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Simplicity Sweater 8529 by Jo

In the wintertime, I for one, crave comfort. Ok, ok, all the time, I crave comfort. On my list for this winter was a super soft sweatshirt for everyday, and this one delivers. 
The pattern is Simplicity 8529, which is a slightly different version of the famous Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven, as licensed by Simplicity. The differences, I believe, are a drop shoulder, standard Simplicity sizing (I went a full size down, because it’s quite boxy anyway, and I always find Big 4 patterns to be roomier than their indie counterparts), and in addition to this shorter, half-funnel neck, there’s a crew neck as well. I also really like the larger funnel neck and raglan sleeves in the indie version, and would love to make that sometime. For me, the interesting neckline gives it just that little difference from something off the rack, but the star of the show here is this utterly beautiful French Terry fabric by Atelier Brunette. I can’t properly describe to you how soft it is. It’s luscious. Like a very fancy baby blanket. Or…the baby.
It’s not quite a turtleneck, but much cozier than a boatneck. It’s like wearing the most luxurious cozy pyjamas, all day. 
It’s also a really quick make! Mine came together over the course of an evening, after putting my kids to bed, including cutting. I decided that with this boxy shape, I would quite like it cropped, so I cut the main pieces to just below my natural waist. With the hem band, it sits slightly above high hip. I’ve been wearing it with thrashed mom-jeans to playdates and whatnot, but what it reminds me of most of all is those ridiculously expensive savasana sweatshirts you see from upmarket yoga boutiques. Where you’re like, “whoa, this sweatshirt is £100, but it’s literally the nicest sweatshirt I’ve ever seen.” And then have an existential crisis about overpriced yoga clothes. But still kinda want it. Well, now I can make it and not hate myself or go broke in the process! Sewing for the win! 
In terms of details, I sewed this sweatshirt entirely on my overlocker (no twin-needle hemming! Hurray!), and have only one niggle with the instructions; they have you folding over the neckline before sewing the shoulder seams. This means that the overlocked edge comes all the way to the opening at the neck, and a visible overlocked edge, even if just barely visible, is just a personal dislike of mine. Next time (and oh, there will be a next time), I will try sewing the shoulder seams first, then tacking the fold down by hand, seam allowance to seam allowance. Possibly less hard wearing, but then I get a completely clean finish. 
I honestly would make this again, exactly as is, in a different colorway. Or maybe try the other neckline. Matching lounge pants as well, perhaps? After all, I could swim in this fabric!
Thanks again for reading my guest post. Jo xx 

Butterick 6351 Pattern Review by Maria

Buying patterns that are versatile makes me feel like I'm getting value for money. Butterick Pattern 6351 provides value with two dress styles and a jumpsuit. This pattern is a bit challenging and I'll walk you through its challenges.
The positives are the two dress styles and a jumpsuit as well have the open overlay back. This is an 'on trend' feature that is a nice to have. These styles offer pockets, pleats and gathers for summer style fabrics.
I’ve made this pattern 4 times (2 dresses and 2 jumpsuits) and this review is about the second dress style I made.
Initial style adjustments
When it comes to a choice between a basic round neckline or redrafting v-neckline, I prefer a v-neckline. The basic round neckline works if you haven’t redrafted a neckline before. I’ll show you how to redraft the neckline.
This pattern offers A/B, C and D cups. I chose the C cup as I can vary from a B to C cup from time to time. The other reason I chose the C cup is because our Summers can be brutally hot and humid so having more air flow in the bodice is worthwhile.
I saw a review of this pattern where the back waistband was changed for flatter shaping so I’ll show you how to do this as well.
A note of caution. On the dress, the back waistband uses elastic for shaping. The dress style also instructs you to add a side zipper. If you make the dress this way, closing the zipper with an elastic waistband puts too much stress on the zipper. It's the nightmare feature of the dress style.
In fact the jumpsuit doesn’t use a side zipper so if you make the dress and keep the elastic waistband, my advice is don’t use the zipper. Simply sew the side seams closed.
I’ll show you what to do if you do decide to include the side zipper. I had to come up with a solution for the first dress version I made.
The Fabric
This dress uses Minerva Crafts 'Floral & Birds Print Cotton Dress Fabric Black on Beige'. The bodice is lined with a matching lining and these two fabrics work well in the Summer heat. I've worn this dress a few times now that it's super comfortable.
The floral and birds fabric is 100% cotton and is a good broadcloth. By good I mean it washes well; irons nicely; sews easily and the fabric is opaque so you really don't need to line the skirt. I didn't line the skirt and didn't need to line the skirt. The bodice is lined as the pattern suggests.
I made view A with the straight skirt. I'm not the right height to wear view C and View B.
The test dress was so lovely to wear but this broadcloth fabric would have looked very bulky if I had used the gathers at the back of the skirt waistband.
The Bodice
Shoulders: Shoulder placement is one of the first adjustments I do.
My shoulder are forward sloping so on the bodice pattern pieces I remove 2cm length from the front shoulder seam height and extend the height of the back shoulder seam.
As this style has a sleeveless bodice, there’s always the likelihood the armholes are a bit too wide. Once I made the test version of this dress, I took out just under 2cm from the back bodice armhole. There was some gaping on the test dress. On this final dress, I've eliminated this by folding out the excess, and I still have room to move my arms.
Bust adjustments: This pattern comes with a few cup sizes so I had no reason to do a full cup adjustment. I shorten the bust dart by 2cm in length and it now matches my bust shape.
Neckline: V-necklines are more flattering for me that a high round neckline, so the first thing I did was create a v-neckline on the paper pattern. (include measurement details and pictures). The new neckline is now 11cm lower than the pattern's neckline.
Front bodice length: From time to time, commercial patterns are a touch too long. I removed 1.5cm at the waist so the bodice sat at my natural waistline.
Back bodice opening: This style is an on trend feature of this pattern.
To ensure the back bodice opening is secure, the pattern requires two buttons at the top of the bodice.
If you're uncertain about the back bodice opening, add a snap at the base of the back bodice so it sits more securely.
This back bodice opening makes it easy to get out of with the jumpsuit but it's just as worthy of using for the dress too. Especially if you want to eliminate the side zipper.
The other thing I did was to lower the back bodice opening but tracing the bodice opening curve 2 cm lower that the pattern suggests.
Bodice finishing: There's a bit of hand sewing to secure the front bodice lining to the skirt. I've you're not into hand sewing, I suggest using pins to secure the lining and then stitching in the ditch from the front waistline.
Pockets: I must say the pockets on this skirt are very flattering.
I lowered the waist at the centre front by 4cm. This again ensures the dress waistline sits at the right part of my body. This adjustment also makes the skirt hang more level to the floor.
Skirt hem: The skirt hem was shortened by 6cm but I made this adjustment at the widest part of my hips on the pattern. Making the adjustment at the hips allows me to keep the hem shape as provided.
I have a sway back so I normally make an adjustment on the back skirt but I was able to add darts to the top of the back skirt to make it fit my curves.
If you're looking for a versatile Summer pattern that has some 'on trend' features, try Butterick 6351. It has a few style options and three bust cup variations that suits a few body shapes, if you're keen.

Stylecraft Candy Swirl Yarn Review by Tina

Hello my name is Tina from Simply in Stitches. I have loved knitting since I was a child and on my YouTube channel and blog I share the items I have made. I'm a garment knitter mostly as I love having a me made wardrobe as I sew also. I was so pleased to be offered the new Candy Swirl Yarn Cake by Stylecraft to review. I have used Stylecraft yarn many times before and they are very well respected especially by crochet fans. The Stylecraft Special DK is a firm favorite and this Candy Swirl cake is in the same series. 
Candy Swirl is a 150g (443m) of DK weight 100% acrylic yarn making it machine washable and suitable to tumbledry on cool. This makes it ideal for blankets and items for children such as toys. It is recommended for a 4mm hook or needle as you expect for DK yarn. It looks beautiful in the swirl and would make a beautiful gift for a knitter as 150g is plenty to make a shawl or other small project. There are patterns available for the yarn cake which include shawls, cushions and throws. Any DK pattern can be used so if you have a favorite shawl pattern it would be idea.
The yarn cake comes in a wide range of gorgeous colours. I chose the brightest one. The Apple sour colour way is pink, green and turquoise. A very fun and happy colour for the project I had in mind. The other colours available are Very berry a mix of blues and burgandy, Fruit salad which is the colour of the sweets beautiful pink, yellow and lime. Coconut ice is a sophisticated blends of tonal grey and pink. Strawberry Taffy is a more vibrant pallet of pinks. Blue berrygum is tones of lovely blues. Sugar plum is for the purple lovers with rich tones of purple and Liquorice is mix of greys going to black. It is important to note that the cake is not a gradient which was disappointing. A lot of the yarn cakes slowly merge into the next colour but the Stylecraft Swirl is a definite stripe. 
I wanted to use the yarn for some blanket squares as I knit for the charity. It is the perfect yarn being lovely and soft to the touch and easy care washing. The most popular way to use the yarn is for a shawl as you have the interest of colour changes without the ends to weave in that knitters dislike so much. I thought I would try crocheting a square. I am new to crochet and wanted to practice and thought squares would be perfect to improve my skills or lack of. I found the Candy Swirl cake yarn lovely to use in hand and easy to crochet with. Some grip but smooth and easy to manage. I used a 4mm hook as recommended and the square had a lovely texture and thickness to it that would be ideal for a blanket to snuggle up in. 
Unfortunately my enthusiasm for crochet finished there and I returned to my first love, knitting. Once again I used 4mm needles and knitted the squares corner to corner for some interest in a very basic pattern. I had a lot of fun thinking of different ways to make the squares different each time. The great thing about yarn cakes is that someone has already found great colour combinations for you so you can do whatever you like with the yarn knowing that the end result will have a harmonious colour pallet.
I think the best use for the Stylecraft Candy Swirl cake is a shawl or blanket where you just knit or crochet your way through the cake enjoying all the colour changes. It would be a fantastic travel or easy project when you don't have to look at a pattern you can just enjoy the process. I loved using all the colours and it is the type of yarn I will use every scrap of. 
I hope you have enjoyed my review and have found it useful. It was my first time using a yarn cake and I will be using one again I'm sure. I will also consider them when I am looking for a gift for a knitting friend as they are so pretty.  
Thanks for reading,
Tina @ Simply in Stitches

Sway Back Adjustment with Claire-Louise Hardie

This adjustment is the one that makes the most difference to at least 50% of my dressmaking students. What is a sway back and how do you know if you need a sway back adjustment?
If you often find that there are folds or extra fabric pooling around the waistline on the back of your clothes, then a sway back may fix this. Essentially if the centre back is too long between the shoulders and the hip, this can be caused by a flat bum, or a backward tilted pelvis. A sway back adjustment essentially shortens the centre back of the garment between the shoulders and hips.
Note: Not all pooling at the back of your garment is a sway back issue. These are a couple of fit issues that may mis-diagnose a sway back.
1) The waist sits too high all the way around both the front and the back. In this case you need to shorten the torso all the way around.
2) The side seams tilt forward and the front waist rides up too. In this case you may need to adjust the width on the front of the bodice to allow for a full bust.
3) You have a delicious full booty. This can cause the skirt to ride up into the waist becasue there's not enough width around the hips. Try adding a little extra into the centre back seam of the hip area.
How to Apply a Sway Back Adjustment to a Bodice or One Piece Dress
This adjustment is essentially a narrow dart / wedge being taken out from the centre back to the side seam just above the waistline. On some pattern brands like Palmer Pletsch, the position will be marked.
One way to approach this is to do a tissue fit. If the centre back is not hanging down straight, i.e. it swings to the side, then pinch a small tuck at the CB about 1 inch above the waistline.
Once you lay the pattern flat, measure how much you want to lose at the centre back. You can get rid of the excess either by pinning out a dart like wedge from the CB to the side seam or by slashing from the CB to the side seam and over lapping. You'll then need to true up the sides and the centre back.
You'll now notice that the vertical lines like the darts, grain-lines are now no longer straight. Simply re-draw by placing a ruler in line with the ends and drawing a new straight line.
If your centre back seam is on a fold, you'll need to straighten up the centre back seam line, as the sway back creates a curved line that can't be placed on the fold. Use a ruler to straighten the centre back.
The final step is to true up the hemline which may have become too short at the back. Use a ruler to square up the new hem line.
Applying a Sway Back Adjustment to a Skirt or the Bodice of a Waisted Dress
The same principle applies to a skirt or the bodice of a dress with a waist seam. Sometimes the side seams of a skirt don't hang straight indicating a sway back is needed, or the back of the waistline sits too high. Instead of removing the dart shape, you're merely removing a triangular wedge along the top of a skirt or the waist of a dress bodice. You may find it helps to tie some elastic around your waist to work out this adjustment.

Burda Young Shirt in Lady McElroy Flora Songbird

This month I was offered some lovely fabric from Minerva crafts, Lady McElroy Flora Songbird Cotton Poplin Fabric in jade was the one I chose with the option to make up a pattern I own. 

One of my personal favourites is the Burda Young Shirt Pattern 6849, I have made it before and know it to be a lovely fit and style. When my fabric arrived I loved the pattern instantly and the soft feel was suited to holiday wear, with my shirt pattern I had the idea to turn it into a shirt dress. This is something that is on my ‘to make’ list for this year so that fitted the bill perfectly.

It only needs a little tweaking to do this so should you decide to purchase this pattern you can do the same. All you need to do is lengthen the shirt pieces where it is marked on the pattern ‘lengthen or shorten here’. It is already a long line shirt so it skims the hips, just follow the line down and I allowed it to taper out just on a little A-line. You need to remember you will also have to lengthen the button panels to match your chosen length.

The next adjustment I made was to shorten the sleeves, the only reason I opted for short sleeves was because I didn’t order enough fabric for a dress version of this pattern. You could keep the long sleeves or if you would like to shorten them like I did just lay on your pattern piece and decide on a length. Again this is easy as there is a lengthen or shorten line to follow.

The fabric was lovely to work with, no fray which is always a bonus and a nice amount of give for easing when working on sleeves etc. I would suggest taking care when working with pins that you don’t mark the fabric and use the correct needles.

I really enjoyed working on this fabric and I am going to take a look at the other designs, having made this dress from the shirt pattern I feel there will be more to come. 

I decided to keep the shirt shape at the bottom but you could cut straight across depending on your preference. I also kept the shoulder seam topstitching as it adds to the finish but didn’t add the front shoulder panels, this is optional on the shirt pattern.

I hope this post has been useful in showing you how you can adapt a pattern to create more garments. The pattern is easy to follow and the adjustments easy to implement just take your time and have a clear mind about what you would like to achieve. 

The Lady McElroy fabric was very forgiving when I needed to ease my collar in place, just remember to go lightly on the pins. I find sometimes a bit of light tacking can be useful with a fine needle just to make things stay put while you machine. 

There will definitely be a few more of these dresses appearing in m y wardrobe this year. Thank you Minerva crafts for the fabric.

Dianne @ Sewing Green Lady


Vogue 1559 Sewing Pattern Review by Nicky

It was great to be given the chance to try out and review one of this seasons Vogue Sewing Patterns as Vogue is one pattern company I haven’t used before.

I choose V1559 as I liked the classic button through shirt dress style with its unique designer touches of being off the shoulder and the separation of the sleeves from the bodice.

We can all find a place in our wardrobe for a denim dress so having looked though the fabrics I decided on this glittery Denim Fabric, which has a small percentage of stretch, and took advantage of Minerva’s thread matching service so I would have the correct shade at hand straight away. However I found with the amount of topstitching I should have ordered two.

The design shows contrast fabric panels in the bodice and for the waistband but as this fabric already had the glitter I decided to keep it all the same.

Now for the cutting out, I have never used a pattern with as many pattern pieces! Thirty in total and twenty of them to be cut in interfacing as well.

Comparing my measurements to the finished garment measurements I graded between sizes to gain the best fit. I’m glad I used the finished garment measurements as a guide as using the patterns body measurements it would have suggested making a size bigger at all points and the dress would have turned out much to big.

With lots of pattern pieces of course there are a lot of instructions. I found these to be very clear and well written so the dress was easier to construct than I first expected. But as the pattern suggests it is more suited to an intermediate sewer rather than a beginner.

With this dress there is a lot of top stitching detail so I used chalk to mark lines where needed and took my time to get a neat finish.

The final steps included a lot of hand-stitching the linings down so the inside looks as good as the outside.

And adding the seventeen buttons! I choose to use jeans buttons so got to hammer those on instead.

This dress is definitely not a quick make but is worth all the effort. There are so many little steps to the construction that I would advise you to fit regularly during construct as it would be difficult to alter some parts once finished.

The dress made up pretty true to the finished measurements stated but I hadn’t taken into account my small shoulders and arms so I had to adjust the shoulder band. I could have possibly shortened the sleeves slightly too.

Overall I love my new dress and really enjoyed using a Vogue pattern. It is one to take your time with but following the detailed instructions helps get a more professional finish. I will be back looking at the rest of the Vogue range now.

Happy Sewing :)

Nicky @ Sew N Snip


Colette Sewing Planner Review by Wendy

Remember as a child how excited to you would get in September when you got your planner for the new school year? 
Or maybe you are someone who would get excited when given a new diary in January? Oh to experience the thrill of those empty pages and a whole year of adventures yet to come!
Well, reader, as an adult I still feel exactly that way. I love planning, organising, setting goals and, crucially, I really  love stationery.
I have had my eye on the Colette Sewing Planner for a while now and when Minerva Crafts asked me if I would like to review a copy, I’m not ashamed to say, I did a little happy dance. 
Organise my sewing plans within a cute little book? Yes please!
Lets get one thing clear here. You don’t need the Colette Sewing Planner to organise your sewing. A plain notebook would do. Or there are plenty of other sewing planners available - some which are downloadable and  free of charge.
But I am here to tell you I have tried them all. No exaggeration. What can I say, I am an organisation geek and I love planners.
I have tried them all and can say with authority that the Colette Sewing Planner is my absolute favourite.
Let me show you mine and how I use it to get the most out of it. 
The planner is a hard back, wire bound book, with sections for you to plan out your handmade wardrobe for the spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons.
It starts with  a section on style and favourites, where you can make notes on your own particular style and what clothes fit your lifestyle.
There are also inspiration, colour and goal setting pages to help you get an idea of what you might like to make and what you want to prioritise. 
I don’t really wear many prints and this is an area I quite fancy exploring on 2018, so my inspiration page is full of prints that I am drawn too.
The colour palette page is one that I am going to find really useful in planning a cohesive wardrobe. I have broken down my palette into main colours, neutrals and accent colours. Sticking to these colours helps me because I know that they suit me, they generally work with everything else in my wardrobe and that stop me from getting too overwhelmed when buying new fabric. But there are no rules here, the beauty of this planner is that you get to do whatever works for you.
Then we get to the project pages, which are the ones I love the most. Over two facing pages you have a page of boxes to fill in all the details about your project and a blank page to sketch out your design.
Here is where you can add information on the pattern, the size, the fabric. You can keep track of what supplies you need and those you already have. There is space for a fabric swatch and for any notes on customisation.
I’m very much a visual person so I love to sketch out my projects as part of my plans. If you are not very confident sketching, the book has a selection of body templates (of varying shapes and sizes) that you could trace off.
I like to have sketches of my current works-in-progress pinned to my notice board above my sewing machine to keep me motivated. So, rather than drawing them out twice, I have decided to tape these drawings to my planner when the garments are completed. Flicking through these project pages really makes me smile - I can’t wait to look back on it all at the end of the year.
The Colette Sewing Planner is not just a book to plan out your sewing; it is an organisational tool, a reference book, and inspiration source and a diary.
I seriously don’t know how I managed without it for so long.

Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker Review by Teena

When Minerva Crafts offered for me to try out the Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker, I couldn’t resist. For a long time I have wanted to make Bear and Boo a pretty little clip. Why? Well I always struggle to find anything that matches their Indian outfits. So this was my chance to make them something unique, made by me. 
The Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker comes in a simple package with some instructions on the back. My initial thought was that it is a straightforward tool to use, and the rose should not take too long to make. And I was not wrong. The Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker also comes with a bobby pin/hair grip, which I thought was to make the rose into a hair accessory, but it’s actually to help make the rose itself. A simple tool but so important. 
The versatility of this tool allows you to use any fabric you desire, which for my goals is perfect. I could create any rose I wanted from any fabric. For this product review I chose a silk dupion, matching the girls’ outfit. Plus the fabric itself has some body to it so the rose looked effective. 
The tool is made with a plastic coating which is so clever, because it means that you can use the rose maker time after time. And, that means I don’t have to search frantically for matching hair accessories because I can make my own.
My initial thoughts were that the rose maker is easy, just two strips and a bobby pin. There are instructions on the back of the packaging, these, I would say are a quick guide. The more detailed instructions are inside, and these are much more easy to follow and understand. There are great pointers/hints which help you get the desired rose.
So I set myself the challenge to make one small rose. I began by cutting the fabric to the recommended size, then placed the inner and outer pattern again as per the instructions. They even tell you which way round to place the fabric.  Once the pattern was pinned it was time to start stitching the rose. 
The initial folds for me were the trickiest, it was all about getting used to the pattern, and making sure that the fabric did not fold into the pattern. My advise would be to stitch as close to the pattern as possible. This way you can keep all excess fabric away. A running stitch was used all the way until the “stop” sign.
Removing the patterns again is easy, the outer pattern should just slip away. It is the inner pattern, that I should have paid more attention to, it was stuck inside what is a tube. So I carefully held the opposite end of the tube and gently tugged the pattern out. Now at this stage the tube is inside out, I had missed one of the hints in the instructions on what to do to turn the turn fabric. So note to self next time round: read the instructions fully first and then make…Well I was too excited to start.
I made small gatherings and then twisted the tube to form a rose pattern, stitched the ends to the centre of the rose.
And ta-da! One small cute rose. I’d say it’s not bad for a first attempt.
Would I recommend this tool? Absolutely. It is so easy to use. Now that I have made my first one I know exactly what to do to make my next, a lot more rose looking and quicker.

Sew Your Style by Aimee

The Dress Shirt Sewing Pattern has been on my radar since I started making my own clothes a couple of years ago. Everything from the Merchant & Mills stable exudes quality and an understated style I’ve long admired. But the recurring question I couldn’t escape, ‘Is it me?’ prevailed and the project remained at arm’s length.
Until a few month’s ago, when Vicki from Minerva Crafts invited me to join their Bloggers Network. Like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, I gazed at the bounty of patterns and fabrics on offer and found myself returning to the silhouette so artfully portrayed on the pattern envelope. And that’s when I realised that I’d been unduly influenced by the designer’s aesthetic - the effortless chic of crumpled linen in muted hues wasn’t going to cut if for me. 
I’ve had a strong sense of style from an early age - eschewing fashion trends in preference for vintage magpie finds in charity shops. But sometimes the presentation of a design can be so powerful, that it’s hard to see yourself in the picture. Unless you’re lucky enough to find the hook that brings it all together, which in my case was this glorious Cotton Poplin Fabric. I’m still finding my feet when it comes to fabric types and handling this material was quite revelatory with it’s dense durable weave and crease resistant properties.
One of the reasons I didn’t jump on the dress shirt wagon earlier, is a concern that the shape would look sack-like on my bottom heavy frame. You’ve got to work with what you’ve got and I tend to opt for styles which accentuate my waist and mask everything below. Mindful that a generous amount of ease at bust and waist as well as hip would not flatter my form, I used the finished measurements as a guide and cut on a size 10. 
Pattern construction starts with the bib - a feature which many have chosen to highlight with contrasting fabric and optional edge stitching. I did prevaricate on this score, as the stitching is such a defining feature of the dress. However, I shifted my mind away from images of beautifully crafted interpretations I’d seen and concentrated on my own vision. I complimented the busy print with a barely discernible seam, which draws the eye to the overall shape, rather than its constituent parts.
The dress shirt is pitched at advanced beginner level, necessitating a few skills which could stump a complete novice. I almost came unstuck by ignoring basic pattern markings when attaching the bib to the dress front. Although I had notched the pattern pieces at the outset, I proceeded to ignore these guides and the pinned seam was completely mismatched. On my second attempt, I fully recognised the importance of those strategically placed markers and took my time easing in the bulk between them. I was aided in a few wisdoms I’ve picked up along the way - placing the bigger curve nearest to you, pinning on the seam line and utilising the bubble method to distribute fullness.
Sampling is something I have often overlooked in my haste to complete a garment but I’ve come to appreciate the value in taking my time to achieve a finish I’m happy with. Whilst I practised overlocking that curve on a scrap of calico, I still didn’t manage to get my stitches hugging the edge quite as I would’ve liked. Hopefully I’ll pick up some tips next month when I pop along to an overlocker masterclass at the Janome Centre in Stockport. 
Anyway, back to the pattern - did I say how beautifully presented the instructions are? The hand drawn illustrations are elegant in their simplicity but no amount of style can make up for the horrors I discovered at the top of page 4  - my sewing nemesis …. GATHERS. I’d completely missed this feature, being swayed by the design lines on the front view. I wasn’t going to jump ship this far into a project, so I gritted my teeth and got on with the task in hand. I really should take the time to perfect this technique but that would mean spending a lot of time doing something I hate, so for now I’ll settle with good enough and move on. 
My final omission feels quite glaring and I’ll forgive you, if you think I’ve avoided anything which requires a modicum of skill. But I promise, the lack of sleeves was a considered choice - I’ve added them before and they always end up for the chop. So as with everything else on this dress, I decided to stay true to my style and go sleeveless. It definitely wasn’t a time saving decision as I spent the best part of a morning knocking up some continuous bias binding, thanks to an excellent tutorial from Wendy Ward.
And so here you have it - my barely recognisable version of a Merchant and Mills classic. It’s a far cry from the impeccable stylings on the pattern envelope but honours my intention to sew my style. Feeling inspired? Come and say hello over on I’d love to see how you put a spin on things to sew your style. 
Thanks for reading,

DMC Novelty Embroidery Hoop Review by Tina

Hello my name is Tina and I have a blog and You Tube channel called Simply in Stitches. I am passionate about cross stitch and love to share my projects so I was delighted to review this fun Embroidery Hoop by DMC. I use DMC threads most of the time as they are such high quality and very respected in the cross stitch community. I chose the 10cm kitten hoop as I am well known for my love of cats. The other options are teddy ears or bunny ears. There is also a mini version with the teddy or kitten ears. The frame is made of a lovely smooth wood and has a metal hanger.
The frame is for decorative finishing of the stitching it is not intended to use as a frame for working on a project. The inner circle is loose in the center without a means to tighten so it can not hold the fabric tight in the hoop while being stitched.
The wood being a nice light colour makes easy to find a fabric that will work well with the frame. I chose a piece of hand dyed evenweave fabric to add interest to the background.
I wanted to play along with the kitten theme and find a design with a cat. I found the perfect one in a 2012 free calendar from The world of cross stitching magazine. It is a cat stitching with some balls of yarn. As a cat lover who stitches and knits it ticked all my boxes. The designer is Margret Sherry who is very talented in this style of design. The original design is much larger than my 10cm hoop so I just took the element of the design I wanted to use that would fit. It is worth remembering when choosing a design to fit a frame or if you only want a small stitch, that the design can be cropped or single motifs can be used. 
It was a very fun stitch to do. I used the recommended  DMC colours. The back stitching really brought the cat to life with his huge whiskers and sweet little face.
The frame does not come with instruction to frame your stitching. I decided to use wadding behind the stitching to give it a nice soft cushion type look. I then used cardboard to give it stability. 
I used dress making thread to lace the bac . I wanted to pull the fabric tight but wanted to be able to adjust to make sure it is even in the frame. Using this method also makes it reversible which you will see came in very useful later.  Glue can be messy and may cause harm to your fabric making it discolour later.
Here you can see I placed the design inside the inner ring. This was really loose and didn't work. It was my You Tube viewers that saved me by pointing out the fabric should be stretched over the inner ring. I don't know why I thought it went inside. It should be constructed just as you would use a embroidery hoop to stitch. Which makes perfect sense. I pulled it apart and laced it again using the inner ring. This made it far more secure and was far neater at the back.
I used a piece of felt to back the hoop to make it tidier and protect the inside of the stitching. This is for myself but if it is for a gift it makes it prettier and you can stitch a date or a private message for the recipient. I attached this with glue onto a piece of cardboard at the back of the stitching and the outer wooden ring of the frame.
Here is the finished hoop. I think it looks lovely hung by the metal triangle hanger on the back. It's a really cute idea to finish a piece of embroidery. I think it would be ideal for a birth sampler or a birthday for a cat lover. I'm really enjoying having mine in my craft room. It's such a fun item to have in the room. If I hadn't chosen a cat theme I would have used it for an inspirational quote as the frame is small but catches my attention.
Thank you for reading my review. I hope you found it interesting and useful.
Tina x

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