I have to come clean, I have A LOT of sewing machines. Bit of an Ebay habbit combined with people giving me machines, car boot sales etc, and before you know it you have about 20! Yes, 20.
So I thought I would do a little series of reviews on them. Some of them are just functional, some are just decorative, and most are both. I will start with my Christmas present from my dad. It’s an Elna Grasshopper.
My dad told me about this beautiful old machien only last year. I had not heard of them, you rarely see them and they tend to sell for a lot of money. Just a few months later he found one in a second hand shop for the princely sum of €17!! I know, shocking. It’s in its original case, with the handbook and all it’s feet included. The plug had burnt out so my clever dad wired a new socket in (it looks fine!) and now it works with standard computer leads. It woks with a knee lever instead of a foot pedal. Took me some time to get used to as you end up sitting very differently, but it’s nice not to have a pedal which can go off on walkies (as they do).
The machine purrs along, despite being almost 70 years old, and it’s a joy to use. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a small and super cute straight stitch only machine. I have made a quilt on it and it doesn’t mind lots of layers. Really the only annoying things about this little machine is that the stitch length selector (which includes the reverse selector) is to the right of the bed and it’s not easy to access when you are sewing so it seriously slows you down. Not sure why it’s there. I guess they didn’t want to break the clean line of the front of the machine. Design over practicality!
This last picture is her in action doing some free motion on the quilt I had just made on her. Gorgeous stitching!
I’m taking part in a crochet-along with Moogly making a different 12″ square every two weeks. After I had made the first one which I didn’t really like I bought some gorgeous new colours and am making the next 23 squares from these colours. I’ve also made some extra granny squares and just this week some more squares from the same designer (Aurora) who gave us last week’s pattern.
Are you joining in? It’s free and fun and you are no doubt going to pick up tons of new techniques. What’s not to love?
I have three boys but only one still young enough to like me making clothes for him, he is six and called Max and has great style!
It’s been really hard in the past to find cool clothes for boys. Luckily I’m not the only person who likes sewing kids clothes and wants to include sons in this. In fact there’s great funky pattern designers who make amazing stuff for boys and there’s even the Celebrate the boycampaign!! There’s a sweet looking book called sewing for boys, I don’t have it so cannot comment on how well it works or even if the patterns are cute but check it out if you see it in a bookshop. There’s several sew-alongs from the book on it’s website Sewing for boys
One of the funky pattern companies is Blank Slate Patterns We’ve made their cool BBC vest (a waistcoat), various pairs of W trousers and now this week I finished the Berkshire Blazer. I had actually cut this out before Christmas but life sorta overtook things a bit. It didn’t in the end take long at all to sew although the combo of chunky top stitch thread and heavy weight cotton canvas fabric meant my machine would not make some of the stitches no matter what I tried 🙁
Here’s some pics. I cannot get this boy to pose at all! Hope you appreciate the filthy patchwork that are our pavements here in East london!
And here’s a pic of Max in full fancy dress (note the army outfit, trilby hat and tie) on the Tube just so you know how stylish he is 😉
I have finally figured out how to blog-on-the-go on my website’s own blog so I am going to use that from now on to blog.
Make sure you pop along to say hi and follow me on there. I have some great blogging posts lined up!
Find me here
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I’ve been working on this quilt for a long time. Sadly as I was nearing completion I washed it and something ran really badly. Which was odd because all the fabric had been pre-washed. It near destroyed the quilt and eventually I decided to separate the quilt front and the back and take out the wadding so I could wash them in colour run remover separately. This was a mammoth job and hear breaking too, ripping through all the stitching, hand and machine, that had been added over the months. But I thought the beautiful hand printed linen backing, which was most badly affected, might not be saveable and I thought I would have no option but to start again with a new backing.
Luckily the colour run remover removed about 90% of the blue run. And I realised this was a perfect opportunity to remove what I was using as wadding as I actually did not like it at all (it was a bed spread and it was heavy but not warm and also too textured which felt odd in the quilt. So I turned it into a positive thing and I have ow made some different decisions about the quilting too. Instead of close straight lines stitched by hand and by machine in blocks, which looked a bit weird, I am going to hand quilt around the pieced edges, and I started today whilst feasting on series 2 of Breaking bad (I know, watching tv in the day, it felt very decadent!).
After a bit of a lull we are restarting the local stitch and bitch knitting, hooking and whatever else you want to do with a needle meet ups. We will be meeting the fourth Wednesday of every month in the Bell pub on Forest Road from about 8. It’s totally informal and friendly, just having a drink (or not!) and chatting and hooking. Just stitching, no bitching!
Bit late to the 2014 plans lists but I’ve had a late start to the year, my littlest boy has only just gone back to school and I’ve been teaching flat out since. I also have way too many sewing plans!
Here are just the paper patterns I bought last year that I want to make this year:
I also would love to make my 13 year old a new dressing gown and have just the pattern for it:
Then there the many many Craftsy classes I’ve enrolled on. I made a list the other day and there were 32! I would love to finish the Bombshell dress finally, make some perfect fitting jeans, knit some more yoke jumpers, finish Carol Doak’s paper piecing class and oh too many really!
I want to make the following quilts: Swedish Bloom from the Patchwork Please book
I also want to make a Medallion quilt as seen in the Liberty Love book:
And also the Tulip patch quilt, well actually every quilt in the most gorgeous quilt book of 2013, Quilty Fun. What a stunner!
I want to make more kids clothes, I’ve just bought a jeans pattern and also got this book for Christmas:
I already have a blazer for Max all cut out, I’ve just been waiting for my new overlocker. I’ve bought a Juki one and it’s fantastic! Different ball game from the Janome I owned before altogether. So now to find some time to make it.
I will talk about my knitting plans in another post.
If you fancy joining me in some sewing adventures I have put TONS of new classes on the schedule, from beginners classes to intermediate dressmaking, quilting and paper piecing and alterations and many many more. The whole schedule is on here
Hopefully see you soon! Happy 2014!
I’ve lived in Walthamstow for over 8 years now and guess I’ve become a bit blasé about the amount of fabric shops and stalls that can be found just on the street market. It was only when I found other people telling me they were visioning from quite far away just to buy fabric here that I realised that of course, not everyone has this many shops locally!
So I thought it was high time to do a little blogpost about them.
I myself always start at the bottom of the market, near St James street station. There’s many other delights on this stretch of the market and it’s by far the quietest part of the market so I often don’t make it to the top!
I usually just pop into Hussains Fabrics for cheap cottons and linens, they also sell blackout fabric, wadding and felt as well as fake fur and amazing Asian fabrics. When you see something you like, buy it. That goes for all the shops here. They often sell end of line fabric and you are unlikely to see it again next time you visit. Which is of course it’s downfall as I cannot use it for products that need to replicated over and over. But then again it is like shopping at a car boot sale as it’s exciting and mostly super cheap!
The green fronted Fabric Shop across the road from Hussains is probably the cheapest of all the shops. Everything is stacked against the walls in bolts and they truly have the most amazing array! Very little in the way of cottons but at £1 or £2 a meter you are bound to come home with something cool!
Make sure to visit Ribbons. It’s my go to shop for zips but of course they sell hundreds of beautiful ribbons!
Each shop on that stretch of the market will tempt you with more bolts of funky home decor, cheap silks and bright jerseys.
Cross over to the busy top part of the market to find more haberdashery shops and fabric stalls. Make sure you pop into the little fabric shop on a side street near Sainsburys. It sells cheap Liberty like prints and great poly cotton prints, perfect for cheap bunting. She often has denims and all kinds of amazing fabrics too.
After all fabric shopping that you should pop into the International Supermarket for the best veggies, Turkish breads, cakes, olives and cheeses.
And really, no visit to the market is complete without a super tasty flat bread from Yilderim bakery on St James street, very near the station. The breads are hand made on the premises and are just the best!
My lovely dad brought over this stunning Elna Grasshopper. She’s an old girl, made as she was in September 1946! She is however in perfect condition and sew beautifully. Seeing as I had to try her out I made this lovely quilt entirely out of big equilateral triangles. I cheated and free motion quilted and bound it on my flashy Husqvarna but that was more because the Elna is just tiny so wouldn’t fit a quilt that size
This weekend saw the second class in this two part course, teaching beginners to make a skirt from a commercial pattern.
I have been using Colette patterns for these classes for a while now but have recently changed to using the Ginger skirt pattern. I used to use the pedal pushers (Clover) pattern, which wasn’t actually that suitable for a beginner as there can be SO many fitting issues with trousers. This skirt however is really good for newbies as there aren’t even any darts.
I love the Colette website and their patterns are just amazing. Here’s the link: https://www.colettepatterns.com/shop/ginger
The patterns come in a beautiful stitched booklet, with all the notes and guidance really nicely laid out. Go away flimsy explanations on tissue paper. Be done with you. We love this chunky creamy paper, clear diagrams and links for video tutorials on putting in invisible zips etc included in the pattern. Way forward! These new pattern companies clearly know what customers want. They clearly pride themselves on supplying a pattern that can be followedeasily. It should be that all pattern companies think like that but it seems to be up to the independent ones to really show them how it’s done, and I fully support them in that.
Saying that Colette patterns tend to cater for pear shaped ladies, and I’m not myself a pear – more of a tree trunk 🙂 – so not all the Colette patterns look equally fabulous on me but I did make myself a Ginger skirt yesterday. I’m not going to show you the waistband because although I did a great job on it I was lazy and used my student’s pattern pieces (so I could sew along with her and not waste time measuring) so although it fits, as in I fit in it, and I managed to dance the night away in it last night, it actually doesn’t sit beautifully at the waist. But hey, no one is ever going to see the top of my skirt. And I do love the funky 70s fabric I made it from and the dinky little iPhone pocket that was pretty essential for me (wot, no pockets, where’s a girl gonna keep her mobi??)
Photo-wise I only shot a quick selfie before I ran out of the door, proper shots to follow once the skirt is out of the wash. Anyway you get the idea. Nice skirt, funky waistband which I refuse to show you, fab fabric. Will definitely make again and again as it doesn’t even take much fabric and was quick to run up.
So if I have now whetted your appetite for dress making why not join me at the next dress making course? It starts on the 8th February. I only have two students in the class so you get almost one to one attention. The skirt pattern and all haberdashery is included in the class fee, you will just need to bring 2.5m of suitable fabric, we will talk about this in the first class. Booking is here: