Posted by: michelenel | 26 July, 2017

Handmade in Postcode – May 2017

This is how many machines we have to take to our sewing workshop each month. We also have a few stashed away at church which we use and a few of the more experienced sewers bring their own – it isn't a walk in the park setting this all up, but once it's done, the time spent teaching is brilliant.

April was pincushion workshop time and they all did such an amazing job.
These are created using various designs and half filled with walnut grit to keep pins nice and sharp as well as dry.
The wristband is a snap bracelet or a piece of metal tape measure which is covered in a matching material.

The results are so cute and useful.

Now, where did I put my pincushion? Oh yes, it's on my wrist!

Posted by: michelenel | 18 May, 2017

A model child…..

I don’t know many 4-year-olds who would put up with having a casting made of their body for a dressmakers dummy, but MissM was a model without a single complaint or grumble throughout the process of applying the plaster of Paris bandages, hair drying it for a few minutes and then having it cut off her. ¬† What a relief as I have four flower-girl dresses to make for three this size and one 8-year-old and without having them to hand every day, it really does delay the process.


Hubby found it rather amusing that I had it all over – including my face ūüôā

After cutting the mould up the centre back, I pasted on a few pieces of the bandage to re-seal it.  Now it has a coat hanger inserted to allow it to hang and dry over the next day or so.


Just look at that cute little belly….img_8206

I will probably put a layer of thin wadding over it followed by a tight lycra or stretch jersey sheath to allow pins to be inserted.  I already have a stand to place it on or it could simply remain hanging.

Now that the dummy is ready, I can begin designing the flower-girl dresses for the wedding in September.  Exciting times!


Posted by: michelenel | 12 May, 2017

A downsizing project….

When I showed hubby my latest project and told him it was an upcycle, he said it can’t be because it’s downsizing; so here’s my latest downsizing project. ūüėĀ

All I needed was a small piece of fabric in red for a heart shaped pincushion. I grabbed a dress I’d been given for the fabric and cut a piece out of the bottom of the skirt near the hem when it occurred to me that this would make a nice quick project to modify – I am far too easily distracted!

The dress was a UK size 14 and I thought I’d modify it for my granddaughter, Miss P who is eight years old. I had already cut off the sleeves for a different project so tidied the armholes up, separated the bodice from the skirt and then took in the side seams of the top. Fiddled a bit to remove the excess fabric on the princess seems along the bust and tip stitched them in place, then I re-inserted the skirt with some pleats to take in the fullness. Finally, sewed in the zip which I had only partially removed and seamed the hem. 

The biggest challenge was the armholes because they will definitely be too big but I thought it could be worn more as a tunic over a T-shirt or blouse. 

All in all it was a bit of fun which took less than an hour, and I think the results are quite pretty. 

One dress given a new lease of life and also one less garment going to landfill – a good result. 

Posted by: michelenel | 11 May, 2017

Bernina Nova 900 (yellow) and manual‚Ķ..


What a wonderful little machine. ¬†It is light compared to most bigger Bernina machines, but has their great stitch quality and everything a new or occassional sewer could need. This is my second Bernina Nova 900. ¬†The previous one was ¬£60 a few years ago as it was faulty but I quickly sorted it out and repaired it. ¬†What a fabulous machine – so nice in fact that I really needed another – and one for spares. ¬†I bought this yellow version from eBay way back in September 2014 for ¬£65 and when my daughter collected it for me, the gentleman also gave her another Nova 900 in pieces for spares – amazing ūüôā

This old girl has taken a LOT of cleaning and has the record in the sewing room of containing the most built in dust and fluff I have ever encountered on a machine. ¬†I took the machine almost entirely apart and found that the bobbin winder rubber ring was completely perished and bits were coming off and lodging in the main drive belt which was a real problem. ¬†I removed the remainder of it and shook the machine all directions until no more debris was dropping out. ¬†I can now order a new ring and glue it in place so the winder will work again. ¬†In the meantime this isn’t an issue because I have other machines and a bobbin winder that can be used.

Oh wow! as for the fly wheel.  How on earth did they manage to get this wound up with thread?  I am rather pleased I decided to take this one apart because who knows what damage might have been caused later on if it had been left.


Currently all the buttons and other removable bits are drying out after a good clean.  She is stitching beautifully and it is so wonderful to own a Red and a Yellow version.  Now I am on the hunt for the much rarer Green version too.

Feel free to download the manual here……BerninaNovaManual

Posted by: michelenel | 10 May, 2017

New Home model 344 by Janome and manual‚Ķ..


Today’s¬†addition to the sewing room is a brand¬†that I have never owned before – A New Home. ¬†This model number 344 is made by Janome and is sturdy and capable. ¬†While cleaning her out, I noticed that the main drive belt was very brittle and crackling as it turned so I have ordered a new one to make sure it doesn’t fail during a lesson. ¬†The stitches are good and after a thorough¬†clean she is ready for sewing classes.

A friend of mine has a New Home and I was pleasantly surprised by the stitch quality and it was worth the £18.00 I paid on eBay for the it to use in our group classes.

I have struggled to find a free version of the manual for this machine but will keep trying.  When it becomes available I will update this post.

What incredible service from Wendy over at Janome.  I sent an online request for the manual only this morning and it has already arrived!

Feel free to download the manual here…… New Home 344

Posted by: michelenel | 9 May, 2017

Singer Featherweight Plus Model 324 manual‚Ķ..


This addition to the sewing room is a tiny little thing in comparison to the sturdy workhorses I usually buy – a Singer Featherweight Plus model 324. ¬†It appealed to me because of its size and portability, and thought it would help¬†a true beginner without intimidating them with tons of buttons and fancy gizmos. ¬†It’s name is rather apt because it really is a featherweight, especially compared to its cousin the Singer 247 for example.

I purchased this on eBay from another Charity shop for the princely sum of £11.50.  She will have paid for herself after the first lesson at that price!

Feel free to download the manual here……Singer Featherweight 324 manual

Posted by: michelenel | 8 May, 2017

Singer Zig Zag Model 247 manual…..

I have added a few machines to the sewing room recently. ¬†The community group or Pod ‘Handmade’ is run in Postcode Coffee House, is to teach sewing and other crafts and is¬†becoming extremely popular and I did not have enough machines to allow everyone to¬†sew without waiting in a queue for a machine. ¬†I had to¬†ask some to bring their machines in with them, but I prefer using my own machines that I know how to thread and maintain in case anything goes wrong during the class. ¬†I can also show the students the various beautiful older models that I suggest for them as a first (and in some cases their forever) sewing machine. ¬†I definitely DO NOT recommend any of the cheap ones found nowadays in supermarkets because¬†if you are going to learn to sew at least do so on a machine that will last and create great stitches for many more years to come.

First up was this little beauty; the Singer Zig Zag Model 247. ¬†I purchased this from the Derian House warehouse¬†charity shop near Chorley in Lancashire. ¬†They do such amazing work for children with life threatening illness and as a hospice and it is wonderful to be able to support them and get such a gorgeous machine at the same time. ¬†IMG_8073It didn’t take much cleaning because it was either little used or very well maintained, and in no time she was ready for her first class. ¬†While I was at it, I scanned the manual because I know how frustrating it is looking for vintage sewing machine manuals online, and I absolutely cannot see why you should have to pay for them.

Feel free to download this one is you have this machine and need a manual……Singer ZigZag 247 manual

Isn’t she a beauty? ¬†This is a really solid machine and will keep sewing for many years creating things in our group.

Posted by: michelenel | 18 March, 2017

Scuba and lace….

I picked up the most gorgeous scuba material from Abakhan recently because I have never sewn with it before but I really like the look of it.  I wanted to make a few girls dresses with nice twirly skirts and today eventually got around to one of them for Miss M.

I didn’t want to use a pattern and having her with me made measuring and transferring the size onto the fabric was a simple process. ¬†I started with the full circle skirt and then cut out 2 fronts and 2 backs to create a fully lined bodice with button up tabs on the shoulders. ¬†I cut through the centre front of the bodice to add in an external lace zipper for a bit of fun.

The end result was so cute, but I felt that the scuba needed something along the hemline and I had just the right pink lace to finish it off and give a contrast between the two textures I was looking for.

Scuba is so much fun to sew because of the stretch, and this is one of the prettiest things apart from lingerie that I have made. ¬†I LOVE lace…..¬†

The addition of the lace made this little madam go from saying it was nice, to “I’ll take off my birthday dress to try the new one”….

And the twirl factor is apparently a 10/10….

But then the request to pose for the camera had an altogether familiar result….. Please, please, if anyone has any advice on how they get beautiful pictures of their girls in new clothes, I really need to know how…..

The exposed lace zip was very popular with her and adds a bit of fun to the dress. ¬†Not many small children’s clothes come with zips and certainly not on the front where they can zip into and out of them themselves…..

Now that I know how easy the no-pattern sewing can be, I will make one for the other beautiful granddaughter in my life.


Posted by: michelenel | 16 March, 2017

Trap that foreign hornet…..

Bees are our friend; 

We keep bees in our back yard;

Foreign species and disease are trying to kill our bees – not just ours personally, but the UK in general;

Something has to be done to help; 

Enter “swissarmywife” with her plan and her trap. 

According to all the information provided by Defra, Beebase and the BBKA, all bee keepers need to be extremely vigilant so that the Asian hornet does not get a foothold in The UK. It is already causing massive hive losses in Europe and the first ones were spotted in the South late last year. 

Advise from all of them is to build an Asian hornet trap / observation unit, but I prefer the trap ’em and kill ’em approach because we are SUPER protective of our girls – and the odd boy! 

A quick DIY / handmade project for today using a fizzy drinks bottle, tape and a bit of garden wire. 

A bit of snipping, some twisting of wire, a few holes and some tape and we have a trap…..

The idea is that the bait attracts them through the downturned neck of the bottle. They enter through a hole drilled in the lid and can’t get back out. The bottle on top is to keep out a bit of the British weather and the sieve/drilled disk near the base prevents them getting to the bait but smaller insects can escape through a few holes below the mesh. 

For my bait I opted for some red wine and honey mixed together – I reckon that if it’s good enough for the Hornets in France where they have the same problem, then that’s good enough for me – and after all it is worth sacrificing good Hesketh Arms Winery red for our bees. You can use all sorts of things to lure the hornets including meat and prawns, but considering that  going near a prawn may kill me I decided to not risk it – or the stench after a few days! 

Out to the garden and I have hung the trap near, but not too near the beehive. The idea is to trap any queens that survived winter  before she can begin to reproduce in Spring…..

Anyone can do this to help our bees, even if you aren’t a beekeeper. If you trap anything that looks like the enemy, please contact Defra or the BBKA immediately as they will investigate and send out their hit squad to find and destroy any hives they find. 

I joke, but it really is that serious so please help our bees against this nasty foreigner….

Posted by: michelenel | 12 March, 2017

Handmade update 11….

We are on the home stretch! ¬†Today I think I have almost caught up with my made items – apart from quite a few that I don’t have pictures for so we will have to ignore them for now.

And now for something a little different…my first ever crochet shawl. ¬†A lovely pattern that only cost ¬£2 from and with the green yarn a lovely lady gifted me, this went together in only a couple of weeks (obviously with lots going on in between). ¬†I am very happy with the results and will definitely do another in the future.


I made myself another Plantain t-shirt by Deer & Doe patterns¬†in the left over red stripes from Daughter1’s maternity top. ¬†Fabric from Abakhan. ¬†I am thrilled with the fit and how comfy it is to wear….no pictures.

Then something completely different. ¬†This time, it was something to help hubby move my wine around the winery and then into the cellar. ¬†He has to lug these huge 25 litre glass bottles filled with wine and that is no easy job. ¬†I have to hold my breath every time because I am terrified that after months of hard work in the winery, one little slip and it is literally all down the drain…..and then I might cry.
Something had to be done so I ripped apart an unused curtain and sewed it together using the industrial sewing machine and super strong thread, in the form of a carboy carrier….
He is really happy with it so I can now go and make him a few more.


Here he is using my wheelchair to transport the carboys from the winery to the kitchen and then carry them down into the cellar…..every bit of help with the heavy lifting is a bonus ūüôā ¬†I am of course lounging on my day bed while he does all the manual handling….I do believe he deserves a glass of red!





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