Hello everyone and welcome back to Fabric Friday! This week we are talking about a wonderful new start-up that I’ve wanted to visit for ages, Hey Sew Sister. As part of my birthday celebrations I did a fabric haul and tried to purchase from a few indie shops on my wish-list of which Hey Sew Sister is one. Firstly can I just say that I love the name, I love a sewing pun and I really like what they’ve done with it the branding. The pink and green creates a distinctive brand with a pleasing degree of subtlety and although the range of fabrics is understandably limited, I was really impressed by their stock and particularly the quality and sustainability of the fabrics.
My first purchase from Hey Sew Sister comprised a metre and a half of black floral cotton, the design and colour way was so gorgeous I just couldn’t resist! Also the cotton is OEKO-TEX standard and GOTS certified which I thought was excellent. The fabric descriptions are excellent if a little short but I really like how they provide suggestions for the sorts of garments that would work well with the fabric. The selection of fabrics on offer is small but well curated to offer a wide range of fabric types from basic cottons up to sports/technical fabric with a nice range of woven and stretch fabrics with a few well-known statement fabrics. I really like the range of patterns and I think its great how many of the fabrics are sustainably sourced even if this does add to the price. Hey Sew Sister is mid-range in terms of cost but still accessible to beginners if you are looking for more simple fabrics. The cotton I bought was £6 per half-metre which is about average for the shop as a whole. There are some stunning gingham fabrics that are cheaper and the technical fabrics are of course a little more expensive. I would really recommend their gingham selection if you’re looking to make something floaty for the summer. Personally I’ve got my eye on the mustard yellow double gauze with birds on it as I love yellow and I’m looking to make a yellow Lotta for Endometriosis Awareness Month in March.
In terms of ease of purchase and delivery, my customer journey was easy and stress-free. I found payment and ordering very easy. Delivery cost £3.10 which is about standard, particularly at the moment, and it was shipped very soon after I placed my order. One thing that really endeared me to Hey Sew Sister was the packing on delivery. I loved the little hand-written note on their card, I absolutely loved the woven brand badge and the fabric swatches and the packaging was made of recycled paper. As I had bought it as a birthday present to myself I was very impressed with how like a present it felt when I opened it.
The website is very simple and looks very chic, my only issue is the lack of sub menus and ability to filter by fabric type. When you enter the ‘Shop’ section of the website you are provided a simple menu which is great as it allows you to choose remnants or patterns etc but I would really like to be able to filter by fabric type or even just a stretch / woven division. I understand that these issues, particularly sub-menu differentiation, will most likely be solved as the business grows but as someone who browses a lot of fabrics on my phone and looks for specific fabric types I found it frustrating having to scroll through one big catalogue page with no ability to reorder or filter.
Range of Fabrics – 7/10
Cost – 6/10
Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 9/10
Ease of Use – 6/10
Ease of Payment – 8/10
Overall Score: 7.2/10
Despite some small frustrations on the website I was really impressed with the quality of my fabric, the speed of delivery and the personal touch. I enjoyed my experience with Hey Sew Sister and will definitely be shopping with them in future. I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow and develop this year!
Today I want to tell you about one of my favourite tried and tested patterns. There are very few patterns I’ve made again and again but the Florence Boxy Tee from SizeMe Sewing is one of them. I love the flattering cut, the comfortable fit and versatility of this wardrobe staple pattern. It’s a super simple construction and from cutting out to wearable garment it took me 45 minutes. I made myself another one over Christmas from the off cuts from my sister’s present and I decided I would document the process for you all to show you just how quick and easy it is. Also its worth mentioning at this point that this blogpost is not affiliated or sponsored by SizeMe Sewing, I just wanted to share a favourite pattern of mine.
1m / 1.5m Lightweight Jersey – I used Rust Viscose Jersey from The Rag Shop
Florence Boxy Tee Pattern – SizeMe Sewing
Sellotape, Scissors & Printer to assemble PDF
Step 1: Neckline
Fold the neckline and stitch down front and back. I did this but turning down the neckline where it joins the shoulder and then i did the centre fold and worked my way along each side. It’s important not to stretch your neckline at this point so take it slowly and use lots of pins. Also remember this stitching will be visible so stitch the fold down from the Right Side and lengthen the stitch.
Step 2: Attach Shoulder Seams
Nice and simple step here, the only trick is to make sure you match the neckline correctly and I used a lightening stitch to make sure the seam was nice and secure. A zigzag stitch often puckers on this fabric so I found a lightening stitch to be a lot more effective.
Step 3: Hem Sleeves
Step 4: Attach Sleeves
Carefully matching the edge of the sleeve with the edge of the bodice, pin and stitch. Nice and simple but I used a lot of pins given how light the fabric is and I really had to take my time as the fabric slipped about loads!
Step 5: Close Side Seams
Again, a very simple step, I would recommend pinning at the under arm join to ensure a smooth side seam and even sleeve and base hems. Use your zigzag or lightening stitch for this step as this seam gets a lot of wear and tear so needs to be reinforced. As this jersey is so lightweight, I double stitched my side seams, doing a second row of stitching 1cm away from the first to make sure they won’t split.
Step 6: Hem
Nothing much to say about this step except that you need to press your hem before and after you do it to make sure you get a nice crisp finish (unlike me who forgot to press this at the time however it has been ironed now I promise!).
And you’re done! It really is that simple, this make has never taken me more than an hour and is now a wardrobe staple for me.
I stumbled across the #feelingsewmuchbetter challenge on instagram after a few people I follow posted for the first day. Its run by Sister Mintaka, a fabric shop and haberdashery, and the premise is to pick a project and sew a bit everyday and hopefully finish by the end of the week and a winner is picked randomly each day to receive Sister Mintaka vouchers. I thought I would join in as I often sew for a whole day straight and I very rarely take more than 2/3 days of continuous sewing to finish a project. As a very busy person I decided it would probably do me a lot of good mentally and physically to force myself to just do a little bit each day. Its not about finishing, its about doing every step slowly and consciously and enjoying the process. I thought I would blog about it for this exact reason because its a new experience, something to document, discuss and share. I will do a micro-blog each day and then I’ll review at the end of the week. Without further ado lets get going!
After only finding out about the challenge at lunch time, I spent the rest of today thinking about what project, fi any, I would like to attempt to join in. I say ‘if any’ because I didn’t want to just sew for the sake of it if it wasn’t something I had planned on making but I went through my stash extension – which is the part of my stash that has escaped the main box and so needs to be sewed more urgently – and decided that it was finally time to have a go at my Tilly and the Buttons Nora jumper. I’ve been meaning to make one for ages and this pattern does feature on my make nine grid for 2021. For fabric I chose a fun scuba/textured midnight blue jersey remnant which I’ve had in my stash for a while. Looking forward to sewing this project this week!
Disaster struck almost immediately tonight as I laid out my pattern pieces on my fabric and immediately found I didn’t have enough fabric. I always forget that Tilly and the Buttons patterns do actually use the amount of fabric they say they will on the pattern envelope! So it was back to the drawing board and I came up with the two fabrics you can see on my instagram story below. I asked you all to help me choose which fabric I should use and it came back as a straight 50/50 which was unhelpful. At that point I mentally decided that I am definitely going to make both of these into a Nora as I think they would both be cute for different reasons but honestly it came down to the fact that I am absolutely freezing so I chose the extremely cosy Salmon/Coral-Coloured Knit from Lamazi Fabrics and I will make the Polka Dot Nora in the summer as the fabric is very light. I then got on to cutting the fabric and stupidly I decided to use my mid-range scissors instead of my super fancy new ones and I wish I hadn’t! This fabric was a pain to cut and foresee some frustrating and slippery sewing so the jumper better be super snuggly. One thing I would mention is that once again the Tilly and the Buttons patterns have got my back up as I think the sizing is way off. I came up as a 12 in the pattern due to my bust which I wouldn’t mind if the waist was right but its not, I wear a 36″ bust but a 26/27″ waist which normally puts me between two sizes which I have to grade. However for Tilly and the Buttons I am two sizes apart and trust me its really hard to grade between an 8 and a 12 especially when we think about shoulders and back pieces. I don’t know what it is about the bodice block because the waist to hip ratio is pretty standard. I come up as an 8/10(by an inch) which is absolutely fine but I wonder if there is a reason the bodice block is so square? In this case I’m making a 12 because its for loungewear so I don’t care about a close fit but its really frustrating!
Today I was exhausted but I wanted to do something relating to my project so I decided to do something I almost never do – I actually read the instructions…in detail. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who does this so I might sound a bit weird but I often don’t read instructions, I will give them and the picture a glance for a bout 5 seconds and get one with it. The instructions I read are for techniques I’ve never done before, the first step of a pattern and of course I will depth read if I’m pattern testing for someone else. However on a normal day-to-day sewing basis I normally find that I know how garments are constructed and after about two steps I just get on with it. To me it feels like doing ‘nets’ in maths where you have a flat-lay of an object and you can see how it goes together so the instructions are kind of secondary unless its a complex garment – does that make sense? let me know in the comments below if its just me who’s weird like this. Anyway, I sat and I read as much as possible particularly as I’m determined to really make this jumper step by step. I know some people have chosen really tough projects this week but I have chosen something extremely simple that I would normally do in a couple of hours to make sure I actually take my time and sew slowly and consciously. Now I’m off to bed but I feel better armed to tackle this project step by step!
I actually started sewing today and I made myself just do the first two steps. I stabilised the shoulders with some ribbon I had in my stash, it doesn’t match but its on the inside so who cares. Also I almost never use ribbon so I have no idea why I have so much? The pattern instructions suggested using a satin ribbon but I went for a quite stiff textured ribbon as my fabric is so fine and slippery so I thought it would work better, which it has. I then attached the shoulder seams and stopped there. Although I’ve been thinking about this project all week I feel strange stopping after these two steps as I know I could sew more right now but I am making myself stop and do something else. I’m trying to celebrate the steps, the little wins that make up a project. This fabric also has the potential to be immensely frustrating as its so fine that pins just fall out of it soo maybe its better for me mentally to take this make day at a time.
I’m starting to get into this slow sewing malarky! When reviewing my progress tonight and posting to instagram I got some lovely comments praising me for my stripe matching on my neckband which is hilarious because its entirely accidental. I swear whenever I don’t think about it I match patterns really well and whenever I try it doesn’t work. Regardless, the neckband is on and I’m pretty proud of it. Its nice and wide so I’m hoping I will be able to pull it on without having to take my glasses off. The dream.
Today I nearly fell into the trap of keeping going and finishing my jumper today I’ve got the sleeves on which I’m happy with, they are even and neat and I’m so happy that due to the marl of the wool my white zigzag stitching is completely invisible as I had to fix one bit where I had accidentally caught the sleeve. I was just going to move on and do the side seams but I had to stop as I was getting so frustrated by the pins falling out of the fabric. Also I’m feeling really under the weather today (not Covid don’t worry) but I feel hot and cold and I keep shaking so I’m going to give it a rest now and have a very early night.
It’s the final day of the challenge and all I have to do is finish up the side seams, hem sleeves and close the stepped edges. I have been sat editing this blog this morning and listening to the Un:Cut Podcast which has been really relaxing and as I was sat thinking I realised the solution to my pin problem – I have fabric clips now! I’m not used to them yet as I only got them over Christmas but they worked like an absolute dream on my Nora. The only issue I had is that the sleeves were SIX INCHES, yes you read that right, six inches too long so I had to chop half the sleeve off to make it fit! Head over to my instagram to see how bad the situation was!
Here is my finished Nora! I love parts of it. I like the neckline, the fabric is so cosy and soft and I like the stepped hem. On the downside it is like a literal tent on me and honestly I don’t think I could wear it outside the house unless its tucked into something. The sizing is way off and after a rant on instagram this morning and many conversations with you all it seems the consensus is that Tilly and the Buttons sizing is not made for anyone with a significantly larger bust than waist. I chose a size based on my bust measurements but the rest of the garment is so enormous and its not even fitted on the bust so I think next time I will make a size smaller. Also having to cut 6 inches off the sleeve surely shows that something is wrong with this pattern? Although I love Tilly’s patterns I will be approaching them with caution in future and plenty of measuring, toile making and further attention to the finished garment measurements as well as the pattern sizing!
As for the Sister Mintaka #FeelingSewMuchBetter challenge I’ve loved it. I’ve loved giving myself permission to take things slowly, I’ve loved taking time over my makes and its been nice to do 5 minutes everyday. I’ve really enjoyed the consistency! Also its been wonderful to be part of a big community effort and see what everyone else has been making this week. Now I’m off to have a cosy night in my enormous Nora before the work week starts again!
Hello Everybody and welcome back to Fabric Friday! This week’s fabric purveyor is My Sewing Box, a wonderful independent fabric shop and haberdashery run by a mother daughter team, Amy & Angela. I particularly enjoy their instagram where they do long stories on the different equipment, fabric and notions they sell and what you should use it for; making My Sewing Box an extremely beginner friendly store.
I have followed My Sewing Box for quite some time, as I’ve mentioned I love their instagram account and the way they relate to and understand their customer base. Their website is excellent and although I found the main menu a little overwhelming when I first looked, the main body of the website is simple, user friendly and well designed. Equally the payment process was simple and delivery was affordable and exceptionally quick even during an extremely busy Christmas period. They apologised on their IG for slow delivery but honestly they were quicker than most companies normal delivery! Delivery is free over £45 and standard delivery I paid is £4.50, again a little steeper than other suppliers but very speedy and very reliable so again, good value for money.
One thing that put me off to begin with was that fabric is priced and bought by quarter meter. Something you guys know I find a little frustrating! However the choice of fabrics available does make up for it. They stock a fantastic range of fabrics, haberdashery and notions for all skill levels and projects. I finally took the plunge after seeing their range of Christmas French Terry and I bought two types in their Black Friday sale to make myself a very cosy Christmas Jumper! My Sewing Box is a little pricier than other stores but I would say excellent value for money. I love how they have diversified and stock sewing gifts and books. They also offer a monthly subscription box which I am tempted by, I am actually going to look into whether I can buy one box as a one off to try it out first.
Range of Fabrics – 7/10
Cost – 6/10
Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 8/10
Ease of Use – 8/10
Ease of Payment – 8/10
Overall Score: 7.4/10
Overall My Sewing Box is a wonderful independent fabric shop, ideal for beginners because of their helpfulness and knowledge of their stock. They are a little pricier but I would say fulfil value for money easily and offer a wonderful service – I will definitely be shopping here again!
To the uninitiated Overlockers are baffling and choosing one even more so. Until this year I really didn’t need one, however, 2020 saw my sewing advance more than it has since I was 17 and now I’m looking for greater challenges as well as the ability to finish my seams with ease. In particular I want to tackle activewear and swimwear for which an overlocked is essential. After a lot of thought and a long phone conversation with my mum as we trawled through websites, we finally chose my first overlocker and its on it’s way to me now! Once I mentioned this on instagram I had loads of messages asking how I had chosen it, what specifications I looked for and if I had any advice on choosing an overlocker. I am by no means an expert however with the guidance of my mum, who is a bit of a sewing expert, and A LOT of web searching choosing my first overlocker was pretty painless. Now I’ve got a few tips and tricks that should help you to find your first overlocker easily.
Why Do You Want An Overlocker?
This is crucial. It can be easy on social media to convince yourself that you need a new piece of equipment just because other people are using it and using it to great success! (ahem…cricut machines) So when you start your overlocker purchasing journey its important to take a moment before you begin browsing, sit down with a piece of paper and answer these three questions:
What do want your overlocker to do?
What are you going to use it for?
What do you want your overlocker to do that your current machine can’t?
It is vital to understand what you wish to accomplish with your Overlocker that you can’t do with your current machine. Further more consider your sewing space, can you store your Overlocker easily? Once you have answered these questions then it will be easier to direct your search when it comes to individual models and specifications. After all you may want a more lightweight model if you’re just sewing Lycra whereas if you want to finish any fabrics then you may need a heavier weight machine. My choice rested on certain factors. I want to be able to finish off any garments regardless or weight or bulk as I’m awful for finishing seams. I want to sew with lycra and stretch to make my own activewear and yoga leggings which my current machine cannot do. So these were my criteria when I started to look at overlocker models.
What To Look For In An Overlocker
When it comes to specifications you do get what you pay for which is why one of my first pieces of advice is that if you are looking to go upmarket, wait for sales and offers as any reduction will help! However, as with sewing machines, you don’t always need all the spec’s on the fanciest of machines so if you are on a budget it’s a good idea to whittle it down to the base set of specific requirements you have and then anything you find above those but within budget is great. Also its a good idea to purchase from a well-known brand if you need to get parts, attachments or get maintenance done.
What Specifications Should You Look For?
Overlocker specifications can initially feel baffling. Even for some who is very comfortable with seeing terminology, overlocker have a whole new layer of assumed knowledge so before we discuss machine specifics, I’m will attempt to demystify the specification categories.
Adjustable Stitch Length – Its important to make sure that you can alter stitch lengths and tension for different fabrics. Most machines can do this but if you are looking for a cheaper machine do make sure that you have this functionality.
Number Of Thread Lines – e.g. 2, 3 or 4. It’s a good idea to make sure your machine can do three and four thread overlocking again to give you options and the greatest functionality when you sew.
Differential Feed – The differential feed is the way the machine feeds the fabric through, similar to a walking foot. It’s a good idea if this is adjustable as it means you can adjust for different fabrics to make sure you’re not stretching or gathering fabrics, or that you can do so purposefully.
Presser Foot & Knife Options – an extra high presser foot lift and a larger knife is useful when working with bulky fabrics.
Beginner Machine Options
Just for transparency, I have no affiliate agreement with any of these brands. These are just some of the machines I looked and held in my shortlist before choosing my overlocker.
Good Beginner Options
Janome 9300DX– this model is very compact and provides good value for money. Sews up to 1500 stitches a minute, with 3 or 4 thread overlocking, adjustable cutting and seam width. Whatsmore this machine, unlike others, uses standard sewing machine needles so very easy to care for and replace needles. Janome also has great access for maintenance and spare parts as John Lewis stock their whole range.
Singer Overlock 14SH754 – This model was my initial choice as its very user friendly and a wonderful entry-level option with colour coded thread lay-in lines, with 2-3-4 threading and a range of hem and stitch options. The only thing to be aware of with this model is that it is quite lightweight so may not be suitable for heavy fabrics that being said, if you’re happy finishing woven seams on your sewing machine and just want this for lightweight stretch projects then it would be great!
Brother M343D– When I first mentioned on instagram that I had chosen an overlocker I got lots of messages wishing me luck and asking what model I had got. I would say about 90% of the people I spoke with had bought this model and love it! It’s a fantastic entry level machine, well priced and able to handle the majority of projects and fabrics with 3 and 4 stitch options as well as a handy tension release disc and colour coded lay-in lines. The only note on this machine is that it can be a little noisy so make sure you are overlocking in a space where noise is okay!
These were my shortlist and honestly it would have been one of these three except for the fact that Singer had a sale on so I went a little more upmarket! My new model is the Singer 14HD854 Heavy Duty overlocker, as used in the costume department for Dancing on Ice, so you know its good for lycra and stretch. Its got coloured coded lay-in lines, an extra high presser foot, it does 1,300 stitches per minute and it has a much larger knife and a heavier motor to get through any fabric you care to throw at it. I’m so excited for you to see my beautiful new overlocker when it arrives and rest assured there will be a full introduction blog and vlog!
I hope this post has been a helpful guide for purchasing your first overlocker and has illuminated one small corner of the overlocking world for you! Let me know in the comments below if you found this post helpful and I’ll see you guys next time.
Happy New Year everyone and welcome back to my Fabric Friday review blog which this year will be bi-weekly. Today we are talking about MyFabrics.co.uk, a large-scale online fabric and craft emporium based in Germany that stocks a large range of materials for sewing, knitting, crochet and textile crafts. MyFabrics is one of the biggest fabric shops I’ve bought from online and it was a very different experience to the mostly independant small businesses I patronise.
My exploration of the site began as I was in need of christmas themed quilting cotton for a fun Christmas stocking making project and let me start by saying there is a great range of fabrics and craft materials (festive and normal). All of the fabrics are categorised into types and My Fabrics stock upholstery and quilting fabrics alongside dressmaking fabrics. Due to the scale of the operation they have broken down all fabric types in a sub-menu for ease of selection. One thing I found immensely frustrating is that the fabrics do not show you that they are out of stock until you enter the individual listing. Equally the listings are somewhat impersonal although they do give you all of the necessary information they lack the personal touch. However with a company of this size you don’t expect the personal touch, in the same way that I don’t expect a note from hobbycraft whenever I buy elastic. What the size of the company does enable is for you to personalise your own order. My Fabrics have a very useful feature when purchasing fabric in that when you want a specific amount over half a metre you can select it, for example you can buy 0.7m of fabric if you want. A feature which would be helpful if you want to build in an insurance buffer on the amount of fabric for example an extra 10/20 cm, 1.6m or 1.7m, when you don’t want to go up to the 2 metres.
What really let My Fabrics down for me was the delivery. I got no notifications of despatch and delivery was exceptionally slow. So slow that I began to think I hadn’t ordered anything! While slow delivery is acceptable at Christmas, what isn’t acceptable is no delivery notification, once you know its been shipped you just wait, but not even knowing if its left the supplier is unnecessarily stressful. However, when I did get them my Christmas fabrics were good quality and sewed up beautifully into Christmas stockings! If you want to see more about my fabrics and how I used them, check out the vlog below where Adam and I make Christmas Stockings.
Range of Fabrics – 8/10
Cost – 8/10
Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 4/10
Ease of Use – 6/10
Ease of Payment – 6/10
Overall Score: 6.4/10
My Fabrics are a good choice if you are on a lower budget and very good for all round crafting, sewing and quilting however I wouldn’t call them a specialist dressmaking fabric shop. However they are great for basics and I really liked the Christmas fabrics I bought. My Fabrics are well priced and the purchasing process is easy and simple. Unfortunately, delivery was quite incredibly slow and I got absolutely no updates from them so they won’t be my first call for fabrics however I would definitely recommend them for beginners and anyone who is branching into dressmaking from knitting/crochet etc as you would be able to get multiple materials in one place.
It’s new years day, its absolutely freezing and I’ll be honest I’m still in my pyjamas. There’s something about the period between Christmas and New Year that makes absolutely everything and anything acceptable, so the pyjamas will stay at least for today until I return to the real world. I would love to say I’m still relaxed from the best christmas I’ve had in years but alas my MA assignments due on Monday now occupy most of my brainpower. I have however started reflecting on my makes from this year, the techniques I’ve learnt, the challenges I’ve overcome and I’m honestly proud of everything thats come off my sewing machine this year. This was the year I invested in an advanced sewing machine that is such a workhorse I doubt I’ll need another one for the next decade.
I’ve also begun to think about new years resolutions, aims and goals, I always make some and actually for the last three or four years I have achieved most of my goals and kept to my resolutions. I differentiate between goals and resolutions because resolutions are somewhat intangible and goals can be ticked off a list but i think both are important. This year I am going to set myself a few sewing resolutions!
I will finish all of my seam edges all the time, not just when I feel like it.
I will pre-wash all fabric even when its super inconvenient to do so.
I will try to use up the fabric I have in my stash before buying more.
We will see how I go with these and I’ll report back in three months time to see how I’m getting on. I’m hoping this blog will keep my accountable!
Top Nine Patterns For 2021
After a lengthy period of trying on my clothes and excavating my wardrobe, I’ve also started reflecting on what pieces I would like to add to my wardrobe in 2021. I have seen other makers do this on instagram so I will be joining in this year and creating a Make Nine grid. Nine patterns or garments I would like to aim for this year. While these nine patterns will by no means be the only things I make, they will be core projects that I plan for and focus on in 2021. With the exception of the jeans, I don’t have fabric in mind for any of these makes and half of them I still need to buy the pattern! However I am going to try and do one big blog on each of them as well as the inevitable YouTube sew-a-longs and vlogs which I really love filming. I’f you would like to see me talk through these patterns in detail then head over to my youtube to see a full vlog! (linked below)
So there we have it, my Make Nine patterns for 2021! I can’t wait to share the making journey for all these with you over the year. Let me know in the comments if you’re doing a Make Nine this year, and which sew-a-long and projects reviews you’re excited to see!