Monday, 8 September 2014

Dashwood Studios Christmas Wish Advent Calendar Tutorial

Out of all our Christmas fabric ranges this year my favourite is without doubt Christmas Wish from Dashwood Studios.  The gorgeous palette of icy blue, soft green, Christmassy red and warm cream is bright and jolly without being garish.  A classic festive combination but with a stylish modern slant. 
I loved making the sample of the advent calendar to display in the shop but I felt that the instructions provided were a teensy bit confusing in places.  To help solve any uncertainties I decided to photograph every step (yes EVERY step) and create an online tutorial for people to follow.
Be warned this post is very "photo heavy" but I think that makes all the difference in a good tutorial.
*Christmas Wish Advent Calendar panel (£8.50 from The Sewing Shop)
* fat 1/4 backing fabric - I chose Xmas 1046 Gingerbread from the same range (£14 per metre from The Sewing Shop)
*wadding - I used Sew Simple Supersoft cotton (£14.30 per metre from The Sewing Shop)
*1/4 metre binding fabric - I chose Xmas 1047 Snowflakes also from the Christmas Wish range (£14 per metre from The Sewing Shop)
matching machine sewing thread

A kit is available for £18.95 plus £3.50 P & P.  Please ring 01543 253780 for details or to place an order.

1. Cut out the back panel around the outer edge of the green seam allowance.

2. Cut out the pocket strips around the outer edge of the ecru seam allowance. 

3. Press over the seam allowance at the top edge of each pocket strip and top stitch.  With hindsight I wish I had folded the edge over twice and done a much neater hem rather than just folding once.  However, the raw edge is inside so it isn't seen.

Reverse of pocket hem.

Front of pocket showing top stitching.

All the pocket strips hemmed and top stitched

4. Now comes the fiddly bit - making the pleats to create the gusseted pockets.  I found the best thing was to do lots of pressing - time consuming but worth it in the end. 

Finger-pressing pocket creases

I finger-pressed but only because I was too idle to keep going downstairs to my ironing board or to carry my sewing machine downstairs.  Press the edges of the pocket pictures and fold the creased edges in together to meet on the dotted line.
I did one side at a time, pinned it in place against the dotted line, then brought the other edge in to meet it and pinned that too.

First pocket edge meets dotted line

Second creased edge meets first on dotted line

Both edges pinned in place on dotted line

Repeat this for all the pockets on every pocket strip.  That's a lot of pins!  I just pinned at the bottom edge of each pocket as that is the part that will be sewn.  However, I did give each strip a final press to ensure the pockets met on the dotted line from top to bottom.

Now it's time to stitch those pleats in place.  Use a standard stitch length and stitch all the way along, just inside the bottom seam allowance.

Stitching pleats in place.

Sew just below the pockets in the seam allowance

5. Press the side and bottom seam allowances of each pocket strip.

Press bottom seam allowance of each pocket strip

Press side seam allowance of each pocket strip

6. Pin each pocket strip in place on the back panel.  Line up the dotted lines with the squares on the backing.

Pin pocket strips onto the backing

Align dotted line with squares on backing

Then pin the outer and bottom edges of each pocket strip to the backing panel too.

***NB  This is the point at which I deviated from the Dashwood instructions. 

7. Layer the panel with a piece of wadding and your chosen coordinating backing fabric to create a quilt sandwich.  This will give the finished calendar some body and stop it being too floppy to hang nicely.

Layering up the quilt sandwich

8. Now stitch the pocket strips to the backing, also sewing through the wadding and backing.  In this way you are quilting the calendar at the same time as stitching the pockets in place. 

I found it easier to stitch between the pleats of the pockets first.  Pin the pleats apart as shown while you stitch down between them.  Start in the centre and stitch from top to bottom.  Repeat for each row. 

Machine stitching between the pleats

Finally top stitch around the outer edges of each pocket strip - down one short side, across the bottom of all the pockets then up the other short side.  Repeat for each pocket strip.

Top stitching the pocket strips

At this point I created a hanging sleeve to hang the calendar with.  You could do the same or alternatively make a couple of loops from fabric, tape or ribbon with which to hang your calendar.

Hanging sleeve on the back of the calendar

If you wish to add more quilting now is your chance.  I just worked and extra row all the way around as seen in the photo. You could also add embellishments such as beads, buttons and other trims.

Extra row of quilting

Extra quilting around the edge

When you are happy, square up your calendar using a rotary cutter and grid ruler.  Trim through all layers of the panel along the edge of the green seam allowance. 

Trim the excess fabric and wadding

Squaring up the quilted panel

Now it's time to bind the calendar.  I cut my binding fabric into 2 1/2" strips, folded and pressed them in half lengthways.  I attached the strips by machine from the front then flipped them over to the back and stitched by hand to give a neat finish.  

Binding with 1/4" seam allowance

Flipping binding over to the back ready for hand stitching.

And that's it!  You're done.  One advent calendar ready to be filled with festive treats for a lucky child - big or small - on December 1st.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Happy Birthday to Us!

Can you believe it?!  We have been open ONE WHOLE YEAR!!  January 20th 2012 was the day The Sewing Shop opened its doors for the first time and the unsuspecting needlewomen of Lichfield.
And what a totally fantastic year it has been!  We've met so many lovely new friends, we've learned how to be buyers and book keepers and teachers as well as shop keepers. And as the following photos will show we've filled a rather empty-looking shop with loads... 
...and loads...

...and loads...


...of stock.  It's quite incredible to see just how sparsely furnished our shop was when we first began trading. 

A glimpse through the rainbow curtain at the back shows just how tidy and organised we were.

And now..?  Well now we are jam-packed full of fabrics and yarns and haberdashery of all kinds.  We have sewing machines and magazines.  We have buttons and bias binding.  We have pompoms and Poodles. 

And we couldn't have done it without you.  We'd just like to say a massive
to every single customer who has visited our shop, whether you've bought one single button or hundreds of metres of material.  It has been a fantastic year.  here's to many, many more.

Lindsey and Sandra

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year

Wowsers!  It's 2013!  Let's see if this year I can manage to keep The Sewing Shop blog a little more regularly updated.  Short but sweet is going to be the way forward I think.  Little and often maybe...?  So let's start as we mean to go on.
To start the New Year we have a series of new events for your delectation. 

Knit and Natter is back!!! 

Bigger and better than ever.  OK maybe I'm getting a tad carried away but there is one BIG change in that the sessions will now be run in the evening and not the daytime. 

From 7.00 until 9.00pm to suit all those who work or have childcare difficulties in the daytime. 

The new session will be starting on Tuesday 29th January and continuing on the last Tuesday of every month thereafter.  We can't wait.


Sunday, 1 July 2012

What's Been Going On..?

It really is 3 months since I last wrote a blog post!!!  I can't believe it.  Huge apologies but we've been so incredibly busy as more customers have discovered The Sewing Shop...  No bad thing but it has meant that our  plans to dominate the wonderful worldwide web have faltered somewhat.
But now all that can be rectified as I have a lovely little laptop.   So I can sit in the bosom of my family in the evenings and post on the interweb, rather than sit on my own in the cold and lonely back room tethered to the desk top PC.

But enough waffle. 

Enough apologising.

What has been going on in those 3 months, you ask?

Well we've got more stock.  Much more stock! 

Our two shelves of cotton fabrics have now expanded to five, with designs from Michael Miller and Riley Blake amongst the many beautiful bolts. 

Cupcakes and Polka Dots
We have many more colours, textures and weights of Stylecraft and King Cole knitting yarn and fabulous patterns from both companies. 

We have just take delivery of the amazing Hooked Zpagetti.  A new European craze for lovers of knitting and crochet on a BIG scale (more about this in the next day or two). 

Our range of ribbons is growing all the time.  We now have grosgrain, patterned, spotted, striped, sheer, floral and patriotic as well as the standard double faced satin. 

We have some gorgeous patterned bias bindings - great for making bunting or edging hemlines, placemats, curtains, etc.  Some even have a lacey edge.

Our workshops have been going great guns.  We have now added various fabric techniques to the range of crochet classes we offer.  Our Simple Applique Cushion Cover has been very popular and bunting is not just for the Jubilee so you can still come and learn to make this cutie.

We post details of all of our workshops on our Facebook page and, in future we'll keep the website updated more regularly, so they'll be listed on there too.

So that's a very quick catch up.  Over the coming days, weeks and months we'll bring you more regular updates of what's going on in the world of The Sewing Shop.


Friday, 23 March 2012

New Workshops - bookings being taken.

Here we go.  GFor your delectation, may we present our workshops - both crochet and fabric techniques - for the next few weeks.  More will be added as we create them/they evolve/demand dictates.  If you would like to attend any of these but daytime is no good for you then please let us know which class you are interested in and when you would prefer it to be held.
If you would like to book a place on any of these classes then please email (, inbox us through Facebook or ring the shop on 01543 253780.
Fabric Bunting.
Date: Tuesday, 3rd April or Wednesday 11th April 2012
Time:  13:00 until 15:00
Just in time for the Summer of Celebrations, learn how to make 5 bunting flags. Choose one of our fabulous patchwork fabrics and a complimentary bias binding to make a gorgeous decoration for your home or garden.
Included in the £20.00 cost is a fat quarter of cotton patchwork fabric, a metre of bias binding, use of our sewing machines, threads, etc. and of course tea/coffee and cake!

Crochet Heart Bunting
Date: Wednesday, 4th April 2012
Time:  13:00 until 15:00
If you have learnt the basic crochet stitches we will now teach you to increase and decrease, creating some lovely little heart shaped motifs (see photo above). These can be strung together to make a garland, stitched together and stuffed to make hanging decorations or left singly and used as coasters. Very versatile and very addictive to make.A 4mm crochet hook and ball of Stylecraft Special DK yarn are included in the £16.00 price.

  • Crocheted Granny Square
    Date:  Tuesday, 10th April 2012
    Time:  13:00 until 15:00 
  • The classic crocheted square that everybody knows and loves. Learn how to make this little gem and you'll be creating your first afghan/blanket before you know it.A 4mm hook and ball of Special DK yarn plus tea/coffee and cake are included in the price of £16.00.

  • Crocheted Triangle Bunting

    Date:  Tuesday, 17th April 2012
    Time:  13:00 until 15:00
  • You've seen it hanging in the shop, now have a go at making your very own crotched bunting. A slightly different twist on the fabric flags which would be fabulous worked in red, white and blue for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations or any other colour scheme to suit your home d├ęcor.
    Includes increasing and decreasing techniques so more suited to those with a grasp of the basic crochet stitches.  A 4mm hook and ball of Special DK yarn are included in your fee.  Cost £16.00.

  • Beginners Machine Patchwork Panel

    Date:  Wednesday, 18th April or Tuesday 24th April 2012
    Time:  13:00 until 15:00
  • In this class we will take the terror out of using a rotary cutter to cut fabric squares. We will then piece them together on the sewing machine (or by hand if preferred)to create a patchwork cushion front.
    We will then look at the different methods of quilting and finis...hing a quilt. If there is time we will begin to stitch our “quilt sandwich”. This can then be completed at home.
    In a future workshop we will cover how to create a simple envelope cushion using this panel.
    All fabrics, wadding and threads used on the class are included in the cost. 
    Cost - £20.00

  • Absolute Beginners Crochet Class
    Date:  Wednesday, 25th April 2012
    Time:  13:00 until 15:00
  • (As 28th March)
    Once you have mastered how to hold the hook and yarn (no mean feat in itself!), you will learn how to create a basic foundation chain plus double and treble stitches. Crochet is totally addictive. Once you have mastered these basics you will be hooked!!
    A 4mm crochet hook and a ball of Stylecraft Special DK yarn are included in the cost of the class.
    Cost £16.00

  • Crocheted Flower Workshop

    Date:  Tuesday, 1st or Wednesday 9th May 2012
    Time:  13:00 until 15:00
  • In this session we will show you how to create a crocheted flower using double crochet, half trebles and trebles. This can be finished off with a brooch back to make an individual accessory, applied to a cushion or you can make a series of flowers and join them to make a scarf. Once you've made one you will be covering everything in yarn flowers!
    A 4mm crochet hook plus all yarns used on the day are included in the cost.Cost - £12.00

  • Folk Art House Applique Picture
    Date:  Wednesday, 2nd or Tuesday 8th May 2012
    Time:  13:00 until 15:00
  • Create a one-off folk art picture of your own or an imagined house. We will be using fusible web to apply fabric scraps and embellishing with lace, ribbons, hand embroidery stitches and buttons.
    Included in the cost are an 8” embroidery hoop, calico base fabric, all fabric scraps and trims used on the day, plus tea/coffee and cake.
    Cost £20.00

  • So there you have it.  We hope there is something to tickle your fancy in that little list.  If you have a technique that your desperately want to learn then please let us know and we will do our best to include it in our next block.


    9 Weeks Old!

    Well it's a whole 9 weeks since we opened our lovely little shop and things have certainly changed somewhat.  I'll post some more up to date photos once I get into the shop armed with my camera, but for now here are a few pictures from the talented lens of Andy at Peacock Pix.  We just love them.

    We have much more new stock to tempt you:- embroidery, haberdashery, yarn, fabrics...

    We have a new series of workshops planned including fabric bunting, patchwork and applique.

    And of course we still have our friendly welcome and the kettle is on!

     ttfn xx

    Monday, 13 February 2012

    New Baby is Born

    Well ladies and gentlemen.  First there was The Sewing Shop - a stitchy, knitty, hooky haven in the centre of picturesque Lichfield.  And now - for those of you who don't live nearby or for those cold, snowed-in days when you can't get to visit in person - there is The Sewing Shop Online!!  Yay!!

    Please pop over and have a look by clicking on the link above.  For now there is lots of information about what we do and what we sell, and very soon there will be more lovely photos and online shopping so you can make mail order purchases and receive a little bit of The Sewing Shop delivered to your door.

    We can already take orders over the phone if you wish to pay by card and they will be posted out to you the same day.

    There is a new blog attached to the website which we will be using from now on, so this one will go on hold.  Please follow the link to the new one and follow our news and exploits there.

    Right.  I'm off to take some new photos of the shop.