Ray Stitch

  • The Stitch Sisters visit Ray Stitch!

    The Sodbury Sewing School in Bristol is run by neighbours Nikki and Rachel, 'The Stitch Sisters', who share a love of sewing and want to help others to get inspired. Nikki is a talented and creative crafter who specialises in homewares, handmade gifts and quilting, while Rachel is a self-taught dressmaker with a passion for vintage fabrics, patterns and up cycling.

    This weekend they took a trip to London to visit some of the great fabric shops we have in this city...and Ray Stitch was one of them! Rachel and Nikki have put together this fab video to share their purchases and experiences of where to head if you are in London (fabric shopping in the middle of Gay Pride is a highlight!)

    We are so thrilled that they enjoyed visiting our shop. We take great pride in choosing our stock of fabrics, patterns and notions and truly believe in great quality, so it is wonderful to see that comes across to our customers and makes them happy too.

    Thank you so much Rachel and Nikki - we hope to see you both again soon.

    Find the Stitch Sisters on Facebook, Instagram and You Tube

  • Fabric Facts: DENIM

     

    Good news denim lovers, we've recently increased our (already substantial!) stock of denim and chambray. As you can see from the pics above, we love working with denim and we've been busy making up some great wardrobe staples -  dress it up or down, wear in rain or shine, denim will see you through summer and well into autumn too. So, there's TONS of things you can make with denim, but how can you choose which type of denim from all it's many and various guises? To help you with that, for the next two weeks we're offering you our chunky denim and chambray swatch packs FREE! No postage fee, just send your name and address to info@raystitch.co.uk and we'll send them straight out.

    Read on for some interesting facts about this omnipresent fabric, and don't forget to show us what you make via social media!

    Denim is a timeless classic wardrobe staple; there can't be many people who haven't got a single denim garment! From James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn to Taylor Swift, Helen Mirren, David Beckham and Prince Harry...everybody wears denim. Part of it's fashion appeal is that it is so versatile and can be dressed up or down, and a smart garment made from denim can give it an edgy, everyday look.

    Denim was invented in the 18th century, when fabric makers in Nimes, France attempted to replicate a sturdy Italian fabric called serge. What they created was called "serge de Nimes" or shortened to "denim." Serge is a type of twill fabric which is woven with the weft (horizontal threads) passing under two or more warp (vertical) threads. The off-setting of this weaving process creates the distinctive diagonal pattern to the fabric and makes it very hard-wearing. With indigo denim the warp is dyed blue while the weft is left white, meaning that the inside of the fabric is much paler than the show-face.

    Close-up of the serge weaving process which produces the distinctive twill diagonal pattern.

     

    Like denim, chambray is made with a coloured warp and a white weft, but it is woven with a plain weave (1 over, 1 under) As such it has a smooth surface and is the same colour on both sides of the fabric. Chambray also comes in different weights according to the thread count and can be woven with a tight weave for a crisp finish, or a looser weave for a more gauzy and casual feel.

    Blue jeans as we know them today were invented by a tailor in Nevada, USA in response to a need for strong and durable work-trousers for labourers and miners in the gold rush. He asked Levi Strauss & Co who had been supplying his denim to help with the manufacture of these original rivet-reinforced jeans as demand was so high. The rest is fashion history!

    The selvedge is the edge of a fabric as it comes from the loom. Selvedges are either woven or knit so that they will not fray, ravel, or curl. Usually the edge of the fabric is cut off when making up garments but with denim the edges are often expressed. Selvedge denim refers to a unique type of selvedge that is made by passing one continuous cross-yarn (the weft) back and forth through the vertical warp. This is traditionally finished at both edges with a contrasting warp, usually red; that is why this type of denim is sometimes referred to as "red selvedge." This method of weaving the selvage is possible only when using a shuttle loom. But shuttle looms weave a narrower fabric, which means that more yardage is needed to produce a garment from selvedge denim. That is why it has become a premium quality fabric and the red edges are on display.

    Denim is strong and durable so it's actually easy to cut and work with, if you have the right equipment. It doesn't roll and is stable to sew but it will fray when cut.

    Tips for sewing with denim:

    • Use a denim needle. These are stronger needles so they will be able to go through multiple layers of strong fabric. 100/16 or 100/18 is recommended for heavy denim.
    • Use a longer stitch length. This will make it easy to sew and help you to get an even finish. We'd recommend 3mm+ for jean-weight denim.
    • Press and steam all seams. Using a high heat and lots of steam will make your seams neat and professional-looking.
    • Reinforce seams with top-stitching. Because of it's stiffness, denim can come under stress at the seams. Top stitch using upholstery thread (often in a mustard colour on jeans) in the top feed and your normal thread in the bobbin.
    • Use appropriate zips, snaps and buttons. Heavy denim will need sturdy fixings to ensure these do not come apart. Chambray will not need anything heavy duty though.
    • Finish your seams. Denim frays a lot over time (which can be a feature of your garment). But if that's not the look you want then you will need to hem the seams, taking care not to add to the bulk. You can use an overlocker, or you could try Flat Felled Seams or even Mock-Flat Felled Seams.
    • Finally, always match the fabric weight to the right pattern. Chambray can be great for dresses, shirts and tops which have a good amount of drape and flow, whereas heavier denim is good for more structured garments such as jackets, trousers and shorts.

     

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  • Happy Sewing Machine Day!

     

    Did you know that June 13th is the day that celebrates the invention of the sewing machine?

    Several men have been credited with this creation; Walter Hunt invented the first lockstitch machine in 1832, and John Greenough patented the first sewing machine in the States in 1842, this day relates to cabinet-maker and English inventor, Thomas Saint, who received the first patent for a design of a sewing machine in 1790.  Unfortunately, it was never realised and no evidence of it other than his drawings could be found, so it wasn't until 1874, when William Newton Wilson found Saint’s drawings in the London Patent Office, made some adjustments and built a working model that it really took off. This model is currently owned by the London Science Museum!

    Our sewing school just wouldn't be the same without the not-so-humble sewing machine, so we thought it would be a great time to tell you a little bit more about the ones we use and to do that we will introduce one of our very experienced sewing teachers - Penny...

    "I was lucky enough to grow up at a time when sewing was a normal domestic accomplishment and consequently there was lots of sewing going on!  My Mother made all of her clothes and mine to a very high standard, having been taught by her mother who had worked as a seamstress.  My paternal grandmother was a tailoress so sewing was a normal way of life.  Add to that a wonderful needlework teacher at secondary school and I couldn’t avoid sewing. In recent years I have started to earn my living by sewing.  I am a seamstress and have a small business, ‘The Village Seamstress’, in the village where I live, making bespoke garments and carrying out alterations.  I also worked part time as  sewing consultant for Janome at John Lewis for over three years.  My role meant that I had to have working knowledge of the range of Janome machines that John Lewis sold and also give lessons to those people that bought sewing machines.  It was here that I discovered a passion for teaching.

    "I make as many of my clothes as I am able.  I just love the fact that I can put a pattern and fabric together to make a unique garment that nobody else will have.  I have noticed that I get lots of compliments when I wear clothes that I’ve made and this spurs me on to make more!

    "I joined Ray Stitch in January this year and I teach mainly the Introduction to Machine Sewing and Introduction to Dressmaking courses.  I love teaching and find passing on my knowledge very exciting.  I really enjoy watching a beginner gain confidence in their abilities over the six weeks that I teach them and their amazement when they complete their first garment.

    "The sewing machines at the Ray Stitch Sewing school need to cope with a lot - we teach absolute beginners so the machines need to be simple enough for them to get started, but have enough features for our more proficient sewers and their advanced projects. They also get a lot of use through our classes and are available to hire by the hour, so a good solid machine is needed.

    "We use the Janome 5018*.  This Janome machine was chosen for its strength and reliability.  It has a metal body and a solid cover for when the machine is not in use.  It’s ideal for use in the Sewing School because it is simple to use but has good features for more advanced projects.  The machine comes with a good selection of feet which are stored neatly under the lid.  It has a larger than normal throat space (the distance on the right hand side of the needle) making it useful for bulky projects such as coats or patchwork quilts.  It has a ‘one step’ buttonhole system that makes buttonhole sewing simple.  In addition the feed dogs lower at the flick of a switch for free machine embroidery. Beginners find its clear stitch selection, stitch length and width sliders easy to use and master, whilst more advanced students find it perfect to work with fine fabrics and heavy weight coatings and denims.

    "As you can imagine our sewing machines at Ray Stitch work really hard so we keep them regularly cleaned and serviced.  Generally speaking a domestic machine should be cleaned at the beginning of every project and a new, appropriate needle inserted.  Depending on the amount that a machine is used, once its guarantee period is over, it should be serviced every couple of years.  The better that a machine is looked after the longer it will work for you!"

    *This is not a sponsored post, we do not work on behalf of Janome, all views and opinions are our own.

  • Me Made Ray - our talented customers!

    The month of May is THE highlight of the year for everyone who makes their own clothes. Now in it's eighth year and going from strength to strength, the idea of 'Me Made May' is very simple: to wear garments that you have made yourself...and celebrate that! There is no pressure to wear a new outfit every day (and many of us don't have that large a handmade wardrobe anyway) but it is a great way to get inspired and inspire others. There really is no better feeling than wearing something you have made yourself - and after all that time and effort they deserve to be shown off.

    To celebrate Me Made May 2017, we invited our customers to come in to the shop and show us what they had made using Ray Stitch fabric (there was also a 20% discount on offer to say thank you!) All we can say is what a talented bunch you are! It has been a joy to see how the fabric bought in store has been transformed into such original and fabulous garments. Take a look...

    Clockwise from top left:

    Rachel: Merchant & Mills Strand coat in Japanese painted canvas

    Suzy: Merchant & Mills Fielder in 'Manning' Liberty Tana Lawn and Ray Stitch cotton ribbing.

    @margaretstitches: Heron Wrap top from Merchant & Mills Workbook made in Ray Stitch Haberdashery cotton lawn with New Look 6217 trousers in black washed linen.

    @margymeg: customised Simplicity 1328 made in Heather Panama Wool

    Customer: New Look 6217 made in Observer cotton poplin by Art Gallery Fabrics

    @maruzza_s: customised top by Burda Style made in Ros Cherry Liberty Tana Lawn

     

    Clockwise from top left:

    Sumita: Named Clothing Kielo Dress made in Robert Kaufman Chambray

    Claudia: Deer & Doe Veste Pavot in organic cotton Dunweave canvas

    Jessamy: Grainline Scout Tee in 'Birdseye News' by Nani Iro

    Customer: models own waistcoat pattern made in organic dunweave and a Japanese print.

    James @jimknitsandpurls: Merchant & Mills Tee shirt in Indikon Cotton Shirting

    @brunography: Fielder top in Lustre by Zen Chic Moda

     

    Clockwise from top left:

    @missria: Papercut Patterns Rigel Bomber made in 'Manning' Liberty Silk Satin

    Vicky: customised Vogue tunic made in Crosses double gauze by Nani Iro

    Janet: Merchant & Milks Camber top in Nani Iro Seersucker, with Merchant & Mills Saltmarsh skirt in Ray Stitch Linen mix Twill

    Pearl: Simplicity girls dress in yarn-dyed Japanese cotton

    Judith: Merchant & Mills Strand coat in Ray Stitch denim

    Caoimhe: Tilly & the Buttons dress made in Firefly Dots by Birch Fabrics

     

    Clockwise from top left:

    Zoe: Merchant & Mills Trapeze Dress made in organic bamboo silk.

    Lizzie: Merchant & Mills Fielder top in grey laundered linen with Ray Stitch cotton ribbing

    @mythimbleandthreads: Deer & Doe Trenchcoat in Sevenberry Coffee cotton twill

    Antonia: New Look 6217

    Lucy: Colette Patterns Myrtle dress in woven cotton

    Suzi: Simplicity 1369 skirt, and New Look 6217 in Liberty Tana Lawn 'Rachel de Thame'

  • The Art of Craft - Women's Hour Craft Prize 2017

     

    To mark the 70th anniversary of Woman's Hour, the BBC have created the Women's Hour Craft Prize 2017 in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Craft Council. The £10,000 prize will award "originality and excellence in concept, design and process and will seek to recognise a craft practitioner or designer-maker who is an outstanding artist and who has significantly contributed to craft practice in the last five years." Like the Turner Prize but for Craft!

    This new Prize confirms that the traditional distinction between craft and 'high art' has become unclear and less defined. Traditionally, female practices such as sewing, knitting and crocheting had been thought of as unskilled, homespun and practical where as fine art was dominated by men who had studied their practice at scholarly colleges.

    This year has already seen exhibitions which feature craft as art: Unravelled at the Turner Contemporary in Margate, Between Things at Colchester School of Art (featuring Celia Pym) as well as the upcoming exhibition featuring all the shortlisted makers of the Women's Hour Craft Prize at the V&A (which excitingly, will also be touring the country next year)

    Crafting is also big business - it is estimated that the UK economy is boosted by £3.4 billion due to people honing their skills, learning something new at a making class, purchasing materials and supplies and selling their handmade creations. Craft fairs such as Renegade, The Crafty Fox and the Bust Craftacular attract loyal followers and huge crowds. Online sites like Etsy, Folksy, Big Cartel and Not on the High Street make it possible to turn one's hobby into a viable, and successful business.

    But the benefits of crafting are not just financial. It has been proved that the activity of making with your hands also engages your brain, and as well as de-stressing participants, it helps to develop problem solving skills and encourage a different way of thinking about the world.

    A recent article in the Observer newspaper, featuring our very own Rachel Hart, discusses the link between making and the mind and concludes "The rhythmic, repetitive moments necessary to knit, sew or crochet are proven to... increase serotonin production and inducing a natural state of mindfulness.”

    All of this confirms something that we see everyday in our shop, and online...craft in all of its glorious forms is something to enjoy, celebrate and to shout about! Come to Ray Stitch hand stitching workshops and meet some of the most highly regarded craft practitioners in the business - Celia Pym, Richard McVetis, and Forest and Found.

    We would love to hear about your future projects and see your finished creations so please find us on Facebook or Instagram and use #raystitch to share with our community.

  • SEERSUCKER SEASON

    Hooray! It's May! (Although in London it's been more like winter coat weather this week but the sun can't be that far away now, surely?!) so we can really turn our thoughts to sewing spring/summer garments...

    We're very much enjoying our recent acquisition of beautiful Japanese cotton seersucker, which is an ideal fabric for warmer weather. Genuine seersucker is woven in such a way that some of the threads are more bunched together, which gives the fabric distinctive puckered stripes with alternating smooth ones. These wrinkles allow it to circulate more air when worn, and also mean it doesn't need to be ironed which is a real bonus for summer garments :-)

    Genuine seersucker takes longer to weave than normal cotton because of the slack-tension process, so can be a high-cost item. There are some fabrics which are not 'true' seersuckers and have been artificially puckered but these can lose their texture when pressed, so beware!

    Seersucker gets its name from the Persian words 'sheer' and 'shakar', meaning milk and sugar. It is believed the smooth stripes are the milk, and the bumpy stripes the sugar!

    Seersucker was popular in India during the British colonial period, and was introduced to the United States where it was used in a range of clothing items, including uniforms, in the hot South. There is even a Seersucker day in June, where members of the US Congress all wear suits made from this fabric!

    This firmly woven material is often made in striped patterns - blue and white being a classic - but can also be checked, patterned or even plain colours, like our current stock.

    Seersucker looks the same on both sides, doesn't crease easily, doesn't need to be pressed, is difficult to tear and washes really well. It is more often than not made from cotton, but can also be made of rayon or silk.

    Some things to remember:

    • We would recommend prewashing your cotton seersucker as it does have a tendency to shrink.
    • Use sew-in interfacing if required, rather than iron-on, to preserve the characteristic wrinkles.
    • Cotton Seersucker is ideal for summer suits, shirts, trousers, shorts, blouses and these gorgeous kimonos pictured above. And it can even be used to make cool bedding, pillowcases and quilts.

    Take a look at our collection and plan your project now...

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  • Welcome to the Jersey Room! A guide to stretch fabrics.

    You may or may not have noticed that we have a great selection of stretch fabrics at Ray Stitch, in fact our move has provided us with the luxury of having a whole room to dedicate to them, we like to call it 'The Jersey Room'!

    Stretch fabrics are a hugely popular choice because they’re great for making clothes, particularly less tailored, modern garments which are comfortable to wear. Some people are slightly nervous, fearing that the dreaded overlocker is the only way to deal with knits. Not true! Once you’ve got used to sewing with stretch you can very quickly knock up garments on your standard domestic sewing machine. And not having to sew darts or put in zips is always a bonus.

    But with so many different types it can be hard to know which fabric is right for your project so here’s a few pointers...

    Jersey is a term for knitted fabric, named after the a knitted wool fabric made on the island of Jersey - it is now available in wool, cotton, bamboo and an endless array of synthetic fibres. Jersey fabric differs from most other fabric types which are woven and is generally designed not to stretch. There are two main categories of stretch fabric: jersey or single knit, and interlock or double knit.

    Single knit fabrics have a right side and a wrong side, just like a piece of stockinette knitting, and if you look very closely you will see little v's on the front and wiggly lines on the back. It has a tendency to curl at the edges which can make it tricky to work with. Most commonly used for t-shirts and leggings and can often be a spandex or viscose blend to increase the stretch. Jersey comes in various weights and can be as thin as mesh or as heavy as sweatshirt. Our single knit fabrics include bamboo stretch fabric, sweatshirt and fleece fabric and cotton melange jersey.

    Double knit fabrics are knitted with two stitches directly behind each other and usually have a smooth face on both front and back. Interlock is thicker than jersey, is more stable and doesn't curl at the edges. However, interlock fabrics can have more stretch than a cotton jersey. Double knit fabrics include Ponte di Roma and French Terry Knit, and are very good for more structured items such as dresses, lounge pants and sweaters.

    Sewing with stretch fabrics can be a bit daunting so here are some things to remember:

    • Remember to use a shallow zig-zag stitch instead of a standard straight stitch on your machine, so that the stitches can stretch with the fabric.
    • You will get the best results using a ballpoint needle in your sewing machine.
    • If you are using a sewing machine to sew jersey, a walking foot can make life easier, but for the best results use an overlocker.
    • Hemming jersey can be tricky but the good news is it doesn't fray so you can leave edges raw.
    • Because of the stretch, jersey can be more forgiving to use than a woven fabric. For example, you won't need to construct button fastenings or darts, as the material can skim over the body.

    Another consideration when choosing your jersey, is both the amount of stretch and the amount of recovery, as well as which direction most of the stretch is in (or if it is two-way). Recovery refers to how well the fabric springs back when you pull it to full stretch. We use this handy guide from Stitch 'n' Smile in the shop as it measures how much stretch a jersey fabric has and determines which direction the fabric stretches most. No one wants baggy knees on a pair of leggings, or a drapey t-shirt when really you wanted something with a tighter fit, so consider all of these elements before you choose fabric!

    Dressmaking patterns for jersey garments should indicate the recommended stretch, but not necessarily what the recovery rate of the fabric should be. If a fabric has a spandex/elastane content, it is more likely to have a higher recovery rate, whereas knit fabrics such as interlock that are usually 100% cotton will have less ability to spring back. It is always worth testing the stretch and recovery rate, because jersey fabric without spandex will still have a natural stretch due to the knit construction, but will often require washing again to return them to their non-baggy state. You will find that we have handily included the recovery and stretch of all our jersey and knit fabrics online, but feel free to ask for our suggestions on how to use them!

    *****

    You can see our full range of stretch fabrics here. We hold a permanent collection of plains in various types and weights and we also stock current printed collections from Art Gallery FabricsCloud 9, and Birch Organic. New in this week are these organic cotton jerseys, we absolutely can’t wait to get sewing with them!

    Clockwise L - R: Oatmeal FleeceDouble Layered SpotCream PointelleWhite Stripe FleeceCream FleeceBlack Stripe Fleece

    If you fancy having a go with some of that lovely fleece, we have a good selection of patterns here. How about the Named Clothing Sloane Sweatshirt or New Look’s snuggly throw-on poncho?

    The pretty Cream Pointelle and the Double Layered Spot would work beautifully for the Deer and Doe Ondee Sweater or the Named Clothing Augusta Hoodie

    We also have some lovely fluffy and textured knits (pictured above) great for spring sweatshirts & jumpers or even as a snuggly backing for a quilt. Try making a snuggly Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt - a fabulous wardrobe staple.

    If you are wanting to make some garments with more drape and flow, then these bamboo/viscose stretch would work well. Ideal for dresses and tops such as the Simplicity 1716 Drapey Necked Dress or Simplicity 1720 Slinky Loungewear 

    If you are making something that requires more structure (New Look 6298 Raglan Dress or the Deer and Doe Zephyr Skater Dress) then check out our range of heavier and more stable knits, particularly our Ponte di Roma (pictured above) which is now available in an expanded range of colours.

    *****

    As always, if you are in any doubt about the best type of fabric to use, would like a pattern suggestion, or just want to know a bit more before you start a project, then please let us know. Our staff are all super experienced and will be happy to discuss and advise - you can pop in, call, email or use social media to get our attention.

    Happy Sewing!

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  • New Shop Launch Party!

    Last Friday, after a couple of weeks of settling into the new space, we had our official press launch party! It was so lovely to raise a toast to the future of Ray Stitch with many of our supporters, friends and staff. Owner Rachel Hart thanked everyone for their hard work and enthusiasm over the years and looks forward to a new chapter of the shop and sewing school...

  • Introducing 'Haberdashery' by Ray Stitch

    We are delighted to share our very first range of in-house Ray Stitch fabric with you!

    'Haberdashery' has been created in collaboration with fashion designer, and friend of Ray Stitch, Justine Tabak who shares our core beliefs of 'slow' fashion - garments that are made to last years, not just one season. And, as we all know, if you've invested time, money and effort to sew your own clothes, then you want to cherish and wear them time and time again. Justine's clothes are also made entirely in Britain using British produced fabrics, and we are proud to have been able to design and manufacture our first collection of fabrics entirely in the U.K.

    'Haberdashery' features patterns of everyday sewing essentials - a subtle suggestion that you might have made your garment yourself?! All five designs have been printed on the finest quality cotton lawn, in a classic colour palette of red, white, sky blue and navy.

    Cotton lawn, very similar to cotton voile, is ideal for use in dressmaking. If you haven't sewn with lawn before here are some interesting facts and tips:

     

    • *Lawn was originally named after Laon in France, where fine linen lawn was made and used in clothing for royalty or the clergy.
    • *Voile comes from the old French word for veil. In French it is pronounced 'vwal', but we tend to anglicise it so that it sounds like 'coil'.
    • *Lawn is made from specially selected ultra-fine, long staple cotton. It has a very high thread count which means it is untextured, has a silky feel and is also extremely light, perfect for all sorts of garments.
    • *Voile is technically more gauzey than lawn but many of the American printed voiles available now have an identical finish to our printed cotton lawn.
    • *The quality of lawn means that it is very easy to work with during construction. Garments made from cotton lawn hold their shape well, are cool to wear in summer and are very comfortable.
    • *Despite how light it is, lawn is actually very durable. The high quality of the fabric also means that creases quickly fall out.
    • *It makes an excellent base for prints: because the fabric is so smooth, the colours and patterns are extra sharp and bright.
    • It sounds like the perfect fabric, right? We think so, but there are a couple of things to take into consideration when working with cotton lawn...
    • *Even though the fabric is lightweight, it is not great for garments that need drape. Lawn is slightly crisp (not stiff) and gathers nicely but it won't fall into heavy, soft folds.
    • *As the fabric is so fine, use a corresponding needle on your sewing machine for the best results.
    • *It can be more expensive than regular cotton fabric, but given all the benefits listed above, we think it's worth it.

    ***

    So now you know what it is, let us show you what we have made from Haberdashery....

    Clockwise from top left:

    The women's dress is made from 'blue scissors' and uses the very versatile pattern from April Rhodes, 'Date Night Dress'. (If you are in London, we have this pattern in the shop but not online yet.)

    These two darling girl's dresses have been made up using the 'navy pins' and 'white buttons', from this pattern by New Look.

    Finally, the gorgeous knickers have been made from 'navy pins' and if you'd like to have a go at making a pair yourself, then why not join our class on the 19 May? More details here.

    We are fully stocked with all 5 designs so you can pop in store or purchase online.

    As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on 'Haberdashery' and for you to share any projects you make with our community. You can find us on Facebook or Instagram - tag your photos with #RaystitchMakes. Happy sewing!

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  • 99 to 66 - A New Home for Ray Stitch

    Ta Dah! Ray Stitch is now open for business at 66 Essex Road, N1! We have moved across the road, into bigger premises, after 6 years at number 99.

     

    The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for us - Rachel signed the lease for the new shop in November and a major building project began to turn the tired retail space into a hub for our ever-growing creative community. The existing shop (formerly a travel agents with lots of dark little rooms) was gutted - walls were knocked through, windows were opened up to make a feature of the double-height space into the basement below and the staircase was repositioned to maximise the floor space.

    It was a huge job to complete in just 10 weeks and it sure wasn't pretty but what it means now is we have lots of space and natural light - just what every sewing enthusiast and fabric lover needs.

    As you enter the new shop you will recognise the original Ray Stitch trademark details: inlaid wooden features on the new staircase and floor, miniature retro sewing machines on the shelves and an industrial edge to the fittings. But as we have doubled in size, it has allowed us to create a more relaxed environment - the fabric range has increased and there is more space to browse. There’s a whole rack of garments made up from patterns and fabrics we stock so you can see and feel how these look, plus there's a 'reading' room full of patterns, books and magazines and a stylish sofa so you can sit, linger and get inspiration as you plan your next project.

    The variety of trims, notions, zips, buttons, ribbons, clasps etc we stock has also increased so you are bound to find exactly the right finishing touches to complete your work in progress.

    As you head down the beautiful wooden staircase you will find yet more gorgeous fabrics, especially our popular organic cottons, jerseys, and wool linens, as well as two cutting tables and layout space. Our ever-popular sewing school is housed downstairs too, but with the new skylight from the windows on the street there is an abundance of natural light (& a passing audience to look in and admire!) Our classes are always well subscribed and in our new shop we can accommodate participants much more comfortably, with over-spill space for big projects like quilts.

    On a practical level and very pleasing to the staff, we also have more room for the kitchen and bathroom, two stockrooms and - finally! - a proper office for all the behind-the-scenes running of the business.

    The one thing that has not changed is our brilliantly talented team. Everyone who works at Ray Stitch has great enthusiasm for fabric and their own special expertise and knowledge. If you need help, have questions, want advice or just want to chat about your passion, please talk to our staff!

    Although we have moved in and are open for business already, we will be hosting an official press launch on Friday 7 April. By the power of social media we would love as many of you to join us - we will be Live on Facebook at 7pm and on Instagram stories throughout the event so please stay tuned on the night.

    We'd love to know what you think of our new shop, so please leave a comment below, or if you've got photos of your own then why not use the hashtag #RayStitch66 and share them with us on Instagram @raystitch

  • A nice class review from Kelly....

    Knitting Blogger Kelly Sloan ventured into the world of sewing and took one our beginners classes. Here's what she said about it....

    ....."I have decided to take the plunge and try to get into sewing again.  My plan is to take a dress-making course, but I decided to start with an afternoon intro to sewing class, just to get back in the swing of things.  (I was never a terrific seamstress, probably because my mom is a true expert, and it has been decades since I last did anything other than hand sewing.)

    The class was great fun!  It is such a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  I took the class at Ray Stitch in Islington, London.  The instructor, Luisa, was both helpful and nice, and I had a great time with fellow classmates as we figured out sewing machines and made tote bags. (Of course, we all know that they are actually knitting bags, because what else would you need to tote?) Here we are with our totes: Louisa, Judi, Asia, me, and Alicia.

    Knitting is a comfort to me right now as the world reels from political craziness.  It helps keep me (relatively) sane.  My advice – find ways to make your voice heard, don’t watch the news before bedtime, and keep a project handy for when you need talking down from the ledge."

    (Read more on her blog at Knitigating Circumstances)

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  • Haberdasher - Ray Stitch Exclusive Fabric Collection

    Let us introduce you to 'Haberdasher', our very first in-house printed fabric collection!

    These are the strike-offs, the collection will be arriving in the next couple of weeks. Designed in collaboration with fashion designer and friend of Ray Stitch Justine Tabak, these 5 pretty designs are printed on high quality cotton lawn and are made in England exclusively for us!

    We can't wait to get our hands on them. Do you like them? What would you make? What shall we make ?? Do let us know..

    haberdasher 3

    haberdasher 2

  • February Classes

    UPCOMING CLASSES for February:
     
    Freestyle! with Rosie - Fri 5th Feb 7-10pm
    Whatever you want to work on, our teacher is there to guide you £40 (Book 3 sessions for £100) - http://bit.ly/1nVf5Da (1 space left)
     
    Intermediate Steps with Luisa - Sat 6th Feb 10.30-1.30pm
    Beginner Plus, dressmaking techniques £48 - http://bit.ly/1Sryh6N (2 spaces left)
     
    Recreate Your Favourite Garment with Alice - Sat 6th Feb 2.30-5.30pm
    Some working knowledge of dressmaking and basic sewing machine skills necessary £55 - http://bit.ly/1P3UHqd (1 space left)
     
    Trouser block (pattern cutting) with Alice - Sun 7th Feb 10am-5pm
    Some working knowledge of dressmaking and basic sewing machine skills necessary £105 (3 spaces left)
     
    Making Children's Clothes with Rosie - Wed 10th and 17th Feb 6.30-9.30pm
    Must have made something using a sewing machine and be fairly confident with a machine but our teacher will be on hand to help! £90 (2 spaces left)
     
    Colette Wren Dress with Moyna - Sat 13th and Sun 14th Feb 11am-5pm with lunch included.
    This is a good start to sewing with jersey, but it is good if you have made a woven garment before £165 (3 spaces left)
     
    Men's Clothing (Merchant and Mills patterns) with Rosie - Thurs 25th Feb plus 3 more consecutive sessions 10.30am-1.30pm
    Fairly confident machine sewing skills necessary with a completed sewing project behind you (our Beginner session + Next Steps or equivalent would be perfect) £260 (5 spaces left)
     
    Machine Embroidery and Appliqué with Caroline - Fri 26th Feb 6.30-9.30pm Pin-Tucking session! £55 - http://bit.ly/1JPyteT (4 spaces left)
     
    Make a Tote Bag with Luisa - Sat 27th Feb 10.30am-1.30pm
    Complete beginners £45 (4 spaces left)
     
    Next Steps with Moyna - Sat 27th Feb 2.30-5.30pm
    Beginners Plus, basic dressmaking skills to advance your repertoire (Do it with the Tote Bag class above for a good day of learning!) £45 - http://bit.ly/1UxHmdp £48 (4 spaces left)
     
    Camber or Dress Shirt with Moyna - Sun 28th Feb 10am-5pm with lunch included Next Steps or equivalent would be great, but knowledge of darts and seams is enough £95 (4 spaces left)
  • Jersey, ribbing and sweatshirt new arrivals!

    We stock many patterns here at Ray Stitch, but haven't had the opportunity to make some of them because unfortunately, we didn't quite have the best stretch fabrics and materials in stock. That, however, is a thing of the past!

    Our shelves now boast lightweight cotton/elastane single jerseys in melange colourways, heavyweight cotton/polyester sweatshirting in vivid and classic shades, bright Ponte di Roma knits, as well as incredibly soft fluffy-back cotton sweatshirting in neutral melange shades. To top it off, we have selected some fun, bold plain cotton ribbing and quirky striped cotton ribbing! Our recurring stock includes printed organic cotton interlock from Birch Fabrics, alongside striped cotton/elastane single jersey, heavyweight fluffy-back organic cotton fleece and our delectably drapey bamboo stretch - so, we are well stocked up now for all of our sewing patterns!

    And get this, they all are sustainably-minded in that they are either certified GOTS organic, Öko-Tex Standard 100 certified (testing for harmful substances throughout the whole manufacturing chain) or are renewable materials. They're perfect for babies and children (well, adults too!) for being naturally breathable and hypoallergenic, and free from chemicals.

    Cotton Ribbing Stripes | Ray Stitch Cotton Ribbing Stripes, 500g/m2, 84cm wide, £20/m | 96% cotton 4% elastane | Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified

     

    Cotton Ribbing Plains | Ray Stitch Cotton Ribbing Plain, 500g/m2, 84cm wide, £20/m | 96% cotton 4% elastane | Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified

     

    Lightweight Cotton Melange Single Jersey | Ray Stitch Lightweight Melange Single Jersey, 220g/m2, 160cm wide, £16/m | 95% cotton 5% elastane | Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified

     

    Heavyweight Cotton Melange Sweatshirt | Ray Stitch Heavyweight Melange Sweatshirt, 280g/m2, 155cm wide, £20/m | 95% cotton 5% elastane | Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified

     

    Ponte di Roma Knit | Ray Stitch Ponte di Roma Knit, 300g/m2, 160cm wide, £20/m | 65% viscose 30% polyamide 5% elastane

     

    Heavyweight Sweatshirt Fleece | Ray Stitch Heavyweight Sweatshirt Fleece, 300g/m2, 160cm wide, £22/m | 75% cotton 25% polyester | Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified

     

    Head to our Jersey and Stretch Fabric area of our website and use the filters on the left to select lightweight, heavyweight, fleece, ribbing, spandex... or take a look at our vast array of sewing patterns, using the 'garment type' filter to select jersey and stretch.

  • Trouser Weekend

    Make a pair of classic slim pants over a weekend (Session 1 - Saturday 16th Jan. 12 - 5pm, Session 2 - Sunday 17th Jan. 12 - 5pm). These cool trews can be made up in light, medium or heavy weight fabric - a great way to use something from your stash - and can be worn with anything!

    Call the shop to book this weekend's class and get 15% off. The price includes the pattern, sewing sundries and lunch and refreshments on both days.

    More here...

    clover blog