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February 10th, 2015


Warm and Earthy Silks…

February 4th, 2015


We do love unusual fabrics here at Ray Stitch and were incredibly excited when we recently acquired some grainy-look silk dupion in warm earthy colours. Lovely to sew and with a beautiful finish, this fabric is ideal for some of the more simple structured patterns we have in stock.

Silk dupion is one of the most widely known silks, mainly manufactured in India on hand and power looms. But did you know that dupion gets its characteristic slub from two silkworm cocoons entwining? Sweet! It achieves its lustrous surface and tightly woven look by weaving different threads in the warp and weft; the warp is woven using fine thread, and the weft is woven with the uneven entangled-cocoon thread.

Because dupion has a crisp, and sometimes fairly stiff texture, it is often used in bridalwear where ’sculpting’ a shape is important. We think it’s equally good for everyday wear. If you’ve not used silk before, have a go, because it’s stable and not too light this would be a good one to start with. The beauty of making your own clothes is that (once you feel brave enough to cut!) you can experiment with fabrics and shapes. Here are some modern styles that we think would translate well to the structure dupion can offer:

Try a pencil skirt to jazz up a work outfit, or pair with a silk blouse for an evening out to dinner – New Look 6107, or By Hand London’s Charlotte Skirt. Or perhaps a gathered circle skirt with waistband to make full use of the stiffness like Colette’s Zinnia.

We like the possibilities of a close-fitting dress because generally, they are so versatile that they suit both soft and heavier fabrics. Despite the fact that dupion feels stiffer, it is still lightweight and so can be nicely lined for a practical cold-season dress, or left unlined for that fresh cool feel on your skin that silk offers. Make up Sigma from Papercut with its options of a gathered skirt and sleeve lengths for work or party. Or Colette’s shapely Peony or Lily Dresses.

Our perennial favourite is the Camber from Merchant and Mills. Easy to make and easy to wear, the Camber is so versatile we’ve made it in flannel, poplin, chambray and double gauze… We think its high-time for a Dolce-style cropped t-shirt in one of our fancy silks!

I Need to Fix the Holes in my Heels, Elbows, Pockets and Knees: Darning and Mending Workshop with Celia Pym..

January 19th, 2015

We all understand the heartache upon discovering that moths have made a meal of our most favourite jumper, or that one sock has become threadbare and we don’t have any other clean pairs.  When clothing shops are in abundance, it’s easy to go ahead and throw our holey garments away. Yet, there’s no way to replace or recreate the sentimentality and stories found in well-loved clothing.

Celia Pym is an artist passionate about the stories that accompany holes, working to give clothing a second chance. Instead of hiding the marks of mending, Celia recognises the process of such work by recording this new chapter of a garment’s life in bold, and outstanding thread. Using mending as design rather than just a necessity, the pattern of the stitches offers a new aesthetic, one that reflects upon the intrinsic beauty in thread and cloth, or even indeed in making itself.

Back in the age of austerity and rationing when ‘making do’ was the norm, clothes were constantly repaired, altered or made into something new entirely. Dwindling resources and funds, and an understanding of such issues present us with a recurrent need to make do with what we have. So, in our new age of enlightenment we are given the responsibility – or perhaps, have the fervor – to revisit lost skills that will allow us to make do and mend in a more interesting and creative manner.

Celia’s Master’s research at the Royal College of Art led her to mend holes in other peoples’ garments for a year, exploring the spaces that the body occupies and detecting as it were the daily life of these garments. Observing her uncle’s sister darn a jumper over many years so that eventually the arms were held together entirely by darning, it isn’t surprising that Celia was enthralled by such charm and affection towards a garment that she carried on darning.

Celia has exhibited her work at such places as the Transition and Influence Gallery, Prick Your Finger and King’s College London, and now conducts workshops to teach others how to darn. She believes that darning allows you to become aware of how something was made; seeing where the hole is allows you to see how to put it back together. Traditionally, communities would come together socially to do their household chores such as knitting and mending, sharing skills and stories throughout. We offer you the chance to come together at the Ray Stitch Sewing School for a workshop with Celia to learn a new skill and share your stories.

So come along to our two-part workshop “I Need to Fix the Holes in my Heels, Elbows, Pockets and Knees: Darning and Mending” With Celia Pym on Tuesday 27th January and Tuesday 3rd February for a couple hours of intimate mending.

Dates: Tuesday 27th January and 3rd February
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Price: £60


“I like seeing how something is made, how it works.
Darning is filling in holes and joining edges together.
Sometimes darning can be tender and tenderness is important.
Darning helps you understand the thing you are mending.
If you darn a hole in an opposite colour to the original textile, you can see clearly what got worn away. Darning highlights that something has changed and that time has passed.”

Read more about Celia’s previous and upcoming work here - (I love the title of this workshop! – What do I have to do to make it ok?) And read here about a fascinating collaboration with Kings College as ‘mender in residence’ in the college’s Dissecting Room.

celia pym postcard jan '14

Image Courstesy of Annemor Sundbo’s Ragpile

Japanese Fabric

January 14th, 2015

Have you seen our Japanese fabric section lately? If you’re searching for something a little bit different for a new year garment project, now is definitely the time to take a look.

In addition to the ever-popular, distinctive prints of Nani Iro, we’ve some beautifully and equally distinct designer printed sateen and lawn with geometric designs and sharp colours, ideal for slinky, modern styles…..



Double gauze fabric is always a very popular choice in the shop for dress and blouse projects. Widely used for Japanese apparel because of the breathability of the two fine layers, it creates a lovely soft and drapey effect and clothes seem to be cool and light and warm and snug at the same time – impressive! We’ve recently added a new, double sided polka dot in 5 colourways to our range. Hmmm, what shall we make…?!


And something very seasonal and very Japanese, these textured woven fabrics – evocative of the Japanese geological landscape, think richly textured layers of limestone interbedded with pebbles and wave-worn shells….

We’ve a hundred and one ideas for these fabrics; we love the colour and texture and the horizontal patterning – we’re planning pencil skirts, prim blouses, tunic dresses…

Watch this space, we’ll be posting pics of our creations just as soon as our little fingers can stitch them!


Sewing Retreat at Les Soeurs Anglaises

January 7th, 2015

Screen shot 2015-01-07 at 16.27.31

With an inevitably long stretch of grey days ahead of us, we have to keep ourselves going with promises of warmer days in sunnier places. With that in mind, we thought now might be a good time to tell you about the delightful prospect of our holiday workshop in the beautiful home of Les Soeurs Anglaises in the French Dordogne.

For one week in September 2015, our sewing school will be shipping out of London and relocating to the luxurious 19th Century Maison de Maitre retreat – (pool, gardens, architecturally acclaimed converted studios, beautiful countryside on the doorstep…..) – and you are very welcome to join us!

The Ray Stitch team will be running a dressmaking workshop in which you can build on your basic dressmaking skills, improve your techniques and master new ways of tackling a selection of stylish garments with our guidance and support. The workshop will be intensive – we aim to complete 2 or 3 projects over the week – but because we’re in such lovely surroundings with all our needs being met, how can it fail to be relaxing?

Take a look here for more details about the venue and how to book the workshop, and do get in touch with us here if you have any questions…


Start the year with some new skills and a new dress…

January 5th, 2015

Happy New Year Stitchers!

To celebrate – and to alleviate those back-to-work blues – we bring you a great offer:

20% off our shirt dress class with Sew Dixie Lou beginning this week. Details below….


McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress

Wednesday 07 January 2015

Session: 3

Price: Reduced from £145 to £116 (Call the shop to book – 020 7704 1060)

Time: 6.30-9.30pm

Level: Intermediate

A flattering and versatile waisted shirt dress with a close-fitting bodice, collar and side pockets. Make with short or bracelet length sleeves or a sleeveless version and choose either a pleated or a fitted skirt. Your teacher will be Clare Szabo, author of the popular Sew Dixie Lou Blog. The dress is a great favourite of hers – read her account of making two versions of the dress at

- All sundry materials and refreshments will be provided in the class.

- Students for this course should be competent basic sewers and as a minimum should have completed our Next Steps session or equivalent.

- Some homework will be required during the course.

- The pattern is included and will be yours to take away but you will be required to bring your own fabric.


December 18th, 2014

christmas window

Premax Scissors

December 4th, 2014

Lovely, lovely. lovely professional Italian steel scissors from Premax…

Who wouldn’t love to find a set under the Christmas Tree?!!

Take a look at the full range here

xmas soft touch set

xmas steel set

Heather Lins Stitch Kits

November 4th, 2014

Ray Stitch are now stocking the fabulous Heather Lins Cross Stitch Kits!! These original Calendar Kits make the perfect stocking filler and are suitable for all ages! So…… why not get crafty with the kids, grandkids – or no kids – this Christmas and make your very own unique 2015 calendar!!



The Year in Stitches Kit has a different arrangement each month which you embroider with the gorgeous red thread provided. However, you could add an individual twist by changing the colours monthly! Our embroidery threads are 30p each in store, or £5.80 for a bundle online, so why not have fun and play with colour!!



Stitch the Stars Kit is beautifully screen printed with GLOW IN THE DARK ink and each month corresponds with the Zodiac constellation! It also comes with glow in the dark thread, so you can even admire your handy work with the lights off!

Available in-store and online.

McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress

October 9th, 2014

We have fallen in love with the McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress and thanks to the amazingly talented Sew Dixie Lou we can all learn how to make one ourselves!!

Clare Szabo, maker/blogger extraordinaire and founder of Sew Dixie Lou has been sewing since birth (!!) She is a master at dressmaking and created this stunning version of the 6696-


Made to perfection, this classic dress looks gorgeous in the Japanese yarn dyed tuft weave fabric! It is such a versatile pattern and one of Clare’s personal favourites….. she’s made it three times, and each one is effortlessly stylish and unique! Unfortunately this does make choosing your fabric trickier, as it looks great in everything! But I personally love the chic Essex Linen option below.


But who wouldn’t WANT this rockabilly style in their wardrobe as well……..

6696 2

Whether you choose a slinky Liberty Lawn or a weightier Organic Cotton Crossweave come and join the class and create your own unique frock fit for any occasion!! Book your place here and get ready for the party season early!!

Block of the Month

October 6th, 2014

Our new Block of the Month classes start this week. Beginning this Friday, we’ll be running a monthly workshop in which you can learn two new blocks. As a beginner you’ll learn the basics of piecing from scratch under the tutelage of our expert teacher Michael (President of the London Modern Quilt Guild no less!) or as someone with experience you’ll have the opportunity to extend your knowledge of the many, many different ways to piece together fabric. Either way, you’ll have fun experimenting with different fabric and colour combinations.

The block classes run from October until March (how better to spend the chilly months?) and there are 12 different blocks in all. You can do all or some of the classes but if you manage to put 12 different blocks together by next spring you can incorporate them into a unique sampler quilt. See below for the plan…..



THREAD….a festival of Textiles!

September 24th, 2014

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 07.12.28

We are busy preparing for Thread this week – it’s a new show for us and we’re excited at the prospect of visting Surrey and seeing inside the beautiful Farnham Maltings.


Taking place on Friday 26th Sept 12pm-6pm and Saturday 27th Sept 10am- 5pm in lovely Farnham, Thread will appeal to all creatives. You can browse the many stalls and add to your stash or be inspired by fellow crafters and get stuck in to one of the many workshops. Our fabulous tutor Gen is teaching this lined zip pouch workshop on Saturday at 11am.

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 07.15.49

There are talks,, book signings and lots of exhibitors selling fabrics, haberdashery and handcrafted textiles, so clear the diary and come and say hello!


‘Thread’ Tickets £5 in advance or £7.50 on the door.

Our Remnant Day is nearly here!

September 18th, 2014

All the Ray Stitchers are busy, busy, busy! Sorting through piles of vintage patterns, hundreds and hundreds of lovely old buttons,  fascinating bits of haberdashery and literally MOUNTAINS of gorgeous fabric. There’ll be plenty of Ray Stitch stock reduced on sale day but this sale is mostly about the amazing collection of one-off dressmaking pieces we have collected and must now let go.

Most of the fabrics were cut 20 -30 years ago as ‘dress lengths’ or ’suit lengths’ but never used for their purpose and stashed away by lifelong sewers who sadly never got round to making up those wished for garments. Far from being old and musty, the pieces have been kept beautifully – most of them wrapped and labelled – there are beautiful quality silks, wools, brocades, chiffon, crepe de chine, Liberty prints – some with their 1980’s sales tickets on!

Please come down if you can. This really is a one-off sale and – much as we would love to – Ray Stitch will never be able to offer this variety of fabrics and vintage patterns again….



September 9th, 2014

Dallas Shirt 2

Dallas came to Ray Stitch a few months ago to ignite a lost passion for sewing. And ignite she did, Dallas took to dressmaking like a duck to water!

Her mother was a skilled seamstress, making all her children’s clothes by hand. Growing up in the countryside in Australia is a far cry from London today…’they were no shops, and you didn’t have the money to buy clothes’. And although handy with a needle when fixing hems, Dallas, in her own words, was ‘hopeless with a machine’.

So, three years ago she ventured to John Lewis and treated herself to a new electronic sewing machine. At home and out of the box, her shiny new toy was a mystery! Unable to thread the thing or follow the instructions, she packed it away in a cupboard and it stayed there for 3 years.

Roll on 2014, and thanks to a mention in the Sunday Times, Dallas was introduced to Ray Stitch for the first time.

She signed up for our 6-week Introduction to Machine Sewing where she started from scratch and built up her skills working towards her final project – this beautiful holdall bag! She chose her materials carefully, lining the bag with a gorgeous contrasting canvas and meticulously edging it with bias covered piping cord. Clearly Dallas is a natural at sewing and also at the equally crucial skill of putting her look together.

Gorgeous Lining Dallas!

Immediately following on by booking herself onto the 6 week Dressmaking Course, Dallas spent the next few weeks mastering many new techniques and has ‘added a new dimension’ to her life.

She successfully completed all three of the course projects – we were mightily impressed with her dedication and her impeccable taste when choosing her fabrics made us all very jealous of her stylish creations. After the course she subsequently set about to make a tailored shirt, she was determined to make a copy of a favourite shirt but says that in it she met her nemesis. No matter, she came along to a couple of Freestyle Sessions and tackled it alongside our Gen who demystified some tricky techniques so that Dallas was then able to go on and produce several versions of it.

Dallas Shirt

I asked Dallas what the best thing about sewing was and I couldn’t put it better myself…..

‘Sewing has a beginning, a middle and an end, and every step along the way has a purpose. So many of us work in stressful jobs or manage life’s multiple challenges and some days you just never reach those targets, goals or deadlines. But with sewing you produce something tangible, something useful and something pretty’.

‘The sound of a sewing machine can be incredible therapeutic, nostalgic even. You have to put aside time for projects, and look forward to it. I haven’t had as much fun in the past twenty years as I have while sewing’.

At 67 and still working as a Health System Analyst, Dallas is a true inspiration to all of us. You are never too young or too old to find your passion in life. So after one of those STRESSFUL days, set aside time to polish off the machine and absorb yourself in the soothing art of creativity!

Post written by Lisa.

Save the Date – Remnant Day September 20th

August 20th, 2014

All the Ray Stitchers are busy, busy, busy! Sorting through piles of vintage patterns, hundreds and hundreds of lovely old buttons,  fascinating bits of haberdashery and literally MOUNTAINS of gorgeous fabric. There’ll be plenty of Ray Stitch stock reduced on sale day but this sale is mostly about the amazing collection of one-off dressmaking pieces we have collected and must now let go.

These are vintage fabrics in that most of them were cut 20 or 30 years ago as ‘dress lengths’ or ’suit lengths’ but never used for their purpose and stashed away by lifelong sewers who sadly never got round to making up those wished for garments. Far from being old and musty, the pieces have been kept beautifully – most of them wrapped and labelled – there are beautiful quality silks, wools, brocades, chiffon, crepe de chine, Liberty prints – some with their 1980’s sales tickets on!

Please come down if you can. This really is a one-off sale and – much as we would love to – Ray Stitch will never be able to offer this variety of fabrics and vintage patterns again….


What Katy Did at Ray Stitch……

August 12th, 2014

Our Summer School sessions are underway and one of our most popular regular classes – Pattern Cutting – ran as a 3 day intensive workshop last week. We were really pleased when the very lovely Katie Marcus – enviably stylish author of (officially!) two of London’s best blogsWhatKatieDoes and WhatKatieSews – accepted our invitation to take part and review the class.

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We’ve seen lots of Katie’s makes on her sewing blog and, although she’s modest about her skills, she’s certainly been busy sewing up a wardrobe and we think she’s pretty good. However, like many sewers who sometimes find the ‘one shape fits all’ aspect of commercial patterns frustrating, she felt it might be time to create her very own blocks.  Pattern cutting of course is all about measuring  and replicating your particular shape and ensuring that clothing fits – exactly.

Screen shot 2014-08-11 at 20.25.35

The certainty of the measuring and the mathematical calculations made in class, as well as the ability to look at other people’s shapes and see how diverse we all are gives sewers invaluable knowledge about their own body shape.  Discussing the many ways in which a block can be adapted will also give the confidence to design your own garments or even to go back to commercial patterns and adapt them to fit perfectly. As with the learning of any new skill though, there is a degree of mental strain involved, that’s why it’s such a good idea to have a knowledgeable and experienced teacher like our very own Alice Prier to diffuse and demystify the complex information. The outcome far outweighs the small amount of strife that gets you there, hopefully Katie agrees with us on that one…

Read Katie’s full story here on What Katy Sews…..

Screen shot 2014-08-11 at 20.25.55

Uppercase – Issue 22

August 3rd, 2014

“Whether a subtle shade or vibrant value, colour is the jumping-off point for creative exploration and personal expression. Colour offers endless inspiration… and as designers, illustrators, artists and craftspeople, we all share this passion for pigment….”


Printed Oilcloth

July 31st, 2014

We’ve already been busy with our new oilcloth – here’s Rosie off to Bestival last week with her quick and easy drawstring rucksack.

And you can never have too many waterproof beach bags…we’ve already made 4!

These are from the Japanese Kokka range, with vibrant prints from Echino and more delicate prints and colours from Ellen Lucket Baker’s ‘Garden’ collection. Printed onto a cotton/linen canvas which is then laminated, the texture is nicely waxy and drapey and perfect for bags or pouches but equally suitable for table coverings or anything else where a wipe clean surface is required….



One-hundred-and-one summer dresses….

June 29th, 2014

Have you taken a look at our pattern section lately? It’s heaving…!

We’ve managed to squeeze patterns into every nook and cranny of the shop since our cafe closed, and now – finally – we have them all on the site.

There’s a great selection of Simplicity, Burda and New Look seasonal styles to choose from – something for everyone. So have a look through and turn your fabric stash into some exciting summer outfits….


New Nani Iro prints and what you might want to do with them…..!

June 21st, 2014

ibuku 1

ibuku 1-2

lay 1

lay 3

ni rainbow ball 3

shine 1

shine 5

ni fu ball 2