Lockdown part two

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Well here we are again, I thought it might happen but it still came as a blow. Like a lot of small independent businesses I felt that I was starting to recover from the last one , all be it very slowly and nothing will replace the income we have all lost. I had got use to the new normal of masks, sanitizer, distancing and cleaning every opportunity to make the environment safe and secure, I thank my lucky stars that all the people I know are safe and well. But this second wave I struggled, I admit to feeling sorry for myself, closing the doors for a second time really hit me hard. The roads still seem busy, many shops are still open, it seems that if you have anything remotely identified as food you can stay open.

During the first lockdown the weather was brighter and warmer but this time it’s damp and miserable, I slobbed around for the first couple of days in a very oversized sweatshirt and baggy trousers, I looked in the mirror and no wonder I felt sorry for myself, I looked a mess. So I decided to revamp my lounge wear, i am not a trackie bottom sort of person so looked for patterns that would make me feel more comfy and relaxed, but at the same time had a more stylish appearance.

One of the patterns i searched out was the Nina lee Carnaby dress, followed by the Sew over it Heather dress, I had already got the jersey in mind, for the Carnaby I am using the quilted jersey in Navy and turquoise ( BJ0017), I think I will bind the neck and lengthen the sleeves and hem. For the heather dress I am going to use a plain navy ponte (BJ0047), I have made this dress before so I know i have to widen the sleeves and deepen the armhole, I will make it a loose fit as I am also baking at the moment…probably be fine if i didn’t keep tasting the results!

I am in the process of finishing off a couple of Christmas projects, I have been making up the Advent calendar kits, they are a really quick make, you can quilt by hand or by machine if you wish. I prefer by hand in the evening, to try and stop me from snacking. I can not decide which i like best the traditional red and white or the more contemporary pastel version, both are available on the website as panels or as a kit.

I hope you all stay well and if possible enjoy this second Lockdown, which hopefully will enable us to have family with us at Christmas time.

Happy Sewing and Knitting

Sandra x

A Sale and new opening times

Starting Tuesday 1st September 2020, ending Wednesday 30th September.

Yes its Sale time, all fabrics and knitting wools, the sale doesn’t include haberdashery or linings, so if you have had your eye on something for a while then now is the time to get it.

The hours of the shop are changing in September, there are sewing classes all day Monday and Tuesday morning, so the shop will be closed at that time, the shop will open at 12.30 on a tuesday until 4pm, then the rest of the week the hours will be 10 am until 4pm wednesday through to Saturday, except for these dates 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th the shop will be closed, i do apologise if this is inconvenient you can always shop on line and arrange collection or I can drop off if you are in the Harrogate area.

Gillian Hargreaves has a couple of classes this month, “Sewing with knits” on Saturday September 5th and the “Fit to flatter dress” Saturday 19th September. On Saturday November 7th she has a “Start at the beginning” class, so if during lockdown you thought you might like to learn to sew then get yourself booked in quickly, contact Gillian at theyorkshireschoolofsewing@outlook.com. If you can sew but you need to refresh your skills on Wednesday 11th November Gillian has a “Sewing essentials” class, this is a brilliant day packed with all different techniques, methods, tips and tricks.

This is an unapologetic plea if you wish for bricks and mortar shops to survive then please support where you can, the internet is amazing and fabulous but you can not ask its advice, feel the fabric, ask how to sew a particular type of fabric, what needles to use, which thread, how to do a certain technique, how to read a pattern,check the colour against your skin tone, feel the softness of the knitting wool, meet like minded people and chat about your hobby or passion, attend classes and learn a new skill.I appreciate that there are a lot of new businesses on the internet selling fabric and knitting wools at cheaper prices, they do not have the overheads of a bricks and mortar shop and many of them would not exist if they hadn’t had little local shops to call upon for advice and attend classes when they first started there sewing or knitting journey. Please help us to survive these very difficult times.

I hope you enjoy the Sale, keep well and happy sewing


Happy Day

Today has been filled with such happiness, after 5 long months finally got the windows redressed. I am so fortunate to know the best window dresser in the world, how Angie manipulates the fabric into garments is a wonder or just simply magic. Sorry the photograph is not the best but it is very difficult with the glare from the glass. I always text Angie with the type of fabric and the colours that i want to be displayed a couple of days before her visit, she arrives with a boot full of props and creates the most amazing displays, I would like to take credit for this jaunty nautical seaside themed window, but I can’t though I hope it will entice you to pop along and visit me.

The shop is continuing to be open three days per week, Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursday 10.30 until 4pm, it would be good if you could make an appointment as it would prevent you from waiting outside if some one else is in the store, masks need to be worn and please sanitise your hands on entering and leaving, there is some solution just to the right as you come through the door.

During the latter part of the lockdown I lost my sewing “mojo”, there had been a little weight gain and a little loss of identity, too many days of slopping around in jeans and t-shirts. Then I had a date to open the shop and thought “what can i wear” quite a few things were a little snug , so I bit the bullet got some linen and made myself a couple of simple shift dresses. I took my time, did french seams, lined it with bremsilk and did a hand sewn blind hem, the joy of making came flooding back. So the next project was the French Dart dress by Mavern patterns, i made a toile in white linen, it only needed a couple of tweaks around the bust area. It is such a flattering cut, a really great pattern i highly recommend this dress, I want to do a colour block version next again in linen.

If the Mavern French Dart dress is my pattern of the month then i must share with you my haberdashery item, it a beech clapper one of the most valuable pieces of equipment in my sewing room. The top has a narrow pointed surface that is perfect for getting into those hard to reach areas like collars and lapels. Place the garment with the seam uppermost blast with plenty of steam, the beech wood absorbs the steam and gives a crisp finish to your collar or lapel. Use the base of the clapper to set seams, creases, pleats and flatten bulky seams, giving your garment a professional finish, simply blast plenty of steam then press firmly with the clapper, holding in place until it has cooled, use on necklines for the perfect finish

Beech wood Clapper £20.00

If you are unable to visit then please look at the website, I am happy to deliver in the Harrogate area, probably on my bike, remember to press collect when completing your order so you are not charged postage then send me an email asking me to deliver. I have changed the postal rates to second class delivery, as the Post Office did increase their prices during lockdown.

Wishing you all the best of health, stay safe, hope to see you soon, until the happy sewing

Sandra x

New Opening Times and guidelines

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The last couple of weeks have been a rollercoaster, since it was announced that the retail sector can open from the 15th June, I have been trying to decide how to open.

The government guidelines inform the retailers that perspex guards must be used, spacing guides must be visible so customers know where their safe space is, browsing is not allowed, customers must not touch the items in the shop, if they do then the item needs to be quarantined for 72 hours. On reading this i thought this would be impossible to do, the shop has always been a space where you can wander around browse, feel the fabrics, drape them in front of the mirror, go home and think about the outfit you are wanting to create then come back and purchase. All this is no longer possible, so I either give up and shut up or think of ways to make it work…I have decided to do the later, so there will be quite a few changes happening.

Starting on Tuesday 30th of June the shop will open for three days a week, appointments only, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the opening times will be from 10.30 until 4.30. Each appointment will be for one hour and you will have the shop to yourself, if you require less time if you just want thread, interfacing or collecting an order, please let me know. There will be a sanitizing station at the door so if you could clean your hands on entering and leaving that would be appreciated. Touching the fabric is not allowed unless you are buying it, I will have samples cut of the fabrics so if there is one you like then i can give you a sample to feel, i will be happy to hold the fabrics up so you can see the print and the drape. If you touch the fabrics or wools then i will need to quarantine that item for 72 hours. I am also sorry to say that the toilet will not be available.

To make an appointment please message me through the website or email wwwfinefabricsofharrogate@gmail.com.

The website is being continually updated, if you would like to collect your order and not pay the postage then please click the collect button in the shopping basket area, please tell me when you would like to pick up your order so you are not waiting outside the shop, if another customer is inside that could be up to an hour.

If you could keep to your appointment time that would be greatly appreciated, I want to keep the shop as safe and secure for everyone, then hopefully a more normal can be achieved.

Hope to see you in the not to distant future, stay safe, keep well and sew as it really does soothe the soul

Sandra x

Sew on we go….

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The last time i wrote my blog i really wasn’t sure what was happening, within a couple of days it became very clear that the doors on the shop had to close, there was no argument from me it was very clear that this had to be done.

The last few weeks have been challenging, having to up my computer skills which to those of you who know me will find this amusing, it’s not my favorite past time, even managed to join in a couple of webinars from suppliers to see the new collections for autumn winter, classic blue is the pantone colour of the season, lots and lots of knitwear, natural fibres, lace and layers so I can put plans together for the next season.

For the time being the physical shop will remain closed, the on-line shop will continue to be the main way to purchase, I am currently going into the shop twice a week to cut and prepare the orders, you can always e-mail me any requests or questions, i am so grateful to everyone that has supported me via the website and telephone orders. The shop looks so sad, I have had to empty the window display and cover a lot of the shelves with brown paper to prevent the beautiful sunshine having a detrimental effect on the fabrics. In June I will do partial opening on an appointment basis, please contact me via the e-mail address finefabricsofharrogate@gmail.com to tell me when you would like to visit, this will enable me to adhere to the social distancing guidelines and ensure that you can shop in a safe enviroment. Depending on the customer response in June will indicate whether it is viable to open the shop full time in July when the hospitality sector will hopefully be able to open too.

Mask Making

During the last couple of weeks i have tried out various designs to make family facial masks, the one i finally decided was a pleated version, my reasons for this is I found it quite comfortable, my glasses did not steam up whilst wearing it, washable and easily made for others as the only adjustment needed is the elastic .

My method is as follows, these are guidelines only, these masks are not of a medical grade they are a cloth facial covering that can be laundered at high temperatures, though what i had read is that it is not necessarily the heat that kills the virus its the detergent, so i will wash mine on a 40 degree wash.

Firstly cut two 20 cm squares of tight weave cotton, one square of interfacing 18cm square and adhere onto the wrong side of one of the fabric squares. Place the two squares right sides together and sew with a 1 cm seam allowance along the top and the bottom, you now have a tube of fabric, turn right side out and press. Sew along the top and bottom again using a 1 cm seam, at this point if you want to you can uncurl a paper clip and insert it into the channel you have just formed at the top of the mask. This will enable you to shape the mask over the nose, but you will have to be cautious when you launder or iron the mask and you may have to replace it.

Next you will need to mark where your pleats are going to be, I mark from the top of the mask at 4cm, 9cm and 13.5cm. Then make a 1cm pleat, with the pleat going downwards.

Then make a binding to cover the edges, you will feed the elastic through this channel.

I have used 20cm length of elastic per ear for ladies and 25cm for men, if I am sending them to family and friends i just insert a long piece through each chanel then when they get the mask they can just knot the elastic at a length comfortable for them.

Its important that the masks are worn with the pleats facing downwards, they are easily washed and ironed.

I have put some kits up on the website .

One thing i have discovered is that you can re-visit, or if you didn’t get the chance..visit, the Christian Dior Designer of dreams exhibition at the V and A, from the comfort of your home via the internet, its really worth a look just go to the V and A website and enjoy.

Happy sewing everyone, hope you are loving the Sewing Bee…go Ali

Stay safe

Sandra x