Tag Archives: gbsb

How to Sew Over Bulky Seams

So, you know how the contestants on the Great British Sewing Bee struggled a bit with some bulky seams on their toddler dungarees this week?  Here’s a little tip for getting around that very problem…..

What you need is to make yourself a little jig!

seamjiginfographic-web

The secret is not in the thickness of the fabric, but the height of the presser foot.  It needs to stay flat all the time in order for your machine to feed fabric through evenly.  When it hits a bulky seam, the front of the presser foot is pointing upwards and the foot is no longer flat.  Your little jig raises up the back of the presser foot so that it’s all on the same level again and off you can go without any fuss.

Spring Skirt Making

Yesterday was the first Skirt Making workshop of 2014.  Five keen students arrived feeling a bit apprehensive with bundles of fabric, not sure if they were going to be able to finish making a wearable skirt by the end of the day.

Look at them six hours later!

skirtmaking-feb14From left to right; Rose in a summery striped number from my fabric stash, Joy in a beautifully lined skirt using up some of her fabric stash, Penny in a really cute apple print from Ditto, Jo in the first of her collection of “storybook” skirts – a Quentin Blake Charlie and the Chocolate Factory print which everyone loved (and she went home in!) and last but not least, Debbie in a rather fab metallic denim skirt which she was planning to wear today….!

I always enjoy my Sunday workshops; they’re fast paced and students always achieve such a lot in the day, but sometimes I get a group of students who seem to instantly gel together which this group definitely did and we all shared a really enjoyable sunny Sunday.  For three of these students this is the first garment they’ve made and I think they definitely all made wearable skirts which they really weren’t sure was possible at 10.30 that morning!

Here’s what they all thought of the day:

“An excellent day with lots of support, encouragement and giggles!  I have a beautiful skirt and lots of new skills.  Thoroughly recommend and I cannot wait for my next course!  Thank you Wendy.”  Jo

“A lovely day with lovely people.  Wendy created a really relaxed atmosphere – but I managed to sew my first skirt with ease.”  Penny

“A day making a skirt which was easy and enjoyable.  I also met some lovely friendly people.  Wendy is a fantastic tutor – very patient!”  Joy

“Fabulous day – made a lovely skirt, learnt more techniques and had great fun!”  Debbie

“A wonderful day!  Wendy is an excellent teacher – can’t wait to learn more!”  Rose

If you want to have a go at making a skirt in a day, I will be running this workshop again.  To get priority booking on all my classes before they’re advertised, sign up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/EVEYn

Which Sewing Book to Buy?

sewing booksA cull of books I had last year at a MIY Workshop sale!  Yes you can have too many craft books.

So, the Great British Sewing Bee is back for its second series and the production company are already scouring the country for potential contestants for series three.  It looks like the sewing bug is a stayer.  Obviously that’s a good thing in my book.

Talking of books….(!) as I’m writing a sewing book at the moment (see previous post), the subject of sewing books has been pre-occupying me now for quite some time and I’ve also been thinking a lot recently about craft book authors.

Lots of my students ask me if I can recommend a sewing book.  Here are my tips to finding a good sewing book.

The most important starting point is to be honest about the skills you’re starting with.  Have you had a go on a sewing machine and now feel ready to tackle some dressmaking, have you been sewing for years and now looking for some new ideas or does the sight of a sewing machine bring you out in a cold sweat?!

If you’re right at the beginning of your sewing adventures, you need a sewing book that will have really well explained techniques and easy but inspiring  projects that you will actually want to make and can work your way through step-by-step.  If inspiration is what you’re after, have a look at some of the Japanese sewing books – beautifully designed, inspiring patterns, but usually needing some good existing skills.

What kind of things do you want to make with your new found sewing skills?  Do you want to do mainly patchwork, do you want to make bags and cushions and accessories or do you want do make clothes?  Choose the book that contains the kind of projects that you actually want to make!

Just like novels, the author of the craft book will make a huge difference to the content.

Here in Brighton there is a little hub of expert craft book authors; the lovely Liz of Quilty Pleasures had her first patchwork and quilting book published last spring:

beginners guide to quilting

Julia Hincks, a colleague who teaches at the Friends Centre in Brighton has written a book all about using your overlocker:

overlocker techniques

Wendy Dolan is another Brighton based tutor who is an expert at machine embroidery and has been teaching for many years.  She is currently writing a book all about her style of machine embroidery.  Last but not least, Fiona Pullen of the Sewing Directory (OK she’s not in Brighton, but is everywhere in the world of sewing!) is in the process of writing a book about how to build a craft business. (Have a read of Fiona’s fascinating blog posts about her book writing process.)

The common thread linking all of these authors is that we are professionals and experts in our particular field.

What are the benefits of choosing books written by experts?  

A book written by an expert, an experienced teacher or someone with years of experience working in an industry means that you will benefit from that experience, they will share hints and tips with you that they have picked up along their travels, or unique techniques that they have devised for themselves.  You will also find practical how-to books written by these authors will contain instructions that are pitched at exactly the right level because they know their audience – they have been working with people just like you for years.

The way I look at it is this……would you want to learn to drive a car from someone that had just passed their driving test?  No, me neither!

Incidentally, one of my trusty old favourite sewing books that I’m always recommending to students is the “Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing”.  You can read my review of it here.

Happy sewing!  And safe driving….!!!

Great British Sewing Bee – series number 2!!

Just as the first cruelly short series of the Great British Sewing Bee comes to an end tomorrow night, news that the production company responsible are looking for contestants for series number 2.

I haven’t read or heard a bad thing about this series, I even heard Patrick Grant talking to Richard Bacon about it on 5 Live today and was delighted to hear the programme had even made Bacon feel the urge to give sewing a go!!

Here’s the link for applications:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/shows/beonashow/great_british_sewing_bee

the main requirements are that you have no sewing qualifications and don’t earn a living from your sewing, thankfully that rules me out!

Good luck to everyone who applies!!

Enjoy the final tomorrow, tense viewing guaranteed…