Reader Makes: Trendy Hipster Bag from my new book, Style and Swing

Delighted to come across a blog post, at Linda’s Quilt Mania, about the Trendy Hipster Bag that Linda has made from my new book, Style and Swing. Linda makes the most gorgeous samples for displaying at Katja’s Quilt Shoppe, in Kamloops, Canada. What do you think of her version and don’t you just love the fabrics she’s used?

Trendy Hipster Bag from Style and Swing: 12 Structured Handbags for beginners and Beyond. Made by lindasquiltmania

Here it is on display at Katja’s Quilt Shoppe, where you can buy these gorgeous fabrics and a copy of Style and Swing!

Trendy Hipster Bag from Style and Swing made by lindasquiltmania

If you’d like to have a go at making this or other bags from my book, it’s available through most good book stores and from Amazon, worldwide. You can also get it direct from the publishers, Martingale’s / That Patchwork Place or order a signed copy from SusieDDesigns. Here’s my Trendy Hipster Bag, which I made using fabrics from the Comma collection by Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic for Moda Fabrics.

Style and Swing - 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond - Project 5

White Tree Fabrics Dressmaking Project – McCalls K3601

I joined the White Tree Fabrics blogging team a while back and, at long last, I have my first completed project to show off!

I chose some lovely Tilda fabrics and McCalls pattern K3601, both supplied by White Tree Fabrics, to make a kaftan-style top. This has also been the first thing I’ve made with my brand new overlocker, more about that in another post! So not only did I have a lovely new top to make, I could also make it on my new machine and hopefully end up with a professional looking piece of clothing.

I found this McCalls pattern quite easy to follow, but… it did take little while to get the collar right as it was slightly confusing as to how it would end up the right way around! Got there in the end though, I just needed to follow the instructions very carefully. You need to fold the outer edges of the collar section to wrong side and press, then pin it, wrong side up, to the front/back neckline, also wrong side up.

Showing the collar construction for McCalls K3601

After stitching around the neckline and the marked centre line, which is then cut to open the neckline slit, it’s turned to the right side of the front/back of top. Then pinned in place and topstitched around the edges.

Dressmaking - McCalls Pattern K3601 neck detail

The collar detail of McCalls pattern K3601

Due to my own mistake (rushing ahead) I ended up having to do set-in sleeves rather than the easier method of sewing the shoulder edges onto the front/back before sewing the sleeve and side seams. I’d already sewn the sleeve seams by the time I’d noticed and couldn’t be bothered unpicking. It worked out just fine though as they didn’t need any gathering to fit. They fitted into the armhole really well and I was so pleased (relieved!) with the result. I needed more practice with set-in sleeves anyway!! LOL

McCalls sewing pattern K3601

So here’s my finished top, ta da…

Finished Top McCalls pattern K3601

White Tree Fabrics have generously given me a special coupon code for readers to get a fantastic 20% discount and free postage on any orders. Visit www.whitetreefabrics.com to view their lovely range and use the code SUSIED when purchasing anything.

New Dressmaking Project with White Tree Fabrics

I’m delighted to have joined the ‘Blog Team’ for WhiteTree Fabrics. I’m so proud to be a part of this new team of bloggers/sewists, who have the privilege of trying out some of the fantastic sewing products and dressmaking fabrics available from WhiteTree Fabrics.

Blog Team for White Tree FabricsSo what’s it all about? Well, in their own words:

“White Tree fabrics are proud to be working with some truly inspirational people, all of who are enthusiastic bloggers who love sewing, fabrics, crafting and creating their own wardrobe. They also happen to be very talented!

Some of our bloggers are fairly new to the world of sewing, bringing their fresh ideas to the team, while others have a wealth of experience, skills and knowledge to offer and share. We’re hoping that whatever stage our bloggers are at, their creations, ideas and sewing projects give you lots of inspiration and information, as well as a good idea of what you can achieve when you have some great fabric and the right crafting tools. Seeing a photograph of a dressmaking material is one thing, watching it transform into a garment is another! This is where we hope to share the creative process with our customers and creative online community.”

WhiteTree Fabrics' Blog Team

WhiteTree Fabrics’ Blog Team

The range of sewing essentials, patterns and fabrics on the newly revamped website at www.whitetreefabrics.com is so appealing. I ended up taking a note of quite a few new dressmaking projects I’d like to attempt and fabrics which I’d like to use. I managed to whittle my list down to choosing some lovely co-ordinating Tilda fabrics in Martine Bluegrey and Jane Blue Grey. I chose a McCall’s Kwik Sew pattern, K3601 – Pull-over Tops. I think this will make a really nice staple addition to my wardrobe and it doesn’t look too difficult to make. (she says!!!)

K3601 McCalls Sewing Pattern – Pull-over Tops

K3601 McCalls Sewing Pattern – Pull-over Tops

 

Lisa, at WhiteTree Fabrics, sent my parcel containing the gorgeous Tilda fabrics and interfacing, with the pattern and even the sewing thread to follow. Everything I need! How amazing is that! I can’t wait to get started! Now, I just need to make some time for it! I’ll let you know how I get on with making this lovely top.

Tilda Fabrics from WhiteTree Fabrics

My Trusty Janome 7025 – Sewing Machine Review

The first brand new sewing machine I bought for myself was a Janome 7025. I purchased it in 2012 for about £199 (now retails at around £219, exclusive to John Lewis department store). Even though it’s described as a beginner’s sewing machine, I feel that it’s much more than that and suitable for all levels of sewers as long as you don’t need to do anything too elaborate. It does most of the jobs I need it to do, it’s sturdy and very reliable. I’d been faithfully using my mum’s old sewing machine ever since I was a teenager but I’d eventually took the plunge to buy a new machine, when the old one became more of a pain than a pleasure to sew with. This was a major purchase for me at the time. I was just starting up my sewing pattern business and didn’t have many pennies to rub together. I’ll never forget how excited I was about buying this. Even though I’ve bought a more advanced machine since, I still keep going back to my trusty Janome because it’s just so nice to sew with. It has a few minor shortfalls but definitely makes up for any of these in it’s ease of use and reliability.

Sewing Machine Janome 7025Having been used to sewing on a really old machine for so long, this was an absolute dream to use. I was a bit nervous using it at first but I needn’t have been as it was extremely easy to set up and use. I guess that’s why it’s billed as a beginner’s machine as it isn’t difficult to use at all and the manual that comes with it is easy to understand.

Issue I had with the machine:

Unfortunately, the machine broke down just 11 months after I bought it (I must admit to thinking that I’d made a big mistake purchasing it). It came with a 2 year warranty though so I called John Lewis and they collected it free of charge and gave it a good going over – they had to send it back to Janome to strip it down! Basically, the machine started making a horrible noise when sewing and was slowing down for some reason. The hand wheel also felt a little bit stiff. The foot pedal has a low and high speed setting and I changed it from low to high. This seemed to solve the problem and it worked fine but soon began slowing down again, to the point that I could hardly sew and the hand wheel was really stiff. It eventually wouldn’t turn at all, everything just seized up. This all happened over just a few days use. The problem turned out to be that the self-lubricating parts inside (at the hand wheel end) had not been lubricated enough at the time of manufacture and so this caused it all to eventually seize. So, they sorted it all out and serviced the machine and I’m happy to report that I’ve never had a problem with it since. Phew! I was so happy to get it back in full working order and I loved using it even more as it’s been so reliable.

The pros:

  • Very easy to set up and use
  • Has an automatic needle threader
  • Extremely reliable with consistent stitches
  • Tension is always consistent, very rarely need to adjust
  • Decent range of stitch widths and lengths
  • The needle position can be altered to suit
  • Reverse button for back tacking
  • Has integrated drop-feed for embroidery
  • Good range of stitch options, 24 in total, including satin stitches
  • Drop-in bobbin is easy to thread up and has clear cover so you know when it needs re-filling
  • 1-step button hole function
  • Machine supplied with a hard cover
  • It’s not too heavy so can be carried easily but just as importantly it’s not too light so feels well built and substantial
  • It copes extremely well with all kinds of fabrics, including thick layers. I make bags, sometimes with lots of layers, and it sews through it all so easily. I’ve also used it to sew denim, faux leather and suede, again it coped really well with the thickness.
  • Free-arm facility
  • Good range of seam allowance markings with good visibility

The cons:

  • It’s a little bit noisy
  • The self-lubricating parts needed attention back at the manufacturer’s

Specifications of the Janome 7025

H28 x W42 x D17cm

Weight – 7kg

What the retailer says about it:

The Janome 7025 is suitable for sewing all types of fabrics and gives you a good choice of sewing options. Its rotary action ensures a smooth bobbin feed, while the view-through cover lets you spot when you need to change the bobbin. The 1-step buttonhole function makes it easy to insert a buttonhole, while there are another 24 stitch options to select. The automatic needle threader gets you started quickly, the side cutter lets you finish the job quickly. Other features include integrated drop feed (useful for embroidering); reverse button (for strengthening a stitch); and auto thread tension (for continuous feed). The machine is also supplied with a hard cover.

Accessories include: a quilter guide and standard foot; additional feet include zipper, blind hem, buttonhole and overedge. It also includes lint brush, spool cap – large and small, spare spool pin, spool pin felt, screwdriver, spare bobbins, spare needles.

Janome 7025 Sewing Machine

 

Meet my new sewing friend – the Lady Valet Dress Form

I’ve been wanting a dressmaker’s dummy for some time now and, finally, I have one! Despite being obsessed with making bags, I’m keen to have a go at making some clothes for myself. I don’t know if it’s been the amazing Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing or the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee which has spurned me on. I also enjoy all the inspiring sewing blogs out there and I desperately need to improve my Summer wardrobe. Whatever, I think I’m going to enjoy setting myself this new challenge. So, this was the perfect excuse to treat myself to a dress form and here ‘she’ is…

The Lady Valet Dress Form

The Lady Valet Dress Form

You wouldn’t believe how difficult it can be to choose the right dress form! I thought I could just do a quick search, within my budget, and get one ordered up. But, there are so many different ones available, I was overwhelmed. A few that I’d thought would be good, mainly due to being reasonably priced, turned out to be totally unsuitable. They weren’t adjustable enough, had flimsy stands, didn’t have enough padding on the body (for pinning directly into it)… I only began considering all these things after reading through some reviews. I’m so glad I did that, as I started off not knowing the first thing about choosing a dress form. I though it might be helpful to write about it here, in case anyone else is having trouble choosing the right one.

First of all there’s the adjustable features to consider. I’ve had four kids, so I’m far from a standard size. This created problems, whilst a small size dummy was perfect for my hip size, it was no good for my upper half. I’m also quite short, only 5′ and a bit, so I had to look at forms with 8 part bodies, rather than just 4, so that I could also adjust the measurement from nape of neck to waist. I then noticed, from user reviews, that some models aren’t very durable – the stands can be flimsy – and many didn’t have enough padding enabling fabric to be pinned directly onto the dummy. My list of potentials was slowly narrowing…

I don’t have a sewing room (oh, I wish), just a corner of the dining room which is open plan to the living room, so it was important that the form looked nice too as it would be permanently on show. I finally came across a few really good reviews about the Lady Valet Dress Form. The more I read about it and looked over the specs, etc, the more I wanted this one. The medium size would adjust to my sizes – it is an 8 part body with 12 adjustable dials. It was consistently reviewed as being of great quality, very adjustable, enough padding on the body and a good solid wooden stand which offered stability. Then came the price crunch though. It retails at around £149 (GBP), way out of my budget. Oh well, sigh! Not to be beaten though, I did more searches, eventually searching on ebay to see if anyone happened to be selling a second hand one. Well, I was so chuffed when I found a brand new one, boxed and my size, being sold for £99. Perfect! Still quite a bit to spend, but I was happy with saving so much on the one I wanted and reassured myself that it will pay for itself over time. I was so pleased with this purchase, the reviews were right. It adjusts really easily, it’s fantastic quality, it’s robust but looks great too. Well worth the money. Now that I have this, I’d definitely say that even the full price is well worth it.

Lady Valet Dress Form - Review

Now for some easy-to-do sewing patterns and some nice dressmaking fabrics. I have some lovely tops in mind to begin with. Oh, the delights of shopping for patterns and fabric! I’ll also keep you posted on my new dressmaking adventures, or miss-haps  as the case may be!

Bookazine Giveaway! Pro Guide to Sewing

Have you seen the new bookazine Pro Guide to Sewing? I was so pleased to receive a review copy last week, courtesy of Future Publishing, and I can honestly say that it’s well worth getting your hands on. It’s packed with great projects and ‘how to’ expert guides, covering a wide range of sewing techniques. What’s more, I’ve got an extra copy to give away! If you’d like this fab publication to land on your doormat please leave a comment. I’m happy to post it anywhere in the world, by the way. I’ll pick a name out of the hat on Friday 14th March 2014.

Pro Guide to Sewing Bookazine

Pro Guide to Sewing is a 160 page ‘bookazine’ (more than a magazine, almost a book) which includes a wide variety of projects and a range of advanced techniques to learn. When I first pulled this from it’s envelope, I was really impressed. It felt almost like a book! Lovely quality and thickness to it.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the projects or techniques, you know what it’s like when you’re promised ‘expert’ guides? Well, I was pleasantly surprised at the challenges the projects offer and the expert guides really are just that – advanced techniques which are clearly explained and have helpful diagrams to elaborate. I really liked the fact that, following each technique guide, there follows an exciting project to try out the new skills you’ve just learned (or improve on skills that you already have).

Pro Guide to Sewing Bookazine - Contents Page

Pro Guide to Sewing Bookazine – Contents Page

The expert guides have step-by-step illustrations and teach a range of advanced techniques such as seam finishing, zips, piping, interfacing, frills & pleats, buttons & buttonholes, elastic – gathering and smocking, embroidery, quilting, applique, bag making and stuffed toys, all with lovely projects to have a go at too. The 24 patterns have been selected from the best books, blogs and industry insiders.

Bookazine - Pro Guide to Sewing

The Pro Guide to Sewing Bookazine is available from WHSmith and other newsagents, priced at £9.99, or you can get it online (post free) by visiting My Favourite Magazines. If you’re in Europe, the price is £10.99 and for the USA and rest of the world it’s £11.99 (all post free!)

If you’re just starting out in sewing, there’s also a Beginner’s Guide to Sewing bookazine available. It has 28 projects to make!

Beginner's Guide to sewing

FYI – I don’t get any commission for this post or the links it contains, just my complimentary copy of the bookazine. I’m genuinely enjoying this new publication and just wanted to share it with everyone. Also I’m chuffed to be able to offer someone else a free copy too. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Remember to leave a comment if you’d like a chance of winning a free copy of the Pro Guide to Sewing. I’ll be posting it to one lucky reader (anywhere in the world) after I’ve randomly drawn a name on Friday 14th March 2014. Good Luck!!

Love Patchwork and Quilting – Review and Special Trial Offer

A while back, I spotted some trial issues of a new quilting magazine and really liked the look of it. So, I promptly signed up for a subscription offer. I’m so pleased I did! Now, on issue 5, I really look forward to the magazine dropping onto the doormat each month.

Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine review

Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine – issues 1 – 5

The thing that drew me towards Love Patchwork and Quilting was the fresh, modern look. I like to dabble in patchwork and quilting and would like to learn more, however I wanted something with a modern twist. As you know, I love to use vibrant fabrics in my sewing creations and I love the fact that the designs in the new magazine use lots of bright, modern fabrics in their projects.

As well as quilt designs to try, there’s also lots of new ideas for using patchwork and quilting skills to make a variety of craft projects too, such as homewares, accessories, toys and bags. There’s plenty of interesting projects to have a go at. If you want to take a break from sewing and put your feet up, the magazine offers a really good read too. It boasts regular features such as:

Love Life: shopping news – fabrics, homewares, accessories and more…

Stitching Notes: A monthly column, by the fabric designer Jeni Baker. Jeni gives amazing insight into the world of quilting and always has loads of interesting tips and advice to share.

Love Fabric: a round-up of exciting new fabric ranges available.

Feature: inspirational behind the scenes features, fabric designers, fabric shops, etc.

My Space: each month we’re invited into the work space of some very admiral fabric designers and sewists.

Techniques Focus: if you’re new to quilting techniques or still learning, a very useful guide is included each month. It covers all the basics and is extremely well explained.

Exclusive Subscription offer:

When I notified Future Publishing that I was doing a post about their fab mag, they very kindly offered a fantastic subscription deal to offer readers. So, if you’d like to see what all the hype is about, you can try the magazine out too. With Mother’s Day being just around the corner, this could be the ideal gift idea for a crafting/sewing mum.

UK Subscription offer + 6 monthly rates for overseas readers:
UK – Try 3 issues for just £3 when you subscribe today / USA, Europe and rest of world – special 6 month rates offer
www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/LPQ31K

Terms and conditions: This offer is for new UK/overseas print subscribers only.
You will receive 13 issues in a year. For full terms and conditions click here: myfavm.ag/magterms Offer ends: 31st May 2014

Offer for North American / Canada audiences:
Try 3 issues for just $10 when you subscribe today
www.imsnews.com/quilting-2020

Terms and Conditions: This deal is for new North American print subscribers only. You will receive 13 issues in a year.
For full terms and conditions please email us at subscribe@imsnews.com. Offer ends: 31st May 2014

Subscription benefits:
– Make great savings on the shop price
– Receive a lovely FREE gift on every issue
– Subscription prices are inclusive of delivery
– Receive 13 issues a year
– Never miss an issue

Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing – Book Review

I have been eyeing up this fabulous book, aptly named Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, ever since it was published and decided at the last minute, to put it on my Christmas/birthday wishlist – I’m one of those annoying people who has a birthday a few days after Christmas. Lucky girl that I am, one of Santa’s little helpers (aka Mum) gifted it to me! Well, this book is now one of the most favourite sewing books.

Book Review - Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing

I’m mainly a bag and accessory making kind of girl but I also have a keen interest in clothes making too. I’ve only ever dabbled in making the odd kid’s outfit before though, so maybe a new challenge? The thing I found most appealing about this book is that it has the most gorgeous dress designs from the 40’s and ’50’s and it has an extensive section of techniques to learn. So, if nothing else, I’m sure to learn a whole stack of new (or rather vintage) techniques.

Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch

It won’t matter if you’re a beginner (like I am, of clothes making) or you’re an advanced sewist, I think everyone is going to enjoy this and learn a ton of sewing stuff! This is the main reason I wanted the book – just to have a good read and learn more stuff about sewing. As I get further and further into reading it, though, I am smitten. When I get through all the amazing techniques to learn, I’m going to give the actual patterns a go. Before I began reading this book, I knew I had an interest in it but that’s as far as I’d probably get. Well, Gertie has the ability to make you feel like you can actually achieve all her fabulous creations with confidence. Her infectious words carry you along and before you know it, you’ll be positively itching to get started on her patterns.

Well, if I do pluck up the courage to have a go at these lovely patterns I’ll be sure to log my progress here. By the way, Gertie has a really good blog too (which I believe is how she started her sewing venture) it’s called Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing.

Dashwood Studio – New UK Based Textile Design Company

Have you heard of Dashwood Studio? It’s a brand new fabric house which is based in the UK and the fabrics they have on offer are soooo nice! They have a range of gorgeous, contemporary fabric collections which I’m sure all fabric lovers are going to absolutely adore.

Petite Street from Dashwood Studio

Dashwood specialises in producing beautiful, design-led fabric collections, collaborating with the best design talent the UK has to offer. Creative director, David Sweet, works closely with the designers who create collections showcasing their individual style and creative flair. The collections of contemporary cotton prints are very inspiring. I’ve already got a few projects in mind which I’m going to make from some of their fabrics. I really like them all but I think my favourites have to be Petite Street and Enchanted Forest.

Petite Street by ©Wendy Kendall

Wendy’s clean, graphic approach to design mixes playful patterns and textures with strikingly modern colour palettes. ‘Petite Street’ shows off her naïve hand drawn style mixed with geometric patterns creating a cool, modern collection, which will appeal to both children and adults alike.

Enchanted Forest by ©Phyllida Coroneo

Phyllida’s colour palettes and bohemian florals are influenced by her love of interiors and fashion styling, photography, culture and the British Landscape.‘The Enchanted Forest’ Collection was inspired by childhood memories of the Somerset Countryside and the magical series of ‘The Faraway Tree’ books by Enid Blyton.

So, where can you get these stunning prints?

The USA stockist is www.fabricworm.com and the Canadian stockist is www.warpandweft.ca

The UK stockists are Button Up and Stitch, Fabric HQ, Hulu Crafts, The Bramble Patch, Miss Tilly’s Fabric Emporium, The Home Makery, Sew Scrumptious, Quilt Room, Seam Star and Elephant in my Handbag

Sewing Machine Review – Frister and Rossmann Professional Quilter’s Edition QE404

A while back my Janome sewing machine packed in and had to be sent off to be fixed. Meanwhile I was going to be left without a sewing machine for several weeks. Not good! Being an essential part of my business, really can’t work without one, I decided I’d need to buy a new one. The fact that my current machine had stopped working, highlighted the fact that I should maybe have a backup so that I could always have one on standby.

Well, the justification over, the new one I found was a Frister & Rossmann Professional Quilter’s Edition QE404. Not that I’m a quilter, although I dabble in it sometimes, but I was drawn to this one due to all the features it had and there were quite a lot of good reviews for it online. The bonus was that it was priced very reasonably for what you get, £289 and it came with a fantastic freebie bundle. I bought my machine from The Ironing Press Company which has shops on Ebay and Amazon.

Sewing Machine Review

I’ve had a chance now to give it a good run in and I must say it’s been a great choice. All-in-all I think it would be suitable for beginners and experienced alike. One word of warning if you’re buying this. The instruction booklet has been translated into English and has spelling mistakes and bad grammar. There are very clear diagrams throughout, though, so I found it easy enough to follow over-all. Here’s a list of some features:

Stitches: It has 170 plain and decorative stitches, including up to 6m alphabet stitching. I’m not sure if I’ll ever use them all but the range of stitch types is fantastic, there’s even pretty floral ones, animal ones, Japanese symbols, the list is endless. The machine also boasts 5 one-step automatic button holes, with 13 different styles, plus eyelet stitch.

Sewing Machine decorative stitches

Electronic / Computerised: this was a first for me, to have an electronic computerised machine, and I’m very impressed. It has an interactive LCD display screen, small but does the job and shows clearly what has been selected. It’s also helpful if you’ve done something wrong or a glitch arises, as it immediately stops the machine and shows a symbol to indicate what’s wrong. There’s a stitch memory so that you can program your selection of stitching, including number or letter sequences and it can stop at the end of your chosen sequence. Most of the functions are controlled electronically, so at a push of a button you can easily access some very useful features and quickly adjust the stitch length or width.

Electronic Computerised Sewing Machine

Automatic Needle Threader: There’s a lever that you can bring down to help thread the needle. I had this on my old machine but never used it as thought would be fiddly. I tried it on the new one and always use now as it’s really good. It’s a bit difficult to use at first but after you’ve tried it once or twice it’s a breeze. The needle must be at it’s highest position then you bring the lever down and follow the instructions for where to hook your thread. There is a little tiny grabber that goes through the needle eye and, on release of the lever, it pulls the thread though.

Sewing Machine Automatic Needle Threader

Twin Needle Threading: An extra spool pin is supplied which is slotted into place to allow two different threads to be used along with a twin needle. You simply thread up as normal and then put each thread through each needle eye (automatic needle threader can’t be used).

Speed Limiter: I’ve found this to be a really useful feature. You can control how slow or fast you stitch, great for beginners who may prefer to stitch slowly at first and then gradually build up the speed as confidence grows. Even for the experienced though, it’s useful for the times that you need to control the speed you stitch. I like the way the machine starts off slowly and then within seconds it gets up to the maximum speed that you’ve set. If you try to press the foot pedal too fast when you first start sewing, the machine will not start. It stops itself until you lift your foot off and then press it down slower. I found this a bit annoying at first but soon got used to it and I think this would be another good feature for beginners, so that you start off slowly and gradually build up the speed.

Stop/Start FeatureThis function allows you to stitch automatically, without the foot pedal being plugged in. Very useful I think. I tried this on a slow speed to begin with until I got used to using the stop/start button instead of the foot pedal.

Needle Up/Down Function: This is one of my favourite functions on the machine. You maybe wouldn’t think it would make such a difference but it really does. It’s not until you have this feature that you realise what a useful one it is. It eliminates the need to use the hand wheel and makes sewing so much quicker and less fiddly, as a result. A handily placed button is used for setting whether the needle should be up or down whenever you stop stitching. When you start off, you simply position your fabric under the foot as normal and press the button to make the needle go down. Start stitching and whenever you stop, to adjust or move the fabric around, the needle will stop in the down position. When you’ve stopped sewing just press the button to put the needle back into up position.

Reverse Button: Most machines have this feature for back-stitching but, being electronic, this one took a little bit getting used to. It works really well but when you press the button you need to be aware that the machine will slow down (helpful) and there’s a very slight delay (1-2 stitches) before it goes into reverse. So you need to press the button just before you want to go backwards.

Free Arm: This is essential for sewing trouser legs and sleeves. I use this facility a lot when I’m bag making, mostly for stitching around the top edges of bags and accessories. On this machine, you remove the accessories box to allow you to fit trouser legs and sleeves, or in my case bags, over the free arm.

Sewing Machine free arm facility

Quilting and Embroidery: 20 of the stitches have been specially designed for quilting, giving you plenty of variety. The machine also comes with a flat bed table extension to increase working area. The feed dogs can be dropped for doing free hand embroidery or for traditional darning.

Sewing Machine Frister & Rossmann QE404

Sewing Feet: I am so impressed by the range of sewing feet supplied: general all-purpose foot, narrow hem foot, buttonhole foot, gathering foot, blind hem foot, straight sewing foot, overlock foot, cording foot, embroidery foot, walking foot and cutting/sewing foot. I don’t think I’ll want for any other feet ever (apart from a teflon coated one I’d bought separately for sewing laminated cotton).

Accessories and Freebies: I think everything you could need to start sewing comes with this package. As well as all the extra feet (above) it comes with the usual accessories: bobbins, screw drivers, spool caps, button hole cutter, extra spool pin and finger protector. The extra freebies I got were a pack of scissors in all sizes, thread nippers, loads of extra needles in different sizes, a box of 10 large sewing threads, seam ripper and a sewing essentials kit.

All-in-all this sewing machine is a fantastic all-rounder. I love using it and it’s ant-jam rotary mechanism is very quite and works smoothly. It’s capable of sewing all types of fabric, from light weight delicates to heavy denim.