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+ EE PlAtes FRapEr Tem

Plus GifTs to sew in an EveNing!

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Mak e me!



eXCLUSIVE denim dress IN SIZES 6-20



5 new OutFits to sew TodAy!

Fresh new looks for your everyday wardrobe HOW TO: Sew with laminates Upcycle old jumpers Quilt by hand Add seamed pockets

F420 The Innov-is F420 is packed with a huge range of features including 140 stitches, lettering, lock stitch button, automatic thread cutter, and Square Feed Drive System for strong, smooth, even sewing on all types of fabric.

Create your own style

55FE The feature-packed Innov-is 55 Fashion Edition will shape your fashion dreams into reality. 81 stitches including 10 one step button hole styles plus lettering together with the included 12 accessory feet make this an excellent all round machine.

27SE The Innov-is 27SE offers fantastic versatility for both the beginner and experienced sewer. With fingertip controls, 50 stitches including 5 one step button hole styles and a protective hard case; it’s ideal for all kinds of sewing.

FRESH IDEAS WITH FABRIC With the new school term in full swing, we’re thinking more carefully about the durability of our me-mades. So we’ve been experimenting with different fabrics! Our wipe-clean laminate accessories for the kids are great fun for school. Then there’s a comfy cropped sweatshirt for weekend lounging and hard-wearing denim dress for everyday wear. Plus, we show you how to add handy seamed pockets to your existing garments. Get more from your wardrobe and share your makes using #simplysewingmag

Make quick-sedw keyrings an badges, p18 ISSUE TWENTY SIX



Sew a Scandi- le denim pinafore sty for your everyddrayess wardrobe, p34



grEat pAtterNs foR you It’S plaYtime! desiGners sharE Their top Tips For mAking toys

how To...


Back To buSiness...

62 40

45 win a £270 FabRic BunDle fr0m PriNfab! Win 15 metres of cotton prints from Prinfab to add to your fabric stash, p17

Wow, what a month h. There’s so much going on here at Simply Sewing HQ Q, I don’t think I can give it all credit in this tiny y column! From the launch of the new Sewing Quarterr TV channel (see p82 for more info), to our interview with Alison Smith MBE (p58), we’ve been rubbing shoulders with lots of sewing stars! We’ve also been chatting to Matt Chapple and other toy-makers about their businesses (p78). It’s been all work and d lots of play. Enjoy! Charlie Moorby, Editor

ps: bonuS gift Worth £40

when you subscribe (see p38)

goOd readS & ideaS 9 PINBOARD: Ideas, events, new fabric 17 WIN: £270 worth of fabrics 33 PINUP: PATCH POCKET SKIRT 48 COLUMN: CASSANDRA MACINDOE


s lAAt Tem pEr 37 Pa

Plus G fTs to sew n an EveN n !

Mak e me!


9 gifts tofor sew school




eXCLUSIVE denim dress IN SIZES 6-20



5 new OutFits to sew TodAy A!

an i style

Fresh new looks for your everyday wardrobe

HOWTO: Sew with laminates Upcycle old jumpers Quilt by hand Add seamed pockets






A big round of applause for this issue’s stars...




g. Always p learninal o st er nge.” ev N “ new ch le look for a ALISON SMITH

Alison Smith launched School of Sewing in 1992 and has since run a fabric shop, produced her own pattern range, published four sewing books and received an MBE for services to sewing and corsetry. She shares her future plans on page 58.

“I enjoy giving kids the ability to play freely and be creative.” MATT CHAPPLE

Matt Chapple won the Great British Sewing Bee in 2015 and has since launched a blog and sewing kit range called Sew What’s New with his wife Gemma. His debut sewing book is out now. He offers his top tips for making toys on page 78.


Paul Torre, Karen Flannigan, Corinne Mellerup





FRONTLINE Call +44 (0)1733 555161

“My Freja Dress pattern can be made as a simple skirt, too!” KIRSTY HARTLEY

Designer and craft author Kirsty Hartley designs fabric prints and playful childrenswear and accessories in the UK, and is the founder of popular children’s clothing label, Wild Things. Kirsty designed The Freja Dress on page 34.

“Creativity is contag s – pass it on! #sewingrevoiou lution” JENNIFFER TAYLOR

Seamstress Jenniffer is determined to get the nation sewing with her #sewingrevolution workshops, social media and TV demos (find her on the Sewing Quarter, see page 82). See her favourite finished project on page 98.



THURSDAY 23RD FEBRUARY 2017 No gift included? Ask your newsagent. Covergift may be unavailable overseas.

OTHER CONTRIBUTORS Jo Carter, Samantha Claridge, Jessica Entwistle, Leah Farquharson, Debbie Von Grabler-Crozier, Angela Jardine, Jennie Jones, Portia Lawrie, Anna Machul, Cassandra Macindoe, R&B Designs, Rosee Woodland Special thanks to: Sarah Malone


COMPETITION RULES By taking part in one of our Competitions, you agree to be bound by these Competition Rules. Late or incomplete entries will be disqualified. Proof of posting (if relevant) shall not be deemed proof of delivery. Entries must be submitted by an individual (not via any agency or similar) and, unless otherwise stated, are limited to one per household. The Company reserves the right in its sole discretion to substitute any prize with cash or a prize of comparable value. Unless otherwise stated, the Competition is open to all GB residents of 18 years and over, except employees of Immediate Media Company and any party involved in the competition or their households. By entering a Competition you give permission to use your name, likeness and personal information in connection with the Competition and for promotional purposes. All entries will become the property of the Company upon receipt and will not be returned. You warrant that the Competition entry is entirely your own work and not copied or adapted from any other source. If you are a winner, you may have to provide additional information. Details of winners will be available on request within three months of the closing date. If you are a winner, receipt by you of any prize is conditional upon you complying with (among other things) the Competition Rules. You acknowledge and agree that neither the Company nor any associated third parties shall have any liability to you in connection with your use and/or possession of your prize. Competition open 26 January - 2 March 2017


Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited (company number 05715415) is registered in England and Wales. The registered office of Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited is at Vineyard House, 44 Brook Green, London W6 7BT. All information contained in this magazine is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this magazine. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine, including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world. Any material you submit is sent at your risk. Although every care is taken, neither Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited nor its employees agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage.

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Forget the flowers and chocolates – the best thing about Valentine’s Day is that it offers us the perfect excuse to sew up a romantic new outfit, like the slinky Trina pattern from Victory Patterns. This elegant design has an oh-so-flattering wrap closure, flowing shape and dramatic wide sleeves and can be made as a kimono-style top or floaty dress. We love its glamorous 1930s-Hollywood vibe. Pdf pattern £9.75, Subscribe at


Pinboard PATCH IT UP Pins, patches and W

CutTing it

Once we’ve planned a project, we want to skip straight to the fun bit of stitching it all together! That’s why it’s essential to have quality cutting tools in your kit like this pretty and practical rotary cutter for quick, accurate cutting of slippery fabrics and jerseys. £17.95,

embroidery are all over the high street at the moment, so, naturally, we’re looking for ways we can DIY the trend – and illustrator Jennie Maizels’ cute and colourful ironon patches are just the thing! They’re great for jazzing up those worn-out jeans we all have hiding in the back of our wardrobes. We’ll be decorating our denim jackets with these love-themed patches ready for spring. Set of five patches £8.99, www.



rench fashion is all about effortless chic, and it seems the same goes for their sewing patterns! French pattern label Republique du Chiffon’s latest collection has that Parisian je ne sais quoi mixed with Amélie quirkiness, with patterns including a piped smock dress and casual-cool dungarees. £12 each,


With spring on the horizon, it’s time to start planning our new-season sewing – we’re thinking fresh home updates and feminine floral frocks. We’re starting by filling our stash with these gorgeous new crafting goodies and fabrics from Tilda. Titled Bumble Bee, the collection is inspired by carefree spring and summer days, with whimsical cotton prints featuring pretty florals and subtle bumble bees in a deliciously sweet palette of mint green, candy pink and punchy coral. There are 20 fabric designs to choose from, available in charm packs, fat eight and fat quarter bundles and by the metre, plus a set of coordinating buttons. For stockists email


Spot the bees! Tilda’s new collection features hidden bees and ditsy florals.


PRINT & PATTERN NATURE Bowie Style (£19.99, Laurence King) The latest book based on the Print & Pattern blog celebrates beautiful surface design, covering everything from giftwrap and stationery to fabrics, wallpaper and ceramics. An inspiring reference book for designers and crafters alike.

mini profile NATALIE LEA OWEN If we were to sum up the work of self-confessed “colour enthusiast and pattern lover” Natalie Lea Owen in three words, quirky, original and fun would be the words we’d use. Natalie’s bright illustrations adorn everything from greetings cards to cushions, sold through her online shop launched in October 2015. If you want to add colour and cheer to your home, Natalie’s designs will certainly do the trick! So, how did Natalie discover her signature bold style? “I’ve always been very creative. I guess it all started with textiles GCSE and art A-level. I went to Camberwell College of Art before moving to Leeds, where I got a firstclass degree in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design at Leeds College of Art.” After graduating in 2014, she moved back to London and “worked on amazing projects, including a greetings card range for Waitrose for their Graduate Collection and Hallmark Cards” before deciding to branch out on her own. “In 2015 I signed up to The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme. I had to write an 8,000 word business plan and pitch to a Dragon’s Den style panel of Prince’s Trust Executives. I was given funding to get my products made and have had a fantastic first year.” All of Natalie’s designs “start off with just pen and paper in black and white. I’m always looking for things I can make into patterns so I like to draw from buildings and nature and Subscribe at

what’s around me.” These detailed sketches are then scanned and edited in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. “I clean the drawings up then add colour, experiment with composition and add in print-making textures to add depth.” After that, the designs are transformed into beautiful things for her shop. “My stationery and fabrics are all digitally printed in the UK. My textiles GCSE came in handy for sewing my zipped pouches together!” Natalie’s favourite piece is the “pink blush botanical tea towel. I kept one to have in my own kitchen!” while customers love the floral zip pouch. “It’s a lovely colourful and bright pattern and its size makes it versatile.” Next, she has her sights set on getting us all sewing with her designs. “I specialised in wallpaper and furnishing fabrics when I was at university so I’d like to develop a range of wallpapers and sell my fabrics by the metre for people to use for whatever project they’d like, whether upholstering chairs or making lovely bold patterned blouses!” See more of Natalie’s vibrant collection at

“I like to draw from buildings and nature and what’s around me.”

LOTTA JANSDOTTER COLLECTION COLORING BOOK Lotta Jansdotter (£11.99, C&T Publishing) Try the colouring-in trend Scandi-style with Lotta Jansdotter’s modern designs, printed single-sided so you can frame your finished masterpiece.

TECHNICAL DRAWING FOR FASHION Basia Szkutnicka (£30, Laurence King) Sketch your dressmaking ideas like a pro with this invaluable book, which shows you how to create a technical fashion drawing using a step-by-step method, as well as featuring over 600 technical drawings of garment types.

THE MAKER’S ATELIER Frances Tobin (£30, Quadrille) The first book from pattern designer Frances Tobin of indie pattern brand The Maker’s Atelier features eight essential patterns in UK sizes 8 to 20, with variations to create a mix-and-match wardrobe of 31 versatile garments for every occasion, from casual everyday outfits to elegant eveningwear. WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 11

Pinboard TOThisTHE POINT set of nifty W

Prym point turners is our latest sewing gadget find. Turning loops and straps can be a fiddly and frustrating task, so these turning aids are being added to our craft kit pronto! The set includes point turners in three different sizes: small, for loops from 9.5 to 16mm; medium, for loops from 19 to 25mm; and large, for loops from 25mm. Bring on the strappy summer frocks! £9.30,

TurNing HeaDs

Easy-to-wear meets elegance with Cashmerette’s new pattern, the Turner Dress. With its flared skirt, flattering fitted V-neck bodice and two sleeve options, this feminine frock is sure to be an everyday favourite in your wardrobe all year round – especially as it’s designed to be sewn up in super-comfy knit fabrics. Printed pattern approx £15, pdf pattern approx £10 in sizes 12-28,

3 of the best FROM THE HEART

Fall head over heels for these heart-motif pretties for your home, wardrobe or significant other.

1. Enjoy a guilt-free sweet treat thanks to this biscuit cushion by Nikki McWilliams, printed on cream cotton with a yellow biscuit design and bright red jammy centre. Delicious! £32, 2. Wear your heart on your lapel by pinning a handmade acrylic heart brooch by Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes to your


favourite coat. £10 each, www.

3. Warm your hands and your heart with these soft lambswool gloves, which feature half a dotty red heart on each palm. Approx £24, www.



ressing well is the secret to making a professional handmade garment, so we wouldn’t be without our pressing tools. These are handmade by dressmaker Saima Salim, who designed them “based on bygone standards of quality and craftsmanship.” From £12.95,

Pinboard PETAL POWER We love filling our homes with fresh flowers, but we wish they weren’t such a temporary addition to our decor! Luckily, these pretty fabric and leather bouquets by Kate of Daphne Rosa are blooms we can treasure forever: “I make each flower by hand, cutting the individual petals out and then assembling them on wire.” We think they’re blooming lovely! From £12 each,

Button it

Add a hint of print to your next project with these patterned fabric buttons.

DOLL FACE Go quirky with cute-as-a-button handdrawn face motifs. Set of three approx £8,

saFety First

We’re always looking for new ways to put our favourite crafty bits and bobs on display, so we love this ingenious idea from Paper Mash – a giant safety pin to hang our bright washi tapes, twines and cottons on show in our sewing room. Choose a gold or silver pin to suit your space – there are cute smaller versions that hold five washi tapes, too. Giant pin £19.95 from

LIBERTY LOVELY Pretty up your me-mades with Liberty florals, available in four sizes. Sets of six or 10 from £6, www.

out & about

SKILLS, SHOWS & EVENTS 1-8 FEBRUARY Ken Russell’s Teddy Girls & Boys. The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford. Photos of London’s teddy girls and boys taken in the 1950s by film director Ken Russell.


PANSY POP These hand-drawn pansy buttons are perfect for spring sewing. Set of four £4, www.drawnby

Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts. EventCity, Manchester. Find inspiration and supplies and learn new skills.

SET SAIL Mix and match maritime motifs for a nautical-but-nice look. Set of four approx £8, www.

4 FEBRUARY 2017-1 JANUARY 2018 Lace in Fashion. Fashion Museum Bath. A look at lace through the ages, from historic gowns to top designer frocks, including a dress from the James Bond film, Spectre.


Colourful washi tapes are too pretty to hide away in a drawer!

Spring Quilt Festival. Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate. Stock up on patchwork and quilting supplies, admire quilts on display and learn new techniques at the workshops.

BLUE BLOOMS Finish off a swishy frock with these vintage-look stripes and florals. Set of six £3.99, www.oak


Pinboard TRUEBLUE Cloudless skies, W

azure seas and a certain singer’s suede shoes – yes, we’re talking all things blue for the next post in our Colour Stories blog series, which charts the fashion history of our favourite hues. We think blogger Ami Bowden’s (www. Simplicity 2311 is pastel perfection! Get inspired to add blue to your wardrobe at www.simplysewing



CotTon on

We’d rather spend our precious free time stitching than tidying up our sewing box, so we’re investing in one of these handy thread racks to keep our spools organised – they’re handmade by Laura ter Kuile in four sizes and can be painted to match your sewing space. From £21.99,

he retro pin-up vibe of nautical prints paired with heart motifs makes them perfect for sewing up vintage-inspired frocks for date nights and spring weddings. The Love is an Anchor print by Julia Vyazovskaya and Sailor in Love design by Orangeberry from Prinfab ( are at the top of our spring fabric wish list. Fancy adding £270 worth of Prinfab designs to your fabric stash? Turn to page 17 to find out how to enter our Prinfab giveaway.

liberty corner


A week of crafting in a stunning Nordic location sounds like our idea of bliss, and Arena Travel is making it possible with their Stitch & Knit break in the Faroe Islands (29 June − 6 July 2017). Join Karin Hellaby on an Island adventure to take in the sights, visit local textile designers, refresh your skills and make new friends. Book your place at 14 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

Voilà le Vélo is an independent lingerie atelier set up in 2012 by Francesca Dallamotta. Her fresh, playful and understated collection is designed and made in-house in Liberty cotton and quality fabrics and combines traditional techniques with modern, minimalist cuts. Francesca also has a brand of accessories, Très Chouette, made with Liberty “as a main fabric or an accent.” See more at www.voilalevelo. and www.tres

Add Liberty luxury to your lingerie drawer and wardrobe with Francesca’s designs.



Just 9.99!


The team behind Mollie Makes brings you a collection of paper-based makes for creative crafters. Explore hand lettering, journaling, origami and more, and get started straight away with eight exclusive papercutting templates and a free pack of colouring pencils.

order your copy today! Call 0844 844 0388 and quote ‘Mollie Creativity’ Online

Lines open weekdays 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm. Overseas please call +44 (0) 1795 414 676. * EUR price £12.99, ROW price £13.49. All prices include p&p.


Polka Dot

Create a calming nursery scheme for sweet dreams with these soft pastel designs by Little Cube, all printed on 100% organic cotton. Its motifs include a menagerie of cute critters, from whales to mice, and ditsy dots, hearts and stars. www.hantex.


Ladybugs: Blue

SecRet GarDen

COTTAGE GARDEN BY MONALUNA Monaluna invites you to take a stroll through an idyllic English country garden with its whimsical new collection, Cottage Garden. Featuring frolicking woodland creatures, little ladybugs, ripe strawberries and pretty pansies in a colour palette of coral red, delicate pink and earthy green, these playful designs on organic cotton poplin will add country charm to your fabric stash.

Retrospective Boho

Path Marker Boho

Little Hearts: Pink

Star Night: Gray


BOHO FUSION BY AGF STUDIO This capsule collection brings together a punchy combination of designs perfect for indulging your boho side, with bold prints in vibrant jewel colourways. Get creative with a mix of the lush florals and contemporary geometric prints for eclectic home projects.

SUGAR AND SPICE BAKE SHOP BY PATTY SLONIGER FOR MICHAEL MILLER Spice up your sewing and indulge your sweet tooth with these delicious designs by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller. Take your pick from cakes, macarons, petits fours and donuts in three colourways. There are two things in life that we just can’t resist: sweet treats and beautiful fabrics. So we’ll certainly be indulging in a few of these delectable prints! There are two modern Bake Shop palettes plus a complementary accompanying range to whet your sewing appetite. The Sugar colourway is a feast for the eyes, with a mix of pastels and vivid hues, while the Spice palette features piquant splashes of saffron. Both are offset by the Main Street prints in fresh white and soft grey, perfect for showcasing bolder designs. We’re thinking colourful quilts and 1950s frocks. Yum!


Petit Fours: Butterscotch

Tic Tac Donuts: Pistachio

Les Macarons: Candy


PATTERN SHOP Missed a pattern? Browse all your favourites and buy online!

the Joni DreSs



SIZES 6 - 20 (US 4 -18/EUR 34-48)

SET IN SLEEVES Ease stitching the set in sleeves gives a perfect fit and smooth finish.

great for con fid ent beginners!



N_o 04

6-20 (US 4-18/EUR 34-48)

BUTTON PLACKET Use buttons from your stash for an optional button placket detail

FLATTERING FIT Neat waist darts and pleats give a flattering shape.

CONTRAST CUFFS Add cuffs in a matching or contrast fabric.



FITTED BODICE The bodice bust and waist darts ensure a perfect fit.


SIZES 6-20 (US 4 -18/EUR 34-48)

great confi for beginnedenrs!t


the City ShoPper





win 15 metres of prinfab fabric! Enter today to win a bundle of cotton fabric from Prinfab, worth over £270. otton is one of the most versatile fabrics you can have in your stash – from home accessories to dressmaking projects, cotton prints can do them all! At Prinfab’s facility in Kent, UK, cotton fabric is printed to order – you can upload your own artwork, or choose from a selection. This month’s winner will receive five prints from the Prinfab shop (that’s 3 metres of each!): Cell Structure by Markova; Retro This and That by Orangeberry; They Dreamed of Gentle Ocean Waves by Markova; Art Deco Fans by Orangeberry; and Bright Abstract Flowers by Nataliia Toporovska. Enter at www.simplysewing, and find Prinfab at

Win a

£270 prinf

ab bundle!

1950S SHAPE A wide waistband gives a flattering fit and f are silhouette.


the GraNvIlle SkiRt WRAP SKIRT


SIZES 6-24 (US 4 -22/EUR 34-52)



N_o 05



Great beginner’s project!


See to enter today! (UK only, see competition rules on p6.)

Buy online at:

school essentials

cool for school Go to the top of the class with early learning essentials made in easy-clean laminate fabrics. Designer: REBECCA REID Styling: LISA JONES Photography: PHILIP SOWELS


AprOn Protect freshly laundered uniforms from spills with a pocket-front wipe-clean laminate apron. Get your child involved by letting them pick out their favourite fabrics and colours – they’ll love the bright print, and you’ll love how easy it is to clean!

pen Roll Give budding artists all the colours of the rainbow to choose from with this handy roll with space for 20 pens. It has a secure button closure and rolls up neatly for colouring on the go, so they can draw their next masterpiece at school, home or away.

school essentials

Swim bag Make a splash at swimming class with a drawstring bag roomy enough for all their essential sports kit. It has a waterproof lining, laminate outer and strong cord straps, so wet swimming kit and muddy shoes are no match for this durable, wipe-clean bag!

BadGes and KeyRings Personalise rucksacks, jackets and accessories with these stash-busting simple-sew motif badges and keyrings. They’re great for teaching basic sewing skills to budding crafters, so that’s our next rainy-day project sorted.


school essentials

PenCil Case There’s nothing like starting the term with a new pencil case! Ours is made in durable pooch-print laminate with contrasting blue lining and zip to keep things colourful.

BacKpack Rain, rain, go away! Keep school supplies safe and dry whatever the weather in a practical backpack that will stand out in the playground, with a secure zip fastening, handy pocket (perfect for stashing breaktime snacks!), and fabric-covered webbing straps for comfort.


school essentials 01




Backpack YOU WILL NEED Q Main fabric: 70x120cm (28x47in) Q Lining fabric: 110x112cm (43x44in) Q 25mm (1in) webbing: 150cm (60in) Q 2 strap adjusters: 25mm (1in) Q Zip: 60cm (24in) Q Press fastener Q Button Q Basic sewing kit MATERIALS USED Main fabric: Singing in the Rain, Yellow. Ref: C9LM155408. From Laminates by Cloud9. For stockists visit Lining fabric: Baby Blue. Ref: 2000/ B54. From Spectrum, part of the Basics Collection by Makower. For stockists visit NOTES Q Use a 1cm (3⁄8in) seam allowance. Q You will find the templates needed on the pull-out pattern sheet provided with this issue. 24 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM



Step one Trace around and cut out the template for the backpack. Step two Repeat this to trace the pocket template pattern. The top of this is shown as a curved line on the backpack template and the sides and bottom follow the same lines as for the backpack. Step three Cut the fabric as follows: Main fabric: Front and back: two pieces using the backpack pattern. Pocket: one piece using the pocket pattern. Zip pieces: two strips 6.5x53cm (25⁄8x207⁄8in). Side panel: 12x82cm (4¾x323⁄8in). Lining fabric: Front and back lining: two pieces using the backpack pattern. Pocket lining: one piece using the pocket pattern. Zip pieces lining: two strips 6.5x53cm (25⁄8x207⁄8in). Side panel lining: 2x82cm (4¾x323⁄8in). Hanging loop: 14x8cm (5½x31⁄8in). Pocket binding: 4x50cm (15⁄8x20in). Top strap covers: two strips 8x44cm (31⁄8x173⁄8in). Bottom strap covers: two strips 8x24cm (31⁄8x9½in).

Step one Turn one long edge of one zip piece under by 1cm (5⁄8in). Repeat with the other piece. Step two Place the short ends of the two zip pieces right sides (RS) together with the short end of the side panel piece, matching the raw long edges. The turned-under edges will face the centre with a gap between them for the zip. Step three Stitch the zip pieces in place. 01 Step four Repeat this to stitch the other end of the zip pieces to the other end of the side panel.

INSERTINGTHE ZIP Step one Place the joined zip and side panel RS up then place the closed zip beneath it so the teeth show in the gap. Step two Topstitch the zip into place. 02

ATTACHINGTHE POCKET Step one Stitch the main pocket and lining pocket wrong sides (WS) together within the seam allowance. Step two Place the long edge of the pocket binding strip RS together centrally along the top of the pocket and stitch into place. Trim the ends to meet the edges of the pocket. Step three Fold the binding over to the WS of the pocket. Turn the long edge under to meet

school essentials 03




up with the line of machine stitching and topstitch into place from the RS. Step four Clip the pocket to the lower edge of the main fabric front and stitch around the unbound sides within the seam allowance. 03 Step five Stitch one half of a press fastener to the inside of the centre of the pocket, then the other half in its corresponding position on the inside of the backpack front. Stitch a button on the pocket to hide the press fastener stitching.

MAKINGTHE STRAPS AND LOOP Step one Fold one of the top strap covers in half lengthways RS together. Stitch together then turn RS out and press with the seam running down the centre back. Step two Thread the webbing through the fabric tube then trim off the end so it’s the same length as the fabric. Step three Turn one short end of the fabric tube to the inside by 1cm (3⁄8in), pulling the webbing down so this turned-under edge covers the end of the webbing. Stitch across this turned-under end then centrally down the length to hold the webbing firmly in place. Trim off the extra webbing beyond the raw edge of the fabric. Step four Repeat this to make the other top strap cover and the two bottom strap covers. Subscribe at

Step five Fold the hanging loop in half lengthways with RS facing then stitch together down the length. Turn RS out and press with the seam running down the centre back.

ATTACHINGTHE STRAPS AND LOOP Step one Loop one top strap piece through the top bar of one slider. Overlap the end by 2.5cm (1in) and stitch across the short end to hold. Step two Repeat this to attach the other top strap to the other slider. 04 Step three Place the main fabric back piece RS up. Measure and mark the mid point of the top. Clip the raw ends of the straps so they are RS up and the inner edge of each is 3cm (1¼in) away from this centre mark. Step four Clip the two raw ends of the hanging loop inside the top of the two straps. Step five Stitch the straps and hanging loop in place within the seam allowance. 05 Step six Take one bottom strap piece and thread the hemmed short end up through the middle of the two bars of one slider, which already has one top strap attached, and over the bottom bar then back down. Repeat with the other bottom strap piece and the other slider. Step seven Clip the raw ends of the bottom straps to the bottom of the main fabric back

piece so the straps run in a straight line down the backpack back then stitch into place. 06

ASSEMBLINGTHE BACKPACK OUTER Step one Undo the zip then clip the backpack front with pocket attached RS together with the joined zip and side panel piece so the zip is positioned centrally across the top. Step two Stitch into place all the way around. Step three Clip the backpack back with straps attached RS together to the other raw edge of the zip and side panel strip and stitch together all the way around, encasing the ends of the straps as you go. 07 Step four Turn your backpack RS out.

LININGTHE BACKPACK Step one The backpack lining is made in the same way as the outer, except after you have joined together the zip and side panels you need to topstitch the inner edges of the zip pieces in place instead of inserting the zip. Step two Place the backpack outer and lining so that the WS are touching and seams matching. Line up the turned-under edges of the zip pieces in the lining to the zip pieces in the outer. Step three With the zip open, slip stitch the lining to the zip tape to complete. 08 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 25

school essentials apron





binding strips RS together across the top long edge of the pocket and stitch together. Cut off the excess. Step two Fold the binding over to the WS of the pocket. Turn the long edge under to meet up with the line of machine stitching and topstitch into place from the RS. Step three Clip the pocket to the lower edge of the apron and then stitch into place down the sides and across the bottom within the seam allowance. Step four To create pocket divides, stitch two lines vertically down the pocket, starting from the binding at the top and finishing at the lower edge. Space them evenly apart or different sizes if you prefer. 01

the binding strip and mark with a pin. Step four Starting at the pin mark on the binding strip, bind around one armhole. Step five Leave a loop of 45cm (18in) of the binding strip unstitched then bind around the other armhole. 02 Step six Trim off the end of the binding strip 50cm (20in) beyond the edge of the armhole to make the other tie.

YOU WILL NEED Q Main fabric: 65x50cm (26x20in) Q Binding fabric: 16x112cm (7x44in) Q Basic sewing kit MATERIALS USED Main fabric: Red Rover. Ref: C9LM155306; Alligators, Navy. Ref: C9LM155112. From Laminates by Cloud9 Fabrics. For stockists visit Binding fabric: Nautical Blue. Ref: 2000/B58. Lime Green. Ref: 2000/G45. From Spectrum, part of the Basics Collection by Makower. For stockists visit NOTES Q Use a 1cm (3⁄8in) seam allowance. Q You will find the template on the pull-out pattern sheet provided with this issue. Q For advice on stitching with laminates see page 29.

CUTTING OUT Step one Trace around and cut out the apron template. Mark the pocket line from the template onto your pattern. Step two Place the pattern on the wrong side (WS) of your main fabric and draw around it then cut it out. Step three Cut or fold the template along the pocket line and draw around just the pocket section onto the WS of the main fabric and cut it out. Step four Cut the binding fabric into four strips, each measuring 4x112cm (15⁄8x44in).

MAKING THE BINDING Step one Join two binding strips together by placing the short ends right sides (RS) together at right angles then stitching together across the angle. As these are wide strips, you’ll find it easier to stitch a straight line across the angle if you draw the line on first using a pencil and ruler and stitch over it. Step two Trim the seam just outside the stitched line then press it open. Step three Join the other strips to these in the same way to make one long strip. This will be used to bind the pocket, apron and for the ties on the side edges.

MAKING THE POCKET Step one Place the long edge of the joined 26 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

BINDING THE APRON Step one Bind the top short edge of the apron in the same way as for the pocket. Step two Next, bind the sides and bottom by starting at the bottom of one armhole and working around to the bottom of the other armhole. You will encase the pocket edges at the same time. Step three The armholes are bound at the same time as the ties and neckstrap are made. Measure 50cm (20in) from the end of

FINISHING OFF Step one The loose lengths of binding strip left for the ties need to be stitched closed to neaten. To do this, turn and press both long edges under by 1cm (3⁄8in) to the WS. Step two Turn the short cut ends under by 1cm (3⁄8in) to the WS and press. Step three Fold the binding strip that you have stitched on around the armholes to the WS in the same way as for the top of the apron and clip into place. 03 Step four Turn under and press the neck loop into place in the same way as for the ties. Step five Topstitch the turned-under tie strips, armhole bindings and neck loop into place all in one go. 04

school essentials 01




Pencil case YOU WILL NEED Q Main fabric: 32x30cm (13x12in) Q Lining fabric: 32x30cm (13x12in) Q Zip: 40cm (16in) Q Basic sewing kit MATERIALS USED Main fabric: Red Rover. Ref: C9LM155306. From Laminates by Cloud9 Fabrics. For stockists visit www. NOTES Q Use a 1cm (3⁄8in) seam allowance. Q For advice on stitching with laminates see page 29.

CUTTING OUT Step one Cut out the main fabric: Front and back: two pieces 16x30cm (63⁄8x117⁄8in). Step two Cut out the lining fabric: Front and back: two pieces 16x30cm (63⁄8x117⁄8in).

INSERTINGTHE ZIP Step one Place the pencil case front right sides (RS) up. Place the unzipped zip RS down centrally along the top edge, matching the raw edge of the fabric to the edge of the zip tape. Place one lining piece RS down on top, matching raw edges and sandwiching the zip between the fabrics. Step two Using a zip foot, stitch the three layers together all the way along the top edge. Step three Repeat this to stitch the other piece of fabric to the other side of the zip. Step four Press the seams away from the zip, then topstitch along the edge of the fabric on the RS through all layers for a neater finish. 01

JOININGTHE BOTTOM EDGE Step one Open the zip then pin the case together so that the main fabrics are RS together and the lining fabrics are RS together. Step two Stitch the main fabric together along the long bottom edge. Subscribe at

Step three Stitch the lining fabrics together along the long bottom edge.

STITCHINGTHE SIDE SEAMS Step one Pull the zip slider to the centre then turn the joined fabrics lining side out so that the outer fabric is inside the lining to make a tube. Step two Fold the fabric tube RS together so that the zip is placed centrally across the top. Stitch across the end. Step three Stitch the other end of the main fabric tube together in the same way. 02 Step four Stitch over the zip teeth again to secure them then trim off the ends.

BOXINGTHE CORNERS Step one With the outer still wrong side (WS) out and the case lying flat, cut a 2.5cm (1in) square from each corner. The square needs to start at the line of stitching not at the raw edge and finish at the folded edge on the other side. 03 Step two Working on one corner, bring the side seam and folded edge together so they match. Step three Stitch together through all four layers of outer and lining. 04 Step four Repeat this to make a boxed corner in the other three corners in exactly the same way. Step five Turn the pencil case RS out to finish. WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 27

school essentials Pen roll





account of the seam allowance. The rest of the vertical lines need to be spaced 2.5cm (1in) apart to fit the pens in. We have made 20 pockets. Placing strips of masking tape in the correctly spaced positions then stitching up to the edge of them is an easy way to get perfectly straight lines without marking the fabric. Remove the tape when finished. 01

RS out through the turning gap then turn the raw edges of the gap to the inside. Step three Topstitch all the way around the edge. This will give you a neat finish and also hold the turning gap closed.

YOU WILL NEED Q Main fabric: 40x55cm (16x22in) Q Contrast fabric: 30x55cm (12x22in) Q Narrow elastic: 18cm (7in) Q Large button Q Basic sewing kit MATERIALS USED Main fabric: Singing in the Rain, Yellow. Ref: C9LM155408. From Laminates by Cloud9 Fabrics. For stockists visit cloud9 Contrast fabric: Baby Blue. Ref: 2000/B54. From Spectrum, part of the Basics Collection by Makower. For stockists visit www.makoweruk. com NOTES Q Use a 1cm (3⁄8in) seam allowance. Q For advice on stitching with laminates see page 29.

CUTTING OUT Our pen roll will fit 20 colouring pens or pencils. Step one Cut out the main fabric into the following pieces: Outer: 23x52cm (91⁄8x20½in). Pocket: 14x52cm (5½x20½in). Step two Cut out the contrast fabric into the following pieces: Inner: 23x52cm (91⁄8x20½in). Binding: 4x52cm (15⁄8x20½in).

MAKINGTHE POCKET Step one Place one long edge of the binding fabric strip right sides (RS) together along the top long edge of the pocket and stitch together. Step two Fold the binding over to the wrong side (WS) of the pocket. Turn the long edge under to meet up with the line of machine stitching and topstitch into place from the RS. Make sure your stitching is close to the bottom edge of the binding and also holds the folded-under edge on the WS into place too. Step three Place the bound pocket RS up on top of the RS of the contrast inner fabric, matching bottom edges. Stitch together down the sides and bottom within the seam allowance. Step four Now stitch vertical lines down the pocket through both layers of pocket and inner, starting at the top of the binding and finishing at the lower edge. The first and last lines should be placed 3.5cm (13⁄8in) from the side edges to take 28 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

ADDINGTHE ELASTIC LOOP Step one Fold the piece of elastic in half then place the two ends on the right hand short side of the joined inner and pocket piece. The ends need to be level with the raw edge of the pocket and placed centrally down the side. Step two Stitch into place a few times within the seam allowance. This will hold it in place while you assemble your pen roll and also strengthen it to stop it coming out of the seam. 02

ASSEMBLINGTHE PEN ROLL Step one Place the main fabric outer RS together with the inner and pocket and stitch together all the way around. Start and finish stitching on the short side which doesn’t have the elastic but leave a turning gap of 8cm (31⁄8in) in the centre. 03 Step two Clip the corners and turn the pen roll

ADDING A BUTTON Step one Slip all your pens into the pockets then roll up the pen roll. Step two Fold the elastic loop round to work out where to place the button and make a small mark for the centre of it. Step three Unroll and remove the pens then stitch the button in the place you’ve marked, taking care not to stitch through the pockets as you are stitching. 04 Step four You can now put the pens back in and your roll can be neatly rolled up and secured with the loop and button.

school essentials keyring or badge





YOU WILL NEED Q Main fabric: see instructions for details Q Bondaweb: see instructions for details Q Felt: see instructions for details Q Cotton tape (for keyring): 8cm (3in) Q Split ring (for keyring) Q Brooch pin (for badge) Q Basic sewing kit FABRICS USED Alligators, Navy. Ref: C9LM155112; Red Rover. Ref: C9LM155306; Singing in the Rain, Yellow. Ref: C9LM155408. from Laminates by Cloud9. For stockists visit cloud9

MAKING A KEYRING Step one Cut roughly around one of the animal motifs 2cm (¾in) outside the edge of the design all the way around. Step two Trace around and cut out the Bondaweb to the same shape then press it paper-side up centrally on the wrong side (WS) of the motif. Use a cool iron with a thin cotton cloth underneath it so you don’t melt the laminate and press to fix the Bondaweb in place. Step three Trim the main fabric to just 3mm (1⁄8in) outside the animal motif all the way around. It’s easier to trim it after you’ve pressed the Bondaweb onto it rather than before. Peel off the paper backing. 01 Subscribe at

Step four Fold the cotton tape in half then place the two raw ends on the WS of the top of the motif, overlapping it by 2cm (¾in) and clip to hold in place. 02 Step five Place the cut out motif with loop attached right side (RS) up centrally on top of a piece of felt cut 2cm (¾in) and clip into place. Step six Turn the felt and fabric over to the felt side and press lightly into place, just to hold the layers together. Step seven Topstitch around the edge of the motif 3mm (1⁄8in) from the edge to secure the felt to the fabric, hold the cotton tape loop in place and neaten. 03 Step eight Trim the felt level with the edge of the animal shape. You’ll need to snip carefully behind the tape so you don’t cut through it. Step nine Thread a split ring through the cotton tape loop to complete.

MAKING A BADGE Step one The badge is made in exactly the same way as the keyring but you don’t need to add the cotton tape loop. Step two When you’ve topstitched the shape all the way around, stitch a brooch clip to the centre of the felt by oversewing through the clip into the felt only using matching thread. 04


Sewing with laminate fabrics is very similar to sewing with cotton. There are just a few things you need to bear in mind when stitching with them – always test these methods first on a scrap of your laminate fabric before you begin. Q Use a vinyl or roller foot in your machine to help ease the fabric through as you stitch. You can put a little masking tape under your ordinary foot instead to help it slide, but make sure you cut it to fit exactly so the needle doesn’t catch. Q Laminate will melt if you press it on the right side so either press it on the wrong side or place a cotton cloth over it and then press. Always test this first though. Q You may need to adjust the tension and stitch size to suit. Q Use a jeans needle in a size 16/100 or 18/110 or experiment to choose one. Q Pins will mark your fabric and they’re tricky to put in, so it’s best to use fabric clips, clothes pegs or paperclips.


school essentials swimming bag





YOU WILL NEED Q Main fabric: 51x76cm (21x30in) Q Waterproof lining fabric: 50x90cm (20x36in) Q 5mm (¼in) cord: 3 metres (3 yds) Q Basic sewing kit MATERIALS USED Main fabric: Alligators, Navy. Ref: C9LM155112, from Laminates by Cloud9 Fabrics. For stockists visit NOTES Q Use a 1.5cm (5⁄8in) seam allowance. Q For advice on stitching with laminates see page 29.

CUTTING OUT Step one Cut the main fabric into: Bag outer: two pieces 51x38cm (201⁄8x15in) each. Step two Cut the waterproof lining fabric into: Bag inner: two pieces 45.5x38cm (18x15in) each. Tabs: two strips 9x9cm (35⁄8x35⁄8in) each.

MAKINGTHETABS Step one Fold one tab in half lengthways with wrong sides (WS) together and stitch down the length. Turn right sides (RS) out. Step two Fold the tab in half with the two raw ends together. Step three Take one of the bag outer pieces and place the tab on one side edge, 2cm (¾in) up from the bottom but matching the raw edges of the fabric with the raw edge of the tab. Stitch into place within the seam allowance to secure while you assemble the bag. 01 Step four Repeat this to make the other tab in the same way and tack it to the opposite side of the piece of main fabric which you have stitched the first tab to.

MAKINGTHE OUTER AND LINING Step one Place the two main fabric outer pieces RS together. Step two Before you stitch the outers together mark the unstitched gaps on each side for the cord to go through. The gaps should start 5.5cm (2¼in) down from the top edge and be 4cm (15⁄8in) long. Step three Stitch the two pieces of fabric together down the sides and across the bottom, enclosing the ends of the tabs as you go. Remember to stop and start stitching either side of your marked gaps. Make sure you backstitch 30 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

at the start and finish of each of the gaps so that they are secure. Step four Turn the outer bag RS out and topstitch around each of the gaps just 3mm (1⁄8in) outside the gap to strengthen and hold the seam allowance flat and in place. 02 Step five Place the two lining inner pieces RS together and stitch down the sides and across the bottom. You don’t need to leave any gaps in these pieces.

MAKINGTHE LINING Step one Turn the bag outer WS out then fold the top of the outer pieces over by 1.5cm (5⁄8in) to the WS all the way around then turn over again by 4cm (15⁄8in) to the WS to make a casing and just clip into place for now. Step two Turn the lining RS out and place the outer inside it so they are WS facing and match all side seams. Step three Slip the top of the lining up inside the folded-over outer, right up to the folded-over top edge, and clip to hold into place. Step four Stitch the folded-over casing into place all the way around, close to the lower folded-under edge. 03

ATTACHINGTHE DRAWSTRING Step one Turn the bag RS out so the lining is

pushed neatly inside. Step two Cut the cord in half then thread one half though one tab at the bottom then through the gap in the casing on the same side. Thread it all the way through the casing and back down the outside and tie it to the starting end just outside the tab. The cord needs to lie flat so the bag can be opened fully but without too much excess so trim to fit if necessary. 04 Step three Repeat this to thread the other half of the cord though the other tab and through the casing on the opposite side in the same way then tie the ends together. Step four You can now pull the drawstring cord to close the swim bag and the cords can be used to carry the bag over one shoulder or separated to use the bag as a backpack.

cut out & Keep

N_o 03 Side Seam PocKets

Essentia l

ILLS Slibrary


Master essential sewing and dressmaking techniques with our cut-out-and-keep guides. This issue, we take you through adding a pocket to the side seam of a skirt or dress.

kirts and dresses are much improved by the addition of pockets to pop your phone (or tape measure!) in and keep your hands cosy. It’s simple to add a pocket to a pattern that doesn’t already include one, or to sew a pocket into an existing garment from your wardrobe. A seamed pocket is formed from a bag attached to the seam allowances of side or panel seams, and can be added to any garment with a side seam such as a skirt, dress, jumpsuit or pinafore. CHOOSING A FABRIC You can make your pockets from the same fabric as the rest of the garment so they blend in, or, if you want some contrast, then make them in a different colour or patterned fabric. The pocket won’t show from the outside until you put your hand in so it’s nice to add a little flash of colour or print. Choose a lightweight fabric if you’re concerned about adding bulk to your garment, but make sure it’s not too flimsy or the pockets may wear through with use. A quilter’s weight cotton is ideal, or lightweight fleece pockets are great for adding to garments of a heavier weight as they’re soft to put your hands in. Subscribe at

MAKING A PATTERN You can either use a pocket pattern from a dress pattern you already have, draw around one from an existing skirt or use the one we’ve given you on the pull-out pattern sheet included with this issue. This is an average-sized pocket, but if you would like a shallower one then you can redraw the bottom curve; if you want a deeper pocket to put your whole hand in, you’ll need to increase the size of the curve. If you’re drawing your own pattern then remember to add a seam allowance all the way around the pocket. This seam allowance should be the same as the side seam allowance whether this is on a new pattern or an existing skirt. CUTTING OUT THE POCKETS You need a piece of fabric that you can cut out two pocket pieces from for each pocket you want to add. Fold the fabric in half right sides (RS) together and then pin your pocket pattern on top and cut around it. You’ll now have a pair of pocket pieces which are the mirror image of each other. Neaten the raw edges of each cut out pocket piece all the way around using a machine zigzag or overlocker. Press the pocket pieces flat.

PLACING YOUR POCKET Whether you’re adding a pocket to an existing garment or adding one to a pattern you’re in the process of making, you’ll need to decide where to place it. Try your garment on and stand in front of a mirror, then place your hands on the side seams so you can see exactly where you want the top and bottom of the pocket to be. If you’re not sure, then have a look at a garment you own that already features pockets and use the measurements from this as a guide. You could pin your cut out pockets to it as well to be sure they’re in exactly the right position. The placement of the pockets really depends on your personal preference. To ensure both pockets are accurately placed, mark the top and bottom of your pockets on the side seams with pins. Take your garment off and mark these same positions on both side seams at the front and back at exactly the same height so that your pocket goes into the seam correctly and lies flat. If you want to add a pocket to the other side seam then it’s important to mark both seam allowances in exactly the same positions. This is so that the pockets look even and the skirt or dress hangs correctly. WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 31

essential skills 01






POSITIONING THE POCKETS Step one If you’re adding the pocket to an existing skirt, unpick the seams between the two marks you placed earlier. Step two Keep the pins in position so you know where to place the pocket and unpick 3cm (1¼in) beyond the marks at each end. Step three If you are adding a pocket to a garment you’re making then this is done at the point where it says in the instructions to stitch the side seams. The pockets are attached before the side seams are stitched.

STITCHING THE POCKETS IN PLACE Step one You can now stitch your pocket pieces into place. You need to use a seam allowance 5mm (¼in) smaller than the seam allowance used for your original skirt or the one given on your dress pattern. This is so that the pocket will sit slightly inside with a little bit of the main skirt fabric rolling to the inside when the side seams are finished. Step two Start this line of stitching at the top and finish at the bottom of each pocket piece so that one is stitched to one side seam and one to the other. 02 Step three Turn the pocket pieces outwards away from the main skirt body and press the seams so they face neatly outwards. 03

Step four For an existing skirt, start stitching 2cm (¾in) above where you unpicked the side seam so you’re stitching on top of the seam that is still there and backstitch to begin. For a new garment, start stitching from the top of the side seam. Step five Stitch down the side seam, using the existing seam allowance or the one set by your pattern, then stitch down past where the pocket begins to the same distance as the seam allowance width. Step six Keeping your needle down in the fabric, lift the presser foot and turn the skirt to stitch around the two pocket pieces using the same seam allowance, joining them together. Step seven When you reach the side seam again, keep the needle down, lift the presser foot, turn the skirt then continue stitching down the side seams below the pocket, stitching on top of the existing seams for 2cm (¾in) and reverse stitching again to secure. Or, for a new garment, stitch all the way down the side seam to the hem. 05

PINNING THE POCKETS Step one Turn the skirt inside out and place the straight edge of one of the pocket pieces right sides (RS) together with the seam, matching raw edges. Make sure the top of the pocket is at the top of the skirt and the skirt and pocket pieces are RS together. Step two The top of the pocket should be exactly level with the top pin marker and the bottom of the pocket level with the bottom pin mark. Step three Pin in place all the way along the straight edge of the pocket. 01 Step four Repeat this process to pin the other pocket piece RS together on the other side of the side seam. It’s really important to check that the two pocket pieces line up exactly at the top and bottom, so check this against the pocket you’ve just pinned on. 32 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

STITCHING THE SIDE SEAMS Step one Line up the pocket pieces so they are RS facing and pin together all the way around. Step two If you’re adding a pocket to an existing skirt, pin the side seams above and below the pocket that you unpicked earlier. For a pocket you’re adding to a new garment, pin the side seams all the way from the top of the skirt to the top of the pocket then from the bottom of the pocket to the hem. Step three Fold the seam allowance which you’ve stitched the pocket pieces to on top of the pocket so they are facing towards the pocket and not towards the skirt. Pin these seams allowances in place too. 04

FINISHING OFF Step one Make a small diagonal snip in the side seam (not the pocket) near the top and bottom of the pocket. This will make it easier to press the side seams open. 06 Step two Turn your skirt RS out and press flat for a neat, smooth finish. The pocket will sit just inside the seam.

Play with pockets with Donna Wilson’s simple skirt pattern.


Pockets are our latest sewing obsession – now we’ve mastered seamed pockets thanks to this issue’s Essential Skills workshop on page 31, we’ve been adding them to all our me-mades and wardrobe favourites! We’re feeling inspired to experiment with different pocket styles, too – and this patch pocket skirt pattern by Donna Wilson is the perfect place to start. Add subtle detail by making the pockets in a matching fabric, or brighten up a plain skirt with a pop of print. Find the pattern at


CovEr Star


Turn to page 37 for fabric and style insp iration, and don’t forget to sha r e yo ur Freja dress an d skirt with us using #sim plysewingmag




the freja dress Take inspiration from simple Scandi style with Kirsty Hartley’s Freja Dress, a classic pinafore dress and skirt pattern for your everyday wardrobe in UK sizes 6-20.

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Th fr ja dr ss When we spend time sewing ourselves a new garment, we want to be able to show it off as much as possible, which is why we love to stock up our stash with wearable, everyday patterns that can be made, worn and restyled from season to season, like this issue’s Freja Dress for UK sizes 6-20 (US 4-18/EUR 34-48) by Kirsty Hartley ( The Freja takes inspiration from simple Scandi style and can be layered with a cosy knit in the winter or a favourite tee in spring, making it an all-year-round wardrobe staple The pattern features a curved bib bodice with waist darts for a flattering fit, cross-back straps, wide waistband, knee-length A-line skirt with large curved pockets, and neat topstitched details for a professional finish. It can be made as a pinafore dress, or as an A-line skirt without the bib and straps. The step-by-step instructions will take you through making the straps and sewing a fitted bodice for the dress version, and adding curved pockets, sewing a fitted waistband and adding the button and zip fastening for both the dress and skirt.

CROSS-BACK STYLE Cross-over straps add detail to the back of the dress.


QFabric: 148cm (58in) width x 2m (2¼yds), for all sizes QInvisible zip: to match fabric, 25cm (10in) Q2 buttons: 2cm (¾in) diameter QMatching or tonal thread

WIDE WAISTBAND A wide waistband gives a flattering fitted silhouette.


QMedium to heavy weight fabric such as denim, corduroy or twill.


Q10oz organic denim from GETTING STARTED First, pre-wash and dry your fabric according to the care instructions to allow for any shrinkage. Unfold the pattern sheets included in the pattern envelope and find the line style for your size on the pattern pieces using the key provided. Follow these lines to cut your pattern pieces out – it can be helpful to mark your size with a highlighter before cutting. Turn to our guide on page 91 for more tips, plus a glossary of key terms. Read through the instructions included in the pattern envelope before you start sewing, and make sure you do all the steps in the correct order. Get your sewing kit ready so you have everything you need to hand, press your fabric to ensure accurate cutting out, and you’re ready to get started on the fun part – sewing your own Freja!


TWO-IN-ONE PATTERN The Freja can be made as a pinafore dress or A-line skirt.

wear it with

Sew a Freja for next season in a lightweight textured spot chambray,

Stitched Ochi, www.

New nEutralS Style your Freja with minimal accessories for Scandi cool. Finish the look with a statement necklace in natural tones, £19.95,

Heather, www.


Diamond Arcuate, www.

jean genie

Try a new twist on classic blue denim for your Freja dress or skirt with printed, textured and pastel denim fabrics.

Tell the time in timeless style with a sleek watch, £24,

Treat yourself to some wrist candy with a geometric bangle stack, £24,

Keep cosy and chic in a snug roll-neck jumper, £39.50,

Hydrangea, www.

Nail smart-casual with a directional stripe shirt, £49.50, www. Infused Hydrangea, www. Carry the essentials in a grown-up version of a classic satchel bag, £99,

Sea Glass, www.

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Make a geometric print pinafore for layering with plain tees,

Add texture with cutout detail peep-toe block heels, £55, www.





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floral accessories

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f ora acc ssori s 01




Coin Purse


Q 1 fat quarter Q Iron-on fleece (or wadding): 32x26cm (12½x10¼in) Q Zip: 14cm (5½in) Q Ribbon: small scrap Q Basic sewing kit FABRICS USED The fabric used is Frou Frou Fleuri, C Colour 6. Ref: FFF2800-6. For stockists visit NOTES Q Use a 2cm (¾in) seam allowance.


CUTTING OUT Step one From the fat quarter cut out two pieces 16x26cm (63⁄8x10¼in) each for the purse outer and purse lining. Step two From the fleece fabric cut out two pieces 16x26cm (63⁄8x10¼in) each for the outer and lining.

between the opposite short edges of the outer and lining and stitch into place. Step six Press the fabrics away from the zip teeth on both sides. Step seven Topstitch along both sides of the zip to stop it catching in the fabric when opening and closing the purse. 02



Step one Press one of the pieces of fleece onto the wrong side (WS) of one of the pieces of fabric for the purse outer. Repeat with the other piece of fabric for the lining and fleece. If your fleece isn’t fusible then simply tack it to the fabric around the outer edges to hold it in place. You can remove these stitches once you have finished constructing the purse. Step two Place the zip centrally right sides (RS) together with one short edge of the outer fabric, matching the edge of the zip tape to the raw edges of the fabric. Step three Pin the zip into place. 01 Step four Place one short edge of the lining fleece and fabric RS together on top of the zip, matching raw edges, then stitch into place close to the teeth using a zip foot on your machine. Step five Open up the zip and start at the open end to sandwich the other side of the zip

Step one Leaving the zip open a little, turn the tube inside out so the fleece sides are showing on the outside. 03 Step two Tuck the fabric in through the open zip then turn the whole thing inside out so the lining sides are showing. Step three Pinch the bottom end flat – this will be the base of the purse – so that the zip runs down the centre. Step four Stitch together across this end. Step five For the purse top, pinch the fabric the reverse way so the zip is on the side. 04

FINISHING OFF Step one Trim the seams then work a machine zigzag across the raw ends to neaten them. This will make the purse more durable. Step two Turn the purse RS out and loop a short length of ribbon through the zip slider to finish.

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Q 1 fat quarter Q Ribbon or cotton tape: 1cm (3⁄8in) width x 60cm (24in) Q Button: 1cm (3⁄8in) diameter Q Basic sewing kit

CUTTING OUT Step one Trace the collar template from the pattern sheet and cut it out. Step two Fold your fabric in half with right sides (RS) together then pin the collar pattern on top and cut around it. Step three Repeat this to cut another set and you will now have two mirror image pairs.

is one with a raised back instead of holes. You can sew the two sides together through the shank of the button and it will give you a pretty gap at the front of your collar. The button also creates a hinge so the collar fits neatly around your neck. 04

MAKING THE COLLAR PIECES FABRICS USED The fabric used is Frou Frou Fleuri, C Colour 6. Ref: FFF2800-6. For stockists visit uk/#findstockist NOTES Q Use a 1cm (3⁄8in) seam allowance. Q You will find the template needed on the pull-out pattern sheet provided with this issue.

Step one Place one pair of collar pieces RS facing and pin together around the edge. Repeat this with the other pair. 01 Step two Stitch each pair together, starting and finishing at the narrowest end and leaving a turning gap of 2cm (¾in) at the top. 02

ATTACHING THE RIBBON TIES Step one Turn the collar pieces RS out and press, folding the raw edges of the opening to the inside to leave a straight end. Step two Feed the ribbon or cotton tape into the opening then pin and sew into place. 03 Step three Repeat with the other collar piece.

ADDING A BUTTON Step one To join the two parts together use a button. It’s best to use a shank button – this Subscribe at




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in full bloom Take your dressmaking skills to the next level with Leah Farquharson’s simple pleated skirt made without a pattern.


P at d skirt 01







Q Rayon or other light, flowing fabric: 2m (2yds) Q Medium weight iron-on interfacing: 1m (1yd) Q Zip: 22cm (8¾in) Q Matching thread Q Basic sewing kit FABRIC USED Q Painted Roses, Orange. From the Woodland Collection by Rifle Paper Co. Ref: 8024-15. For stockists visit www.cottonand NOTE Q Use a 5mm (¼in) seam allowance unless otherwise stated.

CUTTING OUT Step one Referring to the size chart on page 47, cut the waistband, skirt front, and skirt back pieces from your fabric. Sizes 10 and up may require wider width fabrics or extra fabric to fit the needed width of the skirt. Calculate the fabric required from the table before you buy it. Step two Cut out the waistband lining from ironon interfacing. 46 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

JOININGTHE BACKTOTHE SIDES Step one Fold the skirt back in half lengthwise with wrong sides (WS) together and press. Open up the piece and cut carefully up the pressed seam to make two halves. Step two Match the skirt back pieces to the corresponding sides of the skirt front with right sides (RS) facing and pin together. 01 Step three Stitch together down both seams.

MAKINGTHE PLEATS Step one The joined skirt front and back needs to be pleated so that it is the same measurement as the length of the waistband. Inverted box pleats work well here and are made by having two pleats facing each other. Step two Each pleat will need twice the fabric width of the finished pleat so you’ll need to do some calculations to work out the width of each pleat and how many to add. We have inserted six pleats on our skirt. Step three Each pleat has two outer fold lines, two inner fold lines and a placement line, all spaced evenly apart across the skirt. Mark these lines in pencil onto the WS of your fabric. Step four Fold the fabric RS together along the placement line, matching inner fold lines and outer fold lines. Step five Tack the outer fold lines together then press the pleat flat so they match up with the

placement line and the inner fold lines become the outer edges of the pleat. Step six Carefully tack the pleats in place using the longest stitch setting on your machine. 02

ATTACHINGTHEWAISTBAND Step one Centre the iron-on interfacing on the WS of the skirt waistband fabric and press. 03 Step two Place the waistband and pleated skirt top RS facing, matching raw edges, and stitch together all the way around. 04 Step three Press the waistband piece upwards. Step four Topstitch the seam allowance of the waistband in place just 2mm (1⁄16in) up from the seam. This give the waistband a neat edge. 05

STITCHINGTHE BACK SEAM Step one Place the skirt open and flat RS down then measure 7.5cm (3in) down from the top edge and mark this point. 06 Step two Measure 20cm (8in) down from the marked point on the waistband and mark. These points mark the start and finish of the zip. Step three Fold the skirt piece RS together so the raw edges of the two back pieces meet. Step four Beginning at the top mark and using a 1.5cm (5⁄8in) seam allowance, machine tack by stitching together with the longest stitch length on your machine down to the lower marking. 07 Step five Without stopping, shorten your stitch

p at d skirt 04






length, reverse stitch to secure, and continue the stitching all the way down to the bottom.

edge to the other. Turn the skirt RS out then remove the tacking stitches. 09



Step one Press the skirt back seam open. Working on the inside of the skirt, centre the zip, RS down over the machine-tacked section of the seam. Line up the top of the zip slider with the top of the tacking. 08 Step two Stitch around the zip from one top

Step one Measure and press the top edge of the waistband under by 5mm (¼in) to the WS. 10 Step two Press the waistband in half WS together to cover the raw edges of the seam. Press into place. Step three Pin the bottom edge into place then

topstitch 2mm (1⁄1⁄6in) from the top edge. Step four Slip stitch the sides and lower edge of the inside of the waistband to secure. 11

HEMMINGTHE SKIRT Step one Turn the the bottom edge of the skirt under by 1cm (3⁄8in) to the WS, then turn it under again by 3cm (1¼in) to the WS and press to create the bottom hem. Step two Stitch in place to finish. 12






















































































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by Cassandra Macindoe

Cassandra Macindoe of The Stitchery and Storybook Patterns shares an insight into her sewing story so far.


eaningful. This is my word of the moment. And it’s got me asking questions: Why do I sew, design, make and teach? Why do I run a sewing studio, when the work required often outweighs the financial gain? Why does it matter? These are the musings that fill my sewing world. And I’m still processing them, but maybe I can share some conclusions so far. I love sewing. I love the freedom of expression that comes with choosing my own fabric, in whatever colour, texture or print that makes me happy and allows me to be myself. I love the recent explosion of independent pattern companies, and the online community that comes with it – it’s supportive and encouraging in a practical way, which we all need. And, on top of all that, sewing for myself means I can make clothes that fit my own unique shape, rather than trying to fit into a high street shape – we are all wonderfully unique, and sewing reflects that. Being able to express who I am through my sewing, and encouraging others to do the same, is my answer to the question of why I sew. Sewing your own clothing is about forging your own unique path and writing your own story, stitch by stitch. I do what I do because I want to empower others with this truth – you are creative, you are unique and your story matters. As my favourite author, Brene Brown, says: “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” As a business owner, designer and maker, my most difficult obstacle has been comparison – looking at all the things I am not rather than

Find my so ci ally mi n d ed indie patt brand at ww er n w.storybook “You are creative, you are unique and your

story matters.”

a moment sto e k ta to t ea r g It’s past project . n o ck a b k o lo


My workshops encourage students to express their creativity and personality through sewing clothes.

“At times we all need to take a few moments to slow down and take stock.” everything I’ve become and accomplished. But I’ve learned that comparison is the thief of happiness. As I write this article, I spent some time looking for some images to include. I’ve found a few that took me down memory lane and provide a good reminder of how far we’ve come. It can be easy to forget, but at times we all need to take a few moments to slow down and take stock of our many achievements. Every business owner has a story. Unfortunately, the real story and the one that the world sees are rarely the same. My desire is to be real and to own my story. And sewing is one of the ways I do that. I hope you’ll be encouraged to be yourself, tell your story, and find meaning in what you do. You won’t regret it. See more ofCassandra’s Glasgow sewing studio, The Stitchery, at www.thestitchery To find out more about her socially-minded pattern company, Storybook Patterns, take a look online at www. storybook

pattern Look out for my new on! g so collection, launchin I find it so inspiring to help others discover the joys of creating unique garments.

Keeping me inspired...

I love that my stude s aren ’t afraid to take on newntpr ojects.

My students at The Stitchery inspire me every day with their creativity and selfexpression – they’re courageous and unafraid to fail. They are my reason for doing what I do. Recently, I’ve also found inspiration in Brene Brown’s book, titled ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’. And, in a business context, Megan Macedo’s call out to business owners to ‘be yourself’ is speaking my language. Visit www.

One of my students shows off her Grainline Scout Tee.

Anna got a real ‘buzz’ from sewing her bee-print version of my Overture pattern!

timeless tweed Portia Lawrie brings a tweed jacket up to date with a new fitted, feminine silhouette.


PSSTsu: ede elbow

ding st binding, d a y r T contra pliquĂŠ lace , s e h c p pat y or a ive your r e d i o embr tweed to g l twist. vidua to the i d n i an jacket

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tw d jacket 01







Q Tweed jacket Q Basic sewing kit

Refashioning a classic jacket is a great way to learn new fitting and tailoring techniques.

Designer Portia says: “Tweed is a British classic. While the fabric itself may be timeless, jacket shapes will come in and out of favour. Here’s how you can turn something boxy, shapeless and out of style into something beautifully fitted, feminine and fashion forward.”

UNPICKING THE JACKET Step one Begin by unpicking the jacket lining at the hem. Deconstructing a garment follows the construction steps in reverse. In most cases the hem of the lining will have been the final step to be sewn, so that is where we start. Once the hem has been unpicked, it will allow you to turn the whole thing inside out and reveal the ‘guts’ of the jacket. 01 Step two With the jacket turned inside out, unpick the rest of the lining. It will be attached all around the jacket facing and at the sleeve cuffs, as well as potentially a few anchor points at the shoulders and armholes. Step three Remove the shoulder pads if your jacket has them as you don’t need them for this new look. Step four Remove the lining completely and set aside. Pay attention to the way the lining was inserted as you unpick. Remembering the process of unpicking will help you when you come to reinsert the lining later on. 02


ADJUSTING THE SHOULDERS Step one To take the jacket from being boxy and oversized to more fitted, the first thing I did was bring the shoulders in. I simply measured how much the shoulder seam needed to come in for it to sit directly on my shoulder. This was about 1.5cm (5⁄8in) for my jacket, but measure yours to fit. Step two Sew a new stitching line around the armhole to your new measurement inside the original shoulder seam, and tapering to blend with the original stitching line right at the base of the armhole. 03 Step three The next step is an important one. Make the same adjustment to the shoulder seam of the lining. Essentially, throughout this process, each time you make an adjustment to the jacket, consideration needs to be given to how this will affect the fit of the lining; and it too will need to be adjusted to reflect the changes you make to the jacket. 04

CUTTING THE JACKET Step one With the jacket buttoned up and laying completely flat, cut straight across the jacket, removing the centre pocket section. Cut at the point where you want the new waistline to be (don’t forget to add a 1.5cm (5⁄8in) seam allowance).

tw d jack t 04






Step two Cut below any pockets (this section will become the peplum). 05 Step three Where you have cut across the jacket, any seams that you had to cut across will now be unsecured and will easily come apart. Working around both top and peplum sections, sew a few backstitches at the end of each seam that you had to cut across. Don’t secure the facing seams just yet though. 06 Step four With all of that done you should end up with a top section that looks like a cropped/bolero style jacket, and a wider bottom section that will form the peplum. Both sections should still have the facing attached all the way along the inside of the jacket opening. 07 Step five Don’t forget to repeat the last two steps for the jacket lining. Leave a little extra hem allowance – 2.5cm (1in) is about right. This will just give you a little more to play with, which will help when you come to refit the lining a bit later. 08

front and back. Step two Pin out the excess at the waist, tapering to nothing at the bust point (for the front) and the curve of the shoulder blades (for the back). There were no darts on the back of this jacket so I added one on either side of the centre back. I took 2.5cm (1in) out of the centre back, tapering it to the neckline, and widened and lengthened the front darts to fit. 09 Step three Take the jacket off, then measure the width and length of the darts you have pinned. Even them out if needs be to make sure the darts are the same size and in the same positions on both sides. Step four Measure and mark them directly onto your jacket to give you an accurate guide for pinning and sewing. If you’re enlarging existing darts, use the centre line of the existing dart as a guide and measure up and out from there. 10 Step five Once you have marked all the dart and seam adjustments and are happy with their placement, go ahead and sew them up. Step six After sewing, press all darts towards either the centre back or centre front. For seam adjustments, you’ll need to sew the new seam line first (blending into the old), then unpick the old seam in order to press

the seam allowances open and flat. Step seven Once everything is pressed in the right position, work a line of machine tacking stitches within the 1.5cm (5⁄8in) seam allowance, around the circumference of the waist, to keep everything in place. Step eight Make a note of how much you are reducing each dart and seam by. Make equivalent adjustments to your lining. 11

FITTING THE JACKET Step one Try the top part of the jacket on. The top section needs to be more fitted and you may need a helper for this part. Do this by pinning out the excess around the waistline, from existing darts and seam lines on the Subscribe at

MAKING THE PEPLUM Step one Measure the new circumference of your newly adjusted waistline. Step two You now need to adjust the ‘peplum’ piece so the measurements are the same at the waist. Measure the waistline of the peplum and calculate the difference between the two. Step three Divide this by the number of seams/darts you have at the back of the peplum piece plus the side seams. The front of the peplum is not flared, only the back, so all the adjustment take place at the back and sides. Call this measurement ‘X’ and mark this measurement at each of the seams/darts you included in the calculation. 12 Step four Sew the seam adjustments as if they were all darts. Reduce them by measurement ‘X’ at the waistline; then WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 53

tw d jack t 13






tapering to a point as you hit the fold of the hemline. This will have the effect of curving the waistline as pictured. Step five Press the seams open and flat then press the hem up to inside. 13

JOINING THE PEPLUM TO THE JACKET Step one With right sides (RS) together and raw edges aligned, pin the peplum to the top body of the jacket. Be sure to pay particular attention to aligning the seams where the outer shell meets the facing. 14 Step two Sew the top body and peplum facing sections together first, backstitching at the beginning and end. You may need to unpick a few centimetres of the vertical facing seams to get everything to lay flat under the presser foot of your machine. Step three Next, sew the top and peplum waistlines together with a 1.5cm (5⁄8in) seam allowance. There will be a gap in the vertical facing seams as shown. 15 Step four Press the waistline seams open and flat. If you think of the waistline seams as running horizontally, then at the facing seams, pinch the gaps in the facing seams closed ‘vertically’ and sew them closed. You are joining the original lines of stitching together, so use the same seam allowance as the stitching lines above and below 54 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

the gap in the seam. Reverse stitch at both ends to secure the seams. 16

ADJUSTING THE LINING Step one To establish the adjustments required to the peplum lining piece, pin it to the inside of the peplum along the hem and sides. Pinch out and pin darts from the lining piece to match the peplum underneath until the lining fits. Step two Pin the lining to the waist seam WS out. Mark along all the pins with chalk so you now have your darts and waistline seams marked on the lining fabric directly. Step three Trim any excess fabric of the lining 1.5cm (5⁄8in) above the marked waistline. Remove all pins and sew the marked darts on your peplum lining. 17 Step four Join the adjusted peplum lining to the main jacket lining in the same way as for the jacket outer. 18

JOINING THE LINING TO THE JACKET Step one With the RS together, pin and sew the lining to the jacket facing using the original seam allowance, which you can establish from the stitch marks in the lining. Step two Flip to the inside and press. Step three To finish, hand-stitch the lining closed at the hem and inside the sleeves at the cuffs.

Adding darts and a peplum gives the jacket a flattering fitted silhouette.


transform it!


happy feet

Take a walk on the cosy side with Jennie Jones’ jumper-to-socks update tied with colourful ribbon.

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transform it! 01







NOTE Q You will find the templates needed on the pull-out pattern sheet provided with this issue.

Step one Trace around and cut out the three templates for the top part, sole and leg to make your patterns. These are to make socks for UK shoe size 5-7, so reduce or enlarge the patterns if you need a different size. The jumper is stretchy so you don’t need to add a seam allowance as it is better if the socks are snug. 01 Step two The leg pattern piece has a curved top – this is for the front legs. The back leg pieces are cut straight across at the bottom points of the curve, so trace around and cut out another pattern piece in this way for the back legs.

The following instructions are for just one sock; repeat them to make the matching pair. Step one Place one sole and one foot RS facing and stitch together around the outside edge using a machine zigzag stitch or overlock. 02 Step two Place one front leg and one back leg RS facing and sew together down the sides. Step three Tuck the joined foot and sole part inside the leg with RS facing so that the top part of the foot meets the curved edge of the front leg and pin. 03 Step four Sew into place, trim off any excess and turn RS out.

Q Jumper Q Ribbon: 2m (2 yds) Q Basic sewing kit

CUTTING OUT Step one You need to cut out two front leg pieces and two back leg pieces using the patterns. Place and then pin the straight edges of the pattern pieces along the hem of the jumper and cut the four leg pieces like this. The jumper hem will form the sock cuffs to give a stretchy and decorative finish. Step two Pin the sole and top pattern pieces to the rest of your jumper and cut around them. You need to cut two soles and two tops. 56 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

FINISHING OFF Step one Cut the ribbon in half and thread the end of one piece into a large eyed needle. Step two Starting at the back of the sock, half way down the cuff (which was the jumper hem), push the needle in and out of the cuff until you reach the point where you started. 04 Step three Tie the two ends in a bow to decorate the top – you can use this ribbon gathering to keep your socks held up tightly.

Alongside opening a sewing school and fabric shop, Alison Smith has written bestselling sewing books and designed her own range of patterns. What a busy sewing bee!

From teaching to receiving an MBE for services to sewing and corsetry, Alison Smith’s love of tailoring has coloured every area of her life. We find out more.

lison Smith grew up in a household where sewing was part of the fabric of their lives. “My grandma sewed and knitted and my mother taught needlework in senior school,” she says. “For as long as I can remember I have sewn and knitted – in my teenage years I knitted more than I sewed and made many complicated sweaters with cable patterns.” After leaving school, Alison worked in an office for two years, and “decided I hated office work.” Fortunately, she already had an idea of what might make her happy. “I applied to university and was accepted on an art and fashion course to train to teach.” A few years later, armed with her degree, Alison began teaching Fashion & Textiles at 58 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

a senior school in Birmingham. “The school was girls only and very multicultural,” she says. “My pupils were aged 11 to 18 and I loved my job! I taught all aspects of the subject – embroidery (which is still a passion of mine), screen-printing, batik, free machine embroidery, making soft toys and, of course, garment construction.” After four years, Alison moved to a much larger school to be the head of department. “I was teaching examination work to older students, writing syllabuses and managing a department, as well as teaching boys to sew.” A few years on, Alison chose to leave teaching completely to concentrate on having a family after getting married. “We have a son and a daughter, both now adults.”

Throughout those early years of parenting, however, Alison never stopped sewing. “While our children were young, I custommade clothing for private clients, specialising in bridal and cocktail wear.” GOING BACK TO SCHOOL By the time 1992 rolled around, Alison felt ready for something bigger. “I closed my custom clothing business so I could open School of Sewing. Everyone said I was mad!” she exclaims. “It was the first independent sewing school in the UK. Within a few months I was teaching at Liberty of London and also at Janome in their head office.” For Alison, this was the perfect job. “It fitted in around school holidays and school hours,




a good read which is why all my classes still run from 10am to 4pm.” Launching the school was no small challenge. “It was a huge step into unknown territory as no one else was doing what I was doing!” Alison says. “Would anyone actually want to learn to sew?” The answer to this question proved to be a resounding yes, and the school has continued to grow year on year, evolving with developments in the UK’s sewing community. Former students include candidates from The Great British Sewing Bee. Alison has also appeared on the TV show Ladette To Lady, for which she taught the girls to make their ‘coming out’ gowns. “I have changed over the years what I teach,” Alison says. “My classes now concentrate very much on the fit of commercial patterns and on more advanced techniques. My sewing school was the first in the UK to teach corsets and also bras and

a certificated City & Guilds course.” The next step for Alison was to try something completely new. “In 2004 I opened a fabric shop – something I have always wanted. But I learnt very quickly that I couldn’t sell,” she concedes. “So I left that to my staff and instead continued teaching, which is something I can do.” Opening Fabulous Fabric presented a huge learning curve, she admits, as she recalls all of the crucial minutiae of running a shop that she had to get to grips with in such a short space of time. “I mean, where do you buy paper bags?” In 2008 publishers Dorling Kindersley approached Alison about writing The Sewing Book. It came out in February 2009. “Writing a book was something I loved!” Alison exclaims. “The book has been very successful and translated into many languages. My book is seen by many to be the go-to book for sewing.” It was followed by Dressmaking, Sew Step by Step and Dressmaking Step by Step, all of which


Above: Alison’s shop in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Fabulous Fabric, lives up to its enticing name – it’s a treasure trove of beautiful prints, gorgeous haberdashery and must-have sewing patterns.

Alison enjoys a cup of tea where she feels most at home – at her sewing table surrounded by haberdashery at the School of Sewing.

Above: A Chanel-style jacket in progress. Tailoring, lingerie and corsetry are three of Alison’s specialities, and she passes on her knowledge at her workshops both online and at the School of Sewing in Leicestershire. Subscribe at


a good read have also become vital parts of sewist’s libraries around the world. WELL-DESERVED RECOGNITION Throughout her years of sewing, Alison has never stayed still for a moment, and has always made sharing her skills a priority. In 2013, this dedication was recognised when she was awarded an MBE for services to sewing and corsetry. The award also recognised the thousands of pounds Alison has raised for charity in north-west Leicestershire, the area of the UK in which she lives. “The MBE was a total shock,” Alison says. “I felt very privileged to be recognised by my peers. I’m quite a private person and I now realised that people know who I am, which was a bit of a surprise.” Alison was given her MBE by Prince William. “He was so lovely,” she adds. In 2014 Alison accepted an invitation to appear on Craftsy ( “That came right out of the blue,” she says. “I had no idea that anyone would want me teaching on an Internet platform. I have now made

eight classes for Craftsy and have students all over the world. Teaching in front of a camera was such fun.” She admits to having been “slow to catch up with social media, though, and that is something I do regret. I guess I avoided it because I’m a private person and felt no need to blog about what I was making. I thought that no one would be interested.” The growth of blogging and social media, however, eventually prompted Alison to embrace it, initially with assistance from blogger Marie Koupparis of A Stitching Odyssey (www.astitch “I now use both Instagram and Twitter most days, and have a Facebook page, too,” says Alison. “All of this happens with the help of the girls who work for me.” On an average work day, Alison will arrive at School of Sewing in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, by about 7.30am. “I check emails and orders that have come in overnight, put up any orders and have a strong coffee!” she says. “I then make sure everything is ready for the day’s teaching. Students usually start arriving from 9am and we chat about what they are going to make,


and their experience over another coffee. From 10am until 4pm sees me teaching most days, and then it’s time to tidy up and get ready for the following day’s class. I get home at about 6pm most days.” NEVER A QUIET MOMENT Far from slowing down as she takes on more employees, Alison continues to seek out exciting new sewing adventures. “In 2015 I launched my own range of sewing patterns – Sew Wardrobe,” she says. “The patterns are designed to build into a wardrobe so that every pattern will go with another, and they are classic designs that won’t date too


School of Sewing workshops range from sewing and fitting wardrobe staples to mastering advanced tailoring techniques.

Right: Alison’s sewing pattern collection, Sew Wardrobe ( uk), is designed to enable and inspire sewists to create a complete wardrobe of staple garments for all occasions.


quickly. The patterns are aimed at a slightly older professional audience who wish to advance their sewing skills.” Many of Alison’s design ideas stem from the world of high-end fashion. “My inspiration comes from the haute couture design shows and also from looking at forthcoming trends,” she says. “I look at clothing ranges in the stores and notice where the gaps are – I find myself asking, so why don’t they have a jacket to bring the trouser and top or skirt together?” Watching what people are wearing on the street, especially in London, fires Alison too, as does looking at fabrics (we can certainly relate to that!). “I can imagine it made up,” she says. “I guess I’m designing things that I would like to wear and garments that my students have asked for. After fitting so many people over the years and making the same alterations over and over, these are now incorporated into my styles.” Alison has just started to wholesale her patterns, making them more easily available than ever. She enjoys working on sewing designs in Subscribe at

her garden studio. “I like to have the radio on softly in the background and Pinterest on the iPad,” she says, “plus plenty of calico and time…” Favourite projects veer towards the elegant and timeless. “I love tailoring, making a beautiful jacket,” she says. She relishes adding special decorative details to her garments, too: “I love adding embellishment to clothing, which happens to be bang on trend for the forthcoming season.” Even on days when she isn’t working, Alison can be found in her garden studio, “working on new patterns or sewing for me. My hobby is what I teach, so I sew. I also enjoy reading, visiting museums or soaking up the sun on a faraway beach.” The coming year is full of new challenges to look forward to. “In 2017 I’m teaching some new classes at School of Sewing – masterclasses on far more complex and couture techniques, including Advanced Lace Techniques and Inner Corselettes,” she says. “More patterns are imminent and maybe a book… Who knows?” With so many skills and so much drive at her disposal, the

Below: Alison is the first person to be awarded an MBE for services to sewing and corsetry, presented to her by Prince William, who Alison says “was so lovely.”

possibilities for Alison seem to be endless. Find out about the upcoming School of Sewing courses and Alison’s other sewing ventures at Written by Judy Darley.


“My best advice is to never stop learning. Always look for a new challenge and seek help if you don’t understand something. Go out to a class or, if you prefer to learn at home, find a sewing book or sign up for a Craftsy class.”



Students at the School of Sewing can bring along a sewing pattern to work from or take the pattern drafting class to learn to create their own design.

PSST: patches,

rful Add colou itching t s p o t r o y embroider ting thread to as in a contr ur sweatshirt. yo customise

No sweat!

Sew the sports luxe trend with this simple cropped sweatshirt with ribbed details by Rosee Woodland.

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sw atshirt YOU WILL NEED

Q Sweatshirt material: 140cm (55in) width x130cm (51in), for all sizes Q Jersey ribbing: 70cm (27½in) width x 50cm (20in) Q Iron-on hemming tape: see instructions for details Q Matching thread for sweatshirt material and jersey ribbing Q Basic sewing kit NOTE Q You will find the pattern piece on the pull-out pattern sheet. Q Use a 1cm (3⁄8in) seam allowance unless otherwise stated.





2cm (¾in) for seam allowances and 10cm (4in) wide. If you don’t have a long enough piece then you can join two pieces together to make them the required length. Step three Pin the short ends of the ribbing RS together (the side with the top edges that curl inwards is the RS) and stitch together with a narrow zigzag stitch. Press the seam open. Step four Fold the ribbing in half lengthwise wrong sides (WS) together to hide the join then pin the two raw edges of the ribbing RS together with the bottom edge of the sweatshirt, stretching the ribbing slightly so it fits evenly all the way around. 02 Step five Stitch the ribbing into place using a medium zigzag stitch, then trim the seam to neaten and press it upwards.

matches the ribbing. 03 Step four Press the seam downwards towards the sweatshirt.

CUTTING OUT Step one Choose your size by referring to the size chart then cut out the pattern piece. The same piece is used for both the front and back of the sweatshirt. Step two The front of the sweatshirt is cut as two pieces and following the lower neckline curve. The back piece doesn’t need the central seam allowance and is cut as one piece following the upper neckline curve. Step three Fold your sweatshirt fabric in half with right sides (RS) together. Step four To cut the back piece, fold the centre straight edge over by 1cm (3⁄8in) and place this edge on the fold of your fabric. Pin and then cut out following the upper neckline curve. Step five To cut the front pieces, unpin the pattern from your fabric and unfold the centre straight edge. Pin the pattern onto your folded fabric so that the pattern piece is in the centre with the straight edge running down the fabric grain. Cut out the two front pieces, following the lower neckline curve.

JOININGTHE FRONTS AND BACK Step one Pin the front pieces RS facing and stitch together down the centre edge. Step two Topstitch 3mm (1⁄8in) either side of the front centre seam using a fairly long straight stitch, using thread to match the ribbing. 01 Step three Pin the joined front and back pieces RS together on the shoulder and side seams. Step four Stitch together, pivoting at the underarm right angle. Step five Clip and notch the seam at the underarm then press all seams open.

MAKINGTHEWAISTBAND EDGE Step one Measure all the way around the finished bottom edge of your sweatshirt. Step two Multiply this measurement by 0.75 then cut the jersey ribbing to this length plus 64 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

MAKINGTHE NECKLINE EDGE Step one Calculate the length of ribbing needed for the neckline edge in the same way as for the waistband edge, but this time cut the piece 6cm (23⁄8in) wide. Step two Stitch the ribbing in place as before but using a 5mm (¼in) seam allowance this time for a neater curve. Step three Trim the seam and press it downwards then topstitch into place from the RS of the sweatshirt 3mm (1⁄8in) down from the seam all the way around. Use thread that

HEMMINGTHE SLEEVES Step one Turn the sleeve edges under to the WS by 2.5cm (1in) and press into place. Step two Cut a strip of iron-on hemming tape to fit all the way around each sleeve then place it underneath the turned-under edge and press into place. This will give the sleeve edges a little more stability. 04 Step three Stitch the sleeve edges from the RS, working the first line of stitching 1.5cm (5⁄8in) from the turned-under edge, then a second line 2cm (¾in) from the edge using a fairly long straight stitch. Step four Turn your sweatshirt RS out and press, taking care not to overpress the ribbing.




10-12 14-16 16-18 18-20

cm 76-81 86-91 91-96 in



30-32 34-36 36-38 40-42 44-46

Fast fat quarter QUICK PROJECT

use 2 fat QuaRters

fresh prints

ennie Jones makes a bow-detail clutch bag using a contemporary geometric print in two colourways.

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Fast fat quarter 01





Q Two fat quarters Q Lining fabric: 27x38cm (105⁄8x15in) Q Zip: contrasting colour, 25cm (10in) Q Basic sewing kit NOTES Q Use a 1cm (3⁄8in) seam allowance. FABRICS USED The fabrics used are from Foxglove by Aneela Hoey for Cloud9 Fabrics. Foxglove Stem, Dot. Navy. Ref: C9FG150512. Foxglove Stem, Dot Turquoise. Ref: C9FG150503. For stockists visit cloud9

CUTTINGTHE PIECES Step one Cut one of the fat quarters to use for the bag outer to 27x38cm (105⁄8x15in). 01 Step two Cut the other fat quarter into: Main bow piece: 30x20cm (117⁄8x77⁄8in). Bow centre: 8x4cm (31⁄8x15⁄8in).

MAKINGTHE BOW KNOT Step one Take the bow centre and fold it in half lengthways with right sides (RS) facing, then stitch together down the length. 02 Step two Turn RS out and press. Step three Turn one short end under by 1cm (3⁄8in) then slip the other short end just inside. Slip stitch closed all the way around to make a ring.

MAKINGTHE BOW Step one Take the main bow piece and turn both long edges under by 5mm (¼in) then the same again to the wrong side (WS). Stitch to hem. Step two Feed the hemmed main bow piece through the ring. Step three Place the bag outer RS up with the short edge running horizontally across the top. Place the bow RS down on top. 03 Step four Fold and pleat both edges of the bow piece so it measures 14cm (5½in) wide then pin to the edges of the outer fabric with the top of the bow 3cm (1¼in) from the top short edge of


the outer fabric. Tack into place.

INSERTINGTHE ZIP Step one Place the bag outer RS up. Place the unzipped zip RS down centrally along the top edge, matching the raw edge of the fabric to the edge of the zip tape. Place the lining piece RS down on top, matching raw edges and sandwiching the zip between the fabrics. Step two Using a zip foot, stitch the three layers together all the way along the top edge. Step three Repeat this to stitch the other short end of the outer and lining fabric to the other side of the zip.

ASSEMBLINGTHE BAG Step one Open the zip then pin the bag together so that the main fabrics are RS together and the lining fabrics are RS together. Step two Pin the zip teeth towards the outer and the tape towards the lining. Step three Stitch the fabric down both sides, enclosing the ends of the bow pieces as you go but leaving a gap in the centre of one side of the lining for turning. 04 Step four Pull the bag RS out through the opening then slip stitch the gap closed. Step five Push the lining inside the bag, press and close the zip to complete.

ThrIfty MakEs

denim upcycle


heart to heart Home is where the heart is, so update yours with Jessica Entwistle’s 3D faux leather heart cushion.

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denim upcycle 01





Q Denim jeans Q Metallic faux leather: bronze and rose gold Q Cushion pad: 30x30cm (12x12in) Q Basic sewing kit NOTE Q You will find the templates needed on the pull-out pattern sheet provided with this issue. Q Use a 1.5cm (5⁄8in) seam allowance.

CUTTING OUT Step one From your jeans, cut out the following: Cushion front: four strips 10.5x33cm (4¼x13¼in). Cushion back: two pieces 20x33cm (8x13¼in). Step two Trace around the three heart templates and cut them out to use as pattern pieces. Step three Each heart has two pieces, one for each side. To cut one heart, draw around the template on the wrong side (WS) of your faux leather, then flip the template over to draw around it. Cut them out and you’ll have a pair of mirror image pieces. Step four Draw around and cut out enough pairs to make six small hearts, three medium hearts and three large hearts. 01 ATTACHING THE HEARTS Step one Place one of the cushion front denim strips right sides (RS) up. Step two Put one of your left heart pieces RS up along the right edge of the strip so that the top of the heart is 4cm (15⁄8in) down from the top horizontal short edge of the strip. Step three Place the matching right heart piece on top of the left with RS together. Step four Stitch these two hearts in place within the seam allowance. Step five Repeat this process for all the hearts going down the strip, making sure the gaps between your hearts are even. Our lowest heart bottom point is 4cm (15⁄8in) up from the bottom


edge, with the two middle hearts evenly spaced between. There are four hearts on each strip. Step six Place another cushion front strip on top of the first with RS together and stitch together, enclosing the raw edges of the hearts as you go. Step seven Trim the seam allowance. 02 FINISHING THE CUSHION FRONT Step one Repeat this process for all strips, so that you end up with the four strips sewn together with three rows of hearts. Step two Press open your seams and hearts, using an ironing cloth so that you don’t iron directly onto the faux leather. Step three Neaten all the raw fabric edges using a machine zigzag stitch. 03 ADDING THE CUSHION BACK Step one Neaten the raw edges of one of the cushion back pieces. Step two Press one of the long edges under by 2.5cm (1in) to the WS and topstitch in place. Step three Repeat this to finish and hem the other cushion back piece. Step four Place the cushion front RS up, with the two back pieces RS down on top, so that they overlap and the four sides are lined up. 04 Step five Pin in place, then sew all the way around your cushion. Step six Clip the four corners and turn RS out through the envelope opening to finish.

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bags of style Learn bag-making skills with Debbie Von GrablerCrozier’s pocket-front saddle bag in on-trend chambray and ikat fabrics. WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 69

sadd bag 01







Q Main fabric: 45x112cm (18x44in ) Q Contrast fabric: 55x112cm (22x44in ) Q Lining fabric: 90x112cm (35x44in) Q Iron-on interfacing: 90x90cm (35x35in) Q Iron-on wadding: 30x90cm (12x35in) Q Thin foam: 80x72cm (31x28in) Q 1 zip: navy, 13cm (5¼in) Q 2 zips: navy, 18cm (7in) Q 2 rectangle rings: silver, 2.5cm (1in) Q Bag slider: silver, 2.5cm (1in) Q Medium twist lock: silver Q Scraps of ribbon: for the zip pulls Q Double-sided tape Q Basic sewing kit FABRICS USED Main fabric: Solid Smooth Denim, Afternoon Sail. Ref: DEN-S-2003. From the Denim Studio collection by Art Gallery Fabrics. Contrast fabric: Overshot Haze. Ref: OBR-49802. From the Observer collection by April Rhodes for Art Gallery Fabrics. Lining fabric: Mesh With Me Worn. 70 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

Ref: OBR-49807. From the Observer collection by April Rhodes for Art Gallery Fabrics. For stockists visit www. NOTES Q You will find the templates needed to make this project on the pull-out pattern sheet provided. Q Use a 5mm (¼in) seam allowance unless otherwise stated.

CUTTING OUT Step one Trace around the pattern pieces and cut them out. For the pieces marked with a fold, trace around them on a folded piece of paper then cut around them and open out to make the full pattern piece. Step two Cut out the following pieces: Main fabric: Bag flap: 25x25cm (10x10in). Bag trim: 20x30cm (8x12in). Bag gusset: 10x80cm (4x32in). Strap: 3.5x90cm (13⁄8x35in). Contrast fabric: Bag flap: one piece using template A. Bag front and back: two pieces using template C. Strap tabs: two pieces 3.5x16cm (13⁄8x63⁄8in).

Strap: 3.5x90cm (13⁄8x35in). Internal slip pockets: two pieces 15x13cm (6x5¼in). Lining fabric: Bag flap pocket: two pieces 12x15cm (4¾x6in). Bag flap lining: 25x25cm (10x10in). Front pocket: two pieces 15x20cm (6x77⁄8in). Back pocket: two pieces 18x20cm (71⁄8x77⁄8in). Front and back lining: two pieces using template C. Gusset lining: one piece using template E. Internal slip pockets lining: two pieces 15x13cm (6x5¼in). Iron-on interfacing : Bag flap: one piece using template A. Flap trim: one piece using template B. Front flap lining: 25x25cm (10x10in). Bag trim: two pieces using template D. Bag gusset: one piece using template E. Strap tabs: 3.5x16cm (13⁄8x63⁄8in). Strap: 3.5x90cm (13⁄8x35in). Internal slip pockets: two pieces 14x12cm (5½x4¾in). Iron-on wadding: Bag flap: one piece using template A. Bag front and back: two pieces using template C. Thin foam: Bag front and back: two pieces 30x30cm (12x12in) each.

sadd bag 04






Bag gusset: 10x80cm (4x32in).

lines. Draw a centre line on the box too with angles each end – this is the cutting line. Step two Fold the marked pocket piece in half to make a centre vertical crease. Mark the vertical centre of the bag flap too. Step three Line up the two creases of the pocket lining and bag flap and position the pocket 10.5cm (4¼in) down from the flap top flat edge. Step four Stitch together around the sewing line. Step five Cut along the centre line and angled corners through both the pocket lining and the bag flap and then ‘post’ the pocket lining through the hole. Flatten it out and press neatly. Step six Take the 13cm (5¼in) zip and trim to shorten it to 10cm (4in). Pin then tack the zip on the WS of the pocket lining so it sits centrally inside the opening. Sew the zip in position from the RS of the bag flap. Step seven Take the other lining fabric bag flap pocket piece and pin it RS together with the piece with the zip in. Stitch together down the sides and across the bottom edge but only stitch the pocket pieces together, take care not to stitch into the bag outer. Step eight Loop ribbon through the zip pull.

into place. This will become the bag flap lining. Step two Place the lining RS together onto the assembled bag flap. Step three Sew together around the main curve only, leaving the flat edge open. Step four Trim the lining to the same shape as the bag flap and clip the curves then turn RS out. Step five Press and topstitch around the outer curve to neaten and decorate. 05 Step six Fit the female half of the silver twist lock to the front centre of the bag flap. 06

PREPARINGTHE BAG FLAP Step one Press the interfacing bag flap piece onto the wrong side (WS) of the contrast fabric flap piece then press the iron-on wadding front flap on top of that. 01 Step two Place the interfacing flap trim centrally onto the WS of the main fabric bag flap piece and press into place. Cut out very roughly, leaving at least 1.5cm (5⁄8in) on the inside curve. 02 Step three Snip the denim almost to the interfacing on the inner curve and then tuck the strips around the interfacing as smoothly as possible and press. Use some double-sided tape to keep the pieces down. 03 Step four Lay this flap trim right side (RS) up over the interfaced flap RS up and line everything up. Step five With a coordinating thread, topstitch the trim in place around the inner curve. 04 Step six Tack the outer curve of the trim to hold it securely in place.

MAKINGTHE FRONT FLAP POCKET Step one Take one lining fabric bag flap pocket piece and mark a zip box on the WS 2cm (¾in) down from the top and centrally across the longer side. The box should measure 1cm (3⁄8in) wide and 10cm (4in) long – these are the sewing Subscribe at

LININGTHE BAG FLAP Step one Place the interfacing bag flap onto the WS of the lining fabric bag flap piece and press

MAKINGTHE BAG FRONT Step one Press the wadding bag front to the WS of the contrast fabric bag front piece. Step two Place the interfacing bag trim piece centrally onto the WS of the main fabric bag trim and press into place. Step three Snip and trim then topstitch to the bag front in the same way as for the bag flap.

ADDINGTHE FRONT POCKET Step one Shorten one of the longer zips to 16cm (63⁄8in) and fold one of the lining fabric front pocket pieces in half vertically. Step two Crease to mark the centre and mark a zip box on the WS 3.5cm (13⁄8in) down from the top and centrally across the longer side. The box should measure 1cm (3⁄8in) wide and 16cm (63⁄8in) WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 71

sadd bag long – these are the sewing lines. Draw a centre line on the box too with angles each end – this is the cutting line. Step three Make the zip box as you did on the flap and topstitch the zip in place. Step four Use the other piece of lining to complete the pocket. Step five Loop a short length of ribbon through the zip pull.

FINISHINGTHE BAG FRONT Step one Measure 13cm (5¼in) down from the top of the bag front and make a mark. This is the location of the other half of the twist lock. You can cut a piece of interfacing about 6x6cm (23⁄8x23⁄8in) and reinforce the area behind the twist lock to strengthen if you prefer. Step two Attach the other half of the twist lock to the front of the bag. Step three Trim the bag front and lay it over the bag front foam. Stitch in place within the seam allowance then trim the foam to match up with the edge of the bag front.

MAKINGTHE BAG BACK Step one The bag back is made in exactly the same way as the front, but position the zip box 4.5cm (17⁄8in) down from the top. This will make room for the flap. Step two Stitch the flap to the top of the back of the bag within the seam allowance. 07

MAKINGTHE SIDE GUSSET Step one Place the interfacing bag gusset piece centrally on the WS of the main fabric bag gusset piece and press into place. Step two Trim the fabric to leave a 5mm (¼in) seam allowance all the way around. 08 Step three Place this RS up on top of the bag gusset foam and stitch into place within the seam allowance, then trim the foam to match up with the edge of the fabric. Step four Place the assembled gusset RS facing with the bag front and stitch together all the way around. It’s best not to start stitching from the top, but to start in the centre and work in both directions away from this point as you’ll get a neater finish. There is some built-in ease at the top to allow for seam differences. This can then be trimmed away when you are finished. Step five Stitch the other side of the bag gusset to the bag back in the same way.

MAKINGTHE STRAPTABS Step one Press the interfacing strap tab to the WS of one of the contrast fabric strap tab pieces. Step two Place the two contrast fabric strap pieces RS facing and stitch together down the length. Turn RS out and press. Step three Topstitch down the length in four evenly spaced parallel lines then cut in half to 72 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

make two 8cm (31⁄8in) long tabs. Step four Thread one tab through a rectangle ring then stitch the raw ends together. 09 Step five Pin RS together, matching raw edges to one top edge of the gusset. Step six Repeat this with the other tab on the other top edge of the gusset.

MAKINGTHE STRAP Step one Assemble the strap in exactly the same way as for the tabs, but this time the main fabric strap piece is on one side and the contrast fabric strap piece on the other. Turn the short ends to the inside of the strap to neaten before you work the topstitching.

MAKINGTHE INTERNAL SLIP POCKETS Step one Press one piece of interfacing slip pocket centrally to the WS of one of the contrast fabric slip pocket pieces. 10 Step two Place one piece of lining fabric slip pocket RS together with the interfaced main fabric slip pocket and stitch together all the way around, leaving a turning gap in the centre of one long side. Clip the corners. 11 Step three Turn RS out through the gap and press it closed. Step four Make the other internal slip pocket in the same way. Step five Position the pockets onto the lining fabric front and back pieces about 5cm (2in) down from the top edge and topstitch into place around the sides and bottom. 12 Step six You can stitch vertical lines down through the pockets if you wish to divide them to store smaller items.

MAKINGTHE LINING Step one Sew the lining fabric front and back pieces to the lining fabric gusset piece in the same way as for the bag outer but this time leave a turning gap in the centre of the bottom edge.

ASSEMBLING THE BAG Step one Turn the bag RS out with the flap and the tabs attached. Step two Turn the assembled lining WS out and pull it on over the outer so that they are RS facing and the seams are aligned. Step three Pin the outer and lining together around the top edge. Step four Sew together around the top edge and then turn the bag RS out through the turning gap in the lining. Step five Slip stitch the gap closed. Step six Topstitch around the top edge to keep the lining in place. Step seven Attach the strap by folding one end through the centre bar of the bag slider and

stitching in place. Step eight Thread the other end of the strap through one of the rectangle rings, back through the bag slider and then through the other rectangle ring and stitch into place.

curious cat

This mischievous moggy is the purrfect playmate (and loves to curl up for a snooze, too!). Sew your own cuddly kitty with Jo Carter’s tutorial.

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soft toy 01








Top foot, cut 2. Bottom foot, cut 2. From the pink cotton fabric: Nose, cut 1.

FABRIC USED Main plush fabric: Shannon Cuddle Soft Rabbit, Grey. Contrast plush fabric: Smooth Cuddle 3, Ivory. All fabrics from www.plushaddict.

Step one Trace and cut out all the template pieces. The templates include seam allowances where necessary and the arrows indicate the print direction for marking and cutting out. The notches are used to match pieces when stitching together, so mark these too. When the pattern specifies to cut two or more of a template, after marking out half of the pieces required, the template needs to be turned over to mark out the remaining half so that the pieces are cut as mirror images. Step two Using a water erasable pen or pencil draw out the pattern pieces onto the wrong side (WS) of the fabric and cut out the following: From the main fabric: Side face, cut 2. Ear, cut 2. Back head, cut 2. Arm, cut 2. Tummy, cut 2. Back body, cut 2. Base, cut 1. Leg, cut 2. Tail, cut 1. From the contrast fabric: Ear, cut 2. Top snout, cut 1. Side snout, cut 2. Hand, cut 2.

Q Main plush fabric: 50x55cm (20x22in) Q Contrast plush fabric: 25x35cm (10x14in) Q Cotton scrap: pink, 4x4cm (15⁄8x15⁄8in) Q Pair of plastic safety eyes: black, 10mm (3⁄8in) diameter Q Polyester toy filling Q Stranded cotton: black

FINISHED SIZE Approx: 32cm (13in) tall. NOTES Q You will find the templates needed on the pull-out pattern sheet included with this issue. Q Use a 5mm (¼in) seam allowance unless otherwise stated.


MAKING THE FACE Step one With right sides (RS) together, sew the top of the nose together across the bottom of the top snout. 01 Step two With RS together, sew the curved side of the side snout around the internal curve in the corresponding side face piece. Step three Repeat this for the other side. 02 Step four With RS together, sew one side of the joined nose and top snout to the joined side snout and face. 03 Step five Repeat for the other side and then bring the side faces together and sew together above the top snout. Step six Sew the lower face together from the bottom of the nose down to the neck edge.

MAKING THE EARS Step one Place one main ear piece and one contrast ear piece RS together and sew around the sides, leaving the bottom edge open. Step two Clip the seam allowance at the tip and turn RS out. Step three Fold one side in so that the bottom of the ear forms a straight line and the inner ear

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soft toy 04






fabric is together and tack the fold in place. Step four Repeat this to make the other ear. This fold will be in the opposite direction this time so that it is a mirror image to the first. 04

Step two Fold this joined piece in half lengthways then sew down the side of the arm and around the hand. Taper the end of the seam for a neater, smoother finish. Step three Turn RS out and then repeat to make the other arm in the same way. 08

make sure they are well secured and reduce the likelihood of them being pulled out. Step one Place the tummy pieces RS facing and sew together along the front edge. 11 Step two Tack the arms in place with the seam-side down, placing them on the RS of the tummy pieces. 12 Step three With RS together, sew a back body piece to the corresponding side of the tummy along the side edge, sandwiching the arm properly in place. Repeat for the other side. Step four With the front of the legs against the RS of the tummy, tack the legs in place. 13 Step five With RS together, sew the front of the base across the bottom of the tummy pieces fixing the legs in place. Step six Sew the base to the back body on either side. Sewing the base on in three parts like this is easier than using one continuous seam. 14

MAKING THE HEAD Step one With the contrast inner ears facing the RS of the face and the fold at the top, pin and then tack the ears in place between the markers on each side. 05 Step two Make the smallest holes possible through which to allow the shank of the eye in the side face pieces where marked. Fit the eyes in place according to manufacturer’s instructions. Step three Place the back head pieces RS facing and sew together from the top down along the back of the head for approximately 5cm (2in) just to join them. 06 Step four With RS together, line up the seam at the top of the face with the central seam in the back head and from this top point sew the front and back head together down one side. Step five Return to the top point and sew the remaining side together. Sewing the seam in two parts in this way is easier and helps to ensure a more even finish. 07

MAKING THE LEGS Step one With RS together, sew the top of a top foot piece across the bottom of a leg piece. Step two Sew a bottom foot around the bottom of the top foot piece, taking care to make sure that the markers line up. Step three Sew the back of the leg together, leaving only the top open. Step four Turn RS out and then repeat to make the other leg. 09

FILLING THE ARMS AND LEGS Step one Stuff each of the arms and legs, leaving the top 2cm (žin) empty. Tack the tops of the arms closed to hold the filling in place. Step two Bring the top of one leg together so that the seam in the back meets the top centre of the leg and then tack the end closed. Step three Repeat this to stuff the other leg. 10



Step one With RS together, sew the top of a hand piece across the bottom of an arm piece.

As the arms, legs and tail are sewn directly into the seams it is advisable to sew over the joins to

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JOINING THE HEAD AND TAIL Step one Sew the head to the body, placing them RS together. 15 Step two Fold the tail piece in half lengthways RS together and sew together, leaving the top end open. Turn RS out. Step three Fit the end of the tail, seam side down, in the back of the cat and with RS together sew the bottom back body together from the base to just above the tail. WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 75

soft toy 13






Step four Return to the short seam joining the back head pieces and close the rest of the back of the head as far the neck seam to leave an opening of 10cm (4in) in the back of the cat. 16

ADDING THE FACE DETAILS Step one Turn the cat RS out and stuff. Step two Embroider a mouth and some whiskers on the snout using black stranded cotton. Step three Sew some shaping though the snout to give a cheek by bringing the needle out under one eye, securing the thread with a few small stitches and then taking the needle down through the snout. Don’t make the shaping stitches too small as they may pull and damage the fabric. 17 Step four Take the needle back up to the eye and then back down again through the snout. Pull lightly on the thread to bring the eye down a little and make the snout a little more rounded, giving the face a little more character. Step five Secure the thread, take the needle back into the head and out again at any point and then snip away the excess. Step six Repeat this on the other side.

Step two Make a few stitches through the foot to secure the thread in place. Bring the thread over to the front of the foot and back through the bottom of the foot. Step three Pull on the thread to tighten it, secure the toe stitches by taking the needle through the foot as at the start and then take the thread through the foot over to make the second toe

stitch. Secure the thread and then snip away the excess to neaten. Step four Repeat to make the toe stitches on the other foot. Make finger stitches on each hand in the same way. 18 Step five Adjust any filling that has been disturbed and then sew the back of the body closed using ladder stitch or similar.

Give your feline friend characterful features with handstitched whiskers.

SHAPING THE TOES Step one Using the black stranded cotton, bring the needle through the bottom of the foot where the base of one side toe and the middle toe would meet, directly up and through the top of the foot. 76 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

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Fabric | Haberdashery | Patterns | Yarn New Larger Shop now open 19 Barracks Court, Barracks Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 1LG. Tel: 01782 610 241 10% off all orders - enter code SS10 when you checkout

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“What I love about making toys is that you see the enjoyment of them being used.”


Few sewing projects match soft toys for their speed, quirkiness and sheer fun. We chat to the designers who are devoted to creating characters and costumes no child could resist.


ewingatoywithaparticularchildin mindisaprettyspecialthing.Getit right,andyou’llbemakingafriend thatgoeswiththemeverywhere, acostumetosettheirimagination free,acompanionfornightswhen thedarkisscary,aconfidanteandapartnerin allkindsofmischief.Magic!Butthereareafew thingstobearinmindbeforeyougetthe fabricandthreadsout–ahome-sewntoy needsmorethanjustlovetomakeitasuitable giftforalittleonetotreasure.Wespeakto someexperttoymakerstofindouthowto makesureyourhandmadetoysmeetsafety standardsandearnaplaceinachild’sheart.


Jo Carter of Two Owls Design (www.two creates toy patterns for a wide array of magazines (including Simply Sewing!) as well as for the children in her life. “I used to knit lots of toys as a child and sew the odd one or two on my mum’s sewing machine – a little mole made from a craft kit was my favourite,” she remembers. “I took


Photos, top left & right:; Top centre & bottom right:; Centre:; Bottom left & centre:

Written by Judy Darley.

a year out after my A levels and got a job at a business that was subsequently taken over by a company that designed and produced soft toys for the sales and promotions industry. They trained me to design and make prototype samples that would go on to be factory produced in the Far East.” Jo worked with the company for ten years, and over that time made a vast array of curious objects, “including unusual animals such as honey badgers, manatees and cats in ninja outfits, along with drinks bottles and cars.” Anna Machul of Amuru (www.amuru.etsy. com) tried making jewellery, sewing purses, crocheting scarves and more before finally discovering toy making. “One day, inspired by an illustration in a children book, I made a felt rat in a knitted sweater and that was it! Immediately my head filled with ideas.” Making toys seemed like a natural progression for Great British Sewing Bee winner Matt Chapple (www.sewwhatsnew. “We have two children and lots of our friends have growing families,” Matt says. “I make a lot of clothes, especially for my daughter, but the challenge is that they grow out of them super quickly. What I love about making toys is that you see the enjoyment of them being used time and time again.” Angela Jardine of PC Bangles (www.pc has made a variety of beasties, from lions to mice. “Looking back too many years to count, I’ve always dabbled in toy making,” she says. “My very first bear was a large ted with joints made from a cereal packet! He had very little stuffing as my



“I think it’s important to have that connection with a character when I’m stitching away.” pocket money wouldn’t run that far.” When her three sons were small, Angela relished making them fantastical costumes for their dressing up box, “anything from stone-age fur boots to elven cloaks. Great fun!” Angela returned to teds about eight years ago when she realised that they could be in any colour or fabric that caught her eye. “I dived into a pile of brightly coloured mohair – bliss.”

Eco-conscious maker Anna uses recycled fabrics and materials to sew her collection of whimsical characters.



Jo reminds us that most of a toy’s personality is achieved with the elements added at the end, such as embroidered facial features, face shaping and other details. “I loved putting belly buttons on some mermaids I made recently,” Jo says. “Eyebrows are often just a couple of straight stitches, but can make a difference in giving a toy a friendly look.” Face-shaping stitches can also help to emphasise or create a bit more character. “These are internal stitches made by hand, often between the eyes to pull them in slightly and align them,” says Jo. “They’re also sometimes added between the mouth and eyes to create more of a smile and rounded cheek area.” This is where the magic really happens. “It can transform a good toy into a really special one,” Jo says. “Taking time to carefully stitch on a smile and add faceshaping stitches to give a warmer expression is a personal touch that can set it apart from

Can you spot any familiar faces here? Jo Carter has designed a menagerie of toys for Simply Sewing, from lions to hedgehogs. mass-produced toys.” Anna agrees that the personality of her stitched characters “lives in details. Depending on where I place his eyes and other face features, sometimes a bear may look grumpy, or have a cheeky smile. It’s a matter of millimetres and I let him be how he wants to be. My foxes are particularly fun because their faces are so expressive.” For Angela, the personality of her ooak (one-of-a-kind) toys is all about their faces, especially their eyes. “I think it’s important to have that connection with a character when I’m stitching away, and I’ll usually make the head and set their features in place before I work on anything else,” she says. “It’s key to get the eyes correctly placed so they appear focused and look directly at you to let the character shine through.” She has her own specific skills to bring her animals to life. “I use a lot of needle sculpting to create chubby toes and faces,” she says. “I also love creating needle felted faces for my bears. I love extra texture and the 3D effect that you can add.”


It’s critical to put safety first when making toys for children, Matt says. “Whatever you WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 79


make must be robust enough to take those tugs and yanks.” Issues to keep in mind include any fixtures and features that a child could potentially swallow and choke on, such as plastic eyes and buttons. “The length of trimmings such as ribbons are also a concern, as it the strength and quality of stitching,” Jo warns. “Make sure that there aren’t any long or loose stitches, loops or trimmings, or anything else that could act as a tourniquet. Toys need to be securely stitched so that they don’t come apart and features such as ears and tails can’t be pulled out. If a toy is ‘beanfilled’ the beans need to be contained in a separate bag inside the toy.” The tendency of small children to suck on their toy’s ears and limbs also makes fabric choice crucial. “Some fabrics aren’t suitable for children under the age of three for reasons such as shedding,” Jo says. “It’s important that fibres don’t shed and get into airways.” And if you’re making toys to sell, Matt urges you to “please seek advice and test your toys against the CE regulations. Your toy needs to meet the standards of the country that it is being sold in. The testing will include the materials that you use to construct the toy and also the finished product when assembled.” Toy filling needs to comply with British fire safety regulations and be hygienic. When it comes to eyes, Jo recommends

Matt’s Sew-a-saurus kits “will always have a special place in my heart, as it was the first toy I made for my son.” 80 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

GBSB winner Matt loves to sew toys as “you see the enjoyment of them being used time and time again.” embroidering them on as “a good safe option or, alternatively, plastic safety eyes are now widely available which is great.” She adds: “It’s important they’re fitted in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. That said, I bought a pack of eyes from a major craft retailer recently and was really shocked by the poor quality and so threw them away.” Angela recently signed up to a selfcertification service “in order to expand my

“challenges are good and push us to try out new skills. I sometimes ask for pattern requests.” range to our younger collectors. It’s a little daunting to begin with but if you are using the same basic ‘ingredients’ then only one needs to be tested, thankfully, as this involves stress testing, washing and, finally, burning!”


Aside from all the safety issues, Jo’s biggest challenge is getting the toys she makes to actually resemble the animal it represents! “The three animals I always find trickiest to get right are cats, monkeys and horses,” she admits. As a designer, she also has to work at making sure her patterns aren’t needlessly complicated. This involves “minimising the ‘fiddly-factor’ and achieving the desired look and result using easily available fabrics and materials. I designed a hedgehog for Simply Sewing recently – a long pile fur fabric for the

spines would have been ideal, but it wouldn’t have been at all easy to get hold of and so it was out of the question.” Commissions offer “a pleasurable challenge,” says Angela. “I’m always a little anxious to see if my interpretation meets their expectations, as this is very much their design that I’m trying to bring to life.” Bringing out a new pattern takes a fair amount of time and effort, too. “It can be hard to gauge how well the pattern will actually be received,” Angela says. “I think challenges are good and push us to try out new skills. I sometimes ask for pattern requests from my regulars and find this to be a great way to keep things fresh.” For Anna, the big goal is keeping everything as eco-friendly as possible. “It means compromising things sometimes, but I do my best because it is important to me,” she says. “I’m constantly learning and adjusting.” As a vegan, Anna avoids using any materials that come from animals, such as leather, wool or silk. “All my toys are made from recycled fabrics and yarns, usually found in local thrift stores, and the felt I use is made from recycled plastic bottles,’ she says. “I try hard to minimise waste by using shredded scraps of fabrics and yarns to stuff my toys alongside recycled polyfill. Every day I learn and find new ways to be more earth-friendly because I want my toys to bring smiles and joy without creating environmental problems.”


When it comes to making small but perfectly adorable creatures, the most helpful tools might not be quite what you expect. “I always

A GOOD R AD have a pot full of small screwdrivers next to my sewing machine,” says Jo. “They’re excellent for turning toys out the right way. They have fine ends without being too ‘pointy’ and are less likely to make a hole in the way a knitting needle might.” In this instance, Angela prefers to use a pair of “trusty tweezers. I use them to turn smaller pieces through, push stuffing into awkward places and tweak and pluck fur.” She adds: “My other favourite helper is a small craft knife, which I use to cut pieces from longer furs. It will cut through the backing and leave most of the fur intact – brilliant.” Erasable pens also come in handy. “They’re great for drawing on facial features to use as a guide to embroider over, and can be easily sponged away afterwards,” says Jo. Although Anna does use a sewing machine at times, she far prefers hand sewing. “It’s more relaxing, and I can listen to audio books while I do it,” she says. “I also crochet and knit scarves and sweaters for my felt animals and dolls, make pom poms and embroider on some details.” Matt reminds us that’s it’s vital to consider “that children’s toys get lots of wear and tear, so the most crucial thing I find is the choice of stitching I use, either using a stretch stitch such as a machine over-edge – the one that looks like a zigzag and straight all in one – if it’s a seam that needs a bit of flexibility, or by doing an extra securing row to strengthen it.” Basting, or tacking, Jo says, is the key technique she uses in everything she makes. “I baste within the seam allowance so that the stitches won’t need removing – it’s a really helpful way to fix features such as ears and tails and sometimes arms and legs in place before sewing the actual seam,” she says. “It ensures they’re held in place so you can fully concentrate on sewing the seam, knowing that when finished they’ll all be positioned correctly.” The basting stitches can also provide support to features that are sewn into seams, she advises. “This reduces the chance of them being pulled out.” Crucial when it comes to the rough and tumble of being a toy! Clipping the seam allowance isn’t usually necessary when using plush fabric, she says, “as the stretch accommodates the seams, but it’s always required when making a toy from a non-stretch cotton fabric.”


Prompts for new designs come from all kinds of sources. “I love children’s books, including those from my childhood,” says Anna. “All the stories about animals and their adventures! I draw characters in my sketchbook to find the perfect shape and expression. And I’m always tempted to give them a cosy sweater Subscribe at


or a scarf. The toys I make are the ones I always wanted to have as a child – little animal friends.” Within her own collection, Angela has a soft spot for her Raggedy Rabbit pattern, designed to be made from repurposed pieces of fabric, including denim and cotton. “It’s one of the first patterns I offered for sale, and I love the idea of recycling a pair of jeans,” she says. “It’s a fun and inexpensive way to start sewing. I also have a soft spot for the slightly more oddball characters like Bubs Orang-utan. My pride of Charlie Lions is growing, too.” Matt also has a firm favourite: his Sew-a-saurus wearable dinosaur tail, available in kit form from www. “The Sew-a-saurus will always have a special place in my heart, as it was the first toy I made for my son and is still going strong now. At the moment I am making a rocket pack for him to wear, so this might become my new favourite!” There is plenty to enjoy about making toys. “I can’t imagine another profession where I get to play around with toys and meet lovely people, both customers and other makers,” comments Angela. “They’re such a friendly bunch.” For Matt, it’s about giving children the space to explore their imaginations: “I enjoy giving kids the ability to play freely and get creative. Kids have access to so much technology that it’s all the more humbling to see them immerse themselves in make-believe games.” Toy making also allows us sewists the chance to let our creativity to roam free. “It’s not serious sewing at all,” Jo says. “There’s so much scope to experiment and play about to make a toy truly unique – you can give them happy or grumpy faces, add clothes and accessories, embroider initials onto them... Pretty much anything you can think of. Toys are small, quick and rewarding to make, but most of all they are fun!”

Angela takes time over the details on her toy patterns “to let the character shine through.”


“Don’t be intimidated! If there are any curves or corners that look tricky, take it slowly – keep pausing with the needle down through the fabric and lift the presser foot to adjust the fabric after every stitch or two. Bargain stores often have baby blankets made from short pile plush fabric and they can be an economical way to buy plush fabric to use or practice with.” Jo Carter, www. “Whatever it is you’d like to create, do it. Let your imagination speak and don’t worry about making mistakes along the way because it’s all part of the learning process.” Anna Machul, “Take your time and pin, tack and then sew. It can be very tempting to skip ahead to save time, but each stage really will help to create a better made toy.” Angela Jardine, “Be open to thinking like a child and experimenting with different ideas. You really never know where it might take you!” Matt Chapple, www.


s wing quart r tv

Sewing Quarter is our brand new sister TV channel, dedicated to all things sewing and quilting. Find out more about the launch as it hits our TV screens...



ewing Quarter is the UK’s first shopping channel dedicated to sewing and quilting, launching on Freeview channel 78 this January! It’s brought to you by the publishers of all your favourite market-leading craft magazines such as Simply Sewing, Love Patchwork and Quilting, and Mollie Makes − and it’s run by a dedicated team who are as passionate about sewing and quilting as you are. Presenters Natasha McCarty and John Scott will be joined in the studio by lots of top UK designers (some you might recognise from the magazines) where they’ll be bringing you top tips, key techniques and exciting new sewing projects, designed exclusively for the channel, for you to make at home. From clothes and quilts, to bags and toys, the Sewing Quarter buyers have travelled the world to find a whole host of beautiful fabrics and must-have accessories to add to your sewing and quilting stash. Get ready to be inspired to take your hobby to the next level. Tune into Freeview channel 78 – watch it, love it, sew it. For more details, visit the website

*Free sewing kit available on your first purchase only with a minimum spent of £10 (excl.P&P). While stocks last.


frEe seWing Kit wOrth With Your First purcHase*

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not just on tv! As well as a live TV channel, you’ll find heaps of ideas at


Get easy-to-follow tutorials and downloadable patterns to help you make everything from bags and cushions, to clothes to quilts.  PRODUCTS & TOOLS

Find heaps of essential sewing and quilting tools, fabrics and accessories in the Sewing Quarter online shop. Just click and buy!  TECHNIQUES & KNOW-HOW

Learn from the experts with top tips, technical know-how and sewing guides put together by leading designers and sewists.

s wing quart r tv top PreSeNteRs and DesIgNers

designer profile

Presenters Natasha McCarty and John Scott (below) are both passionate about fabric, and so are the expert designers joining them on screen. Look out for familiar faces from the magazine such as Sew Crafty designer Sammy Claridge. “I’ve been working on some exciting things and I’ve come up with some fabulous new projects – all exclusively available on the Sewing Quarter,” she explains. Working with top designers from across the UK, Sewing Quarter will be bringing you all sorts of exciting and exclusive kits, patterns, fabrics and more − tried and tested by their expert sewists. Tune in to see them in action!





Meet jennIffer tayloR

W AT ARE YO OST OO I G FORWARD TO SHOWING VIEWERS? “My passion has always been for dressmaking. It’s such an empowering skill as you get to make the clothes you want to wear and that fit you to perfection. Dressmaking gives you the opportunity to be confident and comfortable in your clothes as well as your own skin. But to be honest, I want to inspire everyone to pick up a needle and thread and get sewing.” HOW ARE YOU FINDING LIVE TV? “Having been a contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee, I quickly learned to forget about the cameras as you really needed to concentrate on the task in hand. I do still get a little nervous – little butterflies in my tummy before we go on air – but I think it’s a good thing! ” WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING PART OF THE SEWING QUARTER TV TEAM? “It’s great! Being on live TV is so exciting. We all just cannot wait to show everyone the gorgeous studio and beautiful products we have in store. The fabrics are lush! I’m really enjoying being submerged in an environment completely dedicated to sewing and quilting − and surrounded by likeminded people. “


WatCh on frEevieW 78 and On aiR eveRyday 8aM–12pm Or viA the websIte wWw.SewinGquartEr.coM

WHAT DO YOU WANT THE VIEWERS TO GET OUT OF THE CHANNEL? “I want the viewers to feel that they are part of the community. A place where they can get anything they need, from advice to project ideas and tutorials, and a place to show off their makes with others!” Follow Jenniffer behind the scenes at:

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Go wild at playtime with R&B Designs’ soft lion play mat decorated with tactile ribbon loops in a variety of textures and colours.

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p ay mat 01







Q Main fabric: see instructions Q Backing fabric: see instructions Q 4oz wadding: see instructions Q Oddments of contrast fabrics to make the features and ears Q Bondaweb: see instructions Q A variety of ribbons, in different colours and widths Q Something large and circular to draw around, we used a bin lid Q Water erasable fabric pen Q Basic sewing kit



Step one Draw around a clean dustbin lid or other large circle onto the back of the main fabric. Step two Draw a 1cm (3â „8in) seam allowance all the way around this circle. Step three Cut out the circle along the outer line. Step four Pin the circle onto the backing fabric and cut around it. Step five Use the circles you have cut as a pattern to cut out the wadding to the same size. Step six Trace around all the templates from the pattern sheet for the features and ears then cut them out to use as patterns.

Step one Cut out two ear backs and two ear fronts using the pattern pieces. Step two Place one ear front and one ear back RS facing then stitch together around the curved edge, leaving the bottom straight edge open. 03 Step three Repeat to make the other ear then turn them both RS out and press. Step four With RS together and matching raw edges, pin the ears near the eyes. 04



Q You will find the templates needed to make this project on the pullout pattern sheet provided.

Step one Iron Bondaweb onto the back of the fabric scraps you are going to use for the features. Step two Trace around the features onto the paper backing of the Bondaweb. Step three Cut along your drawn lines and peel off the paper backing. Step four Place the features right sides (RS) up onto the RS of the main fabric, referring to the photograph for positioning and press into place. 01 Step five Sew each feature in place using a machine zigzag stitch. Step six Using the water erasable pen, mark where you want the whisker follicles. 02 Step seven Stitch over each dot with a close zigzag.


ATTACHINGTHERIBBONS Step one Choose the ribbons you would like to decorate your play mat with and cut each to a length of 20-24cm (8-9½in). Step two Fold each ribbon in half and pin the ends to the sides of the mat, matching raw edges so they are facing inwards around the edge of the face. 05

ASSEMBLINGTHEPLAYMAT Step one Place the front and back RS together, sandwiching the ribbons and ears between them. Place the circle of wadding beneath the backing then stitch together all the way around, leaving a 15cm (6in) turning gap. Step two Turn RS out then turn the edges of the turning gap to the inside and press. Step three Slip stitch the opening closed to complete your play mat. 06



Every issue, our sewists present classic projects and techniques.


Hand quilting is simply a short running stitch that goes through all three layers of the quilt top, wadding and back. It takes longer but gives a softer feel than machine quilting, although it isn’t about speed, it’s about the joy of the process!





WHAT TOOLS TO USE? Needles Betweens, or quilting needles, are short but strong so you can keep control over the length of your stitches and have a small enough eye to go through the fabric. A size 10 is the most common. Thread Quilting thread is stronger than ordinary cotton thread so won’t break as easily. It's often pre-coated with wax to give it strength and stop it tangling. Quilting Hoop You will get a more even tension with your stitches if you put your quilt layers into a hoop before you quilt, but this is a personal preference. If you do use a hoop, don't put the layers in too tightly as the fabric does need to have a little movement. Thimble Using a thimble for hand quilting means that you can work several stitches on your needle in one go which speeds up the process and produces a more even finish. Buy a thimble that sits snugly but not tightly on your middle finger. MARKING YOUR DESIGN If you are using a curved line pattern you will need to trace this onto your quilt before layering and tacking. There are several different methods for marking the design, and whichever you choose it must be able to be removed from your quilt afterwards. Some choices are chalk, sharpened soap slivers, lead pencils, washable pens, air erasable and heat erasable pens. Once you’ve chosen your preferred method, trace the design onto your fabric, using a window or light box if you can’t see through the fabric. 01 If you’re quilting straight lines then the easiest and most reliable method to use is masking tape, which is done after your quilt has been layered and tacked. Mark the line you want to quilt at several points with pins, then simply stick masking tape along this line. When you quilt, work your stitches just up to the edge of the tape, and remove the tape when you are finished. 88 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

LAYERING AND TACKING You need a piece of backing fabric and wadding slightly bigger than the quilt top. Place the backing right side (RS) down with the wadding on top, smoothing both out so there are no creases and wrinkles. Place the quilt top RS up centrally on top, again smoothing out any wrinkles. To hold the three layers of fabric and wadding together while you are quilting, a secure method is to tack all of it together, starting in the centre and working outwards to smooth out creases. Work horizontal and vertical lines across the quilt about 10cm (4in) apart. You can also use safety pins to hold the layers together if you prefer. 02 HOW TO QUILT Step one Thread your needle with a 46cm (18in) length of quilting thread. Tie a small knot in the end and pull the needle through from the back of the quilt, bringing it up in the place where you want to begin quilting. Give the thread a slight tug so the knot lies hidden in the wadding.

Step two You can now start quilting, which is basically a running stitch worked through all three layers of fabric and wadding. Keep one hand under the quilt and one above. Use your bottom hand to make sure the point of the needle always goes right through to the back. Your top hand holds the needle – move it up and down through all layers several times to make a few running stitches on your needle then pull it all the way though. 03 Step three The stitches need to be small and even with evenly spaced gaps between them. Continue stitching in this way along all lines you wish to quilt. With practice you will be able to put more stitches on your needle, making this process much quicker. Step four To finish the thread, take it to the back and form a loop. Pass your needle through this, place your finger over the knot as it is formed and this will make your thread knot close to the fabric. Take your needle back down into the wadding along a little then back up through the backing. Give the thread a little tug so the knot is buried in the wadding then snip off the excess thread. 04



make a quilted throw 01






YOU WILL NEED Q Velvet fabric: 100x150cm (40x59in) Q Cotton backing fabric: 115x165cm (45x65in) Q Wadding: 115x165cm (45x65in) Q Quilting thread Q Basic sewing kit NOTE Use the instructions on page 88 for layering, transferring and quilting.

PREPARING THE THROW Step one Assemble and tack the three layers together, working from the centre outwards. MARKING THE QUILT LINES Step one Decide the quilt pattern you want to use and mark the quilt top with this. We’ve chosen an evenly spaced grid formation and marked this with masking tape. Step two Mark all the lines going one way first then work the quilting stitches up to the edge of the tape. Remove the tape then mark all the lines going the other way. 01 QUILTING THE LINES Step one Quilt along your marked lines or right beside the masking tape as we have done. Step two We used a quilting thread to match the backing fabric so it showed up well on the top fabric. Alternatively, you can use Perle cotton #8. It’s a bit thicker than quilting thread and has a sheen but stands out so is ideal for heavier weight fabrics.

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TRIMMING THE EDGES Step one Once all the quilting is complete, trim just the wadding so it is level with the top fabric. Step two Trim the backing fabric to 3cm (1¼in) outside the edge of the trimmed wadding and top fabric all the way around. 02 BINDING THE THROW Step one With the throw right side (RS) up and starting in the centre of one side, turn the backing fabric by 1.5cm (5⁄8in) to meet the edge of the top. Step two Fold this folded-over edge over on top of the quilt top so it binds the edge. Press these turnings along to the first corner and pin. 03 Step three Fold the corner across at right angles so it is level with the next side and press. 04 Step four Fold the start of the next side under to meet the edge of the quilt top as before then fold it over again to bind the quilt. The corner will now form a neat mitre. 05 Step five Repeat this all the way around the quilt then stitch in place by hand using a slip stitch. 06 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 89



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PinKing SheArs These cut a zigzag edge on fabric to neaten.

on, useful stitches and key sewing techniques on these pages.

MarKing pen Transfer markings to your fabric, then wash them out when finished.

Tape MeaSure


A flexible fabric tape measure will take accurate measurements.

Stainless steel pins with sharp points are best.

SheArs Keep a pair of sharp shears just for cutting out your fabric.

FabRic CliPs Use these instead of pins when sewing thicker fabrics.

MarKing PenCil Choose a colour that shows up on your fabric.

SmaLl SciSsors Use for snipping threads and cutting notches.

TaiLoR’s ChaLks Chalk temporarily marks fabric and can be easily brushed away.

ThiMble Wear to protect your fingers when handstitching.

Seam RipPer This sharp blade cuts through and unpicks stitches. WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM 91


HOW TO MEASURE YOURSELF ACCURATELY ALWAYS MEASURE YOURSELF BEFORE you choose a pattern size to cut out. The sizes do vary greatly from pattern to pattern, so it’s always best to measure yourself accurately and then refer to the pattern’s size chart to find your size. The chart will usually be printed on the pattern envelope or on the instructions inside. Measure yourself in your underwear and preferably in the bra you’ll be wearing underneath

your garment as this can alter the measurements slightly. Use a fabric tape measure as it’ll curve around your body well for accuracy. You can measure on your own if you stand in front of a mirror, but, for best results, ask a friend to help so they can check the tape measure is sitting in the right places. Make sure the tape measure sits snugly around you but is not pulled tight. Take the measurements shown in the diagram and note them down.


Preparing your fabric and cutting out your sewing pattern accurately is just as important as the actual sewing. Wash your fabric before you begin as fabric can shrink and run. Once dry, press it well.

PREPARING THE PATTERN Patterns often come with several options of different finishes so you may have more pieces than you need. The instruction sheet will tell you which pieces to use. Roughly cut out all of the pieces outside the lines then press the pieces using a dry iron on a low heat to remove the folds and creases. CUTTING OUT THE PATTERN Choose your size using your measurements and the size chart. Cut along the corresponding lines on your pattern. When you reach any fiddly curves, take care to cut along the correct size lines. CUTTING LAYOUTS Choose the correct one for the width of fabric you’re using, the 92 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

size you’re cutting and the style of garment. Many patterns have more than one option (or view) and each one can have a different layout.

CUTTING OUT Lay your fabric flat and smooth it out. Fold or place the fabric as shown on the cutting layout. Lay the pattern pieces in the order and right side or wrong side up as shown. Check to make sure that the grainlines on the pattern are parallel with the selvedges by measuring. Pin your pattern pieces carefully in place and cut around them through the fabric using a pair of dressmaker’s shears. TRANSFERRING MARKINGS The markings on the pattern pieces need to be transferred to the fabric. They’re really important for matching up fabric pieces later and for positioning elements such as darts and pockets. You can mark these with chalk, fabric markers, snips on the fabric, or with small tacking stitches.

Back WaiSt LenGth From the top of your spine at the base of your neck to your natural waist

HeiGhT Stand against a wall, barefoot, then measure from the top of your head to the floor

High Bust/CheSt Bust Around the fullest part of your bust

Across the back, under your arms and above the bust

WaiSt Your natural waistline, around the slimmest part of your waist

Hips Around the fullest and widest part of your thighs and bottom


Pleats: These lines are matched Arrows: Grainline arrows are used up to create pleats on the cut to show which direction to pin the out fabric pieces. pattern on the fabric. The grainline runs parallel to the fabric edge.

Darts: These lines are for matching up to create darts within the fabric pieces.

Notches: Shown as triangles or small lines, these are marked on the edges and are mainly used for matching up pattern pieces.


IT’S IMPORTANT TO CHOOSE the correct fabric for your pattern. Most patterns give suggested fabric types that will work best with the style of garment. Use this to guide you as some patterns need more drape, body or structure than others. Fabric can be made from natural fibres such as cotton, linen, wool and silk or synthetic fibres such as acetate, acrylic, nylon, polyester, rayon and viscose. All these fabric come in different weights, or thicknesses, which suit different garments. Lightweight fabrics are ideal for lingerie, nightwear and summer clothing, and include cheesecloth, chiffon, crepe-de-chine, georgette, lawn, muslin, organdie, organza and voile. Medium-weight fabrics, which work for dresses, shirts, trousers and childrenswear, include calico, cotton, crepe, dupion, linen, poplin and finer wool. Heavy-weight fabrics are used for garments or projects needing more strength, like coats, jackets, winter wear and bags. Canvas, corduroy, denim, tweeds, velvet and wool are all in this category. Some patterns require fabrics that are quite fluid and have a good drape to make them hang properly, such as a circle skirt or blouse. Synthetic or synthetic mix fabrics such as rayon, challis, chiffon or lightweight jersey have a better drape to them. Stretch and knit fabrics such as jersey and lycra are virtually crease free and comfortable to wear. They

can be bought in a variety of thicknesses and qualities depending on their use but are ideal for sportswear and casual clothing. Interfacing gives an extra layer of support to your fabric – for example, to stiffen facings and collars. Choose an interfacing that’s slightly lighter than your main fabric, and if you’re using a fusible (iron-on) option then always test it on a scrap of the fabric first as it can melt if the iron is too hot. Interfacing is available in different weights and as an iron-on (fusible) or sew-in version. With fusible interfacing, press the shiny side to the wrong side of your fabric. Tack sew-in interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric pieces around the edges. If you’re buying fabric off a roll (or bolt) then you’ll usually buy it by the metre. This is only the length of the fabric you’re buying – the width depends on the width of the roll. Fabrics are sold in standard widths, which vary according to their purpose – for example, dressmaking or quilting fabric generally comes in standard widths of 112cm (44in) or 150cm (60in). Curtain or soft furnishing fabric is normally 137cm (54in) wide and is really useful for bags and aprons as it’s thicker and stronger than dressmaking fabrics. The fabric requirements on the pattern instructions will tell you what length of fabric to buy, usually with two width choices. Some patterns, such as large circle skirts, can only be cut from the wider fabrics.


There are many different needle types and they vary by the shape of the point, eye and shaft thickness. Choose the correct one for smooth stitching.


A great multi-purpose needle which can be used for woven fabrics and has a slightly rounded point for stitching knit fabrics, too.

Ball PoiNt This needle has a more rounded point than the universal needle so you won’t get snags, ladders or holes. Perfect for knit fabrics.

JeaNs A strong needle, ideal for stitching several layers of fabric or tightly woven fabrics like denims. Subscribe at


With a sharp point, these are for sewing very fine and delicate fabrics and neat buttonholes.

LeaTher This needle’s wedge-shaped cutting point is used to work strong seams on non-woven fabrics like leather, suede and vinyl.

StrEtch Designed for sewing two-way stretch knits such as lycra and silk jersey. It prevents skipped stitches on fine knit fabrics.

QuiLting This will pierce multiple layers whilst keeping straight stitches so it is ideal for patchwork and machine quilting.

TopStItch This has an extra-sharp point and eye, so thicker topstitching thread can be used. It’s perfect for straight stitching with thicker threads on any type of fabric.

Twin Used for parallel rows of stitching such as pintucks and hems.

ONCE YOU HAVE FINISHED stitching your seam, it’s best to press it open on the wrong side so it lies flat. Sometimes it’s better to press it to one side to reduce bulk but the pattern instructions will tell you this. Usually the seam allowances are left as they are as they help to strengthen the seam, but sometimes they cause too much bulk so they are trimmed to half their original width. If your fabric has a tendency to fray you should neaten the raw edges after you have worked the seam. There are several ways of doing this. To machine-finish them, set your sewing machine to the zigzag stitch then stitch close to the raw edge all the way along. The zigzag must be small enough to stop the fabric from fraying but large enough to enclose the bulk of the fabric. Practise a few lengths and widths before you begin. Alternatively, you can trim the raw fabric edges with a pair of pinking shears. If you have an overlocker then you can stitch, cut and finish the seams all in one process.





















Lightweight fabrics Medium weight fabrics Medium weight fabrics Medium weight fabrics Heavy weight fabrics Upholstery fabrics/denim Heavy canvas




A term used to describe the way a fabric hangs under its own weight. Different fabrics have different drape qualities.

Ease The addition of extra fabric in a pattern to allow the finished garment to fit the body well.

EdgEsTitCh A row of stitching on the very edge of a garment, usually 2-3mm (1⁄16-1⁄8in) from the folded or seamed edge. Used to hold the fabric edge neatly in place.

FacIng This pattern piece is cut separately to stabilise and create a neat finish on the edge of a garment, such as the neckline.

fat QuaRter A term used to describe a cut piece of fabric often used for patchwork projects, usually measuring 46x55cm (18x22in).

FinIsHing/NeaTeNing raw EdgEs This is done to stop the fabric edges, particularly of a seam, from fraying. It can be done by machine zigzag stitch, using an overlocker or trimming the raw edge with pinking shears.

GraIn/GraInLine The lengthwise fabric grain, running parallel to the selvedge.

nap Fabrics like velvet, corduroy and fur have hairs or loops which all lie in one direction and are called the nap, or pile. When cutting out pattern pieces make sure the grainline arrow always runs in the direction of the nap.

NotIons Small tools or accessories used 94 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM


For a full glossary of sewing terms visit

in sewing such as zips, fasteners, lace and buttons.

RigHt Side (rs) / WroNg Side (ws) The right side of the fabric, also called the ‘public’ side, has the design on it. The wrong side is the other side – this is usually a little duller or faded on plain fabrics.

Seam AllOwAnce The fabric between the raw or cut edge of the fabric and the seam is called the seam allowance. Your pattern will tell you the required seam allowance measurement. This is usually 1.5cm (5⁄8in) for dressmaking, but can vary.

SelVedge The finished woven edge of fabric, often with the fabric name printed on it. The grain runs parallel to this and the bias diagonally. Called selvage in the US.

StaYsTitChing A line of regular machine stitching usually worked 3mm (1⁄8in) inside the seam line, often used to stabilise curved edges to stop them stretching out of shape.

Tack/TacKing A line of temporary stitching used to hold fabric pieces together before machine sewing, worked in the same way as running stitch. Known as basting in the U.S.

Use these basic hand stitches to complete your home and dressmaking projects. LadDer StiTch Used to join together and close 2 3 5 two turned-under edges invisibly, such as on a dress lining or soft 1 toy. Bring the needle up at 1 on 4 one side of the seam, then in at 2 on the opposite side and out at 3, so the stitch is 3mm (1⁄8in) long. Push the needle back in the opposite side at 4 and out at 5. Repeat this to close the edges.

Slip StiTch This stitch is used most often for hems where you need to stitch 3 2 a turned-under edge to a flat 1 piece of fabric using small, almost invisible stitches. Bring the needle up at 1 on the turned-under hem then back in at 2 and out at 3. Make this horizontal stitch as small as possible so it can’t be seen from the front. Repeat this by making a vertical stitch back into the turned-under edge then continue in this way to complete the hem.

Whip StiTch Whipstitch is used to join the edges of two fabrics together, such as felt and other fabrics that don’t fray. With the right sides 2 1 together, bring your needle out at 1 on the front of the fabric, then over to the back of the other, and through and out at 2. Continue to work small stitches close together over the top of the two fabric edges.

TopStItcHing A line of stitching worked 5mm (¼in) from the folded or seam edge. Used to hold the seam in place and as a decorative finish.

UndErStiTcHing A line of stitching worked through the facing and seam allowance 3mm (1⁄8in) from the seam to stop the facing rolling to the outside of the garment. Understitching will not be visible on the outside.

RunNing StiTch This can be used to gather fabric and as a decorative stitch worked around the edge of a finished 4 3 2 1 project. Bring the needle out at 1, in at 2, then out at 3 and in at 4, and so on. Make the length of the stitches the same length as the gaps between them for an even finish. You can work several running stitches on your needle at once.

Fill up your stash with fabric, patterns and more from these fabulous shops!




Supplier of patchwork fabrics, threads, waddings and notions. Keep up with events on Facebook! 01903 230008 FB/Chalk-Hill-Blue-Fabrics

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An independent fabric and haberdashery shop that also runs informative workshops by passionate tutors.

Crafty Sew&So have everything you need for your next sewing project! Use code CRAFTY10 to get 10% off your first order online!

Silks & velvet. Natural, printed and dyed. Small quantities at wholesale prices. 01386 881507.

Patchwork & Quilting Supplies and workshops. Open Fri & Sat 09:30–16:30, Sun 10:00–14:00. 10a Main Street, West Calder EH55 8DA





Bernina Platinum dealer. Stockists of Juki, Brother, Janome & Husqvarna. Repairs to all makes. Suppliers to education for sales/service.

The York Makery is a modern crafter’s paradise, situated at 36 Gillygate, York, selling bold and colourful fabrics, patterns, kits and more.

BERNINA Sewing Machines special offer. Model 215. List price €895, January price only €745 or £630. Save €150 plus free delivery.

Based in Bexleyheath, we have a wide range of fabrics from just £3 per metre and free UK delivery on orders over £20.





Modern fabric and haberdashery, cross stitch kits and other delights! Use code ‘Simply15’ at checkout for 15% off first order. Follow us on facebook.

Exciting fabrics, trims &sewing essentials, giftvouchers,Janome machines.Sewingandcreativeclasses for studentsand adultsof all levels.

Bobbins & Bolts is an online stockist of gorgeous cotton fabrics from Art Gallery Fabrics and Cloud 9, as well as a wide range of patterns.

Fabrics, wools and haberdashery. Buttons, ribbons and patterns. Knitting and sewing lessons. 39 Parsonage St, Dursley, Glos, GL11 4BP


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new new beginnings beginnings Sewing Bee Jenniffer Taylor took on an ambitious make for her first ever sewing project – her wedding dress! She shares how it got her hooked on handmade.

“MAKING MY WEDDING DRESS started my sewing journey, which is taking me to some amazing places. Having never sewn a stitch before, most people thought I was mad, but luckily a dear friend and textile artist, Ineke Berlyn, offered to help me. We collaborated to create our own lace using a technique called paper laminating. My simple but elegant dress, made from dupion silk, was transformed by the ‘paper lace’ that we had created together by screen-printing white paper onto organza. I was so proud to walk down the aisle in a dress that I made myself. From that point, my sewing journey really began. My wedding dress featured in Ineke Berlyn’s book and exhibition called Collections, which travelled 98 WWW.SIMPLYSEWINGMAG.COM

the world. It was something I would never have imagined. However, things didn’t stop there; I became a contestant on The Great British Sewing Bee, and now, three years on, I’m determined to get more of the nation sewing through my #sewingrevolution workshops, TV demonstrations and my first book, Girl with A Sewing Machine, which is out in summer 2017. Making your own clothes is empowering! The sense of achievement when walking out in something that you have made yourself is amazing. I want you to experience that, too – join the #sewingrevolution!” Find out more at and tune in to watch her on Sewing Quarter TV, Freeview channel 78/

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