Five Tips for Getting Started

Like a lot of lucky people, you may well have received a sewing machine or even an overlocker for Christmas. Or perhaps you might have just treated yourself? But have you got it out of the box yet?  And do you know what you’re going to make? 

Sometimes it can be a bit daunting with a new bit of kit sitting in front of you and you’re not sure quite what to do with it. So here are 5 things to help:

Make friends with your machine

I would thoroughly recommend having a play with your new machine and just go through the instruction manual. It sounds terribly boring and something your mother would say but seriously just getting to know your machine and what it can do will set up on the right track. 
Even if you’ve been sewing for years and new machine, will always mean new stuff to learn. Work out what the settings are, where the tension controls are and most importantly how to change the needle! You will invariably go through a few.

Sew a Creative Reference library

The kids in our holiday or after-school clubs just adore playing around with all the stitches. And you can even create your own works of art with the different embroidery or zigzag stitches.
They can make a great reference library when you go to work on a project too and maybe need something a little different to add a bit of detail, like I did on my red Viola Skirt

My machine embroidered red-work circles just using the stitches form our Janome machines

Start with something simple

Again at the risk of sounding like your Mother, I’d recommend keeping it simple to start with. Working on a straightforward project from start to finish that’s quick and relatively easy to make will give you that instant sense of gratification and the ‘I can do this feeling’ you want to keep you going onto the next one.  Even if it’s just a pincushion or a needle book. They don’t use up much fabric, are incredibly useful and will give you that sense of achievement you deserve for all your efforts. 

Pace yourself

Once you get to grips with your machine and you’ve made a couple of quick and easy projects it can be tempting to race into the next bigger one. But you’re not on the Great British Sewing Bee so you don’t have to worry about how long it’s going to take you. Just pace yourself and enjoy the process. I know plenty of people who really dislike the cutting out stage and want to rush through that and get on to the sewing. But each stage has its own merits and deserves your care and attention to enable you to get the best results you can. Trying planning out what and when you can manage and take your time.

Remember to finish it

This sounds obvious I know but I’m speaking from personal experience here. You’ve worked so hard on your sewing project, whether its a cushion, a bag or a piece of clothing and the temptation is to get to a point where you – only just have to. . . sew the hem, add the buttons on or whatever. GET IT FINISHED! Even if you don’t like it once you’ve made it. If it’s finished you can gift it, or even wear it or use it as you intended.  But it won’t be sitting in your pile of UFP’s – unfinished projects, providing that mental block preventing you from moving on and starting something new. 

As a bit of an extra incentive you can download and use our Sewing Project Planner to help you get started. 

Happy sewing!

We’re Hiring!

Organised paperclips mug and pencil on a desk

Workshop/ Online Administrator

Are you always the ‘organised one’ in your friendship circle or at work? Are you always sorting out every detail of your life, from booking dinners, sorting out travel arrangements? And do you find yourself secretly enjoying it?

Then we need you!

Sew Me Something is seeking a reliable Workshop/ Online  Administrator. Someone who is motivated and highly organised to help coordinate and maintain the smooth running of everything behind the scenes. 

Continue reading “We’re Hiring!”

Meet Cressida – the pattern I never thought I would make!

Our latest pattern is a jumpsuit!

Those are words I never thought I would utter. After all I am a lady entering her middling years, more into comfort and style rather than ‘high fashion’.

There have been plenty of pictures floating around on social media this Spring/Summer of people wearing jumpsuits and looking amazing – but it really wasn’t for me!

Or so I thought!

After playing around in the studio with different shapes and trying to adapt existing patterns I was encouraged to “let go of your prejudice Jules, and just stick some trousers on it.” At first I wasn’t sure about the neckline, and it needed some kind of a sleeve, but in the end I got there and I have to say I am totally in love with this pattern. I spotted a lady at a show wearing something similar and she looked amazing so she became my inspiration. Shows are a fabulous opportunity for ‘style spotting’ and I love watching how people put together their own individual looks. (But that is a whole other blog.)

My initial concern about having to take everything off just to go to the loo were unfounded. I tested out the toile for a day wearing it around the studio to see for myself. It really isn’t that much hassle – I promise!

I chose one of our new Linen/Tencel mix fabrics as it had just the right amount of drape to it but was also substantial enough for trousers, that part gets a fair bit of wear and tear, and I just love the way it feels next to your skin. It’s so soft!

Navy can be a tricky colour to photograph so I used some top stitching to emphasise the style lines of the collar and pockets. I used white for this one for a slightly nautical air, but the next one will probably be in a soft denim with some yellow top stitching.

Pockets have to feature in more or less everything I make and Cressida is no exception. Cut-away pockets on the side seams and patch pockets on the back, mean you can go the whole pocket hog or just choose what’s right for you and the style and fabric you’re making your Cressida up in.

Someone has already called this pattern ‘Secret pyjamas’ and I think they could be right. This pattern is so comfortable to wear you might as well be wearing your PJs. It’s also very simple to alter too, if you need to shorten or add length to the body or trousers sections and I will be doing some tutorials to show you how easy that is.

I would strongly urge you to have a go and make your own Cressida Jumpsuit, especially if you’ve thought jumpsuits weren’t for you. You might surprise yourself.

Order your Cressida Jumpsuit today.

Our competition winner’s VIP Day

Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting Tracey, the winner of our VIP Day competition at the Sew Me Something studio .

Our VIP Days allow you to spend the entire day with Jules, picking her brain on whatever subjects you want to cover, whether it be fitting, pattern cutting or just general techniques. Tracey wanted to spend the day working on our Hero Trousers pattern and achieving the perfect fit.

“An absolutely amazing day with Jules learning how to make a pair of Hero Trousers that fit me. I’ve learnt so many tips and tricks, how to get a good finish and had some laughs along the way. Lovely stocked shop, beautiful location and a goody bag with two more patterns and haberdashery items. If you are thinking of doing a VIP Day – stop thinking and do it!”

We run VIP Days every month so if you’d like a taste of what Tracey has experienced find out more and book yourself a day (TIP: they are great for birthday and Christmas present lists!)

NEW PATTERN ALERT…Introducing Regan

Say Hello to Regan our brand new pattern.

Regan Top Sewing pattern
Version 1 Regan in Flower Glory Rayon and Blue Striped Ribbing

Regan is a simple but classic sweatshirt shape. A great all rounder and a pattern to make dressy or more casual depending on your fabric choices. It works brilliantly in both sweatshirt knits and in silky viscose rayon.

Version 1 Regan in Blue Birds Organic Cotton French Terry and Blue Striped Ribbing

It has an open crew neck and the finished top sits just on your high hip. It is a slimmer fit than a lot of our patterns and will give you more of a paired down silhouette. This makes it perfect to wear with the Desdemona skirt or anything else that needs a shorter top for more balanced proportions.

The sleeves fall straight from the shoulders giving it a tapered more streamline look. But they are sewn in flat like a shirt sleeve making it a wonderfully quick and satisfying make.

All the openings are finished with a knit or rib band again making it a clean, neat finish and quick to sew as well.

Version 1 has a full length sleeve, and narrow band at the waist.

Version 2 has shorter sleeves with the ribbing band ending just above the elbow. The length in the body is slightly shorter to allow for a deeper waistband giving it a slightly retro look.

Our pattern testers have loved this pattern for its quick and easy sew and its versatility.

‘Construction wise this went together very easily and quickly and the fit is relaxed and comfortable. I made view one but am already planning my next one using view two’

Emma

I hope you enjoy making up your own Regan and do remember to share your pictures with us on social media. You can use the hashtag #SMSRegantop and we’ll be sure to comment and share.

Purchase your Regan Top from our online store

Happy Sewing Jules

How to Sew a Circular Patch Pocket

Patch pockets are traditionally square-ish or rectangular in shape, but that doesn’t have to be so!

You can make a real feature of a pocket by making it circular.

Where you want to place your pocket will determine the size you want to make it. It could look very sweet as a small top pocket on a blouse or larger as a proper hand-sized pocket if you wanted to add your own twist to the Viola Skirt.

This is how we made ours:

We wanted a hand sized pocket so used a side plate as a template. You could use anything circular as your own template or even a pair of compasses (from your old school geometry set).

Draw around the template on some paper to create your pattern. To find the grain line just fold the circle in half, and the crease will be your grain line. You can then decide the angle you would like for the faux flap and draw that in too.

Make sure the interfacing extend over the fold line for the faux flap.

Cut out a pair of circles using the template and also a small piece of interfacing the size of the faux flap but just extended past the fold line slightly. This will help to support the folded over flap when you sew on the button later.

Attach the interfacing to the wrong side of one of the circles over the flap area. And then pin the two circles with the right sides together.

Remember to leave a gap at the bottom!

Sew around the circles starting and finishing at the bottom, but remember to leave a gap so you can turn the pocket through to the right side.

The closer the V shapes the better curve you’ll get

Snip out small V shapes all around the seam allowance. Leave the seam allowance  un-snipped across the gap to make sure the snips don’t go too far.

You’ll sew the gap closed when you sew around the pocket on the garment.

Turn the pocket through to the right side and carefully press out the circle shape. Tucking in the seam allowance across the gap.

Fold over the faux flap and attach a button as decoration.

Edge stitch the pocket in place onto your garment making sure to secure the top corners.

This would look great as a hack on the Viola Skirt or Kate Dress.

Have a look at our Pinterest Board for some more Patch Pocket Inspiration.

Our First Retreat Away from Home

Sewing Retreat main image.jpg

We are taking our Retreats on the road in the hope that more people will be able to enjoy a weekend away and some time for themselves just sewing and chilling.

Cornwall here we come!

We have been trying to find a venue for our first retreat away from home and I think we have really come up with a humdinger!

Hendra Barns is not only beautiful it’s easy to find, and has everything we were looking for in a venue. It is set in the stunning Cornish countryside halfway between Newquay and Truro so you get the best of all worlds.

The accommodation is split into 3 areas, Hendra Barn, The Old Coach House and Little Hendra. All the rooms are different, some are have an en suite and some shared bathrooms, so they are all priced accordingly. Hendra Barn is the largest so we will all eat there together, but all of the other locations have their own kitchens so you can make your own coffee or tea just how you like, and relaxing lounge spaces too.

Hendra Barn
The Old Coach House
Little Hendra

Hendra Barn has 3 double rooms (one with an en suite) and that is also where CL and I will be based. The Old Coach House has 2 double (one with an en suite) and a Twin room. And Little Hendra has one double and a twin room.

It is just the perfect place to relax and surround your self with nature and sewing machines!

Looking after yourself

In a hectic and busy world we often end up at the bottom of the list of people we look after. But if you’ve ever been on a plane and listened to the safety talk from the cabin crew we are told to put on our own oxygen masks first before helping anyone else. Having some time just for you, to re-energise yourself and find your focus is incredibly precious. And doing it with like-minded people who enjoy sewing as much as you do makes a huge difference.

Grief can take care if itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

Mark Twain

Not only can we share what we know we can learn from each other too. We have written more about why we have chosen to make it a residential retreat and what you can hopefully gain from it in another blog.

What to look forward to

Well apart from the stunning location and the fabulous accommodation and catering what can you look forward to when joining us?

Hendra Barns has provided us with an excellent sewing studio space in their function Barn that we will fully equip with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting tables and pressing stations. You can choose to bring your own machines if you prefer to work on something more familiar. Sometimes it’s just easier to use your own machines and we can help you set those up when you arrive on the Thursday evening.

Making what you want to wear

One of the things I really love about our Retreats is the freedom you have to make exactly what you want to. Unlike some who give a prescriptive list of what you are allowed to make, we are happy for you to bring along whatever project you want to work on. We will give you an idea of the types of things you’ll be able to achieve during the time we have together to give you an idea as to the projects you may wish to bring.

The wealth of expertise and experience Claire-Louise and I have means you can ask us anything. You can bring any project you are working on for help and advice. Obviously there are particular patterns that are more suited to a Retreat than others. You may want to consider bringing something that you can make up fairly quickly so you have that sense of achievement in getting something finished. Equally feel free to bring along something a bit more complex that you might need help and support with on particular techniques or the fit, but you’re not worried about finishing.

Making the Clothes you want to wear

Helping YOU make the clothes YOU want to wear.

But really it’s all about helping you to make the clothes you want to wear. If you need help fitting or with specific techniques or processes, you’ll have the time and space to work through any issues or projects with expert help and tuition on hand if you need it. So you may want to nail the fit on that pair of trousers you’ve been wanting to make for ages. Or have a go on an overlocker and whizz up a Bianca coat before working on a couple of other projects. Or perhaps you want some space to cut a few projects out and then decide which to make – the choice is yours!

Take your sewing up to the next level.

There will be help and guidance on the machines when required and also we will be running a  few Masterclass Demonstrations on some key processes we know are the ones people find tricky. If there is something you are really keen to cover, just let us know and we can include it in the Retreat. We will even be bringing some of the Sew Me Something Haberdashery with us in case you need any emergency supplies. But if you would like any of our fabrics for the projects you want to make up over the weekend you can always place an order online and we will bring it with us for you. So it’ll be at the Retreat ready and waiting for you.

This Retreat really will give you time to focus and relax.

There will be plenty of tea coffee and cakes to keep you sewing throughout the weekend and a fabulous wholesome and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner each day too.

This time around we are introducing a more meditative element to the Retreats with Amy Williams from Next Wave Yoga. Amy is based in Cornwall and runs retreats herself. In fact Claire-Louise and I went on one last May and it was amazing! Amy will be leading a guided contemplation walk in the peaceful and calming countryside and some gentle yoga to help stretch out those tired muscles at the end of a day sewing. Both are purely optional of course but will certainly add to your whole sense of well being over the weekend.

What’s included in the Sewing Retreat….

  • A cuppa and cake on arrival
  • Help to set up your sewing machines if you’ve brought your own
  • Help to make your sewing plans for the weekend using our sewing planner
  • Use of all the sewing machines, overlockers and equipment from 9am to 6pm over the 3 days of the retreat
  • Hand delivered Sew Me Something orders of fabric and haberdashery
  • Expert help and advice on all your sewing projects
  • Expert help and advice on fitting and pattern alterations
  • Masterclass demonstrations
  • All your meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as plenty or tea coffee and cakes to keep you going
  • Comfortable bedrooms for four nights
  • Guided contemplation walks and a yoga session each day

I am so excited about what a fantastic weekend this is going to be. I have tried to create the type of retreat I would love to go on myself. Don’t worry if you are thinking of coming on your own you will soon make friends and we will do all we can to look after you and make you welcome.

This is what some of our past Retreat Attendees have said about joining us. . . .

“Very enjoyable. Venue excellent. 
Jules and CL were fantastic. So patient, attentive and professional. As well and warm fun and friendly.
Have left with a pattern block that fits!!
Invaluable! I’m delighted!” Susan

“Great weekend! Learned loads! The trousers I made were great and fit perfectly. I just wish I’d had time to finish the Agnes top too. 
CL and Jules were so calm and knowledgeable – amazing mentors! Thank you for a great weekend.” Ruth

“There was a great atmosphere and the venue was lovely. Excellent support from both Jules and CL, and huge thanks to both. I learnt a lot of techniques which I wanted to learn. Thank you both for your calm expertise and generosity.” Kate

Join us for a fabulous weekend

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The are a very limited number of places on the Cornish Retreat. this time

Only 10 places

are available, so that means plenty of 1:1 time with CL and me.

So I can guarantee you will leave the Sewing Retreat knowing more than you did when you arrived.  

We can’t wait to host the next Retreat, it is going to be wonderful and I can’t wait to see you there.

Jules x

Book your place on The September Sewing Retreat HERE. And the Cornish Retreat in October HERE

My Own Sewing Space

Some people may think that because I run a sewing business my space for sewing must be amazing!

Well I have to dispel any thoughts of a superbly designed sewing room with neatly stacked fabrics and everything I might need to hand. Painted in beautiful restful colours with gorgeous twinkling lights…. Well you get the picture. The image above is not my sewing space but from Andrea’s Notebook  and is an image I found on Pinterest. But I love the colours and simple quirkiness of the furnishings.

No – my sewing space is certainly not like that. I don’t actually have anywhere to sew at home. Unbelievable I know, but my house is rather on the small side, so I have to do any sewing I want to do at work. And it is more practical and by necessity than Instagram perfect that’s for sure.

Granted we do have a beautiful fully equipped studio where we run the workshops, and it can be very handy to have umpteen machines threaded up in different colours so I don’t have to stop and re-thread for top-stitching etc. But since moving to the new studio I’m finding that I need to have a corner of my own set up for sewing.

This is where I work at the moment. It’s not glamorous but it is basic and mostly practical.

This is the tidiest corner!
Patterns and Toiles
This is where I slave over my hot computers.
I need a bigger table

I have a cutting table, desk for my computer, some shelves and boxes of fabrics and I can shut the door.  But I am not by nature a tidy person. This may not come as a particular revelation to those that know and work with me! But I am hoping that by creating more of a personal creative space here in our new studio space I will inherently want to keep it tidier.

Hmmm…Maybe I need more boxes?
Yes definitely more boxes!

So, I have a wish list!

  • Enough table space to have my machine, overlocker and coverstitch machine out and available.
  • A system for storing all the tools I need making them close to hand but easy to tidy away.
  • Enough storage for all the fabric and old patterns I have. Yet stored in a system that means I can see and find everything easily.
  • Display space to have up images and inspiration for new patterns. Rather than storing them all in scrap books and folders.
  • A designated pressing area – sounds grander than it will actually be. Just a space to have the ironing board up and all the pressing paraphernalia close to hand.

I even have a Pinterest Board full of other people’s beautiful and practical sewing spaces. So I am making a plan and by telling you all about it, it means I really have to do it. And not make the usual excuses of being too busy!

Now you’ve seen my space maybe you have some ideas you can share with me on how to organise my sewing stuff and I’ll keep you posted on how the transformation goes.

Happy sorting

Jules

The Sewing Retreat – what it’s all about

Our Sewing Retreat is a chance to sew, chat, make friends, learn, fit, practice, perfect and just chill. All in luxury surroundings. Because let’s face it we all need a little bit of pampering sometimes and we can certainly provide some sewing pampering and support here!

We have looked at various locations for our retreats as, although we have a large studio just outside the town centre, we need a bit more space with some accommodation on site, so we are using a couple of the larger hotels in and around Stratford upon Avon to help us run them. Having said that we are beginning to go further afield and have our first Cornish Retreat in October this year.

The hotels have provided us with excellent sewing studio space that we will fully equip with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting tables and pressing stations. But you can choose to bring your own machines if you prefer to work on something more familiar.

The Sewing Retreat

The long weekend is a Retreat, and that distinction is really important, and it’s really all about helping you to make the clothes you want to wear. If you need help fitting or with specific techniques or processes, you’ll have the time and space to work through any issues or projects with expert help and tuition on hand if you need it. So you may want to nail the fit on that pair of trousers you’ve been wanting to make for ages. Or have a go on an overlocker and whizz up a Bianca Coat before working on a couple of other projects. Or perhaps you want some space to cut a few projects out and then decide which to make – the choice is yours!

We are not going to give you a list of patterns to work from, but we will give you an idea of what’s achievable during the time we have.

There will be help and guidance on the machines when required and also we will be running a  few Masterclass Demonstrations on some key processes we know are the ones people find tricky.

This Sewing Retreat really will move your sewing up to the next level as well as give you time to focus and relax.

There will be plenty of tea, coffee and cake to keep you sewing throughout the weekend and a gourmet restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner too.

When you’re not sewing you can relax using the hotel facilities which usually include gym, swimming pool, sauna and steam room to ease away any residual sewing tension!

What’s included in the Sewing Retreat….

  • A cuppa and cake on arrival
  • Help to make your sewing plans for the weekend using our sewing planner
  • Use of all the sewing machines, overlockers and equipment from 9am to 6pm.
  • A chance to visit the Sew Me Something studio to stock up on sewing supplies
  • Expert help and advice on all your sewing projects
  • Expert help and advice on fitting and pattern alterations
  • Masterclass demonstrations
  • Lunch and dinner on Friday
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday
  • Breakfast and lunch on Sunday
  • Comfortable bedrooms for three nights
  • Use of all the hotel facilities

To be honest I have tried to create the kind of Retreat I would love to go on myself, and you will certainly get plenty of ‘Bang for your Buck’ during the time you have with us. Don’t worry if you are thinking of coming on your own either. You will soon make friends and we will do all we can to look after you and make you welcome.

This is what some of our past Sewing Retreat attendees have said about joining us. . .

“Very enjoyable. Venue excellent. Jules and CL were fantastic. So patient, attentive and professional. As well and warm fun and friendly. Have left with a pattern block that fits! Invaluable. I’m delighted!” Susan

“Great weekend. Learned loads. The trousers I made were great and fit perfectly. I just wish I’d had time to finish the Agnes top too. CL and Jules were so calm and knowledgeable – amazing mentors! Thank you for a great weekend.” Ruth

“There was a great atmosphere and the venue was lovely. Excellent support from both Jules and CL, and huge thanks to both. I learnt a lot of techniques which I wanted to learn. Thank you both for your calm expertise and generosity.” Kate

We deliberately keep the participant numbers small to make sure that all those that join us get a really good chunk of tutor time if they need it.

I can guarantee you will leave the Sewing Retreat knowing more than you did when you arrived. So what are you waiting for?! We can’t wait to host our next Sewing Retreat and I can’t wait to see you there!

Busy doing Nothing!

This is where I have been for the last couple of weeks – MY spot on the sofa.

Not ill – just hibernating!

I was discussing with my eldest last night his lack of motivation to find a new Saturday Job. “But I actually like doing nothing” he protested. And the problem is I totally get where he is coming from.

Having sat on the sofa for the best part of two weeks determined to “HAVE SOME TIME OFF” *she says with a slightly maniacal look in her twitching eye.  It was slightly scary how quickly I have become used to doing nothing.  

Now having just sat back and reread that sentence, it’s not quite correct. I have been doing stuff, just not necessarily work stuff.

    • I have read three books. All of them trashy!
    • I have nearly finished a rather scrumptious jumper from Mrs Moon.
    • I have planned out what seeds I’m going to plant for next years veg crop and where I want to put the greenhouse I have yet to acquire. (More about that later.)
    • I have watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for the 10 millionth time. (My daughter was obsessed by it as a littley, and we know all the words to all the songs!)
    • I have researched plant based recipes that might, just might be OK for all the members of my fussy family.
    • I have researched staying Iceland for my big birthday in November.
    • I have joined a new Gym and booked in all the classes I want to do. (Yes I know you can see the irony too.)

And, yes at times I have just sat with my feet up, eyes closed and just thunk thoughts. And yes, a lot of those have been about work.

So I haven’t really been doing nothing. I have just been doing ‘different stuff’. And it’s OK to have time away from what you do everyday. Well that’s what I have to tell myself as I’m not really very good at that.

When you run your own business, and you are the business and the business is you – to a certain extent – it is very hard to switch off.

But with the whole team on a break I have switched off and really enjoyed it too. Time off does have its benefits and the longer I am running my own business the more I am beginning to see that this is actually an essential part of running my own business.

Time off has made me want to come back with renewed vigor! Going Cold Turkey (please forgive the pun) has cleared my mind and allowed me to focus on this new year.

Last year was tough, both personally and professionally. We moved premises, lost team members, commitments to certain projects meant we didn’t produce as much new stuff as I would have liked and I have had to shoulder the financial burden after Charlie’s accident. But I have answered the call and last year we gained a new key team member, grew our audience, doubled our turnover, created 3 new patterns, ran our first sewing retreats and have completed a big new project that will go live next week.

And we have lots of plans for more ace stuff for this year too. I’m excited and can’t wait to get back into the studio on Monday.

If you want to find out about what’s coming and how you can join in sign up to receive our emails  and you won’t miss a thing! Just fill in your name and email and we’ll do the rest.

Happy New Year!

Jules x