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Having sold and serviced sewing machines for over 30 years I can honestly say the biggest headaches for customers are actually caused by mis-threading of the sewing machine!


Everyone does it from time to time whether beginner or expert - novice or sewing teacher 

Particularly with modern sewing machines that have an 'easy threading' take-up lever


the problem occurs when thread doesn't go all the way through the slot to the actual 'eye'

this causes the sewing machine to 'jam' or lock almost right away


the problem can be further exacerbated because it appears to be coming from underneath - the bobbin area

diligent customers then strip out the bobbin area, clean it, put it all back and try again (never thinking to re-thread the top thread) - but still a jam occurs: the top thread is still not correctly in the take-up lever!



Another threading issue is to do with the presser foot  - I call it the birds nest effect!


When threading a sewing machine its important to have the presser foot in the UP position

The reason in this opens the machine tensions discs - you can't really see the discs but its important because when the discs are open the thread can go right in and be gripped properly when sewing 

If you accidentally thread the machine with the presser foot down, the discs are closed and the top thread isn't gripped so when sewing you get an unholy mess on the underside of the fabric !


From there we move on to thread - a big subject!

Its surprising how many customers will pay a considerable sum for a lovely new sewing machine and then use old or cheap thread.

Its a bit like buying a new car then topping up the oil with old stuff from out of the shed !


Poor quality thread can break easily or can drag or snag as its sewing, causing tension problems, thread jams and other frustrating issues.

A quality thread such as Gutermann is smoother, stronger and actually gives off less lint, meaning it not only sews better and makes for stronger more durable seams - its actually better for the long term running of your sewing machine 😁


 So to sum up if you're having problems with your sewing machine - first have a break, maybe with your beverage of choice, then go back to your machine and take off the top thread.
Then following the points above

  1. use a reel of quality thread such as Gutermann Sew All
  2. make sure the thread has gone all the way into the take-up lever 'eye'
  3. have the presser foot raised

Hope this helps  

Best Regards



This is a Jaycotts.co.uk post using Simplicity 8391
This is such an easy outfit to make, with or without embroidery. It is suitable for beginners upwards.

Skills learned

  • Centred Zip
  • Pintucks
  • Pressing
  • Positioning of embroidery/applique 

When I first saw this pattern I wasn't sure if it would suit me or not. Wrong! I decided as soon as I tried it on that I love this outfit.It is perfect for holidays, flattering and easy to sew. I like the 3/4 length wide trousers, they are cool to wear in the sun - I like to cover up mostly and I want garments which are easy to wear and light to pack.
I have paired the outfit with a pair of navy wedges.

The pattern is by Simplicity and is available to purchase from Jaycotts Simplicity 8391  In the envelope are patterns for a top, skirt, pants and shorts, everything you need for your holiday in fact.
The fabric is from Minerva Crafts and is a linen look Cotton, Linen look Cotton fabric This fabric is cool to wear and very easy to sew.
The pattern shows the garments made up in cotton trimmed with eyelet fabric or lace, but I wanted to use embroidery on mine - of course!

If you are adding embroidery by hand or machine, or applique, you need to position it correctly onto your garment.
I chose a rope design which I wanted to add to the top and the trouser pockets. This is a very simple design from Ann the Gran.com some of the designs are free, others you need to pay for. Those of  you with a brother embroidery machine will know that brother have designs to download in addition to those stored on the machine itself.
I want to have a design running the length of the pocket so my first step was to measure the length needed and choose my design to fit ,tweaking the actual size on my machine settings.
you will notice that I have marked the cutting line but not finished cutting out.This just makes it easier to hoop.

mark the centre of the pocket and then mark where you want the centre of the embroidery to sit. I use a hole strengthener for this as they are easy to see and easy to remove.
I also take my tailors chalk and a ruler and gently mark a line parallel to the edge so that I could position the embroidery in line with the edge.

There are a lot of stabilisers to choose from. For this project I used GUNOLD Gunold easy tear stabiliser  with a temporary spray adhesive.
The area to be embroidered is to small to fill the hoop so I took great care to ensure that it was firmly attached to the stabiliser. I used a few links at the very edge in addition to the spray glue.
I used the embroidery hoop guide to position my fabric in exactly the right position, with my fabric markings matching the lines on the guide exactly. The circle is placed exact centre.

Once my machine is set up I can check that the needle is in the correct position and if it is the circle can be removed and the embroidery done. If not then the fabric or needle position needs moving a bit until you are satisfied that the embroidery will be in the correct position.
I chose a Brother Country thread 000 which is an off-white. Brother EmbroideryThreads  There are many more colours in stock than there are on the web site  so do ask if you have a particular shade in mind. Or better still call in for a visit!

I made sure that I altered the direction of my design so that it faced in the correct direction on both pockets.

I then did the whole procedure again and embroidered the sleeves.
Remove the stabiliser from all the pieces when the designs are done.

I am not going to talk too much about constructing the top as it really is simple to put together. The instructions and very clear. I cut out a size 12 which fit me quite loosely, perfect for summer garments. Please do take your own measurements and compare them with the pattern envalope . There is a really great size guide for patterns on Jaycotts web site Size guide for patterns
This photograph is showing the neck band being pinned in place before sewing.

To make the little loop which closes the back I used this fabulous product, it makes turning looks so easy. It is the Prym Turning set and I promise you that you will love it and will be looking for excuses to add loops to lots of garments.
Finish the top according to the instructions, but if you get stuck let me know and I will help you.

I want to concentrate on trousers because so many people are scared of them. I chose this pattern because the trousers are loose fitting and easy to construct. You may need to merge the pattern sizes from one size to another if for example you have size 14 waist and 16 hips etc. This is perfectly permissable and will ensure a great fit. I like my waist band to have a bit of room in it but I like a close fit over the hips. Luckily my pattern fit me with no adjustments but I feel that a lot of people may want to extend the waist line a bit, so do cut out a size bigger than you think and when it comes to fitting just take the pants in at the hips which is easy to do.

The first stage is to attach the front yokes to the trousers and press and turn them to the inside. This forms the front of the pocket.
Then the pocket lining is stitched in place. I used  my overlocker on all seams.

The pocket is now finished, it just needs a final press to turn the facing properly to the inside. Any top stitching should be done before the pocket facing is stitched in place.

The pocket bag has been sewn and overlocked. This strengthens the pocket and helps to ensure holes do not appear. If you do not have an overlocker then stich twice around the pocket bag and then zigzag around the edge.

Stitch the front leg to the back leg and then stitch the centre front and back seam. For strength once again double stitch the seam and then overlock or zigzag.

The facing has been interfaced with a medium to heavy weight iron-on cotton interfacing.Vilene cotton interfacing. It is important that you use the correct interfacing. A waistband needs to be firm enough not to crumple during wear. I prefer to use a cotton or a woven interfacing as they move with the fabric and give a good result. If you use a very cheap interfacing the result will not be so good and you will not be happy with how it wears. It is false economy to use a cheap interfacing for garments. See the whole range here Interfacings. When attaching interfacing use a damp pressing cloth with your iron and press the iron on one place, lift and move it to the next until you have attached all the interfacing. Don't slide your iron over the fabric.
More about pressing later in this post

One of the things I am told people hate sewing are invisible zips. They do require a bit of practice but once you master them you will be delighted with the result.
There are alternatives though and for this garment I am using an ordinary zip. There are different ways of inserting it and I am going to show you how to insert a centred zip. This is easy!
First of all choose a good quality zip in a colour close to your fabric YKK zips.
Suppose you cannot find the correct length? Did you know that they can be shortened very easily? Measure the length you need and go over that point a few times with several rows of machine stitching on top of each other. Then cut the end off below the stitching . And that's it.

Then tack the seam together using a tacking thread. Tacking thread is preferable to normal thread for this purpose, it is made from cotton and the fibres are rough which means that the tacking will stay firmly in place until you pull it out. Do try it, it really does make a huge difference Gutterman Tacking Thread
Once tacked press the seam open.

On the wrong side pin and tack the zip over the seam. The zip should be face down and the teeth centred over the seam opening. Make sure that the waistband seam matches on both sides.

Using a normal zipper foot, which should have come with your machine, stitch in a rectangle from the top of the zip, across the bottom and up the other side. You will probably need to release  the tacking in the seam at the top to be able to stitch past the zip pull. If you have not got a zip foot, Jaycotts have them. This is the foot for the Brother range of machines Brother adjustable zipper and piping foot if you need another brand then contact Jaycotts who will help you to choose the right one for your machine Contact details below.

That's my zip in place. Press it using a pressing cloth taking care not to melt the plastic teeth. If your zip does not finish exactly at the top of your trousers, or if your zip opens easily (YKK zips stay closed until you open them) you will need to add a hook and eye to close the very top.
Then attach the waistband facing. And press.

I top stitched both the top and the bottom of the waistband for extra strength and to hold it in place.

All there is left to do now is to finish the hem. Try the pants on and decide how long they need to be. 3/4 length trousers like these should be slightly above the ankle.
I used my overlocker ( Overlockers ) to finish the edge of the trousers.
Using a seam measure, this is the one I use, Clover seam gauge measure the depth of the hem all the way round and press the edge taking care not to scotch the fabric.
I use the fabulous little iron from Prym. Prym mini Steam iron. Don't let it's size fool you, this has everything you need in an iron and performs every bit as well as your large iron! If you are a person who takes a travel iron on holiday, then this iron is definitely for you.

You also need a pressing cloth. This is essential if you are to avoid scorching or otherwise marking your fabric. Prym pressing cloth I do like this one as it is transparent and makes it so easy to see what is going on underneath. Another essential are these finger guards Finger guards which help you to hold the fabric close to the iron without burning your fingers.

To finish the hem I decided to do a few rows of pintucks. I am always looking for nice finishing touches, it makes any garment look more original.
If you want to do corded pintucks then I have a blog post which shows you how to do them - My white lace pintucked blouse do take a look

You will need a pintuck foot and twin needles. Both are shown on this page Pintuck foot and twin needles
If you do not have a pintuck foot then you can obtain a similar result using just a twin needle, but take care to align your stitches up. The pintuck foot does make it easier.

After completing the first row along the bottom of each trouser leg continue with as many rows of pintucks as you want, it is better to have  pintucks along the whole depth of the hem to hold it neatly in place. You can see the slightly raised effect of the pintucks on the photo above.

These pintucks look so lovely don't you think? They add a bit of interest to a plain edge in any garment

Have you ever wanted to press a tiny part of a garment easily? I wanted to give the pocket a final press but did not want to leave an imprint on the fabric behind. To solve this I used this pressing glove Pressing glove which is so useful for this purpose and is also invaluable for pressing collars and cuffs and other small areas when you don't want to get your ironing board out.

This is my finished outfit. It looks equally great with the top tucked in or left out. The neutral embroidery means that each piece can be worn with other items. It can be worn as a casual outfit for sightseeing with flat sandals  or dressed up with heels for lunch. 
It is extremely comfortable to wear and the fabric being cotton is cool for warmer climates.
I did a slightly tongue in cheek video which shows you the outfit being worn. It reminds me of my much younger days when I did a spot of modelling, but that's another story! 

Jaycotts can be contacted here Contact Jaycotts. And reached by telephone during opening hours on 01244 394099  
Don't forget too that you can visit the showroom and test run the machines before you buy.

Thank you for reading this post. Please contact me if there is anything you would like me to clarify and don't forget to contact Jaycotts with any product enquiries and to place your order. Have you sent for your free catalogue yet? It's my favourite catalogue to browse through when having my morning coffee.




It's so easy to use your embroidery machine to applique garments, bags and household items.

My  Brother Innov-is 800E  not only does beautiful embroidery and makes free standing lace but it also creates applique easily and quickly. In other words this one machine does everything you need to embelish your sewing project. Or indeed a ready made item!
I am currently making a red jersey top ( watch out for it in my next blog post)  and wanted a simple embelishment to add to it. A small appliqué flower was the answer.

This is my embroidery machine. I do love Brother machines, they are reliable, innovative and come in a huge range of prices to suit all budgets. If you are interested in a Brother Embroidery machine, or any other machine, I suggest that you have a chat with Jaycotts, contact details below, to find the best machine to suit your needs and your budget.

There are various hoop sizes available to fit this machine, Brother Embroidery Hoops  Mostly I use the largest one but I have found when embroidering on stretch fabrics better results are achieved with a smaller hoop. It is really easy to view which of the inbuilt designs are suitable for each hoop as it is all displayed on the touch-screen. The hoop I am using for this project is 4"x4" and I find that it is perfect for this type of fabric.

You will need threads, embroidery needles and various stabilisers. More about stabilisers later.
Brother do their own range of embroidery threads which come in two forms, a matt and a sheen. You can buy them individually or in boxes here. You also need bobbin thread. A tip here is that I keep quite a few bobbins already filled with thread so that I can quickly change the bobbin when it runs out. The range of Brother  threads are on this link Brother embroidery threads
You also need a supply of embroidery needles. They do go blunt quickly so do remember to change the needle after every project. As I am putting any of my machines away at the end of the project I am in the habit of removing the old needle which reminds me to insert a new one when I start sewing again. Machine Embroidery Needles

There are a lot of Embroidery and applique patterns built into your machine, these are a selection of the applique designs. The design has a list of threads next to it which tells you what colour you need and the order you need it.

I mentioned stabilisers, for stretch fabrics in particular I like this iron on stabiliser by Gutterman  SULKY Iron on Stabiliser . What you need is a fabric which stays rigid whilst you embroider it, and this does the job. I found when using a larger hoop in a stretch fabric I also need a layer of a tear-away stabiliser, GUNOLD  underneath the hoop in addition to the  iron-on .Gunold tear-away stabiliser
When using a smaller hoop this problem does not occur for me, and when using a woven fabric either of the stabilisers works very well.

The steps needed to produce the appliqué are fully explained in the manual and also on the display screen.
The first thing you need to do is to hoop your stabilised appliqué fabrics , in my case a flower head and petals. The machine embroiders the outline and you cut them out. What could be simpler.

You then insert your stabilised main fabric into the hoop in the position where you want your appliqué to go. The machine then embroiders the outline of the design. Take the hoop out - all this takes seconds by the way, and glue your shapes exactly into the outline on your fabric. Do not take your fabric out of the hoop. I love this  little temporary glue pen by Prym, it washes out too. Aqua Glue Pen  It is actually one of my favourite products. It has refills too.

Once you have fixed your shapes in place then press the start button again and change your thread if the machine tells you to. The machine will affix the appliqué onto your base fabric, and complete any further detail and embelishment.
All you need to do then is to remove the stabiliser from the back of the design and it is finished.

I know that you all love to watch this machine working, it is fascinating, so click on the picture above to watch a short clip on YouTube. There are other clips of this machine in action on my YouTube channel too.

This is my very cute finished flower. It now adorns  a garment which I making and will blog about next time. I thought that the process of creating this simple but very effective appliqué was worth a blog post all to itself.

This machine produces free standing lace too, so take a look at how I used these lace pieces to embelish a simple tunic on a previous blog post My Tunic top with lace embelishment. For this I used a dissolving stabiliser and the process is very fascinating, please do read the post

The free standing lace can also be used to make stand-alone items such as Christmas stars and bookmarks and so on. I love this lace don't you.

Of course the main feature is embroidery itself. Just to show you how easy this machine is to use this is the very first embroidery I produced within minutes of my machine being delivered! Read about my first steps here My first steps on my Brother embroidery machine

This tunic is one of my favourite garments and you can read all about how I made it and how to embroider it on My Embroidered Tunic Top

If you are interested in this machine, or another model - and who wouldn't be! Then do give Jaycotts a call , the details are all here Contact Jaycotts you can also arrange to call in for a demonstration.
Once you have your machine safely home you are not left alone because Brother provide tutorial days where you can go along for help and advice and new ideas.

Thank you for reading this post. Do contact Jaycotts.co.uk with any questions about this machine and please leave me a comment too

Angela x

Posted By Blogger to #SewAngelicThreads on 8/05/2017 11:49:00 am



I have been longing to get into my summer clothes here at home and now that summer is here I want some quick easy makes that I can wear in a day or two.I know people who cringe at the thought of wearing summer clothes, assuming wrongly that the sun means baring skin. Not so, some of the coolest clothes to wear are those which offer some protection from the sun. My usual summer clothes consist of pedal pushers and tunic tops, but I guess that's more out of habit than anything else, so I am making myself some dresses.

This is a very pretty dress by Simplicity, available from Jaycotts Simplicity S8294 it is a vintage style dress with the option of having a collar, waist tabs and short cap sleeves. There are also two skirt options so this pattern does offer value for money.
I made a size 12 and it needed no adjustments. You will find that your pattern size differs from your commercial dress size, please do not be alarmed, just make sure that you cut out the size which most closely resembles your body measurements. If your top and bottom halves differ then this pattern allows you to cut out relevant sizes for your top half, and a larger or smaller size for your bottom half . It is easy then to merge the two sizes together at the waist.

I like the slightly lower back in this pattern and as I do not appreciate having burnt shoulders I was glad that one of the options is to include a cap sleeve.
When choosing your pattern think about any parts of your body which you would like to cover up and look for a pattern which will do that. For example if you do not like your arms then think about choosing a pattern with a sleeve - which could be a flutter sleeve, short sleeve or whatever length you prefer. To draw attention away from a problem tummy or hip then choose a flattering neckline to draw the eye upwards.

This is the pattern, as you can see there are a few design choices and the skirt is just above the knee.
The fabric I chose is a hand printed Batik which I had in my own stash, but printed cottons are widely available from places such as MinervaCrafts or Abakhan fabrics etc.
The pattern on this fabric looks as though it totally random, but if you look at the dress being worn you will see that there is a pattern which forms definate vertical lines. It is therefore important that you view your fabric from a distance and decide which direction you want the pattern to run and of course you need to cut the fabric out on the straight grain.
If you are new to sewing the best fabric to choose is a cotton, because it is firm and will not stretch out of shape, and choose a small print as this will not require pattern matching and a massive plus point is that the design will disguise any minor mistakes  and wonky stitching.

Whilst I do enjoy wearing short skirts, this is going to be a day dress for shopping and sightseeing and for me it would be more practical if it was six inches longer.
This is very easy to do. You can either add tissue paper to the bottom of your pattern pieces and measure the new hem line, or if you are confident you can do as I did and measure six inches (or whatever  measurement  you choose) from various points along the hem and make chalk marks, joining them up before cutting out. This is perhaps one of the simplest of pattern hacks. Just remember to continue the flare on the side seams  or it will be too tight around the bottom.

The first thing I am going to do is to get the waist tabs made,pushing the corners out with my Prym point turner By using this nifty gadget you can be certain that your points are sharp. Press the tabs then make the buttonholes .

Your buttonhole foot will probably look like this one. All you do is to select the buttonhole you want and put your button into the  recess in the back of the foot. It then sews the perfect buttonhole to fit your button.
Do mark the positions of your buttonholes with chalk first and do practise on a piece of spare fabric before you do it on the actual garment.

These are my finished buttonholes. These buttons are antique ones but there is a huge selection of buttons of all shapes, sizes and colours at Jaycotts .do take a look at these heart and flower shaped buttons which would be perfect for this dress Decorative buttons

It is simple then to sew the darts and joint the front and back at the shoulders and the left side. Join the top of the right side only as far down as the pattern marking. Then neaten the seams on your overlocker if you have one.
Don't own an overlocker?  Mine is the Brother 3034D but do view the range of overlockers available Overlockers if you are not certain which machine is right for you then do ring Jaycotts and they will help you to choose a machine which suits your needs and your budget.
Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter too as there are frequently special offers available on machines

The pattern says to use a neck band but as there is an actual facing included in the pattern I used that instead.
It needs a lightweight iron on interfacing . There are lots to choose from here Interfacing from iron on to sew in and all sorts of weights too. Choose the correct weight for your fabric and always choose the best quality you can find. Jaycotts sell Vilene interfacing which is perfect.

To allow the facing to turn to the inside of the neckline you need to clip the curves, press the seam open and then understitch the facings . This means that you need to sew the seam allowance to the facing as far as you can. It stops the facing from rolling out during wear. Don't forget to keep pressing as you go.
Don't be afraid to top stitch as well if you want to.

This is my finished facing pressed to the inside.you can just about make out the understitching which does not show on the right side of the garment.

Follow the pattern instructions iether for the sleeve or the sleeve band . I chose the sleeve which was very easy to prepare

You will need a sleeve board to press the sleeve without making unwanted creases in it. A sleeve board also makes it easy to preserve the shape you have put into the fabric. A sleeve ironing board Sleeve board is a necessary piece of equipment for any sewer. You will use it for every garment you make.
When you gather fabric or make a dart you are turning a flat piece of fabric into a three dimensional shape and you need to preserve that shape by using the correct pressing tools. A sleeve board allow you to reach into small areas to press them without flattening them

Did you know that zips can be shortened? This dress needs a side zip, but the only one I have is too long.
At the point where you want the new end of the zip to be, go over it a few times with your sewing machine. Then cut the end of below this point. As a personal preference I like to whip stitch the plastic teeth below the stitching purely so that it is comfortable against my skin.

I am using an invisible zipper. To insert if you will need a special foot which has grooves in the bottom which the teeth of the zip are placed whilst the zipper tape is being sewn on. The invisible, or concealed, zip foot is available for most sewing machines, Concealed zip foot if you are not sure which is best for your machine then call Jaycotts for advice.the most usual one is the one on the right which is for Brother machines, the one on the left is for my Bernina, the only difference really is the way they  fit on the machine.

It is better to tack the zip in place rather than just pin it. They can slip about a bit otherwise. Sew one side at a time and leave the side seam open for now, we will close the seam later. As you can see the grooves on the zipper foot are enclosing the zipper teeth enabling the machine to sew right up close to them, this means that when the zip is closed you will not see it at all.
For all your zips , at fantastic prices, just look at the wide choice here, Zips as you can see there is a high quality zip for everything and as I said the prices are the best anywhere.

Once the zip is sewn in then remove the tacking threads and then sew the side seam up to the bottom of the zip. I find it easier to use a normal zipper foot as it enables me to stitch right up to the stitching holding the zip in place
Neaten any loose threads and catch the bottom of the zip to the seam allowance if necessary..

All that you can see of an invisible zip is the zip pull which makes it a great choice for dresses.
All you need to do now is to finish the hem. I overlocked the bottom and then pressed it up by half an inch and top- stitched.

The tabs fold towards the back of the dress, so press them to the back and stitch the buttons on. You will only need to undo the buttons which cover the side opening.
The buttons show on the back of the dress and add a bit of interest.
The tab would look great in a contrasting fabric, which is an option on the pattern envalope.

I am sure you will agree that this is a very nice fitting dress, easy to wear and practical for almost every occasion. 
When I make it again I am going to add the collar which I feel would look great from the back, and I am going to make both collar and tabs in a contrasting fabric .
It is totally suitable for beginners, there is nothing too difficult about the construction at all and the instructions are clear.
To obtain more information on any of the products mentioned or to place your order then fill in the contact form Contact Jaycotts 
Or telephone them on 01244 394099 during office opening hours Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 4.30 pm
Thank you for reading my blog. if you have any sewing questions or comments then do please contact me
Happy sewing
#dress #summerdress #beginner #sew #sewing #simplicity #tutorial 

Posted By Blogger to #SewAngelicThreads on 6/20/2017 07:52:00 am



Lining a dress

There is nothing quite like a fully lined dress. It feels special and it looks special. Adding a lining to a dress makes it feel wonderful, it hangs better, it lasts longer and when you choose the right type of lining it swishes when you walk. As a bonus your dress will look just as good on the inside as it does on the outside.
It is definitely something which you must do for a special occasion dress but why not line a day dress and see how wonderful you feel when you wear it.
This pattern includes a lined bodice and if you choose the straight skirt a lining is included. It is however very easy to add a lining to the full skirt version

I chose a bold printed linen and cotton mix fabric which is widely available. This particular fabric was from Abakhan Fabrics. Linen on its own creases badly but the addition of cotton helps to prevent it happening quite so much. Other fabric choices are cotton lawn and viscose. Whatever you choose for this full skirted version it needs to drape well. If you are going to make the dress with the straight skirt then your fabric choices are almost endless, why not try a brocade for a cocktail dress or a slub silk for a wedding?
I used the same fabric to line the bodice and sleeves for coolness and comfort but I chose a good quality lightweight woven lining fabric in Navy for the skirt. This gives a swing to the skirt and makes that delightful swish as you walk.
You can use lining fabric for the bodice but remember that it will not be as cool to wear unless you pick a lining fabric made from natural fibres such as a pure silk or a cotton voile.

The pattern is by Simplicity and it is New look 6447 available from Jaycotts on this link  NewLook 6447
There are options for a wide skirt or a pencil skirt and cap sleeves or sleeveless.
I cut out size 12 and it did fit well. I have a narrow back and needed to make a small adjustment during fitting, more about that later.

I like to get all the preparation out if the way first so the very first things I did was to stay stitch around the neckline on the bodice,this stops the neckline from stretching out of shape. Stay stitching is done just within the seam allowance.

We now need  to interface the neckline of the bodice lining. For this you need a good quality iron on interfacing Interfacings. For this type of fabric I would choose a lightweight iron on. It is useful to purchase a small supply of various types and  weights so that you never have to delay a project because you do not have any to hand.

The pattern instructions are very easy to follow and explain each step in great detail. These are the cap sleeves which are also lined.
Remember to press every seam as you go, it honestly does make a huge difference, we want our garments to look Handmade not the dreaded homemade.
There are some pressing tools which you definitely need and some which are nice to have
I have written a blog post dedicated to Pressing, do read it and decide which tools you need. I suggest that you need
A sleeve board Sleeve ironing board 
A pressing cloth Pressing cloth 
A sleeve roll Sleeve pressing roll
 Other items which you can add to your collection are a Tailors ham, finger guards, mini steam iron and more can be found on this link Pressing tools

If you would like to read the blog post for some handy hints and tips then it is on Jaycotts blog Pressing Matters , and also on my own blog Reviews of pressing tools 

I cannot stress enough the importance of pressing, I always set up my pressing station whenever I get my sewing machine out, pretty soon it becomes second nature.

The pattern instructions are very clear and explain how to sandwich the sleeves between the bodice and the bodice lining. I do like the fact that even the sleeves are lined.

When you have stitched the bodice to the lining it is necessary to understitch the seam allowance to the lining. This helps to keep the lining in place during wear. I suggest that you grade the seam allowance by trimming the seam allowances making the side nearest to the lining slightly shorter. You then clip into the seam allowance to make sure that it lies flat she turned right sides out.
When you come to the actual stitching make sure that everything is lying flat and smooth. You will not be able to understitch the entire seam so stitch as far as you can.

This is the inside of my dress bodice showing the understitching

I wanted to give you a little tip. I always keep my pattern instructions fastened to a clippy hanger along with the pattern envalope to make it easy to refer to when I am sewing.

When it comes to trying the bodice on for fit, how do you temporarily close the back? This is what I do. I pin and tack a zip to the back of the garment. It doesn't matter about the length of colour or type of zip,all that matters is that you can close it. It doesn't take long but does help to create a good fit.

I have a narrow back and I suspected that the dress may not fit at the back. I was right! I adjusted the positioning of the zip until I was happy and drew a new seam line. Do be careful not to take off too much of the seam allowance or the garment will be too tight.
This is the only alteration I needed to make to this pattern.
Jaycotts have a huge selection of zips, I used a concealed zip but you may wish to use a lapped or centred zip. ( More about them in a future blog post) do look at this huge selection of zips for all purposes Zips , zips and more zips 

The dress was made up according to the comprehensive pattern instructions. So the bodice was lined and the zip inserted. For the skirt lining I cut out the skirt again but this time in a good quality taffeta lining. This was then stitched to the waistband and pressed.
As you can see the dress looks really good on the inside.

I suggest that you sew a narrow machine  hem on the dress, there is a lot of fabric and it would take forever to sew it by hand. Then reduce the length of the lining by a good inch and hem that by machine in the same way.

The lining is so fine that it adds no bulk to the dress whatsoever but it does support the skirt very well and gives it a really professional finish. The skirt hangs exceptionally well with the inclusion of a lining.

I like the back neckline, the front neckline is perhaps a little high for my usual taste but the lower back made me appreciate this pattern and how flattering and comfortable it is. I love it and will wear it a lot.
Most patterns can be lined. It does away with the need for facings and is in some ways easier to make.
Do incorporate a lining into your next sewing project, you will be impressed at the huge difference it makes!
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post.
I have started to think more carefully about the type of clothes I make. At one time my wardrobe consisted almost entirely of business suits, but now I tend to wear very casual outfits of jeans and tops. I am currently experimenting with clothes somewhere in the middle. I do have a need for a smart dress or two, for lunches out and holidays, so this dress will be a very useful addition to my wardrobe, as it will be to yours.

For help and information in any of the products mentioned in my blogs please do not hesitate to contact Jaycotts. The contact details are in this link Contact Jaycotts 


#dress #lining #simplicity #jaycotts #zip 

Posted By Blogger to #SewAngelicThreads on 6/28/2017 08:59:00 pm


This is a continuation of my previous blog post, Making free- standing lace....  I have made exactly the same top but this time I have embroidered it instead of putting applique lace on.
The pattern is as before by  Simplicity -  Simplicity 4149

When I find a pattern I like I keep it in a large plastic envelope to use again. I liked​ the Navy Blue top on the previous post so much  that I wanted to make another one straight away.
The fabric is a length of embroidered Indian cotton from my own stash of fabrics. I have been looking for an opportunity to use it for a few years!

I am using my Embroidery machine Brother Innov-is 800E which is one of a range of embroidery machines from Jaycotts. I absolutely love it.
I also used Gunold tear-away stabiliser on the embroidery hoop underneath the fabric Gunold stabiliser. It really does tear away from the fabric very easily indeed .
The threads I am using are from a box of 40 satin finish embroidery threads by Brother Satin embroidery threads . Everything is from Jaycotts.co.uk and the links take you directly to the product on their web site
I chose a heart design for on the sleeves and on the bottom of the right  front. This is the reverse side as you can see I am picking away at the residue of stabiliser with a pin and some tweezers. It is very easy to remove 

The finished design is rather pretty. When I was choosing my designs I looked for something which would echo the embroidery on my fabric, but the important thing is for you to choose something which you like!

I tacked the front darts in place and marked the cutting line and stitching lines on the tunic front before placing my embroidery.
I then measured carefully where I wanted the centre of each design to be, marking the grain lines and centre with tacking thread which I did not fasten off.
After placing the fabric in the hoop it was then easy to align the centre of the design with my markings which also allowed me to ensure that it was straight and not off-grain. This is important if you are thinking of mirroring a design on a life of fabric, because kept one is off centre or crooked it will be instantly noticeable.
Pull the tacking threads out once you are certain that your fabric is hooped correctly.
The designs are differnet from each other but I did carry some colours through each, for example!e I used the same pink and the same yellow and blue to provide a little bit of continuity. Please don't get too hung up about it at this stage,but where there is an obvious substitution then do make it.

Instead of the French seams on my previous top I used my overlocker throughout. This enables speedy construction! By that I mean just less than two hours after the embroidery had been completed.
My overlocker is very easy to use and more importantly easy to thread  it is the Brother 3934D Brother overlocker Do telephone for the best price and to discuss other options the contact details for Jaycotts are at the end of this post.

To hold the facing down I am using one of the embroidery stitches on my Bernina Sewing machine Bernina 350PE  Again do telephone to find out current prices and other options to suit you and your budget.
If you are using embroidery thread in your regular machine then you do need to swop to an embroidery needle
There are various choices depending on what you are sewing on Embroidery needles 

Did you know that your needle needs to be changed after almost every project? When I am using my Embroidery machine I remove the needle after I have finished using it. Then when I come to use it again I insert a new needle as part of setting it up ready for use.
The pattern is very easy to make. There are no fastenings to worry about and it has nothing complicated about it whatsoever. It is suitable for all abilities from beginner upwards.

This is my finished top. It is very different from the last one don't you think, I like them both!

Please do not hesitate to contact Jaycotts with any questions about their wonderful products and If you have any general sewing questions I am happy to help you too. There is a contact form on the right hand side of my own blog.
Contact Jaycotts by telephone or by completing the online contact form and why not pay them a visit and see and try out  the machines for yourself?
Contact Jaycotts HERE
I hope that you are interested enough to consider purchasing  an embroidery machine, you definitely will not regret it!
 And I hope that you are inspired to explore how you can get the most out of your sewing patterns by re making them with subtle alterations .I do recommend Simplicity Patterns, they are a good fit, easy to use and fashionable Simplicity Patterns at Jaycotts
We would love to see photographs of your makes by the way!

Posted By Blogger to #SewAngelicThreads on 5/28/2017 04:55:00 pm



My embroidery machine does so much more than just embroidery and I am  working through all the different functions and applications. In this blog post I want to show you how easy it is to make free-standing lace and how to add it to a garment. Have you noticed all the embroidered garments everywhere? With this machine your own unique garments can be made quickly and easily.

When summer comes I am the one who reaches for long sleeved tops and white trousers, don't get me wrong I do love the sun but I prefer to cover up and slap on the factor 50.
This tunic is a style of garment which I wear a lot, it is comfortable and I feel cooler when the sun is not directly on my skin.

My embroidery machine is as you know the Brother Innov-is NV800E Brother Innov-is 800E. It is one of a range of fabulous embroidery machines by Brother at Jaycotts. I do urge you to visit the showroom and try these amazing machines for yourself, they have differnet functions too, some are designed for quilters some combine normal sewing with embroidery. Mine is an embroidery only machine, and by embroidery I mean that it does applique and quilting blocks too, but those are for future blog posts.

The machines have a selection of embroidery frames to choose from, your machine may not come with all of the available sizes but they can be ordered by Jaycotts for you.
You need stabilisers too and for the purpose of making free standing lace you need some water soluble stabiliser Brother Water soluble stabiliser

You also need thread. Lace looks much prettier when made with a Matt embroidery thread rather than the normal embroidery thread which has a sheen.
Embroidery threads are on this link, but if you want anything which is not shown then do telephone as there are many more new products coming into stock daily Brother Embroidery threads

I just wanted to include a short video of the machine making the lace as it never ceases to fascinate me

I think that the ability to produce your own stand-alone lace is one of the most appealing techniques that this machine is capable of.
I remember learning to make lace in the traditional way and although pleasurable it took forever. I sat watching this machine produce the most beautiful lace in just a few minutes. There are many uses for it apart from clothing - home decor and linen are just two but you can also produce things like bookmarks and jewellery , doilies and many other items.
You need to choose specific embroidery designs for stand-alone lace as the high stitch count is what holds it together. There are many designs on the internet.
There are other designs for embroidered lace which is stitched onto a fabric background, like the butterfly at the bottom of my design for example.

You will get through a lot of stabiliser because the key to good Lacemaking is a firm background to embroider on. I found that a single layer of soluble stabiliser tears and pulls the design out of shape so it is necessary to hoop a double layer and embroider straight onto that. Use the smallest frame for your design.

You will end up with lots of seemingly useless bits of stabiliser no matter what you are embroidering so I looked for a way to use them. I found that Brother make a tiny frame which will embroider small medallions and initials and which is perfect for hooping odd bits of leftover stabiliser. I hate waste so this is a lovely addition to your embroidery equipment. Again, ask Jaycotts for more information and current prices.

Once you have finished your lace ( don't forget to mirror the design if you want it on both sides of a neckline etc) trim away as much stabiliser as possible and soak it in cold or tepid water. This will get rid of the stabiliser. You will need to change the water a few times, if it is still too stiff then a gentle wash will remove any which remains.
It is more durable than you imagine and once it is stitched in place will happily whiz through your wash cycle.

Take it out of the water and blot with a towell before leaving to dry.

These are the finished pieces which I am going to stitch onto my tunic top. Notice that I reversed the designs so that they mirror each other, there is a button to press on the embroidery machine which does this for you instantly.

For the base of my design I embroidered some lace directly onto my stabilised fabric.This still has some stabiliser attached to it and my next step is to get my tweezers out and pick out the remaining bits. Can you see the difference between this embroidered lace and the free-standing lace?  This is not dense enough for stand-alone lace ,but once you get used to the process you will soon understand which designs are suitable.

The pattern I am using is by Simplicity Simplicity 4149. I found that the pattern was true to size and needed no adjustments whatsoever. I cut out size 12.

The Fabric is from MinervaCrafts and is a linen and cotton blend Navy Linen and cotton blend fabric I find that blended linen does not crease so much yet still retains the appearance of linen and is cool to wear.

I have marked the centre front slit on the top with tacking thread and placed the designs so that I could see how they looked before progressing any further.

I stitched the seams using a French seam - there is a blog post all about seams on the website if you need a reminder of how to make them
The shoulders need to be joined first and then the front facing stitched on and turned to the wrong side. The pattern instructions are incredibly easy to follow.

I stitched the lace motifs on using a regular sewing machine. I used an open toe foot and a small zig zag. Before stitching, I placed the motifs where I wanted them and held them in place with some temporary adhesive.
Just stitch around the outside edge carefully to hold them in place.

I deliberated as to whether it was better to stitch the motifes straight onto the fabric before inserting the neck facing or wether it would be better to stitch them on with the facing in place. I decided on the latter as they are quite heavy and I felt that they needed some substance behind them to hold the shape of the neckline. To accommodate this I kept my Navy thread in the bottom and used my neutral embroidery thread ( with an embroidery needle) in my machine.

Make the rest of the top as normal. You may want to add more or less embelishment than I did, it is purely personal preference.

This is the finished top and I have to say that it exceeded my expectations, the navy background really shows the lace perfectly and the firm fabric is so easy to sew.

There are other applications for free-standing lace as I was explaining earlier, this is a bookmark which I made.

I am delighted with the versatility of this embroidery machine and love how creative it enables you to be. It definitely takes dressmaking to a whole new level

For information or to arrange a demo then please contact Jaycotts either by telephone on  01244 394099 . Normal office hours are 8.30 to 4.30 Monday to Friday   
Or by filling in the contact form Contact Jaycotts

This machine is amazing, next time I will show you the same top in white featuring embroidery which was stitched directly onto the fabric
 Thank you for reading this post




This dress hits all the right fashion spots at the moment, Embroidery is so very fashionable, as are shirt dresses. Have you seen expensive they are too? Denim is practical and wearable anywhere. The embroidery will withstand frequent washing so please do not worry that not makes your garment hard to look after - it doesn't

This denim dress took me three days to make, one of which was spent embroidering the designs and yes, I do confess to sitting watching the machine embroidering away all by itself for the entire day! I was mesmerised by the whole process. I sent a video of it to my father and he couldn't stop watching it either, but then he is an engineer and he manufactored machinery for the cotton industry.

In addition to talking about how I made  and embroidered the dress I am going to talk about Buttonholes and making self covered buttons.

This is my embroidery machine . It is a Brother and it is very easy to use. I guarantee that even if you have never used one before you  will be embroidering within minutes. View the machine here on Jaycotts web site Brother Innov-is 800e

You need a few accessories, thread of course; embroidery thread is lovely and shiny and comes in every colour imaginable. You need a basic selection of colours to start with, this is the box which I use Brother Embroidery thread, box of 22 you will also need Bobbin thread Brother Bobbin thread and embroidery needles Embroidery needles. Just as in normal sewing you need to use the right needle for your fabric and I have found that they need changing frequently especially when sewing large or very dense embroidery.
Stabilisers are important too, you cannot just put your fabric into the hoop without something to hold it firmly in the frame. There is a lot of choice when it comes to stabilisers Embroidery Stabilisers  The ones I am finding most useful at the moment are Filmoplast and Gunold, but it really does depend on the fabric which you are embroidering.
There is a lot more information about stabilisers and hooping, as well as a review of this wonderful embroidery machine on Jaycotts blog, My review of  the Brother Innov-is 800e on Jaycotts blog
If you have any questions or would like a demonstration then do telephone Jaycotts on 01244 394099

The pattern I used is Simplicity S8014 (click on the link to view and order)   I made a combination of view C and D. The pattern appears to be true to size and needed no adjustments whatsoever. I can never get patterns back in the envalope so if I will be using it again I fold it up and keep it in a clear plastic wallet. I also fasten the instructions to the cupboard door to make referring to them easy when I am sewing the garment 
The denim I am using is from Minerva Fabrics Plain stretch denim . If this is your first embroidery project I recommend that you use a non-stretch fabric, a heavy cotton or a non stretch denim  would be perfect. Stabilising stretch fabrics has its own problems and I found that the best way to deal with it was to use two layers of Stabiliser and some removable adhesive. If you are not sure which stabiliser to use them again ring Jaycotts for advice or contact me of course.
You really must pre-wash your fabric, otherwise any shrinkage after you wash the garment for the first time will completely ruin all the hard work you put into making it. Please do not skip this step.
Cut your fabric out but if there are any small pieces you will be embroidering trace around the pattern pieces but cut them out with a very large margin to make it easier to put them into the embroidery frame.

This is some embroidery which I did on the back bodice. As you can see I marked the exact centre and the grain lines both horizontal and vertical. I did not want my embroidery to be off centre or off grain.
When the embroidery is complete pin the pattern pieces on again, adjusting the position if necessary and cut it out.

To embroider the front I transferred the pattern markings for the dart and the centre front onto the right side of the fabric and then I marked the position of the motifes I wanted to embroider with tailors chalk
This machine comes with a great choice of embroidery projects already built in, but you can download plenty more from the internet and transfer them  by pen drive into the machine. There are websites where you can download designs in the correct format either free of charge or paid for. I had a specific idea in mind for this dress and I found some free designs but  two I did purchase for a few cents each.

The process of embroidering a design is fascinating and mesmerising, there is a very short video above. Although the machine does not need much attention it is important to keep an eye on it. My chosen designs are very dense and the thread snapped once or twice, so I needed to re-thread it. It is very easy to go back to the exact place where the thread snapped and start that section again. This machine has a very easy to use touch screen and comes with a really good instruction manual.

There are Japanese characters built into the machine but the Kanji character I wanted was not one of them, so I downloaded it easily from the internet via my memory stick. I embroidered it on the pocket which will go on the left side of the dress to balance the embroidery on the right.
What does this Kanji mean? It means Beautiful which I thought appropriate for this dress as it really is beautiful.

These are my various pieces of embroidery which need tidying up. The first thing to do is to take some sharp embroidery scissors and a pair of tweezers and remove all the loose threads and the joint threads. Turn the embroidery over and remove all the residue of stabiliser using scissors and tweezers and possibly a pin.  The tailors chalk markings will brush off or you could use a damp cloth gently, never rub denim or you will end up with paler spots on it where the dye has rubbed off.

The pattern instructions are very easy to follow, so go ahead and make it up as instructed. If you struggle please contact me and I will help you. I have  many people  email me when they need help and I am always pleased to hear from them. I know Claudia will not mind me mentioning her, she contacted me today regarding making self covered buttons, the solution to her problem will be explained later in this post.

There is a contact form on my blog, just fill it in and I will get back to you.

Buttons and Buttonholes

I thought carefully about buttons and realised that there was enough going on without adding buttons which would stand out, so I spent a rather long time making self covered buttons. It is rather therapeutic if done the easy way, my way.  First of all get yourself a button maker, it is incredibly inexpensive, Button Maker , and some self-cover buttons Self cover buttons 
If your fabric is slipping about, a dash of spray temporary adhesive works wonders and a drop or two of Fray Check puts paid to any frayed edges. Simple! (Claudia's problem solved) 

You need to mark the position of your buttonholes next. You should always position one of the  buttons at the fullest part of your bust, that way you will avoid gaping. How many buttons you choose is up to you but odd numbers always look best. I like a lot of small buttons on my garments, but you may want different, so place your buttons onto the finished garment and see what you like best.
There are many tools for measuring the distance between buttons, the humble ruler is quite good enough, but there are plenty of special tools you can use too.  I am rather fond of my Simflex Gauge Simflex gauge but so long as the buttonholes are evenly spaced it is personal preference as to what method you use.

Always do a test buttonhole first by placing interfacing between two pieces of your fabric and sewing it as if it was your garment. Cut the buttonhole out carefully and check that your button will fit through it. If not then adjust the little slide on the baxk of the buttonhole foot.
This particular buttonhole foot is common to many brands of machine. In this instance I am using a Brother sewing machine Brother Innov-is 15 it is a lovely machine, perfect for a sewing newbie or a not so newbie, as it has plenty of functions, and is reliable and easy to use. It actually has three different buttonholes all of which are sewn easily and quickly with minimum fuss.
To create the buttonhole the button is placed in the back of the buttonhole foot. The buttonhole stitch is selected, and the fabric inserted. There is a grid on the front of the buttonhole foot and this is aligned with the position of your buttonhole. You put your foot on the pedal and it sews a perfect buttonhole to the size of your button, and yes, it is as simple as that.
I have a Bernina sewing machine and the buttonhole foot is different to this one and has a choice of two buttonholes built into the memory. Bernina 350PE. Both machines are good, again it depends on personal preference and budget. If you are thinking of buying a new sewing or embroidery machine then Jaycotts are very willing to help you. Choose the best model to suit your needs and price, and don't forget that you always have the option of paying them a visit and trying a few out before you make your final choice.

A tip for you here if you are sewing a fabric which frays is to dab a bit of your fray check onto each buttonhole as you finish it, so that it will have dried by the time you come to sew your buttons on.

The most irritating thing about buttons on bought clothes is that they fall off! Yours wont if you strengthen your thread with beeswax first.  Beeswax  Thread your needle and double the thread, then run it through the beeswax a few times. Sew your button on to correspond with the buttonhole, securing the thread securely at the start and the end of stitching. You can also add a drop of fray check to the end of the thread. Take your time and use plenty of stitches and they will not fall off.

I pinned the dress together the full length of the front before stitching my buttons on in order to ensure that they were all in the correct place.
The pattern shows buttons right up to the collar stand but as I never fasten the top buttons I decided to stop at the point where I wanted the neckline to open. This is again personal choice. Some people feel that a garment looks better when the buttons and buttonholes continue right the way up, I fully understand that point and agree with it actually, but for this particular garment it is important to me that the embroidery is the focal point so I wanted to cut out anything which was not needed in order not to distract from the beautiful embroidery. It is also why I chose self covered buttons, they blend in better.

I made a very simple tie belt out of the same fabric. If I made a plain denim dress I may well have worn a contrasting coloured leather belt with it instead.
The top and the bottom Geisha girls are actually the same design, I just changed the colours which was easy to do.
If you are just doing a small amount of embroidery then a top stitch around the front and collar in a colour to match one of the embroidery colours would look nice

This is the  design which inspired me to embroider a Japanese themed dress, and was the first piece of embroidery I completed on it. You will find that the designs built into the machine are more than adequate and you do not have to embroider quite as much as I did. A simple  motif on the front or on the pockets would look very pretty.
Before I start my embroidery I line up my colours in the order they will be used and make any substitutes. It is easy to alter the colours on the machine itself but I have found that so long as I keep my colours in the correct order I do not get confused.

Final thoughts
Am embroidery machine is an investment but a worthwhile one. I feel strongly that we ought to be making more of our own clothes and not sending quite so much to landfill sites. I am certain that you have some plain clothes in your wardrobe that you could up-cycle with a touch of embroidery? I have already shown you how to bling your jeans, so why not embroider your skirts, tops and dresses too?
I am thoroughly delighted with my embroidered denim dress and I wore it out today. I took note of how many people stared at it and I was asked where I bought it from! This reaction was fabulous, how many times do you get it from ready to wear?

Please do contact Jaycotts for more information on not only  embroidery machines but on all of their products. Why not sign up for the newsletter and be the first to hear about special offers and promotions.
I hope that you feel inspired by this post and enjoy learning just what an embroidery machine is capable of

Posted By Blogger to #SewAngelicThreads on 5/14/2017 06:57:00 pm
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