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    My trip to sew in Devon

    About 18 months ago I received an exciting email – would I like to come and teach a freehand embroidery course in Italy….? Ask a silly question! But after much tooing and froing we realized that getting ten ancient Singer sewing machines, not to mention tubs of fabric, lamps, scissors, thread, hoops and inspiration to Italy might be a bit too much of a challenge – even for me! middle coombe farm the sewing course venue So we settled on something a little closer to home and last month, just before the clocks changed and as the sun was setting over misty autumn trees, I found myself with a heavily loaded van, turning into a lane with grass growing up through the middle in deepest, darkest Devon. ladies on poppy treffry sewing course Middle Coombe Farm was a beautiful setting for a stitching retreat. The machines were set up in the old thatched cider barn, hung with Tibetan prayer flags and the participants stayed in various ancient rooms through the farm and the grand old farmhouse. stitching students made on poppy treffry sewing course We spent the whole weekend together, stitching, chatting, cosying up by the fire in the oak paneled sitting room, eating wonderful food that was all cooked and prepared for us in the farmhouse kitchen and setting the world to rights. It was an honor to hang out with such wonderful ladies for the weekend and I was so proud of their finished products. embroidery hoop on poppy treffry sewing course And of course we mustn’t forget the indefatigable Mari from Made on Holiday who arranged the whole thing (and convinced me to do it!). She is the most wonderful warm, Italian, non cooking, non sewing mama, she looked after us so well, if anyone could convince me to do it again she could….but we’ll see! freehand machine embroidery examples

    We're not at Country Living this Christmas, want to see our new catalogue instead?

     

     
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    You won't find us at the Country Living Christmas Fair this year, with our studio and our shop so busy we needed all hands on deck at the studio. We're going to miss it, especially that lovely smell of Christmas, we'll have to make do with sniffing our 'Christmas every day' soap instead! We've set our cute catalogue up so that you can now view it online, you can enjoy our range without fighting through the crowds, maybe with a cup of tea and a custard cream! Download the catalogue here. And look out for our one off special on cosy cushions next Monday, 17th November, 20% off our cushion range all day, just in time for you know what! Thanks for reading our newsletter.
     
    smells like Christmas
     
    back in stock
     
    check out our latest sewing project on the blog
     
    p…p…p…pick up a penguin
     

    Choosing a sewing machine - good luck!

    One of the questions we get asked the most is 'how do I choose a sewing machine?' We don't profess to be experts on this - we have very old and very nice sewing machines which we use and which do just what we want (most of the time!), but they're not high tech and weren't the result of a lot of research. There's a quote from Poppy in our little film for the Eden project where she says 'you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a good one' and that is certainly true of the way we work, our machines have come from car boots, the dump, charity shops and the odd sewing machine shop (oh yes and ebay), quite often chosen because they’re pretty, about 13 of them at the last count!one of our beauties!  We use old Singer machines which are really very simple but you can also do the technique on many different machines that will be far easier and do much more than our Singers. 20120325-212923.jpg Your best bet to start with is your local sewing shop as they will have a wealth of experience on the subject, although be clear on your budget before you go in and don’t let yourself be seduced by the array of possibilities! It’s a good idea to write a list of what you want the machine to do first and then you’’ll know whether those extra features are of value to you or not. Experience says you should look for a machine that is metal rather than plastic and quite heavy and sturdy. Our machines have a little screw on the undercarriage which allows you to drop the feed dogs and then we hold our fabric stretched tight in an embroidery hoop but if you can’t find one which does this then you can purchase a metal plate that covers the teeth whilst you're sewing, or, we’re told, that it works if you set the stitch length to zero, though we haven’t tried this so can’t vouch for certain. We don’t use an embroidery foot when we’re stitching but again this is something you may have to experiment with for yourself, kissing frogs again! Once you have your sewing machine you’ll find most bunching up and bobbin snarling issues are down to tension of the cloth, the machine and you! So you just need to play with it, and relax, till you get it right. If you attend one of our courses Poppy gives plenty of advice on sorting out annoying snarl ups or there are also 2 books from Poppy packed with advice alongside the projects for you to complete. Good luck!