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A post all about bags and what you need to make them.
It's not difficult to make your own bags, in fact they are one of my favourite things to make. I use them myself and give them as gifts. Quite often I am out with one and I end up giving it away and then I have to go home and make myself a replacement!
I sometimes make one to match an outfit or for a specific purpose, such as a beach bag,and I have shopping bags everywhere!
The other great thing is that once you have a few basic supplies you can use up odds and ends of fabrics which you would otherwise not have a use for. It's all win-win!
This is one I finished last night, it's a saddle bag and I made it from remnants of tweed fabrics.
This is a special bag which I made for my school bestie Margaret for her birthday. I was in such a rush to finish it and post it that I didn't take many photographs of it before it went off to Devon!
My friend Melanie bought me this book for my birthday and I was itching to copy some of the fabulous bags. It is a great book as everything is explained in great detail and options given to make the bag purely yours. There are lots of ideas for trims and embellishments too.
There are however dozens of great bag patterns from almost every sewing pattern company, these are just some from my stash. Many dress patterns come with a bag pattern too.
If you take a look here, Bags and accessories you will find a huge selection of bag patterns from clutch bags, tote bags, handbags and lots more in between. Think about what you would like to make and buy a pattern. As you become proficient in bag making - and you will because it is addictive - you will find that you don't need a pattern at all, just an idea.
For Margaret's bag I chose the Claudia bag from the book. Of course you do not have to use the fabrics suggested, you can use whatever you like which is of a suitable weight. My main fabric for this was denim.
I wanted to include some fabric which has been in her family for as long as we can remember so I used it for the bag and pocket linings. It brings back lovely memories for her everytime she looks inside.
All bag patterns explain what fabric you need and usually you can use your leftover scraps from other projects, or fat quarters, as they really don't need much fabric. You could also use smaller pieces to make a patchwork bag.
The bag has an external zipped pocket, don't be afraid of this as they are far easier to insert than a dress zip! Use a plastic zip or a special bag zip .
Place the right side of the pocket to the right side of the bag, centering it exactly.
Then follow your bag instructions and measure where the zip is going to be placed, marking it with a water erasable or vanishing ink marker pen. Marker pens
Trim your zip to the correct size if necessary and stitch across the end of the teeth if you have shortened it, and also stitch the top tapes together
Machine stitch around the outside of the markings and carefully cut along the centre line and corners taking care not to snip your stitches.
Then "post" the lining through the hole, straighten it all out and give it a good press. This is your zip opening.
Use some Prym wonder tape to stick the zip on the reverse of the bag, centering the teeth and making sure that it lines up as perfectly as possible.
Prym wonder tape is one of my favourite products. It is a double sided sticky tape which holds all sorts of fabrics together whilst you sew them and is especially useful when inserting zips. Zips for bags
This is the back of the pocket with the zipper stitched in place.
And this is the front. Beautiful!
Don't worry about the lack of instructions here on this post because whatever pattern you choose comes with all the instructions you need.
The back of the pocket bag has been stitched down the sides. Go over your stitching again for strength and if your fabric frays a lot then use your overlocker too.
I'm now making the tab with which to close the front patch pocket. You will need to line this - and the bag itself , with a specialist interlining. I used Fusible volume fleece but there are others such as Decovil depending on the finish you require.
The finished tab is stitched between the lower and upper bag front.
Another product which I absolutely love are these fabulous colorful poppers from Prym. This Colour snap kit represents great value for money or you can purchase individual packs in a variety of shapes and colours. Just look at these Various snaps there is every colour you can imagine, including packs of mixed colours. They are much easier to insert that the metal ones too and much more fun in my opinion.
You will need a pair of plyers Prym Vario plyers to use to insert them. These snaps are great for all sorts of garments where otherwise you would need a button and buttonhole.( Think blouses!)
The poppers are extremely easy to put on just remember to put them in place as you go along otherwise you may struggle to fit the plyers over large areas of fabric.
This is the closing for the patch pocket. The pocket is two rectangles of fabric, one layer of volume fleece, sewn together, leaving an opening at the bottom to turn the pocket the right way out.
Press and sew in place.
On any bag if you wish to create a base then simply cut two-inch squares from the corners of the bottom of the bag.
Bring the side and lower seams together and stitch across, matching the seams. I glued some extra decovil on the base to keep it firm.
Make the lining in the same way. Using the made up front and backs as a template.
You can add zippered or patch pockets if you want them.
There are various ways to make the handle. This is where you decide how long you want the handle to be. Do you want a shoulder bag, a cross body bag or a handbag?. You decide. Try a few lengths out and see what works best for you.
To make the straps I actually use waistband facing Folda-band is perfect for this. Simply iron it on the reverse side of the fabric and using the perforations fold the edges in and then fold it down the middle . Stitch close to the edge along both long sides.
You may want to attach your handle with hardware - these Handle loops look great
Or you may want to use a ready made handle , for example Bag handle handles can be in leather or chain or plastic. Take a look at the Bag handles available at Jaycotts.
Pin and sew your finished handles to the sides on the outside of the bag.
Make up the lining but leave a large opening at the side or bottom to enable you to pull the entire bag through to the right side.
Put the bag inside the lining, right sides together and sew along the top edge.
Pull the whole lot though the opening in the lining and then either machine or hand stitch the gap closed. It will be hidden on the inside of the bag and won't be seen.
I inserted a ribbon with a key ring on the end before stitching the top. I added a fun charm as I knew Margaret would love it. An empty key ring is always useful I find - no more hunting for keys!
I added another popper to close the bag at the top.
This is the finished bag,pressed and ready to be posted. As I said earlier though I wasn't so much of a rush that I forgot to photograph the front with the pocket.
For the next bag I wanted to use up all the short lengths of tweed fabric I have in my stash. I chose colours which complemented each other.
For this bag it was necessary to make a template. The full pattern for this bag is included in the book. You will find similar patterns in the Jaycotts collection. I
had just about enough fabrics to cut the basic bag out, but not enough for the curved additions at the bottom of the front and back. Not that it matters because the bag looks great without.
This fabric frays so it is important to cut plenty of seam allowances and sew large seams.
This is the fusible volume fleece in place.
The pattern suggested an external zip similar to the previous bag, but because of the way my fabric frays I decided to add a pocket between the top and bottom sections of the front, to be hidden under the flap.
This is the pocket section being sewn onto the lower part of the bag. It is not clear here but I did interface the pocket with normal medium weight interfacing.
Once the sections are brought together the pocket will sit neatly inside.
The other end of the pocket is sewn onto the top section
Once the bank front has been pressed you can hardly see the pocket. I added a popper at this stage to keep it closed.
This pattern has a gusset so once the fusible fleece has been ironed on pin and then stitch the gusset onto the front. Stitch as close to the fleece as possible.
Don't be same with the back.
This is the basic shell of the bag.
To make the pocket flap I interfaced both the front and the back pieces with a Woven iron on interfacing .this will give structure to the flap whilst still allowing it to remain flexible.
Top stitch the outside of the flap then sew it to the back of the bag right sides together
Cut out the lining. I added lined patch pockets which I stitched down the centre as two smaller pockets are more useful. But you can make your pockets to suit your own needs
Stitch the lining together but leave a large gap at the bottom of one of the sides.
Make the handle as in the previous bag and attach them to the sides.
I took a piece of fabric which I didn't want and cut the pattern out. I did not cut out facings or sleeve flounce as they are not needed for a toille. The idea of making a toile or test garment is to just tack together the main pieces for fitting purposes.
I really do feel that this is a very important stage and should not be missed out. It really is worth the extra effort.
You can either hand tack the pieces together or do as I did and use the Basting Stitch on my sewing machine
The manual gave me the correct settings and it was quick and easy to put the garment together this way.
My sewing machine is the amazing Brother Innov-is 1300 and I love it. I wrote a review about it if you would like to read it. Review of the Brother Innov-is 1300 it isn't machine I would certainly recommend to anybody. If you are interested then give Jaycotts a ring and have a chat about it.
The machine is so easy to use. The large LCD touch screen shows the selected stitch, the foot you should use and options for stitch length, width and tension.
This is the toile of the bodice. Hmm, in true Angela style it is far too big!
The reason I am having a situation with sizing at the moment is that I changed my diet to eating healthy food. The result of that is that I have dropped two dress sizes. I didn't intend losing weight, it just happened. Unfortunately ( or fortunately depending on what I am making) I was trained as a Tailor and it was drummed into me to always cut larger seam allowances, so " just to be on the safe side" I always add extra wriggle room when I am cutting out. I wish I wouldn't! I wish I would trust my measurements!
Also this pattern has a large seam allowance in key areas of 1" - almost twice the usual seam allowance of 5/8" . Plus it has a large amount of ease.
The result was that it didn't fit me anywhere at all!
So, back to the drawing board. I made three test garments in all and ended up with a much smaller size. I remembered to tack each stage and try it on for fit as I went along.
The fabric I chose is a pure linen which frays notoriously and I did not want any strain at the seams or the seam would disintegrate with wear, so I did not make it too close fitting.
Had I chosen a cotton fabric instead I would have made the skirt closer fitting.
The fabric looks similar on the right and wrong sides so to make sewing the garment easier I used a cross in ordinary Tailors chalk on the wrong side of each piece.
Make the garment in stages, first the front bodice, attach the front skirt then do the same for the back.
The midriff panel called out for a touch of embroidery - any excuse to use my Brother Innov-is 800e embroidery machine.
I chose a very simple design which I have actually used before. The machine has many designs already built in, but there are plenty to download off the internet and many are free.
Jaycotts do stock some embroidery designs so please telephone for more details. They also sell a wide range of stabilisers and accessories.
The stabiliser I used is Film-O-plast. This is a self adhesive stabiliser which is very useful when the fabric you want to embroider is slightly smaller than the hoop you need to use. Do make sure that the fabric is very secure though because if it moves around your design will pucker.
I absolutely love this Multi purpose screwdriver it actually revolutionised my embroidery as it is now very easy to tighten the screw on the hoop which makes for much better embroidery. If you have a Brother machine please seriously consider buying one - they are worth every penny.
If you didn't want to embroider the midfriff then consider piping at the top and bottom edge or even using a contrast fabric.
This is my dress front sewn, all seams neatened and pressed.
There is a pleat in the back which I neatened with a double folded hem. Tack the back together .
At this stage I tacked the rest of the dress together for another fitting. I do confess again that it was still too large so I was glad that I had given myself the opportunity of making some more adjustments now before it was machined together
I also found that the back was a bit too loose, but be careful how much you take the dress in on the bodice because you do need wearing ease so that you can move your arms about. Also check that you can sit down comfortably.
Slight ( big!) adjustments made, I stitched the back dress together and inserted a zip. Either insert a regular zip or an invisible zipper, Dress Zips which ever is your preference.
Jaycotts have the best selection of zips at the best prices I know, so they are my number one choice for any type of zip.
I wanted to add the sleeve flounce but thought better of it in the end because my fabric creases so much and it wouldn't look too great if I was wearing a jacket over the top and wanted to take it off.
So I thought that I would make a double hem and add an embellishment.
My sewing machine has 182 built in stitches, but don't just take my word for it, read my review and then call in at Jaycotts to try one for yourself, you will be amazed.
The square feed drive system means that it can stitch extra wide decorative stitches, and it was one of these I chose to edge my sleeves.
You need to change your foot to the ( included) monogram foot . This has extra room to accommodate the needle movement and allows you to see what you are doing easily.
It might seem odd at first using one of these extra wide stitches so do practise before putting it on your actual garment.
I quickly discovered that the decorative stitch was perfectly placed if I aligned the foot to the edge of the sleeve when the needle was at its furthest point to the right. It does move around a bit. Once you have seen the machine sew this type of stitch you will easily see what I mean.
The facings are next. Do clip into the centre front down to but not through the stitching and clip the curves too
Press the seam open and then press the facing to the inside. The pattern instructions are very clear on what to do.
Do keep trying your dress on, it is the only way to get a perfect fit.
I wanted to hold the facing in place but I did not want any topstitching to show on the right side.
The answer is to understitch the facing to the seam allowance. The arrow on the above picture shows the understitching on the inside but not on the outside. Again, the pattern explains exactly how to understitch.
The bodice looks very neat, the seams are all perfectly matched and it fits well.
I finished my hem with a double hem just like I finished the sleeve hem.
This is a lovely pattern, it teaches you the correct way to achieve a garment which fits perfectly every time. The skills learned can now be used every time you sew something and it will always fit perfectly.
For information on any of the products featured, or to place your order or for more details of the fabulous range of machines give them a ring during opening hours on 01244 394099
We are delighted to have Christi join the Jaycotts team!
Bringing along her sewing knowledge, skills and experience. Some of you may have already recognised her which is great because you already know what an asset she is. Christi has been teaching sewing since 2012 through her own sewing courses and workshops in North Wales. (She’s been sewing for more years than she is willing to admit !)
Christi will be happy to offer advice and demo's on a variety of machines, and chat about the latest sewing tools, sewing patterns etc. and will also be available to answer quick sewing queries (time and demand permitting).
Through having Christi as part of our team, Jaycotts will be providing opportunities for you to increase your sewing knowledge through our own taught sessions. These are currently in the planning stage so keep your eye on our newsletters, website and our facebook and twitter for details, and if you are in the area, do call in to say hello !
This is a pretty little blouse which I made with Simplicity 8601. Just in case you do not have an overlocker, or don't want to splash out on four bobbins of overlocker thread in a colour you will not use much I'll talk about the Overedge foot too.
This is a new pattern and don't you just love it ! The pattern is Simplicity 8601 which is a collection of easy to sew tops.
This pattern is suitable for all levels of sewers and I really appreciate that the back of the pattern envelope shows the finished measurements in addition to the size guide. Always take time to take your measurements , wearing the type of underwear which you are likely to be wearing underneath the top - it does make a difference
I decided to use this beautiful Chiffon fabric which was given to me - more about that later as it is connected to the wagon I was telling you about. Chiffon is quite slippery and it frays and snags so unless you have some sewing experience with it I recommend using a lightweight cotton, cotton Lawn for example. Cotton is much easier to sew.
The pattern ties at the front in all views and there are four sleeve options. I think it looks best with high waisted skirts or pants and depending on the fabric can be smart or casual.
The instructions are very easy to follow and each step is given an explanation as to why it is important. For example we are told to stay stitch the neckline to stop it from pulling out of shape.
The first steps are to sew the centre fronts together down to the marking for the tie front extentions. Then to sew the centre back down from the neckline opening marking.
I find it useful to mark the reverse of each fabric piece so that I do not get confused trying to figure out which is the right and wrong side! Use your favourite Chalk marker for this. I just draw a X on the wrong side of each piece near the bottom.
You will also need to mark any darts ( none in this pattern) and dots using Tacking thread this is made specifically for the purpose as it is made from short rough fibres which means that the thread stays in your fabric until you pull it out
Most patterns advise you to sew the side seams and then to insert the sleeves, but wherever possible I prefer to sew the sleeves in flat before I stitch the side seams. The first step is to run a long basting stitch along the top of the sleeve within the seam allowance. This is used to ease the sleeve head into the armsyce. By the way if your fabric is slipping or is difficult to sew then do change to a Walking Foot. This is a Brother but Jaycotts sell other makes, just give them a call and ask which is best for your machine. The number is 01244 394099
It's difficult to see with this busy fabric but this is the sleeve sewn in place , it is so much easier doing it this way rather than inserting it into a circular opening Never sew over your pins by the way, always remove them as you reach them. You could damage your machine if you don't.
This is an Overlock or Overedge foot Again, different makes are available so contact Jaycotts if one did not come with your machine, they often do so you may already have one. You will notice that it has a "toe", this is the part which the machine needle zigzags over to form an overlocked seam. Overlock feet with side cutters are also available from Jaycotts. The open space next to the toe is placed right at the edge of the fabric. I do use this foot a lot. Overlocker thread can work out expensive because you need four bobbins, and it is not practical to keep every single colour in " just in case", so this foot comes into its own when I need to finish the seams on a garment in a colour I do not have the correct colour of overlocker thread for.
If you look in your sewing machine manual in the utility stitches section you will find at least one option for Overedge stitches. I selected the one especially for fine fabrics. The picture of my LCD screen shows the type of stitch you need.
Have a practice run beforehand and adjust the stitch length and width if necessary.
Once you are happy with the results you are good to go. Jot down your settings so that you can finish the rest of the seams as you go without trying to remember them.
It is now a simple process to join the sleeve and blouse side seams in one process. Match the underarm seam carefully ,together with any notches .Once the seam is sewn finish the seam as before.
I debated about just understitching the facing in place, but as my fabric is very slippery I decided to top stitch to keep it firmly in place. This is personal preference. I use both depending on the fabric or on the look I want to achieve. On this fabric I felt that the facing needed holding firmly in place.
When stitching the facing in place you may want to add the button loop during the process, as described in the pattern instructions or you may want to make one later as I did. Again, it's personal choice
This is my button loop which I made with embroidery thread. You could use top stitching thread instead.
This is my button back closure
Thank you for reading this post. I do hope that you make this Simplicity top. You can have it made in an afternoon and it will soon become a firm favourite.
I love Machine embroidery on my Brother machine, but I have been having problems hooping my fabric and stabiliser .
This is a story about how a tiny gadget saved my sanity.
I love machine embroidery, who doesn't, but the results I was getting were so disappointing, all this puckering, it just doesn't look nice.
It is just spoiling the effect of my designs. All that work I put in and the results are not good. What is happening? Have you ever experienced this?
Everything starts off fine, the fabric and stabiliser are stretched tightly across the hoop, but then after a while it all starts to look wrong.
I tried everything and in the end I asked Brother themselves what I was doing wrong.
The solution they gave me was so simple! I don't know why I didn't see it for myself!
You see, these are the tools which typically come with Brother machines. They are used to tighten screws, change needles, tighten embroidery hoops and a zillion other uses. They work fine for most people yes...... But they are so tiny! I struggle to use my hands so I cannot grip them properly Maybe you have this problem too ? I know my friend has arthritis in her hand and I have Parkinsons, so trying to hold such a tiny object and fiddle with tightening screws is an almost impossible task. As I have grown older my fingers are less nimble too making it doubly hard work.
It is important that the fabric to be embroidered and the stabiliser under it are secured very tightly in the hoop otherwise the fabric will move around resulting in the puckering shown in the above pictures. The lack of grip in my hand meant I was not tightening the screw in the hoop sufficiently, giving very poor results. So, what is this mystery solution?
It is this utterly brilliant and simple Multi-purpose screwdriver! Who would have thought that such a tiny object would revolutionise not only my embroidery but make little jobs on my sewing machine so much easier too! The metal screwdriver part is easily rotated to make it suitable for all your needs.
The first position shown in the picture above is so useful for jobs on all your Brother machines. Embroidery machines, overlockers and sewing machines all have screws that need to be tightened.
Take my Brother Innov-is 800E for example. Sometimes I want to remove the foot attachment and swop it for a different one. Old screwdriver? Fiddly to hold. Same with changing the needle, a bit fiddly too.
Sometimes there are screws in hard to reach places and I find the little round gadget which came with the machine so hard to grip. The result of which was that something which should have taken me seconds to remove was taking forever
But put the multi purpose tool in position 2 and it is so easy to access even the most awkward screw!
Now this is the bit I like best. Rotate the screwdriver bit untl it is inside the rounded end and you will be astounded at what it can be used for.
Just insert it into the tightening screw on your embroidery hoop and turn, keep on turning and suddenly your embroidery hoop is tight and secure and all this without struggling to use a fiddly little tool.
Your stabiliser and fabric will now stay put because it is so very easy to tighten the screw properly - no effort required! And that is the secret of smooth embroidery - keeping the fabric firmly in place in the hoop without it moving at all.
No puckering around the embroidery on this little pillow!
And perfectly flat pockets
No puckering to spoil the applique on this pillow either!
You will now be as excited as I am and be wondering how to purchase this wonder tool! It is called The Brother Multi-purpose Purpose Screwdriver and it is available from your nearest Brother outlet priced £14:99 and worth every penny!
We recently hosted an exclusive event with Sweet Pea Machine Embroidery Australia, and Brother Sewing Machines.
Sweet Pea were invited by Brother UK to do a roadshow in the UK and Germany and it was great that Jaycotts were chosen as one of the few locations to host an event promoting their incredible in the hoop embroidery designs
First of all let me introduce you to the team. On the far left is Holly, and next to her is Allison. Next to Allison is Annette and on the far right is Emma. Allison is actually the creator of Sweet Pea Embroidery, about four years ago she was looking for something new and exciting to make and as she couldn't find anything she started to produce free-standing lace earrings which she sold on market stalls. So this is a very new company
Emma is relatively new to the company , she only learned how to digitise a year ago, and it was she who gave the demonstrations. Here she is at the beginning of the day, which was very early morning, preparing her fabrics and threads ready for the first demonstration.
Sweet Pea are unique in that they specialise in " in the hoop" embroidery, and the photographs on this page show examples of the 500+ designs they now produce and sell.
This form of embroidery is different to other forms of machine embroidery where a part made article is embroidered and then made into a garment or other item. With this method the actual piece of work is either fully or partially completed without removing it from the hoop!
The designs are available to purchase directly from them online so do look at the Sweet Pea website But very soon a very limited number of places will be selling some of their exclusive designs instore. More exciting news about that at a later date!
It should be mentioned that the staff at Jaycotts, Melanie from Brother, and the Sweet Pea team all worked incredibly hard to get the store ready. Brother sewing machines needed preparing, tables moved, and the exhibits prepared and displayed - so thanks must go to everyone for the tremendous work done to prepare for this event.
So, what designs can be made? Well the answer is almost anything! Toys,table runners, bags with zippers, quilts and much more. Even the fluffy teddy is an in the hoop design
Following the continued trend for embroidered clothes, don't you just love this Toucan and Hibiscus embroidery set? It is available to purchase and download from the website Toucan and Hibiscus Embroidery design this is one of the few designs done on an actual garment
Sweet Pea Designs support a number of Charities,and produce some designs where all the proceeds to directly to a specific cause Sweet Pea supported Charities
All proceeds from the sales of the Duck purse go to UNICEF to purchase water pumps for people who have to walk miles each day to collect water. This was their first charity design.
The second one is the Worry Monster, the proceeds from this design go to World Vision to purchase classroom furniture in third world countries. The idea of the worry monster is that children can write down their anxiety or fear and the monster will eat it away. (Of course a parent will remove the worry, but anybody with a young child will see the reasoning behind this idea)
Another charity design is this Owl mug rug. The proceeds from sales of this design will go to the Fred Hollows foundation. Every time Sweet Pea reach $250 AUD they will be able to restore sight to 10 people. So isn't this a worthwhile cause.
With all these designs Sweet Pea will show records that will verify that they are doing what they say they will.
The final design shown is a cute mug rug with an Owl appliqué for the 4x4 5x5 6x6 and 7x7 hoops.
The mugrug requires only one hooping and it is completely finished requiring only a few centimetres of hand sewing to close where the mugrug is turned out the right way. It is a great design for anyone new to this type of embroidery.
You will notice that a lot of the Bags and Purses contain pockets holding soft toys. These are fabulous for girls and boys as they include dolls, mermaids, cars , fire engines and lots more! I love this Australian themed bag don't you? The toys are fully removable and are meant to be played with.
There are a lot of designs for quilts and quilting blocks Quilts and quilting blocks as well as table runners and place mats. The colours used are amazing, but your design will be unique too as you can choose your own fabrics and block placements.
One of my favourite designs is this table runner, Cactus table runner. It is one of their latest designs. You will find table wear designs for all the different seasons and holidays. There are some gorgeous Christmas designs for example
For all these designs you need an embroidery Machine. Sweet pea recommend Brother machines.
There is a wide choice of embroidery machines at Jaycotts and your choice is dependant on whether you want an embroidery only machine or a machine which does both sewing and embroidery. These machines sew normally but easily switch to an embroidery machine at the touch of a button.
Of course there is also the incredible Brother Innov-is XV " Dream machine" which is thoroughly amazing.
One of the more popular designs for gifts and fundraising are soft toys and little purses which can all be found on the Sweet Pea web site. Yes, you are allowed to sell the finished design once you have completed it.
Some of the comments I heard from people who have used the designs are that the instructions are very clear and easy to follow with pictures for every stage.
In addition, the web page Sweet Pea gives tutorials on a wide range of subjects including articles on using Leather, sewing with Metallic thread, thread breakages, choosing the right stabiliser and much more. You will also find details of the monthly sew along on this page
Another comment is that the designs are a very good price and that there is plenty of choice. Marion was one of their very first UK customers, she found them by accident by doing an internet search for embroidery designs and since then she has remained a loyal fan.
Sweet pea have a terrific Facebook page by the way, with a massive following Sweet Pea on Facebook you can show your own sweet pea makes and enter into their competitions. There is a monthly sew-along with prizes to be won. There is also a quilt block of the month.
One of the things I love most about the designs is how the zipper is stitched in the hoop too! I only wish zipper insertion was this simple for clothes!
I also liked the demonstrations given by Emma who made these zippered purses. People were transfixed by her knowledge and expertise and friendly manner.
She created the fabric using scraps of lace and ribbon (you could even use cellophane apparently) She placed lots of little pieces of lace and ribbon on top of a base fabric , covered it with a wash away stabiliser and stippled all over it to hold the pieces in place.
This is the design being stippled on the embroidery machine. Which means that a lot of random stitches are being worked to bind everything together as one fabric . Notice that embroidery machines are not like sewing machines in that an embroidery machine just gets on with it whilst you sit and watch, you only need to touch it to change a thread or to move to the next stage
Emma drew a large crowd around her as she gave other ideas on how to create a unique effect. She told us that she has seen people use sweet wrappers and even a crisp packet effectively!
This is one of the beautiful finished designs.
There is a whole range of designs on most topics you can think of, I like the TEA TIME designs where you can find pot towell holders, coasters, cushion, table runners and more.
This is the lovely Holly. On the day she was downloading designs which people had purchased onto a disc to make it easier to start using the design once they got it home. There are full instructions on the web site on How to download our designs which need to be followed carefully.
If you purchase a design from the web site it is important to remember that you cannot just transfer the whole thing to a pen drive and stick it into your embroidery machine
Each of the design comprises of a full set of instructions which you can either print or open on your computer and follow them off there. The instructions are very comprehensive and easy to follow with photographs and text to show you exactly what you need to do step by step . There are options for different hoop sizes and English or German.
The part which needs to go onto a pen drive is marked "pes" file. Once you have found that click on it, and you will find that it will be in the correct format for your Brother Embroidery Machine.
The pes. file shows on my computer as a blue flower but that is only because it was opened in the Brother PE design 10 software which I use to digitise my own designs and to make alterations to others.
The instruction booklet for each design is in colour and you really cannot go wrong if you follow it exactly. It is very comprehensive so you may wish to keep it on your lap top if you have room for it next to your embroidery machine. Otherwise you can make a printed copy.
I have put a pen drive into my lap top ready to receive the embroidery design. I keep my embroidery files in a folder on my laptop and they are also backed up on my pen drive. I have a separate folder for the Sweet Pea designs on both .
The embroidery designs are shown on my PE design software but if you do not use it then there is no need to panic - you do not need it. Simply open the design from your downloads .
This is the design I have chosen just for an example to show you, it is called Pretty House Applique.
What you need to do next is to send your Embroidery design to your USB media stick ie your pen drive.
It is very important that you do not try to open any pes. designs on your computer. simply drag or right click the pes.files and transfer them to your pen drive.
I am only able to open them on my lap top because I have the corect software which enables me to do it.
When you have transferred the file to your pen drive insert it into your embroidery machine.
The icon on the right of the above picture will appear and so you need to click on it to open it.
You then need to scroll through your designs until you find the one you want
Once you have found your design on the LCD screen, click on it and it will appear on the LCD editing screen. This is where you would make any minor changes to your embroidery design.
Click END EDIT
Your design is now ready to embroider. You will notice that the screen shows how long it will take to complete the design, the thread colour order and the area which is currently being embroidered etc.
At the moment all the designs are only available to purchase through their web site, but soon a few select outlets will be announcing that they have some designs to purchase in their own stores. These will come ready on a disc so there will be no necessity to download these particular designs from the internet.
I hope the photographs of just some of the Sweet Pea designs have inspired you to want to have a go yourself.
You are invited to an event with Sweet Pea Embroidery from Australia who are visiting Jaycotts and a very limited number of other places in the UK.
Sweet Pea Embroidery Australia
This is a unique event so make a date in your diary and come along to the Chester showroom and meet Alison, Annette and the team from Sweet Pea.
You will also meet Melanie who is the Regional Manager and Product Specialist for Brother Sewing Machines.
Alex and the team from Jaycotts will be there and of course myself.
Booking is not necessary.
THURSDAY 12TH APRIL 2018
10am to 4pm
Chester Trade Park,
Unit D2 Bumpers Lane,
Tel: 01244 394099
Sweet Pea Embroidery specialises in "in the Hoop" embroidery and examples of just some of the designs you can make are shown on this post.
What is " in the hoop" embroidery? Well, usually embroidery is done on a finished article or a part made blouse front for example, but with this method you are making an actual piece of work which is fully or partially completed in the embroidery hoop. The designs are perfect for people who want to expand upon the normal activities done on an embroidery machine. You need to see it to believe it!
It is incredible to imagine that all of these designs were made on an ordinary domestic embroidery machine, even this soft toy. Sweet Pea go to endless trouble to produce thoroughly detailed instructions so you can follow each step closely with words and photographs.
There are designs for all sorts of cases and purses as well as tote bags, sewing kits, and handbags
There are panels which can be used as table runners or wall hangings, quilts, table mats and coasters. Bunting, bibs, hats - the list goes on!
And do look at this, what child of any age would not be delighted with it? One point which I found interesting is that Sweet Pea allow you to sell your finished designs, something which a lot of companies forbid.
There are such a lot of beautiful designs to choose from so do go to their web site and take a look Sweet Pea website Don't forget to sign up for their mailing list too. Sweet Pea recommend BROTHER sewing machines which is why Brother are accompanying them on the tour
This bunny purse is so cute don't you think? One thing I find amazing - and you won't believe this - but the zip is inserted in the hoop by the embroidery machine!
There are a few free designs to try on their website and Facebook sites so there is no need to purchase a design initially. Be warned though, Sweet Pea designs are very addictive as I am finding out!
I have of course tried a couple of designs myself. This is a pillow. I used a good quality craft cotton, wadding and a stabiliser. It is vitally important that you take care to hoop your fabrics tightly because the fabric needs to stay taught in the loop. If you don't then there will be a lot of wrinkles around the embroidered areas. The instructions tell you step by step how to prepare your fabrics.
The first thing which happens is that the embroidery machine sews around the outside of the design to hold all the layers together. Then the outline of the hill is sewn and you then need to take the hoop out of the machine and place the fabric for the hill over the outline, put it back , stitch it in place and then trim the fabric before satin stitching the applique in place. Each piece is added in the same way. It is a little bit fiddly but the results are really worth it. It is not difficult and once you get used to working differently you will work through the designs quickly. It is so pleasurable you won't want to leave your craft room!
This is my finished design. I was amazed to find that the embroidery machine sews the side panels on too, still in the hoop! Once the design was finished all I needed to do was to add some lace trim and sew the backing on with my regular sewing machine.It was simple enough to then stuff it and slipstitch the opening closed.
And this is my finished pillow. I have some more designs to work, and I'll let you know how they progress.
About Jaycotts and Chester
If you have never visited Chester before you are in for a treat, so why not turn your visit to this event into a short break?
The Chester lifestyle website gives lots of information on things to do and see, places to eat and stay and where to shop. It is certainly worth staying for a night or two,there is plenty to see and do in addition to visiting Jaycotts
It is a very pretty city and you will find that it caters for everybody from history lovers to boating enthusiasts. Chester Lifestyle has some Hotel Ideas and will be pleased to tell you more about Chester if you contact them - details are on the website.
Brother sewing machines
Jaycotts are proud to stock an extensive range of Brother Sewing Machines and accessories. Senior staff are always on hand to talk you through the various machines and let you try them out.
If you love Sweet Pea embroidery, and I know you will, then you will definately need an embroidery machine, or a machine which does both embroidery and normal sewing
Take a look at the range of Brother Sewing machines on Jaycotts web site and make a note of what type of machine would suit your needs best. This is a great opportunity not only to say hello to the famous Sweet Pea ladies but to take advantage of the expertise of Melanie from Brother and the wonderful Jaycotts family.
So, I hope that you will save the date in your diary and come along. I'm willing to answer your sewing questions too. So don't miss out!
The contact details for Jaycotts are above, but there is an online contact form on Jaycotts web site where you can also register for the newsletter and be the first to hear about special offers, events and new products.
I look forward to meeting you on Thursday April 12th at Jaycotts.
The pattern I chose to make is McCalls M7657 The fabric is Plain combed cotton Lawn from Minerva This top is tunic style which pulls over your head. There are two sleeve options but I adapted the pattern to make the sleeves in a different style. You will need Gutterman Sew All thread in white You also need a new Sewing machine needle For Lawn I would choose a Fine one. This link is to a large box of machine needles which is great value but they are also sold in smaller packs.
I must tell you that I have just had to opt out of a discussion on a social media site because a group of people were insisting that machine needles do not need to be changed frequently. No matter what argument I put forward they were not listening and in the end I left the conversation. Let me tell you that it is absolutely vital that you change your machine needle with every project. It is most certainly not a " waste of money" you have paid a lot for your pattern and fabric, why risk your project failing or your machine becoming damaged because you didn't spend a small amount of money on a new needle? If if you would like more information on machine needles, sewing thread and general help on troubleshooting your machine then do please read this blog post. Troubleshooting your sewing machine .The advice is invaluable for any make of sewing machine
I marked the position of some machine embroidery on the front tunic and on each sleeve. The tacking marks the centre of the design and the placement lines to enable me to ensure that the design is level The thread I chose is Brother embroidery thread White
My embroidery machine is the Brother Innov-is 800e and there are plenty of reviews and tutorials about this machine on my blog.
I chose a lace design which I placed centrally on the front and on the sleeves. There are many designs to choose from so pick what you like best.
When you first get a new sewing machine it can seem daunting at first, but just get your machine manual out and follow the instructions to the letter. The LCD screen displays the stitch or function which you are using at the time, making it so simple to use.
All of my machines are by Brother and it makes life simpler because they share many of the same functions, for example threading is the same, the automatic needle threader is the same and so on. When threading the machine and winding the bobbin for the first time take particular attention to the manual so that you are perfectly satisfied that you have the bobbin of thread the correct way round and that the threading process is followed correctly.
Similarly when putting the bobbin thread into the bobbin thread case you need to look at the machine itself as it clearly indicates which way the bobbin needs to be inserted. If you do not thread the bobbin or the top thread correctly you are very likely to get tension problems.
The first foot we are going to try is the Gathering foot. I like Brother sewing machine feet because they are inexpensive to purchase so you can soon build up a selection. Not only that each foot comes with an instruction leaflet which is totally invaluable.
To attach this foot you first have to remove the presser foot holder. You do this by loosening the screw holding the foot holder in place with one of the tools which come with the machine
Once you have done that then you attach the gathering foot in its place.
To use the gathering foot take some spare fabric and practice. You need a longer piece of fabric to gather onto a smaller piece.
The fabric which needs to be gathered goes under the pressure foot and the fabric which does not need gathering goes on top taking it through the gap in the foot. The bottom fabric gathers according to how much tension you put on the top fabric, so for more gathers put more tension on the top fabric, for less gathers don't put any tension. Have a practice and see what works best for your project.
This is a sample I did using twice the length of gathered fabric to top fabric .
This blouse pattern is lovely but I didn't want a cuffed sleeve and the full sleeve is too fussy for me. I cut the sleeve pattern out to the shorter length and then cut two lengths of fabric one and a half times the width of the lower sleeve and pressed them in half lengthwise. This was then placed under my sleeve and gathered into place with very little tension applied, creating a slightly ruffled edge to my sleeve
To decorate the edge of the sleeve we now need to attach the monogram foot. This comes with most Brother machines. The presser foot holder needs to be reattached and then the monogram foot simply clips onto it.
The monogram foot is wider and enables you to see the pattern you are stitching clearly.
I wanted to stitch a scallop edge to my sleeve. using my stitch guide I selected the scallop I wanted. The LCD display shows a diagram of the pattern, the foot needed and the stitch length and width. These can easily be adjusted as necessary.
I test stitched a few stitches before deciding on which one I wanted to use.
After completing the scallop edge I trimmed away the excess fabric very carefully so as not to cut the stitches. This makes a really pretty finish to any hem. You may find it easier to stitch if you use some spray on starch first.
Using the same monogram foot I selected a decorative pattern to stitch above the scalloped edge. I also used this same stitch around the centre of the neckband.
I chose yet another design to add just above the seam.
These are the finished sleeves. I have not stitched the seam yet as I find it much easier to attach sleeves flat before I stitch the side seams of the body. I ran a gathering stitch around the top edge of the sleeves to make it easier to attach the sleeves later.
Attach the facings according to the pattern instructions
Then make up the neckband and using a Point Turner to get crisp edges and corners turn the neckband right sides out. Do the embroidery and then attach the band to the garment
This is the front of the neckband.
And this is the back. We now face a new challenge - sewing a buttonhole, which we will do later once the side seams have been stitched so that we can make sure the fit is correct
Pin the side seams matching the sleeve edge, the underarm seam and the hem very carefully before stitching the seam in one long operation. Please note that it is not a good idea to stitch over pins, they can damage your needle and even your machine, so remove them as you approach each one.
There is a compartment on the sewing machine itself which contains spare machine feet and bobbins etc. Take out the buttonhole foot - the long one at the back.
Don't be daunted by sewing buttonholes, modern sewing machines make it so easy. I have got my manual out together with the buttonhole foot and a button. Always keep your manual handy to refer to.
This machine has a large selection of buttonholes but even basic machines have at least a couple to choose from. I chose the Heirloom buttonhole stitch for my top.
The buttonhole foot has a button guide into which you place your button. The machine measures this and sews a buttonhole to match it exactly. However it is still very good practice to try it out first!
Clip the buttonhole foot onto the presser foot holder with the button at the back. Pull the buttonhole lever down as far as it will go and position it behind the bracket on the buttonhole foot.
Select the buttonhole appropriate for your garment. The LCD screen displays the chosen buttonhole, and the stitch lengths and widths, and reminds you to attach the correct foot.
Take two pieces of spare fabric and place interfacing between them to mimic your actual garment. Stitch the buttonhole and carefully cut between the sides using sharp pointed scissors. Please take great care not to cut the stitches. Try your button and if you are happy with the result go ahead and stitch it onto the left side of the neckband
It is a very good idea to use Beeswax on your thread to strengthen it when sewing your button on. There is nothing worse than buttons falling off is there.
This is the finished back neck, with the button and buttonhole finished.
Machine Embroidery is such a massive subject that I will be coming back to it frequently. In this post I wanted to talk more about it because I know that some of you are still undecided if an embroidery machine is something you will use. I will be honest and say that Embroidery machines are only as complicated as you want them to be. They come with designs built into them so you are ready to go as soon as you take it out of the box. Furthermore if you are reading this then you have enough computer knowledge to download and use designs off the internet too. You may then want to further your new passion and create your own designs using specialised software - more about that later.
In this post I am making a dress and simple unlined jacket in black cotton, but you will excuse me for not going into detail about the construction of these garments as there are plenty of instructions elsewhere on my blog and the instructions inside the pattern are excellent too. If you do want more detailed information then please let me know.
My embroidery machine is the Brother Innov-is 800E but there is a choice of other embroidery machines depending on if you want a stand alone Embroidery only machine or a machine which does normal sewing AND embroidery. This might be a good choice if you only have space for one machine Take a look at the range of Brother sewing machines at Jaycotts Don't forget that the very knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you through the process of choosing the correct machine to suit your needs and pocket. Brother machines come with aftercare and tuition should you want it.
You will also need a basic supply of accessories including thread, needles, stabilisers and so on which we will discuss a bit further down the post. Your new embroidery machine can seem daunting at first but I hope to show you some useful tips to get you started. Whatever you do please don't be afraid of it! These machines are very clever, they are designed for domestic use and they won't let you do anything wrong, so you are very unlikely to make a mistake and break it. If something does go wrong for example your needle is in the up position when it should be down, or your thread breaks the machine will tell you exactly what the problem is. I strongly advise you keeping your manual next to you at all times when you are sewing so that you have it to refer to.
To start off, plug your machine in and take a look at some of the inbuilt designs. The design you have chosen will appear in an LCD window which gives you all the information you need to enable you you sew the design. The green cross on the picture shows where the machine is up to in the embroidery , on the top left it shows how many stitches the design takes to stitch out, how many stitches you have sewn already, the total time the design takes to sew and the time spent sewing it already. It tells me I am using my second colour in the sequence and shows a diagram of the shape being sewn in that colour, it shows too the next threads in the sequence. The icon at the very bottom allows you to go back or forwards a chosen number of stitches, and there are many other functions once you get used to the machine. For example it is simple to rotate the design, to mirror it or to make it larger or smaller. This is so easy to do on the touchscreen LCD display In case you are wondering how to transfer designs from your computer to your embroidery machine, this is easily done with a USB stick. The manual explains how to do it, but I will go over it in a future post
I am not going to talk too much about construction of this lovely dress and jacket NewLook Dress and Jacket , but I will give you some tips for altering the pattern slightly. For example I wanted a short sleeve in the dress. Cutting a sleeve pattern was easy in this case as when I came to compare the dress and the jacket patterns I found that the armscye was exactly the same in both garments so all I needed to do was to shorten the sleeve in order to use it for the dress
Once you get the embroidery bug, and you will - you might want to create your own designs. The PE Design 10 software for Brother embroidery machines is fabulous. the good news is that as with all Brother products there is expert tuition available to help you. I have just taken advantage of this and have recently spent a day learning more about this incredible software. The software deserves a post all to itself, so watch out for a blog post in the future. This software enables you to do so much more and combined with your embroidery machine you have literally thousands of designs at your fingertips. You can create your own designs, monogram, applique and more, the possibilities are endless. The software comes with a comprehensive manual which is also available to use on your computer as you plan your project
This is one design I chose. I wanted to increase the size without stretching the stitches, the software keeps everything in proportion so that I could make the design larger whilst keeping the design just as dense. It was easy to alter the curve so that it complemented my dress shape. It was also very easy to drop my finished design onto a memory stick and transfer it to my Embroidery machine. There will be much more to come about this incredible product, there are so many functions which I want to tell you about, it really does deserve a post all to itself!
I have cut my dress out and marked the position of the darts but not stitched them as the fabric needs to be flat. I have also used a ruler and tailors chalk and marked the centre front. These lines will be used to position the embroidery so that it is dead centre and level.
There is a grid for your hoop which you use to position your embroidery.
You need to stabilise your fabric or it will pucker as you embroider it and spoil the effect. I always advise doing a test run to make sure that your chosen stabiliser is firm enough for your fabric and the design.
Your stabiliser is crucial and you need a supply of various types. More about them in a minute
You also need Embroidery thread. You may start by just using a few colours but in my opinion boxes of thread are much better as then you have a good selection for your project. There are individual threads you can buy of course but I like this Brother box of embroidery thread It contains most of the colours that Brother use in their designs.
You will also need Bobbin thread , I suggest filling several bobbins when you have some spare time so that you never have to stop to fill a new bobbin part way through your project.
Embroidery needless are a must. You will need a couple of different Embroidery needles Some for normal embroidery and metallic ones if you intend to sew with metallic thread. Embroidery needles have a different shaped eye to ordinary sewing needles to accommodate the embroidery thread. The eye is larger which helps avoid friction and therefore reduces the risk of your thread fraying or snapping.
One of your stabilisers should be this Gunold easy tear stabiliser This is hooped with the fabric and is great for most woven fabrics. It tears away very easily when you have finished your embroidery. It also comes in an iron on version Gunold iron on Stabiliser which again is a medium weight.
Another very useful stabiliser is Filmoplast self adhesive stabiliser. This is useful when you cannot fit your entire fabric into your embroidery frame. I had this happen when making my dress because the neckline did not reach the edge of my frame, son this stabiliser was perfect. It tears away after embroidery. You may need water soluble stabiliser if you intend to make free standing lace. Other stabilisers are available but these are enough to begin with. Always make sure that your stabiliser is enough to support your fabric and do a test piece before you start your garment. Stretch or jersey fabrics can be used for embroidery and I have used them successfully but I would start with a medium weight woven fabric so that you are not put off as you need to stabilise the fabric so that it does not stretch at all during embroidery and this can be a touch challenging at first with some knits.
Other threads available are Brother Country threads, which you should request details of from Jaycotts. These are lovely as they have a mat finish and look lovely on heirloom sewing. I like them on blouses and bed linen too. Brother has a large range of beautiful Embroidery Threads
This is an example of the variegated and potpourri threads. the effect is more pronounced in larger areas, I was experimenting with colours on my normal sewing machine.
Going back to the dress. The pattern has a bound neckline but I do prefer a facing. These are easy to make,just draw around the paper pattern neckline at the front and back and mark a curved line from the shoulder to the front (and back) and then cut out your facing. These need interfacing. Do choose a good quality interfacing such as Vilene stretch lightweight interfacing cheap ones will spoil your garment.
Before we start any embroidery it is a good idea to mark the position of the darts on the back of the fabric . I have used a combination of chalk lines and a tailors tack at the dart point, this will help me to position my embroidery in the frame. Don't stitch the dart yet as the fabric needs to be flat.
Again, with my chalk and a ruler I marked the exact position of where I want my embroidery to go, and I marked vertical and horizontal grain lines so that I can ensure that my design is perfectly aligned.
Earlier in the post I showed you my design being altered by using my PE Design 10 software, what I didn't tell you is that there is a ruler function so you can make a note of the design size before you send it to your memory stick. If it is the wrong size for your project you can amend it. This measurement is important to know as it ensures that your embroidery design is the correct size.
This is my completed embroidery still in the hoop. You can still just about see the chalk lines marking my grain lines and the tailors tacks marking the points of my darts. You can also see where my neckline does not reach the edge of the hoop, and the thread left behind when the embroidery machine moves from one area to another. These threads need to be trimmed away. We now need to remove the embroidery from the hoop and tear away the stabiliser. The small pieces inside the various parts of the design can easily be picked out with tweezers. When you press it out the embroidery face down on a soft towel and use a pressing cloth, otherwise the design will flatten.
This is the finished dress - with sleeves, and with a row of embelishing done on my regular sewing machine around the edges of the sleeves.
If you remember I cut facings for the neckline instead of using a binding. In order to turn any facing to the wrong side you need to clip the curves. You can either cut out little triangles of fabric as on the left or, and this is the only time I use them, you can use pinking shears. Cut close to your stitching but not through it. This works best on woven fabrics which do not fray very much .
Another important step is to understitch the facings. Do this after you have inserted the zipper. Simply press the facing upwards and stitch the seam to the facing only. Press the facing to the wrong side again. Your under stitching will only show on the wrong side of your garment and will prevent the facing from rolling out during wear.
I chose a different design for the front of the jacket but used the same colours. You can of course choose your own design.
Do you purchase ready made bias binding? Please don't, it's so easy to make your own and it will be of a much higher quality too. Because my jacket is unlined I needed to make the inside look attractive. I debated Hong Kong seams but thought them unnecessary on such a small garment So I opted for edging the hem and the facing with a pretty binding to match my Embroidery. All you need is a Bias binding maker and an iron. For small jobs like this I use a Mini steam iron and a sleeve board it saves getting the large ironing board out . Do you know how to cut your fabric on the bias? Fold the (straightened) edge of the fabric to the selvedge forming a triangle, and press the crease. This line is the true Bias and you measure strips in the required width along this line and cut them , joining them as necessary to make a strip the length needed. Then pass the end through the bias tape maker and pin the end to your ironing board. Pull the tool and press the binding as it emerges. It's quicker than going out to buy some and you will always have the colour you want.
This is my facing edged with my hand made binding. Don't you think it pretty?
I did the same with the hem, edging it with my binding and I think it just lifts the jacket The final thing I did was to add three black hooks and eyes to close the jacket front.
This is the jacket nearing completion. I am still trying to decide if it needs small shoulder pads inserting. If it does, I will make some very small ones out of an oval of thin wadding folded over and covered with my fabric.