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Interested in doing your bit to save the planet one stitch at a time?

If there was one product you could switch out from your sewing tool box to a more sustainable version, would you do it?

This is something I asked myself when I read about the rPet thread range from Guterman. As a professional Costumier, I always use Guterman threads, because I know they perform well across the wide range of unusual fabrics I come across. For me performance is key, and so before making a switch to the recycled threads, I needed to test them to see how they compare.

Earlier this year, I used recycled polyester threads to sew up a range of projects with lots of different fabric types. The Guterman rPet range consists of” sew all” threads for machine sewing, and a “top stitch” thread. I use top-stitch for hand sewing which is a good benchmark for testing performance. There are many threads that just don’t cut it when hand-sewing, so I was really curious to see how both these threads compared.

Experiment 1- Cotton

A simple tote bag from some gorgeous striped Guterman fabric. Thread performed really well with no difference from the regular Guterman sew all. Cotton is however the most forgiving of all fabric, and even a poor quality polyester often sews up well, so further experimentation was definitely required

Experiment 2- Waxed oilcloth

I gifted this wash bag sewn from British Millerain oil cloth. This cloth is treated with oil, and can be tricky to sew with. Again thread performed very well, with no difference. Since this is a robust fabric despite the oil, further testing on trickier fabric was needed.

Experiment 3- Jersey

Another recent gift was a Longley waterfall cardigan, sewn up in gorgeous teal Ponte Roma. Since this fabric contains some  lycra I thought it would be a good challenge for the rPet thread. Again, no difference in performance!

Experiment 4- Silk

My final machine experiment was sewing up a silk satin pyjama shirt. It wasn’t the best quality silk, so this was a good challenge for the thread, but again the thread performed well

Experiment 5- Hand sewing

Since I hand sew a lot, I’m very particular about my threads! I tested the top-stitch thread on button and hems, and enjoyed using the rPet version just as much as the regular thread.

So in conclusion I am totally going to swap my threads over to the recycled rPet version. Still need convincing? Here’s some hard fact and figures

  • One plastic bottle makes 1000 m of thread- that’s one bottle out of the ocean or landfill
  • The cost of these threads is THE SAME as the regular version ie £1.95 for a single reel, or £10.95 for the special 7 reel packs.

As a heavy thread user, it makes no sense for me not to use the recycled product. At the moment the colour range is only 40, but as more people take up using this product, then the range will expand. This one little switch really could help reduce plastic waste. You can find a local stockist via this e mail gutermann@stockistenquiries.co.uk

Hi
I've just got back into sewing and I find your newsletter tips really useful so do please keep them coming.
Many thanks
Geraldine
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Sewing Quarter - 14th May 2018 - YouTube
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Ready to DIY your own wardrobe?

Go from being a “dressmaking novice” to a “a sewing King or Queen” in either  4 weeks or one single weekend for only £170- A saving of more than 10% over booking all the classes individually!

This course is run either on 4 consecutive weeks on weeknight evenings or as an intensive Weekend Bootcamp on July 21st & 22nd.

Since Dressmaking skills aren’t just for ladies we can tailor this package especially for male sewers. Drop us an e mail for details of our options for the Male sewing projects.

You must already have learnt to use a sewing machine and made a couple of simple cushions/bags and an simple garment before attending this class. If not then try one of our beginners courses first

Session 1- 18.30- 22:00 pm 

Make a simple sleeveless top, and learn how to shape fabric with darts and finish off necklines with a binding. (See sleeveless top class link for fabric details)

Session 2 & 3 – 18.30- 21.30pm  

Take your dressmaking up a notch making either:- a simple shift dress with sleeves, OR a gathered skirt with an invisible zip and waistband OR a classic A line skirt with a facing

Session 4– 18.30- 22:00 pm 

Learn to sew with knits- in this introduction to stretch class, you’ll make an easy to sew T shirt, attach a neckband and how to finish hems with a twin needle. After this session, you’ll feel comfortable sewing with all kinds of stretch fabric either on a regular sewing machine. See class link for fabric details

Cost: £170 (max number of 5 students per session)
Time: 6.30-9.30 pm on weeknights, 10.30 am-either 1.30 pm or 6 pm at weekends. Arrive on time as session starts promptly!
Materials required: Patterns supplied for all 3 projects, you will need to provide fabric and thread-See booking confirmation for details or click on individual session links for info 
Refreshments: Unlimited tea, coffee and snacks provided, along with an awesome playlist of tunes! 
Book for either the 4 evenings or weekend bootcamp

We reserve the right to cancel if there are less than 2 students booked.
For details of our terms and conditions policy click here
Hi CL,

Did my first class yesterday (the cute shell top) which was amazing! Really good class, well structured...and I came away with an item of clothing I could really wear!

Many thanks - Steph

Hi Claire- Louise,

I'm still in a bubble of excitement about my shift dress, It was the best training day I've experienced- thank you so much for all the work you put in before, during and after to make it so useful.

With huge thanks - Nicola

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Want to step up your sewing skills and learn tips and tricks for sewing with jersey and knit fabrics?
This class will teach you how to cut and sew with knit fabrics and make a simple T shirt 

You must be able to use a sewing machine and ideally have made a couple of things before taking this class. If not then try our ultimate beginners day.

 Using a sewing machine we will construct a well fitting t shirt with laid on sleeves and a professional looking finish. You will have a choice of sleeve length and neckline as well to suit your personal style.
In this class you will learn
  • how to use a commercial sewing pattern
  • how to lay and cut knit fabric.
  • how to add a professional looking neckband
  • how to use a twin needle
  • attach sleeves using the flat laid on method
Cost: £47 (max number of 5 students per session)
Time: 6.30-10 pm on weeknights. 2.30 pm -6pm on weekends. Arrive early as session starts promptly!
Materials required: 1.5 metres medium or lightweight knit fabric such as cotton jersey, Rayon jersey, ponte roma. Lightweight sweatshirting is also suitable. Matching Thread. 
Refreshments: Unlimited tea, coffee and snacks provided.
We reserve the right to cancel if there are less than 2 students booked.
For details of our terms and conditions policy click here
I'm so glad I had you on hand for my first attempt with lighter weight jersey, good fun and I learnt loads! I have my twin needles now and I'm going to set a weekend aside very soon and try out more jersey fabric.

-Claire

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The Humble press fastener or “popper” has revolutionised sewing since its invention. But where did it begin and why is it so popular?

Most clothing requires some type of fastening, the most common being a button. Metal press or “snap” fasteners however are the other most popular type of garment closure which were first patented in Germany in 1885 by Heribert Bauer. These types of fastenings are comprised of either 2 metal parts for the sewn on variety, or 4 metal parts for the riveted or “no –sew” variety. These type of fastenings have a characteristic “click” or snap, hence the term snap fasteners!

The Prym family in Germany have manufactured brass goods since the 16th Century, and have become synonymous with press fastener production since buying the original German patent in 1903. The earlier original snaps, known as ball and socket fasteners were neither rustproof, or very reliable. However, Prym improved the manufacturing process of the double S twist fastener and developed standards that are still maintained today on the modern rust-free version. Their factory in Stolberg Germany, produces millions of fasteners every day, 24 hours a day. They supply a large percentage of the world’s fashion industry with high quality fasteners. A sub division of the Prym Fashion company called Prym consumer, buys those fasteners suitable for the home dressmaker. Since many of the products require industrial machinery to apply, the range for us at home is considerably smaller than the overall range manufactured in Germany.

The distinctive double S twist which ensures the fastener isn’t too tight or too loose, can easily be seen in this giant popper on display at Prym HQ, along with a pressing machine that was used in the early manufacturing process

One of the most successful marketing campaigns used by Prym and other global manufacturers of snap fasteners was to attach the snaps to decorative cards. These have become collectables, and often depicted scenes of the great outdoors, family images and many had the original Prym logo of a deer with a needle through it’s antlers. During the 50’s their slogan was

The most reliable waist fastener of the present and the future

Today most sewing kits will include a couple of sew on poppers, proving their enduring usefulness.

The advantage of sewn on snap fasteners over buttons is that they offer a discreet, hidden closure, creating a clean look to the front of delicate blouses etc. Last winter many high street brands produced coats with oversized snap fasteners that were invisible from the outside. In response to this trend, Prym has produced a new range of coloured snaps available in regular and extra large sizes. These new coloured fasteners enable the closure to be matched to the colour of the garment, making them almost invisible. They have also released new pretty fasteners with floral, lace like patterns too

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Sewing Quarter - 21 April 2018 - YouTube
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Sewing Quarter - 16 April 2018 - YouTube
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Sewing Quarter - 30th March 2018 - YouTube
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Do you always make a test version of your dressmaking projects in a cheap fabric?

Are you a maker of wearable muslins? Ie the prototype of a new pattern just to see how it works, sewn up in something cheap and cheerful in case you mess it up!

Ok, so I am being a little contentious here, as there’s a commonly held belief that dressmakers should make up the first version of a project in something inexpensive, just in case it doesn’t work or they mess it up. This is often called a wearable muslin, and it’s different than sewing a “toile” I sometimes do this, and a lot of my students join my dressmaking courses with cheap fabric in case they “F.A.I.L”
Ok, I can hear you saying “but you do this too, why is it a bad idea?”……
This is my most recent “wearable” muslin. It was a cheap fabric I bought that was a similar quality to the ponte I planned to make the final version in. It was originally destined to be a toile, as the project is ponte roma, so I couldn’t sew it up in calico. When I toile anything that toile is part of the patterning process and is usually cut up to accurately transfer adjustments to the next version of the pattern. Short on time, and needing a version of this to wear on Sewing Quarter I decided to go for a finished make and make as a wearable muslin. I figured I was killing 2 birds with one stone….
This is why I wish I had dived into my viscose ponte for a first version, and not the 100%synthetic ponte I used
IT IS BOILING… And It makes me sweat profusely, in fact it makes me feel like I’m being smothered. I’m not a massively sweaty person, but this fabric sure makes me perspire!
AARGH!
I have a lot of Ponte dresses and usually I can get several wears out of them before washing. Not this dress though, it needs a wash after wearing just for a few hours.
CONCLUSION- 
Ok, so here’s what I think! I always fit as I sew, so had I cut into my good fabric, there would have been opportunity to adjust as I went along. Basically I have spent precious hours sewing a dress that’s going to languish in my cupboard, what a waste of time! So here’s what else I think about sewing with cheap fabrics to “Test”
  • You’re almost setting yourself to accept failure by not committing to the good stuff, and that’s a bad mind-set for dressmaking. Mistakes are part of the process
  • I make so I can have more choice about fabric quality. Using cheap fabric means I might as well have gone the ready to wear route
  • Aside from the waste of my time, I have contributed to a disposable fashion, this piece won’t become a staple part of my wardrobe and that is a waste of resources and isn’t at all sustainable
PS- 

Good fabric in a pile in a cupboard is wasted! What’s the point of fabric if it’s not used, piles and piles of fabric is really just hoarding. Who knows what’s around the corner, a friend of mine recently lost all her precious stash in a house fire. She regrets not using all her “lovelies” when she had a chance!

What do you think? I’d love to know, do leave your thoughts in the comments.

Happy stitching CL:)

PPS- Don’t leave without becoming a Thrifty Stitcher “Insider”
Hi
I've just got back into sewing and I find your newsletter tips really useful so do please keep them coming.
Many thanks
Geraldine
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Sewing Quarter - 10th March 2018 - YouTube
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