Always Knitting & Sewing Community Learn to knit, sew or crochet with the help of experienced tutors Sat, 26 Nov 2022 09:30:56 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Always Knitting & Sewing Community 32 32 A Beginners Guide to English Paper Piecing Thu, 24 Nov 2022 16:49:18 +0000


English Paper Piecing, EPP, is a traditional method of hand sewing small pieces of fabric together that hold their shape by being secured to paper pieces using either glue or thread.

The shape of paper is traditionally hexagon but there are diamonds, squares, jewels, circles all of which can be combined to make fabulous patterns. Once the pieces have been joined (this is then referred to as a block), the papers are removed and the fabric you have created can be used to sew all sorts of projects from full sized quilts to pincushions – the projects are endless.

You will find lots of inspiration for EPP on Pinterest and the endless various using the different shapes of paper.

Choosing fabrics

When choosing your fabrics you can use all your scraps of fabrics which will produce a very eclectic fabric block or you can use the same shades or range of fabrics from a particular designer to produce a more coordinated look.

What you will need

You only need a few basic sewing supplies which you will probably already have in your sewing kit. This makes this craft very portable and a great project to take on holiday, visiting a local sewing group or just your favourite

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coffee shop. It is also a great conversation starter if you choose to do your EPP in public.

These are the items I have in my EPP kit:

Sharp, short fine hand sewing needles ( sometimes known as straw needles) Needle Threader
Glue Pen & Refills
Good quality 100% cotton thread in a neutral colour

Large fabric scissors
Small scissors (or thread snips)
EPP Paper Pieces – these can be purchased online ready cut or you can download them from the internet and print them off.
Fabrics of your choice.

You can also use a rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut your fabrics but this would make it less portable. I prefer to use scissors but I can also see the merit of using a rotary cutter if you are cutting lots of fabric pieces.

Preparing for piecing

Basting or gluing your fabric to the paper shapes is an important step in preparing to hand-piece your blocks. This is what gives your block pieces their accurate and perfect size and shape.

I am a glue baster and I find it much quicker than thread basting. A simple Sewline Glue Pen works really well.

For each block I do all of my cutting at once and then glue baste the fabric to the templates as my next step. I use small wonder-clips to keep my shapes and cut fabrics organised together until I’m ready to glue them.

Depending on what fabric you are using, you can fussy cut your hexagons so that a particular area/pattern is centered on the paper piece. I do try and place my paper pieces so that I will get as many pieces from the fabric if I am not fussy cutting.

Gluing and preparing the paper pieces

Add a dot of glue in the centre of your paper piece to secure whilst cutting your fabric. 


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By using just a dot of glue in the centre of one side of the paper piece, it can still be easily removed when ready.

When cutting fabrics to use with English Paper Pieces, add a scant 3⁄8′′ on all sides of the paper piece. Apply glue to each edge.

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I’ve also found if I glue close to the edge of my papers but not on the edge, the fabric is secure and the needle goes through the edge of the fabric much smoother than if it’s getting stuck in glue along the edge.

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Fold over each side making sure to get a nice crisp edge – folding over one edge then the side next to it, paying attention to get the corners neatly folded until all the edges are folded in.

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Sewing the paper piece together

When you have a collection of covered paper pieces you can begin to assemble your fabric blocks.

Thread your needle with a length of thread not more than 50 – 60cm long – any longer and your thread is likely to become knotted or wear and break (this is why it is always a good idea to purchase a good quality thread). Plus longer lengths of thread take longer to sew through the fabric covered paper pieces. I like to thread several needles at once so you can continuing sewing without breaking off to keep threading your needle.

Place the right sides together of the fabric covered pieces, join one of the edges together using small whipstitches on the very edges of the fabric going through the fabric only–not the paper pieces. You can work right to left or left to right – whichever is more comfortable to you.

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Continue joining the pieces together – when you have a few pieces joined on all sides you can then start to carefully remove the paper pieces – they should easily pop out if you have not stitch through the paper. Leave any paper pieces that have not been stitched on all the sides so that the edges of the outside pieces remain intact. These can be removed when you have stitched your fabric block into your project.

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When you have joined your fabric pieces into a usable piece of fabric this can then be sewn into any project you wish like any other piece of fabric.

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Enjoy creating your own designs and patterns using EPP – you can even make tiny hexagons etc for small projects. By using the shapes and your fabrics in different arrangements you can produce stunning results.

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Here are a few examples I found on Pinterest to show you how versatile this craft is.

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What is a Jelly Roll, Layer Cake and Charm Pack? Wed, 03 Aug 2022 09:57:44 +0000 We often get asked, what is a Jelly Roll, Layer Cake and Charm Pack?

Well if you love quilting and crafting, make sure to read on!

Jelly rolls are pre-cut strips of coordinating fabrics, consisting of 40 pieces of fabric measuring 2.5 inches in width and 44 inches in length.

In total there is usually just over 2.5 metres of fabric in one jelly roll, so they are ideal for large quilts, cushions, patches and other home projects.



A layer cake is similar, but without the strips. Instead the bundle includes squared fabric, 42 pieces in total, with each piece measuring 10 inches square.

If you were to sew all the blocks together to create a patchwork quilt top with the 42-10″ squares from one layer cake, you would make seven rows of 6 squares each. The size of that quilt top would be 57″ x66 ½” which would make a great throw size quilt.

cranberries cream layer cake by 3 sisters for moda fabrics uk 42 x 10 fabric sq 105321 p

And lastly, a charm pack is basically a Layer Cake, just smaller. Instead of 10 inch squares, charm packs hold 42 squares measuring 5 inches square. Perfect for smaller projects and quilts.

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Here is a cushion made by Chloe using our Midnight Magic Jelly Roll. You can find the tutorial on how to make this cushion here

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What is Bosal in-R-Form, Thu, 23 Jun 2022 19:52:56 +0000 What is Bosal in-R-form Foam?

We get asked all the time about Bosal Foam, what it is used for and which one is best, so we have put together this blog which hopefully answers those questions.

Bosal in-R-form is a foam stabilizer which gives structure to your craft projects, it is especially good when you are making handbags and totes but it can be used for many other projects.

It is a foam which is sandwiched between two layers of fabric, giving it strength which allows it to maintain its shape.
Because of this structure when you use Bosal in your bags & projects they maintain their shape, allowing them to stand up instead of slouching down over time

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It is very easy to sew, is needle friendly ( you can use a universal size 80 for the bosal, however do be led by the fabric that you are attaching it to) and it gives a lovely padded feel to your projects

Bosal can be machine washed at 40 deg and irons really well too, but do make sure to use a pressing cloth and bear in mind the pressing instructions for the fabric that you are using with the bosal.

There are three kinds:

1. Sew In
2. Single Sided ( adhesive on one side )
3. Double Sided ( adhesive on both sides)


Sew in foam is great for using in handbags and projects where you have to turn the project through a small hole to the right side. As its not actually glued to your fabric you don’t get that wrinkly look that you can sometimes get with the single sided version when you turn the project through.
If you baste ( sew in with a long stitch) the foam to your fabric within the seam allowance it will hold it in place whilst you sew your panels together and then you can trim it our of your seam allowance later if necessary

It can be machine washed at 40 degrees and if it arrives slightly creased you can put a pressing cloth over it and they will press out really well with your iron. I find a little bit of steam can help as well. (Do bear in mind the fabric that you are using with the bosal)


Single sided adhesive foam is great for all sorts of projects. The rough textured side is the side with the glue.
You can use it for any project that you have to turn through just like the sew in version but with the convenience of not having to sew it in place, and as it is ironed on and is glued in place you can cut it smaller so it is not in your seam allowance.
It can sometimes become a little bit wrinkled if you are using it on a project that needs to be turned through so here are some tips to try and avoid this.
1. Use the pressing technique rather than ironing it onto your fabric. Press then lift until you have completely fused it and then give it a quick iron over afterwards going from one side to the other then if there are any wrinkles you are smoothing them out in one direction.
2. You could also wash your fabric first so that any shrinking happens before you use it, as when you iron it onto your fabric and use steam the fabric could shrink slightly and cause the wrinkles.

Always iron it on with the adhesive side facing up and your fabric wrong side down on top of it, The foam can withstand the cotton setting on most irons, but be led by the fabric that you are using for how hot your iron needs to be,
Don’t iron directly onto the foam.
Bosal In-R-Form can be washed at 40 degrees and tumble dried with NO heat, or air dried.


Double sided foam is used for attaching fabric to both sides of the foam. You can just iron your fabrics on one at a time but bear in mind that it is not suitable for turn through projects and your project will need binding afterwards to cover the raw edges.

Double sided bosal is great for table mats and runners, pot holders, coasters, sewing machine covers, and even bags, just remember you will just have to use binding over the joined edges to finish it off.

All 3 versions of In-R-form are great for quilting on to give a lovely padded look to your project.


Bags, tubs, mats, pet beds, straps and handles, pot holders, coasters, zippered pouches, and so many many more.

Etsy Shop Big Banner

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A look at Etsy & Folksy to sell your handmade products Mon, 13 Jun 2022 19:07:58 +0000 Have you considered generating extra income by selling your craft makes? If not you might want to think about it. It’s not as hard as you might expect and you can make a little extra cash to fund your sewing or knitting hobby.

This article aims to give you some ideas of where you can sell your lovely products mainly looking at Folksy & Etsy.

Selling your home made crafts has never been easier now that there are several online platforms with huge audiences who love to buy the sorts of things that you make.  Of course the traditional craft fairs and markets remain popular with many of our customers and they are also a lovely place to sell your products however once you have packed up and gone home you will not be selling any more products until your next fair.

With the online market places your goods are for sale 24 hours a day and you have a much larger audience, often an international audience.

The two main online market places for hand made goods are Folksy and Etsy, both of which are well established and well known for their large variety of lovely hand made goods.

Both of these online market places provide an ‘easy to use’ templated system for selling your products and with a small amount of effort you can be up and selling in a matter of days

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Etsy is an American company which was set up in 2005. It is probably the biggest and most well know hand made market place, selling vintage items, hand made items and craft supplies. Etsy hit sales of £7.8 Billion in 2020, with the number of active customers reaching 81 million!!


The fees for Etsy ( from 11th April 2022) are :-
£0.15 listing fee ( billed as $0.20 ) for each item which lasts for 4 months
5% transaction fee
4% + £0.20 processing fee
They offer an off site advertising service ( using google & social media networks ) of 15% which is optional until you sell over $10,000 worth of products over the last 365 days in which case the fees are 12% and the advertising is compulsory though you only pay a fee if you make a sale from the advertising. It’s probably unlikely that you are going to sell over £10,000 worth of products so don’t worry too much about the advertising being compulsory.

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If you are looking for a company closer to home, Folksy is a UK business based in Sheffield.

It was set up in 2008 by James Boardwell, a digital designer who recognised the need for a UK based platform for handmade products.

Folksy had around 10 million pounds in sales in 2021 mainly from uk buyers, 85% of customers are based in the Uk, 4% in mainland Europe, 6% in the US and 2% in Canada and Australia

Folksy say that “We are team of people who believe in handmade, not a corporate giant with thousands of shareholders to please. There are six of us at Folksy – three of us are artists, designers and makers, so we understand what it takes to sell online.”

They are also very much a company who try to engage their community on social media and through newsletters. Their current newsletter has over 70,000 subscribers and they also have a private facebook group just for sellers where you can engage with other like minded sellers, pick up tips and get up to date news directly from Folksy.

They also offer a free online selling course for all new Folksy shops and all new folksy shop owners get access to their free Make It Sell ecourse
If you want to get started from free they offer you 3 free listings on the Etsy basic plan ( see below for more info about their plans ) so that you can learn the ropes and get selling as quickly as possible
If you already sell on Etsy and want to sell on Folksy they have a feature which allows you to automatically import all your products from Etsy too.


Folksy have 2 plans, the basic and the folksy plus plan
The Folksy plus plan costs £5 per month and you get unlimited free listings, 10 images per listing and you pay 6% commission plus vat on each sale.
The Basic plan doesn’t have a monthly fee but you pay £0.15 plus vat per item listed and 6%  commission plus vat.

If you are thinking about selling on either of these market places I suggest you have a look round both websites and see if you prefer one or the other.

To get going you will need a camera and a computer and that is about it really, however here are some things to consider:-


  1. Depending on what you are selling you need to consider what packaging you will send your products in. Do you need boxes or bags? Will you need protective packaging if you are selling breakable items?
  2. Make sure to check how much it is going to cost to send your items by post. If you are going to use ROYAL MAIL you can check the cost of the postage on their price checker HERE.  There are also lots of other companies with whom you can send your parcels and you can get comparisons in prices from companies like PARCEL MONKEY. and PARCELS TO GO   Some companies will pick up parcels from your own home too!
  3. Make sure to keep a record of any expenses and profits that you make, even if it is a small part time business you may be liable to pay tax on any profits that you make.

Heather and Donna from our team currently sell on Etsy and Lucy has previously sold her products on Etsy very successfully so if you need any advice or further information you can get in touch and they would be more than happy to share their experiences.

If in doubt give it a try, there is no obligation and you can stop selling at any time if you don’t like it. Often though once you are set up it can be a really enjoyable way to make a bit of extra money whilst continuing to enjoy your hobby.


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Knitting Tips & Advice for Beginners Wed, 27 Apr 2022 12:56:42 +0000 Knitting Tips For Beginners

Having asked our customers and members within our Knit It, Stitch It, Share It Facebook Group for their favourite and most useful Knitting tips, we thought why not put together an easy list for those just starting out with Knitting…

With over 100 amazing tips sent in, here are some of the popular ones:

(Including a bonus Knitting Pattern to make a shawl)


  1. Experiment with the length of knitting needles, some are more comfortable to work with but that is a very individual preference
  2. Interchangeable needles (circular) are brilliant once you are able to knit with straight needles but best to learn on the straight ones first
  3. Bamboo needles are so comfortable to work with and are kinder to the hands and fingers


  1. Don’t knit whilst watching scary scenes on the television, it will mess up your tension!!
  2. Don’t worry about tension when you are first learning to knit. Find a pattern that does not require a particular size like a cushion, scarf, shawl etc.
  3. You will find your own style and natural tension with practice
  4. If you find you are a tight knitter then go up a needle size to cast on & off and especially when casting off jumper neck holes
  5. When you have practiced making simple items and progress onto more complicated knitting make sure you always do a tension sample ( we have a blog about how to do this and what to do if your tension is tighter or looser than it should be )


  1. Read patterns through before starting
  2. Highlight or circle the size you are making in a multi size pattern
  3. If not using the yarn stated on the pattern always do a tension square
  4. Note down each row with pen and paper
  5. Remember to check the yardage if you are using a different wool from the pattern
  6. Knit both sleeves at the same time so that the shaping is equal and the sleeves are equal length
  7. Check websites for free patterns there are lots of projects from small to large
  8. Go through your pattern and write down the amount of rows you need to knit. Then cross off each row as you knit them. Use a different colour for the back & a different colour for the front. This means the length of the back & front are the same
  9. When knitting from a pattern, photocopy it first so you can write notes on the copy and keep the original clean


  1. Buddy up with an experienced knitter
  2. There are great tutorials on you tube
  3. Don’t worry about holes appearing when you are learning, its normal
  4. If you are knitting stocking stitch count your row on the purl side of the knitting
  5. Start with easy projects – squares of knit and purl to master the basics, you will soon end up with enough patches for a blanket which is a big achievement
  6. Note down each row with pen and paper to keep track of where you are up to
  7. Always slip the 1st stitch and knit into the back of last stitch, this gives a perfect edge if you have to pick up stitches
  8. When casting off always knit the last two stitches together to prevent a long loose stitch
  9. Teaching a child to knit ? Try the rhyme “ Down the rabbit hole round the tree, up the rabbit hole, off pops she”
  10. Cast off using a crochet hook
  11. Block your finished knitting. It really evens out any uneven stitches and gives a lovely smooth look. Lay a damp towel out flat and lay your finished knitting on it making sure it measures the size you want then lay another damp towel over the top and leave till dry
  12. Use needle protectors to stop your work falling off the needles when you pack it away


  1. Use a decent yarn/ wool because some cheaper wools don’t knit up that well and it could put you off. Paintbox & Stylecraft do a range of basic yarns and they work really well and are not expensive
  2. Use a space dyed yarn. It will hide all the wonky tension and imperfections. It is so much more encouraging to have a finished piece that looks good

Overall keep at it, enjoy knitting and don’t let your cat help you!!



Cast on 3 stitches, knit the first two, then knit into the front and the back of the third stitch to end up with five stitches.  Keep doing this, knitting to the front and to the back of the third stitch until you have enough material to make a shawl.  Cast off when your shawl is the size you want it.

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Sewing Tips & Advice for Beginners Mon, 11 Apr 2022 20:22:16 +0000 Sewing Tips For Beginners

Having asked our customers and members within our Knit It, Stitch It, Share It Facebook Group for their favourite and most useful Sewing tips, we thought why not put together an easy list for those just starting out with sewing…

With over 200 amazing tips sent in, here are some of the popular ones:

1. ALWAYS measure twice and cut once, double check your measurements and then check again! Always read the instructions for your project fully prior to using the scissors too.

2. Buy the best scissors that you can afford and don’t use them for anything but cutting fabric. Use a general pair of scissors for cutting out paper patterns

3. Use the correct needle for the type of fabric you are using and make sure that you change your needle regularly (we have a blog about sewing machine needles HERE)

4. Use your iron as much as your sewing machine – pressing can make mediocre sewing look presentable and failing to press can make good sewing look mediocre. Keep your iron & ironing board handy and near to your sewing machine to make this easier.

5. Buy a copy of Sewing For Dummies. Its’s perfect for beginners. It takes you through all of the terms used in sewing as well as types of fabric and how to handle them and their uses. It tells you what you need to create a basic sewing kit. It literally answers every question. Worth its weight in gold.

6. Don’t attempt an over complicated piece for your first project. Start small and work your way up. Make sure to allow yourself three times as long as you think to finish a project

7. Pin seams or use clips. If you don’t, you will often find one side ends up longer than the other.

8. When using pins for a project place them horizontally, like this lllll not like this —- so that you can sew over the pins and remove them at the end rather than whilst are sewing. Make sure to put the pins facing away from you so that you don’t prick yourself with the pins as you are sewing.

9. Don’t buy an over complicated sewing machine to start with, and learn to look after your sewing machine and keep it clean

10. Cut off your threads as you go saving time when you get to the end of a project

11. Use a test piece of fabric first to check the needle, the tension and the stitch length

12. Remember everyone makes mistakes so don’t beat yourself up over it, mistakes are where the love is.

13. Get into the habit of moving your foot back from the peddle every time you stop, and every time you need to put your hands anywhere near the needle

14. Begin with learning to machine a straight line, to a measured seam allowance. Then a curved line, again keeping an even distance from the edge. Accuracy is so important when sewing.

15. When dressmaking from a pattern, go by your body measurements, not the size you buy from the shops

16. Having a seam ripper nearby is very useful when mistakes do happen!

17. Hold onto the threads when beginning to stitch at the edge of the fabric to stop the threads being drawn into the bobbin case (I find this often happens on the basic machines).

18. If doing lots of hand sewing, learn to use a thimble

19. When watching tutorials or videos, watch them through before starting to make the project & also make notes.

20. Have fun and if you get stuck get help from our large community on Facebook, Knit It Stitch It Share It facebook group HERE

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What is Polycotton Fabric? Mon, 21 Mar 2022 14:17:24 +0000 What is Poly-cotton Fabric?

Poly-cotton is a lightweight fabric, normally consisting of 65% polyester and 35% cotton (however the blend can vary). It combines the breathability of cotton with the durability of polyester.

In terms of pricing, cotton is more expensive than polyester so poly-cottons are normally priced between the two, making it a really affordable option, especially when just starting out.

Our poly-cotton fabrics range from £1.99 – £2.50 per half metre.

Poly-cotton is also a versatile fabric and can/is used for many things, including uniforms (like scrubs), fashion clothing (garments), household textiles and more.

Another advantage is that poly-cotton is both breathable and long lasting. Polyester fabrics tend to stick to the skin in hot conditions, where as cotton is very breathable. By mixing the two, you get a happy medium.

Poly-cotton also tends to crease a lot less than cotton fabric, meaning minimal ironing is required.

Washing instructions for poly-cotton fabric:

Poly-cotton can be machine washed, however we recommend doing so on a warm setting. We would also suggest trying a small piece of fabric first. It’s great to use fabric softener as well.

If you want to tumble dry the fabric, this should be done on a low/cool temperate setting.

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Beginners Guide to Sewing Machine Feet Thu, 24 Feb 2022 12:48:44 +0000 Sewing Machine Feet

When you purchase your first sewing machine you will receive a selection of sewing machine feet that can be quite bewildering to a novice sewer. Each of these feet are designed to make particular sewing tasks easier.

There are also lots of additional feet that can be purchased for your sewing machine and we advise customers to always buy sewing machine feet designed specifically for their machine by the manufacturer.

Your local sewing machine specialists are the perfect place to buy your feet as they will know the correct foot for each make and model of sewing machine.

If buying online always check the compatibility charts to make sure a particular foot is compatible for your machine.

This blog is designed as an overview of the most popular feet but there are many specialised feet that can be purchased as you become a more experienced sewer. Always refer to your sewing machine manual for various stitch instructions on how to set up your machine.

Standard or Zig Zag Foot

This is the foot that you will use most often as a novice sewer as it is capable of both straight and any basic decorative stitches that come as standard on your machine, such as zig zag, satin and overcasting stitches. If you are using tricky fabrics such as chiffon or silk you may run into problems using this foot and also if you are trying certain techniques but generally this will be your go to foot.

Standard Foot

Basic Zipper Foot

Most sewing machines include a basic zipper foot. They can be attached to your machine on the left or right of the foot by clipping the bar onto the pressure foot clamp depending on which side of the zip you are stitching – you can easily see this bar and where it slots into on to your sewing machine. The gaps on either side of the foot allow you to get close to the teeth of your zip. Depending on your sewing machine you may also be able to adjust the position of the needle to get even more precision stitching. Stitch along one side of the zip then repeat for the other side using the relevant side of the foot.

Zipper Foot

Concealed or Invisible Zipper Foot

It is worth mentioning that you can purchase a concealed or invisible zipper foot which makes inserting this type of zip much easier. The foot has little channels or grooves under the foot where the teeth of the zip sit allowing you to get really close to the teeth. The idea of a concealed zip is that you cannot see the teeth or tape of the zip giving a really professional finish to your project. Do make sure you do not stitch too close to the teeth or you may not be able to close the zip!

Invisible Zipper Foot


One Step Buttonhole Foot

Many basic machines usually include a one step buttonhole foot. This has a slider at the back of the foot where you can place your button. This allows your machine to calculate the correct size of buttonhole to sew in one easy step. Your machine manual will tell you how your particular foot fits onto you machine and which settings to use.


One Step Buttonhole Foot


Button Sewing Foot

This foot allows you to sew 2 or 4 hole buttons onto your project by setting the stitch width to match the holes in the button. Some machines will include a spacer that you place under the button that creates a thread shank for thicker fabrics such as for coats. This looks like a bent plastic H and can also be used when sewing thick seams. There is also a small hole in the spacer which you can use to replace the needle in your sewing machine – just place your needle in the hole and use it to hold the needle to replace it. This is much less fiddly than trying to hold the needle and you are less likely to drop the needle into your needle plate.


Button Sewing Foot          Spacer

Walking Foot

This foot is a great addition to your collection but will not usually come with your machine as standard. Often referred to as a dual feed foot, it is generally used by quilters & patchworkers but is also useful for dressmakers also. This foot allows your machine to feed layers of fabric through your machine evenly.

There is a little bar that usually slots over the needle bar screw. Place your fabric layers under the main foot of the walking foot and it works together with the feed dogs on your machine – (these are the little zig zag metal teeth you can see under the needle plate) to feed all the layers together.

If you use a standard foot when quilting the top fabric layer will often feed at a different rate to the bottom layer and your pieces will not correctly line up. By using a walking foot your pieces should line up at the correct point.

Walking feet are also useful when sewing jersey fabrics stopping your fabric from stretching and going out of shape.


Walking Foot


Blind Hem Foot

A blind hem foot safes a lot of time if you do not want to sew your hems by hand.

The right side of the foot is wider than the left and is slighter higher – this is because you fold the fabric a certain way and there will be 3 layers of fabric on the right (2 for the garment and 1 for the seam allowance) and just one on the left of the seam hem allowance.

Once the hem is pressed under, fold it back onto the right side of the garment. Position the foot right up to the right side of the fold of fabric and set you machine to the blind hem stitch (refer to your manual). The stitch should just catch the fabric but you may need to play with the needle position to get it correctly placed. You will see a minimal amount of stitching on the right side of the garment so it is best used on patterned or coarsely woven fabrics.


Blind Hem Foot

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Beginners Guide To Sewing Equipment Mon, 14 Feb 2022 12:22:47 +0000 As a beginner sewer you can easily get going with just some fabric, thread, scissors and a sewing machine ( or sewing needle if you are hand stitching) however as with any hobby there are definitely some items that are going to make your life a lot easier and more enjoyable when Sewing (who doesn’t love a good gadget!)

I have put together this list of items which I think are handy when starting off, I have listed them in the order of most importance, so here goes…

F9863 PK png 800xDress Making Scissors

A really good pair of dressmaking  scissors which are sharp make all the difference when cutting your fabric. It is definitely worth investing in a decent pair with a long blade. We use Fiskars Classic dressmaking scissors here at the shop to cut our fabrics – so they are highly recommended by us. These Scissors have a long 25cm blade and retain and stay sharp even with many hours of cutting.  If you are investing in a good pair of scissors be sure not to use them for cutting paper and non fabric items as they will become blunt and harder to use!

Seam Ripper seam ripper 800x

As a beginner sewer this is definitely a must have, the addition of a seam ripper makes unpicking stitches a dream and when you first start sewing its likely that you will have a bit of unpicking to do at first!

Tape measuretape measure 800x

Make sure you have a decent tape measure, we love the retractable designs as they are easy to tidy away and if your sewing room is anything like mine you could do with all the help you can get with tidying up  😂

Tailors chalk and/or wash off pen

ER295 F.pngTailors chalk and wash off pens are very useful for marking your fabrics when cutting out, making alterations and marking points of reference such as darts etc.  The marks are then easily washed or brushed off your fabric.  You can also buy  air erasable pens which don’t need washing off , the markings magically disappear on their own!

Needle ThreaderH234 A.png

What a joy these little gadgets are! Plus, they are really cheap and worth every penny. There are lots of different designs of these useful items and they all work in pretty much the same way, saving a ton of time messing about trying to thread your hand sewing needles, get a few of them and keep them handy!

Thread Snips or a small pair of scissors

thread snips cutters 800xA little pair of sharp scissors or thread snips are a great addition to you sewing tool box.  You don’t want to be cutting your threads and tidying up your sewing with large dressmaking scissors.  These thread snips are so handy to have next to your sewing machine and so easy to use.  I have a few pairs of the thread snips nearby so that I can always find them when I need them.

Pins & a pin cushion


A good set of decent pins to secure your fabric to your pattern and a pin cushion to  pop them into when you are busy sewing are a great addition to your sewing kit.  You can get lots of different lengths & sizes of pins, but I would suggest medium length dressmaking pins.  In fact a pin cushion is a great beginner sewing project so why not make one yourself!

Iron & Ironing board

FacebookCarouselAd 7 7673c51f 31d2 4d68 af49 2b99d7ad50b9 800xYour usual iron and ironing board are perfectly fine to use to press your sewing projects.  Some sewers like to invest in a mini iron and board to keep handy near their sewing machine.  You can also purchase cordless irons too and these can be quite handy to move to your sewing without the restriction of the cord. These might be something to invest in when you have purchased all the essentials and you want to treat yourself ( or perhaps put it on a gift list for your birthday !)

Seam Guide

H267.pngNot Essential, but nice to have if you want to measure precise seam allowances.  As you will discover, a lot of good sewing is all about getting the correct measurements of your fabric, hence the saying ‘measure twice, cut once.’



24 inch Ruler

NL4188.pngConsider a good ruler once you have all the above, they are great for lots of projects not just patchwork, they are especially good when teamed with a rotary cutter.  We will often cut our premium cottons with a ruler and rotary cutter as it achieves a very straight edge which is great particularly if you are working with squares, triangles & rectangles.

Rotary Cutter

F1023907 PK png 800xFantastic for achieving very accurate cutting of straight edges, most rotary cutters need the blades changing periodically and when you purchase a rotary cutter it usually comes with a spare blade. They come in different sizes from  small (28mm) to large (60mm).  We use a size 45mm here in the shop and that is a nice size to start with.  Be aware that they are very sharp and it is good practice to always put the guard down when not actually using them to cut.  If you are going to invest in a rotary cutter you will also need a self healing cutting mat, see below

Cutting Mat

er4093.pngCutting mats come in a variety of sizes.  They usually have rulers along the sides and also across the mat the help you cut accurately and come in a variety of sizes so think about how you are going to be using it. If you are sewing small items you will need a smaller mat ( 12 x 9in)  however if you are cutting larger pieces of fabric an extra large mat is a good investment (36 x 24in/90cm x 60cm)

A good cutting mat has a self healing property which prolongs the life of the mat, it definitely worth spending a bit more on a good mat if you are going to be using it frequently.

I could go on forever but I think that to get started if you work down the list you will have a great collection of equipment to help you get started on your sewing journey. The list of gadgets and devices is endless and that is even before you start on all the beautiful fabrics available.

Enjoy your sewing and be sure to share what you make with us

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A Beginners guide to Stitch Lengths Mon, 07 Feb 2022 13:09:39 +0000

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When you start sewing you usually  start with the stitch length that is the default for your sewing machine which is often around 2.5mm, which is fine to start with but if you want to work with a variety of fabrics and also improve the look of your sewing it is really useful to have an idea of what stitch length to use and why.  In this guide we will teach you everything you need to know about stitch length so that you can start creating beautiful projects that look professional.

Stitch length is basically how long each stitch is when it is sewn by your machine and is generally measured in millimetres so for instance 2.5 means that the length of the stitch is 2.5 mm long.  Most machines range from 0 to 5 mm in stitch length.

Changing the stitch length adjusts the feed dogs, ( feed dogs are the metal teeth like ridges in the throat plate of your sewing machine. They move as you sew gripping the fabric to help it pass through your sewing machine) this controls how much fabric is pulled through with each stitch.

For a shorter length, less fabric is pulled through. For a longer stitch, more fabric is pulled through the feed dogs.

If you are using free motion you would normally set the  length at zero. When the stitch length is set to zero the feed dogs are dropped and you determine how long the stitch length is by moving the fabric under the needle yourself in a free motion style.

The length of your stitch should be changed for a variety of reasons

Firstly the thickness of your fabric, thicker & heavier fabrics generally need a longer stitch length and in particular, fabrics like leather  as it is a thicker fabric and you are going to want  fewer holes being punched into the fabric.

Lighter & sheer fabrics need a shorter stitch length to prevent pulling and gathering.

The thickness of your thread will also affect what stitch length you use.  Thicker threads require a longer stitch length and finer threads a shorter one.

If you are top stitching some people think that a longer stitch looks better but there is no hard and fast rule about this so see which length looks best for your particular project and the fabric weight.  If you are using top stitching thread which is usually thicker than standard thread then you are probably going to want to make your stitch length a bit longer ( see chart below )

If you are wanting a stronger seam then a shorter stitch length would be advisable as tiny small stitches are going to be stronger, but again consider the type of fabric being used.

Take a look at the chart below which gives a guide to the stitch lengths required for various reasons.

Hopefully this guide has given you a basic understanding of stitch length which will make your sewing more enjoyable and improve the quality of your sewing projects.


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