Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Quilter's Diary Giveaway

Quilting Diary Giveaway

David & Charles are kindly giving away 5 copies of their 2011 Quilter’s Desk Diary produced in association with the Festival of Quilts this week by week diary features pictures of over 50 quilts by world renowned quilt designers.

To win one of these great diaries worth £9.99 each please tell us what your favourite patchwork or quilting book is from the RU Craft website:


You can either send your response using our competition entry form or by commenting on our blog/facebook/twitter pages.

Terms and conditions

Staff or their family members of David & Charles or The Sewing Directory are not permitted to enter. Only one entry allowed per person. Winners will be drawn using a random number generator. Prizes can only be shipped to an address within the UK. All entries to be received by 6pm on Tuesday 7th of September.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Focus on.....

Focus on..... Just Sew

Based in Brighton Just Sew offer a range of sewing classes for all ages and abilities. With classes running at different times of day there is something to suit everyone’s timetable and abilities.

The kid’s sewing classes cost only £10 per session and are for children aged over 8. Kids can learn both hand sewing and machine sewing whilst creating fun things like sock animals and soft toys. Teenage classes teach practical sewing skills mixed with creative exploration with an aim to develop problem solving skills. Teenagers leave proud to have created their own bag, skirt, cushion covers or toys.

Adult classes include free machine embroidery, patchwork and quilting, pattern cutting and weekly stitchclub (learn to sew) classes. Their creative workshop space is also perfect for adults or children wanting to host a sewing party.

Conveniently they also own the Brighton Sewing Centre right across the road so it’s easy to pick up the supplies or accessories you need for your class. To find more information about Just Sew and their classes please visit http://www.justsewbrighton.co.uk/

Thursday, 26 August 2010

I is for Interfacing

I is for interfacing

Interfacing is an additional layer applied to the inside of garments, in certain areas only, to add firmness, shape, structure, and support to areas such as collars, cuffs, waistbands and pockets; and to stabilise areas such as shoulder seams or necklines, which might otherwise hang limply.

Interfacings come in two main types (fusible or sew-in), three main weaves (non-woven, woven and knit), and in different weights (light, medium, heavy weight). If you are using a pattern, it will normally indicate what type of interfacing you need.

When you buy interfacing, you need to decide:

• should you buy sew-in or fusible interfacing?

• do you need woven, non-woven or knit interfacing?

• what weight of interfacing should you buy (light weight, medium weight, heavy weight)?

• which colour interfacing is most appropriate?

Image from So Happy blog http://sohappytosew.blogspot.com/  

Sew-in or fusible interfacing?

Fusible interfacing is by far the easiest to use. It has an adhesive on one side which bonds permanently with the fabric when applied with an iron. It is suitable for most uses, but avoid it for:

• very textured fabrics – the glue won’t bond well to the fabric

• napped fabrics (e.g. velvet / fur) – the pressing needed to bond the adhesive will crush the fabric

• fabrics that are very heat sensitive – e.g. sequins, metallics, vinyl fabrics (the heat can melt or distort the fabric)

• fabrics with a very loose or open weave e.g. lace, mesh (the glue may seap through to the right side of the fabric)

For these types of fabrics, sew-in interfacing is more suitable. Sew-in interfacing is sewn on to the main fabric just like another normal layer of fabric. It can also result in a more natural shaping and drape as there is less “stiffness” to it.

Whether to use sew-in or fusible interfacing can make subtle changes to the drape of a garment. For most beginner sewing projects, you will be absolutely fine with fusible interfacing; in fact I don’t really recommend using sew-in interfacing until you are really comfortable handling multiple layers of fabric on the sewing machine. Badly sewn in interfacing can really affect the shaping of the garment and give it a poor finish, so unless you’re feeling super confident, and / or your sewing pattern or fabric demands otherwise, stick to the fusible interfacing.

Non-woven, woven or knit interfacing

Non-woven interfacing is made by bonding fibres together and therefore has no grain. You can cut it in any direction, and it will not ravel, so it is particularly easy to use, and is suitable for most uses (except stretch fabrics – see knit interfacing).

Woven interfacing, like woven fabric, has a lengthwise and crosswise grain. When you cut woven interfacing, be sure to match the grain of the interfacing with the grain of the part of the garment to be interfaced, to make sure the two layers of fabric work together properly. Because of the need to match the grainline, it is less economical than non-woven interfacing, which can be cut in any direction.

Knit interfacing is made by knitting the fibres together, and so it has an amount of stretch in it. Knit interfacing is especially suitable for use with jerseys and other stretch fabrics as it will stretch with the garment and not hinder it (if you apply woven interfacing to a knit fabric, you reduce the fabric’s stretch properties as the interfacing layer is unable to stretch with the outer fabric layer). It can be quite hard to find online but you can find it here in my shop.

The decision as to whether to buy woven, non-woven or knit interfacing is usually dictated by the pattern and / or type of fabric you are using. As a general rule, non-woven interfacing is suitable for most tasks unless you are sewing with a jersey of stretch fabric in which case knit interfacing is appropriate. You only really need to consider woven interfacing for particularly fine fabrics such as sheers and silks, where a very natural shaping is essential to preserve the qualities of the fabric.

Choosing the weight of the interfacing

The weight of the interfacing should generally be the same as the fabric, or a bit lighter. Generally you should NOT use a heavier weight interfacing than the fabric, as the interfacing will ‘dominate’ the garment and add an unnatural structure to it. So for medium weight fabrics, use medium weight interfacing. For medium weight knit fabrics, use medium weight knit interfacing. As a general rule, if you try and match the properties of the fabric to the properties of the interfacing, you can’t go far wrong – for very sheer or lightweight fabrics, you can even use a second layer of the main fabric as a form of sew-in interfacing!

Colours & Interfacing

Interfacings generally only come in a dark shade (black / charcoal) or a light shade (white / cream). Simply match up the darkness of the interfacing with the shade of the fabric.

Even though it is applied to the inside of a garment, do not use dark interfacing on light fabrics as the dark may show through (and vice versa), especially if the main fabric is loosely woven. The effect is a bit like wearing a white bra with a black top!

How to apply fusible interfacing.

You can find a tutorial on how to apply fusible interfacing here, on the Sewbox blog.

This article was brought to you by Leah Taylor at Sewbox http://www.sewbox.co.uk/. Sewbox is an online sewing boutique for the stylish sewer, stocking Hot Patterns, Colette Patterns, Serendipity Studio, Kwik Sew, John Kaldor fabrics, handmade ceramic buttons, and more – they will be stocking Liberty fabrics including Liberty printed jerseys from September.

Sewing Machine Giveaway!

Site sponsors The Sewing Machine Shop have kindly donated a Frister Rossmann Cub TL sewing machine worth £200 as this week's prize. If you'd like to show your appreciation to them please become a fan of their Facebook page here.
Anyway i'm sure you'd like to know how to enter to win the machine. We decided to do a sewing twist on an old favourite....

Guess the number of pins in the jar!

We've have put pictures of the jar below, it is a 454ml jam jar, 15cm high and 20cm circumference. I've also pictured it next to some other items to help you get an idea of the size so you can make an educated guess...how many of you will be filling jam jars with pins later?

There is a mixture of pins; mainly glass headed ones but some safety pins and some fine dressmaking pins. We will put more images on Facebook to you can see them in more detail.  Plus there's more images on the news section of our website.
To enter please either send your answer through our entry form or comment here on our Blog or on Facebook or Twitter. Just one guess allowed per person.

The winner will be the closest guess; in the event of there being more one winner a winner will be chosen at random (by my 2 year old picking names out of a hat!).

Terms & Conditions

Employees of The Sewing Directory and their families are not permitted to enter. Only one entry allowed per person, multiple entries will lead to disqualification. All entries must be received by Tuesday 31st August. The sewing machine can only be posted within the UK, you can enter from outside of the UK so long as someone in the UK will receive the machine for you.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Focus on.....

Focus On....Viva La Frida

Viva La Frida are Mexican oilcloth specialists with the largest range available in the UK. Mexican Oilcloth is a durable, flexible, vinyl-coated fabric (also known as pvc fabric). It is stain resistant, 100% waterproof which makes it ideal for things such as bags, outdoor furniture, table cloths, make up bags etc.

Many of their designs are based on the original Mexican 1940’s-1950’s patterns so can bring a great vintage touch to your project. They have also just started stocking Chalk Cloth, which has the properties of oilcloth (durable, waterproof etc) but has a black matt finish so you can write on it with chalk.

If you would rather buy a readymade oilcloth bag they also have a range of these on their site: http://www.vivalafrida.co.uk/

Thursday, 19 August 2010

H for Hem

H is for Hem

Sooner or later, no matter if you’re constructing a ball gown from scratch, running up some curtains, shortening a skirt or pair of trousers, or doing some running repairs, at some point you will need to tackle a hem or two. This is one area where it really is worth spending some time to get it right - the ultimate irony is that if it is done well no-one will notice it, except you.

Prepare and measure

Top Tip: Put on the right bra and shoes

A garment will hang differently with a body in it (instead of being on a hanger) so measure and mark the hem while the garment is being worn with the underwear and shoes you will be wearing it with.

You’ll need a helper to do this but this link shows how you can mark a hem using a table if help isn’t at hand! http://www.digitalchangeling.com/sewing/howTo/hems.html

How do you know which hem to use? For each different fabric and situation there is a hemming solution

Stealth hems

Image taken from http://www.craftstylish.com/
We’ve become very used to seeing hems done with top stitching but what if you’re after that clean finished crisp look without a visible line of stitches that hints of a luxuriously expensive finish? There are loads of options for “blind” or “invisible” hems.

• Blind hem stitch by machine – great for skirts, dresses and curtains. http://www.craftstylish.com/item/11306/how-to-sew-a-machine-blindstitch-hem

Top Tip: My mum swears by invisible nylon thread to make the stitches extra secret when she is hemming curtains, but for clothing hems I prefer to match the thread to the fabric, more comfy and less stiff.

• Herringbone hems by hand – I don’t think you can beat a nice herringbone stitch done by hand for hems (well that is what my Mum told me and she is ALWAYS right!). If you didn’t have the good fortune to be shown it by my Mum, herringbone stitch and other excellent hand stitches for hems are excellently explained here http://sewfordough.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/hand-sew-a-hem/

Top Tip: If you want to REALLY camouflage the stitches when you’re sewing by hand: go vertically instead of horizontally when you take the stitch through the main body of the skirt – your stitch will blend in with the vertical warp threads in the fabric. It stops the weight of the hem pulling down on the hem stitches and making little hollows where the stitches go across several of the warp threads.

Top Tip: If you’re making your own skirt or dress and want full out luxury and no stitches on the outside at all then underlining is the way to go. When you sew the hem by hand, just catch the stitches in the underlining layer.

Rolled Hems

Rolled hems are the answer for really fine, sheer or slippery fabric e.g. lingerie

Image from www.colettepatterns.com/blog

• By machine with a rolled hem foot – YouTube is not quite as lovely as your dear old Gran but it is also great for sewing tips http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFwD5xBsTvQ

• By machine – straight stitch

• By machine – zig zag


• for sheer fabric that is driving you wild


Circular, flared or tapered hems

• For circular skirts the key is to make the hem as narrow as possible, or to use bias tape which will curve around the edge, but the very first thing to do is to let the skirt hang for as long as possible – at least overnight – to give the fabric chance to relax. http://www.costumegoddess.com/tips/circlehem.htm

• When the garment is flared or tapered you will either have too much or too little fabric for a simple turn and stitch type hem. Here is how to deal with these hems without losing any hair in the process



• Bias trim is great for curved or tapered hems


These are two books to help with hems, they’re good for all sorts of tips and techniques and seldom get as far as the bookshelf because they are just too useful to put away.

• The Reader’s Digest “New Complete Guide to Sewing” has a particularly fine section on hems.

• “The Dressmaker's Technique Bible” by Lorna Knight

Let’s hear it for the humble hem!

This post was provided by Tracy Cushing, sewing enthusiast.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Search Press Competition

Search Press

To celebrate their 40th birthday Search Press are kindly providing £40 of books of the winners choice as a prize this week.  Search Press is the leading art and craft publisher in the UK specialising in fine art, textiles, general crafts and children’s crafts.  They have a great range of sewing and textile related books which can be viewed on their site: http://www.searchpress.co.uk/

In order to enter this week please send the answer to the question below to enquiries@searchpress.com

How many books are found when you type sewing into the quick search facility on the Search Press website?

Terms & conditions
Staff of Search Press are not permitted to enter to competition.  Only one entry per person, multiple entries will be disqualified.  Prizes will only be posted within the UK.  All entries to be received by 6pm on Tuesday 24th August.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Focus on.....

Focus on... Darn it & Stitch

Amazingly Darn It and Stitch is Oxford’s only haberdashery. Newly launched they stock a range of haberdashery, fabrics, buttons, ribbons and yarns. They also offer a range of handcrafted products by local products.

Darn It and Stitch started off as a stall in Oxford’s antique and craft market and the stall proved such a success it lead to them opening this shop. One of our customers who popped in there recently described it as ‘sort of shop that all of us crafty types dream of owning’.

If you don’t already know how to sew or knit do not worry, they are introducing a range of classes and groups to help you learn. Upcoming classes include corset making (with another of our customers Sew Curvy), patchwork for beginners, crochet for beginners, sock knitting and beginners lace.

More details can be found on their website: http://www.darnitandstitch.com/

Thursday, 12 August 2010

G is for Gathering

G is for Gathering

Gathering is a way of reducing a length of fabric along threads to create a shorter length of fabric with soft folds. Gathered fabric creates fullness, essential for creating a 3D element in clothing. Gathering can look soft and draped, or crisp and folded depending on the fabric used. Its many uses include not only clothing, but soft furnishings and many small projects. Gathering is often used at waistbands on skirts, cuffs and on the headers of curtains.

To illustrate some uses of gathering here are some costumes I’ve made.

This empire line dress to the right was gathered over the sleeve head and sleeve cuff, creating a “balloon” like shape. The back of the waistline between the side seams is gathered creating a full skirt at the back, whilst the front remains flat.

< These fun “80’s” skirts from “Godspell” are gathered all the way around the waist, giving them a very full hem, and a small neat waistline.

The skirt on this dress is actually 5 layers of super fine chiffon individually gathered onto the satin bodice. Using many layers of gathered panels on top of one another created a lovely depth at the hem, but was very time consuming!

The simplest way to gather is by hand using a running stitch set within the seam allowance. Gathering by hand is time consuming and is suitable for small projects only. A quick and fun project is to make a Yo-Yo. Use a running stitch around the circumference of around piece of fabric starting with a backstitch which will stop the thread from being pulled out. Once the stitches are in place, pull the thread and begin moving the fabric along it creating little folds.
Keep pulling and sliding the folds along until the outer circumference has turned inwards and created a small hole. Finish off with a small backstitch hidden into one of the folds. If you don’t finish off your end, the gathers will unravel! In historical costumes these were called ‘suffolk puffs’ and were used to add texture on sleeves and the front of skirts.
Gathering on a sewing machine is quicker than by hand, and gives a much more even result. Using the longest stitch on your machine stitch a straight line just inside your seam allowance. Stitch a second parallel row closer into the seam allowance. Pull the bobbin thread through to the right side at one end. Secure this end by either knotting the 4 threads together or wrapping around a pin in a figure of 8.

Working on the right side,pull the threads carefully, sliding the gathers along until your fabric is shortened to the desired length. being seamed to, and pin the ends. Before knotting off the open threads, ensure that the gathers are evenly spread out, and that it fits.

Another quick way to gather is to zig zag over a type of cord called gimping cord. The cord is then pulled to create the gathers, not the threads. This type of gathering is useful when gathering lots of fabrics, like wide curtains. However the gathers don’t sit as neatly, and it requires very good sewing machine skills.

Fabric is usually gathered to about a half/ third of the original length. This will depend however on the effect you wish to achieve and your choice of fabrics. Heavy fabrics won’t gather into as small an area as fine fabrics. If gathering very long sections of fabrics, it’s best to divide it up into smaller sections to ensure your thread doesn’t break. I usually divide up into quarters.

This post has been provided by The Thrifty Stitcher.  The Thrifty Stitcher offer a range of sewing classes for all levels of skill. Find out more by visiting their site: http://www.thethriftystitcher.co.uk/  

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Gone To Earth Competition

Gone To Earth

We have yet another great prize this week 3 x £20 vouchers for Gone To Earth. Gone To Earth offer a great range of quilting and sewing fabrics.

In order to enter this week’s competition please answer the question below:

Who is your favourite fabric designer on the site?

As usual you can enter using the entry form, by e-mail or through on this blog, Twitter or Facebook.

Terms and conditions:

Family/employees of The Sewing Directory and Gone To Earth are excluded. Only 1 entry per person. This competition is open worldwide but bear in mind shipping needs to be paid with from the voucher amount. All entries must be received by 6pm on Tuesday 17th August 2010.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Focus on.....

Focus On....Habbydays

Habbydays is a newly launched online haberdashery. They stock a range of supplies and accessories for all types of crafting including sewing, jewellery kits, embellishing, knitting, toy making and more.

As well as selling supplies they also offer kits with everything you need to make the final product, for things such as cross stitch, needlework, toy making and jewellery making. They have just launched so are still adding new products on a regular basis so if you don’t see what you want now it is worth checking back in a week or two to see what has been added.
You can find Habbydays on Twitter http://twitter.com/habbydays and they have just started up a blog: http://craftylittlething.wordpress.com/  plus of course their website is http://www.habbydays.com/.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

F for Felt

F is for Felt

To start the definition of felt is:

“A fabric of matted, compressed animal fibers, such as wool or fur, sometimes mixed with vegetable or synthetic fibers.”

This makes felt a very soft and non fraying material to work with along with being available in over 70 colours from some suppliers.

Felt is generally sold in 30% wool and 70% synthetic and this is the minimum percentage otherwise the felt would simply fall apart.  Felt can be used for many projects as it allows you to cut out exactly what shape you want and does not require the edge of the felt to be hemmed or finished in any way.

You can also make your own felt from 100% wool jumpers in your washing machine at a high temperature wash which is known as fulling. This then allows you to cut the wool item up and use it like normal felt.

Below is a quick and basic tutorial on how to make a little felt doughnut brooch using felt from http://www.handmadebybutton.com/ along with standard embroidery threads, small brads and a brooch back.

Felt doughnut/donut brooch.

1. Draw on paper and cut out the below shapes. I have decided to make a hole doughnut so have cut x2 pastry colour circles with holes in middle. I then cut out x1 white circle, cut the hole out the middle and then cut wavy around the edge for the icing.

2. Place your white icing on top of one pastry colour circle, sew in x1 strand of white thread around the white outline.

3. Then insert your little brads for the sprinkles, alternatively use x2 strands of coloured thread to make sprinkles.
4. Sew your brooch onto the other pastry coloured felt circle using about 2-3 threads to make sure it is secure.

5. Place your front and back piece together and sew in matching thread with x1 strand around the outside to secure both pieces together.

6. Congratulations you have just made yourself a cute little doughnut brooch. Now use your imagination and create your own designs and turn your ideas into felt items. Have fun!

The Letter F and tutorial brought to you by Amanda from Handmade By Button which offers great craft supplies including felt.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Korbond Giveaway

Korbond Giveaway

We have 2 of Korbond's great sewing kits to giveaway this week.

These sewing kits consist of all the essentials including: dressmaking scissors, pinking shears, pins, 6 threads, 10 sewing machine needles, 6 bobbins, 12 household needles, tape measure, tailors chalk and a sewing machine servicing kit. The kits are worth £80 each.

In order to enter you need to answer one simple question:

What are the five items on Korbond's Back To School shopping list?

You can find the answer on their website: http://www.korbond.co.uk/ and full details of how to enter can be found here: http://www.thesewingdirectory.co.uk/news/

Monday, 2 August 2010

Focus on.....

Focus on.....Stone Fabrics

Stone Fabrics stock a huge range of dress making fabrics including Linen, Wool, Silk, Cotton, Jersey, Tweed, Bouclé, Suiting, Chiffon, Georgette and Velvet. Their news letter is a great source of information on not only current trends but about the fabrics themselves and how to use them and care for them. You will find a copy of their current news letter on the info page.

Their useful catwalk section shows you items that have been made from their fabrics giving you inspiration as to what to make and helping you see which fabrics work well with which designs. They tell you which fabrics were used and the price per meter as well as which pattern was used (where relevant). They encourage their customer to send in photos of what they’ve made to put on the site and make them stars.

Another great service they offer is their Cloth Club. Customers of this swatch club get a minimum of 30 samples (approx 4’’ squares) of the shop’s favourite fabrics sent out 4 times a year. This is to help you discover fabrics you may not have necessarily considered before.

Their store is based in Totnes in Devon but they do offer a mail order service nationwide. Just browse their site http://www.stonefabrics.co.uk/ and give them a call, fax or e-mail to place your order.
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