Saturday Sewing Session Blog

Our Top 5 and what really happens inside a sewing machine…

Its the middle of Feb, and it sees to be getting colder bar the sprinkle of daffodils peeping up from the ground.

That is enough to know that a change is on its way . WooHoo

We hope that everyones new year is ticking along nicely and that your resolution do and don’ts haven’t become a thing of 2015! At SSS Hq we are still mastering how to juggle, maybe we’ll keep that one in 2015!

Here is our Top 5 round up of our favourite book, restaurant, shop, exhibition and our top pick of the month to take you into Spring.

1) A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler We love a book that has thread on the cover here at SSS! This story is the tale of a beautiful emotional ride of a family  through the generations.

2) Sunday Cafe – This gorgeous little cafe in Barnsbury does an awesome brekkie!

3) BOB by DOP – Slightly biased but the wonderful Dawn O’Porter is online and has a POP up in town. Also check out her collaboration with Katharine Hamnett  in support of Help Refugees ’Choose Love’ campaign

4) Vogue100 A Century of Style - The National Portrait Gallery is showcasing  glorious Vogue commissioned photographs from 1916 to present day.

5) Magical lantern Festival – Chiswick House and Gardens comes alive with a  spectacular artistic installation of beautifully sculpted lanterns

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come closer, we have a secret….

We get asked all the time at SSS

‘Why does there need to be 2 threads’ and “How does the sewing machine actually work?’

Realising our answer of ‘Well, the thing is, ummm there are little fairies working their magic inside the little bobbin house’ … sort of, didn’t really cut it.

So we decided to find out the answer for YOU.

We  ventured far and wide, over hills and mountains, through streams and snow to find the answer, but then we just looked at Facebook and here is the result … and its a brilliant little vid!

Fairies not involved! How the sewing machine works!

 

Hope that helps!

Happy Stitching

 

XX

 

The SSS home sewing blog review 2015.

This fortnight at the Saturday Sewing Sessions we are reviewing our favourite home sewing blogs to get you inspired to try some new projects, and unearth some helpful tips and tricks. So much can be accomplished at home with the help of a sewing machine and a bit of imagination. All our bloggers are UK based, have incredible dressmaking skills and specialise in one particular area.

We like to start off each blog with our top London picks of the weeks in the following categories: Restaurant, Shop, Exhibition, Book and our SSS ultimate pick of the week.

  1. The Bonnie Gull, Oxford Circus. A gorgeous fish restaurant, serving up fresh, tasty catches of the day. Try the Cod Scotch Egg…. you will not be disappointed!
  2. Princes May School Boot Fair, Dalston. Rummage through the bric and brac for beautiful vintage garments and accessories.
  3. Shoes: Pleasure and Pain, V&A, £12. This exhibition looks at the extremes of footwear from around the globe, a must have for any aspiring cobbler.
  4. When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman. A witty, beautifully written gem of a book.  It follows the eccentric life of a girl named Ellie, well worth a read.
  5. SSS Top Pick of the Week- Luna Cinema outdoor pop up cinema in numerous locations across London, bring your prosecco, a picnic and have a whale of an evening this summer!

Saturday Sewing Sessions Top Picks of the Week

Saturday Sewing Sessions Home Sewing Blog Review 2015 The Little Tailoress

Saturday Sewing Sessions Home Sewing Blog Review 2015 The Little Tailoress

Blog 1: The Little Tailoress

Best For: Fashion Dressmaking Inspiration.

Who is the little Tailoress?

Ami Lowden is a freelance pattern cutter and designer. She started the blog to keep a record of her home makes. She enjoys the freedom that she can create her own style, and you can see she loves creating pieces that compliment each other.

What is it all about?

Originally started as an online portfolio of Ami’s designs, it has now transformed into a gallery of well tailored sewing projects to encourage others to learn how to sew their own Fashion wardrobe. Not only does she create beautiful garments she also styles her look using existing pieces in her wardrobe. Naturally she has a great range of self drafted patterns and tips for all levels of sewing skill.

Blog Features:

  • Pattern Reviews
  • Handy Hints, Tips & Tutorials
  • Uses Vintage Tailoring techniques
  • Fashion sewing & Design
  • Styling

If you are inspired by the Little Tailoress but feeling overwhelmed with where to start, why not try one of our beginners dressmaking classes or even a one 2 one tutorial to get you started.

Saturday Sewing Sessions Home Sewing Blog Review 2015 The English Girl at Home

Blog 2: English Girl at Home

Best For: Ethical Craft & Dressmaking Ideas.

Who is the English Girl at Home?

Charlotte is a home sewer based in Birmingham that dabbles in a number of crafts, knitting and sewing projects.

What is it all about?

Charlotte’s blog is multi facetted; it showcases all her beautiful dressmaking projects and also traditional crafting practices like dying her own yarns for knitting. The main focus of the blog is making good ethical choices when home sewing, whether that be sourcing fair trade fabrics, altering clothing you already own and using animal friendly products. Charlotte highlights the concerns around mass produced garments made in sweatshops and the steps a home sewer can take to make good ethically produced home garments.

Blog Features:

  • Traditional crafting techniques.
  • Beautiful gallery of makes.
  • Hand embroidery
  • Hand repairs
  • Global Pattern reviews
  • Fashion book/autobiography reviews.

If Charlotte’s blog has made you think twice about shopping on the high street why not try your hand at our clone your closet class? If you have the perfect dress already waiting at home why not try make it in a variety of fabrics and colours?

Saturday Sewing Sessions Home Sewing Blog Review 2015 What Katie Sews Saturday Sewing Sessions Home Sewing Blog Review 2015 What Katie Sews

Blog 3: What Katie Sews

Best for: Pattern Knowledge

Who is Katie?

Katie is a twenty something home sewist from North London.

What is it about?

The blog chronicles her attempts to build a wearable everyday wardrobe by sewing everything from basics to some special one offs. The patterns are categorised by company so it’s a brilliant reference point if you wanted to see the final garments before you commit to buying a new style.  Katie has great knowledge on picking a pattern company for your shape and altering patterns for a perfect fit for your body shape. Katie also provides brilliant tips on what bits of home dressmaking you can skip to save time!

Blog Features:

  • Self drafted patterns.
  • Planning your project.
  • Fabrics, pockets and print knowledge.
  • Quilting.
  • Men’s clothing.

Saturday Sewing Sessions Home Sewing Blog Review 2015 Cloth Habit

Blog 4: Cloth Habit

Best for: Lingerie & Nightwear patterns

Who is the blogger behind Cloth Habit?

Amy is a designer and maker who is interested in pattern making, lingerie and traditional couture moulding methods.

What is it about?

Amy’s blog is crammed with gorgeous photos of her inventive makes from jumpsuits to nightwear. She has a wealth of tips, sew-alongs, tutorials and even a mini pattern shop! What we loved most was that she takes a traditional technique like Moulage (French couture moulding/casting) and gives you a step by step of how it is done, she includes YouTube clips that explain about how the method was used. Other wonderful blog posts touch on the importance of good edge stitching, guides to dress forms and investing in good dressmaking tools.

Blog Features:

  • Pattern Shop
  • Traditional Methods
  • Gorgeous Dressmaking Inspiration
  • Specialises in Lingerie
  • Sew-alongs to help with making her patterns.
  • Informative and detailed.

At the SSS we have a wealth of knowledge in all different areas of dressmaking so if you have heard about a traditional/historical technique and what to give it a go, please get in touch and book in for a one2one.

Saturday Sewing Sessions Home Sewing Blog Review 2015 By Gum, By Golly

Blog 5: By Gum, By Golly

Best for: Vintage & Knitting

Who is By Gum, By Golly?

Tasha Moss is the lady behind the intriguing By Gum By Golly blog, she’s a vintage enthusiast, knitting fanatic and DIY devotee.

What’s it about?

Tasha’s love for vintage is infectious. Not only does she make her own vintage clothes using dressmaking and knitting patterns from the 1940s but she embraces the style on a daily basis. The blog is jam packed with awesome vintage tutorials, groovy knitting patterns and how to live life with a little vintage flair.

Enter this retro paradise and see how you can embrace nostalgia through creative crafting, hair tutorials and a catalogue of her inventive outfits.

Blog Features:

  • Thrifting/Charity Shop finds
  • Vintage Upcycling
  • Hair, beauty and beyond!
  • Crafting
  • Knitting
  • Free Patterns

We hope this month’s blog review has left you feeling inspired and ready to tackle another project.  We have plenty of great courses up on the website that vary in size and skill level, and we have one to one tuition available if that is more your bag.

Share your thoughts about our blog review below; we would love to hear from you.

Happy Sewing!

 

x

Demystifying Dressmaking Patterns

Dressmaking patterns are notoriously difficult to understand, especially if you are a beginner. You’ve gone out picked the perfect garment pattern, got the fabric ready, you open it up and you can’t for the life of you work out what all the squiggles and markings are. We have all been there! So we thought this fortnight the blog would focus on demystifying patterns so you can tackle all kinds of projects with confidence.

 Before we start demystify the hieroglyphics we need to take a look at the Saturday Sewing Sessions Top 5 Picks of the week in the following categories: a book, a restaurant, a shop, an exhibition and our SSS ultimate pick of the week.

  1. Hemsley & Hemsley The Art of Living Well- A cook book that will help anyone who wants to feel better, lose weight and have more energy.

  2. Gazette Brasserie Balham, incredible provincial French dishes and a mean charcuterie and cheese selection.

  3. Brissi Homeware Shop- handcrafted furniture that creates serene and elegant spaces.

  4. Festival of Love- The Southbank Centre’s summer of love is back with a host of installations, activities, pop-ups and performances that celebrate humankind’s most overwhelming emotion.

  5. SSS Top Pick of the week- Transparent- an awesome Amazon prime series about a dysfunctional family living in LA dealing with their fathers gender transition. If you liked Orange is the New Black, you will LOVE this gem of a series.

If this pattern guide still leaves you a little confused join us at our  upcoming ‘Dressmaking Patterns- Reading to Realisation’ classes and learn to dymistify patterns over a glass of bubbly!  These sessions do not require any experience. And we can also do one to one sessions if you would prefer! No project or enquiry is to big or too small just get in touch.

The SSS Pattern Guide – Lets GO!

Measure yourself!

It is important to measure yourself correctly before you start on your dressmaking adventure. Whether it’s inches or CM’s BUT stick with one or the other or things will get a bit weird looking!

*Top Tip*- IGNORE the sizes at the top of the chart! Go by your measurements and not the size at the top as they are not our highstreet sizes. To get the perfect fit, tape measure yourself up and go from your actual size!

body measurments pattern class

 Cutting Lines

 Lines/dashes around each  piece of the pattern that differentiate the sizes, measure yourself up and cut your size!Bust, waist and hip are the main ones to get you started.

*Top Tip*- Always trace your pattern and markings on to paper rather than cutting your size out, then if you want to use the pattern again in a different size it won’t be a kerfuffle!

 The Grainline arrow

This marking shows the direction you need to position your pattern against the salvage edge (bound edge) of the fabric.

On the Fold

This symbol indicates that the pattern should be positioned along the folded edge of the fabric, to cut out a symmetrical pattern. The pattern piece only represents half the fabric piece. 

*Top Tip* – Keep an eye on the grain line when lining up your pattern, and if it is a bias cut garment the pattern will look a little squiff but as long as the grain line is parallel to the salvage, well, thats just tops!

Bust and Hip Indicators

These indicators you will find positioned on the bust and hip points, remember to transfer them if you are tracing your pattern on to paper.

Lengthen and Shorten Line

Two horizontal parallel lines that indicate the point where you can chose to customize your pattern to suit your own measurements by lengthening or shortening it.

Notches

 Although these markings all greatly differ they all represent the same thing. They mark where two pattern pieces are supposed to align. Make a small nip in your fabric on the notches. They work a little like a jigsaw, one piece will fit with another piece.

Buttons and Buttonholes

 This symbol represents the position of buttonholes on a pattern.

Darts

This marking indicates where the darts are situated that help to mould the fabric around the curves of the body.  Transfer the markings on to the fabric and stitch the diamond/triangular shape together by folding it in half-length ways.

Tucks and Gathers

These markings resemble a square that is missing one line; the dots at the bottom indicate where to pull in the fabric to make it meet in the middle, and the vertical lines and dots at the top indicate where to sew your stitches.

**Top Top Tip** You want to transfer all the above markings onto the fabric and there are a range of ways to do it. Tailor tacks, chalk, invisible pen, carbon paper and a tracing wheel to name but  few. As long as you mark the fabric with all the relevant information you’ll be away. We will be doing updates on all theses techniques soon so keep on the look out!

Fabric and Pattern Key

This key is a visual guide to differentiating the fabric pieces on the pattern.

 These squares refer to which way your printed pattern should be when cutting.

TA- Darrrrr

We really hope this mini guide has made your pattern seem a bit less overwhelming, and if there are any other markings you are not sure of, do get in touch with us and we can help you decipher it!

 Happy Sewing!

X

 

Channel 4’s This Old Thing – Behind the scenes…

This Old Thing

How it all happened…

Last March I was asked to be involved with a TV show pilot. The thought made me nervous, a little bit sick and March is my busy time with hats and wedding dresses so I was secretly pleased that I couldn’t do it due to other commitments. I didn’t think any more about it.

Spring forward to August!

One morning I got the call from the very lovely Sarah. She told me about the show again and if I was free to do a camera test, that the show was full steam ahead and would I like to be involved. I think I spoke to Sarah nearly every day and I nervously run out of excuses to say ‘no’ to a camera test. Caught off guard one day and swallowing my nerves I came out with ‘ Oh. All right then’

A day later, or there abouts, a couple of the crew came over to my studio with a camera and some questions and I just chatted… chat chat chat. I went through what I did, other jobs I’ve had, things I have done, pieces I have made, a little bit about me etc , etc.

It turns out I can talk quite a bit!

After the ‘test’ I was chatting to Sarah most days then sunny one morning she told me I got the job, roughly this time last year.

The phone call was a little bit of a blur. I had been so nervous about the whole thing, so obviously I had talked myself out of it, saying I wasn’t going to get the job and that was totally fine, I would just carry on as normal. No worries! I understand normal. It was comfortable here! I also hadn’t told a single soul so that was fine too.

Well, that all changed!

After that call, whoa… wobbly, slightly sick and then this weird mixture of total happiness and excitement for what could happen, mixed with fear as the only other time, just the once, that I have been on camera, I came out in hives — attractive! I am a seamstress. I make hats, sew wedding dresses and have my lovely sewing school. This is a terrifying whole new world.

But, its good to put yourself out there right? So after the call, I went for a coffee with my best friend then went for a swim in the Serpentine. It was a wonderful, slightly nutty day!

The meeting…

A few days later I drove to the meeting to meet everyone. When I arrived a beautiful girl parked up with a familiar black and white flag sticker on her car — if you are from Cornwall, they pretty much give you this sticker when you leave the county as a branding stamp! This was Charlotte. A kindred spirit and now a dear friend.

St. Piran's flag of Kernow - aka Cornwall! Bit of history on flags for you!

St. Piran’s flag of Kernow – aka Cornwall! Bit of history on flags for you! So if you see this on a car, we are on the move!

We walked in and met everyone, had a chat and got the vibe of the coming weeks. Everyone was lovely. We were all in the same boat and after that meeting I knew something fun and very special was about to happen.

I left that meeting and went straight home to get ready for a festival that weekend. Heading up to Portmerioin in Wales – really great festi by the way in a beautiful setting. I spent the weekend relaxing by the sea and I may have had a few pimms, maybe?! I put the sleepless nights down to bumpy tents and snoring campers not the jitters of what was to happen the following week.

I have to show you the beauty that is Portmeirion. The festival is festival No.6. Go if you can, is a wonderful festi!

I got back the day with 1 day to get ready!

First day and beyond…

First day of filming was a whirl wind of  wobbly wonderfulness. The night before I hardly slept, I had my outfit prepped and was ready to go. During the filming we had no bathroom in our flat so it was victorian sink baths all week — that was interesting!

My first day of shooting - you have no idea what my tummy was doing at this point!

My first day of shooting – you have no idea what my tummy was doing at this point!

The whole time we were doing the show, it was one of the happiest working weeks I have ever had.

All the team were amazing.  It was SO fun, it was SO challenging, it was SO new but I was SO happy to be apart of it. That is a lot of SO’s. Everyone involved were wonderful and we became like a little family (ahhhh) and Dawn is totally brilliant. All of us workshop team are all tailors and seamstresses with our own businesses. This was a new thing for all of us and we all supported each other. We quickly became friends and we were constantly learning from one another. Thats the thing with sewing, you are always learning and finding new ways to do things. I picked up some valuable tips from the team. Everything was done on the day, as you saw it in the show.

I have sewed since I was little, its my career but doing the job I do everyday, with lots of people watching and a camera, knowing its going to be on Channel 4!  Well that was a totally different ball game. Plus, we were working with garments that were truly loved and treasured. Its was an honour with a hint of scariness and just a mild dollop of stress! Still, with all that, it was brilliant!

Total happiness with a mix of 'Oh my goodness this is a girls mums wedding dress and I have just chopped into it!' Turned out good though... Phew!

Total happiness with a mix of ‘Oh my goodness this is a girls mums wedding dress and I have just chopped into it!’ Turned out good though… Phew!

It was, and still is a major life lesson. I very nearly didn’t do it. I felt out of my depth with stomach turning nerves. I had them everyday but everything outweighed that. Sometimes it’s a really good reminder to put yourself out there as sometimes it could just be the best thing you have ever done. We all felt like we were apart of something special.

So that was my experience of the show what did you all think?

I really hope you all enjoyed This Old Thing: A Vintage Clothes Show and would LOVE to hear feedback, pictures of things that you have questions about, vintage pieces that need a bit of tweaking etc – GET IN TOUCH!

If you have something in your cupboard, new or vintage that needs a bit of love or just needs fitting properly. We can help! Join us on our Make Do and Mend session, for seamstresses with a little know how or a total beginner or our Survive and Revive session for all hand stitching know how and learn how to do it for yourself. We cover lots of alteration and up-cycling techniques and help with ideas of what is possible with your garments.

If sewing isn’t your thing but you feel inspired to re-zhoosh, simply leave it with us and we can do any alterations for you. Vintage, wedding or otherwise. All the information can be found here.

The show was mainly about vintage and the history and love that went into clothing. How it has changed and what it has done for society and us girls. It was to highlight the transient nature of fast fashion that we have got so used to. Our high street is wonderful, but maybe mix it up a bit. Its about getting your own style that suits you, how to make it fit, re-style it, add a modern twist – there are endless things to do, plus, no one else will have it.

How lovely is that!

Hopefully it highlighted where things come from and how wonderful a one off garment can make you feel. I could ramble on for ages on the joy on vintage but I’ll leave it there!

The show may have finished but you can still get the brilliant book that accompanied the series.

This book is full of really helpful hints and tips on how to look after, mend, alter your garments with a bit of dress history to boot!

This book is full of really helpful hints and tips on how to look after, mend, alter your garments with a bit of dress history to boot! Plus – where to shop!

The show also led me to be part of Dawn’s exciting new clothing venture – BOB. The vintage side of it is up and running, have a goose at the website and continue to watch this space for other fab things!

Have a peek at the Dawn O'Porters vintage clothing website - there are some vintage beauties to be found ... credit card at the ready!

Have a peek at the Dawn O’Porters vintage clothing website – there are some vintage beauties to be found … credit card at the ready! And this is just one arm of this gorgeous business…

Thats a whole ‘nother story, but see what happens when you say YES! It’s exciting!

I will be putting up how too’s in the coming weeks so keep posted and I hope that you feel inspired with your wardrobe and not like you have just read a self help guide … it was all a bit awesome *cue American accent!

In the mean time, here are some videos from us workshop team to get you inspired showing how to hem, sew on a button etc etc

Thanks for listening X

 

 

Make do and Mend

Happy happy 2014.

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been”

 Rainer Maria Rilke

I love that quote – the new year  is an exciting time with all the possibilities and opportunities that can happen.

I had so many wonderful things happen last year, amazing work opportunities and lovely friendships, that last January I had no idea what was in store.

I always try to think about what I want to start doing this year, rather than stop doing…  to start being tidier … this may or may not be mine (!?)  to read a classic, learn how to swing dance, do a bit more cooking (i don’t mind if that dosen’t quite make the grade!) and, wait for it, have a go at glass blowing.

I know, that is out there, but its so amazing!

It seems to be all the rage at the moment, look at this lovely blog from Craft Candy

So aside from wanting to  blow glass in exotic shapes I also start looking in my  wardrobe for things that need zhushing up and mending, especially my vintage clothes.

Make do and Mend…

It is the buzz word at the moment but it has been around for 70 odd years.

During war time Britain everyone had to revamp and make do, and the Ministry of Information created leaflets for all good housewives… (more…)