applique and free motion workshop

applique and free motion workshop

On Saturday 15th July the whole day is dedicated to appliqué and free motion embroidery in my sunny garden studio.

This is such a fun and freeing workshop, the techniques take no time at all to learn and then you will spend hours creating pictures with thread and scraps of fabric. Applique and free motion are brilliant for adding lovely details to dresses, tea towels, kids clothes, quilts, bags etc.

All the tools and materials are included in this class. You just turn up with yourself and I’ll supply everything else including coffee, tea and biscuits!

Booking is here: bookwhen.com/cheekyhandmades

*photography by Simon Daley [email protected]*

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why my sewing classes are different

why my sewing classes are different

The longer I teach the more I find out just exactly how different my classes are from many other classes.

I don’t want this post to sound like me massively blowing my own trumpet as to me it’s more about eradicating bad teaching rather than promoting myself. But hey if that means another few students I’m obviously not complaining!

My ethos is to inspire confidence and to encourage a love of sewing. A love of creating, stitching, making and wearing clothes that fit and make you happy, knowing where to buy fabric and how to look after your sewing machine, the confidence to start and finish a project, to experiment, to play, to enjoy the process even if the result disappoints.

And I believe I manage to get this across most of the time. My classes are friendly, encouraging, in depth, fun, inspiring, and I give everyone as much time and attention as they need. I couldn’t teach another way. To see people skipping out of my class smiling is more important than getting paid even. To get emails from students saying how sewing has changed their lives, is invaluable.

And yet I hear horror stories of how other people teach. Over and over. Too large a class for anyone to learn much or dare to ask questions. Teaching from a real distance (learn to sew in a lecture theatre anyone?!). A dressmaking class with 8 students and everyone making something different. People left to their own devices week in week out. People being belittled for not knowing certain things (erm hello it’s a beginners class!!), and people being told they will never learn. People being set useless exercises. Recently someone came to me asking me to help her learn to sew in circles as this had been set as her homework. You’ll never need to sew in a circle baby! Teaching for teaching’s sake. Not inspiring or challenging or providing a supportive environment.

Hearing these stories breaks my heart. There is just no need to teach like that and to destroy someone’s confidence or potential love for sewing is unforgivable.

Needless to say then that’s not how I teach.

To book one of my classes click here

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oops, and then suddenly it was june…

oops, and then suddenly it was june…

I’ve been super busy and then when I did think to breathe and blog again my WordPress app wouldn’t let me. I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on, it’s all way too technical for me, so I’m meeting with my friend Lisa next week who’s a techie whizz and who looks after my site for me. In the meantime I can compile blog posts on my phone but not add pictures, boo. So I’ll write it on here and add pictures later before sending it off into the ether. Boring but better than not being able to blog at all. Not that I’m that avid a blogger or feel the need to tell you constantly what I’m up to (I’m sure you don’t care much) but as soon as I can’t do something I want to be able to do it.

I taught my first class (hopefully of many more!) at a gorgeous space in Dalston. Turns out I first the owner about 20 years ago when she played in a band with my friend Sam! Small world.

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I’ve taken a huge break all year from sewing for me. Not because I wanted to mind, but due to lack of time. I was up to my eyeballs in making quilts for other people until about 3 weeks ago and since then I’ve been painting my front door, cooking, gardening, knitting and going back to the gym. It’s been super relaxing but now I’m itching to make things for me again. I did get into dyeing yarn with Koolaid a little, it was such fun and smelt heavenly. I ran out of light coloured yarn hence stopped but I want to do LOADS more.

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my hitchhiker shawl, knitted with @the wool kitchen #ziggy yarn

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Me-designed shawl for the lovely Tanja, again with lots of @the wool kitchen yarn!

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@ countess ablaze socks, two on one needle!

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Lovely stripey socks. Unfortunately I had to frog them as they stretched SO BAD!

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I mastered brioche knitting on my most recent Scotland break. Hard fought!

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My lovely capuccino dress made out if IKEA fabric died a few week back. The fabric just ripped under the armpits and despite reinforcing it in a rather cute way it promptly ripped again.

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Definetely time to go back to the gym. Or maybe the fabric was too cheap and cheerful. Either way I need another one in my life as it was just such a good wear. Massive pockets and a flattering fit. So that’s on my list.

As are more jeans, my Ginger jeans are just the best jeans ever so I need more. Maybe some flared ones too?! I also need some summery shorty dungarees, some funky culottes and more bras. All but one of my me-made bras have broken in some way or other, mostly to do with the pattern being altered and me ending up with underwires too long for the channelling I had made and them not poking out through the stop I had made for them. Hey ho.

I also have many ideas for drafting patterns for dresses and tunics a la cheekyhandmades’ style. Watch this space!

One thing I probably won’t make again is knickers. I made a few pairs in the last few months, one cotton woven pair and two jerseys pairs. The woven pair needs some adjusting to cover more of my bootie but it was surprisingly almost a good fit out of the bag. I just prefer the feel of stretchy fabric under my jeans. The two pairs of jersey knickers I made were from a pattern I bought online. They were high waisted ones and were a pig to cut out. I hate cutting jersey, it just won’t behave well when cutting. Grrr. It was super easy to sew them and they fit beautifully, however I’m just not a high waisted pants kinda girl. Even in funky fabrics they still scream granny pants at me and I feel decidedly frumpy in them even if no one can see them. So that was an interesting experiment but I think I’ll leave the knicker making to the experts.

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Some gorgeous blossoms

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Here’s some of the quilts I have finished these last few months

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Max, Sean and I hve been going on some great trips. We have been to Ramsgate, St Leonards, Glasgow, Flakirk and Paisley and last week we had a whole sunny week in Scotland. We visited Sean’s mum’s caravan on Cumbrae. It was so hot the lads swam in the sea!

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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

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More on the new studio

IMG_6946_2 IMG_6955 IMG_6956 IMG_6961 IMG_6970 IMG_7028 P1030254 P1030255 IMG_7081 IMG_7157 IMG_7083So I’m in my new studio, I taught my first class in there and it’s absolutely perfect.

It will no doubt take a while yet before I’m completely done and before my living room looks normal again but I’m on my way. Nice as the studio looks now, the living room (where I taught before) looks like a bomb site. I’ve been packing and pulling stuff off shelves and sorting things out but right now there is just tons of stuff waiting to go into the studio.

In the studio then my floor is hot pink, it needs a coat of varnish still but it looks gorgeous. I’ve bought a super massive solid dark wooden table off a friend. It nearly broke Sean and myself getting it up the stairs and then out down the external stairs as this baby is heavy but it looks amazing and can sit 8 people! The first curtain is up and the first storage unit is up.

Today I’ve been getting intimate with my bags of scraps, seriously there is about 7 big bags! I did a lot of ironing them to patch some onto a quilt I didn’t like (but love now it has patchy circles on it!) but there’s still a lot of sorting to do. Maybe by colour (-) yes I may have to succumb to a *system*…

My studio is warm and cosy and colourful and spacious, it’s a cat free zone so all is staying clean and cat hair free, I’m surrounded by gorgeous plants, the pond, trees, birds, foxes and of course many cats. The neighbours’ chickens are right next to me. It’s pretty idyllic! It so bright and peaceful in there, I kinda want to move in!

I’m running lots of classes in the studio so come and sample one: http://bookwhen.com/cheekyhandmades

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Chinese tape measures – cause for much hilarity and wasted fabric

Chinese tape measures – cause for much hilarity and wasted fabric

So last week I was running a beginners sewing class… Two students, two tape measures, two cushions in progress… So far so normal…

Then I looked at one of the students cushion pieces and realised they were huge compared to the other’s. I had thought it odd when the cushion lad measured in at 25″ but I just made a mental note not to buy ikea pads again and filed this away.

Suddenly, looking at why this back piece was so big, and measuring it again with one of my many measuring tapes (and it coming up as 26″ which was perfect as it included the seam allowances) and then measuring the other student’s and seeing it come up as 20″ even though I had seen her measure it as 26″ before she cut it, I was fluxomed… Until one of the students astutely noticed that not both tape measures were the same. One had real inch markings on it, the other’s inch markings were randomly marked at around 3/4 of an actual inch. Totally random and weird (I mean why bother making a tape measure which is wrong when it’s not actually cheaper to make???)

See here for yourself
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And here is the end of said tape measure with it clearly showing that at 150cm, where normal tape measures come in at around 60″, this one came in at 74″!!

Needless to say it’s now in the bin. Along with the pins I bought on eBay which are not actually sharp. Cheap often really is crap!

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cheeky handmades