Tag Archives: sewing

My 5 favourite sewing machine feet

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Do you like reading manuals? I certainly don’t, and this is how my new sewing machine feet stayed for about a year – tucked neatly away in their compartments.

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Then I went to an applique workshop and we were asked to bring a darning foot. And it turned out, I had one!

Since then I’ve managed to use a few more, and these are my favourites.

1. Quarter inch foot

The bar runs against the edge of the fabric so the seam is a reliable quarter inch and your patchwork pieces fit together correctly. Much easier than lining up the edge of the fabric with a mark.

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2. Edge foot

Beautiful stitching along the edge of a piece of fabric, especially good for top stitching. If I want two perfect lines of stitching I use the edge foot, then the quarter inch foot – heaven!

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3. Walking foot

The teeth on this foot pull the top of the fabric through in the same way as the feed dog teeth on the machine pull the bottom. If you are sewing several layers of fabric this helps stop them go out of line.  Walking feet look quite big and clumsy, but don’t let this put you off.

4. Open foot

Using this one means you can more easily see where you are stitching. I use it for sewing on the lines when I am foundation piecing patchwork using a paper template

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5. Adjustable zip foot

If I could only choose one foot, it would be this one.  The foot part slides along a bar, which means you can get as close to the edge of the zip as you want to.  Great for invisible and regular zips, and can also be used as a conventional foot if you slide the needle to the middle.

Do you have a favourite sewing machine foot?  Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you.

Experiments with knits #1 – Colette Mabel skirt

I find sewing with knits very frustrating.  The different weights and stretch properties mean there is a lot to think about when matching pattern to fabric.

But when a knit garment goes well, they are such useful and wearable things to have.  Two of my Mabel skirts are the most-worn things I’ve made since I started sewing.

So I’m going to try to get better at sewing knits!

My plan is to make the same pattern in two (or more) different knit fabrics, and see what I learn.

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The first test subjects are my three Mabel skirts.  They all have the same modification – I omit the back vent to give a more figure hugging line.

The black one – above – is made from scuba knit.  Scuba is a fine, smooth knit, usually made from polyester.  It doesn’t drape particularly well and is often used for body con garments.

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I’m not a fan of artificial fibres so didn’t think I’d like this fabric, but it’s my favourite of the three.  It was very easy to sew, the hem looks nice and stays straight, it doesn’t crease and it looks as good now as when I made it.

The second Mabel I made from a medium weight navy cotton jersey (not pictured).  I loved this one.  It was very soft, with more drape than the scuba.  But it was more difficult to sew, so my hem wasn’t straight, and it pilled badly after a few wears.

And finally, this one, from a small remnant of sweatshirt knit.  The thick fabric means it’s not very flattering (which is why you aren’t seeing it on me!) but it’s so comfortable and cosy.  A skirt to be worn with in winter, at home, with a big jumper, and woolly tights.   I had to sew a deep hem as the narrow hem kept curling up.

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So that’s the end of the first experiment.  Lessons learned – I’m going to be less prejudiced against artificial fibres, and I need to find out how to sew better hems!
I’m not sure what to do about the pilling problem.  It’s annoying to throw away a skirt I like after a few wears.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and any tips you have.  How do you select knit fabric?

Merchant & Mills top 64

Merchant & Mills top 64

I’ve spent some time having a wardrobe rethink.  Still love the idea of putting together a capsule for each season, but nowhere near achieving that.  I seem to need more basics, things which complete outfits, so that’s what I’ve been sewing.

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This is the Merchant and Mills Top 64 in denim-look jersey from Minerva, here.  The fabric is a bit lighter in weight than I wanted (on-line fabric shopping – gah!) so I made the top shorter and more boxy to compensate.

Unfortunately the light weight makes the neckline and hems look lumpy – it’s not so apparent in real life.  It doesn’t need to stretch to go over my head, so I’ll use some tape next time instead of the facing.

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So it’s not a thing of great beauty.  But very comfortable and cozy to wear.  I’ll put this one down as a wearable learning experience.

I will definitely make this pattern again, and the fabric would be lovely for something more drapey.  Maybe for the cardigan Gillian has dared me to make!

Colette Jasmine revisited

I decided this week to remake the first pattern I made successfully – as in, actually wore! – the Colette Jasmine.

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I definitely had beginners luck the first time round, especially with my fabric choice, which was a slightly sheer vintage flower print with a bit of stretch.  It worked without any alterations, which was very encouraging.  I was even fortunate in not stay-stitching the neckline, as I liked the lower v-neck when it stretched.  Told you I had beginners luck!

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This time I used another vintage print which I bought as a bolt, with it’s original label still attached.

I lowered the neckline by an inch at the front (to get that stretched out effect) and attached the sleeves flat so I could serge the seam edges.  I also took it in a little at the waist and hips.

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I love this top.  The bias cut gives such a flattering line.

It was fun to go back in time – and here’s the first version I made in 2012.

Colette Jasmine

Blogiversary, and a giveaway

This blog is three years old!  I’m amazed.

I’ve just been looking back at my first posts, and it’s funny to see which clothes I never wore and which got worn to death.  My first successes were a white Colette Jasmine and a Vogue 1247 skirt in navy batik.  The failures were mainly flower print dresses – it seems to be a bad idea to make things I would never buy!

1960 Simplicity dress

One flowered dress that I have worn, and continue to wear, is this one which I made from a vintage pattern.  The pattern was a gift from a lovely customer called Felicity, who sent me her mother’s collection of sewing patterns.  I ran a series of giveaways here, and the patterns went all over the world.

Felicity got in touch with me again recently to say she had found a few more patterns, and would I like them?

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Well, would you?!

I thought we could do this Pattern Pyramid style, where the winner keeps the patterns she likes, and runs a giveaway for the remainder.  So you do need an active blog to enter.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post saying which is your favourite decade to sew from.  I’ll pick a winner by random selection on Wednesday 22 April.

Thank you so much for reading.  I love being part of this amazing community!

Chambray Banksia and sewing from the stash drawer

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I started this Banksia top last summer, at sewing lessons, but made a mistake so hid it under my stash fabric – which I believe is the grown up response when mistakes are made.

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I wanted to add buttoned cuffs to the pattern – which my sewing teacher showed me how to do.  My mistake was to put them on the wrong way, so the longer piece where the button goes was on the wrong side.   And how long did it take to fix?  About half an hour – I’m very glad I dug it out!

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I’m hoping the chambray will get softer with washing as it’s a little stiff at the moment, but otherwise I’m very pleased with this.

I’m wearing it with another Colette Mabel from my stash busting list.

Having a list to work from is really helping me focus, and I came across this great series of posts from The Craft Sessions on having a thoughtful stash.

At the moment my rule is to only buy things I need to complete stash projects.  I stretched that rule yesterday to buy two half price Vogue patterns at Minerva.  Rules are made to be broken, aren’t they?!

Make + Review – Pamper your Pooch by Rachelle Blondel

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If you’re a dog lover, this book is probably worth buying for the cute pictures alone!  There are also some really great ideas to make for your dog, or as gifts.

I sewed a travelling dog bed for Hetty.  It’s made from brushed cotton and backed with  waxed cotton.  I filled it with two layers of wadding (the pattern says one, but I suppose it depends on the wadding you are using) then quilted by hand tying in a grid.

Pamper Your Pooch travelling dog bed

I’m keeping this on the back seat of the car – it stays put and doesn’t get rucked up like the blanket I was using.  She could also use it when visiting or under the table in a pub to keep her comfortable and happy.

Pamper Your Pooch travelling dog bed

I also made her some of the carrot and oat biscuits.  She loves these!  I hadn’t thought of making dog treats before and will certainly keep making them.  They only keep for a week and the recipe makes quite a few.  I don’t want a podgy pooch so I froze some of the dough to use later – which worked perfectly.

Pamper Your Pooch dog biscuitsThe downside of the book for me is that Hetty is very rough with her toys, so I wouldn’t make her any of the stuffed toys, or anything which might be damaged by chewing.

However, there is plenty for the feisty terrier. I’m going to try the plaited jute toy and the sweet potato chew strips.  I also love the towel with built in hand pockets for bath time.

I highly recommend Pamper Your Pooch.  There are so many patterns and recipes, most dog owners will find something they want to make.  Though if you’re making things as gifts, check they are suitable for that dog, and I would attach an ingredients label to the food items.

You can find some of the patterns and recipes, including the dog biscuits, here.

I’ll leave you with some more cute doggy pics.

Pamper your Pooch review