Thursday, 24 November 2016


Today I'm feeling harassed and under the weather and of course when I feel like this I turn to my sewing to relax and soothe my soul!

I was asked at class today "How do I know what needle to use to sew my project?". So I'm going to try and demystify the machine needle problem for you!

You should always keep an assortment of sewing machine needles with your machine and your Serger as there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to finish your project because you have broken your last needle.  The manual that comes with your machine will give you the needle specifications for your machine, so use it.

The eye of the needle should be smooth and free from rough spots to avoid problems of the thread going through it, so always run your fingers over the needle before you insert it into your machine.

There is a host of different size needles available to suit all fabrics and come with both European and American sizing:

  • European size:      60    65    70    75    80    90    100    110    120
  • American size:      8      9     10    11    12    14      16      18      19
There is also 3 different points to a needle
  • Sharps: These have a very sharp point and are used on heavyweight and firmly woven and stretch fabric (lycra and jersey) as the point passes easily between the fibres without snagging. 
  • Ballpoint: This has a more rounded point and allows the needle to pass through knits easily. 
  • Universal: Has a slightly rounded point compared to the sharp needle. These are suitable for use on most knit and woven fabrics. This is the general-purpose
The thickness and strength of the needle increases as the numbers go up, so the fabric weight and density will determine the size of the needle used.  The lighter the weight of the fabric the smaller the needle size, the heavier the weight of fabric the higher the needle size.
Needles often come with both European and American sizes on them, for example, 80/12 and so on.
Needles packs also come with letter labels and are as follows:
  • DE: Double Eye
  • DRI: Triple
  • H: Universal (keep a stock of these in different sizes)
  • J: Jeans and Denim
  • L, R, LL: Leather
  • M: Sharp
  • MET: Metallic
  • N: Topstitching
  • Q: Quilting on the machine
  • S: Stretch fabrics
  • Serger: Special machine needle
  • SES: Fine ballpoint
  • SUK: Medium ball point
  • WING: Hemstitching
  • ZWI: Double or Twin needle

The last number on the package is really important as it identifies the needle system that most domestic machines use:

  • 130/705H. The 130 means the length of the needle shank and 705 means the back of the shank is flat. This means you cannot insert the needle incorrectly as the flat side will only go in facing to the back.

So always remember to use the correct size and needle point to suit your fabric weight and change the needle regularly as it can become dull causing snags and runs in the fabric.

A fresh needle will make your sewing project more enjoyable with less problems along the way.

I hope this has helped to take the confusion out of choosing the correct needle!

Monday, 21 November 2016



We moved into our new premises in March and have been enjoying the space.  We have been very busy building up the school and classes are filling rapidly with lots of courses, workshops in sewing and crafting.
We are now working on the Alteration & Repairs, Curtain & Blind Making side of the business and hopefully this will be as successful as the School.
Next on the agenda is the Ironing service which is in the pipeline!
Come see us if you are in our area of Wexford
Unit 7G Ardcavan Business Park
05391 98741


Projects by Students


Saturday, 4 January 2014

DIY: Recover Your Outdoor Cushions for Fall

A Happy New 2014 to you all!
To kick off the new year, I have included a guest post of a project to be done now so you will be ready for the good weather when it arrives...
DIY: Recover Your Outdoor Cushions for Fall
Recovering your deck chair seat cushions and outdoor throw pillows requires some patience, a sewing machine and a fair amount of time and fabric. Common sense comes in very handy as well!

The first step is to examine your cushions' interior material. If you find after checking one seat cushion or back cushion that they are free from any nasty little bugs or mold or mildew then congratulations - your work just got easier. It is much easier to re-cover using the already covered ones than to strip them all as it retains its shape better and the work lasts longer. 
Note: If you do find that the interior is rotted then it is best to buy mold resistant foam cushion blocks. 

Fabric: The best time to buy fabric is at the end of the season as often it is on clearance for 50% off or more. Choose a very sturdy weather resistant (duck cloth, canvas, marine grade vinyl, polyester outdoor canvas). The choice of material really depends on the exposure your chairs will have to inclement weather.  Finding one that is completely waterproof and still comfortable is impossible. Make the job of measuring, cutting and lining up while sewing easier by choosing a stripped or geometric pattern. Consider the vast array of colors available - there is no need to match it with your indoor color scheme. The great thing about patio furniture is that you can have some fun with mixing and matching designs. Plain back cushion, geometric seat cushion and stripped throw pillows all in the same tones will look fabulous. Remember to wash and dry the material before measuring and cutting.

Materials Required:
  • Heavy duty scissors - I like using zig-zag scissors for canvas-like material to keep unraveling to a minimum. 
  • Measuring tape or stick.
  • Ensure you have a heavy gauge needle and appropriate thread for the job.
  • These are average measurements so please double check the size of your own seat cushions. The average cushion on outdoor furniture will need about one yard of fabric for each, assuming the fabric is fifty-four inches wide. 
  • Pins. 
Those with advanced sewing techniques may wish to include contrasting piping or zippers but to keep it quite simple for everyone, sewing with a gift-wrapping box like shape in mind for the final look is the fastest and easiest to accomplish.

1.    Lie material face down with the foam or upholstered cushion on top.
2.    Wrap the fabric length-wise leaving at least a 1/2 inch seam allowance on the 2 sides and enough fabric to be able to fold over the entry end of the cover.
3.    Pin to ensure the tightest fit without squeezing the foam.
4.    Sew double seams on 2 sides starting from the folded end leaving 1 end completely open. 
5.    Fit over foam with the right side out and tack the two corners with a pin. 
6.    Remove cover, turn inside-out and sew the two corners on an angle (think gift wrapping).
7.    Return the foam into the cover (right side out this time), fold the end fabric to form and 'envelop' gift closure with an over-lapped folded edge and hand sew the final large seam and four small 'tucked' seams. 

Voila - complete, fresh, renewed, jazzy and oh so simple!

For more outdoor fabric options visit

Good luck!!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Autumn Classes

What can I say, all of a sudden our sewing classes have really taken off and all classes are full, including our winter ones..

I have put our New Year 2014 January course schedule up on line early so bookings can begin as some students have missed out on the winter classes due to bookings happening at a fast pace, seems everyone wants to learn to sew!

Both Teresa and myself are really enjoying teaching our new students and also our returning ones.

To see students coming to us with their sewing machines and not knowing how to thread it, to seeing some of the projects that they produce after doing some of our courses is really up lifting and rewarding for us.

I have included some of our students creations for you to view, I hope you like them as much as we enjoyed seeing them being created!

Debra’s beautiful shoulder bag made from a recycled dress.

Pillbox hat

Jackie’s shoulder bag with beaded hemline and velvet top.

Joan spent a long time on this multi-layered owl patchwork cushion.

Mr Owl is a project for level 2 beginners class and is a winner with all the students!

Beautiful corsage’s made for Deb’s 

This is a very small selection of the projects being produced by the students at our school. To see some fantastic creations go to our web site at or follow us on facebook at The Art of Sewing and Crafting School and please like our page.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Pattern Drafting Classes

Our pattern cutting classes are finally going great guns! 

Teacher and students are really enjoying them. 
Lots being taught and learned with patterns now being turned into garments.

We started with body measurements of each student and then they were converted into master blocks that can be used to make future garments that fit perfect.

Some pictures below:


Monday, 13 May 2013

What does the word Haberdashery mean?

In short, haberdashery means Sewing Accessories:

We use this term to describe the items used to complete a project or a garment. I will name but a few and what we use them for. Some are practical use while others are for decorative purposes only.

Zips: Used mostly for fastening purposes, but can also be used to decorate. There is a large range of zips available today.

Press Studs: A two part opening ball and socket. Easy to do and undo so are often used bed linen and children’s clothing.

Hook & Eye: Used in places where edges meet, like top of necklines or waistbands. Can be bought in various sizes, finishes and colours

Hook & Bar: Use where one edge covers the other.

Buttons: Use for fastenings or decoratively. There are 2 styles of buttons, (Sew-through and Shank). The Sew-through style will have either 2 or 4 holes that allows the button to be stitched flat onto the fabric. The Shank style has no holes showing on the front of the button and has a small loop on the under side, this allows more fabric to sit under the button. Buttons can be uncovered or covered with fabric to match you item. There is no end to the button collections available today.

Piping Cord: This is a raised cord edging, used to trim seams of tailored garments or soft furnishings. Can be bought in various thicknesses.

Bias Binding: Pre-made bias binding is available in many colours and widths. Use this to edge and neaten raw edges. Can also be used to cover piping cord to form a decorative edge around cushions or in seams. You can also make your own.

Boning: Usually added to to the seams of garments to hold the bodice in place and to emphasize the body shape. Available in plastic, solid or coiled metal. it also helps to eliminate any wrinkles in the seams.

Lace Edging: Used mostly in bridal or evening wear as a decorative edging. Comes in silk, cotton and synthetic.

I will stop there as I could go on forever with the amount of accessories available to us today!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Types of Threads

Always select the strength and colour according to the type and colour of the fabric you are using.

The rule of thumb is, if using cotton fabric you should use cotton thread, but I find it much easier and more cost effective to use a multipurpose polyester thread for most fabric types. It is strong and has a little stretch so works well for both machine and hand stitching.

So here is a little guide for you:
  1. Cotton Thread: ideal for machine and hand stitching on fabrics like cottons, rayons and linens
  2. Polyester Thread: Use this on most fabrics as it is strong yet elastic. Synthetic and natural fabrics
  3. Basting Thread: A weak thread that is easily pulled and broken off. Use this only for temporary (not permanent) stitching.
  4. Silk Thread: This is a very fine thread and is best used with silk and lightweight fine wools and fabric.
  5. Buttonhole Twist: A thick strong silk thread used for buttonholes and attaching buttons.
  6. Large Spooled Thread: This comes in all popular thread colour. It will fit over the spool pin on a machine but is mostly used with a Serger machine as this type of machine uses a large amount of thread.