Sew Successful : Overlockers


It was wonderful to see the Overlocker introduced on last nights “Great British Sewing Bee”. The competition hotted up as the task of making men’s trousers was set. Naturally contestants turned to their Overlockers for help with this one.



What is an Overlocker?

Simply put, the Overlocker is a type of machine used within sewing that uses a run of neat stitches over the very edge of a fabric to give a professional look and finish which also seals and prevents the fabric from fraying. A seam is sewn to join layers of fabric, the edge is trimmed to provide a neat finish and the trimmed edge is oversewn to prevent fraying – clever?!! Sure is!!

The Overlocker offers 3 very useful sewing functions in one easy process:

  1. Decoration
  2. Reinforcement
  3. Construction


What’s the difference between an Overlocker and a Serger?

In most circumstances you’ll actually find here that people are talking about the same thing. Like tomato, tomato. The main difference is that Americans refer to them as Sergers whereas we Brits know them more as Overlockers. In practice the terms ‘overedging’, ‘merrowing’, ‘overlocking’ and ‘serging’ are all used interchangeably as the same thing – so don’t panic, if you read this article you should be able to keep up with most of these conversations and understand what’s going on!


Recommended Overlockers?

Toyota Home Sewing are very pleased to be well known for our Overlocker’s and we want to help make things as simple as possible for anyone interested in buying. Please visit our Overlocker page by clicking here and please remember to contact us via our Facebook or Twitter if you have any questions or require any more information from us.


The image shown at the top is our popular SLR4D machine, if you’d like to purchase one of these please use the above Facebook or Twitter links to request more info.


Check out these Quick Guides, full of images, aimed at making the process from threading to stitching as straightforward as possible.


Toyota Overlockers are based on a central philosophy of ease of use whilst providing advanced performance and features. They are here to give you the confidence to tackle more ambitious sewing projects.


History Behind The Great British Sewing Bee


In the world of sewing and craft everyone has by now heard of the new “Great British Sewing Bee” programme that is about to grace our TV screens tonight .. we’ve blogged about it, BBC have now launched details about it and it’s leading all the conversations within the sewing community at the moment. It’s even trending across Twitter, yayyy!!!! #GBSB

But, do you have any idea what relevance a bee is to sewing? Well you’re not the only one, we’ve all been thinking the same. Many assumed the name would just be “The Great British Sew Off” after the successful “Great British Bake Off” having the same producers, so it came as quite a shock when the “Great British Sewing Bee” name was announced. Now that we’ve investigated it we agree it makes perfect sense and  reflects the British culture perfectly well … so we thought we’d share this knowledge with you too.

To explain this we need to go back about 100 years, when what we now know as “sewing circles” or “sewing groups” were actually referred to as “sewing bees”. Yes, that’s it, that’s how a bee fits into sewing. This became popular with the Queen Mother (Queen Elizabeth) as she made it a popular idea to make and mend throughout the war and used it as a way to socialise and support the troops. Sounds exciting and I’m sure the show won’t let us down, it’s just a shame it will only be on for 4 weeks but I’m sure there will be plenty to keep us glued throughout those episodes and tasks and hopefully the sewing revolution legacy will continue long after the show ends. SEW, all that’s left to do now is to watch it over the next month and see who is crowned King or Queen Bee and then get out your very own sewing machine and put it all into practice!!

Sew Successful – Buttonholes


Today, buttonholes can be placed on everything from dresses, jeans, pillows to simply just pieces of art and decorative work. Most machines come with a 4-step buttonhole foot and are able to complete the simple function with ease but, and you’re not the only one, have you ever actually given it a go?


If the answer is no or you’re not sure, here’s a video from Toyota Home Sewing to help you get started. It’s one of those “once you pop you can’t stop”  cliches …. so dig around for the long white foot (aka your bottonhole foot), open up your wonderful button collection jar, grab some spare fabric AND, have fun!!

PS. Don’t worry if you don’t already have one or you don’t seem to be able to find yours, you can purchase a Buttonhole Foot (4 step) on our Toyota Home Sewing website here.  Let us know how you get on by posting to our Facebook or Twitter pages.

The Great British Sewing Bee



We know we’re probably not the first ones to bring you this fantastic news, but, just in case you’ve missed it we’re excited to share it with you                           …



The Great British Sewing Bee, from the makers of  “Great British Sew Off”, will be coming to our BBC2 screens very soon!!


Remember we linked to the application process last year, and it seems that it’s here already!! It’s no secret that the aim of the show will be to encourage people to sew and excite the “make and mend” movement back into the nation, just as the Bake Off did with baking. Of course the extent of success will not be truly known until the show is actually underway, however going off the success of the Great British Bake Off and also the fact that it is based around amateur contestants as opposed to ‘professionals’ we are pretty confident that this spring/summer is one to look forward to!!

Claudia Winkleman will be presenting the show supported by judges May Martin and Patrick Grant.

So, do you think Claudia will be able to recruit a nation into being economic through sewing? Toyota have always backed the idea and are excited to see more big names behind it.

If you’re inspired and looking to invest in a sewing machine, or even just interested in seeing which sewing machine accessories are out there – why not pop over to our Home-Sewing site where you can choose your own stylish look with our Designs For Living range or learn more about our accessories and storage items too.

Let’s all aim to be happy little sewing bee’s this spring and share our skills with others!!

Top 5 Spring Sewing Projects


Now that there’s been a good few days of nice weather and the days are officially getting longer we feel it is the perfect time to keep yourself warm & busy creating some lovely spring pieces. It doesn’t seem long since advent calendars were lining the shelves but already they’re now stacked with Easter eggs and the high streets are finally bringing out beautiful and colourful dresses once again… so even though it takes a little faith to trust that Spring is on her way, she is!!

1. Make An Owl Doorstop.

There’s no denying there’s still a chill in the air so why not make this cute and cuddly owl but use stuffing or dried peas/rice to create your very own colourful chill protector. We found this one from Toad’s Treasures and found their step by step guide very useful.

2. Fabric Easter Eggs.

What better way to reduce the temptation of all that chocolate than to replace with fabric eggs instead. Not only do they look so much prettier (and you can choose the colours yourself) but they will take away all that urge to eat them and last for next year too. Lovely free pattern at Positively Splendid.

3. Oil Cloth Lunch Bag.

I’ve yet to find someone that disagrees how wonderful Martha Stewart’s ideas can be and here’s another that fails to disappoint. It’s her oil cloth lunch bag. Spring means we can finally start making our packed lunch once again so why not grab some colourful oil cloth and give it a go.

4. Gardening Apron.

What says ‘I love you’ better than a thoughtful handmade gift? So, with mother’s day approaching we picked this easy to make gardening apron from Sew-Mama-Sew that you should be able to create just in time for 10th March. In fact I think I’ve decided I’ll make this one too.

5. Easter Bunny.

Children will love them, why not sew up some easter bunnies in your favourite fabrics. This time of year isn’t complete without the easter bunny and the great thing is you can amend the pattern to make it a spring/summer bunny instead. The tutorial we found was from Revoluzzza here.


These are just some ideas to get you started and I hope they help. Remember to post your pictures to our Facebook page and let us see what you’ve been creating. Or if you have any recommendations of your favourite projects and blogs, we’d love to hear your thoughts too.


Toyota Home Sewing


The World of Fashion and Digital Unite – London Fashion Week 2013


We’ve been gripped for weeks now as catwalks have been taking place all across the world, but, this weekend it’s finally here … the limelight is now on our very own capital – LONDON!! Yayyyy, is it clear we’re a little bit excited?!

Today is Day 1 of London Fashion Week and already it’s trending on Twitter #LFW and over 60% of the catwalk schedule will be streamed live on YouTube. With all the backstage footage, catwalk coverage, carefully chosen camera angles and ability to work at the same time as watching all the action I’m extremely glad I stayed at home to watch it this year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a magical atmosphere when you’re there, but with all this bad weather and increasing pile of work it ‘s been no big loss to follow it all from my lovely warm office this year, thanks to digital.

If I do manage to miss anything from the live streaming I’m pretty sure I’ll quickly catch up from their Twitter feed, and to complete things there are soundtracks from the shows being uploaded … perfect to cover the time in-between catwalks, especially to keep up the pace of a Friday afternoon.

Another thing we love is the question and answer time with the designers and with real-time tweet exchanges we get the chance to get up and personal with the best talent out there. Receiving answers to questions like “what inspires” and “favourite colours” etc but obviously with a bit more depth, well as much as a Twitter comment allows anyway!!

So, things are only just really starting off and we have a whole 4 more days to look forward to, but so far thanks to all things digital and social we have thoroughly enjoyed LFW and the excitement it brings to get the sewing machine back out and start creating our own wonderful designs and creations again.

What’s been your favourite designer so far? Have you been following it and finding the coverage useful? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’ve been making from the inspiration. Just pop along to our Facebook or Twitter pages to join the conversations.


Oh, PS:  if you haven’t already found it, the live streaming link is here. Enjoy!!

Valentine’s 10% Off Coupon: With Love From Toyota Home Sewing



It’s here, Valentine’s Day is upon us so we wanted to give our loyal customers a little treat, and our lovely new ones too!!





As our Valentine’s Day gift to you, here is a 10% off coupon code to use against our Designs For Living range sewing machines on our Home Sewing website.


Coupon Code: TOYOTA-LOVE       Site:

(valid from 14/02/13 to 28/02/13 especially for Valentine’s)


Designs For Living (aka DFL) is Toyota’s much loved stylish sewing machine range and so they became our perfect choice for our Valentine’s offer to you, we’d love to be your cupid and help fix you up with your new match made in heaven. The concept allows you to not only choose the type of machine you require but also the design that best suits you!! Want to test the designs out and see how they look,which would suit your personality, room etc – no problem, just click here.


PLUS: Our Designs For Living machines come with 3 years warranty and free delivery for mainland UK (see more here). We also have a range of accessories to complement the machines that we recommend you have a look at, available here too.



With love from,


Your friends at Toyota Home Sewing x



Twin Needles – What they are and how to use them




This is often a function that goes unnoticed or untried on a sewing machine but we hope within this blog you’ll find everything you need to know to get you started and encourage you to give it a go. First of all twin needles for our RS sewing machines can be bought directly here.

The picture to the left shows an example.

What is a twin needle?

A twin needle is just basically two needles attached to a single shank, one being slightly shorter than the other to enable your bobbin to catch the thread from both needles.

The needle is used to sew two parallel rows of sewing. It installs in your machine in the same way a regular needle would HOWEVER, the difference is with the spools – if you hadn’t guessed, 2 needles = 2 spools!! Thread your machine as you normally would, one thread at a time ensuring you don’t get them twisted. Hand thread them through each needle as the auto-threader will not work. After you’ve threaded it, I’d always just wind down the needle to make sure none of the needles catches the foot plate. Then, it’s simple … just sew. It looks so effective, I always think it adds a professional and decorative look to any project with such ease and nothing makes parallel lines simpler.

And that’s it, so, why not buy yourselves a twin needle (just £3 on our Home-Sewing site) and get crafty!!





Good Luck!!

The Gentleman’s Sewing Club – Getting men in a stitch



I’ve come across some interesting articles recently, not by intent, just through internet browsing and they all seem to have a clear common theme …


“Men itching to get stitching”,  “Sew Macho”, “Teach a man to sew; clothe him for a lifetime” etc…


Sewing, whether fact or fiction, has always been looked at as being a ‘women’s world’ or a ‘female-dominated society’ but I’m so gripped by all these headlines that I’ve done my own investigating around the subject to see whether that view point still exists.

Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch recently summed it up in her blog by saying “home sewists are women and highly-paid couturiers are men” but we’ll let you pass your own judgement on that one. She also taps into a blog set up by a guy called Peter who shares with us his journey of garment-sewing adventures, called Male Pattern Boldness.

Anyway the question most interesting to me was, is it our culture that keeps men away from sewing? Then I came across “The Gentleman’s Sewing Club: a  weekly sewing club for gentleman folks”. Now, I’m not a fan of splitting the craft into genders or groups, however I do love to see sewing being popular with all whether old/young, men/women etc and I understand the advantages of getting like-minded people together. For example, a group such as this can concentrate on male-focused patterns and more male orientated chat. Despite not passing as a gentleman, I still managed to gain access and have a snoop around the blog and I must say … I loved it!!

From monthly sewing evenings (held at the regal Glasgow Sloan store whilst sipping whiskey sours & exchanging sewing tips) to the blog featuring things such as lifestyle advice from Tom Ford, my favourite being:


5. A man should never wear shorts in the city. Flip-flops and shorts in the city are never appropriate. Shorts should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach.

This is all happening right now in Glasgow … imagine the gentlemen that would take to our fine British streets if this caught on throughout the nation!!

Anyway, my conclusion is that men are interested in sewing and quite serious about it too and I look forward to hearing your thoughts over on our Facebook & Twitter pages. Do you have a husband, brother, friend who can sew?

HELLO 2013 – New Year, New Resolution



Most of us do it, or have done it … each year we let ourselves slip into ‘guilty pleasures’ during December with promises to make everything better again in January!! Well that time’s here, it’s January, already!!



December = a month of joy, giving, cheer, decorations, food and festivities. And, why not? .. it’s the end of the year we deserve some luxury & indulgence after 12 months of total devotion to work, crafting, families, friends, treats etc. The aftermath of which leaves us in January.

January = a chaotic month for the shopaholic, with retailers opening doors early and crowds of people descending into stores prepared to fight over last seasons stock, with each brand promising to be ‘the BEST sale ever’. It’s also a month full of personal “promises” of which we hope to commit to in the year ahead and really make this “the year” for all our deepest desires.


After many years of repeating this same cycle, I am attempting to do things a little differently this year, by keeping it simple and hoping to continue that December joy all year round!! Instead of setting impossible goals that will only be washed away in time and deflate my enthusiasm, I intend to live each day by these lovely little statements I found on Pinterest and enjoy each day to the fullest:


HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone … quilt, sew and be happy!!