Sew Successful – Gift Bags


Have you dreamed of dressing your presents up this Christmas and giving an extra special touch to your gifts… well here’s how with this simple and stylish reversible gift bag tutorial …


 You can make it to your ideal size and choose your ideal fabric to make it perfect for anyone. It’s an eco-friendly wrapping solution and we love that … it can be used again and again for all sorts of things from storage to door stoppers as well as more gift-giving


1. Choose 2 coordinating fabrics and cut out your desired shape from each fabric x 2. This will give you 4 rectangles of the same size.

2. Pair the fabric together, right sides facing.

3. Use your Sewing Machine to sew a 1cm seam down the lengths and along the bottom of each separate bag (leave the top open).

4. Choose which one will be the exterior bag and turn it right side out, press. (Leave the liner bag inside out).

5. Slip the liner bag over the bag that will be on the exterior when completed (right sides facing). Pin bags together at the top seam.

6. Stitch the liner and exterior bag together with a 1cm seam along the top only, (making sure you only sew 1 layer of exterior and one layer of liner together all the way around).

7. Use a seam ripper to take out 3cm of the stitching on the bottom seam of your liner bag.

8. Gently pull the exterior fabric through this hole, (right side out).

9. Close the hole in the liner using your Sewing Machine (stitching close to the edge).

10. Took liner into the exterior bag and press.

11. Place the thicker ribbon around the bag about 3cm from the top and pin. (Make sure that the raw edge of the ribbon is tucked directly underneath itself, approx. 1cm, and starts on the side seam of the bag).

12. Slip the bag over the Sewing Machine arm, and place under the presser foot.

13. Stitch along the top edge of the ribbon; stop stitching before reaching the other side seam.

14. Cut the ribbon off at the seam, allow for a 1cm overhang, turn this under, align with side seam and stitch in place. (Back stitch at each side seam for reinforcement).

15. Repeat this method to attach the second piece of ribbon to the other side of the bag.

16. Stitch along the bottom edge of the ribbon (it should remain open/accessible at both ends).

17. Attach a safety pin to the end of the narrow ribbon and draw it through, pull full circle.

18. Join together the ribbon ends, remove safety pin, and tie off to secure.

19. Start at the opposite end and repeat procedure with safety pin and ribbon.

20. Simply pull on the ribbon ends to tighten and your bag is finished!!





Our Brand New Sewing Machine …


Toyota Sewing Machine

It’s SEW exciting … This month, we get to see the launch of our brand new Toyota Home Sewing machine – OEKAKI. The sewing machine has been named after the Japanese concept and term “to draw” and we want to help encourage you to have fun with sewing!! We’d love to see you personalise clothes, furnishings and even transforming your child’s artwork to a unique tapestry piece together!!


We’ve set up a very special Oekaki World BlogFacebook and Twitter to share, show and see what is going on within the community … so make sure you get connected!!


This machine has been cleverly put together by our Toyota design team and has some wonderful features .. it comes with a special starter pack to make it as simple as possible for you to make the most of your new purchase and get started straight away (even if you’re brand new to sewing) – it includes an extension table, DVD, darning/embroidery foot, flower stitch foot, thread etc … PLUS we’re giving a free embroidery hoop to every Oekaki owner here.


We ‘re so excited to see our brand new model already feature in the popular UK Sew Today magazine (see pic below) and be recommended for a Christmas buy in “All we want for Christmas”.  The model will be released for sale in the UK on Friday 23rd November 2012.


Oekaki Machine Magazine Article

If you’d like to read more about this sewing machine, or find out where you can buy it from … come and visit us here. We’ll also be running competitions, sewing projects and sharing your tips and creations so DON’T MISS OUT!!

Carolyn’s Sew & Tell – With Love

We noticed recently a YouTube channel offering lots of helpful ideas and methods to help you sew some wonderful creations for yourself … and, as you know, we’re all for that here at Toyota Home Sewing. So, we wrote to Carolyn and asked her to do a special “Sew & Tell” especially for you. In the short exchanges we made with Carolyn we saw how lovely, friendly and passionate she is about sewing and her customers and we wish her all the best with the opening of her new shop in Edinburgh … be sure to pop in if you’re in the area – we will be!!
“My love of sewing and fashion has allowed me to create and mould my dream career around my little flat in Edinburgh.
After graduating in fashion in 2007 and feeling a little bewildered on what route to take, I soon found myself catching my first design job – creating a dress for a Miss Universe contestant. After this job, I felt that this was where I belonged – making women feel glamorous! Within 18 months, I am proud to say, from that day I have now built a dress label which has featured on the The Bachelor TV show and with various celebrity fans including Katie Piper and Millie Mackintosh.
Despite this rapid success the last year I still run my business from my little 1 bed flat in Edinburgh. However this is soon going to change as I open my first shop in Edinburgh later this month.
Throughout college I felt a little behind and less capable in my pattern cutting than my other class mates. I soon found out this was due to me having dyslexia. Despite this, dyslexia was never something which hindered me too much as I worked my own way around pattern cutting creating my own techniques. One thing that did bother me however was the first time I tried to sit down and follow a pre-made pattern. Everything suddenly became jumbled and I soon got frustrated and gave up. Rather that this being a negative thing I decided to put my dyslexia to good use. Along with my dress label I am also a Youtube partner giving tips on fashion and beauty on a budget. I decided to use my simplified pattern cutting techniques to turn the written instructions in video form. I created a series of short videos showing how to make your own celebrity red carpet dresses and sold the simplified patterns to go with the video guide. The video instructions make it easier to follow and the patterns have various symbols on them to match up the pattern pieces. My intention was to turn pattern cutting and dress making into a more accessible thing using 21st century technologies. I hoped to tap into young woman who maybe viewed dress making as complicated or old fashioned.
The thing I love most is when I am sent photos of girls all over the world wearing their dresses to proms & special events. It always puts a smile on my face.”
Carolyn Baxter has her own website of the same name that sells her unique designs & patterns and she also has her own YouTube channel that we think is just amazing and we are sure you will too … Here’s Carolyn’s personal recommendation especially for you  … How To Make Your Own Madison Dress
Check It Out .. Be Inspired!!

Josie’s Sew & Tell – The Fabric Godmother


I LOVE dressmaking! The time spent bent over my sewing machine is my time, the challenges, the mistakes (I like to call them lessons) the triumphs when you work out something new! But most of all I love it when I wear a piece of clothing that I have made and somebody walks up to me and says I love your skirt/dress/coat etc … What a feeling of achievement and satisfaction.

It is not always easy, I have never had a professional sewing lesson in my life. Everything I learnt was through trial and error (with a bit of guidance from my Mum). Nowadays the internet, especially Bloggers and YouTube, is my sewing tutor. But I think just taking a chance is the best way to learn, give it a go and see what happens.

I get my inspirations from Magazines, High street (I love Zara and H&M for fashion forward styles) and the catwalk. I often see something I like and think ‘I could make that, but better’. I am 5ft 9” and 2 sizes bigger on the bottom that the top so buying high street clothes is a bit of a nightmare. By making your own clothes you can get something that really fits and suits you.

Last year I decided to turn my passion for sewing into my job, so I set up a website focused on selling dressmaking fabrics, boutique patterns and essential haberdashery. There were other websites out there but many of them focused on craft fabrics rather than dressmaking. I wanted a place where everybody from beginners to experienced dressmakers could find inspiration. As well as a shop my idea is for the website and the blog ( to become a sewing community inspiring and helping others to pull out their machines and make something.

Every day I write a sewing tip which goes out to my Facebook and Twitter followers giving them quick hints that can make their lives a little easier. Take a look, you may find the answer to that question that has been bugging you for ages.


Here are Josie’s Top Tips:


  • Always challenge yourself, never put in a concealed zip before? Use one in your next project … Tip: Iron the zip flat before sewing it in, you will be able to get the needle much closer to the teeth for a more invisible finish
  • Make sure you are using the right fabric, most patterns tell you what kind of fabrics are suitable to use. Make sure you stick to fabrics with similar properties. If you are not sure ASK! I am always happy to make recommendations to my customers if they don’t know what to use.
  • Read all the instructions on the pattern before beginning. Not only that, make sure you understand them all, look up on the internet anything you are not sure about.
  • Have fun! Only sew when you are feeling upbeat. Nothing brings on the unpicker like a bad mood. If you need to, set aside time in your diary when you want to sew, make sure you have no distractions, put on the radio or your favourite music and enjoy this time to indulge in what you love doing.

(Photo showing Josie behind the sewing machine at just 9rs old)

Happy sewing,

Love Josie x





Styled To Rock – Bringing Sewing Back


I couldn’t believe it last night when I turned the TV on to discover a fantastic program called “Styled To Rock” in which contestants all compete to design and make outfits for the stars. I don’t watch much TV so it isn’t a surprise I hadn’t heard of this before but I can’t help but feel I’ve been missing out on this show … it’s the first series but it’s already on about episode 9 now.









The competition seems to focus around superstar Rihanna on her hunt for the next expressive “up & coming” British fashion designer and I love the key statement: ‘SEW HARD‘ featured on the main studio wall … encouraging the team to not just work hard, but sew hard!! It’s clear to see their passion for design & sewing and it really did push some buttons in me to start pushing myself further too!!


Supporting Rihanna is Girl’s Aloud popstar Nicola Roberts, successful British Fashion Designer Henry Holland and superstar stylist Lysa Cooper. Each week the contestants are given a new brief along with a new superstar. So far I believe they have designed for Cheryl Cole, Kanye West & Katy Perry!!


Another pleasant surprise for me was seeing Heidi May, an ex-classmate of mine from The University Of Huddersfield, and her delightfully sweet personality still shining through. It was Katy Perry night and Heidi actually won the challenge so congrats!! We’re cheering on all the contestants and excited to have found this show at the peak, will definitely be tuning in next week and thanks to all involved for the sewing inspiration!!


What I especially love about the show is it shows anyone can do it with a bit of determination, all the contestants are all from totally different backgrounds; self-taught, graduates, boutique owners etc.. Some are amazing pattern drafters, others have no experience BUT at the catwalk stage everyone pulls it off … it just stirs up an excitement in me to get more creative, to do a supermarket sweep in the fabric shop and then straight to the sewing!!

Quilted Dress Takes to London Fashion Week


It probably comes as no surprise that our favourite designer at London Fashion Week this year has to be Jasper Conran, for this floaty quilted dress design alone!!


With his bright colours and tropical inspired show, Conran provided a hint of Spring amid all this recent gloomy British weather. Walking barefoot, yes barefoot, the models strutted along a walkway of artificial grass with a fun floral background. But the show stopper for us is this quilted dress, in which he has used a variety of hexagonal colourful fabrics to create this marvellous creation. Within moments of seeing this dress we had re-pinned it and splashed all our love over it (as you can see).

It wasn’t just the dress that made the fashion show, to tie in his designs he also showcased this quilted bag:


If this post has inspired you as much as it did us, then why not check out our range of Quiltmasters & Sewing Machines on our Toyota Home Sewing website.

Sew Fun – Sewing Parties


We all know about ladies parties … a number of us have probably been to more than one (from luxury cosmetics to everyday home appliances).  Retailers throughout the years have zoned in on a female target market and provided resources to offer “party” style shopping experiences, which have proved very successful.


As the success of these have grown, the variety of parties have become endless, as has the number of people doing them and the repetitive syndrome has kicked in and the fun kicked out.  However, we’re over the moon & very excited to hear there may be a wave of sewing and baking style home parties ahead, a new genre generation and the perfect choice for “home” style parties!!



SEW: why not look into throwing a “sewing party” (it even rhymes) … a fab excuse to get all your favourite pals together and do your favourite things!! AND if your friends aren’t the sewing type, what a great opportunity to share the fun in it and the possibilities of what can be made!! A lot of people don’t actually feel confident using a sewing machine, sew, what a perfect opportunity to show them how easy it can be (and show off your skills at the same time).   We’ve all got something in the back of the wardrobe we’ve been “meaning” to fix or alter in some way but waiting to find the “perfect” time a midst our busy schedules to get the chance (which let’s face it will probably see the charity shop before we get the “perfect” time. Well….wouldn’t this be the perfect moment!!  Ask all your friends to bring along something (of their choice), pool in and brainstorm and help make it a Cinderella transformation moment.


Some helpful tips & pre-planning thoughts:

  • Set up your sewing machine and equipment ahead of time
  • Have the instruction manual to hand (you can re-print Toyota ones here)
  • If you have a portfolio, or your favourite work, have it to hand and show it off to everyone
  • Visit your local fabric shop before the night and see what remnants you can pick up cheaply
  • Consider workshop styles, ie: “How to sew a button” or “How to make cushion covers”


If you do host one over the coming months, be sure to let us know how you get on and send us all your pictures. If you need any equipment feel free to contact us via our website, email, Twitter or Facebook. If you are buying in bulk we may be able to offer you some discount so its worth letting us know!!


Good Luck, and Happy Sewing 🙂

Sew Successful – Victoria Pendleton




This Summer the whole nation (and world) has been gripped by the Olympics & Paralympics (and we are no different)!! The last few posts on our community blog have been Olympic inspired and it seemed only right to keep this post in the theme too…


Victoria Pendleton, one of our 2012 Team GB “Golden Girls”, has admitted that she looks forward to switching her “Queen of the Velodrome” status to Domestic Goddess. It’s no secret that Victoria enjoys the homely comforts that we all do, and is especially fond of her sewing machine (a women of our own hearts).


Within her first newspaper interview after she announced her retirement from the sport, Victoria aired her excitement of getting her hands on the ‘acres of fabric’ she has been storing up at home for such a time. Dressmaking is one of her great enthusiasms and she has been quoted to have said “I bought a vintage sewing machine, the ones with a treadle, from a charity shop and I am dying to start using it properly”. And if her leg speed on the bike is anything to go by, she will be one speedy sewer!!


This is quite a fitting contraption for Victoria Pendleton, don’t you think!?  The 1939 “Goofybike” :



Sew Successful – Olympics 2012


Over the last few weeks the whole nation (in fact world) has been zoned in on London and the Olympics 2012, it’s taken our minds off the glum broken English weather and seasonal seaside trips and had us indoors glued to the live coverage. The greatest thing is that it hasn’t only been relevant to the sporty type, the whole nation has found it uniquely enticing and have been able to associate with something.


The height of our interest remained on the immeasurable amounts of sewing that went into the Olympic set up. From stage designs and backdrops, to equipment like trampolines and volleyball nets, and the athletes attire we just couldn’t believe the amount of work and detail that has gone in to everything.


Even for the average household, we’ve all been busy; sewing TeamGB logo’s onto clothing, making bunting and accessorising everything with the Union Jack, we’ve been SEW busy!!!


In the Opening Ceremony we were introduced with an impressive visual bang and witnessed an array of stunning and enticing outfits worn by the 15,000 performers, marking the moment the 2012 games began and all the eyes of the world focussed on London and the UK.  (In fact it apparently took 1 mile of clothing rails to hold all the costumes needed for the show!!)


Even the sports gear worn by the Olympians was stepped up a gear this year after the input of top designers.  A lot of name designers got involved with the uniforms and we were eagerly awaiting to see the nations step out in their patriotic colours, as they say: “it’s not the colours you go home with, it’s the colours you came with that matter”!! With Stella McCartney backing TeamGB and Ralph Lauren influencing the US (you can’t get 2 better representatives).


However, what stole the show was the Closing Ceremony with the Olympic Fashion show paying tribute to the great British fashion designers and influencers that have impacted the world for decades. The stadium was brought to a standstill as the nation’s sexiest supermodels emerged from giant lorry billboards and performed a creative ode to British fashion catwalk. The line up included Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Lily Cole, all showcasing a series of intricate custom-made gold outfits from our iconic British brands.The amount of work and detail in particularly Naomi’s dress was incredible, and my personal favourite.


We know the slogan for London 2012 is “Inspire a Generation” … we definitely agree that the Olympics have left a legacy and hopefully there will be a generation inspired to sew too!!


Pinning on Pinterest – Helping Overcome “Sewing Block”


Recently we’ve been enjoying posting on Pinterest and seeing all your sewing related pins on there too.


Sew, we thought we’d bring you some of our favourite finds and introduce you to our Toyota Home Sewing pages, and for those unfamiliar with it:  introduce you to the world of Pinterest!!


Pinterest is an online pin board that is used to upload, share and manage photos between users … so for those of us who love to be organised and have a hobby like sewing … IT’S GREAT!!


What makes it so great is that you can create customised themed boards to pin your images, videos etc to and it’s easy to get started. For us, we love the fact that we can divide up our photos into categories and then store all our favourite images in one place on the web that we can refer back to at any time, or any place!! We also love the fact that other users can see and share the images we upload so it helps us offer our Toyota Home Community a bit more in a fun and attractive way!!


Sometimes, just like a good writer can get “writer’s block”, we too can admittedly get “sewing block” and find we become in need of a bit of inspiration to spark it all off again, basically a “creative kick”. Pinterest has been unique at helping overcome this obstacle .. it’s just jam-packed with amazing colours, projects, images and talent!!


Sew, if you haven’t yet visited it why not take a little look at our page & categories and see how Pinterest can also help you.


To join any of our Home Sewing Community platforms just click the links below:





(For more information on Pinterest we have found Wikipedia helpful, here’s the link. )