It’s been a super long time in the hatching stage and we have come up against more problems than we needed but I am back to writing my sewing book and I am more than excited. It’s been hard to find the right angle, I didn’t want to write yet another projects book, I think the market is saturated with those. But I think I’m on the right track now and I’m looking forwards to finding a publisher. There will be a good mix of beginners sewing, dressmaking, quilting, gorgeous photography, tools and tips and general all round cheekyness!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some gorgeous blossoms
Here’s some of the quilts I have finished these last few months
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!
I ove my Ginger jeans pattern so much I am pretty evangelical about it. I use it to teach my jeans classes and have made myself my two favourite pairs of jeans from the pattern. There’s an awesome sew-along and now all the info from the sewalong has been put into an e-books. All the info you need to get to grips with buying and using denim, top stitching, inserting jean’s buttons and rivets, fly zips, pockets etc. And now there is also a Flares pattern for those of us who love flares.
There is a special offer on bundles on the pattern website at the moment, buy either the jeans, flares or ebook or any combo thereof and you will get a discount.
Chop chop, what are you waiting for?!
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
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:
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
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.