Here you can catch up with behind the scene insights, quick tips, and out takes. From The Made Up Initiative to failed makes, this is the place for Did You Make That extra details and exclusive material.
I met up with a couple of friends recently, and one of them wore a pair of really cool fringed trousers from & Other Stories. I wanted a pair and left my friends with a promise I’d make some.
Here they are! But you try photographing black silk. Even better, try photographing a black dog sat beside some black silk. Welcome to the vortex, friends! This photo makes me laugh so much.
I bought my fringing off Walthamstow market. There are lots of ebay and Amazon sources, but I found them all really tricky to judge so I’m not going to link here. The good stuff doesn’t come cheap at £5 a metre. I used two. (Read to the end of this blog post for a potential free source!)
The ends of the tassels are basted together with white thread that is easily removed once you pinch an end and pull. There’s a cool video of this in action on my Instagram stories.
The trousers are sewn from the same silk I used for a recent Ogden cami. This silk is so beautiful to wear and doesn’t crease much. It’s from The Man Outside Sainsburys. He has some lovely silks and a white eyelet cotton that I think I need to go back for.
How To Sew With Fringe
Pin and baste your fringing along a raw seam, with the tassels facing in to your piece.
Be careful not to stretch out the fringing tape as you baste or this shall make the final seam line pucker.
Unless you want your tassels hanging below the hem of your make, finish them above the hem line to allow for drape.
Sew your seams as you would normally and press open.
Obviously, you’ll need to be careful not to catch the ends of your fringing in any sewing, but that’s nowhere near as tricky as it sounds. Here’s where my fringed seam meets the waistband.
Okay, that’s your lot! Except… Are you inspired to sew your own fringed trousers? I have two metres of this fringing left. If you’d like a chance to win it, all you need to do is sign up to my newsletter for behind-the-scenes fortnightly updates. Seriously, it’s the best club in town! You have until midnight GMT Wednesday 18 July. This giveaway is open internationally.
Phewee! It’s a heat wave and no mistake. Right now, lifting a little finger involves breaking out in a profound sweat. I applaud anyone who’s managing to sew. Are you down to your underwear yet?
I’m not above sewing in my bra and knickers – either because of the heat or constant trying on of a work in progress. Sometimes the constant rigmarole of climbing back into my day clothes feels like one step too many, especially when I know I’ll be wriggling back into a dress in a moment.
Why bother getting changed? Why not just sew in my knickers?
I have heard of sewing injuries to delicate parts of the body, but am glad to report that hasn’t happened to me – yet.
And sewing classes don’t guarantee modesty. I’ve changed in toilet cubicles, in front of the mirror, in an office and – my proudest moment yet – before a bay window as the light was fading and the sewing class was lit up like a beacon!
Do you indulge in naked sewing and when have you been most shameless?
Disclaimer: No eyeballs were scarred in the writing of this blog post. I kept my clothes on.
I suspect the owners of this handcrafted scissor factory wouldn’t have known an online marketing campaign if it had slapped them round the face like a fish in batter. Yet they’d managed to go viral, exploding into people’s consciousness thanks to Youtube video, The Putter. It’s no small irony that the filmmaker died two years ago.
As a crowd of us gathered at the locked door, early morning sun was already burning through a cloudless sky. Conversation was muted.
This is old school Sheffield. A city centre that has weathered the Industrial Revolution.
Then the doors opened and I felt as though I was stepping through a portal. I was. It’s not often you get to witness a piece of history dissolving before your eyes.
These are fetlock scissors, for trimming around a horse’s hooves. I wonder how many of those were sold a year. I wonder who else makes them.
The studio equipment is being sold off, along with every last pair of scissors made.
I bought some scissors, unmarked, still lacking their final polish. I liked them that way. Then I took a last look around and retreated through the portal, blinking in the glare of the sun.
I walked back up the hill, past the wedding confetti. A little metallic star winking for each last blade sharpened in a Victorian warehouse in a Northern town where the bricks are still stained with soot.
Farewell, Ernest Wright & Son. You did Sheffield proud.
Ever heard that William Shakespeare quote? “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
Shakespeare must have had Louise in mind. She was definitely born great. Just look at that winning smile, positive personality and incredible sewing!
Louise appears in the team vlogs from Sew Over It (episodes here and here). She is a natural in front of the camera and I’m secretly hoping that Louise has applied for The Great British Sewing Bee.
When I met Louise at the launch party for baby and toddler patterns Poppy & Jazz I asked if she’d be kind enough to be interviewed as part of my Meeting Makers series, and she agreed.
Keep reading to the end of the post for an awesome animal print discount with Sew Over It.
Q: Louise, how did you come to work at Sew Over It?
A: I discovered Sew Over It when my mum gifted me a subscription to a sewing magazine. It came with a free copy of the Sew Over It Vintage book. I fell in love with the patterns as they were exactly what I wanted to make.
At the time, I was a stay-at-home mum of two kids under two. As much as I love my children, I really wanted to go back to work. I realised that Sew Over It was the company I wanted to work for!
When the role of Operations Assistant was advertised, I applied and was successful. Since then I’ve managed to work my way up to the Show Coordinator role and I absolutely love my job.
Q: Did you sew before you began working for Lisa Comfort?
A: I did, but I was more enthusiastic than skilful. I started as a teenager, by hand sewing costumes for Drama and Halloween.
Then one year I was making three Halloween costumes, one of which was King Triton. I invested in a cheap sewing machine as there was too much to do by hand.
But it wasn’t until the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee that I became inspired to sew my first dress for a friend’s wedding. Looking back at the dress now, it makes me cringe but I was so proud of it at the time.
Thankfully, since landing the job at Sew Over It I have been able to learn from some very talented people. I can definitely say I’ve come a long way since then.
Q: What are your favourite things to make?
A: After doing Me Made May this year, it would have to be shirt dresses. I love wearing them and I enjoy sewing them up. Weirdly, I enjoy sewing the yoke! Plus, I love a button. I have a ridiculous collection – a combination of inherited buttons and ones I’ve added myself – so I love an opportunity to use them. The right button choice can really make a fabric pop.
Q: You make pretty bold fabric choices – which I love! What advice would you give to readers who might feel a bit timid around strong colours or prints?
A: I am generally drawn to the bright and bold prints. Why use black when you can use orange? But I get that’s not for everyone.
The beauty of sewing your own clothes is that it gives you another avenue to express yourself. So even if you’re a bit timid in your fabric choices, you could always dip your toe in by using a bold fabric in a contrast colour for your lining or bias binding.
If you’re sewing an outfit for a special occasion, a bright colour can really give that wow factor.
Q: You’ve already sewn with otter fabric. What other animal would you love to see in a fabric print?
A: I love animal print, but I find it hard to find fabrics that aren’t too childish. In my opinion, there’s not enough variety in animal prints, and too many butterfly and swallow fabrics! Where are the other animals? I am particularly on the look out for…
a slow norris
or stag beetles
But the number one animal I am after is…
I love them. (You may have guessed that from watching the team Spoonflower vlog.) I even have two sloth necklaces.
I am also always on the lookout for the perfect dinosaurs fabric, as I will never be too old for dinosaurs.
Readers, can you help Louise track down the perfect sloth fabric? We’re throwing the gauntlet down.
Q: What sewing ambitions do you still have that you’d like to fulfil?
A: I’d really like to get better at pattern manipulation as well as tailoring. One of my aims is to make myself a proper winter coat. To take me towards this goal, I am going to be doing the Sew Over It Francine Jacket class. It may not be something I would usually pick but it will be a great opportunity to challenge myself and learn some new skills.
I also really want to do more in the sewing world. I’ve attended more meet-ups and events and I love doing the Sew Over It vlogs! Because of the feedback on the videos we’ve uploaded so far I would like to do more vlogging. I’ve come up with an idea for a sewing vlog with two of my sewing buddies, Lisa and Barbara. We are currently in the midst of brainstorming ideas together which is really exciting.
Q: Finally, will you be my new best friend, please?
A: Nah, you’re good… Ha, just kidding!
Readers, if you are inspired by Louise (who wouldn’t be?) and would like your own opportunity to sew with an animal print, there is a 20% discount on all of these fabrics over at Sew Over It. Just enter the checkout code of NOSWALLOWSALLOWED. This discount is valid for two weeks only, so get over there!
Thanks so much to Louise. I think we can all agree, she’s a star!
Having spent a year knitting my Heaven And Space Shawl on commutes around the world, I thought I’d share a few tips I have learnt!
This shawl has gone on holidays, retreats, trains, through airport security, smuggled into meetings and even to the pub.
It’s kept me calm, sane and occupied at key times when I needed to blank out my mind or just dodge boredom. I’m dreadful at sitting still.
If you also want to carry your knitting around with you, here are my five top tips.
Have a protective bag for your knitting project. It doesn’t need to have loads of bells and whistles (in fact, it probably shouldn’t) but you do want to protect your make from the grim items rattling around in the bottom of your tote. Because we all have grim items rattling around in the bottom of our totes.
Circular needles are made of two needles attached to either end of a flexible cable. They allow you to tuck your elbows close into your body as you knit and you shan’t have the ends of your needles tap, tap, tapping at your fellow commuters’ newspapers.
It’s also convenient to tuck circular needles away in your bag.
I hardly ever knit with traditional needles any more. Do invest in decent circular needles. Cheap versions have sticky cables and ridges where the needle and cable meet.
NON STICKY WOOL
Ideally, you’ll want wool that has a nice sheen and gloss to it, that slithers easily out of your project pouch as you start a new row of sewing. My latest knitting project has sticky, hairy tweed wool and it’s definitely less easy to commute knit.
PHOTOCOPY YOUR INSTRUCTIONS
Or photograph them on your mobile phone. You don’t want to mislay your one copy of your instruction booklet in a train station.
BE PREPARED TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS
People shall be mesmerised by your knitting and they’ll want to talk to you about it. Remember that you are the ambassador of knitting (!), so it’s a good idea to be polite, friendly and answer those questions. After all, you can’t help being fascinating!
I’ve seen people crochet, embroider, knit, sew … all sorts of stuff on commutes. What’s the weirdest commuter crafting you’ve witnessed?
This is the Heaven And Space Shawl. I knitted it over the course of a year, little realising that I’d finish in time for yellow to be this season’s colour. Guess I’m just lucky to be a slow knitter!
It was made using yarn bought from Strictly Knitting on the Isle of Wight. Ella and I always make a point of visiting this shop when I’m on the island.
The wool is beautiful – I wish I could remember the brand.
I felt bad about how long it took me to knit this shawl, until someone reminded me that it had accompanied me on a significant journey, watching me slowly turn my life around. It was my commute knit, as I darted around London, to Bologna and Frankfurt, through winter and summer, networking my little tush off.
Building a new chapter in my career took guts. Turns out, it also took knitting.
I still felt perplexed by this shawl when I finished and pinned it out. It was a long saffron snake, writhing with a life I didn’t quite understand until I blocked those 3D ripples into parallelograms.
Finally, I started to wear my shawl and discovered that I rather liked its golden twists and turns.
Funny how life turns out. I think I must keep this shawl for ever, and remember what it taught me. To choose a quicker project next time!
If you ever think you have life nailed, you’re probably wrong. And after eight-ish years of sewing, I’ve realised the same is true about making your own clothes. Honestly, sewing still scares me sometimes!
This struck me on my latest make. Here are the first five fears that occurred to me, starting with the biggest fear I just can’t shake.
Fear Number One – What If It Doesn’t Fit?
I’m a woman; I have a distorted body image. For me at least, the two go together like social media and Me Made May. I’m paranoid about makes being too small so I often add a little extra when cutting out. On my latest make, this meant ripping out my zip insertion and removing a good two inches from the waist. Two inches!
Fear Number Two – Buttonholes
You’ve slaved over your make for more hours than you care to think about. The last step is inserting the buttonholes. And you know what’s happened in the past. Oh my, you know. I still never start sewing a buttonhole without accompanying pinpricks of sweat.
Fear Number Three – The Mistake There’s No Return From
Cutting out a directional print that faces the wrong way. Overlocking seams that should never have met. Adding fusible interfacing to the right side of the fabric. You get the point – some mistakes you can’t learn from. Some you just have to suck up and throw away. Gargghhhhhhh!
Fear Number Four – Disappointment
You pour so much work into sewing something, inspired by what you’ve seen on the pattern envelope and social media. But there’s always the fear … maybe it just won’t suit me. Or I’ve chosen the wrong fabric. Or I just … hate it.
Fear Number Five – Shall The Sewing Bee Ever Return?
This one, at least, is answered – for now! I can’t wait to see Joe Lycett take the sewing world by storm.
I’d love to know if there’s some sewing phobia you just can’t mentally get past. Share it below and send it out into the world – free therapy! And if you do have tips for battling the sewing fear, let us know. My buttonholes shall thank you.
I am nothing if not derivative. This entire outfit was inspired by The Foldline’s Sew The Summer Trends vlog that featured a place holder image of a giant gingham outfit. I mean, the gingham was giant. Not the outfit. Only a giant could wear a giant gingham outfit. But a normal person could wear an outfit sewn from giant gingham…
Oh, you know what I mean!
I put a call out on Instagram for good sources of cotton giant gingham and came up trumps thanks to Thimble And Notch. Buy their gingham here! Be warned – last time it quickly went out of stock. You NEED this fabric in your life. It’s stunningly perfect.
The culottes are my fourth pair of B6178. Yup, I like this pattern. The top is an Ogden Cami from True Bias. The entire outfit was pulled together from 2.5 metres of fabric.
What I love about the Ogden Cami is that for such a minimalist blouse it remains discreet and the spaghetti straps don’t constantly slip off your shoulders. Any top like this that I can still wear with a well-supporting bra gets my vote!
There’s a partial lining and I made mine from oh-so-breathable muslin. I’m determined to be comfortable this summer.
This top is perfect for practising French seams
When it comes to pattern matching giant gingham, I’d say do what you can. Pay attention to the obvious details but don’t stress if you can’t get everything lined up. You shan’t succeed and life is too darn short. Obviously, great fun to be had with bias cut gingham.
I love how this outfit layers with one of my favourite vintage cardigans…
I end this blog post feeling flummoxed. Today I witnessed both the very magnifcient and the very poor of human nature. The Irish have repealed the 8th; I found myself ghosted by a man.
There’s only one thing to be done in these situations. Walk the dog. And keep the faith that things can only get better for women. They can TRULY only get better and I am so proud of the people of Ireland today.