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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

I am often told that many of us are inspired to make our own bags and we go and buy a lovely pattern, but that's as far as we ever get - mostly. The reason seems to be that these patterns require so many different and unfamiliar fabrics,interlinings and other notions which are either hard to obtain or are too expensive, or both.
In this post I am going to show you how to make a very easy Tote bag for your shopping and then I will  adapt the same design by first of all adding a lining, and then by making the bag larger to make a practical beach bag and finally a stylish faux leather large Tote with embroidery. 
Although I am using my wonderful embroidery machine - which is quite honestly the best thing I have ever had - it takes sewing to a whole new level, you can omit the embroidery.
Why not use a patterned fabric, do some simple applique or even hand embroidery, it doesn't really matter. In fact it's a great way to use up fabric scraps or even discarded clothes. The whole point is that we all need shopping bags and if you know how to make your own you will never be short of a bag again. The best thing is that if you use leftover fabric they are free!

Skills learned

  • French seam 
  • Machine embroidery (optional) 
  • Making a basic tote 
  • Adding a lining 
  • Sewing with faux leather  
  • Using a commercial bag pattern 

Simple unlined Tote

My first bag is a simple unlined tote bag which can be rolled up and put in your handbag.
I used some natural Calico and cut out two rectangles around 17" x 15" . The size is your own choice. I used a sticky dot (I use these a lot for temporary markings) to mark the centre because i want to add some embroidery. You can of course omit this stage.

When you are embroidering by machine you need to use a stabiliser to prevent the fabric from moving in the hoop and from stretching. This one is Filmoplast  which is a self adhesive stabiliser which tears away easily. See the link  below which will take you to stabilisers​ on Jaycotts web site .

Another stabiliser is Gunold. This is a very firm backing which again tears away easily. There are many others and they all have their own benefits and uses so take a look on this link Stabilisers

My fabric and stabiliser are now in the embroidery hoop and you can see that I have aligned my paper dot dead centre. This dot will of course be removed once I am satisfied that the positioning is correct.

My embroidery machine is the wonderful Brother innov-is 800E and I totally love it.  It is always worth telephoning Jaycotts to enquire about the current price by the way because there are often promotions coming up. Better still sign into the newsletters and be the first to hear about sales and promotions. Details are on the home page, so do take a couple of seconds now to sign up .Jaycotts.co.uk
This is my chosen embroidery. It was easy to rotate the design on the touch screen so that it was facing the right way on my fabric.The screen shows that it is currently sewing colour 017 and shows the design it is stitching. The next colour is 202 and it will take six minutes to complete that part of the design and so on.

This is my finished embroidery. If you are tempted then please do telephone for more details or call in at Jaycotts for a demonstration
I have to say that this machine has totally changed my sewing. When I first got it I was unsure how to use it, I have never used an embroidery machine before​ but I do assure you that it is so easy to use and you will be producing great results in a very short time.

This is the reverse side and you can clearly see how easy it is to remove the tear away stabiliser. Any small bits can be gently eased out with a pin.

We are going to sew a French seam for strength, durability and neatness. In a French seam all the raw edges are enclosed and it really is a very useful process to learn. Making a simple bag like this is good for practising new techniques on.
To sew a French seam pin the front and back WRONG sides together. Then sew a narrow seam around three sides leaving the top open.

Trim the seam fairly close to the stitching, press, turn it the other way out and press the seam flat.

Then sew the seam again, this time on the wrong side enclosing the raw edges within the seam. Normally you would stitch closer to the edge, but this fabric frays easily and a bag needs to be strong, so i stitched it slightly wider than I would say a blouse.

I made a video to show you properly how to sew the French seam so take a minute to watch it, it really is a very useful skill to have.

You can omit this next stage of you really want to, but try to have a go. To make the bag more professional and to make it more suitable for larger items I wanted to add a base. This is so easy to do.
 On the inside of the bag, pin the corners together going exactly through the seams of the bottom and the side.

Then measure  around 2" from the top and draw straight across the corner with a marker pen. There are quite a few different marker pens, both air and water erasable so do take a look, they are not expensive Marker pens 

Then just stitch along the line fastening the start and finish of the seam so that it does not come undone.

This is the inside of the bag showing the corners which have been stitched to form a base.

And this is the right side which shows how lovely this simple trick looks. It does make the bag more practical too so it is worth taking time to do it.

If you do not want to make the corners on the bag then just leave them out. The bag looks just as good without as the picture above shows.

The next step is to make some straps. Decide how long you want them to be - do you want a shoulder bag, a bag to hold over your arm or even a crossover bag? Then  cut two lengths of fabric long enough. Decide on the width too, on this size of bag cut the strips around three inches wide.
Find the centre by ironing the straps in half then press the sides to the centre.

When pressing small areas which you need to hold in place during the process it is important to protect your fingers. These finger guards from Prym at Jaycotts are the answer, inexpensive too, order yours here Finger Guards
This mini iron is every bit as powerful as your full size iron, so take a look at it too. Mini Steam Iron

Fold each strap in  half and top stitch close to the edges along  both sides for strength.

Mark the position of the straps by measuring  out from the centre front and centre back. I placed mine four inches in from the centre

Baste the straps an inch from  the top edge facing down

Fold the top over twice and top stitch along the top edge.

Fold the straps up and top stitch along the lower edge of the hem, I stitched over the straps a couple of times for extra strength.

And that is our first bag made.

Step two, make a lined Tote.

Cut your front and back out as before. I made this bag in denim slightly larger. Do pre- wash denim if you are using it, as the colour could bleed and ruin your outfit.

Cut lining pieces the same size. I also cut a strip of my lining fabric to add more interest to the front of the  bag.

I want to add embroidery to the front of the Tote You can omit this or do some hand embroidery or hand or machine applique.
I chose a butterfly design and added a border underneath. It was so easy to change the direction of the embroidery so that it stitched sideways.

This is my machine, it is the Brother Innov-is 800E Do telephone Jaycotts for more details and current price. Why not arrange to call in and test a few machines ? Chester is a lovely place to visit if you fancy a weekend away.
The machine I have is this one  Brother Innov-is 800E 

The embroidery is done and the decorative edge stitched on. (Turn the top under, top stitch along the top edge and baste the base and sides)
Stitch the sides and base together right sides together, there is no need for a french seam as we are lining this bag. Stitch the corners of the base as before
Make the lining up in the same way. Press both lining and outer shell.

Put the bag inside the lining right sides together and stich along the top leaving  a gap so that you can  turn the bag right sides out.

Pull the lining through the gap and press.
Close the gap with a ladder stitch or slip stitch
Make the straps as before. I made them slightly wider than before.

Baste the straps in place exactly as before . Continuing exactly as before turn the top over twice and then top stitch sewing  the straps in place firmly.

And here is the finished bag. Very practical and roomy for shopping or sightseeing.

I added a sew on magnetic button to the top so that the bag closes.

Here are my two totes , both made from fabric which i have embroidered, one lined one unlined.

The waterproof tote with zip

For this Tote I used some PVC which I got from Minerva Crafts. There is a huge selection on this morning, so choose which you love best Half s metre will be plenty for one bag. PVC fabric
You must remember that you cannot pin this fabric or it will make holes and you cannot make a mistake or again you will leave holes. You also need to use a longer machine stitch as this fabric can tear easily if you pull the stitches too tight.
I use Wonder Clips from Jaycotts there is a choice of sizes on this link Wonder clips 

I chose a stiff taffeta for my lining. Clip the zipper tape to the bag front and backs , right sides together with the zip facing down. Baste. Clip the lining, again right sides facing and clip it on top of the zip so that it is sandwiched between the bag and the lining. Stitch. Trim the zip if necessary to shorten it by stitching over  the end a crew times and then trimming the end of the zip off.

You can press PVC as long as you use just a warm iron and a pressing cloth.
Open the pieces out and right sides together stitch the bag together starting from the side, across the bottom and up the other side. Do the same with the lining leaving four inches open at the side .
Stitch corners in the base if wanted
Turn right sides out and slip stitch the opening in the lining.
Press carefully as before.

Make handles and stitch them into the bag facing down. Then turn them upwards and top stitch all around the bag top.
I stitched the handles on after inserting the lining. However if you want to you can see the handles onto the bag before you put the lining in however you will need to place some very firm sew in interfacing underneath your stitching line because PVC will tear if heavy items are put into the bag regularly.

This would make a perfect beach bag. It is plenty big enough to hold your towell, sunscreen and magazines.

The silver faux Leather Tote

This beautiful PLEATHER as it is called is available from MinervaCrafts Silver Pleather
I wondered if it would embroider and was delighted that embroidery looks stunning on it.
It is very easy to embroider and to sew but you need to watch out for a few things.
Do not pin. It will leave holes
Do not use clips, they will leave marks
Do not hoop in your embroidery hoop, it will leave marks.

Make the bag up exactly the same as the simple lined tote. But you will need to use a temporary adhesive and Gunold   or a self adhesive stabiliser , Filmoplast under the  embroidery hoop and stick the pleather on top of the hoop. Do Practice first.
Do test the adhesive too because some could damage the fabric.
You need to sew the seams  with a leather needle and you need to embroider with a larger embroidery  needle a size 16 if you have one Machine embroidery needles Both needles will be blunt after this project and will need throwing away.
When you sew the seams you must clip the sides together inside the seam allowance to avoid spoiling the fabric.
I trimmed the inside of the top with pinking shears as I folded it just once only. I also folded the handles in half without turning the ends in and i trimmed the raw edges with pinking sheers.

This is a really lovely bag, perfect for when you are dressed up but need to take a book and a drink or shoes and so on with you.

So, this is my collection of bags which I made without a pattern, but before we look at a commercial bag pattern I have another idea for you ;-

This is a very simple purse which I made with the silver faux leather. I cut one piece, embroidered the flap and used pinking shears all around the edge. I then top stitched the sides and added a popper to close .
For security I added a doubled length of ribbon to the side seam .

This ribbon can then be looped over one of the handles and the little bag placed inside the Tote bag to give you somewhere secure for your money or tickets etc.

This is a great idea and can be made in fabric instead. You could close it with a zip or a button if you prefer so why not make one to match your bag?

Making a Bag using Mccalls M5822 pattern

 Making a bag like this is very different to our simple tote bags. The pattern I used is this one  Mccalls Bag pattern 
I used coordinating prints from my stash and didn't have to buy any fabric.
There are three sizes and  I made the largest size.

You do need specialist products which can prove expensive.
The pattern calls for one metre of volume fleece Volume Fleece which is meant to go on top of the same amount of  Decovil Decovil . These specialist products are extremely expensive and i looked for ways to use less.
Decovil is very stiff and it makes the bag rigid. I decided to use it only on the side and base piece only. For the sides I used a fusible woven  interfacing Woven interfacing and put the volume fleece on top of that. I guess the woven interfacing to the lining pieces too as mine was rather thin.
I did not interface the straps.

Before sewing any seams i trimmed all the interfacings back to the seam allowance otherwise it would not have turned right sides out easily.

I found that I had to read through the pattern instructions a couple of times to fully understand them and I found that the straps were far too long so I trimmed them back by about ten inches.
I feel that the way to get a lovely looking bag is to make sure that your fabrics coordinate in colour, texture and design so I took time to choose my fabrics carefully. For the lining I chose a black and white hand printed batik fabric .

This is the shell of the bag made up, the most difficult part was attaching the side and i found that using a lot of pins,and I do mean a lot, and my walking foot was the only way to proceed.

Although you cannot see them clearly the lining has pockets sewn on so do that before you make up the lining.

Next comes the top of the bag where we need to place a zipper. Jaycotts have some beautiful zips especially for bags, Bag zips they do make your bag look more professional

The instructions show you how to sew the zipper one side at a time to the centre of the tops and then fold and stitch them to form self lining.

Then the zip and bag topmost stitched to the lining before placing the lining wrong sides together inside the bag.
The other tricky part where you will again need a lot of pins is stitching the lining and the bag together around the top. You are now dealing with a very bulky stiff bag.
Once you have done that then trim the top and stitch your top binding on right sides together, fold it over and turn the seam allowance in. I then top stitched close to the edge of the binding to hold it in place.

This is the finished bag which I have to say I am delighted with.

I hope that I have given you some inspiration and that you will make some bags for yourself or as gifts. They are easy to sew and use up fabric scraps which would otherwise be discarded. The bag which I used a commercial pattern to make is superb and I am very proud of it. I am now thinking of making a carry on cabin bag ( check your flight companies allowed dimensions and weight ) and a gym bag would be most useful.

You will have lots of ideas yourself, and they take no time at all to make.

Thank you for reading this post


In this post I am going to demonstrate some of the pressing equipment by Prym which you can obtain from Jaycotts and I will show you why they are as necessary as your sewing machine when undertaking any sewing project.



Easter is a delightful time of year, Even if you do not celebrate the Religious festival, we all enjoy heralding the joy of spring and the new life which is emerging after a long cold winter.

My aim is to give you some ideas to copy, but don't just stop there gather your children and grandchildren and enjoy making some fun Easter decorations and table wear.
This post is suitable for beginners and children right up to advanced sewers as everything can be made either by gluing, hand sewing, machine sewing, and with embelishments either done with basic hand embroidery or with an embroidery machine

These are some of the pretty items I made, and you can make them too, they really are very easy. With each item I will give you alternative ways of making it so that they are suitable for everybody to join in.

You will need to gather your supplies for these Easter crafts, first of all  we need to make templates for bunnies, chickens, eggs and anything else you like. You can draw them freehand onto thin card or download and print off the templates which are easily available online. Do make sure that the designs you choose are not copyright protected.
I used simple hand drawn shapes, some of which I scaled up for the table mats.
You will need a supply of pastel coloured felt, mine is from MinervaCrafts . You can purchase a few sheets of your favourite colours Individual felt squares or they sell them in larger packs .
I strongly suggest that if you have children helping you that you use these wonder clips Wonder Clips this is the small pack, they come in different amounts and a smaller size so do contact Jaycotts for more information and prices.Contact details are at the bottom of this blog post.
Even if you do not have children this is a great product which I use a lot in all my sewing as they are much easier to use than pins and are especially useful when you do not want holes in your work or are sewing lace.

Berisfords Gingham ribbon at Jaycotts

You will need some ribbon, I really love this Gingham ribbon from Jaycotts Gingham ribbon  but they sell lots of other ribbons too so choose what you like best. Ribbons at Jaycotts 

First I am going to make some gift bags to fill with small Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies.
Cut out two squares of fabric for each bag and cut out your rabbit or chicken or egg shape - whatever you like best and stick it to the front of one of the pieces of felt.

This Prym Aqua Blue Marker is brilliant, and you can purchase refills too Prym Aqua Glue Marker this is great for positioning not only decorations like these, but zips and trimmings too. It is yellow in colour when it is first applied but don't worry because it dries clear and can be washed out. It has so many uses you will wonder how you managed without it.

Once you have positioned your shape then using an Open Toe Embroidery Foot stitch around your design with either a zig zag stitch or applique stitch. This foot enables you to see the area you are stitching clearly. This foot is for my Bernina Sewing machine,  Bernina 350PE Sewing machine again do contact Jaycotts for current prices.
Open toe embroidery feet are available for other makes of sewing machines too.

Stitch just inside the ears to give an impression earlobes and embroider simple features by hand or machine.
The process so far can be done entirely with craft glue so long as the children are supervised of course.

This is our bunny so far. You could add a bow to his neck or decorate him in whatever way you like. Or you may want to add a tiny pom pom for a tail.

Stitch on lengths of ribbon to the front and back of the bag on the back, marking  the position with a marker pen to make the handles I used a vanishing ink pen Vanishing Ink Pen 

Stitch around the three sides of the bag with a zig zag stitch or by hand with some embroidery thread and a small running stitch.
Fill with sweets and chocolates and maybe a small felt Easter Bunny  like the one below

Another idea is to cut out Easter egg shapes and make them into decorations which you can hang on twigs sprayed with white paint placed in a vase. Or you could attach them to ribbon to make bunting.
Cut out your egg shapes and decorate them however you like, with ribbons, felt strips, felt flowers or use the opportunity to practise some of the embroidery stitches on your sewing machine. Sandwich two shapes together with a ribbon loop at the top,  Stitch around the outside by hand or machine leaving a gap in the bottom, stuff lightly with toy stuffing and close the gap. Simple!

Using the same method make Easter Bunnies to either hang up or to give as gifts. Please remember that they may not be fire retardant and should not be given to young children unsupervised. Also ensure that all trimmings are sewn on extremely securely.This is common sense isn't it.

Here are just two Easter Decorations, i am sure that you will come up with lots of ideas, this is just to give you a bit of inspiration.

We are going to make a breakfast set for Easter day. Take your egg cup and allowing for an egg, draw roughly around it  make sure that the egg cosy will be big enough.

Using your Egg cosy shape as a template draw a rabbit or other shape to fit on it. Cut out  paper templates in an egg cosy shape and a rabbit shape.

Draw round the templates onto felt using your disappearing pen and cut the shapes out.
Stick the rabbit onto the front of the egg cosy and draw some features on
Sew the rabbit shape into the base shape as before and embroider the features as before too.

Add a piece  of felt around the bottom  roughly cut to look like grass and stitch or glue in place . Stitch the front and back together to make a delightful egg cosy.

This is the finished cosy, you could use other designs instead of the bunny ,a simple flower shape would be pretty.

For Easter day what could look lovlier than these pretty felt place mats. Please note that if you do decide to make them in craft felt they are not washable.

Cut out a rectangle, you can use pinking shears if you like and then stitch a decorative border all the way round. I used a zigzag stitch.. You could hand sew a running stitch if you prefer.

Draw a simple shape, I chose a chick, and using temporary glue stick it to the left of the mat. Cut out a wing shape in the same felt and stick that on  too. Stitch the chick down as we did before and add a few lines of straight stitch to the wing to represent feathers.

Embroider an eye and stitch on a beak. If you are gluing your table mats instead of stitching them then draw the features on with a felt tip pen.
Cut out a very simple flower shape and a centre in a contrast colour .Stitch the flower down just in the middle.

And that's your Easter breakfast set made. This really is a lovely project to make with your children or with your children's group.

Table linen

I was practising some embroidery on my new machine and came across the Easter egg in the centre of the design. I then found another design and wanted to learn how to combine  the patterns to make one design.
The machine instructions are so easy to follow. In Editing mode you can change positions of designs, add Lettering and other designs so long as the combination fits into your embroidery frame area.
It is a touch screen and you are able to drag designs into position with the touch of your finger. There is a ROTATE button which I used to reverse the design on the bottom so that I could  mirror it on the top.
The machine enables you to change the colours and to manipulate lettering into curved shapes. There is such a lot this machine can do and if you are travelling near to Chester , which is well worth going to for a short break anyway,  do pop into Jaycotts and ask for a demonstration.

This is the machine itself  Brother Innov-is NV 800E  it is an embroidery only machine. If you are short of space then there is an alternative choice of a machine which combines an embroidery machine and a sewing machine. For more information and to discuss the options then do please contact Jaycotts, the details are at the end of the post.
You will need stabilisers and embroidery threads too.  I discuss all these things in two previous blog posts . They are on my own blog and also on Jaycotts Blog which you can read here Jaycotts blog 
If you are not reading this post on Jaycotts newsletter then do sign up on the top of this page Jaycotts and you will then be the first to read about new products and hear about sales and competitions.

Aprons are out of fashion but are totally practical garments. How many times have you wanted to wear something nice because you have guests but are worried about splashing your clothes? They make perfect sense!
Cut a length of fabric one and a half times the width of your hip measurement from one side to the other. I shaped the hem on mine to make it curve at the sides and stitched a simple double fold hem. Cut a long piece of fabric to make the tie and fold it in half lengthways. Stitch it together right sides together along the ends and the long edge leaving room to insert your gathered apron skirt.
Turn the band right sides out. Press. Stitch the apron to the band right sides together leaving one side free which you then will stitch down by hand.
I turned my embroidery into a pocket by hemming the top and turning the sides in, mitering the corners. Position on the apron and stitch down on three sides. Press.
You can add a plain pocket or add an applique design if you like instead.

I made my tie long and wide so that it would tie into a huge bow at the back. This is a gift for a friend who I know loves vintage style clothes and it will be perfect for her.

To make a tablecloth cut a piece of fabric to the length you require, and hem it with a double fold hem, or you could overlock the edges or sew a narrow rolled hem.
The fabric is polyester cotton from MinervaCrafts this is the one I used Polycotton in Yellow
It is really pretty for spring and washes easily too.
There are a lot more other prints including pretty butterflies and sweets as well as plain colours  on Polycotton fabric  it is an inexpensive fabric too.

I made a set of table napkins too in the same way as I made the tablecloth, do make them large enough, and tied them with a ribbon bow tucking some chocolate inside.

This is a really simple collection of spring and Easter Tablewear and decorations. They would make lovely gifts too. The bags of chocolates will be lovely for little guests over Easter. Why not make larger bags to hold a bigger Easter Egg?

Everything is very easy to make and is very inexpensive too. So I hope that you will enjoy making these. Do let me have your feedback and I would love to see pictures of your lovely Easter makes

Thank you for reading this post. 
Angela x


I have been longing to tell you about my fantastic new embroidery machine !
The week before last I drove down to Chester to visit Jaycotts and to look at this  machine. I have to be honest I have never in my life used an embroidery machine before so I was doubly excited and keen to see how it would work.

Do have a look at my embroidery machine on this link Brother Innov-is NV 800E

This is the machine. It is an embroidery only machine. There are some which do "normal" sewing as well as embroidery, but well, this one is perfect for my needs, and is exactly what I wanted. I prefer things which have a specific function rather than something which tries to do everything.
There are some things to consider when purchasing any machine, including an embroidery machine and I would strongly advise you going to Jaycotts to try a few out.  If you can't do that then do give them a call on 01244 394099 because they will discuss the different options with you before you make your decision.
Of course you should be looking at a machine which YOU find easy to use, is reliable and value for money. It makes good sense therefore to buy your machine from somewhere reputable like Jaycotts.
Other things to consider are
The embroidery area needs to be large because as you become more proficient you are in danger of outgrowing the machine inside of a year if you limit yourself to a small embroidery area.
This machine comes with built in designs but I would definitely chose a machine with  a USB port so that you can download additional designs - and there are plenty of free ones in the internet. I have just found lots on Pinterest.
You need a machine which is easy to thread, how many times have people told me that they hate their machine because it is hard to thread! Choose one which is easy to thread and which comes with a good quality needle threader, it will save hours of frustration and time. You may be changing thread several times for each design so this is important. I have a preference for all Brother machines in this respect.
You need to see if the machine has a colour touch screen which is clear and easy to use.
And finally you need to choose a machine which has on screen editing so that you can build up a picture using more than one design and add lettering and so on so that your embroidery becomes personal to you.

I highly recommend Jaycotts for all your sewing needs but in this respect they display and demonstrate a wide variety of embroidery machines which means that you can see them in action before you make your purchase You are also welcome to return for advice and demonstrations anytime. Plus a great bonus is that they offer regular in- depth tuition sessions with the lovely Melanie who is  Brother UK's sewing guru.
In case you need any further incentive to purchase your machine from Jaycotts they have been selling Embroidery machines since they were first released in the UK over 20 years ago. They are therefore very experienced not just in sales, but the aftercare, service and maintenance is terrific. They will keep your beautiful new machine performing perfectly for many years to come. I can testify to that because a Brother Machine I purchased  from Jaycotts over 15 years ago is still in constant use by one of my pupils and she loves it just as much as I did.
So, having been a customer  of Jaycotts for many years, well before I became their blogger,  I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending them to you.

On Thursday I was given a one hour delivery slot first thing in the morning and bang on time the delivery man rang my bell. I really appreciate a tight time slot don't you, I hate waiting in all day wondering what time the delivery will come and not daring to pop out just in case.
I don't know about you but I am one of those people who if they get something new just has to use it immediately. If I buy new shoes for example I will come out of the shop wearing them! I can't help it, I get terribly excited at having anything new, particularly if it is something to do with sewing!
It was the same with my parcels. I just had to open the boxes the second they arrived.

A problem I had to consider, albeit a nice problem, was where was I going to put my new embroidery machine
I have a Horn cabinet ( mine is the NOVA) and Jaycotts told me that Horn make an insert to enable the cabinet to be used for cutting out, or in this case to make space for an additional machine. I have to admit I had no idea that such a product existed. If you are interested then ring Jaycotts on 01244 394099 and they will be able to tell you what is available for your cabinet.
If you are choosing a new cabinet for yourself then the same considerations for choosing a machine matter here too, so always choose the size which you can grow into and will suit your future needs. Click on this link to view the Horn range.
Horn Sewing Cabinets   more products such as the insert are available on request.

You can see from this photograph that I now have a massive work space!

The machine does come with various accessories but there are some additional essentials which you need to purchase too.
You need embroidery needles, these needles have enlarged eyes which helps to stop friction which in turn causes the embroidery thread to fray and snap. Don't forget to change your needle frequently! Machine embroidery needles 
You will need embroidery stabiliser. You need to put this behind the area which you are embroidering  Embroidery stabiliser
There are other stabilisers  on this link Stabiliser
I suggest that you buy a small selection because they have different purposes. You need a general tear away stabiliser which adheres to the back of your fabric and as the name suggests it tears off after you have finished embroidering. There is a water soluble stabiliser which is useful to put on top of the embroidery area in addition to the stabiliser below to enable you to embroider towels, velvet, leather and lots of other fabrics.
You need a Bobbin thread too, Brother Bobbin thread this one is suitable for Brother machines, if you have a different machine there are other makes available
Bobbin thread 
It sounds complicated but once you see your machine it all makes perfect sense. The fabric has to sit tightly in the embroidery frame and it needs to be backed with a Stabiliser to support the stitching and to prevent damage to the fabric.

The most exciting accessory purchase in my opinion is choosing your threads. The machine gives you the option of changing their recommended colours but you still need as large a selection as you can afford. Please note that you can use a good quality sewing thread such as Gutterman but it will not have the sheen which embroidery thread gives. Brother have  individual bobbins of embroidery thread , available at Jaycotts, but in addition the boxes of Brother Embroidery threads which Jaycotts sell offer good value for money and would make a great gift Brother Embroidery Threads

There are other brands of embroidery thread on this link Embroidery and other threads. There is a massive choice of colours and effects.

The embroidery frame has a removable grid which you use to help you to position your chosen design on the correct part of your fabric.

Once I had unpacked everything I immediately plugged the machine in and got the instruction manual out. Within minutes I had started to embroider my first design! I have to say this, please do not be daunted by these machines. You get good tuition if you want to take advantage of it but the instructions are very easy to follow and if you take it step by step as I did you too will be embroidering away within minutes! I do advise  you to take up the offer of having tuition, these are expensive machines and in time you will want to do more and more such as positioning designs, mirroring, continuous borders etc, and I always feel that it is easier if somebody shows me how to do something as I remember it better rather than just referring to a book.

I did a short video so that  you can see how mesmerising the process is!  The display tells you which colour of thread to put in your machine and stitches everything required in that colour, then it tells you which colour to thread next. Other than keeping an eye on it you can just sit back and relax and watch a miracle happens before your very eyes - that's what I thought anyway. The machine tells you if your bobbin thread runs out or if  your top thread snaps. How wonderful is that!

An hour or so later I had produced my very first ever piece of embroidery. Stunning isn't it!

I am going to show you around the rest of my sewing room which also doubles as my son's bedroom when he comes home to stay. I do not go in it when he is in residence so if I want to do some sewing I really don't mind adjourning to the dining table - I am always delighted to have Matthew home.

This is where my sewing machine and overlocker store away when not in use. The Horn cabinets are amazing because the machine effortlessly glides into position when I need to use it.
My sewing machine is the Bernina 350PE, see it here 
 Bernina 350PE it is extremely reliable and hard working
My overlocker is the Brother 3034D Brother 3034D Overlocker and I love it!
Underneath the overlocker shelf is a large drawer where I store the overlocker foot pedal and overlock thread.

This is how the machine looks when it is raised to the sewing position. There is a flat bed option or this position for free arm sewing which is useful for sewing sleeves and so on. These cabinets are truly amazing!

The door of my Horn cabinet holds threads, scissors, pins, clips, seam rippers, rulers, marker pens,chalk,  and everything else I could possibly need when sewing . Oh and Tailors hand cream. I also keep a notebook where I make notes for my blog posts
I do constantly change my equipment round when I clean the cabinet or get new tools to test and blog about.

One of my very favourite sewing machine accessories is my walking foot. I love it so much that I hardly ever take it off the machine. It is invaluable for sewing stretch or slippery fabrics and they are available for most machines. This is the one for my Bernina  Walking foot for the Bernina range

The top of the Horn cabinet has this recessed storage area where i keep the spare feet for my sewing machine and overlocker There are lots of machine feet available at Jaycotts so do take a look at this link Machine feet, all brands 
I also store spare bobbins and sewing needles here plus all the tools and accessories which came with the machines

On the opposite side of the room is have a sewing machine which I use if I am giving a lesson or a demonstration. It is normally stored in a carry bag by the way. It is the Brother Innov-is 15 Mine is pink but the later model is now white as it has been upgraded. It is a brilliant machine and has a lot of functions. It is also easy to carry around
Sat in front of the machine are the bobbins and spare feet etc for this machine which again normally live in the carry case.
Underneath are boxes of patterns, a few books and a couple of boxes of lace and trimmings.
I keep a few sewing magazines here too together with my machine manuals which I refer to constantly.

Next to that is a shelf unit for fabrics _ the rolls of fabric are tucked down the side. In the boxes I store linings , interfacings and smaller pieces of what I consider to be useful fabrics for patchwork and so on

Next to that is a wardrobe for out of season clothes. The tins on top store buttons, poppers and general habberdashery findings , shoulder pads and other interesting things
I keep a diagram of machine feet and a list of the stitches my Bernina does on the cupboard door. I do love to be organised!

I have a mannequin, yes I know she is just wearing a frilly underskirt but there is a reason for it I  promise!  Jaycotts have a lovely supply of dress forms. I use mine all the time and I am forever changing her measurements! Dress forms 
My chair is also by HORN Horn hobby chair  I spend many hours sewing and to me it is essential to have a good chair to sit on and to support my back. Plus it just swings found without moving it when i want to use my overlocker.

I cut out on the dining table and so I store cutting equipment, tracing paper, tape measures and so on in a basket - purely to make it easier to take into the next room.
That's my son's bed the basket is sat on, just to reassure him that it is still there!

Again this is me being organised, I fasten my pattern instructions to a trouser hanger so that they are easily accessible to refer to.
I also keep a list of the fabrics and notions I am using for my current garment to make it easier to write my blog post later.

This is the view from my sewing room window - right over the rooftops. The shoreline is in the distance and on a clear day I can see the hills of the Lake District. I love  watching the birds fly past and occasionally the Red Arrows will fly past, always exciting to see them!

I do always tidy up when I have finished sewing. Look at how beautifully neat the Horn cabinet is when it is shut! That's my pink waste bin. The most annoying thing is that there always seems to be mess around it, never actually in it. I guess my aim is not as good as it used to be.

I keep a good selection of sewing thread colours on the wall , just so that they are easily accessible. Gutterman is a great brand but I also keep a stock of cheaper threads too.

The whole point of this blog post is to introduce you to my beautiful new embroidery machine. If you want something new or different then seriously consider one .
I have a project planned already and have found out how to download additional patterns from the internet. This fabulous machine is opening up a whole new world of sewing for me and i am very excited at the possibilities. I know that I need a little extra tuition as there are one or two things I am not totally sure of yet, but that is why I love Jaycotts so much - there is tuition available and nothing is ever too much trouble.

I know that Jaycotts will quickly become your first port of call for your sewing needs. If you have not already done so,  sign up for their newsletter where you will be the first to hear of special offers and promotions and will be able to read my blog too. Sign up on this page Email newsletter 

The contact for Jaycotts is here Contact Jaycotts The address, email contact form and telephone number are all on this page

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post, do let me know if you decide to purchase an embroidery machine , you won't regret it!

I am always willing to answer your sewing queries and so do not hesitate to contact me at any time.There is a contact form on my blog.




Everybody needs a suit in their wardrobe, not just to be worn for very special occasions but to be worn whenever you feel like dressing up a little. A suit is smart and elegant and can take you anywhere. Dress it up for a wedding with a beautiful blouse and heels and maybe gloves, or wear it for a shopping trip with flat shoes or boots. You can't go wrong!
I seem to have been wearing trousers for months now and I long to get into skirts again, so this is my spring suit, it is in a slightly warmer fabric and I can wear it with tights and boots. i am not keeping it for any special occasion, I am just going to wear it for me.

It is not obvious from the photograph but the fabric is beautiful. it is a cream boucle with a sparkling gold thread woven through.
The lining is a gold satin, and the buttons are antique hand made French glass decorated with Gold.

 The jacket and skirt patterns  are available from Jaycotts.co.uk and are by Butterick
The lined jacket can be purchased on this link  Jacket pattern 
And the skirt is also from Jaycotts Skirt pattern 

The fabric is from Abakhan fabrics. If you have been to Abakhan before then you will know that there are in addition to rolls of fabric, lots of bins containing every fabric imaginable. I found two pieces of this Wool Boucle in the coating section so it is definitely worth a drive out to one  of their many stores. There are some similar fabrics online though Wool blend Boucle 
Choose whatever fabrics YOU like in colours you know suit you.
The lining is also from Abakhan. I chose a plain silky satin fabric in Gold. Gold satin 
I would not recommend using a cheap lining for a suit as it is going to be in your wardrobe for a very long time and it is well worth paying that little bit more for a good quality lining.
The buttons are from The Swagman's Daughter , and I guarantee you will be tempted to make a purchase or two  once you look at her website. The Swagman's Daughter

The skirt
 As always this tutorial is meant to complement the pattern instructions, so you need to keep your instructions handy. My blog posts describe how I made the garment and may suggest different methods of construction or clarify certain parts.
The first step into select your size. Please note that your pattern size will not be the same as your commercial ready-to-wear size, so you need to take your measurements and write them down. Use these to select the correct pattern size. You will find garment measurements in the pattern instructions or sometimes on the tissue pattern itself.
You also need to make a toille or a test garment. When making a lined garment I use the lining as a toille. A lot of women skip this step, but my advice to you is don't. If you are making a lined garment you can use the lining as a toille or if a dress or top you could use some cheaper fabric and make a wearable toille. I do this a lot and end up wearing my test garments a lot!
Select your size allowing extra at the sides. Pin and tack the darts and the side seams and then try the lining on. Make any adjustments necessary and take the lining apart, making sure that you make a note of the new sewing lines with tailors chalk.

You can see that I needed to make quite a big adjustment to the width of the skirt. You may also want to make the skirt more fitted, so make these adjustments too.

Here is a warning. Boucle frays away to nothing, especially a loose weave boucle such as this one. So, cut out your pattern larger than the pattern and mark the seam lines with tailors tacks. Then overlock each piece straight away. If you do not have an overlocker then use a zigzag stitch. It is not normally necessary to overlock the seams of a lined garment but if your  fabric is fraying then take this step as soon as you have cut the pieces out.
Sew the darts an the skirt and the lining and sew the lining together at the sides and the back up to the dot where the zipper ends. Press.
Sew the darts in the skirt and then stitch the centre back seam up to the dot where the zip ends.

A tip, if your zip is too long it can easily be trimmed so long as you sew over the end a few times to stop the zip pull coming off at the end.

Using a regular zipper foot insert your zip, follow your pattern instructions if you are not sure how to do it.

I did not have enough fabric to make a waist band and as the skirt is lined a facing is not necessary.
To make the waist I ironed on seam tape on the top of the skirt and right sides together stitched the lining to the skirt all the way round the top, finishing sewing  5/8" away from the edge. Keeping the lining free where it will be stitched to the zip tape. I understitched all the way round too.

On a lighter fabric you may need to add grosgrain ribbon or Petersham to support the waist. This skirt does not need it.

Press the skirt at the waist and tack all the way round. Turn in the opening in the lining and slip stitch it to the zipper tape. Add a hook and eye to the top.

 Top stitch the waist.which will provide a neat edge. On this picture the waist is just tacked and the hem is unfinished

Turn the hem up and using a herringbone stitch catch the hem In place making sure that no stitches show on the right side.
These are some of the tools which I use  constantly. They are all from Jaycotts
I like a magnetic pin cushion best Magnetic pin cushion as they are so easy to use . The pins which I like best are these neon ones, I had an accident a couple of years ago and needed surgery to remove a pin from my foot, these can be easily seen anywhere!! Neon pins
These are my very favourite scissors for small jobs. I just love them, Fiskars scissors and seam ripper

The best tool I have found for measuring hems is this measuring tool from Clover  it is a sliding guage and has so many uses Sliding guage
This is the tool I used to measure the hems on the skirt and jacket.
The lining on the skirt can be machine sewed. The lining on the skirt is much longer than it appears on the photograph.
Give the skirt a good press using a pressing cloth

The Jacket 

The jacket is not too difficult to make. Choose your pattern size as we did for the skirt and make up the lining first as a toille. Overlock each piece as soon as it is cut out to prevent it from fraying too much.

You need to stabilise the shoulders so use some iron on seam tape. This will stop the shoulders from stretching. Available from Jaycotts Seam tape you only need to apply it to the back of the front, not both.

Also iron on some lightweight  interfacing along the fronts. This is because the fabric frays a lot and it will help to prevent that from happening. In this instance a light or medium weight iron on interfacing will be fine Interfacing

Sew the darts, the centre back seam, the side seams and the shoulder seams.

Make up the collar next, using iron on interfacing on the under collar. When it comes to trimming the collar before it is turned the right way out don't clip the fabric around the curves because it will just fray. On a firmer fabric do ignore this bit and follow the pattern instructions. Trim the interfacing back to the seam lines and layer the seams but don't get too close to the stitching. Trim the corners, again don't go near the stitching line. Turn right sides out and press using a damp pressing cloth. Stitch the edges together and baste it to the neckline matching the notches.

This is  the basic shell of the jacket without the collar. The sleeves have been inserted and interfacing pressed onto the wrong side near where the hem will be.

 This is the lining with interfacing attached to the facing.

Right sides together stitch the lining into the jacket shell. Follow the pattern instructions here. Trim the interfacing right back to the stitching lines. Understitch as far as you can and then press using a pressing cloth

Measure the buttonholes, an odd number always looks best. I love this tool from Jaycotts, not many places stock them outside of the UK by the way!  It is a Simplex guage and is useful not only for measuring buttonholes but for pleats and many other things too. Simplex guage
Follow your sewing machine instructions to make your buttonholes and sew buttons on to correspond.
Stitch the hem up exactly as we did the skirt and then slip stitch the lining in place. Your stitches need to be invisible. Don't pull the lining it needs to form a small pleat so that when you made wearing it there is movement otherwise the lining could tear.
Finish the sleeves in exactly the same way 

This is the finished suit. I actually left the skirt hem until I had finished the jacket because I wanted to ensure that the skirt length looks good with the jacket.

 The back seams of the jacket and the skirt form a continuous line

The gold lining looks perfect against the cream and picks up the gold thread running through the fabric

It's a very retro style don't you agree? Keeping the skirt length to just above the knee stops it from looking dated though.

This is perfect to wear on bright dry days when there is still a nip in the air . And the colour choice gives lots of options for tops to wear with it.

For this post I chose to wear a pussy bow blouse which I made a while ago. The link to the post is here Pussy bow blouse this post also discusses how to use a walking foot which is an essential addition to your sewing supplies when you are stitching very fine fabrics.

Thank you for reading this post I hope that you will send me your comments.

#sew #sewer #sewingblog #suit #jacket #skirt #suit #boucle #sewing #dressmaking #tailoring 

Posted By Blogger to #SewAngelicThreads on 2/17/2017 08:56:00 pm
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