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Simplicity 8543 Amazing Fit Dress



This is a Simplicity Amazing Fit Dress if you have not made an Amazing Fit pattern before then you should.

This pattern has a choice of sleeves, a shaped midriff and a flattering neckline.

More importantly it has many different size variations within the pattern.

It comes in two choices of size ranges, 10-18 and 20-28.




The princess seams are very flattering for any figure and you have the option of sleeveless or a short sleeve - with or without a flounce.





The pattern gives comprehensive instructions on how the finished dress should look on your body, so I do suggest reading the pattern thoroughly before you get your scissors out!



The pattern has a very good guide on how to choose your correct pattern size and how to take your measurements.

There are separate pattern pieces for A to DD on the pattern size I chose which is the option for sizes 10-18. And there are also separate pattern pieces for slim, Average and Curvy fit.





Once you have determined your correct size - don't just guess - cut out the pieces you need. There are plenty of fitting variations within the pattern.



I took my measurements and determined that I am a size 10, C cup, average fit. I found out later that this was too big, but more about that later.




Instead of jumping right in the pattern instructions suggest that a toile is made. Not wanting to cut my pattern at this stage in case I needed to alter it I made a copy using

Tracing Paper  a ruler and Pattern Weights




I took a piece of fabric which I didn't want and cut the pattern out. I did not cut out facings or sleeve flounce as they are not needed for a toille. The idea of making a toile or test garment is to just tack together the main pieces for fitting purposes.

I really do feel that this is a very important stage and should not be missed out. It really is worth the extra effort.




You can either hand tack the pieces together or do as I did and use the Basting Stitch on my sewing machine

The manual gave me the correct settings and it was quick and easy to put the garment together this way.




My sewing machine is the amazing Brother Innov-is 1300 and I love it. I wrote a review about it if you would like to read it. Review of the Brother Innov-is 1300 it isn't machine I would certainly recommend to anybody. If you are interested then give Jaycotts a ring and have a chat about it.




The machine is so easy to use. The large LCD touch screen shows the selected stitch, the foot you should use and options for stitch length, width and tension.




This is the toile of the bodice. Hmm, in true Angela style it is far too big!

The reason I am having a situation with sizing at the moment is that I changed my diet to eating healthy food. The result of that is that I have dropped two dress sizes. I didn't intend losing weight, it just happened. Unfortunately ( or fortunately depending on what I am making) I was trained as a Tailor and it was drummed into me to always cut larger seam allowances, so " just to be on the safe side" I always add extra wriggle room when I am cutting out. I wish I wouldn't! I wish I would trust my measurements!

Also this pattern has a large seam allowance in key areas of 1" - almost twice the usual seam allowance of 5/8" . Plus it has a large amount of ease.

The result was that it didn't fit me anywhere at all!




So, back to the drawing board. I made three test garments in all and ended up with a much smaller size. I  remembered to tack each stage and try it on for fit as I went along.

The fabric I chose is a pure linen which frays notoriously and I did not want any strain at the seams or the seam would disintegrate with wear, so I did not make it too close fitting.

Had I chosen a cotton fabric instead I would have made the skirt closer fitting.




The fabric looks similar on the right and wrong sides so to make sewing the garment easier I used a cross in ordinary Tailors chalk on the wrong side of each piece.




Make the garment in stages, first the front bodice, attach the front skirt then do the same for the back.



The midriff panel called out for a touch of embroidery - any excuse to use my Brother Innov-is 800e embroidery machine.

I chose a very simple design which I have actually used before. The machine has many designs already built in, but there are plenty to download off the internet and many are free.





Jaycotts do stock some embroidery designs so please  telephone for more details. They also sell a wide range of stabilisers and accessories.




The stabiliser I used is Film-O-plast. This is a self adhesive stabiliser which is very useful when the fabric you want to embroider is slightly smaller than the hoop you need to use. Do make sure that the fabric is very secure though because if it moves around your design will pucker.

I absolutely love this Multi purpose screwdriver it actually revolutionised my embroidery as it is now very easy to tighten the screw on the hoop which makes for much better embroidery. If you have a Brother machine please seriously consider buying one - they are worth every penny.




If you didn't want to embroider the midfriff then consider piping at the top and bottom edge or even using a contrast fabric.



This is my dress front sewn, all seams neatened and pressed.




There is a pleat in the back which I neatened with a double folded hem. Tack the back together .




 At this stage I tacked the rest of the dress together for another fitting. I do confess again that it was still too large so I was glad that I had given myself the opportunity of making some more adjustments now before it was machined together



I also found that the back was a bit too loose, but be careful how much you take the dress in on the bodice because you do need wearing ease so that you can move your arms about. Also check that you can sit down comfortably.



Slight ( big!) adjustments made, I stitched the back dress together and inserted a zip. Either insert a regular zip or an invisible zipper,  Dress Zips which ever is your preference.

Jaycotts have the best selection of zips at the best prices I know, so they are my number one choice for any type of zip.



I wanted to add the sleeve flounce but thought better of it in the end because my fabric creases so much and it wouldn't look too great if I was wearing a jacket over the top and wanted to take it off.


So I thought that I would make a double hem and add an embellishment.




My sewing machine has 182 built in stitches, but don't just take my word for it, read my review and then call in at Jaycotts to try one for yourself, you will be amazed.

The square feed drive system means that it can stitch extra wide decorative stitches, and it was one of these I chose to edge my sleeves.



You need to change your foot to the ( included) monogram foot . This has extra room to accommodate the needle movement and allows you to see what you are doing easily.




It might seem odd at first using one of these extra wide stitches so do practise before putting it on your actual garment.

I quickly discovered that the decorative stitch was perfectly placed if I aligned the foot to the edge of the sleeve when the needle was at its furthest point to the right.  It does move around a bit. Once you have seen the machine sew this type of stitch you will easily see what I mean.




The facings are next. Do clip into the centre front down to but not through the stitching and clip the curves too

Press the seam open and then press the facing to the inside. The pattern instructions are very clear on what to do.

Do keep trying your dress on, it is the only way to get a perfect fit.



I wanted to hold the facing in place but I did not want any topstitching to show on the right side.

The answer is to understitch the facing to the seam allowance. The arrow on the above picture shows the understitching on the inside but not on the outside. Again, the pattern explains exactly how to understitch.



The bodice looks very neat, the seams are all perfectly matched and it fits well.

I finished my hem with a double hem just like I finished the sleeve hem.



This is a lovely pattern, it teaches you the correct way to achieve a garment which fits perfectly every time. The skills learned can now be used every time you sew something and it will always fit perfectly.

For information on any of the products featured, or to place your order or for more details of the fabulous range of machines give them a ring during opening hours on 01244 394099

Alternatively use the contact form  Contact Jaycotts


Thank you for reading this post, I would appreciate your feedback.





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Introducing the Brother Multi-purpose Screwdriver

I love Machine embroidery on my Brother machine, but I have been having problems hooping my fabric and stabiliser .
This is a story about how a tiny gadget saved my sanity.

I  love machine embroidery, who doesn't, but  the results I was getting were so disappointing, all this puckering, it just doesn't look nice.

It is just spoiling the effect of my designs. All that work I put in and the results are not good. What is happening?
Have you ever experienced this?

Everything starts off fine, the fabric and stabiliser are stretched tightly across the hoop, but then after a while it all starts to look wrong.

I tried everything and in the end I asked Brother themselves what I was doing wrong.

The solution they gave me was so simple! I don't know why I didn't see it for myself!

You see, these are the tools which typically come with Brother machines. They are used to tighten screws, change needles, tighten embroidery hoops and a zillion other uses. They work fine for most people yes......
But they are so tiny! I struggle to use my hands so  I cannot grip them properly Maybe you have this problem too ? I know my friend has arthritis in her hand and I have Parkinsons, so trying to hold  such a tiny object and fiddle with tightening screws is an almost impossible task. As I have grown older my fingers are less nimble too making it doubly hard work.

It is important that the fabric to be embroidered and the stabiliser under it are secured very tightly in the hoop otherwise the fabric will move around resulting in the puckering shown in the above  pictures. The lack of grip in my hand meant I was not tightening the screw in the hoop sufficiently, giving very poor results.
 So, what is this mystery solution?

It is this utterly brilliant and simple Multi-purpose screwdriver! Who would have thought that such a tiny object would revolutionise not only my embroidery but make little jobs on my sewing machine so much easier too!
The metal screwdriver part is easily rotated to make it suitable for all your needs.

The first position shown in the picture above is so useful for jobs on all your Brother machines. Embroidery machines, overlockers and sewing machines all have screws that need to be tightened.

Take my Brother Innov-is 800E for example. Sometimes I want to remove the foot attachment and swop it for a different one.  Old screwdriver? Fiddly to hold.
Same with changing the needle, a bit fiddly too.

But with the multi purpose screwdriver set at position 1 both of these tasks are a breeze.

Sometimes there are screws in hard to reach places and I find  the little round gadget which came with the machine so hard to grip.  The result of which was that something which should have taken me seconds to remove was taking forever

But put the multi purpose tool in position 2 and it is so easy to access even the most awkward screw!

Now this is the bit I like best. Rotate the screwdriver bit untl it is inside the rounded end and you will be astounded at what it can be used for.

Just insert it into the tightening screw on your embroidery hoop and turn, keep on turning and suddenly your embroidery hoop is tight and secure and all this without struggling to use a fiddly little tool.

Your stabiliser and fabric will now stay put because it is so very easy to tighten the screw properly - no effort required!
And that is the secret of smooth embroidery - keeping the fabric firmly in place in the
hoop without it moving at all.

No puckering around the embroidery on this little pillow! 

And perfectly flat pockets

No puckering to spoil the applique on this pillow either!

You will now be as excited as I am and be wondering how to purchase this wonder tool!
It is called The Brother Multi-purpose Purpose Screwdriver and it is available from your nearest Brother outlet priced £14:99 and worth every penny!

So go on Jaycotts website or call in store and treat yourself. Brother Multi purpose screwdriver

Any queries? Contact Jaycotts for help and advice on any of their products

Honestly, it makes life so much simpler, not only for people whose hands don't quite work as well as they once did, but for everyone.

Who would have guessed that I was struggling for so long but that there was a simple solution just waiting to be discovered

Thank you for reading this post



The Brother Innov-is 1300

An introduction.

This is one of the most amazing domestic sewing machines I have ever used, and of course it is by my favourite brand Brother from my favourite store Jaycotts. 
 The Brother Innov-is 1300 ticks all the boxes both for versatility and ease of use. It is packed with so many features that I cannot hope to go over them all in this one post, so I am going to concentrate on getting you up and running.
It is fabulous for both dressmaking and quilting having just over 8" workspace to the right of the needle, quilters will know the importance of this.

It has an advanced square feed drive system (SFDS) which delivers a really good feed on all fabrics but - and this is my favourite - it enables the machine to sew sideways as well as backwards and forwards and it means too that it has the capacity of sewing extra wide decorative stitches.

 This is my machine which I unpacked as soon as it was delivered. I know some of us feel out of our comfort zone with a new machine, but please do not worry, take it slowly and you will be fine.
Don't forget that Jaycotts can arrange tuition for you from Brother which I do recommend you take advantage of if at all possible.

I was really pleased that it fits into my horn cabinet even with its hard case. The  extension table for the machine, available separately is not shown.
There are many styles of Horn sewing furniture so there is bound to be one which suits the style of your decor and the size of the sewing space you have available. I love the fact that I can put everything away in a matter of minutes and the room is totally tidy.

There is storage space built into your machine both at the front and the rear so you can keep your spare feet and bobbins safely where you can access them.
There is space in the hard cover to hold you foot control, knee lifter and  manual etc.

All of the instructions are displayed clearly on a large LCD screen. It is from here that you access and amend all of your utility and decorative stitches.
These are the basic utility stitches which you access just by touching the buttons shown. The other features are in "folders" which are again accessed from this screen.

The machine itself has a list of all the stitches it is capable of actually printed onto them inside of the top cover. But don't worry that they look small, they are printed in the manuals too!

The machine comes with a comprehensive instruction manual and also a quick start guide.
It is important to thread the machine and bobbin correctly so follow the instructions in the manual to the letter. There is also a blog post Troubleshooting your sewing machine by Alex Jaycott which explains the importance of correctly threading your machine and choosing and replacing machine needles and much more, so do have a read.

Can you guess which feature I was desperate to try first? Really a normal straight stitch is a good place to start, but I longed to know how the sideways function worked.
The instructions were easy to find in the manual, so armed with some thread and a piece of cloth I set off on a mission to sew sideways!

This function has so many uses, it can be done in a straight or zigzag stitch. Imagine the ease of adding a decorative patch or new pocket  to a pair of jeans or a sleeve ! There is absolutely no requirement to turn your fabric as the machine stitches a perfect square.

Each stitch has its own section in the manual, for example these are the utility stitches. Don't forget that these are easily accessible by pressing the relevant button on the home screen.

Some of the sections are rather longer as there are 182 built in stitches and 10 styles of buttonholes to choose from but the manual breaks down each type of stitch into sections and numbers them  which makes it easy to find them and program them into your machine.
The instructions really are very easy to follow, don't forget this is a Brother machine we are talking about, and Brother machines are very user friendly.

The manual is yours to keep and forever, so don't be afraid of writing in it. Mark the pages you will want to refer to and write down notes and suggestions. Keep it handy at all times so that it is always available when you want to try something new.
 Another thing I often do is to print off certain instructions and fasten them to the cupboard door in my sewing room.( I also do this with my current pattern instructions so I am not hunting around for them )

I was exploring other functions too. I especially like that when you are using a decorative stitch there is a button to press which stops the sewing exactly when the end of the pattern is reached. This is especially useful on garments when you want exact placement of your design or when you want to combine designs

The machine is the easiest one I have ever used for programming characters. It has a massive memory too which is easy to access so when you produce something you like you can save it very easily.

This character embroidery took seconds to program and stitch. And don't forget that this I the first time I have used this machine 
It is easy to combine letters and patterns to make your own designes in fact up to 70 patterns can be combined into one design
 There are so many other things I want to tell you about this marvelous machine but I am going to stop here for now, but I will come back to it very soon when I make my first garment on it, which is going to be a blouse .
Jaycotts as you know sell a large variety of machines, habberdashery and patterns. They sell online but are extremely helpful and knowledgeable if you want to pay them a visit to try out some of their machines.
The   Contact details for Jaycotts   are  on this page or you can telephone them on  01244 394099
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Thank you for reading this post, if you found it helpful do let me know.
#sewingmachine #jaycotts #Brother # sewingblog #blog #newmachine #sewing #sew 

Posted By Blogger to #SewAngelicThreads on 2/11/2018 05:05:00 pm
I recently spent a day instore at Jaycotts finding out from owners of this wonderful machine just what it is that excites them so much.

What became obvious very quickly was the tremendous amount of enthusiasm and passion for this machine shown by both owners and staff, so I had to find out more!

I interviewed a group of  Jaycotts customers who all own this fabulous machine and have put their comments and thoughts together so that you can see it though their eyes

Quilt by Sue from Liberty Bell Chester
Ann has been sewing all her life and has not had the VQ2 for very long so she is still learning. She loves the electronic side of it, in particular the extra-large colour touchscreen which is so easy to use
All Ann needs to do is to simply touch the screen to edit stitches, customise the settings, change to one of 13 built in languages and set the clock. She also loves the on screen video tutorials and built in tutorials and help guides which recommend the perfect settings for her project.
Another feature which she loves is the lighting. This machine has ultra-bright LED lighting giving a crisp natural light, it is also adjustable, so it can  turned down or brighter as you require .The lighting is not just in the needle area as usual though - this machine goes better than that as the whole arm area is illuminated.

The VQ2  with quilting by Elaine
As soon as Elaine saw the VQ2 she knew instantly that she had to have it. She loves the way the fabric is fed through easily which was instantly apparent when she went for her demonstration.
Elaine recommends that when doing free motion quilting you practise first on a small sandwich of your quilting fabric, wadding and backing until you are happy with the effect you want to create.

Inside jaycotts 

The VQ2 has something called ICAPS, which is the fabric sensor. This senses the thickness of the fabric and adjusts automatically.
Please note that when your machine is delivered this is in the OFF position so you need to turn it on before use.
 This system helps to ensure a consistent stitch length on all fabric thicknesses because it keeps the presser foot pressure consistent even when sewing over bulky seams - jeans for example. If you have ever hemmed a pair of jeans you will know how difficult it is to keep the stitching even when crossing a seam, this machine eliminates that problem, but dont just think  jeans; curtains, home accessories, wool coats all can have very bulky seams so this machine comes into its own no matter what you are working on.
The VQ2 has a stunning 473 built in stitches.including 14 styles of buttonholes, extra wide decorative stitches (up to 40mm wide) crazy quilting and much more.
Another feature loved by the group is that the machine has a totally separate bobbin winder so that you are able to wind a bobbin whilst the machine is in use. It is actually a bit more than that because the machine has two motors, one for sewing and a separate one for the bobbin winder so it is is easy to use both at the same time.

This is the delightful Vivienne holding one of her inspiring quilts.Vivienne's only regret is that she didn't get a VQ2 sooner!
There are certain features which are vital to quilters and this machine has all of them. It comes with a range of standard accessory feet all neatly stored in an accessory compartment in the machine itself, so everything is conveniently at hand. Two of the feet are the free-motion open toe quilting foot and a 1/4" quilting foot with guide.Vivienne explained that because it is so easy to program the seam width accurately she can concentrate on the design without worrying that her seam width might not be the perfect 1/4"
The standard J foot is also longer than normal making for very smooth sewing

Another feature which is indispensable is the large sewing table. This does not come as standard with the machine, it needs to be purchased  separately, but comes highly recommended by everybody.

Another popular feature loved by all our quilters and sewers is the Lockstitch key. At the touch of a button stitches are secured at the beginning and end of a seam and the loose threads cut. A lockstitch is an automatic securing stitch, so at the beginning and end of a seam it will sew three back stitches before moving forwards to complete the seam. There is also the option of a spot lockstitch which sews three stitches on the same spot. This has a lot of applications for example securing darts, pleats, top stitching and many more.

Vivienne demonstrating how easy it is to position even the largest quilt 

As you can see the quilt is highlighted by the LED lighting and the large table supports the weight of the quilt so that you do not have to  struggle to manage a weighty project.
If when you are sewing you come to a part where you need to slow the machine down, that too is very simple, there is a slide speed control conveniently situated in the centre of the machine where you can adjust the speed whilst you are sewing.

The VQ2 has a large selection of buttonhole stitches as I explained previously. But one amazing feature is that it not only stitches backwards and forwards, it sews sideways and diagonally too! can you imagine the possibilities which are opened to you with this feature. Not only can you change direction whilst you are sewing, the function means that extra wide decorative stitches can be sewn with ease. You can also customise and store your own combinations and preferences by using the large LCD touch screen
 This makes embellishing your work so much more exciting and interesting. Imagine the possibilities - you could add borders to home-ware and bedding and add  decorative borders to garments, such as skirts, coat sleeves, and combined with decorative and heirloom stitches you can create beautiful blouses and lingerie

This is John from Jaycotts and he is fitting a motor-driven walking foot. This is actually an advanced dual-purpose drive foot which allows you to sew an incredible array of fabrics with ease. This again comes as an extra but is highly recommended.

This foot is unlike any other walking foot because it is belt driven which makes it far more efficient and effortless.
It allows you to sew multiple layers with complete ease, and handles varying weights of fabrics effortlessly.
It can sew different weights of fabrics together without the top layer stretching out of shape  as often happens no matter how secure your tacking stitches are.
Stretch fabrics, silk, bulky wool are all sewn together with no effort whatsoever

This is a quilt by Flo in the process of being made .
Another "nice to have" accessory is the open toe dual feed foot. This has all the functionality of the dual feed foot included with the added advantage of providing extra visibility to your project if required. It features a large opening to accommodate a wide range of left and right needle positions.


Diane came into store to look at a different machine but John from Jaycotts offered her a demo of the VQ2 and she instantly fell in love with it.She loves hers because the manual and sewing guides are so easy to follow and she finds that she is learning something new every day. She finds it easy to thread and its not surprising because it has automatic electronic needle threading at the touch of a button! So there is absolutely no need to struggle threading the needle - the machine does it for you.
Another feature which she loves is the extra long arm (11 1/4") which gives her all the space she needs for extra large quilting, clothing and home accessory projects.
She loves the basting (tacking) stitch too which I must admit grabbed my attention. The stitches pull out easily just as in hand basting.
Diane makes Historical costumes and finds this feature so very useful.It will even tack zips in place ready for permanent stitching ( yes the machine is a "normal" sewing machine too)

This is one of the beautiful Historical Costumes made by Diane, showing the versatility of the machine.

add Prym comment for me and jaycotts only - dont send pic to Melane

Jan was inspired by India to make this Ganesh cushion cover, creating the embroidery on her brother Innov-is V5 which is an embroidery machine.

She uses her machines to make clothing and household items. She came into store open minded about which machine she wanted and after demonstrations by John she fell in love with her new machine

She also owns a brother coverstitch machine and produces excellent results with it.
Jan has use the Brother aftercare in Jaycotts which is free to customers who have purchased their machine from them. She highly recommends the sessions because she always learns something new and goes away with lots of fresh ideas.
These days are also invaluable for those who  would like extra information or tuition.

Verona has this to say about her machine "Thinking about it and why I love it, it is so clever.The threading is so quick and easy. I particularly like the basting stitch as I make period costume, and because they are flat-lined it used to take ages to hand baste the lining to the fabric before the gown is sewn together. Now i whizz around the pieces in minutes."
The Pivot function is something which everybody mentioned because the presser foot automatically lifts as the needle remains lowered for fast and easy fabric manipulation.

"Quilting on the machine is a dream with the long arm but also with the extension table there is so much  room to move the quilt around "

"I have loads of exciting ideas bubbling around in my head, this machine is so inspirational"

Verona wearing one of her magnificent gowns

Verona belongs to a group called Heritage Costumes .There are four ladies who make the costumes using Brother machines from Jaycotts. There are nine members in all who dress in period costume and give interactive, fun and very informative talks.Watch out for more about them next year.
The  fact that this machine is used to make such beautiful historically correct garments is proof of its versatility wouldn't you agree.


Elaine is passionate about her VQ2
 "A main reason for buying the VQ2 as a Quilter is the harp/right of needle space. It is both wide and deep, necessary for quilting king size quilts which I have struggled to do at home with a smaller harp space.
 I have also found as each sewing project requires a new skill to be mastered, the VQ2 has ease of use second to none. This makes each achievement doubly confidence boosting and encourages the next new skill to be tried. The huge array of stunning decorative stitches simply spoils me for choice, it is like having jewels. The 'toys are enabling embellishments I have simply not been able to make before as sewing machine technology was not so so sophisticated or affordable .
I was amazed at the ease of the Couching, however I was overjoyed at the Free Motion with Metallic thread !! (I used Madeira textured from Jaycotts ) on the Brother King Spool Thread stand. Used in conjunction with a Titanium needle I found success. Metallic thread does require slower sewing speed but with the VQ2 I found the smoothness of foot control with the Multi Function Foot Controller and the response of the speed controller on the VQ2 enabled the perfect balance. Now I simply need to practice to improve"

Suzie Snowflake by Elaine 
Elaine again demonstrates the versatility of her  VQ2 by producing this beautiful fully dressed reindeer on her machine

Biased About Trumpets by Elaine

Elaine has further demonstrated the versatility of the VQ2 by making such an interesting and diverse
collection of quilting and sewing. Take this cushion cover for example. She loves the way that it handles multiple layers with ease and the decorative stitches are just perfect.She has a point, if you look closely at the cushion cover in the picture above you can see that each fold and pleat is stitched with a decorative stitch. Notice how beautifully even they are? That is the ICAPS sensor working at its best. It is detecting changes in thickness and adapting the foot pressure accordingly without you even realising it. All you notice are perfect results every time

Quilt by Elaine 

This is a fine example of some free motion stitching. Now, some machines cannot cope with metallic thread, but this one does it beautifully! A nice extra would be a thread tree to raise the spools of thread because metallic thread performs better when it is vertical - the thread performs better when raised as it has more space to unwind and therefore it is less likely to break.

Elaine's quilting 

I always find the backs of quilts fascinating don't you? All the quilts I looked at had fabulous backs, with some featuring  patchwork on the back as well as the front.

Elaine's cushion cover 

The centre of the cushion was hand stitched which gives another aspect of quilting on the VQ2 in that it can be combined with other methods to produce the look you desire.
Elaine also pointed out that the VQ2 does not allow you to make mistakes which could damage the machine. For example threading has to be done correctly and if you get it wrong it will tell you, it will also alert you if the bobbin thread is getting low etc

Flo's Jelly Roll Quilt

Finally, this quilt was made by Flo and you can actually see it being made on the pictures above.
Flo used the Direct Dual feed foot and the fabric sensor and said that she just loves the way that the fabric does not pucker at all.
She also reminded me that the machine has extra long feed dogs for superior handling of multiple layers of fabric.

I had an amazing day learning about this machine and I hope that you are inspired to contact Jaycotts to ask for more information regarding current prices and to book a few demonstration.
It really re

The Brother Innov-is VQ2 is available from Jaycotts.co.uk and you can go straight to the link on the web site by clicking here The Brother Innov-is VQ2 at Jaycotts



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.

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.





I am so excited! We visited Jaycotts.co.uk on Friday and I came away with a brand new overlocker. I am thoroughly delighted with it and wanted to share my first look at it with you.



It's a Brother 3034D and it is available from Jaycotts.co.uk.  To look at it on the web site click the link HERE  To get the current price telephone them on 01244 394 099 and mention that you have seen the overlocker on their blog. Jaycotts will also be happy to demonstrate other models to you if you visit them.




Once you get your new overlocker or sewing machine home don't be in too much of a rush to unpack it. Wait until you know that you will not be disturbed for an hour or two and then carefully unpack it making sure that nothing is left inside the box.



Once everything is unpacked check to make sure that everything has been included in the box, there will be a list inside the Handbook. Make yourself a cup,of tea and sit down to read your manual, please don't be tempted to rush straight in with no idea of what you are doing.



There is an Instructional DVD included so watch that too if you are able to.

With instruction manual in hand start to follow the instructions for threading the machine. Dont worry if progress is slow the first time you do it. If you follow the Instructions properly then you won't have a problem. I have to say that I found threading this an absolute dream, it is so easy!




Now comes the time to see if you have threaded it correctly! Following the instructions put a piece of fabric in place and sew your first overlocked edge. This is the result! 

I then unthreaded the machine and did it all over again, doing a test overlock on spare fabric to make sure that I had done it correctly. I had. 

The machine comes with a blind edge foot which I am really looking forward to using and it does a rolled hem too. I am continuing to experiment with different widths and stitch lengths and I must say that this is the easiest overlocker I have ever used.

I am looking forward to using it on a garment and will be blogging about all the different functions in the near future.



I want to tell you about future blog posts for Jaycotts.co.uk. one of them being all about zips. 


I have a huge selection of zips of all kinds and in all colours and sizes. Jaycotts sell lots of zips, it is one of their specialities so I will be blogging about how to insert concealed zips, exposed zips, open end zips and we will cover how to insert a new zip and other uses for zips for example, as a decorative feature.

There are lots of variations of zips on the web site, so do take a look at them , the link to them can be found  by clicking HERE



How old were you when you learned to sew? By the age of 8 I was wearing my own hand made clothes to school and when I was a teenager I bought Vogue magazine and copied the designs. Each saturday I would go and buy new fabric and make it up during the week and wear it the following Saturday night. I always dressed in the latest fashions by doing this. When I was much older I studied Tailoring at college and  I am actually a qualified Tailor.

It was my Grandmother Annie who first taught me to sew and I feel that this is such an invaluable skill that we really ought to be teaching our sons and daughters to sew. I am pleased to tell you therefore that I will be doing a series of blogs aimed at children to hopefully inspire them to at least make basic garments.

The blogs will cover basic skills such as choosing patterns, measuring, cutting out,  sewing a garment together and so on.Dont worry if your child does not have a sewing machine, everything will be made in minature and I will be showing how to do some hand stitching in addition to how to use a sewing machine.

If you do want to purchase your child a sewing machine then I recommend this one. It is a Brother Innov-is 10A and isn't it pretty? Again, it is on the web site and you can take a look at it by clicking on the link HERE if you want more details,  or want to talk about other machines then do give Jaycotts a call and they will be very happy to help.




People seem to struggle with buttonholes despite most sewing machines having an inbuilt buttonhole maker. So, to help address this I am going to show you an alternative - non sew buttons! Jaycotts have a variety of tools to enable you to attach some very attractive poppers. To,prove just how attractive they are I will be showing you how to make  a button through skirt and a tailored jacket! They will also be used in the series of blogs aimed at children. So do take a look at the selection of tools and non sew poppers on this page HERE and think of all the uses you could put them to.





This is Alex Jaycott demonstrating my new overlocker in the Chester store. Just look at the bank of sewing threads behind him!




I must tell you a story, it is apropriate I promise you!  After we left Jaycotts on Friday we headed to Sheffield.  Unfortunately we got stuck in a snow drift. Eventually we were freed and headed on towards Sheffield by a different route.


On a happier note I do hope that you will enjoy my future blog posts and that you will be able to help a young person learn to sew. We have so many crafts in this country which are in danger of being lost if we do not take our part in passing them on. Sewing is so rewarding and it would delight me to know that some more people were taking up this hobby.


Angela x





Many of us have a dressmakers or tailors dummy but do we know how to use it correctly? Think about it, if it is to be effective in producing well fitted clothes then it has to mirror the owners figure exactly. Do you agree?

So, how do we do this?

Firstly set your dummy up on its stand. Turn all the dials  to the same setting , zero, because we are going to start again.
You need a tape measure, some tape, a bra which fits you perfectly (you can change this as often as you like to suit the garment you are making ) and a close fitting vest top in a thin stretchy fabric.or a pretty cover like the one I am using.
Measure your waist and turn the dials until they correspond exactly to the measurement you have just taken.
Measure your bust, around the fullest point, and turn the dials to this measurement.  Do this with the hips.
Some manequins have more scope for adjustment so follow their instructions.

Put the bra on the dummy, you should do this because  your cup size determines the fit too. Put some stuffing inside it if necessary to fill it out gently.
Now, this sou ds boring but you will have to measure the bust, waist and hips again and adjust them to correspond with your own figure in underwear.

For more accurate sizing pin  a piece of tape or ribbon round your own waist, it has to be snug but not too tight. Measure from the nape of your neck down to this ribbon. Measure on the dummy from the same position down to the waist. Pin a piece of ribbon around the waist on the dummy check the measurement again. Secure in place. You will need this line when making pattern adjustments to the waist and when making skirts and trousers. You can keep these on top of your manequin cover if you like, they are useful for fitting purposes.
You need also to put lines of tape down the centre front and back and also down the sides from the centre of the armhole.again, these are fitting lines.

The beauty of dressing your dummy in this way is that you can insert padding to various areas as and when required, for example if if your waist expands, pad the manequins waist out to correspond, you can also  do this for the hips and bust.
Another convenient fact is that if you want to wear a specific style of bra with your new outfit you can put it on the dummy and fit your garment around it. Pad the bra out as necessary too.
Just remember that this is a fitting tool and correctly fitted clothes make you look and feel slimmer, so please be honest!
Take as many of your measurements as you can, you might need help with some, and transfer them to your  other you. 

In order to check that the manequin is the right size put a dress on it that you know fits you well and take a long critical look at it. Make any further adjustments as necessary.

It honestly is worth all the effort in getting this right. Imagine the benefits! Every garment you make will be perfect for YOU, who cares about standard shop bought dresses which fit ok here and there, this is perfection ladies!

Dummies or manequins are not cheap I admit, and you must get an adjustable one , be warned - display Dummies like those seen in shops are not the same thing at all.

Dress forms are available from Jaycotts.co.uk  Dress form  there are different types too, even one for men!  Take a look. They really are worth saving for if you are serious about dressmaking.
The pretty covers like mine are also from Jaycotts, click here for details. They really make a difference to how they look and I don't know about you but I like to use pretty things when sewing, it makes the experience even more magical.

Thank you very much for reading this, do you have a manequin?  Does she have a name?


I don't know about you but it I find it difficult to find high quality dressmaking tools at a reasonable price. Scissors especially can be a nightmare.

I have been trying out two pairs of scissors from Jaycotts.

First of all, Fiskars Soft touch, spring action dressmaking shears really do make the job of cutting out so very easy.

They have a long blade, 26cm, and are very sharp, enabling them to slide through the thickest of fabrics effortlessly. Because they are spring loaded and have soft grip handles they are a dream to use and hardly need any effort at all. They would be really good for anybody whose hands get tired and sore when cutting out.

Click here to go to the product on Jaycotts web site

They are not expensive and being Fiskars are of the highest quality. They are suitable for left and right handed people.

I used them to cut out some Jersey fabric and they did not pucker the fabric as sometimes happens and made the job a breeze.


As you can see they fit nicely in the palm of your hand and once you have finished using them they can be safely locked until next time.

Another product I am enthusing about is again a  Fiskars product from Jaycotts.
They are a small pair of scissors, very sharp, very nice to hold,for all those little jobs such as snipping threads and so on. The surprise about these is if you flip the lock the other way  they become a very sturdy, efficient seam ripper. I have just used these to unpick a seam on some heavy weight fabric with ease, and they worked equally well on some cotton lawn I have been sewing.

Click here to go to the product on the Jaycotts web site

These are perfect because I can hang them around my neck on a lanyard and so I always have both scissors and seam ripper within easy reach.

One word about your dressmaking scissors. Never ever let anybody else use them, that includes husbands and children! And please only use them yourself for cutting fabric, nothing else, not even for cutting out your paper pattern. Paper blunts scissors and could easily make them pucker your fabric when cutting out, so hide them, and use cheaper scissors, or your old dressmaking scissors for cutting out patterns and so on, even tissue paper will blunt them!

Do look consider treating yourself with either or both of these products, I highly recommend them.