The TOP 5 Sewing Machines of 2020

As voted by YOU!

Here are the top 5, highest rated sewing machines of 2020, as reviewed by the buying public. Out of all the sewing machines purchased, these are the most highly rated. If you haven’t bought a sewing machine yet, and are in the market to, then have a look at these…

5. Project Runway Special: Brother CS5055PRW Sewing Machine

50 Built-in Stitches, LCD Display, 7 Included Feet

Click on image to get yours now

  • 50 UNIQUE BUILT-IN STITCHES: The Brother Project Runway CS5055PRW features 50 built-in stitches including 5 auto-size buttonholes
  • AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER AND DROP-IN TOP BOBBIN: This sewing machine includes an automatic needle threader that perfectly pushes thread through the needle and a convenient, jam resistant drop-in top bobbin
  • INCLUDED ACCESSORIES: The CS5055PRW comes with 7 sewing feet, 3-piece needle set, twin needle, instruction manual and more
  • LCD SCREEN: Simply select your stitches with the push of a button and view your selection on the LCD display
  • AT YOUR SIDE SUPPORT: The CS5055PRW sewing machine comes with Brother At Your Side support offering free technical support via online, live chat or phone for the life of your machine

4. Varmax Sewing Machine with Sewing Kit

The perfect gift for youngsters looking to learn how to sew.

click on the image above to get yours now!

  • 【Sewing Kit】It includes 32 bobbins, a scissor, 5 needles, a threader, a thimble and a seam ripper. This sewing kit is compatible to 201 sewing machine and provides more choices of thread in colors.
  • 【Beginner-friendly】Equipped with only one straight stitch mode, it simply the process on sewing. For beginners, this mini sewing machine would be a good choice to learn sewing.
  • 【Manual and Video】A detailed manual is attached on the box and it is easy to get access to the tutorial videos created by Varmax. We would like to suggest you to read the indication and watch videos before sewing.
  • 【Foot Controller and Adapter】Equipped with a foot controller and adapter, it would be helpful for fast mending. And the adapter is manufactured under the ETL standard for use in United State.
  • 【Wide Application】More applicable fabrics please refer to the detailed image on the product page. This sewing machine supports to sew pet clothes, shopping bags, table mat, apron, pouch and etc

3. SINGER 4423 Sewing Machine – Heavy Duty

click on the image above to get yours now!

  • SINGER HEAVY DUTY SEWING MACHINE: The 23 built-in stitches including basic, stretch, decorative, and buttonhole stitches allow you to sew a variety of projects, such as fashions, home décor, quilts, crafts, and more
  • AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER SEWING MACHINE: After following the threading path printed right on the machine, this built-in feature helps you to effortlessly thread the eye of the needle without eye strain or frustration. Amps (0.7). Watts (84). Volts (120). Hz (60)
  • HIGH-SPEED SEWING MACHINE:The Singer 4423 Sewing Machine has a maximum sewing speed of 1, 100 stitches-per-minute, so projects can be sewn quickly. The 60% Stronger Motor provides greater piercing power for thick seams
  • HEAVY DUTY METAL FRAME: The Singer 4423 heavy duty sewing machine is a true workhorse. With a heavy-duty metal interior frame, stainless steel bedframe, extra-high sewing speed and powerful motor, this sewing machine can sew through a variety of heavy weight fabrics and provides long lasting stability
  • SEWING MACHINE ACCESSORIES: A variety of accessories are included with All-purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, seam ripper/lint brush, quilting guide, needles, bobbins, screwdriver, auxiliary spool pin, spool pin felt are all conveniently located and stored in the accessory tray. A soft-sided dust cover is also included in the packaging
  • WARRANTY: SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Portable Sewing Machine has 25 Year Limited Warranty. Note : Refer to the Videos and also the PDF attached below in Technical Specification for Manuals.

2. The Handheld Sewing Machine

Mini handy portable cordless sewing machine – Electric repairing stitch tool for fabric DIY, kids and pet clothing. Perfect for home and travel use. This is one of the most favored sewing machines out there for small projects in 2020.

click on the image to get yours now!

  • ✂ PERFECT FOR ANY MATERIALS▹ This universal small sewing machine apply to all kinds of fabrics which is great for silks, denim, wool, leather and crafts. Also very suitable for craft, patchwork or simple embroidery. You can use this practical machine to make your own handkerchiefs, aprons, gloves, cloth, pet clothes and so on.
  • ✂ SAVE YOUR TIME▹ This electric handheld single stitch sewing machine makes it so much faster and easier than using a needle, saving you time and money. Fix hems, mend a torn pocket or shorten trousers, all within minutes.
  • ✂ SIMPLE IN USE▹ This mini sewing machine is easy to operate, line with the flat edge, automatic moving. Please read the instructions carefully before using it. Both beginner and professionals can make some DIY arts crafts easily. Also is a good partner for training children’s working habits and sewing skills.
  • ✂ PORTABLE DESIGN▹ Great for travelling as it is compact and lightweight, it can be battery operated to make it absolutely portable or you can use it with a power adaptor (the required 4 x AA batteries or DC6V power adaptor are not included). Compact and lightweight, Portable and easy to carry around. Sewing repair anywhere.
  • ✂ HIGH-QUALITY&LOW NOISE▹ The high-quality plastic materials were used for these handheld sewing machines manufacturing which precisely controls stitching with the rotary wheel adjustment and it has tension control to adjust the tightness of stitches, the fastening plate holds the fabric while stitching; high-quality and low noise, making your work more efficient.

1. Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine

The most highly rated sewing machine of the year, and we can see why. It sews up to 1,500 stitches per minute, comes with a wide table, AND 7 includes feet.

click on the image to get yours now!

  • 1,500 Stitches per minute max sewing speed: Maximum stitching of up to 1,500 stitches per minute allows you to sew and quilt more in less time
  • Advanced needle threading system: This sewing and quilting machine includes an automatic needle threader that perfectly pushes thread through the needle and a convenient, jam resistant drop-in top bobbin
  • Included accessories: The PQ1500SL longarm sewing and quilting machine comes with a wide table, 7 sewing feet, knee-lifter, instruction manual and more. The removable knee-lifter enables you to lift your presser foot with your knee, leaving both hands free for fabric handling
  • Precision pin feeding system: It’s so easy to sew a wide variety of fabric thicknesses thanks to Brother’s Pin Feed system for precision fabric feeding
  • At your side support: The PQ1500SL quilting and sewing machine comes with Brother At your side support offering free technical support via online, live chat or phone for the life of your machine

Five FREE craft books to read right now

Available on Amazon Kindle to download and read right now!

We know 2020 has been a tough one, here’s 5 FREE kindle books for your to download and read right now, to help you to make your Christmas even more festive.

**At the time of posting this article all of these kindle books were available for free, the various authors may no longer be running these promotions, or may only run them for a limited time, to avoid disappointment, get your copies ASAP**

Homemade Christmas Gifts

14 Gift Ideas & DIY Home Decor

Click on the image above to get your copy now

Whether you’re looking to create your own unique holiday decor this year or you’re looking for some clever gift ideas for friends and family, Homemade Christmas Gifts: 14 Gift Ideas & DIY Home Decor is filled with great projects that are perfect for all your holiday decorating and gift-giving needs!

11 Sewing Room Ideas

How to Organize Your Room

Click on the image above to get your copy now!

You’re craft room or sewing room is in complete disarray. Where are the needles? Where’s your favorite thread? Scissors are nowhere to be found, and you can’t seem to find your bias tape. Everything is all over the place, like a bomb went off or a three-year-old came in and threw a tantrum. It’s time to get organized, my friend. And it’s as easy as downloading this free eBook, 11 Sewing Room Ideas: How to Organize Your Room. You’ll find amazing and creative tips and tricks to take your room from dab to fab in no time at all.

Sewing for Beginners

a Novice Guide on How to Sew the Most Astonishing Sewing Projects and 10 Quick and Easy Sewing Patterns to Master

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If you’ve always fancied taking up sewing but didn’t know where to start, this guide for the absolute beginner is for you. This book sewing for Beginners explains all the essential basics of sewing including how to choose the best fabrics and threads for projects. Learn skills in amazing sewing crafts such as cross-stitch, Running Stitch and OVERCLOCK. In this book it provides all you need to know to start your own sewing projects, including Needle Threading Tips for beginners.
After reading this handy book anyone can quickly learn to sew, master new stitches and make a selection of cute and easy first sewing projects,
This book takes you through the basic techniques of this fun and creative craft. As beginners you’ll learn everything you need to get started, including how to do the necessary stitches, how to make seams and how to work with patterns.
Key points:
•This book offers a starting point for those who want to learn how to sew.
•Simple and straight forward explanations guide the novice through the basic techniques.
•Clearly explained projects help the reader put the skills into practice.
•Stylish projects include Women beautiful and easy Top, Front Maxi Dress, Beautiful Scarf and much more
You will learn
•How to Sew
•Sewing Tools
•Hand Sewing: The Basics
•MACHINE SEWING STITCHES
•Needle Threading Tips
•How to Take Measurements
•Measurement Charts
•Easiest Free Sewing Patterns
•And much more!!!

An introduction to take Body Measurement

Click on the image to get your copy now!

This Free eBook shows you how to take body measurement. Theses measurement can be used in drafting and designing of clothes. The proper body measurement is the first step to having an excellent fit in the clothes you make.
Taking body measurement would take you less than half an hour. So why not buddy up with a friend over a cup of tea and take each other’s body measurement. When you need to make an outfit, you already have all the measurements you need.

Sewing for Baby

11 Small Sewing Projects for Your Little One

Click on the image above to get your copy now!

Whether you are expecting or your bundle of joy is already here, there is one thing new moms (and dads) are in need of clothes. Kids seem to go through and grow out of clothes so fast. To keep up with your kid, we’ve compiled some amazing patterns in this free eBook, Sewing for Baby 11 Small Sewing Projects for Your Little One. These easy sewing projects for babies will help you save money as well, which is something else that new parents always seem to need as well. Even if you are not a parent, the clothes and accessories that are included in this eBook will make for some amazing presents for those people in your life who are.

How to Make Christmas Wreaths and Garlands

11 Christmas Wreath Ideas to Stitch and Sew

When we came across Mandy Shaw’s book on Wreaths and Garlands, we knew we just had to share it with you. If you are looking to get rid of all your small scraps of fabric, and upcycle them into quick and easy Christmas projects, than this is the book for you.

The wreaths she shares are fun and easy, use her ideas to make your own Christmas crafts, or Christmas crafts with the kids during the holidays.

It’s a collection of Christmas wreath and garland projects to make the festive period even more special. Celebrated author and pattern designer, Mandy Shaw, shares her favourite Christmas sewing projects and shows you how to make beautiful Christmas decorations to decorate your home at this special time of year. The projects feature Mandy’s favourite seasonal motifs including snowmen, reindeer, holly, doves and candy canes and also includes Mandy’s super simple techniques for making 11 different garlands, wreaths and Christmas cones. All the motifs and wreaths can be ‘mixed and matched’ to make endless seasonal variations for a totally unique Christmas project. These projects make the perfect presents for friends and family or treat yourself and make one to decorate your own home this Christmas!

Click on the image above to get your kindle copy right now!

About the Author

Mandy Shaw is a very experienced designer with a distinctive style that makes her projects stand out. Mandy runs Dandelion Designs, a craft design and kit company. She is a regular on Create and Craft TV and she writes for a number of publications including Popular Patchwork and Fabrications magazines. Mandy also appeared on Kirstie Allsopp’s Homemade Home (Channel 4). Mandy has four children and lives in East Sussex

Some reviews on the book

jujuvauxhall – 5.0 out of 5 stars great book – I love this book, I was a little wary considering some of the reviews saying it was only suitable for children, I disagree, if you are an imaginative crafter this book is perfect.

Pollen – 5.0 out of 5 stars  – Sweet – Lovely little book. Just putting the finishing touches to one to hang up this Christmas!

Marilyn – 5.0 out of 5 stars  – Amazing little book – A delightful little book with so much in it. I have made three wreaths all different. The combinations are only limited by your imagination.

If you loved it, then you will love…

Sew Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Mary Hertel

Click the image above to get your copy right now!

Pick your project then pick your block: mix and match 8 super-easy projects with 16 adorable paper-pieced blocks just for Christmas. Simply follow Mary’s clearly illustrated instructions to create fun and fresh holiday blocks with whimsical designs. Plus, use her time-saving technique for paper piecing with less waste to create custom winter decor ranging from tree skirts and table toppers to gift bags, mug rugs, pot holders, and more.

Christmas gifts for kids who sew

Here’s a list of our top 5 favorite gifts to give to children who love to sew

My First Sewing Kit

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  • PERFECT SEWING KIT FOR KIDS – This complete set is perfect for beginners just starting their love of needlepoint sewing. Foster creativity and skills that will last a lifetime!
  • COMPLETE TRAVEL CASE SET – Each set includes everything you need! Felt, needle threader, measuring tape, threads, pins, stuffing and scissors are all included to allow you to create 6 adorable stuffed animals!
  • CREATE YOUR OWN ZOO – Watch your child’s face light up when they create their own fun safari animals! Designs include Monkey, Parrot, Zebra, Lion, Hippopotamus, Giraffe! These homemade stuffed animals will want to be kept for years.
  • ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES – The perfectly packed travel case is perfect for Birthdays, Holiday presents, sleepovers, rainy day crafts and more! Spend quality time with your child and help foster their fine motor skills, creativity and confidence!
  • FAMILY FIRST GUARANTEE – Peachy Keen Crafts always provides a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. If you are not happy for any reason, we will give you a full refund.

Cool Maker, Sew Cool Sewing Machine with 5 Trendy Projects

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  • SEW WITH NO THREAD: Magically sew with no thread! Sew Cool is simply designed to be used without thread, foot pedals, bobbins and needles, so it’s always safe and easy for kids to use!
  • INCLUDES 5 PROJECTS: This kit comes with 5 trendy pre-cut projects and stuffing! Design a keychain, rainbow marker holder, pretty stuffed rose, stylish pouch and an adorable stuffed kitty character!
  • SPECIAL SEW COOL FABRICS: Easily sew your projects with the included Sew Cool fabrics! Printed markings show you where to start and stop, what direction to sew in, where to spot stitch and fold!
  • The Cool Maker Sew Cool Sewing Machine is a great gift for kids aged 6 and up. Requires 4 AA batteries (not included). Unleash your creativity with Sew Cool!
  • Includes: 1 Sew Cool Sewing Machine, 5 Sew Cool Pre-Cut Projects, 1 Bag of Stuffing, 1 Playbook

Klutz Sew Your Own Furry Llama Pillow Craft Kit

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  • Teaches more advanced sewing techniques like working with patterns
  • Easy to follow instruction book includes inspiration for a variety of designs
  • Make your Llama your own by customizing its facial expression and accessories

Klutz Sew Your Own Donut Animals Craft Kit

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  • Sew up a half dozen super sweet donuts full of adorable animal personalities! The kit comes with everything you need to whip up adorable felt plushies.
  • The crystal clear instructions go through all the steps—from threading a needle and practicing stitches to adding fancy toppings and decorations. When you finish, display them in the included donut box to keep them looking fresh!
  • 48-page book teaches sewing skills like threading a needle and a variety of stitches
  • Make 6 donuts from pre-cut felt for a faster and easier process
  • Each donut has its own flavorful personality: Cookies-and-Cream Panda, Waffle Cone Narwhal, Coco Kitty, Pineapple Parrot, Strawbunny, Cinna-Chicken

Craft-tastic – Learn to Sew Kit

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  • 7 FUN CRAFTS IN ONE KIT: Easy-to-make crafts that are “sew” much fun! They’ll make a bracelet, headband, adorable stuffie, bunny pouch, pin cushion, backpack, and a cool phone case.
  • LEARN LIFE SKILLS: 7 crafts will teach kids how to sew a running stitch, blanket stitch, whip stitch, and how to decorate with embroidery. Kids will learn life skills they can use again and again on future projects.
  • HIGH QUALITY REUSABLE MATERIALS: Kit includes items they will keep and use again; like a measuring tape, pins, and needles.
  • EASY-TO-FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS: A 34 page full-color instruction booklet uses fun and age-appropriate projects to teach kids the sewing basics and graduate them through more advanced techniques.
  • INCLUDES EVERYTHING THEY NEED: Sewing instruction booklet, 36 yd (32.9 m) cotton thread, 15 pins, 2 metal needles, 5 pieces acrylic felt, 1 piece canvas fabric, 1 piece elastic, 6 plastic buttons, and 1 measuring tape.

Top 5 Holiday Sewing Books

The Holidays are fast approaching, and here are some really great books to help you with brand new projects for the holiday season.

Click on the images of your favorite books below to get your amazon kindle copies now!

11 Sewing Room Ideas: How to Organize Your Room

You’re craft room or sewing room is in complete disarray. Where are the needles? Where’s your favorite thread? Scissors are nowhere to be found, and you can’t seem to find your bias tape. Everything is all over the place, like a bomb went off or a three-year-old came in and threw a tantrum. It’s time to get organized, my friend. And it’s as easy as downloading this free eBook, 11 Sewing Room Ideas: How to Organize Your Room. You’ll find amazing and creative tips and tricks to take your room from dab to fab in no time at all.

Mending Matters: Stitch, Patch, and Repair Your Favorite Denim & More

Mending Matters explores sewing on two levels: First, it includes more than 20 hands-on projects that showcase current trends in visible mending that are edgy, modern, and bold—but draw on traditional stitching. It does all this through just four very simple mending techniques: exterior patches, interior patches, slow stitches, darning, and weaving. In addition, the book addresses the way mending leads to a more mindful relationship to fashion and to overall well-being. In essays that accompany each how-to chapter, Katrina Rodabaugh explores mending as a metaphor for appreciating our own naturally flawed selves, and she examines the ways in which mending teaches us new skills, self-reliance, and confidence, all gained from making things with our own hands.

Sew Your Own Felt Advent Calendar: with 24 mini felt toys to make for Christmas

Advent calendars take pride of place in homes all over the world in the run up to Christmas. This year, why not add a personal touch to your Christmas countdown by making your own felt calendar, filled with an array of festive felt figures to delight the whole family? Felt is soft, tactile and very easy to use, and sewers of all abilities will enjoy creating this fabulous festive decoration. 

Best-selling author Sachiyo Ishii starts by showing you how to make the basic calendar, and then provides easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions and templates for 24 tiny felt toys to place in the pockets. These cute little Christmas-themed projects are quick to make using just a few pieces of felt, stuffing, thread and ribbons, and make perfect little gifts for children and adults alike.

Mini Felt Christmas: 30 decorations to sew for the festive season

Making your own decorations in the run-up to Christmas has never been more popular! In this delightful book, well-known crafter Sachiyo Ishii shows you how to make fabulously cute and quirky felt ornaments to adorn your home during the festive season. Ready-made felt is easy to come by and a joy to work with, and with 30 easy-to-make projects to choose from, the most difficult part will be deciding which to make! Choose from a host of tree decorations, from traditional baubles to fun penguins and a snowman; as well as larger projects that include Santa Claus complete with sleigh and reindeer; a yule log with little mini bakers; a stunning gingerbread house that looks good enough to eat; a felt holly wreath; and the complete Christmas Story. All the techniques and stitches you need are explained carefully through clear, step-by-step photographs at the beginning of the book, and all the templates are provided at the back. This wonderful book is a feast of ideas and inspiration for a creative Christmas.

Sew you!: Sew your own style

To celebrate the first year of Sew You! Magazine, I have combined its first year’s worth of issues into one book.

Over two hundred pages packed full of all things sewing, including the instructions for 12 FREE sewing patterns! Get this collectors edition today!

Potato prints

Re-experience a childhood favorite craft with surprisingly effective results.

A simple activity, great to do with young children at home, this even held my 3 year old’s attention and she loves the cushions we created together for her bedroom.

With some planning a simple repeated geometric shape can create a beautiful pattern.

What you’ll need…

  • Potatoes. (Mine were going green)
  • Fabric paints
  • Fabric, I used an old tablecloth that I dyed before painting
  • A small, sharp vegetable knife
  • Polystyrene trays
  • A paintbrush, or foam paint roller.

What cloth to use…

  • A natural fiber non stretch fabric is going to be the easiest to print on, and can withstand the hot iron needed to set the paint.
  • You can do this on t-shirts – just slip over over a board covered in newspaper before beginning

Cutting shapes and planning a design

  • Choose paint colors that contrast with your base cloth, I went with black and white.
  • Remember, the paint is going to allow some of the base cloth color to show through so if you try to print yellow over navy for example, you’ll have a greenish result- still lovely, just keep it in mind.
  • Obviously, please don’t give knives to children, the cutting is an adults job
  • Once your shapes are cut, pat the excess potato juice off.
  • Work within a couple of hours of cutting your shapes or the potatoes dry out and get spongy.
  • Don’t try to cut anything too intricate, tiny shapes just get crushed when pressing on to the fabric
  • Use straight lined shapes, cutting curves are somewhat tricky
  • You can create different designs by using the same shape repeated in different ways. You could randomly dot the same shape all over or radiate it out from a central point, Or stick to a careful grid pattern.
  • Do a few practice prints on newspaper before working on your actual fabric.

Prep your workspace

  • Cover your workspace with newspaper, I did this with a toddler and it got really messy.
  • Use your paintbrush to spread paint onto the shapes, or use your roller to spread paint on you’d polystyrene trays and use this as an “ink pad” for your potatoes.
  • Practice a few prints, after testing mine out I ended up thinning the paint down with water a bit, that’s just what worked for me, you’ll find what works for you.

Once you are done creating your textile design, leave the cloth to dry completely. Once it’s absolutely dry, iron the print on the hottest setting your cloth can withstand to set the paint. I recommend using an old offcut as a press cloth just to make sure you don’t get paint on your iron, and you’re done.

Don’t get frustrated by mistakes, you will make them,nobody ever said pototoes were precise.Sometimes the paint will splotch, or maybe you’ll smear it accidentally, or only print half the shape. It’s all part of the beauty of the end result, you are not a machine and you are creating a unique handmade item.

I used this technique to make cushions, but you could easily use it on clothing, furniture or hand crafted gifts.

Halloween Fabric Candy Bowl

Create a spooktacular impression with these…

What you need:

Fabric of your choosing, thick woven. I chose a thick woven cotton that has been sitting in my fabric stash for quite some time now.

Fabric Stabilizer – I highly recommend Terial Magic for projects like this. This fabric stabilizer makes fabrics “paper like” and so much easier to work with.

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Fabric Paint, or even these fun iron on transfer pens, to transfer your designs to your fabrics.

Watch the video at the end at this post to see how these work, then click on the image to get your pens!

Download this pdf of the sewing pattern:

Start by pressing your fabric and treating it with your fabric stabilizer. This will make it more sturdy and easier to work with. Once your fabric is ready, cut out your fabric and lining sections.

On the outer fabric sections, paint your Halloween inspired faces – you can create your own or download the below stencils that we have created for you. Leave to dry.

While your faces dry, you can start sewing together your lining sections.

Step 1:

Start by folding the fabric inwards along the top fold line and pressing flat. You can baste the seam flat to keep it in place, (this will be along the top 3 sides of the octagon shape).

Step 2:

Sew together the two side sections of the octagon, to the panel next to it. Once you have sewn the four panels together, you will start to see that it is starting to take a bowl shape, but with a small hole in its bottom.

Step 3:

Press all sides inwards on your square pattern piece. Press them inwards by 1.5cm (5/8in). Baste into place.

Step 4:

Place the fabric square with it’s wrong side on the right side of the fabric for the lining, over the hole in your bowls bottom. Pin into place to secure it and make sure that you are happy with its positioning. Then stitch into place, you can use a zigzag or a decorative stitch to finish it of.

Once the fabric paint has dried on your main fabric sections, sew them together in the same way they you have sewn the lining sections together in steps 1 to 4.

Step 5:

With wrong sides of fabric facing, insert the sewn lining into the main fabric section. Line up along the top ends and pin securely together. Then as close as possible (at least 5mm or 1/8in) from the edge, stitch the lining and main fabric sections together… your bowl is now ready to use.

Your Fabric Candy bowl is now ready too use!

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Burn tests

Why would you set fire to your fabric?

You may have heard mention that a burn test will help to determine your fabric composition, but you’re not sure what you’re looking for when you burn your swatches.

Believe it or not, the flame, smoke and ash from burning a piece of fabric can tell you a lot about what it’s made of.

You’ll need to use your judgment and go by a few other cues as well, such as creasing, drape and handle of the fabric, but doing a little burn test can help you to determine what your fabric is made of if you still aren’t sure.

Burn tests are never going to be 100% accurate; so many fabrics are a blend of 2, 3 or more fibers. But it is going to give you an idea, and you can easily tell from a burn test if your fabric is a pure natural fiber or a synthetic.

Items you’ll need.

  • A small piece cut off of your fabric approximately 1”x 1”, do not try to burn the edge of a large piece of cloth.
  •   A pair of tweezers to hold the fabric
  •   A fire resistant container- such as a foil pie dish or a ceramic/glass plate
  •   A candle and matches or a lighter
  •   Water, in case you need to extinguish the fire.

What to do.

  • Set up everything in a well-ventilated area outside. Some fabric can produce hazardous smoke. You also don’t want to do this near a smoke alarm.
  •   Light your candle and set fire to the piece of fabric, holding it with tweezers so you don’t burn yourself.
  •   Drop it into your container and observe how it burns, take notice of how it smells.
  •   Allow the piece to extinguish itself, let it cool down and then examine the ash
  •   Crumble the ash with your fingers and observe how it crumbles and how it disintegrates.

Here’s a short video of us having fun, setting fire to some fabrics:

Here’s a brief breakdown of the most common fabrics, and how they will respond when burned:

Cotton           

  • Natural cellulose fiber
  • Burns readily, with a glowing edge, then chars
  • Smells like burning paper
  • Soft, powdery grey ash

Hemp, Linen

  • Natural cellulose fiber
  • Burns readily, then chars
  • Smells like burning grass
  • Soft, powdery grey ash

Silk

  • Natural protein fiber
  • Self extinguishing
  • Odour of burning hair or feathers
  • Forms a soft black bead that is easy to crush, it crumbles

Wool, mohair, cashmere.

  • Natural protein fiber
  • Self extinguishing
  • Smells like burning hair or feathers
  • Dark irregular ash

Viscose

  • Man-made cellulose fiber
  • Burns readily, then chars
  • Smells like burning paper
  • Soft, powdery grey ash

Acetate or triacetate

  • Man-made protein fiber
  • Burns and melts
  • Odour of vinegar
  • Hard black ash

Acrylic

  • Synthetic
  • Burns readily and melts
  • Odour of burning meat or turmeric
  • Black, irregular ash

Nylon

  • Synthetic
  • Burns briefly and melts
  • Self extinguishing
  • Smells like celery
  • Hard grey bead that doesn’t crumble

Polyester, Modacrylic and other synthetics

  • Acrid, sharp odours or smell of sweet chemicals
  • Self extinguishing  
  • Melt to a hard black bead

Polycotton

  • Feels like cotton and have a similar creasing but melts rather than burns.
  • Ash forms a hard bead that doesn’t crumble

Eco-Bricks

What are they, and why should you care…

We strive our best to be a low impact, zero waste brand. We are also very aware of the harmful impact the textile industry has on the environment. Every year tonnes (literally, tonnes) of fabric and textile scraps find their way into our landfills and oceans.

tonnes of textile waste finds its way into our landfills every year

Every sewist that joins our team is given bottles to place synthetic fabric and thread scraps into.

They are also encouraged to add other non-recyclable plastics and disposable gloves and masks that would otherwise end up hurting mother earth.

These ecobricks are then donated to our selected animal charities, where they are used to build habitats for injured, neglected and homeless animals.

WHAT IS AN ECOBRICK?

An ecobrick is a plastic bottle packed with used plastics and non-recyclables. They serve as reusable building blocks. Ecobricks can be used to produce various items, including furniture, garden walls and other structures.

HOW DO YOU MAKE AN ECOBRICK?

  1. Collect your clean and dry household waste. We recommend only waste that you cannot recycle (like dog food bags), but you can EcoBrick anything non-biodegradable and dry.
  2. Twist your waste and insert it into a plastic bottle. Compress it as tightly as you can with a stick.
  3. Keep doing this until your bottle is as full as possible – make sure your bottle is unsquishable (hard).
  4. Think your EcoBrick is done? If you can squeeze it by more than 10% with one hand you should add more waste.
  5. No longer squishable? It’s done!

We are based in South Africa, and donate to a number of charities who collect these ecobricks, there are also ecobrick drop off bins at all major Pick ‘n Pay Hyper stores. If you are from another region of the world, and now of a group or charity who collects these, please leave their details in the comments below.

Here are some videos to help you to discover more about ecobricks and building with them

Against the grain

A practical guide to cutting on the bias

When Madeleine Vionnet first cut garments on the bias, nobody had ever before seen garments that draped with such elegant fluidity.

The sleek silhouette defined the evening wear of the 1930s, and was revived in John Gallianos’ slinky slip of the 1990s.

It’s a sort of sorcery, garments with minimal darts and panels that slip over the form of the body and mould to its shape. Beautiful cowls and drapes become possible.

With Bias cutting you can achieve really high end results, and make some garments you can be proud of.

What is the bias anyway?

Simply stated, the true bias grain of a woven textile is a 45 degree angle from the selvedge (straight grain), the key word here being woven.

Many fabrics used in fashion are not woven textiles, with a warp and a weft grain, and therefore don’t actually have a true bias, and are not suited for garments cut on the bias.

These fabrics are:

  • Stretch fabrics are usually knitted
  • Lace and mesh have a net construction.
  • Felt is constructed by matting the fibres of wool
  • Coated cloth is often stiffened to the point where the cloth no longer behaves like a woven.

Bias Cutting.

Many fashion students and even professional dressmakers make the mistake of trying to cut an inappropriate piece of cloth on the bias, which is unnecessary and can be really wasteful.

It can also drape unevenly or bubble if there is more stretch in one direction of the cloth than the other, or if certain elements of a textile are more dense.

Not all fabrics necessary require being cut on the bias for a better drape, for example, cutting fine Chantilly at a 45 degree angle is not necessarily going to create more drape in the garment.

That is not to say that there is no reason ever to do it, you may want to experiment with the directions of a striped, printed or ribbed design, or accommodate a motif, but generally, a woven cloth is the way to go when cutting on the cross. When in doubt, drape the fabric in front of a mirror or on a mannequin and look at the way it falls when draped on the cross, you may find that that your cloth is actually better cut straight.

If you understand how cutting on bias creates the characteristic soft stretch and drape of a bias cut garment, it helps you decide which fabrics are suitable.

A close up view of a woven fabric reveals tiny squares created by the fibers of the weft and the warp, a fairly stable structure when hung along the straight grain. But turn that same cloth by 45% and you have tiny diamonds, and they can collapse, creating a cloth that stretches and clings.

The downsides to cutting on the bias:

  • Cutting on the bias uses more fabric and creates more waste, the seams are more difficult to stitch, they have a tendency to wobble. But once you get the hang of it the results can be really beautiful.
  • Bias cut garments do tend to be somewhat unforgiving and show every lump and bump as they sit more softly against the body, That’s one reason my bias cut garments are always lined, and why I often recommend a high quality foundation garment like spanx for bridal or occasion wear.

Tips and tricks

Make sure you follow these tips for the best bias cut garments:

  • It really is necessary to cut at a precise 45 degree angle, otherwise you will get an uneven drape, roping and bubbling, those bias cut straps just wont fold smoothly and your seams wont lie flat. Trust me, guessing the 45 degree angle is almost impossible. Get your measuring tape out and make absolutely sure.
  • You need to cut your cloth open, not on the fold, and preferably copy any pattern pieces that require a left and a right side so that you can lay the whole garment out on your fabric.
  • That big piece of fabric is tricky to cut on a small table, but don’t let any of the cloth hang off the edges, it’s going to pull everything while you’re cutting, rather fold the excess cloth up carefully.
  • Use a pattern that has been specifically designed to be cut on the bias. It will probably be a little bigger than a regular pattern to allow for the cling of the cut.
  • Bias cut patterns may also include a larger seam allowance. A bigger seam allowance helps the way a bias cut seam lies, as well as giving you a little more to work with, when stitching or altering.
  • When stitching on the bias, don’t get too hung up on matching your seams together exactly, yes, match your seams, but not if it makes the fabric pull to do so.
  • I will often hang up bias cut pieces to “drop out” for a few days before I actually stitch them together, especially for silks and satin which tend to drop a lot. I also hang the garment for a few days to allow the hem to drop before cutting it straight and then stitching it. You will get a feel for it.

This is a process that really requires special attention detail, but if you can master it, you can truly create the most beautiful garments that will leave you standing out from the rest of the crowd