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Dress Fabric or Curtain Fabric?

How do you tell if a fabric is dress fabric or curtain fabric? Well sometimes it’s not so easy! Rules are made to be broken, so although in our stores we keep fabrics in different areas depending on whether their intended use is for furnishing or dressmaking, really it is down to a mixture of how the fabric will behave and your personal preference. We recently made up these lovely warm winter weight curtains in this gorgeous poly viscose melton fabric, which works perfectly even though it is traditionallly a dress fabric. These curtains are also interlined for even more warmth, and need the punched metal eyelets shown in order to hold the weight of the curtain. This fabric also looks the same from both sides, so could be used unlined to create a room divider curtain.

Sometimes you also want a lighter weight curtain, maybe to screen off an area or cover glass on a cupboard door, and then the dress weight cottons may be suitable, you would just need to be careful about the fabric width.

In contrast, we also have customers who make dresses, skirts and coats out of what is traditionally regarded as curtain fabric, like this amazing bee dress and the stunning hunting coat. We have heard a rumour there is also a Bengal Tiger dress on the way!

So the message is to know your fabrics, think outside the box and have a good look around the whole of the shop. You may just spot a bargain “curtain” fabric in the heavier weight dress fabrics, or create a showstopper garment from the furnishing section! We are always happy to talk to you about your project and will let you know if we think the fabric can be used in the way you are planning.

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Burns Night

In anticipation of Burns Night we have listed lots of lovely tartans and checked fabrics in our online shop. You can browse them here and make a purchase. We will send out your fabric the same day if we receive your order before three o’ clock or the next working day if you are a late night shopper and you can read all about Burns Night, its history and the ritual celebrations that surround it here. Here are some of the gorgeous fabrics to tempt you and don’t forget that we have even more in our high street stores at Yeovil and Bridport. We don’t however, sell whisky or Haggis but our Bridport shop is right next to Waitrose so you should’t find it too difficult to get everything you need in one outing.

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Book Review – Knitted Hats

This lovely little book has found its way home with more than one of our staff members this winter. Part of the 20 To Make series, it features a range of knitted hats for both men and women. One of our team found it an ideal way to use up a ball of chunky wool which was left over after knitting letters on some ‘Weasley’ christmas sweaters.

The result was this delightful cable edged beanie hat, we just love the gold colour and it’s very up to date. This hat was knitted with the cable band being completed first, then you pick up stitches along the edge of the band to knit the rest of the hat in double and single moss stitch. Less than a day to complete because of the chunky wool and large needles.

Other hats in the book include a ribbed pompom hat, a lacy beret and even a santa hat. With a few fair isle designs included this book is a great way to use up those odd ends of wool in your stash. The yarn weights vary from 4 ply all the way up to chunky. All the explanations and abbreviations are included along with stitch patterns for all the designs.

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Magic Unicorn Rainbow Fur

This is one of our most exciting new fabrics for the New Year and sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. This polyester faux fur has a long pile and is incredibly soft, we just want to cuddle it all day long! We are imagining all sorts of projects from unicorn manes to cushions, collar trims and whole jackets. One of our staff already has some at home to make a tube scarf, so we will be sharing a how to on that soon. In the meantime if you can’t wait to get your hands on this you can pop into our Bridport shop or buy online using the link below!

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Staff Make – Harlequin Footstool

Here’s a make we’ve been keeping under wraps because it was a Christmas present for my daughter. No mean feat making such a big thing without her knowing, thank goodness for school hours and our Livingstones workshop!

I am more of a sewer than an upholsterer, so when I fell in love with these colours of corduroy and how they looked together, I knew I would have to come up with an imaginative design to make use of them. I bought half a metre of each of the four colours, which was just under 20″, and this set the size of my footstool. I wanted my footstool about 15″ high so I cut a piece 18″ wide from each of the half metres, then I cut a triangle with the height half of the width, and a long piece about 6″ tall for my pocket.

I made the pockets quite fancy by folding in gussets and dividing them into 3, but a much simpler pocket would work as well.

To put it all together, first I hemmed the top edge of the pocket with a small hem. Then I turned in the other edges and folded my pockets. Next I pinned the pockets onto the sides, after deciding how to work the colour contrasts and where to position them. I sewed the edges and the seams in between the pockets first, making sure not to trap in the fabric from the gussets. Then I sewed along the bottom edge of the pocket to close it off.

Next I stitched together the 4 triangles to make the top, then attached on the sides to the top, making sure all my edges were properly square. Finally I sewed up the corner seams. All of this worked fine on my domestic machine, which I was really pleased about.

I also made up a small bean bag about 1.5″ deep to go inside the top, then I filled the rest of the inside with foam offcuts cut to size. I used a piece of harboard as the base and stapled my fabric to the board, checking my measurements and starting at the middle of each side. I also stapled on some blackcloth to make a neat base, then I left it at that. You could add feet or casters to make it easier to move the stool around. Now my daughter has a comfy footstool which can also double as an extra seat, and the pockets are handy for phones, chargers and remotes.

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Ease the Squeeze

Flexi Buttons & Bra Extenders

After the festive holiday you may well be heading back out to work in something other than your PJ’s and it’s quite possible that your waistband is a teeny bit squeezier than it was in November. Cash is a little thin on the ground at this time of year and gym memberships can prove quite costly so it might be an idea to look at the alternatives. We think these might come in handy if you don’t fancy splashing out on a new bra and the flexi buttons are brilliant for gently expanding waistlines whether due to pregnancy or general Christmas munching, simpl loop on to your existing button and fasten up as normal. Besides, the next few weeks will see winter setting in deeply and a little extra insulation is not such a terrible thing.

Happy New Year 🙂

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Happy Hogmanay!

The History of Hogmanay

We don’t hear much about Hogmanay in England where our fabric shops are based, particularly the South West because seem to do Christmas on such a massive scale and that strange time between Christmas and New Year becomes a haze where nobody can quite remember which day it is. In Scotland however, things have been somewhat different for many generations of people growing up there and it may surprise you to know that Christmas was not celebrated as a festival until the late 1950’s. Children expected Santa to arrive on New Years Eve alongside family gatherings and parties (or Hogmanay’s) where gifts were exchanged. Hogmanay is a very important festival to the Scots.

The Protestant Reformation had the festival down as a Catholic feast and as such , it had no place within the country and so it was banned. This ban led to ancient traditions already in place, (possibly from invading Vikings and Norsemen that had been a part of Scottish Solstice traditions for a very long time) to be stepped up and celebrated as a winter solstice holiday across the New Year period, leading to some serious partying involving fire amongst other things. In Shetland where there is still a strong Viking influence the feast is known as Yules, passing over from Scandinavia as the festival Yule. The collective ‘Hogmanay’ on New Years Eve involves several traditions and superstitions that include a deep clean of the home, ashes to be removed from the grate before midnight and that the first to pass over the threshold after midnight should be a dark haired stranger carrying a piece of coal for luck. Plus of course obligatory drinking of whisky.

Immediately after midnight it is traditional to sing Robert Burns‘ “Auld Lang Syne”. Burns published his version of this popular song in 1788, but it was in print more than 80 years before. There are several verses

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

Pop in to Livingstone Textiles and have a look at the fabulous new tartan fabrics we have available if you fancy making your New Years Eve party into a Hogmany. As well as our usual Black Watch and Stewart patterns we have these two plus many more tartans and checks available.

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What is…..Loom Elastic

Picture from

Elastic is so common that we barely think about it, like paper clips and zips, we just expect it to work without wondering how it’s doing its job, how it’s made or how clothing was held up before it existed. On an elastic waistband in your underwear you can see the familiar stretch of the band when you pull on your pantsand it’s followed by the springing action as it returns to its original shape. In fact it’s not that dissimilar to a rubber band except that you are holding elastic made from fabric wheras a rubber band is made from the raw rubber material.

Elastic waistbands weren’t invented until the 1930s and 40’s so before then folks had to find other ways of holding their undergarments in place and this usually consisted of tying undergarments to the waist and/or legs with cotton laces. Some simple cotton and linen undergarments were made using buttons on the front to ‘access’ certain areas and indeed the buttoned flap on the rear of a garment was known as the “access hatch”! It wasn’t until the 1940’s that an American company named Hanes began to replace cinch ties and button yokes with elastic waistbands in underwear using an industrial process, they had started their underwear company in 1902. Textile manufacturers used a loom with the warp (lengthways thread) and the weft (widthways thread) made up of normal strands of cotton or wool laced together with thin strands of rubber.

Elastic finds its way into so many aspects of our lives, from boxers and briefs, bra’s and belts to shock cords and bungees and all of them start off life on a loom, hence the term loom elastic. The UK still weaves loom elastic and it is manufactured on automated looms by companys like the Lincolnshire business HSeal who were founded in 1898. However, going back further than that we find the English inventor Thomas Hancock who founded the British rubber industry. He invented the masticator, a machine that shredded rubber scraps, allowing rubber to be recycled after being formed into blocks or rolled into sheets. In 1820, Hancock patented elastic fastenings for gloves, suspenders, shoes and stockings. In the process of creating the first elastic fabrics, Hancock found himself wasting considerable rubber so he invented the masticator to help conserve rubber. The first masticator was a wooden machine that used a hollow cylinder studded with teeth and inside the cylinder was a studded core that was hand cranked. In 1821, Hancock joined forces with the Scottish chemist and inventor of waterproof fabrics, Charles Macintosh. Together they produced Macintosh coats, or Mackintoshes, named after Charles Macintosh. You can buy loom elastic and cord elastic in a range of widths in quantities of half a metre upwards from Livingstone Textiles and we also stock beautiful patterned and coloured elastics that are soft enough to be worn next to the skin.

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Dark Materials

If you feel like hibernating in a dark room after the excesses of Christmas, we invite you to dream your way into this lovely room set from ILiv. We are a registered stockist for this company and hold many of the fabrics on rolls in our shops ready for you to create a cosy and tranquil space to relax……and possibly read the Philip Pullman trilogy, His Dark Materials.

Happy Sleeping

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**Wishing All of Our Customers a Very Happy Christmas **

Thank you to all you lovely people for your ongoing support and engagement with us at Livingstone Textiles, we love seeing you in both of our shops and engaging with you online. Keep on liking our posts and sharing your makes, follow us on Pinterest and Instagram and if you want to shop whilst our virtual shop is closed for the Christmas break you can still browse a selection of our fabrics online here.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

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Classic Christmas Stockings

The timeless colours of red and white will always look good on a traditional Christmas Stocking whether it’s a Christmas decoration or to hang up ready for presents. One of our long serving members of staff made these over 20 years ago from red fleece that she bought here at Livingstone Textiles and they still look just as good when we hung them this year. Pop in and see our fabulous range of crafting materials, motifs and trims, ther’s still time to make something for ready to hang up for Christmas and with the children now off school you can get them involved as well. Try this simple felt poinsetta that’s just four petal shaped pieces of felt stitched together through a central button. Wind a piece of thread around the middle and hang them at various levels in a window for a seasonal display.

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Shop Local Passport

Thank you if you have supported any of the shops and local businesses taking part in the Totally Locally scheme to spend money in the town. We have stamped a lot of passports so here’s a reminder that you need to get your passports handed in to any shop today in order to be entered for the prize draw of vouchers worth £50.

We would also like to thank you for supporting us and spending your money with Livingstone Textiles all year round, not just at Christmas. We know you can get it cheaper online so we do our best to give you a personal shopping experience with help and advice specific to your projects and all based on our product and stock knowledge. If we haven’t got something you need then we’ll do our best to get it ordered or direct you to another local business that may be able to help.

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Felt Mistletoe

Gorgeous handmade mistletoe constructed from delicate felt pieces lightly stuffed with toy stuffing and then carefully stitched to create this delightful everlasting decoration.

You can find all of the materials to create lots of decorations in either of our shops using your own designs or pick up a kit. Hand made decorations make great gifts too, either ready made or as a kit and every year the recipient will remember you when they put it back up.

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Big Coat Weather

The weather is definitely a challenge this winter, what with the rain and the wind and a few hailstorms and frosty mornings thrown in to the mix. If you haven’t already got it out from the back of the cupboard then it’s definitely time you dragged your big coat into the light. Forget all the drama’s and scare mongering weather headlines, stoic Brits grab their big winter coats and get on with it. If yours is found wanting of a closure to keep the wind out then come into livingstone Textiles and see our range of frogs, fasteners and toggles. We have big chunky buttons as well that would vamp up a charity shop find and reflect your own personal style.

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What is passementerie?


Passementerie (or passementarie) is a French term for all the ribbons, tassels, bullion fringes, beads, trims, braids, gimp and other gorgeousness that add the perfect finishing touch to your curtains, clothes, bags, upholstery. In fact, unless you’re embracing a very mimimalist lifestyle, almost anything, made or bought, can be improved and embellished with some of our passementerie.

In the 16th century, passementerie specifically meant a trim of gold or silver lace using metallic thread; the term was revived in the 19th century to cover a wider range of fringes, gimps, braids and ribbons, often used on military uniformsm, divided into point ornaments like tassels and pompoms, and linear, which is everything else.

Here at Livingstone Textiles we pride ourselves on carrying a huge range of passementerie, from our massive selection of ribbons and trims, to pompoms, fringing, upholstery braids and gimps. We’re constantly adding new and gorgeous items to our range, and our skilled staff are always happy to help you search out or match the perfect trim. We also have further items available to order from our suppliers, so if you still can’t find the perfect shade or design, we’ll do our best to source it for you.

Whatever your requirements for passementerie, we’re sure you’ll find something to suit in our huge and ever-changing collection of trimmings.

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How to make a scrunchie

We are now doing scrunchie packs here in Livingstone Textiles Bridport, this is a little pack containing all the fabric and elastic you need to make four hair scrunchies. These would make great gift packs for people learning to sew or getting back into it, they would even be fun little projects for the Easter holidays to keep children busy for an afternoon.

We have written this step by step guide on how to make these with lots of pictures to make it easy to follow!

Here’s how to get making…..

What you get in the pack (makes 4 scrunchies) :

  • 2 long strips of fabric (approx 7cm x 112cm)
  • 1m of elastic
  • 1 Safety pin

What you will need:

  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Needle (for hand stitching, optional)
  • Iron

Step 1 – Take your long strips of fabric and cut them in half, this will give you the four pieces of fabric that will be your scrunchies.

Step 2 – Fold one of the shorter strips in half lengthways with right sides together (wrong sides out) and press with an iron to keep the fold.

Step 3 – Using a zig zag stitch sew along the edge of the fabric to create a tube.

Step 6 – Overlap the ends of the elastic by around 2cm (1″) then secure them to make a loop. Carefully pin the ends of the elastic together ready to be sewn. Stitch together the ends of the elastic with a zig zag stitch (this will allow the elastic to stretch still), make sure the are firmly secured.

Step 7 – Tuck in the raw edge of one end back inside the tube by 1cm (1/2″) next take the other end with the raw end and poke this inside the tube where you have already folded in, this will complete your loop neatly.

Step 8 – The final step is to stitch the ends together to secure them. This can be done with a machine stitch through both the fabric and the elastic over the join to keep it secured. However, for a slightly neater finish you can hand stitch the seam, this allows you to only stitch through the fabric and not also through the elastic so the seam is less noticeable.

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New tabling has arrived!

new tabling

We have some very pretty and subtly-patterned new tabling arrived in our stores this week, with a much softer drape and fabric-like feel; some of them actually feel like fabric, but with the advantage of being wipeable and machine washable – perfect for brightening up your kitchen, or for a stylish cover-up when the grandchildren visit!

We have a range of patterns and soft-coloured plains for you to choose from, to perfectly complement your home decor.

prices from £7.50 to £14.50 per metre

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Sending Fabric with Love

Remember that you don’t have to use plastic based, foil or even paper wrapping to send a gift at Christmas time because fabric makes the perfect wrapping and can be used over and over again or just made into something by the recipient. It can be secured in place with ribbon too, removing the need for sticky plastic tape as well.

Go green and wrap things up a bit differently this year.

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Simplicity patterns for Winter 2019

New in for this Winter are a great range of Simplicity patterns in their gorgeous new season catalogue. With lots of cosy things to make and some great new fabrics in stock there’s plenty to get you inspired for the colder months ahead and we have some delicious new fabrics to make them with, ranging from new tartans, thick heavyweight drills and a new range of stunning silky dress fabrics suitable for fine blouses or delicate under garments. Pop in and have a browse through the books, we keep them in the quiet fancy dress room at the end of the shop and have a cosy heater next to the desk so you can have a look through the patterns in the warm. Don’t forget that we still have our New Look offer running where you can get a massive 40% discount off all the patterns in the book.

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Free Parking

There will be FREE PARKING ALL DAY in the car park at the front of Livingstone Textiles , Bridport on both Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout December. Of course our Yeovil shop has year round free parking directly outside the front door for your convenience. You can use the Free parking opportunity in Bridport to shop with us under the Totally Locally Bridport Passport scheme and get a stamp for spending at least £10 with us as well. Just visit 7 other retailers in the town as well before Christmas for your chance to win £50 in vouchers.

Look out for pretty things from us every day on Instagram this month, lots of reasons to come shopping for fabric and crafts at Livingstone Textiles

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Keeping Warm with Curtains

Curtains fulfill many uses in your home. As well as being decorative they also help to reduce echoes, making your room more welcoming. At this time of the year most importantly they can really help with heat retention which saves you money on heating. Even a double glazed window will feel like a big expanse of cold in your room once the sun goes down. So, what should you take into consideration when choosing curtains for warmth?

  1. Fabric choice. Heavier fabrics will keep in more heat, although all woven fabrics will allow in some drafts. An example is our range of tapestry fabrics, which are all suitable to make heavy curtains. Some heavy fabrics are not suitable, however, especially if they are upholstery fabrics with a back coating as these are too stiff. Ask our staff if you are unsure which of our fabrics can be made into curtains.
  2. Interlining. This is a layer with thermal properties which is inserted between the main curtain fabric and the lining, and is also known as curtain bump. It feels a little like a blanket and makes the curtains more luxurious. It can even be used with very lightweight fabrics such as faux silk and makes your curtains feel like a million dollars. Interlining can be cotton or polyester and comes in both light and heavy weights. There is an additional charge on the making up because the interlining has to be tacked into the main fabric before adding the lining. If you do not have much room to pull the curtains back off the window or door, interlining will affect this as it makes the curtains considerably thicker.
  3. Thermal or blackout lining. If you don’t want to add interlining to your curtains you could use the option of thermal lining. This is an ivory coloured coated polycotton lining which prevents air getting through the lining, thereby stopping drafts. This creates a colder pocket of air next to the window whilst retaining the heat in the room. This lining is lightweight and will not add to the bulk of the curtains. Thermal lining will not stop light coming through completely, though it is referred to as ‘dimout’ so it will reduce light to some extent. However if light is also a problem (from street lights or the sun in the summer) the good news is that blackout lining also has exactly the same thermal properties as thermal lining, it is just a little heavier and also blocks all light. Some light may come around the edges of the curtain (or through the stitching lines for a roman blind) but none will penetrate through the fabric itself.
  4. Length of curtains. If you are trying to cut out drafts with a full length curtain, you can choose to have your curtain come right down to the floor to ensure that air cannot get underneath it. You could also consider making a shorter curtain long enough to tuck behind a radiator to stop heat going up behind the curtain.

If heat retention is a priority, do mention it to us when you consult about your curtain project. Many of the same factors can also be applied to roman blinds as well. We are happy to make up curtains and blinds for you with all of these options considered, or you can consult our guide to choosing a lining to see all the options. If you already have curtains but want to make things more cosy, you could always consider adding a loose lining with loose lining tape. This is really easy to do, as the thermal lining does not even need hemming as it does not fray when cut. You can find instructions on how to add a loose lining here.

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Free Knitting Pattern with Yarn Purchase

We have a lovely offer for you at our Yeovil store this December – simply spend £10 on knitting yarn and pick up a free knitting pattern from our extensive range. You could choose one of the patterns for this fantastic glittery tinsel yarn to knit something fun for Christmas, or bag yourself a new project to indulge in over the Christmas break. There’s probably even (just) time to knit a sweater for Christmas (I am currently knitting a Harry Potter Weasley sweater as well as the Christmas knitalong). This will really keep the cost down for your project, and if that’s not enough we have some bargain yarn in store at the moment while stocks last – first come first served. Just remember you need to spend £10 to get your free pattern and the offer ends on 31st December. Check out our opening times over Christmas on the side of this post. We will look forward to seeing you in Yeovil!

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Win £50 in Vouchers just by Shopping TotallyLocally!

Today sees the launch of the first TotallyLocally Bridport Passport! We know Bridport is fiercely independant and the wealth of variety in our shops shows that we love to shop local! So our local retailers are joining together to give you the chance to win vouchers, just by doing your shopping in the local area this December. Pick up your passport at any participating Bridport retailer and get it stamped every time you spend £10 in any outlet which is joining in the scheme (there are over 60 independent businesses in the scheme). Once you have 8 stamps on your passport, hand it in to Bridport Tourist Information Centre to be entered in the draw. There are 5 x £50 vouchers up for grabs.

Livingstone Textiles in Bridport is taking part in the scheme, so you can pick up a passport from us and there are lots of ways to spend your £10 in store on yourself for your Christmas crafting, curtain order or dressmaking project – or pick up a present for the sewer in your life, anything from a lovely book to a gift voucher. All are included in the passport scheme.