Wardrobe Overhaul

IMG_1655It has been a while since I wrote the last post on What is MY Style?  We have done a few of the Spring Shows and launched a new pattern, as well as all the workshops that we run.

So now after a bit of time to sew for me I have gone back to trying to figure out “What is my style and what do I want to sew?”.

After looking through Pinterest and creating a My Style Board I decided to try and Spring clean my own wardrobe and see what shapes and styles were repeated and whether they bore any resemblance to what I had ‘liked’ and pinned to my board. So often we can admire things on others and wish we could wear that ourselves, but remain loyal to our ‘safe’ or comfortable way of dressing.

Blax The Cat would not be shifted off my bed and insisted on continuing her morning ablutions!

Looking dispassionately at all of my wardrobe items this was what I concluded:

1 – Everything was pretty loose or even oversized

2 – Most of it was grey or navy in various shades

3 – There were more tunics than anything else

4 – Colour, if any, was usually in the accessories or an ‘accent’ garment.

5 – Although the shapes were simple the garments contained details to create interest.

So it pretty much matched my Pinterest board.

The next thing I asked myself was ‘Were these items what I really wanted to wear or were they ‘just things that I already had lying around?’ I then sorted those out into a pile to donate to a charity shop. If I wasn’t feeling the ‘lurve’ it was time to go!

Next I looked at putting the remaining items together into outfits. My daughter does this on a regular basis so she knows what ‘goes’ and she can style her outfits with accessories and shoes etc, before she goes out with her friends. And to be honest I do remember doing this myself as a teenage when I had more time to spend – on myself.

The upshot of this is that there is a similarity between the outfits.

I mainly wear loose boxy tops with skinny jeans, a long-line, long-sleeved T with wide leg trousers, or tunic dresses with leggings.

Basically these…


As I have gotten older I have fuller bust now and little waist shaping, but my arms and legs are still pretty slim – so basically I’m an apple shape. Looking online at various style blogs and other ‘helpful’ sites that suggest dressing for your shape I should be “wearing V neck tops to draw the eye in and show off my ample bosom and empire line dresses to hide my tummy.”

But frankly I wouldn’t be seen dead in either of those. I just don’t feel comfortable exposing my decollate unless in an evening dress and the last time I wore an empire line dress I was asked if I was ‘expecting’!  Needless to say that person was crossed off my Christmas card list straight away! To be honest I was never one for obeying the rules.

So these are the shapes I feel most comfortable in.


Polyvore is a brilliant resource if you’re trying out different style ideas and looking for design details to add something to a shape you know you’ll like and wear.

So now I am more sure of what shapes I know I will wear. That’s not to say that I won’t deviate and make something that totally contradicts everything I’ve just written about. But it enables me to be more mindful when I’m selecting which patterns to make and how I intend to wear them as outfits with the other elements in my wardrobe.

Have you decided on your preferred shapes and styles? Maybe your wardrobe could do with a Spring overhaul?

Let me know what works for you.

Making the Most of Your Sewing Time – Batching!


While I have been doing a bit of sewing for myself I have been reflecting on the process of sewing and creating garments.

The process of planning can affect the outcome of your sewing project enormously and the Project Planner I created certainly helps me to prepare for any sewing projects I want to undertake.

But there are other things that can help you make the most of your sewing time and Batching is one.

Batching just means grouping a series of similar tasks together. This can save time and energy. Whether you are lucky enough to have a designated ‘Sewing Zone’ or even a specific sewing room, or if you have to clear away all your sewing paraphernalia at the end of each session, batching tasks can help you to organise your work and prevent missing out certain steps or pattern pieces.

It can also help get you into the Flow State. Without getting all geeky, the flow state is really just a totally focussed state of mind where you are completely absorbed in the task that’s occupying you. A bit like a state of meditation and to be honest that’s what I love about making and sewing stuff. It’s the total freeing of your mind of all extraneous thought apart from what you happen to be doing right now. And anything that can facilitate that gets my vote!



Once you’ve planned out what you want to sew I generally find it easier to cut several items out in one session. And I make sure that I cut EVERYTHING even down to the last bit of interfacing that I’m going to need for a specific project.

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If you have planned out your sewing you will know exactly which fabrics you’re using and whether you need a contrast fabric, lining, interlining and interfacing too. I’m sure all of us have at some point suddenly remembered that we needed to apply interfacing to the back neck facing, or something similar, when we’ve reached that point in the order of work. I believe the technical term is a face-palm moment!

Each pattern, whether it’s from the Big Four or any indie pattern company,  will always have a pattern inventory and a list of which pieces you’ll need for whichever version of the pattern you’re making. This is the Pattern Inventory for our Kate Dress.

Kate pattern inventory 2

If you need to make your own cutting list –  if you are mixing different versions and want to add the collar of one version with the sleeves of another, you can add this list to your Project Planner and then tick them off once they are cut out.

Top Tip – Make a list and check it twice!

Once all the pieces are cut out I bag them up and label them so they are ready for when I can get back to them for the next stage.




Once all the pattern pieces are cut they need to have the pattern information transferred on to them – notches, balance marks, little dots…. They all have a purpose and will help you to match up the pattern pieces to sew your garment together accurately.

I have learnt, Dear Reader, through bitter, bitter experience that there are plenty of places to take a shortcut through the woods but this is most definitely not one of them!

Do spend time going through all the pattern pieces and marking them up accurately. It really will help your sewing go a lot more smoothly. Although it may seem more long-winded, the more preparation you can do beforehand, the easier the garment will be to make up. The method you choose is up to you – tailor’s tacks, fabric marker pen, chalk… whatever works for you.


Top Tip – Don’t use an air erasable pen and then go off on holiday. The marks will not be there when you get back – I know this to be true!



When I am creating a new pattern, before I start writing the instructions, we devise an Order of Work. This is just a bullet-pointed list of the order in which the different sewing processes take place to make up the garment. For example you would need to sew the shoulder and side seams of a bodice before you could set in the sleeve.

It helps to get a clear and logical sequence of sewing.



…most of the time instructions are written in a perfectly logical way – sew the bodice first, then the skirt, then the sleeves then the collar…..this is fine but it does mean that you will be up and down from your sewing machine pressing and sewing each stage and not necessarily making the most of the time you have.

But if we want to Batch sewing tasks to create a better flow to our sewing we can group similar processes together.


Look at the Order of Work for our Kate Dress

Kate Dress Order of Work.jpg


Everything is logically ordered but there are three separate incidents for sewing binding and neatening and pressing seams !!

So if we try and group the steps by the process involved it might look a bit like this…

Kate Dress Order of Work colour coded

The different tasks have been grouped by similar process – flat sewing, neatening, pressing… etc.

Then if we re-listed the Order of Work we could achieve a better flow and be more productive.

Kate Dress Order of Work Batched

It has reduced the number of steps from 27 to 19 which means more time for sipping coffee and eating cake. It also means that you won’t be hopping up and down from sewing machine to ironing board and can do several jobs in one place before having to move work stations. And you don’t have to keep changing machine settings to sew different types of stitch.

Basically it all boils down to the fact that I think I am quite lazy so anything that can make my life simpler and more easy to manage I’m all for. You can use my Order of Work download  if you want to try streamlining your own sewing. You can then use highlighters to group certain tasks or processes together and then re-write your Order of Work to make your sewing life easier.

Maybe you do this already without really realising it? Or maybe this is a lightbulb moment for you. Let me know how you streamline your own sewing.


Plan to Sew

IMG_1388“I don’t get a lot of time to sew”. That might sound like a bit of an oxymoron from someone who owns a fabric shop.

But it is true.

As with most people who run their own businesses the work other people get to see is only about 20% of what actually needs to be done. The rest of the 80% of what happens is often done behind the scenes or during a late night at home on the kitchen table.

So I have to make the most of any time that I do have to sew.

In fact I had booked this week away from the shop so I can actually sew stuff for me. I knew there were certain things I needed to get done this week as a matter of course – a business doesn’t just run itself, so I made sure I designated a certain amount of time to those. But in the weeks before hand I knew that I needed to plan out exactly what I wanted to sew so that I could get as much done as I could.


Because I usually sew a few projects in one go I like to make sure that I have everything to hand that I know I’m going to need. There is nothing worse than getting into a sewing project and finding out that you need half a metre of ¼” wide elastic – or whatever, and then have to go hunting around your sewing room or physically go shopping.

So I do make a plan. The plans I use for sewing for myself are similar to the ones I use when creating a new pattern. They contain all the information I need to make sure the project goes as smoothly as possible. You can download and print off a copy of the Project Planner to help you plan too.

I also include a bit of space on the second page to evaluate how the project went. It can be really useful to note down any tricky areas or things that you would do differently. If like me you have a few patterns that you return to time and time again it can be very helpful to remember to spend more time on a particular step to make sure you get it just right, or to miss out any steps if you don’t want to add a particular feature.

IMG_1406One of my goals this year is to try and streamline the way I work. My brain just doesn’t work in a logical linear way and I do find myself….oooh fabric!! getting distracted easily. So I find that I am looking at ‘process and systems’ more closely at the moment to see if I can find ways of increasing my efficiency.  Planning definitely helps! Once it is out of your head and on a page it’s one less thing to think about.

So I would highly recommend planning your sewing if time is limited, or even if it’s not it can just help you sew better.

Do you plan? And if so does it help? Or are you more of an impulsive sewer?

Work With us – We are looking for a Summer Temp

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Summer Temporary Retail Assistant.

Required to work Saturdays from beginning of May through to the end of August and weekdays throughout August.

We are looking for a temporary addition to our team to help us out in the store over the Summer months.

If you:

Love working with fabrics yarn and haberdashery

Enjoy helping people and problem solving

Are good at working independently and using your initiative

Have a sense of humour and a ‘can do’ attitude

Then you may be just the person to fit right in.

Please send us your CV and a covering letter to jules@sewmesomething.co.uk. Closing date for applications is Sunday 16th April 2016. We will be inviting people for interview week commencing 24th April with a view to the position starting Saturday 6th May.

Generational Sewing


As I was writing the last blog about my Mum I was also thinking about the stuff she had passed down to me. Poor eyesite, a loathing of physical exercise and a love of reading being just three. However, it was she and my Nanna that taught me to sew.

Like a lot of children of my generation I had ‘sewing lessons’ in primary school where we were taught how to sew embroidery stitches onto large square holed fabric called binka.

I loved this!!

But even before then I remember sewing bits of cloth together just for the joy of holding a needle and thread and weaving it through the pieces of fabric. My dollies had hand gathered Dirndl skirts that had to be sewn onto them as I hadn’t figured out elastic yet.


Before making your own presents was cool my mum was doing this out of necessity and I loved watching her magically create things on her old, pale blue Singer sewing machine, it was a 21st birthday present and was still going up until a few years ago!

All sorts of things emerged from that machine – quilted jewellery rolls and make up bags, soft toys, rag dolls, a denim trouser suit for me! While the sewing went on we would chat about all kinds of things.

Maybe it is the act of doing something else that diffuses the intensity of the conversation. I have had discussions with my friends about this and several have mentioned fishing has the same effect. The focus on a fishing rod or sewing machine while chatting about other stuff paves the way for the quiet correction in the way to hold a needle or the flick of a wrist to launch a fly.

However, sometimes as a parent it isn’t easy to teach your own child. I have had this with my own daughter who when she was much younger was really interested in making things for herself, hairbands, scrunchies and little purses. But now she is older and a teenager what mum does is definitely NOT cool! So I hope she will come back to making things later in her life, for now though horses take priority.


But we don’t just have to share our knowledge with our own offspring if other peoples are more interested in what we are doing. We see this a lot in our workshops both with the children and some adults too who were frustrated with learning from a parent but would happily sit with a Grandparent or Auntie and sew, bake or make things.


I and the other tutors we have really enjoy running the kids workshops. We usually end up chatting about all kinds of stuff from who said what to whom at school to “why do cats meow?”, and everything inbetween. All the while helping them to safely sew something they can take home and be proud of.


Children, teenagers and adults can seem quite segregated at times, but by sharing activities and hobbies the generations can come together and learn from each other. The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great British Bake Off TV programmes have shown this clearly with the age ranges of both their contestants as well as the viewers that sit at home together enjoying them.

One of the things I love to share is how to tie a magic knot! (Those that have been to some of our workshops will know exactly what I mean). And I learnt the other day from my daughter that the only month that sometimes doesn’t have a full moon is February.

Who knew?!


Our Kids Holiday Workshops are now up online. Come along and join us for a bit of sewing and making, whatever your age!

Is It Just ‘Mother’s’ Day?

Nanna, Mum, Me and Jet the Black Labrador

Sunday the 26th March is not only the day British Summer Time begins (a weird quirk of the British and something to do with ‘saving daylight hours’ although why we can‘t just get up an hour earlier I don’t know), but it is also Mother’s Day, or as my Dad often calls it “Smothering Sunday”!

It always falls on the third Sunday of Lent, so like Easter itself the date moves. Traditionally it was the day of Saint John Climacus and people went back to their Mother Church, or the main church in their area, to celebrate. It is also said to have been a day of focus on Mary the Mother of Jesus. Later our Mother’s Day became entwined with the American version although we in the UK still hold to the original date.

However, whatever the date, mothers do have a lot to answer for

I am slowly morphing into my own mother. I find myself using the same phrases, calling my everyone ‘my love’, her mannerisms are now mine, I talk to inanimate objects – and answer for them, I nag my son about eating properly. Whether this is more about nurture rather than nature I’m not sure.

Mum and Dad circa 1984

On some issues though we are diametrically opposed, politics being the main one. But even though our views differ I’m really pleased to have noticed that my mum is more confident now in expressing her opinions than she was when we were growing up. Mum is in her 70’s now and maybe that has come with age. I respect her immensely, she has had to deal with far more than I’ve ever had to and has come out of it all with incredible dignity.

I come from a long line of strong women on both sides of my family – publicans, suffragettes, nursery maids, factory workers, homemakers. All of them inspirational in their own quiet ways. Both my Mum and Grandmothers were doers, capable and un-flappable grafters in whatever they set themselves.

Florence my Mum’s Mum a demon baker!


Isobel My Dad’s Mum holding my son the day after he was born.

I hope their legacy will follow through me to my daughter. In fact I know it is. She at 14 is more self assured and practical than I ever was. She is bright and funny and hardworking and a pain in the arse, but I only see good things for her future. If I can be as good a Mum to her as mine has been to me I will consider that as a job well done!


But maybe it isn’t just our mum’s we should be celebrating but all the women in our lives that have shown us wisdom, empathy, humour, perseverance and tenderness;  aunts, grandmothers, friends, teachers, daughters. These qualities are not just confined to our mothers but can be found in the wider group of women that have influenced us and helped to shape us into the people we are.

Are there women in your life you’ve been inspired by?


The Pros and Cons of Shows

img_1109We have just returned from the Stitches Trade Show at the NEC – a chance for us to meet new potential wholesale customers and have a good chin wag with some old friends. I usually go through a kind of de-briefing with myself making lists of the pros and cons of each show we do. It’s an opportunity to review and evaluate, a worthwhile habit I was introduced to on my PGCE a good few years ago.

It is so wonderful to be able to meet new customers and to have informed discussions with other like minded people in this industry. There are always new things to learn and new ideas to embrace.

Here I am with the fabulous ladies who are organising the #MonetaParty @sewabigail @SewPositivity and @rach_wain.

The Lovely Triple Stitchers and Me!

I hope you saw their ‘swishing’ boomerang video I posted! I can’t wait to see everyone’s Moneta dress. The Party starts tonight on social media at 19.00Hrs GMT.

I feel so lucky to be able to connect with so many like-minded people (mainly women, but some men too) who love dressmaking, or other sewingy and yarny things, or just love being creative in a zillion other ways. You can find us on Instagram Twitter Facebook and Pinterest.

So thank you to everyone who came to see us at the Stitches Trade Show at the NEC this week. Indeed everyone that comes to see us at any of the shows we do. It’s always lovely to see old faces, well not old, you know what I mean. Although so many of us are connected through the ether by social media (and thank you for reading my wafflings, such as this) you can’t beat actually nattering with someone face to face. ⠀

While it is wonderful to chat with and meet new craft and sewing folk we do have to think about the costs involved in taking part in these large shows. The prices of booking stand space, electrics, lighting, accommodation, wages and food all have to be taken into account.  And one of the main reasons we do them is to increase our sales. This is after all how I pay my mortgage and feed my children.

The increasing costs of exhibiting levied against small businesses could be a whole other blog – or maybe more of a rant!

So each business will weigh up the pros and cons of committing themselves to the long haul of travelling, setting up, being on your feet for days, paying wages and then breaking it all down, packing up and traveling home again. For some the cons are starting to outweigh the pros, which is a shame but understandable.

Drowning under a sea of boxes, soon to be full of patterns.


While this may at first appear to be negative – it really isn’t. What I have just outlined are the tangible costs to exhibiting at the shows. What we as business owners must do is also account for the intangible benefits that come to us through increased exposure to a specific audience – ie YOU!

Even when, like me, you’re lucky enough to work with, teach, drink tea with, eat cake with and laugh with like minded sewaholics, it can be lonely a times, sitting at your sewing machine, or with your knitting needles, or paints, or clay.

Yes, we may be fortunate to have family and friends around us to share so many parts of our lives, but they might not truly get the joy of finishing off a flat felled seam, or the frustration of running out of thread when you’d be finished in 5 minutes! To have a group of people who ‘get’ how frustrating it is to not quite have enough fabric to pattern match correctly or who can whoop with joy with you at the perfectly matching stripes it’s taken you ages to achieve is incredibly empowering.

While crafting may be seen by some as just a mere hobby or way of passing time. For those in the know it is so much more. We can achieve so much more together than we can on our own. If we can be there to help hold each other up we can be safe in the knowledge that there are a wealth of others there ready when we tire of holding ourselves up.

It’s great to connect to our customers at the shows.

We can inspire, support, joke, advise (advisedly) and just appreciate each other and our own creative journeys through life.

So while I do have to count the pennies and that does appear on my lists it’s also the things I can’t quite quantify that makes all the difference.

Does coming to a show make a difference to your sewing or crafting journey? I’d love to know.