Festival DIY

Whether you’re off to a music festival, family festival or just want to recreate the festival feel at home, these fun DIY’s will help you get in to the spirit of the event!  We’ve searched out a selection of DIY projects that are fun to make and suitable for all ages.

Pretty up your garden with some Fabulous festival bunting. You can pick up beautiful coordinated packs of fat quarters from Crafty Sew&So or why not really get into the hippy festival mood by upcycling your old clothes for this project! 

These Toddler Wings are super cute and a fun way to use up lots of scrap fabric. We think you could definitely scale them up for adults too! 

Pom-poms are so on trend this summer so look the part with a sweet Pompom head band

We’ve been super lucky with the weather so far this festival season but it’d be a good idea to have a pair of Ribbon trimmed wellies handy just in case!

Well, we’re going to need somewhere to sleep (or just settle down for an afternoon nap!) and this fun teepee is the ideal place! 

And cover up from that blazing sun (fingers crossed!) with a cool kimono 

Have fun out there guys, and happy sewing! 

Sarah x




Refashioning the way we look at our clothing!

Today we are welcoming Lauren, our new weekend supervisor to share her thoughts on the blog. Lauren is passionate about vintage fashion and enjoys up-cycling, re-fitting and re-puposing garments to give them a second life. Lauren is opening our eyes to the potential of our forgotten wardrobes!

Over to Lauren…

Whilst making new clothes, bags, quilts and selecting new fabric from our range gives us all the fun fuzzy sewing feels, we’re all discovering an additional way to feel sewing satisfaction through Re-Fashioning.

Did you know that it takes approximately 1800 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans?!  And 1.5 million tons of clothes and textiles go straight into landfill sites in Britain every year (source: The Daily Telegraph) … Eye-watering statistics for fabric and planet lovers alike! But before you despair, there are lots of ways you can make a difference to the environment through your sewing skills. And look fantastic in the process – double win!

Re-fashioning and repairing your existing clothing is a great way to help save the environment and put your sewing skills to great use. Re-fashioning, or upcycling, is when you take an existing garment that you own, or one from a charity shop or vintage store and give it a new lease of life by turning it into something wearable that you love. Whether it’s the prettily patterned but unflatteringly shaped dress that grabbed your attention from the crammed charity shop rails, or a much loved and now worn out pair of jeans in your wardrobe, you don’t have to let them languish in fashion purgatory (or landfill!), you can use your skills to make something old new again.

With a little imagination and a seam ripper/ un-picker that unflattering dress with the great pattern from the charity shop can be transformed- you could alter a neck or hemline, take off some sleeves or put in a dart to make a sad dress happy again and best of all, suitable for you.


Lauren has been inspiring us all at Crafty to take a second look at second hand clothing!

The worn-out knees in your favourite jeans could be given new life through embroidery or be patched up with a fun bit of fabric that you’ve got left over from another project. Totally on trend this season!


Stylish upcycling ideas from A Pair and a Spare DIY

Love the vintage style? Wear actual vintage! And if it’s not quite the right fit for you, try sympathetic alterations such as letting out seams and darts.

The Vintage fits great, but looks a bit worse for wear? Give it a hand-wash, brighten it up with dyes, or repair embellishment details to restore it to its full beauty so that you have a truly unique and flattering piece.


Cover stains and brighten up dull vintage clothing with dye effects. Image ref: Madamedaily.com

If Vintage styles, prints and patchwork are not for you, why not try turning a man’s shirt in to a fashionable Cold-Shoulder dress? Charity shops are full of discarded cotton, linen and denim shirts all waiting to be turned in to this season’s hottest style. All you need is a shirt, scissors, thread, a needle and determination!

newlook shirt refashion

Image ref: Newlook.com

If clothing refashions seem a little daunting, but you like the idea of making use of waste fabric, why not make a crazy patchwork quilt? We bet you’ve got loads of scrap fabric in your stash that you couldn’t bear to throw away waiting to be used up. We’ve always got lots of remnants in store to help you on your way too.


Image ref: StitchesandScissors.com

Re-fashioning projects are a great way to expand your love of sewing and fabrics; existing garments push your imagination, boundaries and skills to think of new ways to create a new item. Best of all, by refashioning or repairing even one garment it helps to make a big difference to the environment, so you can feel pretty great about that too!

If you’re feeling inspired, why not come along to our Refashioning and Repairing workshop at the end of the month to explore the ways you can do your bit for the environment and your wardrobe.

Lauren x

Welcoming Our Youngest Team Member

The whole Crafty team has been eagerly awaiting our newest and youngest team member.  My baby daughter, Amelia May, was born on the 14th of May, one day earlier than her due date. As the first Crafty baby, I’ve had lots of support and encouragement from the team, and we’ve all enjoyed making things in preparation for her arrival.


New babies provide endless opportunities for fun sewing projects.  In preparation for Mia’s arrival I have made a handful of fun and simple projects, including roping in my friends to help me sew tiny baby leggings in the Crafty Baby Shower we held in the studio.

Mia baby quilt.jpg

One of my favourite makes has been a simple quilt, which gets used a lot now Mia is here.  We use the quilt as a blanket and a play mat on a daily basis, it’s a really useful project, and a fantastically simple first quilt.  The finished quilt is just over a meter square.  All the fabrics are avalible from the Crafty Sew & So shop.


I like the use of the simple squares.  This design is often called the ‘Around the World’ block, and it’s the design we use in our Quilting for Beginners workshop, which teaches all the essential basic techniques for quilting, including accurate cutting and piecing, over 6 weeks or 2 full Sundays.  This project is fun, simple and an ideal first quilt project if you’ve always wanted to have a go!  The next course will be starting in September- keep an eye out for details on our website soon!

Freya x

Red Satin and Gold Sequins – Sarah’s Dressmakers Ball Ensemble

My dress for the ball went through many redrafts before I finally settled on my design. The problem with having made lots of lovely dresses for and with other people in the past is that when I came to designing my own I had way to many ideas! But I am so happy with my final combo of design details!

I’ve seen quite a lot of high front low back hemmed dresses and skirts and thought this would make it really modern ball dress silhouette.

I self drafted the skirt thinking around a full circle shape.

I made a tiny 1/5 Scale mock up of a full circle skirt with a short front and long back and then slashed and spread this to add deep pleats to the waistband. I then calculated this up times 5 to give me my full scale measurements for my final skirt.

I measured these against myself to check I was happy with them and made a pattern using Adobe Illustrator. 

It was 90% experiment and I really didn’t think that the pattern I got back would be correct so I toiled it up knowing that I would need to make some adjustments. I was happily surprised that all the seams met up just about perfectly, the pleats needed a little tweaking but that was easy to do.

From the toile, I could see how the fabric would hang and how the pleats would sit. The hem needed a little adjustment. But other than that I was really happy with the fit and overall style.

On to the bodice…

I planned to make a bodice to attach to the skirt to make a full dress, however as the date drew near and my indecisiveness in my design was not improving I realised that maybe I could use a garment I had made previously but never worn.

I made a boned laceup back corset as a sample for one of our classes and I tried this on with the skirt shape and it suited perfectly!

Once this decision was made choosing the fabric to make up my finished skirt was a lot easier. I chose a beautiful crepe-back satin in pinkish red and lined the whole skirt in spotty black and white cotton. I finished off the waistband with a sequinned panel and a giant sequin bow at the back – I think this is my favourite bit!

I squeezed in time to make A matching bag and embellished my sparkly red shoes with big satin bows. Are used shoe clips to attach these and I’ll do a tutorial to show you how to make removable shoe bows later on. 

I love my finished outfit – especially all the finishing touches which I will use again and remember back to this fantastic night.

Happy sewing!

Sarah x

My Oh So Lovely Ball Dress

So I began making my Ballgown a good old while ago in the fabulous Dressmaking to Fit Workshop. Sarah supplied the bodice and skirt templates which we tinkered with until they matched my drawing.


We altered the bodice to create a pretty, almost square, neckline and added capped sleeves and back darts for extra shape. The simple A – line skirt is slightly  ‘puffed’ with cute double pleats at the front.


I whipped up my first ever toile, I’m normally far too impatient to make the dress twice! There were no major changes required just a little lengthening of the bodice, widening the armholes and allowing a little more breathing room around the bust.

The small changes made all the difference. My dress fits perfectly!  It is the longest I have ever spent creating a garment but I can honestly say the time put in was absolutely worth it. Every part of my dress feels luxurious. Most importantly, I was comfortable, even after a huge meal!


As you can see it frays like made so I had to do french seams and lots and lots of pressing. Most of my time was spent making unending darts. Everything was doubled as I self-lined the bodice. I was bereft of my ever faithful Frixion pen as it left permanent marks on the fabric I chose. I had to resort to chalk pencil marks and tailors tacks instead! All in all, I created sixteen pleats and darts!

The night before the ball I hand tacked a gorgeous gold ribbon about the hem of the gown and ever so carefully sewed it on with a wide zigzag stitch. After a long day at the shop Sarah kindly took to the overlocker to finish my dress with a rolled hem. I shall learn this skill soon, but some things are best left to the professionals.


And of course, No outfit would be complete without a little bit of bling! Over the past few months, I’ve been collecting jewellery storing it, magpie-like, in order to complete my look. As my dress is relatively simple I could completely go to town on makeup and jewellery. So, of course, I brought a glittery gold eyeshadow, a delicate gold bracelet, necklace, comfy plaited sandals and to top everything off a crown! Because when else will I get the chance to wear a crown!


Sparkly-eyed and bedecked in my finery I flittered about the City Rooms feeling like a pixie queen. Now all I need is an excuse to do it all again.

Rebekah x


Your thoughts from The Dressmakers Ball

Wow! We have had so much lovely feedback about the Ball – thanks everyone, it really made all the hard work worth it!

We though it would be nice to bring together a little round up of a selection of Bloggers and Vloggers sharing their experiences of the Ball…

Emily from Self Assembly Required tells us more about her fabulous royal blue jumpsuit




Helen from Stitch my Style shares her winning make and how she made it



Sian from Kittenish Behaviour shares her experiences in the run up to and at the ball!



Diane from Dreamcutsew shares details about making her fabulous gold ball gown



Bianca from Sleepless in Bavaria shares her beautiful pink sequin dress…



And a lovely bag tutorial – why not start getting ready for next year super early!

(… Yes, I did say next year…!)


bow bag

A huge thanks to our wonderful photographer for the evening Tara Lydon. Find more of her work at TKL Photography.

Thanks for all your wonderful support, please do keep sharing your fantastic experiences at The Dressmakers Ball. We can’t wait to see you at future sewing events.

Happy sewing!

Sarah and the team at Crafty Sew&So x

Girl with a Sewing Machine by Jenniffer Taylor – book review 

Jenniffer Taylor is best known as a contestant on The Great British Sewing Bee.

Since staring in the show, Jenny has been taking her #FashionRevolution message around the country and we had a great day when she visited Crafty Sew&So for a refashioning dayShe very kindly gave us the first ever signed copy of her new book, “Girl with a sewing machine”, to give away as a raffle prize at The Dressmakers Ball! 

I decided to take a look at the book before we gave it away and I really wish I could keep it as it has some fantastic projects and ideas for beginners and established stitchers alike. 
She begins by running through all the sewing room essentials you might need with a charming photograph of her sewing room and detailed descriptions of each tool and what they can be used for. Watch out for some surprising and innovative uses for everyday items! 

Most of the projects use up-cycled and recycled clothing and fabrics. Making this book a unique, interesting and very relevant read. I’m sure you have bits of old fabric or garments that have passed their useful life as they are or you have simply got bored of in their current form, Jenny encourages us to look at these items in a new light. 

She also touches on ideas for embellishing and mending your clothes. I particularly like the use lace doilies as embellishments on clothing – she has even used beautiful embroidered vintage handkerchiefs and table covers to make a whole top!

She includes some lovely ideas for adding embroidery to garments which is very on trend. 

She includes a body measuring guide which is detailed and easy to follow. 

My favourite project is the snood and mittens set, I definitely want to try making these for autumn. 

I think I’ll have a go at the wraparound trousers too, they look so comfy and I love the green linen she’s made them in. 

You can get hold of a copy of Jenniffer Taylors book from 31st May at all good bookshops. 

The Eve Appeal

It’s the last day of ticket sales for The Dressmakers Ball- if you haven’t got your ticket yet, don’t delay!

We’re working with McCalls and Vogue Patterns and The Cocktail Hour to raise money for The Eve Appeal at the Ball.  The Eve Appeal is the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research in the five gynaecological cancers – ovarian, womb, cervical, vaginal and vulval.

McCalls have organised ‘The Cocktail Hour’ to raise money, which fits so perfectly with The Dressmakers Ball we had to get involved too-

The latest promotion, ‘The Cocktail Hour’, sees 20 designs chosen from the Vogue Patterns range for a new social sew-along. Both new and experienced sewists are invited to choose a pattern – a donation is made to The Eve Appeal for every pattern sold – and sew a wonderful outfit as part of the sew-along, and if they choose, throw a cocktail party to show off their creation. We’ve even created an Eve cocktail recipe! – The Eve Appeal Website

To help raise money we are donating all the money taken from the sale of tickets for entry in to the prize draw we are running on the evening and £1 from each ‘The Dressmaker’ Cocktail sold on the evening.  To wet your appetite for the the prize draw, I’ve got a sneak peak of some of the amazing prizes our lovey sponsors have provided for the event-

The lovely Jenniffer Taylor is giving us the very first signed copy of her brand new book, Girl with a Sewing Machine!  This isn’t going to be officially published until the end of May so the winner will be a lucky sewer indeed!

Girl with a Sewing Machine Cover3.indd

photo credit- Search Press

Girl Charlee are donating a tote bag full of yummy fabrics and a selection of their sewing badges for one lucky winner.

Girl Charlee prize

Minerva Crafts have donated beautiful sewing box, perfect for storing your sewing bits and pieces.

minerva crafts prize

Love Sewing Magazine are donating not one, but three 6 month subscriptions to their lovely magazine.

love sewing May 2017

Photo credit- Love Sewing

Fabric Godmother are giving away a gift voucher for their online shop.

fabric godmother

Craft Stash have donated a £50 voucher for their shop- you can buy a lovely range of dressmaking patterns from their webshop.


McCalls have sent us a selection of The Cocktail Hour patterns and a signed pattern by the iconic Zandra Rhodes!

mccalls prize

And saving the best for last- Brother are giving one lucky ticket holder a Sewing Machine! The Innov-is 15 is a computerised sewing machine, ideal for Dressmaking, quilting and crafts!  We’ve used this machine in our workshops at Crafty Sew&So and think its the bee-knees!

 brother-innov-is-15-sewing-machine Sale of tickets to The Dressmakers Ball close TONIGHT! Head over to our website to book yours now and avoid missing out on the dressmaking event of the season.

The Dressmakers Ball- Who’s Sponsoring?

We’ve had a lot of fun organising The Dressmakers Ball, including working with other sewing shops and companies to put together an amazing selection of goodies for everyone who is attending!  Sponsors are all contributing to the goodie bags, which every ticket gets free, and many are also providing an amazing prize to the Prize Draw happening on the evening, raising money for The Eve Appeal.


So, first up, of course, is us!  Crafty Sew&So is a fabric shop and sewing studio in the heart of Leicester City Centre. We sell quality fabrics and haberdashery, and run workshops for all abilities.

We’re giving every attendee a ‘Start as you mean to sew on!’ cotton tote bag, which we’re stuffing with goodies from the other sponsors and a Crafty Sew & So pen!


Minerva Crafts is a family run business born out of a love for sewing! We have over 100,000 products in stock and specialise in dressmaking fabrics, sewing patterns and haberdashery.

Minerva Crafts are including a fabric bundle in each goodie bag and providing a voucher for the prize draw!


Girl Charlee are an online specialist retailer for knit fabrics offering high quality, exclusive prints you wont find anywhere else.  take a look at the wide selection of beautiful fabrics at www.girlcharlee.co.uk.

Girl Charlee has given us a fun badge for the goodie bags and a tote bag full of fabrics for the prize draw!


Prym is Germany’s oldest family owned business, with a reputation for high-quality metal products, and today, we offer an even wider range of products: from press fasteners to high-tech microelectronic components.

Prym have provided a small gift for the goodie bags.


Sew is the UK’s best-selling and most fashionable sewing magazine, providing inspiration for you, your home and the little ones.

Sew Magazine are giving us a copy of the latest addition of the magazine for each goodie bag- hot off the press that day!


Abakhan are sponsoring the cocktail of the night! Enjoy a Dressmaker Cocktail from the bar.

BrotherlogoBrother are providing a brand new Innov-is 15 sewing machine for The Eve Appeal prize draw!  We’re big fans of this machine at Crafty Sew & So, and one lucky winner will be taking one home with them on the evening!


Vogue patterns ‘The Cocktail Hour’ are also sponsoring the the ball and we’re supporting their fundraising for The Eve Appeal.  Vogue have provided a cope of Sew Today magazine for the goodie bags and copies of a selection of The Cocktail Hour vogue patterns for the prize draw!


You’ll also receive discounts and flyers from The Sewmance Festival, CocoWawa Patterns Jenniffer Taylors NEW book, and By Hand London! I can’t wait!!!

Freya x

INSPIRATION FOR THE DRESSMAKERS BALL- Rach at Rach against the Machine

In the run up to The Dressmakers Ball, we’re bringing you some inspiration and advice on making yourself the ball gown of your dreams!  You can go as complicated or as simple as you like for the ball- dresses in simple shapes offer the chance to really show off a fabulous fabric, while more complicated patterns offer a fun challenge to more confident sewers.  Whatever you chose to make and wear, we cant wait to see you in it!

Today we have Rachel Wain, who blogs at Rach Against The Sewing Machine, has sewn the Colette Rue dress.

This is a lovely dress that has some really interesting design details.  The front seams can be joined as normal, you could insert piping to break up your fabric pattern, or just to make things more interesting if you think your fabric is a bit plain.

Photo 06-09-2016, 18 34 55.jpg
I recommend making a toile just to make sure the design lines of the bodice hit you in the right place.  It is possible to grade between sizes even though there are seams on the front.  I graded from an 8 from my bust through to a 12 for my waist and hips.
Construction is really simple; just make sure you pay attention to getting your pleats even at the front.  The instructions for inserting the full lining are really detailed; it’s the first time I’ve fully lined anything and I found it really easy.


As with anything, my main tip is to take your time and make sure you’re doing things properly; especially if you’re wearing it for a special occasion! I hand stitched the hem because I thought it deserved that extra bit of time and care.
The only place I deviated from the pattern was to top stitch around the neckline to keep everything tucked in and neat.   Bonus feature about the pattern… in seam pockets!

Suitable fabrics:
You could make Rue in a crepe de chine, which would drape and give it a real “swish” factor:

This spotty fabric will be beautiful as a swishy dress.



Or go classic with this gorgeous rose printed Liberty cotton!