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Sewing Blog

10 things I learned trying to stay creative and crafty during stressful times

hand embroidery quote Stay Home Stay Safe

Before I dive into how I try to stay creative, let me explain why it is important to me. There is so much bad news and misinformation out there, and It’s everywhere, news sites, Facebook, Instagram, in conversations, on billboards...everywhere.

When Rona first hit I was constantly checking news sites. The first few weeks I kept going in circles. After checking a few sites I would return to the first one to see if there was something new and kept repeating that circle. But when, after a couple of weeks, things seemed to stabilize I seriously needed a (mental) break.

So I decided to set a simple rule for myself: Create and be creative every single day.

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Stash Less September 

simple house slipper temple of knit

About a year ago, I started minimizing my fabric stash currently occupying the guest bedroom that I hope to turn into an office/sewing room. I was off to a great start, but then I got off track. 

However, last month I decided to get back at it. Taking cues from Marie Kondo, and Felicia Semple at the Craft Sessions blog. First I started to imagine my ideal workspace. It's a fun, easy, and helpful step to keep me motivated, and stay on track. 

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New Skillshare Class + Giveaway: How to sew with cork and make a crossbody bag

New Skillshare Class + Giveaway: How to sew with cork and make a crossbody bag

In this class you'll learn how to sew with cork fabric to create a simple crossbody bag. 

So if you are curious about how to sew with cork fabric a.k.a cork leather or vegan leather and you want to learn some basic bag making skills, this is the class for you!

When I first got interested in cork fabric, I had no idea if you could sew the material with a normal home sewing machine, what needle to use or where to find it. Turns out...yes! You can sew cork leather on a regular sewing machine and with a few handy tools it's not as hard as it looks.


What will you learn in this class?

  • We’ll go over the specifics of working with cork fabric, like what sewing needles to use and my favorite tools for sewing cork.
  • How to shorten zippers set in exposed zippers (metal and plastic)
  • How to add zipper tabs for a refined look.
  • How to get even topstitching
  • how to sew over thick layers
  • And finally, I’ll show you how to alter the pattern to create a smaller bag with a round bottom which will hopefully inspire you to do your own tweaks and customize the design.

how to sew a cork leather bag, half moon shaped

What's included in this class?

  • The crossbody PDF sewing pattern included in the resource section, so you can sew along and make your own.
  • My support, I'll do my best to answer your questions in the discussion section.
  • A resource list including my favorite online shops that sell cork and notions
  • 20+ lessons explaining all the key techniques, step-by-step.

There is much to love about working with cork leather, but these are my main reasons

 

Cork leather is:

  • A great alternative for leather
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Easy to work with on a regular sewing machine
  • Available in many colors and prints

 

Skill level:

You’ll need to be confident using a sewing machine and have at least a few projects under your belt...however I am going to show the process step-by-step so if you are an ambitious beginner you should be able to follow along.

If you are an experienced sewer you’ll probably find that the construction of this bag is fairly straightforward and a fun project to experiment with new material.

At the end of this class, you'll know how to sew a simple bag using cork leather and you’ll be able to make a few simple tweaks to customize the design. The bag is a great addition to your me-made wardrobe and perfect as a gift.


Skillshare

If you are new to Skillshare, it's a subscription service like a Netflix but for learning new skills on mostly creative topics like lettering, sewing, embroidery, filmmaking, illustration, procreate, water colour painting, macrame, ceramics, interior desing, graphic desing and much more!

And if you sign up through this link you got to watch my class and thousands of other classes for free for 2 weeks! By signing up for a free trial I earn a small commission ($10) which supports my work and enables me to create more classes. So thank you if you do! And imagine me doing a tiny, awkward happy dance when you do :)

 

Giveaway

however if you are only interested in my class, you can use this link there are only 25 free spots in the class! How does it work:

- Read this before you click You'll need to make an account (simply don't fill out billing info and you'll automatically have a free account). Then make sure you are logged in, then click on the link to watch and you should be able to unlock the full class.

- First come first serve. 

By signing up through the free link, I don't earn a commission, but it does help my class get found on skillshare. More students = more visibility! so thank you for signing up and participating in the class and imagine me doing a little happy dance whilst spilling my morning coffee. 

How to sew with cork leather 

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17 crafty podcasts, my favourites + a few bonus non crafty podcasts

favourite crafty podcasts


Even though we've been in lockdown or partial lockdown for months I still have a commute to my part time job as a soapmaker, since that's impossible to do from home. During that commute I almost always listen to podcasts and in the evening when I knit or sew...again lots of podcasts. 

And since my friend and fellow creative entrpreneur Saskia de Feijter just started a brand new and fabulous podcast...I tought I share my favorite podcasts. I'll start with the craft related ones, but I've included a few other podcasts at the end. 

Some podcasts aren't updated anymore, but since most will have an archive full of podcast goodness I've added them anyway. Nothing better than discovering a good podcast and binging on the archive.

A Smaller Life - with Saskia de Feijter

A smaller life is a brand new podcast, but it's of to a great start!

I know Saskia since we started collaborating on workshops and teaching beginner knitting workshops at her wool shop. However when she discovered she had a heart condition and then covid hit and she made some radical choices to shape her life and work you can follow her on her journey as she talks to other creatives to explore the ideas of a smaller ife

With this podcast I want to take you with me on my journey to discover the answers to these questions: What do we buy, Where do we buy, Who do we buy from… Or don’t we buy at all but use what we already have? And how relevant is my job as a yarn shop owner selling people stuff when we already have more than we need? How can I make my life as an entrepreneur and textile crafter smaller and more relevant to these times?

https://www.ja-wol.com/blogs/podcast

Making ( Woolful )- with Ashley Yousling

There haven't been new episodes for a while, but I sometimes go back to this one to relisten a few. It was/is by far my favorite wool/knitting/fiber related podcast out there.

https://woolful.com/podcast-episodes/

Threads

Threads is a great source of sewing inspiration, and information.

https://www.threadsmagazine.com/blog/sewing-threads-podcast

Close Knit - with Ani Lee

"The Close Knit podcast aims to hold space for conversation about the ways we use fiber to process life and world events"

It's like listening in on a conversation of friends chatting away while you can focus and enjoy your knitting or sewing.

http://www.closeknit.com.au/

 

Thread Cult

Each episode, journalist and sewing blogger Christine Cyr Clisset (of Daughter Fish) interviews master craft people and creators in the home sewing, textile, and fashion communities. From independent pattern and textile designers to couture experts and curators, Christine brings you along on thought-provoking conversations sure to enlighten your own sewing or fibers practice—and give you something to listen to while you stitch, weave, dye, or work!

https://threadcult.com/

More Crafty podcasts 

The podcasts below are on my list to check or I've listened to them sporadically, so I don't have much to say about them other than, give them a try!

Love to Sew

http://lovetosewpodcast.com/

A Coffee with Makers

 http://www.acoffeewithmakers.com/podcast/

While She Naps 

https://whileshenaps.com/category/the-podcast/episodes

Dear Handmade Life

https://dearhandmadelife.com/podcast/

Vogue Knitting

https://www.vogueknitting.com/magazine/vogue-knitting-knitterviews-podcasts/

Clothes Making Mavens

http://www.clothesmakingmavens.com/category/blog/

Sew and Tell

https://www.sewdaily.com/

Yarn in the City

https://www.yarninthecity.com/blog/19/9/2016/episode-45-yarn-crawlers-of-the-baskervilles#

Sewciety

http://modernsewciety.com/podcast-gallery

Very Pink Knits

https://verypink.com/category/podcast/

Pom Pom Mag

https://www.pompommag.com/category/podcast/

Knit British

http://www.knitbritish.net/category/podcast/


The other podcasts

Tara Brach

It's not really a podcast, but Tara Brach's teachings are uploaded so you can listen and enjoy + join along in the meditations. Tara Brach’s teachings blend Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices, mindful attention to our inner life, and a full, compassionate engagement with our world. 

My favorite meditation (maybe not the best for a commute though) is the one called "Relaxing into sleep (no bell at the end)" 

https://www.tarabrach.com/talks-audio-video/

Focus on This podcast

This podcast is not craft related, but it 's connected to the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt.....which I don't use, I'm an avid and messy BuJo user! However I do use some of it's principals when I'm planning my day. It's a fun podcast to listen too if you are into planning and want tools to get things done.

https://focusonthispodcast.com/

Unlocking Us with Brené Brown

https://brenebrown.com/podcasts/

The Michelle Obama Podcast

The Michelle Obama Podcast

 

The list is a bit all over the place, but I hope you enjoy listening to them and maybe find a new podcast to add to your list, and please share your favorite podcasts in the comments below!

Charlotte

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My favourite way to tape & assemble large PDF Sewing Patterns

I know a lot of you out there are daunted by the idea, that to make a print at home PDF sewing pattern you have to tape it together, and that means taping together 20, 30, and even 40+ pages.

I have to admit I mostly send my patterns to the copy shop, but sometimes you see a pattern, and you want to dive right in so there's no way around it and you have to bring out the tape.

But I have done my fair share of PDF sewing pattern taping, so I thought I'd share my favorite way to prepare and to assemble them in a video.

I’ll be using my Elskan dress pattern, which if you print all versions, contains 44 pages. I've printed around 24 pages to make the dress with the long sleeves.



To trim the pages I use an Exacto utility knife + a metal ruler + a cutting mat.

My trusty utility exacto knife, to trim pdf sewing patterns tiles
My cutting mat

My step by step process:

  1. before you do anything, check the scale of the pattern by measuring the test square.

    On my patterns, each tile has squares to line up the pattern pieces and check the scale. The rows have numbers and the columns have letters.
    The smaller squares are 1cm and these larger squares are 1inch.


  2. I'll start by trimming the bottom edge of each row, then one of the sides. To speed it up a bit I stack the papers per row and trim the entire stack.


  3. I'll tape each row first and set them aside until they are all done.


  4. Complete the pattern by taping the rows together. I roll the pattern up as I go or hang the pattern over the edge of the table.


  5. Once the pattern is all taped together I roll it up and set it aside until I find time to trace and sew.


But because it's easier to show than to explain I made a step by step video of my favorite way to prepare the pattern tiles and assemble a large PDF sewing pattern:

 

Click & Subscribe on youtube

   

As always there are other ways to do this. For example:

  1. Cut the edges off with scissors or simply fold them back, although that does sound like it would get a bit bulky.

  2. Cut off only the corners and don't trim any of the sides, there will be overlap, but for the most part, it won’t matter. I like the idea of this method, but with my pattern, the markings are probably to light to be seen through the paper.

  3. Use a glue stick instead of tape.

I don’t know if there is a huge difference in how long it will take to use these different methods but it’s interesting to give these different methods a try and see what works best for you.

I would love to hear your favorite way to assemble PDF sewing patterns, please leave a comment and share your fav technique.

PS: Newsletter subscribers and customers can download handy templates from the resource library. click here and sign up.

Sewing templates and rescoure library

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How to download and print PDF sewing patterns at home



To download and print a PDF sewing pattern, you'll need to download Adobe Acrobat (you can download it for free here) a printer that can print on A4 or letter size paper and a desktop/laptop.

Make sure you are using the latest version of Adobe and that your printer software/driver is up to date.

I've made a video showing the steps for the Elskan dress / top pattern, which covers the basics but I wanted to elaborate on a few topics and common questions on how to print and download PDF sewing Patterns at home.

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Tips on how and why to pre wash fabric

should i pre wash fabric?
Should I Pre shrink and pre wash my fabrics before I sew with them?

The short answer is...Yes do it (most of the times). The long answer is bellow ;)

 

The main reasons why you should pre wash your fabric:

  • To pre shrink
  • To wash out dirt and chemicals from the production process

Most fabrics from natural fibers shrink when you wash them. Cotton fabrics often shrink around 5%. But a shrinkage between up to 10% is not uncommon in fabrics made from natural fibers. So if you don't wash your fabric before sewing, and then wash your final garment, your garment you might not fit correctly.

To prevent this you'll need to wash and dry the fabric like you'll wash and dry the final garment. So if you plan on doing a hand wash...give the fabric a hand wash. If you plan on washing it in the machine on 30c then do that.

Some of the shrinkage tends to ease as you wear a garment (like with jeans after washing) but lengthwise shrinkage not so much. So it's worth it to pre wash, if it's a garment that has a fitted style or if the fit and size really matters.

Another important reason is to wash out the dirt / remove chemical sizing / starch treatments / excess dye from the production process. The treatments make it easier to handle the fabric during production and strengthens the yarn for weaving, washing them out will soften your fabric.

 a guide tp pre washing fabrics

When not to pre wash fabric?

If it's an accessory that you wouldn't wash in a washing machine, like if I would sew a zippered pouch or shoulder bag where you would only do spot cleaning.

For fabrics that are dry clean only and garments that are more structured like a woolen, tailored jacket. In those cases I would simply steam the fabric prior to sewing and cutting by hovering the iron above (not on! ) the fabric. The steam helps to pre-shrink the fabric too.

When you pre wash raw indigo denim, creases and fold in the fabric might lead to white lines on your fabric, that's why some don't pre wash denim and use it right away.

100% synthetic fabrics might not need pre washing to prevent shrinkage, but it might still be a good idea so you can work with a clean material.

 tips how to pre wash fabric

How to pre wash fabric?

I've already mentioned you should wash and dry your fabric like you want to wash the finished garment, but there is another thing to consider...unfinished fabric frays and you could loose some of your length if you don't treat your raw fabric edges first.

How to prevent your fabric from fraying when you pre wash your fabric?

The selvedge does not fray, but the cut ends do. There are a few options to prevent and reduce fraying:

  • Use a serger to finish the fabric edges.
  • Use a zig zag stitch on the edge of the fabric.
  • Zig zag or serge the cut ends together to create a tube.
  • Use pinking shears to reduce fraying. I think this works best for fabrics that have a finer weave that don't easily fray.
  • Pre fray your fabric. Pull out the about a cm or 3/8"of the weft thread (that goes from left to right or selvedge to selvedge) this creates an almost decorative frayed edge that prevents further fraying. You'll see this on scarf ends and on linen place mats.
  • don't...let it fraaay, let it fraaay, and cut of the fray edge after drying.

To be honest I can only remember doing fray prevention once. I have a silky woven bamboo viscose that is an absolute tangled nightmare if you just throw it in the washing machine. I ended up serging the edges. And for cotton muslin rectangles that I used to print on, I pre frayed the edges to look decorative and prevent further fraying.

how to prevent fraying when pre washing fabric

A few more tips for pre washing your fabric

  • wash a test swatch. If you cut a 10cm or 4" square its easy to measure it after washing. If you finish the edge prior to washing, you can check how much it shrinks and how well it holds up in the wash.
  • Unfold your fabric before you put it in the washing machine.
  • Don't over crowd the washing machine.
  • Wash similar colours together since there might be excess dye in the new fabric that could stain other fabrics.
  • bonus points if you immediately iron your pre washed fabric, and catalogue it in your fabric swatch library

That was the long answer. It safe to say that for most garments it's a good idea to pre wash the fabric, but it depends on the project and the type of fabric. If you are unsure ask the shop where you bought the fabric for tips and if in doubt wash a test swatch first.

PS: Newsletter subscribers and customers can download handy templates from the resource library. Click here and sign up.

Sewing templates and rescoure library

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How to : Sew a little sewing needle organizer or fabric gift tag

The last few weeks have been stressful to say the least and I hope you and your loved ones are all doing well. I thought this would be a fun, beginner friendly, sewing project that's not only fast, but a great project to use up scraps.


The materials you'll need:

  • An award ribbon shaped template, I'll explain the dimensions in the video. (Newsletter subscribers and customers can download the template from the resource library)
  • Scrap fabric. An A4 sized piece should be enough to make two
  • Matching thread ( I use Gutermann all purpose thread)
  • A marking pen or pencil
  • Scissors
  • A seam ripper or hole punch
  • 1 x 4mm per ribbon/organizer. I used a box from prym, that I had left over from old projects.
  • Pinking shears for a fancy zig zag edge

You can sew along with the video


PS: Newsletter subscribers and customers can download handy templates from the resource library. Click here and sign up.

Sewing templates and rescoure library

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How to add boxed corners to your Tsuno Tie Bag

Adding boxed corners to your Tsuno Tie Bag adds a nice detail and adds a flat bottom to the bag making it sit upright more easily.

Because you are cutting of the the tips you do loose some room in the bag, and you are making the pointy handles a bit shorter.

You can use the excel sheet that comes with the Tsuno Tie bag to customize how much depth you create, and how it effects the other dimensions of the bag. This is a great way to customize the bag to fit a small rectangle sized gift like a small giftbox, a bar of soap or a book.

 

 

In the video tutorial I'm going to use a French seam to add the boxed corners which is easier than it sounds and makes for a fancy and clean finish on the inside.

I'll be using the Tsuno Tie bag in the video tutorial, but you could easily apply this technique to many bag bottoms. It's an easy but lovely technique to have in your sewing toolbox.

 Get the Tsuno tie bag pattern here

 or

Grab a free copy of the XXS here and sign up for the newsletter

 



PS: Newsletter subscribers and customers can download handy templates from the resource library. Click here and sign up.

Sewing templates and rescoure library

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Online Embroidery Class: Ginkgo Brooch

 

 

free embroidery pattern ginkgo leaf and tutorial

I’ve just added a new embroidery class to the workshop collection. In this hand embroidery class, you’ll learn how to embroider a small ginkgo leaf using the chain stitch and turn it into a small brooch with a leather or cork-leather backing. It's an intermediate level class, but if you are a confident beginner you should give it a try. The class includes a free ginkgo leaf embroidery pattern in different shapes and sizes.

What we'll cover in this online embroidery class:

- Materials & tools

- How to transfer the embroidery design onto fabric light and dark fabrics

- Threading your embroidery needle & invisible ways to start your thread

- Chain stitch & reverse chain stitch

- Double Running Stitch or Holbein Stitch to outline the leaf

- How to turn your embroidered leaf into a brooch with textile glue and (cork)leather

Check out the details here

 PS:

Another option is to subscribe for a free 2-month trial to Skillshare to take the class (you'll need a credit card). If you’re not familiar, Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes on everything from business to graphic design to sashiko embroidery and sewing – it’s the Netflix of learning.

By using this link * to my class to sign up for a Skillshare Premium Membership, not only will you be able to enroll in my class, but you’ll also gain access to all other classes on Skillshare starting with a two-month free trial.

If you know of anyone else that’d be interested to learn ho to embroider a ginkgo leaf brooch  I’d appreciate if you’d share the link with them too.

Thanks and enjoy your weekend!

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​* Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Tutorial how to make an embroidered brooch ginkgo leaf

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