Monthly Archives: July 2018

  • Schools Out! Summer Sewing for Kids

    For most of us, the Summer Holidays have just begun and for the few that still have a couple of more random days to endure, we feel you! But with six weeks stretching ahead of you, we understand it can be a juggle to keep everyone happy and occupied. Whether you want to make some new summer clothes for your little ones or get them sewing themselves we have the patterns, the fabrics and the classes for you...

    We have a large range of patterns for children's clothes (and for teenagers too) which can be found online or come and browse our new pattern room for inspiration and advice. As well as Burda and New Look we stock Oliver & S, Minikrea and Green Bee, plus Merchant & Mills, Megan Neilson and The Avid Seamstress all have a spin-off children's range of some of their popular adult patterns. Perfect for making matching mini-me garments - especially when we can guarantee you will have outfit-envy!


    The Avid Seamstress' Girl's Gathered Dress would be lovely made in Nani Iro Double Gauze for a breezy summer garment.

    Try Megan Nielson's Mini Tania Culottes in a summery printed lawn or a drapey twill chambray.

    Or how about pairing the Merchant & Mills Trapezette Dress with Merchant and Mills Laundered Linen for a supersoft dress with lots of movement, or needlecord in a bold colour for an autumnal garment.

    We love to bring independent pattern makers to the attention of our customers and we are really happy to be stockists of new, Chichester-based designers 'Two Stitches'. Established in 2015 by Eternal Maker owner Anna Hodgson, pattern designer/dressmaker Dhurata Davies and graphic designer, Sarah Bonnar, the brand have released eight classic children's garments with distinctive modern twists, suitable for beginners through to advanced sewers.

    We stock all the Two Stitches patterns both online and in store, and love the attention to details such as the wide age-range they cover (6 months- 9 years in one pattern!), the easy to follow diagrams and instructions, and the lovely craft paper packaging. We spoke to founder Anna who told us that following the very successful release of the Zoe Dress in March this year, they are already in the testing stages of another new pattern! We will be sure to let you know when this one drops, so stay tuned.

    Talking of the Zoe dress, the design lends itself to many variations for a really original and fun garment. You can see that we made ours up in two different fabrics for a busy pattern-clash effect which really showcases the concealed in-seam pockets. Another cute twist can be found on the Two Stitches website: download a free pattern for a pocket puppy applique based on Anna's own dog Athos (who incidentally has his own Instagram account @the_lone_musketeer!)

    Sewing is becoming a popular hobby for children too, and happily, we have seen a rise in budding junior sewers (sewists?!) and customers. We stock the wonderful Machine Stars Patterns which are aimed at younger makers - they can choose from useful items such as a book bag, a wraparound skirt, a bedroom tidy or an apron (which we use in the class below!)

    During the Summer Holidays we are running children's sewing classes for kids of 8 years and older: our workshops encourage creativity, as well as improving self-confidence, patience and fine motor skills! The two different sessions can lead on from each other or be taken in isolation depending on skill.

    The Children's Introduction to Machine Sewing Part 1 is for kids who have never used a sewing machine before or have had a go at using one briefly but would like more practice. In a small class of just 4 maximum, we will familiarise your child with the machine itself and teach them all the basic skills of machine sewing to give to the confidence to start simple projects on your own. By the end of this 3-hour session, they will have cut and made an apron in their size from Ray Stitch fabric, ready to wear home! The first of these sessions is already sold out but we still have some space for the class on the 9th August, and could look to run more classes if demand is there so please get in touch if you are interested in another date.

    In the Children's Intro to Machine Sewing Part 2, more experienced children can take the next step to further their skills. During this 3 hour workshop, they will accomplish some essential techniques that will help them advance to more complicated projects. By the end of the class, they will have made a fully lined, zip-up backpack with pocket using Ray Stitch fabric, perfect for carrying books & other bits and bobs! Booking now for the 1st and 15th August.

    Whether your little one is taking a class, sewing at home or you are making for the kids in your life, we have a wide range of fun printed fabrics to appeal to them or even the inner child in you! Check out the selection that can be found here, including vintage cars and planes, cute fluffy clouds, forest animals and birds.

    Enjoy the school summer holidays, and your summer sewing!



  • No Sweatshop, No Photoshop

    Join us for an evening of female empowerment and general good-natured conversation on the topic of social enterprise and slow fashion in the face of adversity. As part of our events series, on Friday 13th July we welcome two East London-based brands that are pushing the boundaries of what fashion is and can be. Birdsong clothing and Juta shoes have both set out to revolutionise the way we dress in a number of ways, but namely by ensuring fair and comfortable working practice for the female producers.

    Sophie and Sarah founded Birdsong back in 2014 because they were "inspired by the great skill and creativity found in women’s community groups, but frustrated by their financial insecurity in the context of budget cuts and rising rents." By vocalising who is making the clothes that they sell, they are offering a transparent view of fashion that is notoriously difficult to come by, and at the same time they are putting funds back into women's community groups and charities. With designer Susanna on board, Birdsong have been able to create capsule collections that are fun and sustainable - organic cotton, reclaimed fabrics, hand knits, hand-painted prints and hand embroidery... In terms of the ladies who make the clothing, Birdsong know them personally and so develop long-lasting relationships. The Bradbury Centre (Kingston) knitting group donate the revenue from their hand knits back into their day centre providing them with little luxuries and a welcoming space, while the Knit and Natter (Enfield) knitting group choose a charity every month for revenue to be donated to. Mohila are a group of low income migrant mothers based in Tower Hamlets who practice their fine painting on organic cotton sweatshirts and t-shirts while their children attend the local school. Lastly, Heba who produce the majority of Birdsong's garments, is a 25-year old established workshop on Brick Lane that provides migrant and refugee women with a safe space and a well-paid place of work.

    Similarly, Juta Shoes' mission "is to combat financial and social isolation by providing well-paid, flexible employment, opportunities to build confidence and gain new skills, and a strong supportive community." Their shoes and slippers are produced by hand in their Shoreditch studio, from environmentally-friendly jute soles and reclaimed leather or fabrics from local factories - this means that the shoes are very nearly 100% biodegradable. Set up by Joanna and Sabeha at St.Hilda's East Community Centre, they took on board mothers Hafiza and Ruhela who enjoy the fact that their employment can be flexible around family-life. They've since set up workshops where you can learn for yourself what goes in to the making of their shoes.

    Both businesses have come together with a little bit of grant money, experience from a Year Here fellowship - a programme that gives fellows a year to test and build solutions to some of society's toughest problems - and drive to make change. They're now both featured in high fashion magazines, which just shows how great their products are (if that's how you assess your clothing).

    Whether you are interested in applying for a Year Here fellowship, setting up your own fashion business or are just interested in how these women have started something massive from the seed of an idea - come along to No.66 on Friday 13th July for an hour long conversation and a half hour Q&A. There'll of course be refreshments too - perhaps you'll be coming back from the Trump march... Tickets are available here, and we do have limited space in the shop so book online to avoid disappointment. You can see more from Birdsong on Instagram and of course Juta on their Instagram as well.

  • The Reveal! Our New-Look Pattern Room

    We are thrilled to be able to finally show you all the long-awaited refurbished pattern room. As with many projects, there were a few hold-ups along the way but we are so pleased with the final results, and it appears that our customers love it too. We posted a couple of photos on our social media channels but read on to get the full story and a have a good (virtual) nosey around!

    The pattern room was in need of reorganising and some creative solutions to the amount of stock we have. Rachel's main concern was to be able to still hold as wide a range as possible but to have many of the patterns on display, so walls of open shelves with stylish brass brackets were installed. Not only does this add to the visual feast as you step into this area, but it is also the best way to make the patterns accessible, and to inspire our customers. We have had many positive reactions so far: "So sophisticated, I love it!", "I’ve never seen so many independent brands before!", "your range is fantastic, this area is so inviting", and even, "Looks gorgeous..I'm moving in!"

    Rachel's love of architecture and interior design means that despite the busy shelves, the space feels open and calm; there is our large sofa to sit on and relax, whilst exploring the independent pattern ranges that are now showcased. We have taken the decision to have all of the indie brands on display (women's, men’s and children’s), with each pattern displayed on the shelves, which makes it is easy to find the design and also see the range available for each brand. This has made such a difference for Papercut and new to us, True Bias, which were in a cramped display before. We love being able to bring new independent designers to our customers, and we will be highlighting some of our current favourites in a new blog coming soon.

    But fear not, we still have a comprehensive range of Burda, Lisette, McCalls, New Look and Simplicity patterns available - they are in the drawers in the pattern room and if you would like to see some of these, we can happily find them for you. The full range as seen on the website is also available in store so just ask if you need assistance. There is now a computer in the pattern room so we can search for specific patterns or show you the full range on the screen, taking advantage of the extra images online to see what the different styles look like, check the suitable fabrics as well as the quantity of material needed. We hope that this will mean that we can provide excellent advice and inspiration for our customers.


    Another important feature that has remained is our bookcase, with carefully curated magazines and publications, instructional technique books, and gorgeous coffee table hardbacks. You can find loads of sewing books, of course, but there are also complimentary interests, lifestyle magazines and journals too. The new space can be used for perusing patterns or books, taking your time to plan future projects, or even just to escape the heat in London for a little while! We hope that you like our improvements and would love to welcome you in the shop soon. If you have any comments we would love to hear them - contact us via Instagram, Facebook or email and please tag us (#raystitch) in your photos. Until next time, happy sewing :)