Tag: vintage

Today I want to talk a bit about sewing machines, about my first, my subsequent and my latest… we can’t sew without a machine, there are lots out there and the choices are overwhelming. Here I talk about the ones I have worked with….

I have been sewing now for about two and a half years, my biggest regret is that I didn’t get into it as a child. The option was there, my grandmother always had her machine out and I remember at one point my own mother having one but it just didn’t happen. It is odd that as a child I used to have ‘visions’ (or thoughts and images in my head) of me as an adult sat at a sewing machine in an old factory wearing a big long brown dress that was really dusty. I never knew where that image came from but I used to say I was a seamstress in a previous life (despite not believing in that really). That was my only explanation as I never had any interest in sewing….

I picked up my first machine (by Ikea) just because I thought it would be a good idea to have a machine. I am not sure I had any real ambition to use it at that point. I think I tried once and it just sat in the corner for a good few months.

My first sewing machine – looks like a Tomy toy!

Once I came across the Tilly and The Buttons Love at First Stitch book (and indeed the blog) my interest was ignited. Saying that, I didn’t know how big a learning curve there was, had I known I might never have started. That is not to say you should be put off if you are a newcomer to sewing – I am glad I went with it, in fact it is one of the best things I have ever done.

I began making dresses on my Ikea sewing machine but this is a pretty basic machine and I soon outgrew it. I think I got annoyed with the thread snapping constantly!

When I decided to upgrade I visited a bona fide sewing shop, looked at the vast array of machines on display and became overwhelmed very quickly. So I spoke to the lady in the shop, told her my budget and what I want from the machine and she helped me to chose the Brother XR37NT (you can see my review here). I had this machine just over a year before I outgrew this; apart from anything else it felt clunky, I wasnt a huge fan of Brother at the time.

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My second machine – clunky much?

Eventually I managed to purchase the sewing machine of my dreams (with the help of trading in my Brother) and that is the Janome DKS100, which is my current machine. I love this machine and will do a review of it if anyone is interested (let me know in the comments below). It is being serviced at the moment because it needs a new buttonhole sensor and the automatic threader is misaligned. In and of itself this isn’t a problem because I have a 2 year warranty on it and its only 10 months old, but it does worry me that problems are happening already.  On the other side of the coin, I am without a machine and my sewing addiction has really been suffering.

My baby!

I knew I would suffer without my machine so I waited to get it serviced until I was able to secure another machine. I came across a vintage machine in a local charity shop and they only wanted £10 for it. I lugged it home and made myself ill doing so (I have ME and should not exert myself) thinking I’d gotten a real bargain. I sent my Janome into the shop to be serviced and started to use this machine.

Gorgeous colours!

The machine looked promising, it is really solid, a real workhorse. It’d also been checked over by the shop, and it had the original booklet and lots of original assessories. I am not sure when it was made, possibly the 70’s.

It is probably something I am doing, and perhaps my lack of patience, but I did not get on well with it. It is a shame,  we could have had a great relationship! It doesnt help that the book is in French either…

So I gave up on this and even though money is tight after getting married I went and purchased the cheapest ‘proper’ machine I could find: a Brother LS14. I’ve only used it for one evening so far but for the money I paid I am quite impressed with it. It is a basic machine with next to no frills (including a 4 step buttonhole) but it sews quite nicely and is simple to use. I’ll be writing about entry level sewing machines in a couple of posts time so I will leave that here for now.

71tybrnycYL._SL1500_So now I am pleased that I have a back up machine (something I recommend if possible) but I am looking forward to my Janome returning. I am more attached to it than I thought I would be.

What machine do you have? Have you had it from day one or do you upgrade like me? Do you have a back up machine or can you easily not sew for a few weeks if need be? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading,


My blog is fast becoming a place of reviews; I promise I will soon be posting my makes and even a few tutorials. Leave a comment to let me know what type of tutorials you would like to see. However, before we get to this I am going to review Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book and I hope you will love it just as much as I do!

Ultimate Dress coverI have been a fan of Gretchen Hirsch’s for a while now, I first discovered her through Creativebug (a subscription video site for crafters) when I made her Sailor top. She appealed to me because she had a fifties rockabilly look about her (which I love love love) but not only did her style stand out but the way she teaches sewing is instructional, entertaining, informative and developmental. What I mean by this is that no matter how good a sewer you think you are, you always come away from her tutorials learning new skills, methods or ways of working. In this way she is an inspiring creator and her new book is no different.
Ultimate Dress Book was released on the 8th March 16 and I have to say I was dropping hints left, right and centre for weeks before in the hope that someone would get it for my birthday (on the 13th March). In the end I wanted the book so much I didn’t dare chance it; I ordered my copy the day of its release. And the day it arrived in the post wasnt a great day for me but it certainly brightened up my evening when I got home from work!

The first thing I noticed about this book is its spiral bound. It’s my first spiral bound dressmaking book so I can’t comment on whether I like this style but I can see the attraction. Another book (which I recommend for new sewers), Love at First Stitch by Tilly & the Buttons, has become so worn out and bulky that I can’t help thinking a spiral bound book might have been better. Anyway, lets get back to Gertie’s book!


In the front of Gertie’s book she has all of the resources a new or intermediate sewer could need. I really wish I’d come across this book earlier in my sewing hobby. It explains in great detail all the sewing terms, fabric types, techniques and much more. If you have a question about dressmaking then somewhere in this book is an answer for you. There are 23 patterns in total but this is not the best bit – the biggest selling point of the book must be that you can mix and match the skirts and bodices to form any number of different dresses. Not only does this make the book more worthy than the paper patterns stored in the back of the book, but it inspires creativity and individuality too. It really is telling the reader to go with their own creative instincts and make Gertie’s designs your own.


While the resources in the book does lend itself to new sewers, I feel the book is more aimed at an intermediate sewer. There are plenty of books out there that give basic dressmaking construction and I would approach this book once you have been sewing a while and feel a little more confident. That said, if you are happy to learn by trial and error then jump right in.


The book is very much vintage-inspired; this is as much in the fabric choice as in the dress design. Some fabrics I would not have been instantly drawn to on the bolt but they work well nevertheless. What I do like is she doesnt just go for polka dots which has been done to death with vintage design – there’s lots of bright plain fabric, florals, and much more. Check out her website to see for yourself.


Do you have this book? What do you think? What other vintage-inspired books can you recommend? I will post some pictures once I have made something from the Ulltimate Dress Book but until then I will look forward to your comments – the more the merrier!

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