September, Bike Race

 Once again  Harrogate is hosting a world wide cycling event, it really doesn’t seem five minutes since we had the start of the Tour de France, yet it was 5 years ago. This time the UCI 2019 Road cycling world championships are gracing our little part of the world for 8 days. As much as I applaud the Council for hosting these events there is a price to pay for  little independent businesses like mine, especially those that have nothing to do with cycling or catering, so florists, wool shops, haberdashery stores, hairdressers, book shops, toy shops will all struggle in this quarter of the year as this is the month that we all have to pay our rents. 

In 2018 over 2400 shops closed on the high street, that is 19 shops a day shutting their  doors for the final time. Footfall on the high street has been decreasing year on year, we no longer have  local banks or post offices, our high streets are getting full of charity shops, vape stores, and Nail studios every town is starting to look the same and parking charges are increasing.

Harrogate still has quite a few independent shops that makes it quite unique and a great place to visit. So l have a plea to Harrogate Borough council please champion what you have, promote this town for its diversity of shopping experiences and please give us a break we have had the Tour de France, Tour de Yorkshire and now UCI world championships, can we have a rest from lycra.

Maybe the money the Council is getting from these events they can create cycle lanes so we can all use our bicycles without the fear of being knocked off  especially on routes like Leeds, Ripon, Knaresborough and Skipton roads, next time the Council resurface the roads, so that a cycling event can use them, maybe they will consider putting in cycle lanes

This event will mean that many of the routes into Harrogate will be closed depending on the day, and which races are taking place, so I have decided that for this time period I will close the shop and do on-line sales only, there will be no postage charges ,when I have posted the parcel i will send you an email so you know that it has been dispatched.

We are open on Saturday 21st of september, but from Monday 23rd of September until Monday 29th September Fine Fabrics is operating on-line only,

Wishing everyone safe and happy cycling, normal business resumes Tuesday October 1st 2019

Happy sewing



The Sewing Bee Effect

Photo by Adonyi Gábor on

Were you addicted to the BBC programme ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ like me and many others? I set myself a challenge of recreating the garments, sewn on the Tuesday evening programme, the following day in the shop. I had to recruit help from Lillian and Ruth of course. We then found ourselves sat every Tuesday at 9pm, with a cup of tea and pen and paper at hand to make notes for the next day’s challenge. Texts promptly flew between Lillian and myself – what pattern, which fabric … can we really do this?! Well we did manage it and our efforts have been on display in the shop window. It was really good fun and has created an in-depth discussion about the show, which contestants we liked and those we were not so sure about, how difficult the challenges are compared to the last series, Joe versus Claudia, favourite item, least favourite, are the patterns cut out for them before they start the challenges, did they make the right fabric choice and of course Esme’s outfit, and occasionally Patrick’s, is analysed.

So what lessons were learnt after the Sewing Bee challenges? I do not like to rush, would I previously have used a rotary cutter? No. I really do have to finish off the inside seams. Fabric choice is key – I found that I was absolutely useless at the up-cycling challenge. I admire the contestants as I really couldn’t handle the uncertainty of the challenges and definitely do not have the imagination to do the up-cycling bit. I would still be trying to work out what to do when they would be judging everyone else’s. Hats off to all the contestants and presenters, they make it a real joy to watch and the programme has done so much to bring sewing back into vogue. No longer do we whisper “I made it” if someone asks what you are wearing, now we are all proud to wear handmade clothing, thank you Great British Sewing Bee and long may you continue. I have heard that Love Productions are still open for applications, but not for long, which means that we will have another series, excellent news.

Happy sewing and knitting.

Sandra xx

How I buy Fabric for the shop.

A couple of weekends ago I attended a fabric trade fair,  now all the parcels are starting to arrive and it is so exciting. I am often asked how I make choices of fabric, everyone thinks that it must be so much fun … it is, but it can also be quite stressful as you can not buy what you like – you have to think what your customers will like.  When I first took over the shop I met two wonderful Sisters who made all their own clothes, and I mean everything, from coats to petticoats. They had completely different taste in colours, fabrics and designs, and they always looked impeccably turned out. To me they will always be the epitome of the fundamentals of the shop.  As I go round all the fabric agents i am thinking of Mrs D and Mrs M along with my friend who loves jersey. She requires a wardrobe to fit her challenging figure and wants to look sassy when she goes out, smart-casual for her job and relaxed and comfortable at weekends. All this is going through my head as I look at swatch after swatch of fabric. I also need to look at the composition, origin, width and care instructions, as I feel that is important to tell customers. Finally I look at price.

The other major consideration I have to think about, as instructed by my window dresser – the most wonderful Angie, what will I buy for the window.

As I go round all these wonderful suppliers, seeing some of the most amazing fabrics, I have to ensure that I do not overspend the budget … that takes a lot of the fun out of the shopping!

Another major consideration that is overlooked by many shops is Haberdashery. Do I have the correct inter-facings, lining, zip colours, thread? If not, can I get them? The shop has never been, and will not become, a place of speed disposable sewing, the fabrics deserve to be treated well and then they will reward you with joy when you wear then. Often I hear the cry that a wonderful project has become a disaster and the sewer blames themselves for not having the skills, but more often than not it is not the fault of the sewer’s skills, it’s more likely to be incorrect fabric choice or not stabilizing the fabric correctly. ( I openly admit that I have become obsessed with learning about interfacing and interlining, I find it fascinating how these products can affect the finish of a garment.)These choices all need to made when you enter a shop or buy on the internet. The clues are always on the back of the pattern, so be sure to read all this information. The benefit of being in a shop is you can feel the fabric, see the true colour and ask all the questions you need, we should all know the answers to your questions, if not then we should know how to find the answer, that is our job.

So just like me when I am buying fabric for the shop, you experience exactly all the same thought processes as me when you are purchasing for your project.

Until next time happy sewing, knitting and living a creative life

Love Sandra

Craftuary and Cleaning.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Last week I had to change the timer for the lights which are on the outside of the shop, they come on at dusk and light up the windows, this makes me sooo happy I now know that Spring is on its way.

In Harrogate we are so lucky with the beautiful Stray which gives us a fabulous display of crocus, I believe there are between 6-7 million bulbs planted in the grassland, they usually make their appearance in March and that is definitely a wonderful sight, you just can’t help but smile. So with Spring just around the corner I have started cleaning which also means that I need to re-organise as I go…this generally means that I actually make more mess initially, then I get distracted by making lists of things that I need to make to help keep things neat and tidy, for example, we have quite a few sewing machines in the studio area of the shop, the pedals are kept in spare bags, well no more there are all going to have little zipper bags to put the foot pedals and wires into. I started with a simple lined box shape but then started quilting the fabric…. Hence it always takes me so long to tidy up !!

I have also been making lots of bags out of canvas. I really dislike using plastic bags and that includes the “bags for life”, so now I have a variety of bags made from heavy-duty canvas with applicated letters on them so I have my veg, fruit, bread, toiletries and clothing bags, they are also strong enough for bottles and cans. We are running classes for all these so give us a call if you need more information, and I will be putting dates up on the website. Also, would anyone be interested in learning to make lampshades? If so please get in touch.

There also another reason for starting the cleaning process now, in a couple of weeks I am off to a trade show to see the spring and summer fabrics, and possibly buying a few bits and bobs, so before anything new arrives it’s a really good time to wash all the shelves down with lavender oil, why you may ask…I am paranoid about moths, all fabric that comes into the shop is taken off the rolls or boards that it arrives on and checked, this is for two reasons, firstly to ensure that there no flaws or faults ( with natural fabrics there are often little flaws in the weave)  and to make sure there are no nasty things lurking especially if it’s linen, cotton, silk or wool, and secondly to check the length and the width.

Are you excited for the return of the Great British Sewing Bee? Tuesday 12th February BBC 2 I have set myself the challenge to try and recreate one of the items from the programme the following day eek…check my Instagram to see how I get on fine_fabrics_of_harrogate.

Finally we have a knitting group that meets twice a month, they are called The Stray Knitters, they are a lovely bunch of ladies but the numbers are a little low at the moment so if you would like to learn to knit, finish a long-standing project but need advice, or just want to meet with like-minded people come along, the next meeting is Saturday 16th February 10 am till 12.30 pm £4.00.

Happy sewing and knitting


Rejuvenation January

Happy New Year everyone. We all start the new year with a list of all the changes we are doing to make to improve ourselves throughout the coming year, quite often these lists have the counter effect, instead of improving our lives we start getting stressed trying to make the targets that we have set ourselves.

So this year I have decided that it will be a year of little changes,  little and often is the motto for me this year.

I have a  list of clothes I want to make, this is a little cheat as I started this project last year when I did the review of my wardrobe, but I am pleased with how this project is progressing, I have upped the ante a little as I am proposing not to buy ready to wear clothes this year, I will allow shoes and tights, the new challenge will be making underwear.

Next I really want to be more ethical in my choices when I purchase anything, so where possible I will buy without packaging, I am in the process of making a set of shopping bags for this purpose, they are out of calico and labelled with applique letters so i will have a bag for toiletries and cleaning products,  then a bag for vegetables so i do not get cross contamination, thus my apples and bananas will not taste of soap powder. The bags are washable thus any spills and staining are easily dealt with, I am experimenting with a paint on coating for the inside of one the bags to waterproof it in case of spillage.

Self-care is my other must this year, i always start the year poorly, last year was irksome health wise I have suffered from migraines for several years now, I have tried various remedies, not eating various food groups, keeping diaries, trying not to get stressed, yoga, no alcohol, decaffeinated products, but the migraines still prevailed. I have now been given some medication by my GP  and keeping everything crossed this seems to be having a positive effect on my headaches/migraines but a very negative effect on my waistline, elasticated waistbands are not really my thing, so back to Slimming world and up the exercise. I have not really been able to do much exercise over the last few months as I had bursitis in my hip, thankfully treatment from a physiotherapist has that all sorted, I will not be hitting the gym but a few walks, a bit of cycling and swimming should improve the flabby situation.

Meantime i will be making a couple of extra shift dresses on the looser side until things improve.

Finally, I will be implementing a few changes in the shop, so where possible I will be more ethical in the purchasing of fabrics and related products. If I can source an alternative to plastic based products I will, though they have to work.

If you attend classes and require soup or coffee from the deli which also happens to be the best in Harrogate you will be asked to use our reusable cups.

If you have any suggestions for changes that I can make I would love to hear them.

Have a fantastic 2019

Happy Sewing

Sandra xx

Responsible Slow Sewing

I love sewing, I find it relaxing, planning what I want to make, finding the appropriate pattern and fabric. I don’t make a lot of things and I am not a fast sewer, neither do I want to be….why would I put myself under pressure, make mistakes, get frustrated not finish and then put it in a “to do pile”. The whole process making me feel that I can’t sew because the whole thing was a disaster. I like to escape into my own little world for just a little time and concentrate on making something I really want to wear many many times. I do not batch cut, I don’t want to know about sewing shortcuts, speed sewing, cheat methods. When I make something I want to feel proud wearing it, I want my checks to match, I want my seams finished properly, I want my zip really concealed and the hems level. It has taken me a while to give myself permission to slow down, the world we live in everyone is so “busy”, it’s like a badge of honour to say how busy we all are, how many different things we are juggling and how much we can post on social media.

I find it astounding when I see people on social media pronouncing  “ this month I am going to make 6 dresses 5 tops 2 coats…. Okay, I may be exaggerating a little,  I do appreciate that a lot of these people are promoting companies, enticing us to purchase a particular pattern or fabric and I do like to see what other people are making, but are they really enjoying it???? Do we really need all these clothes???

The answer seems to be well the fabric was only £3.00 per metre so it really doesn’t matter…..this actually makes me angry, it really does matter as those garments that we have thrown together and do not fit  end up in either the charity bag or landfill.

I do think that we need to be more thoughtful and conscientious over our makes, think where the fabric we are purchasing is from and do we really need to sew at breakneck speed, in 2019 let’s  take a deep breath ,slow down and thoroughly enjoy our sewing.

If you are looking to learn new skills in the new Year we have a lot more classes planned, getting the perfect fit, large bust adjustment, perfect trousers, couture skirts and that wardrobe essential the edge to edge box jacket aka “chanel type jacket”.

Look forward to seeing you all in the New Year, thank you all for your support it is greatly appreciated.

Merry Christmas

With love

Sandra xxxx

Reflections and rants.

The build up has begun, adverts are on the television, lists being compiled and stamps bought, but am I feeling festive? ..not really. I am a bit like the weather up, down and a bit grey, everything is so commercialised  have we forgotten that it’s the thought that counts not the amount we spend. Bah humbug…. Honestly I am not that bad but I am rather reflective over what has happened this year, the Blue Planet episode impacted on everyone but have we done anything about it except reiterate how bad plastic is, have we stopped buying it? I was in a large toy shop last week and I was stunned with the amount of toys made out of hard plastic, I asked if there was anything that wasn’t made of plastic for a four year old  girl the answer was…not really. I found a little independant store, I asked the same question and was delighted to be shown games and puzzles without plastic, not even the packaging, and the second best thing is i get to play with her rather than a toy for her to play with.

The second television programme that made an impact on me was the Stacey Dooley programme on how the fashion industry has impacted on the environment, especially the amount of water used to produce a pair of jeans, 7600 litres… its hard to comprehend isn’t it? I like a lot of people have more than one pair of jeans in my wardrobe and I do not wear them.

A little more thought into what we buy can make a little difference, put all those little differences together and it will help.

I am starting with my presents to buy list, is there anything I can realistically make using things i have already got? If not can i buy it locally.

Wrapping paper i am not artistic enough to create my own but i will make sure that what i buy is environmentally  friendly.

Then there is the shop, I have always used local suppliers, used paper packaging, recycle where I can, lightbulbs are low energy but there are other little things we can do, if you come to the shop for classes and want a coffee from the deli…why wouldn’t you it’s great coffee, we will supply you with a reusable mug, again a little thing but each week i dispose of a minimum of  10 coffee cups over the year that adds up.If you can think of other things we can do please share.

My final rant is a plea to everyone please please use your local shops in the coming year, with business rates, rent and all the other overheads that bricks and mortar shops have we can not compete with the internet, yes we are happy to help, yes we are happy for you to browse but please do not use us as a place to do your research and then find it cheaper on the internet, 27,000 small businesses were lost year if you do not use them they will disappear.

Thank you for reading

Sandra xx