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Janome HQ and my Engineering Degree!

21 Jul

A few months ago an email popped into my inbox from Janome(who make and sell our lovely Elna Machines). It wasn’t an invoice so I was very interested! It was an invitation to visit their Head Office and learn how to take the machines and overlockers apart and put them back together again. Having taken my own machine apart A LITTLE BIT in the past to free a poor wee trapped thread or two I jumped at the chance of doing it properly.

I set off from Glasgow at 6am to get to Stockport at 9.30. It was a gorgeous drive, the sun was out and I listened to about 25 Desert Island Discs(brilliant podcasts for long drives!).

Arrived at Janome amazed that Google Maps had actually got me there first time without suggesting I take a left into a field or something. The class is small with only 4 of us on there. 2 girls and 2 guys. Everyone is from a company in England. I wonder if they do that on purpose so you’re not sitting next to your biggest competitor?

Peter from Janome is taking the class. We started by taking apart a front loading machine a bit like the Elna 240 we sell.

Elna 240

Below is the naked version!
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I actually couldn’t believe how complex it all was! I was expecting to find this easier than I did. I thought because I am a logical thinker and use sewing machines every day that I would be sitting there having loads of light bulb moments. In reality it was very confusing. I even found the terms for all the bits confusing. As much as I am quite handy around the house DIY wise I have never dealt with anything mechanical. I don’t even take plugs apart. I already have curly hair, god knows what an electric shock would do to it but I’m not interested in finding out!

As we were chatting away I was getting to know the other people on the course. We had David who was already clued up on sewing machine mechanics, Steven who had just started a business with his wife and Joy who worked for a company down south and like me had no experience of repairing or servicing machines.

I was interested to find out what brands David would avoid quality wise. He knows all the brands, right up to the industrial ones so he must know what ones come back in for repair a lot. The first brand he said to avoid was Singer. Not surprised here as I am always urging people to avoid Singer, doesn’t matter what kind of deal you think you are getting they are terrible! The second brand he mentioned which came as a shock to me was Brother. Exactly the same quality as singer apparently!! So there you go AVOID SINGER AND BROTHER!

When you open up the Elna and Janome machines they are heavy with mostly metal bodies(there you do I’ve20150716_085044 forgotton the technical terms already). You can see all the metal in the picture above. All the parts and the plastic covers are screwed into this solid metal body to keep everything in place. In the cheap machines most of the body is plastic, and plastic breaks and then bits fall off. I know now using my first class engineering degree that bits falling off and breaking off inside a machine is a bit of an issue. The only way to avoid it is to avoid the cheap crap brands. You all know the story of me dropping one of my Elna 340s out the back of my old 4×4 about 2 and a half foot up? Well it still works. I don’t even know what one it was. THAT is quality right there!

I drank a lot of tea over the two days. No surprises there.

We took apart a top loading machine as well, like our trusty 340s. Just as insanely complicated as the front loaders!

The following day we were onto computerised machines. It’s common to think that the mechanical ones are easier to fix because they have no complex computerised bits inside but this was actually so much simpler!

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20150716_103233My Dad started off his working life as a TV engineer. I can actually remember going to houses of family friends for him to fix them. He would get me to hold things like screwdrivers and soldering irons(!!!!). I must have been about 7. Who gives a 7 year old a soldering iron?! That’s my Dad for you. Anyway he said to me when I was on this course that I had engineer genes from him. But my greatest memories of my Dad fixing things was him turning them off, turning them upside down, giving them a good shake then putting them on again. He refers to this as an ‘Australian Reboot’ which had me in knots. He actually fixed our PC one year by doing this. It went from not turning on to working fine for another few years. There must be something in it!

This was a Janome Embroidery machine. Once I put it back together we had to test it and fiddle about with some setting to make sure they worked. Well that was a terrible idea because now I am DYING for an all singing all dancing embroidery machine. What an absolute dream!

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I did manage to put this together again with  lot of help. Even just remembering what screw went where was a nightmare!

Then we moved onto overlockers, I LOVE OVERLOCKERS! I don’t think they are a nightmare to thread at all. Once you have been shown it’s really not a big deal and they can help you make the most amazing professional garments out of stretch or non stretch fabric. So this machine is the equivalent of the Elna 664. I’m just about to buy 4 and start running classes. Join the mailing list here to be kept up to date!

Elna 664

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These bad boys aren’t as complicated as you would think. Don’t ask me to take it apart and put it back together again right enough!

I thought this course was great. It was nice to visit the Head Office and meet some people I have only ever spoken to on the phone. Peter knows these machines absolutely inside out. He helped us take them into a million bits and then knew how to put them back together again by memory. A true expert!

I think I will be leaving the repairing to the experts but I do feel that I could diagnose a problem now, and probably fixing timing issues. I might even have a go at replacing a wee part or two but only on my own machines.

Here is my engineering degree I was talking about! Haha! I’ll get that right on my CV!

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DIY Teabags and Sweet Treats from The Chefs Larder

11 Feb

For my second Valentines project I enlisted the help of my Chef friend Andy from The Chefs Larder. I was again trying to think of things that can suit men and women and everyone likes tea and biscuits. The green element of this is green tea. Only joking! The idea is you can use some bits and bobs you will have lying about to make something super cute for your loved one. Here goes.

 

You Will Need:

Coffee filter papers
Loose leaf tea
Sewing machine or needle and thread
Paper and a Pencil

 

1. Firstly we need to make ourselves a heart shaped stencil. I folded a piece of paper in half and drew half a heart shape then cut it out. This makes it symmetrical and is a really easy way to draw a love heart shape.
DIY Teabag Tutorial 20150206_131046

2. Now you can use this stencil to cut out 2 heart shaped pieces of coffee filter paper.

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3. If you have embroidery thread in a nice colour kicking about then you can use it later but if you don’t you can use 4 bits of bog standard sewing thread. It’s essentially the same thing. Cut 4 pieces the same length and twirl them until it looks like one chunky piece of thread. Put it to the side for later.

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4. Using your sewing machine or by hand, stitch the two heart pieces together leaving a space at the top open.

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5. Fill your teabag with loose leaf tea(not too much or you won’t be able to close it!). I am really big on tea, I have a drawer full of it but I think my favourite is black tea and rose(or black tea and violet but it is even harder to get a hold of!). I have this Whittards loose leaf that I am going to use for my tea bag!

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6. Stitch the teabag closed remembering to insert the thread we twisted earlier and your teabag is ready for it’s little biscuit pal!

If you would like to buy this kind of thing in bulk(they make thee cutest favours) you can contact Tea by Lita and she can sort you out with the most amazing tea blends and personalised tea bags!

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For the Biscuit!

Viennese whirl biscuit.

190g soft butter
75g icing sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
Pinch of salt
35g egg white
225g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 160*c. Place the butter into a mixer and beat well with a paddle or use your hands and a wooden spoon. Beat until pale and light. Add in the icing sugar, salt, egg white & vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Slowly fold in the plain flour. Place a star nozzle into a piping bag and pipe onto grease proof paper any shape you desire. Bake for 20 minutes at 160*c and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Alternatively, you can dip them in chocolate or dust with icing sugar or even a little cinnamon sugar.

Make sure you check out Andy’s blog for loads more amazing recipes and photographs of delicious things!  http://thechefslarder.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Enjoy!!

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Elsa From Frozen Dress Tutorial [Part 2]

29 Oct

So how are we doing? Our lining is in and the sheer top of the bodice is in too so now we are onto the sleeves!

With right sides together sew down the inside seam of the sleeve. The fabric I am using doesn’t fray. So I’m not hemming the bottom of my sleeve because a) this is a halloween costume and b) it actually looks better without a hem. I have however used bias binding around the neckline because we nee to sew a button and a loop onto this and my fabric is so sheer and stretchy it needs some stabilising to take a button. If you have bought sheer fabric that is fraying like mad you will have to zig zag the raw edge and hem it to stop it turning into a short sleeve version after one wear!20140929_160211
It also tell you to ease stitching the head of the sleeve. My sheer fabric is stretchy so I don’t have to do this. Remember ease stitching is just the same as gathering and it helps you fit the sleeve into the armhole should you need the sleeve to be a little bit smaller. So now with right sides together pin your sleeve in place matching your notches on either side. Stitch in place. It should look like this now.

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If you haven’t done this already we need to secure the capey bit to the back of the dress at the zip. This requires you to fold under about 1cm of the cape and pin it next to the zip closure as illustrated below(I know you can hardly see my pins here!). Don’t pin it too close to the zip incase it catches in the zip. Now stitch this in place down the entire length of both sides of the zip.Elsa Dress

All that is left to do now is hem the bottom, sew a wee button or hook and eye onto the back neck and applique any decorations.

The instructions do not make it very clear how to make the button loops so I have made a video to help you. It’s quite a useful skill to have and it makes a lovely elegant little button closure.

You could use fusible web(a bit like wundaweb) to stick the snowflakes onto the dress if you didn’t want to stitch them. You could also go wild and sew beads and other sparkley bits and bobs on there if you wanted! Depends how much time you have!

I am sending the finished article to my little cousin and I will post a photo of her wearing it asap. Please send me you photos of your Elsa dresses!

As always any questions please give me a shout!

Elsa from Frozen Dress Tutorial [PART 1]

7 Oct

I must admit that I still haven’t seen Frozen. I don’t have many kids in the family, hardly any of my friends have kids so I’m very rarely subjected to kids movies (although I hear it is quite good even if you are an adult!). Anyway I love a princess dress so I couldn’t resist but make an Elsa from Frozen dress. It’s been so popular that there must be plenty of parents out there thinking of making a dress for Halloween so here is a step by step tutorial that should help you make your little princess the perfect Halloween costume.

The first part asks you yo reinforce the inner corner of the bodice front. A couple of wee stitches will do this. This is necessary as it’s a weak point in the dress and might pull and split with time.

Next it wants you to attach all the bodice pieces like so.

Elsa Dress Tutorial

Then reinforce the same point in the skirt with a few stitches for the same reason as above.

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Stitch skirt back sections together, leaving open above large circles. I have been overlocking as I go because this fabric is fraying really badly. If yours is too you can use a zig zag stitch on the raw edge to stop it fraying.

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Now attach skirt front to skirt back at side seams.

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Now it asks you to ‘Ease Stitch’ upper edge of skirt. This is sometimes used in sleeves to gather them every so slightly to fir into arm holes. Its basically the same as gathering if you have ever done that. Two rows of parallel stitching, within the seam allowance. It must be a stitch length 4(or the longest your have) and you don’t do any back tacking at the start or at the end of the stitches. I atually didn’t need to ease this in, it fitted perfectly anyway!

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Now attached bodice to skirt!

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Now it’s time for the zip. They have a diagram showing you how to put in a zip in with stitching visible on the outside. That’s not really my thing and defeats the point of the invisible zip I’m putting in this dress. You can do it whatever way you like.

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Stitch one side at a time with the zip open. Once you have sewn once side of the zip in pin the other side in and then close the zip to make sure everything is aligned with the zip shut. The seam where the bodice meets the skirt should be aligned and the top of the dress should be sligned with the zip shut. It is very easy to sew a zip in squinty so take some extra time at this part to get it right. You might have to pin it a few times before you get it right.

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And the invisible zip is in, with everything lining up.

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Now time to stitch your overlay together(this is the cape-y bit). Stitch the centre back together from the dot downwards and the side seams together. It also asks you to create a narrow hem in the centre back seam from the dot upwards. This part of the overlay will be sewn in next to the zip later. now pin the overlay to the dress with the right side of the bodice to the wrong side of the overlay. It asks you to baste in place. Basting is like a tacking stitch you do on a machine. Remember back to Home Economics when you spend half your like HAND TACKING things? My God, how dull. They didn’t want us to know you can do it on a machine. It’s just a long straight stitch(stitch length 4). It’s a temporary stitch so no back tacking either.

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Video for help!

Now onto the yoke. stitch the yoke front and yoke back pieces together at the shoulder seams.

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It starts to get a wee bit confusing now. It wants you to pin the yoke front to the bodice right sides together. You should have the bodice right sides up, with the overlay ontop right sides up and the the yoke right sides DOWN. Like a little overlay sandwich! Stitch that in place through all 3 layers.

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It will look like this before you stitch it.

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Now stitch the back of the yoke to the back of the bodice in the same way. Then make up the bodice lining in the same way you made up the outer bodice. The bodice lining is now stitched on in the same way that the yoke was stitched on. You can pretty much got through the same stitches again. To make this a bit clearer you will have the bodice right sides UP, the overlay right sides UP the yoke right sides DOWN and then the lining right sides DOWN. You are stitching along the front bodice and the back bodice where you stitched the yoke on. Don’t stitch in the wee arm holes yet.

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Here is a wee video to help.

All that is left is the sleeves, hems and decoration. Part 2 is HERE

Any questions please ask away and I’ll help you out.

How to Thread Your Elna eXplore 340!

29 Sep

Laser Cut Bomber

9 Jun

These little bomber jackets are all over the place just now. So I decided to make one. You might recognise the laser cut fabric from my last blog. I love this stuff, and I love polka dots and I currently love mint(I just ordered some mint specs the other day – wild I know).

I drafted this pattern using my own measurements. It’s a loose fitting style for jersey sportswear so it’s really comfy. I toyed with putting buttons or hooks and eyes down the front but then I would have to insert a lining or a facing(ain’t nobody got time for that!) so I opted for a chunky plastic black zip.

Raglan Laser Cut Bomber

This is the perfect little summer cover up I think! The sleeves are full length, I just always roll them up.

DSCN0832DSCN0831This is my ‘Look the zip works’ stance.

 

The Not So Ideal Homes Show

27 May

First of all I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I actually won tickets to The Ideal Home Show on the Sterling Furniture Facebook page. So thanks for that.

My Mum and I decided to visit The Ideal Homes Show in Glasgow on Sunday. We’ve been before(although we’ve always wangled free tickets) and it is usually a nice wee day out – something different. We were both looking forward to it. First of all the main carpark at the SECC was shut. For no apparent reason. I could see 100 spaces but Mr High Vis jacket said no. So we had to wait in an enormous traffic jam to get into the new Multi Storey carpark. It’s my Architect cousins favourite Glasgow structure…not. It truly is an ugly metal monstrosity. Then the traffic lights broke and stuck at red. You know sometimes you are sitting at the lights for what feels like forever and you think “the bloody traffic lights are broken!” and then they change and you realise you are impatient. Well that WAS NOT one of those situations. We were sitting at a red light for about 10 minutes. The word ‘furious’ doesn’t even come close. Eventually everyone went through the red light anyway.

Couldn’t find the 2014 version!

So admittedly it wasn’t the best start to the day but they don’t call my mum Cheery McCreary for nothing – and I’m pretty happy too so we got over it(especially after my Mum pointed at a 5 MPH sign inside the carpark and said “remember we are on floor 5”. We were on floor 1. Hilarious!). We got inside and it was like a cattle market. I feel like people lose their minds at these events. First of all why pay for a ticket to an event where you are bombarded with advertising and sales people? Second of all why are you queuing to get into a big MDF house?

I didn’t take any pictures but it looked like this, with a queue of eager Glaswegians outside it.

I know there would be nothing in that house more inspiring than a 10 minte scroll through Pinterest. I feel like it is one big social experiment. Lets see what happens and how everyone behaves when we fill 3 SECC halls full of adverts and overpriced kitchen gadgets, SELL tickets to it and front it with the notoriously grumpy bald guy from Masterchef and everyone’s favourite female Scot(apart from me) Lorraine Kelly(or whoever it was this year?). Instant success obviously!

We spent the day squeezing past people, avoiding eye contact with crazed sales people, saying “No Thank You” to ones I accidentally looked at and eating cheese samples(after I crowdsurfed to the front of the queue). I think we spent about 45 minutes in there. It was the most eclectic mix of absolute nonsense I have ever seen and everyone was going mad for it. I’d like to say I didn’t buy anything…but I did. It was a mini apple pie and true to form it was terrible. I’ve eaten a LOT of cakes in my time so I really know what I’m talking about here.

So we left and paid our car parking ticket with a Wonga loan and went home for a cup of tea and a terrible apple pie. I don’t think we’ll go back.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this event? Did you go too?

Liberty & London

27 May

I have yet to find a fabric fan who wouldn’t have their entire wardrobe and home filled with Liberty prints if they could afford to. I am no exception. Liberty is a little bit more than a great haberdasher and design house to me though.

A couple of years ago one of my best friends moved to London. We both cried like babies at the train station when she left for the last time. We met in 5th year at school and bonded over a love of, mainly wine, that is still a large part of our friendship today. We lived together throughout our entire University days. We discovered how bloody expensive cheese is and how to live on terrible food. Susan exclusively used the oven for her meals with classic such as potato waffles and chicken chargrills. I seemed to exclusively use the hob and the kettle for Pasta ‘n’ Sauce and Pot Noodles(sorry Mum- who just so happens to be a Dietitian). Basically we’ve had a lot of great times together and I get so so excited when I get on that Virgin train to Euston. It feels like the best kind of holiday – it’s usually sunny, we make trips to extravagant cake shops, we eat like queens, drink Champagne and have the most over due catch up. One thing we always make time for is a wander round the fabulous Liberty London shop.

I very rarely buy anything as the whole place is so overwhelming. So many prints and such little time!! Thankfully we are lucky enough to have a shop or two in Glasgow that also stocks Liberty, so I can peruse the prints at my leisure. They give me that holiday feeling, the same way the smell of coconut remind you of lying on a beach! Liberty means good times to me!

Anyway why am I telling you all this? I am telling you this because recently it was Susans birthday(Happy Birthday!!) and I thought I would make her some Liberty Pajama bottoms. She definitely appreciates the finer things in life so I hope she loves them. I picked this amazing royal blue print that is unmistakably Liberty London. It’s from their cotton Tana Lawn range and it is so soft and lovely, perfect for summer jim jams!

Liberty PJs

Liberty PJs

I thought Pajama bottoms were a good option because I have already made her tote bags and make up bags and PJ bottoms are one of the things you can estimate size wise and they’re obviously not close fitting. I used the PJ bottom pattern from The Great British Sewing Bee Series 1 book. I’ll be honest, the sizing is RIDICULOUS. I like my jammies baggy but not MC Hammer baggy. I’m also fairly confident the size M could comfortably fit an adult elephant. Must add that to my list of business ideas for the day “Elephant Liberty Jammies”.  Thankfully I made a toile and adjusted the pattern before I cut the precious Liberty fabric, so they are normal human sized now.

What do you think?

Liberty Print Pj Bottoms

Liberty Print Pj Bottoms

I added a tiny little rolled hem at the bottom too.

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After I made these I googled just to see what the RRP would be on an item like this. The price really would make your eyes water. So that’s my second business idea of the day. My third is inventing a way to clone myself or stop time so I can try out every single idea I come up with :s

Overlocker Adventures : Make yourself a skirt in an hour WITHOUT a pattern!

8 May

I’m a “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is” kinda girl but I assure you this is not one of those false claims. You can make a skirt using your overlocker in about an hour. Of course this depends how many tea breaks you have and whether or not you stopped halfway through to go an teach a dressmaking class for 3 hours. If you work flat out it’ll be done in an hour no bother!

Sew a Skirt in 1 hour! Tutorial.

 

I have recently been trying to work my way through my enormous stash of fabric and this wild print is a true archive bad boy. I made  one of my bessie mates a dress for her 21st out of this stuff. That was 5 whole years ago. My god, my old haggered knees are creaking at the thought of how time flies. Anyway this has been in the collection for a while, that is my point. I have a holiday coming up and I thought I could get away with this print there…who am I kidding I’ll be wearing this in Glasgow tomorrow. SO what do you need?

You will need a skirt to use as a pattern
Enough elastic to go round your waist, 2.5cm wide should do
About half a metre of fabric, but that depends on the size of your skirt really.
An overlocker

So as I mentioned before this skirt was made completely using an overlocker. The overlocker is different to a normal domestic sewing machine. They are not necessary for sewing, you could follow this tutorial using a stretch stitch on your sewing machine but the overlocker makes life incredibly easy. If you have one already, lucky you, if you want one you can get one here It looks like this:

Elna 664 DREAM MACHINE mate. Anyway fold your fabric in half, right sides together. Place your skirt on top like shown in the photo below. This piece of fabric has been used for other things so no longer has a selvedge, that is why it looks like I have placed it wonky, I haven’t! Overlocker 1 Hour Skirt Tutorial This skirt is the perfect pattern because I love it and it is also a stretchy pencil skirt which is exactly what I want to make. This one is from Zara. I do love a cat print! Chalk round the outside of your skirt adding a 1cm seam allowance all the way round. Leave a bigger seam allowance at the hem if you plan to hem it. Jersey cotton tends not to fray so I don’t need to WAHEY. DSCN0730

You also want to cut yourself a waistband pieced that is 2x width of your elastic +2cm seam allowance and long enough to go round your waist + seam allowance. All your bits will look like this now.

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Here is the tiniest video of what goes on in my sewing room. Always music on full bung and in this case it was very fitting to be playing holiday music!

Pin your side seams. and overlock them together. Take your pins out as you go as you don’t want the overlocker blade getting near one – not unless you want to be changing that blade more often than necessary.

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Now you will have a tube of fabric. Time to try it on inside out and pull it in to make it fit better(if necessary). I had to make a few adjustments at the waist. Remember whatever you do at one side do at the other!

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Now you are happy with the fit time to overlock the side seams of your waistband to make it one continuous strip.

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This bit is a little tricky. Place the waist band piece inside the skirt right sides together. Matching raw edges at the top of your skirt pin and overlock these together.

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Now you need to cut your elastic to size. I usually do this by wrapping a bit of elastic round my waist(or where ever the top of the skirt is going to sit) and pulling it until it is tight enough to keep the skirt up but not so tight that it feels(and looks) like an exterior gastric band. Looking like a pork sausage that has been tied in the middle with a piece of string is not a good look and even the skinniest of skinny minnies can look like this. You get the jist – not too tight! Cut the elestic to size and using a normal sewing machine zig zag it together flat. I went over this about 5 times.

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Pop the elastic over the waistband like so. DSCN0759

Now fold the waistband piece over the elastic until the raw edge of the waistband matches up with the recently overlocked edge of the waistband(which isalso the top of the skirt)

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Pin all the way around, completely encasing the elastic and overlock in place.

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I don’t know at this point  why my photographs go all acidic on me. Get your sunglasses out! What can I say? I am not a photographer and my camera has a mind of its own.

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If you have more of a seam allowance than me you can cut off the extra so the elastic is nice and snug in that waistband. Finally you can hem the, erm hem? I decided to make mine a little fringey by snipping in 4cm all the way around.

And that, my friends, is the simplest no pattern skirt you will ever make!

Sew a Skirt in 1 hour! Tutorial.

Send me photos of yours!

What Sewing Machine Should I Buy!!??

1 May

This is a question I get asked a lot. There is a vast array of brands and models out there but how do you know which one to go for?

My first piece of advice is you really do get what you pay for. It is a total cliche I know but it’s true. I remember I was reupholstering a chair and I went out and bought the cheapest staple gun I could find. Obviously it was absolutely terrible and counter productive as I had to go out and buy another one the next day. So I should really practise what I preach.

The first question I ask someone who is thinking of buying a machine is What do you want to do with your machine? If the answer is you would like to make bits and pieces from lighter weight fabrics. Maybe you want to make bunting for the rest of time. You are not massively interested in dressmaking or sewing things like denim or making curtains. If you also think that this could be a short lived hobby then the entry level model is for you.

Elna Sew Fun

Elna Sew Fun SRING PROMO PRICE £99.00

The Elna Sew Fun is their entry level machine. I usually say do not spend any less than £100 because £40 machines are a false economy believe me. Buy a brand you have heard of, not and Ikea one(sorry Ikea I love your fabric but can’t stand the machines!). So the first good point about this is it reminds me of a fruit salad sweetie. No I’m joking don’t buy a sewing machines because it is pink or something. John Lewis must rake it in with their pink and purple machines. It is a good entry level model. It has stretch and non stretch stitches and a 4 step button hole. It doesn’t have a massive amount of accessories with it but enough to get you started. It has a fairly strong motor, fine for going through layers of lightweight fabric but will struggle with layers of curtain fabric and curtain lining. This machine is currently on sale for £99 instead of the normal price of £119. BUY ONE HERE. Promotion ends 30th June.

So what if you love sewing, you know you’ll still be doing it in years to come and need a machine that will be capable of all sorts and one you won’t out grow? Step up Elna 340!

Elna 340

Elna 340 SPRING PROMO PRICE £219

You may recognise this if you have ever been on any of my classes. These are the beauties we use in class. They are quiet, smooth and can handle layers and layers of thick fabrics no bother. They have a very strong motor which makes denim effortless! This machine is a top loading machine instead of a front loading like the Sew Fun. Top loading is easier to work with and tends to jam less often than the front loader. No need to fiddle about with a bobbin case either because top loaders have them built in already. You also get a tonne of accessories with this, zip foot, 1 step button hole foot, blind hem foot, overedge foot, satin stitch foot and extra needles, 4 bobbins, tiny screw driver, lint brush, seam ripper, quilting guide, spare bobbin pin…I think I’ve remembered them all! This also has a hard cover which is great for me because I transport them all over the place. It looks a lot better than the dust covers and protects the machine pretty well. I dropped one out the back of my car(a tiny 4×4 that is quite high up) and they all still work a treat. The 340’s are little troopers! The one step button hole is pretty special. The foot has a space that you put the button you want to use in, then you pop it on the machine, follow the manual to get the right settings and Bobs your…buttonhole – the machine works out exactly what size you buttonhole should be! There is also a needle threader on this which is an eyesight saver believe me. It also has a speed control on the foot so you can slow it right down or speed it right up. Basically this machine is a wee dream. It’s so easy to use with diagrams and arrows and number all over it. It just works well every time, no nonsense which is exactly what you need when you are learning. If you love sewing and want to progress without having to upgrade your machine in a years time then this is the model for you. This machine is currently on sale for £219 instead of £229.  BUY ONE HERE .Promotion ends 30th June.

So what if the 340 is a bit out of your budget but the Sew Fun is too basic for your needs? Lets have a look at the middle level Elna 240

Elna 240

Elna 240 SPRING PROMO PRICE £159

The first thing you might notice is the 240 is a front loading machine like the Sew Fun. It’s a little bit trickier but not something to put you off. It has a lot more stitches than the Sew Fun and a much stronger motor. It is a bit noiser than the 340 but still not a massively clunky machine. It has a 1 step button hole and a needle threader so your eyesight will be saved! Accessory wise you have the buttonhole foot, Blind hem foot, satin stitch foot, zip foot, a screwdriver, extra needles and 4 bobbins. It comes with a dust cover too. You might eventually out grow this one so I usually say if you can afford it go for the 340. This model is currently on sale for £159 instead of £169. BUY ONE HERE. Promotion ends 30th June.

I stock the whole range of Elna machines but unless you are interested in quilting I tend to advise that no one spends more than the £229(currently £219) for the 340. I don’t see the need to be honest and I wouldn’t sell anyone a machine that has a whole load of features you will never use! There is a huge range of choice out there. You can walk into John Lewis and peruse their collection(mostly Janome now I believe which is the same company as Elna) of sewing machine. If you are lucky someone might talk to you but only if they think they will get a sale from you. I don’t think anyone has ever said hello to me. And i’m not going for another customer service in the sewing and haberdashery sector rant but C’MON JUST SAY HI.  My point is, you probably know me. You know I am self employed, you know if I had a shop IT WOULD BE LOVELY AND FRIENDLY AND FULL OF KITTENS… ok maybe not full of kittens for health and safety. But I am not going to make you feel like an idiot. I spend my days trying to build people sewing confidence. I have fixed students sewing machines via twitter(i’m quite proud of that). I’m always available and a sale means something to me. I want everyone to be delighted with their machines and if you get stuck you know I will help you out. So just like everyone is encouraged to shop locally for their fruit and veg, or visit their local fishmonger, buy from independents when you can(even if it’s not me!).