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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Keep your machine covered up when not in use and keep it clean. Remove threads and broken needles from the bobbin area.
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!
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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
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.
One of the very first Craftsy classes I ever joined was the Bombshell dress making class by Gertie. She wasn’t as big a name then as she is now, none of her books had been published then and initially she still interacted with the class as she was supposed to as a tutor with Craftsy. I loved the look of the dress, with a fitted, boned bodice and I loved the idea of all the new techniques I would learn.
Alas my life became hectic just like Gertie’s did and I didn’t get very far then, four and a half years ago. I got as far as ordering thee boning and attempting to make the fitted bodice but it all ended up in a box, tempting me on occasion and mocking me at others.
With a wedding in Barcelona to attend I wanted to make a cool looking dress and decided to restart the class. This time I sped through it all and found having been making and fitting my own bras for a good 8 months stood me in good stead for fitting the bodice. Or so I thought.
I kept googling other bombshell dresses and kept looking at how the dress fitted Gertie. Something wasn’t right with the cups, I thought it would work itself out in my much bigger cupsize, and I put my doubts about the odd elliptical look of the cups down to Gertie’s much smaller chest. I mean, the muslin still looked a bit like that on me but I thought with padding and proper stitching it would all look ok. I had a lot of gorgeous cream and red cherry print fabric at my disposal and about a week to do all the hand stitching, padding out and adapting a 3/4 circle skirt to fit.
Well. I learned a huge amount. I went lots of couture techniques such as working with just the pattern pieces without any seam allowances, using contrasting stitching to mark the stitch lines. What a lovely way to work. I learned more still about the size and shape of my own boobs. I learned all about cutting steel spiral boning (with blunt cheap cutters this was no joke!) and using quilting wadding to pad out the bodice. I learned to use a synthetic horsehair braid to hem the skirt with, making for a hen that stood out and accentuates the 3/4 circle. The skirt went in like a dream and the dress felt amazing on. But what had looked merely slightly off when the bodice had just one layer of fabric looked heinous by the time it had a lining and padding. Elliptical boobs rather than nice round ones. Major fail.
By this time it was 11pm the day before we flew out to Barcelona for my old friend Steve’s wedding to the lovely Sabrina and I didn’t have time to make another bodice. So the dress was left behind, I attended the wedding in a doctored (in the cab on the way to the wedding!) dress from Sainsburys and put it all down to experience.
The class has been retired by Craftsy as not long after I joined Gertie’s first book was published and she barely interacted with her students anymore. The good thing about Craftsy has always been the tutor-student interaction, you can ask questions and get answers, talk about problems you’ve encountered and share your progress. Not so in this class and for a while it became a student led class, with people helping each other out. I’ve definitely been helped a lot by the other people on the course and will go back and ask for advice when I come home. But I understand why the class was taken off the schedule as it did not measure up to Craftsy’s very high standards Still, I’m glad I did the class and even if I never get a functioning dress out of it I still think it was fantastic value for money. But fingers crossed I will finish it and when I do I will post the pictures up here!
Cheekyhandmades is five!
On 11th July 5 years ago I left my job at Whipps cross hospital. I had handed in my notice in April and by the time I left not only was I without a proper job, I had also just separated from my partner of 8 years, the father of my youngest son. All was up in the air. What had seemed like a viable idea when there was still a breadwinner in the house, to give up work and spend more time with the kids whilst making the odd bespoke quilt, now with me being a single parent of three boys, a huge mortgage to pay and no business plan, or even much of a plan full stop, seemed madness.
I spent that summer making some stock as I had a stall booked fort first e17 art trail event at the end of the summer holidays. It was a tiny table in my friend Sarah’s back garden. She was an established artist, drawing astonishingly beautiful and detailed pencil drawings of insects. She always drew a respectable crowd to her open studio event but it was hard to predict how they would take to me and my colourful fabric wares. As it was I made some pocket money, and met some lovely people and felt very encouraged especially as there were a few people who had come to Sarah’s garden specifically to see my wares.
E17 Art Trail quilt
Never having got round to writing a business plan, free wheeling and improving all along, never forgetting how fortunate I was compared to my colleagues still at the hospital, never forgetting how much I cherished being my own boss and being to just do rather than endlessly talk about doing, I somehow made it work. I added teaching to my repertoire in January 2011, cutting my teeth in the lovely Create Place, where I found my feet as a teacher, as a fixer upper of sewing machines and where I made some lifelong friends. Fast forward to July 2015 and I now teach from my gorgeous bespoke studio in my sunny e17 garden, I still do the art trail each year, I still make and sell bespoke quilts in my Etsy shop, and I still love my job. Not a day goes by where I don’t appreciate not having to ever sit in another stifling meeting room taking minutes (now my meetings are with great creative people in cafes over coffee and cake!), not ever having to sit on my hands not being able to implement changes, having to deal with power crazed managers and a behemoth of a system, having to beg for days off to be with sick kids and never being able to go on school trips. I cherish my days alone sewing and planning and doing admin, I even love doing my accounts, I love being able to go into school to read with my 7 year old, I love downing tools at 3pm for the school run. I love writing this blog post in a sunny park in Barcelona under a palm tree with parrots playing overhead, I love meeting new students who are nervous and excited about their class and go away full of joy and pride in what they’ve achieved. I love keeping in touch with my old students, a great many of whom have become friends. I love interacting with other amazing women running one women businesses and exchanging skills rather than money to pay for each others’ services. I love working in my fabulous garden studio with the baby foxes streaking past and the cats keeping me company.
My kids have got older, I’ve met a wonderful new partner, I’m as happy and fulfilled as can be. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m grateful to everyone who has joined me along the way. I’m even grateful to Whipps cross hospital for being such awful place to work that I just had to leave and try making a go of cheekyhandmades!
To celebrate my birthday I am offering a 3 for 2 deal on all classes booked before the end of August. Just book in for 2 and email me on [email protected] to let me know which 3rd one you want free.