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How to work a Cable Stitch

Knitting a hat is a great way to use up scraps of wool left over from a bigger project, and a textured hat always looks funky, but you might be put off attempting a cable pattern because it looks tricky. In cable stitch, the stitches appear to overlap each other, and a cable pattern can also include bobbles and cross overs that look really hard to do. In fact, they are really quite simple once you break the pattern down into small steps, and all patterns will tell you exactly how to work the cable.

What will I need?

The most important piece of equipment to get yourself is a cable needle! These special needles have a ‘V’ in the middle to stop the stitches from sliding off, and are used to hold the stitches at the front and the the back of the knitting while you work other stitches on the main needles.

Here’s a step by step of how to work with the third needle. The stitches are slipped on to the cable needle and held either at the front or the back while a few stitches are worked from the needles. Then cable needle is then brought back in and the stitches worked from there, creating a twist as the knitting wraps around itself.

Continue reading How to work a Cable Stitch
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Bengal Tigers In Bridport

We are still adoring this jungle velvet and so are our customers and we’ve had an order this week for an unusual project. You may remember that we published a story about a lady called Debbie who made a dress out of our silk furnishing fabric featuring a bee design. Well she’s creating another dress, this time using the Bengal Tiger velvet as her fabric which we think will look sensational! Because of the varying weights and modern digital printing techniques the fabrics that we have in our shop can be crossed over into all kinds of projects, some of the lighter furnishing fabrics can be used as dress materials and many of our heavier dress fabrics, like wool or Melton coat fabrics for example, can be used as a curtain fabric. This week we’ve made up these lovely eyelet curtains in a mustard Melton cloth, quite simply because the colour matched our customers room scheme perfectly and there was nothing quite right in our soft furnishings range.

We can order anything from our large collection of fabric books too , even just a sample if you want to double check colours before you make the jump.

These eyelet curtains have been made by us using Antique rings and we can also make up eyelets in other colours such as Nickel and Black. There are a few options available designed to suit the rail you currently have in place or ask us for details on our continuous metal poles with no awkward joins to try and drag the curtains over.

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Plastic Accountability

As a small family owned retail business we are acutely aware of our responsibility to the environment and have always been conscious of the impact of our waste. Right form the outset, when Tom and Megan took over Livingstone Textiles, recycling strategies were extremely important as part of the company ethic. It’s a way of life for the team not to throw anything away that might be re-used in some way, or re-cycled. So much so that when we stopped and thought about it, we realised that most of our customers are completely unaware of the little things we all do so we thought we’d share some of the ways that we tackle our waste output as a business. As you all know, we stock a terrific range of fabrics in our two shops. All of these fabrics have to be couriered to us so wherever we possibly can, we will combine orders for both shops to minimise transport but, of course all of the fabric needs to arrive clean and dry after its been slung around the distribution centres so it is always wrapped in plastic. Some of our suppliers have now started to wrap fabric in much thinner plastic than they did previously therby using fewer resources. This is great……but it’s still plastic and it still needs to be reconciled. All of our cardbard and paper gets re-used as scrap paper or recycled at the recycling centre in Bridport. We compost all of our staff food waste ( except biscuits of course because we eat all of those) and we take home and recycle all cans, bottles and cartons in our own household recycling systems as well as the plastic ribbon reels. Our cardboard tubes get recycled too and we are always happy to give them away to anyone who needs them for a project or local group. Some suppliers are now going back to old fashioned cardboard bobbins for there bias bindings and trims which makes us happy.

All of our plastic gets sorted and graded for recycling. Anything that we can’t yet recycle gets cut up and used in our packing area for sending out the fabric that you order from our online shop. We save all of the little scraps of fabric and bits of ribbon that are too small to sell, along with donated boxes of old buttons and threads from various old local stashes of ancient aunts and use them to make up little packs of co-ordinating things for art, craft and textile projects. At only £2 for a bag they are an absolute bargain and you can be confident that you’re doing your bit in the up-cycling chain.

Upcycling in Action

We are also beginning to travel the long road of sustainable fabrics and recycled textiles that we aim to make a prominent feature of our business moving forward. We already stock a few things as they are becoming available and you can buy fabric made from textile industry waste on our webshop, as well as recycled felt in a selection of rainbow colours.

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Tartan Sashes

It’s burns night tonight and it’s not too late to grab a bit of tartan. A couple of metres of these extra wide woven ribbons can be quickly made into a sash to wear over your outfit and the narrower ones can be used in your hair or around a hat.

Embrace your inner Celt, celebrate the poetry and read more about Burns Night here.

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Camper Van Cushions

All this rain makes us think longingly of summer sun and road trips.

Now is the perfect time to get your camper or caravan fixed up and ready for the road. We’re making a whole load of seat / bed cushions for a couple who are off on a big trip. They will be living in their camper and comfort is high on the list so we are covering 5″ deep foam with a thick, soft layer of wadding and then stockinette so they will be super soft and comfy. We’ve written about how you can do this yourself here.

As yet we don’t have foam listed on our website but we are happy to process telephone orders, you can contact us on 01308 456844 or 01935 422651 to place an order or discuss your requirements.

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How to Make a Tube Scarf with Pompoms

When this amazing new rainbow cuddle fur arrived in the shop, we immediately thought about using it to creating a cuddly soft scarf. Because this fabric is one sided, you can’t just cut a strip of fabric as you don’t want the back to show. So here is how to make your own scarf using the tube method. To go one better you can put fantastic pompoms on the end!

What will I need?

A strip of fabric 20-30 cm wide and some hollowfibre toy stuffing. You can hand-sew this, but a sewing machine will be a lot quicker!

Cut a strip of fabric across the width and about 25 – 30cm wide. Fold in half right sides together and sew along the edges with a sewing machine or overlocker (the edges will probably not fray, but check your fabric to be sure). If you don’t want pompoms sew across one end of the fabric.

You now have a tube of wrong way out fabric.

Turn the tube right side out. If you are not adding pompoms sew the open end of your scarf closed and you are finished.

To add pompoms, take a running stitch all the way around your tube about 10 – 15 cms from one end. Pull up the running stitch to gather the fabric and fasten off.

Stuff the open end of your scarf with hollowfibre toy stuffing.

To finish, running stitch around the open ends. Pull to gather, tucking in the edges as you go, and fasten off. You now have an amazing statement scarf with oversize pompoms!

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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

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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.