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The Barmy Beetroot Blog Hop

Welcome to the blog hop!

Now before you start to swing your pants, it’s not a retro dance but a virtual tour of the creative blogosphere. Swinging pants does sound like fun though.

Like the nicest chain letter I’ve received, I get to answer some questions and then continue the hop by nominating two of my favourite bloggers to do the same next week, thus growing the network between bloggers and their readers.

I was nominated by Louise, from the most excellent Sew Sensational. I found Louise from the Minerva Crafts Network and said hello after discovering she was also nutty about sewing, and lived in Leeds. We are hoping to meet in person soon, and have a grand shopping trip around the fabulous Leeds market. Louise has a really cute style and warm friendly tone to her writing. Her garments are top stuff and she looks awesome in them. Louise is also soon to be a bride and I can’t wait to see her crafty wedding creations! Thanks for nominating me Louise. It was a fun challenge thinking about and answering the hop questions.

My workstation

My workstation – I think I was looking at Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough recipe when I took this, very yummy!

Why do I write?

Having a blog has been a long time aspiration of mine. My background is working with computers, graduating with a degree in Electronic Imaging and Media Communications, and then finding my feet working at Suma Wholefoods, where I set off on a one girl mission to establish an online presence for my favourite vegetarian food cooperative. Initially on my own, and now with 2 people I’ve trained to join the team, we develop and maintain Suma’s ecommerce site and blog site, as well as organise the online marketing and social media strategy. I’ve learned on the job as the years have gone by, and I suppose I’m fairly web savvy, ok a geek, so the techie side of designing with css/html, sourcing a domain, setting up a wordpress blog, server management, online marketing and SEO are all subjects I feel at home with.

At work I enjoyed using Google analytics, watching posts I had written gain in popularity, achieve high viewing figures, and rank highly on Google. It was a buzz. (lol, I obviously don’t get out enough). I wanted my own space online, but I could never really settle on a subject to write about. Discarded ideas were gardening, raising a vegetarian child, and even drinking tea, but none of them seemed to have enough longevity to hold my interest. I needed a subject I could wax lyrical about, remain dedicated to and have plenty of ideas for interesting and useful posts. It was only after having my own stall at local craft fairs that I realised I could blog about my craftiness. I’m always making things when I get the chance, and have done my whole life. Making items by hand has always bought me a lot of happiness and satisfaction. I was finally set and excited about my subject!

One of my craft stalls in Dec 2013, I was also selling vintage style handmade aprons

One of my craft stalls in Dec 2013, I was also selling vintage style handmade aprons

I can’t say I’m a seasoned writer. At university I loved writing essays, researching, forming an argument and to be given the space to think about things creatively, form an opinion, and collect your own thoughts. I actually felt academic! That was almost 10 years ago now, and scarily, despite the odd article I pen for Suma which are mostly recipes I hardly write at all. I felt like I was in danger of losing a skill-set that was incredibly valuable. So for me, blogging is about having a space not only to reflect my personality and creativity, but also to provide a reason to write. When I write my blog posts, I feel like I am exercising a part of my brain that doesn’t get the chance to shine much in regular old life, so you heard it here first, blogging is officially a great workout! – For the brain anyway :)

In addition to writing, blogging is also a great way to employ other creative skills, and in particular photography. A few years back I purchased my first digital SLR, and after much perseverance I finally understand the basic functions of my camera, and the relationship between white balance, aperture, shutter speed, and principles behind photography. I’m no expert, but again blogging provides many subjects and reasons to get out and experiment with photography. I love my camera, and I hope blogging is an ally to me taking better photos.

I love my camera!

I love my camera!

Oh there are so many reasons to write! I adore the grassroots nature of blogging, hearing unbiased, real voices talk about things I am interested in. It’s journalism from the ground up. Bloggers invest in each other, and in their readership. Blogs are an amazing resource of ideas, inspiration and tutorials, offering up free information that benefits the online community. How much of what you have learned or made has been a result of something you have seen on a blog? I wanted to give something back and be part of such a positive online force.

Lastly, writing is also precious time on my own. Lovely peace and quiet. It’s like a cig break only good for you. 90% of the time I’m a busy mother and a model (ha!) employee, but I’m also an individual and this is a reflection of the person who can sometimes feel lost within the frenzy of life.

What am I working on?

Simplicity 1800 - this beauty I'm making for a friend

Simplicity 1800 – this beauty I’m making for a friend

I’ve got 10 WIPS on the go at the moment. Plus a long list of other things on the back burner. I used to be a one project at a time kind of person, but actually find I get a lot more done If I have a number of projects on the go at once. I can always find one to suit my mood and situation.

  1. Simplicity 1800 which I am making for a friend. She approached me to make a dress for her, and I thought it would be a fun experience sewing for someone else, and easier to focus on getting a good fitting. I like making for other people, because you make to their tastes and not you own. She has picked an awesome African wax print which I am totally falling for
  2. The next three makes are all festival related. I’m off to Bestival in a few weeks and wanted to take some handmade items to wear with me. You can be so much more out there when it comes to festival clobber. My first make is a light-weight cropped jacket in a fun cassette tape design (a child of the 80′s) which is from a self drafted pattern.
  3. Next up is a similar version to the above jacket but with a few twists. It’s also my first White Tree Bloggers Network make, and will incorporate some beautiful guipure lace. It’s going to be fun and feminine.
  4. Now, I’m not one of those girls that goes to a festival dressed as a fairy, but that’s kind of what I have planned for the Deer & Doe Centuaree dress. The long version will make a great floaty fairy style outfit, and provides options to mix up different textures and types of fabric. I’m not sure if this will work, but oh my I have a vision! I’m not wearing wings though.
  5. Away from festival plans, I’m also putting the finishing touches on a cowboy style denim shirt for Evan. This is the demo piece I have used in my forthcoming pattern release. I was one week away from launching it before my computer broke down, but as soon as I’m up and running I’ll release it, so please watch this space.
  6. A couple of friends have had baby girls, so I’ve self drafted a simple dress pattern. I really need to hurry up with this one though before the babes grow too big for my pattern!
  7. A peg bag from the delightful Little sew & sew book by Christine Leech. I found the book in my local Oxfam and it’s full of really cute embroidered makes and there are a few things I want to sew from it. The bag will be a housewarming present for a friend who has purchased her first home.
  8. My mega WIP is an Escher inspired knitted fish blanket which I have been knitting since January 2012. It consists of 144 separately knitted fish of which I’ve knitted 73, so over half way. Hooray for me. I can’t wait to finish, because whilst I have this project on the go I’m not knitting anything else, and I really miss knitting quick, simple makes.
  9. A completed hexagon from the knitted blanket, I have 12 hexagons sewn up, 73 fishes done in total, 71 fish to go!

    A completed hexagon from the knitted blanket, I have 12 hexagons sewn up, 73 fishes done in total, 71 fish to go!

  10. Not strictly sewing related but I’m also up-cycling an old sideboard I have in my lounge. I use it for my record decks, and to store all my vinyl in, so I want it to be really fun and bright.
  11. I also love making underwear. I have a pair of Jane Knickers cut from Measure Twice Cut Once that is waiting for me to whip up. I’ve cut into some silk from an old dress, and I’m going to have one happy booty.

Phew.. Good to get all that out of my head and on to paper!

How does it differ from others of its genre?

A bit of Evans handmade wardrobe, he calls them his lion trousers, his Frank Side-bottom shirt, and his pirate waistcoat

A bit of Evans handmade wardrobe, he calls them his lion trousers, his Frank Side-bottom shirt, and his pirate waistcoat

My blog is only 6 months old, and so much of what I want to set out to achieve I haven’t really accomplished yet. My main plan is to focus on offering sewing patterns for boys, as I’ve personally found there is a lot more choice when it comes to making clothes for girls than boys and it seemed to be a real gap I could step in to. By the end of the year I’d like to have four free downloadable patterns for boys, and increase this to 10 by the end of next year. I’ve got a cowboy shirt pattern out in a few weeks, and my waistcoat sewing pattern is also available for download now. In between I’d love to stand out and be different, but mostly this blog is about something I love doing, and I try not to get hung up on being unique, just myself.

How does my writing process work?

Part of my sewing library

Part of my sewing library

It’s really just a matter of grabbing spare time when I get it, and making the most of every minute. I am sometimes lucky enough to get a four hour chunk of time to dedicate to my blog, but mostly it’s 30 minutes here, 50 minutes there, so a lot of my writing is done in small intense bursts. I’m an interval blogger. I usually have a few ideas for posts floating around my head, and I keep track of them on a spreadsheet content planner which I *try to* use to be more organised. However, I should update it more often, I’m quite lazy about it in reality.

When it comes to writing a post, I start out by setting out some headings of the areas I want to cover. I use a lot of bullet points to note down in each section what I want to say and things I want to mention. I find this method works for me, as I can add to it if I remember something at a later date. I also have a think about images before I begin, and these can inform the writing, but are mostly used to illustrate key points within the text. I make a list of these too so I know what to shoot when it comes to photography time.

Once I have a rough outline, I write the body text in a draft version. My previous written cues help to jog my memory and I turn them in to prose. Quite often this can take me a few days. Once I’ve got a 1st draft I add in the pictures, check I’ve included all the links, make sure it reads ok, and move text around a little. I’ll quite often re-write sections to make them read better, and then finally run a spelling / grammar check.

I’m usually really impatient by this time and just want to get my post published, but I try to tell myself there is no point putting in all that effort if you skip the stuff that makes your blog look polished and professional. I spend a little bit of time making sure my SEO data is filled in and images are exactly how I want them (I often try and optimise an image for Pinterest if needed). Then it’s time to hit that publish button. Hooray! Done for another week. I do a little bit of promotion on Twitter and Pinterest, but really don’t tweet a post more than once or twice because I think it’s spammy. Unless it’s a free pattern in which case I’ll put a little more time in to sharing my work.

This process can take me awhile, and I envy people who can blog really quickly, but at the moment this is what works for me, and fits around my full time job and life with a toddler. Full on fun!

Not really relevant, I  just wanted to show off this gorgeous pair of vintage pinking shears I found at a car boot sale

Not really relevant, I just wanted to show off this gorgeous pair of vintage pinking shears I found at a car boot sale!

My nominations


1. Simona from Sewing Adventures in the Attick.

I chose Simona because she was one of my first sewing friends, and it has been a pleasure getting to know her. Simona lives relatively local to me, and is an amazing seamstress who bowled me over with her sewing enthusiasm and talent :) Her handmade wardrobe is adventurous, bright, and full of bold floral prints (despite Simona insisting she doesn’t like floral prints). Most of all it’s fabulous.


2. Louise from Thread Carefully
Louise also lives fairly close to me, (I’m keeping it Yorkshire!) and is one of the lovely people I have met since starting my blog. She has children like me, but gets much more sewing done. Louise started up sewing 6 years ago, and is living proof of how good you can get in a relatively short space of time. I like her commitment to making the inside of her garments as pretty as the outside.

Check out Simona and Louise’s blogs, and look out for their blog hop posts next Monday. I’m really looking forward to an insight in to their sewing worlds.

Thank you for hopping by!

Happy sewing everyone!

Happy sewing everyone!

Getting to know my overlocker at the Yorkshire School of Sewing

Hello friends,

I’m actually writing this via a real pen and paper! So far all of my blog posts have been written direct on to wordpress, I suppose it just makes sense to write it digitally, edit drafts, and have Google at my fingertips and images to hand.

Now, there is a reason for this change to my normal process, and it’s not a romantic nod to the art of letter writing. It’s bad news. My computer is broken! :( I have a whole orchestra of tiny violins playing right now. Dramatic I know, but it’s my iMac, and I am very attached to its sleek silvery loveliness and depend on it for everything. Family aside, it’s the first thing I’d save in a fire. For sure.

The good news is, I think it’s fixable, and it’s now having its chips resoldered at the aptly named computer repair shop, Return of the Mac. They had me at the name alone. Here is a little flashback for you. Mark Morrison’s Return of the Mack was number 1 in the UK charts in 1996, but only reached number 2 in Americas Billboard chart being held off by Hanson’s, MMMbop. I never quite worked out where Mr Morrison was actually returning from?

So with this technical setback, I’ve had to delay my pattern release, and it’s been difficult to blog, but strangely enough it’s been a nice break. Kind of like a holiday from work when you get time to relax and catch up on all those odd jobs you wanted to do. I’ve read more books, completed more sewing projects and seen more friends. Like when a partner goes away, I’m enjoying the space, but I’m sure when it returns in a Mark Morrison style I’ll have a new deeper understanding of what it means to me and I won’t take it for granted. I’ll definitely be backing up my data more often and powering down more. So for now, you are all my penpals, and who knows? I may get used to writing more often on paper. How many of you blog on paper first? Or perhaps you have other methods of getting your thoughts down? I would love to hear about your creative process.

So, moving on to the main event. I do actually have something to say apart from weeping over broken hardware. I want to tell you all about a recent course I went on at the Yorkshire School of Sewing, run by the lovely Gillian Hargreaves.

Day at the Yorkshire School of Sewing

I attended a course called ‘know your overlocking machine‘. I’ve only owned my overlocker since December. It’s a Toyota SL 4 thread overlocker and I picked it up second hand but hardly used for £80. I’d already used it on a few projects, and painstakingly worked out how to thread it through trial and error. I’ve only really used it for finishing seams though, and on cotton, so I felt this course would have a lot to offer me and help build my confidence with my new machine. It does look a lot scarier than a sewing machine that’s for sure! Here is what we covered:

Getting to know your overlocker

Me and my overlocker are now good pals

Me and my overlocker are now good pals

We looked at all the switches/dials/levers/knobs and mechanics of the machine and identified stitch width, stitch length, differential feed, the upper and lower loopers, tension dials, the knives and rolled hem setting. There were three of us in the group. Myself with my Toyota and 2 other ladies who had a Jenome. It was interesting to see the different set ups of the different branded machines, and Gillian made sure we each understood our own overlocker. My machine was easier to thread than the Jenomes because it opened up at both sides to give easier access to the mechanics, however my machine didn’t have a differential feed setting or a rolled hem function (I’ll come back to this later). We got pretty hands on with our machines, and just as well because Gillian had us removing knives, feet, changing needles and replacing needle plates. Gillian encouraged us to mark our machine with post it notes to help jog our memory.
I marked each dial and noted down my standard settings which really helps to save time

I marked each dial and noted down my standard settings which really help to save time

Threading your overlocker

I was the only one in the class who had threaded their overlocker before. (Yay, brownie points for me!) but I must admit I do find it a pain in the proverbial from time to time and despite my best efforts sometimes we just don’t get on. So it was relieving when Gillian explained that overlockers have a reputation for being disobedient and naughty. Oh I’m sure we all have our stubborn moments. Gillian gave us a few tips on how to stay sane when threading your overlocker:

  1. Patience is key, sometimes they just don’t want to play ball. You’ll get there in the end. Have a break and come back to it if you need to.
  2. Use good quality thread or you’ll find it’s more likely to snap and you’ll need to re-thread more often. To tell if a thread is good quality you can squeeze it. If it feels firm and does not give way the thread is usually good. Another note on thread is that it deteriorates over time. So don’t be tempted to use that vintage thread your granny gave you. Unless you want a whole world of pain.
  3. It’s usually the lower looper where people get in to trouble with overlocker threading. There is one particular stage in the threading process that is tricky to get to, so consult your manual, master it and you’ll have it down. There is also the most tension on this thread, which makes it more susceptible to snapping.
  4. Am I the only one who feels like I am carrying out a medical procedure when threading my overlocker? Tweezers!

    Understanding tension, stitch length and stitch width

    Gillian had prepared samples of cotton, knits, double knits, Lycra, taffeta and georgette for us to practice on fabrics of different weight and characteristics. She gave us guidance with our tension settings but encouraged us to problem solve ourselves and understand which dial(s) to change. When we were happy with our settings we kept a swatch of fabric and pinned it to a piece of paper with the tension settings written on it. These act as a most helpful reference and time saver if you come to work on a similar fabric in the future. She also asked us to experiment with different stitch width and stitch lengths on a swatch, to find out which suited our fabric type. This is a useful exercise to do when working on any new fabric to make sure you get the best stitch possible.

    Tips on getting a good stitch

    • Keep a note of different dial settings for each fabric you use. This can act as a reference for future projects
    • Take a piece of fabric and spilt it in to 4 equal parts with a marker. On one side test the stitch length, and on the other test the width. Choose which ever setting you find most pleasing
    • Adjust the tension dials delicately. Just a small adjustment can make a huge difference. Try in 1/4 turns

    I had quite a lot of problems with getting my tension right. I managed to get a good stitch on the medium and bulky fabrics, but I just couldn’t get it right for the knits. Gillian was very patient and even though I wasn’t satisfied with my efforts in class, Gillian encouraged me to persevere and practice. She assured me I’d get there in the end. I came away thinking that I need to set aside a couple of hours just to fiddle and play with my overlocker, without the time pressure of sewing a garment. Did all you overlocker whizzes struggle with this at first also? Does anyone else have any tips to share?

    See Gillian, I did get there in the end! After practicing at home I got a good stitch on some thin jersey

    See Gillian, I did get there in the end! After practicing at home I got a good stitch on some thin jersey

    I also managed to get a good stitch on some T-shirt jersey too. Getting the hang of this now!

    I also managed to get a good stitch on some T-shirt jersey too. Getting the hang of this now!

    Different stitches and finishes

    Rolled Hem

    Ahh, the finest and most dainty of all hem types and it can be done on an overlocker. I was mildly jealous of the Jenomes rolled hem setting that adjusted the overlocker at the push of a button. For my Toyota I needed to remove the standard needle plate and insert a special, rolled hem plate, which almost looks identical but features a pointy needle like protrusion that provides a surface for the fabric to curl over and be stitched. It works great on light weight fabrics and if you stretch the fabric as you sew you will be rewarded with a flouncy, ruffled edge. Gillian showed us her decorative thread collection to inspire us to be imaginative with our thread choice when doing decorative edges.

    This is a sample of the rolled him we did in class

    This is a sample of the rolled him we did in class

    and the rolled hem from the other side

    and the rolled hem from the other side

    Flatlocked seams

    Flatlocked seams weren’t something I had come across until Gillian demonstrated them, but I realised I had seen the effect on many RTW garments and wondered how it was done. Flatlocking is a technique that produces very flat seams, and 2 different looks on each side. You can choose which one you like best. Flatlocking works by having a very high tension on the lower looper and a very loose tension on the needle. I couldn’t actually get this effect to work in class, but did manage it practicing at home. Gillian showed us an effective technique of weaving some ribbon in-between the stitches to make a decorative trim. Doesn’t it look fab? Flatlocking works best on fabrics which are unlikely to fray.

    Flatlocked seams from one side

    Flatlocked seams from one side

    and the other

    and the other

    Here is the neat trick with Ribbon Gillian showed us. You pull ribbon through the stitches with a loop turner to get this effect

    Here is the neat trick with Ribbon Gillian showed us. You pull ribbon through the stitches with a loop turner to get this effect

    Overlocking complex shapes and necklines

    Gillian showed us methods to secure our ends, sew in a circle and a neat little trick to serge a neckline which gives a lovely flat finish.

    A quick and easy jacket made entirely on the overlocker

    Here is the jacket I made in class. It's still waiting for a fastening, but apart from that complete

    Here is the jacket I made in class. It’s still waiting for a fastening, but apart from that complete

    So the piece de resistance and the part of the class I was looking forward to the most were to sew a casual woollen jacket, entirely on the overlocker, in under an hour! Phew, the sun was beaming hard through the panes of Gillian’s conservatory and it really felt like we had a literal sweat shop going on for the last hour. Making woollen jackets in 24.C heat in July did feel a bit odd, which would really be my only criticism of the course. It would have been nice to have made something more seasonal, that we could take home and wear.
    We used one of Gillian’s self drafted patterns, which comprised of a back piece, 2 front pieces, a collar and some sleeves. She asked us to bring a boucle style fabric, but I chose a woollen blend I’d cooed over at Leeds Market but never really knew what to do with. We used 1.5 metres for the project which cost me £6.


    Now to be honest, the jacket isn’t really my style, so I’m not sure how much I’ll actually wear this, but I’m over the moon with it for demo purposes, and that I can say I made it entirely on my overlocker. After having a shaky start to the course and having trouble with my tension settings, I felt like I sailed through the last hour and constructing the jacket was childsplay. I really got a feel for how quickly garments can be put together and how overlockers can speed up your work. It came together in minutes, and has given me the confidence to go ahead and make more entirely overlocked garments. I’d like to try leggings next.

    Not sure what I'm doing in this photo. Trying to cast a spell or something? Perhaps to the fashion gods to ask for advice on what to wear this jacket with. The skirt does it no favours ;)

    Not sure what I’m doing in this photo. Trying to cast a spell or something? Perhaps to the fashion gods to ask for advice on what to wear this jacket with. The skirt is not the best combo ;)

    Further overlocking tips from the day

    • Always read the manual that comes with your machine, it really is worth the time it takes and will help you understand your individual machine
    • Get creative with threads. If using a more expensive thread you can usually get away with using it just on the upper and lower looper, and a matching, regular thread for the needles
    • Twin needles can also be used to give a double line of stitching
    • Experiment with serging with and without the knife engaged. Sometimes you’ll get a better stitch when the knife is not on
    • Clean your overlocker regularly to keep it in good working order. If you have a blow setting on your vacuum cleaner this is a good way of cleaning your overlocker
    • If your overlocker has dials, these can be cleaned with a cloth dipped in gin to remove the lint build up. Just wipe it through the sides of the dials
    • Always keep your fabric pulled taut when overlocking, which will help to get a better stitch. Unless stitching a stretchy fabric like jersey

    Summary and course details

    Looking back, the day was a whirlwind of information, failed attempts, intense heat, good company and a completed handmade overlocked jacket! I didn’t realise how much useful information I had actually retained until I wrote this post and reflected on it all. A good sign is that I also took another look at my overlocker book ‘Sewing with sergers‘ and it all made so much more sense than it had before attending the course. I am definitely a practical learner and having it all demonstrated and explained in person seems to engage my brain much more effectively. The book is still great though, and will now be a fantastic companion to my new knowledge.

    So, many thanks to the marvellous Gillian at The Yorkshire school of Sewing. If you are in the Yorkshire area and want to brush up on your sewing skills she offers 14 different courses to suit most sewing styles and abilities, in both Leeds and Harrogate. Her one day courses are £75 a day, and some of her more specialised courses like the ‘Classic Chanel Style Jacket Class’ are £150 for 2 days. Gillian is a real gem of a lady. Her passion and love of sewing, combined with her vast teaching experience make her a fantastic tutor. I whole heartedly recommend a visit, and whilst you are at it, come and say him to me.

    Have any of you visited the Yorkshire School of Sewing? Or taken any other sewing related classes? As someone who is almost entirely self taught, I feel classes are a great way to accelerate my normal learning speed and give my knowledge a boost. Which will hopefully result in better garments?

    Oh and I almost forgot! I promised you all birthday cake photos! I was up until 1am making my sons 3rd birthday cake, and what I deducted is that people who decorate and make cakes are amazing, and sewing is so much easier.
    It was really fiddly and I was on far too much of a sugar high to keep a steady hand. Still the kiddos were happy and that’s what matters.
    Mr Men Cake

    Happy 3rd Birthday my little munchkin!

    Happy 3rd Birthday my little munchkin!

    Happy stitches everyone :)

An invite to join the White Tree Fabrics blogging team


Get 20% off and free delivery at White Tree fabrics with coupon code: BARMYBEETROOT

Today I’ve been pondering over the benefits of blogging. There are the obvious things like having an online portfolio and record of your work, a creative space to indulge your passions and be yourself, and a platform to launch any business ideas or potentially raise a few pennies selling via etsy/folksy, but what I didn’t consider when starting my blog was the sheer enjoyment being part of an online community would bring me. So far many new people have come in to my life, mostly other inspiring and helpful sewing bloggers who I’ve met in person after talking on twitter, including one who lives 5 minutes away from my house, many from Leeds and a few from further afield. I’ve had invitations to special openings and shows and now I’ve been asked to join the White Tree Fabrics Blogging Team. I’m over the moon!

The White Tree Fabrics blogging team is a collection of amazingingly creative and talented women (no fella’s to date, sorry!) who will be sewing up a storm using fabric sent to them from the great selection at White Tree Fabrics. I feel so honoured and humbled to have been included in this bunch. It’s just another golden opportunity that has come my way since I started barmybeetroot, and it’s starting to feel like the best decision I made in 2014. My life definitely feels richer. So enough of the mushy stuff, let me tell you a little bit about White Tree…

White Tree Fabrics

White Tree Fabrics opened in 1946, and until now have been operating a wholesale operation supplying quality fabrics to the trade. Gaining a web presence opened them up to individual shoppers who were interested in buying in smaller quantities. White Tree felt like this was a good business direction for them to focus on and over the past year have been developing their retail offering to the public. Originating as a wholesalers, they already have a large product catalogue, but it’s still a bit of a work in progress as the company gets used to what we want to buy.

Their product range

White Tree are different in that they offer a lot of speciality fabrics, so instead of a large choice of cotton you’ll find satin, lace, jersey, organza, taffetta, swimwear fabric, net and more. The lace offering is staggering, lots to swoon over and different fabrics to work with and tempt you to try something different. If you are looking to make special occasion garment for a wedding, prom or party then White Tree offers lots to get you inspired.

Over 500 sewing patterns

White Tree offer over 500 Vogue patterns, but are also able to get Butterick, McCalls and Kwik-Sew, which will shortly be added to the site. Now I’ve not sewn vogue patterns before, many I couldn’t see myself actually wearing, but here are a few that I would really like to have a go at:



This was almost my first White Tree make. I’ve been lusting over shirt style dresses for awhile and this one is really sassy.

Vogue V1344

This model looks so confused poor love. Perhaps someone has just explained footballs offside rule to her. I empathise. I think this would make a great summer dress. I love the sleeve detail and elasticated waist.


Vogue V1288

I have no idea if this style would suit my apple shape, but I think it’s a great pattern to utilise a lot of White Trees fantastic lace. I love the shape of the neckline and I’d definitely be tempted to give this a go.


Vogue V1236

What a stunner. I can see myself wearing this all the time. Beautiful shape to the neckline and I bet it is really flattering on. I don’t get to out as much as I like now I’m a mum, but I could get lots of wear out of this at work, winner!




There is so much to pick from including vintage, guipure, crochet, bridal, metallic, printed, embroidered. Just looking through the categories is like a lesson in lace. This one pictured is guipure tassled lace.


The satin is all reasonably priced and comes in a rainbow spectrum. I’m rather taken with this jade colour. It would be perfect for some funky pj’s.


Glitter jersey, plain jersey, spandex jersey, mesh jersey, spandex jersey, warm jersey and foiled jersey! For a jersey novice I feel a little overwhelmed in this world of jersey but I’m sure it will have some of you squealing. I’m intrigued by the metallic jersey, would be good for a festive outfit.


A nice selection of ribbons, sequines, fasteners and tools. I love the pretty range of Tilda ribbons.

Ask and you shall receive

White Tree are also really keen to hear from you and find out what fabric you would like them to stock. They are happy to source something for you specially and they are able to get many things not listed on their website, so just ask. I’d personally love to see more cottons/cotton blends, but as it’s still early days yet I’m hoping we will see a lot of new additions over the coming months.

Offers and Discounts

White Tree has some unique ways of offering discounts including

  • Review a product and receive a 15% discount code
  • Like on Facebook, follow on Twitter or Pinterest and receive a 15% discount code
  • Sign up for their newsletter to receive a 10% discount code

There is also free delivery on orders £20 and over, which is a lot less then some other online retailers, so lots of ways to save which appeals to my thrifty-ness.

White Tree have also kindly offered any of my readers 20% off and free delivery, with coupon code: BARMYBEETROOT so a barganous opportuniuty there.

A Sneak Preview of my first project


I’ve picked some Guipure lace which I chose entirely on it’s stunning beauty. This won out over all of the odds. I’ve never sewn with lace before, and I’ve certainly not used Guipure, so I’m going to need to do lots of preparation and research to make sure I show this stunning fabric off to it’s potential. I think reading Ami Lowden’s blog The Little Tailoress has had a subconscious effect on my sewing psyche. Now there is a lady who knows how to wear lace! Amy recently used some lace from White Tree to make this stunning day dress, and she is talking of releasing the patten soon. I hope she does!
I’ve chosen to couple this some Tilda Jane Blue Grey Cotton, which totally exceeded my expectations. You can’t move for floral prints in the fabric world, and some just seem to be carbon copies of others. I wasn’t sure how i’d feel about the fabric as I chose it from looking a low-res thumbnail but when it arrived I was relieved. It’s dainty, classy, doesn’t whiff of Cath Kidston and is going to be a perfect match for the guipure. So what am I making? I’m not saying yet! ha ha ha, but I will tell you it’s my own pattern which only exists in my head at the moment, and it’s going to challenge me sewing wise, so I hope I can pull it off. It’s going to take me awhile whilst I work on this, but I’m on it. It is not a cushion.

Other White Tree Bloggers

Amy Thomas from AlmondRock
Emma Berry from Frugally Peachy
Skye Pennant from Even Artichokes have Hearts
Katie Marcus from What Katie Sews
Louise Hobson from Sew Sensational
Laura Neal from Chambray and Curls
Lucie Hubbard from Love, Lucie
Jess Acton from Jessthetics
Louise Tweedy from Thread Carefully
Sam Molloy from Stitched Up By Samantha
Erin Currie from Seamstress Erin
Lu, Laura, Bridie, Jo from Sew It Yourself Challenge
Amanda Gledhill from Sew Deputy

Go add all of those lovelies to your bloglovin and keep up do date with our White Tree makes by following the White Tree Bloggers pinterest board.

Thanks again to everyone at White Tree for offering me this great opportunity. There will be more news on my make shorty, and i’ll be working on it between every moment of train track building, paddling pool splashing and 3rd Birthday party planning I get in July.

Adios, Amy x

Leeds College of Art 2014 Knock Knock End of Year Show – Surface Pattern Design

I decided to venture out for a short walk after a day at work, the sun was shining and it was a perfect evening to stroll down to Leeds College of Art for the 2014 Knock Knock, final year show. From my house the college is a couple of miles, a lovely walk through a forest, and then a little way more down Otley Road, a busy street lined with takeaways, cafes and buzzing with student energy. (It was 5pm so they were all out of bed)

I was particularly interested in seeing the Fashion, Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design and Fine Art, but with my 3 year old in tow I knew I wouldn’t get to see as much as I wanted. The first room we stumbled across was the Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design and as soon as we walked in I was completely mind blown by the quality and sheer vibrancy of the exhibition pieces on display. The colours jumped of the walls and screamed to be turned in to something wearable. I felt tingles and excitement glancing over the designs, looking where to concentrate my attention first. All I could see were visions of the many, many dresses I would make if I had this glorious fabric at my disposal. There was wallpaper on display too, just to add, but I was sure they would all work as fabric designs too.

As we walked around I entertained Evan by asking him to collect the student’s business cards for me. Ok perhaps not quite as fun as Fifa 2014 panini stickers, but he collected 18 for me so didn’t do to bad. No photography was allowed in the exhibition, so all of the following images are taken from the artists blogs (copyright individual artists). So without further waffle, I think it’s best I let the images do the talking, and I encourage you to find out more about each designer from the links included. I present to you my choice picks from the show, do let me know what you think!

Constance Robin



Amira Nahar



Laura Fernandez




Natalie Lea Owen


Natalie Powell



Ellie White



Sophie Brabbins



Aren’t they all wonderful – what talented ladies! I want to say congratulations to all the students for putting on such an amazing exhibition and finishing their degrees. I’ve only featured a small number here, and there is much more to look at if you visit the show in person, which I would highly recommend you do.

I’m off to make some new arty friends and to explore the possibilities of sourcing some independently designed fabric :) Do let me or the artists know if you were inspired by this post.

Knock Knock is held at Leeds College of Art, Blenheim Walk and Vernon Street buildings and runs from June 14th – 19th June 2014

Bye for now,
Amy xx

The did you make that Sew Sessment!

I have recently started following Karen’s sewing, knitting and crochet blog and have not only enjoyed seeing all of the gorgeous clothes she makes, but also reading about her attitude to sewing as a lifestyle. Her reasons for sewing, ‘like yoga or a meditation‘ completely strike a chord with me, and I often tell people I sew for sanity! It’s my space, my time, away from demands of daily life where I can be free and give the left hand side of my brain a time to jump up and down, do somersaults and sing (mostly out of tune).

When I saw Karens recent post on her Sew Sessment I thought it was genius. How practical of you karen to take such a pragmatic and honest approach to your sewing. Reflecting on our creativity and habits helps us feel good about our achievements and our future. It should help us develop our skills and provide direction. I thought what better time to carry out this exercise than at the start of my blog, and then in a years time I can re-do the Sew Sessment and see what has changed.

So here are my answers, and at karens request I did them quickly!

Top Three Items That I Wear For Home:

Leggings, slippers, hoody

Top Three Items That I Wear For Work:

Dresses, cardigans, leggings

Top Three Sewing Talents (go on, show off!):

Can do attitude, Good knowledge of design and colour schemes, thriftiness

Top Three Sewing Weak Spots (ouch!):

Rushing, using fabric other than cotton, distracted by other projects

Top Three Sewing Goals:

Professional training, build up an everyday wardrobe for me, design more fun patterns for boys

Top Three People Who Enable Me:

My partner (Aww, he would love to know I said that), My Son – the perfect model, other bloggers! (You awesome creative lot)

Top Three People I Enable:

Friends, wider online community, my mum

Top Three Reasons I Can’t Sew:

Working full time, looking after my son, oh and the other half sometimes needs attention too.

Top Three Reasons I Can Sew:

I have to! – for sanity, creative outlet, save money (erm….. not sure this is true)


5 toddler pattern releases before the end of year. And to sew chiffon. Cheeky 2nd challenge, I love a challenge.

Thanks Karen!

Hopefully lots of ideas there I can work on over the next few months. I’d particularly like to concentrate on items that get worn. Seeing all the lovely dresses (Hello Dolly Clackett) makes it so hard to not dream up gorgeous garments that might not get much skin time. If I am as thrifty as I say I am, I need to make sure items are getting worn, and not hanging at the back of my wardrobe. So it looks like a few pairs of leggings are on the cards then?

It is also, Karen who gave me a kick up the backside to get blogging. Reading her advice to people like me:
“It (blogging) is a fantastic way of making friends, both online and in real life. My world has become richer, brighter and much more fun because people like you read, comment – and maybe have your own blogs or are thinking of setting one up. Do it! I promise, you’ll never look back…”

Who doesn’t want a richer, brighter world? Sounds perfect, so thanks Karen for enabling me. Maybe if we meet one day I’ll get to buy you a cocktail I know you like so much. x