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Getting to know your Overlocker/Serger

This year for my birthday, my husband scored some serious brownie points when he bought me a Janome overlocker. What a gem! It is a Janome 9200D and I had wanted one for a very long time.  Over the course of the following couple of weeks Mr Sew Dainty asked why I hadn’t used it yet and honestly .. although I had wanted one for so long I had no idea how to use it, how to thread it or what to do! I was baffled and didn’t know where to start.

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I am very much a visual learner, so the idea of sitting and reading a book about it was not appealing. I turned to good old YouTube and whilst a lot of the videos were helpful, I still found the thought of using my machine intimidating.

Whilst searching the internet for inspiration I recalled that a little fabric shop not that far from me held workshops and decided to look into it. The Sewing Cafe in Hinckley is a gorgeous haberdashery shop with a great range of workshops and machine hire by the hour. Imagine my delight when I found that they were very conveniently running an ‘introduction to the Overlocker’ workshop that very weekend (£40) and they had one space left. Needless to say I reserved that place immediately. I’m so pleased I did.

The course ran on a Saturday afternoon in September for 2.5 hours, and was held in a lovely little workshop at the back of the store. Greeted with smiles, tea and biscuits, we were asked to select our favourite jersey fabric from the shop before we got started as we would be making a jersey snood/infinity scarf on the overlocker at the end of the session to take home with us.

The course was taken by Lucy who was incredibly calm, friendly and understanding of our individual needs and abilities. We were given a really thorough explanation of the machine, learned how to thread it and how the dials worked and affected the stitch, and I gained so much confidence by being show in such a relaxed environment. Oh! Also a little touch that I thought was superb was that the lovely staff at the shop asked what model machine I had at home so that they could match me with a similar machine on the day. Brilliant!

After more tea we set about making up our jersey snoods. I chose a grey jersey with a pretty turquoise polka dot, so cute. It didn’t take long to put all our new skills to the test and we were all pleased to have something to take home with us – who doesn’t love that?

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Since the workshop I have used my overlocker to make 2 dresses and thoroughly love the professional finish it gives not to mention the time saving element of it. I am no longer nervous about using the overlocker – in fact I can’t wait to use it again – it is definitely a case of how did I ever get by without it! I really love this machine which is not a surprise really as I already own a Janome sewing machine and it’s awesome too!

So a little bit about this machine. It can be used with 3 or 4 thread options, has wide, narrow and rolled hem functions, and a colour coded threading guide. Other features are differential feed and adjustable stitch lengths and widths. It comes complete with a comprehensive instruction book, DVD, and accessories which include spare needles, tweezers and screwdrivers.

I would thoroughly recommend this machine as a beginner, it is REALLY simple to use despite my concerns and it now has a very important place alongside my Janome DC3050 sewing machine. They make a perfect duo when it comes to my dressmaking needs.

 

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So pleased with the professional finish I can now get.

There are so many different ways to learn new skills now, reading, internet research and ‘hands on’ but this is a real  winner for me. If you are within a reasonable travelling distance of Hinckley, Leicestershire then I would recommend a visit to the Sewing Cafe.  They have a fabulous range of fabrics and haberdashery, indie sewing patterns and machines and you really should check out their workshop classes – you will be tempted by several I bet!

www.thesewingcafe.co.uk

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This is the snood I made at the workshop, perfect now the weather is turning cold.

I do hope that this might encourage you in some way to try something different. I am the worst at giving up before I even try, but stepping out to be shown something new has worked in a really positive way for me and it will you too! Do have a look at what courses and workshops the fabric shops have on offer in your area. Have you already tried something new recently? Have you recently started using an overlocker? I would love to hear about it.

Be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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Tilly and the Buttons Bettine Dress Pattern Review

This is a special dress. It is the only dress that I have ever made more than one of, and I don’t plan on stopping yet – there are many more ‘Bettine’s’ still to come, that’s for sure.

  • It’s very easy – no tricky fastenings like zips or buttons. No darts or setting in sleeves.
  • It’s quick to make up – I love seeing it coming together so quickly.
  • It’s comfortable – who doesn’t love an elasticated waist?
  • Pockets. Yes please. Enough said.

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I chose to make it in a navy patterned viscose. It has a lovely drape and a little stretch (not necessary for this dress though), and although I love the fabric it is quite lightweight and sheer. Upon reflection it may have been wise to have lined it. Still great though and very wearable. I also chose to make the version without pockets. I must have taken leave of my senses- my first Bettine was made with pockets and I love it. Note to self – all future Bettine’s to have pockets. I also decided to make the sleeves without the tabs and keep them plain, I prefer the sleeves like this.

It’s a dream to make. Excellent instructions are written so well and accompanied by great pictures take you through the whole process, and if you need extra help then head on over to www.tillyandthebuttons.com where there is lots more help and inspiration with suggestions on fabric choices, pattern hacks etc. It is also worth mentioning that I found the dress is true to size when made up.

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Did I make any alterations to the pattern? No, however I may take in some of the fabric from the hips next time. The skirt piece is cut with a lovely shapely curve which is ideal for my shape, but just a fraction too much so I will taper this in on my next Bettine. The final step of the instructions calls for a 4cm hem. As the unfinished length of the dress was perfect for me, I decided to just turn up a teeny tiny hem on this occasion.

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Would I make it again? Definitely! Two Bettine dresses are not enough! I may try it in a lovely jersey next time as I noticed on the Tilly website that there are some good tips and advice for making it up in jersey.

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Finishing touches.

 

 

It’s a super little ‘throw over the head’ dress, and a real winner in my eyes, so easy to see why this dress is so loved by so many!

 

 

 

I would love to know if you have made a Bettine, let me know your thoughts I would love to hear from you!

Be back soon, Kathy x

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Autumn Fall Felt Leaf Garland Tutorial

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Autumn is well and truly here now, and whilst it is sad to see the end of Summer the beautiful display of glorious colours outside inspired me to create something to reflect such an amazing Season. I think Autumn is far to pretty to be left outdoors don’t you think? Let’s bring a little bit of it inside..

I love a nice garland, and this one is just so quick and easy to make. I whipped this up in a morning, accompanied by a cinnamon candle and a hot chocolate It really was a rewarding little project and a good stress buster too!

Materials

  • Autumn coloured felt pieces – the heavier weight the better.
  • Leaf Templates – search the internet or sketch your own!
  • Neutral coloured thread.
  • Fabric Scissors.
  • Sewing Machine – this is optional, you can string your leaves together by hand if you prefer.

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I decided to make templates for about 4 or 5 different leaf styles/sizes, I also made up an acorn template and for good measure some small circles with my leftovers representing berries. My leaf sizes ranged from 2.5″ – 4″ but you can choose whatever sizes you like.

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As the finished garland will be made with a chain of thread which could move about and be visible from both sides I decided to make the acorns with a neat felt ‘cap’ which would be pretty whichever side is showing. So before I got around to making up the garland I decided to encase the acorn ‘nut’ with 2 ‘cap’ pieces, and machine stitch them securely.

 

So once you have all your leaves, berries and acorns cut out and prepared it is time for the fun bit! Simply run them through the sewing machine in a random order one after another forming a long chain. I used a long length stitch setting as this make the ‘vein’ of the leaf look better and also made the garland come together quicker too.

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In no time at all you will end up with a long length of pretty garland which you can either keep in one length, or snip to whatever lengths you like! So quick and easy. I have decided to decorate my staircase, but they would look amazing hanging vertically at a window, or draped around a plant. I think they would pretty decorating a bed headboard too. The possibilities are endless!

Although I cut my leaf shapes by hand, I’m pretty sure it would be possible to purchase pre-cut shapes if you prefer, or use a die cutting machine.

I left my garland pretty simple, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t embroider your leaves, or machine stitch more detail onto each leaf. If you are including the children in this activity then they could draw ‘veins’ on each leaf with a Sharpie. I also think layering different sizes and colours on top of each other would be stunning too.dsc04516

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I hope you love these garlands as much as I do, and are inspired to create your own! You can cut your felt to whatever shape and size you like. A string of pumpkins would be cute. Maybe Christmas trees or snowmen would be a great idea for the Christmas season – the possibilities are endless. You also do not need to have access to a sewing machine for this project, you could just as easily hand sew them using a running stitch using a sturdy thread.

Oh and finally, a word of warning – they do tangle easily if you’re not careful so I would recommend to store them you should wrap carefully around a large flat piece of cardboard, or use the cardboard tube found inside some rolls of wrapping paper.

Happy Autumn everyone, do let me know how you get on! Be back soon xx

 

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Simplicity 1365 Pattern Review

Welcome to my first pattern review!  During the Summer the lovely people at Simplicity launched their sewing challenge. They very kindly offered a choice of 4 patterns which would be sent to you free of charge. Once your project had been completed you simply post the pictures on your chosen social media site, using the hashtag #SimplicitySewingChallenge and voila! you are considered for a shot of the superb prize of 12 sewing patterns, trimmings and the opportunity to become a VIP Simplicity blogger.

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As soon as I read about this I wanted to take part. I adore reading sewing blogs in my spare time and I although you don’t have to be a blogger to enter this competition I was hoping that this might just give me the incentive to start a blog of my own…

dsc04504I chose pattern 1365, to enter the Best Vintage Make category. I knew the pattern would be clearly written, you can rely on Simplicity for that. As always it pays to spend a few minutes reading the instructions, crucial if you want to avoid making silly mistakes. I chose to make view C, I prefer a simple look and knew the other views would be unflattering on my shape. I enjoyed the finish details on this top – it is as good to look at on the inside as it is on the outside due to the inclusion of facings inside. I had to read through the instructions carefully a couple of times in places to understand what was being asked but it came together beautifully.

I would probably consider this pattern suitable for an advanced beginner/intermediate sewist as it contains several pieces and uses techniques such as buttonholes, gathering and stitch in the ditch.

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As this pattern is a 1970’s vintage style piece I decided to use a navy floral cotton with a vintage vibe purchased from Material Magic in Leicester. I am really pleased with how this turned out, and look forward to getting some wear out of it next Summer, wouldn’t it look just adorable with capri trousers or dressed down with denim shorts. I also think it would look really pretty made from a crisp white broderie anglaise – maybe this will be my next version.

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Finishing touches

 

I chose to use some leftover fabric to cover my own buttons. I feel this really gives the finished project a retro feel keeping in line with the 1970’s style of design. If you have never tried covering your own buttons I would strongly recommend it – so easy and rewarding!

Thank you Simplicity for the pattern and for the inspiration to finally start my blog as a result. Congratulations to all the other entrants, I have such admiration of the talent and creativity of the sewing community out there. Let me know if you have made anything similar, I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading, be back soon, Kathy x

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Welcome to my little blog …

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Hello out there, my name is Kathy and today I am doing something that I have dreamed about for a very long time. I am writing my first blog post!

My Mum taught me to sew when I was very small and more seriously when I was about 13 yrs old to help me with my school subject option choice. During the Summer holidays before school resumed we picked an easy sewing pattern (a nightshirt), and some (dodgy) fabric and she took me through the whole wonderful process of cutting up some fabric and then sewing it back together again!

I was hooked. I continued to really enjoy my school lessons in the subject and whilst over the years never lost my love for sewing, I have only dipped in and out of it. I am at a stage in my life now that my family are growing up and I can dedicate more time to it.

So, here goes with the blog, one thing that you might need to take into account is that whilst I love sewing, I don’t love computers and anything technical that goes with them. So bear with me, my blog will be basic at the beginning whilst I understand how this whole thing works, but hopefully in time it will become as beautiful as all of the sewing blogs I love to read myself.

So thank you so much if you have made it to this bit and you are still reading. I hope you will enjoy my posts as much as I plan to enjoy making them.

Be back soon, Kathy x