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Welcome Back

When I joined a sewing forum, a popular topic was; ‘What books are good for beginners?’

The answer does of course will depend on what you would like to create, but for general sewing, things like home-wares, gifts and to get you started with sewing with a machine, here are several excellent books that I use a lot and are ideal for newbies. There are links at the end of the article for the full reviews that I wrote about the titles mentioned, in earlier posts.

Me and my sewing Machine by Kate Haxell.

Me and my Sewing Machine by Kate Haxell

Me and my Sewing Machine by Kate Haxell

Kate’s book is for those who know they want to sew using a sewing machine, but need a good guide to what a machine can help you do and how to do it. This book holds your hand and shows you round the machine, it tells you about the different feet and what they each do and is also a good no-nonsense guide to essential techniques, for basic sewing. How to create different seams, and how to finish them create a really professional look for your projects. Zip insertion is also covered well is this book.

Check out the link below for my earlier review. This is also a good book to look at, before you buy your first sewing machine.

Sew What Bags by Lexie Barnes

Sew What Bags by Lexie Barnes

Sew What Bags by Lexie Barnes

This one is perfect for newbies as it expects no prior knowledge. If you want to make a PE bag for the kids its in here, gifts suitable for friends family and little projects perfect for fetes are also included here. There are totes, tissue holders, little purses etc. Nice small achievable confidence building project for the new sewer.

Sew What Skirts by Denhartog & Camp

Sew What Skirts by Denhartog and Camp

Sew What Skirts by Denhartog and Camp

Another nice straight forward and inspiring book, also expecting little or no prior knowledge of sewing. As the intro to the book says ‘If you can thread your sewing machine and find the straight and zig zag stitches you can create the projects in this book.

Sew What Skirts shows you how to take your own body measurements, to create a range of different skirts. Classic styles to get you going but when you have more experience, you can mix n match ideas from the various styles for different waist bands and fastenings, add pockets and trims to your heart’s content so you can really personalise the designs to your own look.

If the thought of a commercial pattern confuses you and frightens you, (me too by the way!) This book is for you.

I have just made a trial skirt from this books instructions and it came out great. If you have to do a lot of altering on a commercial pattern, why not start with this book instead. Since YOUR measurements are used not that of some fictional ‘standard’ person ;)

The Sewing Book by Alison Smith

The Sewing Book by Alison Smith

The Sewing Book by Alison Smith

THE must have sewing book. A wonderfully clear reference book of visual instructions for so many sewing techniques. Not the chatty style of the earlier books but definitely one to have on your bookshelf as it walks you through many techniques.

I did buy a commercial pattern and couldn’t follow what I was meant to be doing. When I looked the technique up in Alison’s book, there were photos of the technique which made it much easier to see what I was meant to be doing. Not overly wordy, but definitely a keeper and excellent for visual learners. If you are trying to fathom the markings on commercial patterns they are covered here as are some basic alterations for patterns too.

Home-made Vintage by Christina Strutt

Home Made Vintage

Home Made Vintage

If you are more into home-wares and would like to make something timeless and elegant try this book. Its kind of Anna Griffin meets Tilda ;) If you walk through John Lewis and the like and think ‘Ooh so nice’, but the prices are beyond your pocket try this book. From cushion covers to table decoration. You could take the ideas found in here in many different directions. For example there is an envelope shoe bag that with some alteration to the size and the addition of padding, would make a great e-reader/tablet cover/cozy.

Lots of things in here for all ages and some would also make great gifts. Take the ideas as a starting point and add your own imagination, with different style fabrics you could change the look and feel to any style you like. The picture in the photo was from a library book with hard cover, when I bought the book it was a paperback and had a different cover but essentially all the same content.

My other favorite sewing book is The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam. I love it but perhaps it doesn’t belong on books for beginners as although it covers many aspects of making bags, the techniques are for those with more experience. For complete newbies go with Sew what bags, if you have passed that stage and want to explore different fastenings, add pockets and zippers then Lisa’s book is a real must have.

Hope you will check out the links below for my full reviews of the books I’ve mentioned. These books have been so helpful in my sewing journey. I was scared of sewing for so long, but with the help and encouragement of these books, and some help from forum buddies, my sewing is improving with every project.

Links

The following links take you to my full reviews of these books and to where you can buy them.

My best advice is to grab some cheap fabric or old sheets that you can practice with before you try to make something in particular. Work out what stitches you like and how techniques work before making a finished project, that way you won’t have so much pressure and when you do make a project, have much better chance of making something you love and will use.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

This month will you join me for a creative challenge? How many of you have bought sewing books, perhaps even a sewing machine but have yet to have a play with it? This challenge could give you the nudge you need to get creative with your sewing. Join me for

Adventures in Sewing Logo

In this months challenge I’ll be sharing, projects, links and reviews that will help you get started or improve your sewing and textile crafting. I’m a newbie too and easily confused so there will be plenty for anyone just starting out.

If you want to find out what books are fab without blinding you with more detail than you can manage you’ll find the answer here in the coming weeks.

Looking for great sewing forums and blogs to share your ideas with, I’ll show you my favorites. How about you, what would you like to create with textiles and sewing?

Up for a sew along? Bigger challenge? Lets sew a skirt! I’ve been putting it off too but after making a test one, I’m ready, how about you?

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Anyone else keep seeing lovely sewn projects and wish you could play along? Zips terrify me, I know I can do them really as I made a zip up cushion cover in school but I’m really bewildered by the process. I’d heard about Craftsy online classes from a sewing forum so I tried them out. Here’s my first finnished zip, I’ve left in tacking stuff so I can write notes how I did it. I did iron it but then forgot about it and put it in the cupboard so its a bit… distressed hehe

Centered zips, after doing the Craftsy class.

Centered zips, after doing the Craftsy class.

You do need to join to have access to the classes but this zip class is a freebie and its WONDERFUL.

Links

There are other classes on the site that are paid for, and with those you get downloadable PDFs in some cases, some offer patterns as part of the class price. The tutor answers your questions online and you can post pics of your projects to share with fellow classmates and for feedback. I’ll do a fuller review of Craftsy next month, but if the good weather has got your creative juices flowing, check out craftsy for sewing, sugar craft, knitting & crochet and much more. Just found out they do all kinds of classes including art, papercraft, jewellery making etc. Check the link below for more details.

What would you most like to make if you could create anything?

Best wishes and see you soon

Billie :)

PS. The Craftsy platform works best on Google Chrome or Safari browsers, and you can choose the quality of the play back if your connection isn’t the best. I found IE gave a fuzzy picture and Firefox kept stopping or only showing a bookmark strip about an inch wide of the videos.

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Altered Skirt

Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share some photos of my altered skirt. I had a favorite skirt;

Original skirt

Original skirt

This was my favorite skirt but sadly I’d outgrown the waist. Being a bit of a horder, I’d held on to the skirt, in case I’d get back into it one day, as you do ;) Many years later still doesn’t fit BUT now I have a sewing machine. I decided to try altering it and see if I could get it wearable again.

First I took out the zip and continued the back seam to the top. Next I took out all the darts, folded over the top section to create a casing for elastic instead.

Altered skirt, waistband removed, casing pinned ready to sew

Altered skirt, waistband removed, casing pinned ready to sew

Next I threaded elastic through the casing, this caused much bad language as at each seam the elastic got stuck! If you try this at home, sew down the edges of the seams before you sew down the casing, then the elastic can slip on by ;)

Altered skirt, elastic threaded in place

Altered skirt, elastic threaded in place

Here is the finished skirt. Since it was quite a generous size before and it was just the waist that was the issue, I’m pleased to say it now fits again :) YEY So pleased as this is a nice cotton skirt, I’m not a big fan of viscose that so many skirts on the high street seem to be.

Altered skirt, elastic threaded in place

Altered skirt, elastic threaded in place

How about you, have you got any altering stories you would like to share?

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Welcome Back

After a sewing session I looked down dismayed at the state of the carpet, covered in threads! If you find yourself in the same situation and also have a bad back so fighting with the hoover or bending down to pick them up is impossible, try this quick and simple solution.

Easy clean up after sewing

Easy clean up after sewing

You Will Need

  • Pair of scissors
  • Parcel tape
  • Your feet

Method

  • Before you wrap your feet, go to the area where the thread is! Safety first, do NOT use this concept on stairs!
  • Sit down then, take your parcel tape and wrap it round the widest part of your foot with the sticky side on the outside.
  • Overlap the end of the tape and finish by folding over the end of the tape, to make it easier to remove later.
  • If  there is a lot of thread on the floor, wrap the other foot as well.
  • Now just walk about and the dropped threads will stick to the tape and you don’t need to bend down to get them.

When moving from an area that’s finished to the next, balance on your heels if you can, otherwise fluff from the carpet will fuzz up your tape while you get there ;)

Options/Added Extras

When doing a large area, if your tape fuzzes before you have finished. Swing the tape around your foot, so the fluffy side is now on the top part of your foot and the clean sticky side is underneath :)

Simple eh! Could also be used to pick up beads BUT careful not to do acrobatics in the process and don’t stand on glass or other delicate beads ;) For those, go with foot of tights over the end of a hoover pipe ;)

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

This is a post of two halves, first I’d like to share a picture of my first attempt with cable knitting, and then on to other news.

Rope cable

Rope Cable, my first attempt!

Earlier in the year I posted about New Years resolutions. One of the things I wanted to try this year was cable knitting. I checked out the instructions in my faithful Dummies Guide to Knitting and found the instructions for a Standard Rope cable on page 163. I repeated the cable and added a few rows of rib at the end, just in case I want to turn this in to some kind of bracelet/wrist warmer kind of hybrid ;)

Now on to the other stuff. Has anyone else been following the BBC series ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’? I’ve been hooked from the first episode but would have liked a longer series like with the baking version, it all seems a bit quick at only 4 episodes.

My favorite sewer on there is Lauren, but I love them all for different reasons. Although I don’t share her skills I could have been a ‘Lauren’ if I’d listened when my dear mother tried to teach me to sew. My Mum was ace at sewing, (and knitting and cooking) she made all my clothes till I was a stroppy teenager and rebelled. Mum tried to teach me but I got board and went off to draw or get muddy in the garden instead. If I’d listened to my Mum, I could have been like Lauren.

Thanks to my Mum always making clothes and my Dad’s excellent woodworking skills I have tended to be one of those people who thinks couldn’t we just make that, rather than buy it already made, its also spoilt me for expecting things custom built, which once my parents passed away and their skills with them of course was no longer possible.

I bought an excellent book Sew What skirts, which is full of skirt designs that I love and a nifty way of drafting your own patterns to fit you. This was very tempting as I’ve no idea how to read a proper pattern. I was very lucky a couple of years ago to receive a sewing machine for my birthday and although I’ve made some nice bags in an assortment of sizes, the one thing I’ve always wanted to make was a skirt. I’m only 5 foot 3 and a lot of skirts are way too long on me, I keep seeing styles I like but they are all in linen, what is it with linen? How about a nice cotton? After another trawl through online version of stores only to find options in linen or lary patterns I decided to take the plunge and try making my own.

Simplicity had an offer on their patterns and I ended up buying 4 so I hope at least one I can make seance of. This started out worse than clothes shopping, once again I felt like a freek! My hips are larger than my waist but by the pattern sizing charts they were a smaller size than my waist? I was worried that not only couldn’t I read a pattern if I had to alter it loads before I start it was even worse. I’m still clueless about how to lay out a pattern, how to cut fabric etc never mind getting to altering the pattern as well!

The reason I battled on trying to get a commercial pattern rather than trying to make my own is because I didn’t know what to search for to create a blank pattern onto. I need that tissue stuff, although preferably that nicer fibery kind that Tilly used. Anyone know what it is and where I can get it?

Wish me luck for this project, I fear I’m going to need it.

Billie :)

PS. Still no arty stuff at the mo, between low light and RSI its not been happening of late. I’m still into it, and will get back to it asap.

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Gina Barrett’s; Making Braids and Cords DVD.

Making Braids and Cords DVD

Making Braids and Cords DVD

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Gina Barrett/ Making Passementerie
  • Item Name: Making Braids and Cords; Beginners Selection
  • Item number ISBN: 978-0-9546618-8-5
  • RRP at time of writing: £17
  • Run Time: 94 minutes

Content

Main Chapters

  • Tools & Materials
  • Getting Started
  • Plaited Braids
  • Twisted (Spun) Cords
  • Sewing Machine Cords
  • Wrapped, Knotted & Woven Cords
  • Hints & Tips

Details of projects in each chapter

  • Tools & Materials: What you will need to create the projects shown on the DVD
  • Getting Started: Preparing Warps, Elements & Ends, Constrictor Knot, Half Hitch, Binding
  • Plaited Braids: 4 Element Flat Braid, 4 Element Round Braid, 5 Element Braid version, 5 Element Braid version 2, 8 Element Crossover Braid, 8 Element Soutache
  • Finger loop Braids: Preparing Loops, Loop Replacement & Techniques, Round Lace 5 loops, Broad Lace 5 loops, German Lace 5 loops, Baston 5 loops, Lace Bend, Grene Dorge, Cheveron 8 Loops
  • Twisted (Spun) Cords: Twist S and Z, Monk’s Cord, 3 Element Cord, 2 in 1 Cord, Wavy Gimp, Double-spun cord
  • Sewing Machine Cords: Zig zag Cord, Encased Cord, Cutting Bias Strips, Rouleau
  • Wrapped, Knotted & Woven Cords: Gimp (Bourdon cord), Soutache version 1, Soutache version 2, Spiral, Hand Knotted
  • Hints & Tips: Uses for the braids

Reason For Buying

When I first saw Gina demonstrate some of these techniques on Create & Craft,  I knew I wanted this DVD. There were so many ideas I had, for all the different things I’d use the cords with, especially to add a new dimension to my bookbinding projects and with boxes too.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • There are 25 braids and cord designs shown on the DVD
  • There is a full pictorial list of all the designs, on the inside cover of the DVD, to help you find just the one you want.
  • The eye level camera work, means it is like standing next to Gina as she braids. This makes it much easier to learn the techniques.
  • Each design has a page about its history and how it has been used in the past. Next comes a slow walk through of the technique itself, followed by a really helpful page you can freeze frame and make notes from. This page lists the steps used for the project you just saw. This is really helpful as it’s the ‘chant’ you can use as you create the braid/cord for yourself, and helps to keep you on track, while you are learning.
  • There is a clearly laid out menu system, each style has a dedicated chapter and then a large number of projects in each one. After you play a design, the menu returns you to the start of the chapter, to choose where you would like to go next.
  • Very clear instructions and I like that it has the written element as well as the visual demonstrations. We all learn in different ways and the extra dimension means that the new technique stays with you for longer.
  • There is an excellent description of the tools and materials you will need and for how to start and finish your chosen project.
  • Buying directly from Gina’s website, you also have the choice to have the DVD in NTSC or in PAL formats.

Cons

  • The menu system does not have a play all feature. Being new to the subject, I wanted to watch the whole thing, see what it was all about and then pick a design to re-create. Which without the play all feature, made it a bit awkward, as after each design, you kept being bumped back to the start of the chapter. Just a niggle, as in normal usage, I’m sure you would just go straight to the design you wanted to make, so for longer term use, it’s probably not a problem.
  • The ‘theme’ is played at the start of each chapter: This is normal enough, but it it’s quite loud and without the ‘Play all’ feature you will hear it a lot, which gets a bit wearing. It also plays at the same volume as the narration throughout the getting started section, which was distracting and made it difficult to focus on what was being said. It does not play through the main demonstrations though.

Build Quality

Fantastic! The lighting is superb as is the camera work and angles used. You can see clearly what is being demonstrated and the view is as if you are standing next to Gina, so you get almost the same view of the braid, that you would have, when you make it. This makes learning the techniques MUCH easier.

The demonstrations are superb as are the explanations of what is happening, Gina is a very calming, encouraging teacher.

Value for Money

Excellent! In each section there are lots of designs a total novice could achieve and later in each chapter the difficulty/complexity increases so still plenty to stretch your new abilities as your skills and confidence grow.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes. This is a fantastic DVD. Even though my own limited dexterity will hamper what I can achieve with this craft, I still enjoyed learning about how the braids are created and the history behind them. I highly recommend this DVD to anyone interested in making or learning more about Braiding and cord making.

Summing up

This is a fascinating subject. Gina has a wonderfully calming voice and walks you through everything step by step. Even if my lack of fine motor skills don’t let me braid very much, I have still highly enjoyed this DVD, to learn more designs and how they were used in the past. I highly recommend this DVD to everyone interested in using cords or braids with their creative projects. The projects would suit a wide age range and some of the simpler briads could also be achieved by younger children too. Great for jewellery making as well as for decoration.

I’m currently experimenting with alternative ways of holding thread/yarn, to see if I can find a work around for my poor dexterity. I’ll let you know how I get on and if I find any useful suggestions that may help others with dexterity problems.

Links

Do follow the links below to find out more about Gina Barrett and where you can purchase this excellent DVD.

Many thanks to Gina for this DVD, it has been a joy to watch and I look forward to your continuation of the series.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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