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Sewing Scissors

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Sewing Scissors

No matter what you’re making, whether you hand sew or use a machine,.  you need sewing scissors. Now, you can go and buy a pack of 3 at Poundland but I guarantee you’ll be swearing before you’ve finished your first garment! It’s worth investing in a good pair of dress-making scissors. ssewing cissorsMy own were a birthday present 10yrs ago, have never needed sharpening and cut perfectly, I LOVE them, I also love my Fiskar scissors, pinking shears!

My dressmaking scissors are KAI PROFESSIONAL TAILOR’S SHEARS | 25 CM which are widely available, these were a present but I believe they were bought locally.

Tip – Do not let anyone borrow your scissors under any circumstances, they’ll get used for cutting paper which is a death knell to that crisp sharp edge you want to achieve!

There are a few good brands out there but one of the best known are Fiskars, who make a wide range of scissors suitable for every task.

Another really useful tool is a pair of pinking shears (they were invented by Louise Austin in 1893). Mine are Fiskars, another birthday present and I use them in most projects. If you don’t have an overlocker they a great for finishing off seams to stop fraying and where it’s not practical to use an overlocker. You can also use them to create fancy edging for finishing trims. Amazon do a great deal on these!

 

Lastly, a pair of snips for cutting thread. Again, you don’t want to go cheap here there’s nothing worse trying snip threads with blunt scissors. At best you’ll get an untidy frayed edge, at worst you’ll have to saw to break the thread, taking up your precious time. Mine are Fiskars (can you tell I like the Fiskar brand!)

Mine were purchased from Ebay many years ago and have served me well. This is another pair I don’t lend out, take heed of the tip above!

For the wee thread scissors expect to pay between £6-£8, for quality pinking sheers, £15-£30 and dressmaking scissors £15-£40 but always look out for bargains there’s plenty to be found. If you can only afford 1 good pair go for the dressmaking scissors, they can be used for snipping threads too.

Finally, look after your purchase:

  •     Don’t use them for anything except fabric and thread.
  •     Wipe clean after each use.
  •     Keep the pivot screw tightened and periodically add a drop of oil wiping off any excess.
  •     Keep them sharp either by using a home sharpening tool or take them to a professional (they’ll do a better job).
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Sewing Pins

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Sewing PinsNow, you might think a sewing pins a sewing pin but I’ve learnt from experience (sometimes harsh) that this isn’t the case. As with everything there are different types, lengths, materials used and importantly, price. Better quality sewing pins will have sharper points which also stay sharp for longer. Trying to put a blunt pin through paper and fabric can be a frustrating experience!

Glass Headed Pins (nickle plated steel)- My preferred sewing pin for a number of reasons:

  • You can iron round them without worrying they’re going to melt and stick to your iron (yes I’ve done this!).
  • When you drop them (and you will) they are easy to see, getting a sewing pin in your foot is a painful experience (yes I’ve done this too!)
  • They are easy to grasp especially if you go straight from pinning to sewing and are removing pins as you sew.
  • They don’t rust.

You can buy these in different lengths, I prefer longer ones but like to keep a few short ones for tiny projects. This is the type I generally use, available through Amazon.

 

Plastic Headed Pins – Similar to the glass headed pins, cheaper than glass ones and a good alternative if you’re very careful with your iron.

Standard Straight PinsTraditional pins you would have seen your Gran or Mum using (depending on your age). Some people prefer to use these when going straight from pinning to sewing as you’re less likely to break a needle.

Sewing-pins

It comes down to personal preference. I drop my pins more often than breaking a needle hence my choice. All styles of pins can be bought in different lengths but for general sewing 34mm to 38mm is fine. You can also buy pins with fancy heads, they look fab but can be expensive if you’re on a budget. I found an article on how to make your own here if you fancy giving it a try.

One final tip, use a pin cushion, mine is probably the most used item in my sewing kit. You can easily make one by following this fab tutorial here .

pretty pin cushion

 

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Choosing a sewing machine

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vintage sewing machineAn important piece of your sewing kit will
be a sewing machine and like most gadgets these days there are so many to choose from. Here I’m going to give you some tips on choosing a sewing machine and I’ll gradually add reviews to help you make an informed choice. Remember, now is a perfect time to start dropping hints about your Christmas present!

First of all you need to ask some questions.

  1. What is your budget?
  2. What is your level of expertise?
  3. What do you want to do with it?
  4. What extra features are you looking for?

You want to get the best you can for your budget and this doesn’t always mean one with lots of features but a machine that’s made with quality parts. Prices range from as little as £50 up into the thousands. A £50 machine will do the basics, straight stitch, zig zag and reverse and probably won’t be of great quality but if you’re on a tight budget it will do the job for occasional use.

I have a friend who recently purchased a £50 machine (review here), she only wants to do the occasional alteration so her clothes fit better and small simple items. She is a complete novice and this machine was very simple to use so perfect for the job.

The next level will be a better quality machine with a few more features like automatic buttonholes and then onto features like embroidery stitches and quilting capabilities. Keep going up in price and you get into the computerised range which will have lots of stitch options, a memory (like your pc!) being able to fill the bobbin without removing it, the list goes on. Remember though, the more features the more complex the instructions.

You can also consider a second Old Bernina Record 730 sewing machinehand machine, I have a trusty old Bernina which I picked up at an auction house for a few £, guess there weren’t many sewers in there that night! The downside to these vintage machines is their weight, they are HEAVY something to take into consideration! Take into account the cost of taking it to a reputable agent to get it serviced and the electrics checked over.

 

 

I’ve recently started quilting so will be looking at machines with features like a large throat space and the ability to drop the feed dogs. I do like to use fancy stitches like on this bookmark and have neat button holes. If I had the budget I’d go for a top of the range computerised model, but wouldn’t we all! At the moment I use the old Bernina and the Brother overlocker (reviewed here) but I do have other machines I bring out depending on what I’m making.

If you’re planning on taking up quilting then you need to invest considerably more for something that does the job well. This one Janome XL601 Sewing Machine is at the low budget end but has some decent reviews.

Pfaff are known for their quality machines, particularly for quilting, this is their non computerised model Pfaff Select 4.0 (IDT) Sewing Machine
and at the top end and definitely on my wish list is this super deal! Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 IDT. GUR Limited Offer £1,099. Includes FREE Quilt Fabrics & Gold Pack. While Stocks Last.

Lastly, do the research, don’t get taken in by sales talk when choosing a sewing machine, keep in mind the bullet points above and feel free to contact me for advice.

HAPPY SEWING!

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The Benefits of Sewing

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What springs to mind the benefits of sewingwhen you think about the benefits of sewing? There are all the obvious practical aspects like repairing and customising your own clothes. However, there are other benefits too, both physical and mental. If you’re thinking about dipping your toe into the world of sewing then reading this article will push you in the right direction!

 

The Practical Benefits

  • Custom made clothes and soft furnishings.
  • Refashion last season’s buys.
  • Do your own repairs.
  • Save money.
  • Make great gifts.
  • Adjust store bought clothes to fit properly.
  • Upcycle old clothes (helps the environment).

 

You’re getting ready to go out and the button smileybutton falls off your dress, there’s nothing else you want to wear. Get the needle and thread out, sew the button back on, job done! Same scenario only this time the hem is coming undone. A few quick stitches and you’re good to go.

 

 

Your friend has had a new baby Baby with Taggie Blanketand you’re struggling to think of a suitable gift. You know everyone will have already bought cute tiny baby clothes, half of which won’t get worn before the baby grows out of them! Make this plush baby toy or taggie blanket. a personalised gift that will get used for a long time.

 

You like that skirt you tried on and it is such a good price but just doesn’t quite sit right on the hips. Just a couple of cms off the side and it’ll be perfect, a simple task for any seamstress.

 

You have some spare curtains since Baby Christmas dressyou changed your soft furnishings or someone gifts you a pair. Upcycle into something else like a Christmas dress or a cute summer dress for baby

 

 

These are the more practical aspects of the benefits of sewing; however, sewing has other benefits too.

Physical and Mental Benefits

  • Hand and eye co-ordination.
  • Research commissioned by the Home Sewing Association revealed that sewing can produce a drop in heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Exercises the hands, arms and shoulders
  • Keeps the fingers nimble.
  • Social benefits (joining a sewing group)
  • Enhanced focusing skills
  • Confidence building

It’s surprising how much Sewing Classmovement is involved in making a garment from sorting and cutting out the fabric to sewing all together. Stretching, bending and fine motor movements are all used in sewing.

 

 

 

If I started to think about what to Injured fingermake for dinner when I’m surrounded with sharp implements (i.e. needles and pins) guaranteed I’ll end up with a bleeding digit! You have to focus when you sew, which has a knock on effect with your physical health. Any form of intense focus is meditation and I’m sure many of you will have read about the benefits, here are just a few:

  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Reduce anxiety attacks
  • Help with tension-related pain, like back ache and head aches
  • Improves mood
  • Helps the immune system
  • Increases energy levels

In the study by the Home Sewing Association person meditatinga bio-feedback system was used to analyse responses. Participants were given 5 activities to do, which included sewing. The study indicated that sewing was the best activity for relaxing. Page 34 of the Bernina magazine gives more details of this interesting study.

It’s a very satisfying feeling when someone compliments you on something you’ve made and you can say “I made that.” Good self esteem also equals good health!

Sewing has made a comeback in recent years and there are more vocational courses being offered at local colleges, which have led to sewing circles springing up again.

sewing group
A great opportunity to get out and socialise and also good for your health!

 

 

 

I’ve outlined many benefits of sewing so why don’t you try it and see for yourself? Check out things to make on my blog and when you subscribe you receive a free book. It has 3 simple projects to make, which are suitable for beginners. I’d love to hear about your sewing projects and what benefits you’ve derived from them. Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me.

sewing tools

 

 

HAPPY SEWING!

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Easy Homemade Christmas Gifts

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I know I know, we’re still in November christmas_stocking_but if you want to make your own Christmas gifts then you have to give yourself time! I’ve put together a few ideas for easy homemade Chistmas gifts

Some of these ideas are for babies but we adults like our gifts too!

 

 

 

 

 

Plush Baby Toy

A simple thing to make and a Baby Lilly with plush baby toygreat gift. You can craft a few and hang from a covered coat hanger to make a mobile. Baby Lilly loves it as she can grab hold of the ribbons easily. Go here to get the tutorial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handmade Bookmark

A really simple thing to make Handmade book markis a bookmark, I’ve prepared a tutorial here and you’ll probably already have everything you need to make it.

You can also adapt the shape of the bookmark and make lavender bags. Make the shape a square instead of a rectangle and fill the sack with dried lavender before sewing the end. Embroider the recipients name on it for a touch of personalisation. Great for aiding sleep when placed under a pillow!

 

 

 

 

Festival Utility Belt

Or how about a festival/utility belt, Eve4not just for the young, I’ve had friends my own age asking for these and have a few planned for presents. Remember you can pick up bargains at the charity shops for upcycling.

 

TIPFlick your eyes along the rails for colours and fabric that “jumps out.” Don’t pay attention to the actual garment, you’re going to be taking it to pieces anyway!

 

 

 

Handy Wallet Bag

I made this Diaper Bag but it can be used for Diaper Bagmany things. Get some pretty fabric and sequins and it can be turned into an evening clutch.

Another use would be as a jotter and pencil holder for children. Pop in some crayons and a colouring book and you have a lovely Christmas gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Useful Links

I’ve put together some links to free sewing ebooks, some great tutorials in them. You can also check out my Pinterest board  “projects to try” for some great ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • And this one is so simple, easy travel pouch(use your imagination as to the fabric you use and fill it with nice travel size toiletries/perfume).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing an online search for easy homemade Christmas gifts will also throw up lots of ideas! And finally, how about this, looks tricky but I’d love to try one!

Hand sewn Advent Calendar HAPPY SEWING!

 

 

 

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Make it easy

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Make it easy, make it easysomething busy Mums (and Dads) like to do whether it’s upcycling clothes, woodworking, or any of the hundreds of hobbies we pursue. Making it easy is what this site is about and the best tip is:

 

Use the InternetWorld-wide-web-logoThere are literally thousands of resources on the web. The 2 most commonly used resources:

  • “Google it” (most people have heard the term). You’ll find pretty much anything with this search engine.
  • You Tube is the most common place to get instructive videos..

You’ll note thoughout my blog posts how I’ve made use of free resources, one of my favourites is at freesewing.com. Free patterns, resources and you don’t get bombarded with emails when you subscribe, always a bonus!

Over 100 free sewing patterns – download as many as you wish!

 

Join a local groupgroup-women-using-electric-sewing-machines-class-smiling-33563232

  • Check out your local library, they usually have details of hobby groups available in your area.
  • Local shop windows are another place where you’ll see notices.
  • Community Centres are a good source for finding local groups.
  • Colleges that do vocational courses are a good place to learn and meet new people at the same time.
  • Some craft shops run their own groups, always a good place to check.

Second hand book shops, car boot sales and charity shops are a goldmine for craft books. I very rarely buy a new book.

If you haven’t heard of Freecycle check it out, everything is free and you can also request items. 3 of my sewing machines came from Freecycle!

Starting your own group is a great way of creating your vision on how you’d like your hobby group to run. The local community centre is the best place to get help and advice on this, most hobby groups run from a community centre.

Lastly, follow my blog, I like to make things that are easy and want to pass on what I learn along the way.

hands on fabric going through sewing machine

 

 

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Upcycled Baby

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UPDATE March 2015!

Happy Baby LillyBaby Lilly is now 6mths old and I call her my wee chuckle face! A very happy baby and a pleasure to babysit for. She loves dogs and gets very excited when she sees my 3!

 

 

UPDATE 5th JAN 2015

Of course baby Lilly upcycled babyhas grown somewhat since I first posted this! She is doing all the normal things you would expect a baby to do, eating, sleeping and creating a lot of washing. At nearly 5 mths her personality is starting to show and I’m sure you can identify with that besotted phase we all go though with babies.

 

 

 

A short post today to celebrate the birth and the inspiration for this website, the Upcycled Baby has finally arrived!

New baby Lilly

Lilly Anne is granddaughter 2 for me, (granddaughter 1 is 13yrs and there’s no way she’d model upcycled clothes for me!) Lilly was born yesterday (AUG 27th 2015) at 11.38am and weighed in at 8lb.12oz. This is her visiting me 5 hrs later, they really do turf them out of hospital quickly these days!

Lilly Anne will be a model for my upcycled clothes so I hope she doesn’t mind lots of dress changes. She has a bit of a “no nonsense” look about her so not sure how her modelling career will pan out! It’s so exciting to be a Granny again, watch this space for updates on her modelling progress.

upcycled babyHer latest modelling assignment was in this baby Christmas dress, still a little bit big but I think she looks cute none the less!

 

 

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