Monday, 26 September 2016

Sew Brum

I've just realised how long it's been since I updated this blog!  Sorry about that, I am still here but I've been busy sewing up projects for the Minerva Crafts blogger network, planning a Quilt Along for The Sewing Directory, writing my first fiction book (still looking for an agent/publisher) and planning a very exciting design competition for next year with an ex-Sewing Bee contestant...

Sew Brum at Guthrie & Ghani
I've spent so many months stuck inside working, writing or sewing I thought it was about time I got out and mixed with some other stitchers.  I spotted English Girl at Home's post about Sew Brum on social media a few months back and decided that I had to go along.

If you haven't heard of Sew Brum it's a meet up of sewing bloggers in Birmingham. It starts at some tea rooms, moves onto the rag market and then ends up at Guthrie & Ghani, the sewing shop run by Lauren Guthrie from The Sewing Bee.  It's been a few years since I've been to a big meet up so I was looking forward to it all summer. Especially when I heard how cheap fabric was at the rag market!  It started at £1 a metre!

These were all £3 a metre

Coming from Devon meant I missed the tea room gathering but my partner Julie who lives closer by went along and enjoyed it.  We caught up in the market where people were wondering around in small groups visiting the fabric stalls. We didn't get chance to meet many other stitchers here as we were all focused on shopping. I was pretty restrained and only bought 4m of fabric as per the picture below.  Although there was a lot of cheap fabric most of it didn't feel that great a quality, I guess you get what you pay for. I ended up getting 2m of denim look jersey (£6 total), 1m of woodland animal fleece for a baby blanket (£5.99) and an antique map style canvas fabric(£10 a metre) plus we found a stall that had very cheap trimmings on so I got a couple of those.

My Sew Brum haul

Also shown in the photo is the fabric I got in the swap later in the day (bottom left 2) and an ironing ruler and sleeve ham I bought at Guthrie & Ghani and some embroidery scissors from John Lewis. I was kind of fabriced out by the time I got to G & G and JL (nope I didn't realise that was possible either!)

Julie's Sew Brum haul
In the afternoon we all headed to Mosley on the bus and that's when we really started to mix and meet new people. I got to see a few people I already knew whilst having lunch in the pub and made a few new friends. Most the networking when on at Guthrie and Ghani after lunch.  There were loads of people there which made it hard to meet everyone, I think I managed to chat to around 20 or so people, there must have been over 100 there in total. I did get to meet several people I've spoken to or followed online but hadn't met before so that was definitely one of the highlights for me.

Raffle prizes
There was a very popular raffle raising money for charity. We donated a couple of sea/mermaid themed fabric bundles as prizes. Sadly our tickets were not winners but there was lots of very happy ladies who went away with some amazing prizes! You can see the full list of prizes here.

Charlotte & Lauren drawing the raffle

Lauren was there for the afternoon with her adorable Liberty clad baby Sophia, who was very well behaved given how busy it was. I didn't hear her cry once. Charlotte, also pictured above, was the organiser and did a great job. I don't know how she managed to organise so many people! It must have taken a huge amount of work.

It was really nice to get out and meet new people, and it was good to have Julie along too. I think many people still don't realise I now have a partner running the site with me so it was good for her to meet people too.  I did find it was a very long day, I spent over 6 hours traveling to have 6 hours at the event, I felt exhausted and very headachy by the time I got home.  It was very hot with so many people there which probably didn't help with the headache. I'm not sure if I'll make it back next year as I did find it totally wiped me out. However I am glad I went and it was lovely to meet so many people, I now have lots of new people to connect with on social media and lots of new blogs to read.

If you are interested in going to Sew Brum next year keep an eye on this page for Charlotte to post the details closer to the time. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Win a Daylight Lamp

Can you believe that The Sewing Directory has been around for 6 years now!  I officially launched the website at Sewing For Pleasure in the NEC.  It has changed hugely in that time one of biggest changes I made just before launch.  It intended for the website to be just a directory, but my market research told me that people wanted more than that, they wanted content as well - free projects, sewing techniques, news, competitions and more.  Like a magazine but online, and free!

So what better way to celebrate our 6th anniversary than to ask you to share pictures of any of the projects you've made from our site to be in with a chance of winning a Twist Portable LED Daylight lamp from The Daylight Company. 

Just share a picture on our social media and use the hashtag #sewingdirectory to enter.  Find all our social media links and the terms & conditions of the giveaway on our site here.
Pyramid purse sewing project

If you haven't made anything from the site yet there are plenty of quick and easy projects you could make over the weekend.  Our free projects can be found here.  I made the pyramid purse pictured above the other morning, it only took 20 mins and is ideal for storing wonder clips.

The closing date is 6pm on Thursday so don't leave it too long to enter.  There are 2 lamps to be won.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Star Wars Overnight bag

I haven't sewn much in February, I've been ill for weeks on end with a bad sinus infection which left me so tired I didn't feel like sewing.  Thankfully the infection has now cleared so I spent this afternoon finishing off a bag for my son that I started a few weeks ago.  He loves BB8 (the round robot thing) from Star Wars so I found a couple fabrics with it on from Frumble to make him this bag for when we go on holiday next month.

The pattern is from Debbie Shore's new book Sew Brilliant Bags which has some fab bag projects in it.  This is just one of several I want to try.  The thing I loved about this one is it's made from fat quarters (5 of them), I have so many fat quarters I'm always looking for ways to use them up. It's fairly simple as bags go, it doesn't require any specialist tools or hardware, just fabric, foam, a large zip and bias binding.  It does suggest a foam board bag base but I didn't include that in mine as I don't have any and it seems fine without.

I used double sided In-R-Form Bosal foam for the structute, which I've never tried before. The fact it was adhesive on both side meant I had to change the way I made the bag a little, I also swapped the rope handles for fabric handles.

The foam was nice and thick so gave the bag loads of body. It did make it tricky when sewing the seams when putting the bag together because I struggled to get it under the needle.  The one bit I really struggled with was binding the seams at the end.  Partially because the layers of foam made it hard to get under the needle and partially because the bulk of the bag made it difficult to fit.  Plus the weight of the bag meant it kept pulling the fabric out from under the needle.

The picture above is one of the better bits of binding, and even that is wobbly.  I had to unpick several times and some of it looks pretty awful.  But on the plus side it's all on the inside of the bag so no one will know how bad it looks!   If I made the bag again I might overlock stitch the seams instead so I only have to fit the very edge under the foot or hand sew the binding.  The other thing I was considering was to use fusible fleece instead of foam because then it won't be so thick but then it would lose some of the structure.

There are a few other bags I want to try from this book, there are lots of great ideas in it.  Plus it reminded me I ought to dig out her Sew Useful book as there was lots I wanted to make in there too. Overall I'm happy with the bag, it's bigger than I thought it would be which is great and very sturdy thanks to the foam.  It's just a shame that the binding on the inside isn't as nice as I'd like it to be, but that's down to me not the pattern.

We've added a few new bag projects to the site this month if you fancy making your own bag:

A spacious bucket bag from Helen Rhiannon

Plus a useful messenger bag project from Becky Skuse

We also have lots of other bag projects here for you to choose from.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Bag Making

One of the things I want to do more of in 2016 is bag making.  I've started the year off by making 3 new bags, a handbag, oversized tote and shopping bag.  I also plan to make an overnight bag, a camera bag, more shopping bags, a couple of big bags for carrying sewing supplies to group or class.

Campfire Messenger Bag

The first bag I made, which actually I made end of last year over Christmas was a new handbag - Noodlehead's Campfire Messenger.  I spent about a year trying to find the perfect bag pattern!  I like a smaller cross body bag and one with lots of pockets too.  I also like there to be a zip closing the main compartment so nothing falls out if I fling it around! Plus a large pocket at the back of the bag which will fit a book in as I often carry a book with me. 

Rear book pocket

This bag had a lot of pockets and included some techniques I hadn't tried before but I did find the instructions were easy to follow.  It took me a full weekend, lots of cutting and interfacing then lots of sewing too.  I used Tua Pink fabrics from Black Sheep Wools for the flap, rear pocket and lining.  For the main fabric I wanted something a bit more durable and heavier weight than quilting cotton so I used a sparkly star print canvas fabrics from UHandbag.

Under the flap
  I did have one issue which I contacted Anna at Noodlehead about, my gusset ended up being about an inch to short.  If you look carefully at the image above you'll see the binding around the top dips down on the left, it's the same on the right too.  It made it very difficult to bind around the top.  Anna did talk me through it and it looks like it must have been a cutting mistake.  She was very helpful and sent me step by step photos to show how it should have gone together.

The second bag I made was an oversized tote bag.  I received a free piece of faux leather with my Simply Sewing magazine and was trying to think of what to make with it.  A few days later I visited my local wool mill, Cold Harbour Mill, where they make their own tartan fabric.  They had an open day so I could look around and see how the wool was made, and how it was made into fabric.  I ended up buying half a metre of the Devon Blue Tartan and realised when I got home it went perfectly with the faux leather.

I didn't use a pattern, I just made it up as I went along, using the faux leather to decide on the side of the bag.  I lined it and added several pockets inside, and used some gorgeous leather handles from Sew Christine.  As much as I love the bag I don't think I'll use it that much so I'm going to gift it to a family member who will get much more use from it than me.

The last bag I made with a single layer (unlined) shopping bag.  I use these instead of carrier bags, and keeping them single layer means they roll up neatly to fit in my handbag.  I was approached by a new company called Kallosphere who make bespoke acrylic templates.  So you send them a design and they cut it for you in a solid reusable template (brilliant for quilting, or any designs you make repeatedly).

I fancied making a bag with woodland animals on so I found so I sent them outlines of the woodland animals that I wanted.  They then took those designs, they tweaked them to make them into shapes which would work well as templates.  They sent me the designs to give my feedback, and after tweaking a couple of things we had the final designs.  A few days later my templates arrived in the post.  I was impressed by how thick and sturdy they are, they will survive years of use.

I wrote up a tutorial for the bag here, you can make it with or without the applique. It's well worth making a few of these, it'll save you a fortune on carrier bags.  Plus fabric is pretty strong, they'll carry lots of weight.

I haven't quite decided which bag to make next but I'm considering this one which is from Debbie Shore's new book Sew Brilliant Bags.  I love that it uses fat quarters, I have hundreds to pick from!  I reckon it'd make a great weekender bag.   It's either that or a camera bag, I have a fab pattern for one from Sew Sweetness waiting to be used.

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