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.