Merry Making 2014: 10 gifts below $10 for People who Love Sewing

It’s a necessary evil of the quintessential Christmas party, the one that everyone loves to hate but hates to love, which can pay off spectacularly or end up with yet another addition to your growing office mug collection. That’s right, today on Merry Making, we’re talking about the Secret Santa gift exchange.

We’ve all been there – the last-minute scramble to buy secret santa gifts on a budget of $10 for a co-worker or friend that we know nothing about apart from the fact that she sews in her free time, seems to like buying fabric and posts an awful lot of pictures of clothing seams on her instagram. Well, never fear because the 10 gifts below $10 for Sewing People guide is here!

1. Water Soluble Marker US$2.99

2. Glass Head Pins US$3.49

3. Bias Tape Maker US$8.99

4. Hem Facing US$2.99

The thing about these sewing tools and notions, is that you can never have too many of them. I always find myself losing pins or running out of bias tape, so I imagine that anyone who sews regularly would be more than happy to get one of these in a gift exchange.

For a longer list of tools that a beginner sewer might need, hop on over to Sunday’s post here.

5. Ribbon & Trimming 

Jacquard Trim from Sticker Club on Etsy US$4.87 for 2 metres

Magyar Cross Jacquard Cotton Trim from Sticker Club US$3.58 for 2 metres

6. Sewing Charms 

Singer Sewing Machine Charm from wholesaleretail US$0.20

Thread Spool Sewing Charm from Bohemian Findings US$2.50

Great for anyone who has a charm bracelet, or even to attach to a wallet or bag zip. Given how cheap they are you can even pick a whole collection and make a full bracelet as a gift!

7. Sewing Labels 

Sewaholic ‘Handmade with Love’ labels CAD 4.98

Sewaholic ‘One of a Kind’ Labels CAD 4.98

Printed Ribbon Label by CrabTreeLaneShop US$2.75 /m

Vintage Style Linen Labels by SugarBSupplies US$6.25/yard

Any dressmaker or quilter deserves to be proud of their makes! These sewing labels are sure to be a hit with anyone sewing for themselves or as gifts for others.

8. Sewing-Related Posters 

Sewing Love Poster by Nook and Pine starting from US$4

Sewing Typography Poster from Nook and Pine from US$6

Pin It Pin It Real Good Poster by Boo in Stitches from US$10

You can’t go wrong with these fun sewing-related posters, these would look great in anyone’s sewing studio!

9. Club BMV Membership US$9.99

A membership at Club BMV will let your giftee buy patterns and other goodies from Butterick, McCall’s, Vogue and Kwik Sew at a standard discount 20% off (even with sales). Be sure to do some snooping to check that they don’t already have a membership though!

10. Gift Certificates

Who doesn’t like gift certificates?? I certainly do! If you’re really at your wit’s end, or you want to make sure the your giftee likes what they get, then a gift card or gift certificate from their favourite fabric store or indie pattern designer is definitely the way to go.

If you’re feeling REAL generous (like US$36 and above generous), consider gifting someone who loves dressmaking a 6-month subscription to Seamwork Magazine. This subscription will get him/her 2 free patterns a month at a cost of US$6 a month and guarantee you a lifetime of eternal gratitude and free cookies (your giftee might even be so grateful that they’ll make up a pattern or two in your size!) Unfortunately, Seamwork isn’t offering 1 month gift certificate options at the moment or this would definitely have been number 1 on my list.

Any of you have any other recommendations for great secret santa (or sewing santa) gifts? I’d love to hear them!

Merry Making 2014: A Christmas Gift Guide for the Beginner Sewist

It’s just around that time of the year now when people start getting REALLY excited for Christmas, so what better time than to kickstart a Christmas-themed series here on the blog – Merry Making 2014! For the next 12 days (ie. the 12 days before Christmas), I’ll be posting all about Christmas-related projects, ideas for gifts, decorations and recipes and updates on how I’m prepping for Christmas this year. I’m really excited about it and I hope you guys are too (fingers crossed I can keep up with posting everyday!)

To start things off, today’s post is a Christmas gift guide for beginner and “pre-beginner” sewists. A lot of my friends have told me that they would love to learn garment sewing but don’t know where or how to begin – if you know someone like that and would like to encourage them to begin sewing this Christmas, then read on for a list of gifts that might help them get started!

BOOKS

I don’t own a great deal of sewing books, though from what I’ve seen, a large majority of sewing books out there cater to the beginner sewist. I do own the following two books though, which I would recommend to anyone learning sewing for the first time.

Tilly & the Button’s Love at First Stitch

You’ll hear me enthuse a lot about Tilly’s great beginner patterns later, but honestly, Tilly writes great beginner instructions and I’m so glad I had this book when I first started out! This book eases the reader into the scary world of dressmaking, beginning with setting up your sewing machine, shopping for fabric (a personal phobia of mine), and sewing straight stitches, all the way through to installing invisible zippers and sewing buttonholes! It also comes with 5 patterns in 8 sizes, as well as instructions for drafting a skirt – a great deal at only GBP20 if you ask me.

Mend & Make Fabulous by Denise Wild

This book is targeted more at people wanting to get into refashioning and mending clothes rather than dressmaking itself. It includes full illustrations of creative ways to mend things (think: darning, stains and frayed hems) and also ways to freshen up an old garment that needs a new lease of life! Though I haven’t used this book extensively yet, i can see myself referring to it a whole lot when I finally get round to tackling the huge pile of clothes in my closet waiting to be mended!

PATTERNS

When I first took an interest in sewing, I had no idea that sewing patterns existed. To my mind, drafting was the only way to make a garment and the thought of having to learn something that complex before I could make my own outfits was a HUGE mental barrier to learning how to sew! I would have loved to receive an easy beginner-friendly pattern (or even a kit!) as a gift for Christmas, and it probably would have played a big part in encouraging me to tackle my first sewing project.

Here are a couple of great beginner patterns that I would recommend to anyone sewing their first garment:

Tilly & the Button’s Miette Skirt 

Specifically designed as a first dress-making project, this flared wraparound skirt from Tilly is simple to sew and doesn’t have zippers or buttonholes (or anything else that would discourage someone from sewing!) It even comes with pockets, how great is that?!

Sewaholic’s Rae Skirt

If wraparound skirts aren’t your thing, this offering from Tasia of Sewaholic is a great alternative! Also designed as as a very first sewing project (in collaboration with a sewing instructor no less!), this elastic skirt is quick to sew and is a great way to show off printed fabrics. It also looks totally wearable and not at all like a beginner’s first garment (which is more than I can say for some of my first few makes!).

Tilly & the Button’s Coco Dress and Top

The Coco pattern happens to be designed for knit fabric, which many beginners shy away from. In this case, Tilly has produced a great pattern for double knit (a stable knit fabric) that is both suitable for beginners and looks a lot more complicated than it actually is! This was the third garment I ever sewed (and for someone else, no less!) and can vouch for how easy this was to make. As a bonus, Tilly ran a step-by-step sew-along on her blog earlier this year with extra tips on how to sew up the Coco dress as well as ideas on how to customise it, take a look at it here!

Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank Top and Dress 

This is was actually the first real pattern I attempted solo! Not only was it a breeze to sew up (no darts, zippers or buttonholes!), it fit like a dream and graded easily between sizes. If you’re feeling a little more generous, you could also consider Megan Nielsen’s Beginner Pack, which include 4 patterns targeted at beginners for the price of 3!

Colette Pattern’s Ginger Skirt 

I haven’t sewn up this pattern personally, but I’ve seen many gorgeous versions of it floating around the internet. Plus, with Colette’s reputation for great, easy-to-follow instructions I’m pretty sure a new beginner will be able to tackle this with ease!

SEWING LESSONS 

Of course, one always learns best with one on one coaching. Consider checking out your local sewing shops or sewing schools for any classes they may be running and sponsor a friend to attend a sewing lesson there, or gift him/her a gift card or voucher so that they can sign up for their class of choice!

There aren’t too many options in sunny Singapore, but for those of you who live locally, try checking out this list of places offering sewing classes.

TOOLS & NOTIONS

Another gift option would be to assemble a kit of tools that a beginner sewist might need. If so, the following are some great gifts that would supplement any standard sewing kit:

Clover Chaco Pen 

Chalk in a pen form! Great for marking fabric and brushes away easily.

Air Erasable or Water Erasable Pens 

Pinking Shears and Embroidery Scissors 

Tracing Wheel and Tracing Paper 

    

Seam Gauge

For those of us who have already dived headfirst into the wonderful world of sewing, I’ve seen some Christmas gift guides out there with some really great ideas. I want pretty much all the books in Heather’s sewing book gift guide and am loving the “How Much Fabric?” Reference Cards suggested by Dixie, they’re so useful!

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? I know I would love me some Spotlight gift vouchers or if anyone out there is feeling really generous, maybe a new overlocker… *hint hint*

#SewingSanta International Style

20141208-IMG_6233

The last 2 weeks have been kind of dull as I’ve been cramming for exams (4 days to freedom!) and haven’t had any chance to do any sort of making. It doesn’t help that my family hasn’t gotten round to Christmas decorating or shopping, so the atmosphere at home has been decidedly un-Christmassy. All this changed today when the arrival of a very special package hit me with a sudden wave of the holiday spirit and I felt I had to share this with you guys right away!

As you may be aware, home-sewing isn’t a big thing in Singapore (yet), and as I have lamented (one too many times) before, I don’t know too many people within the sewing community based locally either. The direct result of this is that I hardly (in fact, never) get any sewing-related gifts which is well, kind of depressing.

Enter the #SewingSanta Blog Link-up run by Stitched Up from the Start which is essentially a secret santa exchange for people who love sewing. Though the main #SewingSanta link-up is being run only in the UK, I managed to link up with Natalie of Thread and Bobbins who I found through a fortuitous comment on Making & Marking!

Since Natalie is based in the US, and I’ve only heard amazing tales of the vintage sewing paraphernalia that one can find at their magical thrift shops, I was beyond excited to receive my package – and boy oh boy, it did not disappoint.

20141208-IMG_6242

20141208-IMG_6239

20141208-IMG_6245

20141208-IMG_6247

Vintage buttons (love the wings!), craft and crochet ribbon, floral fabric and the most adorable monkey fabric (I think it might be flannel? I’m not quite sure!) – how Natalie managed to get all that with our budget of GBP10, I will never know! Plus she wrote me a really sweet Christmas card (cue collective aww-ing).

I have plans for the monkey flannel to become a really comfy pair of Love at First Stitch Margot pyjama shorts and will most definitely be saving the floral fabric and buttons for a special project. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this international #SewingSanta exchange with me, Natalie, I hope you like your package as much as I love mine!

[Update: So Natalie got my package and she loves it! Hurray! Take a sneak peek at what I sent her here.]

In other news, I’ve decided to link my blog up to Bloglovin’ (since I use it on a daily hourly basis myself), so be sure to look me up and follow me for more updates! (I’ve got a whole series of Christmas making and sewing posts lined up *hint hint*)
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sew Many Sales, Sew Little Time // Black Friday Pattern Sales 2014 Part II

Following on from the my post earlier this week, here’s a quick update on some NEW Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales that have just popped up yesterday and today!

Colette Patterns 

30% off ALL patterns, ending TONIGHT, Friday Midnight PST!

Colette Patterns needs no introduction in the indie sewing sphere; from the Myrtle to the Laurel and their new Dahlia pattern, they’ve had sewists across the blogosphere raving about their easy-to-follow, beginner-friendly patterns and instructions.

Despite the great reviews, I only own one Colette pattern, the Dahlia, which I bought on impulse during their 15% off introductory sale. The thing is… Colette patterns are really quite expensive (U.P. US$14 or $12 for a PDF pattern), and that’s put me off buying any more of their patterns so far. If you’re budget-conscious like me (it sounds so much better than “cheapskate” doesn’t it), THIS IS YOUR MOMENT! CARPE DIEM!

As for me, I’ll be taking this chance to snap up copies of the Laurel and Iris (pictured above) patterns, both of which have been on my wishlist for a long, long time.

Megan Nielsen

20% off all PDF Patterns throughout this weekend!

 

Now to my knowledge Megan doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (her being in Australia and all that) so I was thrilled to find out she was throwing a Black Friday sale anyway! Megan’s patterns were the very first few patterns I bought when I was just starting out, and I would highly recommend them to anyone who likes her style. (She’s also incredibly responsive on instagram, which is so encouraging for anyone who is just starting to discover the wonder that is the online sewing community! Thanks Megan!)

I currently own her Breakwater Collection pattern pack (pictured directly above) which is a set of 4 patterns sold for the price of 3. A great bargain, if you ask me! I’ve sewed up the Eucalypt Tank and Dress and found them incredibly easy to grade between sizes and a quick make (instant gratification ftw). I also have plans to sew up the popular Tania Culottes (two circle skirts that make up a single pair of shorts how ingenious is that?!) and the Cascade skirt before Christmas, so be sure to pop back by this space if you’d like to see how those turn out! I also happen to think her Darling Ranges dress (first picture above) is adorable and have seen many cute versions on instagram so be sure to check that out too.

True Bias

20% off patterns from Friday through to Monday midnight (EST) using the code THANKS20!

Now strangely enough, this offer hasn’t been advertised on True Bias’ official blog / website (as far as I can tell), but it was posted on Kelli’s instagram page, which is official enough for me!

I haven’t made up either the Hudson pants or Sutton blouse as they don’t really fit into my style profile, but I’ve seen numerous makes across the blogosphere and they look awesome! For one, I’m really loving Heather Lou of Closet Case File‘s rendition of the Hudson pants (below) – how on earth these bloggers manage to make a pair of lounge pants look like acceptable daywear, I will never know.

If you’ve been looking for a comfy pyjama pants pattern, or if you want to get into the track pants trend, then you might want to check the Hudson pants out.

Sew Caroline

Sew Caroline has sales from Black Friday through to Cyber Monday, with a different sale category on offer for each day!

Friday: 50% off PDF patterns
Saturday: 30% off apparel and accessories
Sunday: 40% off printed patterns
Monday: 25% off EVERYTHING!

I’ve been eyeing the Out and About Dress for a while now, simply because I have a RTW dress that looks almost identical to the pattern and is a dream to wear! I may or may not be adding this to my shopping cart today…

If you follow Sew Caroline on instagram, you would have seen this gorgeous tote (below) posted earlier this week. You guys, if shipping from US / Canada was not insane I would be snapping this baby up in a heartbeat. If you like sewing and a good pun, THIS TOTE IS FOR YOU. (Bonus points if you like Iggy Azalea!)

See Kate Sew

All kids patterns $5, all women’s patterns $10, all paper patterns $15 and all tees and totes going for $15 each!

 

They’ve also got special bundles / packages going for a real steal, so if you’ve been eyeing anything from their store be sure to get over there and check it out!

I personally won’t be picking up anything from the store (student budget woes), but if I had the spare cash, or a kid, I would definitely be grabbing a hold of the children’s patterns or a tote (or two!)

Indie Sew

20% off ALL patterns on Monday, 1 December 2014 from 6am to 10pm MST!

I’ve never shopped from Indie Sew before but have spent many an afternoon poking around their site admiring the collection of pretty patterns for sale. In case you’re not familiar with the site, Indie Sew is a platform that aims to bring together the sewing community and promote the work of independent designers. So if your favourite indie designer isn’t hosting a Black Friday sale this year, fret not! Pop by Indie Sew and fingers crossed, they may have your desired pattern in stock.

I’ve been wanting to pick up Delia CreatesPleated Pencil Skirt pattern for a long time now, so I was really excited to find it available in the Indie Sew shop at a really good price. Time to get cracking on that work-appropriate wardrobe for next year!

McCall’s, Vogue, Butterick & Kwik Sew

And last but certainly not least, the McCall’s company is having a sale on ALL lines through Monday, 1 December 2014! Butterick & McCall’s patterns are going for $3.99 apiece, Vogue patterns are selling at $5.99 each and all Kwik Sew patterns are priced at $6.99 each.

I know shops in the US run sales on Big 4 patterns all the time, but as an international customer it simply isn’t worth the money to ship patterns from a single line (eg. Butterick) as and when these sales come out. Having all these lines on sale at once means that I can bulk purchase and ship them back at a lower cost!

I may or may not have already put in an order for 7 patterns this morning… which may or may not be the following:

Vogue V8784 – a wrap dress for woven fabric

Butterick 6129 – an off-shoulder dress

Butterick 6090 (above) – a pleated button-down dress

McCall’s 6696 – a shirt dress that EVERYBODY seems to be making at the moment

McCall’s 6505 – a lace shift dress

McCall’s 6028 – a sheath dress with raglan sleeves and contrast panel

Kwik Sew 3614 – a structure shorts pattern with fly front (I opted for this instead of B6061 as I heard Kwik Sew has a better crotch curve than Butterick. I’m not too sure how accurate this information is as I’ve never sewed pants… EVER, but I sure am excited to find out!)

And that’s all I have for now! I may update if new sales pop up over the weekend, but in the meantime, GO FORTH AND SPEND YOUR MONEY! MAY THE BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING LUCK BE WITH YOU.

 

Sew Many Sales, Sew Little Time // Black Friday Pattern Sales 2014

This being my first Black Friday after picking up sewing (and generally being clueless about Thanksgiving sales given that I live on the other side of the planet), I was overjoyed by the sudden wave of sales being announced by a whole bunch of indie pattern designers. 20% off storewide here, 50% off paper patterns there – I felt like a crazed shopaholic in a luxury outlet shopping mall with Burberry trenches and Prada Saffianos circling my head.

In a (futile) attempt to rein in my wild spendthrift tendencies, I made a list of sales currently being offered and the patterns I’m eyeing at the moment:

Tilly & the Buttons

15% off all patterns and workshops at Tilly Towers (you lucky lucky buggers living in London!)

Hurry though as this sale ends today (Tuesday 25 November 2014)!

This would be a great time to snap up the new Francoise 60s shift dress pattern or an autographed version of Tilly’s book – Love at First Stitch. I’ve already got her book as well as the Coco and Mathilde patterns (and may or may not have just ordered the Francoise… whoops!), and I highly recommend them all, especially for beginners.

 

Sewaholic Patterns 

20% off your order, ending Sunday 30 November 2014!

As a pear-shaped lady I’ve always taken a special interest in Tasia’s patterns, especially since they’re all so beautifully designed. I’m ashamed to admit though that I’ve only ever bought one of her patterns, the Hollyburn skirt, and have yet to sew it up… Never fear, this situation will soon be a thing of the past as I am even now loading the Renfrew top and Gabriola skirt patterns into my shopping cart!

I’m dying to get the Thurlow trousers pattern though Tasia has not yet made that into a pdf pattern. (I mean if there’s a pattern made for pear-shaped women that we ladies ought to buy it’s a pants pattern amirite?) The only thing stopping me is that shipping costs are a real pain when you live on the opposite side of the globe. Still, with 20% off it may be worth considering hmm…

 

Grainline Studios

20% off all patterns from 29 December 2014 to 1 December 2014!

It wasn’t until a month or two ago that I started following Grainline Studios, but I have seen their now iconic Archer Shirt and Alder Shirtdress popping up all over the sew-cial media (see what I did there?) since earlier this year. I’ve also read some rave reviews about their latest offering, the Linden sweatshirt, and it seems even the ladies over at the ever amusing GOMI thread have given Jen’s drafting skills their stamp of approval, so I’m guessing the patterns are pretty legit.

I’m not a big fan of the Alder shirtdress as I prefer less flare in such a blouse-y garment (also, it looks a tiny bit like maternity wear, don’t you think? No? Just me? Ok) but I have been eyeing their Maritime shorts, Scout Tee and Archer shirt so I may pick one (or all) of those up later this week.

 

Oliver + S Patterns

50% off paper patterns until 29 November 2014!

This one is for all your mummies out there! Unfortunately the discount only applies to Oliver + S and Straight Stitch Society patterns, really disappointing given that I was eyeing the Girl Friday Culottes from Liesl + Co, but great news for you ladies who actually have kids to sew for! (The only relations I have below the age of 20 are 2 days and 2 months old respectively, bummer)

 

Butterick 

Not an indie pattern company, but still a sale nonetheless, all Butterick Patterns are going for $3.99 on the McCall’s website till tonight, 25 November 2014!

I decided to pass on this one (what great self-restraint I have), mostly because the shipping would have cost more than the combined price of both the patterns I wanted. If you live in a more geographically favourable location than me, then this sale is well worth checking out! For the record, the patterns I was considering were: B6129, an off-shoulder dress with a yoke variation and B6090, a shirt dress.

Not forgetting of course, the Marianne Dress 15% launch discount and Caroline’s Blackbird Fabrics 20% discount both of which ended yesterday.

Well, that’s all I have for now! (I have a problem don’t I? I know, I know, I’m getting financial counselling from my boyfriend.)

Have you guys picked up anything from the sales yet? And if I’ve missed out any sales, please do let me know below! This is one shopaholic who likes (read: NEEDS) to keep tabs on simply everything!