Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
OK I just couldn’t resist. Look at this! Fabric, fabric, fabric and all arriving at my house. The place is awash with it – but it will all be transferred to our lovely shop over the next week or so ready for open day. When’s that I hear you ask? Well, come back here on Saturday and I’ll tell you. Really not long now. We’ve got lots of things planned for opening day – you really shouldn’t miss this!
Sunday, September 28th, 2014
We want to spread the word of our lovely shop opening as wide as we can – so look at the leaflets we’re had printed to help us along. Next weekend we’ll be announcing the opening day and what’s in store – and there’s plenty. Hope to see loads of you sewing mad peeps there.
Friday, September 26th, 2014
I make no apologies about the fact that this is yet another Tilly and the Buttons pattern. This one is called Miette – very catching! The best news of all is that we’re going to be stocking all Tilly’s patterns in our soon to be open shop in Horncastle, Lincolnshire. I am soooo excited.
This skirt is a wrap around affair with a gentle flare that ties at the front in a bow. There is a wide overlap at the back (no flashing your knickynoos) and optional patch pockets. If you choose not to do the pockets, this is a super quick make.
It’s a perfect pattern for the beginner sewer as there are no fiddly zips or buttonholes and it’s easy peasy to fit. However if you’re more advanced then you should still give one a go as it’s just such a lovely garment.
As with all of Tilly’s patterns the instructions are crystal clear with no jargon and the instruction booklet includes photos of each step to help you along. The packaging itself is a joy to behold. You could keep this skirt as plain as you like or jazz it up with embellishments or topstiching. If you want a bit of inspiration take a look at what people are making in the Miette Maker Gallery on Tilly’s pinterest page. The pattern does need a fair amount of fabric – anywhere between two and three metres depending on size. It’s definitely worth it though as the finished result is so cute. As will all of Tilly’s patterns you can order a paper or digital version depending on what you prefer and how fast you want to get your little hands on it.
I’ve made only one of these so far in a royal blue cotton with lots of tiny cars on it. I really should get on and make another one. I’ll add it to the list.
Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
If we’re going to run a shop, then we’ll be needing some stock. How to buy fabric in miles, not metres.
Wow, that was fun. Me and Mr Sassy spent last weekend at the Craft, Hobby and Stitch trade fair at the Excel in London. Having taken the plunge and decided to open a shop we need something to sell and this show is where many of Europe’s fabric and crafting wholesalers gather to show their new product ranges. The show is trade only and that feels weird…to be thinking of Sassy Sewing as a business. But being at the show was a terrific experience. In two days we met well over 20 potential suppliers selling a wide range of fabrics, ribbons, haberdashery and buttons. And came away with loads more ideas to make the shop even better.
What was most useful was that it let us begin to think about the range of products we want to sell. Not just by price, but type of material, colours, patterns and potential customers in the town where we live too. The plan was to spend the first day looking and making contacts and the second day ordering our first stock. You can’t take things away from the show with you so we are now waiting excitedly for the first deliveries to arrive.
Setting up trade accounts was another reality check. There are a lot of questions and, although the prices are ‘trade’ you have to buy a minimum amount, sometimes up to 30 metres at a time – and then pay VAT, which adds another 20% to the bill. So making the right choice is vital because if we get it wrong every staff member at our local bank might be wearing our repossessed blue Gingham in 18 months’ time.
The most pleasant surprise was how many of the companies were so friendly and helpful to us as a new business. We got lots of advice on what does and doesn’t sell, how to order most efficiently and what designers are the ones to watch.
Seeing the fabric in the flesh and being able to touch it makes a huge difference compared to simply looking at pictures online. Before the show I was struggling to take the plunge and commit to the first order or to a company I’d only seen online, but having been there, spoken to the reps and felt the fabric, the process became much simpler and a lot more fun too. A rough count up of what we ordered comes to somewhere around one mile of fabric (not all blue Gingham) and a very weary credit card. Now we just have to wait for the postman.
My favourite part of the show was not fabric related at all, but knitting! The completely knitted undersea wonderland was amazing. I particularly loved the shark and of course Nemo – every undersea wonderland needs a Nemo!
Saturday, September 20th, 2014
Most men deal with mid-life moments by coming home with a Harley Davidson, a ponytail and someone else’s lipstick on their collar. So when Mr Sassy suggested a few weeks back that maybe we should open a sewing shop, I was convinced his next line was to tell me that he was running off with a hairdresser called Maurice to find himself.
Actually, that’s unfair, and his unpredictability was one of the things that drew me to him all those years back. But the upshot is…we are going to open a shop. Gulp.
We had talked about it earlier this year. In fact we looked into buying the sewing shop in our town when it came up for sale. That plan floundered and we didn’t get it.
Since then we’ve talked about it, joked about it, but never really been serious. And then a friend asked us to look out for potential premises in our town for a cycling shop he was dreaming about. Something great came up within a month, but he’d already found another place.
And that’s when we had the ‘conversation’. Starting our own shop meant making our vision from scratch and not trying to modify someone else’s that we’d bought into. Starting our own shop meant stocking only the things that we (I, actually, Mr Sassy’s idea of fashion is hand-me-ups from his 23 year old step-son) want to sell (the problem with buying an existing business is that the stock that comes with it might not match your vision) and starting our own shop meant the start-up costs and therefore risk, was about a third of the cash required to buy the other existing business. The more we talked the more sense it all made. By the end of the night we’d worked out all the things about traditional sewing shops that we didn’t like, all the simple solutions that will make our business different and most of the associated risks and costs too. It’s amazing what you can achieve when something really grabs you. And best of all there was no mention of Maurice, ponytails or Harley Davidsons.
And the premises are perfect. Right in the middle of our lovely town – Horncastle in Lincolnshire; one large room in a beautiful, listed building, lots of passing trade, a friendly landlord and very good value too. If the worst comes to worst and it all collapses in 18 months we’ll lose less actual money than the cost of a cheap B&Q kitchen and I’ll end up with the best stocked home-sewing cupboard in Lincolnshire. I can’t remember being so excited about anything.
The premises needs quite a bit of work and here are some before pictures (admittedly you need a bit of imagination at this point!) But they’ll be regular updates about what we’re up to here and on Facebook over the coming weeks – so please check back in and share with me what is going to be one of the most exciting and interesting things I’ve ever done.
Friday, September 19th, 2014
I wanted to show you this as I think it’s utterly fabulous. Say hello to McCalls 6446 a pattern for a very chic cape, part of the Generation Next range. I’ve made this up just the once – version B which is the hooded beauty in the picture. I can’t pretend it was overly easy, there were quite a few techniques to master but it was one of those patterns I really enjoyed working on as I learnt so much doing it. I made it out of a brushed cotton tartan and lined it in black. It’s not thick enough for winter but perfect for Spring and Autumn. I finished it off with bright orange, large coconut buttons which pack a punch and perfectly complement the grey material.
The pattern is available in eight sizes and you can’t really go too wrong as it’s not a fitted garment by any stretch of the imagination. There are 18 pattern pieces to get to grips with and this takes up a fair amount of fabric – around 4.2 metres plus extra if you’re matching a pattern like I was (or trying to). This is one of the reasons I chose the fabric I did – I was a little loathe to splash out on some expensive wool or other winter fabric if I couldn’t make a good go of the pattern. Now I’ve had success with it I may make another in something warm and luxurious. I love the hood (although I realise it’s not to everyone’s taste) – it really is something straight out of the Little Red Riding Hood book (wolf not included in the pattern though!)
I’d encourage anyone to give this a go – read the instructions carefully and take your time. The results were worth taking effort over.
Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
Yesterday saw me slepping up the motorway to the lovely county that is Yorkshire for a day of fun and learning at the Folksy HQ in Sheffield. The kind folks there were running a workshop called ‘Business in a Day’ and I thought this could be just the thing I needed to push my new venture in the right direction (make sure you check back here at the weekend for the BIG announcement!) It was aimed at anyone wanting to make a living out of their crafty passion and topics covered included: why you’d start a business, what is your vision for it, business planning, describing the business, marketing and learning how to fail. Our hosts for the day were Folksy co-founder James Boardwell and Camilla, owner of the Folksy shop Butterscotch and Beesting. Both were inspiring and knowledgeable and spent some time with each participant on their individual ideas so that everyone went away feeling like they could move on with their planning. Oh and there were biscuits and cake! It’s well worth doing if you’ve got even only an inkling of an idea – some participants were in the very early stages of forming a business. Others were further on, so it caters for all. Keep a watch on the Folksy Facebook page for further workshop announcements.
Here are some pictures of the day.
Sunday, September 14th, 2014
A lovely message arrived yesterday from one of our Sassy followers.
“Inspired by your espadrille story, I dug out this lovely old hardback given to me by my mother, Dorothy who had owned it since 1949. She made endless clothes for us all on a hand operated Singer Sewing machine and knitted us jumpers, scarves and hats too – I don’t know where she found the time. Mum also went through a phase of making herself, me and my two sisters’ soft espadrille type shoes, from scraps of fabric and re-cycled second hand clothes. Your piece on the blog, making your own shoes, bought back some very happy memories. – thank you!”
This is a wonderful book that teaches you and me to actually make shoes and comes across like it is so easy that we could actually do it too. Homely, useful and very, very thorough. First published in 1948, packed with amazing detail for budding Choo-ettes. Actually, that’s underselling it. All the patterns in this slim volume are much more desirable and memorable than any designer baubles. Favourite by a narrow margin (for now) is ‘Lido’ a court shoe to be made in gay striped sandal braid… although it’s a lot more ambitious than my previous over sized espadrilles. Maybe next year.
Other books in the series include Small Jewellery (anyone found making outsized items will be made to stand outside) and Leaded Glass Work. Don’t suppose anyone has a copy of those knocking about?
Doesn’t it look fab:
Friday, September 12th, 2014
This week’s pattern pick is a pretty classy little number – Butterick B6066, part of their lifestyle range.
I bought this a few weeks ago and it’s next on my ‘to do’ list. I love a good peplum, which is what drew me to this pattern in the first place. I’m going to make top A, which is the pink version on the picture. I find peplums hide a multitude of sins (muffin top being my ‘must hide’ feature!) and think this one in particular looks rather funky, particularly as it doesn’t go all the way round the top.
The pattern is designed for light to medium weight woven or knit fabric so that gives a whole heap of material to choose from. Mine will be made in a lovely red, medium weight crepe I bought especially for it – it’s ever so slightly stretchy. The top has a fitted bodice with princess seams and a back zipper. One thing I really like about this pattern is the sizing. It caters for different cup sizes – A/B, C and D and I’m hopeful that will ensure it fits nice and snug. It has seven pieces to deal with, but a quick read of the (very clear) instructions reassures me that it’s not too onerous although I probably wouldn’t recommend it for beginners.
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
Keep It Simple Sassy. Or K.I.S.S for short. Do you ever find sewing frustrating? Me too, well some of the time. Not sure why, maybe it’s the pressure of finally finishing a garment only to find it has three arm holes and no neck or one shoulder is two centimetres lower than the other.
Last night, while walking the dogs I tried to make sense of this. Sewing is simple. Break it down and there’s nothing to worry about at all. Take a pattern, choose some fabric, apply the elements of the pattern to the fabric in the right way and cut carefully. Congratulations, you’re halfway there.
All that remains is to put them together, using the right stitch for the right seam, not forgetting to keep measuring it as you go so you can make adjustments as and when needed.
Don’t forget to have fun, don’t forget that there’s always more time if you need it and don’t forget also that even if the whole thing turns out to be a complete disaster, you can always unpick it and start again. And every garment finished, no matter how small makes you a better sewer than before.
It all sounds so obvious when you say it like that. And the reality is that the stress only comes when I forget why I do this in the first place. Sewing is a release, an opportunity to escape the other stuff in life and lose myself in something for an hour or two on an evening. I should be reveling in the detail, making the most of every single stitch. And when it works, that’s exactly what I do.
What’s the rush? Let’s enjoy the journey.