The Marks & Spencer Shwop & Sew Lab

On the 20th June, I shall be setting up shop inside Marks & Spencer’s, Broadmead as part of The Bristol Big Green Week! Excitement!!

I’ll be running two Workshops, the first being for Beginners to Up-Cycle a T-Shirt in to a Shopping Bag or Infinity Scarf, the second for more intermediate Sewers will turn a T-Shirt into a Shirred Skirt or Tunic! All T-Shirts are being donated by Oxfam, and the event is completely free BUT it’s first come, first served so you’ll need to get in fast!!

You can see all of the details here, and the full Schedule is below:M&SYes, you can meet the winner of The Great British Sewing Bee! Eek!! And just look at all of the good things you can come along to learn, Up-Cycle or repair. I shall definitely be hanging around to take a peek at the Refashion Competition and for Matt’s talk (and a cheeky glass of something!).

I’ll be sharing the makes over the week as I put together the samples and instruction sheets so watch out! I love the idea of Up-Cycling all of those old T-Shirts into useful Shopping Bags (did you know the UK stops giving Shopping Bags out for free at the end of the year? Well, we do so make your own re-usable one now!!).

See you there, can’t wait to meet you all.

Happy stitching!

Book review: Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing

Now, I have the proper old school copy of this, and I’m fairly sure I stole it from my Mum many moons ago! I find it is synonymous with good sewing techniques, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Often found in charity shops (my second copy for classes was just £4), this hefty tome is clearly laid out & quite formally written with wonderful illustrations liberally sprinkled over every page. I find illustrations are vastly easier to follow than photographs, and as everything from basic pattern cutting, fitting and cut to sewing up & finishing is covered the sheer amount of them is immensely reassuring. There’s even a section in back which covers Children’s clothes & upholstery.

Written with the firm understanding that the reader knows at least the basics of sewing, the complete novice should not be daunted as this really is useful for all levels of sewing ability. The basic stitches chapter clearly illustrates how to sew by hand & machine, whilst the seams chapter will have you running up simple garments in a trice. For people wishing to refine, check or relearn techniques there are more advanced instructions, covering the often varied ways of doing one task for example; there are instructions on how to work button holes in over ten different ways, which are then repeated for various weights of fabric.

Whilst this book does cover pattern cutting, tailoring and upholstery it really focuses on sewing techniques, and these sections are by far the weaker chapters. My suggestion if wanting to pattern cut, would be to purchase Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear and start from scratch. It is a discipline which will either entrance or infuriate you but is does deserve more space than the Complete Guide to Sewing gives it. The same for tailoring, which is a skill one cannot simply learn from the scant 20 pages it is given here. I’d grab a copy of Classic Tailoring Techniques for Womenswear by Cabrera & Meyers & hole up for a couple months!

Written in a very no-nonsense style, it really should be the cornerstone of every seamstress, fashion student, designer or, in this case, costumiers bookcase. This is something the beginner can grow in to but also makes a great reference book for the more knowledgeable sewer.

Happy stitching!