My New Favourite Thing #8 Mini Croquis Books

I have a confession: I am a note book junkie. Wherever I go I have at least one notebook in my bag. My preferred size is between A5 and A6 and quadrille style paper although quadrille can be tricky to find over here so blank or lined will do. I hoard them much like I hoard fabric. Some are deemed too pretty to use and others I can’t bring myself to sully with ink or such. So I’m on a constant search; fabric and notebooks…don’t even get me started on pens!

I use these books for all the usual stuff, I don’t have a smartphone so my notebooks act as a retro smartphone. I also use them for inspiration; if I see an interesting outfit or detail I’d like to recreate, I rush to draw it out. The problem is that my drawing skills are rivalled only by a 4 year old who’s just learnt to hold a pencil correctly. By the time I come to review my “drawings” the original inspiration is long forgotten and bears little if any resemblence to my picture. ūüė•

Until now….browsing in Waterstones I found¬†these¬†tucked away behind the A4 and A5 spiral bound books. The answer to my problem!

These mini fashion sketchpads come in a packet of 3 mini notebooks.

As far as I can tell so far, each notebook has 4 different ridiculous poses, ridiculous in the way only croquis can be (who stands like that!?). Here’s a selection of the poses for your entertainment¬†20160803_14252620160803_142619And they are all front views. Each pad measures 9cm/3.5″ √ó16.5cm/6.5″. Perfect handbag size. Like most template books, the printed lines disappear if copied or scanned so you can pretend you’re a top notch fashion illustrator alongside all your other skills and talents!

And best of all, people not thinking you’re some sort of pervert for surreptitiously attempting to photograph them. Everyone’s a winner!

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My New Favourite Thing #8 Mini Croquis Books

Make your own pattern weights

If you like rotary cutting, tracing patterns, can’t use pins on your fabric, etc etc, you’ll know how vital pattern weights are. Usually I just reach for the closest heavy objects, books, scissors, cup of coffee (you can guess how that one ended). So I nipped into John Lewis to see what they¬†had. Of course I left empty handed and decided to make my own instead. This is how to do it:

  • Rummage around in the garage. Look for something weighty and flat bottomed. ¬†Failing that go to a DIY shop and see what they have there. Washers are popular and inexpensive (and can be painted up to look like biscuits). I found some square and rectangular washer type things.
    Expect the man in the shop to look at you funny as you attempt to explain what you’re looking for

    On their own they weren’t particularly heavy but remember, you can stack them to get the weight you want.

  • once you get home give them a good wash to get rid of any greasy bits or labels and allow to air dry.
  • stack them up and decide on how heavy you want them. At this point you can glue them together if you like.
  • I cover mine in Washi tape.
    Around the edges first

    I start by sticking a strip of tape around the edge to keep them together and then cover the remaining sections with more tape

    Fill in the rest
  • I use different tape for different weights. The lighter ones are best for tracing patterns onto paper and the heavier ones are best for cutting out fabric.

    Left- 82g; Middle- 152g; Right- 69g





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Make your own pattern weights

Life hack: loyalty cards

These days it’s seems like everyshop has some sort of loyalty card. It’s great for saving money but puts a real (literal) strain on your wallet. So I stole this idea off my friend Claire, ¬†who saw it on pinterest.

you will need


  • A hole punch
  • the ring bit from a key ring
  • a stack of loyalty cards

All you have to do is punch a hole in the top corner of each card.

Try to get the holes in approximately the same place on each card

You want to avoid punching the magnetic strip or any chips or code numbers. You might end up doing some upside down or back to front but that’s no big deal. I like to organise mine in catagories to make them easier to find:

  • Supermarkets
  • coffee shops/ food and drink/pubs
  • chemists/health and beauty
  • department stores

Then carefully I thread them onto the ring. If I have any paper cards I use plastic hole reinforcement stickers so they don’t tear off.

There, job done, all your cards are easy to find and not clogging up you wallet/purse. And everytime you go into a shop, the assistant will say “ooooh, that’s such a good idea!” And you’ll leave feeling a little bit smug ūüôā

Life hack: loyalty cards

My New Favourite Thing #6, pattern bags

Well, they’re not really pattern bags but that’s what I use them for. I got mine in my local craft shop and they come in a range of sizes. The ones I’m using at the moment are A5 and 8″x 8″. I believe, in North America you can get a better version in the comic book store. The ones I have are used to put your pretty home made cards in to keep them nice to sell. I haven’t been able to find a 7″ x 7″ bag locally yet.1462343005852-248880145

Me, I’ve been using them to put patterns in. Generally the A5 size is perfect for Simplicity but the larger sizes are good for indies, vogue and other big envelopes.

Perfect for keeping grubby fingers off

genius! I realise I am probably the last person ever to work this out but still! And another fantastic way to procrastinate! 


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My New Favourite Thing #6, pattern bags

My New Favourite Thing #1

When I was at the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show last week I happened upon this:

Megabrite LED small bayonet 3.5w light bulb

The Megabrite LED bulb for sewing machines. I got it from the¬†World of Sewing¬†stand but I don’t see it on their website.

My sewing machine is an old mechanical machine with an old incandescent bulb that tends to get very hot when it’s been on a while. This new bulb doesn’t and it’s also a lot brighter, it’s like having a little daylight lamp!

In real life the difference is a lot clearer and more obvious. I wish I’d had this at the start of winter, it will make evening sewing loads easier. With this improvement I can put off buying a new machine for a little while longer!

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My New Favourite Thing #1

Prym mending needle

I’m fairly new to the overlocker scene so I’m still learning the best ways to do things. One of those things is dealing with tails of overlocker threads at the start and end of a line of sewing.

I tried using a bodkin to weave them back in but really, who can be bothered? I tried doing that thing where you turn your piece over and sew but cut chunks out of my garment! At the moment I use fray-check to glue the loose threads together before I trim them and cross my fingers and hope for the best. I thought I had seen a gadget for this very purpose a while ago but couldn’t for the life of me remember its name. Not surprisingly, a Google search for “overlocker thread tail tucker inner” yields few results. Maybe I imagined it….

Then today, browsing at John Lewis I found this: 20160210_163815

The Prym mending needle! Reddit design award winner 2010 apparently. It’s like a cross between a loop turner and a seam ripper. The handle at the end comes off and turns into a lid. Magic.

But does it work? Surprisingly, yes. The neck is flat so it’s easy to squeeze up a line of stitches and the loopy bit isn’t as fiddly as I was expecting.

This handy little gadget can be bought here for £4.65

What sewing gadgets do you find indispensable?

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Prym mending needle