So, you have an instagram account, and you’ve been sharing your sewing projects a while now but you’re still not finding new followers. You know you’re meant to use hashtags on each of your posts … but… you’ve got no idea where to find these mythical and abundant sewing hashtags that will unlock the key to crazy community connection.
HI’m here to help you with that!
You probably already know that Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media channels on the interwebs today.You might also know Instagram posts receive some of the highest average engagement rates too. What you might not know is that the sewing community on Instagram is not only massive, but is also one of the kindest, most supportive and incredibly encouraging communities around.
(It’s one of the most inspiring too, but we’ll get to that later 😉 )
To take the sting out of your hashtag research, I’m sharing my personal list of sewing-related hashtags that I draw on every time I post a sewing project on Instagram.
Now, this list is massive and has over 170 hashtags on it, so please, please – please – keep in mind that you cannot use every hashtag on this list on every post. Instagram restricts the number of hashtags you can use on a post to 30. If you include any more than that, your post won’t be found under any of them. (Harsh, I know — but, hey – what can you do? It’s Instagram’s party, so party hard but respect the rules, peeps!)
So … without further ado … here’s my monster list of sewing hashtags! (Why don’t you pin this post for future reference?)
Oh wow! So you not only read that list, but you scrolled below it, too! As a ‘thank-you’ for going beyond that enormous list — and reading all the way to the end — here’s a few of my favourite sewing Instagrammers that I think you’ll love too!
MarcyHarriell — known as Oona Balloona, and has a drool-worthy wild style streak
DeadlyMojoSewing — Queensland-based stitcher who does some incredibly detailed, almost sculptural, work
Curlypops — stitcher, textile designer, double-lung transplant recipient and Donate Life advocate
All these accounts are great, and all for different reasons! Every single one shares inspiring projects, peaks behind the scenes, or has been incredibly encouraging and kind to me. See – I told you the sewing community on Instagram is a great place to play!
I hope you’ve found this monster list of sewing hashtags useful (and don’t forget to pin this post so you can keep it for future reference!) Remember, only use a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, and always be kind and supportive to other Instagrammers — you’ll get it back in spades!
You can find me playing on Instagram as MakePlusDo! I hope to see you there!
I remember when I first started sewing and wondering which one was the best sewing book for beginners like me. I was equally excited, overwhelmed and disappointed by the small selection of good sewing books on offer at my local bookshop. There was never a big selection, and I've found that even bigger bookshops in Brisbane don't seem to carry many more than a couple of different titles. Usually they aren't particularly recent, or seem to be a little dated and targeting the blue rinse brigade (in other words, not me!). It was very hard to choose a book that would be suitable for my beginner skills.
Thankfully though, since then I've found some great sewing books that not only will answer any question you've ever had when learning to sew but are completely worth the small purchase price and a space in your sewing library. Unfortunately, some of these titles are getting hard to find at brick and mortar bookshops, so to help ensure you can get your own copy I've tracked them all down at The Book Depository, which is where I buy almost all my books (gotta love that super-fast free international shipping, hey? 😉 ).
1. The Sewing Book by Alison Smith
The Sewing Book is easily one of the best sewing reference books available today. Written by Alison Smith and published in 2015, it's a hefty and comprehensive book that covers a wide variety of techniques and projects suitable for a beginner all the way up to advanced sewing enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it's getting very difficult to find in Australia now; however, you can still get it from The Book Depository for less than 50 Aussie bucks (and free international shipping!).
I recently borrowed Sewing Happiness from my local library and immediately fell in love with it. I ended up having to order my very own copy after I had borrowed the library's copy for three weeks, then renewed it for another three. It was pretty clear I needed this title in my sewing library. What makes it so good, I hear you ask? Quite simply, it's just a beautiful book — both in its photos, styling and simple and thoughtful projects, as well as the personal essays on sewing and growth that Sanae has included at the beginning of each chapter.
The structure of The Colette Sewing Handbook is a little different to other sewing books, which I really like. It takes the sewing beginner on a journey rather than putting all the technical information at the beginning of the book and the patterns and step-by-step instructions towards the end. Each chapter covers essential techniques then incorporates those techniques into the chapter’s sewing project. All the projects are for women's clothing and includes full-sized patterns at the back, so it's perfect if you're new to dressmaking. The Colette Sewing Handbook covers all essential sewing techniques in an easy to understand way, and the projects are classic and feminine.
Written by Melbourne-based stitcher and sewing teacher Nicole Mallalieu, this book is a favourite of mine. It’s marketed as the ‘ultimate guide to sewing with confidence and style,’ and I have to agree. Nicole's projects include a few bags, hats and accessories here, as well as instructions for seven pattern-free clothing pieces. Her instructions are clear and easy to follow, too. There aren’t too many Australians writing sewing books these days. The only other Australian sewing and craft author I can think of is Pip Lincolne, but unfortunately her wonderful Sew La Tea Do is out of print. (If you see it in an op shop or secondhand bookshop, snaffle it up!).
Seams To Me was one of the very first sewing books I bought when I was a beginner. It explains everything clearly, and most of the projects are very simple and straightforward. It was published in 2008 so it's starting to get a bit harder to find this title both in-store and online. Seams To Me mostly focuses on homewares and accessories, although there are some basic clothing patterns too. In my experience, getting started on simple bags, cushions and other homewares is a great confidence boost before moving on to clothing patterns where measuring yourself, adjusting fit and using some tricking techniques can get beginners unstuck.
When you’re ready to move on to sewing your own clothes, I can highly recommend Dressmaking Step By Step by Allison Smith. She includes some easy projects suitable for beginners, before moving on to some slightly more advanced projects such as classic jackets with collars. There are lots of photos clearly illustrating each step, and there are plenty of classic projects that won’t go out of style.
Usually the best price of Dressmaking Step By Step can be found by clicking here.
7. Learn to Sew by Tessa Evelegh
I picked up a copy of this book just recently, and it’s inspired me to wear more dresses again. It has a good range of clothing patterns, as well as projects for the home such as curtains, roman blinds and a laundry bag, among others. It includes a pattern from Tilly Walnes (of Tilly And The Buttons Fame) and two Simplicity patterns.
8. Sew What! Skirts by Francesca Denhartog and Carole Ann Camp
This was my first introduction to pattern drafting, and I discovered just how quick, simple and easy drafting a skirt pattern can be. The projects are fun, and there’s quite a large variety of skirt types covered in this book. It’s an accessible introduction for skirt pattern drafting and sewing, and so there’s not too much technical information such as more formal pattern drafting lessons covers.
I have to confess, I don’t have this book in my collection, yet, but as it’s written by sewing blogger Tilly Walnes, and it’s won a couple of awards, then I can’t say it will be long before it ends up in my library.
10. The Sewing Machine Classroom by Charlene Phillips
This is another book that isn't in my library (yet!); however, I've included it here because it's a very popular book in the sewing community. It covers everything to do with using your sewing machine, to troubleshooting problems and do basic maintenance as well.
So that's my list of the top 10 sewing books for beginners. I'm sure there's something on my list that will suit you! Of course, if I've missed a favourite sewing book that you think I should include, let me know in the comments below! Thanks!
*Please note, this post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. So thank you from the bottom of my crafty heart for supporting Make + Do.
Black Friday has just passed, and Cyber Monday isn’t here yet, and I don’t know about you but I’m already a bit exhausted from wading through all my Black Friday Sales emails. There are some truly amazing deals to be had this weekend, and there are some not-so-amazing deals too.
To save you some serious time and money wading through your Facebook feed and emails, I’ve rounded up a list of the 6 best Cyber Monday sewing, art and craft deals you’ll see this weekend. I had some help compiling this list – so a big thank you to Natalie and Clare, who tipped me off to some deals that I hadn’t seen but definitely worth sharing.
I’ve been curious about CreativeBug for a long time now, but it wasn’t until this deal was offered that I took the plunge and signed up. I’m so glad I did because they have award-winning classes offered by fantastic teachers such as Lisa Congden, Anna Maria Horner and Natalie Chanin. The classes are generally much shorter than other online learning platforms so are perfect for those of us who only have time to watch a class during nap-time or while drinking a rapidly cooling cup of tea.
Best deal #2
Craftsy is offering all classes for $17.99 USD (excluding for The Great Courses). Craftsy always have sales on classes, but rarely do they discount ALL classes and never at a better price than this! I’m a huge, long-time fan of Craftsy and over the years have seriously upgraded my sewing, photography and crochet skills. I’ve enrolled in over 70 classes and have learnt something worthwhile in every single class I’ve taken. They keep bringing out new classes every week and cater to all skill levels.
Best deal #3
Mingo and Grace have 50% off all their delightfully feminine sewing patterns, and a further 10% off if you use the code FRIENDS. I’m not familiar with Mingo and Grace, but my friend Natalie suggested this one and it’s such a great deal that it’s definitely worth checking out!
Best deal #4
My favourite independent sewing pattern company Colette Patterns have 30% off all patterns and up to 50% off sale patterns. Colette Patterns mostly include women’s sewing patterns, and a few men’s patterns too, and do not include patterns for children at all. They are modern with a vintage feel, and come in a huge range of sizes. They are also available in both printed and PDF versions, so you can avoid expensive shipping fees by getting the digital version instead. I’ve loved Colette Patterns for a long time, and Black Friday is the only time of the year I’ve seen them offer a store-wide sale.
Best deal #5
Up to 40% off all CreativeLive classes. CreativeLive is another online learning platform that offer high-quality classes delivered by excellent teachers. They don’t just offer classes for upskilling your creativity, they also offer some terrific business classes specifically for people in handmade and other creative micro-industries. If you’re a handmaiden or artist looking to build a sustainable business based on your creative endeavours, I can thoroughly recommend CreativeLive to help you get there.
Best deal #6
This deal is another of Natalie’s suggestions. Independent designer Dolls and Daydreams are offering 20% off all orders over $25 USD. Dolls and Daydreams specialise in whimsical doll and softie patterns, plus accessories patterns for their dolls and softies. So beautiful and these dolls and softies would make terrific gifts for the littlies in your life!
These are the 6 top deals I’ve seen and felt were worth sharing this year. I’m sure there are plenty of other terrific Cyber Monday deals that I’ve missed. Do you know of any? If so, feel free to link to them in the comments below!
*Please note: this post contains affiliate links to CreativeBug, Craftsy and CreativeLive (not the other companies I've mentioned) and if you clink on the links to these companies and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission — at no extra cost to you! I'm an independent publisher and being affiliated with these three companies helps cover the costs of running this site.
*This post contains an affiliate link to The Book Depository. Please read my affiliate policy for further information.
I've long been a fan of Gretchen Hirsch (known as Gertie) and her blog Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing. I love her rockabilly style, kitschy-cute dresses and her treatise on feminism and foundation garments. She really is an entertaining and interesting writer. So in 2012 when I heard she'd released her first book, Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing, I was thrilled. It took me ages to get the courage to buy it though!
I know you're wondering why.
Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing, by Gretchen Hirsch, includes lots of diagrams to explain techniques that might be new to inexperienced sewists.
Because as much as I love vintage fashion, I knew virtually nothing about the couture techniques used to achieve those gorgeous, structured garments. Vintage sewing and couture sewing have an awful lot in common. They share fine sewing techniques, unusual fabrics, strange terminology and a whole lot of hand-stitching. I let that level of commitment to a garment overwhelm me, but I really shouldn't have.
Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing is a wonderful introduction to the world of fine, vintage-inspired clothing. She covers extensive techniques and tips—from pad stitching to stabilising to laundering—which I found easy to understand and quite inspiring. She also covers some history of fashion designers from the early part of the Twentieth Century, gives an outline to common silhouettes and features found in vintage fashion, and even covers the pros and cons of using true vintage patterns versus reproduction retro patterns. Gertie doesn't stop with just stitching and couture techniques though. She also covers pattern adjustments and patternmaking, and gives advice on how to achieve the perfect fit.
Gertie gives a comprehensive take on the pros and cons with working authentic vintage patterns and compares it to working with reproduction retro patterns. It’s a very useful guide and worth taking into consideration next time you’re lusting over that hard-to-find vintage sewing pattern.
Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing also comes with 12 garment patterns, plus instructions for a whole swag of variations. I particularly love her 1940s A-Line Military-style skirt and plan to make it soon. Her patterns range from the deceptively simple Bow-Tied Blouse (bound buttonholes, anyone?) to her New Look-inspired suit jacket, which is anything but simple.
This book is not for beginners looking for a quick make. No way! But if you're a beginner sewist with a penchant for fine sewing and wanting to expand your repertoire, then it's definitely one worth adding to your sewing book collection.
I cannot tell you how totally out of my depth I felt when I first using paper patterns. There were SO many markings, and directions, and terms that I was clueless about. That first project took me a REALLY long time to complete—like months. Seriously. A lot was going on that year, so I make no apologies!
When I finished that bag, I realised I had learnt an enormous amount and felt confident to tackle some more complex projects (lined dress with princess seams anyone?) I’m guessing you’re still a bit daunted by working with paper patterns so let me hold your hand while I guide you through some of the basics. Before we get started, please read my post on preparation and make sure your fabric is washed and wrinkle-free.
Let’s dive in, hey?
Trace your paper pattern
I always wondered why copying a paper pattern was so important, and to be honest in some cases it’s not. However, when you've got multiple patterns printed and overlapping on one sheet, or multiple sizes you really need to trace your pattern out. Look, I know tracing a pattern is tedious but one day you’ll thank me. Probably when you've made an enormous pair of pants and want to make them in the correct size without having to make another trip to purchase a pattern that you've already bought but need to replace because you cut out the wrong size.
There are so many ways to trace out your pattern, and I've tried a few of them. You can buy Swedish tracing paper, which can be expensive but has a better drape than regular old tracing paper and is helpful when adjusting fit. You could also try sewing tracing paper, which is just like normal tracing paper only in large sheets, but it can also get a bit expensive. I used to use cheap and cheerful sew-in interfacing, and that was great because it stuck to my fabric and didn't shift when cutting out my pieces (hooray for accuracy). However, it could be stretched easily, and therefore inaccurate—boo! At the moment I use super-cheap no-brand baking paper. I just tape lengths together so I get a piece wide enough for each pattern piece. I use a 9B lead pencil to trace with because it’s really soft and dark. It draws beautifully on the baking paper, and is really easy to erase if I fuck it up make a mistake. The paper doesn't stretch and doesn't have any folds in it, so it’s cheap AND accurate—awesome!
Above: This little guy makes a great pattern weight and accompanies me on many tracing adventures!
Tip: don’t use a permanent marker when tracing out patterns. It bleeds on the paper, bleeds through to the pattern and onto the expensive dining room table. And then you have to whip out the hairspray and quietly attempt to remove the marks while your husband is watching some crappy man-movie and wondering where you are. Yup, learn from my mistakes, people!
Above: Ever wonder what those tiny triangles are for? Well they're for matching up your pattern pieces correctly. There are two ways of marking these. The above method takes time, is fiddly but there's no snipping into seam allowances.
Copy the triangles, and all other pattern markings
There are two schools of thought with those little triangles. Firstly, add them as a little piece that’s in addition to the seam allowance. Secondly, cut a tiny 3mm clip in the seam allowance, but be careful not to clip right to where the stitches go (or beyond). Personally, I love clipping into the seam allowance. I find it more accurate, quicker and easier, which means I spend less time swearing. Adding tiny little triangles onto my seam allowances is just fiddly and pisses me off, so I prefer not to do it. But each to her own, I say. Either option is ok so do what works for you.
Above: I love marking the triangles by snipping 3mm into the seam allowance. It helps me cut out my pattern quickly, is less fiddly and I think it's very accurate too.
Cut out your newly traced pattern
I know you read my post about essential sewing tools, right? You particularly took note of using fabric shears only on fabric, right? No? That’s ok. Go get yourself a cheap pair of scissors from the supermarket and use them for cutting out your paper pattern pieces. Off you go, I’ll be here when you get back 😉 Whatever you do, please oh pretty, pretty please do not use your good fabric shears on paper, otherwise I will cry.
Lay out your paper pattern pieces on your fabric
Lay your laundered and ironed fabric nice and flat. I use our very large dining room table, but others use the floor. Just make sure the surface you use is clean. Use the pattern’s instructions to determine if you should keep your fabric flat, or folded. If it’s folded then it’s most likely folded right-sides-together but do check this on the instructions.
Make sure all your pieces are on-grain, or placed on the fold if they need to be on a fold. If you have a single pattern piece but need to cut 2 or cut 4, then make sure there’s enough room to fit them all.
There are a few ways of ensuring your paper pattern pieces don’t slide on your fabric when you’re cutting. I used to pin my paper pieces to the fabric, and you can totally do this too. I’m just a bit lazy and find this method tedious. It also introduces some inaccuracy because the fabric has small ‘bubbles’ where the pins are inserted. I now use some heavy metal ornaments as pattern weights to hold the pieces down, and a rotary cutter to cut the pieces out. So quick, easy and more accurate. Just take your time and be very, very careful when using a rotary cutter—those suckers are SHARP!
Cut out your fabric pattern pieces
Again, there are just so many methods of cutting out fabric pieces. As mentioned above, I prefer using my rotary cutter but you might find using fabric shears suits you better. That’s ok, do whatever works for you! Take your time and keep your fabric as flat as you can when cutting. Also, it’s important to keep the paper pieces with the fabric pieces after you cut them out because we have one more step to do before we’re done.
Add all those stupid markings to your fabric pieces
Oh gosh, I really hate this bit. I really, really do. It’s so tedious and boring and some days I’d much rather do housework than add all those fiddly markings, but gosh—it’s so damn important! All those weird markings mean something: dart positions, gathered stitches, seam allowances, button holes, centre back … my list could go on. In fact, I think I will write a post about what the most common markings mean.
There are a few ways you can add those markings to the fabric pieces. You can use tailor’s tacks, which are pretty cool, quick and accurate; you can use pins and chalk/water-soluble pen to mark them; or you can use a tracing wheel and special sewing carbon paper. I like this last method, but each has its place and is useful in different situations. I recommend having all the tools necessary for each method because it’s nice to have options. That way you can mark your darts with tailor’s tacks, mark stitching lines with a tracing wheel and carbon paper and mark the start of gathering stitch lines with a pin and chalk.
Above: Used with carbon paper especially made for dressmaking and your tracing wheel will be your new best friend. (Ok, I might need to get some *actual* friends!)
And that’s it! You can separate your paper pattern pieces from the fabric pieces now—finally! Working with paper patterns can be the most tedious part of sewing, although I’m finding it more and more meditative these days. I hope you do too!
I struggle with adding all those fiddly markings right at the very end. Do you have any steps that you struggle with? Do you have any tips that make those steps less of a struggle, then share them below!
*Links to products are affiliate links. Please read my affiliate policy for further details.
It seems so weird now, but I remember buying my first sewing book and actually thinking ‘well, this will do me, I won’t need to buy another sewing book ever again.’ Um, HELLO?! What was I thinking? My brain must have fallen out that day, because I love books and learning new skills just as much as I love crafting. So it makes sense that I would naturally combine the two.
My collection of books has grown rapidly since that fateful day, but it’s not just books that make great sewing resources. Today I’m sharing my top sewing resources that I simply can’t live without.
I’m a book nerd. I buy books as often as possible and I’ve got some great sewing books in my collection. I can thoroughly recommend these ones as I either use them to learn a new technique or get inspired by the projects within.
Oh Anna Maria, how do you do it? A successful fabric designer, author and mum to seven (yes – SEVEN). This book is a great introduction to basic sewing with some gorgeous projects in classic Anna Maria style.
Yeah, I’m a Pipster fan-girl — there, I said it! I had the pleasure of meeting Pip in person earlier this year and she’s just as nice in person as she is online. And her books are pretty awesome too 😀 This book is a great guide to quick and simple projects perfect for total sewing newbies.
I love Gertie’s style. She’s a wonderful mix of retro-cool with tattoos and blue hair. Her projects and instructions are great too. This book introduced me to the world of couture sewing, structure and hand-stitching and it’s a world I’m looking forward to exploring some more.
Need to know how to mitre a corner, how to install some piping or how to press properly? This book uses step-by-step photo instructions to demonstrate a massive range of basic and not-so-basic techniques. A lot of sewing friends also swear by The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide To Sewing. I don’t have this one in my library but I think I need to fix that!
I love that this book makes it so simple to draft a skirt pattern that you’ll love. Filled with lots of inspiring examples and easy to follow instructions, this is a book I turn to again and again – just for the inspiration alone.
Oh my goodness, how GOOD is Craftsy? I’ve previously written about my Craftsy love affair here, but the platform is just so damn good I’m going to write about it again. I’ve enrolled in quite a few Craftsy classes (actually 52 at last count) and I always learn something new and useful.
Craftsy have some very useful free-mini classes, which are fantastic for sewing newbies. I particularly recommend these two:
Zippers have been known to strike fear into the hearts of many sewing newbies. I love Sunni Standing’s class because she explains what the different zipper feet do. She also gives clear and achieveable methods for installing slot, lapped and invisible zippers, among other things. So good!
It didn’t take me long to graduate from Craftsy’s free mini-classes to their paid classes (yeah, like about a minute!) and my favourites include:
This was my first Craftsy class and I loved it! With Deborah Moebes’ help I managed to draft a simple A-line skirt easily. My basic skirt gets worn all the time in summer and always gets some great compliments. It’s a great introduction to simple pattern drafting – yay!
This was how I discovered the work of Natalie Chanin from Alabama Chanin (<— not an affliliate link, I just adore her work). Her designs and business philosophy blows my freaking mind. Seriously. Natalie Chanin is officially one of my heroes and one day I WILL travel to Florence, Alabama just to meet her. When that day comes I will cry happy tears of crafty joy. I might even post photos!
These two classes are among the best I’ve ever done. I’ll be honest, they are not easy and really not for complete newbies as they’re very technical, but I came away with a great understanding of pattern drafting, fit and ease.
I thoroughly enjoyed Suzy Furrer’s teaching style and the level of technical information she presents. If you’re ready to start learning more about drafting your own patterns then start with these two classes – then consider doing the rest in her series, which include Creative Darts and Seam Lines, Creative Necklines and Creative Sleeves.
And briefly, there are so many amazing sewing bloggers out there. My personal favourites are The Coletterie by Sarai Mitnick and Lucky Lucille by Rochelle New.
What sewing resources do you regularly turn to for inspiration and guidance? Have I missed your favourite? If so, tell me in the comments below!