Fabric Friday 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.

Fabric Friday Reviews: 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.

Fabric Friday Reviews: The Rag Shop

Apologies to anyone who saw the accidentally empty version of this post, I schedule all of these in advance and try to write them while I am actually using the fabric from these suppliers so the details are fresh in my mind. I had made all the notes for this post and completely forgot that I hadn’t actually put them in the post. Particular apologies that it should happen to The Rag Shop who are up there in my top 3 favourite fabric suppliers! This week on a belated Fabric Friday we are talking about The Rag Shop a wonderful independent fabric supplier whose high standards, quality and personality come across in every purchase.

The Rag Shop

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

The Rag Shop is the site of one of my first proper impulse purchases of fabric. I was scrolling through instagram minding my own business when I saw the Red Spot Dobby Cotton above and before you know it I’d bought 2 metres. I think their fabric is of fantastic quality but more than that I would say they probably have the best fabric photography of any website I’ve worked with so far. Not only do you see the fabric clearly but the colours are accurate and you can even get a sense of the fabric texture, this is so important in the world of online fabric shopping because you need to know exactly what you are buying. Their fabric range is good and they have a good mix of plain fabrics as well as interesting and on-trend patterned fabrics although they don’t have a massive number of categories you definitely still have choice. I like the jersey they have as well, I haven’t bought any yet but I’ve had my eye on a mustard stripe jersey for about two months now for a long sleeved top and I’m probably going to give in soon and buy it. When I look at The Rag Shop site I really get the impression that everything on there has been handpicked to form a collection and I think that really shows off their personality. A lot of the more out there patterned fabrics aren’t my thing but I love that they are there, I love that when you buy fabric from them that you know its going to have a bit of flare.

They also have a great range of patterns from different independent designers which isn’t something I thought to look for but that I was really impressed by. When I first bought my fabric I put out a call on instagram for ideas of what I should make with it. Then Steph from The Rag Shop actually came back to me with the suggestion for the Made My Wardrobe Anya Shirt, a suggestion I took and I am now on the last steps of finishing. I love a company tat has so much awareness of the fabric they sell that they can recommend patterns that would work well. It shows a level of detail that I find downright astonishing. On the slightly more negative side I would say that unless you are a confident beginner or using a simple pattern I would say that the fabric itself is fairly pricey so if I was a complete beginner I would probably steer clear until I’d made one or two garments and could justify the money. That being said in the grand scheme of fabric shops they are mid-range in terms of cost and they do have a fabulous remnants section that is well worth raiding if you’re on a budget.

The website interface is clear and user friendly and I like that they put a proper description of each fabric next to the photos rather than just specifying the fabric type. The payment interface was very smooth, I used it on my phone and managed to go from instagram post to payment in under 5 minutes. Their delivery was quite speedy and although the outside envelope was plastic as most brands are, inside the fabric was carefully wrapped in tissue paper and came with a printed note as well as a discount for a next purchase which I thought was a really nice touch.

Rating

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

Overall Score: 7.6/10

Where I think The Rag Shop excels is their customer interaction, they are very active on social media and super helpful as my earlier interaction about pattern ideas shows. I like a company that actively tries to connect with makers and support them. A company that does that is one that will get your business time and time again and honestly as soon as I have some money and I’m out of my September fabric ban they will certainly be getting my business again.

Fabric Friday Reviews: Sew Sew Sew

Happy Friday Everybody! This week we are talking about the wonderful Sew Sew Sew a purveyor of high quality fabric for adults and children. I recently bought a stunning viscose from Sew Sew Sew and made my wonderful Rhea Dress(below) and I was so impressed that I had to review them next.

Sew Sew Sew

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

Let me just say to start, I found the selection of summer fabrics available at Sew Sew Sew utterly tantalising. Their fabrics are very high quality and there is a wonderful selection, the downside of this is that they were somewhat out of my price range. When it came to picking the fabric for my Tammy Handmade Rhea Dress they were my first point of call as I wanted a high quality and draping fabric, something that flows beautifully, I wanted to splash out. However as I needed about 3m I didn’t think I had the money but just my luck there was a stunning blue firework pattern viscose remnant 2.74 metres long. Result! This has to be one of Sew Sew Sew’s great strengths. Their remnants are actually a decent size which makes their fabric accessible to those with lower prices ranges who still want to make something beautiful or treat themselves. When my fabric arrived it was absolute perfection so soft and cool to the touch even in the heat.

The website is sleek and easy to use, the brand identity is strong and interface is fine. Nothing to write home about but competent and simple. Where I feel Sew Sew Sew really excels is in the little things, the delivery was speedy and is priced as a standard flat rate of £3. It arrived beautifully wrapped in lavender crepe paper and arrived with a handwritten note from Katie which I thought was a lovely touch. It honestly made me smile the second I opened the package and I think thats a wonderful feeling to get from a fabric supplier. Sew Sew Sew understand people who buy fabric are doing it for fun, they are doing to make something beautiful and you’re excited to get it! The handwritten notes ties a bow on this feeling and I think its wonderful.

Rating

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

Overall Score: 7.4/10

Sew Sew Sew are a wonderful company selling high quality fabric, they are definitely more expensive than other suppliers but the quality more than justifies the price. I love the little touches of personality and I adore the quality of fabric. It’s a yes from me!

Fabric Friday Reviews: Sew Me Sunshine

Happy Friday everybody, you know what that means, its review day! This week we are talking about the wonderful fabric retailer Sew Me Sunshine. About a month ago, I bought two beautiful remnants from them and I finally got around to using both of them this week so I thought they should definitely feature next. 

Sew Me Sunshine

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://sewmesunshine.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics, Haberdashery & Sewing Equipment
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 Metre

Normally I start by talking about the fabric range and quality but this week I am going to launch straight in to tell you how impressed I was by their delivery and packaging. They are the ONLY fabric retailer that I have used so far who has used completely sustainable and non-plastic packaging. My order came in a brown kraft paper bag and inside the order was wrapped in tissue paper. Free with my order I received a cute postcard and a project planning card which I thought was a lovely touch. The delivery was also very speedy considering the current circumstances!

Anyway on to the shop itself. The range of fabrics is excellent, its definitely on the pricier side but the fabrics are excellent quality and worth the money. When I was a complete beginner I wouldn’t have bought fabric there because I wouldn’t have made anything well enough to justify the expensive however as an intermediate sewist their choice of fabrics excites me. As we are in a pandemic and no one’s job is safe I am of course still cost conscious so I was just going to have a nose around the website and not buy anything, that is until I saw that they had a remnants tab. And oh my goodness, what remnants. Normally remnants areas have half a metre of this or a fat quarter of that, but they have a well stocked remnants section and I managed to get two amazing remnants, both about a metre for under £20 including delivery which considering the cost of most of their fabrics I was super impressed with. This week I used both of them for different styles of tops, the first to make my red batwing top and the second to make my new cream shell top (vlog coming out tomorrow!), and I can confirm that the fabrics are as good quality as they seem.

swipe to see both makes

One caveat is that both of my fabrics were types of viscose so I can’t attest to their other choices but I wouldn’t imagine they follow the same high standard. Their range of fabrics is good and they even have technical/outdoor fabrics which I thought was a nice touch. Not a massive selection but its nice to see them there. Fabric is bought by the half metre generally and delivery is a fixed cost of £3 and there is free delivery on orders over £60 a threshold which I personally feel is too high however i do admire their commitment to sustainability. Their website is bright and friendly and invites you in to buy more fabric from them. The web interface is excellent and payment was quick and easy which is all you can ask for really. I would say that I haven’t had the same engagement from them on social media that I’ve had from other brands, however they do have a business hashtag for makers #sewingsunshine where it is possible to win a gift voucher for £20.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 8/10
  • Cost – 6/10
  • Delivery – 9/10
  • Ease of Use – 8/10
  • Ease of Payment – 8/10

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Overall Sew Me Sunshine are high on my recommended list, the provide a quality service in line with modern approaches to sustainability and they stock an excellent range of fabrics. Their stock is quite costly so approach with caution if you are a beginner and you aren’t sure of your skill level but also definitely raid their sale and remnants section, its well worth it. Sew Me Sunshine are an impressive brand and i love the little personal touches in the delivery and the about section on the website, you really get the impression that Harriet is someone who understands her client base and truly cares about customers. Now I’m off to raid their remnants section before I go on holiday and I will see you guys next week when we will discuss Sew Sew Sew!

Fabric Friday Reviews: Pound Fabrics

Happy Friday everybody and you know what Friday means, it’s review day! Today we are talking about Pound Fabrics, a retailer absolutely renowned in their for their low prices and high fabric quality. I stumbled upon Pound Fabrics by accident on instagram and decided to explore their website, where I bought the beautiful red cotton shown above.

Pound Fabrics

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://poundfabrics.co.uk/
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking & Home Fabrics and Patterns
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1metre (N.B. minimum 3m order)

Initially I was unsure about Pound Fabrics as their prices are very low and I absolutely hate anywhere that makes me have a minimum order, that is a personal bias of mine, but its worth knowing as a consumer that Pound Fabrics will require a 3 metre minimum order for the vast majority of their fabrics. I’m always honest in these reviews and initially this put me off however then I looked into their about section to understand why. The original purpose of Pound Fabrics was to provide a cheap dressmaking fabric outlet, an online pound fabric shop, as they recognised that sewing and dressmaking has the power to be an exceptionally expensive hobby. Originally they sold all their fabric as £1 per metre with a 3 metre minimum so you could get 3 metres for less than one metre at most other shops. They have now widened their selection to include some higher priced ranges but the £1 section is still there and thriving.

They also have a bundles section where you can buy mystery 15 metre fabric bundles in lots of different types of fabrics, e.g. stretch bundle, viscose bundle etc. This is something I really want to try in the future, I would do it now but I’m in a self-imposed fabric embargo period as I’ve bought too much fabric and I need to get through it first! It may end up being something I do as a birthday present to myself in the Winter.

The website is simple and the branding may not be very elegant but it gets the job done and the interface is very user friendly. I have to say a word about the mobile shopping interface which is quite frankly fantastic. There are no fussy membership requests, you can choose your fabric and buy it within minutes. I do always try and test mobile and desktop interfaces and I would argue that their payment system is better on the phone but actually viewing fabric is a lot easier on a computer. The delivery from Pound Fabrics was extremely slow however as I’ve said on other reviews, don’t pay too much attention to that as we are very much still in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic and therefore post is obviously goig to be slower and they do warn you of that on the website clearly.

One thing that is genuinely really impressive is their range of fabrics, you can get almost any type of fabric at a mostly reasonable cost. My one quibble would be that the red cotton I bought wasn’t fantastic quality and the photograph of the fabric gave a false impression of the size of the pattern however as I only bought one type of fabric from them I can’t pass judgement over all of their stock. This was my experience and I will definitely try them again in future but maybe for different fabric types such as stretch and jersey. From my own experience, I would advise to shop with caution when it comes to photography of the fabrics to make sure you are getting what you ordered.

Rating

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

Overall Score: 7.8 / 10

The thing is that I believe in the Pound Fabrics dream, I do. I want to believe in the low cost/high quality idea but the evience so far to me is that the quality doesn’t quite match that ratio. Don’t get me wrong its still good fabric and it is very affordable so it is fulfilling the mission statement but I would rather pay slightly more for better quality cotton. After all, one of the joys of making your own clothes is revelling in the luxury of choosing the perfect fabric for the perfect pattern and making it fit you. However I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and I will buy from them in future because I want to explore their range of fabrics for quality and cost. So the fat lady has not yet truly sung in this review, I will review again in the future and I will buy some wools, jerseys and winter fabrics and do another quality test.

Thanks for joining me for another Friday review! Next week we will be talking about beautiful viscose from Sew Sew Sew and gorgeous personalised delivery.

Sewing Machine Review: John Lewis JL110SE

Last Thursday my beautiful shiny new sewing machine arrived and I had to confront reality. While I had been looking forward to the new garments I would explore with a more advanced machine, I did have a pang of nostalgia when I looked over at my little red sewing machine. Sat next to the almost Sci-Fi sequence frontage of my new machine, it was like looking at a horse and cart next to the Starship Enterprise. Now I wouldn’t say that I regret buying my new machine for one second. No the feeling is more like leaving junior school and starting senior school. It’s not a bad change, its a natural advance but there is still a sense of saying goodbye and it has to be said that I got a little weepy when I boxed up my old red John Lewis model. When I considered how best to process these feelings I hit upon the idea of reviewing the machine I’ve spent so long getting to know. My aim is to provide an honest and hopefully even-handed review highlighting both the positive aspects but also the little irritating things I noticed as a long time user and why I am looking to upgrade.

The first time I saw the red John Lewis JL110SE was in Buchanan Galleries, a huge shopping centre in central Glasgow. My mum had been teaching me to sew at home and I was really starting to enjoy it, to love and be intrigued by sewing. I saw that little red machine and fell totally in love. Next to all the big grown up white machines it looked fun and quirky and friendly. Sewing can be an extremely intimidating world as a beginner, to start with there is a whole language barrier of terms and techniques plus fabrics, patterns and notions the facts that all seem achingly complicated. You look at your ready to wear clothes baffled as to how a person could have actually constructed the grment from scratch. I think that’s why I have such a sense of nostalgia with this machine, I received it for Christmas in 2016 and I basically taught myself to sew with it. It was my friend, albeit one I shouted at a lot and swore at occasionally when my bobbin had run out and I hadn’t noticed. Above all it the was a fantastic machine to learn on as a beginner and that really is where I have to start this review. The JL110SE is the perfect machine for beginners because you can pick it up and start sewing straight away with minimal experience. My machine didn’t even come with a manual and I could still set it up fairly easily. Now that’s not to say that this machine is without its flaws but simple, affordable and easy to use, this machine is the perfect companion for your first forays into sewing.


John Lewis JL110SE

  • Weight 6kg
  • 14 Stitch Options
  • Twin Needle can be used but it doesn’t come with one.
  • Special Edition comes in lots of different colours
  • Comes With: standard and buttonhole foot, seam ripper, spare bobbins and spare needles.

Top 4 Things About This Machine

1. Price

In terms of beginner sewing machines, you really can’t beat this model for price. When I first got mine in 2016, the standard white JL110 was £89 and the special edition was slightly more ( I think £99?) now in 2020 the price has risen to £120 but that is standard across JL110 and JL110SE. A price rise of only £31 in four years is not bad. John Lewis are actively trying to keep this machine accessible for beginners which is to their credit.

2. Reliability

Honestly in 4 years I’ve not encountered a single fault in the machine or encountered any problems that weren’t actually my fault to begin with. I think of mine as old faithful because it just keeps going. If sewing machines were animals this one would be a cart horse. Just plodding along and doing its job for as long as you need it. I would recommend this machine based on its reliability if nothing else.

3. Very Simple & Easy To Use

There are so few options on this machine that it is almost impossible to set it up wrong. The set-up arrows are numbered, there are two dials, one to select your stitch and one to alter stitch length, there is a tab to backstitch and a stitch tension dial with the standard tension settings ringed in a box. Thats it. The bobbin mechanism is simple; to fill you place the bobbin on the winder on top and slide it to the left and use the pedal as standard. Then you place the bobbin in the metal case underneath, pull the thread through and away you go. One of the joys of this machine is that it is so simple and has nothing extra that very little can go wrong.

4. Stitch Selection Is Surprisingly Good

There aren’t too many stitch options, only 14, which is nice because 60+ stitch options can be very intimidating as a beginner and honestly you don’t need them. Even as an advanced sewist you don’t need most of those stitches but as a beginner it can be absolutely baffling. One of the functions I like about this machine is the sliding scale for zig zag stitches and the variety of basic embroidery stitches. So if you want to start experimenting with decorative stitching you have that option but equally the main range of stitches are solid and simple to understand.

Overall this machine is simple to set up, easy to use, affordable and as there’s very little extra functionality there’s very little to go wrong, it really is the perfect beginner machine.

Why Am I Upgrading?

The machine can’t handle heavy fabrics

This isn’t the fault of the machine, it clearly states on the website that this machine is designed for light to medium weight fabric and now I need to be able to do thicker fabrics like denims, tweeds, wool and coating for the autumn so I need a machine that can handle it. This machine just doesn’t have the weight or the power in the motor to get through thicker fabrics but thats okay because its not meant to! It is however one of the top reasons that I have chosen to upgrade.

The 3 Step Buttonhole is genuinely infuriating

Cards on the table, I’m not a fan of buttonholes and this machine doesn’t do anything to help. Put it this way, one of my big priorities with a new machine was a 1-step buttonhole. On the JL110SE Option 1 is meant to be the left hand side of your buttonhole, its a straight forward stitch that you can reverse, Options 2&4 are bar tacks for the top and bottom of the buttonhole, all good so far, its Option 3 that is my greatest bug bear. Option 3 is a backward stitch for the right hand side of your buttonhole. Here’s the thing though, IT ONLY GOES BACKWARDS. If you try to reverse it with the backstitch tab it still only goes backwards and that is honestly infuriating. There is no world in which you dont need to go over your stitches a few times for a buttonhole so why oh why does this function exist? Can you tell this has been on my mind for a while…!

Bobbin thread catch is really unreliable

The bobbin thread sometimes catches absolutely fine but sometimes it takes over 5 minutes to get the bobbin thread to catch when I replace the thread in the bobbin that has started to irritate me somewhat. This is a little thing but it has started to frustrate me alot because I have to spend a long time staring into my machine and it stops me sewing.

You can’t get into the machine if you do need to make repairs or defluff

I didn’t need to do this until recently but it is a valid point. Its extremely difficult to get into this machine to make repairs or clean it. You would need to pay to get it properly surfaced when all you really need is to get into the workings with an old toothbrush and your machine will be good as new. Although of course it is a beginners machine i do feel that this is a little short-sighted and the cynic in me says its because John Lewis want you to pay them to service it for you.

Pedal and power cable connect on the same lead which makes it hard to set up the machine unless you are the perfect distance from power.

This is a moan for me because I live in a house where the power points were located by a complete idiot. We have loads of plug sockets but they are all in moronic places so this was a problem for me. The fact that the pedal and plug come out of the same lead means that I’ve had a few issues on finding somewhere that my machine can actually get power and I can use the pedal.

Overall I need the ability to do heavier weight fabrics and to move on with my sewing. This is at the end of the day a beginner’s machine and I think when you start to notice flaws like this and start to have a preference on mechanism and functionality then you need to upgrade because you’re not a learner anymore. You might still have green P plates on but you’ve passed into intermediate and need a machine that can keep up.

Does It Stand The Test Of Time?

Yes it does. This little machine is a great companion for your first forays into sewing because so little can go wrong and its just so simple and easy. It will allow you to learn about sewing and crucially to learn how you sew and what you need. When I first started to work on projects that my machine struggled with, I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to upgrade until I actually understood what I needed from a machine. This machine allows you to learn, you can’t become reliant on automatic functions because it doesn’t have any and it makes you a better sewist as a result. The JL110SE may be thoroughly out classed by my new machine but it will always have a special place in my heart as my first sewing machine.

Fabric Friday Reviews: Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn

Welcome to this week’s online fabric shop review and it had to be Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn. If I’m honest I’d never heard of Rainbow Fabrics until a fellow maker posted about the sale in their Instagram story. Her selection of fabrics piqued my interest so I went to have a nose about the website. 20 minutes later and I had bought nearly 12 metres of fabric and had zero regrets. I love Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn, I won’t make any bones about it, what I will still try to do is maintain an air of detachment to give you a balanced review. So, on to the specs!

Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn

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

Rainbow Fabrics have a bricks and mortar shop in Kilburn as well as an excellent online outlet. The choice of fabrics is superb, not only do they carry a wide range of fabrics but they also carry designer deadstock and their sale is second to none. I bought a beautiful selection of fabrics from here in the sale as a tester order and I was incredibly really impressed by the fabric quality. They sell their fabrics by the metre which I prefer because I find it easier to work out the cost of my projects.

The delivery is a standard fee of £3-£4 depending on speed with free shipping over £40. The delivery was quite slow for both of my orders however I can’t say if that is standard due to the current Covid-19 situation so I will have to do an order when things have got back to normal to compare. The cost of fabric and the range more than make up for the speed. The payment interface is easy and there are no fussy steps to create an account, just straight into buying fabric. Honestly the only downside to Rainbow Fabrics is that the website is super clunky on a computer. So much so that I have actually placed all my orders so far on my phone/tablet because the mobile version works much more smoothly. That being said they have a great instagram presence and a really friendly team.

Rating

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

Overall Score: 8/10

Rainbow fabrics is by far the most affordable fabric shop I use and I would throughly recommend it to beginners who don’t have much to spend on fabric or who are concerned about spending alot on a project they may mess up the first time. It may not sound great but it seriously is something to consider as a beginner. You will have to unpick things, you will mess up and that is fine, its all part of the process but it definitely feels worse if you’ve spent upwards of £50 on fabric. I used the rainbow fabrics sale to buy fabrics I’d never used before like chiffon that was £1 per metre or viscose crepe that was around £3 a metre. These are fabrics I’ve always wanted to sew couldn’t afford to mess up with and Rainbow gives you the options. Yes there are some stunning expensive fabrics on there but there are also some great quality and beautiful looking cheaper fabrics that make it the perfect one-stop shop for beginner dressmakers.

Fabric Friday Reviews: Fabrics Galore

Good afternoon everybody and welcome to a new, and hopefully useful, series for the blog. I know what it’s like when you start sewing from home, you’re desperate to get going but you have no idea where to get your fabric from. If you are very lucky you may live somewhere with a haberdashery or proper fabric shop that you can visit in person but the reality is that the vast majority of us need to use online retailers. The good news is that the supply has increased to match demand and now there are hundreds of fantastic fabric shops and pattern companies of all shapes and sizes online waiting for you to visit them and buy the fabric of your dreams. This is excellent news for experienced sewists and those who know what they are looking for, however, for beginners this can make it even more daunting.

Thats where this series comes in. I’ve been making myself a list for the past few weeks of fabric shops I use and ones I want to try. I’m trying to diversify the fabrics I buy and where I buy them from and I’m inviting you to come on this journey with me. I will be waiting all shops on the same criteria and trying to provide fair and balanced reviews to give you a maker’s perspective.

Fabrics Galore

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.fabricsgalore.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dress Making & Home Furnishing Fabrics
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre

First up we have a long time favourite of mine, Fabrics Galore. Their bricks and mortar shop is in Lavender Hill in South London but they have a very good website with a fairly wide choice of fabrics. A particular strength of Fabrics Galore is that they have a wide range of fabric types even if there aren’t that many in some categories. I have found them particularly good for high-quality cotton with a good range of brushed cottons. I made some awesome pyjamas from their brushed cotton last year, I’m going to make some more for Christmas this year so I’ll make sure to do a blog post on it. They don’t sell notions or zips or buttons, they are only for fabric but I have found their fabric selection does compensate for this.

The delivery costs are fairly standard, £3.50 per order, and delivery times outside of Covid are fairly quick. There is no minimum fabric order which is good. Fabric is bought by the half metre. I find the prices a little high but not bad compared to some other retailers, there are a few affordable options as well as some more expensive options, the average price is £7 per half metre. The website interface is clear and easy to use with a standard payment system.

Their only weakness? Sometimes the photo colouring isn’t entirely accurate and I’ve definitely had a few fabrics arrive looking a bit different to the photo but not enough to matter drastically except on one occasion. The only way I would improve their site is that I would like a small description of the fabric including colourways.

Rating

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

Overall Score: 7/10

Fabrics Galore are a good solid choice. They will provide the majority of what you need as a beginner sewist in a timely manner with a consistently high quality of fabric.