For sew amazing projects, news, tips and sew much more!

For sew amazing projects, tips, gossip and much much more!
Ruby Summer........Vintage Inspiration

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Big Shot Christmas and German Markets!

Hey! How's the festive crafting going? I have been making some yummy grown up Christmas stockings for my wonderful customers. They are scrumptious embellished silky numbers with lots of vintage lace etc.
I got myself a Big Shot recently for some zippity doodah fabric cutting. Have you got one? If you have I would love to hear about your fabric cutting successes, or disasters! What sandwiches do you use for different fabric and die types? Perhaps I could put up a guide on here based on your experiences?
Well today I visited my darling friend Karen in Winchester. We visited the Christmas market and there were no sewists plying their wares! I think I might need to consider a booth for next year! Winchester is stunning and with Karen only up the road I could be easily tempted!
My train is on its way in to London so I'd better save this to post later.
Keep still have time to make pressies and decs
Lots of crafty love Janie xxxxx

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Quick Christmas Pressie make!

This wonderfully scrummy scarf is so quick and easy to make and will be warmly received by anyone. Save yourself some money and give beautiful hand crafted pressies this season.
It's super easy with only two seams! Even beginners can do this in minutes!
I haven't put pix in as they're just not needed!

How to make a the super easy. Super snugly scarf:

From 60" wide super soft fleece material cut across the width 12" down

Fold in half width ways with right sides facing and sew along the long seam to make a tube.

Turn your tube the right way around and lay out flat. Hold one end and twist three times.

Now very neatly poke one end matching the seams into the other end to make a neat join. Stitch across the join


Out of a yard of 60" wide you will get three scarves or if you make them skinnier, say 9" wide, you will get four!

If you can't get 60" wide fabric why not cut from two contrasting fabrics to get the width? Just join right sides together before you create your tube.

Happy sewing and don't forget to send pix of your gorj creations!

Don't forget - a crafty christmas is a meaningful Christmas xxxx

Lots of love janie xxxx

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Vegan Soul Power!: 50 Vegan Sandwiches

Vegan Soul Power!: 50 Vegan Sandwiches

Nothing to do with sewing but wow, this is fab! Xxxxxx

Happy sewing xxxx

Making Stephana!!!!! It's all Greek to me!

The sun is shining on SW19 this morning and its inspiring me to create!
Planning our little thin Greek wedding for the summer we have been looking at some of the traditions. We have decided to give the plate smashing a miss but if anyone wants to pin money on us they are welcome!!!!
One orthodox tradition that really appeals is the wearing of Stephana to show unity.
Soooo I've been looking at them and being a crafty sew and sew have decided I'd like to make ours so we can have our own special Stephana crowns for our own special day!
The old brain is whirring with design ideas. Do I take inspiration from traditional styles or dare to be different with individual styled crowns to suit our personalities? What way would you go?
Can't wait to get some mood boards made, so off I go!
Looking forward to hearing your ideas
Btw.... If you have ever worn a Stephana at your wedding I'd love to see the pix
Ps photo taken from Stephana US. A great informative site.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Ally Pally I love you! Christmas comes early!

Yesterday was like Christmas coming early! The annual fabric porn fest that is the knitting and stitching show has been held over the last four days at the iconic Alexandra Palace. Every year I forget just how big and busy it's gonna be! Rest assured I had my elbows sharpened so I could barge out anyone in my way and get to the front of the stands to view and fondle their irresistible wares! I managed to do all that without being arrested!
This year I went with my gorj fabricilicious friend Jan - its so much more fun going with a friend! (you can see her pic in the blog concentrating very hard taking pix of the knitted village. A couple of hours in and she had bought more than me but that was before we stumbled upon a stand where I fell totally in love! There was the most beautiful, toned and naked man serving- JOKING! Okay so there weren't even any men on the stand but you should have seen the fabrics! The patterns were stunning ( simplistic and japanese in influence) and one of the ladies obviously saw our deep admiration and showed us how it was all done. Evidently in small
villages in south western China patterns are hand sewn onto cotton or linen. This scrunches up the fabric - think a very skilled version of us at school tying fabric up with string to tie dye.It is then placed into buckets of dye and once the colour has taken and the fabric is dried each piece has its stitches very carefully removed to leave the work in a flawless condition.
Her enthusiasm and knowledge was so refreshing and catching and at this
point I spent a blooming fortune and indeed outspent Jan!
At present this seller doesn't have a website but they are hoping to have one soon. In the meantime look out for them, they are called Changs, when you are next at a show. I think you will love them!
I'm going to use the Changs fabric to make some gorj handbags - yay! keep your eyes peeled!
Until next time I blog I am off to make sure the calico samples for the bags are accurate before I cut my precious Changs fabric!
Have a fabulous week and keep crafty!
Loads of love Janie xxxx

Friday, 5 October 2012

I've been saved from brain ache by an app!

OMG my brain has been aching today. I don't know what's wrong with me! I was trying to work out how many pieces of fabric I could cut out from a fat quarter of material. I'm not sure if it's old age or peroxide but I was struggling! So I decided to go to the shops and buy a new brain.....KIDDING!
What I actually did was used a fab app on iPad and iPhone that I had downloaded ages ago and forgotten I had!
Its a great app from the Robert Kaufmann design team and best of all it's FREE!
Here are the details if you want to download it to save your brain from aching!

Happy sewing
Loads of crafty love
Janie xxxx

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The intrepid sewist returns!

Hello out there in crafty land. I am back from LA and one thing I can guarantee is I will be going back ASAP. What an amazing place!
One of my fab days was spent in downtown LA textile district. I will post pictures of my adventures very soon! One thing I know is that if you love textiles you will love this place.
In the meantime my conscience is nagging me and telling me to get some fabric cut ready to sew up so off I go!
Will update you next week. In the mean time if you have any sewing stylee questions feel free to post on the blog.
See you soon
Janie xxxxx

Friday, 31 August 2012 comes the sun!

In twenty four hours I will be in LA. plan to write patterns to while away the long flight!
Can't wait to see the big yellow thing in the sky - boy have I missed not having a decent summer!
Looking forward to a day in the fabric quarter. Who knows what I will find.....
No blog for a couple of weeks but there will be plenty of blogging when I return to the cold autumnal shores of Blighty!
Until then my lovies.......happy sewing xxxxxxxx

Friday, 10 August 2012

My meandering mind and sewing superstitions!!! If I could just concentrate on one thing............

me and my Ruby Summer brain waves!
image taken from

 Having worked as an academic for more years than I care to mention, one of the golden rules of research is to stay focused! Well if I hadn't decided to become self employed I would be the naughtiest girl in the class this week! (oooooh)
I was busily researching fab fabrics for handbag construction for a future blog when a strange question popped in to my head - are you meant to put a penny in a purse when you gift one? I am prone to rather random thoughts but as I have been working on some purse designs lately I suppose there was at least some logic here! The answer by the way is YES!
Having satisfied myself on that front the ol' brain waves started meandering again and they got me wondering if there were any actual sewing superstitions ............and there are LOADS!

Have a look at some of the mad stuff,(or shall I call it research?!), I found;
  •  Never start a sewing project on a Friday or you will not finish it. Apparently though it's alright to work on a project you started before Friday!!!!
  •  Never sew on a Sunday .... something to do with stitches and being berated in Heaven. ( So that only leaves Saturday for some safe weekend sewing then, pffffft!)
  • Never gift scissors...... they should be bought by the person you want to have them. Hence the idea that you would give someone a penny in exchange for the bladed gift. (Sounds suspiciously like a ruse to cash in on gift giving to me - ok, call me cynical!)
Have you ever heard of any of these or do you have any others to share?
Seems like our great grannies were pretty busy inventing superstitions! I wonder if they created any about getting out of the housework? Let me just google.................................
Until next week my Rubynistas when I hope we will be looking at different fabrics for our projects........... have a restful weekend and only sew on Saturday because it will probably be raining again by then anyway!!!!!

Friday, 3 August 2012

BLOG CANDY to help you build your perfect sewing kit with love form Ruby Summerxxxx

We have got blog candy this week!!!!

Well hello again Rubynistas!

How are you getting along with the Olympics? Are you watching like crazy or hiding in your sewing space? I am doing both! I reckon I could get Team GB a gold medal for enthusiasm when it comes to sewing!
Last week we talked about getting the right thread for your project. This week we are looking at how to put a basic sewing kit together. It is easy to get carried away and buy everything you clap your beady eyes on but to be honest it’s a waste of money because wasted money = smaller fabric stash!!! There are so many twee little bits out there but the serious Rubynista needs a proper kit!!!
 So here goes!
First is what I think are the absolute essentials;

Big – main fabric cutting
Pinking – if you are unable to overlock seams
Snips – for fiddly cutting – a life saver!
Tape measure
Do I need to explain why?!
Tailors chalk
Marking fabric, for example, seam matching or dart placing
Well, we all make mistakes!!!
Spare needles
For your machine and a handy pack for hand sewing
Pins with glass heads
Holding fabric for sewing. Get pins with glass heads so you can actually see them in your fabric and avoid unnecessary swearing when you stab yourself or break a needle!
Safety pins
Always useful when your hem falls down at the wrong moment! And of course holding heavier projects and quilts together
Essential. I know “iron” is a four letter word but humour me. You cannot create professional finishes without an iron – simples!
Ironing Board
Doesn’t need to be flash! In fact I am making my own this week. Will take tons of piccies so I can do you a tutorial.

Notes: Buy the best scissors you can afford. Really good scissors last for life just like a damned good sauce pan (unless you bat someone over the head with it)

a scissor selection

This next list is sewingy stuff I have and can’t live without….. but it depends on whether you are planning to quilt too……..

Rotary Cutters
The incredibly easy way to cut fabric!
I have a range of sizes depending on what I need to cut and how many layers of fabric I am cutting through
Cutting Mats
Mine is huge – and I looooove it. I cut a lot of big pieces of fabric so its fab – you don’t need to go so mad!
Quilters Foot
On a spring and perfect when I  am quilting as it raises over the fabric and prevents puckering
Pin Cushion
Saves your pins rolling on the floor, being stood on by the cat and getting a huge vets bill.
Cutting Rulers
Robust rules to cut with and soooooo much more …..But let’s save that for another day.
Daylight Lamp
As a migraine sufferer I find this essential, and of course come winter its great for treating S.A.D.!

ooooh what a lovley gratuitous picture of sewing things!

Ok, so the lists aren’t exhaustive and I am bound to have left something out! If I have let me know what you must have in your basic sewing kit.
Don’t forget to collect buttons, buckles, fastenings, tons of fabric, empty clean takeaway containers (free storage) and glass jars (even better storage) and always buy the best quality (not necessarily the most money) whenever you can.
To keep the cash flowing only buy thread when you need it unless of course you see an absolute bargain!
Well my darlings, that’s it for this week. I hope it has been a useful read. Do keep in touch, I looooove getting your emails and photos.

A little blog candy to get your kits started!

seam ripper - will yours be blue?
If you’ve got any pics of your sewing kits send them to me so they go up in the blog and inspire others! Whilst your at it what is your can't live without item in the kit? I will email you back if you are a winner so that we can arrange to send your candy to you!
Send pics and words to The first five to arrive will be sent a free seam ripper to add to their kits.
J xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

ps. this week I have been mainly buying scrummy shiny pvc!

Friday, 27 July 2012

A thread about......................thread!

 Hello Rubynistas!
WOW! It is really busy here in London with the Olympics. Wimbledon is out of bounds over the weekend, (cycling race I believe!,) so as it's not going to be too easy I will just have to spend the weekend in my workshop!
As the weekend is upon us again it's time for part three of the "choosing the right...." mini series of blogs from Ruby Summer Sew Amazing. I can't believe I am already sat here writing part three! Where does the time go?! I have been really busy sketching this week - lots of awesome handbag designs and quilts too. At least time flies when I'm having fun.
This week is all about choosing the right thread for your project. There are many types of thread for machine sewing but to me one of the most important rules DO NOT BUY THE CHEAPEST THREAD YOU CAN GET YOUR GRUBBY MITTS ON! It will snap, ruck up and drive you insane! It is always worth paying little more to save not only your sanity, breaking needles etc but also your project.
Okay, so the main threads you will come across are:

Great for non-stretch fabrics as it doesn’t “give”. A good rule is cotton on cotton If you use cotton on stretchy fabric the stitches can break – not a good look!
My fave! It’s an all purpose thread that works on all fabrics and is also great for hand sewing
This can have a shiny appearance. Works really well with synthetic or very stretchy fabrics
Beautiful for lingerie or delicately woven fabrics. Stretchier than cotton so works on stretchy cottons too
Heavy duty
Used for upholstery projects or if sewing with very stiff or very heavy fabrics. Is extra strong and produces durable stitching.

There are tons of specialist effect threads out on the market too. If you are interested in knowing more about these please let me know and I will write a blog about them for you.

Choosing the right colour thread.....

If you want your thread to match -  choose a shade to fit in with the most dominant colour in your fabric

If you can't find a perfect match- go a shade or two lighter or darker

If you want your stitches to stand out - choose a highly contrasting shade e.g. white thread on navy fabric.

For easy special effects - try using a variegated cotton thread designed especially for sewing machines (I love them!)

Don't forget that your sewing machine manual can also give you guidance about the type of threads to use with it.

Until next week when we are looking at choosing good quality tools for your sewing room that will see you long in to the future and ultimatley save you money! (never thought I would hear myself say that!)

Have a fabulously crafty weekend out there in blogland.

I'm off to see whether Mr Grey lives up to the hype!

See you all next week xxxxxxxxxxxxJxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 23 July 2012

Lets get straight to the point!...........choosing the right needle!

 Finding the right needle for your project!
Hi there my Rubynistas!
I have spent a week trying to think of a catchy title for this blog but the only ones I could come up with involved pr**** so I thought i had better play safe!

If you want a fabulous finish to create perfect projects then you have got to use the right needle and thread for your fabric. It all sounds a bit scary but thats what I'm here for - to guide you along!  Before you know it you will be changing a needle on your machine without giving it a second thought! you will be like a real pro! (ahem)
 Machine needles come in different sizes just like hand sewing ones do. You can even get twin needles but more about them another day! Most needle packs show the needle sizes in metric and imperial but don't worry - the higher the number the bigger the needle!
Imperial sizing
Metric sizing

Using the wrong size needle could lead to a disaster bigger than than the low rise Yorkshire Puds I cooked last Christmas Day! A big needle on fine delicate fabrics will create big holes, (nice), and you could get your needle trapped in your bobbin case, (disaster). If you are sewing heavy fabrics you will break a needle that is too fine. If you think back to hand sewing you can't do your tapestry with a fine sharp needle and you certainly can't sew silk with a blooming great tapestry needle. So the principle is the same for hand and machine sewing. Does that all make sense?......

So, we are agreed we need the right needle for the right job. But what are the right needles? Below is a table of the most used types;
Needle type
Fabric type
A slightly rounded point, good general needle. Perfect for knit and woven fabrics
Strong stiff needle with an extra sharp point. Great for denim, heavy faux leather etc
Blunt rounded tip on needle. Slips into fabric rather than pierce so is perfect for fabrics like lycra
Twin Needle
Two shafts and a crossbar. Great for decorative stitches and uniformly stitched rows. These have two numbers – first is the distance between the needles and second is its metric size.

To change your needle look in your user manual - it is an easy job! Your user manual should also give you more information about needle and fabric types.

Its really simple to change a needle so have a play around this week with some different fabrics and see how it goes!

Next week we will be looking at the right thread for the fabric! I loooooooooove thread.

Have a wonderful sunny week
J xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 13 July 2012

Choosing the perfect sewing machine!
Have you ever made the huge mistake of hitting the wrong computer button and deleting all your work that you thought you had saved?! Yep, me too! Just now. Could have sworn I had written this entire blog already! This weeks Sew Amazing blog is all about choosing the right machine for your needs. So get stuck in!

Buying a sewing machine can be fraught with difficulties. I usually want them all!(I suffer the same problem with bags of Kettle chips!). I have been really good lately and restricted myself to a mere three machines! To me a sewing machine is a far sexier beast than a car (yes, I can hear you groaning!). In the real world of course one sewing machine is usually enough, but where to start?
There are sew many machines out there, (from those perfectly awful mini machines to those that can embroider pictures from a photocopied image!), and so many brands. agh!!!!!! Well it needn’t be too stressy if you do a little bit of thinking and a little bit of research before heading to the local sewing machine dealership with your hard earned cash.
I have three Brother machines all form the Innovis range. Personally for me I know they offer the best bang for my buck, are reliable and easy to use. A few years ago I was bought a Singer machine and within three weeks it was broken and cost more than the machine was worth to repair. The guy who was going to mend it told me that Singer aint what they used to be - you know, completely reliable and fab. Apparently they are not made by Singer any more - a company buys a license to use the name. I am also lucky enough to have a Babylock felting machine and have to say I do like the reliability of Babylock but my Brother machines are just that extra bit special!

Easy or complex projects to sew?

Designer dresses, interior design or a few repairs now and then?
If you are a sewing machine virgin you will probably find a good basic electronic machine will do everything you want but if you plan to develop your sewing or need more features then invest in a machine with a really good range of stitches and accessories. If you plan to be super creative and want to do lots of embroidery go for a dedicated embroidery machine (they are flipping expensive!). If you are making a lot of clothes you may need an overlocker, however a really good sewing machine will do this for you. Check for this function before you buy as there is no point wasting your cash!

A good basic model machine will cost around £200 but for another £99 I can’t recommend the Brother Innovis 20 enough.

I have recommended it to several people now and they love it. Check its features out. This was my starting point in to Brother and it has served me amazingly well.
If you want something really fab that’s easy to use and doesn’t cost a bomb check out the Innovis 50. I am the lucky owner of this model and it is beyond awesome! It might look simple – it is to use but it does everything I need and more. Look it up on the internet – you will be impressed.

If you are desperately wanting to splash thousands of pounds go for a fab embroidery machine. I can’t recommend a particular because I don’t use one! I have seen them in action and they look awesome.

Do I need a specialist machine for quilting?

As a prolific quilter I would say NO! I use my Innovis 50 and the Innovis 20 with the quilting foot. Unless you plan to be quilting king size duvets you don’t need to splash the cash.

Key things to consider…

How much money have I got?
What projects do I want it for?
Am I planning to develop my sewing abilities (if so perhaps go for something less than basic?)
Try some machines out at your local dealership – you need to be comfortable with it
Don’t be swayed in to buying something you don’t want
Don’t be tempted to economise – do a lot of research and check out reviews for different machines – some brands are far more reliable than others!
If you have any questions send me a message on the blog and I will get back to you.
Next week we will be looking at the right needles to use for different fabrics when using your fab new sewing machine! Don’t forget to look in and send me any feedback you have for the blog.          Janie xxxxxxxxxx
PS. the lovely sewing painting from the top of the blog was sourced from

Friday, 6 July 2012

my big news....................NO I AM NOT PREGNANT!!! normally someones big news equals a bambino on the way and in some ways that is true of me - just not the human kind!!!
You probably know that I have finally taken the plunge and handed in my notice at work - yay! I will be leaving the world of education management to visit pastures new (well fairly new!). I am feeling mighty brave right now but I know without a doubt that I have done the right thing.
Ruby Summer will be officially launched (born?) as my full time occupation on October 3rd 2012 - whoah! You all know I have been testing the waters for a while now and I am sew chuffed that my kits and designs fly out of the studio to hundreds of satisfied sewists. There are a fair few ladies of discerning taste out there rocking Ruby Summer one off handbags they have commissioned too.
Its' my big birthday this year sew it seemed like the ideal time to be brave and jump in to the full time world of sewing and designing!!!! I am sooooooo excited (oops I sounded like a well know shopping telly's guest presenters then!). Its going to be hard work but who minds working when the rewards are sew fulfilling?
To get you ready for the launch and to get you raring to go to sew I will be blogging weekly, (yes you heard that right!) on all things sewing from choosing the right sewing machine for you to picking the right needles for your fabric. By the time October arrives you will be uber ready to make up all sorts of Ruby kits for yourself or to give as the smartest Christmas and Birthday gifts ever!
Sew......... next week its all about choosing the right sewing maching just for you - read and save yourself hours of research and mucho wasted hard earned pennies by NOT buying the wrong machine!
Gotta go now - there is lots of shiny black pvc waiting to be played with in the studio!!!!!!!!
See you all next week!
J xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Weaving a tale!

Happy jubilee weekend everyone!

As most crafters know we never throw anything away. We are as tight as a ...... Well you know , I don't need to put it in print !
Today I put on my snorkel and goggles on and dived in to my scrap bags! I found some old friends and some bits i had forgotten I'd ever sewn with. To be honest I even found some bits that should have gone in a bin! So what did I do with all my scraps?
Well to cut a long story short.., last month I bought some shiny doc martins. The box they came in was converted in to a loom and I wove a bag with all the bits. It's turned out pretty well so far. The main body is made but I want to line it and it needs lots of snipping here and there - sewing is a bit like hairdressing I reckon!
Pics at the bottom of this post are the tale so far!
In the mean time I've had loads of Tyvek and ink transfer paints arrived today so I will be kept out of trouble over the bank holiday!
Did I mention I'm off to LA at the end of the summer........ Rock on the fabric quarter in Pasadena!
Next week I will post pics of the finished tale.....until then byeee. Xxxxx

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cutting and sticking!!

Sometimes it's good to get away from the sewing machine and indulge in some childhood fun!!
Sew..... This afternoon I have been
ripping out pix from the ridiculous pile of magazines I have accumulated to make mood boards for my autumn/winter workshops and kits.
I didn't realise but as I was cutting and sticking tons of lil old ideas were flooding through the brain! Thank gawd for the notes app on phone so I could jot everything down on record before having a senior moment and forgetting everything!!!!!
It's a good job I've been distracted cos I am starving! But......we are off to Jamie's Italian in Covent Garden tonight and I need the pro points so I can have a good munch!!!! Yum yum .
Suppose I better get ready to go out - it takes a flipping long time these days
Til next time
Loads of love and happy sewing xxxxc
Ps. I've got a lot of rubbish to throw away now !

Friday, 13 April 2012

Christmas gets earlier every year !

Over a fab lunch today with my friend and mentor Andrew Jenner (professional film maker you know!), we found ourselves discussing Christmas!
Ok, so we haven't even had a summer holiday and Easter has only just passed but.......
So here I am on a pretty sunny day in SW19 sketching for the Christmas Stocking Kits to be launched for Ruby Summer at the end of September when we will be officially launched as a real proper grown up business! Who knows you might just be in line for an extra special invitation to the fabbiest launch party of the year!
There is soo much to do but it is really exciting ......videos to make, photography, ensuring that the Ruby Summer website is awesome, writing articles for the press- yay!
This is such an exciting time in my life I can't wait to share it all with you later in the year.......
In the mean time I better feed the pesky kitties and carry on drawing!
Lots of love until next time xxxxxx

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Vivienne Westwood at The Body Adorned

Last week I was lucky enough to be him indoors guest at the opening of the Body Adorned exhibition at the Horniman Museum. What a fab place!
It's a great exhibition in the most beautiful surroundings in Greenwich.I really loved the dress made from acrylic that was in the foyerand. The moving wall observing fashion in London was awesome too. Brilliantly filmed and installed by Electrosonic.
Vivienne Westwood opened the exhibition. She still looks fabulous and was wearing one of her own designs apparently inspired by woodland folk!
(and why not?!) She is such a talent, I love her work. As a seventeen year old I had loads of her clothes from Seditionaries on the Kings Road.
Anyway hope you like the pix.
Btw - the new beast arrived so I shall be playing tomorrow!
Hope the rest of your Easter is good for you xxxxxx