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  • Warm and Earthy Silks...

    We do love unusual fabrics here at Ray Stitch and were incredibly excited when we recently acquired some grainy-look silk dupion in warm earthy colours. Lovely to sew and with a beautiful finish, this fabric is ideal for some of the more simple structured patterns we have in stock.

     

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    Silk dupion is one of the most widely known silks, mainly manufactured in India on hand and power looms. But did you know that dupion gets its characteristic slub from two silkworm cocoons entwining? Sweet! It achieves its lustrous surface and tightly woven look by weaving different threads in the warp and weft; the warp is woven using fine thread, and the weft is woven with the uneven entangled-cocoon thread.

    Because dupion has a crisp, and sometimes fairly stiff texture, it is often used in bridalwear where 'sculpting' a shape is important. We think it's equally good for everyday wear. If you've not used silk before, have a go, because it's stable and not too light this would be a good one to start with. The beauty of making your own clothes is that (once you feel brave enough to cut!) you can experiment with fabrics and shapes. Here are some modern styles that we think would translate well to the structure dupion can offer:

    Try a pencil skirt to jazz up a work outfit, or pair with a silk blouse for an evening out to dinner - New Look 6107, or By Hand London's Charlotte Skirt. Or perhaps a gathered circle skirt with waistband to make full use of the stiffness like Colette's Zinnia.

    We like the possibilities of a close-fitting dress because generally, they are so versatile that they suit both soft and heavier fabrics. Despite the fact that dupion feels stiffer, it is still lightweight and so can be nicely lined for a practical cold-season dress, or left unlined for that fresh cool feel on your skin that silk offers. Make up Sigma from Papercut with its options of a gathered skirt and sleeve lengths for work or party. Or Colette's shapely Peony or Lily Dresses.

    Our perennial favourite is the Camber from Merchant and Mills. Easy to make and easy to wear, the Camber is so versatile we’ve made it in flannel, poplin, chambray and double gauze... We think its high-time for a Dolce-style cropped t-shirt in one of our fancy silks!

     

    Words by Steph.

  • I Need to Fix the Holes in my Heels, Elbows, Pockets and Knees: Darning and Mending Workshop with Celia Pym..

    We all understand the heartache upon discovering that moths have made a meal of our most favourite jumper, or that one sock has become threadbare and we don’t have any other clean pairs.  When clothing shops are in abundance, it’s easy to go ahead and throw our holey garments away. Yet, there’s no way to replace or recreate the sentimentality and stories found in well-loved clothing.

    Celia Pym is an artist passionate about the stories that accompany holes, working to give clothing a second chance. Instead of hiding the marks of mending, Celia recognises the process of such work by recording this new chapter of a garment’s life in bold, and outstanding thread. Using mending as design rather than just a necessity, the pattern of the stitches offers a new aesthetic, one that reflects upon the intrinsic beauty in thread and cloth, or even indeed in making itself.

    Back in the age of austerity and rationing when ‘making do’ was the norm, clothes were constantly repaired, altered or made into something new entirely. Dwindling resources and funds, and an understanding of such issues present us with a recurrent need to make do with what we have. So, in our new age of enlightenment we are given the responsibility - or perhaps, have the fervor - to revisit lost skills that will allow us to make do and mend in a more interesting and creative manner.

    Celia’s Master’s research at the Royal College of Art led her to mend holes in other peoples’ garments for a year, exploring the spaces that the body occupies and detecting as it were the daily life of these garments. Observing her uncle’s sister darn a jumper over many years so that eventually the arms were held together entirely by darning, it isn’t surprising that Celia was enthralled by such charm and affection towards a garment that she carried on darning.

     

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    Celia has exhibited her work at such places as the Transition and Influence Gallery, Prick Your Finger and King’s College London, and now conducts workshops to teach others how to darn. She believes that darning allows you to become aware of how something was made; seeing where the hole is allows you to see how to put it back together. Traditionally, communities would come together socially to do their household chores such as knitting and mending, sharing skills and stories throughout. We offer you the chance to come together at the Ray Stitch Sewing School for a workshop with Celia to learn a new skill and share your stories.

    So come along to our two-part workshop “I Need to Fix the Holes in my Heels, Elbows, Pockets and Knees: Darning and Mending” With Celia Pym on Tuesday 27th January and Tuesday 3rd February for a couple hours of intimate mending.

    Dates: Tuesday 27th January and 3rd February
    Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
    Price: £60

     

     

     

    celia pym postcard jan '14 Image Courstesy of Annemor Sundbo's Ragpile

     

     

    "I like seeing how something is made, how it works.
    Darning is filling in holes and joining edges together.
    Sometimes darning can be tender and tenderness is important.
    Darning helps you understand the thing you are mending.
    If you darn a hole in an opposite colour to the original textile, you can see clearly what got worn away. Darning highlights that something has changed and that time has passed."

    Read more about Celia's previous and upcoming work here - celiapym.com (I love the title of this workshop! - What do I have to do to make it ok?) And read here about a fascinating collaboration with Kings College as 'mender in residence' in the college's Dissecting Room.

    Words by Steph.

     

  • Japanese Fabric

    Have you seen our Japanese fabric section lately? If you're searching for something a little bit different for a new year garment project, now is definitely the time to take a look.

    In addition to the ever-popular, distinctive prints of Nani Iro, we've some beautifully and equally distinct designer printed sateen and lawn with geometric designs and sharp colours, ideal for slinky, modern styles.....

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    Double gauze fabric is always a very popular choice in the shop for dress and blouse projects. Widely used for Japanese apparel because of the breathability of the two fine layers, it creates a lovely soft and drapey effect and clothes seem to be cool and light and warm and snug at the same time - impressive! We've recently added a new, double sided polka dot in 5 colourways to our range. Hmmm, what shall we make...?!

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    And something very seasonal and very Japanese, these textured woven fabrics - evocative of the Japanese geological landscape, think richly textured layers of limestone interbedded with pebbles and wave-worn shells....

    We've a hundred and one ideas for these fabrics; we love the colour and texture and the horizontal patterning - we're planning pencil skirts, prim blouses, tunic dresses...

    Watch this space, we'll be posting pics of our creations just as soon as our little fingers can stitch them!

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    Words by Ray.

  • Start the year with some new skills and a new dress...

    Happy New Year Stitchers!

    To celebrate - and to alleviate those back-to-work blues - we bring you a great offer:

    20% off our shirt dress class with Sew Dixie Lou beginning this week. Details below....

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    McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress

    Wednesday 07 January 2015

    Session: 3

    Price: Reduced from £145 to £116 (Call the shop to book - 020 7704 1060)

    Time: 6.30-9.30pm

    Level: Intermediate

    A flattering and versatile waisted shirt dress with a close-fitting bodice, collar and side pockets. Make with short or bracelet length sleeves or a sleeveless version and choose either a pleated or a fitted skirt. Your teacher will be Clare Szabo, author of the popular Sew Dixie Lou Blog. The dress is a great favourite of hers - read her account of making two versions of the dress at www.sewdixielou.com

    - All sundry materials and refreshments will be provided in the class.

    - Students for this course should be competent basic sewers and as a minimum should have completed our Next Steps session or equivalent.

    - Some homework will be required during the course.

    - The pattern is included and will be yours to take away but you will be required to bring your own fabric.

  • Christmas!

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  • Premax Scissors

    Lovely, lovely. lovely professional Italian steel scissors from Premax...

    Who wouldn't love to find a set under the Christmas Tree?!!

    Take a look at the full range here

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    xmas steel set

  • Heather Lins Stitch Kits

    Ray Stitch are now stocking the fabulous Heather Lins Cross Stitch Kits!! These original Calendar Kits make the perfect stocking filler and are suitable for all ages! So...... why not get crafty with the kids, grandkids - or no kids - this Christmas and make your very own unique 2015 calendar!!

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    The Year in Stitches Kit has a different arrangement each month which you embroider with the gorgeous red thread provided. However, you could add an individual twist by changing the colours monthly! Our embroidery threads are 30p each in store, or £5.80 for a bundle online, so why not have fun and play with colour!!

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    Stitch the Stars Kit is beautifully screen printed with GLOW IN THE DARK ink and each month corresponds with the Zodiac constellation! It also comes with glow in the dark thread, so you can even admire your handy work with the lights off!

    Available in-store and online.

  • McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress

    We have fallen in love with the McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress and thanks to the amazingly talented Sew Dixie Lou we can all learn how to make one ourselves!!

    Clare Szabo, maker/blogger extraordinaire and founder of Sew Dixie Lou has been sewing since birth (!!) She is a master at dressmaking and created this stunning version of the 6696-

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    Made to perfection, this classic dress looks gorgeous in the Japanese yarn dyed tuft weave fabric! It is such a versatile pattern and one of Clare's personal favourites..... she's made it three times, and each one is effortlessly stylish and unique! Unfortunately this does make choosing your fabric trickier, as it looks great in everything! But I personally love the chic Essex Linen option below.

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    But who wouldn't WANT this rockabilly style in their wardrobe as well........

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    Whether you choose a slinky Liberty Lawn or a weightier Organic Cotton Crossweave come and join the class and create your own unique frock fit for any occasion!! Book your place here and get ready for the party season early!!

  • Block of the Month

    Our new Block of the Month classes start this week. Beginning this Friday, we'll be running a monthly workshop in which you can learn two new blocks. As a beginner you'll learn the basics of piecing from scratch under the tutelage of our expert teacher Michael (President of the London Modern Quilt Guild no less!) or as someone with experience you'll have the opportunity to extend your knowledge of the many, many different ways to piece together fabric. Either way, you'll have fun experimenting with different fabric and colour combinations.

    The block classes run from October until March (how better to spend the chilly months?) and there are 12 different blocks in all. You can do all or some of the classes but if you manage to put 12 different blocks together by next spring you can incorporate them into a unique sampler quilt. See below for the plan.....

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    BlockoftheMonth

  • THREAD....a festival of Textiles!

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    We are busy preparing for Thread this week - it's a new show for us and we're excited at the prospect of visting Surrey and seeing inside the beautiful Farnham Maltings.

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    Taking place on Friday 26th Sept 12pm-6pm and Saturday 27th Sept 10am- 5pm in lovely Farnham, Thread will appeal to all creatives. You can browse the many stalls and add to your stash or be inspired by fellow crafters and get stuck in to one of the many workshops. Our fabulous tutor Gen is teaching this lined zip pouch workshop on Saturday at 11am.

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    There are talks,, book signings and lots of exhibitors selling fabrics, haberdashery and handcrafted textiles, so clear the diary and come and say hello!

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    'Thread' Tickets £5 in advance or £7.50 on the door.

  • Our Remnant Day is nearly here!

    All the Ray Stitchers are busy, busy, busy! Sorting through piles of vintage patterns, hundreds and hundreds of lovely old buttons,  fascinating bits of haberdashery and literally MOUNTAINS of gorgeous fabric. There'll be plenty of Ray Stitch stock reduced on sale day but this sale is mostly about the amazing collection of one-off dressmaking pieces we have collected and must now let go.

    Most of the fabrics were cut 20 -30 years ago as 'dress lengths' or 'suit lengths' but never used for their purpose and stashed away by lifelong sewers who sadly never got round to making up those wished for garments. Far from being old and musty, the pieces have been kept beautifully - most of them wrapped and labelled - there are beautiful quality silks, wools, brocades, chiffon, crepe de chine, Liberty prints - some with their 1980's sales tickets on!

    Please come down if you can. This really is a one-off sale and - much as we would love to - Ray Stitch will never be able to offer this variety of fabrics and vintage patterns again....

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  • SEWING SCHOOL STORIES - MEET DALLAS.

  • Save the Date - Remnant Day September 20th

    All the Ray Stitchers are busy, busy, busy! Sorting through piles of vintage patterns, hundreds and hundreds of lovely old buttons,  fascinating bits of haberdashery and literally MOUNTAINS of gorgeous fabric. There'll be plenty of Ray Stitch stock reduced on sale day but this sale is mostly about the amazing collection of one-off dressmaking pieces we have collected and must now let go.

    These are vintage fabrics in that most of them were cut 20 or 30 years ago as 'dress lengths' or 'suit lengths' but never used for their purpose and stashed away by lifelong sewers who sadly never got round to making up those wished for garments. Far from being old and musty, the pieces have been kept beautifully - most of them wrapped and labelled - there are beautiful quality silks, wools, brocades, chiffon, crepe de chine, Liberty prints - some with their 1980's sales tickets on!

    Please come down if you can. This really is a one-off sale and - much as we would love to - Ray Stitch will never be able to offer this variety of fabrics and vintage patterns again....

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  • What Katy Did at Ray Stitch......

    Our Summer School sessions are underway and one of our most popular regular classes - Pattern Cutting - ran as a 3 day intensive workshop last week. We were really pleased when the very lovely Katie Marcus - enviably stylish author of (officially!) two of London's best blogs - WhatKatieDoes and WhatKatieSews - accepted our invitation to take part and review the class.

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    We've seen lots of Katie's makes on her sewing blog and, although she's modest about her skills, she's certainly been busy sewing up a wardrobe and we think she's pretty good. However, like many sewers who sometimes find the 'one shape fits all' aspect of commercial patterns frustrating, she felt it might be time to create her very own blocks.  Pattern cutting of course is all about measuring  and replicating your particular shape and ensuring that clothing fits - exactly.

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    The certainty of the measuring and the mathematical calculations made in class, as well as the ability to look at other people's shapes and see how diverse we all are gives sewers invaluable knowledge about their own body shape.  Discussing the many ways in which a block can be adapted will also give the confidence to design your own garments or even to go back to commercial patterns and adapt them to fit perfectly. As with the learning of any new skill though, there is a degree of mental strain involved, that's why it's such a good idea to have a knowledgeable and experienced teacher like our very own Alice Prier to diffuse and demystify the complex information. The outcome far outweighs the small amount of strife that gets you there, hopefully Katie agrees with us on that one...

    Read Katie's full story here on What Katy Sews.....

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  • Uppercase - Issue 22

    "Whether a subtle shade or vibrant value, colour is the jumping-off point for creative exploration and personal expression. Colour offers endless inspiration... and as designers, illustrators, artists and craftspeople, we all share this passion for pigment...."

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  • Printed Oilcloth

    We've already been busy with our new oilcloth - here's Rosie off to Bestival last week with her quick and easy drawstring rucksack.

    And you can never have too many waterproof beach bags...we've already made 4!

    These are from the Japanese Kokka range, with vibrant prints from Echino and more delicate prints and colours from Ellen Lucket Baker's 'Garden' collection. Printed onto a cotton/linen canvas which is then laminated, the texture is nicely waxy and drapey and perfect for bags or pouches but equally suitable for table coverings or anything else where a wipe clean surface is required....

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  • One-hundred-and-one summer dresses....

    Have you taken a look at our pattern section lately? It's heaving...!

    We've managed to squeeze patterns into every nook and cranny of the shop since our cafe closed, and now - finally - we have them all on the site.

    There's a great selection of Simplicity, Burda and New Look seasonal styles to choose from - something for everyone. So have a look through and turn your fabric stash into some exciting summer outfits....

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  • New Nani Iro prints and what you might want to do with them.....!

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  • New Arrivals From Japan...

    The first instalment of our long-awaited delivery from Japan has arrived!

    As you can imagine, there's much excitement in the shop - move over wintry plains and make way for colour and pattern - BIG TIME!

    Look at these beautiful LAVA prints on Barkcloth - not actually made with bark as it originally was but with the same slubby weave, very reminiscent of 1950's curtains with those amazing kitschy prints.

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    And this lightweight linen canvas with fantastic vibrant graphic prints....so good in so many ways!

    Have a browse and watch this space for more Japenese fabrics arriving very soon....

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  • Meet Christine Haynes at Ray Stitch

    INVITE