Lucky Sew and Sew

Lingerie and Accessories for Badass Babes. Magic Maker. Leather Painter.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Free time...what's that?!

A couple of nights ago both Lucky Sew and Sew and Thor's Threads went mental and we had so many orders in that one day than we'd normally get in a week! So i've been a busy bee cutting our orders and Christmas presents when I can and sewing them up frantically.

Last night from 7pm til 10pm I managed to put together and overlock 5 pairs of knickers and completely finish 3 of those including elastics and bows etc, and also put together and overlock 2 pairs of tap pants. That's a record for me. Especially as I also had to take Logan to the loo twice and settle Rori back to sleep once after my noisy overlocker woke her up. Oops. It can't be helped though really, my sewing space is actually a nook at the top of the stairs, on the landing, outside everyone's bedrooms. It's annoying as it's small and dark and wakes Rori up if I overlock too vigorously, but it's also nice as I get to hear Logan playing and singing to himself when he's supposed to be going to sleep. His favourite song to sing at the moment is 'Be Bop A Lula' which is heart-meltingly cute.

I'm currently waiting on a large order of yummy jersey to make into Hudson Pants when I get a chance. I'm starting to get worried that i'm not going to be able to finish up all of my Christmas present sewing in time though, especially if the orders keep coming in- something I hadn't factored into my tight sewing schedule.

In other news, Logan had his first settling in day at nursery today which he loved, and Rori is now pulling herself up to standing on things and moving along them. Stop growing up, children!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

My Black Friday Weekend Purchases

I had put myself on a pattern ban until I had managed to complete my (very) long list of Need-To-Sew's, but there were come amazing deals on Black Friday weekend and I did indulge slightly...Husband, avert thy eyes.

I have heard amazing things about the Hudson Pants from True Bias, so I went ahead and purchased the Hudson Pants pattern and the mini Hudson pattern. My thought being that when Logan starts preschool in January, I am going to need some loungey, are they/aren't they pyjama type warm trousers. What I love about this pattern is how they are smart but casual if you catch my drift. I got the mini sized ones as they will be perfect for Logan for pre-school too. After I purchased these, I then went back and purchased the men's Hudsons too as I couldn't leave Rich out, and had a little daydream about us all lounging around on a Sunday, watching Disney films and eating popcorn in our Hudsons. Bliss.


Next up I got the Noodlehead Road Trip Case pattern. This is going to be perfect for Logan to use during car journeys, he gets so bored in the car. I really wanted to buy several more Noodlehead patterns, especially the Campfire Messanger bag, but I know I really won't have time to sew it right now, so I had to resist, and place it on the ever expanding list of  'Patterns I Want To Buy'.


Lastly, I purchased three Puperita patterns. If you haven't come across Puperita's pattern shop on Etsy, then you are missing out. Annalisa creates the most amazing baby and children's patterns. I went for the Hearts Hoodie, the Little Stars Pants and the Jumpy Romper. The Hearts Hoodie I already have the fabric for, and i'm going to make Rori a fleece-lined jacket for when she's in the baby carrier. Not to warm, nice and snuggly and a nice big hood, perfect. The Little Stars pants pattern encompass a wide range of sizes, so I can use it for Logan and Rori. For Rori I want to make some fleece lined ones to wear in the carrier so her little legs keep warm. Finally, the Jumpy romper I can also use for both the kids. It is fully lined and reversible. I cannot wait to make tonnes of these, I've got a thing for dungarees/rompers.

JUMPY Reversible Romper Baby Children Boy Girl sewing pattern Pdf,  Easy, toddler newborn 3 6 9 12 18 m 1, 2 3 4 5 6 yrs Instant Download

So basically, I indulged quite a bit, but they're all very practical! Did you grab any bargains over the weekend?

Monday, 30 November 2015

Floral Kim Dress - By Hand London

After the Great Zipper Debacle of  2015, as outlined in my last post, I actually managed to finish up the dress in time to give it to my sister-in-law before she goes home to Spain. It is a late brthday present/early Christmas present.

I am loving how the dress looks, and i'm really pleased with how it came out in the end, but that's not to say there weren't a few moments during it's construction in which I wanted to burn the dress and never lay eyes on it again. Ever.

The pattern, which is a PDF pattern,was simple and easy to put together. The instructions were clear and precise and the Sew-along on the By Hand London blog was extremely helpful. The sizing is true to size I would say, but it is drafted for a smaller cup. When I get around to making a Kim Dress for myself I will need to do a Full Bust Adjustment to make room for my ladies, but that's no bother, as there's also a hack for that on their blog too! I chose to sew variation 2.

The fabric I chose to make the dress from was from Regency Rags on Ebay, (a great source of fabrics by the way, if you haven't come across them before), it was listed as Crepe de Chine. I'm unsure whether that is an accurate description or not to be honest, it just didn't seem like other crepes that I have worked with before. However, I am no expert. Regardless of what type of fabric it was, I fell in love with the watercolour flower print. It has a charcoal ground and the soft pastel colours of the flowers is right up my street. I love a good floral.  

The fabric, although beautiful, was quite challenging to work with. When I first started to sew, the needle kept creating pulls in the fabric. This was remedied with a new (sharper) needle. I also found that my overlocker would gather up the fabric, even if I mucked around with the differencial feed. It was fixed with a play around with the settings and a good press afterwards. 

I decided to self-line the dress, and in hindsight, it made life a little harder and more confusing, as there was no way of differentiating the front and back of the bodice. If I could go back in time, I would line in a cotton or something similar that is not so slippy.

I hadn't seen my sister-in-law in about 7 months and after working on her feet in a record hot summer in Spain, my brother informed me that she had changed size dramatically. After not getting a lot of help regarding clothes size from my brother, I decided to go ahead and cut a size 12. Once i'd sewn the bodice I was worried that it looked small, (My SIL has big bewbies) so I added on two extra centre back panels. I know, I know, it's sacrilege. I knew that doing this would push the side panels off kilter, and everything else, but it was this, or the dress wouldn't fit. I by no means, suggest that you do this, and it went against every fibre of my being, but I just didn't have time to remake the bodice, so I just crossed my fingers and went with it. 

The rest of the dress came together nicely. Until it came to inserting the invisible zipper that is. When I bought the invisible zipper foot on ebay, I went with a mid-range, unbranded option. Next time, I will not cheap out and just get a brother one as this one was pants. It didn't hold the zipper in place so my stitches kept being too close to the teeth of my zip which then inhibited the zipper pull from going up and closing the teeth on the zip. In the end (after many unpicking and re-sewings) I had to sew the right side from the bottom, which meant that my zipper ended up a little shorter than it would have been, but it still allowed for a big enough opening, lucky enough. 

After the zipper fiasco, All I had to do was hem and then finish the bodice lining. As the fabric was soft and floaty, I decided to go with a hand-rolled hem. Never done this before in my life, but that's what I decided to do. It was actually pretty easy to do and finished the hem off nicely. The hand stitching the bodice was also quite a quick job once I got into the swing of it.

Overall, this dress isn't perfect by any means (the zipper is too short, doesn't quite match at the top and the waist line also doesn't quite match, and it has the weird extra panels on the back) but I really love it. I think it really suits my sister-in-law, and she was really pleased with it which makes it all worth it in the end :)

The sweetheart neckline is so cute and the length is perfect. The Kim Dress pattern I would recommend endlessly. I can't wait to make a few for myself!

front view

ooooh, florals

Sweetheart neckline

Extra back panels, bad zip and un-matching waist!

Still pretty though :D

Neat skirt seams

My Sister-in-Law loves it (pretend you can't see the bra straps!)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Zippety Doo Dah

Yesterday I spent the entire evening trying  to insert the invisible zip into the By Hand London Kim dress that I am currently sewing up. The dress is a gift, so I can't post photos just yet, not untill its been given (that is if I can ever finish it!).

I have only ever sewn three zips before, and it's been a while since the last. I found By Hand London's instructions on their sewalong really helpful - but I think this zip personally had it in for me from the start. First of all I sewed it on backwards and had to unpick it, and I bloody hate unpicking! Especially as the fabric I'm using is a really fine crepe, and it doesn't like unpicking stitches as much as I don't. Then I sewed on one side, pinned the other side back to front, so had to un-pin and re-pin. So I finally sewed it on correctly and the stupid zip won't work! Gah! I tried everything, but alas, this zipper has won this battle. 

I will unpick it (grr) and sew on a new zip tonight, now that I *think* I know what the problem was. I think it has been stitched too close to the theeth which is obstructing the puller-upper. Very technical. If I have the same problem tonight the damn thing can go in the bin. 

Wish me luck!


Monday, 16 November 2015

Get Busy Living

Hello old friend. Once again, it's been a while. Life has been busy! I'll update you, but give you the short-hand version. I reeeeeeallly hate living in the past, and right now I feel like I need a new beginning and to move forward, so I won't dwell on what's been occurring too much.

The new collection for Lucky Sew and Sew is ticking along nicely. We've had some really positive feedback which is great. We also got to work on an awesome Marie Antoinette inspired shoot with an awesome photographer a few months ago, and will release the mini-collection on our Etsy shop sometime soon.

Logan is growing up way too fast. He's changed from a toddler to a little boy over the last few months, and it makes my heart ache that time is slipping away! He even starts pre-school in January. Where has my little baby boy gone?! Over the last month he has mastered drawing smiley and sad faces, then moved on to adding hair, ears, bodies, arms, legs and fingers, and now he can draw trees and flowers.

Rori is also growing up way too fast. She is now sitting, crawling, eating, cruising furniture with some help and generally just being a cutie patootie. She has such a bright personality, it lights up the room. She is going to be 7 months on the 22nd! Her favourite things to do are eat garlic bread or pitta and hummus, make her big brother laugh by shouting at him, and pulling Daddy's beard. Oh, and over the last few days, she also loves to say 'Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya' over and over.

Our kitchen is still unfinished - but it is nearly done! We just have some painting left to finish, a blind for the window to get, and a few little bits and pieced and its complete.

Rich and I started another business together called Thor's Threads. It's mostly based around embroidered and handmade pagan items, and we sell on Etsy. It's going really well and growing all the time. We just had our biggest event of the year on Saturday for Thor's Threads which has consumed a lot of our time.

So, the last few months have been jam-packed to say the least, and I've been on the verge of pulling my hair out a few times. I have now decided I need to slow down a bit. Slow down and enjoy life rather than it just slipping by. I want to make more time to enjoy the kids while they are little, and have more time to do what sets my soul on fire.

I've gone a bit mental lately and bought a tonne of fabrics to make various things from, I've got a lot of sewing lined up - but it's all for pleasure and recreation which I am looking forward to. I have a long list of things to make and sew for Christmas presents, so need to start on those ASAP, or i'll be up till midnight on Christmas Eve!

A bit of a pointless post really, but I just wanted to warn you that the blog will probably be filling with lots of sewing and crafts that i'm doing and not just be solely for Lucky Sew and Sew, although it will of course be included!

Rich has gone and picked me out a new book today (yay - stationary!) to start using as my sewing journal, and I am super excited to get started!

Speak soon!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Our New Collection

So today is the day, our new collection went live on our Etsy shop this morning at 10am. I don't know why, but I was feeling actually pretty nervous about it! I think it's because I have literally poured my heart and soul into each and every one of the new pieces, and i'm curious as to how they will all go down.

We really stripped it back to basics for this collection and have so many new designs. We sourced vintage lingerie and vintage sewing patterns to really get down and dirty with the core of what we want our lingerie to say.

We seriously love vintage, but we also love modern-day comforts. Things like elastic, stretch fabric, adjustable straps, hook and eye closure and fun prints, just weren't available in the decades when our favourite designs were being made. We love how vintage designs really enhance and show off the natural form of a woman's body. We have tried to mash the best of both the vintage and contemporary lingerie worlds together, and hope we have found some kind of middle-ground.

We spent a huge amount of time sketching designs, adjusting vintage patterns and testing our pieces. Each one feels like one of my children! It's been incredibly satisfying and gratifying to see each item go from the first design ideas right through the process to the finished product. It's been a learning curve that's for sure. On one hand I feel like I've been sewing forever, but sometimes I have to remind myself that I hadn't even touched a sewing machine until after Logan was born, in December 2012!

It's been an intense time, Aurora is exactly 4 months old today, and it's been a period of very long, tiring days with the children, and then spending my evenings alone in my sewing nook working. I've been lucky - Rori is such a great baby. When Logan is having a nap in the day, she's happy to sit and watch me work. The evenings have been a bit more trying. Rori's witching hour is normally 8-9pm, sometimes longer, and Rich has spent many evenings trying to sooth her while I get on with some work.

We've done a lot of soul searching, and really tried to make sure each of our pieces has a little bit of Lucky Sew and Sew personality. Essentially, we want it to be fun, to be flirty. To be sexy but not too serious. To have a big nod to vintage, but also remain current. Most of all we want it to be comfortable to to be something that can be worn everyday and make you feel like a goddess.


Thursday, 6 August 2015

We've hit a big milestone

Today I noticed we have had over 100 orders on our Etsy shop!

It may not seem like that many, but to me, it's an amazing achievement and a goal I would have thought impossible a year ago. So, yayyyyyy!

In other news, tonight I will be sewing the last of the bra straps on pieces from the new collection, and we will be shooting them on Saturday. Another achievement - This collection has been a long time coming! I can't wait to share it with you all, I'm so in love with every single piece. I'm extremely excited to get the collection photographed and listed on our Etsy shop, but I'm also a little sad - it feels like the end of an era. Working on the new collection has taken up my existence for the last few months, now what will I do?! 

The kitchen is now sort of half way finished. It's taken a lot longer than originally thought, it wasn't as straight forward as it was supposed to be (nothing ever is, is it?) so the cupboards are in, and the oven etc, but the floor needs tiling, the radiator moving and a new on installed, and the walls need finishing, tiling and painting.

We've had a few custom orders lately, which is lovely. I love custom orders! I'm working on a very special bridal set at the moment that is so gorgeous I think I might die. I can't even share a sneak peak yet as the bride and groom are keeping it a surprise, but as soon as I can, I will show you. 

Aurora is growing up so quickly, she's rolling around and giggling and teething. She's so precious. We won't be having any more children, 2 is more than enough for us, but it does make me very sad that time is going by so quickly knowing that I will never have another baby to enjoy. I already miss those mewborn snuggles and she's only 3 months! Logan is also growing so quickly, the last 6 months he seems to have gone from a toddler to a little boy. He's so tall and lean and clever. He can count up to 15, and count backwards from 10. He knows all his colours and can sing 'twinkle twinkle' to Rori (which makes my ovaries want to explode!). He also knows some letters and had a memory like an elephant. He's going to be 3 in October and will start pre-school in January. We went to put his name down for it the other week and he loved it, which is fantastic, but he didn't even look to see if I was still there and just dived in, which made me a little sad. I wish I could slow time down just a little so I could enjoy all of these special moments for a little while longer.

I'll leave you with this:

Random fact of the week: I think we're getting quails


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Camera Confusion

This weekend the kitchen started being done. It's getting there, but there's still quite a lot left to do...I'll do a whole post on it soon so I can share the progress.

Meanwhile, we've been doing lots of sewing and planning and are just a few finishing touches away from finishing the new collection! It's been a long time coming! Once we've finished off the last few bits and pieces it will be time to photograph them. This is where the confusion lies. Before I have used my IPhone to take the pictures (Shame face) but we would really like to invest in a camera for the business.

Now obviously I am not a professional photographer or even a keen photographer, however much I like it, so I need a camera that's easy and simple for beginners whilst still taking great shots. 

I've heard good things about the Nikon D3200, and that it is a good beginners DSLR. Does anyone have any advice or can shed some light on what type of camera to go for? There's so many to choose from, it's a bit daunting. HELP!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Ska, Sewing and DIY

Yesterday evening was the first evening that Aurora slept in the evening. Usually she is awake from 4'0'clock ish till about 11pm. But last night, we cracked it and she slept from 8pm! FREEDOM!!!!!! So, I obviously snuck away to my sewing nook and worked on finishing a few things for the new collection. It's so close to being finished but it's taking to long! Especially because the only time I can sew really is in the evenings when Rich is home and the kids are asleep, but as Rori doesn't normally sleep in the evenings this has been hard to do.

It was rather blissful, having my own space to sew in, headphones in listening to some Ska to keep me motivated and stitching away. I managed to sew from start to finish three new pieces, and I also finished off making master copies of a new pattern that I've designed yesterday. Feeling super proud of myself!

On top of this, the kitchen got ripped out on Saturday, and the new one delivered today. My (amazing/wonderful/talented/obligated?) Dad is going to spend Thursday - Sunday fitting it. As well as fitting the kitchen, the floor is being tiled, part of the walls are being tiled, a new radiator fitted, and painting done etc. so right now I have no kitchen. I'm cooking dinner in a slow cooker, which to be honest I actually really like. It's so easy and makes yummy dinners with minimal effort.

Tonight we are chipping off the old tiles from the walls and painting the ceiling. And I want to try and do some sewing. Maybe too ambitious, but I'll remain optimistic!

So it's going to be a manic week....


Saturday, 18 July 2015

Keeping Focused when Running your own Handmade Business

Running a handmade business is h-a-r-d, with a capital Hard. But it is also incredibly satisfying and rewarding.

There are many reasons why you may be considering starting your own handmade business, or maybe you have already taken the plunge, but without focus it is nigh on impossible to do.

When you have a normal job, you have a set schedule, a routine. You know that you need to get up at this time, leave the house at this time, get to work for this time. You know that when you are at work you have a prescribed set of tasks to do, or your boss will tell you what to do. It can be stressful, but you know that when you leave work at the same time you do every day, you can forget about work for the rest of the day, until you have to wake up tomorrow and do the same routine over again.

Now, to a lot of people, this is exactly what they want from a job. Simple, easy to follow the monotonous routine, you don't even really have to think about it, you just do it, and at the end of the day you can switch off, and not think about it until tomorrow.

If you are like me, this would be hell. An absolute nightmare. I've always been a restless creative type. My brain just doesn't switch off. I don't think it can. I find it incredibly hard to stick to a monotonous routine, a routine that doesn't change much or challenge me from day to day. Don't get me wrong, i'm not saying 9-5's are bad. They're a lot of peoples bread and butter, my husband's included. And I've done them before, and it killed me mentally. I was depressed and fed up and restless and in a rut.

I've never felt more alive and more satisfied than I am now. When I was doing those jobs that I hated, it wasn't the actual job that I disliked, it was the unchallenging, brain-numbing act of doing the same thing everyday and not using any creativity at all.

I am happy when I am making something, or creating something. Whether it's designing patterns, sewing pieces, writing this blog, taking pictures of our lingerie or any other part of the process, that's what stimulates my creative juices and keeps me sane.

I think all creative types have the same restless, never-ending cycle of thoughts in their brain as me. And you 100% need this to make a handmade business successful. There is always something to do, something to think about. You have to be on the ball. However brilliant this non-stop brain can be, it can also be a hindrance. I find my thoughts flitting from one thing to the next too quickly and before I know it, I've forgotten what my original thought was. I have a few things that I do to try and keep myself focused and they seem to really help.

Write that shit down.
Seriously. Write it down. Now. Before your brain moves on to the next thing and you forget this one. I always have pens and paper and notepads everywhere. And I mean, everywhere. In my bedroom, in the kitchen, in the front room, in my bag...not in the bathroom yet, but I think it might have to come to that one day. If I don't write my thoughts/ideas/things I need to do down as and when they pop into my head, you can put your money on me forgetting what the hell it was in 2 seconds.

Make Daily To-Do Lists.
This stems from my love on writing things down I suppose. If I see if written down, I remember it better. If you have a daily to-do list and cross things off as and when you do them, you not only waste a lot less time wondering what you are supposed to be doing, but you also feel hella satisfied when you get to cross that bad-boy off your list. Sometimes I even add on things such as 'Eat Lunch', 'Wash up dinner plates' and 'Shower', just so I can cross more things off of my list. So Satisfying.

Have Goals.
Don't be afraid of setting yourself goals. It gives you a bigger picture to work towards, and gives you a kick up the bum to get doing things when you'd rather be having a cuppa and a biscuit. Set small goals, and set big goals. Set goals like 'Make one new item this week', or 'make 20 sales this month.' Make yourself proud by achieving them. Set goals that you think are so far out of your reach that you can never achieve them, and then surprise yourself by going for it. There is nothing wrong with challenging yourself, and there is also nothing wrong with failing. We all make mistakes, we are human. Don't punish yourself too hard if you don't achieve something. Take it in your stride and learn from it.

Be Organised.
If you have a working space, keep it tidy and keep on top of things. If you are half way through something and then decide to work on something else, you will never get anything finished. Complete one thing before you move onto the next. If you have a lot of ideas, write them down and work through them one by one until you have completed them. It can be really hard when you are buzzing with ideas to just work on one thing at a time, but trust me, as hard as it can sometimes be, it is pretty essential to finishing anything at all.

Take loads of pictures.
Take pictures of your work, of the things you have created. Take pictures of the things that inspire you and things that make you happy. Take pictures of things that interest you and things that you look up to and aspire to be like. Get snap happy baby. I find it really helps on those days when you are lacking motivation and feeling a bit deflated to look back on your work and see how far you've come. To look at something that made you happy one day and give yourself a little smile. Look at things that are amazing, and think about how you can make things that are even more amazing.

Be Inspired.
Creativeness flows best when we are inspired. So take the time to be inspired. Go to a showcase of an artist or illustrator if that's what you are into. Go rummage through a vintage shop and find some awesome clothes if you like to sew vintage pieces and see how they have been made. Go take a college course on photography or join a group if you like to take pictures. Try to keep your imagination fresh and flowing.

Don't be afraid to reevaluate
Businesses are ever-changing just like every other aspect of life. What might have seemed like a great idea a few months ago, now might not be so great. Take the time to step back and look at things objectively. If something is not working, try a different approach or try something else instead.

Ask people their opinions.
If you have an idea that you are not sure about, speak to somebody else about it and see what they think. At the end of the day, for a handmade business to work, people need to buy your items. Speak to a friend, or even let them try out a new product, and get their feedback. Learn to take constructive criticism on the chin and take that and turn it into fuel for your fire.

Believe in Yourself.
If you don't believe in yourself, who else will?


Thursday, 16 July 2015

House Updates

So as you will know if you have read my previous posts, when we were surprised by the impending arrival of baby Aurora, we leaped in and bought a house.

We were in the process of saving up a deposit for a house anyway, but thought we would have longer to save up a bigger deposit to get a dream house. That was unrealistic. Especially as my dream house is a 5 bedroom country cottage with a few acres to grow veg and keep chickens, and maybe have a couple of out buildings to have a studio for Lucky Sew and Sew, and a big tree to have a tree-house for the kiddies in...and maybe a little river running along the bottom of the gardens. Very, very unrealistic on our budget.

Anyway, so we bought the biggest 3 bedroom house that we could afford. It's not in the best area, and it's a mid-terrace, a far cry from the detached country cottage I dreamed of. But it does have 3 bedrooms and a decent sized garden, and it will do for now.

When we bought it, it had been rented out for years, so the walls were all painted white, and the carpets were all old, hard-wearing brown jobbies. The kitchen was very basic, as were the bathrooms. It needed a lot of love, and for some personality to be injected back into it.

We moved in just after Logans birthday, around Halloween. It was freezing. The radiators in the house are all old and don't work very well, plus they are all miss-matched, which I found so weird...not one radiator matched another! We painted and decorated the living room before we moved in as we wanted one room of solace at least. Dad wallpapered and we had new carpet put down.

We decided the best bet after that was to tackle one room at a time. We set a budget for each room as we felt this would keep us from spending too much money where it wasn't needed, and to be thrifty and clever with what we spent our money on.

The bathroom was a real bug-bear. The bath was an old awful steel bath that leaked, and didn't keep the heat in. The shower screen would let water drip all over the floor. Just a general nightmare. It had cheap lino on the floor that wasn't stuck down properly. Argh.

We purchased a new bath, shower screen and bath panel from B&Q in the sale, and got them for an absolute steal with 60% off! We got some gorgeous tiles from Wickes that were also half price, so they were a bargain too! The existing sink and toilet were OK, so we just got new taps for the sink to freshen it up, and match them to the new bath taps.

We painted it Dulux Mint Crisp, as we wanted to keep it nice and airy. 

A far sight better!

It's still not quite finished. We want to get a new chrome towel rail, and a cabinet with a mirror to keep our toothbrushes etc in up on the wall, but I really love it. The bath alone makes it 1000 times better. it such a deep luxurious bath. Bliss!

My wonderful Dad came in and did it for us over two weekends. One weekend to do the new bath and another weekend to do the tiling. Clever man is my Dad!


Monday, 13 July 2015

Where to Buy Fabrics Locally...

I live in a little seaside town - Southend-On-Sea in Essex. When I first started to sew I had no clue where to buy fabrics from. Cue the online shopping experimenting outlined in my previous blog post. As I've mentioned; shopping online definitely has it's plus points (the large variety that's available, the usually cheaper prices, being able to search for a specific type of fabric), but it also has it's downsides (not being able to touch the fabric, sometimes not getting a true representation of the colour on your computer screen, unable to get a real grasp of the scale of a pattern in a small photo).

I decided to do a tour of places relatively local to me that sell fabric and here is a list of some of my favourites:

Kayes Textiles: Westcliff-On-Sea
Kayes Textiles used to be inside a dance shop a few doors up the road from their location now, and I stumbled upon it by chance when driving past and noticing some rolls of fabric in the window. Now they have their very own shop and I love to go in there for a look around. They have a really wide range of printed cottons, but they also stock a lot of other types of fabric as well. From jerseys to lace and popcorn minky. I made Logan a cot bumper out of fabric purchased from Kayes last year out of a lovely popcorn minky and a brushed cotton fabric.They sell other essentials too such as needles, threads and ribbons. They are always extremely helpful and I find their prices pretty competitive. Kayes now also run a few sewing classes which is a brilliant thing to offer. Tilly, from the amazing Bamboo Bettie, who was my college tutor last year, runs these sewing classes at Kayes, so you know they will be brilliant! Tilly says she loves to teach the children's sewing classes in particular as she loves the looks on the Mum's faces when they come to pick their child up and are completely amazed with what they have made in their sewing class.

You can find them here:
292 London Road

The Cheap Shop: Tiptree
Don't let the name put you off! This shop is an absolute Aladdin's cave of all things craft and sewing! Firstly, Tiptree is a very cute place to visit anyway, regardless of this amazing shop. It's so quaint, I love it. Plus there is the best fish and chip shop on the main road. The shop itself doesn't look much from the outside, and when you first enter, it seems pretty small, but the shop goes back further than the eye can see. The front of the shop is filled with the arts and crafts type things, and the back of the shop is filled top to toe with fabrics! They have everything you could ever need - patterns, threads, elastics, notions, rulers, cutting mats, trimmings, buttons, every type of fabric you could need, and lots of other goodies too. Normally stuff you don't even know you need until you see it and then just have to buy or you can't go on living without it. Even though this is a good 45 minutes to an hour away in the car from me, I've bought a lot from here over the years. I always make sure I have a clear list of exactly what I am looking for when I visit, as otherwise it is a bit easy to get carried away!

You can find the Cheap Shop here:
108 Church Road

The Sewing Box: Leigh-On-Sea
The Sewing Box is a compact shop but very handy to know about. It doesn't have the widest range of fabrics, mostly quilting cottons, but it does have a lot of other essentials like needles, ribbons and trimmings and elastics too. They also offer a variety of craft and sewing classes, that are all reasonably priced and great if you want to gain a new skill or build up some knowledge of an existing skill.

You can find The Sewing Box here:
547 Rayleigh Road

Belle Fabrics: Leigh-On-Sea
Belle Fabrics is a great fabric shop in a great location. Leigh-On-Sea is a beautiful place to visit, especially on a sunny day, and the addition of this shop just makes it even more appealing than it already is. Belle has a great range of fabrics, from cottons to cotton spandex blends, jerseys, lace and even curtain and upholstery fabrics. They also have a special Bridal Fabric section upstairs. They have a wide variety of trimmings and threads, and also stock a lot of patterns. The fabrics here can be a bit pricey I have found, but they are always great quality. They also have a few fabrics on sale every now and then and have managed to grab a few bargains from here. I bought the Anchor fabric for the first dress that I ever made form here (back when I couldn't read a pattern properly and thought I needed 6 metres of fabric for the dress instead of 2.5!) but I later found the same fabric on the Fabricland website for half the price. However, it's convenient and close, and always nice to go and have a mooch around and feel the pretty fabrics.

You can find Belle Fabrics here:
4-12 Elm Road

Other than actual brick and mortar shops, I also like to visit the local markets for fabric. There used to be a great stall run by a lady who used to do Southend Market and Pitsea Market, but unfortunately I haven't seen her for some time.

I also like to scour the charity shops and look for any treasures in there. I've bought a few vintage 60's and 70's duvet sets that have amazing patterns on, that I use for the fabric. This is a great way to upcycle and also great to get a great design that you can't get anywhere else. We even bought a vintage dress once and upcycled the top layering fabric. It was an amazing stretch velvet burnout fabric. We turned it into a few limited edition sets:

I'm always on the lookout for new places to get fabrics from, so if you have any tips of local places then please let me know! In the meantime, I hope this can act as a good starting point for those of you who are unsure of where to get your fabrics from.


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Where To Purchase Fabrics Online

Fabrics are obviously a very important part of my business. When we were first starting out I had no idea where to get fabrics from or where to source them from. After a lot of trial and error I have a few reliable sources that I tend to use over and over again. I will share a few of my favourite places to get fabrics online, and also what I think is important when looking for somewhere to purchase fabrics from.

Some important things when sourcing and purchasing fabric:

A main factor is quality. You cannot make a quality product without quality supplies.

Another important factor is consistency in the quality. You do not want to use, say a seller on Ebay, who has no consistency in the quality of the fabrics that they are supplying. You want to use a reputable seller who always has a high standard of fabrics.

Price is also a factor. Fabrics need to be reasonably priced in order to make a profit, otherwise the prices of my products would have to be so high that I would alienate a huge percentage of potential customers. I want them to be accessible to people like myself, and know that if I price products too high, it would make them un-affordable for people just like myself, which is not what I want to do!

Reliability. You need to be able to rely on whoever you are sourcing your fabrics from. This goes for their customer service, promptness in shipping, and also honesty. There is no point ordering a fabric that you need for 3 days time, and the seller not shipping out on time, or not having enough in stock for your order, and not being quick enough in replying to your querying emails. Being honest and transparent from the go is a huge plus.

Here are some of my favourite places to get fabrics online:

There are a few specific sellers on Ebay that I use over and over again. They always provide up-to-date fabrics, with a brilliant price point, and are always prompt with their shipping and in replying to any queries. They also offer to send out free samples of fabrics, which makes an excellent seller in my books. This can take a bit of trial and error with ordering a few different fabrics from different sellers, but it is worth it in the end. Just remember, that it's not always about who has a wider selection of fabrics. Would you prefer the seller who has 500 different varieties of fabrics in all sorts of styles and prices, or the seller who has 50 different types, but you know that they have specifically chosen those 50 fabrics for their quality and style which makes it far easier for you to pick from? I know which one I would go for...

Remnant House
Remnant House is the online shop of a real fabric shop in Yorkshire. I like the way they have their website in easy to navigate categories which makes it far easier to look for something specific. I also find their prices to be very reasonable. I used some fabric from here to make my dress for the Fling Festival last year, which you can find in a previous post, and it was amazing quality, and so cheap. It was also very on trend, which is what you want really, isn't it.

Fabric Land
Fabric Land have various shops around the country, but their website is great. More of a wholesale site, but they do have a very wide variety. Can take a while to find what you want, and can be a bit of a faff to order over the phone, but don't let that put you off. I've managed to get a few absolute gems from here over the years.

Croft Mill
Croft Mill is an online fabric shop. What I love about Croft Mill is you can really tell that they hand-pick the fabrics that they stock. The descriptions that they write of their fabrics always make me chuckle. They have a brilliant selection and it's always seasonal and well thought out. You will always find something you want on Croft Mill, even if it's not what you are looking for!

Truro Fabrics
Truro Fabrics is an online shop, but they also have a store in Truro. They offer a wide range, and also have a lot of speciality wedding, lace and satin fabrics. This is one of my favourite places to source stretch satins as they are amazing quality. Due to offering some special fabrics, prices can vary here, but overall I found them reasonably priced for the high quality that they offer. They also have an Ebay store where they sell offcuts and remnants of their fabrics, which can be a great place to grab a bargain.

I'll be doing a post soon about my favourite places to buy fabric from locally to me. Although buying fabric online is quick and convenient, sometimes you just need to touch and see the fabric in person to really get a feel for it!

If you have found any great places online to buy fabrics, let me know. I'd love to have a look at your suggestions!


Monday, 6 July 2015

My Hypnobirthing Experience

After having a hard labour and birth with Logan that was completely the opposite of what I wanted and which left me a bit traumatised and scared of having to do the whole thing again at some point, I really felt that this time around I needed to take charge and take control of my own labour and birth.

I'd heard of hypnobirthing when I was pregnant with Logan, but didn't really look into it too much, all I knew was that it was a type of self-meditation. I wanted to explore it further so ordered the Mindful Hypnobirthing book by Sophie Fletcher. It has a few tracks which you download online to go with it. I reads the whole book in a few days, and felt certain that this was the type of labour and birth that I wanted. I wanted to be relaxed, in control, mindful of what was happening at all time. I wanted to let my primal instincts as a woman take over and really let my body do the job it was made to do.

There are suggestions in the book of how often you should meditate and practice your breathing techniques, and to be honest, I didn't so them as often as I should/could have. I did feel a few times that maybe I hadn't practiced enough or that because I hadn't attended a course that it might not be enough. I pushed those thoughts out of my mind and just tried to focus on positive things.

The last 2 weeks of my pregnancy were tough. Logan was born 9 days early and I really expected it to be the same this time round and was very disappointed that I didn't go into labour early and becoming more uncomfortable and impatient everyday. The day before my due date I had an appointment with my midwife. I had a feeling in my gut that something was happening. I'd lost a bit of my mucus plug and just knew that something was going to happen. I told my midwife this who thought I was crazy, and talked me into booking in an induction for 10 days time incase I hadn't popped by then.

My midwife had been brilliant, she knew exactly that I was hoping to a hypnobith in water as I wasn't able to have the water birth that I had wanted with Logan, and she spent a lot of time talking things through with me. As my BMI had foiled my plans of a water birth with Logan, she suggested that we preempt the same thing happening this time and filled out a form to say that even if my BMI is too high when I go into labour for a waterbirth, that herself and I both understand any increased risks but would still like to go ahead and labour in water. Lucky that we did fill out the form as even though I watched what I was eating, I still managed to put on nearly 3 stone and my BMI was borderline for the waterbith.

I woke up on my due date morning at about 7.30 after having the best, most peaceful sleep that i'd had in a very long time, with a contraction. I went back to sleep, and was woken again 15 minutes later. I decided to get up and go to the toilet, and as I did my waters started leaking.

I called Rich at work to let him know that things were happening but to stay at work and I will call him when he needs to come home. I told him it might not even be today so don't panic. I called my mum and told her too, but she was too excited and decided to come straight over. I woke up Logan and we went downstairs to have breakfast. By the time my Mum got to my house about 20 minutes later, my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart. I was managing them well, bouncing on my ball and even managing to eat toast and talk through them. They then got more intense and I used my hypno breathing techniques to help me through them. I called Rich to tell him he should probably come home as the contractions were getting more intense.

I was having a lovely time labouring at home. I was on my knees on the floor bending over my birthing ball, rocking my hips through each wave with Logan rubbing my back. It was beautiful having him there with me. My mum and dad were also there with me which was a comfort.

Rich got home and helped me to have a shower. We decided to go to the hospital at lunchtime when I felt they were getting a lot stronger and closer together. I didn't want a lot of examinations as I wanted my labour to be as uninterrupted as possible, but I got an exam when we got to the hospital and they said I was dilated about a fingertip. I was a bit disheartened but tried to not let it bother me. They said I couldn't get in the pool until I was at least 4cm dilated as it can slow labour.

I bounced on my ball, and then was on my knees on the bed leaning against the head of the bed to rock my hips through the waves. They were becoming very intense and I was finding it difficult to concentrate on my breathing, but Mun was really brilliant and talking me through it (she'd read the hypno book too!). I asked at some point if we could run the pool as I really wanted to get in the water. The midwife examined me again and I was 4cm so she agreed. The pool was huge and she said it would take a while to fill up.

It took 45 minutes to fill. By the time the pool was almost finished my body was trembling with the peak of each wave and I remember saying that I couldn't do it, the waves were coming one after the other. I said I needed gas and air but as the pool was ready they told me to jump in. As I went to move off the bed I had another contraction and felt the need to push. I thought I was going mad as I was only 4cm 45 minutes ago.

I managed to quickly get into the pool between waves, and as soon as I submerged my back in the water I felt a relief. But just as I relaxed I got the mother of all contractions and screamed in pain and tried to get on all fours. The midwife ran to get the gas and air but I was already pushing by then. I grabbed the gas and air when the midwife came back with it, and 6 minutes after getting into the pool, Aurora was born and lifted straight up into my arms at 3.53pm.

I felt ecstatic. I felt a rush of love as I stared into her little perfect face and I felt so proud of myself for doing it so naturally and trusting my body. I didn't think in a million years that I could push her out so quickly and easily in comparison to my experience with Logan which took hours and hours.

I also had a natural third stage of labour in the pool, and delivered my placenta drug free after 30 or so minutes. We waited until the cord had stopped pulsating to cut it too. Rich was able to cut it this time, he wasn't able to cut Logan's as he had to be whisked away.

I got up out of the pool and got back on the bed. I had to have stitches, the same place as last time. I had a clitoral and urethral tear which is awful and unusual but I was so happy I didn't really care. I ate some toast and fed Rori and then went and had a shower while Rich cuddled his new daughter. I was so surprised that I was so mobile and able to move around afterwards, the complete opposite of last time. I got dressed and came and fed Rori again. My dad came up to the hospital to get us and we were signed out by the midwives who were amazed at how easy my birth was, and we were at home introducing Logan to his new little sister by 7pm.

It was so nice to be home and relish in the company of the newest member of our family. We ordered a takeaway and relaxed and it was the best experience of my life.

The hypnobirthing kept me extremely calm and relaxed throughout the labour and birth, and I think this has had a massive impact on how Aurora is as a baby. She is so relaxed, happy and content, and I truly believe that I have Hypnobirthing to thank for that.

Here are some pictures of the labour and birth:

And here are comparison photos of after Logan's labour and birth and after Rori's:

Big Difference!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Juggling is hard work

Now that I have my little Lady here, time just seems to be slipping away quicker than I can grab at it. It seems like only yesterday she was born, but she's now 10 weeks. Mental.

The first few weeks of having a newborn is hard for any new mum, but add in a toddler and it's even harder. I seriously don't know how some people manage to function with more than two kids. They deserve a special award or something. I know I couldn't do it. I can just about juggle with two...just about.

Now that Rori is getting a little bit older and the constant feeding has subsided slightly, I'm trying to find some time to work more on what I love - Lucky Sew and Sew. We were so close to completing the new collection before Rori was born, but the end of my pregnancy was hard and I was just so bloody tired all the time. Now i am still tired all the time, and have less time than before, BUT I am determined to find time to work! I need to feel like myself again and spend time on my passion. Finding a balance is going to be tough, but it's something I am going to have to work on.

I feel super motivated and very excited to finish up all of our new pieces and then be able to show you all. I am in love with every new design that we have made, and there are LOADS!

It's been a long process designing and testing so many new designs but i'm so proud of us for doing it. I just hope all of this hard work pays off.

We're just about to finish up a new sewing space for me in our upstairs landing and it's going to be so nice to finally have somewhere to work from that is a dedicated space purely for Lucky Sew and Sew stuff. Juggling is definitely easier with some organisation.

I'll have to do an update on the house front too, we've been doing a lot of redecorating and renovations, which has also been keeping me busy. We're having our kitchen completely re-done in a few weeks time, which will be even more upheaval but will so worth it. It's going to have a breakfast bar - woohoo!


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Introducing... little wonder Aurora.

Aurora was born on her due date, 22nd April 2015 at 3.53pm weighing in at 8lb 8oz after a wonderful hypnobirth.

I will go into more detail of my labour and birth experience in another post as I really would like to go into more depth and share about how amazing hypnobirthing can be and how life changing my experience was. So for now, more about my little girl.

We chose the name Aurora as it has been a dream of ours to visit Norway and see the Northern Lights in person. The name for the phenomenon that is the Northern Lights is 'Aurora Borealis'. We just fell in love with Aurora as a name. Aurora Borealis is such a beautiful and magical occurrence, we felt it would be a fitting name for the little girl who will light up our lives.

Also, those of you who are Disney fans will know that Aurora is also the name of Sleeping Beauty.

Logan has also been cast under Aurora's spell...

I am so in love with her, she has stolen my heart. She continues to steal the heart of everybody she meets. She has a colourful personality that is blooming each day, and she manages to weave a powerful magic and cast her spell on all who surround her - much like the Aurora Borealis itself.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Out with the old and in with the new...

I am so bad at keeping on top of this blogging thing! It seems to fall to the bottom of my To-Do List, which happens to be pretty never ending these days...

You may have heard that we are having a big Sale over on our Etsy shop, which we indeed are. We have a bit of stock that we ready made for fairs and events last year, and had in various shops, and now as we switch priorities, we need to to shift to make room for new things! 

We've spent a lot of time over the last few months brainstorming, researching, sketching and designing a brand new collection. We've done a lot of soul searching in this time and trying to decide what direction to take Lucky Sew and Sew in. We are still, as I see it, in the very early days of our business. We haven't even been running for a year yet, and although we are pleased with how far we have come in a short space of time, we feel it is time to really put a stamp on what Lucky Sew and Sew is. We haven't really sat down and designed a complete collection that compliments itself and goes together and really shows what we are about. We have been working closely with true vintage pieces that we have sourced, and are very excited to be able to show you our new pieces soon. It's taken a lot of hard work, often headaches and late nights, but we're finally getting to the end of this process now and are so happy with how it has all come together. 

Therefore, 90% of the stock that we already have are designs that we will no longer be making. As they are now discontinued, we felt a sale would be the best way to shift some of the stock that we have.

We need to evolve as a brand and that's something that's very exciting and we can't wait to share it with you.
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