This post has been sitting here awaiting the photos for a month or more, so here we are!
I decided I’d get round to getting a sewing machine this year.
I recently joined the Wandsworth Work & Play Scrapstore (http://www.workandplayscrapstore.org.uk). A friend of mine volunteers there.
It’s a rummageable cave full of crafting goodies of all types. I was looking for fabric specifically, so came home with a whole pile of fabric: some bigger bits of cotton, some nice patterned pieces, some small matching bundles and several sample books of interesting and brightly-coloured stuff. There’s a whole mixture of things available, from high end prints to blackout material. The fabric is mostly intended for upholstery, but there’s a smaller section for dressmaking fabric and very helpful ladies who know what’s what. (And tbh, some of the upholstery material would be fine for making clothes from anyway!)
They have loads of all sorts of other stuff: white card, rolls of wallpaper, colour-coordinated boxes of plastic lids… There’s a section with loads of Christies auction books, and for people who do book art there are green and gold bound Dickens novels and the like.
For this store, you pay an annual membership and can then take as much as you like during that time. Some things are limited on the amount you can have per visit. You can join as a student, a family or a larger organisation like a school. Or speak to them if you’re not sure you fit in the categories. The rule for this store is that everything has to be for personal use – you cannot sell it or things made from it. Yearly membership for individuals is tiny: £36 for a family, and there was a 20% discount when I joined. (They have a static year rather than a rolling one right now, so my membership is until the end of August). They want more members so tell anyone you think might be interested!
For their records, you give them an estimate of the value of everything you’re walking out with (they help with this). We reckoned I had at the very least £150-worth of fabric I was lugging out with me, and that was probably on the low side.
To get there: From Wimbledon station, you can get the 493 bus from stop A on Alexandra Road and go 7 stops in very short order which deposits you right outside (Hazelhurst Estate stop). It isn’t immediately obvious: on exiting the bus, turn left and go a few meters along until there’s a driveway. Turn up that and walk to the gap between buildings: they had a sandwich board up there and the entrance is just on the left. You may need to buzz. Children under 12 aren’t allowed to go among the stacks (potentially hazardous) so would need to stay in the entrance. Open Tues and Thurs only.
There are scrapstores all over the place, have a look at https://www.scrapstoresuk.org. They are each run individually, so have different rules for membership or whether they have members at all.
Because of the opening hours I can only go there when I’m on holiday, but since it was more than worth it for one visit, that’s not really a problem!
I am intending to begin by making some bags for Beads of Courage UK: the kids need bags to keep their long strings of treatment beads in, and it seemed a handy and fairly simple project to begin with. I like this tutorial: How to make a simple drawstring bag from Love Me Sew.
As of now, I’ve washed and ironed various of the fabrics I bought. Yes, I had to buy an iron and ironing board for this. (Aside: I could get an Argos value iron on sale for £2.99. The only ironing board I could find was from TK Maxx at £24.99 and has a 10-year guarantee! Insert something about disposable electronics here. The board is rather nice though, adjustable with plenty of height).
My sewing machine is a nice hefty metal-bodied secondhand Frister & Rossmann Model 35. No bells and whistles, but I wanted one that wasn’t plastic and would do a small number of things reliably to begin with. I’ve been making friends with it by trying out all the stitch adjustment options, rethreading the machine in white (came with black), filling a new bobbin and overcasting the edges of my fabric so it doesn’t fray. (Which is actually a decent exercise to get used to using your machine and controlling the speed, going in a straight line etc).