Never Too Old to Learn to Sew

Have you ever thought you were too old to learn to sew? Well, I would like to start by introducing you to some very special ladies. Firstly Aileen Beaumont. She started sewing with me less than a year ago once she retired. It was something that she always meant to learn to do, she even had a machine and a massive collection of patterns that she collected in the 70s, however things got in the way and she never learnt. Now she is the ‘bag lady’ she loves making handbags, rucksacks and hopefully you might even see them in my shop soon!

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The second lady I would like to mention is Mary Walsh. She is recently retired and had a terrible start to sewing back at school, where her teacher was so awful she put her off for life! Until now that is, having witnessed her daughter in law learning to sew at my classes, she decided to give it another try some 50 years after she last put her foot on the sewing pedal! She has been making things for  her new flat, and recently sewed a lovely summer dress for her grandaughter. Did you have a positive or negative experience at school with your textile teacher that you would like to share in the comments?

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This post would not be complete though without mentioning my own grandmother and my mother, who were my sewing inspiration! My mother always made time to sew with us, and gave my sister (pictured to the right of my grandmother) and I our first machine when I was about 7 years old. Today she still sews regularly and makes all her own curtains and furnishings.

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My grandmother has a house full of beautiful things she has made, and I have pieces of her work all around my house too. From lined gingham peg bags, to crocheted shopping bags, to wonderful pieces of embroidery.

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It doesn’t stop there,just last week I received a parcel from my Auntie Inge, in it were some beautiful embroideries that she made many years ago, which I have just sewn into some lovely cushion covers.

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I would like to pass all these skills onto my own children and as many other people as I can, so that they can enjoy what I have been fortunate enough to have from a young age, but whatever your age as C.S Lewis put it: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” 

Party Favour Jars

Don’t you love an excuse to make up some party favours?  Well my daughter Annelies is turning 8 next week and she is having a sleepover in the chicken shed with some friends (no chickens!). It was named the chicken shed as we were doing it up for the chickens but it turned out too good so we converted it for the kids instead! Thats a blog in itself for another day!

Well here is what we made this evening before bedtime, until we ran out of jars and sweets! Might have eaten a few along the way! (The idea actually came from one of my sewing students Sharon who loves a bit of chintz!)

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I want to show you how to make a scalloped edge on your sewing machine. Hopefully your machine will have a setting which resembles mine. I know most of the new Singer, Janome, older Elna’s and Bernina machines have this function. Perhaps it is one of those stitches you never used or even realised your machine could do!

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We played around with the stitch length and width and settled for 6 width and 0.6 length. After cutting out a circle on your fabric, as demonstrated by Annelies,  use the edge of the foot with the edge of your fabric as a guide and then sew all the way around. Using some sharp very pointy scizzors trim away the excess from your scalloped edge and place on top of an old jar with an elastic, then cover with a ribbon. Careful not to cut through your stitches. 

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We raided my ribbons box and used old pieces of upholstery trimming and laces from the pound shop. Using a straight stitch just attach the ribbons or lace near the edge, demonstrated by Sam. Once attached you can trim off any excess fabric from underneath if required.

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Earlier in the day I made some cherry jam for the first time (if anyone knows an easy way to remove cherry stones please let me know!), so mine went in a Kilner jar, with a lovely jar cover made by my sewing student Sharon O’Connor.

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For your inspiration I have included some other images of jam jar covers that I found on my favourite site Pinterest. Next time I am going to try embroidering them first on my embroidery machine!

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I would love to hear from you if you have any other ideas or if you give it a go yourself.

Dotty Bobbin x

TIP: if you are struggling to remove the sticky label residue on the jars, try using a cotton pad and nail polish remover – worked for me!