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.

H

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.

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!
H


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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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14 Jan 2015

Make it: Bucket Pincushion and Pretty Pins

Every sewer should have a cute pincushion, it's just no fun sewing without one. It is even better when you can use up some old bits and bobs to make one and pretty up your pins to match. I have used this cute little bucket to make mine, but you can use anything you have around the house, from ramekins to teacups and a pretty piece of fabric, I have used this yummy liberty print. 

You will need: stuffing, a bucket (ramekin or cup) a scrap of fabric, needle and thread, glue, scissors, glass pebbles or stones, pins and nail varnish. 

Start off by filling the bottom of your bucket with the glass pebbles. You can use anything for this, it is just to give the bottom some weight so it wont move when you pop your pins in. Next, take your fabric and cut a 25cm square. Fold the square in half and then in half again, trim the raw edges off in a curve. This should give you a rough circle of fabric.  

Take your needle and thread and sew all the way around about 25mm in from the edge. Before you gather up your stitching pop in a large handful of stuffing.

Once the stuffing is in the pouch pull up your stitches and secure it by wrapping your thread around the bottom.  Before you pop a couple of stitches in to hold it securely, put it into the bucket to make sure it fits snugly, then you can add or take out some stuffing to make it fit.

Take your glue and put a thick layer around the rim of your bucket. let it go a little tacky before placing your pin top in place.

Now to pretty up those pins. I have used nail varnish in some of my favourite Essie colours to paint my flower headed pins, I love the pins but the primary colours they come in don't fill me with joy.  This is a simple solution to make your dull pins look a little more fun and match with your pretty new pin cushion. Just make sure your polish is set before you use them.  I leave at least 24 hours before I use them, and as with any plastic headed pins never iron over them, just in-case.

I really love these pins! I cant wait to use them for a project. I love how using cute sewing supplies can make you feel happy about even the most mundane of sewing project.  I have some repair jobs to do this weekend and these will make doing those a little more fun.

How do you keep yourself happy doing those things that have to be done that you don't want to do? What's your favourite sewing accessory? If you have a go at making one of these do let us know, we love seeing pictures of the things that you make, and don't forget to #livelovemake.

Sammy xxx


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12 Jan 2015

January Food Round-up

It's got to mid January, we all over ate at Christmas, we are all a bit poor and well could do with living a bit healthily this time of year.  But healthy food is boring right???! wrong!  I am all about batch cooking a basic tomato and beef mince mix and then using it for spag bol, chilli, cottage pie or lasagne.  So, it got me thinking that there must be some other great recipe ideas out there that could help us all out in this cold and dull weather, aswell as helping keep the pennies down.

First up is top left with this One Pan Mexican Quinoa from Damn Delicious, which looks amazing and I am all about a one pot dish. I love Quinoa aswell, so this is just a perfect recipe for me. Some may call me lazy, but I just love something I can shove all the ingredients in and it will make something amazing.  Think I should invest in a slow cooker this year too - watch out for a post about slow cooker recipes! lol.

Next on the top right are these crustless Quiches which are perfect for making for your lunch at work.  I found these on Appetite for Life: Secrets of a Dietitian.  They are so easy to make and would be a great thing to take to a party as they are easy finger food.  The whole blog is there to help with nutrition and so you can find loads of bits and pieces on there.

Bottom left is Chorizo, Chicken and Chickpea soup - yummy.  I love the combination of Chicken and Chorizo with chickpeas and so this is right up my street.  I can make a mean stew with that combination too and so and easy way to do a bit of batch cooking I think.  The author of this blog, Ren, also writes for Jamie Oliver.com and the Huffington Post and so it comes from someone who really knows there stuff.

Last but by no means least are these Spinach Artichoke Quesadillas but of course you could make any quesadillas.  I always find it difficult to find good recipes for Artichoke and so these would be perfect to add a different vegetable in your diet.  Of course you can use plenty of other vegetables too, but why not try something different.

I realise that there is actually quite alot of spicy food in this round-up, it must be the cold weather, but you could add more or less as you like.  I do particularly love spicy food though so I would add more!  What recipes do you love to cook at this time of year?  Let us know in the comments below and we can take a look. It's always good to get new food options this time of year to stop the dreaded bored factor and head for the unhealthy stuff.

In fact, it's making me hungry just thinking about it.
H


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9 Jan 2015

Make it: Easy Camera Strap Cover

We are easing into the New Year with an easy DIY today, one that will significantly improve the inside of your camera bag. I find the rubberised backing on most camera straps really catch on my neck and if I am out and about it can be a real pain. About a year ago I made a strap cover, now I can't live without one! I have since made lots for family, friends and anyone who has admired mine. They make a great gift and trust me, you will wonder how you lived without one for so long. 

You will need: Fabric for the outside (cotton or polycotton work well) and something slightly heavier for the inside (I used corduroy, but felt or fleece would also be a good choice) Your camera strap, an air erasable pen or chalk, scissors and a sewing machine (optional).

Start by placing your two fabrics one on top of another wrong sides together. Then take your camera strap and place it down on top, use your pen or chalk to draw around the strap, then flip it over and draw around it again. Don't forget to mark where the leather end piece comes as it will make the cover fit better if you make it to cover those slightly. Cut around the edge of your markings leaving a rough 1.5cm around the edge for a seam allowance.

On the short ends fold the two fabrics up and stitch it up with two rows of top stitching. Then fold the cover in half length ways and pin it along the seam allowance.

Stitch along the long length of the cover and trim away any excess from the edge. Turn the cover inside out and slip it over your camera strap.

There you have it a pretty, comfy strap cover which will look lovely on your camera and if you're anything like me, stop your hair getting caught in it when you are trying to get the perfect shot!

So easy right? A fun little project to try this weekend, the perfect thing to ease yourself into your new sewing machine or a good chance to fire up your machine after the new year.

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

Have a great weekend
Sammy xxx


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7 Jan 2015

Review: Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine

Towards the end of last year we were approached by Simple Stylish Knitting to review their Magazine and have a go at one of their first projects the knitted Fox iPad cover.  Now due to phenomenal demand they sold out and so we had to delay this post so they could restock and then at least you could all have a chance of ordering it if you wanted.  As it wouldn't do to tell you all about it, but then you couldn't actually get it yourself.  Simple Stylish Knitting supplied us with all the wool and equipment we would need for the project, which is very much appreciated.  We also have been Pinning on their Knits to Give board over on Pinterest.

Firstly, lets chat about the magazine itself.  It's a weekly magazine that aims to help people get into knitting one granny square at a time, with a ball of wool with each issue to make a different style stitched square each week, that will make up the blanket you can find in issue one.  It is made for people who have little or no knitting skills and so each issue teaches you a different stitch pattern to give you more knowledge as the issues go along.

Each issue has binder holes and you can buy the binder separately, so you can keep all the projects you like altogether.  They also have a grading system for all the projects in each issue, so that you know what you can achieve and when you start to get better.  The projects are really achievable and not too overwhelming for a beginner, but also make for timeless items to keep in your collection to make time and time again.

Now onto the Fox iPad cover project, this is such a cosy place for your iPad.  Its quite a simple set of stitches with the fox sewn on afterwards.  So a really good starter for 10 as they say.

Simple Stylish Knitting gave us all the wool and needles we would need for the project and lovely Rowan wool at that!  The main part of the case is the darker grey wool, but of course you could always make it whatever colour you like.  We do love a bit of grey though, so its always a good start.

The instructions are really clear and take you through the steps.  They even give you the stitch pattern for making the fox, so you know exactly how to stitch on the very lovely fox on the front.  This was a great project to try and its keeping Sammy's iPad very cosy indeed for winter.

There is an online stitch library too, so you never have to worry about finding the magazine with the stitch you are looking for.  The magazine is available by subscription, which you can get here.

We think that it is a great little magazine for beginners and will give you plenty of projects to try out.  Sometimes just having the ideas can be difficult and so that's why we also have been pinning lots of ideas on their Knits to give board, which you can find here.  That should give you plenty of ideas.

Do let us know if you have read the magazine and you have made the Fox iPad cover. We would love to know what you think.

H & Sammy

Disclaimer:  We were sent items from Simple Stylish Magazine for this feature but were not required to give a positive review.


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