Love sewing? We are a haberdashery and dress fabric shop with sewing classes. We sell sewing machines, with in-house sewing machine servicing. Find informaton about new fabrics, products and guides to help you to be better at dressmaking and sewing.
New in this week are two amazing Hoffman California digital print fabrics.
These are the first fabrics we have had from Hoffman, and we can’t believe just how good the quality is! The great thing about digital printing is that you get an amazing amount of detail in the design and such rich, bold colours! This fabric is called Skyline, a bright design of skyscrapers and buildings against a teal sky.
The fabric is 100% cotton and is 110cm wide. We decided to stock this fabric primarily as a dress fabric, you can just imagine how great a dress would look in this!
This guide to sewing machine needles will help make sure you pick the right needle for the right job!
You will see a series of numbers on a packet of sewing machine needles, although confusing at first, with a little explanation the numbers will make sense and will help you choose the right needle for your sewing project.
130/705H – this is the designation for household needles – all have a flattened shank for perfect positioning of the needle in the needle bar. For woven fabrics a standard sharp point needle is the right choice.
Europe uses a numbering system for needle sizes (thickness):
60/8 for very fine fabrics
70/9 for fine fabrics
80/11 for medium weight fabrics
90/14 for medium to heavy weight fabrics
100/16 for heavy weight fabrics
You will also find needles for specific uses:
Leather size 100/16. This needle has a wedge at the point, which gives it the ability to pierce heavy fabrics e.g. leather or suede. If you are sewing synthetic leather you may not need a leather needle as the fabric will not be as heavy.
Jeans/Denim (usually a size 90 – 100). This needle has a thick shaft and a strong point to sew through layers of heavy fabric without breaking.
Jersey/Ball Point (various sizes). These needles have a rounded tip that slips between the yarns rather than piercing them and so will not damage knit fabrics. Use this needle when working with jersey fabric and other fabrics that may run if snagged.
Top Stitch (various sizes). This needle has a larger eye to allow for the use of heavier top stitch thread.
Microtextile (usually lower numbers for finer needles). These needles are also known as ‘sharps’ needles. They are thinner that normal needles with a sharper point and are for use on fabrics with a higher thread count or for fine threads.
Twin Needles. These needles have a different numbering system, e.g. 2,5/75 .
The 1st number is the space between the needles (2,5) = 2.5mm
The 2nd number is the needle thickness (as before) 75 = fine to medium weight fabrics
A twin needle has two needles on a cross bar connected to a single shaft and will give you an evenly spaced finishing stitch. Remember to ensure that your sewing machine can hold two reels of thread.
Remember! Always check that your needle is not blunted from a previous project. Change your machine needle after every eight hours of sewing or after each project.
Whilst we were having few days off with More Major and Sewing Minor (our two darling boys), which meant spending far too much time in a heated swimming pool, we received some new fabrics in the shop. This delivery included these wonderful fabrics from Studio E, part of their Sew Much Fun range.
First up is Sew Much Fun Haberdashery, I just love the random pattern of sewing essentials and notions, and the clincher for me was the hedgehog pin cushion! Too cute for words, and the colours are super bright!
The other fabric I chose was Sew Much Fun Zips, I just love the colours and the pattern. I feel a skirt coming on with an exposed zip in one of the colours and in the same place – an invisible, visible zip, is that possible I wonder?
There is a point I want to make about using these types of fabrics for dressmaking. Those of you who are regular visitors to the shop will know that my background is in tailoring and dressmaking. When I choose cotton fabrics on what is called ‘craft bolts’ (cotton fabric that is around 115cm wide) I am looking at the fabric from a dressmaking point of view. I think it is fair to say that the majority of shops who stock craft bolts are doing so for patchworking and crafting. I have found it surprising how often I am asked if craft cotton can be used for dressmaking. The answer is a resounding yes!
Companies such as Studio E who have produced these two exciting designs are producing them on excellent quality cotton, the print quality and detail is exceptional, good enough for patchworking and definitely good enough for dressmaking. In fact, if you look at the fabric requirements on just about any make of sewing pattern you will see fabric usage for 115cm width fabric. We also find that these fabrics are finished to such a high quality we don’t have any problems with shrinkage.
I want to start by saying that we are an agent for Pfaff Sewing Machines, but that this is not going to be a ‘fluff piece’ I want to write an honest review of these two machines.
Why Passport? Pfaff have designed both of these machines to be easy to move around – taking them to a class for example, so passport means having the ‘license to venture out in the world and discover new ways and new places to sew’ (straight from the brochure!).
The difference between the Passport 2.0 and 3.0 is quite simple, the 2.0 has a black facia, the 3.0 is white. In addition to all of the features of the 2.0, the 3.0 has 30 extra decorative stitches and thread snips (i.e. you press the button and both threads are pulled under the fabric and cut off – great if you are working on a large project as you can just pull the fabric away from the machine).
Selection buttons on the Passport
The main features of both machines are:
IDT (more of this later!)
70 stitches (2.0) / 100 stitches (3.0)
Start/stop button – you don’t have to use your foot pedal
Speed slider – you can set your top sewing speed (we find new sewers like to start slow and build the speed up over a few weeks)
Adjustable foot pressure
Feed Dog drop – for free-motion quilting
Needle up/down – you can set your machine to stop with the needle down
Immediate tie-off – set the machine to stitch in the same place three times instead of having to reverse stitch to catch your threads, this gives you a really neat tie-off
LED lights – bright light that does not get hot
Thread snips (3.0) – draws both threads under your sewing and snips them off
It is worth saying that both machines are not heavy (6.5kgs or so) and come with a hard case with a slot for your foot pedal and power lead – a really nice touch and not one we have seen much elsewhere.
Hard case with a slot for the footpedal & power lead
What is IDT? IDT stands for (Integrated Dual Feed), in normal language it is a permanent walking foot, which can be engaged and disengaged in a couple of seconds. Having this gives you controlled, no-slip sewing because the fabric is fed evenly from both top and bottom. Brilliant for patchwork and for dressmaking (really neat seams!). You can also use IDT with a number of feet (e.g. the standard zip foot). It is one of the main reasons we wanted to be an agent for Pfaff in the first place.
IDT on (left) / IDT off (right)
Enough of the background – how does the Passport feel in use. Overall, really good, the Passport is a computerised machine so stitch lengths and widths can be easily adjusted, and replicated exactly time and again. We have used the Passport for patchwork, free-motion quiting, sewing with jersey and stretch fabrics, denim skirts, dressmaking with cotton, viscose, linen and silk (and others) and apart from making sure we are using the right needle and adjusting the foot pressure when needed, the Passport has handled them all with ease.
The IDT is not a gimmick, it is really useful, helping you to sew great, flat seams and an even feed – no matter how slippery the fabric! Threading up is easy with the built in needle threader and the fact you don’t have to pull up the bottom thread – just thread up top and bottom and away you go. The immediate tie-off gives a really tidy finish to your sewing, no more hitting the reverse button to catch your thread.
What can be an issue? Not much to be honest, we run classes just about every day and we have 4 Passport machines in use all the time. it is our workhorse and gets used by people of all abilities. What we have noticed is that the Passport is a top loading machine and, as with all top loading machines, the bobbin case can jump out of alignment, but this is easily fixed when you know what to do. Also (and this is not an issue with the machine as such) because of the IDT feature you cannot use feet from other machines, you have to use feet designed for an IDT machine. This could be a pain if you have built up a collection of feet from a previous machine but once you have used feet like the standard zip foot and the invisible zip foot on a Passport, I don’t think you will want to go back!
Overall, I think the Passport is a great machine for someone who is getting serious about sewing, it has enough features to keep you happy for years of dressmaking, patchwork or crafting.
This is the second digital print fabric we have received from Hoffman Fabrics. It doesn’t have an official name (that happens quite a lot actually) so we have called it ‘Witch On A Broomstick’. The main thing is, not only is this a great quality cotton with a really soft hand feel, the panel measures 109cm x 110cm! This is the biggest fabric panel we have seen so far. The witch on it’s own is 35cm high.
Being such a large panel means the level of detail is amazing – from the hairs on the cat’s back to the lights in the windows of the old house. This would make such a cool quilt back, or perhaps an amazing top?