Category Archives: October

Bernina, Bernina

Last month I had some time off work and decided to go shopping in Kingston with my Mum. My first shopping trip there was last year to seek out Fabricland – the website for this fabric shop is a bit wacky. Thankfully not reflected in real life but I didn’t buy any fabric this time (I’ve enough already!).

Anyhow, look what I found in a charity shop:


I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was so excited and surprised to find it. It came with a bag containing the original manual, spare bobbins and 7 feet! 7!


Now a Bernina isn’t a light machine so I paused for a few seconds to think about how to get this beauty home since we’d travelled by train but with not very encouragement needed from my Mum I decided it was too good to leave behind.

The sales assistant kindly provided a large Ikea bag to put it in. Reader, it was heavy but I found a comfortable enough place on my shoulder to carry it home. Mum offered to help a few times bless her, but she’s retired, so no.

There was. One. Crucial. Thing I had forgotten to do – test it! My heart sank a little when once home and plugged in the machine didn’t work. Poo. However I knew the Battersea Sewing Centre (BSC) could take a look and probably fix it. In the meantime I gave the sewing machine and all the feet and other stuff that it came with a thorough clean and searched online for any info about this particular Bernina. All that I found was its a model from the 1990s and no longer made in Switzerland.

The next weekend I bubbled wrapped and placed in a suitcase the Bernina and off I went to south London. Two working days later BSC called to say the circuit board was the problem and could be replaced. Hurrah! I now have a working machine which reminds me of the textile lessons I had in secondary school. It sews really well and I look forward to making my first handmade item with it.

Knitting and Stitching Show 2014

Someone told me the Knitting and Stitching Show in October is the ‘big one’. To say I was looking forward to it is an understatement. I’m glad I bought my tickets early and didn’t hold out for a potential discount code or Groupon offer for Saturday because it sold out!

I can’t remember if I’ve been to Alexandra Palace or the Ally Pally in north London before. Possibly on a school trip but what an amazing view over London. I don’t have pics – sorry! I’ve not got used to carrying a camera to take pics for this blog. Use your phone I hear you say – its a quite old BlackBerry. Oh. Yes indeed. What I do have is a pic of what I bought:

The colourful fabric on the left is stretch cotton sateen and lovely to touch. I’ve since seen it for sale in John Lewis for £18.50 per metre. I DID NOT PAY THAT MUCH. The blue fabric is a type of cotton linen (I think) and is embroidered with little sailing boats. I hope to make a blouse/shirt with it. A couple of Sew Over It patterns and a Vogue pattern I can remove from my Amazon wish-list, bought for £4 at the show – yay! Finally the tartan is cotton, like the brushed sort but I think too thick for PJs or a shirt, maybe another Megan dress but the idea of matching up plaid correctly is putting me off.

I went to the show with my Mum and we really enjoyed ourselves. She also bought some fabric and stopped for a head and shoulder massage there too. It was very busy – lots of people and lots to see. I would definitely like to go next year.


I’ve not posted for many months as studies or the guilt of not studying and sewing instead became too much. It has been a trying year and at times I questioned whether spending many hours indoors sewing was the best idea for a new hobby. This was back in the Spring after the Saturday pattern making classes had finished. Classes that I had concluded was not efficient sewing time because I enjoyed the social side of discussing where to buy fabric and the Great British Sewing Bee too much and not getting enough done in class!


Anyhow, sewing came to a stop in May after an intense Bank Holiday weekend desperately trying to finish to making a Megan dress from Tilly’s newly published book ‘Love at First Stitch’. This was a lovely birthday present from work colleagues and I was using fabric given to me at work also some years ago. I really, really wanted to finish it to show my appreciation for the kind gifts. I had half inserted the invisible zip (200 metres to go, finish line in sight…) then a check in the mirror wearing the dress showed there was just too much excess fabric below the waist. I pinned and tacked the sides to be taken in and stopped right there. This month I finished it.

Between Christmas and April I sewed two dresses – By Hand London’s Anna and Colette’s Hazel dress (sorry about the pics, there’s not been a good time to go outside and take pics wearing these. I’ll replace in time).


The Anna dress (left) was an easy sew and I really like the bodice. The fabric is viscose (I think!?) and cost £4 per metre in a shop in Walthamstow market. This fabric was tricky! At first the zip bent away from my back, giving me a hump so I unpicked  and reinserted the zip but taking in the excess fabric either side. I don’t know why that happened, could the fabric have stretched that much? Well, it worked and I wore it the next week to Easter/Resurrection Sunday service.

The Hazel dress (right) was much more straight forward, made using African print/Dutch Wax fabric bought in Petticoat Lane market a few years ago. Unfortunately I ruined it by over enthusiastically trimming the waist seams with pinking shears…


Eek! I carried out emergency first aid with some interfacing and a patch of fabric. This seemed an OK fix until I wore it to work and it fell off. Yep, my cardie stayed on for the rest of the day. I’ve not  worn it again but it is my first ever handmade dress so I still love it.

This post is long so just to tie things up in case you’re wondering what happened with my 2014 sewing goals and the pattern-making classes……

1. Participate in a sew-along. Not happened and not sure it will before the end of the year. If you know of any coming up let me know!

2. Sew gifts for friends and family. Again, nothing to see here. I’ve just not had the time or motivation.

3. Make clothes to wear regularly and buy less RTW stuff. Nope to the first and yes to the second. Having a sewing machine, patterns and fabric and ‘technically able to sew anything’ I’ve shopped for clothes a lot less this year. For my short holiday in Dublin I only bought a maxi dress (I’d like to copy) to wear and just wore good stuff I already owned.

Pattern-making class – I got as far as cutting sleeves, skirt and bodice to make a dress but had trouble with fit because I changed my mind about the style of the skirt late and became too scatty about it all i.e. completing my homework late on Friday night or early Saturday morn before class frazzled my nerves. The pieces are in a bag waiting for my return.  What I liked about the class was learning how to use a block to make a bodice to fit my (or someone else’s) measurements. What I liked the least and reflects my skill level at the time was the little structure to the course. It was more like a workshop with the tutor on hand if students got stuck rather than stage by stage teaching in garment construction. All of us were making different things at the same time. Since then I’ve made a few things and I think I’ll appreciate this way of learning more if I sign up for classes next year (will finish dress first). Back in January I wouldn’t cut any fabric without first understanding thoroughly how to make whatever it was from start to finish. Now I’m more relaxed and OK with figuring it out as I go.

I’m really enjoying getting back into sewing and writing this blog. Well, that’s enough from me!