Why do I teach, what do I get out of it…

When I first began teaching it was out of necessity, a way of making enough money to pay the mortgage. I had previously been making a living selling my makes at craft fairs which is not a good way to make a living! I mean it was fun but not financially rewarding at all.

Teaching seemed a good stop gap. I presumed I would have taught everyone in e17 and then I would need to get a “proper” job. How wrong I was! That was 5.5 years ago and I’ve not looked back at all.

I’ve grown as a teacher and as a person too. My students often teach me as well as me teaching them. They may not realise this happens. It can be as simple as a new composition with my fabrics, colour combos I had not thought off. Or it may be they tell me about their work and their lives and that teaches me things. Or sometimes my reaction to people teaches me a lot! I may have an instant like for someone and I try work out why. Sometimes students become friends. Sometimes (extremely rarely) people jar with me and that is just as interesting when I try to work out why!

I love empowering people to express themselves creatively. It makes me really happy to hear that someone feels she (usually a she, although of course I do teach men too!) has learnt this amazing new skill which will unlock all kinds of new things in their life. Sewing is not just about practical skills – although of course it is an extremely useful skill to have and I believe everyone needs to be able to operate a sewing machine and sew on a button or put a hem back in!

Sewing is however so much more. It is a means to being creative, to making something for yourself or as a present, as art, or as something useful. Being able to think of a garment and then knowing how to create it or knowing how to follow a pattern or knowing how to make a fancy dress costume for your child… Priceless. It is empowering and fun and makes you happy.

Talking of happy, sewing is amazing as a therapy too. It won’t cure your depression but it can certainly help you feel better. If nothing else if you immerse yourself in something creative you will feel a sense of achievement and it will have taken your mind off your worries for a while. I have crafted my way through some major crises in my life and nowadays I feel very odd and a bit twitchy if I cannot sew or knit or crochet for a few days. To imagine some people feel like that all the time…!

Anyway I’ve gone off on a tangent. Not an unpleasant one and I could seriously go on about this for hours but you may get me by now.

I love my job. It gives me enormous pleasure to set people on the path to crafty happiness. I love knowing that not all but quite a few of my students now “get” sewing and they can no longer imagine a life without it.

Inspired to do a class? Have a look at the schedule on http://bookwhen.com/cheekyhandmades

Happy sewing!

Sewing mojo is back! – knickers and jeans 

Sewing mojo is back! – knickers and jeans 

I’ve been so busy and sometimes even just so busy in my mind and unable to get on with real life stuff that I’ve not done any sewing for me for ages. I’ve done the odd quilt block for the Farmers Wife quilt along but even with that I’m way behind. 
I’ve put my life and peace of mind back together, everything is looking up again and consequently I’m less “fake” busy and more able to concentrate. And today whilst running a Jeans workshop I cut out two patterns! One for a simple pair of woven fabric knickers, the pattern, fabric and elastics for which came free with a a magazine. Knickers. They take about 30 minutes to make and once you find a fit, there’s a whole world of possibilities out there. Woven fabrics are totally usable as long as you get decent elastics and cut the pattern correctly (laying it out on the bias correctly). I’ve mostly stitched a pair and even though the fit isn’t great (the elastic seems way too baggy) I’m super excited about this new trick in my sewing box. I do love a quick pattern. Next up knickers from old t-shirts. Watch this space: 

   
 Here’s some links to blogs about sewing underwear. One day when I’m a bit more together (and not about to watch a film with junior) I’ll also link to all the amazing bra making blogs out there! 

IndigoOrchid

VeryPurplePerson

Kollabora

 The next thing I cut out was a pair of jeans. Another pair of Ginger jeans. I don’t have enough of this denim to make a full length pair which inspired me to make some shorter wider jeans, like culottes maybe. I literally just cut the pattern a bit wider without measuring or working it out. We shall see if it works. It’s tough, sturdy denim without any stretch so very different from the last two Ginger jeans. I’ll keep you posted. 

  
By the way Closet Case Patterns have released a Sewing Jeans e-book which tells your ALL you need to know about choosing denim, threads, needles and how to cut and construct your jeans. I strongly recommend it! Here’s the link: Jeans sewing e-book  

 
I’m running more jeans classes and would be delighted to run knicker making classes, just let me know if you’re interested! [email protected] to let me know 😻

Bookings and schedule here

Sewing machine fixes

Sewing machine fixes

I fix a lot of sewing machines. Some are very poorly and need lots of TLC. But many aren’t actually broken at all, just not used properly. 

Let me  just run through some basics which you should look out for and which I regularly see in my repair shop:

  1. Wrong bobbins being used. Not all bobbins fit all machines. If you use a bobbin that is too tall or too wide or too small your machine will not work well, or at all. Please make sure you use the right bobbin for your machine and if you buy more make sure they are the right size and a decent quality. Bobbins from the poundshop or old plastic bobbins from charity shops can cause huge problems.
  2. Check your needle. Run your finger along the length of it. If you feel burrs or barbs or it is bent it will break your thread, make your stitches skip or worse. If in doubt change your needle and definetely every time you’ve hit a pin or a very chunky seam. A new needle can solve all kinds of issues. Check the size, again not all needles are identical. And make sure you insert it the right way round!
  3. Use the same thread on the bobbin as you are using on top. Don’t use random bobbins with unidentifiable thread. If you’re not sure what it is, take it off. It’s not worth the aggro. Use a decent thread. Stay clear of the super market brands and again don’t buy from the poundshop. Nasty thread will snap and snag and cause tension issues. 
  4. Keep your machine covered up when not in use and keep it clean. Remove threads and broken needles from the bobbin area.  
Sewing plans for 2016

Sewing plans for 2016

I realised that I once again bought more patterns than I made last year so some of these are being carried over into 2016. 

I kinda feel I’m a bit late to the table with my 2015 review and 2016 plans but hey ho, I’ve been busy with work and life so here we are. 

Some quilting plans then; I’m still taking part in the Farmer’s Wife quilt-along. Confusingly there’s two running at the same time and I’ve kinda done blocks for both. Lots of tiny fiddly paper piecing, very different from how I usually work, enjoyable but slow. And I’ve ground to a halt, haven’t done any blocks for about a month now. I’ve got 10 I think.   

May have to get inventive with them as I’m not sure if I can carry on committing to more. I seem to have no selfish sewing time at the moment and am itching to start something new too. I still want to make the Gypsy Wife quilt and may have to use the blocks I have in there somewhere. I do like going off-piste!

  

I bought the Shimmer quilt pattern from CluckCluck Sew and have to make it. Isn’t it lush?  

And I still want to make my own Swoon…

This one was made by Gnomeangel, also of the Farmer’s Wife QAL:  

I bought so many PDF patterns, I really need to do an inventory and plan but for now I’m sticking to lusting over these paper patterns:    

   
 
And I want to make more bras!

Here’s to 2016. Let there be more time for sewing!

Best Black Friday sewing deals

Best Black Friday sewing deals

Yes I know, lots of people are taking part in buy nothing Friday and I’m with you. I’m not running to PC world or Argos to buy tons of gadgets or plastic. My kids are once again getting books for Christmas 🙂 

  
But we all need some cheap fabric and patterns in our life don’t we? A nice pre-Christmas present to yourself? Here’s a nice roundup of my favourite Black Friday sewing deals. And no need to go anywhere near Amazon!

Closet Case Patterns is one of my favourites. They don’t have many patterns released but every one is a stonker! The bombshell swimsuit? The only swimsuit I will wear, it is classy and sexy and makes everyone look a bombshell no matter what your size. The Ginger jeans, my go-to jeans pattern. A new one, the Clare coat. Super cute and we’ll written. I’ve just ordered it! And they now have an e-book to help you with your jeans sewing adventures. What’s not to like? The code THANKSGIVER gets you 20% off.

http://www.store.closetcasefiles.com
Plush Addict, another favourite shop. Millions of funky fabrics, the only place to buy colourful cheap poppers that actually work, it’s where I bought my thread stands from, and they have threads and quilting accessories and wadding all on big discounts today: http://www.plushaddict.co.uk/black-friday?utm_source=Plush%20Addict&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=863549_Black%20Friday%202nd%20send&utm_content=Black%20Friday%20hero&dm_i=2D0F,IIBH,4ANXD,179HJ,1

M is for Make have ace patterns, haberdashery and lots of gorgeous Japanese fabrics. They have 15% off with the code blackfriday15

http://www.misformake.co.uk/?ct=t%28April+1%29&mc_cid=2f92f6e102&mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D

My Fabrics is the cheapest place for wool, jersey, sweatshirt material and funky European prints. I mean super cheap!! Their code FABRICS271115 gets you £10 off!! The website is here: https://www.myfabrics.co.uk

Just look at that funky fox fabric! 

 
Fabric Rehab. Need I say more? The first for me and still one of the best. Shop their fabric sale: http://www.fabricrehab.co.uk/sale.html?limit=98

Colette Patterns again is one of my all time favourites. I use their gorgeous and well written patterns for my classes, their blog is awesome and they have a monthly e-mag with patterns that just pisses all over Mollie Makes etc. All patterns are 20% off and some 70% off! https://www.colettepatterns.com

 And of course I have all my lovely quilts on sale for you guys in my www.etsy.com/shop/handmadebycheeky shop! 

    
 

Liberty in fashion – fashion and textiles museums London

Liberty in fashion – fashion and textiles museums London

Today I went on a little trip to the fabulous fashion and textiles museum (Zandra Rhodes’ baby) in Bermondsey, London. 

I love this museum. It’s pink and orange on the outside for starters!

  

 It’s small but perfectly formed and always has interesting exhibitions as well as a gorgeous little shop. They also have a great eductional programme, I’ve done excellent photoshop and marketing courses here and would love to also do the 3 day Illustrator course they offer. One day. 

Today I went to see the Liberty in fashion exhibition. Fascinating and colourful and well worth a visit. 

                          
    
After I went to Islington and did some serious salivating and shopping in Loop yarns and Ray Stitch

                        
    
    
    
    
 

Sewing jeans: Ginger jeans pattern

Sewing jeans: Ginger jeans pattern

Along with making bras making jeans has been on my to sew list since last autumn. I bought two patterns and enrolled on a Craftsy class and bought denim and then ran out of making time.     

I finally made a pair of jeans a few months ago by butchering the pattern that was written by Angela Wolf who ran the Craftsy class. Her pattern was for a low rise bootcut whereas I wanted a higher rise skinny pair so I took in the legs and added height to the rise. It worked pretty well and fit but the denim I had used was horrible and the zip broke when I tried it on so I left them to languish in the must-sort-one-day pile. I wasn’t entirely happy with the fit, the pockets at the front pulled open where my belly was pushing the fabric out and despite anchoring the corners to the denim I wanted a better fitting pattern. 

   
 I had heard many good things of the Ginger jeans from Closet Case Files (closetcasefile) and last week I set about taping the pattern together and making a pair of jeans. The denim was a nice sturdy dark blue and I used a gorgeous yellow top stitching thread. I read the sew along as well as the instructions and found a very clever way to fix the pulling problem I had found before in the sew along. The inner pocket and facing are extended to make an internal panel to provide support for the front of the jeans and keep unruly bellies in check. Ingenious! 

  
I used my new to me Pfaff 1475 which coped admirably all the way apart from when it suddenly lost its timing on the very last row of stitching. Top stitching is quite heavy on machines, it’s hard to keep the thread from knotting badly underneath and hard to keep an even tension. My machine, being electronic, when faced with a large knot which stopped the needle carried the motion of the bobbin on and hey presto the timing was kaput. It was too delicate a thing to fix myself so off to the shop she went. Luckily I still have an ancient Bernina 700 and used her to finish the jeans off and make another pair straightway!

  
So. The fit is perfect, second time around it only took me about 4 hours and I’m a happy bunny indeed! Even really splashing out on denim and needles and thread you can make yourself a pair for about £35 and being able to doctor the fit exactly is priceless.

So fitting wise I did what I always have to do. I have no discernible waist so had to start with a waist size 15, grading down to a size 12/11 on the legs. As long as you make the line connecting the sizes nice and smooth you can easily go between sizes. I also made the crotch curve at the front and bit deeper and this took out a lot of the extra fabric I had previously had when doing the first fit. 

Once I make my own knickers and knit socks a bit faster I can be totally self sufficient! So cool. 

My Scottish holiday

I’ve always been drawn to Scotland and have had some lovely holidays there in the past. My partner is from Paisley, near Glasgow, and I’ve visited both quite a few times since we’ve been together. This summer it was a right Scottish bonanza with two holidays there! First I went to a cottage next to Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire with max, my friend Salima, her son Haroun and their dog Otis. It was a relaxed time of walks and food, knitting, forests and beaches. And the castle was bonkers, all pink and turrety… Then Max went on holiday with his dad and Sean and I got on a sleeper train to Fort William, then changing to a fab little train to the west coast, going through some of the most gorgeous countryside, no roads, no towns, just moors, valleys and lochs. We arrived in Arisaig, a gorgeous village on the East Coast where we stayed for three days, in a gypsy caravan in the back garden of the lovely Carol and Rory. We walked and saw amazing musicians jam in the local pub, and just completely relaxed. Then it was on to Millport, a tiny island just off the coast near Glasgow for another caravan stay, much less romantic but no less remote and peaceful. No internet or phone reception meant lots of card games and reading and talking, rain keeping us indoors a lot. The caravan was spacious so we didn’t mind. Four days in Paisley, lots more walking and talking, knitting and reading meant the whole of August pretty much was extremely peaceful and quiet. London and getting ready for school is kinda assaulting me this week but I’m sure I will get used to it all again. It certainly set me up with renewed energy and creativity!

Here’s some photos

Max, Haroun and Otis awake at 3:30am when we set off

Craigievar Castle

IMG_2652 IMG_2691 IMG_2771 IMG_2794 IMG_2808 IMG_2828 IMG_2850 IMG_2861 IMG_2871 IMG_2971 IMG_0504 IMG_0525 IMG_3143 IMG_0561 IMG_3161 IMG_0569 IMG_0571 IMG_0583 IMG_0594 IMG_3204 IMG_3215 IMG_0606 IMG_3237 IMG_3239 IMG_3244 IMG_3254 IMG_3285 IMG_0654 IMG_3307 IMG_3326 IMG_3340

Autumn sewing plans

Autumn sewing plans

I’ve just bought myself some new patterns. I subscribe to Sew Direct which gives me a magazine full of the latest big name patterns as well as great articles on tailoring, fabrics, threads, pattern cutting etc. Some of the patterns are pretty vile, some very boring and almost all are made of fabrics I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. But armed with funky £2/m fabric from Walthamstow market you can’t go wrong especially as you get a big discount on the patterns as a member. 

So here’s what I’ve bought. 

   
    
 I quite often buy patterns that then get lost in my stash of patterns so I aim to keep these aside so I’ll actually make them. Good luck with that as that’s what I always say. I buy patterns, printed and PDFs, and they just languish… But this time I have you guys to prod me!

Nice patterns huh? Quite a few interesting shapes out there at the moment. Dresses and tops with crazy hems and big pockets. What’s not to like?!

It’s Selfish Sewing Week in a couple of weeks I believe so that should be perfect for me. 

cheeky handmades