28 Jan 2015

How to Fall in Love With Your Sewing Machine

Did you get a shiny new sewing machine for Christmas? Do you have one, unloved and sitting in your cupboard? Nervous to get it out of the box? Please don't be, your machine can be your best friend if you learn how to love it. A lot of our customers in Sew Crafty tell me that they are a little intimidated by their sewing machine. They are afraid of doing something wrong and not being able to fix it. They find it frustrating and complicated, who has time for that!

Today I am going to let you in on the secret (not a very well kept one) that I tell all of my customers, a tool that is invaluable when tackling a sewing machine, whether you are new to sewing or an old hand. The best news is that you may already have one.....

Your instruction book.

Yes, Seriously, your instruction book. Now don't panic, if you have not a clue where yours is you can usually download the one for your model on the manufacturer's website. Take a note of your make and model and google away, for instance I have a Janome 525s so I would google 'janome 525s instruction manual' and you should be able to get a hold of it that way.  Usually as a PDF so you can print it off if you like too.

Now that you have your instructions at hand you can use them to find out most any thing you need to know. Most instructions don't just have set-up directions but usually they will talk you through all of the techniques that your machine can handle; including zips button holes and decorative stitching. It will tell you what presser feet you have and what they are used for and what settings you need to use for which fabrics. Mine even has a handy trouble shooting guide in the back.

I know that all the information in the manual can be a little overwhelming at first, but learning to drive a car is complicated until you learn how. Here are my top tips to get started:
  • Take some time out to get to know your machine and the techniques it is capable of. 
  • Use fabric scraps to practice stitches so you don't mess up your projects.
  • Don't rush, push, force, hurry or pull. No one likes that!
  • Always use the best needles and thread you can afford, your machine will thank you for it.
  • Change you needle regularly. 
  • Make sure you buy the right bobbins needles and feet. Take one that came with the machine along to your haberdashers with you to double check. 
  • Make a note of your make and model to keep in your purse when shopping for machine parts. 
  • Take good care of your machine. Find the name of a local sewing machine engineer and have your machine serviced after your guarantee ends. Then every two years after, regardless of how much you use it (even more important if it has not been used)
  • Set aside some time before you start a project to practice the steps you will need, practice makes perfect. 

I hope that has encouraged you to get your machine out from where it is hiding. Trust me, it could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Why not have a try this weekend? Do let us know how you get on.

Is there anything you want to know about starting to sew with a machine? Ask your question in the comments and we can see if we can help.

Sammy xxx

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26 Jan 2015

Thoughtful post

Sometimes what we need is to step away from the laptops, mobiles and iPad's.  Sometimes we need to read a magazine, watch a movie and just lounge on the sofa.  Sometimes we need to go for a walk, explore some nature or stop to look at what beauty is around us.  Sometimes we need to not speak to anyone and just take a little time to have a duvet day - and most importantly not feel guilty.

So sometimes, make time for yourself and take a step back.  You might find something new and amazing.


23 Jan 2015

Top 10: Crafting Trends you need to know about in 2015

Talking about trends is always a tricky thing, However there are always some trends each year which you can rely on to be top of the class. These are my Top 10 Crafting trends you need to know about this year. If you are planning new ideas for your makes, blog projects or gifts if you go by these themes they are sure to be a winner.

Tropical - Pineapples were everywhere last year and they are not budging from the top spot this year, joined by their pink pals Flamingos they will once again be everywhere this year. From fashion to homewares be sure to include them in your crafty endeavours.

Blues - four of the ten Pantone colours of 2015 are this cool tone. From minty blue, Lucite green (totally a blue!) to Classic blue, pastel to bright - blue will be the shade of the year despite 'the colour' of the year being the warmer rusty pink Masala.

Origami- or any kind of paper folding, including glue or not, trust me you will see a-lot of folded paper and fabric around this year. This paper star was a free download from the lovely Oh Happy Day.

70's Crafts - Loom weaving and Macramé made a big comeback last year and will be hanging around now that fashion is following suit.

Mixed Metals Silver is making a comeback, Gold and rose gold will still be hanging around but silver is joining the party again. Mixing the three is where the trend wins. Also keep an eye out for metallic foils. A new foiling machine the Minc is on its way from the states and means we will all be able to create those lovely foiled prints we have been seeing all over Pinterest for ourselves

Paint Splatters, dribbles and marbling - Geometric patterns will still be big this year, but we will see looser, softer prints coming through.  Free running painting techniques like watercolour, paint splatters and marbling will be the prints of choice to soften all those geometric edges. Oh and keep a look out for lots hot air balloons, total mini trend alert!

Tassels - Pompom fringe has been on everything over the past few years, it was only a matter of time before the tassel made a comeback too. Think rows of little tassels on everything from cushions to jewellery.

Calligraphy handwriting - I know that one of my goals this year is to brush up my calligraphy skills, and I won't be alone as a new generation are discovering the art of creative handwriting and making it their own. In general 'handwriting' type prints on textiles will be big in 2015.

Dinosaurs, with two Dino films being released this year, Disney's 'The Good Dinosaur' and 'Jurassic World' expect to see a lot of prehistoric themed crafty stuff flying around.  H's Dinosaur hoodie from last year would be a great alternative to all the mass produced merch.

Confetti - because we all love a bit of confetti, brightly coloured paper, sparkles and poppers it's not a party without some!

What are your tips for the top crafty trends this year, What colours are you really in to right now and what materials can you not get enough of ?? What tutorials are you yearning to see from us this year? Let us know in all the usual ways.

Have a lovely weekend
Sammy xx

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21 Jan 2015

Let's meet... The Sewing Directory

We thought we would start off the year with a fresh start to our interview series with a new name and some new faces to learn more about.  So get yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit and lets meet Fiona from The Sewing Directory.

The Sewing Directory is a website that provides information on where to find sewing businesses, classes, sewing machine servicing and many many more services.  It's so useful to find all this in one place, as the whole reason Fiona started the website was that she couldn't find suppliers near her.  There are so many places out there and so much of the internet to look at.

What was the first thing you remember making?

I think it was dolls/teddy clothes when I was quite young (around 6-7 maybe).  My mum was a seamstress so she taught us all to sew from a young age. I’ve now passed that on and have taught my 6 year old son to sew, he loves it.

How did you decide that you wanted to make a website for other people to find sewing businesses?

I built a website for my mum’s dressmaking business and was looking for somewhere to promote it.  I presumed there must have been a few sites which were all about sewing and helped people to locate local sewing businesses but I couldn’t find any so I decided to set one up myself.

I knew people advertised in magazines but when you run a local business it seems pointless paying for national advertising when you are only trying to reach people that live near you which is why I thought a directory allowing people to search by county would work well.

What has been your favourite ever make?

I think it would have to be the vintage patchwork cushion I made for my mum’s 60th birthday. 

I sourced fabrics from the decade in which she was born in her favourite colours and then turned them into a cushion as old as she was. 

What are your favourite ways to stay inspired?

I find blogs and Pinterest are my main sources of inspiration.  Also at the moment because I get very little sewing time a lot of my makes are from necessity so it’s often whatever I need at the time. I’ll spend a few days thinking over the design in my mind until I have it right and then I make it.  I’m a ‘make it up as you along’ kind of stitcher as opposed to someone who follows patterns word for word.

Who are your favourite Designer/Makers right now?

Ooo tricky question, there are so many to choose from.  I really love Carolyn Saxby’s textile art, they are inspired by the place I grew up, Cornwall. She does the most beautiful embroidered hearts but they always sell so fast I haven’t managed to get one yet! 

I also love Kerry Darlington’s stunning artwork, I hope that one day I can afford to buy a piece.  Plus my friend NelWhatmore’s beautiful landscape paintings.

What crafty item is top of your wishlist?

At the moment having recently moved house a good sewing table and cutting table.  I’m using the top of a chest of drawers as my cutting table at the moment and 2 small low desks as my sewing table.  My plan for 2015 is to get better sewing furniture so I can sew in comfort.  A little boring but practical.  Plus of course a girl always needs more fabric…

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I would love to say sewing but unfortunately I have very little free time, and it’s generally very late at night as I work until 10-11pm most nights.  So reading is what I love to do when I’m not working, I try to read for an hour before bed each night. 

Plus I’ve recently re-located to Devon so we’re spending our weekends exploring the area as a family.

Tell us a bit about what you have coming up?  Any little projects you want to tell us about.

My book, Craft a Creative Business, which came out in the UK end of October goes on sale in the US & Canada mid-January so I’m busy promoting that at the moment.

After that my plan is to focus on building up more brilliant content on The Sewing Directory, more projects and sewing technique guides.  I’m also looking at re-organising the site a bit to make the content easier to navigate.

We do love Fiona's book and love that she still gets a chance to do some little creative projects on the side too.  After all, we don't always have the time to do lengthy projects, small things that are needed around the house or for presents are a great way to get creative.


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19 Jan 2015

Make it: Quick Coin Purse

I thought I would show you a very quick little project today, one which you can make within an hour and use the very same day.  Sound good?  Then let's have a look at how to make this very cute Coin Purse.

You will need: Fabric for the outside (I used two different ones which will be explained later, but you could just have one, entirely up to you), Fabric for the inside, a 4 inch zip, strong fabric glue such as Gutterman HT2, scissors and optional needle and thread.
Firstly pick your fabric for the outside and inside and cut to the size you want your purse.  I had a stash of bits and bobs that I had acquired from the little gifts you get from Craft Magazines and so I decided to use this lovely gold leather look fabric and some turquoise material for my purse.  I recommend always keeping the gift bags even if you don't want to make what is inside as you can always reuse them for something else further down the line.

So, once you have cut your size, making sure you cut it to the length of the zip, you can start to put your purse together.  Now, because my fabric piece was not that large, I added some turquoise material to the edges so that I wouldn't loose any of my gold material to edges.  I decided to glue my purse together as I wanted to use it quickly, but you can of course use a good old needle and thread to put it together.

I glued the fabric to the edges of the gold material so that it joined the edges together and then cut away any excess. I made sure I kept the purse wrong side out to make it easier to work with. Then using more of the turquoise fabric, I covered the inside of the purse (keeping it wrong side out) so that there are no edges showing inside to get my money caught on.  I glued this down spreading the glue thinly over the whole area.

Then, I attached the zip.  As your purse is wrong side out you will need to remember to attach the zip the opposite way, making sure your zipper is facing into your purse and that the edges of your fabric do not go over the teeth of the zip.  It also helps to have the zip in the open position here so that you can turn it through after you have glued both sides to your pouch.

Then you can turn it through and voila!  You are done.  If you need to glue down any edges of the zip you can do this now and I recommend leaving it in the open position for a while, just in case!

That's all you have to do really for a little coin purse.  As I said you can do this with needle and thread, just in the same way.  Make sure you have nice neat stitching would be my only advice, as you will see it on the outside.  You could match your thread or sew in a contrasting colour to make it more interesting.

I thought this was a great project to use up some bits and pieces and also made for a nice and easy make for a spare hour - although it probably wouldn't even take you that long.  I am giving you half an hour to find the fabric you want to use in your stash, as we all know that's half the battle for these projects.

What colour and fabric would you make yours in?  and who would you make it for?  As usual we would love to see if you do have a go at this or any of our projects, send us a photo on Facebook, twitter or tag us on Instagram. Just use the #livelovemake

Now, just to find some coins to go in it!  No mean feat in January!

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16 Jan 2015

Wishlist: Getting Organised

January is the month for getting our lives in order right!? Well here are a few of the things I have been stocking up on to get myself organised.

Write stuff:  I love this planner from one of my fave stationery places online the Fox and Star, and these little notebooks from the lovely Oh No Rachio, Sticky notes, as you may know are my bag and this yummy set from Paperchase are not only stylish but essential.

Label stuff:  It's all very well tidying up but if you don't make a note of where it all goes how on earth are you going to find it mid April when you need it?  Labels don't have to be dull either, these heart shaped ones from Mail Box Happiness on Etsy are fun and cute but you can never go wrong with Kraft tags, these ones from Wilkos are perfect.  Along with these neon tags from Knot and Bow, that will bring a splash of colour to the dullest of filing systems.

File stuff:  If you want to jazz up your filing system whilst you are at it, think about this acrylic drawer unit from Ryman, or these yummy wire trays from another fave of mine Papermash.  This colourful filing boxes from H&M would be a great disguise for all your boring paperwork if you prefer to keep those bills hidden away until absolutely necessary.

How are you getting yourself organised this year? Are you a naturally organised person like our H or do you need more help like me?  Let us know in the comments and thank you to all of you who filled in our survey last week, the results have been very helpful in our blog planning for this year, so hopefully we can bring you even more of what you love from us in 2015.

Sammy xxx

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