Sunday, 29 November 2015

Christmas Fair

December is nearly upon us, which means only one thing... time to get into the Christmas spirit!

Unlike the supermarkets, which appear to start getting excited for the holiday season somewhere around mid-October, I've never been able to get into the Christmas mood until I open the first door of my advent calendar. However, since there are only a couple of days to go until December, I'd like to share with you some information about Bangor's upcoming Christmas market! 

This year, the market will be held on Friday 4th December in PJ Hall, Main Arts, from 12:00-17:00. The Bangor Craft and Sewing Society will have a stall where you can come along to buy our handmade goods, including dreamcatchers, jam jar tea-lights and felt bookmarks!

Last year we managed to raise £129.50 to put towards funding future workshops and keep our society going, as well as £80 for the Red Cross. This year, we hope to do even better! 

As well as our society, there will be dozens of other stalls that you can look round, selling a huge variety of jewellery, cards, baked goods, plants, decorations and hot food, to name just a few, so please feel free to pop along, say hi and check out what's on offer! It's a great opportunity to get a few Christmas presents crossed off your 'To Buy' list, or to get yourself a little something. 

We hope to see you there :) 

Friday, 6 November 2015

Learning to Sew

Hey everyone!

For those of you who know me, most will also know that I sew most of my own clothes. When people first hear this, a lot of them sound really surprised, which I suppose in the modern world of consumerism and fast fashion is pretty understandable. However, I'm here to tell you that sewing your own clothes is not as difficult as many people seem to think it is. I'm a completely self taught sewist, inspired to get to grips with learning how to use a sewing machine after watching the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee in 2013. I've been sewing for nearly two years now, with handmade clothes taking up more than 50% of the garments I wear on a regular basis.

'Colette Astoria' Sweatshirt

When I started, I had no clue what I was doing. All I knew was that I wanted to take a sewing machine, some thread and some fabric, and bring them together into something totally unique and that I would love to wear. Of course, my first few attempts were completely awful and have been buried in the bottom of my wardrobe ever since, but don't let this dishearten you! Look on these projects as a learning curve; every mistake you make is helping you to get better.

'By Hand London Flora' Dress

I basically started out by reading my sewing machine's manual from cover to cover. Sit with the machine in front of you, so you can physically touch and get to know each part of the machine as the manual takes you through it. Then, I read a few of Tilly and the Buttons' 'Learning to Sew' posts, which you can find here. Bored of theory by then, I jumped into the practical. Cheap fabric (sourced from Abakhan), a pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee book, and I was away. I wore the finished dress once. It had messy insides, it was too big, the fabric was sort of ugly...but the point is, I'd done it - I'd sat down and made something to wear using my own two hands.

'Tilly and the Buttons Arielle' Skirt

From then on, everything became a lot easier. Once you've got through your first project, the excitement and joy every time you finish something else just acts as the momentum to keep going. And every time I finished a new project, it was a little better than the last. I wear very few of those early garments nowadays, though I took great pride in wearing them at the time, and being able to tell my friends that I'd made what I was wearing myself. You'll probably do a similar thing. Most of what we make in the early days of learning to sew ends up not being worn, but just remember that those projects were not a waste, for without them, you would have never learnt to sew at all.

'Lisette 1419' Dress

It took me about ten projects to reach a stage where I was totally happy with what I was creating. This may seem a lot, but remember I was only using cheap fabric and patterns from sewing books I'd bought, so the cost was relatively little. About four months in, I was creating garments that I still wear to this day, over a year and a half later. I wash my clothes on the delicate cycle of my washing machine, and I've never had a problem with the stitching coming undone. Have confidence in your own creations!

'New Look 6483' Top

Today, many sewing techniques are second nature to me, and I can put a dress together from start to finish in about six hours. I'm a relatively quick sewist though, so don't be put off if your projects take you a lot longer to complete than that - everyone works at different speeds. Of course, there's still so much more for me to learn, and things do still go wrong! My advice would be to always keep an un-picker close to hand. The beautiful thing about sewing is that if your stitches are in the wrong place, you can always undo them and try again. One mistake doesn't have to spoil your whole project!

'Sewaholic Cambie' Dress

You'll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can get the hang of using a sewing machine. Threading your machine may take you ten minutes as a beginner, but within a couple of projects you'll be down to less than a minute. That feeling of achievement is hard to beat! Same with sewing pattern instructions - you may have no clue what right sides together, facing, tuck, baste or gather mean now, but believe me, you'll be rattling off sewing terms within no time at all. It just takes practice.

'Sewaholic Renfrew' Dress

I hope this has given you the confidence to give sewing a try - if you're interested in giving it a go, you might be interested to know that me and Medi, our chairperson, are running a four week dressmaking course in Semester 2! These sessions will be totally separate from the Craft Society meetings, and will take place on Wednesday and Thursday nights (you only have to attend one a week - we just thought having a choice of days would make it easier for people to find time to come along). If this is something you'd be interested in, do let us know, and we'll give you more details closer to the time!

Thank you so much for reading,

Beth x

If anyone's interested, you can check out a list of all my completed sewing projects here, and my own sewing blog can be found here.