Category Archives: Blog

Dotty Bobbin Creations!

So the first week back at school following the Easter holidays is upon us, the sun is still shining, washing is hanging out to dry and I find myself for the first time in months with a spare 1/2 hour to write to you! I thought you might like to see what we have been up to!

We have had a really busy couple of months, firstly the new addition to the Dotty household is Buttons, our puppy. He loves playing with the threads and sitting on the foot pedal making the machines sew by themselves during my classes. His latest trick was to chew up some bespoke foam that I was making into window seat cushions for a commission!!!!


Then came my Easter crafting class. I run seasonal crafting classes and this was the second ever one, following a roaring Christmas success. We had a great time and everyone went home with some lovely Easter creations, from making egg candles, Easter wreaths, blowing eggs, hessian bunting, needle felting, washi tape projects, lino cutting and printing, making hairclips and so on……. Have a look for yourself at the photos below, these were taken by Isabelle Christina Photography (I am lucky she is a sewing client).

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Then things went a bit crazy for my daughter Annelies. She has had a lot of interest with her textile art that she has been creating on the sewing machine. So much so that an art gallery in Walton (Twizzle Gallery in Titshmarsh Marina), offered to display and sell her work. So the lovely Isabelle Christina took some lovely photos for her, and then I fired the photos off to the Hemel Gazette. Less than a week later she made it on the front page of the Hemel Gazette and a week after that she was also in the Frinton Gazette. One proud Mum! Here is the work she has been exhibiting:

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She now has a page on my website to showcase her work. She is interested in doing some pet commissions as well.

My son also has something in the pipeline, for another blog….he’s not quite ready yet. Watch this space!

Then onto what I have been making over the last couple of months. Firstly I guess was the world book day, where Annelies and myself made a costume for Pippi Longstocking and Sam pulled together a costume for Indiana Jones. Personally I loved making the bloomers for Pippi!

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Then I have been practising with anything stretch, stretch cottons, knits, lycra, stretch stitches, twin needles, elastic insertion etc. Here are some of the creations I have made:

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And non stretch I have also made myself a lovely blouse (not photographed yet) and a shirt and leggings for Annelies.


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The green fleece onesie is for Sam but turned out fitting me! But he still loves it! Mostly I stick with Oliver and S patterns for myself and the kids as I trust the patterns and they fit nicely on me. The figure skating costume was from a Jalie pattern. They do loads of patterns for gymnastic, speed skating, dance and even jock straps! I also tried out a two piece red velour stretch shorts and dance top for Annelies (I was testing the pattern for a client) but she’s a bit too exposed to print the photo! I have also made another Oliver and S pattern, this time a bag that doubles as a rucksack. It is interlined with canvas making it super strong. This is a surprise for her upcoming birthday, and I hope it will make a nice school bag.


II do need some more boy ideas though if you have any suitable for a tall 10 year old! He can’t live in onesies although he would disagree!

Have you been following me on facebook at DottyBobbin1 to see what all my students have been creating? What a fabulous bunch I have, tailored skirts, dresses, cushions, bags, trousers, bunting. You name it, they are making it! A recent highlight was a party I did for a group of 6/7 year olds, where they did some amazing open toe embroidery pictures and took them home in a frame. What do you think?


Please keep spreading the word, I have nearly reached 60,000 page views and 18,000 visitors, and I am getting new enquiries almost every day, so thank you for your continued support.

Saskia x







Automatic Buttonhole Hints and Tips

When I get clients who open up their new machines for the first time, I like to show them what all the attachments are for, and the buttonhole foot usually scares them! So I wanted to share the things I have learn’t along the way having used it many times.

If you have a digital machine like this one there will be various buttonhole functions. Generally you can have rounded buttonholes or square ones – this is purely down to taste, however there is always a buttonhole with a wider hole at one end. This one is for thicker fabrics, like coats.

Select your chosen buttonhole on your machine. Then make sure you have the foot the right way around. It should be like this picture with the button section at the back.

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Usually the white bit shown above is squashed together and you have to push the white bit that sticks out on the left in the picture. Then it should slide up, opening a gap in which you insert your button. Once the button is in, clamp it down so it holds it in place. My buttons were too big to clamp so I removed them once I had the correct size on the foot. The reason you put your button in there is so that the machine will sew the hole to the exact measurement.  On the older machines you have to measure it yourself and you run the risk of making the hole too small or too big. It’s very useful for this project (which is a waistcoat my son made for himself), as I have used lots of different buttons from my box, each being a slightly different size. Measuring them all would have been a nightmare!

So before you go any further you need to mark out on your garment where you want your buttonholes. If you are working from a pattern, then usually they will provide a guide for button placement. So I just used a ruler and some tailors chalk to mark where I wanted the buttons.

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What I have learn’t about this is try to avoid the seam where your fabric doubles up at the edge as the automatic buttonhole functions much prefer a flat seam and get all muddled up if you try to mount the edge halfway along a buttonhole. So I have marked mine just past the seam. Place the buttonhole foot on the machine just like any other foot attachment, but the bulk of the foot will sit at the back of the machine not the front or it won’t work. Then the part that most people forget is that there is a lever to the left of your machine, next to the needle threader if you have one. It is usually a black lever. If you pull this downwards it should sit behind the white ledge on the foot as shown. This lever tells the machine when to stop at the top of the buttonhole so it is really important or it will keep going!

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Position the foot over your chalk mark, making sure you are exactly the same distance from the edge on every buttonhole so they don’t look wonky. Make note that all the machines I have ever used (a fair few!) sew buttonholes from front to back. So we are all set up, buttonhole stitch selected, foot on, button in foot, foot positioned on garment away from the hem. Then all you have to do is to start sewing, the machine does all the work for you! I found with this garment which was lined in fleece that it worked better if I did it fleece side up. The reason for this is that fleece is stretchy and the teeth (feed dog) are at the bottom of the machine and they can stretch the fleece as you are sewing making the button hole far too small.

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Another tip, especially if you are using a thinner fabric, is to interface wherever you are sewing a buttonhole. This will add strength to the buttonhole and because it is stiffer when you are sewing the buttonhole, it will be neater and more accurate, and much easier to cut a neat line through at the end.

Once you are happy with your buttonhole, use your seam ripper (make sure you have a decent sharp one otherwise you can undo all your hard work!), to carefully cut through the hole in the middle. Voila! I hope this has helped you a little and encouraged you to try out that foot on your machine! Let me know how you get on!

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9th January 2014

9th January 2014

9thJanBlog1This week my Wednesday morning class has been busy. Aileen finished her gorgeous handbag, as seen in the pictures. It is beautifully lined and should wash nicely. A washable handbag! Complete with lined pockets.

Sharon is quilting making two sleeping bag covers with lots of applique for her twins, and Marina finished a beautiful skirt for her daughter. It is called the Madison Reversible Wrap skirt and is available to download the pattern on Etsy.

9thJanBlog2I have been busy testing out some new patterns, one for a childrens pixie cape and dolls clothes patterns, some childrens pixie hats for sale on my web site and of course preparing my website content for you all to look at. I hope you like it!

Each week I plan to let you know what we have been working on in class, to share our trials and trivulations and sewing triumphs!

My children have also started a bambino blog, where you will find top ideas and top sewing tips each week, aimed at inspiring and helping your own bambinos to sew!

9thJanBlog3I will finish todays note on an article from

“Studies have shown that sewing is not only extremely satisfying, but also beneficial to your health. Research by Stitchlinks has confirmed that concentrating on the present moment while working on a crafting project means you’re not fretting about the past or worrying about the future – making it a great tool for managing stress.” I’ll raise a glass to that!

Dotty Bobbin

26th November 2013

Baby-xmas-treeWell, exciting times, Christmas is around the corner, we are busy making all sorts of things for the Christmas school fair to sell, from stockings, lunch bags, Christmas trees and fairies. I am busy embroidering handmade stockings for gifts for all my doggy friends in nice doggy fabric of course! I have almost finished a Victorian spoonback chair that I have been upholstering  for the past 4 years!  I have chosen some fabric that I was given from one of my students, a lovely tartan. I have then machine embroidered  heart with red roses on the fabric on the seat and little red embroidered roses on the upholstered buttons. It has turned out nichairce and I hope once I have polished the wood up a little that it will be ready to sell on the web site. Derek has lovingly put on some top notch solid brass castors to bring it back to its glory. It has been a labour of love as when we got it, it was riddled with woodworm and we have treated every hole with an injection of treatment and we have braced the back to give additional support. All this to revive an old antique! But now it will have another 50 years life in it and will hopefully adorn someone’s living room or bedroom with pride.

Christmas-StockingThis weekend I have a 2 hour session running on Saturday where we will be making Christmas stockings. I have two mums and their daughters coming together, and a request for Annelies to be present to help as well! She is a great help, and is already a great teacher at age 7! I can’t wait to see what her house looks like when she leaves home! She will be making everything in it I am sure.

I look forward to my drop in class on Wednesday to see if Jackie has managed to copy the original Italian quilting cushion transfers that Aileen brought in from the 1940s or 50s. Everyone brings in treasures, it is a real treat. Perhaps one day soon I will have a go at making one of these cushions.

Dotty Bobbin