Creative Craft Shows

Where does your love of sewing come from and how did you get started?

I’ve been making things and hand sewing for a long time, but have been dressmaking for about 3 ½ years now. It was the Great British Sewing Bee that got me started on my actual dressmaking; my mom had always told me about how she used to make clothes for her and her sister but we never got around to actually doing any dressmaking together. When the sewing bee started, it sparked something in me and I felt like I could do it if all these people could too! Now my mom has got me making things for her – this is a picture of us both wearing something I’ve made. 

What’s the first item of clothing you made?

The first item I made was a purple circle skirt, but it was too big, so I cut it and tried to take it in – big mistake! The zip was also supposed to be invisible… I have no idea why I didn’t just unpick it! I might have made the Colette Sorbetto top next which I was over the moon with, but my favourite thing that I was much happier with was the Colette Hawthorne dress. Looking back on it now, it was too big, the waistline was too low and I had tucks in the join of the skirt & bodice. I’d actually like to go back to that dress now I know what I’m doing! 

How about the most advanced?

The most advanced thing I’ve made is definitely my Kelly Anorak. I love this coat and am so proud of it. It took a long time (and a lot of money…!) but I couldn’t be happier with it. I’m just sad that the weather has got so much nicer now – I want to wear it all the time!

How much of your wardrobe is handmade?

I’d say 98% of the clothes I wear regularly are handmade. I’ve got a real problem with being able to let things go though, so there’s still lots of ready to wear stuff just hanging up in there. I still have to tackle jeans; once I’ve conquered those then my handmade rotation will almost be 100%!

I’ve got plenty of t-shirts and jumpers I wear all the time, and lots of dresses that get worn to work.

In this picture, the right hand side is all handmade, with the left hand stuff all being ready to wear. I really don’t wear much of this stuff at all, maybe it’s time to try my hand at refashioning!

Where do you look for inspiration, and of course patterns and fabric?

Inspiration is a tricky one; I really hate “trends” and tend to stray away from what is on the high street. When I first started sewing I would make most new patterns that came out, but now I know what suits me and what I enjoy making too, so those are the things I stick to. Instagram is my big place to get inspiration though if I’m going to look anywhere, there are some amazingly talented people on there! 

Go on, tell us how big is your fabric stash?

It sounds unbelievable but I think I’ve got less than 30m – which really isn’t much at all! I’ve had some fabric for a couple of years. One of my favourite pieces is this beautiful green wool that I bought from Birmingham Rag Market – I’ve got big skirt-based plans for this but haven’t found the right pattern yet! 

How have you styled your sewing space?

My sewing space is somewhere that needs a lot of work at the moment which makes me really sad!  We moved into our house in July last year and we’ve prioritised shared spaces, so the downstairs really. My sewing room is in a prime location in the loft conversion, so I’ve technically got sewing floor – even though it’s the only room up there, haha! I’ve got a few things on the walls to make it a bit more “me” including some cross stitches I’ve done, a lovely print I had for my birthday last year, and some fun postcards from Paperchase. I need a new floor in there, and a lick of paint on the walls so nothing too major – it will get there in the end!

You also knit and crochet – how do you find time to fit it all in?

I’m really fortunate in my job that I can start and finish really early, so I’m home most days between 4pm and 4:30pm, this leaves me with loads of time to cram everything in! I love a good box set so I tend to do my knitting/crocheting while I’m curled up under the quilt I made. We’ll ignore the fact I sometimes fall asleep there because I’m so cosy! Weekends are for sewing, which is made even easier as my boyfriend is out for the majority of the day on Sunday playing American football so I get all day to myself!

Your blog at www.rachagainstthesewingmachine.co.uk is incredibly popular – do you have any big plans for taking it even further?

Aaah thanks! I’m surprised anyone still reads it, my posts are so sporadic! Haha. I’d love to do more with it, I think collaborations with other bloggers are probably where I’d like to head. I should start by blogging more though I think!

What would your advice to anyone looking to get started in dressmaking be? And how about makers new to blogging?

My main advice is just to go for it. I felt quite vulnerable when I started blogging; you’re putting quite a lot of yourself out there and hope that people like what you see. The first time you get some interaction from a reader is such a wonderful moment!

Dressmaking has opened up a whole other life for me. It sounds so crazy but I was quite lonely before and didn’t have much to do, my boyfriend worked weekends and til 10:30pm on evenings so not only did it keep me occupied during these times, but I have made some of my best friends through dressmaking/Instagram connections. Now there’s not a month that goes by without me seeing someone I have met through the sewing community. These people really are the friendliest, most welcoming bunch and we’re always after new members of the sewing gang!

See more of Rachel’s great makes at www.rachagainstthesewingmachine.co.uk

 

 

I’m Sally aka The Yorkshire Sewist and today I’m showing you my Autumn and Winter Pattern Picks. There are a lot of lovely colours coming out for this season and I’ve paired up some fabrics and patterns that may tempt you.

First up is the fantastic free pattern The Plantain T-shirt from Deer and Doe.

It is a fitted T-Shirt at the shoulders and bust then flaring at the hips, with optional elbow patches. Short, long or 3/4 sleeves are included in the pattern. It caters for a range of sizes which is great.

I’d recommend lightweight jersey knit (cotton, rayon, linen, wool) with 40% to 50% stretch.

Next up is Made by Jacks Mum – Penelope Pinafore – a relaxed pinafore dress. It has either tie straps or traditional buckles. There are FIVE pockets for hiding all of your things. There are two lengths – mini to sit above the knee and midi to cover the knee. A back split can be added to both lengths.

There is a matching child pattern called the Penny Pinny.

This pattern is designed for medium weight woven fabrics such as corduroy, denim or linen.

Ellie and Mac – Be Creative Hoodie Pattern – This Hoodie Pattern is comfortable, stylish and definitely a must-have. It features hood or cowl, short sleeves or long sleeves, piping option and colour-block style. You can make this in many fun ways – who doesn’t love a good hoodie? There is also a kid’s version too! This hoodie is designed to be made using 4-way stretch fabrics with 50% stretch.

Tilly and The Buttons Ness Skirt – This is a classic fly front skirt pattern. It looks stylish all year round, but especially made up in a nice Corduroy for Autumn/Winter. The straight skirt has a shaped waistband and curved back yoke for a flattering fit.

Choose from mini version or below-the-knee hemline with centre front split. Details inspired by denim include a zip fly front, topstitched mock felled seams, belt loops, all important in-seam pockets, plus optional back pockets for stashing your essentials. To be bang on trend you could convert the zip fly to a full length button planket skirt.

Experimental Space Casey Sweater – It’s a pretty pullover sweater with button details at the neck, long shaped cuffs and comfortable deep pockets. I recently saw this pattern when I went to Sewbrum and it’s a nice jumper with great details. I’ve got this pattern and will be sewing my own up shortly!

So there you go folks, my Autumn and Winter Pattern Picks with a few fabric recommendations. Happy Sewing!

 

 

 

Getting started in the craft arena

I hear a lot that people would like to start crafting.  They see things that people make and think “I would like to be more creative”, but sadly don’t think they are able or even know where to start.

My tip is to find a local craft course or travel further a field if you can and just have a go at something that catches your eye.  With craft courses, classes and workshops, you will have a dedicated tutor with all the knowledge you need to guide you through to complete a project.  If that class wasn’t for you, try other things and you are likely to find something that you like.

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Give a lacklustre table a new lease of life using decoupage. This technique requires minimum supplies and spend yet affords beautiful results – prepare to get addicted! You can decoupage any wooden item, so feel free to apply this tutorial to that tired looking standard lamp or junk shop jewellery box find.

You will need:

Old rags (for cleaning)

Fine sandpaper (only needed if your table/item isn’t smooth)

Decoupage papers – ours were from www.decopatchme.co.uk

Scissors

Decoupage glue varnish – our was from www.decopatchme.co.uk

Decoupage brush (a clean paintbrush works too)

 

 

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Hi Jenniffer! We first discovered you with your 2017 book – Girl with a Sewing Machine – we loved it! It’s a great practical guide and tells your story along the way..

Thank you! It’s my no fuss guide to making and adapting your own clothes, and gives an insight into my sewing journey with projects that I made along the way.

Where did your love of sewing come from initially?

It started with my wedding dress – the first thing I ever made and since then I just couldn’t stop!

We read that you became a debt collector after university – how did you find your creative spark again and change paths?

Oh gosh, that seems like a life time away, but the creative spark came back when I joined the band, Snooty Bobs, as a singer, lyricist and that is how I met my now husband, Kirk. I like to think of him as my muse.

What’s a typical work day for you now?

If I’m not on site doing a workshop, events or filming for Sewing Quarter, I’m normally hiding in my She Shed  which is my new sewing studio at the bottom of the garden, normally preparing for workshops, the live shows or coming up with ideas for projects. Unfortunately, I have not done any selfish sewing in a while – I really need to make some time for that.

We loved watching you on the Great British Sewing Bee – has it changed your life in anyway?

Absolutely, it’s given me the confidence to follow my passions and dreams. I love spreading the #sewingrevolution love and just cannot believe that I was once working in an office for so long!

Tell us about #sewingrevolution please?

The #sewingrevolution is about encouraging other to pick up a needle and thread. Whether that is just to repair a button on a shirt, or making the shirt into something completely different. Sewing is a wonderful and empowering skill that can boost people’s confidence and self-esteem and more importantly it’s so much fun! The #sewingrevolution is about sharing your skill with others. Creativity is contagious – pass it on!

How much of your wardrobe is handmade?

A lot, but there is a lot of up-cycled makes as well. So, I would class those as ‘handmade’ more like ‘revamped’ lol

Where do you look for inspiration, and of course patterns and fabric?

My inspiration comes from lots of different sources. Music, colour, situations and fabric inspires the makes sometimes. I like to think the fabric tells me what it wants to be turned into.

How have you styled your sewing space?  

My space is based on chaos. I try to keep it tidy but it really doesn’t last long. But I like to have fabric swatches around so I have a lot of pin boards with things pinned onto it. It’s a relaxed space, it’s my space and I love it.

What is your proudest achievement in your sewing career so far? 

You’ve certainly reminded me how proud i felt when the first copy of Girl with a Sewing Machine dropped through the door!

What would your advice to anyone looking to get started in dressmaking be? 

There are no such things as mistakes – they are learning curves! So, don’t be afraid to make them! I like to make sample books of seams and stitches; and if I have made a mistake, I keep it and make notes on where and why I had, so I can refer to it to remind myself not to do it again.

Follower Jenniffer’s sewing adventures at www.jenniffertaylor.co.uk

 

Make a statement with a handcrafted button bouquet, perfect for brides and bridesmaids or simply on display at home.

 

You will need:

Dry foam oasis bouquet  

Buttons in a colour(s) of your choice                                                                 

Vintage brooch(s)

Wire cutters 

Craft wire (needs to be thin enough to thread)

Silk, satin or lace to match dresses

Pearl sewing pins

//Step 1// Cut & Thread

Cut 5-inch strips of wire and thread varying numbers of buttons to the wire (we used between 1 and 5), topping each with a bead or fancy button, so you can’t see the wire. They should look like little button flowers. For a 5-inch bouquet like ours you’ll need to make approximately 100 stems of varying size. You might find it useful to display your stems in a little bowl as you work – just so you can what options you have for spacing.

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