Sew In Brighton Blog

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  1. With our upcoming Tailored Jacket making course in mind, here we interview Katie and Dorte at Dragonfly Fabrics in Sussex and our jacket course tutor Jo Bunner about the best choice for jacket fabrics 

    What's the easiest fabric for a novice jacket maker to use?
     

    The easiest fabric to use would be a wool fabric, like the 100% Italian wool or the grey Italian check wool as these are firm. We are have a new range of herringbone tweed that would be suitable also. These fabrics are not too thick so they drape well and they are easy to sew with. Although pure wool fabric is more expensive, we think you will get more from your finished garment. The quality is important to think about, especially when taking the time to make something tailored, quality fabrics will make sewing easier and the jacket durable. 
     
  2. Everyone needs a fab pull on dress - I wear mine over jeans (which I also make btw, with minimal waistband bulk for just this purpose!). 

    We've run our stretch dress course quite a few times now and it's always gratifying to see my students enjoying creating multiple dresses after the course! Plus people have used the pattern to make tops too, and we can help adapt it into different styles if they want.

    See images below of regular student (who started as absolute beginner not long ago!) Rebecca in her various incarnations of the dress. 

    favourite stretch dress - rebecca red dress  favourite stretch dress rebecca print 

    I've a fab beige/black spot jersey I can't wait to get started with - and the butterfly one below is one I made for the original course but for some reason never quite got round to hemming, so thats a job for this week! The blue one is the original sample you may have seen on our wall at the Sewing Lounge. The fabric is from Fabric Land - most unusal, always worth a look to see what they have in store - otherwise Ditto fabrics on Kensington Gardens in Brighton (or online) usually have some great upmarket plain and printed jerseys you could use.

     fav stretch dress - butterly dress (copy 1)  favourite stretch dress kat  


    Make Your Own Stretch Dress
     in our weekly Stitch Classes

    More info and booking here

    Also check out my Pinterest board for inspiration on how to wear and which styles to make

    Follow Sew's board Simple stretch dress on Pinterest.

     

  3. The Great British Sewing Bee returns for an eight-part series presented by Claudia Winkleman. Ten of the country's best home sewers face three challenges to make or alter an item of clothing under intense time pressure. Each week, their creations are judged by Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing expert May Martin, until one of them is crowned Britain's best amateur sewer.

    BBC 2 Tuesdays 8PM or Catch up on Iplayer:

    51yookc-7pl._sl500_aa300_.png

    Series Trailer:

    Episode 1

    The contestants are tested on three core fabrics: cotton, wool and silk.

    The first episode tests the sewers on the three core fabrics in a dressmaker's cupboard: cotton, wool and silk. The surprise Pattern Challenge tasks the sewers with making a simple tunic top out of straightforward cotton. Some excel at producing the perfect top, some struggle to finish, and others cut corners - to their cost.

    In the Alteration Challenge the sewers demonstrate their ability to transform a plain high street woollen skirt in just 90 minutes, creating mini skirts with frills, pencil skirts with peplums, and dungarees.

    Finally, the sewers face the toughest of core fabrics when asked to fit a made-to-measure silk nightgown for a model.

    Episode 2

    The contestants are tested on their ability to match and combine patterned fabric.

    Claudia Winkleman welcomes the nine home sewers back to the sewing room to face three more challenges. This episode tests their ability to match and combine patterned fabric. First the judges, Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing expert May Martin, surprise the sewers with a pattern for a pleated skirt. The catch is that they must match the pattern of the fabric across those pleats without changing the size of the skirt, which catches a few of the sewers out.

    They must show their ingenuity by combining two patterned men's shirts into one garment - the results range from a little sailor dress to a boob tube.

    Finally, they make made-to-measure men's patterned pyjamas which must both match across the seams and fit their male model perfectly.

    Episode 3

    The contestants face the most fitted made to measure challenge yet.

    Claudia Winkleman hosts The Great British Sewing Bee as the eight amateur sewers prepare to do battle again in three challenges designed to test their ability to handle stretchy fabric.

    The judges - Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing expert May Martin - first give them a surprise pattern for a simple pair of leggings with resulting snug and saggy bottoms.

    Next the sewers are free to do whatever they like to turn an oversized t-shirt into a completely different garment - and they come up with some ingenious alterations, from a toddler's leotard to an asymmetric mini dress.

    Finally, they face the most fitted made to measure challenge yet.


    Inspired to get sewing yourself?

    Come to our weekly Stitch Classes in Brighton & Hove. We even use the same Janome sewing machines as used in the programme!

  4. Discover C&H Fabrics

    Find a wealth of dressmaking fabrics – cool cotton, linens, wools, sumptuous silks, jerseys, fleece, linings – and new designs arriving all the time. 

    And especially for the quilter – patchwork cottons, fat quarters and jelly rolls and of course wadding and all the tools and gadgets quilters need. 

    Toymakers can have fun with craft fur, felt, stuffing and all the different toy parts, even ‘squeeks’! 

    And there’s mannequins, sewing machines and a huge haberdashery.

     It’s an absolute paradise!

    www.candh.co.uk/map

  5. dynamicimage

     

    Interview With C&H Fabrics, Western Rd, Brighton

    C & H Fabrics Ltd was started on 1st April 1933 by C.W. Hamblin and Mr H. Closs,and has now grown into a huge store over several floors with a great selection of fabrics, wools, haberdashery products and many other household and gifts items. 

    We had the fantastic opportunity to interview Diana Hing and James Hamblin, the manager and Personnel of the store, to learn more about the store and the products it sells. 

    • What is the main audience of your business?

      Up to 5 years ago the main audience was aged 45 and over and predominantly female, but in the last few years this has lowered to age 35 and over. Also many more young people has been buying products for school projects,which is encouraged by the10% discount to products for school work. 

    • What do you think are the popular sewing products bought?

      On the whole the product sales are very even, although C&H do sells huge numbers of scissors, people really appreciate good fabric scissors. The most popular editions are the Fiskars scissors, these are very good quality and last up to 10years before needing to be replaced. They also sell a lot of velcro, Wundaweb, and fabric dyes. The increased sales in fabric dyes has been quite recent, and is probably related the rise in young people buying from the store, and also the recent tie dye trends. A greater number of dyes are sold in the Brighton store than other stores across the country, which Diana believes is due to the greater interest in crafts in Brighton, as well as the outlook of older people here is in general younger and funkier.

    • What are the different types of fabrics that you sell?

      Interestingly the customers often follow the advice and ideas of the staff, as opposed to having fixed ideas themselves. They also find that wool is very popular, which may be as it is a natural fabric and also very easy to work with, as therefore popular with less experienced stitchers. They have also seen a rise in crafts and with this a shift towards the use of fabrics for craft projects as opposed to dress making. People coming to C&H expect quality and something different rather than simply cheap and cheerful. 

    • Personally what have you sewn or made that you have been most proud of?

      James, the area manager of C&H, isn't a regular crafter and stitcher, but when training for his position he knitted a scarf with the help of other members of staff in the store. Whereas Diana sews a lot, creating a variety of clothing and pieces for the home. Her favourite creation was the silk curtains and matching silk roman blinds she made for own home, and feels very proud when seeing them within her home. She also makes a lot of clothing, particularly skirts, which she makes from scratch without any pattern! 

    • Sewing, knitting and crafts are very fashionable hobbies now, what do you think has sparked this?

      Crafts and sewing became fashionable when celebrities like julia robertsand gwyneth paltrow started knitting 6 years ago. Kirsty Allsopp has also been a massive influence, especially following her an episode of 'Kirstys Homemade Home' in which she made pom poms, C&H sold out of pom pom kits. Also Gok Wan brought embellishing into fashion, helping to set trends, and also increase the sales of materials to embellish clothes from home. Usually as well as materials for dress making, C&H also sells a lot of fabric and wool for creating dog beds and coats, which mimics the trend of pet fashions and clothing.  

    • Do you think that the Great British Sewing Bee has had a big major affect on the sales of sewing and craft materials? And how?

      The Great British Sewing Bee has been a great influence on sales of fabrics and dress making materials. People nowadays want to be different and individual, especially with the increase in mass produced cheap fast fashion.  

    • How do you think that young people could become more excited about sewing and crafts?

      Diana believes that by getting young children to touch and feel fabrics, such as angora and velvet, they would become more interested in fabrics, craft and sewing from an early age. Also teaching people more about the background of fabrics and the technical aspects, for instance that silk draws up more colour, thereby looking more vibrant. We also need to raise awareness that young people can create something and get a result they are pleased with , they just need to go for it! People are put off be crafts and sewing as they see it as complicated, but Diana says people ought to “just get a lovely fabric and go for it!”. 

    https://www.candh.co.uk/map

    2014-01-14 16.15.02  2014-01-14 16.17.17  2014-01-14 16.23.18

     

  6. photo 2 (2) photo 3 (2) photo 2 (3) 2

    Last week we had a chat to students on the Tuesdays & Thursday Stitch Mornings, our weekly 'make whatever you want' sewing classes. This is what they had to say...

    Keely (40) from Hove is currently creating an exact copy of a vintage 40’s dress she is already owns.

    She says ‘I enjoy the independence as I can make what I want to make’ and that the teaching is ‘helpful and flexible and I can work at own pace and can do something different.’
    To create the dress she has mocked up a basic dress from the Burda 7137 pattern, then adapted the design with Kat’s help. She is interested in returning, to learn garment making and how to use a sewing machine. She also wants to do upholstery for her business. 

     

    Louisa, 27, Brighton, who sells clothing in Brighton’s Snoopers Paradise (Kensington Gardens BN3) is currently making stretch jersey knickers from our pattern, with a view to making and selling them in her collection.

    She says ‘I have never done this before, but it’s easy with professional guidance for each step. As a complete beginner I expected to make a lot of mistakes but with Kat’s guidance I had a lovely pair of knickers in 2 weeks, I enjoyed it so much I am definitely going to come back for more.’
    She is interested in returning to add more for her collection or to make something completely different.

     

    Ingrid Drinkwater, 41, Hove is currently making cushions.
    She says ‘I enjoy everything and the teaching is very good, I would like to make a bag next.
    She will be returning this week to copy a thick felt & leatherette Ipad cover which she saw in a magazine.

     

    Stephanie, 31, a Youtuber and musician from Hove is currently working on the pattern measurements for 90’s style trousers.

    She says ‘She enjoys cutting the fabric and the final stages and result’ and that ‘Kat is really good, patient and the teaching is not awkward.’
    She will be booking onto our tailoring techniques course next.

     

    You can make anything you fancy in our 5 times a week all year round classes – now on Tues and Thurs mornings, Sun afternoons & Mon and hurs evenings.  Let us know by email before you come along what your project is and we’ll advise you what to bring.

    To see more details or to book click here.

       
       
  7. How To Make a Hair Corsage!

     

    A step by step guide of how to make a hair corsage - perfect for wearing at formal events and weddings, or as a gorgeous gift!

    I used a selection of fabrics, ribbons, lace and a button, but the beauty of these corsages is that you can use any similar materials that take your fancy! So your new hair corsage can be for any occasion or match any piece of clothing! 

     

    STEP 1

         hair corsage 1 

    Create long folds with a length of ribbon into a fan shape, sewing the folds into place as you go.

     

    STEP 2

        hair 2      hair 3      hair 4

    Repeat STEP 1 several times, but instead using different ribbons or fabrics for each layer. Ensure that each new layer is smaller, therefore not covering the layer underneath. The hair corsage ought to begin to look similar to a rosette. 

     

    STEP 3

          hair 5

    Cut a length of lace or ribbon that is long enough to tie around your head. Turn over the corsage and sew this onto the back. Ensure that the stitches cannot be seen on the front. 

     

    STEP 4

          hair 5

    Sew or glue a button, or any other small item you wish, into the centre of the corsage.

     

    Finished, your new hair corsage! Its that simple, and looks gorgeous!

  8. We love Instagram! Check out our image feed below. We'd love to see some pics of things you've made with us so we can add them and show off your cleverness! Send them to [email protected] with the subject 'for instagram'. You could win a £15 voucher if you also answer the questions about your made items on our Sewing Star page here

     

  9.  Sewing Star  


    Congratulations to Karly Blackford for making these lovely garments at our Stitch Evenings and becoming our latest Sewing Star! Karly decided to make her own denim shirt dress after not being able to find what she wanted in the shops, and the end result looks superb. She used the pattern pack by 'Lisette Misses' & Miss Petite Sportswear 2246'.


    Karly also just finished making this gorgeous pencil skirt, which she is looking forward to wearing to work. She used the pattern pack 'New Look Misses Skirts 6843', and fabric purchased from Ikea.


    Karly's taken away with her some lovely new clothes and lots of new sewing skills, including how to make clothes from patterns and how to use an overlocker. She's also learned that she doesn't like fiddling with buttonholes! Karly said that Debra was a great teacher and the Stitch Classes were fun and friendly, and she's even recommended our Learn to Use a Sewing Machine Course to a friend!

    To be our next Sewing Star and win a £15 gift voucher to use towards any of our classes, then click here for more info!

  10. overlocker 9300DX_lowres overlocker pic 1

    ABOUT OVERLOCKERS

    Overlockers, originally used in industrial sewing venues, are a valuable asset to home sewers.  

    Not long ago, overlockers were only available for commercial use. The machines were huge, heavy and impractical for home sewers. Fortunately, the market has changed and there are wonderful assortments of industrial-quality overlockers, at a variety of price points, designed specifically for home sewers.

    Different from a conventional sewing machine that forms a stitch with a bobbin and top thread, an overlocker works with loopers and needle threads that form an overlocking stitch.

    When selecting an overlocker, keep in mind that as the number of threads and loopers increase, so does the price of the machine. So, choose the configuration that best fits your needs.

    What does an Overlocker do? To continue reading this in depth article on overlockers  click here

    Interested in learning to use an Overlocker? Read details in the box below

     

    Learn to use an overlocker (use ours or bring yours)....

    ...or get help with ANY sewing project you have in mind in our Stitch Classes on Thursday Evenings in Brighton & Hove. Deborah is our Overlocker expert and teaches these classes -  click here for details. Or you can have a 121 class with her - click here for details

    If you  are a Beginner and want to learn to sew with an ordinary machine first(recommended) click here 

     

     

  11. I thought I would put up details of the pattern adjusting book I have occasionally mentioned that is BRILLIANT for methods of adjusting dressmaking patterns like we do on the Making Clothes from Patterns Course to fit big boobs, rounded backs, thin or chunky arms, thin or big thighs etc etc....basically for anyone who's making clothes from patterns (bought patterns or drafted yourself as we do on the Fashion Design course) for a body that is not 'uniform' size and shape all over (who's is??)!

    Click here to see/buy it on Amazon for less than a fiver or click the image below

    perfect fit book

     

  12. Sewing a curved shape e.g. on a purse or bag is easy with this technique from Kat. 

    If you'd like to learn how to sew a purse, we teach you in week 3 of our Learn To Use A Sewing Machine course - info here

    Or for more advanced sewing - clothes, curtains, knickers and more - check out our Improver level sewing classes here

    For making your own patterns for your own fashion designs you'll need our Drafting Your own Patterns courses - info here

     

     

  13. Phillipa tells us about the dress she created for her daughter Martha that made her this months Sewing Star, and won her a FREE Stitch Class. To find out how you could become our March Sewing Star please click here.

    Phillipa was inspired to make this dress because she has a 6 month old baby, Martha, and wanted to learn to make childrens clothes.

    phillipas dress for martha march 2013 mcfp course        simplicity 5489 image 

    She came on the Making Clothes from Patterns Course at Sew In Brighton armed with Simplicity's 5489 pattern and 2 lengths of corduroy, which she'd bought on the pre-course shopping trip at Fabric Land, which is run as part of the course.

    Phillipa says of the course:
    "The best things I learnt were how to do applique and automatic buttonholes - and I also learnt loads from watching the others on the course learning various techniques for their garments, such as the zip in Sallys top, gathering on Fran's 50's style dress, I plan to try both techniques myself in next projects!
    " The classes were really good, informal, which I prefer. There was always a good atmosphere and liked the balance between Kat's teaching and allowing me to get on with it myself and ask for help when needed."
     
    Phillipa made the dress as a practise run, as it's a 3 year old size, and she plans to now make lots more from the same pattern in smaller sizes that Martha can wear now - next the next one will have an applique apple instead of an owl!
     
    If you'd like to make clothes from patterns, you can do so on these courses and classes:
     
    Making Clothes from Patterns  5 week evening courses
    We take you pattern /fabric shopping, then teach you how to make clothes from commercial dressmaking patterns, fit them to your size and sew up to an expert finish! 
    Click here for more info or to book
     
    Stitch Evenings Thursdays 7-9.30pm every week
    Make whatever you want! Flexible sewing and dressmaking classes: choose your own dates and sewing projects.....Improve your sewing skills & get expert tuition making clothes from commercial sewing patterns or mending and altering clothes, furnishings etc. 
    Click here for more info or to book

     
    Stitch Mornings  
    Tuesdays and/or Thursdays 10am-12.30pm every week
    Make whatever you want! Flexible sewing and dressmaking classes: choose your own days, dates and sewing projects.....Improve your sewing skills & get expert tuition making clothes from commercial sewing patterns or mending and altering clothes, furnishings etc. 
    Click here for more info or to book

    Stitch Weekends  
    Sun afternoons 2.30 - 5.30pm every week
    Make whatever you want! Choose your days and what to sew. Improve your sewing skills & get expert tuition making clothes from commercial sewing patterns or mending and altering clothes, furnishings etc.
    Click here for more info or to book

    One to one - private sewing & pattern cutting lessons
    Flexible: choose your own dates and projects
    Get our undivided attention to help you with any sewing or pattern cutting project from learning to use a sewing machine, to soft furnishings to altering/creating dressmaking patterns to fit 'non standard' body shapes, or anything else!  Click here for more info or to book
     
  14. Claire tells us about the dress she created that made her this months Sewing Star, and won her a FREE Stitch Class. To find out how you could become our March Sewing Star please click here.

    claire 1

    I'd just finished reading Chanel's biography, which was littered with plenty of drawings of her classic designs, tweed jackets and plenty of structure. I suppose this was the inspiration behind choosing my heavy pink and cream fabric. It made the most beautiful box-pleats, with lots of oomph to the skirt! I wanted to keep the dress feminine though, almost doll-like, so nipped the bodice in of the 50s-style pattern, added a lace Peter Pan collar and shortened the hem-line. I love the end result! 

    I made it in Stitch Evenings on Thursday nights. I’d go straight from work, and if I was lucky, I’d have just enough time to grab a mocha before class!

    collar

    The evening classes are a great opportunity to do something productive on a weeknight, rather than veg out in front of iPlayer. One-to-one help is never far away, as well as a good chat with everyone there. I also appreciate the HUGE selection of herbal teas (and chocolate chip cookies) on offer to help me get through the evening. Cinnamon and Liquorice tea is a revelation! 

    I've already worn my dress for client drinks followed by a Yoga party (no actual yoga at this, but plenty of raw food and vodka!). It's lovely and warm, due to the thick fabric and cotton lining, so I'm storing it away for future winter parties.

  15. Charlotte tells us about the inspiration behind the corset she made during Stitch Mornings

    charlottes corset cropped

    What inspired me to make the corset is that I love period costume...and, imagining that I come from other times or have lived other lives. I had actually had a dream where I was wearing a corset and long full skirt and big petticoat, so I tried to remember the details and draw the outfit. I began by making a gorgeous ruffled skirt.

    When I came to making the corset part of the outfit I went online and looked at fashion designers ideas for inspiration and, watched the series Paradise which has beautiful 1890s clothes in it. I was inspired to use rich velvets reds and pinks.

    I had an excellent teacher at the Sewing Lounge who encouraged me to try out different ideas shapes and forms to create what I had imagined. I learnt how to adjust and adapt a pattern to create the shape I wanted. I used the overlocking machine for inside seams and the eyelet machine to create a lace-up front.

    I intend to wear my corset over a cream silk blouse so that I can wear it as day or evening wear. Definitely to houseboat parties where I normally wear ball gowns anyway :-).

    I’m very pleased with the result as it turned out just how I imagined and I really love it.

    To find out more about Stitch Mornings which are held weekly on Tuesday and Thursday mornings 10.00 - 12.30, please click here.


  16. Get that perfect retro-style fit! We're excited that we're going to be at the upcoming Vintage Fair at Brighton Dome on Sunday 4th November, 12 to 5pm. There will be a great range of stalls selling really lovely vintage frocks, ladies' day wear and evening wear, and also suits and shirts for the gents.  So if you find something you love but it doesn't quite fit... we'll be on hand to advise you how you could alter it, for Vintage perfection  ....OR even better, you could think about bringing it to one of our popular Stitch sessions so that you can alter it with our expert help.  - see Stitch mornings, Evenings and Weekends in the 'all classes' menu.

    See http://www.thevintagefair.com/#/brighton/4557305739  for more about the Fair.