Perfect Fabric For Your Own Sewing Bee Souvenir Blouse


As soon as I saw Tilly’s random polka dot Sewing Bee Souvenir Blouse, I knew I had a swatch of the perfect fabric for an imitation/copy/homage. This is from Stone Fabrics, retailing at £7.95 a metre and it has a wonderful drape. Get some! (No, I am not on a retainer. I wish!) I have some of this in a red, blue and white colour way that I am definitely using on my second Mathilde blouse. Once I finish my Craftsy course. I’m a strict One-Project-At-A-Time woman.


As an aside, does anyone have tips for getting your washing machine’s fabric conditioner dispenser to actually dispense fabric conditioner? Mine seems to have packed up, despite a good clean, and I’m sick of my clothes and hair crackling with static electricity.

I bitterly regret ever getting rid of my top loading washing machine. (It went to an elderly lady via Freecycle, which felt like a good yin to the yang of receiving my first sewing machine from an elderly lady on Freecyle.) Top loaders seemed to fall out of fashion some decades ago – I guess when fitted kitchens became the rage – yet top loaders are absolutely brilliant workhorses and affordable. Maybe I’ll get another one…

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39 Responses to Perfect Fabric For Your Own Sewing Bee Souvenir Blouse

  1. debs2748 says:

    Provided you got the tube bit cleaned through then try topping up with a little water, diluting the fabric conditioner. They usually work on a syphon system and if not enough liquid then syphon won’t start.

  2. Rachel says:

    I am attempting to be a One-Project-At-A-Time woman, which is easier said than done when it’s so easy to be distracted by a beautiful fabric, or lovely new pattern!

    I have no advice for the washing machine, I’m sorry. My machine was a lovely freecycle-of-sort from a parishioner from my Mom’s church, and my old sewing machine just got picked up yesterday and is now in New York City getting a fresh start with a family friend of my in-laws who wants to learn to sew! I told her it was all her IF she promises to send me pictures of what she makes!

  3. annabelvita says:

    Oooh lovely fabric!

    I’d try sticking a cup of vinegar in there, leave it for a bit and then run the wash. It’s meant to work like softener anyway!

    • Pat says:

      I don’t own a dryer and I can attest to the fact that vinegar works like a charm. I made the mistake of using fabric softener on fabric that I was trying to fuse interfacing to and it would not fuse. I called Pellon and they said fabric softener cannot be used with their product. Lesson learned.

  4. Susie says:

    I stopped using fabric softener — I also use vinegar as a substitute for softener, as I got tired of constantly cleaning out the “gunk” that built up in the machine. Hot water works well — pour in several cups of hot water. If you can remove the dispenser and take it to the sink and soak it in hot water that’s even better.

    Wish I could watch the sewing bee here in the U.S. I may have to look for it. Seems so refreshing compared to our “reality” TV!

    • MarrieB says:

      It’s on YouTube! It is so much better than our U.S. ‘reality’ TV. There are no annoying recaps, and the program is actually an hour long.

  5. CGCouture says:

    I’d use vinegar to clean the fabric softener dispenser and put a wad of aluminum foil (here’s hoping it has the same name over there!) in the dryer to help with the static. Not sure why it works, but it seems to! And you can reuse the same wad for quite a few loads–then toss it in the recycle bin. 🙂

  6. raquel from florida says:

    I’m like the other ladies here: white vinegar for my towels, and very diluted fabric softener for the rest (I mix like a third of the recommended quantity with two thirds of water in the bottle cap, not the actual dispenser). To clean the dispenser I only use a plastic container with hot water from the tap and a plastic scrub, that’s it. I need a new washer and dryer because I’m moving. My husband wanted a front loader washer but I said no way Jose!

  7. Sam says:

    Like several others, I’d run the machine through a cycle with just a cup of white vinegar. My machine suffered similar problems and the vinegar seemed to sort it out.

  8. Lovely fabric. I too have problems with softener clogging the machine. I remember we had a top loader at home many moons ago it was in the bathroom of all places and shook like mad when it came to spinning ! I was fortunate to visit Stone Fabrics last year, its a fabulous Aladdin’s cave of fabrics. Well worth a visit if visiting Totnes. Totnes is a lovely town fulll of independant shops and well worth a visit if in that part of Devon.

    • My top loader was in the bathroom, too! I think it makes perfect sense. Why are we dragging our dirty laundry downstairs to the washing machine?!

    • Alice says:

      Oh my goodness…a. I hadn’t seen Stone Fabrics before and they have archival print Liberty and b. I’ve just read above that it’s in Totnes, my favourite place to go when I’m visiting my Aunt in Plymouth. And I just applied for a job at Plymouth Uni. Eeeek…they could be getting a lot of new business! 🙂

  9. Nona Schaler says:

    My appliance repair man told me to dilute any fabric softener with an equal amount of water. It lessens the ability to pack in the small crevices of the dispenser, and the clothes are still soft with no static cling. I haven’t had a problem since I started doing this. Good Luck, and thanks taking the time to organize the e-book on Bound Buttonholes!


  10. Another Lauren says:

    I’ve ended up buying a front loader despite growing up with top loaders: despite the longer wash times, I was attracted by the water and soap efficiency, and that they are gentler on clothes (I can wash woolens in it without them getting all stretched out). And in my experience, top loaders were even worse for getting clogged up with softener. Don’t have any advice re cleaning out the fabric conditioner drawer sorry, beyond what others have suggested above. I’ve started using an eco branded fabric conditioner here and it doesn’t seem to clog up nearly as much, in part, I suspect, because it’s of a thinner consistency: once you get your drawer clean, that might help?

  11. Awfulknitter says:

    I second the recommendation for hot water to clean out your fabric softener dispenser. Mine comes out of its drawer altogether, and I try to give it a rinse after every use – this really helps. I haven’t tried the vinegar trick (although I do put it down the drains to stop pongs!) but I’ve seen it recommended in lots of other places.

  12. Thistle says:

    How do you like the Couture Dress class? I’ve been thinking about trying it, and I have some nice wool in my stash… I know nothing about washing machines, but I’m sure that everyone who has mentioned vinegar is right, because vinegar fixes everything (or nearly everything, anyway)!

  13. Louise says:

    Hiya Karen!
    I’m so glad you recommend watching the Couture Dress course. I’ve been enrolled for about a year now and not managed to get started. So I just started watching for fun for now this evening and I really like her presenting style! It’s so good to watch and I’ve already picked up a few tips 2 lessons in!
    Hope yours is coming along nicely!
    I really do like your fabric choice up there ^^. Luverley!
    Louise x

  14. Tania says:

    Sounds like you’ve taken the drawer out and given it good clean?
    I’m wondering if you might have a blocked water tube above the conditioner drawer section? All the washing machines I’ve had have had three sections to the drawer and a tube of water above each one, activated individually depending on which part of the cycle the machine is in.
    I’d pop the machine on a quick one-rinse cycle, and carefully open the drawer so you can check the water is squirting into the conditioner dispenser, rather than one of the other sections. (I can open my current washer drawer fully without any leaking, but you might want a towel handy!) If you don’t have a quick rinse cycle, you’ll need to hover around the machine til you know it’s on the final what-should-be-conditioner-adding-rinse part of the cycle!
    If the water isn’t coming through properly you could try scrubbing clean the water inlet above the conditioner section, but if it’s an internal blockage you’ll need a service… Pah! Good luck! 🙂

  15. Charlotte says:

    I’ve just signed to Stone Fabric’s Cloth Club and arrived home to a lovely parcel of swatches today. The fabric you’ve mentioned caught my eye too!

  16. I made my Mathilde in a polka dot fabric! Excellent choice.

  17. Katrina says:

    I never use fabric softener. I only use plain white vinegar with maybe a few drops of lavender oil for a nice smell – it’s good for your machine, your clothes, your wallet and your health.

    • I’m curious – do you put the vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser?

      • Katrina says:

        Yes put it directly in the dispenser as you would fabric softener – I just fill it right up, add a few drops of lavender oil or mix it up in advance with 4:1 vinegar: bi carb soda or just plain vinegar is perfect. Your towels won’t feel the same but you probably use a dryer in the UK so that will add softness. A few washing machine technicians & older friends have told me never to use fabric softener – it clogs your machine, ruins your microfiber cloths and will ruin your towels eventually.

  18. Paola says:

    I’ve just changed over from a top loader to a front loader, and I would never go back. Careful what you wish for!

  19. Rachel says:

    I feel exactly the opposite to you about top loaders; I think front loaders are so much better. In oz top loaders are still fairly popular, and they use SO MUCH more water and are rougher on your clothes.

  20. Ruth says:

    If the worst comes to the worst, call an engineer. Repairs can be surprisingly cheap (compared to a new machine).

  21. AnotherKaren says:

    Operation Fabric Conditioner Dispenser:

    Quick job: wrap paper towel around a matchstick or broken bamboo knitting needle. Poke around the hole that dispenses the fabric conditioner. Round and round and round to get out as much gunk as possible. Pour hot water into hole and repeat.

    Proper job:
    1. Lift drawer gently and wiggle it out. May need to tug if it’s really bunged up.
    2. Take drawer to sink and scrub, scrub, scrub.
    3. Look inside the gap where the draweer used to be. Faint!
    4. Put on rubber gloves and start removing all that slime, black mould and jelly. Scrub, scrub, scrub.
    5. Let it dry before replacing sparkling clean drawer.
    6. Run the machine at a hot wash without washing liquid or conditioner.
    Job done. Repeat every five years or annually, if you must. .

    Prevention: keep the drawer open for a while after every wash, so that it is not so damp.

    I thank you (Bows and walks off)

  22. LinB says:

    I put a drop or two of liquid fabric softener in the dryer, not the washer — put the softener either on an old clean rag that you reserve for this process, or directly onto a garment on its way out of the washer and into the dryer (I usually opt for a sock). Gives you more softener than you’d get on a commercial dryer sheet, for less cash. My current bottle of softener has lasted over a year.

  23. I switched back to a top loader when my front loader needed a repair that would cost $400! I spent $200 on a used machine from Craigslist and I have been very happy with it. The clothes get cleaner, but no doubt the agitator is rough on them. I’m bagging anything delicate and handwashing more. IMO, fabric softener is an unnecessary petro-chemical that we are better off avoiding. My husband and son would probably like scented, softened laundry, but I’m in control here!

  24. Polly Pierce says:

    regarding your fabric conditioner dispensing problems I’d definitely suggest the vinegar option, preferably white! That should clean everything out and it makes for a cheap, effective fabric softener/whitener too. apparentlY the smell is washed away!

    I haven’t used this myself as I seldom find it necessary to use the stuff, despite loving it a hard water area.

  25. Lady ID says:

    I had a front loader that I gave up when I moved and I LOVED it. Now I have a top loader and I really do not like it. The agitator takes up precious room and things wrap around it but it’s what I have so I will be grateful. I am thinking of doing more hand washing now though.

    I don’t use a separate liquid fabric softener but I have used vinegar once in a while. I also use the softener dryer sheets.

  26. Erin says:

    I loathe fabric softener. Too many chemicals! I use home made wool felted dryer balls. It is much friendlier to te environment ad your pocket book.

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