It’s the last instalment of meet the maker with week 4! Hopefully you’ve been following along and have seen the other weeks. If not, here’s a link to week 1, 2 and 3. Now let’s get on with meet the maker week 4.
Day 23: Top tip or advice
I’ve just written a new blog post with my top 10 sewing tools and tips ✂️ check it out here.
Day 24: Customers/feedback
I love hearing what you guys think of my work so if you’ve ever bought something from me, please leave a review on Google! Just click here and leave a quick comment?
Day 25: How it’s made
Everything is handmade by me in my north east studio on my industrial sewing machine ✂️
Day 26: Self care
This pin is by the fabulous Pom Pom Paints and I really need to take this advice! I am absolutely dreadful at giving myself time off but I’m trying really hard to be better at this as a few weeks ago I completely burnt out and it felt awful. Self care isn’t selfish guys!
Day 27: Anything goes
Following on from yesterday’s self care post, I thought I’d post this to show you that I have actually been taking some time off in the past week (turns out working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week is a bit much…) I love being outside and I find gardening really relaxing ? a week ago this was a big patch of weeds so I think it’s quite an improvement ?
Day 29: Most difficult make
For me the hardest thing to make is the insulated lunch bags – they’re quite tricky! They’re made up of a layer of water resistant fabric, a layer of insulating fabric and a layer of wipe clean lining so it’s quite tough to sew through. I’ve got just three left – pineapples ? unicorns ? and flamingos ? once those are sold I won’t be making them again so grab yours while you can! Find them here.
Day 30: Support
I’m very lucky to have a super supportive family who help me at markets, advertise to their friends and just keep me going ❤️ also the support that I get from all you lovely customers and followers is fantastic so a big thank you to everyone!
Day 31: Product in use/wild
I love seeing photos of my items in use so if you’ve ever bought anything from me, please take a quick snap of it and share!
And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the March Meet the Maker challenge and found out all sorts of new things about Drawn by Rhiannon. If there is anything you’d like to know more about, please comment below with blog topic suggestions.
Through my fashion design degree and running my own business, I’ve done a lot of sewing over the years.
I’ve picked up all sorts of tips and tricks (plus a lot of bad habits that my tutors would be ashamed of) that make sewing much easier. Here I’ll list my top picks of sewing tools and where you can buy them. Please note I’m not being paid to promote any of these items. These are all tools that I have bought myself and would highly recommend.
1. Sewing clips
The first thing you will discover about sewing is that most of your time is actually spent pinning. Not only does pinning take forever but it can also leave pin marks in your fabric. Fabrics like oil cloth or water resistant fabric that I use to make the wash bags are particularly susceptible to nasty pin marks which will show up in your finished item. So forget about all that and try sewing clips! These fab little guys are surprisingly firm and will stop your fabric slipping without leaving holes. Just be sure to keep them out of the way of the sewing machine foot, or move them as you sew so that they don’t get smushed. The ones I have were actually free with a knitting magazine but you can buy similar ones here.
2. Magnetic pin dish
Sometimes it is best to use pins over sewing clips. You can get some really pretty pincushions but I would highly recommend a magnetic pin dish instead. No more pins scattered everywhere or treading on them when they’ve fallen on the floor. This pin dish has a good strong magnet in it which will hold all your pins for easy access. Take a look at it here.
3. Water erasable pen
This is something I’ve only recently started using and I can tell you it’s fantastic! Much better than using a pencil as the marks will just disappear when you dampen them. This would be great for quilting, or if you’re a little unsteady on the sewing machine and want your seam line marked out to follow. Just always make sure to test it on a bit of spare fabric first. Find out more here.
4. Stitch ripper
Seam ripper, stitch ripper, quick unpick… whatever you call them, they’re an essential part of any sewing box. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are at sewing you will make mistakes! These handy little guys are ready to take out the messed-up stitches and start over again. They’re available in a range of styles and I would recommend one with a longer, tougher handle but the basic little ones are handy too. Check them out here.
5. Point turner
This may seem a bit of an odd one if you’re new to sewing, but a point turner is a really handy bit of kit. If you’re making anything that has a corner, it will look 100 times better if the point is poked out properly. For years I used a knitting needle or a pair of scissors, but neither work as well as a proper point turner. Get yours here.
Decent scissors are one of the most important bits of kit in a sewing box. Ideally you need a great pair of dressmaker’s shears, pinking shears, paper scissors, and embroidery scissors.
It is super important that you have different scissors for fabric and paper. Fabric scissors need to be nice and sharp to make sure the fabric is cut cleanly and cutting paper with fabric scissors will blunt them. Paper scissors don’t have to be anything fancy but I would recommend getting a couple of pairs as they seem to disappear… Something like this would be fine. Pinking shears are scissors that have a zigzag edge which helps to stop fabric fraying. The ones I have are similar to these.
My most used scissors are my dressmaker’s shears and embroidery scissors. These have been with me since I started my fashion design degree and they’re still going strong! If you’re serious about dressmaking it is worth investing in a decent pair of shears. I got mine from here. Embroidery scissors are super handy for snipping little threads to tidy up your finished project. They come in different shapes and patterns so see which takes your fancy here.
Sewing machines can have a nasty habit of tangling themselves up with thread so a set of tweezers comes in really handy for the untangling. I’d recommend a specialist longer pair like this so you can reach right in to the depths of your machine. (If you have an industrial machine, having a pair of pliers handy can be very useful if the machine jams and you have to yank the wheel round. I don’t think this is officially what you’re supposed to do so please do not take my advice as word on this!)
8. Handy storage
This one varies a bit depending on what space you have and what you need to store, but having some handy storage near you for sewing machine bits and bobs is really useful. For me it’s all the spare bobbins and machine needles that could otherwise get lost in a sewing box. I found this rail and containers that were designed for the kitchen were just the job. Take a look at some ideas here.
9. Fray stop glue
OK so this one is technically a bit cheating but it’s certainly a very handy item to have in your sewing kit. This glue seals fabric edges but is still flexible when it’s dry. If an edge of your clothing is starting to fray, glob a few little drops of this on it and it will seal up and make your clothes easy to repair. I use this for sealing the ends of the aprons straps and also the edges of the fabric labels. Find out more about it here.
10. Daylight lamp
Finally the last thing I would recommend for your craft area is a daylight lamp. These come in all sorts of sizes depending on how much space you have so there’s the right lamp for everyone. The daylight lamps produce a super clear and bright light which makes sewing or any type of craft so much easier. I bought this one that has storage in it because you can never have enough storage in a craft space. Take a look at a selection of them here.
So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed a run down of my top 10 sewing tools and found some useful new tips. If you’d like me to do any more blog posts about top tips let me know below.
All the drawing, fabric designing, sewing and photographing is done by me in my north east studio.
I’m not a fan of long commutes so I love that my studio is just 10 seconds from my living room. When I moved in, the building in the garden was split down the middle, half a shed and half a playroom. The first thing I did (when it had stopped snowing… remember the glorious beast from the east?) was have the building completely renovated – the middle wall was ripped out, the walls and ceiling were lined with cosy insulation, and proper electricity was wired through to make sure the industrial sewing machine would run properly.
The studio is the perfect size to fit everything in. Check out the video below for a quick whizz round tour.
So let’s break it down a bit!
The studio drawing table
Every fabric I design starts with my hand drawing which I draw right at this table here (unless it’s absolutely freezing, then I resort to the sitting-by-the-fire-under-several-blankets style of drawing)
As you can see, this is also where I keep all my scissors plus my domestic sewing machine and overlocker. I’ve written a blog post about my top 10 tools and tips for anyone interested in sewing which you can check out here.
The crafting cupboard
In the big cupboard next to the drawing table, there are all sorts of bits and pieces! I have a drawer for paints, a drawer for pens and pencils, then all the threads, buttons, ribbons and extras that I could possibly need for sewing. The last owners of my house very kindly left this super useful cupboard in the bathroom so I re-purposed it for the studio.
Once I’ve finished my drawing, I then scan it in to the computer and turn it in to a digital print design. This is the only part I don’t do in the studio as my internet doesn’t stretch that far.
The fabric store
Once the fabric has returned from the printers it’s time to get making. This is where this cupboard comes in. I bought this tallboy from Oxfam when I moved in to my flat in Southampton and it’s one of those fantastic pieces of furniture that can be used for all sorts of things.
It’s a bit of an organised chaos situation but it makes sense to me! The top shelf holds any excess printed fabric that I need to get round to making in to something. It also holds the plain cotton lining fabrics that I use for items like the coin purses, makeup bags, and passport covers. (Check them out here) The middle shelf houses all the specialist fabrics like interfacing, towelling, fusible fleecing and insulating fabric. There’s also a stack of printed fabric (not designed by me) that I have bought to make in to clothes. I have about 6 dresses in the pipeline, it’s just finding the time to make them!
Dressmaking in the studio
Speaking of dress making, here’s a quick shot of the corner of the studio. This holds my fabulous dressmaker’s dummy and all my tape measures (forever losing these so you can never have enough)
I also have a selection of design books covering everything from creative garment construction and printmaking, to typography and packaging design. When I lived in Southampton I would take a day trip to Salisbury as there is a fantastic bookshop there that sells all sorts of really specialist books really cheaply!
Time to get sewing
After that quick sidetrack it’s back to the making process. I used to use the domestic sewing machine that you saw earlier but, bless its little heart, it was not designed for the volume of sewing I do these days. When my studio was being renovated, I searched high and low for an industrial sewing machine to take over the main sewing duties. I was lucky to find this beauty not too far from me which used to be used in the Barbour factory.
This beast powers through everything and never gives up, even when I’m sewing through 8 layers of thick fabric.
An important part of the sewing process is ironing. Pressing seams ensures they lie flat and gives the completed item a better finish.
The final stages
Once the items are sewn and pressed, it’s time to photograph them.
I’m lucky to have lots of big windows in the studio so the daylight helps a lot. I also use a daylight lamp (the one sat on the industrial sewing machine table) to help on gloomier days.
Just a little side note for eagle-eyed readers; the robin on the notice board was the first thing I ever screen printed when I was at university. It forms the base for the robin print which is still popular to this day!
And just in case you were wondering, the cupboard that I take the photos on holds all my packaging supplies for sending orders out to you lovely people! I recently changed to cardboard mailing boxes to be more eco friendly which fit nicely on this shelf. The bigger ones had to sit next to the cupboard as they are HUGE when they’re not folded in box form. This was another cupboard that was very kindly left by the previous owners in the bathroom. Much more handy in my studio though!
Off to market
Finally when everything is photographed and listed on the website, it’s time to go to market.
This shelving unit here holds all the props and accessories needed for my market stall. It adds up to quite a lot of equipment! This is all carefully planned out before each market to make sure I’m happy with the layout before I go.