Tagged: Sewing

The Unsung Heroes of the Sewing Basket

Photo of sewing kit items

I’ve been re-discovering my love of sewing recently (see my first skirt here!) and this has meant getting re-acquainted with my sewing kit.

There are some sewing accessories that I believe are essentials to make sewing easier and more enjoyable. They each make tasks faster and/or more accurate. Here are my top favourites that deserve more praise than they get:

Metric & Imperial Measuring Tape

Photo of measuring tape
Many sewing patterns are from the US and so they have imperial measurements. Vintage patterns also have measurements in yards and inches, so having a tape that has both makes it really easy to work in either metric or imperial measurements.

Lots of tapes have centimeters on both sides, so its worth checking what measurements it has before you buy one.

Ruler with Adjustable Seam Width Checker

Photo of a ruler with an adjustable seam measurer
This little ruler is brilliant for checking seam widths as you’re sewing. If you try quilting, you have to get all your seams perfect to ensure the quilt patches line up accurately. This ruler, with the moving plastic middle bit, stays in place so you can measure seams really quickly.

The red points make measuring so fast because you can see if seams are the right size at a glance. Its genius!

Seam Ripper

Photo of a seam ripper
This nasty looking tool is a seam ripper, or as my Mum calls it, a ‘quick unpick’. Unpicking seams is one of the most boring tasks, however this makes it a bit faster.

Glass Headed Pins

Photo of sewing pins
These are really useful for pressing work-in-progress projects as the pin heads wont melt if you iron them (plastic ones will…) and they are easier to find if you drop them that the plain pins without heads.

Zipper Foot

Photo of a sewing machine zipper foot
A zipper foot lets you get in closer to a zipper when you are using a sewing machine, and make a more accurate zip insertion. My Janome sewing machine has clip on feet which makes changing between them really quick.

A little note about sewing machine feet:

Most sewing machines come with several different feet that are designed for different basic tasks – different hems for instance, or button holes. I’ve found that learning a little about how they can be used is well worth the time as they can really improve the finish on a sewing project. For instance, if you want to try machine quilting, you’ll need a special quilting foot that helps to feed through the thickness of the layers of fabric.

However! Not all sewing machines can use different foot options, and some may not allow for others to be used at all. If you’re looking to buy a sewing machine, make sure you check what the deal is with this to make sure you get one that’s going to last you through lots of projects and different sewing needs in the future.

Sewing the Simplicity 2226 Skirt

I’ve been yearning to start sewing again. I’ve had a break from it for about four years, as I have focussed on learning other crafts. When I started watching the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee I knew I had to get my sewing machine out and make something!

Choosing a pattern

Because its been so long, and I never really mastered the basics when I was sewing before, I needed to find an easy pattern to get me started again. Skirts are generally easier to sew than other garments as they have fewer pieces and are easier to fit (no boobs or limbs to get in the way!).

I saw the Simplicity 2226 skirt in a pattern catalogue and decided it would be THE ONE. I think its a fun and versatile skirt that could look good in lots of different fabrics and patterns. Having now made it, I would like to re-make one in a black crepe for work.

Image of Simplicity skirt sewing pattern

The pattern is labelled ‘Learn to Sew’. After sewing it, I think its a bit advanced for a beginner, and I wouldn’t recommend it for a first sewing project. However, it is still quite straight forward and covers a lot of different aspects of constructing a garment within the one relatively quick project.

From start to finish, I think this pattern took me eight hours to sew and cost me approximately £15 in materials. The pattern itself cost me about £4.50.

Fabric and trimmings

I made my skirt from 100% cotton craft/quilt fabric in red with tiny white stars and teeny weeny dots. The fabric is quite thin and a bit floaty. Again, now I’ve made it I’d choose a slightly heavier weight fabric for another skirt as this one is billowy, but fine for summer.

My cotton was £6.99 per meter and I used just over 1.5 meters. I can’t find a makers name on the selvage, but if you are interested Favourite Fabrics on eBay sell it: Tiny Scattered Stars in Deep Red.

You will also need a zip, bias binding for the pockets, matching thread, fusible light-weight interfacing and a hook and eye fastener.

Sizing

The sizing is dreadful! I measured myself and was horrified to come out as a size 18! I usually buy size 12 clothes or sometimes a 14, so size 18 seemed alarmingly different. I looked online for advice about the fit of this pattern, and found the amazing Noodle Head blog that has a Simplicity 2226 Sew Along. Her sizing recommendations gave me the confidence to take the plunge and sew a size 14 (which fits brilliantly!).

Cutting and sewing up

I traced my pattern pieces in case the sizing was wrong and I needed to pick a different one. The pattern pieces are clearly labelled and are easy to cut out if you have a big table to work on.

Photo of paper pattern pinned to fabric

The sewing instructions varied in clarity – things like inserting the zipper could have benefitted from more pictures as I found it a bit mind boggling just reading the instructions. However, it was generally well written and was simple to follow.

The finished skirt

Photo of completed skirt

Photo of completed Simplicity skirt
I’m sorry about the poor quality iPhone photo!

I’m so proud of this skirt! There were lots of new challenges I had to get through to make it, which makes it even more satisfying to complete! I know I will wear it in the summer, as its the perfect relaxed summery skirt. I can’t wait to get started on my next sewing project (the New Look 6843 A-line skirt)!

Has watching the Great British Sewing Bee inspired you to start sewing?