SewBrum 2018 Review

SewBrum is into it’s fifth year now and is organised by Charlotte at This was my first year attending I think it as grown every year and this time over 300 attendees signed up.

I was very apprehensive about attending, I was initially going on my own – I follow a very large virtual sewing community on Instagram which makes me feel I know other sewers but I don’t have any real life sewing friends and if I’m honest this is usually the sort of thing I sign up to and the chicken out at the last minute due to lack of confidence.

Anyway I love sewing and fabric so felt a real determination to go. About a week before the event I saw a conversation on a local sewing group on Facebook – someone was asking about who was attending SewBrum so I commented that I was going and mentioned the station I was travelling from, another lady commented that she was travelling from the same station so I suggested we travelled in together.

So begins my day of fabric shopping, I arrived at the station and met a stranger (now know as Wendy) in the queue to buy a ticket and we travelled into Birmingham chatting about sewing and family – she as grown up children a similar age to mine.

The event started at John Lewis in the cafe and we arrived fairly early so not to many people when we first walked in (it was heaving when we left). We approached a table with a couple of other ladies sat at and asked if they were at SewBrum (they were) so we joined them and happily chatted while the venue filled up.

It is quite strange spotting people who you recognise through Instagram but have never actually met before, I did say hello to a few of these faces throughout the day and it is so nice to actually meet other sewers face so face and see them wearing their gorgeous me made outfits.

From John Lewis people drifted off in groups to head to The Rag Market so I stayed with my table and we went for a rumage where I picked up an animal print jersey fabric, there and a good selection of fabric shops outside and a few more indoors along with a nice haberdashery which had a good selection of buttons (I resisted buying any because my mother-in-law as just given me a tin full of buttons).

Next stop was Barrys which was about a 10 minute walk away, I haven’t visited here before and they have shelves full of fabric so although I didn’t buy anything it is well worth a visit. I did go a bit fan girlish at Barrys I spotted a few of the bloggers/vloggers that I follow:

They were all stood together chatting in the aisle and I had to walk past them – I did speak briefly to Sarah from LikeSewAmazing about the shop she is opening but I think I waffled a little and didn’t exactly give the coolest of impressions.

After Barrys we walked back up towards Moor Street to catch the No. 50 bus into Moseley for Guthrie and Ghani. There were a few other sewing groups on the same bus so it was a case of following the person who knew which stop to get off at! Luckily someone on the bus knew where they were going.

I have only visited Guthrie and Ghani once before but it is a lovely shop, everything is set out so nicely and the staff are super friendly. I had looked online before my visit so had an idea of what I might buy – I could of purchased a lot more if the budget would of allowed, the fabric is all such good quality and beautiful. I came away with a kit to make a shirt in a really cute fabric, the new top pattern by Tilly, the River Dress by Megan Nielsen and some fabric to make it with. I have added some photos but it is currently packed away for me to open for my birthday next month.

After my spend up I headed upstairs for the raffle (money was being raised for @coppafeelpeople which raises awareness for Breast Cancer) a well earned drink and cake – the lemonade was very much needed and I added my items to the swap table – I bought along a couple of pieces of fabric and a couple of patterns that I know I wont make.

My the time the raffle was ready to be drawn the room was full, more people were downstairs because there just wasn’t enough room for everyone, Charlotte came forward to draw the tickets and Lauren (Guthrie and Ghani owner) did a great job showing the prizes and communicating to downstairs via the telephone to call out the winning numbers. The raffle took some time – so many prizes from patterns to vouchers and fabric bundles and the lucky winner of the star prize won a brand new sewing machine.

I had a lucky day and won a lovely fabric bundle from Charlee Girl, Wendy also had a win and got a voucher for Guthrie and Ghani.

Things started to wind up after the raffle which ended at around 4pm and my husband had very kindly offered to collect me, just before leaving I did have a look through ehat was left on the swap table and picked up a piece of retro looking fabric – I am attending a 60s weekend next year so watch this space.

Wendy lives just round the corner from me so I offered her a lift home and I am sure we will be getting together again for other sewing events.

I am so glad I plucked up the courage to go along and would recommend any event like this to others, events like this run across the country I know that Sew North West was happening yeasterday to. So if you are thinking about attending next year but feeling a little nervous then take a deep breath and go along you won’t be on your own for long with 300 plus other sewists.

Long Sleeved Kalle Shirt

This is just a short blog to show you my long sleeve version of the Closet Case Kalle Shirt.

I wrote a previous blog about my first shirt using this pattern and I was so impressed with the pattern that I immediately wanted to make another. Whilst browsing the internet I discovered that there was a sleeve expansion pack for the Kalle shirt so I didn’t hesitate in sending off for it. It is a pdf pattern that can be printed at home. I must admit that I usually send off my pdf’s for printing (I don’t have much patience for sticking together) but because the pattern is only for sleeves it wasn’t a problem doing it at home – I think there were only 5 pieces.

The fabric I have used this time is an up-cycled double duvet cover that I picked up from the local charity shop for £1.99. The only adjustment I made this time was to shorten the back piece. I do like the longer length on my other shirt but just wanted a really casual everyday shirt to wear with my jeans. I did put the placket on the wrong way round (whoops!) but don’t see it as a major issue. I jazzed it up a little with some multi-coloured buttons that I have had for a while.

All in all this was a bargain make and I am really pleased with it.

Blackwood Cardigan and the Walking Foot

At the time of writing this blog there is a challenge over on Instagram called ‘The Cosy Cardigan Challenge’. I decided that I would take part and make the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet. I have seen this cardigan pop up a lot over the past year and it always gets great reviews.

I don’t usually make a toile when sewing (I have mostly got away with it so far) but the fabric I have ordered for my cardigan – a lovely navy metallic knit from Sewisfaction is currently out of stock – when I ordered it they contacted me to say it would be re-stocked in about 3 weeks. I had seen the fabric when I visited the shop in August (I should of purchased it then) so I know it will be perfect for a cardigan so said I was happy to wait for it. So this gave me the perfect reason to test the pattern out on a cheaper fabric.

The fabric I have used as been in my cupboard for a while, I originally bought it with the intention of making my husband a jumper, it was a cheap buy off Ebay so can’t really give you any details and not sure about the quality. When it arrived I decided it wasn’t really right for what I had planned, hence being put away in a cupboard.

Now I have had some tricky fabrics to sew with before, I made a dress out of viscose at the beginning of the year and found it to me very slippery to sew with but this is the worst yet! Not only is it slippery it is also a bumpy fabric rather than being flat and smooth, this is really not a good combination. After having a try out on a remnant of the fabric I decided I finally needed to take the plunge and try out my Walking Foot.

I have had my Walking Foot for about 12 months now, it came with my machine when I purchased it last year and despite all the good things I have heard about them it has sat in its box because I have been nervous about trying to attach it to my machine and use it – I can happily report that it is far easier to attach than I imagined. You just need to loosen the screw that holds the original presser foot holder to remove that one and then replace it with the walking foot. You do need to make sure that the connecting fork is attached to the needle clamp screw – yes I did need to look up the technical terms. I have added some photos to show how it should look.

Original Foot
That’s the original presser foot holder removed
The Walking Foot attached
The connecting fork attached to the needle clamp screw

It definitely makes a difference to sewing and the fabric stayed in place much better than it did with the regular foot.

The actual sewing of the cardigan was fairly simple – I did ditch the pockets because they didn’t look great – have I said how tricky the fabric is! To be perfectly honest I am not a big fan of patch pockets on jersey. When I make my next Blackwood I think I might try and add in-seam pockets but otherwise I will probably just make it without pockets.

Not the best attempt at adding a pocket!

The back and front pieces are sewn together at the shoulders, adding elastic or ribbon at the same time ( I did find this an odd method always having attached the elastic/ribbon first on previous sews before joining the front to the back). Personally I prefer my usual method and will stick to that in future. Sleeves are put in on the flat which makes that fairly simple. Then you sew up the side seams before adding the bottom and side pieces.

Anyway I am glad that I actually took the time to make a toile for a change. From the measurements I decided to sew a medium size, I think that next time I will go up to the large. I know that the cardigan isn’t meant to fasten or meet at the front but it does feel a little small. Also when I topstitch next time I think I need to use a longer zigzag stitch to prevent the slight puckering that can be seen on this one, again I think this may partly be down to the type of fabric.

Anyway that’s about it, I will share a photo of my other Blackwood once the fabric arrives and I have sewn it up.

If you would like to know about my future sewing plans then I have started a vlog which you can find here:

The Great Gatsby

My son’s girlfriend just turned 18 and decided to hold a themed party – Peaky Blinders/Great Gatsby style. After a quick Google search I decided the easiest fashion to go for would be a flapper style dress. We do have a great vintage shop in our town which had a good selections of dresses and I was very tempted to buy one off the peg, however since taking up sewing I have a real problem buying clothes feeling the need to make my own! Is it just me or do others have a similar problem.

I already had some navy ponte roma in my stash so decided to use that as a starting point, I then had a quick search on Ebay and found some navy long fringed tassels – I should point out at this stage that this was definitely not a cost saving exercise, the tassels cost £2.98 per metre and I used 8 metres so it’s not cheap.

The pattern I used was a hack of the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top. I basically used the front pattern piece for both the front and back (likesewamazing as a good hack for a vest top like this) and lengthened it flaring it out slightly to knee length.

I attached the tassels before joining the two pieces leaving a 3.5 inch gap between each row and making sure that the front and back tassels would line up when the pieces were joined together. It is important that a stable stretch fabric such as ponte is used because the tassels add a lot of weight to the garment and anything too stretchy would probably sag out of shape.

Once all the tassels are in place it is just a case of sewing up the side seams (right sides of fabric together) making sure that all the tassels are safely tucked on the inside. I then finished off my simply hemming the neck and arm holes.

I am really pleased with the finished item and think I will look the part, I made a head band to go – I used a piece of elastic stretch sequin trim and glued it so that it was slightly smaller than my head circumference, I then added some feathers and rhinestone gems to finish it off. Add a feather boa and voila I am ready to party.