Buying a Sewing Machine

Hey everyone !

Welcome back to my info series of blogs 🙂

Today we are talking about the big one… Buying sewing machine !

I get soooo many messages and emails about which machine to buy as a beginner or advanced stitcher.

And I’ll be honest… its a minefield ! There are many many types of machines out there , and whilst the majority do the same thing , there are a LOT of extras that are useful for different types of sewing.

I’m going to go through a list of basic sewing machines and why I think they are great , or not so great. Now these are my PERSONAL opinions , I’m not a sewing machine guru.. but I have used several thousand of them at this point both old and new teaching various beginners classes etc.

REPAIR MACHINES/ KIDS MACHINES/MINI MACHINES

Now , the problem with this category is that these machines are great for single layer repairs of cotton , poly cotton and thinner fabrics , but are totally useless for anything thicker.

Sadly sometimes these machines are sold as ‘sewing machines’ and give the impression they are a bargain general sewing machine , when in reality they fall over or break easily.

AVOID THESE MACHINES – INCLUDING KIDS MACHINES !

See how tiny they are ? They just fall over 😦

The ONLY half size machine I recommend are these Janome ( John Lewis) mini’s.

We have used these in our children’s classes for 7  years now , without a single repair – and they’ve been chucked about quite  bit !

These are great for younger children to practice and stitch on… but I wouldn’t recommend ANY mini machine for an adult or child aged 12+ .

 

BUDGET MACHINES.

Great for beginners and all round stitchers. These are the more common ones used in our classes over the last 8 years.

There’s quite a few out there , SINGER , BROTHER , PFAFF , JOHN LEWIS ( JANOME) ETC.

Here are a few of our favourites in our classes – and why.

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Singer 8280 – I have several of these for our hire sewing machines. They are a good solid sewing machine with all the basic stitches you need as a beginner , and this machine comes with sewing machine feet/bobbins etc.  Bottom loader.

This is our MOST common sewing machine out of 3,567 students to date 282 students have them.

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Janome j3-18 or John lewis  JL110 coloured/patterned  sewing machines. Great beginners sewing machines. They come in a range of colours and patterns and a little bag of machine feet /bobbins. Although oddly some older models don’t have a zipper foot – but this can be bought separately for around £2-£3. Has a lot of very basic stitches.

Our second most common coming in at 277 students having them in class.

Brother LS14 LKS14

A brilliant top loading sewing machine , has all the basic stitches you need as a beginner and comes with all the sewing machine feet you need. Only downside is you have no stitch length adjustment.

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Ikea. They don’t make these anymore – but you might find one second hand. We had around 35 students with them at one time , and despite the majority being put together incorrectly in the bobbin area in the factory , once re-assembled these machines are nifty little stitchers. Downside – It has a very powerful motor but it’s a light machine , so it will fall over if you push too hard !

MID RANGE MACHINES.

There’s a LOT of these out there !

The difference between a mid range and budget is usually that they have more stitches ( including stretch stitches) and an automatic buttonhole. Some have a needle down function , digital display and automatic tension.

These are some classroom favourites.

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Here she is ! My old faithful  , sadly she is no more , but I have hammered this poor machine for over 8 years !

I have a singer confidence 7470. The singer confidence range is quite vast , from basic electronic models all the way up to more expensive ones.

Each machine has a different range of stitches , and some have a built in alphabet. Great for quilters as it has a larger throat than a standard machine , which is also useful for dressmaking.

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Brother HC1850 – A good range of stitches suitable for all types of stitching. Needle down function and this machine can be used without a pedal.

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The bernette 38 is the top model in the bernette 30 series. This computerised sewing machine offers a wide range of functions at an affordable price. It’s a little more towards the top end but the other machines in this series are slightly cheaper and just as good.

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Janome DCS30 special edition comes in a range of colours. This machine features a thread cutter , needle down function and can be used without a pedal.

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Pfaff Passport 2.0

This machine is very lightweight and designed for moving around. It has an automatic bobbin sensor which is super handy if you are not very good at playing bobbin chicken !

 

SUPER EXPENSIVE BUT OH SO LOVELY SEWING MACHINES.

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BERNINA – ANY OF THEM.

I love them all , these truly are dream machines , they come with some accessories and a range of stitches and possibilities , but oh they run like a dream !

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My next sewing machine…. The Janome DKS100

Needle down , thread cutter , Knee lift , tons of stitches… and oh so quiet !

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Singer Quantum – Powerful motor and extension table is great for quilting !

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Janome Atelier – any of them.

Gah ! I’m winding myself up now. I’ll stop.

 

Obviously there are different types of  machines out there – embroidery machines , over lockers , cover stitch etc , but today I just wanted to cover some of the more basic models.

The rule of thumb is … check the reviews online , go and see a machine and have a go if you can ( John lewis and some sewing shops will give you a demo) and if in doubt , ask a fellow stitcher !

If you are looking for a new sewing machine , that’s great. But PLEASE don’t be put off by using an older machine. Some of the more ancient machines I have seen and used in my time are perfectly fine to use as a beginner ! The older the machine , the more solid they are too ! Usually a bit of oil and a clean and these too run like a dream. We welcome older machines at our classes no problem , but if in doubt pop me a message before class.

 

Happy Sewing !

 

 

The Best Uk Fabric shops

Hey everyone !

One of the most asked questions I get from both beginner and experienced stitchers , is where to buy good quality fabric in the UK.

Previously I have given Stitch Bridgend Sewing School beginners a list but I have never shared it outside of our student group , but as my GEMMA STITCH PDF patterns become more and more popular the comments on blogs , insta & the website keep coming …

 

Sooo… hold on to your fabric scissors…

Here are my recommended Uk websites & shops. Click on the name to go to the websites.

FABRIC SHOPS.

FRUMBLE– Funky modern fabrics  , including licensed prints , waterproof fabrics & amazing range of trims

PLUSH ADDICT – A whole range of quilt and plush fabrics

ELEPHANT IN MY HANDBAG – modern fabrics

THE FABRIC FOX  – Edgy Modern designer fabrics I love this shop ❤

SEW HOT – Every quilting fabric you could imagine , they also stock up to date quilt patterns.

GUTHRIE AND GHANI – One of my favourites – their dressmaking range is beautiful and well thought out.

THE VILLAGE HABERDASHERY – Soooo many crafty ideas as well as fabrics.

MINERVA CRAFTS– Great for dressmaking & rarer types of fabric like brocade and scuba.

EMPRESS MILLS – Fab sheeting fabrics & an amazing range of my favourite prym products

SEW OVER IT– Modern dressmaking patterns & fabrics

1ST FOR FABRICS –  Great basics for dressmaking

SEW ME SUNSHINE – Amazing modern dressmaking fabrics one of my top dressmaking shops – plus recyclable packaging & fabric care cards bonus !

CELTIC FUSION FABRICS– My secret go to for rarer fabrics and up to date designer fabrics.

FABRIC GODMOTHER – Great all rounder for dressmaking.

POUND FABRICS – A fabric pound shop ! A little hit and miss , but some serious bargains if you look through regularly.

BLOSSOM BITS AND BAGS – Great interfacing ranges and bag making supplies.

 

I’m pretty sure there are hundreds more I have bought from in the past , but this list is MY personal favourites I order from a LOT.

( Shop owners – No payment required folks- but if you are reading this favourite sewing shops peoples I do take bribes for the kids club heheheheh)

I will be sharing my favourite notions , beginner sewing machines and more in my next few posts , So stay tuned !!

You can always visit me at my main website for lot’s more hints and tips plus tons of free patterns in the mean time though….  CLICK HERE 

 

Happy fabric shopping !

 

 

To contact me please use website link ! I do not monitor comments on here ❤

 

 

The Really Rainbow Basket Sewing Pattern

It’s here ! The Really Rainbow Basket Sewing Pattern!

Make your very own rainbow stripe basket using our awesome beginner friendly sewing pattern.
 
With different stabilser options ❤
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The Rainbow Nursery is really coming along , and I realised , I needed a super rainbow basket ! Mine is made from scraps of the Rainbow Babies alphabet quilt fabric and some handle fabric scraps from the baby bag ! BONUS !
You can make your own using our beginner friendly sewing pattern , I can’t wait to see what you make !
GET THE PATTERN HERE
Happy Sewing !

 

 

DIY door tassels

I know… Two blogs in two weeks… incredible isn’t it ?

I’ve been a busy bee making bits and bobs for the nursery including these uber cute rainbows..

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PATTERN AVAILABLE HERE

I was wondering what to do with some left over rope and noticed some super expensive door tassels on a well known home decor store 😉 and decided to make my own !

You can make them too , they are amazingly easy ! ( you could even ROPE the kids in… see what I did there… )

You will need :

SOME ROPE ! I’ve used Pram super soft bag handles for this project as its beautifully wrapped.

Some Thread or wool !

Your scissors

A brush /comb and if you like them straight – some hair straighteners or an iron.

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Cut your rope to the size you want your finished piece to be. Sellotape the ends as you cut to stop the rope fraying and coming apart as you wrap it.

Mark your start and stop points , and then… get wrapping ! You could use any colours or patterns , but I’ve used some left over thread I had from my embroidery project.

 

Pinch the ends of the rope together and pop some thread around the two pieces of rope to hold them together.

Take off your sellotape and using a pair of sharp scissors or a needle unweave the rope.

Brush through the tail ends and trim.

If you’d like your tassel ends to be straight try using an iron or even better some hair straightens ( a la rainbow ! )

And you are done ! How cute is that for some left over bits and bobs !

Happy Crafting !

 

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The Backpack Baby Bag

Hey everyone !

I’ve finallllly got round to making a new baby backpack !

I bought a beautiful ( but expensive) baby bag from Cath Kidston when Baby rainbow was born , but the top pleather on the binding came off pretty instantly , and the inside started falling apart , the zips were misaligned and it drove me crazy ! ( what happened to Cath Kidston – the last few years the bags have been awful ! )

So , in true ME fashion I couldn’t find a baby backpack I liked… so I decided to make one…

 

The Outer fabric is by Cotton + Steel Rifle Paper Co. Menagerie Canvas Rosa Navy Fabric (Now unavailable ) with a leather effect base.

Linings are a mix of cotton & steel , ruby star society and rainbow fabrics. ( Frumble Fabrics & Fabric Fox)

Stabilisers – Pellon & heavy duty interfacing.

Rainbow Clips & hardware – ETSY shop – BagmakingBlingUK

It’s loosely based on the RANGE BACKPACK sewing pattern by Noodlehead.

I made quite a few modifications…

  1. Added extra side D rings to attach it to a pram
  2. Added selvedge detailing to the inside pocket
  3. Added elasticated bottle pocket on the inside lining
  4. mixed and matched the top of the lining with the same as the outer for a better funky finish.
  5. Added the all important inner and outer tags
  6. Made pram(stroller) clips & buckles using left over strap fabric.
  7. Added a tassel.
  8. changed seam allowances to 1/4 inch and added in extra overlock stitching at the sides and bottoms and other ‘stress’ points.
  9. Made front pocket slightly larger to accommodate a wipes packet/larger purse.
  10. Made the backpack straps slightly shorter as I have smaller shoulders.

It was super scary sewing through up to 12 layers of thick fabric at once … my poor singer confidence had a few wobbles , but with some deep breaths , standing back and wincing… we made it through. ( I would NOT recommend sewing so many layers on a domestic sewing machine unless it has a super powerful motor ! )

It’s a very unique and very ‘me’ bag but I’m hoping this will last me a few years at least….

Now to make a matching nappy zipper bag using my favourite pattern – The present pouch 

and maybe a matching purse….

Here’s my story in pictures –

 

 

Thanks for reading !

AND HAPPY SEWING ❤

 

Don’t forget you can find all the up date bits and bobs I’m doing on social media … click the words below to visit

FACEBOOK PAGE – GEMMA STITCH

FACEBOOK PAGE – STITCH BRIDGEND SEWING SCHOOL

INSTAGRAM – GEMMASTITCH

INSTAGRAM – THELITTLERAINBOWHOUSE

How to use transfer sheets for embroidery

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Ta da ! One embroidery project ready to stitch during the Love Island series starting this week… ( I know I know – but its addictive ! and this keeps my hands away from the leftover christmas chocolates ! )

I get asked a lot about how to transfer templates , and I never seem to get round the blogging it…

So if you have 5 read on…

There are a few ways to do it , but this time I have used PRYM transfer sheets. They are super easy to use.

Place the textured side down onto the fabric , pop your template on top and pin tight to secure.

Then using a point turner or very sharp pencil , trace around your template pressing down as you go.

When you have finished , Simply peel away the template and the transfer sheets , and ta da ! one embroidery fabric ready to stitch.

The great thing about PRYM transfer sheets is you can usually use them a few times before you need to replace them , and they are not chalky like other brands so they don’t brush off while you stitch.

They also come in a pack of two , I have Blue and White sheets , but you can get other colours too.

Happy stitching everyone – don’t forget to share your project if you are having a TV stitch a long too !….

I’m off to find another one for call the midwife….

 

 

 

A Butterfly Necklace

It’s sewing pattern freebie time !

The nights are starting to get cooler , and there’s a distinct autumn feeling in the air , but that doesn’t mean we have to let go of bright colours just yet do we ?

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I first made one of these necklaces two years ago , and what can I say ? They are sooo addictive , and I always get lot’s of lovely comments on mine when I wear it .

So , I thought I would share the sewing pattern with you , for FREE !

Here’s what you will need

White felt

An embroidery hoop

A chalk pencil or vanishing ink pen

Your thread & a needle.

An old chain and glue gun ( optional – you could turn the butterfly into a brooch ! )

and of course … the most important part… your FREE SEWING PATTERN ( CLICK HERE) 

Happy Sewing !

 

 

Baby Clothes , Home decor and sewing patterns

They grow so fast don’t they ? I can’t believe baby B is already 6 months old ! Time seems to have flown , and he’s already into the next size clothing. Which came as a bit of a shock !

As always finding nice boys clothes is a bit of a nightmare , I love the look of cosy jumpers and fleece lined joggers now autumn is well and truly here and he’s starting crawl about.  I grabbed an old pair of  comfy leggings and made myself a quick pattern.

 

Anddd I have to say.. I had forgotten how addictive making kids clothing is ! I had some scraps left to making matching bibs too which was super handy.

Of course I went fabric digging…. I found a ready cut out jumper in my WIP pile from before I got pregnant , sick and well hospitalised. It was a little on the small side for me now ( thanks steroids ! ) so I unpinned my pattern , and cut it down into baby size !

This fabric has little neon coloured specks and is a cosy sweatshirt fleece which is perfect for autumn weather , I made a little rainbow appliqué too from scraps as he’s our little rainbow baby.

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I made a little matching pair of baby joggers , with a cheeky little back pocket.

Now I don’t believe babies actually need pockets… but I was outvoted on this one!

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You can find this fabric and lots of others at THE VILLAGE HABERDASHERY 

I have been catching up on my home decor jobs too !

Although most has been boring jobs like lining curtains , I made some super spotty ones for the new family craft area ( ok ok it’s my sewing room but shhhh they don’t know that yet ! )

Still lot’s of jobs to do , finding a light fitting I like and that is suitable for sewing light has been difficult , Until I found this incredible sewing lamp from Prym .

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It has a magnifying glass in the top , and can be used with the base or the clip part underneath ! Genius ! I’m looking forward to using it with some of my hand sewing and crafty projects I have lined up , it’s so bright ! AND it’s a daylight bulb , perfect for avoiding  my pesky migraines.

 

I’ve also made some bits and pieces for the bedroom this week , mainly cushions from offcuts of curtain , and yet more lining jobs ! But it’s slowly coming together.

I also have some exciting news , I will be launching a whole new range of sewing patterns very shortly , so if you can’t make it to class now you can download your sewing pattern and join in the fun !

You can find some of my free patterns at http://www.gemmastitch.com already , but more are coming , so stay tuned !

HAPPY SEWING !

Make your own baby bibs

Hey there !

Welcome to the make your own baby bibs sewing pattern 🙂

Making baby cowboy bibs are super easy and a great way of using up scrap fabrics .

You will need :

 

 

  • Your sewing machine and basic sewing kit
  • Jersey fabric ( old maternity t shirts are great for this ! )
  • Towelling fabric – I’ve used some baby towels as I seemed to have tons that were not being used , but you can use any thin towelling.
  • Your FREE sewing pattern CLICK HERE
  • Some sharp ballpoint pins ( I like the PRYM LOVE ones) and wonder clips
  • Some snaps and snap pliers ( again I have used PRYM LOVE ones)

 

Let’s get sewing !

I have used an old bib as a template , but you can download a free pattern by clicking HERE.

 

Cut out one piece of jersey fabric and one piece of towelling per bib.

 

Place the fabrics RIGHT SIDE TOGETHER ( SO good sides are facing each other) and pin or clip all the way around.

Stitch ! Making sure to leave a gap in the top or side to turn the bib inside out.

Turn the fabric the right way round through the hole and poke the corners with an edge shaper or knitting needle  , give the bib a good press with a hot iron and clip/ pin around the outside again.

 

Sew around the bib a nice small topstitch to make sure that the bib doesn’t shift around and close the gap tightly.

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Now for the last part !

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Take a male and female snap and place into the pliers.

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At the edge of the bib , put your fabric into the middle of the pliers , and sqquuuuuuueeezeeeee ! It may take a few squeezes but they will attach , keep going !

At the other edge place a female/female part .

and ta da ! one bib !

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Happy Sewing !

 

DIY FABRIC PUMPKINS

Do you celebrate halloween ?

As a rule we don’t really , but we do put up some funky decor including these super cute fabric pumpkins .

 

Want to make your own ?

You will need :

  1. Fabric – A fat quarter is enough for a small pumpkin , Scraps – For the stalk.
  2. Scissors/Rotary Cutter (whichever you like to use best)
  3. Straight edge (ruler)
  4. Embroidery Floss or wool
  5. Perle cotton
  6. Self-healing mat
  7. Polyester Fiberfil (to stuff your pumpkins with)
  8. Sewing clips or pins
  9. Vanishing marker/pen
  10. Embroidery needle.

 

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Let’s get making !

The size of your fabric should be twice as long as it is wide… i.e. a 6″x12″, or a 9″x18″, etc.

Once you’ve cut your fabric, fold it in half so that the wrong side of the fabric is on the outside.

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Stitch along the edge as above.

Now , turn the tension on your sewing machine to the highest number ,and select your longest stitch – we are going to gather the top edge – DON’T backstitch and make sure to leave nice long thread tails.

 

Separate the bobbin and the top thread and pull one thread SLOWLY , until they meet in the middle. Tie the thread tightly together.

 

Turn the pumpkin right side out  , and give it a good stuffing with the polyfil.

TOP TIP : You can put lavender inside at this stage to help combat moths coming indoors at this time of year if you want .

Using strong thread , perle cotton doubled or embroidery floss sew around the top of the open edge of the pumpkin and pull tight , tuck the edges in and pop a few stitches in the top to hold it nice and firm.

 

Now for the tough bit , using wool or a strong embroidery thread wrap the outside of the pumpkin 8 times , pulling the wool or thread nice and tight as you go , it pays to knot well ! This will give the pumpkin it’s outside appearance .

 

Now for the stalk. Grab a scrap and draw a shape , stitch it on the sewing machine , turn right side out and stuff well. Stitch onto the top of the pumpkin with thread ( perle cotton is great to go through all those layers)

 

Ta da !

One pumpkin !

 

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