Monday, 31 May 2010

Bags, Bags, Bags

I'm feeling inspired by bags today.  A few of the people I follow on Twitter make some amazing bags, I love this blue denim back by Not Just Handbags,  Pod Bags make some lovely felted bags and I would love to own any of these amazing bags by Haut Totes -  I'd hoping if I drop enough hints my husband might by me their dragon bag as pictured below....

So I thought it might be worth having a look around and seeing what bag tutorials I could find to have a go at making my own.  Then saving me tons of time searching through Google I stumbled accross this great article on Squidoo - it links to tutorials of all types of bags, from handbags to beach bags, tote bags to backpacks.  So many great ideas to keep me busy over the bank holiday weekend.

If you would rather work from a pattern then Backstitch have a great range of bag patterns for only £7.50, including this great Amy Butler Swing bag.  It's the type of pattern you could use time and again and make some great presents for friends and family.  They also stock a fab range of fabrics too, perfect for making your bag with.

If you feel like splashing out why not go for one of the lovely Hamble & Jemima bag kits?  Priced from £19-£26 thse nifty little kits include everything you need to make your bag, including both the outer and lining fabric, exclusive handmade buttons, ribbon, embellishments, pattern and simple instructions. They are even suitable for beginners, i'm thinking it may be a good place to start.  You can also purchase them from

As part of our launch giveaway we gave away a copy of Fabulous Bags to Stitch and Make by Jenny Rolfe and having had a quick flick through before we sent it off I have to say there were some stunning bags in there.  I looked like you would need a certain level of sewing experience to make the bags, but the colourful pictures would certainly inspire you!

Suffolk Sewing School advised us that bag making courses are one of their most popular, they even offer bag making parties too.  If you are looking for more northern bag making classes then why not try Louise Parkes who serves the Birmingham area.
Do any of you have any bag making tips or links you would like to share?  If so please post them below.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Win an annual subscription to Sew Hip

This week our lovely friends at Sew Hip have kindly agreed to donate an annual subscription to Sew Hip magazine as our competition prize!

In order to enter you need to answer the question below:

What is your favourite all time Sew Hip pattern?

You can post your answer as a comment on this blog, or by e-mail or if you follow us on Twitter or Facebook you can respond there.  Only 1 entry per person.

Terms & Conditions

Employees, friends and family of The Sewing Directory and Kalmadia are excluded from entering. One entry per person only. Open worldwide. The winner will be chosen using a random number generator. Entries to be received by 6pm GMT Tuesday 1st June 2010.

Focus on.....

Focus on.... 

Totally Patched is a quilter’s dream. The first floor is full to the rafters with beautiful fabrics, threads and craft gits such as candles. Then if you wonder up the spiral staircase to the top floor you will find a second fabric room plus a space to relax and enjoy of complimentary drink whilst you peruse the wide selection of books on offer.

Totally Patched also offers a range of workshops and classes to suit all levels of abilities. Workshops include both sewing topics such as quilt making and crafts subjects like soap making. They also offer the ingenious ‘block of the month’ project where you get sent the materials and instructions to make from 2 to 8 blocks per month, making a full quilt by the end of the year. Alternatively you can sign up to their ‘Just Desserts’ club where they will send you bundles of specially selected fabrics each month to add to your stash.

If you cannot visit the shop itself in Bewdley, Worcestershire then why not visit their online shop where you can purchase fabrics, books and kits from the comfort of your own home. For more information visit

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Protecting your ideas

I'm sure that most of you who run your own business have at some point had a unique idea and were so excited about it you just wanted to tell everyone.  But how many of you have then found that someone else has ripped off your idea? 

Unfortunetly it seems to happen more and more, particularily with the internet, once you put your products/designs/ideas online anyone can access them and copy them.  I've been burnt once myself and have spoken to many others who have had the same thing. 

The worst thing is when you are in the early stage of business planning you have to tell people about your ideas as market research so find one of those people copying your idea can be completely gutting.  In my case I discussed the concept of my site with someone who I wanted to sponsor the site, only to find a few days later a lot of what we discussed was on their site...when I was still months away from launching my site.  A friend of mine found someone they had told their idea to had bought the domain name they were planning to get and had essentially set up the whole site they had dreamed up before they had chance to do it.

On some of the arts/crafts forums I've used there have been many people who have had their designs copied, even photos stolen from their website and in one shocking situation someone had bought stock from them and then was re-selling it as their own through their website.

So what can you do to stop it?

Firstly please be very careful who you discuss your ideas with, as exciting as it is when you come up with a great new idea the more people you tell the more people can copy it, or get there before you.  Those you do have to show or tell, don't give them everything.  Don't tell them how you will be doing it and every little aspect of what you are doing.  Keep it broad and brief and don't give too much away.  When doing market research try to be as vague as you can whilst still getting the information you require.  For instance I conducted a giveaway on my mum's blog asking where would people look to find their local dressmaker - rather than asking people if they thought a sewing directory was a good idea.

Create a good recognisable logo so people know when they see the logo it is your product, and not a copy.

If you have a great brandname/company name then protect it, buy the domain name (and similar ones), register the company name, get it trademarked. 

There's many places online where you can find and purchase available domain names, the one I use is here.  It's adviseable to buy the .com and to prevent competitors from setting up with a really similar domain to yours.  If there's any other similar domains you may want to get them too, for instance I bought as well as and and pointed them all to my site.  It generally costs less than £10 per domain for 2 years so it's well worth the cost.  I'd advise trying to use a domain that has both the .com and available to avoid confusion.  For instance anyone who uses the New Of The World website ( may have made the same mistake I have many times and typed in .com instead and ended up on a Christian Clothing site - not quite the celebrity gossip fix I was looking for!

You can register the company name without trading as a registered company and having to submit annual accounts.  You can register it as a dormant company, whilst you trade as a soletrader, but it stops anyone else from registering it.  It costs about £40 and details/forms can be found on companies house (

Trademarking is also not as expensive or difficult as you would imagine.  I recently helped my mum trademark her company name (Make Do and Mend - amazingly no-one had trademarked it!). When you first start to look into it you come accross loads of companies and solicitors offering to register your trademark for you from £500 plus just for one class. However, if you visit the Intellectual Property Office's website you can register it yourself using 1 simple form and it costs £200 for one class and £50 for each additional class.

Through the site you can search the exisiting database to make sure no one has already trademarked your company name, you can get information on what class(es) to register your trademark under and help in completing your form. There is also a contact number you can use if you need any additional help. If you make any mistakes they do let you know and give you the option to change the class if they think another class is more relevant. Once done the trademark if yours for 10 years so its well worth the money. Particularily if you are using a name that you are worried someone else may use.  It took about 5 months from start to finish of the process but well worth doing.

The Intellectual Property Website also has plenty of information on how to patent an invention you have created, although patents can't be applied to 'artistic work' so that probably rules out most the people who read this blog!  They also have advice on Copyrights, which do apply to the content of your website and blog etc and your photos.

What many people do not realise is that Copyright is an automatic right - that means you do not have to register anywhere to copyright any of your images, articles etc.  The IPO advise that you indicate items as being copyright by using the © symbol and adding the year too where ever possible.  If you are particularily worried about something they advise you to send it to yourself by recorded delivery (so the date will be on it from the Royal Mail - and there will be an electronic log) and not opening it.

The IPO website also has information on Design Protection as per their definition:

'A registered design is a legal right which protects the overall visual appearance of a product in the geographical area you register it. The visual features that form the design include such things as the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture, materials and the ornamentation of the product which, when applied to the product, give it a unique appearance. You can also register a design showing the ornamentation alone e.g. a pattern to go on a product or a stylised logo.'

It costs £60 to register your design, if you register multiple designs each additional design costs £40.  The design will be registered for 5 years.  If you have several designs to protect then joining ACID (Anti Copying In Design) may prove to be more economic.  Their annual memebership starts at £125 per year for companies with a turnover of less than £50,000 and includes free legal advice and a free design data bank which provides independant evidential proof of the creation date of your designs. More details can be found on their site -

You may want to consider intellectual property insurance so if someone does breach your copyright/trademak or patent you will have cover for the legal costs involved in protecting your rights.  More information can be found here:  However as with all insurance make sure you read the small print, particularily the exclusions!

If you are worried about people using your images without permission you can use this free software to watermerk your images - Jet Photo

If you make products try to put your name/company name/logo somewhere on the product where it will be difficult to remove, to prevent others from passing it off as their own.  If you have designed something, bear in mind if you put a tutorial on your blog/facebook/forum etc telling people how it was made people are likely to make it and possibly try to sell it. 

Another thing to do is a regularily google the keywords for your site/products and keep and eye on what competitors are doing so you can see if they are ripping off your ideas.  Once way to do this is to set up Google alerts for your keywords and you will get an e-mail once a day notifying you of any usage of those words.  Obviously this would work well if you make something unique - purple stuffed frogs for instance - but not so well if you make something common like beaded jewellery.

Another good idea is to keep a check on the visitors to your site (Google analytics is a good way of doing this) as one person said they realised through their web stats that someone from had spent several hours on their site, going through every single page, they were in fact downloading their pictures to use on their own site!

There's also a very useful article on The Next Web website gibing you 5 ways to proect your work online.  Well worth a read: 

If anyone else has any hints and tips on protecting your ideas, or any useful links,  please post a comment below.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Win a sewing pattern of your choice

Patterns Galore!
This week site sponsors Abakhan Fabrics, Hobby and Home are offering 6 lucky winners a pattern of their choice, and believe me they have a HUGE range of patterns, for women, kids, home, pets, men etc.

In order to enter just have a look through Abakhan's patterns and let us know which one you would like to win.

You can tell us by commenting on our Facebook pages (Abakhan - Sewing Directory) or by e-mailing 

Terms and Conditions
Friends/family/employees of The Sewing Directory and Abakhan Fabrics, Hobby and Home are excluded. Only 1 entry per person. Prizes will only be posted within the UK. Winners will be selected using a random number generator. Should the winner's chosen pattern be out of stock we will contact you to select an alternative pattern. All entries must be received by 6pm on Tuesday 25th May 2010.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Quilts UK

We did a brief write up on our visit to Quilts UK on the site ( but there were just so many amazing quilts that caught our eye so we decide to show case a few of them here for you all to enjoy.  First of all though please let me say that it was hard to do justice to these quilts with just a photo, the depth of colours and intricacies of the designs were absolutely stunning!  If you didn't make it this time i'd strongly recommend visitinng the autumn show.
 Windmills of your mind

By Jenny Lester of Bristol

Winner of best use of colour

All Squared Up

By Melanie Plummer from Suffolk

 Celebrating The Blues

Melanie McGlynn from Somerset

Pirate Ahoy! Jennifer Harris from Gloucestershire

A Year in Tuscany by Ten plus one co-ordinated and assembled by Pauline Barnes

Geisha Dreams by Margaret Brett from Kent

Venice Journal Quilts by Frieda Oxenham from Peeblesshire

Summertime by Dorothy Sharman and Barbara Oborne            

Sashiko Gate By Dilys Fronks

Barbados Sunset by Patricia McLaughlin

Snapshots of My West Country by Maggie Howell from Dorset

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

New Competition - Win bundle of Fabrics plus bag pattern

This weel brilliant new fabric website Backstitch have kindly donated the prizes for this week's competition. Backstitch offer a great range of fabrics and patterns as well as fabric bundles perfect for quilting. They have kindly offered 2 bundles of fabric and 2 bag patterns as prizes.
In order to enter you need to follow either of us on Facebook, Twitter or our blogs (links below) and then let us know which bundle and bag pattern you would like to win.
We will be picking 1 lucky winner from people who reply on The Sewing Directory's Facebook, Twitter or Blog, plus 1 lucky winner from those who reply on Backstitch's Facebook, Twitter or blog. Each of those winners will get the bundle and bag pattern of their choice.

If you want more chance of winning then you can enter on both of ours, getting a maximum of 6 entries if you enter on all 3 methods for both companies.
How will winners be chosen?
All replies to Backstitch will be put into a spreadsheet; all replies to The Sewing Directory will be put into a separate spreadsheet. A random number generator will choose one lucky winner from each spreadsheet.

Terms and Conditions
Friends and family of The Sewing Directory and Backstitch are excluded. There will be a maximum of 6 entries per person. Only one prize per person, if someone happens to win both draws another winner will be drawn. You must be a follower in order to enter. Prizes will only be posted within the UK. All entries must be received by 6pm on Tuesday 18th May 2010.

Monday, 10 May 2010

New Customers

It has been a busy weekend, we have signed up lots of lovely new customers so we wanted to welcome them and let you all know a little more about them.  Click on the company name to see their listing.

Abakhan Fabrics – Abakhan Fabrics have just added their 7 stores to the site. They also sell online and stock a wide range of fabrics, patterns and accessories for fashion, home and crafts.

Dyane's Stitch in Time – Dyane offers a range of repairs and alternations at affordable prices, not just locally but by post too. She also runs kids sewing classes and makes EMF shielding clothing.

Handmade with Love – Patchwork and textile items, handmade with love. They specialise in baby memory quilts.

Ludlow Quilt and Sew – this useful site has patterns, projects and advice on quilting and sewing. A great reference site plus some brilliant patterns available for purchase.

Patch Fabrics and Haberdashery – An online shop for fun quilting fabrics, ribbons and trimmings.

Sew Curvy Corsetry – On online store selling corset kits and corsetry supplies.

Strap Trap – A clever invention that keeps bra straps concealed on strappy tops, wedding dresses etc

Suffolk Sewing School Club- Existing customer Suffolk Sewing School have just started up a sewing club aimed at World Cup widows!

The Cushion and Fabric Store – Quality fabrics and accessories for home furnishings. Coming soon – Cushion kits.

Tummetott Fabrics – Scandinavian jersey fabrics, great for kids clothing. Bright, colourful fun designs.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Craft Blog UK

I expect many of you bloggers out there will have heard about Craft Blog UK but for those of you who haven't please let me introduce you to this great site!  Craft Blog UK is a directory of craft blogs throughout the UK.  The blogs are split into categories such as Jewellery, sewing, art, photography and paper crafts to make it easy for people to find the type of blog they are looking for.

It is free to submit your blog and Craft blog UK help to promote your blog and find you new followers by Tweeting about the blogs on their directory, talking about them on Facebook and their own blog as well as regularily featuring feeds from the blogs on their site and interviewing a blogger each week too.
What's more they have now launched a great forum for bloggers to exchange tips, promote their blogs, tell people about their blog giveaways/competitions and ask for help and advice.  The forum has only just launched but i've already got several useful tips off there and regularily post details of our competitions.  It's a great resource for craft bloggers and is really helping to build a blogging community. 

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Fiskars Competition

Fiskars are the leading name in quality scissors. They are so confident in the quality they offer a lifetime guarantee for all their scissors.

Fiskars have kindly offered a pair of pinking shears each to 2 lucky winners in this week's competition. The pinking shears are worth £29.99 each.

In order to win one of the pinking shears you need to answer the question below and e-mail the answer, your name and address to:

Question: In what year was Fiskars founded?
Have look through the Fiskars website - to find the answer.

Terms & Conditions
All entries to be sent to and must be received by 7pm on Tuesday 11th May 2010. Friends and family of The Sewing Directory are excluded. One entry per person. Prizes will only be shipped to a UK address. Any entries from forums posting the competition response will be excluded. Companies donate prizes in exchange for traffic to their site, the aforementioned forums defeat that object and therefore those respondents will not be eligible to enter the draw.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Focus on.....

Focus On...Dyane's Stitch in Time

With the great domain name of Dyane offers a repair and alteration service, not just to locals by post to anywhere in the country. As well as offering standard repairs and alterations (lengthening and shortening, adding zips) she offers a unique range of EMF shielding clothing. EMF clothing offers screening from Electro Magnetic Fields for people who suffer sensitivity to EMF fields.

Dyane also offers a hugely popular kids sewing class, which is currently oversubscribed. However, she is looking to introduce more classes at the end of the month. She follows the tried and tested Stitch Club curriculum.

An EMF Blouse

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Dying to Dye

Dying fabrics:

A few days ago I was lucky enough to win 5 dyes of my choice from Dylon in a contest they were running through their Facebook group. I have to admit that I have not used dyes before. I recall having bought one during my university days with the intention of dying a few fading clothes, but never got around to it.

So I got to thinking about dyes, how do they work and what could I use my winning dyes for. So I decided to research dyes and share the information with you through my blog. Plus i’d appreciate any tips that you’d like to leave in the comments!

So from my research this is what I have gathered as dye basics:

-Commercial dyes work best on natural fibres. Cotton, linen & viscose take dye well and should turn to the full colour on the packet.

-Synthetics such as polyester and nylon do not take dye well, they require disperse dyes.

-Wool and silk can be dyed but should be done by hand and not by machine.

-The paler the fabric the better the results

-Black dye can be used to re-darken faded blacks

-You can’t dye anything white

-Stains don‘t disappear when you when you dye things. Because it starts out a different colour than the rest of the fabric it tends to end up a different colour too.

-If you dye patterned fabrics you can see the pattern through the dyed fabric.

-You should clean fabrics before you dye them.

-Polyester thread will retain its original colour

-You create the tie-dye effect by stopping the dye from reaching certain parts of the fabric, by tying the fabric with string, rubber bands etc.

-You can remove dyes by bleaching fabrics.

-Types of dying include immersion, tie-dye, batik, drip-dye and LWI

I opted for machine dyes, but still haven’t quite decided what to do with them. Please feel free to make suggestions...

Plus Dylon will be contributing articles to the site so keep posted for some great projects and ideas from them.
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