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…

Fabric Friday Reviews: 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.

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!

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.

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.

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.