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I wanted to show you how to make some very easy Christmas decorations and table accessories.
These are perfect for you to sew with your children as no special skills are needed for any of these.

 These are some of the items which I am going to show you how to make

You will need a pattern . This one is by Simplicity - available here : Simplicity 8935 There are other simple toy pattern's in the range so do take a look.
You will need some felt pieces in assorted colours,  I bought mine from Minerva Fabrics. There are plenty of colour choices plus some sparkly ones. I used sparkly felt in white, green and black as well as other plain colours. You choose which ones you like best, there are no Rules!

When making the smaller ornaments I found it easier to photocopy the pieces and to cut them out in thin card so that I could then draw around them on the wrong side of the felt to make cutting out easier.
I am starting with the stars which I think are really cute, and I am using white felt which has a sparkle all over it.
Cut the felt shapes out and mark the position for the eyes and the mouth. You will need to embroider the mouth with a back stitch or a stem stitch. The eyes are safety eyes and are available from MinervaCrafts you will need various sizes according to which decorations you are making. The sizes are included on the back of the pattern envelope
The cheeks are made by colouring them with a soft red pencil. Once you have done the features sew two stars together with a blanket stitch, or even  a straight stitch or to be honest any stitch you fancy so long as it is small. Enclose a hanging thread at the top. This can be ribbon or string or a thick embroidery thread as I used. Remember to leave a gap so that you can stuff it.

You need some toy stuffing, pull it apart a bit to get rid of the lumps and push it gently into the shape using a chopstick or something similar so that the stuffing gets right into the corner's.
Then sew up the gap and  sew on a felt bow, which is just a small rectangle of felt gathered in the middle and sewn on by hand .

I made the large star too, you will find it fiddly to sew up the gap where you put the stuffing inside on a machine so iether sew it by hand or use your normal zipper foot. Please take care that your chosen stitch  is not too wide though or you will break your needle.

This is the start of my Star family.

The gingerbread man is slightly trickier, but to make it easier I cut out the body, head, legs and arms all in one piece. Make it up the same as you did the stars, stitching the frosting on the head on before joining the two bodies together. After you have finished sewing ,glue the arm and leg bands in place, Holding them with clips.
Cut out the holly in green felt and stitch it on along with a tiny red pom pom. He also needs a felt bow tie which you make exactly the same as the bows in the stars. For the buttons you could glue on tiny felt circles or just make a dot with an indelible ink pen.

The stars and the gingerbread man are having fun playing with the machines at Jaycotts.co.uk

The other toys in this pattern are all made the same way. The Yeti is made from some fur fabric but if you do not have any use some cuddle fleece or similar.

You will notice a Christmas tree sat among the ornaments. There is no pattern for him, but he is easy to make too. I will show you how to make more decorations.

 If you are good at drawing then draw some other Christmas shapes into thin card and cut them out. Hearts are also a good choice as are snowmen.
I made two Christmas trees, one is stuffed and has features made from safety eyes and an embroidered mouth.

The other tree and the stockings are made by simply stitching two felt shapes together and decorating in your own style.
You will find that these wonder clips are so much better than trying to hold two pieces of felt together with pins. They come in various quantities and sizes Clover Wonder Clips I love them and use them as much as possible in place of pins.

When you sew your tree decorations together it is nice to use a metallic thread or a variegated thread. For the metallic threads you will need to use a metallic needle , they have an elongated eye which helps prevent the thread from shredding.  Machine needles for metallic thread
For some of my decorations i used a variegated thread Variegated thread  and used some fine ricrac as a hanging thread.
I also used various colours of Gutterman Sulky metallic thread when I was making them which add extra glitter to your project.

I make plenty of these stockings every year, and I put sweets inside them (the top is left open) Some go on my tree but I also hang them on drawer handles. They are always popular with both expected and unexpected guests of all ages.

These are two Christmas trees, one has a face and is made in the same way as the stars.The other is made by stitching two tree shapes together with a metallic thread and sandwiching a hanging loop between them The felt has a glitter pattern all over it.

Nobody says that decorations have to be red or green, these glitter sparkled black stars are lovely. You could use whatever colour matches your decor. My friend has pink and purple on her little girls own special tree.

These are some of my decorations finished and ready for the tree.
I made some blue stockings too and trimmed them with gold stitching and gold braid

Another is trimmed with lace and sequin stars. These are just to give you ideas, you will have plenty of your own.
Now to make some table wear.
I bought a large length of this red and white Christmas fabric from Abakhan Fabrics, 
Minerva Craft also sell a good range of Christmas fabrics 

First I made a tree skirt.
To make it I did it the old way by drawing a circle on the back of my fabric with a pencil tied to a string.
You need to then slit it up to the centre and cut out another circle to go around the tree.
I finished the edges off by using my Bernina sewing machine with an overedge foot attached.The Bernina 350PE This is a fabulous machine, do take a look at it on Jaycotts web site.
The reindeer is featured in my previous blog post and you can read it here How to sew your own gifts

In my opinion I do not see the point of spending a great deal of money on Christmas table cloths . If I were hosting an important dinner it would be different, but for a family get together I like a cheerful tablecloth and napkins. Let's face it, I don't want to have to even think about red wine or gravy skills - which are going to happen!
First make sure that your fabric is wide enough for your table. Cut a length which overhangs a few inches but not so much that it is easy to pull off, you don't want somebody becoming tangled in a large tablecloth no matter how lovely they look. We are talking practical here.

Lay the fabric on the table and make sure it is the correct size. Trim it a bit more if you feel it is too large.

To make it easier to sew on my overlocker I cut the corners off to make the ends rounded. Cut the first corner until you are happy with the shape and then cut the other three corners to match.

Cut some squares for napkins and round the corners off too, it just makes them that bit different. I like to make plenty of napkins, at least two per person because they do get grubby and if you serve a tea or a supper later in the day then you will need them again. I serve sandwiches and cake in the early evening and set the coffee table instead of the dining table, so I also made a tablecloth to cover my coffee table, I left the corners square.

The reason I cut rounded corners on my table cloths is because I wanted to make it easy to use my overlocker, having no corners to deal with meant that I could literally whizz through finishing everything in less than an hour.
I got my overlocker manual out because I wanted to use a narrow rolled hem finish and I always like to have the manual handy to refer to. It's good to remind myself exactly what my machines are capable of so I am constantly referring to the manuals.

This fabulous machine is the Brother 1034D Brother 1034D overlocker  The Rolled hem finish involves removing the stitch finger and stitching with just three threads instead of four. It is very easy to set the machine to do this and it makes a really lovely narrow overlock stitch which I use a lot.

This is what the rolled hem finish looks like . If you do not have an overlocker then use a overedge foot on your sewing machine or fold under a double hem and top stitch.if you are doing a hem this way then you may want to keep the corners square.

This is my finished tablecloth and napkins. I tied ribbons around the napkins for added decoration.

You can see them closer in this photograph.

This is my coffee table with the smaller cloth covering it.

 I am extremely pleased with my hand made Christmas. You can of course make all the decorations in the pattern and decorate your tree exclusively with your own makes.
This is a project which does not take long and which you can get the children involved with. The decorations could be glued together with a PVA craft glue so long as any young children are properly supervised of course.

Thank you for reading this post, I hope you will have a happy time doing your Christmas sewing.




Do not be put off by making your own coat. It really is very easy if you follow a few simple tips. What is it that puts you off most? usually people say buttonholes.Well, this coat uses sew on poppers, so what could be simpler than that? a future post will feature a coat which fastens with a chunky metal zip.

This is a very warm wool blend fabrics which I picked up in one of the bargain bins but do have a look at their online store as they have lots of fabrics to choose from. Wool tweed is easy to sew, and very forgiving for beginners so it is a good choice.

If you are new to sewing then I would choose something without a definite pattern on it so that you need not worry about pattern matching.

This is the finished coat

The pattern is Vogue  Vogue 8933 It is fairly straightforward, the only time you need to take care is when it comes to attaching the facing at the back, but we will come to that later.
Pre shrink your fabric with plenty of steam from a hot iron and a pressing cloth. leave to dry.

Patterns seem to have the actual measurements (which is the wearing ease allowed for each size) printed on the actual pattern these days so before you even reach for a pair of scissors search through the pattern sheets until  you find something which looks like the above picture. The actual measurement together with the guide on the pattern envelope will help you to decide which size is best for you

It is necessary to transfer all the pattern markings onto the fabric and with thick fabrics the best way to do this is to use tailors tacks It is available here Guttermann Tacking thread it is very cheap and because it is made from 100% cotton, which is rough to the touch, it stays in place until you remove it.

You will need a new sewing machine needle for your machine sewing machine needles I would recommend a 14 or even a 16 depending on the thickness of your fabric.
You will also need some woven interfacing woven interfacing It  is important to use the correct interfacing so  that the weight of the fabric is supported.These days iron on interfacing is available which.makes life easier. When I was at college my fingers used to bleed because we had to use a prick stitch to attach the interfacing and to mould the fabric into something three dimensional. 

prepare  the shoulder darts by stitching long the marks made earlier with your tailors tacks.

stay stitch the corners where marked and clip diagonally right up to the stitches.

The pattern instructions are very clear at explaining how to stitch the shoulder seams so follow them exactly.

When it comes to stitching the pockets in place I prefer to use a cotton fabric instead of lining fabric for the back of the pocket - unless I am using satin of course! Cotton is stronger than taffeta lining and I want strength in my pockets! for that same reason I stitch the  pocket bag twice for strength.
Once the pockets are in place stitch the side seams

when cutting out your lining you need to form a pleat at the centre back for wearing ease.A lining which is snug will split in wear.so position your back lining pattern piece ( whch  in this pattern is the back  pattern piece) one inch away from the fold ofthe fabric.press the fold in place . Then stitch along the fold-line for about four inches starting at the top. leave the bottom  to see later how much ease you need.

Press, do not iron the interfacing onto the front facings.Use a hot iron and a damp cloth always - never press directly onto fabric when using wool. Keep the iron in one place lifting it and moving to the next spot without sliding the iron
join the facing to the side lining .press ( Press every  seam as you go is the rule for this project)
Then stitch the dart as before. This is the  only difficult part of the pattern so take your time and if you want to you can stitch it in sections. This is where you will appreciate all the tailors tacks you put in earlier.
stitch the side seams in the lining.

We now need to join the lining to the outer shell. Starting at the top pin together. marking the turning points with an erasable pen to make sure that the corners are neat continue pinning the sides.
when you are satisfied stitch from one front right round the top and down the other side.Again you ma do this in stages if you prefer.Starting with the top edge

Trim the interfacing away from the edge as close to the stitching as you possibly can. Then trim and grade (layer) the seams to get rid of as much bulk as possible. Trim the corners off and clip into the curves. Press and use clips to hold the edges together. I love these Wonder clips instead of pins Clover Wonder clips they come in various sizes and quantities and are indispensable for any sewing job. Do try them!

This is the coat so far. Sleeves next! In preparation hand stitch the lining to the coat around the armholes within the seam allowances
Stitch the sleeve and lining seams and run a basting stitch along the top of each sleeve and lining piece so that they can be eased into place.

To stabilise the sleeve edge I like to use some iron on seam stabiliser along the seam line but this is optional. This is the product Seam tape interfacing It gives a clean edge to sleeves and hems.

Stitch the sleeves in place, using the basting threads to ease the sleeve  in place evenly. Machine carefully and press.Try on and insert shoulder pads if you are using them . These are set in shoulder pads, if your pattern has a raglan sleeve there are different ones to use , but in this pattern we need
Set in shoulder pads  Tack them loosely but firmly in place so that they do not move in wear.
Pin the sleeve  lining in place and slipstitch it to the coat lining

Machine stitch the bottom  corners along the seam line and using your blind hem foot . They are available for most machines, Bind stitch foot Give jaycotts a call to find the one for your machine
stitch the sleeve hems as well.
Turn up the lining hems pushing them away from the edge so that the lining s slightly loose and does not pull in any way. Slip stitch neatly in lace.

Using the tailors tack markers, checking first that  they still line up correctly, sew large poppers to the coat making sure that no stitches show on the right side.
You need at least 15mm sized poppers sew in poppers
check for loose threads, give it a final press and be proud of all the money you have just saved by making your own wonderful coat!

This stye is very different with the asymmetrical line throughout. The poppers - you can use buttons instead if you want to, or non - sew poppers. The whole point of sewing is that  you make the garment your own.
The design called for hooks and eyes to hold the collar together but I did not use them as i knew I would never wear the collar fastened up - it is too large for my frame, but add them if you like the look.

This is my selfie taken whilst writing this blog. Thankyou for reading it. I hope that I have inspired you to make your very own coat.

Happy sewing

Angela xx

#sewangelicthreads #jaycotts #coat #woolfabric #sewingblog #Vogue #sew #imadeit 

Posted By Blogger to #SewAngelicThreads on 11/19/2016 08:24:00 pm



I have been asked many times to write this blog post and I kept putting it off. It is not easy to write but if it helps anybody then that makes me very happy.

The tools and equipment featured are all from jaycotts and I will give you the links as we go along. Please note that the products featured are suitable for use no matter what your disability, be it arthritis or poor eyesight.

This is me with my father and brothers.

Firstly, what is Parkinson's?

There is no set pattern as to how long Parkinson's takes to progress or the age it starts or indeed the symptoms as  It varies from person to person. I have had young onset Parkinson's for around 20 years and at the moment there are signs that it is deteriorating. This is normal as it is degenerative and incurable.

The disease is very complex and it affects the whole body.

It is a neurological disease caused by the part of the brain which produces dopamine dying. Dopamine controls motor and non motor functions and so the effect of the lack of this chemical causes a lot of changes to your body and how it works.

At the beginning it affects one side or the body, the right in my case, but eventually affects both sides. I have a tremor which worsens when I am under stress or tired, or even when somebody notices it. It affects movement which becomes slower and often my face freezes giving me a blank expression. That makes people think I am disinterested and can cause arguments! I find it very difficult to swallow and my coordination is poor. Walking is also difficult, there is a specific Parkinson's gait which you may have noticed, and I am in constant pain in my legs and hands.my digestion is also very poor. I get a lot if muscle cramps which are extremely painful and often the muscles in my feet and hands will contract making the fingers and toes bend backwards.

Non-motor symptoms include anxiety, depression, insomnia and many more.


So, that is roughly what Parkinson's is, although this is only a brief description, there are many more symptoms.

For more information go to Parkinson's uk


My mother Joan who died recently following complications from her Parkinson's

Although it does not run in families my mother had it too.




This is something I made earlier, my son Matthew who is a SHO in a hospital. I am incredibly proud of him, hmm, he is sat in my "electric" chair doing my crossword!





This is what I mean about lack of coordination and poor hand control. This was probably the very last time I attempted to bake a cake. It takes far too long to tidy up afterwards.

Now, let me show you some of the tools I now use to help me to continue with my sewing. It is vital when diagnosed with something totally life changing such as Parkinson's that you continue to do the things that you love. I understand that it takes time to come to terms with a diagnosis, and that you need time to mourn and cry, but it is just as important for you to realise that life goes on despite it. Sure you will need to think of new ways of doing things but it is not impossible, besides I like a challenge!

Let me show you the tools that I use to make sure that I do not miss out on the thing I love doing most - sewing. I will include a link to each product so that you do not struggle to find it in the web site.



I find non sew poppers and the tools to attach them with totally indispensable at times and I use them a lot when my hands are bad and I don't want to sew buttons on. They are great anyway, on some garments I deliberately choose them instead of buttons and buttonholes , like my rain coat for example.

There is a great range of colours and sizes so take a look through this section where you will find poppers and tools Non sew poppers and tools They are great fun, and easy to attach too.


A collection of gadget's




These wonder clips have to be my favourite. They totally do away with using pins.  I use them instead instead of pinning and they can be whipped off your seam quickly whilst sewing, they are easy to find up if you drop them too. I really cannot praise these enough. they come in different sizes too. Wonder clips

When  cutting out you could use patterns weights. Jaycotts sell them - or make your own. I use my collection of piggy banks.





If you still want to stick with pins then I recommend a magnetic pin cushion, it makes less work if you accidentally knock it over. A magnet for collecting pins off the floor is a must too. Magnetic pin cushion. And  Horseshoe magnet By the way glass headed pins are much easier to use than ordinary straight pins.



The large black scissors are the best I have ever used.They are Fiskars and are brilliant for arthritic or painful hands as they are spring loaded and soft grip. Fiskars soft grip scissors the smaller pair are also by Fiskars. By moving the little catch they become seam rippers. They are also very easy to use for sore hands Scissors/seam ripper




Another nifty gadget is this quilters ruler handle





It's not just for rulers! And it is not just for quilters



It makes easy work of using a ruler or template or indeed a lot of other things which you need to hold in place. Ruler handle



All of these tools are soft grip and are by Prym. They are kind on the hands.

Pictured above are the seam ripper, point turner and thread snippers and can all be found in this link. Prym Sewing tools

I do find them easy to hold being ergonomically designed they fit easily in the hand.




Also on Jaycotts web site you will find such things as these fantastic easy to use soft thimbles , and there are needle threaders for hand and machine needles. They all make sewing much easier.




A magnifying glass is essential in my opinion. The one on the web site is now red instead of this clear one, they sit in your chest when in use and you will wonder what you did without one.useful for needle threading, sewing, reading patterns and a million other uses. Prym magnifying glass



Something you may not have considered is this attachment for your sewing machine.It is a knee lifter and you push it to one side with your knee and it lifts the presser foot so that your hands do not have to move to a different position.  I love it. it is dependent on your Sewing table being at the right height but now that I have my Horn cabinet and hobby chair I am able to use it constantly as it is just at the right height for me. They do come as standard with a lot of machines, for more information contact Jaycotts on 01244 394099 and they will be able to tell you it there is one suitable for your machine.

Just remember that if you are using it with your Horn Sewing cabinet to remove it before putting your machine away.



The next item I use a lot of is this wonder tape. It sticks seams together and zips in place, without them  moving whilst you sew them. It is a brilliant product. If you find pinning zips and facings and so on in place then this is the product for you. There are also temporary spray on adhesives which do have a great use,but for me wonder tape is the most wonderfully useful product -ever. This is it, Prym Wonder tape it is basically a thin double sided tape for fabric. And yes It does disappear in washing.



I just had to mention my Horn Sewing cabinet and matching chair , see the range here, Horn Sewing furniture

This has revolutionised my sewing as everything is in one place and I just swivel my chair from sewing machine to overlooker and back again. There is a full review on this blog so do take a closer look.Horn NOVA review



I was interested when I was looking through patterns to see that pattern houses such as simplicity are realising that there are people who use wheelchairs and walking frames and I was really impressed with the patterns and the foresight to produce them. This pattern for example is for some extremely useful and attractive accessories for wheelchairs and walkers. Simplicity pattern I think it is great to see patterns like this, so it you know anybody who uses either of them, do make them something as a gift -it will certainly be appreciated.





There is another pattern too which I think is very pretty for a lady,  Walker accessories



It is a hard fact to face but adults often need clothing protectors. We don't want to discuss it do we? However it is fact. It you have such a guest coming for a meal over Christmas then why not make everybody a festive garment to wear? That alleviates any embarrassment and actually adds a touch of fun to the occasion. You can bling them up as much as you like! Clothing protectors



If you have a disability you will understand the need to be able to carry on doing the things you love. With one or two adaptions it is possible to carry on.

It is not a subject we like talking about is it. Mostly I do not look disabled so people are surprised when I cannot get out of bed for a couple of days or wonder why I cannot walk very far. If my face freezes and becomes blank they think I am disinterested in them.

It can be a lonely place, so do ask questions, take an interest, ask now you can help. Just because we never ask for help does not mean we do not need it!


I hope that you find something of use in this blog post.

I want to thank the following for their unending support and encouragement



The fabulous Jaycott family at  Jaycotts.co.uk who go to endless amounts of time, trouble and expense for me.Thank you.

To Minerva crafts for endless supplies of fabric, for supporting me, encouraging me and believing in me.Thank you

To Abakhan fabrics for your generosity and kindness. Thank you.

To The King of publicity!Tweetmaster  for your generous publicity, telling me off occasionally and for your support and encouragement. Thank you.


Lastly to my son Matthew for being utterly brilliant. Sorry for spending most of  your inheritance recently, but look on the bright side you have some nice furniture when you come home......


Thanks everybody,






#simplicity #disability # Parkinson's #sewingblog #sewingbee ##sewcialist #isew





Soft toys look daunting to make and I admit they can be fiddly, but follow the instructions carefully and you cannot go wrong. Who would not be delighted to receive one of these creatures as a gift.



This is Donald the Owl showing you just some of the large range of patterns sold by Jaycotts Sewing patterns by Brand the patterns used for these toys are all from the Simplicity range at Jaycotts.



The Owl and the Deer are from the same pattern, and there are more versions to choose from! View the pattern and order it on this link Soft toy pattern







 This pattern is very easy to make and us suitable for a beginner.





Of course there are plenty of other craft patterns in the range to choose from , so do views the section above and take a look at other brands too!




 To start with the Owl, find some scraps of  cotton fabric - we all have lots of scraps don't we.

Even if you do not have children yourself you could donate them to a charity raffle or give them to a child you know. Two of these little chaps are going in a raffle to help raise funds for charity. Donald the owl has found himself a job at Jaycotts in the advertising department and has flown the nest. We wish him well.



 Cut the main pieces out from your chosen fabric and before you cut the eyes and beak and eyelashes out of felt, you need to back the felt with some Bondaweb see it here -  Bondaweb if you cut out pieces of felt roughly the right size you can then trace the shapes directly onto the paper backing making it much easier to handle. Iron the Bondaweb onto the felt. Draw the shapes and then cut out. Peel off the paper backing and then iron in place. This binding is wonderful for all sorts of projects.

I went around each piece with matching thread using my open toe patchwork foot for my Bernina.



I am very lucky to have the Bernina Bernina 350 PE Here is Donald showing the machine to you.It comes with a lot if accessories and an incredible amount of stitches so do take a look.




Back to making the Owl. once you have the features sewn in place it should look something like this. Don't be afraid to do your own thing here though and make this expression your own.




Stitch the wing sections together and sew them in place matching the notches and dots.




Then sew the legs together, turn right sides out and stuff lightly with polyester FIBERFILL. Stitch them to the markings made on the lower body. Right sides together



Tuck the wings and legs in and carefully sew the back to the front without catching the legs or wings. Leave a gap at the bottom between the two dots.Clip the curves.turn right sides out. Stuff fairly lightly using a knitting needle to reach the corners.



Close the gap With a slip stitch or a gather stitch and there he is finished.





The other toys in this pattern are made in much the same way.On this one machine or hand embroider the eyes and the mouth and attach the nose in the same way as we attached the beak on the Owl




This is the face finished. I cut antlers out of felt. And glued them together with some temporary adhesive. This glue stick is a fabulous product Glue stick it holds things together whilst you sew them perfect for antlers.  Stick them wrong sides together and then sew round the edges with just an ordinary straight stitch.



Stitch the ears on and the antlers on , matching the dots.



Stitch the bodies to each front and back head.



Then make the arms and  legs as before, stuffing them lightly and stitch in place.



The arms need tiny paws stitching to them before making them up.



Fold everything in as before and join front to back, leaving a gap to turn right sides out.

I found it easier to break my sewing off and do the top and the bottom in two separate sections.


 Here he is ready to be turned right side out.


Stuff lightly and close the gap with a ladder or slip stitch.



Here they are together.




I wanted to make a soft toy which was more boyish and noticed on this pattern that one of the options is a boy monster.

This pattern is again Simplicity and is on this link Stuffed animals and monsters




Use your own fabric choices and personalise him how you want. Please note that if this is for a very small child then omit the buttons and use two additional circles of felt glued and sewn on as before.





Just as with the others, deal with the features first, and have fun with the expression, you don't have to copy the pattern exactly.



This is my face! Well, not mine personally but you know what I mean.



It has strings or Tufts coming out of it's ears, the photo above shows the different stages of making them.



Make the ears and sew giant  ric rac braid along the bottom of the face inside the seam allowance.



Then sew the body to the face. Now, this is where I went off-piste as it were. I found it too fiddly with my hands to finish the base in a box with the feet at the sides.

So I cut the bottom bit off and finished it exactly the same as the other two.



What you should really do  is to attach the feet to the sides and construct a square base, so it this is what you prefer to do then follow the instructions on the pattern sheet.


I am perfectly satisfied with my version, and he looks like the other two.





Here the three are together for the very last time as they are all on their way to new homes.

Don't be frightened to  make soft toys and accessories. They are easy, they don't have to be perfect - no child is going to object to a wonky ear - they will love it because YOU made it for them


Thank you for reading this post. I always love your feedback and photographs .


No doubt we will be seeing plenty more of Donald in his new job.


Happy toy Sewing




Melanie from Brother will be on hand for expert advice and demonstrations of embroidery machines, software and more at our Chester store Tuesday 15th November - plus we've extra special offers available on the day!

brother instore promotion at Jaycotts





Whether regular home sewing and dressmaking, quilting or embroidery there's a Brother thats perfect for you, at Jaycotts we've a superb range for you to see and try for yourself !

Innov-is 15, 20LE, 27LE, 35, 55FE and F420

Overlockers 1034D and 3034D

Innov-is F440e and V3 dedicated embroidery machines

Innov-is 1800 and VQ2 long arm sewing machines

Innov-is 955, F480 and 2600 sewing and embroidery machines

Innov-is VX - Brother's ultimate !

 for more details call us on 01244 394099

Click here for our address details




I have wanted to make myself a cheery raincoat for a very long time but just could not find a pattern. In the end , determined to have my raincoat, I did some rather major alterations to an ordinary coat pattern. The pattern has princess seams which would have spoiled the rather beautiful pattern,  so they needed eliminating,  as did some of the shaping because I wanted a straight style. Do you want to make one too? There are some things you need to bear in mind,  but it's not that difficult I promise.

This is the finished coat.  I used a ripstop fabric in a very colorfully print called Ellies. I purchased it from WhiteTreeFabrics.com but do sadly this was the last piece. However I never like to dictate to you exactly what fabric you should use, we all have very different tastes. What you  need to look out for though is a RIP-STOP fabric or a showerproofed cotton. For the linings I chose a firm shot taffeta. With the raincoat outer being quite firm it called for a stiffer lining than normal. I chose a darker colour than my  main  fabric.

And yes, the rather cute 60s style fabric does have elephant's on it!

This is the pattern, it is Mccalls M7058 and you can buy it from jaycotts.co.uk  by clicking on this link  Mccalls M7058 at Jaycotts.co.uk 
It is a lovely pattern with lots of variations to choose from. I wanted the style which has the hood, and as I bought the last of this roll of fabric there was only enough to make the mid-length version. Which was what I wanted anyway!

These are the front pattern pieces. To take advantage of the pattern on my fabric, and to eliminate some of the seams I needed to create one front piece. The back is the same,  it is also princess seamed and this too needs amending. I also wanted my coat to be loose fitting and it was prudent to get rid of the shaping at the waist too.
Above are the pattern pieces as they began life.
I am not going to ruin my pattern,  they are expensive and I will want to use it again so I traced it off onto tracing paper, available from Jaycotts.co.uk    You can buy it here:-   Dressmakers tracing paper

One thing I must mention is that you cannot put pins into this fabric or it will leave holes. Instead when cutting out you should use pattern weights, I make my money banks earn their pennies, but if you want proper ones they are available on this link Pattern weights  you also only get one chance at sewing your seams too so I strongly advise making a toille. You can however pin WITH IN the seam allowance, but this fabric is not easy to pin.
I have eliminated the curves on the princess seams and put the two fronts next to each other.  At the top there will be a triangle where the pattern will not meet. This will form a dart.

If you look closely you will see at the top of this front piece there is a notch cut out. This is what used to be a princess seam and is now a dart. The back will be exactly the same but the dart will be narrower.

I now have two,front pieces instead of four and one back piece instead of three. To make it easier I draw around these pieces on the lining with tailors chalk. Transferring all pattern markings. The centre back needs a pleat for movement , this is normal on most lined patterns, so place the coat back about one inch from the fold of the fabric and pin the pleat into place. Linings can look pretty much the same on both sides so to avoid confusion I place a small piece of masking tape on the back of each piece with the piece number on it.

This is the back lining all marked to and ready to be cut. Cut out your back, sleeves and hood linings now.
The front lining needs special attention. You will need to cut the front facing out of the main fabric and the rest from lining so bear this in mind when you are cutting the lining out. You will therefore have to eliminate the princess seam and form a dart here too, so that it matches the coat front.
Don't worry if it sounds complicated it will all make sense what the pattern is in front of you.

Now you are ready to stitch the darts and sew the shoulder seams. You might be wondering how on earth you will get the seams flat. Firstly you can press this type of fabric,  but ONLY with a cooler iron over a pressing cloth. I use a linen cloth as linen withstands high temperatures without burning.
On the shoulders I pressed the seam flat and then pressed it towards the back and top stitched with a long machine stitch.
You must always use a new needle when starting any project, this one will blunt your needle quickly so you may need to use two. You should always have a selection of sewing machine needles in your personal stock, you not only need different sizes from very fine to the heavyweight one I used to sew this fabric,  but you will also need needles for stretch fabrics and a twin needle is very useful when  top stitching hems as it gives the appearance of having used a coverstitch machine. Take a look at the different types of sewing needles available from Jaycotts and then look at the fabrics in your stash. Have you got the correct needle for each of your fabrics!  If not you can order your supplies here Sewing machine needles were you aware that there were so many different types?

I wanted to add patch pockets at the front. I tried the garment on, fastened together at the side seams with masking tape and put a another strip of masking tape to mark the top,of each pocket. Make sure that each side is equal.
Then you will have to have patience because you need to match the pattern on your pocket exactly to that on the coat. So, take a larger square of fabric which roughly looks as though it will match and move it around until you find the exact match, cut it out to the right side. You can iether make a lined or non lined pocket, it depends on your personal choice and your fabric to be honest. Please take your time with this bit, it can be frustrating but it will be totally worth every angui

This is the pocket sewn in place. Perfectly matched I might add!

The best way to sew slippery fabrics is with a walking foot. The one I use is especially for my Bernina 350PE Bernina walking foot there are walking feet for most machines so please telephone jaycotts.co.uk for advice on the correct one for your machine. Contact details at the end of this blog post .A walking foot does just that,  it rises and falls in a walking movement lifting the foot off the fabric very briefly to enable the lower feed dogs to move the fabric without having to fight against pressure from an ordinary machine foot. If you do not have one then try a Teflon foot and see if that glides over the fa ric easily.  PS if your money banks are empty then put some sticky tape on the base of your normal presser foot, cutting the centre hole out , it's only a temporary measure but it works.

Stitch the side seams next.and press and top stitch them as before.

Sew the hood together and press the seam open using a sleeve roll. Do the same with the lining. Right sides together stitch all the way around the front of the hood. Turn right sides out. press.  Top stitch.  Baste the bottom together inside the seam line and attach it to the coat neckline,  matching notches. You can pin it within the seam allowance here.

This is the hood sewn in place. Make your sleeves by stitching the dart and sewing the underarm seam.  Run a long basting stitch along the sleeve head just as you would normally do. Ease into place,  it will,  go, be patient, 

You now have the basics of the coat, minus the lining. Make up the lining by stitching the shoulder and side seams. Press. Just leave the back pleat pinned for now because you need to try the lining out to make sure it fits inside the coat exactly. Once you have made any alterations and are happy with the fit stitch about three InChester down from the neckline and about four inches up from the bottom.  Press the pleat to one side on the reverse.
Right sides together and hood tucked inside stitch all the way around the neck, the sides and the hem. Make sure that the lining is loose and does not pull the coat out of shape, you will need to push the hem lining up slightly from the bottom of the coat.
Pull the lining through one armhole. Baste the lining to the coat around the armhole within the seam allowance

This is what you should now have in front of you. By the way if your fabric is wrinkly,  put it into a got tumble dryer for a couple of minutes hangmitmup,immediately  and the fabric will soften and the creases drop, out!

I inserted very thin shoulder pads just to smooth the shoulder line out. Insert these now if you are using them.

Turn up the sleeve hem to the required length and top stitch.

Fold the hem back down and attach the bottom of the sleeve lining to it. Pull it through to the inside.
Your inside sleeve edge will now look like this.

Pin and hand sew the sleeve lining onto the armhole.  Press using a cool iron and a pressing cloth.
Top stitch all around the coat,  stitching in the ditch at the back of the hood. I top  stitched the hem twice half an inch apart  so that the lining would not fall down 

Now it comes to fastenings.  If you have never used Non sew poppers before then don't be afraid to use them, although I would practise first.there is a huge selection on this page,  Non sew press studs
I also recommend that you use these pliers Pliers for non sew poppers etc as they make the job so much easier. 
Mark the position accurately with a ruler and a disappearing pen. I did all the top ones first then measured carefully to ensure that the lower part of the press studs matched. A final press and a tumble in the tumble dryer and it's all ready for some rain.

The coat is very loose fitting and casual which is exactly the look I was after.

I chose silver poppers which do not detract from the fabric,  as if anything could!

Thank you for reading this post I hope that you will be tempted to have a go at Pattern hacking, it's great fun and it means that you become your own designer too!

Best wishes



patchwork and quilting workshops

At our city-centre store in the heart of Chester our successful workshop programme offers courses in quilting (from beginner through to advanced), lessons in rag doll and figure making, tutorials on how to make unusual handbags, and much else besides, ranging from one-day to two- or three-day sessions. Courses take place in the workshop at the back of the store.

Now using the latest Brother F420 sewing machines which are already proving a great hit ! For more details of workshops and courses available at Liberty Bell in Chester just visit www.liberty-bell.co.uk

Brother F420 sewing machines in action!





 Jaycotts are proud to support Christi's Stitches

Sewing Workshops and Courses held at Gladstones Library in Hawarden

Learn to sew or improve your sewing skills with me, Christi Bendle, in my relaxed, sociable and practical workshops and courses. I teach sewing skills by helping you to make an item from start to finish for you to take home. I cover a range of abilities from how to use a sewing machine to producing your own made-to-measure garments.

brother Innovis sewing machine used for sewing workshopsThere's a wide range of courses to choose from and all using the excellent Brother Innov-is 55 Sewing Machines which are a pleasure to use and perform brilliantly                                                       For more information and details of current and upcoming courses and workshops visit christisstitches.com





sew saturday 2016 at jaycotts

On display in our Chester Store there's a great range of our most popular sewing machines, overlockers and embroidery machines plus a superb selection of Horn Cabinets including: the Horn Calypso, Eclipse, Gemini, Hi Lo and the Maxi hobby table and of course a wide selection of threads, notions, habby and machine accessories.

The store is open Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm                        Closed Bank Holidays.


Unit D2, Chester Trade Park
Bumpers LaneChester,  CH1 4LT
Tel: 01244 394099


From Chester City Centre travelling down towards Sealand Road passing Chester Race Course on your left.
After approx ¼ of a mile get into the left lane at the traffic lights by Tesco Supermarket and turn left into Bumpers Lane.

Continue along Bumpers Lane for approx 200yds looking out for Plumbase and 
Betta Bedrooms on your right.

Turn right by Plumbase: you will now see Screwfix - we are located just behind Screwfix.


I was thrilled and a bit amazed to be given this fabulous length of Librty Tana Lawn which Abakhan.co.uk are selling at a fantastic price . For details of the fabrics in this range go to Liberty Tana Lawn from Abakhan.co.uk the fabric I used is listed below.




The fabric is rather extravagant for loungewear but then again why not? I wanted pj's which look like they should be a man's pair, and so decided that they should also be loose fitting.





The fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn , Seth Rankine Blue from Abakhan.co.uk.  available to buy on this link here Liberty Tana Lawn from Abakhan.co.uk But do look at their other fabrics too! This fabric is £12.95 a metre and you need four metres for women's pyjamas.  This is an extremely good price. There are a lot of designs in this range, your only problem will be in choosing your favourite. 

the pattern is SIMLICITY 1504 FROM Jaycotts.co.uk Simplicity1504 at Jaycotts.co.uk  This is a multi sized patern with thankfully seperate pattern pieces for childens, teens and adult sizes.




With any fabric wash and iron it before cutting out and then inspect it for flaws. Even the most expensive fabric may have a tiny flaw somewhere and it is better to examine the fabric before cutting into it and marking any flaws that you find with tailors chalk. When you think about it,  fabric is produced in such vast quantities that it would be almost impossible for every single inch to be perfect throughout the run.I found this tiny flaw on the selvedge.



By the way,please watch this video Sewing Tools and Parkinsons 
 because if you have some sort of disability, or know somebody who does you may find it useful.




The pattern calls for optional piping, I  never buy it as it is simplicity itself to make.All you need do is cut strips of fabric on the bias and insert some piping cord of whatever thickness you prefer down the middle, fold the ends together and stitch as close to the piping cord as  you can get with your ordinary zipper foot. 




All you need do then is to stitch it to your chosen fabric piece, again using your zipper foot. I decided at first to pipe around the pocket, but didn't like it so took it off again. I thought that it distracted from the rather lovely fabric.




I did however decide to go with the man's PJ look and add a touch of piping around the outside of the collar.  To do that sandwich the covered piping between the collar pieces, right sides together, stitch using your zipper foot. Most machines do come with a zipper foot but if you do not have one then contact Jaycotts and ask them for one to fit your machine Contact Jaycotts.co.uk




The pattern instructions are very clear and easy to follow, so you should have no problem in stitching the shoulder seams and  attaching the facing and the collar .

The collar is stitched to the neckline except for  between the dots where the collar part on top is folded back away from the sewing machine and hand stitched down later. This provides a very neat finish to the inside of the garment. 




The back part of the collar has been folded in and top stitched by machine very close to the edge.

Have you ever visited Abakhan.co.uk?  I love going there because they sell fabrics to suit all budgets. They have lots of branches including the main and the best one at Mostyn, you will find a list of stores here Locations of Abakhan.co.uk stores



You should now have something which looks like this - ignore the bit of piping on the pocket, I didn't like it so took it off and made a plain pocket - matching the pattern of course!



When it came to making up the sleeves  (it's far easier to insert them before stitching the side seams ) I added a touch of my piping between the sleeve and the sleeve band in the same way as before



To insert a sleeve, overlock or otherwise neaten the shoulder seam and then taking your sleeve run a row of gathering stitches between the notches, these can then be used to gently ease the sleeve into the armhole. You should  have a very smooth sleeve with no gathers or puckers. If you do, then it is better to unpick and start again.  We all own seam rippers you know!




The machine I am using to make this PJ set is the Bernina 350PE and it is an absolute joy to sew with, I totally love it. See it here, Bernina 350PE there is a review of it on this blog. If you are unsure which machine is right for your needs and budget then give Jaycotts a call, the contact details are above.



To continue all we need do now is to stitch the side seam from the sleeve edge to the bottom of the jacket, then overlock the edges. Do make sure that the underarm seam matches. 




To make the sleeve bands, just stitch and press the bands at the side seam to form a tube. Fold in half wrong sides together.  Press.




Then stitch the band to the sleeve right sides together , overlock and press open using a sleeve board.



That's the top almost complete. You now need to decide on your hem depth. I chose one and a half inches.  The choice is purely personal. Before you do anything though overlock the entire hem.




Stitch the facing to the garment at your chosen hem depth, right sides together.clip the corner. Turn right sides out using a point turner and press



Measure your hem , pin and press in place 

I use the measuring guide on my sewing machine to do top stitching so that it is even all the way round. If you do not have one then stick a piece of tape to your machine measuring the exact distance from the needle to the point where you want the top stitching to go



Make sure that everything is even and pin the front together down the centre front just to check. This will help with the buttonhole placement.




Pin the buttonhole guide to the front of the top  (right front for ladies) And using a chalk pencil mark the buttonholes.



Even better, is this Simflex gauge which you set to measure exactly where each button should go. This is definately on my wish list!  Buy it here Simflex guage




Once each buttonhole is marked set up your machine according to your manual and do a test buttonhole on a spare piece of fabric with interfacing in place to mimic the actual garment.

Once you are happy with the choice of buttonhole and the length then go ahead and stitch them into your garment




This is the automatic buttonhole foot on my Bernina, yours may look very different to mine, remember that odd numbers of buttons always look better than even numbers.

I did not put a button at the neck line as I know I will never fasten it.




Carefully cut your buttonholes with sharp, pointed scissors, I hear of "accidents" with stitch rippers almost every day! You will need a good quality thread  some beeswax to strengthen the thread.




Pin the jacket together matching the centre front line and making sure that the fronts match. Using your chalk pencil mark the placing of the buttons and stitch them on with your waxed thread.


The pyjama bottoms 





These are so easy to make . I mark the back kf each fabric piece with a small piece of masking tape if the fsbric is similar on both sides, anything to make life easier.

Stitch a pocket to each ftoser side and press the seam .



Join the centre fronts and centre backs and overlock the edges. Join the side seams , stopping sewing at the top dot at the top of the pocket and start stitching again at the bottom dot overlock the edges. Stitch around the pockets and overlock the pocket edges too. 

Then stitch the inside seam going right round from the bottom of one leg to the bottom of the other. The pattern instructions are brilliant although my construction method  is slightly different.

Stitch the cuffs onto the legs in the same way that you attached the cuffs to the jacket. I did not use any piping.



Stitch the waistband pieces together at the sides leaving an opening between the dots to allow elastic to be threaded through..Fold the waistband in half and pin to the top of the trousers, right sides together.



The overlocker I use is the Brother 3034D,  Brother 3034D overlocker I find it easy to use and easy to thread. One tip, when you first get your machine take a photograph of the factory settings to refer to if you ever need to put the tension back to normal. Sometimes people struggle with getting the tension correct but check first that the needles are bot blunt, that it is threaded correctly (I start again) and that you have good quality thread. If that does not solve your problem - and it often does, then refer to your manual at the troubleshooting section. If you still have a problem then if you Voight it from Jaycotts do give them a call and they will offer advice.



Cut a piece of soft one inch wide elastic a bit larger than your own measurement. These pants sit BELOW the waist so don't be alarmed at the length!

Thread it through with a safety pin, securing the end to stop it from pulling straight through.



Try the pants on and make any adjustments necessary and then join the elastic securely.




Hand stitch the gap closed. Press.




Mark where the ties will go on the front. Make up the ties as in the instructions and stitch them in place 



The ties just add a pretty finishing touch.



I appreciate that you may not want to spend a lot of money on fabric for pj's even though this Liberty fabric is such good value.

Alternatives are many although I do suggest a cotton fabric for comfort. The cottons at Abakhan.co.uk start at very reasonable prices Cotton fabrics from Abakhan.co.uk starting at around £4 per metre.

There are some nice Christmas prints just arrived if you want to make the children some christmassy  pj's too, they start at around £3 a metre.Cotton mix fabrics


Finally I made a rather tongue in cheek video of the pj's,  and yes, I do always go to bed in  make up, doesn't everybody?? And I sort of forgot which side the pocket was on! Hope it gives you a giggle anyway 


Thank you very much Abakhan.co.uk for your very generous gift and of course thank you too Jaycotts.co.uk for all your help and support and for letting me use your wonderful machines and sewing tools.


I would love to see pictures of your pj's! 


Happy sewing



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