Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Simple essentials #5: a sewing kit

It seems timely to post about sewing, what with The Great British Sewing Bee starting later this evening. I'm not sure what competitive sewing will do for me but it certainly beats the endless talent shows/reality TV onslaught. At least, I hope so. At the very least I may pick up a few ideas.

In true 'make do and mend' style, my sewing kit is often wheeled out when a seam tears or a button comes off. But I also have a sewing machine and have made a few basic items. I actually quite enjoy it.

I bought the sewing box years ago from some catalogue shop - possibly Index (does that still exist?) and it's very similar to my mum's. Her sewing machine was an old Singer though, with a metal treadle. It folded away into a big wooden unit and my Grandad bought it initially for her sister (who was more interested in hairdressing). Mum's sewing box was a source of fascination for me as a little girl. The rolls of thick white elastic were my favourite; the long-suffering cat would sit there as I played 'vet' and bandaged its legs, then stagger off with its limbs stiff and bound. Pinty, if you're reading this from up there, I'm truly sorry.

My kit consists of many items: needles, pins, buttons, cotton, darning wool, Dylon dyes, sewing machine instructions and parts... some of the stuff in there has been picked up over the years from flea markets and junk shops, and bought purely for the retro packaging.

Of course, some of these things will probably never be used. But others (tailor's chalk, tape measure, pinking shears) come out quite often. I need a new pair of scissors, come to think of it.

That means a trip to John Lewis. It's the only place I know with a decent haberdashery department. Future projects may well include me trying my hand at quilting - I would love to do that - and possibly making something to wear. If I find the right fabric. It seems that most places now only sell upholstery fabrics and material for soft furnishings. Dressmaking fabric's pretty hard to find. I know you can buy online but surely you need to touch and feel first? I'll keep an eye out and put my faith in the laws of attraction.


  1. next time you are in Bury area you could look on the market for dress making fabric, i think there are still one or two stalls selling it. john lewis at cheadle have a pretty wide selection as well...i used to do a lot of dress making, started at school, but none these days as my children are grown and all i ever wear are jeans! i do make quilts, love making quilts. had a go ages past and found all the rules and complexities of it too hard to match up to but age brings don't care just do it attitude and now i make loads and all by hand, i can sit in front of the telly and do it !
    i saw the sewing bee last night, it was interesting but not i think persuasive in the way that bake off was.
    your photographs are as ever really good and i am jealous !

  2. Hi - thanks for the comment (and suggestions)... I'm a bit of an expert on Bury market as I spent a lot of my childhood traipsing around it! There's a big stall - Leslie's I think - and it's been there (according to my mum) for decades, passed down through the family. We're planning a visit soon as I can also go to Katsouris and buy lots of Polish cheesecake!
    The John Lewis at the Trafford Centre is pretty poor but Cheadle's good. Again, we're going there soon as J has some gift vouchers to spend from Christmas.
    I agree with you about the Sewing Bee. Apparently they'll be making things other than clothes so I'll stick with it. You've inspired me to collect scraps for patchwork too!

  3. not surprised to hear you're a market expert ! what child growing up in this area was not taken there at least on wednesdays and saturdays. my favourite treat is a hot black pudding eaten out in the open air strolling round the stalls. my daughter ( who is probably about your age !) now lives in Dorset and on trips up here still loves to do that too.

  4. I used to disgust my university friends by eating black pudding. They'd buy it then watch me tucking in in morbid fascination - I like it fried with a blob of ketchup. You can take the girl out of Lancashire etc etc...


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