Lost and found

I found a sewing machine! Dumped in the street! Well, a bush actually…



Some of you may have already seen this on my instagram I was walking to the bus stop early yesterday morning on my way to work when I noticed something big shoved into a bush next to a car dealership. Down this particular street I’m quite used to seeing all sorts of rubbish (literal rubbish, not just nonsense) of all sizes (normally massive – think dirty mattresses, half a fridge etc) – it’s a pretty regular occurrence that things get left outside so I don’t normally pay a lot of attention, but as I approached this big, off-white rectangle I realised it was a sewing machine! With a pedal still plugged in! It was shoved in to the undergrowth back to front, but as I picked it up I spotted the Singer logo on the front corner, so I swiftly turned on my heel and took it home. As I was already running late when I’d headed to the bus stop I had to drop it off in the middle of the front room and then make a dash for the bus again.

The machine is a Singer Samba 1, also known as Singer Samba 1 7502 or just Singer 7502, and as it turns out, it was never sold in the UK. I spend a little while searching online trying to find out more information, but really struggled to find anything at all, although I found a few available on Italian, Dutch and Spanish selling sites, so I contacted Singer directly who confirmed it was not a UK model. In my internet browsing I had found a manual for the model, but it was written in Italian, German and Dutch only so I’ve contacted Singer Italy to see if they can give me any more information. My sister also helpfully did some Googling and we have deduced that the machine was manufactured in the early 80’s, and the label on the side states it was manufactured in Italy, but we can’t get more any more specifics. Hopefully Singer Italy will reply soon!

I tested the machine when I got home and surprisingly, it actually worked! You can check out the machine working on my instagram (link in side bar >>>).The plug is a bit sticky and dusty so it all needs a good wipe down, and the bit on the end of the spool pin to keep the thread in place is missing, but that’s easy to replace so I’m not worried. It’s a drop-in bobbin which I’ve never used so I will need to find that manual again and have a go at threading the machine. It’s so quiet! Much quieter than my trusty Elna! As far as I can see it only does a basic straight stitch and a zigzag stitch, but apart from the buttonhole function on my Elna that’s really all I use so it might be worthwhile getting the Samba serviced properly and then keeping it for emergencies. Going to need a de-stash to make room though…

I shared my find on online social media and so many people echoed my sentiments – why would anyone throw a perfectly good sewing machine away?! It needs a bit of TLC but it’s a great machine for a beginner as it’s not complicated, and being mechanical rather than a digital machine, much easier to fix if something goes a bit wrong. I do need to test how it sews so I’ll do that over the weekend, but so far it seems fine!

If anyone knows anything about early 80’s European model Singer sewing machines (very specific – perfect Mastermind specialist subject) please let me know in the comments!

The secret is OUT! Plus, a competition (yay!)

I am very pleased to announce that I am now a Cali Fabrics blogger!

OK, so I’ve actually known for ages but I didn’t want to share until the new blog team was officially launched on Monday. Some of you might have already seen my mug on the lineup (and I was rumbled a few weeks ago by Meg from Pigeon Wish) but the first few posts went live this week so the secret is out!

Cali Fabrics, based in San Francisco, have created a new team of over 20 sewists from around the world to make lush clothes and blog about the great range of fabrics and trims Cali Fabrics offer.

I actually saw a post on instagram  a couple of months ago seeking new bloggers to be part of the blogger team, so I thought ‘why not?’, fired off an email and was lucky enough to be picked! I’ve read a few of the profiles for my fellow blog team members, some of whom may already be familiar faces, but I think I might be the only UK based sewist, so I will be providing my British opinions on the fabrics posted across the Atlantic (along with anecdotes about tea and cake, probably).

Having received my first parcel from the States, I am currently working on my first make for the blog. Naturally I chose a complicated pattern (more on that in my post…) so it’s taking a bit longer than planned, but while you wait for my posts as I furiously stitch away, why not check out the other people on the team and check out the first few posts! I will be posting both on the Cali Fabrics and here too.

More importantly – Cali Fabrics are currently holding a competition to win a $100 gift certificate to spend in store! Check it out here – gotta be in it to win it! (90’s catchphrase optional of course…)


Please note: the Cali Fabrics blog team and I have been provided different fabrics in exchange for our participation and our honest reviews. All opinions expressed  in my posts will be my own. Where supplies were purchased elsewhere, this will clearly noted with alternatives available at Cali Fabrics given where possible.

A sleeveless Granville

Another day, another Granville shirt. This time – no sleeves! Of course, you probablyPhoto 02-07-2016, 16 18 18 (1) clocked that from the title of the post…

After the success of my first Sewaholic Granville shirt  I knew this would become a staple pattern in my collection. I wear a lot of sleeveless shirts and tops which is why I spent all that time fitting the muslin’s for the checked version – it means it’s now a pretty speedy make!

I used a fabulous cotton lawn from my stash that I’ve had for years. Somewhat surprisingly it came from

Photo 02-07-2016, 16 19 38
A smoother fit across the back (wrinkles from a car ride to ikea haha)

my local market before the range they carried improved significantly! I think this was about £3 a metre, and I bought 2.5m as soon as I saw it. I still have a little over a metre left. The pattern is made up of colours I would usually wear anyway, but the print is a bit more eccentric than I usually go for. I had a bit of a wobbly on social media about whether this would be ‘too much’ for me, but because the print isn’t overwhelmingly big I figured I’d give it a go and wear a cardigan over the top to tone it down a bit if I needed to.

In terms of construction, the only things (apart from no sleeves) I did differently was take off about 1cm from the side seams to create a closer fit. However it wasn’t until I was halfway through assembling the front that I remembered that I had needed to m

Shiny edge-stitch foot

ove the bust dart back down about 3/4”. As I’d gone too far and didn’t want to waste more fabric than necessary by cutting 2 new fronts, I just carried on with the darts a little bit high, but will definitely do this before my next version! I also think I might need to add a little bit more to the FBA as there are a few drag lines, but this could just be because of the dart. I also want to have a look at how the side seams match up as the waistline curves seem to be in slightly different places (but that could be because of how much I had to shorten the pattern).

I just used bias binding on the armholes to create a clean finish – I am planning on doing a quick tutorial on idiot-proof bias binding (if I can do it, you will be able to!) so keep your eyes peeled! Seams were all finished on the overlocker which seemed to like this much better than the bee cotton. I also had a go with my edge-stitching foot on the yoke, but I must confess I wasn’t impressed. Mind you, it was just a cheapy one that you get in in those bargain sets from Amazon (which are incredibly useful for testing feet without forking out a small fortune for a better quality one), so maybe it was down to that.

I also had a bit of a struggle with the collar – it is just too big for the opening, but thanks to Heather from The Pug and Needle and Jamie from Male Devon Sewing for your help – next time I just need to take more time, swear a bit less at it and just ease it into the neckline. This time I cheated a bit – pinned it as it fit and chopped off the extra bit! I don’t ever do a top button up anyway so I didn’t need the extra length on the collar stand. I will make sure though that my next version is done properly!

The fabric sews up really nicely, feels lovely to wear – there was no printed selvedge though so I have no idea of the brand I’m afraid. Someone has told me in the past the print reminds them of bacon, but my sister’s comment at the weekend was that it looks like sweets, which is much less weird.

Next up is the Seamwork Adelaide and Hayden’s Negroni shirt – just need to buy buttons!

The ‘Where am I?’ cushion


Hayden and I were given 3 massive feather filled cushion inners not long after we moved in a couple of years ago, and until now only 1 has been covered and usable. The other 2 have lain forlorn and naked in the corner of the front room, with me pretending I can’t see them…

About 3 weeks ago, I felt a sudden and strong urge to make something, make anything, and I wanted a quick, instant gratification project to get my sewing fix! Enough was enough, a cushion cover must be made, and I dug out one of the cushions ready to make it a lovely new cover.

I bought this cotton remnant from a stall at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia in early 2015, and had earmarked it way back when as a wall hanging project, but when I got itimage home I realised the irregular map print just wouldn’t look as nice as a proper map would, so into the stash it was flung, just waiting to be made up into something soft and squishy. A few weeks later I visited the Rag Market in Birmingham for the first time and picked out a soft khaki coloured cotton as a backing… and then that ended up in the stash too! There it sat until earlier this year, when I dug both pieces out to find an invisible zip that matched. But then it all went back into the stash again!

imageUntil now! When the urge to sew struck, I knew I had to get my fix, and a simple cushion cover seemed like the obvious instant gratification choice. In terms of construction it was very simple, even though it turned out the map fabric was too narrow for the cushion inner! Only by a teensy bit so I made the cover as big as I could and squished the inner into the cover. It’s fine, it’s functional! Just don’t use it in a pillow fight as it might pop!

I started by cutting fabric pieces as big as the cushion inner plus as much seam allowance as I could manage. I think I used 0.5cm in the end just to make the measureimagements easier to work out. Then I inserted the invisible zip along one edge of the front and backing fabrics, joining the pieces to form a rectangle but leaving a few centimetres at each end to allow for tidy square corners and a neater zip opening. Then, placing right sides together with the zip opened up to at least halfway, I stitched around the squares to make the cover, making sure to stitch a little further along than each end of the zip to make sure the opening was neat. Once that was done, I trimmed the seam allowance a little and then used a zigzag stitch to neaten the edges and turned it all through.

The insides are by no means perfect, but the whole project took about an hour from start to finish and definitely scratched the sewing itch! It actually sits really well against the first cushion I made! Not sure what to do with the other one – our sofa in the front room is running out of space!

The bee’s knees

You all may be aware of this by now but as I am part sloth, I like being as comfortable as possible at all times and as such I am a huge fan of pyjama trousers. There is nothing like having a nice hot bath and then stepping into lovely clean pjs and getting all snug on the sofa… Ok, so that’s actually quite a wintery image, but after the weather we’ve had recently, it’s not too far from the tr20160604_162237uth!

On my last fabric shopping adventure to Birmingham, we stopped off at the utter glory hole that is Barry’s. I long for the day there is a fabric shop like it near me! I had seen this
amazing bee print fabric on instagram made up into some really cute tees and dresses and I knew I had to get some. I loved the duck egg blue colourway, but now I think about it the navy version would work really nicely for a summer dress… *grabs credit card*. I think I picked up about 2.5 metres as the fabric is only about 115cm wide but it wasn’t very pricey so it was nice to splash out!

I really really love the print, but I knew I would never be able to turn it into anything like a shirt a dress or a shirt as the print is just a bit much for me, but I am very fond of of a loud print in a pyjama – somehow with lounge wear you can get away with a lot more!

I used the free pyjama trouser pattern from the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee (the link will take you to the full list of free downloadable patterns from Series 1) – the same one I used for these pj trousers. I didn’t do anything differently this time except use the overlocker instead of doing French seams, and I’m really happy with them. I do think my overlocker might need a once-over though as it had a little bit of a struggle with this fabric, but it’s lovely cotton to sew – crisp and a bit rustly but softens up nicely with some wear.

When cutting out I forgot that the pattern is quite regular so it’s not pattern matched at all but as I hadn’t realised this until one entire leg was assembled, I didn’t have enough to go back and re-cut. As I’m probably never leaving the house in them I figured it’d be fine but it actually seems to have turned out absolutely fine. I also somehow managed to get a perfect pattern match on most of the centre front seam – no idea how it happened but I couldn’t have done if I tried!

I don’t know how I did it but I’m chuffed!

Thoughts on Me Made May

Some of you may have noticed that I have been somewhat silent during Me Made May – doesn’t take much guess work to realise I just didn’t take part.

I first became aware of Me Made May last year, around the time I started my blog and started discovering more sewcialists online, but as I was only just regaining my sew-jo after a long absence away from the sewing machine, I knew I literally did not have enough clothes to participate without wearing the same thing every day. Wind forward to 2016 and I once again chose not to participate as I still don’t have enough me-mades to wear.

However, I did observe from the sidelines, and whilst being massively impressed at peoples amazing hand made outfits, it has made me start to evaluate where the gaps are in my own wardrobe.

You may remember that about 6 months ago I wrote a post about my sewing goals for the year ahead, which contained a list of the patterns I would like to make over 2016. As it turns out, I have made exactly zero so far. (One of my other goals in the post was to lose some weight but that hasn’t really happened either, shhhh….)

However my sewing goals for the remainder of the year are more or less the same – my focus is still on making separates, although the Seamwork Adelaide has now crept onto my list to make over the summer! Hayden’s Negroni shirt is still top of the sewing pile as he has been waiting since Christmas, but over the next few months I will have plenty of sewing time to catch up on some selfish sewing!

I am hopeful that next year I will be able to participate in Me Made May (if it runs again) – I really loved seeing how much thought people had put into the challenge as well as how the clothes that they make work with other pieces in their wardrobes. I’m never going to be a capsule wardrobe kind of girl but I do want to reduce how many clothes I own to more accurately reflect what I actually wear. It is so tempting to get caught up in the whirlwind on social media when a shiny new pattern is released, but as I get  older (maybe even a little wiser?) I have realised that not all that is new will suit me, so I hope that this year is the year I really get to know what shapes do and don’t work on my frame. And if I do shift a few pounds along the way, then there’s an added bonus! But for now, I’m off to drink a bucket of sweet tea, rewatch the last episode of the Great British Sewing Bee and buy some beautiful cotton-linen blend for Hayden’s shirt. Might even tackle some unpicking…Probably not though…


The Granville shirt

Hello all! I’m not even going to claim that normal broadcasting will resume shortly as it, in all likelihood, probably won’t – don’t worry, I have been sewing but m currently having a wee struggle with life, the universe and everything else right now. I’m still trying to keep up with your blogs and makes and have been vaguely following Me Made May on instagram (although not participating – you lot are so bloody clever though! You go Glen Coco) so I’m still here, I promise, just a little quieter than usual. But I do have some good plans for the next few months, Photo 30-04-2016, 13 20 40so watch this space!

BUT – I do actually have some finished makes! Well, just 2 but still – a blog queue! Yay! I finished my Sewaholic Granville shirt a few weeks ago and have worn it a few times since, but as it turns out finishing a flannel shirt jusin time for spring and summer is probably not the smartest idea…

I bought this pattern months and months ago but it took me a long time to finish – not because the pattern is difficult but because by the time I had finished fitting it I was completely fed up with it! Sewaholic patterns are drafted for pear shaped ladies so that’s a really good starting point for fitting for me personally, but I am a bit more pear shaped than most with quite a pronounced sway back and a bit of a tummy (sad face) so it took me ages to get the pattern to fit properly. I shortened the whole thing by an inch before I even started, increased the width in the sleeve (much easier than you think!), did a sway back Photo 30-04-2016, 13 19 34adjustment, FBA, sloping shoulder adjustment and drafted between sizes. Talk about a frankenpattern – the paper was a mess by the time I was done! I’m quite pleased with the sway back adjustment though, in the pictures you can see there isn’t too much fabric pooling so I think I’ve almost cracked it.

I spent ages trying to pattern match where possible, which I usually avoid like the plague. The plaid I bought doesn’t have a normal plaid repeat so I decided to try to match up the prominent white and orange stripe where I could instead. I managed to get the front to match, and generally the stripes across the arm line up too, so that was pretty cool! I also wanted to make it more interesting so I cut the yoke on the bias and matched the orange stripe for pretty cool chevron effect. The part I was most worried about was doing the cuff placket – it’s been a really long time since I did one but the instructions in the pattern were really clear and easy to follow. The fabric I used was probably a little too heavy to get a really crisp finish on the plackets but I’m chuffed with how they turned out.

The fabric is a cotton flannel type thing and came from Bernie the Bolt‘s stall at a 1940’s event at Wimpole Hall – I don’t think it was very expensive (otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it haha) but I had originally intended it to be curtains when we moved in to our house. As it turned out, the window I had planned curtains for was miles bigger than I realised and I didn’t have enough, so this sat in my stash for over a year

Photo 30-04-2016, 13 19 45 (1)
Chevron-y goodness

before I used it! Bernie the Bolt doesn’t have a website I’m afraid but I’ve seen the stall a number of times at history fairs so he may be at an event near you soon! I did struggle to find buttons though – I wanted a mother of pearl/shell button, but I couldn’t find anything in the right size so I ended up buying some faux mother of pearl ones from John Lewis.

Construction-wise, once I’d got it fitting how I wanted, it wasn’t actually too tricky to assemble. Sewaholic instructions are nice and clear and once I’d made a muslin I was pretty confident I could make this up without having to refer to the instructions. I sewed everything on my Elna and finished the seam

Photo 30-04-2016, 13 22 27

s on my overlocker.

Overall I’m really pleased with how this turned out and I will definitely be making more Granvilles! I do feel it ended up a little roomier than I would have liked, but that’s ok in a cosy plaid shirt! My next one will be most likely sleeveless so I might be able to nip it in at the side seams to get a better fit. I don’t like anything too figure hugging as I’m incredibly uncomfortable with my body shape but I also don’t like being drowned in fabric as I’m actually quite short – striking that balance on a curvy-petite body is hard!

Hayden and I walked to small local woodland to take these pictures a couple of weekends ago – slightly fewer bluebells than I had hoped for but we did find a mystery source of wild garlic, yummy…


Petal Sorbetto

A new post! 2 posts in one week! What is this productive madness?! I have a couple of makes that just need some finishing touches which will be written up soon but this is a quick make I finished last week.20160416_142715.jpg

I don’t often read magazines (I only buy them when there’s a good freebie!) but I did pick up issue 24 of Love Sewing magazine, and in the monthly column by Elisalex, of By Hand London fame, was a quick pattern hack for a super sweet petal sleeve. I’m normally a sleeveless top kinda girl as I can find some sleeves quite restrictive, but I thought that because of the split shaping on the sleeve this might add something to my wardrobe.

This turned out to be an almost completely free make, aside from thread. The instructions call for asorbetto 3 top or dress pattern with a traditional set in sleeve – as I didn’t have a pattern that fit the brief I used the free Sorbetto top pattern from Colette patterns and slightly extended the shoulders. Sorbetto is a sleeveless pattern but I know I had a drafted sleeve for the Sewaholic Granville shirt that fit so I traced the sleeve head and stopped 2 inches down on the underarm seam for a short sleeve. The fabric, a mystery fibre blend from Birmingham Rag Market, cost just £1 for a metre on a recent trip with my mum and dad, and I figured I could try and squeeze a Sorbetto with short sleeves out with a bit of wriggling to fit the pieces on!

I had used the Sorbetto pattern previously here Photo 16-04-2016, 13 00 56.jpgand here so I knew it (more or less) fit me, but I knew I needed to add a couple of inches to the pattern overall. Instead of adding half an inch to each side of the front and back pieces, I just stuck it down the middle, only to find once I’d cut out my pieces it was miles too big… Whoops! Because I had only bought 1 metre I knew I couldn’t re-cut  so I just took a nice big tuck out of the front and back piece. Thankfully, because this is an irregular polka dot, the extra seams aren’t too obvious, but as there is a seam front and back I’m calling it a ‘design feature’. Nobody will ever know…Photo 16-04-2016, 13 00 17

Construction wise, it was surprisingly easy to draft the sleeve shapes using the instructions in the tutorial, although in hindsight mine seem a little roomy. I like being able to lift my arms though so I don’t mind. I also didn’t do my normal swayback adjustment as I wanted this to be quite loose and comfy so there is a bit of pooling at the back waist, but I think the looseness works with the simple structural lines lines on the sleeve and centrefront and back seams. I did manage to sew the overlap in 2 different directions the first time and toyed with leaving like that but it looked a bit silly so I switched them both to overlapping towards the back. Across my back and shoulders looks a little too big still, so I am going to have a go at a narrow back adjustment and see if this improves it at all. I overlocked all seams and for the hems I just overlocked and turneimaged over once for neatness. For the neckline I made some bias binding from the scraps and bound the neckline. I love cutting bias strips but I think I’m cutting the wrong width for the tape maker – if anyone has any tips please let me know in the comments!

Overall I’m really happy with this Sorbetto hack, and will definitely use the petal sleeve tutorial again. Maybe on a blouse instead of a woven top – that might look quite sweet!I’m still not done with my Granville shirt, although I do know have buttons (woo!) and I’m halfway through a pair of pyjama bottoms, but I do plan on at least tracing the pattern for Hayden’s Christmas Negroni shirt this week (which I still don’t have fabric for). Thankfully Hayden is being very patient – I can’t find the right shade of grey chambray or linen that I have in my head, so I might have to change my idea slightly. It’s a good job he’s not fussy!




Siluett – fashion behind the Iron Curtain

Hello all! I’m back! Well, I never really went anywhere but I know it’s been a bit q20160412_190327uiet on the western front at jennystitched headquarters lately. I’ve been struggling with my sewjo a lot lately (will this Granville shirt ever be finished?!) and I’ve been a little demotivated to do anything at all, let alone blogging. But I’m slowly finding my feet and getting some of these draft posts out into the big wide world!
Today’s post is about fashion during the Cold War, or more specifically in Estonia. I wanted to share with you this fabulous vintage fashion magazine my sister bought me last year when she went to Estonia (yes, this post has

Line drawings showing

been partly drafted for 6 months, bad blogger…). She picked it up in a second-hand book shop in Tallinn and its beautiful! She is going again later this year and has offered to have another look for more copies for me! There aren’t many pages but it feels very luxurious as the paper it is printed on is lovely and thick, plus it has that fab ‘old book’ smell which I love. It is predominantly about women’s fashions but there are some men’s,

Isn’t she cute?!

children’s and teen’s fashion illustrations included too. When you think of life behind the Iron Curtain I must admit that I don’t normally think of people wearing contemporary fashions, but the styles in this edition of Siluett are so typical of the late Fifties, and would still look gorgeous today.

Siluett was a fashion magazine published in Estonia from 1958 until 1992. Unfortunately I can find out very little else about Siluett – I suspect this is due to how closed off the Soviet Union was for many decades. This might actually be one of the very

Men’s and women’s fashions

first editions as it is from Summer 1958 and it amazingly still has its original Russian language insert. Apparently Estonia was considered the most westernised country in the Soviet Union. International tourists and Finnish television broadcasts helped bring new trends to Estonia and designers travelled across Europe visiting fashion houses for inspiration.

I found a link to this exhibition about fashion phenomena in the Soviet Union from the Art Museum of Estonia in 2013 which gives a little bit more information. There is an article about the exhibition from the Baltic Times here.

I have also included links at the bottom of the post to the most useful articles I found online about the history of Siluett for those who may want to find a little bit more out the magazine throughout it’s history. The info is a bit limited (and in places is in Estonian) but Google Translate is pretty good at giving you the gist of it!


Necessity is the mother of creation

…or something like that anyway. This post is actually about something I made at Christmas lasimaget year. For once the delay was planned and not just being too busy (lazy) to write it up!

This Christmas (the one just gone) I spent the day with Hayden’s family. His family is huge in comparison to my own, and it was decided that instead of everyone buying silly amounts of gifts for family you rarely see, a Secret Santa would be arrangeimaged and we would only need to provide one gift. An excellent way of saving pennies at a pricey time of year, but an opportunity to put a bit more thought in. Theoretically anyway…

I was given a very young family member to find a gift for. Dilemma!

I decided to make a simple embroidery hoop. I’d seen lots of really beautiful eximageamples online and they always look so cool but my embroidery skills aren’t the greatest, but nevertheless I persisted and was quite pleased with the outcome!

I  drew up a really simple design of lots of flower-type shapes, and freehand stitched until it looked quite pretty. For the name, I just found a free font online and traced the name on to my design. Easy peasy!

I used chain stitch, straight stitch and also French knots on a mint green polka dot poly-cotton to create the design, backing it with craft felt so all the knots and mess were tidied away and I’m really pleased with the outcome. I was really chuffed to finally crack French knots too! It seemed to be well received by the recipient (although I don’t think they worked out it was from me!)