Monday, 17 June 2019

Have you considered updating your denim jacket?

A post

There are lots of ways to personalise clothing, in this post I am doing a very simple up-cycle of my plain white - and rather boring - denim jacket.

You will have lots of ideas of your own, I am just giving you something to think about  . Girls and boys too would love to help with their own ideas for their clothes too. This is a fun project even for somebody with no sewing skills (yet!)

My jacket has been altered by adding a small embellishment to the back, a touch of top-stitching and by covering the buttons. 
It's easy to do even if you are new to sewing as I am giving options suitable for all levels of sewing.

This embroidery was done on my embroidery machine, but don't worry if you do not have one, alternatives include applique - which is easy to do, or stick on embellishments.
To do  an  applique, find a design that you like, or letters to form a name or word, iron them onto some medium weight interfacing and work a small zig zag around them. What if you don't see yet?
There is a product called Bondaweb which will easily fix any applique to your garment just with your iron, although it  is better to use this together with zig- zag stitching around the outline.
You can get ideas and free templates from doing an internet search.

If that is too much then there are ready made iron or sew on patched that are easily accessible to purchase.Motifs and appliqué

This is just a very small selection of what is available, do take a look.
Some are large, others small, and I chose this image deliberately as it shows that boys are not left out! What little boy wouldn't like a tractor on his jacket? And don't you just adore the sewing machine?

If you are  as lucky  as I am and own an embroidery machine then you may want to embroider a design onto your jacket. The design choices here are totally endless!

My embroidery machine is the Brother Innov-is 800e from
This is an amazing machine and I have a blog post  which shows just some of the things that my embroidery machine is capable of so do read the post My Brother Innov-is 800e

If you have room for only one machine then there are wonderful machines which convert easily from a normal sewing machine to an embroidery machine, so I would definately contact Jaycotts on the number at the bottom of this post and they will happily talk you through the different options and prices. If you fancy visiting the store in Chester then you can try a few machines out, just let them know you are coming beforehand.

Whatever method of decorating the back of your jacket you choose you need to find the centre of any designs you are going to incorporate . I use a cross of tacking thread, measured with a ruler, so that my  design is not only centred but level .
Then  iron the fabric until it is perfectly smooth using starch to stiffen it as it makes it easier to work on.
If you are going to do  machine embroidery then you will need to somehow attach your garment to the embroidery hoop and stabilise it so that it does not move at all during the embroidery process.
The jacket is bulky and you will not be able to get it into the hoop so we must look for an alternative option
I used a two-fold approach and ironed on some Gunold iron on stabiliser to the back of the area to be embroidered.
Then I inserted a piece on Filmoplast stabiliser into the hoop. Filmoplast is a self adhesive stabiliser so once it is tightly hooped use a pin to score the backing paper and remove it leaving the sticky side facing upwards. Position your jacket very carefully onto this, ensuring that your tacking stitches are level and for further security put a few pins OUTSIDE of the embroidery hoop. It is very important that the fabric does not move at all during the embroidery process.

Insert the hoop into the machine, folding and rolling the rest of the jacket out of the way.
When you are satisfied, start to embroider your chosen design. There are several designs built into your embroidery machine already and more can be downloaded from the internet.

At one time, when I first got my embroidery machine I covered everything with embroidery, now I am a lot more conservative and choose smaller designs, but you can be as bold as you like! I have seen fabulous jackets with the back totally covered in a design!

When you have finished remove the embroidery from the machine and tear away the stabilisers. You may need a pin or tweezers to get the tiny bits out.
Cut the threads between each area of the design too

This is the design I chose, but you will have your own ideas!

You may want to go over some of the top stitching already on the garment with a different colour.
For that you will need to put a top stitching needle into your normal sewing machine and choose a top stitching thread in a colour which complements your design.

The links to purchase are
Needles Top stitch needles
Thread  Top stitch thread

If you prefer you can hand sew a running stitch but do use a Thimble to avoid hurting your fingers

It is very difficult sewing denim,especially when trying to sew over bulky seams . One little tool which I use a lot is this one the Jean-a-ma-jig  Put it under your machine foot when you come to a bulky seam and it helps to keep the foot even, making it easier to sew.

I chose a yellowish colour for my top stitching.

You may wish to use ribbon to decorate your jacket along the seams instead of top stitching them, there are plenty to choose from , just look at the choice on this link. Ribbons

Another thing you can do is to change the buttons.
The buttons on denim garments are normally fastened on with a metal back and they are impossible to remove without leaving a hole. If you do want to risk removing them and stitching up the hole then there are lots of decorative buttons to choose from,Decorative buttons 
Personally I think it is better to cover them with small circles of fabric. This is easy to do, cut out circles of fabric twice the diameter of the original buttons. If the fabric is very fine or frays then iron on some interfacing before cutting out and make the circles slightly larger.

Using strong button thread (top stitch thread is fine) in a  matching colour run a small gathering stitch around the outside of your circle of fabric. Put it over your button and gather the thread evenly, smoothing the top down so that it is taught and flat.

Sew around the button shank a few times making sure that the fabric is neat and that it is secure and fasten off.

I use Fray-check liquid all around the button shank so that the stitches do not come undone. This will not come out even in the wash.

These are my finished covered buttons which I love 
There are so many ways that you can upcycle yours or your children's clothing, and turn ordinary into something special. We would love to see what ideas you come up with.
I have seen denim jackets dyed and edged with lace, some with embroidery covering the entire back. 
To embroider top  pockets you will have to remove them and stitch them back on afterwards but whatever you do have fun!

I hope that this introduces some of you to the magic of sewing and that you will start to follow my blogs.

This is part of a series of posts especially for those new to or returning to sewing.

Thank you to Jaycotts as always, your continued support is much appreciated.

Jaycotts web site is Jaycotts where you will find opening times and details of how to find them, workshops, new products and much more! Sign up for emails too.

To telephone them ring  01244 394099 during office hours.

Thank you for reading this post



Thursday, 6 June 2019

A blouse in Floral Georgette a MinervaCrafts Blog post

My floral Georgette Blouse 

I have to admit that floral fabrics do not usually appeal to me but as soon as I saw this beautiful Floral Georgette I knew that I wanted to make myself something with it.

The fabric design is a bright, modern floral in strong colours and even if you think that you don't like florals, you are certain to love this one.
Georgette is a lightweight fabric which lends itself perfectly to blouses.

Tucked in or left loose this blouse is a definite winner.the fabric is lightweight and eye-catching. What is there not to love?
The fabric is Floral Georgette

Thank you MinervaCrafts for the opportunity to try this beautiful fabric
You can read the body of the post here Floral Georgette blouse


Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Closet Case Floral Ginger jeans

A MCBN post .June 219

My Closet Case ginger Jeans

Who says jeans have to be Denim,and who said they have to be plain?
I have spent a few weeks exploring various patterns and fabrics and came to the conclusion that so long as you choose the type of fabric recommended on the pattern (eg stretch, woven etc) and you take the time to fit your garment properly you really can use any pattern in whatever style suits you best,  and choose  a fabric appropriate for the season.

Very summery don't you think? Perfect for holiday drinks people-watching, with a pullover for when it gets cooler.

Making jeans is not as daunting as you may first think.

Measure, fit, measure, and fit again and again until you achieve the fit that you like. And please don't forget to make a test garment especially if you have never made trousers before.

To read the post in full and to order the fabric and supplies for making jeans go to this link My Closet Case Ginger Jeans

I would love to hear your comments. Have you made jeans? Did you enjoy the process? I did and I won't ever buy a pair of ready made again.🙁

Thank you

Ps I have a post on this blog too #sewangelicthreads How to sew Jeans

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

How to sew Jeans

This is a blog post

How to sew Jeans.

This is perhaps the most daunting yet the most satisfying garment you can ever master. Jeans are  personal and we all have differing views of what the perfect pair should look like.
Get them right and I guarantee that you will love them so much that you will never buy another pair again. I know I won't

This is not a quick project and you have homework to do before we even consider looking at patterns!
First of all, what is your preferred style? I love a high waist, narrow leg Jean which is very well fitted. If that is not your style there is straight leg, flared leg, boot cut, ankle length. And then there are jeans which fit below your waist or on your waist.

 The first thing you need to do therefore is to figure out which style you prefer. You may already own a pair which you love and which fit you well. This is good news because you can use them to refer to when making your own. If not then go along to a clothes store and try on as many pairs as you can and take selfies of those you like. Make a note of the style and if you dare, measure at least the hips and waist.

For your next task take a look at jeans in general and make a note of different top-stitching ideas and ideas for pockets. You can customise your jeans in so many ways so do take time to look for ideas. Pinterest is great for ideas.

I tested a few different Jeans patterns and this is the one I recommend you buy first. It has a large variety of design choices and different sizes. This is the link to purchase it from Jaycotts. B5682 Trouser and Jeans pattern I chose this one because it is not complicated and the instructions are easy to follow.

The first part of the pattern to look at - and you can do this on Jaycotts web site before you order - is the size chart.
Ignore your shop bought size and go by your actual measurements, the sizing is very different in each.
We are going to be sewing with a stretch denim which has " negative ease" ( more about that later ) so if you are between sizes it is likely you will require the smaller size.

Another choice would be this pattern, which again is easy and has alternative style choices .M7547 Jeans and overalls

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Print fabric Vs Embellishment

A MCBN post

Usually when I think of making a garment, a blouse especially ,I automatically look at printed fabrics, after all there are so many beautiful prints around and it is impossible to resist them!

But then I thought what if I turned that around , thought differently , and  choose a plain fabric with some sort of embellishment?
So, I looked at trims and plain fabrics and this is the result. I hope you like it

To read the post you need to visit the Minerva Craft's Blogger Network, you will find details of how to make this blouse plus fabric requirements etc on this link :

Print Vs Embellishment

Please do read my post, I would love to see your embellishment ideas too


Tuesday, 2 April 2019

My Lady McElroy Twill skirt with embroidered Lace trim

A Minerva Crafts Blogger Network Post

This skirt is made with a beautiful Twill Fabric from Lady McElroy fabrics in Ivory. This would make a lovely skirt on its own without any trimming but I was tempted by the selection of Dookki Embroidered Trims and wanted to somehow incorporate some into my garment. There is plenty of choice both in colour and in style from floral to butterflies and a beautiful gold lace. I was spoiled for choice..............

Please do head over to this link and read the rest of the post my lace trimmed Twill Skirt on this link you will also find out about how to order the supplies and see the other beautiful trims in this range


Saturday, 9 March 2019

Stitching back in time to the 1940s , dresses and trenchcoats

The middle to late 1940s fashion: Dresses and Trench Coats 

A Jaycotts blog post.

It wasn't until 10:30 AM on 12 February 1947 that a relatively unheard of Christian Dior unveiled his "New Look"
Taking inspiration from flower petals he celebrated femininity with defined narrow waists and full flowing skirts. It was a defiance towards the rationing which had restricted fashion for several years.

 Before this monumental event though , and even when WW2 had ended,  we were still gripped by austerity and it was getting worse. We were encouraged to take two very worn dresses and coats for example and somehow make the best bits of each into one wearable garment. Shoe leather had run out and women's shoes were made with wooden soles which were very much hated. Everything was becoming more and more difficult and it seemed never ending, so the advent of a new fashion house really brought excitement to life.

If you are after a 1940s look then many of today's styles are very similar. Go for a low heel, preferably a chunky heel, a brogue or a wedge sandal and they will be fine.

One item which did prove popular was the Siren Suit, Sir Winston Churchill loved his and had one made from pin-stripe suiting (of course)

But the rest of us loved them too, they were designed to wear over normal clothes, or night clothes when the air raid siren went off. Air raid shelters were dirty, cold and smelly and these garments were very much necessary.

Today we still wear a type of this garment in the form of jumpsuits. Take a look at the pattern range available from Jaycotts Jumpsuit pattern

I have a blog post too An easy Simplicity Jumpsuit so do take a look at the tutorial. Did you see the Sewing Bee 2019 As one of the challenges was to sew a jumpsuit and they all looked fabulous.

Factories were still being run by women - it took a long while before the men came home and women were forced out of work.  Supplies were still not reaching us so even after WW2 had ended we were still very much rationed - we were short of everything. Even those tiny ends of thread which we cut off and throw away were kept and treasured.

Keep on reading..........

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Dressing in 1940s style and a review of the SewOverIt 1940sTea dress pattern

 War time fashion, tutorials on inserting zips , a SewOverIt 1940's tea dress to sew and much much more!

It is as important today as it was in the 1940's to adopt a "Make do and mend" attitude, and I hope to show you that this will make you  re-think your sewing habits. I know it has done for me.


The second world war started in 1939 and didn't end until 1945. During this time rationing of almost everything was in place and continued even after the war had ended until supplies started to become available again.
It was in 1941 that the government introduced rationing which greatly influenced clothing and how it was worn. Strict guidelines governed how many buttons were allowable and how many seams were acceptable and so on.

Don't think for one minute that fashion was dull though, far from it. The designs were high quality and the famous CC41 utility label was also  a sign of  excellent value for money and  you knew it was made to last. The CC41 designs were devised by a panel of top designers including Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell no less.

A combination of paying for your clothes with money and coupons meant that the class divide had no impact on what you wore - everyone was entitled to exactly the same.

These are the exact details of what a utility dress should consist of;-

"Examples of details of restriction orders when making Utility dress: it could have no more than two pockets, five buttons, six seams in the skirt, two inverted or box pleats or four knife pleats, and one hundred and sixty inches (four metres) of stitching. No superfluous decoration was allowed. It should be simple, practical, agreeable-looking, inexpensive and made of good material"

It should also be noted that one quarter of the population, women included ,was now in uniform of some sort and with women being ordered to maintain glamour at all times, these uniforms were also beautifully tailored. The most coveted being the Wren's uniform - worn with red lipstick and curled hair of course.
Coty produced lipstick and face powder which was not rationed, as well as producing such things as foot powder for use by the military.

It should be noted that selling these utility garments were a great source of income to the government.

This booklet was produced in the early 40s as supplies were becoming more and more scarce. The wool and cotton fabric, and dark coloured dyes  were needed by the military for uniforms and for blackout curtains .
 We were not receiving imports of cotton and silk because of the high cost of shipping  goods from abroad - China for one, and by that I mean the cost in lives as well as in monetary terms.

To read the rest of the post you need to click underneath on the message below .... ....

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The Utterly Beautiful Sew Liberated Matcha Top

The Sew Liberated Matcha Top

 a MCBN post

This is the most desirable summer top I have ever seen, and the fabric totally amazing. You will honestly love it and will want to wear it all summer long, doesn't it speak to you of warm summer days?
It is an extremely easy make so if you are new to sewing there is absolutely nothing that even a very inexperienced sewist cannot manage easily and it  is certain to give you confidence in your ability.
The fabric is a Sequin Double Gauze.  

Do please read my post on the link below and let me know what you think of this stunning fabric and pattern 

To find out more about this totally stunning fabric and pattern and for much more information go to my full post on the MinervaCrafts Blogger network My beautiful Sew Liberated matcha Top


NB if you want to learn more about fabrics, and receive fabric samples every quarter then I highly recommend MinervaCrafts Swatch club MinervaCrafts Swatch Club

There are different options to pick from - including one with knitting yarn and I think that this is a brilliant way of getting ideas and inspiration. You can join via the link above

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Easy to sew Jumpsuit and Jacket : Simplicity 8178

This is a Jaycotts post and it is a very simple to sew Jumpsuit for all levels of ability.

 As seen on the GBSB 2019


seam tape
using a pattern

Jumpsuits do not show any sign of going out of fashion, and no wonder as they can be smart or casual or somewhere in between. They can take you anywhere and come into their own on holiday for day or evening. They are so comfortable!

Make it in Satin at MinervaCrafts for your party or special occasion - plain, print, glittery or animal print, one of these is perfect for you - and will cost you a lot less than ready made!

NB to view fabrics in the sale at MinervaCrafts go to MinervaCrafts Fabric Sale  you might just find a bargain! 

The pattern I chose is Simplicity 8178  I chose it because it is suitable even for sewing newbies as it has minimal pieces and does not have any fastenings - so no zipper or buttonholes to worry about.
There is a choice between straight and flared legs, I chose the wider flared leg.

I chose a floral crepe fabric for the main garment and plain crepe for the jacket, both widely available.  View Crepe Fabrics
This particular fabric is rather busy! More suited to holiday wear I feel. A chambray or a linen would be good fabric choices, the pattern also suggests sateen which would be lovely and Ponte Roma but if you choose this then make sure it is not too heavy and that it has a good drape.
Wash, dry and press your fabric before cutting out as a lot of fabrics shrink.

If ever you want to use a fabric such as wool for a coat or jacket then don't wash it, when I come to do my next coat blog I will show you how to shrink fabric without washing it.

If you are new to sewing then you may not understand the sizing. Pattern sizes are not the same as your commercial dress size, usually commercial garments are "vanity" sized and as you know the fit varies a lot from store to store.

So the first thing you need to do is to take your measurements and compare them to the measurements on the back of the pattern.
You may find that your top and bottom are different sizes but that doesn't matter as it is easy to cut out the top in one size and the bottom in another and merge the two sizes together at the waist.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

MCBN Cozy does it - slippers by Ellie Mae designs for KwikSew patterns

Fabulous slippers by Ellie May designs for KwikSew patterns

I was super excited to be sent this fabulous slipper pattern and couldn't wait to get stuck into making them.

The first pair are the trial ones I made , the second are the actual ones made in Navy Blue fabric and don't you just love them?

I am certain that you will want to make a pair of three (great for hotel rooms) so quickly jump over to  Cozy Does It -My fabulous Slippers  this link is on MinervaCrafts Blogger Network and you will find the notions, fabrics, and pattern so that you too can dance around with joy!

Happy slipper-dancing

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Sewing The Mondrian style top from the GBSB 2016 (Sewing an all in one facing )

This is a top made to embrace the 1960's Mondrian style in honour of the iconic Mondrian dress by Yves Saint Laurent.

A How do I do that post

Skills shown in this post are

  1. All in one facings
  2. Invisible zip 


I love the colour block dress from the Great British Sewing Bee book From Stitch to style, but before I invested in the fabrics I wanted to try out the top first in fabric left over from other projects. This top is based on the MONDRIAN dress created by Yves  Saint laurent in 1965. Made to be worn as a cocktail dress the Mondrian was made from heavy silk crepe so that it hung straight in the body.  It quickly became the most iconic dress of the 1960s

This top was made in Art Gallery Fabric , this particular fabric is a very high end cotton print. You can use any cotton fabric  so long as you get a good contrast with the black bands.  All the fabrics need to be the same weight.
If you do fancy indulging yourself and buying some Art Gallery fabric Minerva Fabrics sell it,  Art Gallery fabrics .these are print fabrics but are gorgeous.

There are other linen, cotton ,and linen blends available too Cotton and cotton blend dress fabrics

And if you want to go back to the traditional colours there are lots of plain cotton's too, these are. Cotton Lawn fabric
The quality and price of all of these is excellent

The original Mondrian was made from panels of blue, white and acid yellow interspaced with black. My modern interpretation is in a light coloured print fabric with black bands added to form the iconic design.

The top is amazing don't you think and can be made fairly quickly.
 This tutorial shows you how to do an all in one facing.

You need to follow the link below to read the rest of the post.....

Thursday, 17 January 2019

A Black wool lined pencil skirt with a touch of Embroidery

A lined pencil skirt, with a touch of Embroidery

A very similar post to this was featured on the MinervaCraftsBloggerNetwork recently A wool and Mohair mix pencil skirt .but I wanted to share some of the information about making toiles with you too.

The pattern I chose is a skirt pattern from Butterick - B6184. I chose this because it has a high waistline which features heavily this season. This particular pattern is out of stock, but it does not matter because any pencil skirt pattern can be used. Take a look at the choice, Pencil skirt patterns

In this post I am not going to give you a skirt tutorial as such  because after all skirts are simple to make right? - wrong. Well, they are simple but if you are making a pencil skirt the fit just HAS to be right! So that is what this post is about, fit.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Vogue 8825 in Lady McElroy "Bolton" stretch jersey knit.

A Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post 

How to sew Stretch fabrics.

Lady McElroy Fabrics are very high quality and are superb to work with. This one, named Bolton, is a 96% viscose 4% spandex Jersey Fabric. It is fluid and drapes well and the print is just stunning. 
To complement the fabric I chose Vogue V8825. There are two choices of outfits to sew in this pattern, a dress and a tunic and trousers.
I had intended to make the tunic but when I looked at the fabric I realised that I had just about enough to make the dress if I was inventive with cutting out........

..... Please do read the rest of the post, the link to this and other Lady McElroy fabrics is on the post, together with a pattern review and tutorial.

Lady McElroy is one of my favourite fabric brands and I hope you will love them too
The post is here. The lady McElroy Bolton dress

 There are lots of other photos on the post too. 

Stretch fabrics - used for sportswear in the program - are featured in the GBSB 2019

I would love your comments


Do watch my YouTube video all about other dresses on my blog 

Monday, 14 January 2019

My Lady McElroy Retro City Scape (beautiful) Dress

This is a #MCBN Post

I have a confession to make. I love Lady McElroy Fabrics. The designs are superb, They are always elegant and very wearable. The fabric is top quality cotton lawn which is a delight to wear as it is so gentle against the skin. The premium Cotton doesn't fade, it is easy to sew and a delight to wear. I love it.

This fabric, named City Scape, comes in two colours , this is the navy which I am enhancing further by the addition of  orange corded piping to not only add a pop of colour but to enhance the clever seams on the pattern.

Please do visit the MinervaCrafts web site and read how I constructed this fabulous dress. Did I mention it is lined too?

The rest of the post is here The Lady McElroy City Scape Dress

And PS

The dress in the other colour is on The MinervaCrafts Blog
And the link to it is Lady McElroy Cotton lawn dress

Please read my posts, thank you.


Wednesday, 9 January 2019

An easy make summer dress in printed Batik. Why not sew two?

A blog post


Choosing the correct size, cutting out, point turner,buttonholes, interfacing, set-up in sleeves, pressing,  invisible zip, 

I have been longing to get into my summer clothes here at home and now that summer is here I want some quick easy makes that I can wear in a day or two.I know people who cringe at the thought of wearing summer clothes, assuming wrongly that the sun means baring skin. Not so, some of the coolest clothes to wear are those which offer some protection from the sun. My usual summer clothes consist of pedal pushers and tunic tops, but I guess that's more out of habit than anything else, so I am making myself some dresses.

I made two versions. The red one is in an African printed cotton and the dark blue is Hand printed Batik. The red one has a fully lined bodice.

 Fabric choices

For fabric choices  look no further than Minerva Fabrics.
MinervaCrafts have an amazing collection of batik fabrics do look at the choice on the link to their website. Batik Fabric
The price range is excellent and I am always impressed with the quality, so do take a look

This is a very pretty dress by Simplicity, available from Jaycotts Simplicity S8294 it is a vintage style dress with the option of having a collar, waist tabs and short cap sleeves. There are also two skirt options so this pattern does offer value for money.
I made a size 12 and it needed no adjustments. You will find that your pattern size differs from your commercial dress size, please do not be alarmed, just make sure that you cut out the size which most closely resembles your body measurements. If your top and bottom halves differ then this pattern allows you to cut out relevant sizes for your top half, and a larger or smaller size for your bottom half . It is easy then to merge the two sizes together at the waist.

I like the slightly lower back in this pattern and as I do not appreciate having burnt shoulders I was glad that one of the options is to include a cap sleeve.
When choosing your pattern think about any parts of your body which you would like to cover up and look for a pattern which will do that. For example if you do not like your arms then think about choosing a pattern with a sleeve - which could be a flutter sleeve, short sleeve or whatever length you prefer. To draw attention away from a problem tummy or hip then choose a flattering neckline to draw the eye upwards.