Friday 25 November 2011

Sewing conversations...

Earlier this week I weaved my way across London to visit the lovely, shiny new Ray Stitch shop.

After reading two great reviews of the shop here and here, I was desperate for a visit, so on the tube I hopped.  Straight away, I realised to my horror that I'd forgotten my book, so resorted to reading the instructions from a sewing pattern I just happened to have in my bag (Vogue 8409 if you're interested). This is not an unusual occurrence for me as I love reading sewing patterns. What was interesting though was the reaction of the two women sitting opposite me.  They stopped their conversation and watched me greedily as I worked my way through the instruction sheet.  Within minutes, we'd all started chatting and were soon swapping notes on fabric (of course), sewing machines and their respective feet, and the trials and errors of sewing on the bias.  We even managed to swing the conversation round to who we thought would win Strictly Come Dancing (Jason Donovan for me, Harry from McFly for my new pals).  When it was time for them to disembark, I bid them a cheery goodbye, along with detailed directions on how to get to the Goldhawk Road.

Now, I've lived in London since 1994 and not once, in all that time, have I ever had a conversation with a stranger on a tube before.  It could be any number of reasons but I like to think it was a mutual liking for sewing which brought about this happy exchange.  I've always found it pretty easy to chat to people, but I've noticed that having a passion for a hobby has made me even more likely to witter on.  By and large people seem to enjoy hearing about it too - if you're passionate about your subject, it makes for a more interesting conversation.  How about you?  Has your love of sewing opened up new friendships.  Is sewing like dog walking, in that it allows you to start up conversations with complete strangers?  I'd love to hear your views.

And what of Ray Stitch?  Well, after a quick coffee with Karen, who'd very generously used up her lunch hour to come and meet me, my purchases were remarkably restrained.  In a nutshell, Ray Stitch is a fine little hidden gem and I'll definitely be visiting again.  This is what I restricted myself to:

Pins for fine fabric, pricey but worth it to avoid unsightly holes on occasion.

A sewing gauge - I've wanted one of these for ages.

Colette patterns Peony.  How could I resist with so many gorgeous versions doing the rounds?

And a metre of this lovely print which I have plans for.....

Have a great weekend everybody. x


  1. I’m a long time reader but first time commenter. I enjoyed reading about your new pals on the tube and can relate to the experience. In Toronto, where I live, strangers don’t chat on the subway however I’ve found that if I knit en-route to work, I’ll often have strangers starting up a conversation about what I’m making. It’s nice to know that I can connect with strangers thanks to this hobby and I bet it would be the same if I were to read a sewing pattern or sewing book during my commute. By the way, that Lotta Jansdotter print is quite lovely.

  2. I should read patterns on the tube more often! Sounds like a good way to start a conversation. Sometimes people ask me about my knitting but it's usually along the lines of 'Wow, I didn't think anyone knitted any more!' or 'is that for your baby?'. Neither of these comments exactly fill me with joy.

    I've met some lovely people at sewing classes, a shared hobby certainly breaks the ice.

    (p.s. - Jason all the way for me. Although I have a soft spot for Anita Dobson)

  3. I too witter on about sewing to anyone who shows the slightest interest, ha ha! Don't get me started ;)
    Love your fabric choice. So bold and happy!

  4. Knitting on the tube often generates comment of a nice variety - although I still expect to encounter a gang of teenagers taking the piss at some point.

  5. hahaha i read sewing pattern instructions for entertainment, too! i just find them fascinating :)

    i strike up conversations with random people for any and every reason... doesn't have to be related to something i do or even particularly enjoy. that's just part of living in the south - we loooove to chatter, even if it's just a quick "hey! i like your shoes! have a good day!"

    but sewing has definitely brought me some new friendships. and i like that!

  6. I was reading pattern instructions on the tube this morning too (a sneaky jaunt out to Walthamstow Market) but alas the train was pretty empty heading out of the city.

  7. Jane, I'm surprised you've gone this long without a sewing gauge! It's one of the most useful tools in my sewing arsenal!

  8. I've been reading your blog for a while but this is my first comment - I wanted to visit Ray Stitch on a recent trip to London unfortunately I didn't have sufficient time. Will do better next time though following your review.

  9. I have approached a lady knitting on the train because the pattern looked so interesting... And I also been approached a couple of times myself.. It is a great opportunity to share a bit of a hobbie when not many of our friends share the excitement.

  10. I'm oddly friendly, so I strike up conversations with people at random, but I must say that sewing and knitting have made me bolder and if I see someone in something I just know had to have been handmade (i.e. it's from Amy Butler fabric and I know the print or something like that) I will ask the person if they made it, and, if they did, it's almost always an instant, you sew? I sew! Sew cool! Clearly when you share an addiction it's infectious.

  11. I'm not one for talking to someone else, unless they talk to me, but I'm still a bit cagey until I've talked for a while. I guess it depends on what they're talking about though!!

    I love the fabric you've bought though, I can't wait to see what you do with it.

  12. I was knitting a sock while waiting to see the doctor once and a lovely gentleman (over 80 years old) sat next to me and chatted away about knitting and how his wife had done lots of knitting and he used to knit socks for their boys.

  13. I enjoyed today's post.
    I love sewing misc.

  14. I had this happen to me once but with knitting. I was at the farmers markets with my family and we were sitting having breakfast and I was knitting. The most adorable little old lady came over to ask me what I was knitting and we had a great conversation about knitting and how great home knit socks are etc. When she left she said to me "never stop knitting. not enough people knit these days" She was so cute!

  15. Love the packaging for the seam gauge! I was flying out of LAX airport in Los Angeles and a woman asked if I made the bag I was holding because she made a bag out of the exact same fabric. It's pretty neat when you spot someone with a familiar fabric...I'm still waiting to see someone wearing a Colette Parfait dress or some other familiar pattern!

  16. Isnt it uplifting to find common interests amongst total strangers?! Like miss p, anyone showing slightest interest in sewing/ crafting gets me enthusiastic. I could have guessed that the peony would be in your clutches before long! And the fabric is rather lovely too x

  17. I love your fabric Jane :o)

    I use my sewing gauge constantly, and yours will soon be your new best friend :o)

    A much older gentleman was watching me crochet at the Drs one day, and finally he spoke up and asked if I was crocheting? It started a very long conversation about how his Mother used to make crocheted doilies for money in the early part of the last century, and during the first world war when his father was away.
    I also have a lovely friend who used to be (and still is to a degree) a very shy person. She got herself heavily into sewing (;o) and has since blossomed so much, it's so lovely to see :o)

    Have a wonderful weekend Jane.
    Love Donna xx

  18. Love the fabric - it will be great with the Collette pattern. Hope to check out this store myself in January. Perhaps we could meet up for a coffee?

  19. OOoh! So jealous! I sure wish I could just hop on the tube :) London must have some wonderful gems of fabric and notion stores! I also just got the Peony pattern and can't wait to try it out!

  20. Hey Jane. It is wonderful isn't it? It's like sewing peeps have a naturally friendly and curious streak! It is usually crocet with me, that causes strangers to comment and I find myself spending more time talking than crocheting, especially in a coffee shop. I have the sewing gauge and the Peony pattern too! I must admit the sewing guage came my way via a box of secondhand sewing bits and I have always wondered what to use it for?? I love your blog, and thanks for taking the time to write for us :)

  21. Ooo I'm envious of your Lotta, and your closeness to fabulous sewing shops! I think sewing is definitely a conversation starter, as is blogging. By the way, do you have any London fabric shop recommendations for cheap grey denim? stash is about busted!

  22. Aw, thanks for all your comments, I loved reading about your sewing conversations. Thank you Stitch Parade for identifying the fabric as Lotta Jansdotter, I couldn't remember her name and was too lazy to look it up...!
    Gail, I'd love to meet you for coffee in January, just give me a nudge nearer the time.
    Inspiredbyfelix, A1 Fabrics on the Goldhawk Road has a good selection of denims, I know they definitely do black or white, as well as lots of different blues, I may pay a visit next week so will let you know if they do grey. x



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