Sunday, 28 November 2010

Focus on.....The Button Company

Focus on...The Button Company

The Button Company’s website is a heaven for all button lovers. They buttons in every size, shape and colour that you could imagine! You can search by colour to buy a bag of buttons (in varying sizes from 100g-500g) jam packed with different shaped buttons in varying shades of that colour. You can also purchase themed bags too such as Pastel Palette, Winter Wonderland or Peacock Feather (pictured).

What’s more The Button Company now stock a huge range of Hemingworth threads in such a wide range of colours that you should be able to find one to match every button.

If you really love buttons why not join their button club to be sent a quarterly button treat surprise, a great way to build your collection. You can visit The button Company website here: and why not check out their sister site for a range of stunning Japanese and retro fabrics.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

V for Velcro

V for Velcro

Image from
Velcro is a brand name of fabric hook-and-loop fasteners wich consists of two layers: a "hook" side, which is a piece of fabric covered with tiny hooks, and a "loop" side, which is covered with even smaller and "hairier" loops. When the two sides are pressed together, the hooks catch in the loops and hold the pieces together. When the layers are separated, the strips make a characteristic "ripping" sound.

Velcro hook and loop fasteners are typically made of Nylon and polyester but the ones used on space shuttles are actually made of Teflon loops and polyester hooks, for extra strength.

There's a very interesting story about how Velcro was invented: it's 1941 and a man called George de Mestral returns from a hunting trip with his dog, he realizes his clothes and the dog's fur are full of burdock burrs (seeds) he was curious as to how they kept sticking to things all the time so he examined the seeds under a microscope and noted hundreds of "hooks" that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair. So he saw the possibility of binding two materials reversibly in a simple fashion, if he could figure out how to duplicate the hooks and loops.

George de Mestral
Image from

It took ten years to create a mechanized process that worked and finally he patented it in 1955. The name "Velcro", was taken from two French words velours (velvet) and crochet (hook). The term Velcro is a registered trademark in most countries, but the brand name has become the generic term. They're also known as touch fastener or magig zipper. Velcro is strong enough that a two inch square piece is enough to support a 175 pounds (79 kg) person!

One of the many good things about Velcro is that it is very easy to use, specially for kids and the elderly. There is only a minimal decline in effectiveness even after many fastening and unfastening. The bad thing is that it tends to accumulate hair, dust, and fur in its hooks after a few months of regular use. It often becomes attached to articles of clothing, especially loosely woven items like sweaters. Additionally, the tearing noise made by unfastening Velcro makes it inappropriate or annoying. It also absorbs moisture and perspiration when worn next to the skin, which means it will smell if not washed.

Velcro can be glued or sewed to fabric. It comes in different sizes and colors and it can be bought by the yard. When sewing it I recommend using a quilting pressing foot on your machine so every piece remains steady. You can also add a small amount of fabric glue to hold it in place while sewing, but you have to let it dry first and be careful the glue doesn't bleed or stain your fabric. Choose a thread that’s the same color as your velcro.

It's not necessary to use too much, if you're working with a long area of fabric, like a jacket closure, you can stitch an inch of velcro every few inches away (like you would do buttons) and it will be enough to hold both pieces together.

Other cool and easy things you can do with velcro:

* Cut a 3-5 inch strip of velcro, turn it inside out (loops on one side hooks on the other) and sew them together, you can use it to organize cables and wires.

* Cut small squares of velcro loops and glue to a work surface, then glue the hook sides to your utensils to keep them in place and always handy. My brother did this on his car to keep the remote control for the garage always at hand. Adhesive velcro is very easy to find.

* Wrap some strips of velcro hooks around your hand and use it as a hair comb for your cat or dog.
This post was written by Venezuelean fashion designer Laura Plenzik

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Clothkits Competition

Clothkits Competition

As we’re sure you all know Clothkits is the home of great sew-your-own clothing kits as well as stocking fabrics and haberdashery supplies. Many of us grew up wearing Clothkits clothing and now thanks to new owner Kay Mawer’s revitalisation of the brand we can now wear them again, or make them for our children/grandchildren.

Clothkits are offering one lucky winner the chance to win their choice of kits from the website. In order to enter you just need to tell us:

Which of Clothkits fabulous kits would you like to win?

You can view all their kits by visiting

All entries need to be sent through our competition entry form here and please note that by entering you are agreeing to receive the Clothkits newsletter & catalogue which gives you details of new products, special offers, events and news.

Terms & conditions

Employees of The Sewing Directory or Clothkits and their family members are not permitted to enter. Only 1 entry allowed per person. The winner will be determined using a random number generator. All entries to be received by 6pm on 30/11/2010. By entering this competition you are consenting to us passing your details to Clothkits to send you their newsletter and catalogue. Prizes can only be shipped within the UK & Ireland.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Focus on.....

Focus on....Roz Designs

Roz Designs are London based sewing tutors who offer dress making and pattern cutting courses. They primarily focus on helping you learn how to make perfect fitting clothes, whether that means drafting your own patterns or learning how to adapt commercial patterns to your measurements. However they also run courses in Patchwork & Quilting; Embroidery; Fabric Dyeing & Printing; Making Strapless Tops & Corsets; Making Bags & Bowls; Making Christmas Decorations; Making Christmas Stockings.

Not only does Roz teach dressmaking but she also offers a dressmaking service for special occasion clothing such as bridal wear or prom dresses. She can also alter your existing clothing to make it fit better too.

In final string to their bow Roz Designs also offer fabric dyeing and painting services along with a regular range of dyed and painted fabrics.

To find out more about any of the above please visit their website:

Thursday, 18 November 2010

U for Underwear

U is for Underwear

Unaware that you could make your own underwear?! Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Decide what you like - everyone has their favourite pair of pants.
  • What do you need? - Do you have different dresses and tops that require different bras?
  • Comfort - Are you after some lovely underwear that is made to fit YOU and therefore the most comfortable?
  • Style - Do you want the fanciest underwear around, but can’t afford it?

When you know what you want you then need a pattern and there are a number of ways to go about getting one. As I am a trained pattern cutter, I drafted my own pants block. The book I used was Lingerie & Swimwear Pattern Cutting by Ann Haggar. You should only buy and use this book if you are trained in pattern cutting or are about to learn!

Fabric shops will have their own range of underwear patterns and online there are many free tutorials that often advise cutting up your old pants and drawing round them. Here is a useful link:

One particular tutorial uses a combination of two different pairs, see this link:

Image by Graham Brown
This is a great idea, as when I started making pants I wanted to combine certain aspects from different pairs that I owned.

A lingerie-making book is very useful and a good place to start is Sewing Lingerie by Linda Neubauer. As with many lingerie books, it is dated, containing lots of eighties/nineties looking styles and pictures - use it for the basics. The most helpful part concerned attaching a gusset in a non-stretch pair of pants, which is done by folding and encasing the front and back pattern pieces so that all the seams are on the inside.

A recent book which looks very promising is Sweet Nothings: Sew Your Own Camis, Undies

and Other Lingerie by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader, which received a good review in issue 22 of Sew Hip magazine.

Soft-cup bras can be made fairly easily with narrow elastic at the cups and wide elastic for the under-bust band. Simple jersey bras can be made with the use of fold over elastic (FOE). This beautiful pattern can be found in online shops:

For those of you brave enough to venture into the world of under-wired bras, this is a helpful tutorial if you want to go there without a pattern:

Techniques and Tips:

• It is important to make sure the elastic is smaller than your pattern piece and to stretch it to fit as you sew.

• Another great technique is French seams. This enables you to use very delicate fabrics that fray easily, as the raw edges are tucked away to prevent this from happening. Here’s a how-to link:

• For sewing jersey briefs and shorts an overlocker is ideal and easy but it can be achieved with a normal sewing machine. Some sewing machines have overlock/coverlock stitches on them, which gives a more professional-looking finish. Even then, using a stretch straight stitch you can make simple jersey pants. My favourite way to do this is cut them out from an old t-shirt.

• Embellishing your underwear with buttons and ribbons can really make them special and a treat to wear.

This blog post is very thorough and collects together many other useful posts.

Of course, there are many other items of underwear than I haven’t featured here; it’s up to you how far you want to take it...

For ideas, inspiration and where to go if you just can’t make your own:

Any other questions I’m happy to help with on my Facebook page ‘Kerrie Curzon Creations’.

This post was provided by Kerrie Cuzon, maker of beautiful handmade underwear.  For more info please see her website:  

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Korbond Competition

Korbond Competition

We have 2 of Korbond’s great sewing kits to giveaway this week. They would make an ideal Christmas present for someone who sews or wants to learn, they are a great starter kit.

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:

Name 3 of the stores you can purchase Korbond product from.

You can find the answer on their website:

Please send your answer and the following information to




Do you currently use Korbond products?

Are you happy to receive details of new Korbond products & competitions?
Terms & Conditions:

All entries are to be received by 6pm on 23rd November 2010. Prize will only be shipped to a UK address. The competition is not open to Korbond employees or their families. Only one entry per person allowed. Please note that all details are being sent direct to Korbond so by entering you are consenting to Korbond having your contact details, there is an option to opt out of future marketing.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Focus on.....

Focus on....Annette's Allsorts

If you are looking for a unique handmade gift then Annette’s Allsorts is the place to go. Items on their site include bunting, cushions, doorstops, scented hearts, notice boards, lamps and much more. We just love this adorable Shabby Chic Scotty Dog notice board priced at just £10.

They also offer a personalisation service to make that gift extra special for the recipient, names and dates can be added at no extra cost. They can make personalised wedding gifts with the bride and groom’s names on including bunting, a ring cushion or hand embroidered heart favours.

Items can be purchased through their website: and why follow their blog to be kept updated with their latest products and news:  

Thursday, 11 November 2010

T is for Thread

T is for Thread

There are so many different types of sewing, as we have already seen in this A-Z. But regardless of the type, whether it be applique, quilting, dressmaking or something else, you won't get very far without thread! There are so many different types of thread that it can be quite confusing picking the right one for your project.

Jenny's Thread Collection from Flickr by Scrappy Annie
Generally, you want your thread to have the same or similar fibre content to the fabric you are sewing, so that it will behave in a similar way (especially when washed). For example, if you're sewing silk, it's best to use silk thread.

Here is a run-down of the most common types of thread:

GENERAL PURPOSE THREAD (also known as polyester-wrapped cotton)

For the majority of cotton or polyester based sewing projects, a good general purpose thread is ideal. Most general purpose threads are polyester-covered cotton, which combines the positive properties of cotton (e.g. it's strength) with those of polyester (e.g. its flexibility). This type of thread has some elasticity and is therefore also ideal for sewing with knits.


Mercerised cotton (also known as perle cotton) has been treated to make the thread smoother, lustrous and stronger. It is often used to produce fine crochet; but can be used for sewing cotton, linen or viscose fabrics. However it does not have any stretch and should not be used for knits, as the stitches may break.


This is a strong, thick thread, ideal for (you guessed it) top-stitching - the thickness makes the sewn line look very nice. Because of its sturdiness it can also be used for sewing buttons, or for general decorative stitching. Topstitching thread is normally available in polyester, cotton or silk, and with a variety of finishes. You can really experiment with the type of topstitching thread you use, to add a touch of uniqueness to your sewing.


Metallic threads are decorative threads with a shimmery metallic finish. They are available in a variety of weights and can be used to embellish your sewing projects and for great decorative effect.


DMC Threads by ButterSweet on Flickr
Machine embroidery thread is very fine to allow for dense stitching, and is smoother and glossier than normal general-purpose thread. It is used in conjunction with bobbin fill thread.


This is a very fine thread used only in the bobbin, when doing machine embroidery. Machine embroidery can result in very dense stitching and bobbin fill thread reduces the bulk on the underside of the fabric being embroidered.


Is used for hand embroidery and sold in 'skeins'. Each skein usually consists of six strands of thread twisted together, which can be taken apart to vary the thickness of the thread.


Is very easy to break thread, designed for tacking and transferring markings from pattern to fabric. It is great for temporarily marking or stitching fabric as it can be easily removed - it breaks very easily and can be torn by hand. Because of this, it isn't really suitable for anything other than tacking.


This thread is a strong cotton or polyester/cotton thread, designed for quilting by hand. It has a wax finish which helps prevent tangling or knotting when sewing through several layers of fabric.


Is transparent and used when you want the stitches to be invisible, e.g. when stitching some hems. It is quite difficult to use and it can be difficult to tie the ends off.


Is elasticated and is used in the bobbin for shirring (i.e. to create smocking and similar effects).

There are probably lots of other types of thread that I have missed out. If you're not sure if you have the right type of thread, why not try it out on a scrap of fabric? And remember, rules are there to be broken, so don't be afraid to experiment and see what happens!

This post was bought to you by Sewbox - the online supplier of fabric, patterns and haberdashery plus all in one kits with everything you need to make the featured item of clothing.  Visit their site here:

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Clothaholics Competition

Clothaholics Competition

Clothaholics sell a great range of Japanese fabrics including Kimono fabrics and Genshodo fabrics. Their stunning kimono fabrics can be purchased by the metre with prices starting at just £3 a metre. Genshodo fabrics are indigo dyed cotton fabrics woven in Japan and screen printed by hand. Clothaholics are the only UK & European stockist of Genshodo fabrics.

Alternatively you can purchase their scrap bags for just £6, a great way to try out Kimono fabrics, ideal of small projects or quilts. Clothaholics are giving away 4 of these scrap bags to this week's lucky winners.

In order to enter this week's competition we want to know:

Which of the fabulous Genshodo Fabrics is your favourite?

You will find the Clothaholics website here:

You can enter using our competition entry form or by commenting on Facebook, Twitter or here on our blog.

Terms & Conditions

Employees of The Sewing Directory or Clothaholics and their family members are not permitted to enter. Only 1 entry allowed per person. Winners will be determined using a random number generator. If you enter on Facebook/Twitter/blogger you need to send your address through within 2 weeks of the draw being done or another winner will be drawn. All entries to be received by 6pm on 16/11/2010. Prizes can only be shipped within the UK & Ireland.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Focus on.....

Focus on.....Gone To Earth

Gone to Earth are a well stocked online fabric store with all the big fabric designers including Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, Anna Maria Horner, Tanya Whelan, Kaffe Fassett, Laura Gunn, Patty Young and Sandi Henderson.

They do not just stock fabrics; they also sell patterns, yarns, wadding, interlining, magazines and haberdashery supplies. So not only can you drool over their stunning fabrics but you can buy all the other accessories you need for your project.

They are well known for their great range of fabric bundles, including the pictured Sandi Henderson Fruity Fabric Bundle.

To visit their website please go to:

Thursday, 4 November 2010

S is for Sewing Machines (the history of)

S for Sewing Machines

Our sewing machines are something that many of us take for granted, most of us know they have been around for around 100 or so years and have evolved from the works of art that were the original metal machines to the more functional largely plastic machines that we use today.

But how many of you know exactly when the first sewing machine came into being, about the huge patent war that was fought at the beginning of their creation?

Barthelemy Thimonnier, image from
The first patents for products resembling a sewing machine were issued so far back as the mid 1700's but it is not known if any working machines ever arose from those designs.  The first patent for a fully functional sewing machine was granted to French Tailor Barthelemy Thimonnier, in 1830. 

This was immediatly met by threats from French tailors who feared the machine would take their jobs.  They ransacked his factory and destoryed all the machines they could find.  Thimonnier then fled in fear for his life.

Elias Howe's sewing machine image from Wkikpedia
In 1834 Walter Hunt (who was also the inventor of the saftey pin) invented a working sewing machine but didn't pursue it further as he was worried it would lead to a loss of jobs for tailors. In 1846 a patent was granted to Elias Howe for the 'lockstitch' mechanism of a sewing machine.  His design had a needle with an eye, a mechanism under the material that locked the stitch and an automatic feed.  He had trouble find people to invest in his design and then a few years later found other inventors were using his design.

Issac Singer  - image from Wikipedia
 The patent wars started when Howe discovered in the 1850s that Issac Singer and Walter Howe had teamed up to produce the first commercially successful sewing machine, using his patented lockstitch mechanism. He successfully sued Singer for patent infringement in 1854 and Singer had to pay Howe royalities. Several parties who had all invented different parts of the sewing machine (including Arthur B. Wilson who invented the bobbin) were all trying to sue Singer for breach of their patents and in the end one of the attorneys suggested they combined their patents and took a fixed licence fee each. This is what they did.

Issac Singer continued to be a leader in his field, introducing payment plans so the poor could afford machines and demonstrating machines throughout the country to boost sales, repeating his solgan 'a machine in every home.'

Apart from his scandelous personal life (24 children by 5 women & accusations of bigamy see this article) Singer is remembered for creating the foundation of all modern sewing machines and his company remains one of the big players in the industry.  You will find there website here:

Further reading:

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Celtic Fusion Fabrics Giveaway

Celtic Fusion Fabrics stock an eclectic range of funky fabrics from Japanese favourites Kokka to the contemporary designs of Alexander Henry. They have just got some fabulous new fabrics in stock and want to share them!

3 lucky winners will get £14 of fabric, that’s enough to buy a couple of their mini cloth stacks or over a meter of your favourite fabric.

In order to enter please tell us:

Which of the Mini Cloth Stacks on is your favourite?

As usual you can send your entry using our competition entry form, or you can comment on our Facebook, twitter or blog. Make sure you follow Celtic Fusion Fabrics on Twitter, Facebook and their blog to be kept updated with details of sales and other giveaways. The details are on the top right of their home page.

Terms & conditions

Employees of The Sewing Directory or Celtic Fusion Fabric and their family members are not permitted to enter. Only 1 entry allowed per person. Winners will be determined using a random number generator. If you enter on Facebook/Twitter/blogger you need to send your address through within 2 weeks of the draw being done or another winner will be drawn. All entries to be received by 6pm on 09/11/2010. Prizes can only be shipped within the UK and Ireland.
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