Tips for Beginners: Rolled Hems


What is a rolled hem?

Rolled hems are a very small turned hem finished with a straight stitch. They’re made by rolling up the raw edge until it’s hidden by a small hem, then flattening the hem down and straight stitching down the middle. They’re easiest to work with lightweight woven fabrics such as cottons, silks and voile, and work well on a slightly curved hemline. The light delicate nature and simple straight stitch securing makes them perfect for the bottoms of skirts and dresses, or intimate items such as babydolls or your favourite frilly knickers! As they can sometimes add a slight wave to the hemline, try to avoid using them on straight edged areas such as armholes.

Rolled hems by machine

An extremely delicate rolled hem can be achieved with hand stitching, but don’t despair if your hand sewing isn’t quite up to scratch. With practice, a machined rolled hem can be just as perfect as a hand one, and using your sewing machine can really speed up the process. If you’re making large items, or lots of small ones, why not give it a try on your machine!

The easiest way to create a rolled hem on a machine is to use a specialised roll hem foot like this one. These roll and tuck the fabric for you as you sew, speeding up the process and ensuring you get an evenly sized hem!
First, make a normal straight stitch and backstitch over the first inch of your hem, and cut the threads (leave the threads quite long). This anchoring will help you smoothly pull the hem through the first few troublesome inches of the roll hem.

With your secure stitching in place, roll the first few inches oh your hem and place it into the gap of the roll foot. Pull gently on the threads you left hanging as you sew, to ease it through the foot. Then simply slowly sew along your hem, helping to roll the fabric into the foot when needed.

Tips and tricks

  1. Trim your fabric very neatly, a couple of inches at a time, to reduce any fraying. The neater the edge you work with the easier the roll hem!
  2. Keep a pin or awl on hand to help manipulate the fabric into the roll – changes in hem thickness (such as sewing over seams) can slightly jump your fabric out of place. Helping to ease the fabric back in place will keep your hem neat.
  3. As in all cases of sewing, the magic trick is to be patient! Although they can be tricky to get to grips with, a rolled hem should be easy to turn out if you take your time as you go. A little less speed can save a lot of unpicking! Why not try the method out on some fabric scraps first, to get used to the foot?

Without a roll hem foot

If you don’t have a roll hem foot, you can use a presser foot instead!

  1. Sew a straight stitch 1/4” from your raw edge, and fold the hem up from your straight stitch
  2. Sew another straight stitch a tiny 1/8” in from the edge
  3. Trim the raw edge away as close as you can get to your stitching
  4. Fold once more, just enough to encase the raw edge (you want as small a fold as you can)
  5. Then press into position and straight stitch again down the middle of the hem!

If you’re still struggling to handle the roll hem, why not message us through facebook or twitter letting us know what’s going on. We’re always happy to help you out, and we love to see your creations!

Tips For Beginners: Sewing Basics


Sewing is becoming an increasingly popular hobby these days, you can see it on TV shows and in magazines, and it’s becoming much more admirable to say to someone “Oh, I made it myself!”. However, we know it can be intimidating though to sit before a sewing machine for the first time! Starting off a project can be daunting when you’ve not tried before, and we’ve all had a fabric we didn’t want to waste or a pattern we didn’t want to ruin, so we understand feeling overwhelmed. To help completely new sewers along (or to remind our veterans who’ve picked up bad habits) we’ve got a short guide of basic sewing tips for you to keep in mind when you’re ready to get started.


Firstly, Safely

Sewing may not be an extreme sport exactly, but it’s good to make sure you’re safe before you start. The big three are as follows:

  • Make sure your machine is switched off when you set up, and when you’re finished using it.
  • Make sure your presser foot is down before you start sewing.
  • Make sure you’re set up on a sturdy table, and your cables are out of the way of anyone walking by!

Knowing Your Fabric

Before you start off sewing, take a look at the fabric you’re using. Different fabrics need to be handled in different way: a knitted fabric will need a ball pointed needle to ensure it doesn’t snag. Leather and denims will need much sturdier needles to ensure they don’t break in the fabric. Different fabrics also require different tensions, get to know your tension setting and adjust it for very thick or very thin fabrics. Spend a little time getting to know your fabric and how to handle it (don’t be afraid to ask when you’re buying it!)


Even if you’re happy with how to set up your machine for the fabric you’ve chosen, test your settings first. Once you have a tension setting, needle and stitch, take a scrap of your fabric and trial run what you’re going to do. That way if anything has been set up wrong, you won’t damage your project pieces with unpicking. This is especially useful for things like decorative stitches or button holes, that can be very difficult to unpick.



Don’t Skip The Details

It can be frustrating when you’re sewing your first big piece (or even your first little one!) and a lot of things might seem like they’re just slowing you down. Don’t be fooled!


Firstly, if you’re working from a pattern, make sure you read it all the way through before you begin! Ensure you have enough fabric, understand all the terms used, and know roughly what you’ll be doing. It will be easier for you from the beginning if you know what the pieces you’re cutting are and how they’re used, as well as making it less confusing for you if you take a break and come back to it later.


Don’t forget to mark your notches so you can match up seams – it can seem time consuming if you have a lot of notches but it’s important to be able to line your seams up perfectly, so you get nice flat joins on your finished piece. An uneven match will lower the quality of your finished piece.


Iron your fabric – spending time ironing might seem tedious, but working with a flat smooth fabric will give you a much more professional finish as well as making it easier for you to sew (less chance of bumps and folds in your seams). Remember to also iron your seams after they’ve been sewn, to straighten them out and create a smooth, sharp shape!


Backstitching at the start and ends of your seams will give your items much more stability and make them last longer. At the start of your seam, sew for about an inch and then reverse stitch back over it. Sew forward again as normal and once you reach the end, reverse stitch back over what you’ve done for another inch. A little backstitching on your seams will help stop them from breaking and splitting apart.


Finally, always take your pins out while you’re sewing! It can be tempting to sew right over a pin and take them all out at the end, but you run the risk of hitting one with the needle, potentially damaging your machine. It can also damage your fabric if the bent pin gets stuck in the machine and you have to tug it out!



These basic tips will make your sewing experience smoother and leave your finished projects looking smart! Don’t worry, we know there’s much more you’ll want to know about sewing from here, so don’t forget to check out our other blogs for tips and tutorials, and watch our video guides to get to know your sewing machine better. If you have a question you need answering or a project you’re proud of, like our facebook or follow us on twitter, drop us a message and we’ll get back to you!

How To Sew: Christmas Bauble Pockets


It’s nearly a month ‘til Christmas, and we’re starting to feel festive! Nothing makes the festive season feel more personal than spending an evening making your own decorations, which is just what we’ve done! These cute little bauble decorations have a pocket inside to put sweets and treats in, and we think the hidden treasure inside make them twice as fun to have around!

christmas pocket baubles


This project is an easy one that’s great for beginners or children (with supervision of course). That’s not to say you experienced sewers won’t enjoy it of course – although these quick little baubles are simple to put together, there are endless possibilities for decorating and you can get as extravagant as you like. With accessories, cut outs, hand embroidery, fabric painting or even with some of the decorative stitch settings on your sewing machine! As well as being festive fun, these are a great use for fabric scraps, ribbon, and left over craft items and good to clear out stash leftovers. Get as creative as you can!

Getting ready


Fabric of choice (felts or stiffer fabrics work best)


Ribbon for hanging tabs

Card for template if required

Extra ribbons, beads, fabric, felt, glitter etc. for decorating


Sewing machine

Scissors or rotary cutter


Pen or pencil

materials and supplies

Our first step is choosing the pattern! I used a simple round shape, but more vintage bauble shapes like elongated drops, stars or hearts could look lovely. You could use a mix of shapes and sizes for something a bit more fun. There are plenty of free templates on the internet if you want to try something more exciting! For this plain circle template, you can simply draw around something of the right size, about 5 inches across – I’m using the spool my ribbon came on! For other shapes, draw a template out on to some card, and cut carefully around it.

Making the baubles

On to your fabric, draw around your template – remember for each bauble you need two of the shape you’re cutting, one for the front and one for the back. Cut out the pieces and match them up into pairs. For each back piece, cut a length of ribbon 4 inches long. Fold the ribbon in half, and pin with the two ends roughly ¼ of the way down from the top of the bauble. Sew a wide zigzag over the ends of the ribbon to secure the hanging tab and stop the ends from fraying away.

Adding the tabs

Before you attach the back piece to the front piece, you’ll want to make sure any decoration that has to be sewn on is completed (if
you’re hand sewing or gluing bulky decorations such as beads or buttons on, or using fabric paints and glitter, leave these until the
end instead). A great easy decoration is to take a length of ribbon the width of the bauble, pin it across the middle and sew along the long edges in a decorative thread.

Once your front pieces are decorated, take the back pieces and pin one to each front. Because these decorations are so small, I’m using a decorative sparkly thread and am letting the stitching show – the plain sides of both fabric pieces are inside. If you have a thinner
fabric, or prefer not to have the stitching visible, have the decorated side and the tab side facing each other on the inside when you pin. (For this method, you may have to cut small notches into the edge of the fabric up to the stitching, to allow you to turn it inside out without wrinkles). When you sew around the edges, remember leave an opening about an inch down from the top of the bauble, so that you can pop your little presents inside!

Attaching the pieces

Finishing up

When the tabs, front and back are attached, simply tie off and trim your threads, iron flat if necessary, and hang them up! Once you’ve finished your baubles, they’re very versatile to use around the house – why not use them to hang sweets on your Christmas tree, or small toys for children? If you have the time, making 25 and hanging them as a wall bunting is a great alternative to a traditional advent calendar, with toys or treats in for each day! You can even make the decorations into to numbers to help kids count the days until Christmas!

hanging the baubles

Happy sewing everyone! If you make a set of these, we’d love to hear about it. Why not take some photos and post them to our Facebook page or tweet them at our Twitter account! Tell us what you used to decorate them, and how you’re using the finished thing!

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





Sew Successful – Ruffles


We recently recommended a simple and effective sewing idea that can be added to any sewing project to give a professional and unique look: RUFFLES!!

For anyone new to sewing or this technique, ruffles are basically strips of closely pleated fabric used mainly for trimming or decorating your fabric from flat to frilly. Thank goodness for clever people and modern technology…because now gone are the days were, to achieve this look, you’d need a good ruler, pins and a LOT of time and patience…thanks to the amazing Ruffler Foot…transforming and dramatically reducing sewing time, preparation time, (& stress levels)!!  Although at first sight a ruffler may appear bulky and complicated, its innovative design actually makes it very easy to use.


The Toyota Ruffler foot is a swappable presser foot part for your sewing machine that can be used to produce pleats and ruffles for anything from home décor to clothing projects. It speeds up the process of ruffling and has the ability to be adjusted to create loose or tight ruffles depending on your project!! Once you’ve tried and tested it out we guarantee you’ll suddenly find a lot more places and ways to use and add this effect!!


We love helping and inspiring you with your Home Sewing projects and so we thought we’d talk to you in a little more detail about the accessory that makes ruffling easy and fast:

  1. Measure the length of fabric, remembering that a piece of fabric that has been ruffled will be shorter than it was originally (the standard rule is to cut the piece 2.5 times as long as you require)
  2. Your width will be dependent on whether you want a single layer, or folded/double strip (for folded strips simply add the seam allowance onto your width and multiply by two)
  3. Before you start sewing, and once your fabric is all cut out, press the strips
  4. Attach the ruffler to your sewing machine once you have removed the original presser foot
  5. Once the foot is secure it is recommended, and important, to test gather some practise strips on a scrap piece of fabric to get the look you want based on the look you are going for
  6. Insert the fabric into the machine and sit along edge *(raw side should be facing into the body of the machine – watch the demo video to show)
  7. Drop your needle down and start gathering *(remember to keep your fabric moving smoothly)
  8. To secure the stitch at the beginning or end of your sewing, you can back tack if you’re sure it is the desired effect and length, or, you can secure the thread with some fabric glue once you are happy with the adjustments
  9. You now have beautiful strips of ruffles or pleats to add to your projects!!
Sewing; one ruffle at a time …
  • Add length to skirts, tops or dresses that have become too short
  • Add detail and texture to children’s clothing
  • Add ruffle edging to curtains, pillows, lampshades

Sew Successful – Sewing with Sequin / beaded fabric













Continuing in our ‘Sew Successful’ series we bring you some tips on how to sew with sequin and beaded fabric.  This is the perfect season to wear sequins and beads, whether it’s on complete garments, sections or accessories. They add glamour and sparkles to any item. Sometimes we can stay away from using them because we’re not sure how to effectively sew and work with the fabric so we have some basic guidelines to help you get started and the biggest advice…practise.practise.practise J



Design/Pattern: Choose a simple design for fabrics that are heavily sequined or beaded. Keep the design minimal, avoiding seams, pleats, pockets or set in sleeves for obvious reasons. Sequined fabric can look nice as a final design feature to be sewn into a finished garment as a feature or panel; it doesn’t necessarily always have to be the base layer to stand out.

Alternatively, sequin fabric is one of the most popular choices for evening bags at this time of year and one of my personal recommendations and fun to make.


Cutting: Whatever you decide to make, remember it’s important you keep the seam allowance free of beads/sequins- you can remove these by cutting loose their thread or crushing them. Cut in a continued smooth motion & direction. We recommend cutting in single layers, but make sure you turn the pattern to create a left and right side if you do. Sometimes cutting fabric with detail can blunt blades so try and avoid this by using old scissors for these occasions.


Sewing: It is important you use new sharp needles when sewing with sequins and beads as they can easily blunt, just like scissors, so you will need to change the needles before your next piece too. A great tip is to pop on the zipper foot to your sewing machine as it makes it a lot easier to sew with this kind of fabric & is more practical than a regular foot.


Finishing: Go around and cut down any beads that may snag or are close to the edging and could create discomfort. With a very small pair of scissors work your way around and neaten up the item; making sure that all threads are secure before you cut them. If any area looks a little bare, use some hand stitching to move around or add some sequins/beads to create a full and finished look.


Special Tips: Always press on the wrong side using a pressing cloth or piece of fabric in-between the iron and the main fabric. Avoid any steam and moisture as they can damage the sequins.






Sewing Cafes


Sweat Shop cafe in Paris

We recently came across the idea of Sewing Cafes. If you’re thinking along the lines of Internet Cafe then you’re the right they are based on the same idea. Sewing cafes operate in a very similar way, offering customers tea and cakes whilst hiring the use of sewing machines instead of computers.


I absolutely love this simple effective idea and really hope we start to see them pop up all over the country, how amazing would it be to pop into a café that offers delightful cakes, as well as a spot of sewing!! Why did no one bring us this revelation sooner?!


Sewing Cafes bring a lot of positives to the world of sewing and craft. They allow like-minded people to meet under one roof and share the same passions, whilst exchanging conversations and skills and encouraging one another. I imagine a lot of lasting friendships begin at these kind of shops & classes, there’s something about the idea of ladies getting together to sew and be crafty that makes it inevitable!!


However, the great thing about these shops is that they are not only focused on, or designed specifically for, the advanced sewer…They offer classes for beginners and there is no better place to begin for an inexperienced sewer than an environment surrounded by sewing buddies. It also offers those who have never used a machine but are inquisitive to trial one on a low cost to see whether it is for them, before committing to buying one of their own. Just like we learn to drive in someone else’s car with an instructor before we go out in our own…you can be sure you’re handling the machine in the right way.

  Sew Over It

The Sewing Café concept has been made big following the recent press from ‘Sew Over It’, a cafe opened in Clapham by owner Lisa Comfort, who gave up working for Philippa Lepley (a celebrity wedding dress designer) to set up her own business … her very own sugar almond themed shop!!  ‘Sew Over It’ describes itself as being ‘a sewing paradise’, and we have to agree that it definitely seems to offer that promise within the quirky make do and mend style walls. The shop offers classes, clubs, advice, inspiration and even parties all whilst serving tea and cakes over conversations and crafty exchanges. If you are interested in visiting this café take a look into the class schedule & events here:


Why not take a look and see if there are any shops near you, or if not, don’t let that stop you … Why not host your own sewing tea party? Invite some friends round, set up your sewing machines and enjoy a chat and craft afternoon over tea and cakes!!

Hot on the Pressing – A guide to the Perfect Press


Hot on the Press-ing

As you will have experienced with some of our “How To’s”, perfect pressing is important and can be the difference in achieving a professional looking result!!

So, here I’ve put together some helpful tips and advice about pressing and the perfect iron and hope they answer some of those brain teasing questions.

Basics: Most of you will already be familiar with pressing and how it differs from ironing. (Ironing is a backward and forward motion to take out the creases. With pressing, you lift and press, lift and press to achieve your desired look.) But pressing embeds the stitching, creates pleats and sets the seam neatly.

Key features:

Steam: A good iron should have a choice of steam options; different steam pressures, a spray and a burst of extra steam. It should be easy to fill and enable vertical steaming!!

Weight: It is important that the irons is held comfortable, but always go for the heaviest one you could use.

Soleplate: Preferably special coated such as a ceramic or Teflon to help the iron glide.

Swivel cord base: This useful option helps with handling the iron and achieving best results.

Variable heat/fabric settings: Controlling the correct heat & desired result whilst protecting the fabric is so important.

Tip: Press every seam before stitching over it and when pressing delicate fabrics, make sure you protect them from the iron plate using a tea towel or some fabric remnants!!

The final choice will ultimately depend on your personal preference, but, a good iron is as important as a good sewing machine to achieve those beautiful finishes to any item so be sure to consider the above points before you invest in the best.




How to wind a bobbin and thread a sewing machine


How to wind a bobbin and thread a sewing machine

Before you thread a sewing machine always make sure you have enough of your desired thread on the bobbin. Otherwise, it usually never fails that you?ll thread your machine to discover the bobbin is virtually all out, or, doesn’t match your top colour.

Sewing Machine
  • Put your thread spool on the spool pin at the top of your sewing machine
  • Slip your spool cover/clip onto the spool pin to keep in place (if you have one)
  • There is usually a diagram on the top of your machine to direct you.
  • Wrap the thread around the bobbin tension disk (on the top of your machine, usually distinguished with a screw and towards the top left)
  • Take the thread towards the right and wind it around the bobbin, a few times to secure.
  • Push the bobbin pin over to the right to activate the bobbin winder.
  • Press the foot pedal to start the bobbin winding and the thread should evenly wrap around the bobbin and stop when full.
  • Take off the bobbin and cut thread to release.
  • Drop the bobbin in the lower plate and follow instructions of where to feed the thread.
  • Now to thread your machine.
  • Take the end of your top thread and follow the arrows/numbers on your machine.
  • Pull the thread behind the upper tension disk (this is what creates a nice smooth stitch? check out our? How to adjust thread tension? section for advise on this)
  • Continue following the arrows & thread path and pull the thread down towards you and make a ?u? shape back up to the top of the machine.
  • Turn the wheel at the right, toward you, until the metal lever reaches the surface.
  • Move your thread to the back of the metal lever and around (to left) to catch in the groove.
  • Follow the arrows back down the front of the machine with your thread.
  • Secure the thread behind or through any metal hook/s before reaching the needle.
  • Finally, thread your needle and pull the thread down through the opening of the presser foot.

And, last but not least, bring both the threads together

  • Turn the wheel on the right side of the machine towards you (hold the end of the top thread to keep above surface)
  • This will then catch your bobbin thread and pull it to the top.

Congratulations, you are now threaded and ready to start sewing!!


Make your own pencil case


Pencil Case


Simply made using a sewing machine, this Back to School or Office accessory can be customised to your own bespoke design. Helps to add that little sunshine to your day.











1. Cut 2 rectangles from your chosen fabrics (measure the width on your zip plus 4cm allowance) and make the lining length 2cm smaller.
(e.g. Exterior 24cm x 20cm / Lining 24cm x 18cm for a 20cm zip).














2. Sew a 1cm seam around the fabric (right sides facing), leaving a 3cm gap on one length.














3. Gently pull the right side of the fabrics through the 3cm gap.



4. Place the exterior fabric and the zip together and pin (right sides facing).



5. At this stage prepare your Sewing Machine Accessories and place on the Zipper foot.



6. Pull the fabric over the sewing machine arm and stitch along the edge.















7. Pull the zip across to meet the other edge of the fabric (right side facing still) and pin.















8. Stitch along the edge (it helps to open the zip midway to avoid sewing around the bulk).



9. Flatten the fabric down, keep the zip central and pinch in the corners to meet together under the zip on both ends. Keep flat and pin.

















10. Sew down each side and back stitch fairly heavily to secure in place.





















11. Open the zip and pull through the fabric and push out the sides to complete the look.

















Put in your favourite pens and pencils and your pencil case is ready to show off!!