23 December 2011

7 December 2011

Patterns-do you make your own or buy commercial ones?

Feeling thoughtful about patterns this month. As a bespoke pattern cutter, I make one off patterns based on a unique set of measurements that fit one individual. However commercial patterns are designed to fit universally and are multi sized, but do require some skills to adjust. 
Making your own patterns is time consuming and very mathematical.  Once commercial pattern adjustments are learnt, it opens up a wealth of available  patterns which vary seasonally and have been road  tested by the manufacturer.
Then there's the tracing versus cutting debate! I like to cut out a tissue template, but many more fashionable patterns like burdastyle come as traceable patterns, with multiple patterns laid on top of one another. Personally, just looking at the multi pattern sheets in the burda style mag, makes me feel queasy, but I will be making myself do this over the next month in the name of research!

So are you a cutter or tracer? A pattern maker or consumer of commercially bought patterns?

I'd love to hear your thoughts?

Happy Stitching!

29 November 2011

How to choose a sewing class

Sewing is a bit like cooking, there are some basic skills you'll need to learn. Jumping into a class making for example a tailored garment is like making a souffle when you've never even scrambled an egg.

Before looking for a class, decide what you want from your sewing. If you only want to do dazzling embroidery, then a class on sewing machines is probably a waste of time and money. However if you think you'd like to do dazzling embroidery by hand and then turn your creation into a usable object then learning how to get to grips with the sewing machine could be just the ticket.

If you're looking to become the next Stella Macartney, then you should think about investing a good chunk of time and money on a long course. If your end point is to be a Fashion or Costume  designer then you'll need a broad skills base that you just can't pick up at a weekend workshop. However if you're looking to discover a new hobby, or fancy learning to sew just for sheer pleasure, then don't sign up for long extended courses as there are lots of fabulous short workshops out there which will give you the start you need. Many of these classes result in a finished project by the end of the class, giving you a real confidence boost.

Be honest with yourself about how skilled you currently are. Most classes have a list of Pre-requisite skills.  If you've tinkered with a sewing machine but never actually made anything, then signing up for an advanced class will leave you feeling left behind and out of your depth and may well put you off sewing. So if you've only attended one class on how to use a sewing machine, then do have a good practise before moving onto an intermediate class, you'll get much more from the intermediate session when you're ready.

Choose where and how you want to study carefully. Attending a night school programme is a really cost effective way to learn. They are run with large groups, and you won't get masses of individual attention. They allow you to learn slowly however, with classes being a couple of hours each week for about 10 weeks. This gives you a lot of opportunity to practise in between sessions. If you want a more intensive quick start to learning to sew, then short private workshops may suit you better. These are more expensive but are usually stand alone workshops, or short programmes over a couple of weeks rather than a term. Most private workshops have smaller groups, giving you more personal attention from the tutor.
Research the venue you're interested in attending. If the venue is a long way from where you live or work, then you may not want the extra travel. There are lots of choices out there, and you may well find one just around the corner. Decide if the venue offers what you're really looking for. For example if you're interested in upcycling and re-purposing clothes then choose a venue that is renowned for those classes. You Most venues will give you information about your tutor too, so if you see a tutor that's interested in the things you like, they are likely to be s good fit.
A shared passion is a great way to make friends too, so if you're hoping to make new friends then pick a class and venue that really suits you.

Learning to sew will take time, so be realistic about what you'll get from your classes. In one afternoon, you'll never get that wedding dress made from scratch! Expect to make some mistakes, unpicking is part of sewing, and at some point you'll have to do it!

There's never been so much choice of sewing classes as there is right now. Whatever you want to sew for, there will be a class out there for you. 
Happy hunting, and happy stitching

7 November 2011

Delicious winter hair accessories from Hat Therapy

Another brilliant guest blog tutorial from my friend and expert milliner Chrissie, from Hat Therapy

To make yourself a simple hair clip/slide this winter which can be as simple or as fancy as you like, just follow these simple insruction.

1  Cut a feather shape in felt, either from millinery felt  [ available from Baxter hart and abraham in Luton. ] or from craft felt which you can buy from most craft shops.

2 Cut a piece of wire the same length as your feather shape

3 Decide how many cuts you want into your feather towards the center but be careful not to cut too far.

4 Sew your wire along the center BACK this will give your feather support and allow you to give it shape.

5 Now you can trim your feather with sequins, bottons, beads, glitter  etc.

6 Using the same technique make some leaves too

6 Add to a hair clip or hair slide use a strong glue  like uhu. Why not make a few and arrange in a cluster like this?

This is a great way to decorate a simple felt cloche, and works on the humble beret too!

Happy Stitching!

Love from Chrissie

9 September 2011

Pressing News

Pressing is the key to a great finish when sewing.
A bad stitcher can press away many mistakes, but a good stitcher who doesn't press will have lumpy unpolished looking projects. Apart from your sewing machine, your iron is really a Stitcher's best friend

When choosing an iron, you need to have a little bit of weight to the iron. You are "pressing" not ironing. I find ceramic sole-plates are easy to clean should you get gunk there. You don't need to spend a fortune, but don't expect the £5 Argos iron to do the job either.

Couple of my fav irons




Your ironing board choice is also important. I like a large board, and i usually add an additional layer of foam under the cover to give a nice thick pressing surface. Ironing board covers get marked and scorched. Generally you want to replace a scorched board to prevent transfer onto your lovely new sewing project. I have spent some time over the years attempting to remove the horrid brown transfer from newly pressed items.

Once you've got your iron and board, I suggest cutting up some old muslin/lightweight cotton to use as a pressing cloth. You can buy these as a gadget, but personally I think it's a con! Pressing cloths are very useful when you don't want fabric to go shiny/melt or scorch. I usually use one when pressing a garment on the right side.

I am a self confessed gadget- aholic. For home stitchers however I really do recommend the following 2 gadgets.

A tailors ham- Used for pressing all differently sized curves. My best friend.....

This is my ham in use pressing the bust darts on a fitted bombshell Dress


My other favourite pressing gadget that I really do recommend purchasing is a sleeve board. I have a vintage one that I love, but if space is tight get a collapsable one, that should only set you back about £10.
Sleeve boards are great for pressing hems, sleeve seams and all those tricky places you can't get to on your regular ironing board

My sleeve board in action pressing a sleeve cuff

After taking these pictures I have made my sleeve board a new cover. I used the good bits from a scorched ironing board cover i was replacing. Waste not, want not......

7 September 2011

THE THRIFTY STITCHER - Online Booking by ClickBook.Net

New online appointment booking system for our 121 sewing sessions.

THE THRIFTY STITCHER - Online Booking by ClickBook.Net

There is also a "book now" button on the website too, so even night owls can schedule a session to suit....

26 August 2011

New classes for Autumn

Most of the Thrifty Stitcher students want to move on from sewing machine basics to altering their own clothes. A trip to the dry-cleaners for short ladies like me with 4 pairs of trousers and a skirt to shorten adds up to a hefty £50 bill! Being able to do your own simple alterations means shopping freedom, you will no longer have to mentally add in the cost of getting that bargain adjusted. You can safely bag the best bargains and tailor them at home for free!

Once you've stopped being scared of the sewing machine, most new stitchers are keen to use commercial patterns. These patterns are a great way to start dressmaking, but can seem like you need to learn a whole new language. This autumn we are running a short class on de-mystifying paper patterns. There will be a bit of sewing involved towards the end of the session, so this class isn't for absolute beginners. But it's a great way to start understanding the language of patterns. If you're itching to start on a specific pattern, bring it along and get it out of the packet and onto some fabric!

18 August 2011

Changing a sewing machine needle

Sewing machine needles are not a purchase for life!
They should be changed for every 8 hours of continuous sewing, and for each new project or different fabric.They need to be the right choice of needle for that fabric. If sewing denim, and you try and use the same needle for chiffon, you will very likely snag the chiffon.

Sewing machine needles are generally all universal for domestic machines, but it is worth checking your manual to ensure you get the right needle for your machine. In general the larger the needle number, the thicker and bigger the needle is.
The needle I use the most for dressmaking is a Schmetz universal  705H needle number 80/12. This is a great needle for fairly fine woven fabrics.
If sewing heavier cottons I use Schmetz universal  705H needle number 90/14

When sewing jersey I use a ball point needle. This type of needle seperates the fibres, rather than splitting them like a regular sharp needle does. The tip of this needle is rounded, and it is only useful for knitted fabrics, and won't work on woven fabrics.

There are lots of job specific needles for trickier fabrics available. These are the ones I commonly use-

  1. A denim needle. Some people just use a thick needle, but the point on regular needles may not pierce the denim as well as a denim needle. Denim needles are strong, but have extra sharp points, allowing the needle to pierce the densely woven fabric.
  2. A leather needle. The point of a leather needle is actually shaped more like a blade, this creates a triangular hole in the leather. Using a regular needle creates a small split which will over time tear and ruin the garment
  3. An extra sharp microtex needle. I use these for delicates like silk and satin.
  4. Stretch needles. These are great when stitching really stretch stuff like elastic and lycra, or any stretch fabric where your machine has been skipping stitches.
The choice of brand for machine needles, is to me a very important one. Some of the very cheap needles, just aren't good, and you'll pay twice! I use schmetz, or groz beckert needles. Both of these brands are German and they have proved to be the best needles I've used.

Changing your needle is a really simple operation.
- Hold the needle with your left hand and unscrew the screw at the top of the needle. Holding the needle ensures it doesn't drop inside your machine. I keep a sharps box to dispose of my needles.
- The flat side of the needle is the back
- With the flat side at the back, push the new needle up inside the sewing foot as high as it will go, and then tighten the screw.
- Just to double check that the needle is in the right way, run your thumbnail up the front of the needle, you should feel a groove if it's in correctly.
All done, and you're now ready to continue sewing...

15 August 2011

Clean your sewing machine and improve it's performance

It's important for sewing machines to be regularly cleaned, as the fibres and lint from fabric and thread will slow it down, and may well transfer onto your lovely fabric. A blob of grimey dust on that lovely "must have" fabric could seriously ruin your sewing pleasure!

Getting your machine serviced regularly is important, as the engineer does more than just cleaning the machine. However if you try and clean the bobbin case area yourself every month, you'll save on how regularly the machine needs a service.

This weekend I cleaned out my 6 janomes, and boy where they grimey underneath the bobbin case!

The instructions below are for cleaning out a top loading machine. First thing is to get out your manual, and see how they advise you to clean the machine. Most top loaders can be done in the same way as the instructions below. I lay my screws and removed parts in a mirror of how they came out of the machine, making it easier to put it all back in the right order. If you're worried about forgetting where something came from, then take pictures at each stage.

1 -To remove the bobbin case on a top loader, you need to start by removing the sole plate, which may be screwed on.

2- You now need to remove the bobbin case which is the black plastic holder in the centre.
3- Once the bobbin case is removed, you can now see how much hidden fluff, and dust there was beneath it! Use the brush that came with your machine to get it all out. A can of pressurised air is also a useful tool to blow the dust out of hard to reach areas
4- Using the sharp pointy end of the cleaning brush, hook out any other areas of fluff around edges of all the metal bits you can see
5- Fluff also likes to collect at the top of the needle, and on presser foot, so make sure you give those areas a once over too.

6- The underneath of your bobbin case should hopefully now look lovely and clean
7 - There are screws that allow you to get to areas further inside your machine. I generally don't go any further, as the more small bits I remove, the more likelihood there is that I won't be able to get them back in! I save that for when the machines are serviced.

8- You now need to put the bobbin case back in, there is a tiny split at the front which will give you a guideline. Then replace the sole plate. Your machine will thank you for giving it a little clear out!

14 August 2011

Threading a sewing machine

Here is the second of my mini video tutorials showing how to thread up your sewing machine, and pull up the pesky bobbin thread!

1 August 2011

My day job

I have 2 lives, one is as The Thrifty Stitcher teaching sewing, The other is as a Professional Wardrobe Mistress in London's West End. If you'd like to know a little more about what that actually is, then check out my interview with StageWon

28 July 2011

Vintage style corsage

This weekend there is a large vintage festival happening here in london, and it's the perfect opportunity to make yourself a "Vintage" style corsage or mini cocktail fascinator. Don't worry, you don't need lots of equipment, and you may well have some materials lying about in your stash.
This is also the perfect project to 'upcycle' a couple of old fascinators you don't wear any more.

Fabulous professional Milliner Chrissie King of Hat therapy has kindly put together a mini tutorial for us. If you don't fancy making your own, pop over to her site and buy one of her fabulous vintage inspired pieces!

To make this corsage you will need
3 biot feathers
(available from Baxter Hart millinery supplies 10cm £2.20 about 25 - 30 in a 10cm strip many colours.
tel 01582 721381)

30CM of half inch petersham ribbon
1 brooch pin
1 button


Pull out 3 biots from your strip

Pull edge to edge and sew together  repeat with other 2 feathers
Sew all 3 together

Loop 1 end of petersham ribbon then rpt with the other 2, making them slightly bigger each time. Sew together

Sew your petersham bow and 3 biot loops together
Add your button by sewing through ribbon and biots ending with thread at the front, sew button.
Turn over and sew on your brooch pin secure well.

This can now be worn as a corsage or pin on a hat or headband.

If you use a woven fascinator disk that has a hair comb already sewn in you can create a mini cocktail comb.

Happy Summer

14 July 2011

Make a simple pleated skirt with DIY Couture and The Thrifty Stitcher

Autumn, my favourite season, is just around the corner. Whilst I'm still basking in our great British summer.... I've also been thinking about what's around the corner. Skirts are a brilliant garment to bridge the seasons, wear bare legged through an indian summer, and slip on top of opaque tights when the rain falls.


I am so excited to announce that fellow Hackney Entrepreneur and Fashionista Rosie Martin of DIY Couture fame is bringing her unique "How to make a simple skirt without a pattern" class to The Thrifty Stitcher on September 25th.

Rosie loves high fashion, and was dissapointed by the lack of  fabulous contemporary dressmaking patterns available for home stitchers. Rosie set out to create a collection that could be easily made at home, piece by piece through simple instructions and beautiful photos. The first 3 pieces are available as delightful instruction books, and do away with the need for a fiddly pattern.

If you want to make your own clothes, and can already thread and use a sewing machine, then this Skirt class is a great way to start dressmaking. Included in the cost is a copy of Rosie's skirt book, and you'll be led through the day by Rosie herself ( I'll be the glamorous assistant for this session)

You bring along your own fabric, so you'll make the skirt you've always wanted, we'll provide the know how, tools and equipment and some DIY Couture magic!
We've a summer sale, so grab a 15% discounted class here

7 July 2011

Fabric care and storage

Top tips for clothing and fabric care & storage

Clothes, fabric and wool that are stored will attract the Webbing Clothes Moth. Moth eaten fabric and clothes are depressing and the holes will weaken the fabric and in some cases make it unwearable or unusable. Moths have been a real problem for the last few years, and 2011 is set to be one of the highest in terms of moth infestations. You can bring moths into your home from buying clothes/fabric, transference from someone who has moths in their home, and they fly in during summer months!

  • You need to use deterrents, and they need to be replaced every 6 months. 
  • If you get an infestation, the moths will attack not only fabric but books, papers and photographs, so all your precious memories can be reduced to dust!
  • Start by using lavender bags/sachets, and cedar. I personally can’t bear moth balls which are super effective, but stinky! 
  • The best and cheapest resource and supplier of moth products I’ve found is this one.
  • Pheromone traps are a great way to break the breeding cycle without using chemicals. The moths think they are all male! These sticky traps are also a good way to monitor how big a moth problem you may have.
  • Spring cleaning is a tradition for a reason. In order to get rid of moth eggs, you need to empty drawers and cupboards and clean out all the surfaces. Moths like to breed under static areas like furniture, so moving your furniture out and cleaning underneath breaks their cycle. Sunlight also kills eggs, so getting rugs and carpets outside and thoroughly beating them and leaving in sunlight will kill any eggs/larvae.
  • If like me, you don't have access to a garden, then running a sticky roller brush over your clothing can lift off eggs.
  • Ensure you change your hoover bag regularly. You may well hoover up eggs, and the hoover bag is a perfect environment for the moths to breed in! It's pretty gross, opening up the hoover and finding a big bunch of moths.....
Storing Fabric and clothes

This can be a nightmare. In terms of fabric storage i need to be able to access my stash, and see exactly what i've got. 
Using plastic for storage is a contentious topic. Whilst plastic vacuum bags are great in the fight against moths, they can leak plastic fumes, which isn't great for valuable vintage fabric and clothes. Personally i don't want to see my lovely old things being eaten away by moths, so I do use some plastic storage. 

I have limited space in my home for fabric storage, so i try and use what i already have. CD storage towers are great for showcasing smaller pieces of fabric, just make sure it's not in direct sunlight as the fabric will fade

A great system for easily storing and finding fabrics is the Antonius System in the Ikea wardrobe range which you can customise to suit your own needs http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/ products/S29877698

4 July 2011

Get the most out of your sewing machine

Top tips for sewing machines

A good sewing machine whether it's new or vintage needs some love and TLC! Here are a few tips on keeping your machine running well

  • Learn how to de-fluff your sewing machine. Use a pressurised air-can that is sold for cleaning keyboards. The fluff in the bobbin area of your machine soaks up the oil and can clog the mechanism. Doing this yourself will prolong the life of your machine, and cost you less in servicing.
  • Do get your machine serviced regularly. That clunking noise in your machine means something is out of sync! You wouldn’t dream of driving your car for ten years without a service, and like cars, sewing machines have moveable parts that need maintenance. If you don’t use it very often then every couple of years should be okay, and if you use it regularly then do every year. A service should cost around £45
  • Keep your manual handy! So many tasks you may want to do are explained in your manual, so it is an invaluable resource. If you’ve got a vintage machine with no manual, then check out this site to see if it’s there. http://www.sewingmanuals.com/
  • If you like doing a specific task like gathering, or piping, research whether or not there is a special foot for your machine that makes that task quicker. A piping foot for example gives you a perfect result each time, without you having to put as much effort in. I always buy an invisible zip foot, as I do lots of those types of zips, and the foot makes it so easy.
  • Change your needle! Many people have had the same needle in since they bought their machine. Needles on average last a continuous 8 hours only! You need to change your needle according to the fabric you’re using. A fine needle for delicates and a thicker needle for heavier fabrics. Needles are made for specific tasks, for example a denim needle is the best choice for jeans, it’s strong but has a very sharp point that will pierce the dense fabric. This is a great article on what needle to use for what fabric http://thesewingdirectory.blogspot.com/2010/09/n-is-for-needle.html
  • Needles and pins are one area that buying cheap means you pay twice. I always use Schmetz, or Gros-Beckert needles which are German and very high quality. For hand sewing I usually use John James which are British steel, or Milward needles. For pins I use a longer, finer good quality brand like Prym.

30 June 2011

Alteration tips and tricks

I do a lot of alterations in the Theatre. Unless a costume has been specifically made for that particular actor then most of my work involves getting an existing garment to fit correctly.

I will confess that some sewing jobs are a lot more tedious than others so why not use that dry-cleaner for the really boring stuff.

Here are a few of my tips for getting alterations done well
  • When thinking about altering clothes, remember the body has 2 planes- height and width. If altering the width of a garment you may not need to re-fit as this plane is easier to adjust. If you are altering the height of a garment, you will nearly always need to re-fit after the adjustments are made. For example taking up the shoulders will shorten the arm-hole which may then need to be adjusted. Shortening flared trousers for example means the flare is less at the hem, and they may not look as attractive.
  • Trying to make clothes smaller than about 2 sizes involves a lot of alteration time, which if you’re paying someone may not be worth it. If you find a vintage Chanel suit in a charity shop that’s 4 sizes too big, it may well be worth the additional expense. If it’s a Primark dress in the sale, then just leave it on the rail.
  • If something is more than one size too small, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to get it let out. Fashion garments rarely have less than 0.5 cm seam allowance, meaning that there is total of 1.5 cm available around the body to let out. Letting out satin or fine fabrics means you may be left with track-lines where the stitching was. Letting out darker fabrics means that you may end up revealing fabric that is a different colour from the faded outside.
  • If you let down a hem and get a strong line where the original hem was, think outside the box. Stitch some ribbon and make a feature of the ribbon whilst disguising the ugly line.
  • Some alterations or repairs are boring to do. Personally I would rather get the tedious jobs like replacing zips done at a dry cleaners. Replacing a zip is fiddly and time consuming and I would rather use the time to make something fun, It’s generally only about £10-£15 to get it done for you. Shortening hems however, is a relatively quick and easy thing to do yourself and not worth paying £10 for.
  • Big jobs that require a lot of space and equipment are often worth getting done by someone else. If you have to clear away your sewing space each time you sew, then the chances are that you’ll never finish that pair of curtains. If that’s the case you can concentrate maybe on the small hand sewing jobs that are achievable.
  • If you want to do a big sewing job but really don’t have the space or a sewing machine, then go to a sewing studio that offers the space by the hour/session. There are lots of sewing schools across the UK that offer space by the hour and it’s a great way to get sewing and not worry about clearing up!
  • Fabric is no longer cheap, and the cost of cotton and wool has just gone up, meaning both our clothes and fabric will soon get a lot more expensive. Think about cutting up existing old garments or curtains to use as fabric. Recently a student of mine used a sarong she bought on her honeymoon to make a yoga mat bag. Something that would have sat in her cupboard is a reminder of her honeymoon at every yoga class.
  • Before you take stuff to charity shops think about whether or not you could re-purpose the item. Taking the waist band off a pair of jeans and binding the edge for example makes them bigger. A pair of old worn out jeans can be opened up and made into a skirt using perhaps an old favourite worn out blouse as the insert.

10 June 2011

Fascinator making tips for the racing season.

Racing season is upon us, and with it the perfect opportunity to go wild with hair accessories!
Ascot is next weekend, so there's still time to rustle up a perfectly wild fascinator

Chrisse King from Hat Therapy has given you some tips on making fabric flowers or YoYo's. YoYo's are also known as suffolk puffs, and are a great way of tying in a colour scheme across your outfit.

Check out this fab suffolk puff fascinator for inspiration from Knit and Purl Stitch

To make a sheer fabric flower/suffolk puff  you will need.

  1. A woven headband (randall ribbons in Luton sell them on black and ivory) tel 01582 721 301
  2. Some fabric you want to use
  3. A dinner plate
  4. A button or bead for the centre
  5. Some hand sewing thread and a needle

Cut a circle, dinner plate size for a larger flower or smaller if not.

Knot the end of your thread and sew along the edge of your fabric.

Pull gently as you sew creating a little bag then secure together with a few small stitches, cut off thread.

Decide what you would like to trim your piece with, here's a few ideas.

  • sequins, 
  • buttons,
  • beads, 
  • another smaller circle in a contrasting fabric
  • ribbon

Starting from the back, pass a threaded needle through to the centre of your flower and start to build up a trim. This will pinch together your sheer fabric in the middle.

Once finished you can attach to your headband by sewing together or pop on a comb or hair clip.

If you want cover your headband cut a piece of your fabric on the bias (across the fabric where you feel the stretch) Pin and sew, turn inside out with a safety pin then push the end of the band into the tube, sew at each end to secure



4 June 2011

Why I'm sacrificing saucepans for sunshine

At the beginning of the year I set out goals for the year ahead. Six months on and one of those goals has not only eluded me, but continues to make me feel that I've failed myself. So I've decided to get rid if it altogether!

Cooking for myself as a veggie has always been important in order to eat interesting and tasteful food. It's been something I've shared with friends, and was a favourite way I used to unwind. I now work fulltime and run a small business, and at least 10 hours of every day are consumed by Working at both of those things. I need at least 7 hours sleep, so when you factor in travelling to and from work, I'm left with little time for myself. I've been trying to carve out time to cook, but the pressure of feeling obligated to squeeze it in us frankly wearing mr down. When I get time out, I want to see friends, go to a spa not slave over s saucepan. I'd love to live the lifestyle of Jamie or nigella, but frankly when they're cooking it's their work, so of course they can fit it in. Cooking isn't just about the actual effort of chopping and heating, there's shopping and ensuring you have what you need in, and even if you do get food deliveries, there's still a time commitment to checking and ordering. Like many of my friends and colleagues, my boyfriend and I seem to spend a great deal of time talking about food shopping, food ideas and all the mundanity of those conversations is just well BORING!
I work weird hours, I work at night, so it's tough to cook when all my food gets heated up at work. Within the covent garden area, I know all the convenience vegetarian foods I can get hold of, and most of my menu comes from pret, marks and Spencer and tesco. They each offer limited vegie options, so my diet has begun boring mr senseless.
Added to all of the above i want to slim down a little, but that means more prep and thought, and cooking time.
I will shortly be signing onto a weight loss food delivery service. I will spend no more than I currently spend on microwave meals, and take out sandwiches. So I'll eat better, free myself from feeling guilty that I'm not a domestic diva, and with the extra hours I gain hopefully I can do more for me.
Since I decided on this plan, I've had a huge sense of a weight being lifted from my shoulders. I'll need a couple of months to slim down, but who knows during that time I may re-discover my cooking mojo!
I still want to have friends over for dinner, but I warn you if you're invited I will have cheated and bought in. I guess for me the point is to see friends and enjoy their company, rather than putting off the invite cos I can't face the kitchen!

Here's to more sunshine and less saucepans!

3 June 2011

What someone's said.

Just had this lovely feedback from someone who attended a skill sharing day I participated in, made me feel all warm!

CL was really lovely. She was patient with me and my daughter (and pal) and explained things really clearly. Even when having to repeat, she didn't make us feel silly or as if we were wasting her time. She made eye contact and didn't patronise which means a lot to me, from someone who is technically very good. I felt like I could take what I had learnt home with me and carry on and develop further too."

Skill sharing is a fantastic way to engage with your neighbours and community and learn from each other. I attended one in Clapton, and it was a great day with tai chi, gardening, reiki, drumming, baking, history and sewing on the menu throughout the day.
Check out wether or not there are events near you, and if not then have a gobar organising one yourself.

Have a fab weekend. I have a day off to attend the wedding of a good friend, and an excited to see her in her dress

27 May 2011

When do you give up on your dream?

Is giving up your dream realistic, or settling for second best?

I began the week contemplating wether or not we can have it all. And end the week with another big thought about dreams and aspirations.

I don't think we can 'have it all' neither do I think we should aspire to. With every choice there is compromise, and I think we should aspire to have what we really want deep inside ourselves, and then accept the inevitable repercussions of that choice.
But how can we decide exactly what our dream is? and for how long do we continue chasing it? That's a very tricky question...

As a young costume design student, I allowed myself to dream about seeing my name in the credits rolling onscreen. By my final year, I realised I wouldn't be accepting any oscars for costume design. I hadn't given up my dream, or settled for second best. I had realised that my dream wasn't for me, I am an artisan, a facilitator and in costume terms an interpreter. Realising this allowed me to change my dream, and shift the direction of my life.

So was I realistic, or did I cop out and settle? Hmmm- working as I do in the entertainment industry, I see many folk that refuse to give up on their dream, despite possibly lacking in talent. X factor thrives on the untalented individuals dreaming of stardom. So when should they give up on their dreams?

My philosophy in life has been to do what makes me happy, I've changed direction several times in my career, usually changing when my work stopped giving me joy. I'm lucky and priveledged to be able to choose to do a job I love, rather than having to do a job I hate. Am I still following my dream? YES I am, It's just not the same one all the time, and definately isn't the one I had at nineteen.

Have a great weekend

Ps- I have in the last few years seen my name in the rolling credits as costume designer, and it thrilled me as I had dreamt it would. But I still know that wasn't the dream I should have followed. I am an average costume designer, but a great wardrobe mistress, and hopefully an inspiring teacher!

25 May 2011

The Thrifty Stitcher video on winding bobbins

Here is my first ever video guide, scary recording yourself, and weird realising what you sound like! But I'm glad to have got the first one up and running. Watch this space for more mini video how to guides.

23 May 2011

Can you have it all?

I've had a super busy fantastic weekend teaching, working, networking and hen partying! Yesterday I met with the "wonderful women minding their own business" (#wwmoob) ladies, for our monthly get together. It prompted me to think of the post I meant to write after meeting them all last month for the first time.
As women we celebrate our multi tasking skills, we rejoice that we can now have a career, raise a family and still be a good best friend. What I wonder though, is are we asking too much of ourselves? Should we really want to have it all, is this actually possible?

Hmm.... food for thought.

At yesterday's lunch a large cheer erupted when one of the ladies announced that she had given notice on the job that no longer inspired her, to follow her dream and develop her own magazine. Several other ladies have also recently taken redundancy, or quit jobs to follow the dream of a life they want. Is this fool hardy or wise? I am a great believer that if something really makes you unhappy then don't do it, but is this unwise? Obviously we all have bills to pay, so following a pipe dream can leave you financially vulnerable- but can trying to have it all, leave you having nothing you really want?

I have a fulltime job, and I run a small business. How do I manage this? To be brutally honest I work a lot of hours, get little sleep, no days off,  I have no time for myself and rarely see my friends or family. Is it worth the sacrifice? Honestly I don't know. I do know however that I don't have it all, my work/life balance is askew and all the fun stuff gets squeezed out. Having a fulltime job gives me financial security whilst building a new business. It does however give me something to hide behind, and holds me back from really building my business. With financial security you can become complacent, lack of money is a great motivator. Being too busy means it's hard to live in the moment, to stop and smell the roses sometimes. When over committed it's so easy to over-spend on food on the run, and the service industries, so how is that helping to make more money?

I've been inspired recently by a returning student. Between classes she had given up being a head teacher to go part-time and really live her life. She now bakes, cleans her own house and gets to see her family and friends. She doesn't make as much money, but feels richer for the fuller life she's living and the lack of stress.

So can we have it all? Sadly I don't believe we can, but I do think we can choose what we really want in life and make that our priority.

Here's to living the 'slow' life, and loving the life we lead.

28 April 2011

A royal wedding Cocktail hat!

This is the second mini tutorial from the delightful milliner Chrissie King of Hat Therapy
Chrissie and i met over on Twitter, why not follow her there! @hattherapy


1 Cut a piece of simamay {a hat making supply} 12 inch long by 7inch wide on the bias  [that is found diagonally at 45 degrees to the straight of grain]

2 Fold in half by gently pressing down with palm of your hand
3 fold in the ends and press with iron

4 press with iron across whole of piece this will give you a sharp edge
5 fold in half again with palm of hand then with the iron [ not too hot]

6 roll around your rolling pin and making sure it can't escape! Steam with iron then hold it on the rolling pin till cold- This sets the material into a curl

7 gently pull rolling pin out and you will have a curl !!
8 stitch in same colour either by hand or machine along the 3  open sides and press again.
9 stitch a straw disk to a woven headband [all avail from Baxter Hart in Luton]

Add your curl in what ever way you wish and then trim with buttons feathers etc or just add an extra curl in a different size.

hey presto You have a cocktail hat. Perfectly quick for a last minute street party accessory

Chrissie King of Hat Therapy