Vote for me (if you want to of course!)


So I’m not sure if all you remember this coat from last year? I guess it depends how long you have been following my escapades!

It’s the coat I made from old jeans and thrifted lining and actually am super proud of and has had LOTS of wear this winter. A denim duvet to wrap yourself in in the depths of winter? Yes please!

Weeeeelllll….this here coat has been shortlisted as a finalist in the refashioning ¬†and readers choice categories for Dressmaker of the Year! Yowzers! More (very detailed) info on the process and what was involved in making this coat (erm….alot was involved!) can be found in the original post here. If you like what you see and think it’s worth your vote then you can vote for me here until 25th April! The awards are run by Make it Today: Dressmaker Magazine and you will be entered into a prize draw simply for voting not to mention the fact that it would be totally awesome for a refashioned garment to win an award like this! And check out the other awesome makes nominated too. Feel very proud to be in such company ūüôā


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Top Tip: Pre-cut interfacing strips

If you make alot of waistbands or button plackets, you may like this! (That is if you’re not already doing it!)

You know those fiddly little tasks in sewing ? The ones that make you go “ugh” and slump your shoulders when you reach that point in ¬†make? Well cutting long narrow strips out of floaty lightwieght interfacing is one of those for me. Specifically we’re talking waistbands and button plackets. Invariably my sheet of interfacing is an odd wonky shape from where I have cut out pieces for previous projects. And I’ll have oddments of interfacing that are too small to be of use but will come in handy “one day”. Which I¬†find ¬†quite ¬†messy and a little bit wasteful (as I probably won’t end up using those pieces anyway), and makes it tricky to find the right spot to cut your piece of interfacing from.

It occurred to me when I was cutting some interfacing for ¬†a waistband the other day….why not cut a whole lot of it in one go?
Sewing tip pre cut your interfacing stripsI generally cut the same width of waistband on every make as I have found a width that is comfy on me. So I always need the same width of interfacing. So I just cut a load extra and rolled it onto an empty masking tape roll to store for future use.

Easiest way to do it for me was to fold my interfacing several times and mark out my strips in the right width….then cut…and you have multiple strips ready for future projects…and no waste!Sewing tip pre cut your interfacing strips

Sewing tip pre cut your interfacing strips


Makes me wonder¬†if there is a product like this already out there? Rolls of interfacing strips in various weights. Like wundaweb but only sticky on one side? In any case…I won’t have to be faffing with interfacing strips for a while ūüôāSewing tip pre cut your interfacing strips


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A trip to Denmark….

If we hang out¬†in the same social media¬†circles you may be aware of this already. If we don’t then you may not be! In either case, here’s the full skinny on a recent trip to Denmark that I think you will find interesting and exciting!

A couple of weeks back, myself and 6 other UK sewists, were invited by Danish brand Stoff & Stil (meaning Fabric & Style) to visit their Denmark store and HQ. ¬†This is a brand that has has a pedigree of over 30 years and will be¬†familiar¬†to sewists in Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. ¬†But less so to¬†those of us in the UK, where they only launched their UK site back in May of last year. ¬†They currently have 5 webshops and 23 bricks and mortar shops in the aforementioned countries. ¬†They only ship to countries for which they have a dedicated webshop. So currently Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the UK¬†but they aim to expand to other European locations in the longer term. This trip was part of their strategy to reach out to the UK market. Their newest venture; and that’s where we come in. We go there, we listen, we come back, we tell you all about it. (Clearly it would be ridiculously impractical, but I honestly think if they could’ve invited the entire uk sewing community out there they would’ve done!) ¬† As hosts they were faultless, warm, welcoming, as passionate about making as we are, and thoughtful¬†. Like, they think of EVERYTHING kind of thoughtful. And for me, this was my lasting impression of Stoff & Stil as a brand. They think of everything.

First stop was their retail space….and this is what we saw….STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)

Essentially, a department store for makers! ¬†I have never seen anything on this scale in the UK! Seriously. it was huge…STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)


About 8 aisles like this one, stocking all manner of fabrics, yarn, patterns, haberdashery and supplies for all manner of other crafts like jewelry making, upholstery, bag making, lingerie supplies….even shoe making!!

Stoff & Stil’s retail strategy is for mega spaces like this. (And they were quite open about the fact that they would love to launch one of these stores in the UK! Yesssss! I know, right?!) ¬†A minimum of 10,000 sq ft. Their approach to these spaces is very fresh and innovative. ¬†It was so exciting to see our ¬†sewing industry being approached with the type of scale, planning, and attention to detail that you would expect from a top end high street retailer. ¬†It wasn’t just a place to buy supplies, but a carefully planned space, packed full with inspirational displays and ideas. You could literally get lost in there for days…ok maybe hours…but I bet ¬†I could do days! If they put a coffee shop in there, I would be there for a whole day at least!

I love this picture of Marie, Fiona, and Rachel below. Marie’s gesture perfectly encapsulates how overwhelming it is to be given just an hour (our schedule was jam packed) to look around, lol! ¬†Head in hands….where the hell do I start?!!STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)



That was one crazy hour. Lots of “oooohs” and “ahhs” and “oh my gosh have you seen this?!” Lots of fabric fondling. Trying to narrow down a selection of fabrics that size to a tiny edit of what you think you can get away with adding to your stash at home. ¬†(This is not a shop that encourages restraint. Thank heavens¬†I don’t have limitless funds, or it could’ve gotten seriously crazy!) A slight air of hysterical panic as that hour ticked by and we realised we had barely scratched the surface.¬†STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)

Karen went for this showstopping boiled wool. ¬†I can just see a gorgeous coat in this. Karen can rock red ūüôā In the background (On top and at the end of each stand) and foreground you can see the displays and little staged vignettes I was referring to, that give the whole place more of a high street fashion and home retailer feel. ¬†Like John Lewis but for makers. And that’s how Stof & Stil see themselves. A fashion and interior company with their own designs and collections. (They have over 600 employees including a team of designers so many of their prints and other products are designed in house)




Here’s what I managed to pick out! I got sucked in by their gorgeous velours in teal and grey (naturally, lol!) plus some ribbed jersey. And that bottom fabric is my absolute fave! ¬†In their look book, ¬†(which I’ll come to) it’s made up as a kiddies onesie! Cute! Needless to say I won’t be making a cute onesie out of mine , but it’s always interesting to me how 10 people can look at the same fabric and have completely different ideas for it.

I didn’t even make it to the pattern section for a proper look. There are hundreds of patterns in this section with sample garments of some of them made up so you can try them on…I go into a little more detail about their patterns in the video (yes video!) at the end of this post….(although it’s just my voice. I haven’t jumped on the Vlogger bandwagon JUST yet)…STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)


Nor did I have a proper look at the vast range of haberdashery! But I took a few snaps so you could get a feel for the sheer volume of stuff there was!STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)


This is one of those “attention to detail” things I was talking about.¬†Yarns made up into swatches so you can see and feel how the knit up. So simple.¬†Like face palm simple. But I’ve not seen it before.


We went on a tour of their whole facility but were not able to take photographs of the warehousing operation. But it was seriously impressive. Think Amazon in terms of scale (Huge) then add clinical efficiency and precision, lot’s of light and shiny floors that¬†would pass muster with a surgeon. It was like a sewists version of “the tour” in Charlie and the chocolate factory. Amazing. Oh, and women! It struck me that easily 75% of the workforce that we saw were women. ¬†I don’t really know why that’s relevant, but for some reason it made me feel immensely good to see it. And the fact that the majority of them are active and passionate makers themselves certainly made me feel that this is a company run by makers, for makers.

We spent most of our day in this bright and airy room, listening, learning, playing with fabrics….STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)

We heard about the company’s heritage. From the first delivery of surplus stock sold on a market stall in the early 80’s…..(This is Peter and Marianne Lerche who founded the company in 1980 and still own it today)STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)


… how their catalogues have evolved into full on inspirational lookbooks over the years….STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)

These catalogues/lookbooks are worth a mention actually. I personally think they are a key part of what makes this company unique. Packed with inspirational images and examples of garments/items made up in Stoff & Still products with the corresponding product numbers. It’s basically like a Next catalogue for makers. It’s genius really. It just sits on your coffee table and there you have temptation right at your fingertips, lol! The only kicker is….it’s not YET available in the UK. It won’t be until¬†their UK sales reach a level that justify ¬†the commitment of a translation and print run of these books. (Which actually shouldn’t be long because their price points are very reasonable) But that is their aim (as is the bricks and mortar store). ¬†We did suggest to them that they make this available as a pdf so that may be a possiblilty. But for now, not available in the UK.

However¬†I did manage to get some images from the SS17¬†catalogue and permission to share so I’ve put together some slideshows for you so you can see what I’m talking about…just click on whichever link is of interest…

Adult fashion:


Kids Fashion:

Kids interiors:

Everything in those images uses fabric/patterns/supplies from Stoff & Stil that are either available individually or in some instances, kit form. I do have a copy of the catalogue (not in English obvs) but if you see anything and want to know the product number so you can find it on the website, drop me a line.

In cased you missed it on social media you can get 15% off everything on the UK site with code: portialawriexstoffstil until 15th Feb (This Wednesday)

There were also alot of things about their website that I liked and found unique so there’s a little tour of that in the video below. I apologise in advance for the amount of times I say “um” n this video, lol! ¬†Oh, and the Essex twang that has crept into my accent¬†over the years, ha ha!…

So there you have it. The full lowdown on our trip to Denmark. (In the interest of full disclosure, we were not paid for either the two days of the trip or anything we have done subsequently. Stoff and Stil did pay for flights, hotel and food. We received a discount voucher towards any fabric purchase we made plus a few very small complimentary gifts. None of which is enough to make any of us give a false review of any company. So please be assured all views are genuine).  My genuine view is that I like what this company does and what it is aiming to do.STOFF AND STIL UK BLOGGER TRIP (21)

If I sound enthusiastic it’s because I am. It’s hard not to be enthusiastic about companies that are as passionate about what we do as we are. ¬†(I’m wary for instance, of new suppliers to our industry that see it purely as an emerging market to exploit, without having a genuine passion for it first. This is not one of those companies in my opinion. These guys have earned their stripes over 30+ years with a genuine passion for making and quality.) And the prospect of having a bricks and mortar version of this store in the UK, and an English version of their lookbook…..well….that’s exciting to me. I can imagine meetups being arranged and whole days being spent in a space like this can’t you?

Definitely needs it’s own coffee shop though, don’t you think?

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How to shorten metal open ended zipper….

Very specific and what you could call “niche” post today. But I cannot be the only one to hit this obstacle so I’m sharing. ¬†On a recent project ¬†I hit a bit of a snag with this metal open ended zipper. (Who am I kidding. I hit a snag on EVERY project. Occupational hazard for a refashioner!) It was about an inch longer than I needed it to be. I’ve marked with chalk where I wanted the stoppers to be…Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper


Shortening a standard closed and plastic zipper is pretty straightforward. ¬†With this zip though, I couldn’t shorten from the bottom. (Damn). That’s where the fittings are that make this an open ended zipper. It’s chunky and the design I had in mind called for the the zip stops (at the top of the zip) to¬†still be visible on the finished garment. ¬†So simply sewing thread stoppers wasn’t going to cut it. ¬†(double damn).Shorten a metal open ended zipper

In some cases the¬†fabric that encloses the end of the zipper at the top is sufficient to act as a stopper in itself. But in this instance that was not the case either….I couldn’t order another zip as the length I needed was not standard; and in any case, I much prefer to use what I have if I can. (Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn). So, in short (pun intended), I needed to shorten the zip from the top instead…

So if you ever find yourself in a similar position, here’s how to shorten an open ended metal zipper…Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

I needed to move this little sucker (above) down to where that chalk mark is. And this is one chunky metal zipper, so there was some serious brute force involved in this.

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Before doing anything, ¬†unzip the zip about halfway down and create some makeshift stoppers with pins. If you’re anything like me you may inadvertently pull the zip pull straight off the top after you’ve removed the stoppers. Yes I have done that. After the zip was sewn into a garment. (Face palm).

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

You’ll need some jewellery pliers and side cutters for this…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Using the side cutters, and starting with the zipper tooth in front of your chalk mark, snip the end of the zip tooth off… then cut away as much of the rest of it as you can…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Then use the pliers to wiggle and remove what’s left…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Remove 5 or 6 teeth in this way, on both sides of the zip….

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Cut away the excess zipper tape…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

You’re left with these zipper stops on the parts you cut away. Now you CAN buy zipper repair kits like these. And there will be replacement zipper stops included in those. If those meet your needs you can skip the next couple of steps. But ¬†I didn’t have time to order and wait for a kit to arrive (I was on a deadline and everything is right down to the wire right now). Plus, you know, that “working with what I have” thing in me!

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

This was by far the trickiest step. It’s on there pretty firmly so this is where the brute force part comes in. Use the pliers (A second pair comes in handy if you have them) to wiggle/lever/coax the zipper stop off the zipper tape. Not shown in this pic, but I found cutting away the zipper tape as close to the stopper as possible, and then fraying it, aided the process of loosening it’s grip a little. As did swearing.

shorten a metal zipper -

Eventually you’ll get the little sucker off. Open it up slightly (2 sets of pliers again)…

shorten a metal zipper -

Slide it onto the zipper tape in the position of the first tooth you removed and use the pliers to clamp it firmly in place. (Repeat for both sides of the zip)

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Ta dah!

So yeah! Random I know. But someone, someday, is going to find this useful. You’re welcome ūüėČ


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