At the end of August Hobbycraft updated their range of sewing machines. Now I may be biased as sewing is my craft of choice but I think a sewing machine is a household essential. Having spoken to many of my friends though, whilst they see how useful a sewing machine would be they are genuinely a bit scared by them.
I want to set that straight. Whilst I can see how it may be daunting, especially if you haven’t used one since school, if you are lucky, they are actually really easy to use and you can create amazing things really quickly.
With Christmas coming up I’m going to talk you through some easy to make, fabulous to look at, perfect gifts. I’ll also give you some handy hints and tips for sewing machine essentials.
As part of the new updated range Hobbycraft have introduced a Toyota Overlocker at £250, this is perfect for that professional finish to clothing. You’ll get great hems and be able to really perfect your clothes making skills. This machine is new in and available in selected stores, so if you’re interested just double check your local store has it before you journey in, not that nay trip to Hobbycraft is a wasted trip! Then there is the Toyota Sewing Machine at £149, this is a gorgeous machine and well equipped for heavy fabrics, denim, corduroy, curtains will all be a breeze. Now, as I’m focusing on more simple sewing and aiming this at beginners I’m not going to focus on these machines at all.
Everything I have made has been created using the NEW AND EXCLUSIVE to Hobbycraft Janome Sewing Machine, it retails at £109 and is perfect for beginners. It is easy to set up and use, has a great selection of stitches and comes with feet for zips and buttonholes. This beaut of a machine will see you from your first little projects, through to clothing mends and makes. It’s an impressive bit of kit and well worth the money.
Sewing Machine Essentials
Considering buying your first machine, well there are a few other bits you should make sure you own.
- A very good set of fabric scissors, you won’t get far without them.
- Pinking shears are useful but can come at a later date.
- A fabric pen or tailors chalk, I like a laundry pen myself, but either way you’ll want something for marking your patterns.
- Pins, you really, really need a tub of pins and you should treat yourself to a cute pincushion at the same time.
- Fabric. Not much you can make without fabric. Start by buying a mixed bundle or grabbing a metre of something that you love.
- Thread, you want a few spools. Black, white, blue are always needed and any other colours you think you might like.
For my makes you’ll also need some stuffing, lavender, standard needle and thread, glue, thick string, pliers and a cute bag clasp.
When you first get your machine, any sewing machine, you need to just sit and read the instructions. They mainly all work in the same way but there is always something a bit different.
The bobbin loader on the Janome is brilliant and far less finicky than my previous machine, but it is also completely different and I had no idea how to load it. I’ve been sewing and using sewing machines since I was 8 years old, they are all different!
Practise, simple projects, little kits, or just running lines on scrap fabric.
A sampler is always a nice way to start, and so simple, if I actually owned any plain fabric I would have made one up to show you. But simply put you just try each different stitching pattern in a straight line across a piece of fabric. Using different coloured threads if you’re going to display it. It helps you get used to your machine, perfect the tension, thread and re-thread until you are confident. You might also end up with a pretty bit of embroidery to display.
Get set up comfortably and with good light, make sure you have everything you need to hand and ensure snacks are grease and crumb free, grapes are good 😉
My favourite features on the Janome
Sad as it may be, I love that it comes with a protective cover, dust and crafting fluff are not a sewing machine’s friend, so the simple cover will keep it clean and safe. I’ll likely stitch my own soon enough, it’s a great project, but it means I don’t have to rush into it.
The spool posts popping neatly back inside the machine, it keeps them nat and tidy, but it also keeps them safe.
The choice of stitches and stitch lengths makes the machine perfect for nearly any job.
The buttonhole function, it is a beautiful thing.
It has an LED light by the needle so you can always, clearly see what you are doing. Genius.
The removable accessory box allows you to create a free arm sewing system which is great if you are doing something fiddly, like sleeves.
How to make a Smocked Eye Pillow
This is such a simple project but looks amazing, the smocking is easy but gives a finish far beyond its simplicity.
You will need polka dot fabric, approximately A4 in size. Needle, thread, stuffing, dried lavender, your sewing machine.
Fold your fabric in half lengthways and mark the centre point, you will only want to smock the top half of the fabric.
Above the centre line, starting in the middle, mark groups of four polkadots. You’ll want about four rows, with four to five groupings on each.
When they are marked out you are ready to start smocking. Knot the end of your thread and with the right side of the fabric facing you, come up through one dot, stitch down to the one below it, back up next to it, then across to the dot beside it, you should end up with a square loosely stitch through your four dots. Pull it tight and not the thread to finish it. Repeat this for all your marked dots until the top half of the fabric is smocked.
Now for the sewing machine. Fold your fabric in half lengthways and pin down each side and along the open top. Your fabric should be inside out.
Run a straight stitch down each side leaving a good 1cm seam.
Then run a straight line along the top, this will be a bit fiddly as the smocking will have pulled one side in, but take your time and match the sides as best you can. Leave a 3/4 cm gap at the end.
Using the open gap, pull the fabric through so the right side is now showing.
Fill with stuffing, not too full, you want it to be soft and easy to mould on the face. Add a few tablespoons of lavender.
Hand stitch the opening closed.
The smocking gives a profession finish, whilst providing a nice shape to the eye pillow, it gives it a curve that makes it ideal. This shaping also hides a multitude of sins, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t stitched a single straight line, no one would ever be able to tell.
I love this little project, it’s so easy and you could make several in one evening, so perfect if for gifts or adding to homemade hampers.
How to make a clasp purse
Adding the clasp is a little tricky, but worth it for an amazing finished project that you won’t believe you made.
For this you need a pretty piece of fabric in the pattern of your choosing, around A4 in size, glue, thick string, a clasp and pliers. Of course, you’ll want your sewing machine and thread too.
Your pattern depends on the type of clasp you have gone for, so you’ll need to have this first. I chose an arch frame kiss clasp, you can get plenty from Amazon and the like.
You need to have the shape of the clasp at each end, around 1 cm larger than the clasp itself. The centre then needs to be a rectangle, double the height of one of the clasp ends and 1cm wider to allow space for the seam.
Once you have drawn up your pattern, transfer it on the fabric and cut it out. Fold the purse in half, right sides facing in and using your sewing machine stitch down both seams.
Turn the purse back the right way to add the clasp.
Cut two lengths of the thick string, the same size as the clasp. This will sit in the fabric, giving it enough thickness to fill the clasp.
Making sure you have your clasp lined up with the correct side of the purse fabric, run a line of glue inside one side of the clasp, lay the fabric edge over the top of the clasp, and starting at the middle push the thick string into the clasp groove, folding the fabric over it.
When you have completed one side, you want to use the pliers to pinch in each end of the clasp, to fix the fabric, string and glue in place. Then using the pliers, squeeze along the length of the clasp, fixing it all in place. Use a bit 0f scrap fabric between the metal and the pliers to stop marks.
Repeat for the second side of the clasp.
Leave for at least 12 hours for the glue to dry, it will take longer than you expect being inside the clasp and though it isn’t what is primarily holding the fabric in place, you don’t want the glue seeping into the fabric because you’ve moved it before it fully dried.
The finished purse will look amazing and as you can in confidence you can easily add lining fabric, little pockets or even compartments to your design.
It is satisfying to create your own pattern and actually a really quick project to complete.
Disclosure – I was gifted my sewing machine in return for creating this post. All other materials I used were my own. All, thoughts, opinions and images are my own.