home sewing

Sewing Bee Series 5

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So my mother-in-law gets the TV listings sent to her monthly – she then peruses it with great care and calls me with enthusiasm if she sees anything of interest.

So with excitement – I announce that there’s another series of (drumroll)
‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ which starts THIS coming Thursday on BBC2 at 8pm.

So stick it in the diary or set to record it – there’s always something to learn or even simply interesting to see how others tackle projects and sewing challenges and great to get the creative juices flowing!

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Beginner sewers – What do I do next?

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OK, so if you now know where your machine’s flywheel is and know what a bobbin looks like, how to fill it and where it goes…. and perhaps getting to grips with how to sew a straight-ish line… then you might want to find a few projects that are not too hard and build some confidence using the skills you’ve learnt.

Tip: Don’t jump straight to a dress pattern as it’s important that you don’t get demotivated and throw your machine out the window!

Check out these 2 boards below on pinterest – I have gathered projects that are at the right level for beginners to sew a few projects from so that you can get a few wins under your belt:

Keeping motivated and doing smaller projects is best. Have fun!

Get creative: Freehand Machine Embroidery Class

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Know how to use your sewing machine but want to get creative? Learn how to do decorative freehand embroidery designs with your sewing machine.

Great for card making, gifts picture in a frame, fun appliqué on a dress or pillowcase, customise an old item of clothing with these techniques.  So get started: book online – Freehand Sewing Machine Embroidery class with teacher Katie (pics of her creations!). Class includes sewing machine set up, different techniques, ideas to get you designing and practice your technique.

Don’t know how to use your sewing machine yet? Book online – Sewing Machine Skills class.

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Buying a sewing machine – points to ponder

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Buying a new machine should be fun – after all, you’re excited about all the beautiful things you see yourself making once you have it! But making a decision can be rather daunting.

New vs 2nd hand: I find my clients are usually surprised how affordable a new sewing machine is and often consider buying 2nd hand before looking at the prices of a new machine. Currently, you can buy a new machine for the same price as a sewing machine service would cost. So I suggest buying a new machine as you just don’t know which parts are worn and may conk out at any time (this might not be the case for industrial machines and overlockers).

But please DO save any sewing machines your family might not be using anymore – a good clean and oil can do wonders for an ol’ gal.

Function: You only need 3 stitches on your machine to do basic and even intermediate sewing – clothing repairs, alteration, making garments and interiors (not upholstery which requires an industrial sewing machine due to the thicknesses of fabrics):

  • Straight stitch: Basic stich used to sew
  • Zig-zag stitch: is used to sew around the edge of fabric (to prevent fraying) if you do not have an overlockering machine. You don’t need an overlocker – it simply looks neater and more professional and saves time by combining the straight stitch and anti-fraying stitch into one, so saves time.
  • Button hole stitch: At some point you will need to make button holes (not as daunting as it might seem) so good to have.
  • Adjustable stitch length: This allows you to set your machine to any variation of stitch length – machines without this can only be set to specified lengths: usually small, medium or long stitches. It is definitely a benefit to have complete control of the length, especially for appliqué. If possible stitch width adjustment on all stitches (not only on zig zag) is also preferable but not necessary.

Bobbin position: Top-loading vs front loading: Generally speaking, if you can afford a machine with a top-loading bobbin slot, then get it. Front loading bobbins are more fiddly and there is more chance of getting thread jammed with a front loading machine. If you have one of these – it’ll work perfectly fine so don’t worry.

Where to shop: In store or online is fine. I suggest you buy your machine from a sewing machine specialist (as opposed to online 2nd hand websites or a department store or your cousin Vinny) who has after sales support, technical advice and helpline, parts and sometimes offer a free session to get-to-know-your-machine once purchased.  You may never need these services but if you do you’ll probably get them free in many instances.

Machine supplier prices are not more expensive so it’s a bargain to have this peace of mind and support at hand and you might even speak to the technician directly in some cases whereas a department store is more likely to send their product away for repair etc.

Happy shopping!