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

Seasonal Planning


As summer draws to an end lots of clothes brochures have been falling through my letterbox and I have seen so many things that I would really like. So kettle on, tea made and I have gone through the brochures, picked out my favorites cut out the pictures and stuck them in my planner. My grand name for the old scrapbook which lives in my sewing basket to keep me focused. Then I do a bit of pattern research to see what I can use to create the items on the list.

On my list this time is a trenchcoat, I had originally thought of doing it in pale blue, but then a lemon crepe arrived in the shop and I was smitten… the pattern I have chosen is from an old Prima magazine, November 2016.

I also have purchased the Rumana Coat pattern from By Hand London, I bought the  download pdf…daunting to stick it all together so I contacted a most wonderful lady called Sarah at Print your Pattern, I can not praise this lady enough she sorted it all out for me and it arrived all printed within 48 hours, fabric has yet to be picked as I am waiting for all the winter orders to arrive.

So while I am waiting for the winter wools I am going to make a button through skirt in some cotton gaberdine with lycra which has just arrived in ecru/ivory and mushroom, I am going to use the ivory fabric, the pattern is McCalls 7392 (the mid-knee length), I will be altering the waist to make it a little deeper so I can put a self-covered belt with it, inspired by the picture below.

Photo from LK Bennett

I will not be making my own belt, I will be sending the fabric away to Harlequinn in Essex, I know there are other services but I have always been happy with them.

Finally this is my current project,there has been a black with ecru spot viscose fabric talking to me for the last month, each morning as I open the door my eye looks for this bolt of fabric, so now I have found the perfect item, I am using a McCalls pattern M7129, view B though I am taking some of the fullness out of it.

Spotty skirt

Photo from Baujken

Today I had the ultimate joy of seeing the new season of patterns and wools from Rowan, absolutely wonderful, everything should be in by the end of September and I am really excited by the Kim Hargreaves new book Pale….lost for words but that is definitely on my list for October.

Two deliveries of fabric have arrived today, including the pale lemon crepe and the gaberdines so I am now going to photograph them and get them up on the website.

See you all soon, happy sewing and knitting


Summer wardrobe plans

I have become bored with my wardrobe so I decided to go around the shops to try and plan what style I want for summer. I had a completely open mind and asked the sales assistants for their help, there were good and not so positive experiences, some things I would never have dreamt of wearing actually suited me. I was introduced to a change of style and a different palette of colours, I may not be brave enough to take on board all the advice immediately but I will make little changes gradually.

So my plans are for little cotton tops and shirts, full floral skirts and cropped trousers in cotton spandex, linen viscose mix and cotton lawn, as these fabrics will give structure and drape. I can pleat the top of the skirt, a gathered skirt really isn’t me, the spandex will provide comfort in the trousers and all the fabrics will breathe. This Linen viscose is on the list as a little-fitted top, it comes in a blue colourway as lin vis

The cropped trousers are going to be in a navy twill with stretch, not an exciting photograph

Then this lovely silk crepe arrived and I thought that needs to be a long flowing skirt


I was also fascinated with the construction of some of the clothes, it has been a long time since I actually went out on a shopping trip!!

One of the little touches that I thought was a really good idea was placing a piece of grosgrain at the back of the zip when it is inserted, this gives a really lovely finish and if you have cut the zip to the length you require, it stops that little raw edge of the zip irritating your skin, great for trousers, dresses and skirts with a side or back invisible zip.

If anyone would like me to put a little tutorial together for this then let me know.

Finished zip
To go with these skirts I want casual tops so I turned to Kim Hargreaves latest knitting book Calm. If you haven’t seen it and you like knitting I urge you to have a look, there are so many patterns in this book and the yarns are amazing. Quite often when you buy a pattern book there is one pattern you really like others are ok, I can assure you that in this book you will want to knit every pattern

Summer Kim Hargreaves

I personally like cotton jumpers and cardigans in the summer, I have chosen a pale blue Rowan Handknit DK Cotton, it goes perfectly with this Kaldor polyester print.

Skirt jumper
Finally, I just have to share this wonderful fabric that arrived this morning, I saw it several months ago at a trade show and just had to buy it. It is an embroidered tulle absolutely exquisite, off to play putting different colours behind it to see what happens… no plans for this yet but a small piece has made its way into my fabric stash, until next time.

organza 1

Happy sewing and knitting

Sandra x

Why bother reading sewing patterns envelopes and not just look at the pictures


When I started sewing many years ago, first Prima magazine… another story, there were not many pattern companies, now we are really spoilt for choice.

The basic rules of reading the pattern do not change no matter which pattern you want to use, as this will prevent you from making mistakes and time isn’t wasted, ultimately the  garment fits you and does not end up in that “to be sorted later pile”

Firstly always read the pattern, I realise that this sounds very basic but there is a lot of information on the pattern package. We often just look at the size we need to buy, more about this later. We often skip the garment description as we have seen the picture, we like it so we do not read this section, this is a major mistake as this will tell you how the garment has been constructed. On Vogue patterns for example in this section, it will tell you the basic fit of the garment whether it is loose, fitted or semi-fitted. If I tell you that loose fitting can be up to 8 inches/ 20cm of ease this might influence the size that you purchase. This box will also tell you if the garment fits on the waist or below the waist, above the knee, below the knee, side zip, back zip, pockets and techniques involved to construct the garment.

Then we need to read the fabric suggestions, this is another area that we skip. We have seen a fabric we like and think “it’ll be fine”, please, please check if it really will be fine. If I could have £1.00 for every person that has come into the shop and told me of a fabric/pattern choice disaster I would be on a yacht sailing around the Greek islands for the summer. I really do understand that we get so excited at the prospect of creating the garment of our dreams we forget simple checks. The fabric list has been put together by the designer, which can also mean that they have tried it in other fabrics and the design did not work, this advice is what you are paying for when you buy the pattern, not just the tissue bits inside. If you are unsure of what “charmeuse” or “broadcloth” is, then ask in the shop.

Body measurements versus finished garment measurements, this is related to the previous section. We do get very hung up on what size we are, please try and look past the number 14 or 20, we want to achieve a garment that fits, the size you cut is between you and your scissors. Take the body measurements as a rough guide to what size pattern to purchase, but when you get the pattern home before you cut anything out look at the finished garment measurements.Get the tape measure out and check your measurements against these. Do not hold the tape tightly around your body, hold it where you want the garment to fit, remember you need to breathe, eat, drink, sit down, walk stairs, bend, lift stretch and carry things whilst wearing this garment, so the tape needs to be loose and comfortable. Compare these measurements with those “finished” measurements on the pattern and cut to those.

Look at the fabric requirements, do check the with “nap” without “nap” section. Patterns will often have both imperial and metric, narrow and wider widths. It may be necessary to purchase more fabric if you are planning to make alterations ie: lengthening the sleeve or the hem, or if the fabric needs to be pattern matched ie; stripes.

Finally the notions always worth a quick check as there is nothing more infuriating than having your planned sewing time interrupted because you haven’t enough thread, a zip, interfacing or elastic.

Happy sewing, until next week

Sandra x