Sewing Space Revamp Alert

My current sewing space and plans to revamp it.

I’ve moved from my designated corner in the dining room to the spare bedroom. I’ve been hankering after this space for quite a while, but to no avail. The Hubs surprised me by randomly suggesting that I should have it as my sewing space and I didn’t hesitate to claim it as my own.

As you can see, it leaves a lot to be desired, compared to the sewing spaces of Pinterest and Instagram! I’ve got big plans for this room that will more than likely happen in stages, so stay tuned for future changes over the course of this year.

So uninspiring!
The leaning tower of shoes must go!
Sneaky night time footage.

This will eventually become a wonderful, inspiring, sewing space. I realise I’ve got my work cut out, and any transformations will have to fit in around looking after my two little ones.

My plan is out there now. Nothing like accountability. No pressure! 🙈

‘How To’ Get Started With Sewing: Clean Your Machine

How to clean your sewing machine.

What is it about cleaning your sewing machine that just makes you think….hmmm, no thanks!? It’s such a vital, yet easily overlooked, and widely avoided aspect of sewing machine maintenance.

There are some sewists who have developed very good habits over the years and regularly clean out their sewing machines. When I quizzed these diligent folk in my sewing group, I was impressed to find out that the majority of them who regularly sew clean out their sewing machine at least once every few days. Only a very small few reported doing so daily.

Unsurprisingly, it was generally reported that sewing machines are rarely being regularly cleaned. With lack of interest in the task, limited time, or deeming it a pointless task for the amount that they sew being cited as reasons. I personally clean out my machine every 3-4 days, even though I sew every day. I admit, I need to increase the frequency of my cleans but being honest, I do find it an arduous task.

The cleaning out of our machines could prove to be cost effective in the long run. “A regularly cleaned machine will lessen the need to service your machine over time,” says Jenny Field, owner of Needle and Shed. “I regularly receive sewing machines where the owners think there is a major issue and it turns out the machines just want a good clean.” So what really is keeping a large proportion of us from regularly cleaning our machines?

If you sew infrequently, the need to clean your machine as regularly isn’t as great, but it is still an important part of maintaining your machine. There is no harm in cleaning your sewing machine after every use, or at the very least, after every project. It’s a great habit to start forming and means that your machine is ready for the next time you use it.

If you’re encountering any weird and wonderful, unexplained issues with your machine, it could be that it needs a good clean. (DISCLAIMER: If you think there is something seriously wrong with your sewing machine, please do not hesitate to get it checked out by someone who knows what they are doing. There could be a plethora of other reasons as to why your machine isn’t sounding right or working correctly. A sewing machine that hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, or never, can present sounds and actions that appear to be a major issue but are resolved with a good clean).

Perhaps some sewists are reluctant to clean their machines because they aren’t sure how to clean them. Our sewing machines can look very complicated, internally. They are such a big investment that the thought of unintentionally breaking them, or messing them up in some way, can be greater than the need to remove a few bits of thread and dust. If you fall into this particular camp, here’s quick a video I put together of me cleaning out the bobbin area of my sewing machine. I use an old makeup brush and tweezers that came with the machine. That’s my preference. Your machine should at least come with a cleaning brush that you can use. Other things that I’ve heard being used to clean machines are pipe cleaners, miniature vacuum cleaners, and mini paint brushes, to name but a few. Once you get into the habit of cleaning your sewing machine, you can get creative as to how you go about doing it.

Cleaning my sewing machine

If your machine doesn’t allow you to get underneath the bobbin area with the push of a button, it’ll require you to unscrew the plate. This can be a bit of an arduous task for some, scary for others. Especially if you’ve never done it before. The benefits of cleaning out all of the dust are far greater than the potential risk of causing any damage. Be gentle and anything that you remove, pay attention to how it slots back in place to make sure you can put it back correctly once you have finished cleaning.

Our sewing machines are a big investment, so it’s important that we maintain and look after them as best as we can. Regularly cleaning your sewing machine is a big part of ensuring it remains in the best condition possible, for as long as possible.

Sewing Machines Under £100

Sewing machines under £100 to help start your sewing journey.

Here, you will find a list of sewing machines currently on the market, for under £100 (correct as of 30/10/2020). They are inexpensive, very basic, and great if you want to give sewing a go for the first time. If you then decide that sewing isn’t for you, starting up won’t have broken the bank.

There is always an argument that going too simple can be detrimental to the sewing journey of the beginner sewist. These machines will not necessarily have some of the time-saving functions that sewists love (e.g. automatic needle threader, automatic thread cutter, automatic bobbin winding). This can deter some sewists and create a barrier to sewing, stopping them from starting projects. I think having a very simple machine is a great way of helping new sewists to learn the basics of sewing for themselves. It’s all part of the joy of sewing and will leave you even more in love with this pastime. It also means that you’ll have a machine that you aren’t afraid you’ll break, or afraid to make mistakes on.

DISCLAIMER: Clicking on the photos will take you to the website where the particular sewing machine can be purchased. There are NO affiliate links. I found these machines by doing a brief Google search. This is a non-exhaustive list. Make sure you do your own research before investing in a sewing machine. I haven’t used any of these machines myself, so I cannot provide a review, nor can I vouch for their quality. There are reviews available online.

Sew Crafty Midi Sewing Machine £29.99

Hobbycraft Mini Sewing Machine £33

Sew Amazing Sewing Station Machine £40

Hobbycraft Midi Sewing Machine (available in various colours) £50

Silver 12 Stitch Mini Sewing Machine £59

Sew Amazing Studio Machine £60

Hobbycraft 19S Sewing Machine £75

Brother LS14s Manual Stitch Sewing Machine £80

Brother LK14S Sewing Machine £89

Singer M1605 Sewing Machine – Exclusive to Hobbycraft £100

Singer 1409 Promise Sewing Machine £100

Get Sewing Machine Savvy

A guide to choosing a sewing machine.

You don’t need a sewing machine to sew. Hand sewing is a craft in itself. Knowing the basics of sewing by hand will always stand you in good stead for any sewing project. However, purchasing a sewing machine usually comes at the top of the list for those who are new to sewing. I remember how challenging it was choosing my first ever sewing machine. For that reason, I’ve provided some important points to consider before investing in a sewing machine. They’ll help you to choose the best one for you.

How Much to Spend – Budget

Have a budget in mind when searching for a sewing machine. It’s very easy to get carried away looking at machines with all the bells and whistles, then spending too much money on a machine. Be clear on how much you want to spend before you start looking.

Machine Condition – Brand New Vs. Second-hand

In most cases, your budget will determine this choice. A shiny, new machine is always an exciting purchase but it’s important to stick to your budget. Second-hand machines can be a fantastic, affordable option. Just make sure you do your research. Find out the last time the machine was serviced. Check and make sure that the machine is in good working order before any money is exchanged. If you don’t feel happy, don’t buy the machine (this also applies to buying a brand new machine).

Where to Look – Online Vs. Local

Visiting a local sewing machine dealer or sewing shop is great for three main reasons. Firstly, you get to support your local businesses. Always a win! Secondly, you get to view the machine in person and be hands on. Thirdly, you can get free, in-store tuition on the machine you’ve purchased. If you have any questions or issues with your machine, they can be dealt with quickly, in person.

Viewing a machine online means that you can see a vast range of machines available from each different brand. There are often great deals to be found, making it potentially cheaper to purchase a sewing machine online, in some instances. However, I personally feel that you miss out on physically seeing the machine before you purchase, and asking questions from a knowledgeable source. A happy compromise might be to view a machine locally, then purchase the machine online if you see any great deals.

Personal Requirements – Manual Vs. Computerised

Choosing a manual or a computerused sewing machine will be based on your personal requirements and preferences. Budget will also have a significant part to play in this decision. It might be best to purchase a basic sewing machine that will enable you to get used to the different functions and stitches. Once you feel that you are progressing in your sewing, and you are more aware of exactly what you are looking for in a machine, you can then upgrade.

Some people want to buy the best machine they can afford as their first machine. It can be very motivating when you have a machine with all the bells and whistles, because you want to make sure you make the most of your purchase, by sewing as much as possible. However, do be careful not to purchase a machine that is too complex for your sewing abilities. It might prove to be an unwelcome barrier to your sewing, if you find yourself needing to constantly look at the sewing manual, just to figure out how your machine works! Also, you don’t want a machine that you’re too afraid to use for fear of breaking it.

A sewing machine is an investment, so take your time when deciding on which one to get. Finding the most suitable sewing machine for you may take some time, but it’s worth the careful consideration. Once you’ve found the right one, your sewing journey will go from strength to strength.

This is a non-exhaustive list of factors to consider when buying a sewing machine for the first time. I hope you’ve found this post useful and that it helps you find the right sewing machine to meet your needs.

Sewing 4 Self Care

Mental health is wealth. Get sewing and watch yours improve!

There’s a global pandemic. Our lives have been turned upside down. There’s turmoil, uncertainty and we are unable to see our friends and family. It feels almost pointless to make future plans because we don’t know if, or when, they will change. Our mental health is suffering. Don’t get mad…get even! Flip the situation around and start something new.

Why not take up sewing? Make something that will cheer you up. Or, make a gift for someone else to make them smile. Get lost in the process of choosing what you want to make. Will you start with a small project, like a cushion? Are you feeling brave and want a challenge, so you go straight for something you can wear…a coat, perhaps? Or new home decor… curtains anyone??

Whatever you choose, getting started is the key. You’ll never know how much fun you’ll have choosing fabric, until you start looking for just the right one for your project. Warning: IT’S ADDICTIVE!! Creating a fabric stash is a hobby in itself. It comes along with the sewing territory. You won’t even notice how much your fabric collection has grown until you need a new room to house it all!

Winter is fast approaching. Lockdowns are looming and there’s nowhere to go. Whether you’ve got lots of free time on your hands, or you need to escape the family for a few hours, get sewing! It’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done for YOU!

Etsy Shop

The makings of a sewing business idea in 2017.

It’s been on my mind for a few weeks to start an Etsy shop. After much deliberation, I have decided that I will definitely be going ahead with this plan. Although I am new to sewing, my long-term goal is to find my niche in the sewing community and have a business of my own that is sewing related. I do think that by starting something small, I can obtain a small income to fund my fabric addiction, and also give myself the opportunity to develop the skills required of a small business owner. The experience will certainly be beneficial for my future sewing endeavours (whatever they may be) and I am going to fully embrace it.

At present, the first products that I have chosen to sell are zipper pouches. I find them relatively easy to make and I like the finished article. There are many sellers on Etsy who make zipper pouches that have all the bells and whistles (fancy zips, different shapes and sizes) however I have chosen a simple and versatile design, in order to cut down on the time I need to spend making each pouch but without compromising on the quality.

This is especially important as I will be running this venture alongside a full-time job, planning a wedding, preparing to sell a property and searching for a new home. I have taken some photos that I intend to use for my Etsy shop. Photography is not my strong point, so I downloaded an app called Afterlight to help with editing. It’s very easy to use and costs 99p. I’m happy with the results I achieved:

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I’ve made sure to test my products. I regularly use one of my pouches and have gifted a few to friends and relatives, in order for them to be used and abused. They have all reported that none of the zipper pouches have fallen apart (durability achieved) and that they are lovely to look at (result). Fit for purpose, easy on the eyes and durable are exactly the properties that I require from this product. I eventually intend to extend my product range and I have already written down a list of potential, future products. However, this will all be dependent on the success of the zipper pouches. I certainly don’t want to run before I can walk and I will be concentrating on executing one product very well, before introducing another to my portfolio.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say that I feel somewhat apprehensive about starting an Etsy shop. The  following questions have buzzed around my head on multiple occasions: ‘What if I have no sales?’ ‘What if no one likes the product?’ ‘What if no one visits the shop?’ ‘What if I get an unsatisfied customer?’ The answer I give myself, to all of these questions, is simple: ‘You never know until you try!’

I’m excited about my new venture and I am looking forward to learning more about selling online and the intricacies of running a small business. I am hopeful that I will be relatively successful with selling the zipper pouches, but most importantly, that this experience will lead on to other things in the world of sewing. I am tentatively taking my first steps outside of my comfort zone. I am so grateful that I can share the start of my very small thing, that will hopefully turn into something wonderful and amazing as time goes by. I will certainly be sharing my experiences and progress along the way.

My First Nomination – Sunshine Blogger Award

A surprise nomination for a blogging award.

It’s been a wonderful surprise and a proud moment for me to receive my first ever nomination for an award. I’d never have imagined 6 weeks ago that I’d be writing a blog that people would enjoy reading, so this first nomination means an awful lot. A GIGANTIC THANK YOU to the fabulous Mrs.S.LDN for nominating me.

thankyou

I highly recommend that you take a cheeky look at this lovely lady’s blog at https://mrssldn.com/ She blogs about living in London, being married, her travels and her thoughts and feelings on life. It is a joy to read and she’s one of the bloggers where I eagerly await the next post. The only reason I don’t click like on every single post is for fear of being considered a stalker!

What is this award?

“What is this award, anyway??” I hear you ask. Well, I’ll tell you: The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are inspiring and bring sunshine into the lives of their readers and fellow bloggers. I gratefully accept this award and will share the sunshine by nominating some of the bloggers who I feel shine the brightest in my life. There are far more than 11 but that’s the amount I have to choose, so I will save the others for another award when the time comes.

How it works – The Rules:

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award (making sure each one knows they are nominated) and write them 11 new questions to answer.
questions-and-answers

Thank you for this interesting set of questions, Mrs.S.LDN. Here are my answers. I hope they don’t disappoint:

1) If you could be any other nationality, other than your own, which would you be?

Spanish. I adore the culture. The Spanish way of life is so relaxed, very family-orientated and they have a great work/life balance. I easily get stressed out, so I admire their relaxed disposition and zest for life.

2) If you could buy the holiday home of your dreams, where would it be?

Mauritius, which also happens to be our honeymoon destination. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit. Having the opportunity to own a holiday home there would be an absolute dream come true!! (Please take note all potential, generous benefactors).

3) Would you ever jump out of a plane? Parachute included 🙂

ABSOLUTELY! I’ve always wanted to skydive. The longer I leave it, the more pressure I feel to be a responsible adult and keep my feet placed firmly on the ground…I best get jumping out of a plane soon then!

4) If you could domesticate any wild animal to have as a pet, what animal would you pick?

Giant Panda – so that it could be as cute and cuddly as it looks.

5) What household chore would you like to never have to do again?

Laundry! It’s a job that never gets done because there will ALWAYS be something dirty to wash. No matter how much you try and keep on top of it, the laundry pile always wins!!

6) What’s your favourite cocktail?

Choosing a favourite is tricky, because I simply ADORE cocktails. I would have to say that my absolute failsafe is a Piña Colada – an oldie but a goodie.

7) Can you parallel park?

Yes. How well depends on the day, my mood, the car I’m driving, the weather…

8) What kind of food do you like to snack on?

Anything and everything!!! This is my problem!! I love food too much and I’m scared that my wedding dress will hate me for it.

9) Can you go a whole day without your phone or access to wifi?

I could go a whole lifetime without a phone or access to wifi. I think not being able to access so much information would make me less stressed and anxious in life.

10) Would you rather read the book or watch the movie?

Read the book. The characters in my head always look much better than the choice of actors/actresses in the films.

11) What is your signature dish?

A Sunday roast with all the trimmings.

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My Nominees

Now for the difficult part. I’ve managed to choose my 11 nominees and they are as follows:

  • Saturday Night Stitch – Hila has so much energy and a great thirst for life. It’s evident in every post. Plus, she looks AMAZING in her sewing creations. My goal is to sew AND look as fabulous as her in the future. #lifegoals
  • Olive and Clo – I’m absolutely blown away by Linda’s dedication, commitment, attention to detail and impeccable taste. Overall, her sweet and fun nature comes across so well on her site. A beautiful individual inside and out.
  • Carmen Sews – I feel as though Carmen is my older, American sister. Those few steps ahead, achieving all of the things that you have in mind to, but you’ve only just started your journey. Whenever I see that Carmen has achieved something fantastic in her sewing, it gives me the encouragement to carry on and succeed.
  • Thimberlina – The simple fact that Ali is from Yorkshire is enough for me! I had some of my best experiences studying and living in Yorkshire and the people are lovely. As if that wasn’t enough, she sews and plays golf! I love her passion for sewing and her involvement in the sewing community. That’s definitely something that I aspire to.
  • The Crafty Mummy – Kasia is just a bundle of joy. She was the very first person to reach out to me, via my Facebook page, when I first started on my sewing journey. These first few months of blogging and starting something new are the hardest, but I found her blog and her story so encouraging. Also, she has a successful business creating lovely products and her blog is filled to the brim with beautiful photographs. #businessgoals
  • Life as I Interpret It – An inspirational individual whose blog I find motivational. Also, such a lovely person who offers encouragement and support to others.
  • Paper Puff – SO creative!! I love seeing the next creation and admiring the patience and talent required to make cards with such a great level of care and dedication.
  • Sew Norfolk – Danie is a fellow Norfolk resident, so I immediately feel an affinity with her blog. She has started an Etsy shop, which is my next goal and I enjoy watching her progress with her projects.
  • Smile and Make – Lucy is simply inspirational! She is raising funds for brain tumour research in memory of her husband, through The Brain Tumour Charity: The Michael Barry Fund. Read more here: https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/get-involved/supporter-groups/groups/the-michael-barry-fund/ Lucy’s handmade garments are spectacularly bright and unique and her passion for life and for fundraising is extremely admirable.
  • Crafty Crusader – When I read this blog, I feel as though I have found my London counterpart. This lady can turn her hand to baking, sewing, knitting, gardening and produce something great.
  • Self Assembly Required – Emily’s blog was one of the first I followed. It was through reading her posts that I found out about ‘The Bettine’ pattern and completed my first, me-made, dress. I love her enthusiasm and passion for sewing, plus the way she challenges herself with her projects. Whether that be with her choice of fabric or the different twists that she incorporates into the design. In my eyes, she’s definitely part of a group of sewists who set the trends in the sewing community and I avidly follow!
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Here are my questions for my nominees:

  1. Did you have any other names in mind for your blog (if so, what were they)?
  2. If you could choose a language to be fluent in, which would it be?
  3. What is the best joke that you know?
  4. When it comes to food, do you prefer sweet or savoury?
  5. Which blog post are you most excited to upload?
  6. What is your favourite project that you have completed so far?
  7. What was your last search on Google?
  8. What song can you not get out of your head at the moment?
  9. What is the best gift that you have received?
  10. If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower?
  11. What is your favourite day of the week?

To my nominees, you are free to accept or reject this award (no offence taken). Either way, you will continue to be a source of inspiration for me. To those of you who do take part, I’m looking forward to seeing your answers!