Whats on my sewing table…..

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

This is a first for me. Trousers! I’ve done skirts, tops, dresses, pinnies, pyjama bottoms, a hooded cape, vests, t-shirts, sweatshirts – but no trousers. Why? Who knows? Maybe I’m a little fearful about doing the fly – scary stuff? But then I saw this pattern by Named and called Alpi for a pair of chinos and I thought ‘now is the time’ – I luurve chinos.

Chino pattern

So here we are then. It’s all cut out and the side and back pockets are in situ. I’m making the chinos from cotton drill with a lovely blue Liberty print for the side pocket bags, with a touch of it on the back pockets too. I’d bought this to make a tie then didn’t use it so thought a bit of colour on the plain cotton would look fab – and it does. Don’t be afraid to add a dash of colour or a bit of texture to otherwise plain fabrics. A bit here and there really lifts the garment and it looks snazzy too.


So far it’s going OK but if you decide to have a go at these remember this one thing. The pattern doesn’t have a seam allowance included – they say to draw an allowance of 1cm round all of the pieces. Which personally I found a bit of a pain. I’m just so glad I read the instructions first otherwise the whole thing would have been a write off. Also, the pattern pieces are overlaid on the paper, so you have no option but to trace parts of it to be able to cut out the whole thing. Now this isn’t such an issue really, but it is slightly annoying when you buy a paper pattern and still have to trace. But hey ho, these are going to look marvellous. Check back later for a peek at the finished result.

Chinos 2

Get Inspired

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Don’t you just love it when you see people getting inspired to sew? It’s happened to me this month with two of my nearest and dearest. First, my long time friend Judi. Normally a resident of Turkey (lucky girl) Judi bought a sewing machine a year ago, just after I’d been for a visit and she’d clapped eyes on some of my home made lovelies. But alas the sewing machine has lain dormant due to time constraints and the difficulty in finding nice fabrics in her local shops. However a recent spell visiting family in the UK has resulted in Judi really catching the bug – probably a result of me banging on about sewing all day long. Cue one visit to a fabric stall and a spell on my sewing machine and Judi had whipped up a lovely little dress for her daughter’s goddaughter Claudia. Pretty impressive and doesn’t she look pretty? Judi now has a full case of fabric to lug back to Turkey – but first she has a wedding outfit to finish. Talk about a fast learner!


And then there was my son Lars. Heavily into his fashion, he announced, out of the blue that he fancied having a go at making his own clothes. Talk about jumping in at the deep end, there wasn’t any of that buying pattern malarky going on here. Oh no. It was straight in with making a trouser block and designing his own trousers (thanks to my  dressmaking instuctor Kate for her help with this). Here he is wearing a toile made from an old bed sheet. Pretty good fit eh? The real deal are much narrower in the leg and made of lovely wool fabric – Vivienne Westwood style. Watch out here for the finished article – they are still under the machine at the moment. Well done Lars – not bad for someone who didn’t even know how to thread a needle before all this! Lets sew folks.



My first makes

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

When it came to making my first little outfit, I played it safe. I knew I wanted something I had half a chance of finishing but something that I’d wear too – I didn’t want to start with a make-up bag or other such things that people were suggesting as good beginner options. I had to have clothes! My newly purchased but old Bernina was at the ready – it was time to fire it up.

Pattern 2

So armed with little clue of what I was looking for I headed off to John Lewis in Peterborough. I took the decision to choose a pattern (or two actually) that were specifically aimed at newbies – which narrowed it down a little. One (New Look 6004) said ‘sew new, learning the basics’ on the front (a good start I thought) the other ( New Look 6483) said ‘1 hour easy’ (a tiny under-estimation!) You could be braver than me and just jump in with something more complicated – Jenni Taylor from the second series of The Sewing Bee started with her wedding dress (yikes.) It’s all about confidence and doing what you feel is right for you.

Armed my patterns I headed to the fabric shelves – oh my, this was going to be fun. I felt, prodded stroked, drooled and other such things until the perfect fabric landed in my hands. I was making a vest top (cue big pink circles) and an elasticated waist skirt (small black flowers on a white background – classy.) Both cotton – which is a great first choice as it behaves just as you’d expect it to and is lovely to wear. I decided to embellish the skirt with a bit of ric-rac and sequins so they went in my basket too.

And that was it – I had the bug big time. Shopping for stuff that’s going to be turned into something lovely to wear is addictive (err – hence the stash I now have in my cupboards). It was an experience I was going to repeat many times – I still can’t resist buying fabric at every opportunity.

I have to admit that cutting out and reading a pattern for the first time was a little tricky for me – I sort of panicked a little bit – I’ve just looked at the patterns again and they seem so easy now. But when you first start off, just take your time and read everything carefully. And YouTube and Google are your friend, remember.

Sadly I’ve since thrown away the vest top – I just fell out of love with the fabric, but here is the skirt complete with ric-rac and sewn on (yes I did say sewn on) sequins. Not bad for a start.

First makes 2


Sewing is my life

Monday, July 21st, 2014


I guess you could say I came late to sewing. Still not sure if it some kind of mid-life crisis. Not even sure if women have mid-life crisisessss (what is the plural of crisis? Am I rambling already? This is only the second post). Men have it easy. Grow a ponytail, buy a motorbike and run off with their secretary. I’ve already got a motorbike, had more hairstyles than I can remember and the closest thing I have to a secretary is my Heinz 57 terrier.

Anyhow, focus Julie. It started with a colleague where I used to work about four years ago- we made a best selling  horse magazine together. The secret equine crafting society. Before I knew it there was bunting and then place mats and then we were heading to Nottingham to buy a secondhand 1960s Bernina sewing machine.

The Bernina went a year ago, replaced by something with less character but a lot more ability. And we’ve moved – we now live in a small (make that tiny) market town, which is good in some ways (no chain stores, lots of character, definition of a crime wave is when two people start to cross while the green man is flashing), but not so good in others (40 minute bus ride to buy a bra, or a football, or any clothes suitable for the living). Which means that making my own clothes has become more of a necessity than a hobby.

So far my approach has been to find a pattern that I like (there’s one particular skirt that I really like – watch out for that in a future post) and make it in several different fabrics. So far it’s worked a treat – who needs the high street anyway?

A stitch in time (literally!)

Sunday, July 20th, 2014



September 28 2013. 1.25pm. We’re due at a friend’s wedding in 91 minutes. The church is about an hour away from here and I’m still about half an hour from finishing my outfit. Maybe leaving just a week from start to finish was a little ambitious. Maybe I should have stayed up an extra hour last night?

But somehow, in amongst the panic, this is fun. Perhaps this is a new extreme sport. Freestyle sewing against the clock. Like triathlon, but with needles. One day it’ll be sponsored by Red Bull. Swearing never helps and passing the blame certainly doesn’t but right now, every other person, dog, cat or bluebottle passing through our dining room is partly responsible…obviously.

And then, somehow, everything comes together. …the machine finally gives in and ‘allows’ me to make that last button hole ( I’m very grateful thank you!) Then that’s it – the last stitch passes through the last hole and my creation (sounds like Frankenstein) is ready. Two hours later (ahem) we screech to a halt at the church, like a scene from Four Weddings and take our place, just in time. And nine hours after that, of sitting, standing, mingling, dancing, staggering and maybe even the odd drunken headbang (who doesn’t love a bit of Guns and Roses?) my new outfit ends the night intact, unscathed and ready for more of the same. And no one has worn anything like it. No one has seen anything like it. And it fits. And it’s mine. And I could wear some of it to work on Monday (providing the guacamole stains come out, of course).

And that, I suppose is why we all do this. To bypass the stores, skip past the rails of ill-fitting, over-priced, here-today outfits and make something that says… ‘Hello world, this is me’ in a not-quite-camp-but-still-slightly-diva-ish kind of way.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying ‘Hello and welcome to Sassy Sewing’ A blog for those of us continually surprised at our ability to make something we like that doesn’t unravel around our ankles at the first gust of wind.

This is a place for those of us still learning. Still discovering new techniques and wondering what that whizz-bang-widget is for and why-the-hell-should-we-buy-one. Thank you for joining in. I wonder where we’ll be this time next year?

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Welcome to Sassy Sewing

Here it's not just about 'how to' but also 'why not?' We're not experts, more like curious enthusiasts and this is the place where we can all learn to be successful at sewing together. Helpful (hopefully), inspiring (ditto) and we promise not to take ourselves too seriously. Let's put some fun into fabric.

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