thread, make sure you add plenty of extra - you don't want to get to the final few stitches and then realise you don't have enough left to knot it properly! Like at the beginning, securing your final stitch is super important so that your stitching doesn't come undone. I like to stitch through my last stitch a couple of times for extra security, then knot off.

What you'll need 

Lucky for you, this is pretty simple - all you really need is a pack of good quality needles, some pins and a pair of scissors! You can then choose your material and thread according to your project. So easy to get started right away!

Projects

Great hand sewing projects to have a go at are pin cushions, felt projects and hanging hearts - all require simple cutting and can be as decorative as you like, leaving you plenty of time to practice getting your stitching right! 

Why not try one our fabulously easy Strawberry Pin Cushion kits? It includes everything you need to complete the project, including a pattern, instructions, fabric, ribbon and thread - just grab your needle, scissors and pins, and off you go!

Or if animals are more your thing, we also have these very popular Felt Owl Kits, designed for beginners. They come in 4 different colours too, and you can hang them up around the house when you're done!

 

Shop Sewing Basics 

 

Project: Embroidery Hoop Art

Embroidery Hoop Art Project

 

In amidst the excitement of several deliveries of new stock this week, we've been getting ready for a very special lady's 80th birthday this week. As we're having a formal party in a function room, we thought it'd be nice to add some homemade touches to the decorations, so we had a go at some embroidery hoop art that we'd seen on Pinterest - what a result! We thought we'd be generous and share our little projects with you lovely lot to get you inspired ;)

 

                                     

                                                    

 

 

Six beautiful little pieces we managed to get done in just one day, using a variety of techniques. Really, it's all about letting go and unleashing your creativity! As we had a specific theme in mind, we were a bit more limited but we think we did alright! Maybe next time we might add a little more appliqué to them, but sadly we were pushed for time this week and had to make-do with what we could do in a day.

 

Our first design was relatively simple, just a pretty 80 appliquéd on using freehand machine stitching to create an outline in a contrasting colour. This is not too hard once you've practiced it a little, but you need to get a special foot for your machine in order to do it, and stabilise the back of your fabric with some interfacing. We cut out a few flowers from the floral fabric we used and just glued them on for a bit of detail. As it was our first one, we decided less was more after spending about 10 minutes trying to decide whether /how to add extras.

 

 

Next, we got a little bolder and decided to try out a bunting design, cutting out some triangles from some scrap fabric in complimentary patterns and colours. We glued these on, and used the free stitching style again to add the bunting string. This time, we wanted to add some lettering so went for some printed stuff - super easy and effective to do! We bought a set of rubber A-Z stamps from a stamp shop (you can get them online too) and some all-purpose ink, and it couldn't have been simpler - the hardest part was spelling and trying to align the letters!

 

As we had to make six, we thought it would be even more fun to get a bit more daring and try out using a patterned material for a background (crazy, i know!). We had this beautifully subtle little pink floral fabric that wasn't too loud. Having recently acquired a beautiful embroidery machine, we decided to put it to use on these and programmed in some fun birthday lettering in cream thread. The machine whizzes away at a speed that would normally have you worried on your usual sewing machine, but we're coming to learn not to get panicked by the sound! 

For these two, we did a little more free stitch style and appliqué to add more detail, including a lace overlay that we stitched down on one design.

 

By this time we were running a bit short of hours in the day, and so decided to repeat the free stitch style for a lovely girly shoe design (as the birthday girl is partial to a bit of shopping and shoe enthusiasm). Beware! This sort of satiny fabric was very slippy and a lot harder to sew, so we definitely needed the interfacing underneath! The reflective surface also stopped the stitching from showing up so much, so we found that you have to go over it a few more times than on other fabrics. We got back to some stamping fun on this design, as we wanted to keep at least one after the event, that wouldn't all be birthday themed!

 

So there you have it - our little collection of embroidery hoop art! As you can see, they aren't too tricky to have a go at, and they really can be as simple or complex as you're comfortable with. They make great alternative party decorations as you can personalise them a lot more and make use of all your scraps of beautiful fabric. We can't wait to hang them up at the weekend!

 

 

 

NEW Sewing Club in Bournemouth!

Happy thursday everyone, and welcome to October, the month of woolly jumpers and piles of autumn leaves!

Our biggest news of the week is that we started a sewing club on wednesday night, and it was sensational!

 

 

 

What did we get up to?

Well, as it was our first meet, we thought we'd get started with something relatively simple. My wonderful two friends Sarah and Heidi decided that they would have a go at making some adorable little felt owls using one of our kits.

We learnt how to do some basics (it's always good to know how to knot thread properly!) and what stitches are best when sewing with felt. A beautiful blanket stitch was the name of the game for the evening, and for beginners, theirs were looking pretty good!

 

   

After 2 hours filled with numerous cups of tea, and at least 7 biscuits, we finally brought into the world two beautiful little owls - named Su Peng and Gloria. They had to have names for their little quirky looks and traits!

 

 

As I'd already made an owl, I had a go at doing some contrast blanket stitch on a christmas-themed felt sewing project, so I made a little christmas mitten decoration for the christmas tree! This required a lot of concentration on blanket stitching even for me, as any bad stitching was pretty obvious!

 

 

All in all, it was a great evening and we had a lot of fun sewing, chatting and getting stuck and unstuck!

If you'd like to get involved in a sewing club and live in or around the Bournemouth area, get in touch! We want to encourage people to have a go with sewing, and sewing clubs are a great way to become more confident in your skills and learn a few new techniques

For a small weekly fee of £6.50, you can socialise with like-minded people, have a go at making some new things and take away lifelong learning which can usually be applied to a wide variety of sewing projects! Come along and support each other in your projects, learn from each other and be inspired for new projects. You might even find yourself teaching everyone else a thing or two! Sessions can be spent working on something you've already started, or finding something new for the week's theme. Machine and hand sewing projects are both welcome!

Our first official meeting will start on 4th November, 7.30 - 9.30pm in Southbourne. Fabrics and haberdashery items will be available to purchase on the night, or you can bring your own as required. Refreshments are included - I always need at least a few cups of tea to keep me sewing!

Email info@mysewingbox.co.uk for more info and to sign up.

 

October 02, 2014 by Amy Gilbert