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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


A pretty lingerie bag to give or keep 

I have made a lot of lingerie recently and I thought that it would be really nice to have a lingerie bag to keep them in. It is nice to put your night slip in during the day and they are useful to take on holiday too, they look really pretty sat on your bed.

They are not difficult to make and take very little fabric. They can be made any size you want and you could even make a small one for handkerchiefs. They make wonderful gifts too.
This is my lingerie case sat on my bed. I only ever buy or make Egyptian cotton bedding and always in white. I add lace trimmings to sheets and pillowcases and always add my initial. I therefore get the quality I enjoy at a good price  and can personalise it to suit my own taste.

The inside of the lingerie case has a pocket to hold your lingerie safely. My case measures approximately 14" across by around 9" deep, you can make yours whatever size you like.

The idea came from this book " The secrets of sewing Lingerie" by Katherine Sheers and Laura Stanford.

It is easier if you cut out a half moon shape, wider than it is long, out of tracing paper. Use this pattern to cut out (all on the fold ) one main piece, one lining piece and one in wadding. For the pocket you need to cut out another piece but take a good half an inch off the depth by folding over the straight edge.

To make the pocket I simply folded over the starting edge and placed this new edge on the fold of the fabric.

Fold the pocket in half, wrong sides together, and stitch it onto the lining within the seam allowance all the way round the curved edge.

Make a ribbon loop and stitch it with the loop facing inwards to the centre of the top.
Then place the lining and the outer fabric right sides together and stitch together , sandwiching the loop between the layers and leaving a gap at the side to enable you  turn the bag the right way out. Clip all the way round the curved edges.
Turn right sides out and push all the edges with a point turner so that the seam lies at the edge. press.

Roll the wadding up and insert it into the case pushing it right into the edges. Slip stitch the gap closed and then machine stitch some narrow lace all the way around the edge.
I put my initial on a lot of things and I am going to quilt it onto my case. Don't forget that it needs to go on the half without the pocket!
The easiest way I have found to do it is to trace my initial into a piece of tear away stabiliser and to stick it in place with temporary glue.

Then using a narrow satin stitch and a wide for applique foot I stitch over the lines until my initial is formed. You could do it freehand if you are confident at it.
This bit of quilting also serves to hold the wadding in place. The stabiliser tears off easily after you have finished sewing.

The initial is in a colour which coordinates with my fabric, you could do it in a contrast or even a metallic thread. I always use this particular style of initial, it has become a sort of trademark over the years.

I added a bow to the front where the loop is attached. And I then stitched a button on the other side to close the bag.

This is the inside of the bag, there is plenty of room for a weekends worth of lingerie.

This is the button and loop closure.

I used the same viscose  fabric that I made my slip in the previous post in. It is in a printed viscose  details are on my previous blog post Pretty in Pink Lingerie 
But you could also use a polycotton Budget dress fabrics. Or a silk or satin if your budget runs to it . This crushed satin is beautiful Crushed satin  Do use something which appeals to you and choose an acetate or silk lining to coordinate there are plenty of colours  to choose from here Lining fabric

This is the slip in the same fabric as the lingerie bag which also coordinates with the lace trim and embroidered initial on my bed linen

Another item I make for myself and my son is a laundry bag. Again, useful to take on holiday if you have the weight spare.
They are simply made out of two  squares of fabric joined together with French seems. I added lace to the top edge .

You will need to add a channel to thread the drawstring through. I stitched ribbon a few inches from the top leaving the sides open to thread running through.
Thread ribbon or cord twice through the casing and join the ends together. Pull loops out through the gaps in the casing and this will pull the bag closed.

This is my understated but elegant bed linen with its added cotton lace trim and embroidered initial.

All in all these are extremely useful items for yourself or to be given as gifts. You can have them made in an evening and add a touch of luxury to your boudoir.

I hope that you have enjoyed my lingerie posts. The post where I made the green slip can be found in this link Lace dress and lingerie 

Do show me your makes and let me know if you made a lingerie bag for yourself or maybe for Mother's day as a gift for your mother.

Happy sewing


There are many Lingerie patterns around and lots of people seem to be wanting to try them but are scared to even start. The problem is they look fiddly and the list of haberdashery seems daunting. However if you look again at the instructions you will reconsider . It really is not that difficult to achieve amazing results.

 This is my collection in Pink. I made a slip out of Viscose cut on the bias, a Bra and two pairs of pants.
The fabric requirements are as follows,
Viscose fabric for the slip, on my previous post I made the slip out of Jersey fabric and lace, the link to the post is Green Lace dress, slip and Bra do hop over to this post and read it as it will help you with these garments too.
The viscose fabric and the cotton jersey for the pants were from MinervaCrafts Viscose dress fabric  and Cotton jersey fabric
The stretch laces, elastics  powenet and stretch mesh were from my own stash, but they are widely available. Minerva Crafts stock them too.
The bra findings are from Jaycotts.co.uk Click on the links below to view them and to place your order
Bra underwires
Bra fasteners
Bra accessories
Shoulder strap elastic
Simplicity Underwired Bra and panties pattern 
Butterick slip and panties pattern

You will need various stretch laces to match your fabric and elastic as specified on your pattern.
You will also need underwire casing and matching thread.

Before you start to make your bra take your measurements accurately. There are guides on the best way to do this in the pattern instructions. I would strongly recommend you making a practise garment before you cut into your lace fabric. So, take an old bra and remove the strap rings and sliders, and the back fasters and the underwires. Then make up a practise garment using these odds and ends and a T-shirt you do not want any more and some inexpensive elastic. Do exactly the same for the panties. This will enable you to both test the fit and to practise making these garments if you have never done this sort of sewing before.

It's important that you use the correct fabrics when making a bra. For the underband I used a double layer of stretch scalloped edge lace and powernet. Stick these two layers together with a temporary glue and make them up as one. You will need some stretch mesh for the back.
You also need a ball point needle for your sewing machine These needles slip between the fibres of the fabric, pushing them aside without damaging them, and are available from Jaycotts Ball point and stretch sewing machine needles 

As usual on my blog posts I am giving you additional information and tips which are used alongside your pattern instructions, so keep them handy alongside this post.
Start off by cutting your scalloped edge lace. Cut the underband and cups out carefully making sure that you place the scalloped edge along the top of the cups and that the pattern matches on each cup. The design should also be centered on the underband.

Using fine pins , Jaycotts sell ball point pins and they also sell very fine pins used for fine fabrics and lace. Either is suitable.Ball point pins and bridal,/ lace pins
This is the cups being pinned together before sewing. Use a fine zig zag stitch throughout and when the instructions say "press" what they mean is use your fingers to smooth out the seam and press it open or to one side. Please do not let an iron anywhere near these fabrics!

There are guides and measurements in the pattern to enable you to cut the elastic to the correct length. Usually it will need to be stretched slightly so sew a couple of stitches to start and then stitch the rest of the elastic in place stretching it slightly as you go. This will gather the cups in to make them fit to your body.

For a subtle difference in shades I lined the cups in a purple powernet and the rest of the garment is made in a bright pink.

You will notice that the front band uses the scalloped edge of the lace to full effect, so when you stitch the back on you will need to place it so that there is enough fabric at the bottom for you to turn it under to form a neat hem.
This is also a good time to check the width of your backup fastener and make adjustments as necessary so that it fits perfectly.
The elastic is stitched on the right side of the fabric with the plush side to the inside and the decorative edge pointing downwards. When you turn the elastic to the inside you will top stitch on the right side of the garment leaving the decorative edge showing. The soft (plush) side will then be next to your skin.

You now need to stitch the underwire cover in place. Finger press the seam towards the cup and using a straight machine stitch sew top and bottom as close to the edge as you can possibly get. Insert your underwires and  stitch the ends closed firmly and then stich the casing close to the stitching to enclose the wires.

This is  the bra front showing the careful placement of the design on the lace.

These are the underwires being pushed into the casing.

You will find that the back closures open to enable you to push the bra backs inside them to cover the raw edges. Do stitch twice - You do not want the whole thing falling apart during wear!
Follow the instructions on the pattern for fitting the straps.

This is the finished front of the bra, I finished it off with a tiny bow handstitched to the centre front.

This is the back showing the ensembled straps, the back elastic with its decorative edge and the back fastening.
Beautiful don't you think? And VERY expensive to buy in the shops!
The panties 
Making panties is so simple and so quick. Both patterns contain instructions and I made a pair from each.

I made a pair to match the bra first with powenet and lace for the front and cotton jersey for the back. I used the Simplicity pattern as for the bra

For the second pair I used the Butterick pattern and made them in the cotton jersey and stretch lace. Both pairs are made up the same .

Stitch the centre seam and press it open. The gusset must be cut from cotton jersey. Just stitch it in place along the edges, inside the seam allowance then  place your strestch lace along the side edges and zig zag it in place without stretching it. Trim the excess fabric away under the lace.

Once the sides are completed stitch the side seam with a French seam. That is -  stitch wrong sides together, trim the seam and turn the garment the other way out. Stitch the seam again this time on the inside of the garment.
I added a pink stretch lace to the top for contrast. There is no need for any additional elastic. These will be made in far less than an hour and you can get many pairs out of one small piece of fabric and oddments of stretch lace, making them extremely worthwhile to make .

 That's two pair of exceedingly comfortable panties made for next to nothing!

The slip

The slip needs to be cut in the bias if you are not using jersey fabric and the cup needs to be lined with powernet for support. Glue the layers together as before

If you are not sure how to find the bias fold your fabric as above , the true bias is where the fold is and you need to place your fabric pieces on this fold line.this gives the garment plenty of stretch and drape

Just like we made the black and green slip in my previous blog post we need to attach elastic along the top of the cups. Then join them together centre front neatening the seam.

Overlock or hem the top edge of  front skirt and the bottom of the bra top.
Add stretch lace to the top of the skirt on the right side and then to the bottom of the bra again on the right side.
Finish the back by hemming the top and stitching on some elastic -  there is a guide to the length needed in the pattern.

Join the side seams with a French seam for neatness and comfort.

Add straps, again the full instructions are in this post Green lace dress and lingerie

I did not add lace to the bottom of this slip. Instead I made a narrow rolled hem using a rolled hem foot for my machine . I used my Brother machine for this as I have a rolled hem foot for it, you can purchase one here (other brands are available) Brother Rolled. Hem machine foot
You could do a narrow rolled hem on your overlocker instead or a narrow top-stitched hem.

This is the finished slip and isn't it pretty? I like these to wear when wandering around  in hotel rooms, they are useful under dresses or as nightwear. The powernet under the cup and the elasticated lace under the bust gives plenty of support. The pattern tells you to use rigid fabric or lace for the straps but I prefer bra straps.

This is the back showing the decorative edge of the  lingerie lace I used along the top.

These are the finished Bra and panties and I must say that I am delighted with them. I never thought that it would be such an achievable project or that the finished garments would be so beautiful.

I really hope that you are inspired to make yourself at least one set of beautiful lingerie. It is something really special to know that not only did you make your dress but you made the matching and perfectly fitting underwear too! 
The contact details for Jaycotts are here Contact Jaycotts they are very happy to help you with your questions about their machines and tools.
Thank you for reading this post 
Happy lingerie sewing 


I seem to be drawn to lace. I have quite a lot of beautiful lace fabrics in my stash but never seem to use it. One of my favourite pieces is this beautiful green lace fabric which I used to make a dress with. Because it is so sheer it needed either a lining or an underslip. I decided on an underslip in the end as an introduction to Bra making , this slip has a bra top and is very 1950s in style. Continuing with the vintage look I also made a retro style bra which I will talk you through too. These two additional pieces will enable me to wear the dress with the slip underneath, or if I wear the bra underneath I will be able to wear it as a tunic with trousers.

The lace dress.
The dress worn with the underslip and without a belt. It is a lovely loose style perfect for the evening  on holiday.

The pattern for the dress and tunic is Simplicity 8216 pattern at Jaycotts There are two lengths and I chose the longer one which sits just on my knee.
The fabric is a beautiful Emerald green lace which has a pretty edge which I am going to utilise has much as possible.

When cutting out the back and front I wanted the scalloped edge to sit at the hem so i took care to position the hem exactly on the edging, matching the pattern at the sides too.
I also positioned the back yoke and the sleeves along the scallops . Do make sure that your sleeves are the correct length before cutting out.

You will need to trim the selvedge with some sharp scissors to get the lovely pretty lace edging to your edges. This is also conveniently removing the need to hem the garment!

The back yoke also features the lace scallops. After gathering the back topstitch the yoke which needs to be pinned over the back piece, following the design on the lace and using a narrow zig zag stitch.

You can see that I have pinned the yoke to the  back on the right side of the fabric , this is so that I can follow the edging pattern carefully. After the seam has been sewn use your overlocker to neaten the inside seam.

The back of the dress worn with a wide belt , this shows the scalloped edging in the back yoke and on the hem and sleeves.

My overlocker is the Brother 1034 D Brother overlocker and it is brilliant. It is a good  price and easy to thread and use.
Have you ever used your overlocker only to be disappointed that the seam is puckered or gathered?  This could well happen when you are sewing fine or loose weave fabrics like lace or jersey.
There are a number of things you can do to  prevent this from happening. This particular machine has Differential feed which we can use to good effect here
An overlocker has two sets of feed dogs under the presser foot which move the fabric through the machine.The differential feed controls the movement of both the front and the rear feed dog.

The differential feed control button is the one on the left of the picture above. When it is set at 1 the the feed dogs are moving at the same rate.When you turn the dial to below 1 then the front feed dogs move slower than the rear ones which stretches the fabric as it sews. This is what will stop the fabric from puckering as it is being sewn.
If you turn the differential feed dial to a number greater than 1 the opposite will happen and the front feed dogs move quicker than the back gathering the fabric as it sews, this is useful when sewing jersey fabrics which ripple as they are sewn.
In this case I needed to turn the dial below 1 which helped the problem of my fabric gathering as it was being sewn. Do not be afraid to experiment with your sewing machine or overlocker and do not forget that Jaycotts include after care with their tremendous customer service and will be only too happy to answer your questions.

If your machine does not have differential feed then another option to try is adjusting the pressure foot pressure. The dial for this  is at the top o f my machine and it is normally set at 2, so lowering it would reduce the pressure and help to stop the fabric from puckering. Be careful not to loosen the pressure too much or youcould end upmwith skipped stitches.
If you are still having problems then try some tear away stabiliser under your fabric but be sure to check that your machine is threaded correctly and that you have new needles in it before you do anything else. A blunt needle and an incorrectly threaded machine are the most common reasons for your machine not sewing properly.

The dress is easy to put together. Just side seams and sleeves.Using the scalloped selvedge has eliminated the need to finish the sleeves and hem. For the neckline I used a piece of the selvedge to cover the raw edges as I did not want facings to spoil the sheer fabric. I started to hand sew lace around the neckline too.

This is the top all finished. I just love the colour. I decided that I wanted  the lace to just knot at the front so i hand stitched it in place.

The Bra-slip

Because the dress is so sheer I will need something to wear under it. I did not want to line it as I still wanted to retain as much of the sheer effect as possible. I came across this slip pattern by Gertie for Butterick , you can buy it on this link Butterick B 6031
It is for a Bra slip as as well as a camisole and panties and I thought that the slip would be a great introduction to making Bras.

I will be doing more lingerie in my next blog and will go into more detail on how to make bras and panties then.
You will need some soft stretch jersey fabric for the slip, some stretch laces and either ready made bra straps or bra strap elastic and lingerie sliders and rings. You will find everything you need in this section on Jaycotts web site, including the  patterns.
Bra accessories and patterns 
Cut out the main slip parts in your Jersey with the most stretch going across the body.

Cut out the cups in Jersey too, and mark the darts with tailors chalk on the wrong sides.
It is imperative that you choose the correct cup size. There is a guide on the pattern instructions to shown you how to take the measurements needed to determine what size you are. Please don't guess or go by your normal bra size. Nothing is worse than putting a lot of work into making something only to find that it does not fit. If in any doubt make a toille of the cups and try them on.

Cut out the cups in lace too. I use a temporary fabric adhesive to stick the two layers together whilst I sew them.

Stitch your darts and cut out stretch lace according  to your size, pin and stitch it in place. Each size requires a different length of elastic which is clearly printed on the pattern - there are pattern pieces included for guides for cutting out elastics and lace edges  You will need to sew the lace edging on with a small zig zag stitch. There  is also elastic to be stitched on which will need stretching slightly as you go.

This is the bra top made up by having the centre front stitched and neatened, the darts stitched and neatened, and the lace edging and elastic sewn on.
This is a brilliant introduction to making a  Bra, so if you would like to have a go at making one then I would like to suggest that you start with this pattern, as there is no under band or fasteners to worry about.

The next step is to sew stretch lace to the top of the front slip, and then joining it to the bra top matching the notches The fabric underneath the lace is cut away leaving a sheer panel just underneath the cups.
To make the back of the slip follow the pattern instructions to sew the elastic and straps in place. The instructions are very easy to follow so I am not going to repeat them here, if you do not understand any of them though then please do not hesitate to ask me for clarification.

The front part of my straps are made from a rigid lace, attached to a ring.

The elastic part of the strap is threaded through the ring too and stitched firmly in place by hand. You need to add adjusters so that you can alter the length of the straps. The instructions for fitting the adjusters are on the pattern instructions.

To finish off which the side seams  I used my overlocker, and I adjusted the differential feed to below 1 to stop the fabric from puckering.
I then attached stretch lace to the bottom of the slip all the way round using a narrow zig zag stitch. I did not add the slit at the side front as it would show through my lace dress.

This is such a useful garment and I will be making more. It is typical of those worn in the 1950s and 60's. It can be worn under a sheer dress, under a dress for an extra layer to make a skirt hang better and  for night wear too. It has so many uses!

This is the slip shown underneath the dress. In this picture I am still debating on where I want the lace trim at the neckline to go.

The Bra
To enable me to wear the dress as a tunic with trousers and a wide belt I wanted to make a matching Bra, although I could have made the camisole included in the slip pattern.
For the bra itself I am using this pattern by Kwik Sew which you can find in the link above

You need various specialised fabrics and elastics, all detailed on the pattern envalope. I am not going to go into too much detail in this blog post as I am going to be covering bra making in another blog post.
This is another retro design and not the style  I usually wear, however I have heard good reports of how comfortable this is to wear and it will be useful as I will be making a lot more vintage style clothes this year.
The cups are cut out in  both my green lace fabric and nylon tricot. The under band is cut out in powernet. These supplies can be bought from places such as Minerva Crafts. MinervaCrafts
You also need various sizes of lingerie elastic and the findings for the straps and back fastening.
The pattern is brilliant, each size is printed separately so there is no guesswork when it comes to cutting out.

I made the cups first, again, do measure yourself carefully so that you cut out the correct size. I used my fabric glue as before to stick the cup layers of tricot and lace together.
You make up one side, then the other and then join them at the centre front .Then the back elastic and straps are then  added.

The elastic around the bottom is made specifically for this purpose and has a really soft side which goes next to the body. It is sewn on using a narrow zig zag or triple stretch zig zag.
This design doesn't have underwires, but the wider band holds it in place well and as I was told it is extremely comfortable to wear.
This is perhaps not a style we would choose at first sight but I am convinced enough to want to make more to wear in the summer underneath my retro dresses.

My next blog will go into much more detail on bra making and we will make a camisole and panties too.
There are a lot of sheer fabrics around at the moment so do have a look round and make yourself a lovely special garment and then go  to town by making the beautiful lingerie to wear with it.

This is the dress worn as a tunic with slim trousers, heels and a wide belt. It is vey different and very wearable.

The belt pulls the waist in giving a very flattering look. This belt is made from very wide elastic and really does pull you in

My last picture is of me looking out of my kitchen window at the rain outside, and longing for warmer weather then I can go out wearing this!

Happy sewing
Angela x
This is how I made my beautiful lace pintucked blouse and how I wear it without looking too "girly" 

If you don't have a pair of leather trousers do go and try some on right now, they are an effort to get into I admit, well my skinny ones are , but they are the most comfortable thing ever. I love lace but for me it needs to look edgy rather than girly, so this pretty blouse will be worn with my leather pants and upcycled leather biker jacket. I will show you how I blinged my jacket later.

To give you a view of what we are going to make this is the front whilst It is being worn. The shape is very flattering with a fitted waist and lots of pintucks to create shape.
I must stress that if you do not want to do pintucks then gathers are quite acceptable, but do at least try them
This is what you need

  • Butterick Pattern from Jaycotts.co.uk on the link here Butterick B6133
  • A pintuck foot for your machine. Do take advice as to which one is suitable for your own machine. The link here shows which are available but do contact Jaycotts and they will guide you to the right one if you are not sure Pintuck foot
  • A twin needle Twin needle
  • Some fabric. I used Broidery Anglaise from MinervaCrafts Broidery Anglaise but you could equally use a cotton lawn.
  • Lace trimmings, whatever you fancy. Minerva has a good stock. Like Jaycotts I have shopped with MinervaCrafts for more years than I can remember!

The pintuck foot has grooves in the base which when used with a twin needle, the two rows of stitches pinch the fabric together to form a tiny pleat. There is an instruction leaflet with the foot if you need some help. You will probably need to tighten your upper tension a bit to get a more pronounced tuck, but please don't mess with your bobbin tension, you will regret it.

I do suggest that you practice before you start on the actual garment. It is easy to do and quickly becomes addictive! It is however time consuming so decide before you start how much of the garment you are going to work your pintucks on. I made two versions of this blouse. This white one has pintucks everywhere the pattern said to gather. It took me two days to complete them all. But I also made a black version and just pintucked the front yoke.

Have you ever wondered what the hole is for in the centre of the base plate of your sewing machine? I didn't know either until  Alex Jaycott explained!
It can be used to make beautiful corded pintucks!
If you look closely you can see piping cord going in through the front and up through the hole in the base plate. It is easy to do, just refer to your machine manual if you are not sure how to remove the base plate ( tip, this is a good opportunity to get a brush out and remove any lint accumulated around the bobbin area )

You will need some piping cord. This is where I became inventive. I discovered that the thinnest size of piping cord I have,size 00, was still too thick. However it did unravel easily and when I split it into three, each strand was perfect! Other options if you cannot find exactly what you need  include crochet cotton or six strand embroidery thread.

You need to work a sample of the pintucks , I suggest an inch, in order to calculate how much you need to do on each pattern piece. This is necessary because pintucks take less fabric than gathers. It was easy in the end, I worked out that if I created pintucks along the entire edge of the pattern piece it would fit perfectly. (If you are doing gathers just follow the pattern markings and gather within the notches)
Before you do anything though run a line of tacking stitches where you want each pintuck to stop.

This is my first few corded pintucks, beautiful don't you think?

The pattern instructions are easy to follow so once you have pintucked or gathered each piece then follow the making up instructions in the pattern envalope.

I added cotton lace to the waist stitching it all the way round before inserting the sleeves.
I also added lace to the sleeve band, for this version I made long sleeves

This is the back ready to have the side seams sewn. Once you have done that insert the sleeves , add the facing, and then overlock the bottom edge. I put lace all round the bottom edge, tacking and then topstitching in place on the right side of the garment.

These are the buttons I eventually found to go on my blouse. I did struggle to find a pure white button I admit. These are glass and very very old.

I have an interesting story for you. I was  button hunting when I came accross this lady The Swagman's Daughter
Long story, but she cleared out some warehouses in Malta and came across one particular building..

Inside this old building near to Valetta,there is a dark room right at the back .It had been locked up since the 1950s and when it was opened up it was found to be full of boxes of very old buttons , hundreds of them, from the 1920s and 1930s from France, Italy, Germany, and Bakelite ones from the UK. There are other things too so do look at the web site . It is a real treasure trove and the best thing is there is so much stock that most of the boxes have not been opened yet!

I have bought a few I have to admit. The ones I chose for this blouse are made from white glass with a tiny gold circle painted on. They are irregular and incredibly beautiful, obviously hand made.

So now we come to marking the buttonholes. It is ever so simple if you are lucky enough to have one of these gadgets. Simflex guage it makes measuring buttonholes (and pleats) an absolute dream. Do treat yourself if you do not have one
You also need a marker pen Marker pens   - just put a tiny dot where you want the buttonholes to end, close to the edge of the garment, on the right side for women.

You can just about see the tiny dots marking the place where I want my buttonholes to finish. You can also see the lace edging around the bottom.

There are other tools you can use to measure your buttonholes if you do not have a simflex guage. This sliding guage is another of my favourite tools Sliding guage  you do need some sort of measuring tooling your work box so choose ones you know you will enjoy using

I have a confession, when I don't feel like sitting in my sewing room I sit at my dining table and use this lovely machine.this particular model  has now been upgraded to this one Brother innov-is 15 which is equally lovely . It is a delight to use and is perfect for anybody who needs a machine with all the necessary functions at a good price. It is a machine which grows with you as you become a more experienced sewer and I love it.

I have a further confession, I always use this machine whenever I want to make buttonholes. It comes with this foot and all you do is clip it in place, insert your button, turn a dial to select a buttonhole and that's it!  You can see where the button has been placed, the machine automatically sews the perfect buttonhole to fit! Marvellous.

This machine makes the most delightful buttonholes ever and as I said whenever I want to make them out this machine comes. I have never had a poor result. I also take this machine with me whenever i am giving a lesson or attending an event etc
Before you make one single buttonhole on your garment you must do a trial one first, mimic your actual garment by using two layers of fabric with interfacing in between. Don't skip this step, you need to make sure it is exactly the right size for your button.

Once the buttonholes are made and cut with sharp scissors pin the edges closed and one by one start to sew your buttons on. You need to use double thread which has been waxed for strength.

You can see how pretty these buttons look, they are very delicate against all the lace. I used eight in all.

This is the back view of the finished garment

And the side view

This is a version I made with short sleeves and a lace bow on the front. 

 This is my old leather bomber jacket, which I do wear a lot when I am going out in the evenings.
I added a diamanté zip and some studs to the front, it is quite old and battered but the leather is so soft after years of wear.

There is a lot more diamanté and embroidery and studs at the back. It is really easy to add embellishments to an old garment and means you will wear it and not have it stuck in the back of your wardrobe.

Next time I am staying with lace and talking overlockers when I will be making a lace dress with  lingerie to wear under it in the form of a jersey underslip.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post, if so please let me have some feedback, it is always appreciated.
Angela x 


Continuing my determination to have a whole wardrobe of coats to choose from I made yet another one this time with a zipper closure.
This one was not the easiest garment to make but I will explain why as we go along.
The machines and tools are from Jaycotts.co.uk and the fabric is from MinervaCrafts. The pattern is Simplicity 1254.

I love coats and I wanted a choice to wear instead of just having one for best and one for cold winter days shopping. So I have made several.
This time I wanted to explore making a coat with a zipper. The last two coats I made have included poppers - note I have not been using buttons and buttonholes.

The pattern is Simplicity, buy it here from Jaycotts.co.uk Simplicity 1254
The metal open end zipper is also from Jaycotts Brass open end zipper You do need to choose a substantial zip and a metal one is better in this instance.
The material I chose was from MinervaCrafts but sadly it is now sold out. However I had a lot of problems making up this design because the fabric was far too heavy and pulled the garment out of shape making construction and fitting difficult.
It also frays a lot and I wished that I had overlocked every piece before making up, this would also have helped to keep the pieces in shape.
Better choices would be a lighter weight suiting, take a look at the fabrics in this section there are lots of choices Suitings
Or a needlecord, again there are a lot of choices here Needlecord The pattern envelope has other choices but just make sure that you do not choose a fabric which is too heavy. If in doubt give MinervaCrafts a ring and they will help you to choose the best fabric for this pattern, contact details below.

On a heavy fabric with a raised pattern you need to use Tailors Tacks to mark the position of matching points, darts and all other markings. For this you need to use an actual tacking thread .Tacking thread is pure cotton and stays put until you pull it out.
Tacking thread  once you have used the real thing you will never make tailors tacks with ordinary sewing cotton again.
You will need a selection of pins. For this project you need longer glass headed pins so that you can see them easily see the choice here  Pins
I prefer a magnetic pin cushion Magnetic pin cushion  Both available from Jaycotts on the links shown.

Another product I love are these Wonder Clips they are fabulous for holding thick fabrics together whilst you sew. Wonder Clips They are fairly expensive, but you can purchase small packs, they last for ages and ages and have so many uses you will wonder how you managed to live without them.

These are my Tailors Tacks being divided so that the markings are seen in both parts of the fabric. By the way these are fabulous scissors. they are small and pointed and have a built in seam ripper.Take a look Fiskars scissors  in fact take a look at the Fiskars range available from Jaycotts, it includes a scissor sharpener which I do recommend as I use it myself to sharpen my Fiskars scissor collection. Fiskars scissor range. I also use the soft grip scissors and I you can look at those too in  the same link.

The only time I used a vanishing marker pen Marker pens was to mark the zip and fold line positions on the interfacing .
I use a woven iron on interfacing as it supports the weight of a fabric and gives a nice smooth finish to tailored or semi-tailored garments . At one time i would hand sew woven interfacings into garments by hand and it took weeks. I do think that the traditional methods are fabulous and I still have some of my hand tailored garments but I just don't have the itinerary of other ability to do it any more. This interfacing is the best compromise I have come across.

My advice to you is to follow the pattern instructions to the letter because although the pattern claims to be easy I found it rather challenging.
The other problem was that because my fabric was too heavy it pulled the coat down reducing the width at the bust and waist. this became evident when I came to fix the lining in place.
Please if you do make this coat in a heavy fabric then do not hang it up on a coat hanger or a tailors dummy until you have put the lining in. It WILL stretch out of shape it you do. It is better to lay it flat somewhere.

This is the coat before the collar goes in. The lining is already in place but not affixed at the neckline yet. Can you see that the fabric is fraying already?
I am now ready  to put the collar in which was easy enough to join together. I used a medium weight non woven interfacing in the collar because I wanted to retain some softness and in any case I could not afford the extra weight which the woven interfacing would have given me.
This is where the pattern becomes tricky!

Read through the instructions a couple of times until you understand them fully. It does make sense once you start to insert the collar, but at first it all seems confusing.
It seemed odd inserting the lining at the sides and sleeves and leaving the top and bottom open, but I soon realised that there was no other way to put the collar in.

I had a few fitting issues mainly I feel because of the weight of the fabric plus interfacing plus lining was just too much, I wished I had chosen a simpler pattern for this fabric .The skirt has a bit of width to it and it has several panels which were all starting to fray the more I worked with it. The weight pulled the coat down and narrowed the bust point so I needed to make some adjustments. Note, had I clipped into the seams at the notches instead of using tailor tacks I would not have been able to let the seams out!
When I was cutting the lining out I added extra at the back anyway - I always add extra ease to the back of a jacket or coat and form a pleat  so that the lining does not pull during wear. I was glad of this extra fabric!

So, after much pondering, re-cutting , re-stitching and a few tears of frustration, not to mention a day shoved to the back of a cupboard out of site I finally got it together!

I actually think it is a fabulous coat. The huge collar - which fastens with a large popper adds interest and cocoons the neck in cold wintry weather.
I did remove some fullness from the skirt but it still swings out which again I love.

The fastener is a zipper and it was very easy to insert so no buttonholes to make
All in all, eventually I am really happy with this coat. I have to admit I found it a huge challenge but perseverance paid off.

Now then what on earth am I going to make with this huge pile of the same fabric? The bottom piece is the reverse side which I quite like. Any ideas???

Thank you to Jaycotts.co.uk  for my machines, tools and accessories. Contact them here for any questions or for advice on their products.Contact Jaycotts

Thank you to Minerva Crafts for the fabric. Please contact them here and they will advise you on the best fabric for your garment  Minerva Crafts

I hope that the three coats I have made so far will inspire you to make one (at least one!) For yourself. Think of the saving compared to shop bought and also, nobody else will own one quite like yours
Angela x
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