Make it, Own it, Love it

I don’t know about you, but I love seeing what Sewing Bee Alumni are up to: from giving talks to crowds of people, writing magazine columns, holding run way shows- these guys are pretty darn inspirational.

So I was super excited to see that the lovely Matt Chapple (winner of series 3 of The Great British Sewing Bee) was coming out with his debut book: Make it, Own It, Love it, and even more excited to be sent a copy to review (and join my growing Sewing Book Library!)

Sizing it up

For a newbie, sewing can be really daunting. I’m sure a lot of people are put off from taking it up because they think ‘I can’t possibly do this’, ‘I don’t have X, Y, Z’, ‘I can’t even sew a straight line’. So I love the way Matt presents sewing: it’s unpretentious and makes sewing seem really doable. The book is aimed for beginners and intermediates and does it really well. It takes you through all the basics of equipment and techniques before working it’s way up skill-wise: from customising ready to wear, making brand new items to mending and repair.

The book is made up of 7 main sections: Continue reading

A little stretch and sew

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it before… but I really hated sewing with stretch material! Thankfully I’ve slowly gotten over that fear…and maybe stepping into the realm of mutual like…maybe even love.img_1746

Part of this fear was put into me by The Sewing Bee (funny how using an overlocker for the first time under timed conditions isn’t conducive to learning!) But The Sewing Bee also gave me the confidence to just give things ago. Feeling a little bit nostalgic I decided to put this lovely knit fabric from Girl Charlee to good use (Taufiq now has a habit of peering over my shoulder as I internet shop fabrics now he knows I quite like sewing menswear!) Continue reading

An Open Letter: Sew In Colour

womens-runningThe other day I saw this magazine cover for Women’s Running being shared on social media. It was a moment of collective pride to see a beautiful muslim woman in a hijab being represented on such a huge scale. Not just a feature. The actual cover.

Muslim women are hugely under-represented in the media. But people like Rahaf Khatib, Dina Torkia, Mariah Idrissi, Amena  of Pearl Daisy and of course the lovely Nadiya are slowly breaking down the barriers by being featured in big-named campaigns. By including them on their covers/adverts/shows, it gives young muslim women the feeling that they have a place in society, that they are seen, heard and belong- which, in this climate of division, is no small thing.

So what does this have to do with sewing? Well soon after I saw this cover,  I happened to be browsing sewing magazines and I noticed something. None of the covers featured a woman of black, asian or minority ethnicity (BAME). Not one.

Maybe this was just coincidence? I was probably missing something, right? So I put my science hat on and did some impromptu research. I went through the all of the issues from October 2015 to 2016 from 4 of the big sewing names (ones that I could get hold of the covers for online). That’s 52 magazines. And none of them featured BAME models on their covers. Granted, one had patchwork toys on one of their covers, but the other 51 magazines? Zero.

Quite honestly- this isn’t OK.

Sewing is all about celebrating diversity: our different shapes, sizes, styles. It’s the most beautiful thing about the sewing community. So why have we failed to reflect this diversity through the basic inclusion of models of different skin colours?

If Women’s Running magazine has shown anything, it’s that it isn’t just up to magazines like Vogue to make historic steps in inclusion. We should be using all of our platforms to reflect our diversity. Please don’t get me wrong-I’m not asking for you to all to put a woman in a hijab on your covers. But I am asking you to include models of BAME. Not just as a one off. Not as a special feature. It’s time we reflect our amazing community and #SewInColour.

The Little Giveaway

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I’m so excited to be guest blogging over at Girl Charlee UK (click for tutorial) and showing you how to make yourself this peplum top. I do love a good peplum- creates a lovely hourglass shape and most importantly, hides a food baby (which is a really big selling point for me when it comes to clothes: can I have starters, mains and dessert no.1, no.2 and maybe no.3 without anyone noticing?) Even more exciting for all you lovely followers is the chance to get your hands on 2 metres of gorgeous knit fabric! Enough to make yourself a top (desserts I’m afraid are not included). Eep! I’m so excited. Head over to their site to see their gorgeous collection of fabrics to get you inspired and make sure you take a look at their brand new super soft BOLT range.

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*How to enter the GIVEAWAY*

All you have to do is go over to the Girl Charlee UK website and join the mailing list. Once you do that just pop back over here and post ‘done’ along with your name. It’s that simple! Just make sure you enter before the deadline so I can enter you into the draw- Midday (GMT) on Tuesday 1st November. 

Good luck!

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Love,

Rumana

The Little Beginner

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One of the questions I get asked the most is: “I want to start sewing- which machine should I buy?” So here’s my hopefully handy guide on buying a sewing machine.

Firstly, YAY! You want to start sewing! It will be daunting. You will make mistakes. But you will also get better with each step you take. And that sense of achievement after you complete that first item? Well, there’s no feeling quite like it. I promise you won’t regret it. It is doable. Trust me. I’ve been there- just scroll back and you’ll see my wonky-hemmed maxi skirt which didn’t even fit over my head. That was 4 years ago. Then there’s the less than perfect wonky-zipped maxi dress a year after the skirt (a wonky-theme to my sewing abilities). And then a week after that, my graduation dress. Fast forward 3 years and I’m being flummoxed by stretch materials in the quarter-finals of The Great British Sewing Bee. So two things to take from that: you can go from making barely-wearable items to being in the quarter-finals of The Great British Sewing Bee with a bit of a ‘can-do’ attitude and seam ripper, and secondly- there’s always more to learn!

Anyway, pep-talk out of the way: lets get onto sewing machines and the questions you might want to ask yourself. Continue reading

The little dress form

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This is my dress form. As you can see, I use it everyday! Perhaps not in the way it was meant to be used but it’s still being used right?…

I got emailed this question and thought I’d share my thoughts in case anyone else was pondering the same thing:

“My question is if I was to invest in a dress form to help me would I need an adjustable one or can I do just as well with a fixed size which is of course cheaper but I thought best to get some advice first as the adjustable are quite expensive.”

I hear you, and currently having the same dilemma and wondering whether to upgrade my one. Sewing can be an expensive hobby: machines, accessories, fabric. So where do you draw the line?  Continue reading

A little pin cushion

 

thumb_IMG_9856_1024Who doesn’t like peonies? And who doesn’t like pin cushions? I know I’ve covered pin cushions before but here’s another super simple and easy pin cushion, even for a beginner! We were terrible with pins in the sewing room- plenty of pins where to be found on the floor. Though I’m pretty sure Taufiq would tell you that it’s the same in our flat as well!

Someone once asked me if I stored my pins for sewing in my headscarf, which is a fair question and probably not a bad idea! But no, that’s how I keep my hijab and it’s pleats in place. So as a hijabi and a sewer I have a lot of pins laying around, so a pin cushion is always good to have to hand.

Pin Cushion

Materials

  • Some fabric- you can use anything for this! I used left over scraps from baby quilts
  • Something round to trace around approx. 25cm wide (dinner plate/embroidery hoop)
  • Embroidery thread
  • Thread matching your fabric
  • 2 x buttons
  • Stuffing

Continue reading

A little pyramid pattern weight

I hope you’ve been enjoying The Great British Sewing Bee. I’ve had lots of lovely  comments about my little pattern weights so thought I’d share a tutorial so that you too could have a bamboo steamer full of the very best sewing dim sum.

Pattern weights

Why use pattern weights? Well, there’s a time and a place for pattern weights- but generally they’re a super easy and quick way to keep your pattern in place while you cut out your fabric using a rotary cutter. Some people swear by scissors, but with scissors you really should pin the pattern in place to prevent it shifting which can be a bit long and cumbersome. Some people swear by rotary cutters. Personally I only tend to swear when I’ve managed to nick myself with the blade more than anything… (They are blooming sharp!)

These particular set of pattern weights were whipped up late one evening using left over scraps from Tanzanian/Zanzibari kangas (the traditional clothes made up from one large continuous piece of printed fabric, much like a sari). Continue reading