Saturday, 23 April 2011

Website Spring Clean

I was suppose to be in Cornwall on holiday this week, enjoying the sun and some family time.  However illness from both sides meant that the trip had to be cancelled, so I decided to use this unexpected time to spring clean the site a little.
Pic I added to the site

A website is like an ever evolving work of art, just when you think you have got it right you think of something else.  Or you wonder if you moved something around, worded something differently would it look better?  For the last year that I've been running The Sewing Directory I've had plenty of ideas and no time in which to pursue them. 

So this weekend I started off with a few little tweaks, I've completely re-written the About Us section of the site, making it a lot more personal and a lot less business....and even including a photo of me (I hate being photographed!).  I've also made sure the What's On section has details of sewing shows right up to next March.  I've gone through the Terms & Conditions and FAQS to make sure they are up to date and the Sponsors section had a little bit of updating too.

Unfortunetly the 2 biggest changes I wanted to make I could not do with the CMS system that I use for my site so I'll get the web designers onto it in the next few weeks.  I was planning to introduce a second line of menu tabs accross the top as we have some exciting new sections of the site coming up in the next couple of months... Plus I wanted to add a search facility that searches the whole site and not just the listings, as we've now got lots of projects, interview, reviews etc on the site (here).  Once I get all that done I'll feel like I'm almost getting there!  Also in the pipework is a newsletter, hopefully that'll be up and running by June....

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Buttonhole Tutorial

Cute as a Button

This tutorial has been written by Keri Wood of Bella Boutique, an online store of beautiful handmade objects which will be adored by children & adults alike.  Plus to tie in with this post Keri is having a great button giveaway over on her blog:

When I got my first machine last year I was soon immersed, as so many of us are, in the joy of all things fabric! I made things for my daughter and friends and before I knew it Bella Boutique my little craft label was born. Through local fairs I enjoy meeting others from the crafting community and sometimes even sell a few of my handmade children’s gifts and homeware-things like cute aprons and modern oilcloth bags.

The Sewing Directory had asked for guest bloggers to help with tips and techniques and so (as I have been sewing plenty of buttonholes and buttons lately) I thought it might be helpful to pass on my technique and also some links to others who have great skills in creating them by hand also! I am by no means an expert, but hopefully can pass on some of the hints and tips I have learned and condense some of the information that is out there about the different types of buttonhole you can create.
Search the internet for button and you’re likely to end up with pictures of Jenson Button the Formula 1 racing driver, which is not an unpleasant view though not much help if you want to learn how to sew one onto a garment! Search for Buttonhole and you end up with a plethora of wedding sites! I searched good old Wikipedia to learn a little more about the background of buttonholes and found out that:

Buttonholes for fastening or closing clothing with buttons appeared first in Germany in the 13th century.  However it is believed that ancient Persians used it first. They soon became widespread with the rise of snug-fitting garments in 13th- and 14th-century Europe.

Traditionally, men's clothing buttonholes are on the left side, and women's clothing buttonholes are on the right. The lore of this 'opposite' sides buttoning is that the practice came into being as 'women of means' had chamber maids who dressed them. So as not to confuse the poor chamber maids, the wealthy began having women's garments made with the buttons and holes 'switched'; the birth of the modern ladies' blouse.

Anyway, enough of the background onto the real work. When unpacking my machine from the box I felt completely overwhelmed with the multitude of attachments that arrived, and so have been slowly learning the techniques required to make the best use of them. One particular attachment was a sliding buttonhole foot! I didn’t have a clue what to do with this but my instruction book was quite clear so if you have a foot that looks like picture 1 below, here are my ten easy tutorial steps to help you sew a buttonhole:

Step 1 - First you will need to look for a setting that looks something like picture 2 below. Most modern machines will have some kind of setting that helps with buttonholes but don’t worry if yours doesn’t, just skip to the bottom of my post and there are some useful links for creating a buttonhole on a machine without a specific setting and also by hand.

Step 2 - Follow your sewing machine instructions to affix the sliding buttonhole foot (See Picture 1 above) and thread your machine as you would for usual sewing.

Step 3 – Measure the size of the buttonhole you want to sew. I usually do this by putting my button on the fabric (next to where I want the buttonhole to be) and drawing an I shape the size of the button.

Step 4 – The sliding buttonhole foot should have some kind of markers on it to help you with sewing your buttonhole. As you can see from the picture below my markers are on the left of the foot and are red. Place your fabric under the buttonhole foot and slide the foot so that the top arrow is aligned with the top of your I and the bottom of your I is aligned with the bottom red marker

Step 5 – Set your button to the buttonhole setting according to your machine instructions. For example with mine I turned the length dial to the centre of the rectangle as indicated below.

Step 6 – Set your stitch dial to the number 1 as per the above picture. Ensure your needle is in the left position and put the needle into the fabric (as per picture 3 below) then begin to sew slowly. You will sew a long row of quite tight zig zag stitches - make sure you stop when you reach the bottom red marker.

Step 7 – At the bottom of your first row of stitches lift your needle out of the fabric. With your needle in the left position move your stitch dial to the number 2/4 setting. Sew 5 or 6 stitches on this setting and this will be the bottom of the buttonhole.

Step 8 –Lift your needle out of the fabric, ensure that it is in the right hand position and move your stitch dial to the number 3 setting. As per step 6 begin to sew slowly creating the right hand side of the buttonhole. Stop when your arrow reaches the original red mark (as per picture 4 below).

Step 9 –Lift your needle out of the fabric and ensuring it is in the right hand position move your stitch dial to the number 2/4 setting. Sew 5/6 stitches on this setting and this will be the top of the buttonhole. Lift up your foot and remove your fabric (picture 5), cutting the threads so there is enough room to tie the threads together for a final bit of security.

That’s the hard part done now!
Step 10 – Put a pin across the top of the buttonhole and insert your seam ripper in the bottom of the buttonhole (picture 6). Carefully slide your seam ripper up the buttonhole, using the pin to protect the top of the buttonhole and create your opening. Depending on your type of fabric you may have little frayed bits of fabric inside your buttonhole, carefully snip these away to make your buttonhole neat, but ensuring you don’t catch any of the stitching.

You have now created your buttonhole! Below is a picture of the finished article which was for an apron I had been making. I have also included pictures from a few of the projects I have been making recently using the above 10 easy steps - a dummy/pacifier clip complete with sparkly button, a cute little purse and a fab summer dress. The World is your oyster now as there are so many projects that can be finished professionally with a buttonhole.
I haven’t forgotten about the ‘sew on a button using the sliding foot’ tutorial - this is so easy it doesn’t warrant more than a few simple steps:

Step 1 – Mark on your fabric where you would like your button to be sewn

Step 2 – Set your stitch dial to the 2/4 setting – you will be sewing a number of stitches from left to right in order to secure your button.

Step 3 – Put your button and fabric under the foot. Turn the Hand Wheel slowly whilst adjusting your stitch length so that when the needle approaches the button it is aligned with each of the holes.

Step 4 – Once you are happy with your stitch length alignment, hit the pedal and away you go! 5-10 stitches should be enough to secure your button. Lift up your foot and tie the ends of the thread together for security then you are all done!

As promised I have also included some links at the foot of this post for a number of other buttonhole related articles, such as how to create a buttonhole by hand and how to create a buttonhole on a machine that doesn’t have a specific setting.

I hope these are useful and you find the steps above leave you feeling brave enough to have a go – good luck. If you would like to read a little more about my adventures in sewing and crafts you can visit my blog

Hand Sew a Buttonhole -

Buttonhole on machine that has no buttonhole setting -

Knitted buttonhole -

Bound Buttonhole -

Normal Buttonhole and corded buttonhole -

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Focus on.....

Focus on... Penny Gregory Interiors

Penny Gregory Interiors, based near Southampton, offer bespoke curtains, blinds and other soft furnishings from a vast range of fabrics chosen in the comfort of your own home. Free measuring and quotation service available throughout Hampshire. Plus a great online advice service where you can even upload photos of your “problem window” and receive personalised advice is available via the website.

You can find out more about these services by visiting their site:

Penny also has a site for her limited edition soft furnishing accessories, all made to the same, high standard as used in the bespoke service, but available UK-wide! They even have a VIP club that you can sign up to for free and benefit from exclusive offers & previews.

To visit the Fine Soft Furnishings site please click on this link:

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A pat on the back

I was reading this article on The Sun website earlier about how another 4 high street shops went bust last week and it really made me sit back and think.  I know that many of my customers, myself, and those of you that I speak to on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere have all started businesses up in the last couple of years, which when you think about has been the hardest time for all businesess in decades.

Image from

All around us high street stores, and many local shops too are closing yet here we are building up our own little businesses, and succeeding in the middle of an economic crisis.  I think that sometimes we need to sit back and look at what we have achieved, yes it may be hard but we are succeeding where many are failing.  If we can start up and build a business in this tough economic environment then we really should be proud of ourselves.

There are businesses that we have seen around us for decades going under but we are all clinging on.  Many of us are working around children, other jobs and a variety of other distractions but I choose to think that the hard work will all pay off in the end.  If we can suceed now in this hostile business environment, think where we will be in 5, or maybe 10 years time.  I wanted to use this blog post just to say well done to each and every one of you, give yourselves a pat on the back and be proud of what you have achieved.  Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Focus on.....

Focus on.....Thimbelina

Image  copyright
Oxford based Thimbelina a bespoke service in the creation of exquisite children’s finery and special occasion wear. They can also create heirloom christening gowns from your wedding dress, or alter existing gowns.  They have sample gowns and rompers for sale from stock.
Thimbelina has been trading for over 20 years now and they are proud members of The Guild of Master craftsmen.
They also offer sewing tuition generally on a 1 to 1 basis so that the lesson is individually tailored to the learner's needs.  Small groups of 2 or 3 students at a similar level can also be taught, as can GCSE/A-level/Diploma students who are looking for assitance with their practical work.  They can also teach hand smocking.
To find out more visit their site:
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