Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy Holidays!

Dear readers, thank you for your visits and lovely comments.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Sewing notions: snips

Here's another indispensable tool for seamstresses: the snips. I keep them in my sewing machine's accessory tray so they are always at hand. You might be wondering how to hold these. Put the middle finder through the loop, the index finger underneath the snips and the thumb on top, squeeze and snip! Although, if you have smaller hands, you'll probably feel more comfortable with the ring finger in the loop.

They are perfect for snipping threads off the garment right after stitching each seam. It's much easier and quicker than using regular scissors. I also use them to make notches on fabric.

There are many variations of snips: chrome-plated, snips covered in plastic and snips without the loop. Again, I recommend buying quality snips, they will cut better and last longer. Mine are more than 20 years old and still snip like a charm.

Thursday, 3 November 2011


I'm finally getting better! As you know I had one of my wisdom teeth (three more to go) surgically removed last Monday. After that Mr. Dry Socket paid a visit and decided to interrupt the process of healing of my tooth extraction site. Painkillers helped a lot but made me drowsy as well. I spent most of the previous week in bed, watching TV. Except on Tuesday, 25. October, when I went to the Florence + the Machine gig.

Well, a virtual gig. :) I bought myself a ticket for my birthday. The concert was streamed live from Hackney Empire, London. Streaming was HD quality, the picture only froze a couple of times and the sound was amazing. The band launched their new album Ceremonials which was released on 31. October. It's a bit different than the first album, Lungs. It's definitely darker. I knew all of the songs before the gig (the album leaked) and my favourites are All this and heaven too, Shake it out, Never let me go, No light, no light, Only if for a night, and What the water gave me. As a matter of fact, the whole album is exceptional. This was the second time I saw Florence singing live and it was an overall wonderful experience. 

Besides her singing I also loved Florence's silk peach dress (I always love her dresses). I did a little research and it's a part of Temperley London's SS 2012 collection. Actually, it's shorts and a jacket. Florence completed them with a lace top and I think it suits her much more than it suits the model below.

Temperley London SS 2012

Did anyone of you go to the gig or watch the live stream as well? Do you like Florence's style?

Monday, 24 October 2011

Quick update

Hey readers! I had a wisdom tooth extraction just two hours ago so I'll be really quick. Remember The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook I told you about? It's coming out on 1. November, but you can already take a peek inside it right here. There are also some videos from contributors and you can see technical drawings of the projects too. The book will be available as a hard copy and as an ebook as well.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Sewing notions: seam ripper

Seam rippers are like scissors - they get dull after some time of use. Get a new one when that happens.

When you start sewing, you'll have to learn how to rip seams correctly too. There are probably a few ways to do this, but this one has worked for me since I started sewing. It rips seams quickly and it doesn't damage the fabric.

1. First, rip the double stitches at the beginning of the seam as shown in the picture.

2. When you're done with double stitches, gently pull the fabric pieces apart. As you pull, threads of the seam will show.

3. Rip the threads that are visible. Pull apart and rip ahead. Continue until you get to the other end of the seam (double stitches) and repeat the first step. Remove pieces of the thread.

You can also rip the seam using the first step only. Just unpick every third or fourth stitch on one side of the seam. When you do that, pull the thread on the other side of the seam and brush aside remaining pieces of thread.

Another way of using seam ripper is cutting holes for buttonholes. Seam ripper has to be sharp if you want to make this one happen.

1. Make a machine buttonhole. Push the sharp point of the seam ripper in the beginning of the buttonhole and push it out in the middle of the buttonhole. Be careful that you don't rip any stitches of the buttonhole. Push the seam ripper ahead to cut the fabric and make half of the hole.

2. Do the same on the other end of the buttonhole. Snip off little pieces of fabric threads and you'll have a beautiful buttonhole. Amazing, right?

P.S.: I just noticed that my blog celebrated 1 year a few days ago! I'm preparing a giveaway, so make sure you come round. :)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sewing notions: cutting tools

My cutting tools from left to right: paper scissors, dressmaker's shears, 45 mm rotary cutter

Cutting tools are one of the most important sewing notions. First, you need a pair of scissors for cutting paper or cardboard patterns. They can be regular sharp paper scissors or special pattern shears, which are heavy duty and make cutting oak tag paper much easier.

Heavy duty pattern shears

The second ones are dressmaker's shears. Use them for fabrics only, since paper makes them blunt. I recommend investing in a more expensive pair which can be sharpened and generally lasts much longer. However, some people prefer lighter shears with plastic handles. Those usually can't be sharpened and therefore need to be replaced more frequently. The ones that I have are actually my mum's and are more than 25 years old, but still cutting almost like new. If I'd be buying a new pair, I'd definitely go for Ginghers.

An alternative (or addition) to dressmaker's shears is a rotary cutter - my favourite. There are more blade sizes available. The biggest (60 mm) is used mostly for cutting long, narrow lines (fabric pieces for quilts). The medium size (45 mm) is the most versatile and can be used for cutting fabric for clothes. It's amazing for cutting slippery fabrics such as charmeuse or chiffon. No problems with the curves, as long as they aren't too fine. This is what the smallest (28 and 18 mm) are for - lots of details, curves, inward pointed corners etc. Some people recommend having separate blades for cutting natural and artificial fibres, since the latter tend to blunt the blade much faster. Also, for cutting with a rotary cutter, you will need a cutting mat or a plate of linoleum. 

There are also the so-called pinking (zig-zag) shears, which are used to prevent unravelling of the unfinished edges of the fabric. They come in handy when sewing jackets or coats. The seam allowances (of both garment and lining) don't have to be finished with an overlock or zig-zag stitch, because they aren't visible after you stitch the lining to the garment. You can just trim them with pinking shears. I don't have them yet, but a pair of Ginghers is already on my wishlist.

Pinking shears

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Now that I completed my studies I have so much time, but still - time goes by so fast when you search for jobs and write applications. But there's still enough time for sewing. When I started sewing I used my mum's ironing board. After a while I bought my own in Ikea - a mini tabletop ironing board.

So, after using it a two years or so it became pretty dirty. The main reason for this is fusible interfacing (note to self: protect the board every time you use it). The glue didn't go out even after washing. Then I decided to make a new cover. Ok, I admit, the old cover got a bit boring, too. I traced the old cover onto the paper and cut it in fabric. I used bias tape for the edges. I left 2.5 cm/1" opening left on the wrong side of the fabric so I could insert a string into the tunnel. Then I just put the felt and the cover over the board, pulled the string tight and tied a knot.

I still have to buy some cotton felt, because the felt that came with the board became very thin and therefore leaves marks on the fabric when you iron it. Not good. Anyway, I love the new cover and I'm already planning to make a few more to stock when this one needs washing.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Sewing notions: tailor's ham & seam roll

I had a wonderful vacation and a few lovely weeks of procrastination after it. But I'm back now, with a regular posting schedule.

When I was away, I came up with a list of more or less necessary sewing tools. Because pressing is as important as sewing itself, the first two are pressing aids - tailor's hem and seam roll. You should press each seam after you stitch it or you'll end up with a garment that looks sloppy.

The side edges of my ham and roll wrinkle - that means that they aren't filled/firm enough.
Tailor's ham (or pressing ham) is used for pressing curved areas, e.g. princess seams, darts, collars, sleeve caps etc. Just shape it into a desired shape and use it wherever you need to. One side is covered in cotton (for pressing cotton with higher temperatures) and the other one in wool (for pressing wool with lower temperatures). 

Seam roll is used for pressing long narrow seams and is an alternative to a sleeve board. It helps you with pressing sleeves and areas of a garment that are difficult to reach. It's especially convenient for pressing seams open, because of it's shape which prevents marks of seam allowances showing on the right side of the fabric.

I made the shape for the ham by the help of this tutorial and filled it with sawdust. I should fill it with finer sawdust (almost like powder, which would make the ham firmer), but I didn't have any at hand. It works fine for now, but I'm probably going to open it once the sawdust subsides, empty it, and fill it with the powder. For the seam roll I cut rectangles 32 x 12 cm or 12-5/8 x 4-3/4 in. The measurements include 1 cm or 3/8 in. seam allowance. You can make the corners round, just as I did, or even rounder.

1. Cut three in cotton (white+pink stripes fabric is for lining) and one in wool. 
2. Stitch right sides together - including the lining which is facing the wrong side of each of the outside fabrics. Leave a gap open - I recommend you leave it on the narrower side of the ham/roll.
3. Make notches halfway into the seam allowances on all curved areas. 
4. Turn inside out.
5. Fill with sawdust powder (I helped myself with a cut plastic bottle with larger opening). When you think it's full - it's not. Use a handle of a kitchen ladle to stuff the ham a little more. It must be firm.
6. When you're done with filling, stitch the opening with hand stitches.

Sunday, 21 August 2011


This week was all about patternmaking and sewing. I managed to make basic blocks for myself - at last! - thanks to my mum who took all of the uncounted measurements. I sewed a top from my own pattern and a nightgown using BurdaStyle's pattern. I will post photos after 24. August because I'm going on a vacation today. Have a nice Sunday!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Shorts for Dominik

Meet my cousin Dominik. I sewed him a few pairs of shorts. I made a pattern using my "bible" and I added in-seam pockets. Because I didn't have enough fabric, I cut the pattern below the waist and used two different colours for each pair. Dominik was really looking forward to taking pictures, so we had a little photoshoot last weekend.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Jeans renovation

I haven't worn boot-cut jeans for quite a time, but two pairs were still lying in my closet. I made the first pair into something between skinny and straight cut jeans. Very easy, just sew along the side seam to narrow the trouser leg. The second pair became shorts.

1. Mark desired length and add 4 cm seam allowance. Cut.

2. Fold twice.

3. Topstitch.

4. Put the trousers on and pin the lace to the edge.

5. Unpin the ends from the trousers and pin them together.

6. Stitch them, right sides together.

7. Fold lace seam allowances to one side and pin.

8. While stretching the jeans slightly, stitch the lace on both lower and upper edge with a zig-zag stitch.

9. Finished!