Sewing Project: Super Cosy 2 Hour Pyjamas

Hello lovely readers! Those of you who live in the UK will have noticed that it has become significantly colder in the last weeks and as our heating is pretty dreadful I have shifted my sewing focus towards knits, jersey and cosy clothes. Pretty much everything I’ve made since the start of October has been made in a stretch knit or jersey, so much so that I’ve just left the ballpoint needle on the machine.

Project Details

  • Pattern: Simplicity 1563A
  • Trousers: Pink Floral Jersey, Sew Sew Sew
  • Notions: Already Owned
Step 1: Pattern Cutting

As this project was designed to be self-care sewing I wanted to to make sure that every step of the way was simple and didn’t require any extra thought. I actually did this pattern cutting at around 11:30pm so I just grabbed my travel guides as pattern weights and got cutting.

Step 2: Sew The Long Leg Seams & Place One Leg In The Other

Let me start by saying that this jersey is an absolute dream to sew, heavy but soft with a good amount of stretch, it absolutely flew through the machine. I made sure to stitch these seams with a zig-zag and then I double stitched in the seam allowance with a straight stitch. to ensure the jersey can stretch easily with sleep movement. Sew each leg together from the ankle-hem all the way up to the crotch. Then place one leg inside the other, right sides together, and sew up the crotch seam to create your trousers. Press Open the crotch seam and reinforce if necessary. I have chosen not to reinforce the crotch seam because I didn’t feel like I needed it but I may still do it in the future. I want to see how they wear.

Step 3: Create The Waistband Channel And Insert The Elastic

Honestly I did this step almost completely by eye. I’ve made this pattern four times now and I know how much space I like in the waist and hip area. I sewed the waistband with a wide zigzag as well to make sure the elastic can move with the fabric then inserted very wide band elastic and made it to my upper hip/low waist measurement and then took half an inch off to make sure they fit snugly and don’t move in my sleep. One of the wonderful things about making clothes just for me is that I can work to my own tastes. Once the elastic was inserted I double stitched the waistband with a straight stitch underneath my zigzag to reinforce it.

Step 4: Hem The Trousers

Create a simple double hem to the length you require and stitch in place. I made a large cuff because the pattern is for somebody 4/5 inches taller than I am! They are still too long for me but I really like to have them a little long so my feet stay warm in bed. I stitched the cuff with a straight stitch to fix the length in place and voila! One pair of extremely snug pyjamas. I ran up an incredibly quick tank top in a remnant of viscose jersey. I just sewed the side and top seams and then stabilised the neckline. Nice and easy and they are possibly the most comfortable pyjamas I’ve ever owned!

Why was this project so important?

I don’t normally put this bit at the end of a project blog but I wanted to say a word for selfish sewing. Do it. Sew something for yourself, especially if you commercially sew for others. Take a moment to think about something you want, you really want. Whether thats a garment you need or something you’ve always wanted to buy or you just need some time to yourself, sew something for exclusively for you. I’m having a stressful time at the moment with a full time job, a part-time degree, teaching yoga twice a week, driving lessons and sewing is the only thing giving me time to just breathe. These pyjamas took me less than an hour but they might be my favourite make because they are only for me and for the house. They are officially my self-care pyjamas because we all need those clothes that help us relax. Now I’m going to slip into my cosy pyjamas and get into bed with a good crime book!

See you guys next time x

Online Fabric Retailer Review: Sew Anonymous

Good Morning Everybody! Welcome to a belated Fabric Friday, I didn’t have time to write this blog yesterday as my first MA Essay is due on Monday so my focus has been elsewhere. However! This week I wanted to focus on a brand new sewing shop that is only a month old and is taking the sewing community by storm. I am of course talking about the wonderful Sew Anonymous.

Sew Anonymous

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.sewanonymous.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics, Haberdashery and Patterns
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/4 metre (prices per metre)

Sew Anonymous is run by a well known member of the sewing community and stocks fabric, patterns and haberdashery items. Although the selection of products is currently fairly small it is growing by the day. It has to be said that the initial selection wasn’t really my sort of fabric however then I discovered the simply glorious tab that displays fabrics available for pre-order! Let me start by saying that I love this option. Its a great way to help makers plan their future garments and the range of pre-order fabrics on offer from Sew Anonymous is excellent. I managed to get my hands on some Tilly And The Buttons Jumbo Polka Dot Black Jersey which I have wanted for ages and is normally sold out! I got my pre-order in on the opening weekend and now I am just deciding on the pattern. One aspect which i would like to see introduced in the future would be to add a fabric classification menu which I’m sure will become a necessity as their stock and range increases because I definitely shop by fabric type rather than by design. As I say, the range of fabrics is currently expanding at a rate of knots and every time I look there is something new and beautiful! I would say that their stock includes far more feature fabrics than basics but this is an understandable choice in a new supplier as the feature fabrics really draw people in.

In terms of cost I would say they are mid-range, slightly more expensive than the suppliers I normally use but the fabrics are good quality so I don’t mind. I used the discount code for the opening weekend because my fabric was £12 a metre. I know TATB is organic jersey so a justifiable cost but definitely not something I could afford normally so the discount code was much appreciated. Speaking of cost there is one strange aspect to their pricing vs buying quantities, although fabric is priced by the metre(yay!) it is sold by fat quarter. Now this could be because I’m not someone who uses fat quarters often but I found this confusing. Mind you its not extra effort for me to put multiples of 4 in the order box instead of 1 but it definitely took me a minute to figure out how much I needed to buy! It has to be said however the fact they show the prices in metres makes me extremely happy because I absolutely hate it when shops price in terms of fat quarters, its just so much extra maths. There is also a fab range of patterns, haberdashery items, sewing fits and threads. With the pattern in particular there is also a fab infographic that shows you how to find your body measurements and where to measure which I thought showed a really good sense of what their customers need from them. You all know there’s nothing I love more than a shop where I can get everything I need for a project at the same time! Delivery starts at £3 and was very speedy, I also really liked the spotty post bag my fabric arrived in, its a nice touch.

On to the website itself. Now there are a few things that really irritated me about the website however I’m not going to be too harsh because its only just been set-up and most websites take a couple of months to really bed in and settle. In terms of design, I LOVE the branding. It’s strong, recognisable and there has clearly been a great deal of thought put into the brand personality and how they will interact with their consumers. However the website itself has quite a slow loading speed, I’ve tested it on multiple browsers and networks to make sure it wasn’t my laptop. I think the issue is that the photo file sizes are too large so the data load time is quite long, particularly on a phone. It is improving as the website ages but I would recommend compressing the photos further as this will massively improve the load time on the landing pages regardless. My only other gripe with the website is that the main menu is arranged in a really strange order. The home option is in the middle and there are a lot of options on the menu making it a little visually confusing. This might just be me but its worth considering the order of necessity with the main menu to streamline it and make it a little more user friendly. Other than that the fabric photography is excellent, it would be nice to have bit of description with each fabric but its really the photography that is key and they do display a helpful little infographic to talk you through fabric weights which I found useful.

Rating

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

Overall Score: 6.8/10

Sew Anonymous have certainly started with a bang! They’ve got a great instagram and do well to engage with other makers online. I’m excited to get sewing with my fabric and I’m sure I will be purchasing fabric and patterns from them in the future. Good luck with your journey Sew Anonymous, I can’t wait to see where you go!

Online Fabric Shop Reviews: Lamazi Fabrics

Hi everyone, somehow its Friday already and here we are again with our Online Fabric Shop review. This week we are talking about Lamazi Fabrics! I had had my eye on Lamazi Fabrics for a while but they rose to the top of my list after a suggestion from Tamlyn @sewnonthetyne who is one of their bloggers as well as a friend through instagram. After watching Tamlyn’s fabric haul video and seeing the fabrics she bought I thought I would take a peak at the website and before you know it I’d bought a two metres of rib knit fabric for an unspecified project… however it does give me the chance to feature them on the blog! So on we go.

Lamazi Fabrics

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

Lamazi fabrics is an online sewing supplies boutique that stocks a fantastic range of fabrics, patterns and notions. The range of fabrics is impressive with a good mix of stretch and woven fabrics. If anything I find their dropdown tab for fabrics quite overwhelming, it may be best to list the brands second and lead with the fabric types. My first fabric purchase from them was the coral pink stretch knit in the picture above which is gorgeous quality and Im so excited to use it! I would say their fabrics are a little on the expensive side so I went shopping in the sale section which has got some great bargains in there. The owners have a passion for designers fabrics and this really comes across in their fabric choices.They wouldn’t be my default purely based on cost however I would say that Lamazi Fabrics is a great one-stop shop to get your fabric, pattern and notions in one go.

The website itself is well designed a little busy to the eye but easy to use and the purchasing journey was simple and efficient which is all you can ask really. I was so impressed with the speed of delivery and the fact that delivery is completely FREE! Incredible. The fabric arrives packaged carefully and mine arrived tied up in a black ribbon with the note enclosed which I thought was a nice little touch. As I mentioned, you do get a little personalised note which I thought was really sweet. I do keep all the personalised notes I receive from fabric suppliers as i think they are a lovely way to support the buyers sewing journey. Their social media engagement is excellent, plus they didn’t mind when I spaced them with fabric unboxing videos which I always put up on my story. I also really like their blog, its got posts from lots of fantastic makers and I find it a really inspiring space.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 8/10
  • Cost – 6/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 9/10
  • Ease of Use – 7/10
  • Ease of Payment – 8/10

Overall Score: 7.6/10

Lamazi Fabrics is a great one-stop shop to get your fabric, pattern and notions in one go. Their fabric is a little costly but the makers have a clear vision of what fabrics they want to stock and why. They have got some fab sustainable fabrics and I like the way they feature all of their products equally. It really feels like somewhere with principles and ideals where I am engaging with their vision when I buy from them. I’m excited to get started on my next make using their gorgeous fabric and I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m buying from them again!

Anticipate Your Wardrobe Needs To Give Up Fast Fashion

I want to take a moment to reflect on my three months without fast fashion and my new relationship with my wardrobe. I’m surprised that I don’t miss shopping but this could be because I haven’t actually been into a shop yet so the temptation hasn’t been strong. Honestly I actually feel liberated, no pangs of regret after spending too much, no more constant emails and a much more comfortable relationship with my body. Now I can make clothes that fit me and not have to rely on whether or not my body type is in fashion to buy jeans. Another wonderful side effect of this process has been the appreciation its given me of my existing wardrobe. I have gone through my full wardrobe to remind myself what pieces make my heart soar and which ones I make me feel frumpy. Its also given me time to consider my style and what I genuinely like wearing, the gaps in my wardrobe and the garments I’ve always wanted.

A great example of this analysis is my recent foray into making tops. I have plenty of shirts and going-out tops but very few standard day to day tops and t-shirts. I saw the gap and decided to fix it! The result? My Gwen Batwing Top, my Amaya Shirt, my boxy blouse and I’ve even made a couple of Shell Tops from GBSB, check out my vlog sew-a-long here! It can be hard to identify the gaps especially as the gaps generally match the garments you hate buying. The joy of sewing however is that we can craft our own versions of garments we hate buying. For example, I don’t buy tops very often because I find sizing difficult. With a 10inch difference between my bust and my waist there are very few RTW tops I can buy comfortably however when I sew I can adjust all the measurements in a garment as required and make something for my body type. So how do you hunt down those wardrobe weak spots?

3 Steps To Finding Your Wardrobe Weak Spots

  1. Look At Your Wardrobe – Seriously just get all your clothes out and go through them. What do you love? And crucially, what do actually you wear? Is there anything you want to wear but have nothing to go with it? Write it all down.
  2. Look At Your Bookmarks/Saved Links – This step is important as its the clothes that we lust over online and save and wait for that we really want. Sometimes we bookmark aspirational things that we would love but can’t afford. Again write down what types fo clothes you’ve bookmarked and then think about WHY you want those clothes? For me I often bookmark things that are much more expensive that I really want. It used to make me feel bad but now its just sewing inspiration!
  3. Consider Your Purchasing Habits – Think back to your last few shopping trips, what did you buy? What do you hate buying? The things we hate buying tend to be the things we need. For example, I hate buying and wearing trousers other than skinny jeans and tight leggings therefore I have no other trousers at all. Now I probably should take a foray into other types of trousers but its too disheartening in the shops as they ever fit my leg length or dimensions. Therefore they are a great candidate for me to make.

Hopefully these tips will help you find the weak spots in your wardrobe and then work to fill them either with high quality products or me made garments. For me it is all me-made garments but I recognise not everyone is looking to give up fashion completely. In terms of fighting the urge to shop I find planning my makes helps a lot. I’ve made a pattern wishlist and now I get the same rush of excitement when I buy a new pattern or finish a new garment. Giving up fast fashion isn’t always easy but you’ve got to start somewhere and auditing your clothes is never a bad idea.

Online Fabric Shop Review: The Makers Merchant

Happy Friday Everyone! It’s officially October now (somehow?!) and I have taken my first foray into stretch knits and cosy makes. My companion on this journey was a stunning light grey marl stretch knit from The Makers Merchant. My first purchase from them and I am thoroughly impressed! I would definitely like to revisit them for more fabric purchases in the future and I may explore their haberdashery for the hardware necessary for my Eden Coat.

The Makers Merchant

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

Formerly Loubodu Fabrics, The Makers Merchant has expanded from just fabrics to a one stop shop for all of your sewing needs. There is a great fabric section, a fab haberdashery and a great pattern section as well. The team have clearly worked hard to create the kind of sewing shop we all wish was just down the road!

They have a wonderful range of fabrics and have a particularly good selection of jerseys, stretch and cosy knits. Fabric is sold by the half metre and while there is a fab selection, I’m not a big fan of their categorisation as you have to choose whether you want to look at plain or patterned fabrics before you can select a fabric type. I think its a case of personal preference in that it depends how you shop for fabric. Personally I don’t often know whether I want plain or patterned fabric until I get there, I prefer to see all the wool or all the kersey on offer and select from there. That being said their selection is very good, clearly curated but not too narrow. In terms of cost they are fairly affordable and do have a good range of prices to suit most pockets. There are cheaper suppliers out there but there are also more expensive ones, The Makers Merchant sit comfortably in the middle as a good allrounder. They do some excellent sales and I would definitely recommend them to beginners, especially if you are looking for your first stretch fabric project as their stretch fabric in particular is often cheaper than other suppliers and they have a good range. Delivery was very affordable at £2.50 for standard posting and was extremely speedy, although when it arrived there was no card or note from the supplier. Not necessary of course and doesn’t damage the experience but its always nice to get one in terms of purchase emotion and brand engagement.

It has to be said in terms of creative design I’m a big fan of the rebrand, I think its a better name and the logo is slick. The fabric photography is excellent and the aesthetic is pristine, the website looks gorgeous. However. There are some significant functionality issues. In terms of the parent site map, I don’t think there are sub pages for each section or if there are then the links in the menu are broken as when I tried to go to the haberdashery pages and look at fastenings I was unable to and it kept directing me back to the homepage, I was also unable to access the About page for the same reason. If there are no subpages that fine but then you shouldn’t be able to click on the subheading e.g. fastenings. Equally their FAQs are almost entirely focussed on the brand change and contain no practical consumer information about deliveries or refunds etc. In some ways I actually found their website worked a lot better on my phone however the payment window wouldn’t load properly so I did end up having to transfer to my laptop and pay in the desktop version.This may be a case of bedding in a new website and fixing but i think it should be addressed as its irritating especially when the actual products they sell are so good.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 8/10
  • Cost – 7/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 8/10
  • Ease of Use – 6/10
  • Ease of Payment – 5/10

Overall Score: 6.8/10

The Makers Merchant is a great shop that gives the online sewist a bit of everything and I can only imagine how nice the physical shop is! Their delivery is speedy and the service excellent. The only thing that bothers me about The Makers Merchant is some of the functionality of the website and the sitemap. The website has a few glitches and the payment interface sometimes struggles on a phone however it’s well worth persevering as the actual fabric and products they stock are of excellent quality and the range of affordable quality fabrics is superb.

Fabric Shop Reviews: The New Craft House

I heard the name of the NewCraftHouse long before I started this blog or my instagram account. I saw their summer party through a friends instagram and was instantly intrigued by them. This year actually, in February 2020, I was lucky enough to attend a bra-making workshop led by Rosie and thats when I really understood what the NewCraftHouse is about, it brings together sewists from all walks of life to learn something new together. They are all about individuality and variety and nothing shows that more than their fabric selection.

The New Craft House

The dress I made with my New Craft House Fabric!
  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: http://thenewcrafthouse.com
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics, Haberdashery and Workshops
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre

The New Craft House is based near Bethnal Green tube station in East London and the vibe as soon as you go is so welcoming and friendly. They have their rolls of deadstock to one side in racks and then workshop tables with sewing machines spread through the room. It’s bright, friendly and welcoming. Clearly a lot of work has gone into ensuring that the website has the same vibe. It has a clean fresh look that is impressive on a laptop as well as usable on a phone. They sell their fabrics in half metre increments and it is free delivery over £60, otherwise delivery costs £3.50/£4 using Royal Mail. The interface is user friendly although I would like to see the shop option further up the menu bar but thats just personal preference. They have a good variety of payment options and have definitely expanded their functionality since my first visit to their website last year.

On to the fabrics themselves. The New Craft House are almost unique in the sense that they buy from the designers directly rather than from wholesalers which means they get limited amounts of high quality fabrics and they don’t always know what they are going to get. This works well for them, it has the feel of a pick’n’mix in that there is just a huge mix of fabrics and it isn’t necessarily a curated or coordinated collection as in other fabric shops. I’ve marked them down a little for range because although stye do have a wonderful range of fabrics at any one time I don’t think its necessarily very reliable. It does however allow them to retain their quirky individuality and makes them a fantastic place to find one-off fabrics for that special project. What I would say however is that because they don’t always know what fabrics they are getting there is occasionally some uncertainty on fabric types meaning that its not always the easiest to tell what you are getting online. To counter this they do tend to show all the fabrics on their instagram story so you can get a sense of their weight and movement which I really like. They have a wide range in terms of price but I would say they are about mid-range and they do have a fairly good remnants section.

Due to the range of fabrics and the unreliability of the selection I wouldn’t recommend the New Craft House as a first fabric shop for beginners as I think you nee to have a slightly better understanding of fabric properties before you dive into their selection. I made the mistake of getting so wrapped up in the quality and the range that I ended up buying fabric that was entirely unsuitable for the pattern I was using however it was absolutely gorgeous and I do not regret the purchase in the slightest! I only regret not pre-washing the fabric as that garment has now shrunk so much that I can’t wear it. They are a fantastic shop but for me they are more special occasion sewing than everyday makes.

Rating

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

Overall Score: 7.4/10

The NewCraftHouse is full to the brim with personality and this comes both from the co-owners Rosie and Hannah but also from the fabrics themselves. They stock deadstock like many other shops but the variety of fabrics is unusual and always inspiring. Shopping there has something of a market feel because there is no dependable stock level so you have to grab it while you can but the flip side of that is their variety of fabrics is constantly changing so you are sure to find something you like at some point. While I wouldn’t recommend them as a standard fabric shop for a beginner, they are a fantastic shop for intermediate/advanced sewists who understand to find the fabric for THAT special project you’ve been thinking about.

My First Instagram Fabric Swap

Hello everybody and Happy Friday! The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that two weeks ago, for the first time since I started this blog, there was no fabric shop review last week! Last week I featured the wonderful Sewing At Number 51 so go check that out that blog post if you’re interested. In fact two weeks ago I wanted to write about my experiences taking part in my very first instagram fabric swap however all the fabric hadn’t arrived and then I got quite ridiculously busy so today you join me for a slightly different Fabric Friday!

I want to start by saying that this was an incredibly fun community experience that I am really glad I took part in however I will freely admit initially I had no idea what was going on or how to get involved. This blog post therefore will be half review of my experiences and half guide to beginner instagram sewers who want to get involved in the next one. I’m not sure how regular they are, this one was part of the #sewyourselfsustainable challenge with New Craft House but I’m sure there are quite a few across the year. So, what did I swap and what did I get?

Fabrics I Swapped:

  • Navy Gingham (1m)
  • Red Floral Cotton (>1m)
  • Navy Star Cotton (>2m)
  • Black Floral Cotton (>1m)

Sadly no one claimed my fluffy monster fabric but if anyone wants it you’re more than welcome! its incredibly long but only about 40cm wide so not ideal but still very much available.

Fabrics I Received:

  • Green Stretch Velvet
  • Peach Viscose Jersey
  • Rust Triple Crepe
  • Navy Textured Jersey

The swap was a wonderful experience, it was so lovely to connect with other makers and take part in a big community event. Normally I am too shy or unprepared to take part in these however now I actually have fabric stash and whats more its growing rapidly so I thought it was a great time to take part. It was wonderful to be able to swap out enormous remnants from where I’d just bought too much fabric for one make or I just couldn’t think how to use. There isn’t the pressure of having to take money or pay., it was just a nice swap event plus I got some fabrics I’ve always wanted to work with but didn’t have the financial confidence in my sewing skills to buy.

So to finish off I wanted to share my top tips for taking part in fabric swaps.

  1. If There’s A Hashtag Follow It! – This helps straight away. Not only does it mean you can keep up to date with whats going on, it also massively increases the range of makers and accounts you can find and interact with. More accounts means more fabric options!
  2. Don’t Be Scared To Get Involved – Most people will post fabrics on their grid and some people will talk through them properly on their story. Don’t be scared to respond to a story or comment on the grid post and ask if fabrics are still available. When I started I knew there was a swapping element but I didn’t know how to introduce it into conversation because I have a British awkwardness that knows no bounds. So if you’re nervous just say something along the following, ‘Is that *insert fabric here* still free? I’ve put my fabrics up so let me know if there is anything you would like to swap.’ Something along those lines. The reason I put a literal sentence is because there are some wonderful but rather shy makers out there who wanted to get involved so if you’re nervous thats how you start the conversation!
  3. Get Your Remnants Ready First – This is a key step. Before you start looking at all the gorgeous fabrics that people want to swap, get all of your fabric out and I mean ALL, and figure out what you’re going to use, what you have plans for and what you just aren’t going to use. One of the big sources for my remnants was fabric from early makes because stupidly I actually followed the instructions and bought the amount of the fabric the pattern suggested. *Spoiler Alert* I always need about half a metre less than the fabric tells me is absolutely compulsory. Maybe I’m good at laying pattern pieces and maybe I’m just short.
  4. Plan What You’re Going To Post In – This sounds silly but normally these happen over the weekend and most people post on the Monday and Tuesday so just remember than once you have successfully swapped your fabrics you will need two things; 1. the address of the person your posting and 2. something to put your fabric in. You ideally want this to be pretty cost neutral apart from the cost of posting itself so have a hunt around for envelopes or if you’re starting to plan now save the post bags your fabric is sent in originally as they are ideal.
  5. Don’t Go Crazy – This is just a little reminder that you aren’t buying fabric here you are swapping so presumably you will get the same number of fabrics as you have swapped so remember you can’t have everything! Be discerning, pick fabrics you can’t normally access or want to work with, a lot of people actually specify fabrics they are interested in in their grid post. Just remember, have a great time, take part and don’t go mad!

Online Fabric Shop Review: Sewing At Number 51

Happy Friday everybody! You know what that means? It’s Fabric Friday! Although I am starting to run out of fabric shops so if anyone has any suggestions of places I should try please let me know in the comments. Today I have the absolutely joy and pleasure of talking about Sewing At Number 51. Last week I bought some absolutely stunning cotton poplin from them, picture above, and its beautiful. I have had a great idea of what to do with it but I’m nervous because its a significant pattern hack so I think that will be a project for next weekend. Definitely will vlog it though because I’m crazy nervous. Anyway, on to the review!

Sewing At Number 51

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.sewingatnumber51.com
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics and Haberdashery Equipment
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre

Sewing at Number 51 was started this year in 2020 and already is building a great name for itself as an independent fabric and haberdashery supplier. When I read that it was started this year I almost had to double take because while their range of fabrics is admittedly quite small, mainly just cottons, but it doesn’t feel like a *new* shop. It just feels like a smaller fabric shop which is fine. Not everyone has space to have thousands of types of fabrics on hand to send out and for a new operation the range of fabric designs is good and range of actual fabric types I’m sure will build over time. One thing I admire is the curation of the fabric collection. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into choosing what fabrics to stock. The beautiful poplin I bought, shown above, was such an instant win for me. I looked at it on their instagram story and went ‘yes please I want that now’ and they do stock fabrics that make me want to buy them and I have no idea what i will use them for. Equally in terms of haberdashery and sewing equipment they have stuck a toe in the water to see what people buy and I have no doubt will build on that. Honestly in this climate of despair it does me good to see a small business flourishing and I look forward to support Sewing At Number 51 through out the years ahead.

In terms of who their fabric is best suitable for I would say beginners straight away. No tricky stretch fabric to navigate so you pretty much have your choice of cottons to work with. I remember when I first started sewing and all you really think about is colours and patterns because you don’t necessarily understand the properties of fabrics themselves. Equally in terms of cost they are low range so very accessible to all markets and they stock fabric by the half metre. Delivery is quick and when your fabric arrives it comes in a lovely paper bag with a note inside from Abi. Check out my instagram fabric haul highlight if you would like to see exactly how it arrives. Honestly I’m such a sucker for a handwritten note I really feel like it makes the purchase, jut to know there is a real human on the other side makes the making journey feel so much more personal.

The website interface is clean looking however I would say that the inability to filter by fabric types/equipment is frustrating. However as it is a smaller store you are still able to look through all the available fabrics fairly easily and I’m sure as a broader range of stock is added this feature will update. A problem that many other sites have also applies to Sewing At Number 51 which is that the phone interface is so so much easier to use than the desktop. The mobile site is clear and easy to use, the menu is a usable size and the payment system simple, however the desktop interface has an incredibly small logo and a very small menu text. I wonder if focus has been placed on the phone interface to match new consumer habits. Which I completely understand because research shows that people are buying more and more from their phone. I love their blog section I think it reflects their brand identity really well and I look forward to seeing more posts there. Equally I think it would be nice to see some guest blogs as it would push up the profile of a fantastic new sewing retailer.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 5/10
  • Cost – 8/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 8/10
  • Ease of Use – 7/10
  • Ease of Payment – 8/10

Overall Score: 7.2/10

Sewing at Number 51 typify to me the ‘friendly fabric shop-next-door’ it’s sweet, it’s independent, the selection of fabrics although small is exceptionally well curated and when you buy from them you can’t help but smile. They have fantastic engagement on instagram and social media and you all know I love a brand that really engages with their makers and consumers. Would I shop from there again? Absolutely and I’m so excited to start using their fabric. I will keep you guys posted and look out for a vlog in the coming weeks on what I get up to with this stunning fabric.

Monthly Magazine Make: Boxy Blouse and My Very First Yoke!

This is my first detailed project blog for a while but here I am to talk to you about this month’s make chosen from my copy of Love Sewing magazine. I only started my subscription last month but I already love it, I love how many free patterns you can access and its always super interesting to hear from other makers, experts and amateurs alike! The second I saw the My Handmade Wardrobe Boxy Blouse from Crafty Sew & So I had to make it. I love shirts, I love the silhouette and having just bought a machine almost purely because of its incredible buttonhole functionality I was desperate to sew buttonholes. A sentence I’m sure no one has said before. Whilst containing some familiar elements such as collars and buttons this pattern also contained a little challenge in the form of my first ever yoke.

In the spirit of the New Craft House #sewyourselfsustinable challenge I decided I would use a deadstock remnant I had left over from another project, my gorgeous daisy patterned viscose from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn, and I used the rest of the pink shell buttons from my fish dress earlier in the summer. So not only was this project super fun but it didn’t cost me a thing, well apart from the cost of the magazine but hey you can’t have everything. I have also been a little under the weather due to personal health issues and I felt this project was the perfect way to get my sew-jo back.

Project Details

Step 1: Pattern Printing & Cutting

I printed the whole pattern on my printer at home which means that the pieces probably aren’t perfect but they were as good as I could get them! Still it is quite fun to be able to print at home and start straight away. My fabric layout wasn’t as efficient as it could have been but I wanted to make sure the stripes would be evenly lined up on the shirt.

Step 2: Create The Box Pleat In The Back

I liked this as a first step because I love a box pleat and it felt cosy and familiar. They are easy to make and so satisfying to look at afterwards. I’m not going to explain this step really as its clear, follow the markings and make a box pleat in the back panel, but here is a picture of mine as I do just love them.

Step 3: Create Your Yoke

It was at this stage I realised that I did not have the correct yoke pieces. On the pattern piece it does not tell you to cut the yoke on the fold, it just tells you to cut two pieces. The cutting layout in the magazine is also incorrect. Having never done a yoke before I naturally followed the instructions and cut two individual halves of the yoke. It was only when I got to the assembly stage that I realised something was extreme wrong. Luckily I managed to squeeze another yoke piece out of my remnant however I couldn’t cut a second one so you will see that my inner yoke is two pieces sewn together and my outer yoke is one continuous piece. It wasn’t a huge drama as luckily I had just enough fabric left but it is definitely worth flagging that you must cut two yokes on the fold rather than just two pieces as the pattern piece states. Once you have got the correct yoke pieces, attach the back pleated piece to the base of the yoke with pins and then roll it up. Then attach the fronts of the shirts to the shoulder seams again with pins and roll them up until you end up with something resembling the first picture below. You then place your second yoke piece on top to create something that looks like a calzone.

Step 4: Stitch The Seams & Pull Through

As this was my first time using the burrito method I was understandably nervous, I kept thinking to myself ‘surely this won’t work’ and yet! As long as you roll the fabric pieces nice and tightly inside and leave the seams flat you can stitch along the shoulders and back seam et voila! You reach through the neck and pull out your finished garment. I was absolutely enthralled by this process and proceed to bore my partner for a good 10 minutes with my utter amazement at this technique. He was actually very sweet and listened to me far longer than he had to but I was extremely excited about it.

Step 5: Create Your Button Plackets

This is a simple step and yet… I was quite tired by this point so accidentally pressed the placket to the right side instead of the wrong side, luckily I realised and was able to fix it quickly. You fold the placket 1.5cm to the wrong side, then again and stitch down the open side. To make this easier for yourself make sure you cut the notches on the neckline as they show you the distancing.

Step 6: Create & Attach Collar

Having really struggled with my last collar it almost felt like seeing an old friend when I started to cut out the pieces. I interfaced them with medium weight interfacing because honestly its all I had in the house and i reasoned that as my fabric was so lightweight it probably needed the extra weight and honestly it helped significantly, I don’t think the collar would have stood up correctly otherwise. However I did have one issue stitching on the collar, on the pattern pieces it said to use a 1.5cm seam allowance when stitching them together which I did however when I came to attach it to the garment I found that the collar was at least 1.5cm short on each side. I really had to snip into the neckline and do a lot of easing to get it on. It really isn’t my neatest collar but thankfully the colour and pattern of the fabric hide it. Next time I will reduce the seam allowance massively but otherwise the instructions were very clear and easy to follow.

Step 7: Side Seams & Finish Raw Edges

At this point its a nice simple finish for the side seams, I stitched them at the 1.5cm seam allowance and then used my overlock stitch on my machine to finish the edges. If you have an overlocker you could probably just overlock them but either way, a simple finish, then I used a rolle hem on the end of the sleeve and on the bottom hem of the shirt. I used a rolled hem for two reasons, firstly speed but secondly because I am working with a very lightweight, almost diaphanous, viscose and I didn’t want the hem to sit too heavily.

Step 8: Buttons & Buttonholes

For once I was absolutely itching to get to this stage because the buttonhole function on my new sewing machine is genuinely phenomenal. I have a Singer Starlet 6680 with a 1-step buttonhole function. Its got the cleverest buttonhole foot, like an enormous frame that measures the size of the button then creates the right sized space for the needle to sew a perfectly fitting buttonhole. I was so confident in this function that I actually used contrasting thread and used a thicker buttonhole to show them off. Not only did I have a great time sewing the buttonholes I also machine sewed my buttons on for the first time ever! My lovely new machine came with a plethora of feet that I am only now getting time to experiment with. the buttonhole foot is absolutely excellent and saved me a huge amount of time as well as saving my eyes from strain. I am beyond chuffed with the result and it was a super fun way to finish off this garment.


What I love about this pattern is that it is challenging and yet simple. On the one hand you are attaching a collar which can be tricky and you have buttons and buttonholes to worry about, on the other, there are no sleeves to worry about and all the finishes are pretty basic. It’s a bite sized amount of challenge and a fantastic project for beginners who want to branch out into new techniques. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this pattern to every beginner anywhere, its fun, the instructions are simple, the garment is eminently wearable. My only caveat would be that the cutting instructions could be better, as I mentioned above the cutting label on the yoke piece was downright incorrect, but despite that I would still recommend this pattern as a fantastic introduction to collars, buttons and shirts.

My Top Tips To Sew Your Own Amaya Shirt

As my YouTube subscribers will know, I have just finished making the Amaya Shirt from Made My Wardrobe. Today I am mopping up, resetting my machine and trying to sort some other little projects/alterations/fixes which have been piling up for a while now. However, before I completely forget how I made it I wanted to share my tips, tricks and honest feedback on my making journey for the Amaya Shirt.

Firstly, here it is in all her gorgeous, flute-sleeved glory. Honestly I would never have thought of making this pattern originally, it was very much the case that the fabric came first. I bought this stunning red spot cotton from The Rag Shop with no clue at all what I was going to make with it. For transparency I almost never do that, I’m always very project lead but I thought, you know what? I’ve got to have it. When I posted about it online and asked for recommendations Steph from The Rag Shop got in touch and suggested the Amaya Shirt. I was intrigued and although its a little out of my comfort zone fashion-wise I decided to take the plunge.

It also took me out of my technical sewing comfort zone. My first proper top stitching, my first raglan sleeves, it was all a journey and I really made myself take my time. Especially as I knew that I didn’t have enough fabric to recut if I made a mistake. I’m really glad I took the time, doing only one or two pattern steps a day for a week. It was a lovely way to wind down from work each day and I feel like this is technically one of the best garments I’ve made because I didn’t rush a single step. So my first and biggest piece of advice I can give you is to take your time with this make, there aren’t many steps but they all require accuracy and care. Below I have linked my vlog so you can join me for every step of the sew and you can also see just how many grey jumpers I own as I change between days.

My Top Tips:

  • Draw The Line For The Front Opening – seriously, do this. I thought I wouldn’t bother but it requires a straight line stitched 4cm in from the edge which is surprisingly hard to do by eye and most machines don’t have markings that go out that far. This was made extra difficult on my fabric as its exceptionally hard to draw a straight line on Swiss Cotton! Regardless draw a solid or dashed line, its worth it for a garment feature that is so front and centre.
  • Really Press The Centre Front Open – While we talking about the centre front…before you start top stitching you absolutely must press it open thoroughly so that your facing and seam doesn’t bulge when you do the top stitching.
  • Finish All The Edges As You Go – Cards on the table, I’m straight up awful at finishing raw edges when I sew, honestly just awful, but I really made the effort with this garment partly because i didn’t want fraying but mostly because it actually really helps with the structure and the strength of the seams. I am particularly highlighting this as something you should as you go along because there are quite a few seams you can’t access once the garment is done if you were hoping to have a tidy up at the end. The pattern recommends overlocking but if you don’t have an overlocker then either you can zigzag or you can go on a voyage of discovery with your sewing machine and find out that it actually has four different overlock stitch options. (It’s the dream)
  • Gather Much Closer To The Neckline Edge Than You Think – Basically if you look at the outside of my garment the bind covers all the gathers, that is quite emphatically not the case on the inside. I did my gathers at the distance recommended by the pattern, or at least i think it did as I work in imperial and it only had metric, but at that distance it was impossible to enclose the gathers properly in the neck binding on both sides. So I would recommend sewing one row in the seam allowance and then other just beyond it. You will still be able to gather and you will be able to enclose both sides in the binding.
  • Go By Your Measurements – so I looked at the finished pattern measurements and was going to make a size down as they looked huge but when I looked at the body measurements I saw that they actually put me in the 10 bracket. I decided to go with the 10 because I would rather it fit my bust properly and then i could adjust other areas but actually i found it to be a really nice fit. its loose but you actually have enough room to move and the sleeves and bust line are both really flattering. My recommendation would be to pick the pattern based on your bust size and then work from there.
  • Print Out The Pattern Instructions And Highlight – For me the pattern instructions required a second and even a third reading as I found the prose of the instructions very unclear. That could just be me but if you do have the same issue I would recommend printing them out and highlighting the action areas just for the sake of clarity. The pattern makes a stunning garment but the instructions could be easier to understand.
  • Use A Fairly Structured Fabric – It really helps with the construction and the fit of this garment. I’m sure you could easily make it out of more slippery fabrics but I think a structured cotton, linen or chambray would be a good starting point for a first make of this garment and would show off its more flattering and exciting features.

Those are my top tips for working with this pattern, its a great pattern and I have worn mine loads since I made it so I would recommend it for all abilities. Check out my sew-a-long vlog below to see how I got on making the Amaya Shirt.