Meet the Blogger – Just Sew Helen

Sam Meet the Blogger Team, Pattern Review 0 Comments

Why did you start sewing?
When I was little, about 5 or 6, Mom worked from home as a Dressmaker and it was only natural that I would sew alongside her making little clothes for my teddies.  Over the years, this progressed to making my own clothes & soft furnishings for my first home. 

In recent years, I have returned to hand embroidery & applique & use these skills as my mom’s legacy for my small business – JustSewHelen.com where I create personalised textile gifts & keepsakes, in particular, embroidered baby loss pictures & keepsake bears made with loved ones clothing.  My business makes regular donations to Target Ovarian Cancer in memory of Mom.

What’s been your proudest sewing moment?
I’ve been secretly proud of lots of sewing moments over the years, but the one that always springs to mind is an outfit I made about 30 years ago. Five different friends were all getting married, over five consecutive weekends, and luckily each had a different guest list. I needed an outfit that that would be suitable for all of the weddings and I made a tailored suit with a princess seamed jacket and a straight skirt using contrasting fabrics in pale pink & cream.  I was so pleased with the finish and the fit.  Sadly, I don’t have any photos of the finished outfit but I still have the pattern.

What’s your favourite sewing technique? And the technique you dread having to do?
I find it really hard to pick one favourite sewing technique as I have used so many over the years, however, I like to ensure the inside of a garment is a neat as the outside.  As a result neatening seams could be my favourite technique, usually by using a zig zag stitch,.

Similarly, thinking about something I dread is also hard as the techniques all lead to a professionally finished garment, which is the overall aim.  Saying that, button holes can make or break a garment and are usually one of the last stages after all the hard work, so while I don’t look forward to button holes I don’t dread them, but always make sure I practice on a piece of scrap fabric first.

What’s your favourite fabric to sew with and why?
I’ve just started sewing more regularly with jersey, and recently Ponte, and love both of these fabrics for their ease of use, including not fraying, and allowing some give in the fit.

Could we have a peep at your sewing space?
I’m really lucky to have a separate sewing room. We converted part of the garage into an office which I claimed as my sewing room and I also use it for my small business.

Where do you get your fix of sewing inspiration?
Pinterest, Instagram & sewing blogs such as Minerva Blogger Network & our own Simple Sew Blog, Sew Dainty, Sew Sarah Smith

Which sewing community sew-alongs have you joined in with?
Simplicity Turns 90 (you can read my posts about it here) and Dressmaker of the Year 2018

Which fabric suppliers do you tend to shop with most? 
Minervacrafts.com, WeaverDee.com, Abakhan.co.uk, Calicolaine.co.uk, Fabricgodmother.co.uk, Barry’s Fabrics Birmingham

What do you like most about writing a sewing blog?
I like to break the process down & write about how I did a particular task even if it’s not the ‘correct’ way.  I’ve never had any formal training, but have always followed pattern instructions and more recently used online resources.  I like writing about my techniques that may help others, including back to basics such as tacking and ironing as you sew. 

Writing as a guest or being part of a team is the motivation to finish a garment and to get it right, as it can be all too easy to give up and not finish if it didn’t go to plan.  It’s really satisfying to see your own makes beautifully photographed and published online.  I like to let visitors, and potential customers, see a bit more about me and behind the scenes.

Anything special about our sewing blog that we need to know? 
I like the co-ordination of the team and that it isn’t too big a team as it feels more personal.  As yet, I don’t know many of the other team members as I am one of the newest members but follow them on social media. 

What’s the best part of being on The Simple Sew blogger team.
It’s great to be able to ‘hack’ a pattern if required and that there aren’t really any rules about using the patterns.  This includes being able to post the blog on my own site as well as on the Simple Sew Blog. 

What’s your go to Simple Sew pattern?
As a fairly new member of the team I’ve not used many patterns but have two to choose between. I have to say a go to pattern for me would be the Hayley Ballet Top. Not only is it an easy pattern to follow, with a good fit, it is also a garment that can be worn with many outfits, from jeans to glam. It can be made in woven or stretch, although I personally prefer stretch. It would be simple to hack & make a wrap dress or even secure the side seams & omit the tie belt, making an easy to wear faux wrap top – such a versatile pattern.

And the Simple Sew pattern that you’ve made that’s got the ‘wow’ factor?
After recently making The English Tea Dress & perfecting the fit for my shape, I think this dress can ‘wow’ from everyday wear with pumps to evening wear made in beautiful fabrics. It can be paired with summer cardigans or tailored jackets creating many different looks. My favourite so far was made with viscose which has a lovely drape & I have a linen mix fabric lined up and ready to make my next Tea Dress.

If you could give a piece of advice to a Simple Sew pattern newbie what would it be?
I strongly advice to make a toile.

Can you share you top two Simple Sew pattern sewing tips?
When sewing with jersey, it is helpful to apply a thin strip of clear elastic along the seams and front necklines, in particular a V neck, as this help to maintain the shape and prevent stretching out of shape.

Make a toile – it’s taken me years to see the benefit of making a toile, always believing that it took too much time.  It actually reduces the time making the finished garment as all of the adjustments have already being done and you can focus on a professional finish rather than the fit.

See Helen’s latest make, the English Tea Dress here. You can follow Helen on Instagram @justsewhelen or find her blog at www.justsewhelen.com

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