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By Nicola Ogilvie, Just Sew

The children have gone back to school, the holiday mess is nearly cleaned up, and normal routine resumes. I think this is a much better time for resolutions than New Year's Day when life is still a bit crazy. What better resolution than starting a new leisure activity or doing more of the one I already love. So why not start sewing!

I am going to tell you why I love to sew and then get you going with a simple project that takes 30 to 40 minutes. You will learn how to make the cosy cowl scarf I am wearing in the picture below.

If you would like to learn more about sewing, check out the classes I have planned for this year. I have another 2-hour "Get to know your sewing machine" class on the 24th January, perfect for anyone with a new machine or who is thinking of buying one. Go to my website at www.justsewgeneva.weebly.com for more details.

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My Love of Sewing

Let's start with a quote from Patrick Grant from "The Great British Sewing Bee".
“The joy you get from yourself or your family wearing something you have made is the same thrill you would get from baking a cake but without the calories”

I completely agree but would add that sewing takes you through all the stages of your life and creates memories.

I did a lot of sewing as a teenager, and in my early 20s. Back then I wanted to wear the red carpet creations, the high fashion items, but did not have the money. The solution was to sew my own, I remember lots of failures but also a lace and velvet Dior copy that I wore with great pride.  

I think my all-time favourite dress was one that my mother made me. I was about 17 and growing up I had fantasised about wearing the dress worn by cinderella in the ladybird book. My mother made it for me to wear to a party. It was an excellent copy, she showed me what was possible and I went on from there.

Sewing can also be a challenge, I was determined to make my own wedding dress, it was an opportunity to buy the best fabric and show my skills. It had to be perfect and I pulled it off. Luckily my mother came in at the last minute and helped me sew the final 100 odd pearls onto the dress and train. Special times with my mother thanks to sewing.

When it came to making a home, sewing the soft furnishings, curtains and recovering the odd tatty chair, made our house a home as well as saving pennies along the way.

I have made numerous fancy dress costumes for my children, and husband, I remember a Luke Skywalker costume, and an Elvis costume among many others. When the children were small, sewing was also my creative outlet. I tried free machine embroidery, quilting, silk painting, and needle felting. So many options, so much fun.

Always you get a little buzz from the praise, you flex your brain working out how to do it, and you get to create.

So go for it, give it a try, and start with this simple project, that should take only 30 to 40 minutes.

For this project I used fleece. I use a lot of fleece in my classes, particularly when teaching children. As long as it is not too thick it is easy to sew, and doesn’t fray, so you don't have to worry about finishing the edges, and children always love the soft, cosy feel. It can be bought in most fabric shops but I buy it for my classes from Ikea, or rather I buy their fleece blankets. At 4.95chf for a blanket measuring 130cm x 170cm you don't have to worry about making mistakes and needing to start again.


1.    Take a tape measure and wrap it around your neck where you would like the scarf to fall (I measured 75cm), then add 3cm for your seams (1.5cm each end). Think about how deep you want your scarf, add the 3 cm for seams and then cut 2 rectangles in the fleece. Mine measured 78cm by 23cm. I used a different colour on each side.


2.    If you want some decoration this is the point to do so. You could sew on shapes, add buttons, lace whatever you fancy. Then sew the 2 pieces together along both the long sides, right sides together.


3.    You now need to turn the scarf right side out and then you can put a twist in it if you want to.


4. Here comes the only tricky bit, You now have a tube and you need to join the ends of the tube together and end up with the seams inside. So fold the tube in half. (the picture does not have the twist because its easier to see.) Pin the edge of the outside at one end to the edge of the outside at the other end. Line up and pin the 2 edges of the tube, being careful to line up the seams especially if you have chosen 2 colours.


5. Move the fabric around, pinning the edges together for as far as you can. Think of it like joining the outside of 2 circles.


6. Now, to get the best results, just sew a couple of centimetres at a time, stop, adjust your fabric and then repeat. At some point you will run out of room to stitch with your machine so finish off the seam and leave a long thread.


7. Pin the open seams back, then thread up the long thread you left and use to hand-sew the hole. Finished.


Author's bio

nicola220Nicola Ogilvie has been sewing as long as she can remember, and loves new challenges. From a very early age, she has attempted most things you can make on a sewing machine, from creating her own wedding dress and recovering a chair to quilting and embroidery. In her early career, she was employed by Courtaulds, working in a factory making underwear for Marks & Spencer!

Through her sewing business, Just Sew, Nicola now shares her passion with a new generation. She runs workshops, mostly for children, and teaches in the after-school program of a local international school. She loves the fact that even the youngest get a great sense of satisfaction from their completed projects. After a number of requests, she will soon be offering courses aimed at adults.

Although sewing is clearly Nicola’s thing, she admires all craftsmen and women, and loves to see how people use their creativity.