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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Sew girl sew!

Is it just me or she beautiful, this shiny new birthday present of mine?
In fact, she is so beautiful, I am too scared to plug her in.

I so want to make gorgeous things.
But I haven't the first clue how to use her.

I have a pile of fabric. And ribbon. And some buttons.
But I might break my beautiful machine when I try to stitch them all together.

So I bought a book, like I always do when I'm stuck.
And another, like I always do when I'm still stuck.

I now have eleven books on sewing.
But I still don't know where to start. 

It's like I need to know everything before I can make anything.
I don't know how much is enough.

Please help me!
Any inspiring sewing blogs, project ideas, mixed media artists using stitch, you name it, I want to know about it. Do you have a story about how you learnt to sew?  I want to hear about it!

Just a little bit more knowledge.
And then I promise to plug her in.

And the winner of the last little giveaway of the magic artist's soap is... Louise of Dream Create Inspire!  Please send email your address (and any sewing tips!) and I will send it to you sharpish


  1. Inspiration Journal

    supplies needed: 1) 2 Large grommets (from craft store in material section where things like zippers are, they come with this little hammer tool. 2) 14x14 inch square of favorite material for cover. 3) 14x14 inch square of heavy duty canvas, but any heavy material will work. 4)Spray ladies who might iron their man's shirts might use. 5) Coordinating ribbon or ribbons for binding.

    Cut your material (both patterned and canvas) to 14x14. Place so that right sides are facing each other. (the front sides are "kissing") SEW (yes you can!!!) all the way around leaving a one inch opening on one side. It doesn't matter where really. When you sew look at the edge and think about keeping that material on the red line of the machine foot thingie. This will make for a straight line. But if the edge is too close, just try to go as straight as you can close to the edge, whatever if you mess up, it's just a journal for fun!

    Once you sew all the way around and have left a one inch opening (or two inches...whatever... just for fun, right?) turn the whole thing inside out using that hole. Poke the corners out with a pin, or a stick, or a pencil...whatever is sitting there.

    Now, where you have that hole, fold the material in until it looks good to you. Iron if you are trying to be all neat about it. Sew this hole closed.

    Almost done! Iron and use the spray to stiffen it up and make it neat. Fold the whole thing in half, mark two points on the fold for your grommets for the will be putting ribbon through. Pound the grommets through, there are always directions on the grommets for this. (easy, like doing eyelets in scrapbooking)

    Find papers that you like, 12x12 or whatever and fold in half. Add holes in paper to line up with the holes you just made with the grommets.

    Put ribbon through the holes, in paper and through grommets, and tie in a pretty bow on the outside, or a big bunch of fun knots, or whatever looks nice to you.

    Boom! Done! Now you have a pattern book. Or a sewing ideas book. Or a journal. Whatever! I will tell you how to add a button after you get this part done!


  2. hi beth! you can totally do this! all you really need to know to get started is how to wind a bobbin and how to thread your machine. you should be able to find both of those in the instruction manual that came with the sewing machine. once you have done that, you're good to go! here is a fun, easy first project that incorporates sewing with a bit of mixed media collage:

    i love rebecca sower's blog. she does some hand stitching as well as machine stitching. check out her archives for some gorgeous work.

    i'll keep my eyes peeled for other easy peasy projects, but i have faith that you'll be sewing up a storm soon!

  3. I'm putting a link to an e-course by Mary Ann Moss who combines stitching, stenciling and all sorts of goodness in her work

    I did her stenciling class and I loved it. She's a great teacher, lots of fun and easy to follow. She'll get you using that machine for sure.

  4. ooooh so jealous and excited for your shiny new creative joy! Theres something going on at the moment with fabric and us ladies i think....we must be creating a telepathic collective to just SEW! I fear i will be no help just yet as I have not embarked myself yet (i only just bought a load of fabric on Tuesday!)

    But in the meantime...a few places for inspiration - dig this chicky (and i love her trees!)

    And this place is really cool for tips and stuff on all sorts of things

    Enjoy, excited to see what you create - it will be wonderful!

    Louise xx

  5. You lucky thing - I want it! Your new machine looks fab. (Just found you via your comment on Design Sponge). Check out for loads of tutorials or

    These sites are fun but beware of losing hours looking at them:

    Good luck and stick with it - I've taught myself to sew (having also hoarded many books to make myself feel well-read...) and now I love it (and sell stuff). Your machine is longing to create. Go forth and sew! Lucy xox

  6. I smiled a big smile at this. I too am intimidated by sewing machines. And they can smell fear too. Or my mother's certainly did. With me. It was putty in her hands.

    But may be therein lies the clue to your fear. Did you grow up with a coal fired monster like me, that you needed a physics degree to be able to thread, chewed your material up, continually spat out its needle and only had 2 speeds: 0 or warp?

    And did you suffer the ignominy of old fashioned Home Economics projects at school in England during your cool teen years, whilst the boys in your class got to dabble in the hip stuff like wood and metal work? Projects like sewing gargantuan, matronly nighties out of someone's nasty old curtains. When all you cared about was trying to dress like Kate Bush. (Why did everything have to be either elasticated or A Line?) No wonder Brit retail fashionistas - All Saints have hundreds of old unwanted, unloved Singer sewing machines in their countrywide window displays!

    But inspite of my scarred memories, I wish you huge luck and fun in your endeavours. You're a polymath Beth, you'll be fine. So go get taming that beast!

  7. Good luck, once you get the hang of it you will love it!

    Here are some blogs I've found very inspiring!

  8. Don't be afraid of your machine - she's just waiting to become your best friend!!

    Spend an evening getting to know her, no project involved. Just take a scrap of fabric and make a few stitches. Then make a few more. Practice with sewing some straight lines 1/4", 1/2", and 5/8" from the edge of a piece of fabric. Easy, easy. Now, take two piece of fabric and place them "right sides together", and stitch a seam down one side. Unfold your fabric, iron it open, and you've now achieved the seam that you'll use with 90% of your sewing projects.

    While you're doing this, you'll get used to how your machine feels, how it sounds, how fast the fabric moves under the presser foot, and how the fabric reacts to the pressure/direction of your hands.

    Once you're comfortable with the basic straight stitch, try your hand at a simple project. This one looks good for a first time out:
    It's a basic lightweight summer scarf that uses nothing but a few straight seams.

    When you finish your scarf, wear it out somewhere and show it to your friends and they'll all tell you how fabulous and smart and crafty you are.

    Continue trying different projects - keep them small, something you can finish in one evening - and try adding a new skill or technique here and there. Fabric coasters, a basic pillow, then a simple tote. You'll be sewing goddess in no time!!

    (Editor, Craft Gossip Sewing)

  9. Tracking with you with EVERY WORD! I got my sewing machine one year ago in June and DID NOT USE IT AND it's now in storage until we move home from Germany.

    liL BLue Boo has cute sewing patterns and they seem very simple.

  10. OH, the places you'll go... the things you will see! I enjoyed your post but your comments took me on lots of rabbit trails! Joli just bought her first sewing machine and is experimenting with all kinds of new things. You'll have to check her blog out soon as she is on the same journey it seems.

  11. HI Beth, I just saw this and thought of you!

  12. Well, I got taught by my mum. What you need is to go to a night class. Or get someone local who can sew to teach you how to load up your machine with thread and do the basic stitches. That will be nearly all you need to know to get started. Best thing to start with is a tote bag. very easy and most satisfactory. Here in Brighton they have sewing classes called, Getting to know your Sewing machine, and you take it along and voila. they show you how to use it. Am convince that you will be able to find something similar near you. Or get a local seamstress to share her knowledge with you - you will find a friend no doubt.
    But lastly - and not at all leastly. I LOVE YOUR BLOG. I am very excited to see a blog celebrating people who love what they do! talk about synchronicity. I just posted a discussion on Mondo Beyondo, well, just sharing my fears as publicly as possible really - about this fear of having things too good. I just want to celebrate the good without my niggly fears of how i might come across. Am going to dive in and read your interviews. Its such a great idea! anyway, just wanted to say I LOVE IT!! xx good luck with finding your sewing mentor!

  13. Oh Beth....Thank you so much for posting this!!!! I love all the ideas people have....But Miss Stella is right and to tell you the truth thats all i have learned and I just started on several projects. I have found that I am getting better or should I say straighter each time. I can't wait to see what you come up with!!!! Miss all of you tons and I am ready for another retreat!!!

  14. Your machine is lovely!

    Go to Martha Stewart's website or buy her new "Encyclopedia of Sewing" (or rent it at the library). Most of her beginner crafts teach you the correct way to do things from the start. It's a great tool for the self-taught.

    Pretty soon, you will totally look at things differently. "What?? Pay $235 for a skirt from Anthropologie when I can make it for $30??I can totally do this!" I promise you, you will see projects everywhere.

    One piece of advice - if you find fabric you love, but have no immediate project in mind to use it with - still BUY IT! Especially if it is on sale. It's amazingly easy to come across a cool pattern or project, but this is not true with finding the right fabric.

  15. Ahh you guys are amazing!! Thank you so much. I took all your advice and made some stuff!

  16. I bought that same book two weeks ago and I found it very inspiring but still understandable for beginners (as me!!!). If you wish, I'd love to sew the very same project as you, so that we can exchange tips and tricks, it could be fun!


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