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

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

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