Introducing Cassie and Bella

Two pattern releases in the same week, you say? Surely not! THREE patterns on the same day?? Astonishing!! Well, it’s true! Not only is our lovely Iris top pattern being released on Monday 26th August, but these two gorgeous girls are also getting their introduction to the big wide world on the same day too! How fabulous is that?!

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Cassie and Bella are a matching pair of Mummy and Me style dresses that were hatched as an idea by Clair back in May. With a little bit of work and a few alterations, these designs went from concept to fully constructed pattern within just a couple of months which has to be our fastest ever pattern release!

Again, as with most of our patterns, the design and construction are super simple, and it should be a quick, simple make, perfect for beginners upwards. A full gathered skirt hangs from a simply cut, loose fitting bodice that is styled like a t-shirt or a strappy sundress style top, making this the ultimate summer dress for both grownups and little people. Have just two tiers of gathers for a shorter funkier length, or go all out with the Boho style of three tiers for a super, swishy maxi vibe. For the sundress version, the dress features strap ties which can be tied in a cute bow at the shoulder, and a slightly lower neckline for hotter temperatures. The only difference between the two patterns is that Cassie features bust darts, whereas Bella doesn’t – so if you can make a grownup one, you can certainly sew a little one!

Make it in light and floaty cotton poplin like we’ve done, or push your boundaries and try it out in lighter weight denim or chambray for spring or autumn – we think the t-shirt version would be amazing over a long sleeved top and leggings with boots for the winter too – try out silk for a luxurious 70s vibe on your maxi, or maybe go for a soft and comfortable double gauze for dreamy floatiness. We are so excited to see how different fabrics make the patterns look. This dress is already one of our favourites and we love the twinning options for using the same colours or prints for both Cassie and Bella.

And as with our last pattern release Iris, Cassie is available in sizes 6 – 24 as we continue trying to make our sewing patterns more inclusive to both larger and smaller sizes. Bella also comes with the option to be made from ages 3 up to 12. We can’t wait to see what you all get up to with these new lovelies.

The Cassie dress for adults and the Bella dress for children will be available for sale online at the Emporia Fabrics on Monday 26th August, with patterns hitting the shelves of the shop at Park Mall on Tuesday 27th.

Iris Top Pattern Release

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And we’re back! We know we’ve been a bit quiet on the blog of late, but that’s only because we’ve been super busy beavering away under the surface – creating, researching, planning and generally getting up to sewing stuff that will eventually hit the shelves of Emporia. And now we are finally ready to release our very next pattern! Hurrah!

This is Iris – a casual top that is a perfect sew for any beginners and of course more experienced sewers too. She features two long bust darts, placed at the neck; split side hems, three-quarter length sleeves, and two fabulous ruffles on the shoulders. It also comes with an alternative sleeve variation – the summery, breezy flutter sleeve. What’s not to love!

While the ruffle sleeve version is cool and on trend, the flutter sleeve is softer and more romantic; the three-quarter length sleeve works well for autumn, and the shorter sleeve is great for summer; we think the ruffle Iris looks fabulous in crisp cotton, but the softer flutter sleeve is just perfect for fabrics with more drape. And there’s also the option of making it with no sleeves at all, and simply binding your edges with bias instead. Just right as a cami for hot weather. We are sure it’s destined to be a big hit.

But the best thing about this new pattern is that it’s available in sizes 6 to 24! This is the very first time we have expanded our sewing pattern range both up and down that far, and we are very excited about this. It’s come to our attention recently that the sewing world could be a lot more inclusive than it is and we feel that we need to represent more sizes with our patterns, so over the coming months we will be looking to regrade our current patterns into a larger range of sizes so that we can represent both larger and smaller sewing fans. We hope this is good news for our sewing community!

Thinking of sewing one up for yourself soon? Well, you only have to wait just over a week as Iris is released on the website on Monday 26th August, and will be available on the shelves of the shop on Tuesday 27th. 

 

Easter Craft Fun

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This Saturday we are taking part in a big day of Easter fun organised by Love Ashford and Park Mall and we hope you will be coming out to enjoy the fine spring weather and take part too! Get ready for craft, live music, a spot of gardening, chocolate eggs and of course the Easter bunny himself.

Kicking off from 10am on Saturday, the fun will be spread across four areas of the town including Elwick Place, County Square, Park Mall and the town centre, with activities and exciting freebies for all to enjoy. There will be plenty of fun to be had, plus the council has promised free parking in all council owned car parks for the entire weekend, meaning there’s no reason not to head to town.

Join us and Made in Ashford in Kiosk 2 of Park Mall (just round the corner from Wilkos) from 11am for the chance to decorate your own bunny with all kinds of crafty stuff, and get your face painted with spring themed designs. Olivia from our Kid’s Craft Club will be on hand to help kids get stuck in, so if they like what they get up to here, then why not send them to the Saturday afternoon craft club in the future? It runs fortnightly and costs £7.50 per child, and there’s always plenty of crafty excitement to be had.

 

Elwick Place will be hosting an event for those with green fingers from 10am with a free seed sowing zone with Ed the Rebel Farmer, alongside fresh fruit and vegetable, and flower stalls, plus live music from Beat the Drum Promotions.  Plurenden Manor Farm will also be selling their very fresh milk too.

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There will be more live music on the town centre bandstand with Revelations artists Fred Clark Music and Charlie Tophill from 11am – 2pm, and while you’re there, you can take part in the Easter Trail from 11am which will lead you around the town finding letters in shop windows so that you can crack the Easter code and receive a chocolate egg!

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Plus the Easter bunny and his friend will be roaming the town between 11am and 2pm, there’s the chance to make an Easter bonnet in County Square in a special workshop from 10.30am onwards.  All this plus some amazing weather is forecast for the day, so let’s get out and make the most of it! Happy Easter!

 

Close Up on Kimono Dress

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This week we’re taking a closer look at the kimono dress which was the second pattern to feature on the Sewing Quarter episode that Clair starred in.  It is our best selling adult sewing pattern and was the first dress pattern we released, so it’s one of our top favourites to wear too. If you don’t already own a well-used pattern, and have several different versions in your handmade wardrobe, read on!

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Our well loved kimono dress is an incredibly quick make, featuring just six pattern pieces – front, back, facings, belt and pockets – meaning it makes up very quickly. You can sew it up in a variety of different fabrics, including the simple cotton ones which everyone learns to make in the classes. We’ve also seen them work brilliantly in chambray, velvet, denim, cotton lawn, silk, satin and stretch jersey too. And because the belt is what creates the final shape, the sizing is easily adjustable too.

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The pattern design came from Clair’s love of clean, minimal Japanese design; it’s a very unfussy design, with no closures and no extraneous detail – just a simple outline, with a long belt that gathers at the waist. And because of the simplicity of the dress, it is not only super easy and perfect for beginners and more experienced sewers, but it is also fantastic for adapting with various pattern hacks.

We have used the kimono dress in our window displays countless times and made it up in loads of different ways. It can be made without an attached belt, creating a kaftan style garment that is excellent for beach wear; the sleeves can also be shortened right up to the curve of the arm, or lengthened and an elasticated cuff added. The dress length can be made shorter or longer, and if you go all out for a maxi, knee length splits in the side hems make it much more elegant, as well as easier to walk in. We’ve also turned it into a top before, sometimes with a shorter belt that is attached and sometimes with no belt, like a looser boxy top.

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The best thing about the kimono dress is that it works all year around: with boots, a thermal top and a big cosy cardigan in the winter, with tights and trainers in the spring and autumn, and with sandals and a tan in the summer. If you’re seeking inspiration, take a look at our Instagram feed which is crammed full of different kimono dresses from our gang of lovely followers. It is just so incredibly versatile, and we are so happy that you all seem to love it as much as we do!

If you would like to buy the Kimono Dress pattern, head to our website here, and why not check out all our other patterns at the same time. There’s also plenty of fabric inspiration online too. Happy sewing!

Close up on Alice Trousers

 

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Ever since Clair went on the Sewing Quarter to showcase the Alice trousers and the Kimono dress pattern, the sale of both patterns have gone through the roof, so we thought we’d give you a closer look at both designs. And this week we’re looking at Alice!

The Alice trousers were designed as a loose fitting, jogger style casual trouser, with a pull-on elasticated waist, deep cut-away pockets and elasticated ankles. Perfect for summer and great for colder seasons too, depending on the fabric used. They are an ideal first trousers sewing project for relative newbies as there are no closures, like zips or button holes and they are pretty quick to make up as they only have a few pattern pieces to contend with, so you can easily cut out and sew up a pair in the morning to wear out in the afternoon.

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Another fantastic feature of the Alice pattern is that it’s incredibly versatile! The most obvious thing you can do with the Alice trousers is leave the elastic out of the ankles for a slightly more formal look: this can work better on taller people who might otherwise have to elongate the leg piece to give adequate ease for knee bending purposes. But it also gives the trousers a more sophisticated look, which, when coupled with the right fabric, can take them from beach to office, or from park to evening out.

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And speaking of changing the leg length, the best hack we have made with Alice is to turn them into a pair of culottes! By simply following the cutting line down from the widest point at the hip and from the crotch point on both front and back legs, stopping about knee height, you can sew up a pair of elasticated waist culottes in no time. We made simply loads of these last summer and are looking forward to making more again this year! Great for holiday and again, depending on what fabric you use, they can work as going out wear if you style them right.

Fabric wise, we always recommend cotton as it’s such an easy fabric to work with, but Alice can also work with various other different materials too. Go light and floaty with cotton lawn, silk, viscose, cotton sateen, or a light chambray; or try a bit more structure with linen, heavier cotton, cotton duck, heavier chambray, lightweight denim or even a stretch jersey that has some weight to it. There are loads of different options and we love seeing just how many variations people come up with.

So if you would like to join in the Alice trousers gang, head to the website to see it and all our other patterns. Or pop into the shop if you live nearby and have a chat with us about your sewing plans!

 

Spring Knitting and Stitching at Olympia

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Hello! We’re back! After four crazy days at Olympia in London, we are back at the shop and have finally unpacked everything. Mostly. We had a brilliant time at the show and can’t wait to get back to Knitting and Stitching again in the autumn, but for now we thought we’d share some of our pictures and stories with you from the weekend.

Did you see Clair on the Sewing Quarter the other week? Well, not just you and me and lots of Ashford sewers, but loads of other people did and plenty of them came to say hello to us at the show. Clair was mobbed! Lots of ladies were keen to congratulate her on her debut TV appearance and we also sold huge amounts of the Alice trousers and Kimono dress pattern there as a result, plus around 300 metres of fabric! We even had a lady come and find us to show off her kimono dress that she had made after visiting us at the Knitting and Stitching show in October. It’s always nice to see our patterns made up and in the real world, so it was especially lovely to have someone seek us out to show us what they had made. So if you’re a new follower who has recently made an Emporia pattern, do pop into the shop and show us your sewing skills as we love to see what you’re been up to.

We were also thrilled to bits to have Sewing Bee stars Mercedes and Janet come by our stall and have a chat with us! They were both lovely ladies and we talked about the Bee and how they did in the challenges so far – Janet was keen to point out that she still doesn’t know what punk actually means! – and they were both very complimentary about our fabrics and patterns. It was really exciting meeting some more sewing stars for the first time since we got all star-struck by Chinello and Patrick at the Sewing Bee live two years ago!

As usual there were masses of other stands with huge amounts of inspiring and exciting fabrics, patterns, kits and all kinds of sewing related things on sale, so we had lots to look at when we were allowed time off to wander round. Over the course of the four days we caught up with some of our old acquaintances from the sewing world too, including the lovely Tracey from Owl and Sewing Cat who we used to go on fabric buying trips to Germany with; fabulous Beth Studley, Ashford’s resident quilting expert, who was there with her baby bump; friend of the shop and fellow indie pattern designer Sharon from Maven patterns; and inspiring and famous Rachel from the Foldline, who gave Charlotte invaluable advice on jumpsuits.

We also caught up with our rep from Brother, Rachel, who will be down at the shop again soon for another demo day where she will be showcasing some of our brilliant sewing and embroidery machines. Another date for your diary is on Friday 29th March 2019, when Tracey from Owl and Sewing Cat will be joining us for day of drop in sewing projects, so be sure to make a note of that.

As usual there were plenty of inspiring exhibitions to look at too, including several quilts from the Quilters Guild and an upcycling competition which showed how students of fashion had refashioned various items of clothing or reworked unexpected materials to create fantastic creations. Our favourite was an amazing denim dress with some gorgeous applique patchwork designs on the front of a seafront scene with boats and houses.

All in all it was a fabulous four days, full of laughs and hard work. Keep your eyes peeled for dates of the next show!

Appearing on the Sewing Quarter!

 

We are super, SUPER excited to announce that this week we will be going live on television on the wonderful Sewing Quarter channel! Clair will be appearing alongside presenter Vicky Gordon to showcase two of our patterns to a whole new audience, who will get to see just how easy they are to make and how fabulous they look on. Why don’t you watch along with us?

Hitting the screens of the live sewing channel, the Sewing Quarter at 10am and 12pm on Friday 22nd February, will be our very own Clair Heal, demonstrating both the Alice Trousers and the Kimono Dress pattern. It’s our debut appearance on the channel and Clair is very excited to be showing off her skills live on the telly. Tune in at 10am and you can see her sewing up some of the key parts of both patterns and chatting about her sewing tips, and if you miss this slot you can catch her again at 12pm for more of the same.

The Kimono Dress is one of our absolute best sellers and in fact it is our all time most popular grownup dress pattern: we are constantly told by our customers how much they love it and how many they have in their wardrobes. It is so functional because you can wear it all year round, either with layers or not; you can pattern hack it into a maxi, or change the sleeve length; make it into a top or sew it with the belt unattached so that you can wear it loose like a kaftan or tie it round your waist. It is so, so simple to make and it’s versatility makes it even more wearable than half the things in your ready to wear wardrobe. We love and we hope the viewers of the Sewing Quarter do too!

The second pattern to go under the limelight with Clair’s sewing skills are the Alice Trousers – designed to be a loose and comfy jogger style, spring to summer piece, you can make these from lovely floaty cotton or try something with  a bit of stretch. Perfect for the school run or a day at the park, you can bung them in your suitcase for hot weather holidays and know you’ll always have something to wear for all times of the day or night. Make them up with elasticated ankles for an on trend look or go more formal and leave them straight; pattern hack them into a pair of wide leg style culottes or you can even leave out the pockets and turn them into a pair of pyjama bottoms. They are another well loved pattern from our collection and can be made up in no time.

If you can’t wait to get your hands on either of these patterns, head to the Emporia website and pop them in your shopping basket! Or come and see us in the shop and have a chat with us about the different ways we have made up both patterns. And most importantly, don’t forget to watch Clair LIVE on Friday at 10am and 12pm! And if you can’t join us live, then you can always watch on catch up at the Sewing Quarter online or via their YouTube channel.

Clair will be appearing on the Sewing Quarter channel at 10am and 12pm on Friday 22nd February 2019, Freeview channel 73 or Sky channel 687.