How To Choose Your First Overlocker

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?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

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?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

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.

Fabric Friday Review: MyFabrics.co.uk

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.

MyFabrics.co.uk

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.myfabrics.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics, Haberdashery, Wool & Crochet Materials
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre minimum

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.

Rating

  • 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.

2021 Sewing Plans: My Top 9 Patterns For Next Year

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!

Resolutions

  1. I will finish all of my seam edges all the time, not just when I feel like it.
  2. I will pre-wash all fabric even when its super inconvenient to do so.
  3. 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)

Tilly and The Buttons – Cleo Pinafore

Closet Core – Elodie Wrap Dress

Size Me Sewing – Florence Blouse

Tammy Handmade – Leona Dress

True Bias – Hudson Sweatpants

Megan Nielsen – Dawn Jeans

Tilly and The Buttons – Nora Jumper

Yoga Leggings

Fitted Work Blazer

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!

2020: The Year Of The Blog

As we approach Christmas, albeit a very 2020 Christmas, I have started reflecting on the year. While it’s been stressful in some ways, its been a great year for me, I started my blog/channel and instagram this summer to name one great thing!

Adam & Me in Zurich

I rang in the new year with Adam in Zurich while visiting his extended family. In January I had a great birthday and started playing badminton weekly with Adam for some time together from my busy work schedule. In February I left my stressful workplace and got a new job and I went on a bra making workshop at the New Crafthouse. I saw my family in London in March and my family and Adam’s family all had dinner together which was really special. Then the pandemic hit. After some extremely stressful moments considering whether or not I would be made redundant, my colleagues were put on furlough and I stayed full time helping clients reschedule their events across the next two years.

During this time I sewed a few things, did some pattern drafting and planning but my old red machine was getting to me a little, my motivation was slack and the living room was not configured in a way that let me have enough light to sew. Adam and I did some gardening and I taught and filmed a lot of yoga classes. But I wanted to sew more. I also had always wanted a blog. I have tried many times to keep a blog going but I always felt silly because I didn’t feel like I really had anything good to say. I could do the first few posts but then I just felt like I was forcing it. Its one of the great challenges of blogging to keep the authentic voice and purpose. However talking about sewing is something I can do and whats more I LOVE doing, much to the dismay of many of my friends.

Enter The Blog

My First Logo

I vividly remember the day I started this blog. 28th June, I was lying in bed watching treasure planet on Disney Plus and I’d been toying with the idea for a few days and then I decided to go for it that morning. I spent all morning trying to think of names, I enlisted my sisters to help but in the end I actually came up with So What If I Sew. Honestly ‘So What If I Sew’ is the crux of the response I give to people who make judgemental comments about my hobby and a response I’m sure we can all relate to. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly nervous about starting the blog because I am by no means an expert. In fact one of my first blog posts was put down by a woman who decided to tell me my scissors were rubbish and I clearly had no idea what I was talking about but I don’t care, I love sewing and dressmaking and it is for absolutely everybody.

So now here we are six months on and I’ve loved every minute of it. I love blogging and vlogging and instagramming. My YouTube Channel has been a great source of relaxation and fun, watching other sewing vlogs on YouTube has been very inspiring and the sewing community as a whole are wonderful and supportive. I am now starting to plan my landmark makes for next year and I can’t wait to show you all what I get up to. I am going to return to fabric Friday blogs in the new year but I am going to aim for fortnightly reviews instead. I will also do a monthly blog spotlight on a project and I’ll be asking on instagram what you guys want the blog to be on!

Now I’m off to relax with Adam before we go and pick up our Christmas Duck from the Farm Shop and start really getting ready for our first Christmas just the two of us.

Merry Christmas all and Happy New Year!

Tilly And The Buttons Eden Coat – Sewing Project

I’ve been a little bit absent on here recently due to my degree workload however if you head over to my youtube you can see what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks! In November, I finally, FINALLY, finished my Tilly And The Buttons Eden Coat. This project is by far the most complex make I’ve ever attempted and I am so proud that not only is the garment wearable but that it looks vaguely professional and its waterproof! I decided over the summer that I wanted to attempt this pattern as a present for my eldest sister so of course I had to try one for myself. I was nervous when I bought the fabric but it was also really exciting, it felt like such a big step forward in my sewing life. As I’ve always wanted a proper barbour jacket, I decided to make my coat in that style using black waxed cotton, a white floral cotton lining and brass zips and snaps. I tell you I was the most nervous I’ve ever been when I cut into the waxed cotton for the first time but it was worth it for the coat I’m now living in every time I go outside.

The pattern is labelled as ‘for improvers’ and is produced digitally as a PDF. While the pattern itself isn’t particularly complicated, there are a huge number of individual pattern pieces. The pattern and fabric cutting took a couple of hours and was mentally exhausting but after the cutting stage it wasn’t too bad. The instructions could be a lot clearer and I would like it if they were numbered and the pattern pieces were in bold when mentioned in the pattern to avoid some of the more confusing elements of the making process. Otherwise its a time consuming but not a particularly difficult sew and I had to work on it in the mornings only because the lighting in our house isn’t great and trying to sew black thread on black fabric in the evening sure does hurt your eyes! In this blog I’ve picked out a few elements that I liked, disliked and of which I feel other sewists should be aware. If you want to follow the whole making process check out my two part sew-a-long vlog linked below for more information.

Inserting my first jacket zip

Honestly I was most nervous about this step because I’d never done a jacket zip before, I’d never even sewn a zip using my new machine and new foot. So, true to form, I dived in head first and it went really well! I split the zip, placed the tape on each side and marked the top and bottom with chalk, made sure they were at the same height and went for it. I was surprised and delighted to find that jacket zips are actually quite simple and I am no longer scared of them – so thats a result!

Working with Waxed Cotton

Croft Mill have a wonderful selection of lightweight waxed cottons perfect for a ‘Barbour’ style waxed jacket. After great trepidation I was somewhat surprised to find I absolutely love sewing with waxed cotton. It’s a joy to work with, it stays where it’s put, you don’t need pins and it flows through the machine like a dream. My only advice would be to use a denim needle and if you want a 100% waterproof coat consider how you are going to seal your seams against the weather.

My First Snaps

At this point having made two Eden coats with two different snap applying methods I have a mixed opinion about snaps. My black Eden coat was my first attempt at applying snaps and it was incredibly frustrating. I used the Prym antique brass coloured snaps and the equipment that came with them to apply them and it was absolutely maddening. There is a small plastic tweezer type contraption that you fit a series of heads to and you use a hammer too apply the snaps. However using a hammer and the instructions, it took Adam and I over an hour to apply them all and it was not error free I can tell you! After this frustrating experience I bought the Prym Snap Pliers from The Makers Merchant to use on my sisters coat and they made a massive difference. I cannot recommend them enough the whole process took 15 minutes and I didn’t swear once!

Overall this coat has made me smile and its made me scream with frustration but I am proud of the result. Its surreal to look at it hung up next to my other coats for all the world as though I bought it somewhere. It’s a coat of firsts. My first snaps, my first jacket zip, my first lined garment, my first hood, my first patch pockets, my first piece of outerwear in fact! So of course there are little bits and pieces I would like to improve but its a win, a milestone and I am almost giddy with pride whenever I wear it. If you want to learn more about my making journey and process then have a watch of the vlogs below!

Follow my progress on YouTube!

Part 1:
Part 2:

Sewing Project: Tilly and The Buttons Lotta Dress Pattern Review

Hey everyone! Apologies for the prolonged absence I’ve just finished a massive project which I was vlogging so I’ve neglected the blog a little(more on that soon!) but today I wanted to check in with you all to tell you about my new favourite beginner pattern! That’s right, you guessed it, it’s the Tilly and The Buttons Lotta Dress. An over the head dress with an elastic area waist, optional grown-on sleeves and patch pockets. One of the wonderful things about this pattern is that it can be made in either woven or knots fabrics which is amazing!!

It’s a good, easy sew and great fun for beginners or more experienced sewists alike. I finished mine today and I’m already in love! I used a viscose marrocain from Rainbow Fabric Kilburn and followed the woven instructions. In this blog post I’m going to talk about the good points of the pattern and give you a few of my notes to consider when making the pattern for the first time.

Good Points:

Easy Construction

The beauty of the Lotta is the simplicity of construction, all the pieces are cut on the fold so you literally have a skirt and top each with two pieces and a neck facing/band – that’s it! It goes together as you would expect and as the sleeves are grown on even they are very low maintenance. For an experienced sewist it make the garment a very speedy make and it’s also not too intimidating for complete beginners.

Minimum Technical Sewing Required

This is the joy of the Lotta, it’s almost like a palette cleanser project, quick, simple, minimal brain work required! The simplicity of the garment construction is enhanced by the sheer lack of technical sewing. There are no zips, no fastenings, no darts, the only shaping is the elasticated waist which is the simplest of casings as it just uses the seam allowance from the top. It was a refreshingly relaxing sew coming after finishing my very technical Eden Coat.

Points To Be Aware Of:

Very Fabric Hungry

It surprised me how much fabric was required. I only just got my Size 10 Lotta out of 2 metres of fabric and that was with some extremely creative pattern laying. The pattern says you need 2/2.5 but as the fabric amounts aren’t listed for each size I assumed that I would need less. I pretty much always under-buy anyway because apart from my Eden Coat I’ve literally never used the whole amount fabric “required” for a project. The reason it needs so much fabric is because every single pattern piece needs to be cut on the fold, the larger sizes will also not fit on 45” wide fabric which is worth being aware of before you buy your fabric!

Hem Sleeves Before Closing Sides

Because these sleeves are grown on, you assemble them by first attaching the front and back bodice at the shoulders and then opening them flat, attaching the sleeve heads and finally sewing them up with one long side seam from the wrist to the waist. However what this means is that it is surprisingly hard to hem the sleeves once they are closed. This is not mentioned in the instructions and so by the time you realise it’s too late! So my advice is to ignore the instructions and hem your sleeve arms first and then sew up the side seam. You’re welcome!

Be Aware Of Hem Lengths

This is just a note for your own planning, I made the mini-skirt version which is supposed to sit above the knee however I am 5’2” and I had to remove 4 inches to get the skirt to just above my knee so please be aware that the skirt is fairly long.

The Lotta is a wonderful entry level pattern and I hope it brings lots of new people into the dressmaking community. It’s also a nice quick sew and a perfect dress for all occasions, its so nice to find a pattern that I can wear to work and socially. I am actually planning to make another one almost immediately out of a structured Navy Ponte Di Roma for a cosy winter work dress. To conclude, if you could only buy one pattern to make your first garment I would definitely recommend the Lotta! Got any tips, tricks or comments on the Lotta? Let me know in the comments below!

Sewing Plans For Lockdown 2.0

Hello everyone, I’m writing to you having just woken up from a nap after a fantastic Sunday roast courtesy of Adam and we are back in lockdown. Now I don’t mind lockdown especially, it’s a strange time but not much will change for me personally however mentally and emotionally its still very tiring. So! To combat this emotional time I have started thinking about the projects I want to accomplish in lockdown alongside the very significant amount of Christmas present sewing I’ve got to do. I’m sewing something for my mum, dad and eldest sister this year along with some other potential sewing presents so lots to do and therefore even more important that I continue some selfish projects to challenge myself as a sewist and make sure I’m still getting time to relax.

My current work in progress is my Tilly And The Buttons Eden Coat. I’ve been working on it for ten days so far and its incredibly tiring but I’m proud of my work and I’m super excited that I will have actually made myself a coat. It feels like such an incredible step forward and advancement in my sewing. I’m hoping to finish it by next weekend as I’ve got to make a whole second version for my sisters Christmas/Birthday present so I will write a blog post reflecting on the making process and any lessons I learnt along the way.

However there are a few other garments I’m looking to make in the next month or so which I have listed below:

Lotta Dress, Tilly And The Buttons

I’ve got these two stunning fabrics from The Sewist Fabric Shop and from Felicity Fabrics, both of which are destined to become Lotta’s however I’m not sure if I’ve got enough of the green one but I’m super excited to work with these fabrics and this pattern! I’m saving the first one up for this week, I think it will be a palette cleanser when my Eden Coat gets too much.

Nora Top, Tilly And The Buttons

As the weather gets colder the Nora top is really starting to call to me and luckily I’ve quite a few snuggly fabrics in my stash. I’ve got a grey rib knit, a coral rib knit as well as a cosy navy textured jersey/scuba and some other jerseys and I’ve got a feeling that the Nora will be making making appearances in my wardrobe. I’ll be writing a blog about my first Nora so stay tuned!

Wrap Dress, GBSB

Above is a picture of the first GBSB wrap dress I made in October. I want to make another of these now I understand the sizing better and make the adjustments I discussed last time. I have some gorgeous slightly heavier viscose jersey that is a black base with an abstract print from Rainbow Fabric Kilburn that would look stunning as a wrap so I just want to have another go at this pattern knowing what I know now.

Something with my waffle

I’ve not got a pattern in mind for this one but I have the most gorgeous ochre waffling from Felicity Fabrics and I really want to make something cosy and comfy for the winter. I was considering a cute yellow dressing gown but then maybe a Freya or similar would work for it? I’m not sure. Please let me know below if you’ve worked with a non-stretch waffle and if there any patterns you could recommend!

Florence Blouse, SizeMe Sewing

This is a new pattern purchase from SizeMe Sewing, a raglan blouse with shirred sleeves(never done shirring before so very exciting!) and I’m going to make it in my purple viscose marrocain from Rainbow Fabric Kilburn. I’ve been holding on to this fabric for ages now because I just couldn’t quite find the right pattern for it but as soon as I saw the blouse online and I knew this would be the one! Can’t wait to make this but definitely need to get some shirring elastic in.

Christmas Sweatshirt

Finally project on my wishlist. As we are stuck at home for the foreseeable I wanted to get into the christmas spirit buy some plain sweatshirting/loop back jersey and some christmas patterned sweatshirting to make two tone Christmas sweatshirt! It will be my first christmas video so I’m just looking at fabrics at the moment and then I will buy the fabrics themselves once I’m paid at the end of November!

So these are some of my sewing plans. Not a definitive list by any means but the projects that I have in my mind at the moment to complete before Christmas. Above all I don’t want to lose my sewing motivation because I’m sewing complex things for other people, I want a list I can turn to when my inspiration is low to just make something fun for me. I will learn loads from the presents I’m making but sewing for others can get a little dull so I’m excited to work through my personal sewing list. Now I’m going to finish uploading my first Eden Coat Vlog and tidy the house before another very busy week!

Fabric Friday Reviews: The Sewist Fabric Shop

Happy Friday everyone! What a week it has been; ups, downs and everything in between but here we are another friday and of course another Fabric Friday review. This week we are talking about The Sewist Fabric Shop a lovely little online fabric boutique with a gorgeous selection that I got the chance to explore this week. I was led here as part of my quest to find affordable McElroy fabrics and I was not disappointed in what I found!

The Sewist Fabric Shop

The Sewist Fabric Shop is run by the lovely Han and demonstrates a small but wide ranging selection of high quality dressmaking fabrics. While choice is still slightly limited, effort has been put in to make sure there are still a range of woven and knit fabrics available and I like the way the colours have been chosen what feels like seasonally. The shop right now exhibits a beautiful autumn palette and going through the knit section just makes me want to buy sweatshirting and make something cosy! Most of the fabrics are plain which is quite refreshing to see as most shops focus on patterns but it would be nice to see one or two feature fabrics. That being said new fabrics are added regularly and the beautiful Lady McElroy fabric I bought is patterned so it may be the selection I’m looking at on the site currently is plainer. and the fabrics themselves are sold by the half metre, priced on the medium to high end of the scale with a minimum of £8 per metre up to £14/15 per metre.

Delivery was a little on the slow side however we are still in a pandemic so it doesn’t bother me too much. The packaging was lovely, my fabric came carefully folded in a large letter sized cardboard box, wrapped in tissue with a branded card. No handwritten note but a nice branded card with their shop and social media details and I do like that my fabric came with a label attached explaining the length and fabric qualities etc. The website is good, very user friendly and I love the ability to filter and reorder the fabrics on the subpages. Equally I like the presence of the fabric types underneath the woven/knit subdivision, its a nice piece of user-friendly design. The one thing that frustrated me somewhat as I speed bought my fabric on my phone is that I had to create an account rather than having the option to check out as a guest. That ia little thing but I don’t like having to create an account because its just another password to forget and reset however it didn’t mar my purchasing experience and its nice being able to look back on exactly what you ordered!

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 6/10
  • Cost – 7/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 7/10
  • Ease of Use – 8/10
  • Ease of Payment – 6/10

Overall Score: 6.8/10

The Sewist Fabric Shop is a wonderful new discovery from me and honestly its earned a spot on my list just for having such good selection of high quality plain fabrics, something I often struggle to find! The purchasing experience was positive and I know Han is constantly making improvements and adjustments to the site which I love to see because it demonstrates a level of care and attention to the actual customer journey as well as the stock. I’m thoroughly looking forward to buying from here again, now to plan something cosy I can make with that sweatshirting…

5 Top Tips For Using PDF Patterns

Happy Thursday everybody! Today is the last day of my annual leave so I’m sat on the sofa doing some life admin and watching the Bourne Supremacy and I’m about to assemble my Helen’s Closet Luna Tank pattern. If anything that last few days have made me realise that I really need some proper annual leave to just do nothing! However it has given me the chance to start on a very big project as well as film a few YouTube bits and reflect on a part of sewing I had never engaged with prior to this year which is PDF patterns.

Initially I thought that PDF patterns were irritating because you have to print and assemble them at home however as I’ve started sewing more often and more complex garments I’ve realised that if there is one thing I hate more than assembling PDF patterns its tracing from pattern sheets. Now tracing from pattern sheets with multiple patterns is fine, its one of those necessary evils but tracing from a tissue paper pattern is a step too far and honestly I’m starting to prefer if not outright love PDFs. I know there are lots of people out there who have never used a PDF pattern so today I’ve going to take five minutes to explain why they are awesome and give you five quick tips on using them to make your PDF pattern life simple.

1. Cut Off The Corners

This is a trick I picked up on instagram and I honestly cannot remember for the life of me where I saw it first but whoever first thought of it, you are a stone cold genius. One of the most frustrating aspects of PDF pattern assembly is cutting off the margin edges of each page and trying to line them up perfectly. However 99% of the time there is a rectangle around the pattern itself to indicate what is pattern and what is just page. So if you just neatly clip the corners of each page you can then overlap the pages and line up the external rectangle et voila! One pattern constructed in half the time and its a lot easier to tape because you aren’t trying to tape two raw edges together. Haven’t tried it before? Try it now and thank me later.

2. Use Pattern Weights

There are few things more frustrating in the world that carefully lining up you pattern pieces, extending your seletope only to find one of the pieces has somehow moved out of line. Now apologies if this sounds obvious but I genuinely didn’t think about it until the other day, use pattern weights to the fixe the pages in place then tape and move on. It makes everything so much simpler and while its more effort to get your pattern weights out it cuts down the frustration that seems to be so synonymous with PDF patterns.

3. Have A Printing Day

If like me you don’t have a dedicated sewing room or office space with all your equipment laid out then chances are you are getting out your printer just to print your PDF patterns. In this case it can be hard to work up the motivation when just buying the pattern means you have it physically. My top tip in this case is to have a printing day, if you can save up a few PDF patterns then put on a movie, get your printer out and print them all in one go. If you want to you can even assemble them at the same time but if you’re anything like me one of the biggest hurdles is just getting them printed out.

4. Check If There Are Layers

These days pattern designers are putting more and more effort into their PDF versions and many patterns now have a layers function. This means that you can isolate down just your size and print that, making cutting out a pattern with over ten sizes on the sheet a lot easier from the get go. Just a note, if you are a MAC user then you will need to use Adobe as preview doesn’t work.

5. Get It Printed Professionally!

Sometimes you may not feel like assembling a PDF pattern when its over 50 pages which is completely fair. This is why there are wonderful people out there who will do it all for you! If it’s a big or complex pattern I just pay for it to be copy shop printed. I use Natasha from Pattern Printing Girl who can be found on instagram and facebook who is cheap and speedy! There are also businesses such as The Foldline or NetPrinter who will print and send to you just be aware that some printers may have a minimum order of A0 sheets.

Three A0 Pages for my TATB Eden Coat!

One of the fantastic aspects of PDF patterns to me is that you always have the original meaning you can print it and cut it out as many times as you want without ruining the original. Plus you can grade between sizes so easily, you can even draw all over it if you need to, it gives you the freedom to make as many mistakes, edits or adjustments as you need. While there absolutely is a place for paper patterns and I do love the pattern envelopes sometimes its nice to have the pure freedom of cutting into a pattern and not having to worry.

Do you have other tips for working with PDF patterns? Let me know in the comments below!

Fabric Friday Reviews: Felicity Fabrics

Hello everyone and apologies for another belated Friday blog! I wrote this last Friday but my laptop was being a little temperamental so here we are on a bright cold Monday afternoon and I’m going to tell you all about the wonderful Felicity Fabrics. Yet another recommendation from Tamlyn of Sewn on the Tyne, this shop is one I’ve followed since I first started my instagram. I have always liked Felicity Fabrics’ stock choices but found them a little out of my price range so they were very much on my wishlist! That is until they had a 24 hour sale on their brand new fabrics and I was able to FINALLY get hold of some of the ‘Dotty About Dots’ Lady McElroy Viscose in Bottle Green, a fabric I’ve been eyeing up for around 6 months now. My fabric is destined to become a TATB Lotta Dress so that will be very exciting when I have time to sew it up. Now, on to the review!

Felicity Fabrics

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://felicityfabrics.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics, Haberdashery and Patterns
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre

Felicity Fabrics is run by a mother daughter duo with a family history of sewing and from the moment your parcel arrives you can tell that this enterprise is personal to them. The fabric is carefully wrapped in tissue paper and sent in a proper branded cardboard box and then there is also a little envelope inside with a fabric swatch with all the fabric details handwritten on the back as well as a handwritten note from Felicity Fabrics! Honestly I could not get over the delivery, which is why they have scored the first ever 10 in this area on the blog!

The fabrics themselves are all good quality and there is a nice range of patterned and plain fabrics. The fabric selection shows evidence of being curated, not necessarily to a colour palette, but to a similar mood which I like. Equally there is a small but good range of fabric types including some Ochre Waffle that I would love to get my hands on! There is also a good range of patterns and haberdashery available and a nice remnants section. The fabric is priced mid-range with a few more expensive pieces in the mix and their remnants section has good sized pieces.

Website is well branded if a bit slow but otherwise functionality is good. They’ve considered what people want and given it to them (the ideal website). The one thing I would highlight is that their phone interface is quite hard to order fabric on, I didn’t have the option to increase the the number of units I wanted on my phone I just had to keep adding 1 to my bag until I had enough. Not a huge problem but just little irritating. Felicity fabrics also have a wonderful blog full of guest bloggers, its such an inspiring space and I love looking through. The only thing I would like to see on the blog is blog headers showing the person in their garment, useful if you’re not familiar with the pattern in use.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 8/10
  • Cost – 6/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 10/10
  • Ease of Use – 7/10
  • Ease of Payment – 8/10

Overall Score: 7.8/10

Felicity Fabrics have got the little details down, Tamlyn described their fabric deliveries as like receiving a present and its true, the box, the little sealed envelope, the wrapping; it makes buying fabric feel like a real occasion. While my bank balance won’t allow me to shop there regularly Felicity Fabrics have earned a top spot on my favourite lists and I’m very very impressed and I will definitely be returning.