Tutorial – Bunting!

This year is shaping up to be a very patriotic year, with Euro 2016 well under way and other sporting events on the horizon such as Wimbledon and the Olympics in which our athletes are expected to do very well. Following our very successful British Bonanza open day, celebrating the Queen’s official birthday, we have had had a number of enquiries from customers who are keen to recreate our hand sewn bunting. Bunting is very easy to make and is a very effective decoration for all manner of events such as interior decoration, village fetes and even vintage themed weddings. For our Union Jack themed bunting, we used a selection of Cotton Fabrics in our national colours of red, royal and blue alongside our Printed Polycotton fabrics in the Union Jack design. However you can use any colour or design of fabric you please, depending upon the occasion and/or theme of your event. Pastels are a particularly popular choice for weddings whilst our brightly coloured fabrics are ideal for brightening up your summer fair or craft fair.


You will need a selection of tools and fabrics to create your own bunting decorations.

Follow our easy tutorial below to create your own cheerful bunting decorations:


– Some 25mm/1″ wide cotton bias binding (as long as you need with an extra metre)
– 1 metre of fabric in each of your chosen colours
– Pinking shears
– Paper scissors
– A piece of card
– A pencil
– A ruler
– Dressmaking pins

  1. Using your pencil and ruler, draw a triangle on your card and carefully cut around it with your paper scissors. This will serve as your template, ensuring that all of your bunting pieces are identical in size and shape.
  2. Using your dressmaking pins, pin your template to your fabric and cut around it with a pair of good quality pinking shears. Repeat until you have the desired number of flags for your bunting.
  3. Space your fabric flags evenly along the length of your bias binding, leading approximately a 3 inch gap between each flag. Fold the bias binding over the shortest edge of your flag, and pin in place. Repeat until all of your fabric flags are in place. Be sure to leave a length of bias binding approximately 50cm in length at each end of your bunting for hanging.
  4. Once all of your bias binding has been followed, sew along the entire length to secure your fabric flags in place.

Your bunting is now complete and ready to display!


Our patriotic bunting went down a treat at our open day.

Creating your own bunting gives you the perfect opportunity to be wildly creative! Bunting is perfect for instantly cheering up any room or location and can be embellished with a variety of other materials. I particularly love bunting for children’s bedrooms – fabric flags in gentle pastel colours such as pink, blue and yellow can be embellished with fabric lettering to spell out your child’s name and is the perfect way of welcoming a new member to the family.

Bunting adds that perfect garden party touch to any gathering  and in recent years, brides and grooms in particular have gone bonkers for bunting. Particularly popular for vintage themed weddings, bunting is just perfect as a low cost and environmentally friendly venue decoration and can be used for everything from decorating your ceremonial venue to quirky mini bunting for cake decoration.

When creating your bunting, you do not need to stick to Cotton or Polycotton Fabrics. Be as adventurous as you like and experiment with different fabrics until you find the perfect finish for your event. Hessian bunting, alongside strings of fairy lights is a simple yet unique decoration which would look gorgeous for an autumn celebration whilst our vintage floral prints by Rose and Hubble are ideal for spring and summer celebrations.


Rose and Hubble Floral Prints are ideal for vintage inspired bunting decorations, perfect for spring and summer weddings.

All tools and fabrics are available to purchase online now at http://www.calicolaine.co.uk

Her Majesty’s Birthday Celebrations

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks you could not fail to have noticed the huge celebrations taking place across the country to mark Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday. Never ones to miss out on a party we decided to throw our own celebration with our first open day at our flagship store in Neston, Cheshire. With cakes, drinks, raffle prizes and of course fantastic discounts the day was a huge success! We were joined by a number of local traders including our good friends at Gifts For Me and You who did a roaring trade with their custom made clothing, accessories and gifts. Our raffle was also an enormous success and we were thrilled to raise a fantastic £175 for one of our favourite charities, Cystic Fibrosis Trust.


We were thrilled to welcome the fantastic ladies from Gifts for Me & You to our open day.

Helen and Wendy were working very hard in the weeks leading up to the event baking gorgeous cakes and sewing our patriotic bunting decorations. Our fab bunting was sewn by hand using a combination of plain and printed polycotton fabrics and edged with bias binding, it looks so wonderful that we have decided to leave it up in the shop for the duration of Euro 2016 and the Olympics! Here’s hoping that the outbreak of patriotism will bring good luck to our athletes and footballers and really give us something to celebrate this summer.  The cakes went down a treat with both staff and guests and we thought they were even good enough to rival Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday cake baked by the fabulous Nadiya Hussain of Bake Off fame.


These mini Victoria Sponge cakes went down a treat with our guests.


Our patriotic bunting.

I just love the Trooping the Colour ceremony and the special celebration held to mark the big day was just fabulous!  I love seeing the crowds lining the streets and the amazing Red Arrows display. The lime green outfit chosen by Her Majesty for her big birthday has been a big talking point and has very much divided opinion, I think she looked great. There was one little lady who managed to upstage the Queen on her big day and it was of course Princess Charlotte making her debut on the royal balcony and treating us to her very first royal wave! I can’t imagine that Charlotte’s great grandmother was too upset to be upstaged by such a cutie!


Who doesn’t love a good bargain?!

Our British Bonanza open day was such a success that we are already planning our next one which we hope to have in the diary before the end of the summer and also a gift fair around Christmas time. We are also very much looking forward to taking part in The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in support of Macmillan in September.

Watch this space for details of our next event…….




Tailoring Essentials from Calico Laine

We talk a lot about dressmaking for women but of course it is not only ladies who appreciate the unrivalled pleasure of handmade clothing. Mens tailoring has dominated the fashion scene since the days of Louis XIV or Louis le Grand, as he was sometimes known. Determined for France to become the most influential country in the world, fashion was one of many weapons in Louis’ armoury, the King of Fashion knew that image was of great importance. Today, more men than ever are coveting the classic English style of tailoring as key to projecting confidence and power in the workplace and all aspects of their daily lives.

Of course bespoke tailoring is a skilled trade and it takes a talented hand, such as the expert skill of Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant from The Great British Sewing Bee, using a combination of techniques to achieve the most flattering, comfortable fit, but by using the highest quality fabrics and haberdashery it is possible for any skilled dressmaker or sewer to achieve the sharp lines and contemporary design of bespoke tailoring at home. Many of our most popular dressmaking fabrics are perfect for creating a range of suits, shirts, overcoats, jackets and trousers for men.

Melton Fabric – similar in texture to boiled wool, Melton is a tight woven, woollen cloth which is often used for creating waistcoats, trousers and jackets suitable for wear during the coldest months of the year due to its density and wind resistant qualities. Melton is ideal for creating many of the on trend styles of winter coat including duffel coats, macs and pea coats. Composed of 80% Polyester and 20% Viscose our Melton Fabric is a warm fabric with a smooth finish making this a smart addition to your wardrobe.

Bi-Stretch Fabric – this is a versatile Fabric, ideal for creating a range of tailored items including trousers, jackets and suits. Bi-Stretch Fabric does not crease easily and requires little ironing making this the ideal choice for office wear, ensuring that you will still look smart and professional at the end of a long day of meetings and travel. Bi-Stretch is known for its hardwearing qualities, meaning that your items will last you for many years of professional wear.

Memphis Bi-Stretch – this is a superior quality fabric known for its ease of movement and non-creasing qualities making it the ideal choice for formal wear.

Jacquard Lining – lining is an important aspect to consider when creating any tailored garment. A good quality lining will protect your garments from unnecessary wear and tear whilst providing another layer of insulation against harsh weather conditions. The stunning, contemporary designs of Jacquard Lining will give your tailored items that extra designer touch.

Zips – having created your beautifully tailored piece, the last thing you want to be doing is replacing weak, poor quality zipsOur Nickel Trouser Zips are the perfect choice for trouser flies, with their strong nickel teeth making them ideal for heavier garments. Theses zips can also be used as pocket zips and can be cut to length.

Interfacing – to achieve the most professional finish for your tailored outfits, it is important to think about those finishing touches which may seem small but will make all the difference to the quality of finish and the life span of your garments. Interfacing is used to provide strength to your hems and edges of your garments and will prevent your hems from fraying. Interfacing can also be attached to buttonholes and necklines to prevent stretching and can be used on collars, cuffs and pockets.


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Skirting The Issue – know your skater from your skorts!

In todays blog post I am going to pay homage to one of my favourite pieces of clothing – the skirt. Skirts can be worn for any occasion including work and play and are a great way of smartening up your look. It can be daunting, attempting for the first time to incorporate skirts into your wardrobe, especially when the only skirts you are used to wearing are the polyester monstrosities of your school days! If you want to move away from jeans and a jumper on your days off but are unsure as to what style or length of skirt will suit you, hopefully these little tips will help you make an informed choice.

There are many different styles of skirt available so firstly, it is important to learn the difference and know your pencil skirt from your A-line:

Pencil Skirt – my favourite style of skirt, like it’s namesake, is a long, straight style of skirt which is usually tailored for a close fit. The pencil skirt normally falls just below the knee following the contours of the body for a flattering fit. The pencil skirt is particularly flattering on a classic hourglass figure but can certainly be worn by women of all the major body types. The most popular and flattering length of pencil skirt is one which sits just below the knee however, shorter women may wish to opt for a slightly short length above the knee. The pencil skirt is sexy and classy and can be worn in the office as part of a suit, with heels and a smart top for a sexy evening look or like Naya Rivera, team with a distressed leather jacket, biker boots and a baseball cap for an edgy rock chic look.


Naya Rivera teams her pencil skirt with cool accessories for a trendy look.

A Line – beginning at the hips and gradually widening toward the hem, as the name would suggest, gives this skirt the impression of the letter A. The term A-Line was first used by Christian Dior as the label for his Spring ’55 collection. The collection featured a fingertip length flared jacket worn over a dress with a full, pleated skirt and was referred to as “the most wanted silhouette in Paris”. Although this style did result in an “A” shaped silhouette it is not identical to what is now considered to be the ideal embodiment of the A-Line silhouette, the “Trapeze Line” popularised by Yves Saint Laurent in 1958 is closer to what we consider today to be A-Line. The A-Line skirt is considered to be the most flattering style of skirt as it cinches in the at the waist and gradually glides away from the thigh and hoop area, the area that most women wish to disguise.

Skater – this fashionable style of skirt has been on the radar for many years now and is fast becoming a classic. Versatile, trendy and universally flattering the skater skirt is fitted at the waist and flared out into an A-line silhouette, (reminiscent of a figure skating outfit—hence the name!) One of the best things about the skater is that it works in so many different fabrics making it ideal for any season. In summer, wear your skater skirt in flirty florals or bright neon fabrics paired with breezy blouses or a crisp white tee and in the winter, jersey fabrics are perfect for skaters to be paired with tights and a leather bomber for a casual daytime look.

Peplum – first popular in the 80s, the peplum made it’s fashion comeback in 2011 and remains as popular as ever season by season. The peplum is the ideal skirt for ladies with a triangle figure who wish to balance out wider shoulders. Wearing a peplum on your skirt is often more practical and flattering than on a blouse as a peplum blouse is sometimes unflattering for those of us who do not have a perfectly flat stomach. Some peplum skirts become narrower towards the bottom which will obviously create wider hip and thigh postures so if you are trying to avoid accentuating these areas choose a straighter style of skirt made from stretch dress fabrics.

Midi – ending anywhere from just below knee length to just above your able, the midi (or tea skirt as it is sometimes known). A midi can be worn in any fabric and is perfect for each season. During the cooler months, pair your midi skirt with a pair of knee high boots to avoid any exposed skin and when spring arrives team with flat pumps or sandals. The midi skirt is great for making your waist look smaller and your legs longer and can be worn for formal events with a smarter top or paired with a trendy t-shirt for an ultra hip look.

Skorts – not exactly a skirt as we know them, the skort is actually a pair of shorts with a fabric panel covering the front to resemble a skirt. The skort is not a new trend and was actually first developed in the sixties for female golfers who wanted to combine the freedom of shorts with the soft, feminine lines of a skirt. Skorts are normally very short in length so are more suited to ladies who are confident about their legs and wish to show off their tan and are most ideally paired with a stiletto or a pair of delicate, feminine sandals. The skort should not be confused with culottes which are wider and resemble a skirt more closely than the skort. Skorts are a great idea for those of you who do not wish to sacrifice style for practicality offering the feminine look of a skirt plus the comfort of shorts and are perfect for a hot summers day and are particularly useful for preserving your modesty in bluster conditions. It takes a brave soul to experiment with skorts, would you be willing to give it a go?


Sewing Tutorial – Springtime Maxi Dress

Ever since seeing the first daffodils of spring starting to make an appearance in the last few weeks I have started to think about my summer wardrobe. As much as I love my winter dressmaking projects such as duffel coats and jackets paired with thick tights and woolly jumpers, my favourite time of the year is definitely spring and summer. I get so excited when we take the first delivery of gorgeous summer florals which you may remember me talking about a week or so ago, there are so many lovely springtime items to be made from these lovely materials including lightweight tops and floaty tea dresses which are just perfect for a spring brunch or garden party. In the springtime I love to wear a lovely fitted cotton blouse with smart jeans, a pair of fabulous shoes and of course the obligatory sunglasses for a smart casual daytime outfit.

One of my favourite outfits for the summer is a cool maxi dress paired with a pair of flat gladiator sandals. This is an ultra cool look and is ideal for any summertime pursuits such as shopping, barbecues or relaxing in a beer garden. The beauty of the maxi dress is that you can cover up your legs until such a time that you have a nice enough tan to give you the confidence to bare them and as far as sun sense is concerned, the less of your skin on show during a hot summers day, the better! When the sun comes out it can be tempting to show as much skin as you can in order to keep cool but by keeping the direct glare of the sun’s rays away from your delicate complexion will result in you feeling much cooler and more comfortable. This year we have been selling lots of our jersey fabrics and we have some gorgeous summery patterns in stock within our range of printed jerseys. Jersey is a perfect fabric choice for maxi dresses. I particularly like our Bamboo Jerseys, these fabrics feel wonderfully soft against the skin and are naturally breathable enough to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. Lycra Jersey is a comfortable, 4-way stretch fabric which is very popular as a summer dressmaking fabric due to the fine gauge of the knit. Due to its element of stretch, Lycra Jersey is ideal for garments which require ease of movement such as the fitted skirt of a maxi.

What You’ll Need
– 2.5 metres of 150cm wide dressmaking fabric (we recommend fabrics such as our bamboo jersey, viscose jersey and lycra jersey)
– A cotton reel to match your fabric
– 1 metre of 1/2″ elastic
– A safety pin

Step One
Cut a strip of fabric about 0.5 wide by 1.5 metres wide. This will be the part that goes around your bust, so sew the short edges together to make a tube of fabric. Measure this around your bust and take your tube in as much as you need to, then cut off the excess when you are done. Adjust the width of the tube as well if you desire. Don’t hem either side yet.

Step Two
Take the remainder of your fabric (you should have 2 metres left) and sew the shorter edges together to make another tube of fabric. Don’t hem either side yet.

Step Three
You will need to gather one end of your tube down to about a metre long. You can do this using a gathering stitch on your sewing machine.

Step Four
Once you have gathered one edge of your bigger tube, sew the gathered edge to one edge of the smaller tube that you made earlier.

Step Five
Take your dress and fold the top edge of it in towards the inside once by about an inch. Sew this down and leave a small gap to thread your elastic into. Take your elastic and attach your safety pin to one end, then use the safety pin to thread the elastic through the gap and through the small tube that you just sewed (make sure to secure the second end of your elastic to something so that it does not disappear into the tube!). Once you have threaded your elastic all the way around your dress, sew the two ends of the elastic together and let them sit inside the tube. Finish your seam by sewing up the small gap that you left earlier.

Step Six
Try your dress on and mark where you want the length of it to end. Cut the excess off, then hem the edge. Your maxi dress is now finished!

If you like, you can add optional extras such as straps (either for function or decoration) and light embellishments – we do not recommend anything heavy, as this would distort the flow of the fabric in your dress, but if a little bit of sparkle is your style, a few acrylic jewels here and there won’t have any negative effect.


Have you ever made a maxi dress using any of our dressmaking fabrics? Take a photograph and upload it to our Facebook page – we love seeing what our customers come up with!


Knitting for Babies

Knitting for babies is one of the most joyful pastimes there is, whether you are knitting for your own impending arrival, a relative or an adored grandchild. Many of our customers find such joy in knitting for babies that even when there are no babies in their own families they may take up knitting for their local baby unit and even set up knitting circles to knit for charities. Although not a knitter myself I can understand what a massive feeling of pride and accomplishment one must feel seeing a tiny, beautiful new life wrapped up from head to toe in hats, cardigans and bootees crafted lovingly by your own knitting needles. Knitted gifts are a wonderful way of welcoming a new little member of your family and many items can be passed down through family members for many generations. Last week, my baby nephew was christened wearing a white shawl which I myself wore for my own christening celebrations when it was knitted by my own Nanna over 30 years ago!

Knitted gifts are the perfect choice for babies as they love the feeling of warmth and security that comes from swaddling their delicate skin in a cardigan or blanket, a soft, plush wool feels warm and comfortable on the delicate skin of a baby leaving them feeling safe and reminding them of the security of their mothers womb. Knitting is not something I have ever mastered myself however, my mum and my grandparents are all keen knitters and the children in our family have proudly sported handmade items lovingly knitted by grandmothers and great grandmothers for many generations. My baby nephew is still only a few weeks old and has a wardrobe bursting with hats, cardigans and bootees which have kept him warm and cosy during the last few chilly weeks.


This gorgeous “coming home” outfit was the talk of the hospital and he looked beautiful all tucked up and warm when he was brought home on a cold and frost January afternoon.

Having a browse through our gorgeous wool section and seeing all the lovely items on display it might be time for me to pick up a set of knitting needles and think about creating some gorgeous wooly winter items for my little boy.

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What To Wear To A Wedding!

It is around this time of year that we start seeing lots of brides to be coming into the shop to have a look at our new range of bridal fabrics but it is not only brides and bridesmaids who need to start thinking early on about what they will wear for their loved ones big day.  It can be difficult to get the balance right when deciding what to wear for a wedding, particularly a summer wedding when you wish to remain cool and stylish. Of course, the number one rule of any wedding is never wear white, you should always try and stay away from anything that is too short and clingy or revealing backless styles.

Last year, I attended a family wedding in July and if you remember it was the hottest summer we have had for quite some time so it was important for me to make something that was going to keep me cool and have me looking composed all day and night long. One of my favourite fabric ranges we stock is the Haute Couture range which includes some gorgeous Silk Devoire fabrics which are just perfect for creating a one of a kind piece for a special occasion and of course the benefits of working in a fabric store mean I never turn up anywhere wearing the same outfit as somebody else!

I love this design as it is loose and light meaning I stayed nice and comfortable all day and the fabric I chose was special enough that my outfit easily transitioned from the formal daytime reception to the evening party time! We stock this fabrics in a range of lovely designs and I have used them for many projects. I’m now patiently waiting for somebody else to announce their engagement so I have an excuse to get sewing with some more of these fabulous fabrics.


This dress is comfortable and cool for a summer wedding and is special enough to wear for a night time reception also.

Remember to join us on our other social media sites for more ideas and sneak peaks of our new fabrics and haberdashery products.


2014 Bafta Awards – Best and Worst Dressed

I love award shows and being a huge film fan I couldn’t wait to sit down in front of the BAFTAs last night. As much as I love films I was excited to see who would be taking home all of the big awards but I was even more excited to see what everyone would be wearing! I absolutely adored the dresses on the red carpet at the Golden Globes but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the fashion on display last night. I am not always a fan of Angelina Jolie’s fashion choices but last night in particular I was very disappointed with her outfit of choice. I love the androgynous style that has been big for a while now and when done correctly it can look fantastic but I felt that Angelina’s black tux was a little underwhelming for such an occasion and she may have carried off the outfit a little better had she put a bit more thought into her hair style, I find a sleek, neat up-do works much better with the androgynous trend.

I have to say one of my favourite outfits was Amy Adams’ stunning black gown by Victoria Beckham. I am used to seeing Amy on the red carpet in sparkling gowns and low necklines but last night she looked classy and stylish. One of my favourite new fashion icons is Lupita Nyong’o who has worn some stunning creations this awards season, she always look so classy and carries herself with such grace. Last night she wore an incredible in a Christian Dior gown in a stunning jade green with a fishtail hem and a gold belt which accentuated her amazing waist. For me, Lupita stole the fashion show.

I have a feeling that I will find myself rooting through our selection of dressmaking fabrics throughout this week to find something I can use to create my own version of her Lupita’s gorgeous gown, I’m thinking maybe a lovely duchess satin would work brilliantly. Now if only I had somewhere to wear it!!


Lupita Nyong’o was my best dressed at this years BAFTAs.

Tutorial – Skater Dress

Firstly, I will start by saying “Happy Valentines Day”! It’s been a busy few days for us in the shop with lots of our cards, glitter glues and ribbons selling out quickly as people tackle skater-dress-blmaking their own homemade gifts or decor to make this day extra special for their loved ones. Whilst we don’t make a big deal of Valentines Day in my house we do think it is still a great excuse to head out for a bite to eat. We will be stopping in at our favourite pub for a nice meal and a few drinks and whilst it will not be a particularly dressy occasion, I would still like to make a little bit of effort so, still being inspired by my figure skating post the other day, I have dug out my skater style dress that has been in the back of my wardrobe since summer. As I am still a fan of darker colours in the summer months, many of my dresses are in shades of black so paired with a pair of tights, ankle boots and a decorative scarf I have an outfit which will seamlessly convert from a flirty summer dress to a stylish winter outfit. A skater dress is a versatile piece which will become a staple in your wardrobe and your go to item for any last minute event. Here is how to make one yourself:

Step 1

Measure your waist and divide by 8; for example, a 36″ waist would result in 4.5″, and that’s what we will be using during this tutorial. You will also need to decide on the length of your skirt, for this project I will be going with a 25″ length.

Step 2

Fold your Fabric in half. Starting from one end, mark 26″ along the salvage, the reason we are marking 26″ is so that we have an inch to use for the hem of the skirt. From the end of the 26″, mark the 1/8 of your waist measurement that you just took; this is essentially the centre of your waist. Mark another 1/8 waist measurement, then another 26″.

Step 3

Using the centre measurement as a starting point, mark several points outwards at 4.5″. These should line up with the previous waist measurements that you marked to form a small semi-circle.

Step 4

Using the semi-circle you just marked out as a new starting point, mark several points outwards at 26″. This will create a much larger semi-circle and will line up with the previous 26″ measurements you marked earlier.

Step 5

Cut along the semi-circles that you have marked. Pin the straight edges together and sew (making sure to leave room for your zip!). Hem your skirt and, optionally, add a waistband; this is a strip of Fabric as long as your waist in your desired width.) Now the skirt portion of your dress is finished.

Step 6

Take your remaining fabric and fold it in half. Lay your shirt flat on top of the fabric, making sure that the stretch of the shirt and the stretch of the fabric go in the same direction. Mark out the edges of your shirt on your fabric, making sure to add an inch on all sides for seams and hems.

Step 7

Cut out your shirt pieces using the markings you just made as a guide. You should have two pieces, one for the front and one for the back. Pin the side edges together and sew using a zigzag stitch, then do the same with the shoulder edges. Try it on and make any needed adjustments to the neckline and armholes, and then hem both.

Step 8

Pin the bottom edge of the vest to the waistline of the skirt. Sew these together using a zigzag stitch. Hem your skirt for a finished look and your skater dress is ready to wear.

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