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

The Battle Plan

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We are entering uncharted waters, never before have we encountered such uncertainty, should we have a stiff upper lip and carry on until we are told that the country is completely locked down, or do we all panic buy and self isolate as soon as possible, difficult decisions to be made. As far as Fine Fabrics is concerned it will stay open until such time I am told to shut down, like businesses in Italy and Spain. I have spent a very frustrating day trying to source emergency funding for such a business like mine, it was announced in the budget that there would be money made available for small, independent retail units like me, sadly all sources of financial funding do not have any information on how it is accessed. I have put a business plan together for the bank explaining how long i have been in business, what i am doing to keep the shop going during this crisis, all the questions that are reasonable and quantify an answer, then i was asked “how long do i perceive the emergency funding will be required?” I looked into my crystal ball but there was no answer forthcoming…..if i can not answer this question then i can not be considered, but if i am not totally honest in my answers then the funding can be removed, all in all a difficult day but no worse than many other small independent businesses like me.

If you are intending to visit the shop it is regularly cleaned and there is sanitizer available, but no handshakes or hugs . The web page is being updated with all the fabrics that have arrived recently. I will continue with the internet orders and mail order requests as long as the post offices remain functioning. Any orders will be gratefully received. I will spend more time with the newsletter, if you have any questions regarding your sewing projects i will more than happy to answer them either via the website contact page or email me direct, finefabricsofharrogate@gmail.com.

Final thought, a big thank you to all the Nurses, Doctors and all health care workers who are working very long hours for our benefit, let us not put ourselves at risk, be sensible take care and stay safe.

Sandra x

Feeling grateful, 2020

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I have begun the new decade feeling reflective over last year, it was a very busy and a stressful time for retail in 2019, so much uncertainty with the “B” word, so many larger businesses expressing profit warnings, many big names on the high street pulling out.In Harrogate we lost over 10 big names in the last 18 months, Cath Kidston, Gap, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccios’, Miss Selfridge, H & M and East to name a few. These are worrying times especially when you are a small independent as everything to do with the business is down to you, from choosing and buying the stock on the shelves to cleaning the floors, in between there are accounts, bills, invoices, sewing classes to organise and many sleepless nights! So I look back over the last year and feel grateful that I am still in business, i am so very thankful for all the loyal customers that support me. I am aware that many things are cheaper on the internet, as the sellers often do not have the overheads of a bricks and mortar shop, not everyone understands this and that is why I appreciate every customer that walks through the door and buys something whether that be a reel of cotton or several metres of fabric, it’s so disappointing to see visitors to the shop taking photographs of fabric on their phones as research for finding it cheaper on the world wide web.

Sewing can transport you to another place, you can forget all your worries and concerns for a few hours whilst you are immersed in creating a garment or a project. The sewing classes that are held downstairs in the studio are busy, creative and a joy to have in the shop, I love listening to all the chatter and laughter which accompanies the classes, you may feel like a stranger when you first join but you soon feel that you have known everyone for ages. Dressmaking sewing classes are held every Tuesday and Thursday, please ring me if you would like more information, they are open to all abilities.

I am really looking forward to searching out more wonderful fabrics and sewing gadgets, the mission is still to increase the ecological footprint of the shop, source organic where I can and local when possible. I continue to enjoy slow sewing, I am currently making “the Coat” by the Avid Seamstress in an Oyster Wool fabric BW0015, decided to make life difficult and do Hong Kong bound seams using a satin viscose binding.

Sadly we lost one of our long standing members of the Thursday sewing group, Kay was a beautiful Lady , her battle with cancer was a long and difficult journey, she often said that sewing really helped, even-though she could never forget due to the constant pain she endured, sewing was one thing that distracted her every Thursday though the concentration did exhaust her. Kay did say that sewing soothed the soul, gave her peace and a wonderful sense of achievement, I know she tried to always avoid having any of her treatments on a Thursday. We do miss her , we were honoured to have known her and we will not forget her.

There have been many ups and downs in 2019 and there is a lot to be thankful for, this year I hope that I still make the right choices and purchase items people still want to buy, one thing that is certain your custom will always be appreciated.

Thank you all for your support, happy stitching and knitting

Sandra xx