Category Archives: Sewing

A Gift list for sewers sewists seamstresses

Dear Santa – A Christmas gift list for a hopeful sewer

Dear Santa,

Thank you for all my lovely presents last year.  I have been very, very good this year as well, and If you think I deserve them, I would be very, very grateful if you would gift me any of the following for Christmas this year.

Gingher shears

Gingher dressmaking shears

Some dressmakers scissors are just so beautiful that you ache at the thought of them. These are those shears for me. *sigh* Want.

This lovely Tailors Board

Oak Tailor's board, pressing tools

Just look at this – absolutely stunning, isn’t it. And you just know it would give you the crispest pressed seams and edges. Made of oak in the UK, it’s just £31 + shipping on Etsy. I always prefer to support independent makers, especially when they make such beautiful and practical objects.

This lovely Point Turner

Made by the same maker that made the tailor’s board above, this point turner is also made of oak, is made in the UK, and would make an amazing stocking filler for the sewer / sewist / seamstress in your life. (Or for me, for that matter.) Just £3.25 plus postage – frankly it would be rude not to.

This lovely Ham Holder

OK, I promise this is the last one – from the same maker again, an oak ham holder. (If you aren’t familiar with them, a ham is a sawdust-filled fabric form used for pressing curved seams and French darts, so called because it looks like a joint of ham. If you sew you should consider investing in one. The ham holder holds the ham on its end to access the smaller curves when pressing). I’m not going to tell you the price this time – you’ll have to take a look. *I promise I’m not sponsored or in any way affiliated to this maker – I just love their stuff!

A coverstitch machine

Janome Coverstitch Pro

WANT!!!! Yes, I know they’re expensive and I probably don’t sew with knits enough to justify the expense – but that really doesn’t stop my yearning.

This chalk marking set

Chalk marking set

It’s a mechanical pencil with coloured chalk. Again, I WANT!

I had no idea this existed until this very moment, but now I want one

It’s a sewing multi tool. No, I don’t know either – but it looks great and would certainly help fill a stocking.

Merchant & Mills Seamstress Mug

Seamstress Mug gift sewing

The ‘Seamstress’ mug from Merchant & Mills is £9.00 + postage. It’s bone china, people – what’re we waiting for? We NEED this in our lives!

Sewing Alphabet Mug

Sewing Alphabet Mug

It’s another mug! Don’t try to tell me you don’t have a load of chipped mugs in the cupboard that need replacing. I know you do. Everybody does. Now we can replace them with gorgeous sewing mugs.

Silver button rings

Silver button rings

I don’t actually ever wear jewellery, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t own it. I would probably never wear these – but look how cute they are! Lush!


Thank you very much, I hope you had a lovely summer and that the reindeer and Mrs Claus are keeping well.

With love and Gratitude,




PS – Yes, I know it’s still only mid November, but I always feel it’s better not to trust last minute delivery times, don’t you?


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My favourite snips

I’ve had all sorts of scissors and snips for trimming thread over the years – I’ve used nail scissors, embroidery scissors, small Ikea scissors, crafting snips and fancy branded snips.  They’ve all done the job (well, most of them – one pair of snips had to be immediately returned to Hobbycraft in disgust for failing to cut sewing thread), some better than others, and until a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have expressed any real preference in my thread cutting tools.

But then I discovered these beauties.  I first discovered them when I attended a dressmaking class locally and fell immediately in love with them.

Thread snips, thread cutters

They’re basic, cheap, unbranded (really, I have no idea who makes them) and I bought mine for something like a pound.  They are a pure joy to use and I have several pairs dotted throughout my sewing areas.

Light, robust and very sharp, they have a very satisfying, definite snipping action, finishing their snip with purpose, a little ‘full stop’ at the end of the motion.  I use them to cut notches and clips out of my fabric, too, and they fit snugly in my sewing machine accessories drawer with my seam ripper, another essential tool.

The final reason that these are my favourite snips is because they look ‘proper’ – I love that they’re made  completely of metal and painted blue with bits of the paint flaking off, it makes them look industrial and hard-core.  Which in turn makes me feel like a tough, no-nonsense kind of a sewer. Which I love.

Do you have favourite sewing tools?

Tell me about your favourites in the comments

under stitching tutorial

Four steps to perfect understitching

Understitching is one of those magical sewing techniques that are simple to understand and apply, and which will immediately lift the quality of your sewing from a polite “Did you make that?” to the much more impressed “No Way! You made that?”

I’ve spent a fair bit of time recently in my offline life explaining what understitching is, why it’s important and how it works, so I thought I would show you why you should understitch and how to do it, as I have used this technique in Briabaloo and intend to use it a lot more in future patterns.

How to understitch tutorial

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6 ways to overcast on a sewing machine

6 ways to Overcast with your Sewing Machine

Before I had an overlocker I remember seeing tutorials and pattern instructions everywhere that asked me to overlock my edges or seams.  I remember feeling a bit excluded from the ‘overlocker owners’ club, and frustrated that I was left to finish my seams with a zigzag stitch or  boring, old-fashioned and time consuming seam finishes like binding or French seams.*

* (Please note that the ‘boring and old fashioned’ judgement stemmed purely from envy – It’s nonsense.  The non-overlocked seam finishes are almost always the most beautiful and the strongest.  But I was blinded by ‘I want an overlocker, it’s not fair’.  Now I have an overlocker I look for reasons not to use it – ha, there’s no pleasing some people!)

When I started designing my own patterns and writing their instructions I wanted to be as inclusive as possible – nobody should feel that they can’t play in my gang because they don’t have an overlocker – but we don’t always have time for bound seams, we don’t always want the extra bulk, and French seams really don’t like curves.  So what can we do?

Simple – pull out your sewing machine manual and take a look at the overcasting stitches that your machine is capable of – you may find you never never need to reach for your overlocker again!


6 Ways To Overcast Using Your Sewing Machine


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Animal costume sewing pattern by sewabaloo

Anibaloo – Costumes for imaginative play

Last week I showed you the best bits of Briabaloo, my new dress (and peplum top) pattern, so this week I want to show you all about Anibaloo, my lovely animal themed dressing up pattern – perfect for Halloween!

Anibaloo is a fabuously versatile dressing up costume pattern for children aged 2-8.  It’s essentially a loose-fitting, lined, hooded waistcoat with ears and a tail, which give hours of pretend of make-believe time as your child’s preferred animal.

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Briabaloo sewing pattern variations: shirt dress, pinafore / jumper, peplum blouse

Briabaloo – a dress for all reasons

Briabaloo is my first published dress sewing pattern for children, and I’m thoroughly proud of it.  I’ve  carefully designed and drafted it with lots of thoughtful detailing for ease of sewing, practicality, comfort and playability.

It’s a short sleeved, collarless shirt dress pattern with patch pockets and ties, with two variations which make a sleeveless pinafore with inset pockets or a cap sleeved peplum blouse with a Peter Pan collar, or any combination of these elements, and it’s available from size 1-12.

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Upcycled Spiderman girls dress

Tutorial: Making a Superhero jersey dress from upcycled t-shirts

My youngest daughter has a preference for superheroes and monster trucks (Spiderman, Supergirl and Blaze and the Monster Machines specifically) but this doesn’t mean she doesn’t still like to wear dresses.  Like many families we’ve been frustrated by the lack of cool superhero girls clothes available in shops, but luckily for us, this is a sewing household, so we made our own from a boys t-shirt and a ladies t-shirt.  And I can show you how to make your own in this neat little tutorial.

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6 reasons I love to sew

6 Reasons I Love To Sew

Sewing, along with many other traditional crafts, is enjoying a resurgence of interest, but still I seem to be among the minority of my friends who sew.  And I really don’t understand why everybody doesn’t do it.  It’s so easy, so satisfying, and gives endless opportunities for ‘smug’, who doesn’t love the occasional ‘smug’ every now and again?

In case you’re reading this blog as a non-sewer, and in case there’s any chance of me persuading you to pick up a needle, here are the big reasons that I love, love, love to sew.

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5 Steps to troubleshoot your sewing machine jams and tension problems

Five steps to troubleshoot your sewing machine jams and tension problems

We’ve all been there – we’re merrily sewing away, marveling at our cleverness and efficiency,  when suddenly the sewing machine hiccoughs, growls and grinds to a stop, the needle juddering and jammed in the fabric, refusing to budge.  Underneath is a thick, complex knot of thread, reaching down into the throat plate and around the bobbin like a great tree root or something out of a James Herbert novel.

Jammed sewing machines are supremely frustrating, and are most likely to happen during a late night sewing session with a tomorrow-morning deadline.

Don’t worry, though – your machine is most probably not at fault.   A quick troubleshooting check of a few key areas on your machine will, in all likelihood, get you back into the sewing groove in no time.

So calm down, take a deep breath, wipe your sweaty palms, and pour yourself a brew. We can sort this out together.

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Pre-washing – how necessary is it? Really?

I know how you feel.  You’re excited, you have an exciting new pattern and gorgeous new fabric and you just want to get the scissors into it all, and launch at the sewing machine, and glory in the noise and the pins and the thread, and listen to your favourite CD  or audio book while everybody else is out of the way and/or asleep, and just sew.

Whether you’re a new or a seasoned sewer, this is your special time when you can really breathe freely, loosen up your shoulders and relax into creativity, chaos and construction.  You really don’t want to delay it for the sake of Extra Laundry.

What’s all this fuss over pre-washing anyway?  Do I have to?

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