How to customise your clothes with sew on or iron on motifs

Do you, like me love the new craze for motifs?
You will only need to spending a few pounds and some happy time in your local Haberdashery department, to transform a garment from “old” to “new” and be on trend for this seasons look, which has sweep the catwalks.



It’s very simple to hand,  machine or iron the motifs, on to the garment or bag of your choice, you will need:

Machine Sewing
Sewing machine, pins, thread to match the edge of the motif.

Hand Sewing
Thread to match the edge of the motif, hand sewing needle, pins and a thimble.


Iron on.
Iron, paper and pins.

Machine sewing, pin the motif into place, thread your sewing machine with the matching thread and sew around the motif, using a reverse stitch to finish.

Hand Sewing.

Pin the motif into place, and thread a hand-sewing needle with matching tread,
Begin the running stitch from the inside and push your needle up through the fabric and motif, make a small neat stitch, push the needle back down through the fabric and motif. Push the needle back up through the fabric and motif next to the stitch you have just made, and pull the thread down into your first stitch, continue pushing the needle up and down through the motif and fabric until it is sewn into place.




Iron on

Place motif on washed fabric and cover with a thin cloth, or plain paper.
-Press firmly at medium heat and no steam for 20-30 seconds, then flip over and press the reverse side. Allow to cool before wearing.

SEW what’s new ? – Sew Retro’s weekly guide


I am taking a peep over the sewing machine, and sharing a few links each week to sewing books ,new patterns, sewing tools, sewing tips, and free or affordable sewing demonstrations, around the country. This weeks FAB FIVE are :

1.I am loving this book, and it’s a huge hit at SEW RETRO weekly sewing classes, if you have followed a few of my tutorials, the Box Dress with Boat Neck, would be a fabulous first dress project, tips and help with tracing the pattern can be found here

2.Possibly the oldest and best Haberdashery is having a re-launch. To celebrate the re-launch of their renowned haberdashery, Liberty’s are holding a series of demonstrations, designed to inspire crafting with materials from their treasure trove of trimmings. You are invited to come along to meet some of their brilliant brands and see what you could be making…and the best bit ! no booking required

3.If you are new to sewing this is a very useful tool for unpicking seams, cutting loose threads and unpicking buttons to re-cycle.

Simply, slip the metal section under the stitches you wish to remove and slide along.


4.This fabric store on the high street has a fabulous website, of those of us who do not live nearby in West Hampstead, this fabric sold by the fat quarter, could be use to make, a glasses case.


5.If you have had some experience with sewing you may like to make your own bias binding, Tilly and the Button has a great tutorial,



Beginners Guide to Tracing Patterns – and a guide to buying dress patterns


Maybe you have been given a sewing book or you would like to buy a beginners sewing book, I bought my copy of Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes from amazon.

For beginners I would also recommend the three books from the Great British Sewing Bee.

If you have had a look in any of the sewing book you will see that you need to trace off the pattern in your size. You will need a pencil, ruler , paper scissors, spot and cross paper and a tape measure.  You  maybe planing to use the sewing books that come with the full size patterns,regularly, and then I would recommend investing in the pattermaster, and a tracing wheel.


The pattern master will make adding seam allowances ,and alterations to a pattern much easier and more accurate.

N.B. (not required if you are tracing patterns from the Great British Sewing Bee, or Love at First Stitch) but if you use the hugely popular Japanese books you do NEED to add a seam allowance of 1cm  to the seams and 3cm to the hems, of each pattern piece.

TOP TOP Never use you fabric cutting scissors to cut paper you will ruin your scissors making them very blunt and hard to cut fabric with.


IMG_3418Using your tape measure, measure your bust, waist and hips. Check your measurements against the measurements in the book, and select your size from  1 to 8.(if you are using Love at First Stitch)



You will see that you have a line to follow, solid, dash, dot etc. Using your spot and cross

pattern lay it over the pattern pieces you want to trace, and follow the line in your size.IMG_3421I find you get the best results if you can trace the pattern using a ruler or the patter master.


The book will tell you how many pieces you require for the item you want to make, you can check you have traced off all the pieces you need before you lay the pattern on the fabric.  Its also a good idea to transfer ALL the markings and information from the master copy onto your copy, straight of grain, darts, notches, etc.IMG_3422

The book will also give you a fabric layout, which will assist with cutout and placing your pattern pieces on the correct grain line.IMG_3423

When you have small sections or information (darts) that you want to copy or record I find the tracing wheel is very useful. You press down on the wheel and it leaves a line on pin pricks which you can join together with a pencil line or use as a cutting guide.IMG_3425

The books offer good value for money as you will get several full size patterns in the book, BUT you do have to trace the pattern in your size before you can cut out in fabric and start sewing. You may also love one or two items in the book but be unsure that you may make any more.

If that is the case it maybe cheaper and easier to look for a beginners, dress making pattern. These pajamas, are easy to make, come in lots of sizes, you just cut out your size and you ready to go. They also offer a short version, in the same packet.

I never buy the patterns at the full price. At the time of writing this blog NEW LOOK are on offer with most patterns selling at half price. I have found that there is always a company with the patterns selling for half price. You can buy these patterns on line or from your local fabric shop. In the pattern books the patterns will be marked, SEW EASY, or sewing for dummies, these are good patterns to start with. If you can not make it to a beginners sewing class, a simple sewing project from a book or pattern, is a great place to start.IMG_3419.jpg

Learn how to sew Lavender Bags – free tutorial


Free tutorial -Beginners sewing project _ learn to sew and make Lavender Bags


Materials and Equipment


Left over pieces of fabric or a fat quarter

Matching thread, pins, tape measure and scissors.

Dried Lavender I got mine from


Tips for beginners


Pinning the fabric for sewing.

Place the two pieces of fabric together, with right sides facing (the correct side of the fabric) and pin the raw edges together.


Seam allowance 1 cm this is the distance between the edge of the fabric and the stitch line. You will find a series of parallel lines engraved on the needle plate of your sewing machine pick the one marked with the measurement you need and keep the edge of the fabric to this guide

lavender bag


1.Cut out your materials according to the diagram. You will need two 12cm x12cm squares for each lavender bag you wish to make.


2.With the right sides of the fabric facing each other pin the two square together, leaving a 4cm gap in the middle of one of the 12cm sides.IMG_3350.jpg

3.Thread your sewing machine according to manufactures instructions. Using a 1cm seam allowance machine the two squares together. Sewing Tip to achieve a crisp neat corner, sew to the last 1cm of the first seam, leave the needle down in the fabric, lift up the foot and pivot your square, put the foot down and continue to sew, repeat on all 4 corners. (Don’t forget to leave a gap in your sewing so you can fill with dried lavender at a later stage)


4. Leave the gap, in your seam and remove your work from the sewing machine


IMG_3355IMG_33565.Using a pair of scissors, as show in the photo cut your corners, this will make a neat square when you turn the bag inside out.

IMG_3357IMG_3358Turn the bag inside out and press. Repeat steps 1 to 6 until you have the amount of lavender bags you require.

IMG_3359IMG_3360Using a teaspoon, funnel or a funnel made from paper fill each bag with lavender. Thread a hand sewing needle and using slip stitch hand sew the gap together.




Lavender bag HACKS


You have mastered making lavender bags, CONGRATULATIONS; here are a few simple ideas to turn your lavender bags into a pin cushion a simple toy or a doorstop.




Follow steps 1 to 6, using toy fillers (I bought mine here) firmly fill the bag with the filler, slip stitch the gap. Your pincushion is ready to use.


Mini beanbag toy- Retro old school fun.


Make a great sew simple home made toy, Follow steps 1 to 6.

  1. Fill the bags with dried rice, lentils, or beans, using a funnel or a teaspoon. Thread a hand sewing needle and using slip stitch sew the gap together.


Cut a piece of card into 6 equal squares, and then mark each piece of card with the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 6.

Lay the cards apart on the floor or ground.

Each player has 3 turns, to throw the beanbag

  1. Mark a start line
  2. The idea is to land the beanbag on the higher scoring numbers, which are placed further way from the start line.
  3. The numbers are added up
  4. And the highest score is the winner.




Materials and Equipment


2 pieces of fabric that measure 20cm x20cm

Matching thread, pins, tape measure and scissors.

Dried lentils, rice or beans.


Follow steps 1 to 6.

  1. Fill the bags with dried rice, lentils, or beans, using a funnel or a teaspoon. Thread a hand sewing needle and using slip stitch sew the gap together.

This sew simple door stop will hold open a door.


  • IMG_3365

What is a Fat Quarter

What is a Fat Quarter?


A FAT QUARTER, or FQ as it is often abbreviated, is a term used in patchwork and sewing. It is a way of cutting a yard or meter of traditional quilting cotton fabric in 4.

Fat Quarter


The diagram above, shows how 25cm (the black area) of fabric would look if you bought 25cm or quarter of a meter, from the roll of fabric at the fabric shop. And second illustration below shows how the fabric is cut for Fat Quarter.



What is a fat quarter bundle?

Fat Quarter Bundles are collections of fat quarters from a fabric line. Fat Quarters are quarter-yard cuts of fabric cut wide (hence the name fat). Their approximate size is 18″ x 21″.


Fat Quarters are great when you are learning to sew. It allows you to build a great fabric stash, at a reasonable cost, which you can dive into for your craft and sewing projects.


The glasses case and the wallet are perfect examples of items you can make from Fat Quarters.

These sewing projects are made from Fat Quarters. More ideas can be found in this book,

this book is a firm favorite of mine.

Free tutorial -Beginners sewing project _ Learn to sew and make a wallet for Credit Cards




walletwallet 2

Materials and Equipment

30 cm x 35cm of cotton fabric, I am using some left over fabric from a previous project.

30 cm x 35cm of lightweight fusible interfacing.

Matching thread, pins, tape measure, safety pin, and scissors.


Tips for beginners


Pinning the fabric for sewing.

Place the two pieces of fabric together, with right sides facing (the correct side of the fabric) and pin the raw edges together.


Seam allowance 1 cm this is the distance between the edge of the fabric and the stitch line. You will find a series of parallel lines engraved on the needle plate of your sewing machine pick the one marked with the measurement you need and keep the edge of the fabric to this guide




1.Cut out your materials according to the diagram.

  1. Cut out the fusible interfacing according to the diagram, and iron onto the wrong side of your fabric.


3.On the top of each of the wallet pockets, machine a 0.5 cm seam, or mark a 0.5 cm line with chalk.


  1. Fold and iron this seam along the stitch or chalk line, then fold again. Repeat on the 3 remaining pieces of fabric.


  1. With the foot of the sewing machine to the edge of the fabric stitch from one end to the other.
  2. Repeat on the remaining 3 pockets.



7.With the RS (right side) of the lining facing up, place the 4 pockets into position, first place the larger two pockets, then lay the 2 smaller pockets on top. Pin all the layers together.


8.Using a 1cm seam allowance, stitch around the pockets and lining.

For a neat finish, when you reach the end of a seam at the corner, leave the needle in the fabric, lift up the foot, and pivot the fabric around, continue sewing, repeat on the remaining corners.


  1. Place the right side of the remaining piece of fabric to the right side of the pockets and lining. Pin together.


  1. Mark a gap measuring 5cm in one of the long seams. Do not sew this gap; this will be used to turn the wallet inside out. Stitch the remaining seams.


  1. Cut the corners as show in the image and trim the seam that has the pockets, to 0.5cm.


12. Turn the wallet inside out, and use a point turner, or a blunt knitting needle to gently smooth out the cornersIMG_3241

  1. Fold the raw seam into place and iron.


  1. With a hand sewing needle slip stitch the gap.


Slip Stitch.

Slip stitch, produces an almost invisible join between two pieces of fabric, and is used to close the gap between fabrics. Start inside the wallet, hide the knot inside the wallet. Bring the needle up 1mm from the edge of one side of the wallet, insert the needle in the other side, slip the needle through the fold and come out again 6mm to the left, repeat to the end.