A Chat with our September Sew-er of the Month - Amanda

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I have had this blog idea on my to do list for what feels like years and now I have the fabulous Colette on board, halving my workload I am getting round to all sorts of things! So here is the first edition of Sew Confident's Sew-er of the Month!

Meet Amanda! A fabulous sew-er who has come on leaps and bounds in the short time I have known her. She makes clothes for herself and her adorable wee girls. We had a wee chat about her sewing journey so far.

 

 

 

Amanda, how long have you been sewing?

Can you tell which one is shop bought and which is handmade?!

Can you tell which one is shop bought and which is handmade?!

I’ve owned a sewing machine, (my mum’s old one) since I was about 16, so almost 20 years, but I wouldn’t say I could sew! I remember being about 17 and trying to make a pair of trousers for myself, they were a complete disaster, there was nothing right about them at all! I’d say I've actually been sewing as in actually successfully for only about 6 months, that’s when it all fell into place and I thought, I think I can do this, I can say to people, I can sew!

I think we've all been there with trousers to be fair! Why did you start sewing?

When we bought our first house it needed lots of work done to it so spending a fortune on curtains and blinds was just not an option. I got out mum’s old sewing machine and taught myself how to make roman blinds and curtains. Every blind and pair of curtains in my house is handmade. I enjoyed making curtains, essentially it’s just sewing straight lines, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do anything else, but actually working with such massive lengths of heavy curtain fabric is hard, hard work! It’s nothing like the joy of sitting with comparatively tiny bit of beautiful fabric and making clothes!

Every curtain and blind?! You are putting us all to shame here Amanda! Apart from the soft furnishings what sewing project are you most proud of?

How cute are these two?!

How cute are these two?!

I’ve recently started making clothes for my two little girls and when I see them in the clothes I’ve made I do feel so proud of myself. I’ve made them lots of little pinafores and some blouses. It’s lovely when people comment on their clothes and are shocked to learn I’ve made them myself. My fabric stash is high and my plans are infinite, it’s just time that’s the problem!!

Honestly some of your holiday pictures on Instagram looked like they were straight out Spanish Vogue! You have an adorable little family! What do your friends and family think about your sewing skills, are they impressed or do they use you as a free alterations service?

I actually find alterations quite stressful and I haven’t done many. I thing sewing and creating something step by step is one thing, but to try to undo some of the steps and alter things is a different story, you could be taking in a side seam of a fully constructed garment, but it you were making it from scratch the side seams would be done much earlier in the process. I have done a few alterations for family, but it is something I’ve still got my knickers in a bit of a knot about!!  

Well you're not alone there, I think alterations are the least exciting sewing activity you could get involved with! So moving onto equipment - you've got one of our Elna 340s don't you? Apart from your machine what sewing accessory could you not live without?

Ikea Trolley is a Genius Sewing Must-Have!

Ikea Trolley is a Genius Sewing Must-Have!

I am not lucky enough to have a sewing room and I found that I didn’t sew as much as I’d like to because if I only had half an hour or so to spare the thought of getting everything out of the cupboard and set up put me off. I am a total neat freak so I also just couldn’t leave everything lying around my dining room table, so although it probably doesn’t seem sewing related at all, my can’t live without item is an amazing little wheeled trolley from Ikea. It’s got all my essentials pilled on I just wheel it out, grab my machine & iron and I’m good to go! It’s such a silly thing but it works for me, I’m sure it’s all in the mind but I love me little sewing room on wheels!

I recently got one of these for the studio!! It's a total game changer and saves so much space! Take me back to your beginner days...If you could go back and  give yourself one sewing tip or piece of advice what would it be?

It would absolutely be just give it a go, what are you afraid of? I’ve noticed at classes that everyone who is new is nervous and scared, I was too, but actually it’s just sewing together bits of material, just have a bash, what’s the worst that can happen? And you’ll probably find your much better at it than you thought you would be, and that’s when the real problems start because you’ll be hooked!!

Haha, I think you are definitely hooked, you must have had a few sewing disasters along the way?

No, not really. I guess it’s early days though. I have definitely done my fair share of unpicking, asking for help and Youtubing but nothing that’s ever been that bad. The things I have made that I feel are not perfect and I can see the flaws in no one else ever can, we are all too critical of ourselves.  

I'm always saying that in class to students, people are way to hard on themselves! How many classes have you attended?  Do you have a favourite?

Two shirt dresses are better than one!

Two shirt dresses are better than one!

I think I have been to 5 classes and I have two more booked in, the kids hoodie class and the portfolio class. I’ve also had a couple of one to ones with Jenny and been to a Sew-cial. My favourite class without a doubt was the shirt dress class. It was the first time I’d attempted a collar, button stands, technical things I thought would be a real challenge, so it was such a great feeling to complete the dress. I loved the shirt dress so much I had two on the go at the same time, one in class and one at home, it was also the first time I’d ever made something and actually worn it.  

I'm so glad you liked the shirt dress class. It's one of my personal favourite patterns too, so versatile! What would you like to be able to sew in the future, what is the dream?

The dream, dream, the pipe dream is to make a living designing and making children’s clothes. My own little label, worn by more than just my children, but on a slightly more realistic note I guess the dream is to have more time to sew more, to keep learning, to make more things for myself and keep pushing myself, I’d like to make myself a blazer and get better on my overlocker.

 

 

Amanda's gorgeous sister wears a bespoke tulle circle skirt for her hen do!

Amanda's gorgeous sister wears a bespoke tulle circle skirt for her hen do!

If you can dream it you can do it! Your own kidswear label sound very exciting! What projects do you have on the go right now?

A couple of last minute summer dresses for my daughters before we go on holiday in October and lots more Autumn / Winter designs for the girls. I’ve just ordered lots of lovely soft needle cord to make pinafores for the girls and some gorgeous liberty print cotton for beautiful blouses for underneath. I’ve also just bought myself the Tilly & The Button’s Cleo dungaree dress pattern and the Sew Over It Coco jacket pattern, but I’ll always make for the girls before myself. I’ve got the Sew Confident Portfolio class and the kids hoodie class too coming up so I’m keeping busy!

I'll need to keep my eyes on your Instagram in October, to see what adorable outfits your girls wear on that holiday! What would you say to someone who was thinking of taking up sewing?

Do it! Give it a go, book some classes and one to ones and give it a go. With some guidance it’s not as tricky you perceive it’s going to be. If I’d done that when I was 17 and made the dodgy trousers, who knows maybe I could have my own children’s clothing company by now.

Lovely chatting to you Amanda, i'm sure you'll be one to watch on the designer kidswear front!

Do you want to follow Amanda and see all the lovely things she has been sewing? You can check out her instagram here!

 

 

 

Why pay a bomb for Balmain when you can have the dress for less?

Ever catch your reflection in shop windows looking at designer clothing you wish you could afford? Well why spend thousands for designer clothing when you could be your own designer and make something similar yourself for much less! 

THE DRESS

Today we are taking a look at this amazing designer, tartan tweed mini dress by Balmain from Net-A-Porter. For those of us lucky enough to be able to afford this £2,390(!!) dress made in Italy, you are living the dream! But don't worry, for those that are left counting our pennies the week before pay day we have found the perfect pattern and possible fabrics to make this for 36x cheaper!

You might be thinking, this is a bit covered up for summer but if you're anything like us it takes a while to find the time to finish a pattern, so like the designers, we're thinking ahead!

We've found the perfect pattern and the perfect fabric for you to make your own version for only £65!!

 

 

 

 

 

THE PATTERN

  • Misses and Miss Plus 1960s Vintage Dresses. Simplicity Sewing Pattern No. 1012. Get it here!
  • Head back to the 1960's. This vintage dress has neckline variations. Make it retro in colour blocked panels and collars, which is modern again, or go classic in a single fabric/colour.
  • Available to buy a printable version

THE FABRIC

 

  • £30 per meter
  • A medium weight wool and viscose blend tweed fabric in beautiful plum purple and turquoise. This loose weave tweed is made with a variety of colourful yarns. This stunning warm fabric is perfect for winter garments.
  • This fabric is 150cm (approx. 60”)wide.
  • Many different tweed fabrics also available on TruroFabrics.com 

 

So there we have it! You're very own Balmain dress for £65! Why not bring all your patterns along to our next Sewing Pattern Class?!

 

 

Colette x

3 Genius Ways To Banish Stress in your 30s(or 40s, or 50s OR 60s)!

3-ways-to-manage-stress-in-your-30s

I wonder if you know anyone in their 30s right now who isn't plagued with stress of some sort. Whether you are smashing down the career path(or not, right?) or hectic at home with family life we're all familiar with that head-in-a-vice feeling. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can't avoid stressful situations forever but you can teach yourself how to manage them. Here's 3 ways banish stress in your 30s!

1. Eat Your Way to a Life of OM(nom nom)

food-to-relieve-stress

Ok so maybe that doesn't make much sense but I was looking for a zen related food pun and that's the best I can do. It's true though, you can alter your diet slightly to help relieve stress and anxiety! Here's what Lorraine McCreary from Diet Scotland says:

"Some foods are rich in elements (Tryptophan) that can boost our production of feel good
hormones like Serotonin. Increased production of serotonin helps us to relax, sleep and feel
less anxious.

Oats, Soy, Sesame seeds. Poultry, Seafood, Pork and Spinach are just some foods that are
rich in Tryptophan.

Eating oily fish will provide you with healthy cardio protective fatty acids (OmegaIII) that we
often do not get enough of. Fatty acids are vital for a healthy nervous system and a healthy
nervous system reduces anxious episodes."

Sounds like an excuse to go out for Sushi, as if we even needed one!

2. Laughing, even if its fake!

We all know laughing makes us feel good but apparently it can even make you feel good when it's fake! We all know exercise can help de-stress by releasing endorphins but did you know having a right good giggle can do the same?! It doesn't even have to be genuine but in our experience fake laughing is so ridiculous that you'll be real laughing in no time.

Here's a bonus GIF of Ryan Gosling having a giggle - you are welcome.

3. Finally, Get Sewing!

3-ways-to-reduce-stress-sewing

The ultimate(we think) stress busting mechanism is to learn to sew! We're biased at Sew Confident but there is science behind this, and loads of customers come back time and time again to enjoy the proven de-stressing qualities sewing can bring.

"Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer in mind/body medicine and author of The Relaxation Response, says that the repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga."
He then goes on to talk about how the craft can even reduce harmful levels of the stress hormone cortisol!

We also know you benefit from "bursting with pride syndrome" after completing your first item. You can't even imagine how immensely satisfying it is to wear something you've made and have someone ask where you bought it. It's probably the best feeling ever. This also applies to home furnishings and quilts - we can teach you all of these!

We combine ALL THREE stress busting elements in our class, we have sewing(obviously) laughing(definitely) AND hobnobs...which have oats in. I'll admit that is a bit of a loose link there and perhaps not EXACTLY what tip number 1 meant but I'm going with it!

Check out all our classes here!

What is your favourite stress busting tip?

Jenny x

10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Have A Sew-er Best Pal

1. We'll preserve your dignity when you burst out of your trousers on a night out.

Whether it's with a row of strategically placed safety pins or with our tiny sewing kit we carry about just in case, we have your back(or your arse - whichever seam bursts!)
 

2. We're practical problem solvers - Can't figure out that Billy Bookcase? Give us a shout!

Seriously, have you ever read a dressmaking pattern? We could crack codes for the government with these brains!

3. All your Halloween dream will come true.

Bacon and egg costume with 24 hours notice? No problem!

4. We're so zen...just DONT TOUCH THAT OVERLOCKER!

Sewing actually puts the brain into a meditative state, but touch our overlocker/serger and we might not be responsible for our actions. See also: Cutting ANYTHING with our fabric scissors.

5. Hanging about with us is an education, or at least you think it is.

We make up so many terms you'll be in awe of our vocabulary...even if most of them are made up. "Sewist", "Reversey" and "Bumfle" anyone?

6. We make a MEAN cup of tea.

Sewing and tea go hand in hand so you can be sure you'll be treated to several top quality Earl Greys! We've usually got some excellent biscuits to go with!

7. Our dexterity knows no bounds.

We're so good with our hands we can untangle your entire jewellery box in front of an episode of Coronation Street.

8. We're super positive!

We've had so many projects go terribly wrong and subsequently magically turned many a disaster into a usable item that we've had to learn to see the positive in every situation. When you are having a crap day we're the perfect people to turn that frown upside down!

9. We're eco friendly!

You don't get much greener than an upcycling, clothes mending sewing guru and if you're very nice we might even teach you some of our eco-skills! That's one less thing on the conscience for you!

10. When the economy collapses and we go back to bartering, you're going to want to learn our skills!

...pull up a pew or take a class in Glasgow with us!

7 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Own Underwear!

Underwear is too difficult to make yourself right? WRONG! Making my own underwear has been an absolute game changer and here is why!

1. You only have to own the perfect bra!
We do a lot of settling for whatever we can find in the shops when it comes to underwear. It might be the perfect style but you're between sizes in that brand. Maybe it's the perfect size but the wrong style for the outfit you're wearing or maybe you cannot find a set of matching underwear that ticks all the boxes...so make them! There are a whole load of patterns out there. Start with something simple to get used to working with the fabrics and notions and then the world of bra and knicker patterns are your oyster. No more settling for second best, we are better than that ladies!

Learn how to sew your own underwear at Sew Confident!"

Learn how to sew your own underwear at Sew Confident!"

2. Customise to your hearts content!
Don't like padding? Miss it out. Want a halterneck? You got it! Want a Harry Potter print underwear set? You can make it happen. The options are endless and there is a world of notions, fabrics and patterns at your fingertips.

3. Have colours to match every strappy top.
You can make any colour/print you like. Make one to match every strappy top you own! Have you had a look at the range of stretch fabric available these days? Amazing!

4. Tweak for the perfect fit!
Sometimes you try on a bra in one size in one shop and the band is too small, then you try the same size in a different shop and the band is too loose?! Infuriating! This is because different elastics have different extents of elasticity. However if you make your own you can wrap the band elastic round you until it feels perfect then stitch this into your bra! This is just one of the ways you have control over the perfect fit of you bra!

5. Branch out to DIY Bikinis!
They're basically the same, using swim elastic and swimwear fabric! Happy days! Check this website out for amazing swimwear fabric!

6. SOMETIMES It's cheaper!
You use so little fabric making a bra that it can sometimes even work out cheaper to make your own!



7. SERIOUSLY Impress Everyone.
People will either not believe you when you say you make your own underwear or be seriously impressed and envious. Either way you've earned smug status until the end of time - well done!

Get started with our Underwear Masterclass!
 

Jenny's Guide to Keeping New Year's Resolutions!

I'm actually not a fan of New Year's Resolutions, I tend to make myself lots of little goals all year round instead. However I'm quite good at achieving my goals so this year I'm publicly announcing a New Year's Resolution...but not yet. Firstly I'm going to share all my goal setting wisdom with you. Some I read about, some I learned from people around me and some I discovered by myself. Here they are:

1. SMART Goals
This one has been drilled into me over the past six months, any of my Entrepreneurial Spark friends will know exactly what I mean BUT it's a pretty useful system for ANY goals not just business ones. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic and Time bound.

So instead of " I am going to learn to sew in 2017" You could go for "I am going to learn to make a dress for my daughter by her 5th birthday". It's specific, measurable(you either do or don't make a dress by her birthday), realistic, achievable and time bound (my imaginary daughter's birthday is in October haha!).

2. Make it something positive!
Whether it's a business goal or a personal one make it one you actually want to achieve. So often we have resolutions we THINK we want but if every time you think of it it fills you with that Monday Morning-esque dread then you will never achieve it.

3. Tell people about your goal.
This is a biggy for me. If I don't tell anyone I can talk myself out of things so fast, and justify it to myself. I find it more difficult to justify it to my entire Facebook feed though. Making it public adds a bit of accountability and that really works for me!

4. Make Time!
I think these days we like saying we're too busy for this and that when in reality if you want to do something you can absolutely make time for it(how many hours did I spend watching Netflix last week eh?). So put some time in your diary for whatever your goal is and stick to it!

5. Don't feel guilty about slip ups!
Depending on what your NYR is you might find yourself slipping up. Maybe you missed a week of training because you just couldn't be bothered, well that's ok, just get back on it next week, no big deal!

6. Break it into bite-size chunks!
Maybe you want to make a dress for a ball you have in Autumn. Break it the project down into manageable sessions. The first session would be cutting out the paper pattern. Then the next one would be cutting your toile. The next session would be putting all your markings on your fabric and so on and so forth. Working like this keeps the project exciting and you can tick a box every time you've completed a session giving you that sense of accomplishment we all love!

7. Join forces with someone else - accountability
I've mentioned accountability before. Sometimes you need a pal to do something with. You don't even have to be working towards the same goal, you just have to tell each other about your plans and check in with each other about it. Knowing someone else is tracking your progress will spur you on and they'll give you little push if you're flagging behind!

8. Keep track of your progress.
This is important, especially if you have an adventurous NYR. Reward yourself when you complete a chunk or hit a milestone!

My New Year's Resolution for 2017 isn't a creative one, or a business one - I am going to run the half marathon in October. I am not built to run, I have always been a sprinter(If it's 21.55 and the off license is shutting I will get there!) not a long distance runner but after managing the 10k this year without stopping I'm going to up my game and do the half. THAT'S IT NO GOING BACK NOW IT'S PUBLIC!

What is your New Year's Resolution? Don't have one? Why not learn a new skill! Sewing is for EVERYONE! It is fun, social, useful and most of a total stress buster! Get yourself booked on a course today!

Click the image to view our classes in 2017!

Click the image to view our classes in 2017!

Wishing you all the very best for 2017!

Jenny x

How to make the Beads of Courage Bags

If you would like to make some Bead of courage bags and sent them into the studio we will make sure they are given to The Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity. Directions on how to make the bag are below, if they don't make sense or you get stuck please get in touch and we can help. You can send all finished bags to the address below:
 

Sew Confident Ltd
Hidden Lane,
Mercat House,
19 Argyle Court
1103 Argyle Street
G3 8ND

INSTRUCTIONS

Outer Fabric – Cut two pieces 23cm x 31cm
Lining Fabric - Cut two pieces 23cm x 31cm
Drawstring/ribbon – Cut 2 66cm pieces

Take your two outer pieces and with right sides together sew both long edges and one short edge with a 1cm seam allowance. Press seams open. Repeat this step with the lining pieces leaving a 4cm space in one of the side seams.

Place lining inside outer pieces with right sides together. Stitch around the top edge with a 1cm seam allowance.

Turn right side out through the hole in the lining and press. Close the hole in the lining with a topstitch.

Sew a row of stitching 5cm in from the top edge all the way round. Go back and forward at the side seams to strengthen them.

Sew another row of stitching 2cm below this, also going back and forward on the side seams to strengthen them.

Now unpick the outer side seam between the two rows of stitching to create a channel.

Take one of your pieces of drawstring and thread them through the front channel tie the ends in a knot. You might want to use a safety pin to help you. Do the same with the back channel.

Ultimate Sew-ers Guide to Halloween

So it's almost Halloween, and if you are a customer of mine you have already armed yourself with the ULTIMATE Halloween skills...the art of sewing! Those of you who know me might have witnessed my competitive side, if there is a costume competition on the go YOU(my lovely Sew Confident Customer) are winning it and here is how!

1. We've got to assume that someone with  bit of imagination is judging this. I honestly think it should be some kind of social law that costumes from a shop be immediately disqualified. No imagination. So already that wipes out about 75%* of the competition. The odds are in our favour already!

*These statistics are made up

2. Since 75%* of the party have shop bought costumes, and most shop bought costumes are TERRIBLE, you're costume is going to look amazing in comparison. I mean how many crap witches will you be up against?!

*These are still made up
 

Be better than this crap witch!

Be better than this crap witch!

3. The WORLD is your costume oyster! If you want to go out dressed as a cheque book, you can do it. A biscuit? No bother. A map of the world, absolutely! Think outside the box and you're already halfway to winning. 

4. Anything is actually possible. You can combine sewing skills with papier mache and tin foil, maybe you'll even embroider some parts. Are you wondering how? Let me tell you how I made my favourite bacon and egg costume.

sew confident bacon and egg

The story here is I actually had a mermaid costume until my friend who lived in London at the time announced she was coming up and was up for coming out for Halloween. So after a few texts back and forward I had offered my skills to make two ridiculous costumes.

These are SO simple. You need the heaviest interfacing you can find. It's almost like a fabricy cardboard but you can sew through it. Draw your shape straight onto the interfacing. Cut a back and a front that are exactly the same shape and size except for the head hole(which is only on the front). Cover your front piece and back piece with cheap white fabric. Stitch all the way around the outside and around the head hole. Now Cut out and stitch on your red or yellow bit. You can even use fusible web or fabric glue for this bit. Place your front pieces and back pieces wrong sides together and stitch around the edges leaving space for your arms and your legs of course!

YOU HAVE A COMPETITION WINNING COSTUME!

Of course If you have an idea or you want to make your own Bacon and Egg you can come along to our Halloween Costume Workshop here

5. If all else fails and you run out of time to make a costume, remember all you need is a white sheet with two eye holes and you are STILL better than a shop bought witch!

 

 

A Week in the Life of the Scottish Upcycling Ambassador

March has been a hectic month. I was approached by In Good Company Events to run a sewing workshop for Zero Waste Scotland's Pass It On Week. The idea was to encourage people to reuse and recycle household things and pieces from their wardrobe so we ran a workshop making little lunch totes out of old curtains.

John Amabile was there on both days doing a showcase of all the cool things ZWS had put on for the event, on a wee stage in the middle of the St Enoch Centre. I taught him how to make himself a little lunch tote. What a character he is! He;s also excellent at sewing which came as no surprise!

john amabile and sew confident

My Mum and Dad just happened to be passing as I went on stage. My Mum leaned against the backdrop and half of it fell off. Haha! Cue event organisers frantically trying to put it all back up again. I will be keeping all events top secret from her from now on don't worry! Ha!

Microphone on, just like Take Me Out, I'm so showbiz DAHLING!

Microphone on, just like Take Me Out, I'm so showbiz DAHLING!

We were also asked if we could run a Teddy Bear Hospital where people could bring their teddies that were in need a little TLC, drop them off and the Sew Confident 'Doctors' would sort them out. This is probably the cutest thing I have ever been asked to organise. It was a massive hit, and Gayle, Eliza and Ellie were inundated with bears, pigs, snakes, elephants, mice, you name it, they fixed them!

I was on tote bag duties but prior to the event I did do a little bit of 'surgery' myself on this sorry looking Hippo. He needed an entire new body because his has completely disintegrated. There was no pattern to follow so I had such a giggle decided how fat I was going to make him. Wee pot belly out of a furry fabric and he was on his way home!

teddy bear hospital sew confident

We were joined by Lynne from Squinty Stuff(who is also a fellow Hidden Lane Studio occupant) who was making upcycled jewellery, the boys from Maklab were using a 3d printer to create things from recycled plastic and Sugru were there too. If you haven't heard of Sugru it's this mad plastercine type stuff that sets and basically fixes ANYTHING. 

It was a great weekend, that ran seamlessly thanks to In Good Company Events! I was totally done in after it!

At the same time Glasgow School of Art got in touch with me about running some upcycling classes with their students for  ZWS Pass It On Week. I was starting to feel like I should be on the Zero Waste Scotland payroll by this point! These were held in the GSA student halls which is a brilliant building with bright spaces on each floor for different activities. The students were all fab and really got right into it. On the last class one student, Daniela brought in some digitally printed fabric she had bought to make a swimsuit for a design brief she had. It was really cool. She also had some digitally printed towelling which, I'll be honest, I didn't even know you could get! Instantly I'm thinking CUSTOM BEACH TOWELS because I have holidays on the brain just now. She sent me the website and it's actually quite reasonable(If you are a student I believe you get a discount - email them) . You can check it out here https://www.bagsoflove.co.uk/print-on-fabrics.aspx

THEN I was asked to go and film something upcycling related in Edinburgh at extremely short notice. I was genuinely starting to feel like the Scottish Upcycling Ambassador. Every phonecall was something to do with Pass It On week! In a week I had gone from rarely thinking about it to looking at everything with thrifty imaginative eyes(That leather jacket could be a handbag, that table cloth could be a raincoat etc haha!). You can read all about that in the next post!

Jenny x

Traditional Peruvian Weaving

Late last year during my travels to South America, I visited a small Andean Indian village located at 3762m above sea level called Chinchero in Peru. The town boasted beautiful views of Inca ruins with the snow-capped mountain of Salkantay in the background. Chinchero is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow and is home to the famous Peruvian weaving so we decided to pay a visit to see what was on offer at the colourful local markets and I was eager to learn firsthand how they made their textiles.

We were excited to be greeted by some of the local community, all dressed in traditional costume. I was fascinated by the length of their hair and the huge pom pom accessories which depicted whether they were married or single. We were sat down and given some Cocoa Tea and shown how they produce different dyes for the wool, how it is washed, spun and woven.  Weaving is extremely important to almost every Inca family as a source of generating income and there are thousands of techniques, layouts, styles and practices associated with Peruvian weaving which are still carried out today.

Pom poms!

Pom poms!

During the first process, the wool is washed using a plant known as Sacha Paraqay which is grated into the water, ensuring the fibres come out clean and white. The wool is then dried and spun into yarn, forming a continuous strand of wool for the weaving process. Before weaving, the wool is dyed using local and natural ingredients such as plants and minerals for vibrant colours with no harsh chemicals. I was a bit grossed out to see some crushed bugs from cactus are also used but the dramatic colours were amazing and they could be altered by adding things like lemon or salt to the mix.

Some of the looming techniques involved two people threading the yarn through to produce a reversible fabric and some were more complex designs taking years of work. The work was totally different from techniques used in the modern world today, as rather than using a pattern like we do for many sewing projects, the women amazingly worked from memory and took symbols from nature to tell a story. Products for sale at the market included patterned blankets, soft Alpaca jumpers, scarves, gloves, hats, ponchos, rugs, colourful runners, cushion covers and quirky bags – I would have bought the whole market if I had space in my suitcase! I did manage to come home with a beautiful, bright orange throw for my bed, several bags, a wall hanging and a hand-made placemat for my dressing table. So if you ever get the chance to visit any weaving communities, it’s definitely a visit worth checking out.

For now, since I can’t move to Peru... I’m about to start working on my own mini, hand woven wall hanging from the SECC craft fair!

sew confident peruvian weaving

Gayle x

Easy Ombre Cushions | Sewing Tutorial

Spring has almost sprung, it actually smells different outside today doesn't it? Here's a quick tutorial on make the cutest spring inspired ombre mini cushions!
 

sew confident ombre cushions
sew confident ombre cushion

You Will Need:

- You can use any fabric you like, I found these ombre tea towels in Primark of all places and had to buy them. The cost £3.50 for 3 and are the perfect size to make some tiny cushions. If you are buying regular fabric you will need 0.4 metre per cushion.
- 1.5 metres pom poms

Making the Cushion:

1. You will be cutting 1 square and 2 rectangles from your fabric. I am covering little cushions that measure 35cm x 35cm. You need a front piece that is the entire size of your cushion plus 1cm seam allowance all the way round. One that is half the width of your front piece plus seam allowance and one that is 3/4 the width of your front piece plus seam allowance. So the pieces I am cutting out are:

Front: 35 x 35cm + seam allowance = 37 x 37cm
Back 1/2 piece: 35 x 17.5cm + seam allowance = 37 x 19.5cm
Back 3.4 piece: 35 x 26.5cm + seam allowance = 37 x 28.5cm

2. Cut your pieces and zig zag or overlock all the raw edges to stop the fraying.

3. Now pin your pom poms to the right side of the front square piece. Line up the edges of the pom pom to the edges of the fabric and stitch in place using a straight stitch and a zip foot.
 

4. Lay your 1/2 piece and 3/4 piece next to each other right side up. If you have a pattern make sure they are the right way up as you look at them. The two inner most edges (i'm pointing to below) need to be hemmed. Turn them in by 1cm and stitch. You can use a straight stitch or a fancy one! I used a straight stitch on the 3/4 piece and a fancy one on the 1/2 piece as this is the piece you will see on the outside.

Sew Confident envelope cushion tutorial
sew confident envelope cushion cover tutorial

5. Lay your front square piece in front of you right side up. Take you 1/2 piece and lay it right side down on top of the square piece. Ensure hemmed edge is in the middle.
 

Sew Confident easy cushion cover

6.  Now lay the 3/4 piece on top right side down with the hemmed edge in the middle again.

sew confident easy cushions tutorial

7. Now pin and stitch all the way around the outside. You will need to put your zip foot on again. Stitch using a 1cm seam allowance and a straight stitch. Now turn out and you have a cushion cover!

sew confident easy cushion cover tutorial

To make it even easier you can skip the pom pom step. This is the easier and quickest cushion you will ever make. Send me a photo of yours!

Jenny x

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