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Monday, 25 August 2014

These are a few of my favourite (sewing) things...

It is a wet Bank Holiday Monday here.

In a bid to wear the girls out, we've been to the local swimming pool, and are now settling down to another viewing of Frozen.

It is exactly a week to go until the first of my sewing classes start. September is going to be all about taking complete newbies to sewing and making simple projects together that will build their confidence and sewing skills - starting with a cushion, and then a bag like this one.

October onwards will be focused on intermediate courses for people who want to tackle more challenging projects, such as more complex purses and bags, and, the fun and excitement that is making clothing.

I often get asked about what to buy for starting to sew, and, where to buy fabrics (especially jersey). So, I thought I'd put together a couple of shorts posts about both of these subjects, beginning with kit.

While I am a bit tight at heart, and reluctant to spend loads on gadgets for anything, including sewing (I'd rather be spending my money on fabric), there are some things (beyond my sewing machine that is) that I use all the time and would miss if I didn't have.

Working my way round the picture, starting at the top left corner:

  1. Sheep measuring tape - my eldest daughter bought this for me for Christmas, using her own pocket money at the school fair. Cute, huh? And we all need a measuring tape. A novelty one means no one is walking off with mine by mistake.
  2. Super sharp scissors (that everyone in the house has been repeatedly nagged not to ever use on paper).
  3. Quilters ruler, rotary cutter and mat. Massively useful and time saving way to accurately cut. I didn't get on with my rotary cutter until I started using the quilters ruler with it (I'd been unsuccessfully using a steel ruler on and off for ages, and, put off by the price of a quilters ruler, couldn't see the need for one). It holds everything nice and steady, as it has little bumps on the under side that stop things slipping, and makes cutting out loads easier. Cutting out accurate strips needed for home made bias binding is simple with these bits of kit. Mine came from Hobby Craft and I like all three.
  4. Sewing clips - these are like little bull dog clips (I'm sure they'd work just as well, to be honest), and I bought a big bag of them from U-Handbag ages and ages ago. They are excellent for using instead of pins, when you are holding lots of layers together (as in bag making), or making something with oil cloth and don't want to pierce it.
  5. Walking foot. This is my newest sewing toy (thanks, Mum!) and it is fab. I wasn't convinced of what all the fuss was about, and, in my usual tight way, managed without one until now. I used to use tissue paper to help stop oil cloth and laminated fabrics from sticking. Not any more. This clever little thing makes zipping through tricky or bulky stuff super easy. I would definitely recommend one of these. Some machines come with them, and others (like mine) don't.
  6. Decent pins - and a pretty pin cushion to put them in. I seem to be death to sharp pointy pins, and blunt them pretty quickly. It sounds like a daft thing to say, but don't hang on to duff pins. It took me ages of tightly refusing to admit how annoying repeatedly picking up blunt pins from the pin cushion was before I chucked the duffers out and bought new ones. The current ones I am using are nice long quilters pins (from Hobby Craft again) that show up pretty easily when I drop them on the floor. I made a handful of the apple and pear pin cushions ages ago, using this tutorial from Mollie Makes, and still like having them handy for people to use when they come to my classes. You need tons of stuffing, shoved in with brute force and a chop stick, to get these things firm. 

And that's it.

Got any favourite pieces of sewing kit you held off buying for ages and now couldn't be without?

Back to Frozen (and a bit of cutting out) for me...


  1. Ooo, wet August bank holidays! We've played a long board game and watched how to train your dragon. Seems like that sort of day. I have yet to purchase a walking foot - it seems such a commitment but I'm sure I would love it! Other sewing things I use lots... probably the disappearing ink pen and Clover chalk wheel marker thing...

  2. I am a big fan of disappearing pens, too. But not tried the chalk wheel yet - might have to look into it one day... :)