Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sewing Courses

Looking for sewing courses?

Sewing courses

Contrary to popular belief sewing courses and classes are not just for beginners looking to learn to sew. Yes, there are beginner's classes out there, but there are also a lot of courses aimed at helping experienced sewers expand their skills. How many of you sew from a pattern and would like to learn to draft your own patterns? Do you do dressmaking but would like to learn about soft furnishings? Well now is the perfect time to learn. The credit crunch has led to an increase in people wanting to learn to sew and a corresponding increase in the number of courses available.
The Daily Mail reported a 500% rise in sales of Argos own brand sewing machines in August 2009, and many newspapers and magazines are running regular articles on how to sew and make things yourself.
So the question is where do you start?Dressmaking dummy
There are 3 important things you need to ask yourself:
What do you want to learn?
How do you want to learn?
How much can you afford to spend?

To continue reading this information please click onto

You can find sewing teachers/tutors, classes and groups  and lots more information on this UK specific site.  
(I'm sorry not to be able to offer the same to my overseas readers).

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A Class Act - get Creative with Adult Education.

As an ex secondary school teacher of textiles, who sadly saw the demise of the subject in some schools 20 years or so ago, I'm now thrilled at the resurgence in the popularity of needlecrafts again.

New 'creative' magazines seem to be appearing on the newsagent's shelves each month, each of them featuring articles and ads. for workshops, classes and meetings for sewing, patchwork, knitting, crochet, felting and crafting, etc.

I love the funky ideas for classes; the 'green/eco' image of make do and mend; make it yourself and upcycling; sitting around a huge table sharing ideas and drinking tea from vintage china whilst sewing and making, and fun, trendy instructors.

However......although these classes are portrayed as new, innovative and eco, other sewing/creative classes have been going on for years at Adult Education Centres all over the country.

As I now work as an Adult Ed. tutor, teaching sewing and soft furnishings, I think it's time to up the image of Adult Education and show just what is on offer.
We hold open days, taster days and mini workshops to generate interest and encourage enrolments but sometimes we still struggle to fill some of the creative courses. Why?

Is it because Adult Education is perceived as stuffy, old fashioned and expensive? Or because classes are held at odd times, in old fashioned centres with outdated equipment.

If this is what you think of Adult ed. then you are so wrong!

Just type Adult education centres into your search engine and take a look at the number of towns and cities that offer classes. Click onto your nearest centre and see the variety of creative courses on offer.

Adult Ed can offer all that the new, trendy, privately owned establishments do, and more! All tutors have to be qualified with a CertEd in post 16 education and have to regularly attend subject relevant and other courses for their Continued Professional Development. Some courses are also accredited, allowing the student to gain a qualification in their chosen craft.

Centres often have fully equipped, purpose built craft rooms in modern and light buildings with coffee bars and galleries.

Gone are the days of 'night classes'. Although courses are offered in the evening, centres hold classes throughout the day too, all through the year. Some courses may be just for a day; others an intensive 5 consecutive days; family days are offered, and are often free, exhibitions of students work may   follow a completed course and classes will often only have 8 or 10 students max.

AND, where else will you be able to take a class for just around £4 per hour, with concessions for some, that reduces the cost even more.

With the popularity of creative classes heightening there is room for both Adult Education and high street classes to exist, and I certainly don't favour one over the other, in fact I also run a private sewing class, enjoyed by a group of local women. 

But, I would really like to see features on Adult Education classes in all the creative magazines and on their websites, to enlighten their readers that Adult Education classes are fun, funky, fashionable and accessible - and just as cool as those classes found in the high streets.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Cut Work Embroidery on the Sewing Machine

15 years ago I bought myself a new sewing machine, a top-of-the-range Pfaff 7570. It cost me a fortune, (then) and I thought it was the bee's knees! It came with a free embroidery unit and several day's tuition at the suppliers workshops.
I wanted it to pay for it's self, after all I bought it with some of my lump sum after I took ill health retirement from teaching. 
And it has, several times over. I have made my children's clothes on it, from when they were babies to now, for my 13 yr. old daughter. I have sewn clothes for myself, all the soft furnishings in the house and used it for my soft furnishings business and the handmade items I sell in my on-line shops.

15 years on and top-of-the-range machines sell for £5,000 plus. I don't need to buy one, I still love my faithful Pfaff but I am amazed at what sewing machines can now do!

This Bernina software and specialised cutting attachment will enable the machine to cut out patterns and shapes that you design yourself.

BERNINA CutWork Accessory - The new generation of cutting

BERNINA CutWork Accessory - The new generation of cutting

BERNINA CutWork Accessory and BERNINA CutWork 
Software take embroidery to a new level
Let your imagination fly!

There’s a new edge to creative sewing ... cutting! 
The BERNINA CutWork Accessory together with the BERNINA CutWork Software gives your BERNINA embroidery system the power to cut shapes, patterns and designs from single or multiple fabric layers. Cut sharp, crisp edges quickly and easily
Staying on the cutting edge can be sew much fun!

I don't think this is available in the UK yet - non of the UK sites seem to have any details, but is is available in the States.
However, I'm sure it will be possible to see it in action at the Knitting and Stitching Show in October.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Make a Frilled Cushion

Make this lovely rectangular cushion cover, trimmed with a deep frill of contrasting fabric and three big buttons. 

It's a very easy project and suitable for those with just a little experience on the sewing machine.

I have used a crisp Irish linen for mine, some new chunky buttons and a pretty printed vintage cotton for the frill.  

Velcro squares, under the buttons, fasten the cover, but you could make buttonholes if you can.

Materials required
Cut a piece of main fabric 34cm x 100cm (height x length),

and a piece 34cm x 12cm for the facing.

From a contrast fabric, for the frill, cut a 60cm x 20cm strip.

3 nice buttons to match.

A 6cm length of 2cm wide velcro - hook and loop.

A 33cm x 43cm rectangular cushion pad.

Step 1. Turning and pressing in the folds to shape the cover.

With WS (wrong side) facing turn in one end by 7cm and press. This is the facing for the velcro.
Turn over again by 15cm. The facing will now be inside. Press.

Turn the opposite end over by 35cm. Press the fold.

Step 2. Making and attaching the frill.

Neaten one long edge of the frill facing to prevent fraying, with a ziz-zag or overlocking stitch.

Fold the frill in half lengthwise, with RS (right side) inside. Stitch a 2cm seam down both short ends. Snip the corners to reduce bulk, turn RS out and press.

Loosen the top tension of the machine and increase the stitch length. 
Work two lines of straight stitching parallel to the raw edges. The first line 1cm from the edge, the second a little under 2cm. Leave the ends loose, don't reverse or tie off.

Gather the frill by gently pulling the bobbin threads with one hand, whilst carefully moving the fabric along the threads with the other hand. Gather from one end to the centre, then work from the other end.

Gather to 30cm. Arrange the gathers evenly. Secure the ends of the threads by winding them in a figure of eight around a pin at each end.

Place the frill along the raw edge of the front of the cushion. (The end that was pressed over by 35cm.)
Ensure that the RS of the frill is against the RS of the cover, and that each end of the frill is 2cm in from each edge.
Pin in place - if you put the pins in at right angles to the raw edges, you should be able to machine over them.
Reset the machine's tension and stitch length to normal and machine the frill to the cover on top of the 2nd line of gathering.
Trim all ends of threads, but leave the gathering threads in place.

Place the frill facing RS down onto the frill, matching up the raw edges. Pin and machine the facing in place with a 2cm seam.

Turn over the work so that the WS is facing you and press the seam flat towards the facing.
Turn it back over to RS facing and edge stitch the seam flat. Trim the seam allowance to 1cm.
Press facing down to the WS of the cover.

Step 3. Attaching the velcro.

Cut both sides of the velcro into 3 x 2cm squares.
From the WS of the work, find the centre of the frilled edge of the cover (not the frill), and mark with a pin.
Then measure and mark with pins, 7cm either side of the centre pin. You should have three positions now.
Stitch a square of velcro at each position, through both layers (frill facing and cover).

With RS outside, refold the cushion cover along the pressed in folds and match up the other velcro squares onto the under flap. Sew in place.

Step 4. Finishing the cover.

Fasten all velcro squares to form the cover. RS outside.

Now turn it through itself so that the WS is now outside. Re-fold to form an inside-out cushion cover, using the pressed in folds as a guide.

Pin and stitch both top and bottom edges with a 2cm seam. Take care not to catch the frill into the stitching. Neaten the edges to prevent fraying.

Undo the velcro and turn to the RS.
Sew buttons onto the top of the cover, by the frill, to hide the velcro stitching.

Insert the pad, press the velcro together to fasten, and give yourself a PAT ON THE BACK!
WELL DONE - you've made yourself a lovely cushion!