Category Archives: July

A Cushty Make in Chelsea


Booked weeks ago, I was really excited about my cushion making class. Once my new sewing machine had been delivered I searched online for a suitable beginner’s class to kick off my sewing adventures. The 3 hour class at The Saturday Sewing Session in Chelsea looked good and included making button holes – something I’d not done before. The class included all materials – fabric, thread, pattern piece and plenty of free tea and biscuits.

The class took place in a lovely small room with lots of natural light. There were four of us altogether (meant to be five as Bridget called to say she was lost but never made it). The tutor gave an introduction to sewing machines and showed us how to thread one. One learner brought her own machine – a Bernina (I understand these are the absolute best machines but with prices to match!) that had belonged to her grandmother.

I did think half-way through the class was just a little too basic and I could have picked up how to sew an envelope cushion for free online instead. However it was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning and I came away with a cute cushion.

After the class I crossed from south-west to east London, to Hackney to buy some fabric. My Mum had mentioned a stall in Kingsland Shopping Centre selling African printed fabric cheaply. Yes please! Priced at £5 for 5 yards I bought two lots. I then headed outside to Ridley Road Market to investigate the fabric stalls and a shop called Dalston Mill Fabrics.


Trips on a Saturday to Ridley Road Market were a regular occurrence when I was young, being the nearest and best place to buy West Indian food e.g. yam, green and yellow plantain, Jamaican sweet potatoes, saltfish etc. Good stuff that couldn’t be found in the supermarket but I digress…

I passed four or five stalls (nothing to see here) to Dalston Mill Fabrics – an Aladdin’s Cave of fabrics. There is much to look at crammed together. So much so my eyes darted back and forth from roll to roll.

There’s a haberdashery at the back and the staff are really friendly and helpful. I bought some blue-green paisley printed cotton fabric (£7.70 per metre) to make cushions for my brother’s flat. He has seen it and approves. Yay.

Enjoy your week!

Why I’ve Started Sewing

This is my best surviving make is a floral cushion made at secondary school when I was 14 years old. I was so pleased with how it turned out back then. I did go on to study GCSE Textiles and made a bag. A horrible bag. Ugly it was. This I realised far too late to bin the coursework and start over. I watched in envy as one friend made a suit – jacket and matching skirt. ‘What a great idea, why didn’t I think of that?’ I thought. I’ve no idea where the bag is now, binned long ago hopefully.

While at university I became interested in sewing again and bought a pattern to make a shift dress but couldn’t follow it very well and gave up in a huff.

My Dad was a tailor in the Caribbean before arriving in England in the 1960s and I grew up watching him on the sewing machine altering his trousers, sewing a patch on his jeans or replacing a broken zip on one of our cushions. My Mum liked sewing in a small way having attended classes before I came along. Both were pleased when my bursts of interest cropped up and bless them, said little when it fizzled out.

Our sewing machine was a beautiful Singer set in the middle of a wooden table. It looked a look like this one:


When not in use the machine could be flipped over and hidden so the table could be used for other things. It’s still with my parents. My own machine is by Brother and purchased at the Battersea Sewing Machine Centre – I highly recommend making a visit there if you’re looking to buy. They repair machines, sell second hand ones and give helpful advice.

So…why the interest almost ten years on? Not one to jump on the band wagon but watching BBC Two’s Great British Sewing Bee earlier this year reminded me that sewing was a skill I really did want to learn at some point and blogging about my efforts would help me keep on task. So ta-da!