Monday, August 31st, 2015
On July 20th 2014 Sassy Sewing made our first post (see the re-post below). At the end of it was a musing on what will this blog look like in a year’s time. Well, the answer is something I never thought would happen. 59 weeks later Sassy Sewing has grown from a blog, to a plan to run workshops to a proper bricks-and-mortar shop and a team of friends and it’s fast approaching its own first anniversary.
We’ve met hundreds of new mates, some wonderful personalities, a whole load of suppliers, big and small and at least two dozen assorted animals accompanying their owners into the shop. We’ve had almost 500 people attend our workshops and created a whole legion of ‘born-again’ sewists (still can’t use the word sewer without thinking about drains). We’ve watched our little website go up and down on Google (mostly up) and at one point Sassy Sewing was the top of the list if you searched for ‘sewing workshops UK’. I can’t tell you how proud that made me feel.
But most importantly we (and that growing band of sewists) have made hundreds, maybe even thousands of garments, bags, quilts, pinafores, curtains, upholstery, baby clothes and wall protectors for their classic cars. And it seems that every single one of us (and you) have enjoyed pretty much every single one.
So, thank you for reading, thank you for coming along to the workshops and thank you for sharing your sewing tales and lovely comments on Sassy Sewing. It’s been one hell of a year. Wonder if I dare ask it again? Oh, why not…I wonder where we’ll be in 12 months time?
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?
Monday, August 24th, 2015
So, a woman comes into the shop today clutching a very worn out blouse. ‘I need some lightweight cotton please’ she says. As I show her what’s available we get chatting and it turns out the blouse is an old favourite, finally come to the end of its days. The lady’s daughter lives and works in Kenya doing very good things for charity and there are women in her village who have been taught to sew in order to earn money. One amazing woman can apparently see a garment and pretty much replicate it without a pattern, Pino Grigio or any kind of swearing at all. Her daughter is over here right now and so the fabric is heading back on a plane to be made into a new blouse by this very talented lady. Wine coloured linen-look cotton was chosen for the job, along with a bit of tartan for a panel to go all the way round the bottom of said blouse.We had checked the original garment and had calculated the amount needed but I couldn’t face the idea that her daughter might get all the way to Kenya and find that she didn’t have enough. Rudimentary maths said 1.5 metres, but I gave her the rest of the bolt (about 2.3 metres in total) for nothing just to be sure.
Can’t wait to see the photos when it’s done – or even better, to see it in the flesh. Sassy going global – who’d have thought it!.
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015
Invisible fabric repairs? Sounds too good to be true.
I’d seen this Prym Repair Powder at the wholesaler a few months back and it pricked my curiosity. So I ordered some and, in the spirit of ’never-sell-anything-you-don’t-understand’ I thought I’d best learn how to use it.
The idea is simple, you actually glue a small piece of fabric to the front of the damaged garment which stops the tear or hole getting any bigger.
The instructions on the packet are apparently written for either birds of prey or employees of a magnifying glass factory. Even my most sooper-dooper spectacles failed to focus on a font size measured in microns, not millimetres.
Anyhoo with lots of squinting and cursing I finally got it and set about testing said powder on a piece of scrap fabric which I deliberately put a hole in.
First off, measure the tear or hole that needs repairing. Mine was a thin tear, 6cm long. Then decide what size of patch you’re going to need to cover it – you probably want it to be 1.5cm longer and wider than your tear. I decided my patch was going to be rectangle, but it could be round too – all depends on what you’re working with really. Cut a piece of fabric the size and shape you need for the patch.
Now get a piece of card or paper and draw round your fabric onto it – in the middle. Cut out this shape only, keeping the rest of the card intact. This creates a template the same size as your patch.
Put the template over the repair – on the right side. Shake a decent amount of powder over the hole in the template – so effectively onto the fabric. Now remove the template carefully, put your patch on to the powder and iron, using an ironing cloth or greaseproof paper to protect your iron. And that’s it – your tear is literally glued together and won’t get any worse.
Is it any good? I’d say yes, it could be very useful and I’ll definitely be using it again, but here are some points to think about when you use it for the first time:
Repair powder is £3.45 and is available at all good sewing shops, including Sassy Sewing
Below is how it looked when I’d finished ironing – can you see how I’ve used far too much powder, which is now showing as glue. If I’d not made this mistake, the whole thing would be pretty good.
And this is the wrong side, showing the tear, which is clearly glued together firmly.
Saturday, August 1st, 2015
Changing a sewing machine needle can be a little fiddly, but with a bit of practice will soon become second nature.
1 Put a scrap of fabric underneath your presser foot – if you don’t do this you’re risking dropping a needle into your machine – never a good idea! Using the screwdriver in your tool kit, and with the presser foot lowered, loosen the screw holding the needle in – it’s usually found to the right and above the needle Unscrew just enough for the needle to drop out.
2 Decide what type and size of needle you’re going to use and insert as far as possible into the hole. Needles have a flat shank on one side – this is to help you insert the needle in the right way. On most machines the flat shank faces the back of the machine, but check your manual to ensure this is the same on yours.
3 Holding the needle in place, tighten the screw by hand initially then finish using the screwdriver, making sure it’s snug. It needs to be tight to avoid it wobbling about when you’re sewing, which could result in a broken needle or a damaged throat plate.
4 One reason for needle breakage is a needle that’s too small so swap for a larger one. If the needle leaves obvious holes or there are skipped stitches then it could be too large, so a smaller one may be better.