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Erika Knight Studio Linen and the Tranquil Shawl

I'm delighted to be back on the Minerva Crafts blog with a review of the Erika Knight Studio Linen Yarn and another crochet project. Crochet has become my new favourite craft for my morning and evening commute - #traincrochet is definitely a thing!

As I already made a tidal wave shawl earlier this year, I was going to go for something really simple for my next crochet project, such as a scarf or hat. Instead, I saw the Tranquil Shawl by Sarah Hazell, which was designed specifically for this yarn and I was completely seduced - I love the oversized casual style of this shawl and surely you can never have too many shawls?

The Studio Linen yarn is made up from 85% recycled linen and viscose fibres, combined with premium linen fibre. This mix of fibres results in a drapey and slightly slippery feel when crocheted into a fabric. I haven't yet washed my shawl but the Erika Knight website says that the yarn will soften with wear and washing - just like a linen shirt I guess!

I used three shades for this shawl - Bone - the light cream/beige colour, Mood - the lilac shade and Lacey - the darkest colour which is somewhere between brown and purple. All the colours in this range are gorgeous and I spent a long time agonising about the combination I wanted - I can see myself making this again in a completely different set of colours...

The Studio Linen yarn is lovely to work with - it doesn't split when crocheting and makes very neat distinct stitches, the feel is similar to cotton yarn, with very little elasticity compared to the softness and slight stretch of wool or acrylic.

I did find that the yarn loves to tangle around itself really easily if you don't wind it into a tight enough ball at the start - I spent several hours untangling knots of yarn before I worked this out! I also found that the cut ends start to unravel really quickly, so I have tried to weave in my ends as tightly as possible!

The Tranquil Shawl looks really lacy and delicate on the pattern cover, but the yarn is quite dense and so the finished shawl is actually quite substantial and has a real weight to it - however the breathability of the linen fibre means that it works as a light cover up for a summer evening as well as something to throw on over a cardigan as it gets colder. 
The pattern is made up of crochet shells made in individual strips which are joined together with slip stitch. Each shell is made up of five treble crochet stitches (uk treble) - so the actual crochet is really straightforward. 

You make the longest strip of shells first - 66 shells in total and once you have counted that strip you simply make one less shell in each following row until you get down to one shell! This means that the shawl is initially very slow to get started as each strip takes ages to complete but once you get past half way then you can zip along very quickly!

The pattern instructions are very brief and there are no detailed pictures - I didn't find a lot of completed examples online to look at and compare, so as a still inexperienced crochet-er I spent quite a while worrying about whether I was getting everything right.

The Tranquil shawl uses a lot of yarn - the pattern recommends 14 skeins of yarn - 8 of the main colour and 3 each of the contrast colours. At the end of this project I have most of the last skein of the main colour left over, one whole skein of the lighter contrast colours and about half a skein of the other, so depending on your gauge you might be able to get away with slightly less yarn than suggested.

When I finished the shawl I hadn't reached the measurements given in the pattern and I think I was crocheting slightly tighter than the suggested gauge, but after I blocked the shawl it is now pretty close to the finished size mentioned in the pattern.

As I started this shawl I thought that making 66 strips of shell crochet might drive me a bit crazy or that I would get bored, but actually I found the repetition incredibly soothing and really enjoyed the process of making this shawl - I would definitely make it again - if I could only decide on which colours to use next!

Thanks to Minerva for the opportunity to try this yarn - definitely recommend!

Louise @ notsewsimple

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Diablo Jersey Diamond Drape Dress

It’s just one of those things … you are more excited about putting some patterns together than you are about others and the Trish Newbery Diamond Drape Dress is one of those projects. So when I got the chance to try the eye catching bronze coloured slinky Diablo Jersey Fabric from Minerva Crafts they were the obvious match.

The word “slinky” describes this fabric perfectly. It has superb drape and although I expected it to curl when I cut it I was surprised that it didn’t which meant it was relatively easy to work with. It is a little sheer, which might make it more suitable for a top unless you plan to line your dress, but I already had my heart set on making the drape dress with it and I’m glad I did because the sheen of the jersey and the way it lies work together with a great pattern to produce an outfit with a real wow factor. 

I can wear this either with a slip underneath, to avoid flashing my underwear, or on holiday over a swimming costume when it doesn’t matter if people can see what you have on under it. My little girl, who is already intently following several sewing vloggers on You Tube, suggested I use the left overs to make some cycle style shorts to wear under the dress, instead of a slip, which might work well but I haven’t had chance to try this yet.

I made the majority of this dress on my overlocker, because I can, but you can use your regular sewing machine. This is a trickier jersey by nature of it’s weight and shininess so probably better saved until you have sewn a few garments in standard knit first but at the current discount price it’s worth having a play. You could try at making a cowl neck top, which would show off it’s best features, for example Burda 6695.

I have a pack of Dritz ball point pins which come in very handy for pinning jersey and are especially useful when you are dealing with something that could click or ladder. Keep in mind that they are still sharp … guess how I know!

If you haven’t heard of Trish Newbery check out her website to see her range. Her patterns are PDF only but you are rewarded for your printing and construction with You Tube sew a longs for most, if not all, of her designs and I call her the Queen of Notches as she includes plenty of reference notches to keep you on the right track. I should also point out that Trish’s prices are in New Zealand dollars so don’t be put off. Check the exchange rate before you buy but the patterns work out the same as we are used to paying else where for independent designs.

But back to the dress.

I made view 2. It has pockets but I’ve had to reduce the depth of mine as the fabric wasn’t quite wide enough to cut the full pattern piece out but I don’t think it has had a detrimental effect on the finished drape. To be honest I’m never going to put anything in the pockets because it will just pull the lines of the dress out of shape but their purpose is probably more sculptural than practical anyway so losing half an inch of depth isn’t a big deal.

What I will say is that this dress is completely out of my comfort zone. I would never have walked in to a shop and bought it but over the last year sewing my own clothes has made me brave. I suppose my age might have a little bit to do with it too but we will gloss over that one. Either way I love it and I’m already on the look out for more fabric to make a second one.

So take a look at the Slinky Diablo Stretch Jersey Knit, which is currently available in more than ten colours, but don’t forget that Minerva Crafts have a huge range of jersey and ponte roma so if this one doesn’t take your fancy there almost certainly will be something that does. 

Thanks for reading,

Sue @craftysue103

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Embroidery Transfer Ideas

I’ve been into embroidery for some time now, but funnily enough I have never used transfers! I normally just free-hand my design onto fabric with my water soluble pen, but I had a project coming up that I’d agreed to create as a raffle prize for a friend’s Charity event, so I decided that I would opt for Embroidery Transfers to help with the design and accuracy of my work. My friend wanted me to create something that says “Sometimes, you’ve got to create your own sunshine”. So I started off using my normal technique of drawing free-hand onto my fabric.

I decided I’d use my new transfers for the word “sunshine” at the bottom.

Deciding on thread colours was probably the hardest part of this project (well, any project, am I right?).

I used a simple seed stitch to complete my lettering, and a combination of seed stitch and chain stitch to finish the sun. Once I was finished with the free-hand section, it was time to move on to the transfers!

I’d like to just take a moment to appreciate the instructions that came with the pack. They are SASSY, and I’m here for it! There aren’t many things in this world that I love more than instructions with sass. It makes for very entertaining reading!

The transfers come printed on one large piece of paper which you then cut out the pieces that you need.

Of course, the letters are all backwards, because when you press them down onto your fabric, they’ll be face-down, and therefore will print out the right way round. I decided to cut them all out, and to do a test run on a bit of scrap fabric!

And then I was ready to go!

I was so pleasantly surprised how clear the transfer came out. It was almost clearer printed on fabric than the transfer is itself! I was really happy with this so I went full steam ahead with my “Sunshine”. I had already decided on the positioning, so I picked out my required letters and placed them onto my fabric. I did struggle with this part slightly, because I found that in order to make sure the positioning was correct, I had to move all the other pieces out of the way and do one letter at a time, which meant that my positioning was all a bit of a gamble. Also, as there are two S’s and N’s in the word “Sunshine” I had to edge my bets with the gaps that I left to reuse the letters. What I probably should have done, is transfer the “sunshine” first, so that just in case I did something wrong, I wouldn’t have to start the project all over again (oh hindsight, you wonderful thing). Having said that, this process was still super simple, nothing went wrong, and I was really impressed with the way the lettering stamped on so clearly. I pressed on each letter with the iron for about 10 seconds, being careful not to move the iron or the transfer, mid-transfer. I started off a bit nervous, and gained confidence as I went along, which I think is perfectly reflected in my finished transferring!

See how my “sun” is quite faint, whereas the “shine” is quite clear? This is determined by how long you leave the iron on for. The longer the heat is applied, the clearer the design will be, though I wouldn’t recommend any longer than 10 seconds. I then washed my fabric to remove the blue water-soluble pen I had used earlier, but also to test how permanent the transfers actually are, and it’s fair to say they didn’t budge much at all!

It was time to finish the project! Time was running out, and on the morning of the day of the Charity Event I managed to finish the piece, once again using the speediest stitch I know - seed stitch (or speed stitch, if you will).

I finished the project with just an hour to spare, and in my rush, forgot to photograph the finished project. Once I was finished with the embroidery part, I trimmed the extra fabric from around the edges of the hoop, gathered and glued them all at the back, and backed the hoop with felt, with an added felt hoop, ready for wall hanging! (For more like this, check out my Instagram @jen.elz).

My friend Kath was really happy with the finished piece and the Charity Event went on to raise a wonderful amount of money for the MS Society Cymru. Overall, I’d definitely recommend trying these transfers for your embroidery, and other crafts! They really help with accuracy, but also make your life so much easier than trying to re-create a specific style of font free-hand. The transfers are also re-usable, so they make for excellent value for money. I know that the transfers also come in a variety of images and font styles, so I will definitely be coming back for more.  

Thanks for reading,

Jen @jen.elz

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A Super Simple Macrame Plant Hanger

Hi everyone, it's Kathy here, and I have been working on something different to dressmaking for a change.
I have noticed that macrame crafts seems to be popping up everywhere, and I have been itching to give it a go. I particularly wanted to make a classic plant hanger, but have also seen some really pretty wall hangings, so might give this a try too now that I have got the hang of some of the basic knots. The plant hanger was super easy to make and is already hung in pride of place in our hallway.
One of the great things about making this plant hanger is that you only need a handful of supplies. I used one ball of Hoooked Zpagetti T-Shirt Yarn in a gorgeous natural beige colour. I love that the yarn is made from what are basically recycled leftovers from the garment manufacturing industry, and whilst I have used it for this macrame project, it is a great alternative yarn to knit or crochet with too. Minerva Crafts have a huge range of colours available, so although I have opted for a neutral shade, it could be fun to add a pop of colour to your decor by choosing something more adventurous! I have lots of yarn left over, and am hoping to get at least two more plant hangers from what I have remaining.
Aside from the yarn, you will need a plant and pot of course, scissors, a measuring tape, a curtain ring or something similar, and a hook to hang it from the ceiling. I used a wooden curtain ring from a pack of 6 that I picked up from a DIY store for just 83p for the pack, and I just removed the little metal screw from it. The inside diameter of this ring is approx 3cm, but anything around that size will be just fine. I have since noticed that Minerva sell some brass curtain rings for just a few pence each which would look pretty for this project too. The ceiling screw was also picked up at the DIY store, and as this was loose on the shelf from a bag which must have split, the store just let me have it! How lucky!
I am very much a visual learner, and there are a huge amount of free macrame plant hanger tutorials on the internet. I will link you to the free video tutorial that I used here, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is really clear to follow, with the entire process being very well explained. The knots are shown to you several times to make sure that you are happy with how to make them, but of course the beauty of following a video is that you can pause and replay it as often as you need to.
To get started you will need to cut 8 strands of yarn, each measuring a whopping 550cm long. Due to the fact that this product is made from recycled leftovers from the manufacturing process, you will come across a few knots where the yarn is joined together. I didn't find this too much of a problem, and managed to cut my strips avoiding these knots with barely any wastage. Thread your 8 strands of yarn through the curtain ring, so that they are doubled and have pulled through equally in half. You now have 16 strands of yarn hanging from the ring. Use another piece of yarn that you have cut to approx 150cm to make a Wrap Knot directly below the ring to secure all the strands tightly. I should mention that I suspended my curtain ring from the top of an open door, but you can use anything to hang it from that you are comfortable with.
To begin, you need to divide your 16 strands into groups of 4. The first knot that you are shown is the Half Square Knot. A chain of several of these will give you a pretty twisted braid. Repeat this twisted braid with the other 3 groups of yarn and in no time at all you are left with 4 lengths of twisted braids.
The next knot that you are shown is the Josephine Knot. This took me a little more time to master, and I did have to replay the video a few times before I got the hang of it. The result is a really pretty flat knot, and you will tie two Josephine Knots below each of your 4 lengths of twisted braids.
Below the Josephine Knots you are shown how to make a regular Square Knot. These are similar to the Half Square Knots that you have already tied, but this time they are flat and do not form the twist that the Half Square Knots do.
After this you will need to create the 'cage' that your plant pot will sit inside. This involves taking two strands from one group and two strands from the next group to it and knotting them together with a Square Knot. Repeat this process again, to ensure that the 'cage' that your pot sits in is nice and secure. This is quite difficult to explain, but when you view the video it will all make perfect sense!
The final touches are to simply tie a large knot (nothing special here) to tie off the bottom of your plant hanger. Pull it nice and tight and, leaving a few centimetres as a 'tail', and cut the leftover ends off straight.
I'm over the moon with how it has turned out and also how incredibly easy it was to make. It's a fun project to make for your own home or to give as a gift, and I found it a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
Thank you so much to Minerva Crafts for the fabulous t-shirt yarn that I used for this review, I do hope that you may have found it useful. You can find me over on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network as Sew Dainty and my personal blog is www.sewdainty.co.uk.
Take care, Kathy x
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New Look 6163 Linen Summer Coat

When thinking of summer fabrics linen and cotton have to be a couple of the first fibres that spring to mind so I was pleased to be given the chance to try out and review this lovely Blades Linen & Cotton Fabric.

Being 55% linen and 45% cotton it’s a perfect fabric for a number of dressmaking projects and I decided it was the ideal weight to use for the longline summer jacket I’ve been thinking about.

Available in a wide range of different colours it was hard to choose but I finally decided on the charcoal grey as I thought it would be practical for an outer garment and go well with so much already in my wardrobe!

The pattern I used was New Look 6163. The unlined coat has bust darts, side splits and a small collar.

The fabric has a great woven look and a soft feel. I pre-washed in a 30’ machine wash, as this is the cycle I will use when laundering, then steam pressed before pinning pattern and cutting out to ensure that any shrinkage happened before making up.

The pattern went together well. Neck edges were stay stitched to prevent them stretching before attaching the collar. Facings were top stitched to prevent them from rolling out and the only alteration I did to the construction instruction sequence was to add the sleeves flat before sewing up the side seams as I find this easier.

The loose weave of the linen does fray and as I had chosen to make an unlined jacket I decided to finish the seams using bias binding. I made my own using a soft cotton lawn but there are some pretty premade ones. With the inch wide strips I attached to the right side of seam allowance then folded over, top stitched and pressed. The unfinished edge was then hidden under the seam allowance.

Finishing each edge like this does take a little longer but I think it’s worth the extra effort. It’s great to see a pretty inside too.

For the hem at the coat and the sleeves I opted to hand stitch. Again takes a little longer but using a slip stitch it was almost invisible from the right side.

I found the Blades Linen and Cotton blend an easy fabric to work with. It presses well to give a crisp finish to seams and didn’t crease as much as some linens I’ve worn. It has enough weight to it that I would consider using for trousers and skirts as well as cool summer dresses or soft furnishings such as a pile of colourful scatter cushions.

Loving my new coat…just need the warmer weather to wear it! Happy sewing :)

Nicky @ Sew N Snip

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Sienna Crepe Orsola Dress

I was so thrilled when Minerva Crafts sent me 3m of this navy Sienna Crepe Fabric. They have such a fantastic range of colours, but Navy is one of my favourites to wear. It’s one of those great colours that feel like a neutral and a statement all at once. The fabric was very soft and drapey, and even though it is 100% polyester, I was extremely pleased to discover it didn't have that plastic-y feel that lots of polyester fabric does. It took me a while to decide what I wanted to make out of it, and I spent a lot of time stroking and draping it and wrapping it around myself, waiting for inspiration to strike. Eventually, I ended up browsing The Fold Line’s recommended patterns for drapey-fabrics, and settled on the By Hand London Orsola dress.  

I’d seen a few Orsola dresses popping up on Instagram and various blogs, and though the versions I’d seen online had varied dramatically depending on the fabric chosen, the fact that it was knee-length, relatively high-necked and cuts a generally elegant silhouette, made me think that I’d get a lot of wear out of it. I thought it would be perfect for those times when I have evening work events and I’m looking to make a statement without showing too much skin. Having said that, I absolutely love the back detail on this dress, and it really was the perfect fabric to showcase that soft, petal shape wrap.

I won’t lie. I was also drawn to this pattern because of its lack of fastenings. It’s beautifully fitted but there is nary a buttonhole or zip in sight. Since I was product-testing I probably should have shown how it holds up to zipping and buttoning but…I chickened out. The fabric is strong, but it does fray rather a lot, and I wanted to save myself the heartache of ripping out a zip inserted into a slinky fabric.

A word to the wise, if you don’t have the patience for marking precise darts, this pattern is not for you. Orsola has SO MANY DARTS, and I had yet more darts to do because I chose to line the skirt as well as the bodice. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to line the bottom half, as another great thing about this fabric is its opacity. Considering its slinky drape, I would have sworn that I would have had to be wary of using it on my bottom half…for fear of revealing too much…but even when I held it up to the light it retained a reassuringly thick weave. 

A tip for working with this fabric, is spend a couple of quid on some sharp, thin needles. It will make the sewing experience a hell of a lot easier and much more fun. I recommend microflex needles, but make sure that if you do opt for sharps, that you are using a fine thread to get through the eye. If your thread is at all wooly, it’s likely that your thread will misbehave and unthread itself a fair few times…trust me, I made that mistake when I first started this project.

I love Minerva’s sienna crepe and would definitely make something with it again. I think that it would be perfect for any pattern that requires a woven fabric with lots of drape. The ogden cami, Fifi pyjamas, a woven wrap dress, the list goes on and on…

Thanks for reading,

Sonny @ sew_london

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Robert Kaufman New Look 6302

I was asked to try out this 100% cotton broadcloth Robert Kaufman Fabric from Minerva - it comes in a staggering 24 different colours so there will be one or more which suit you.
Broadcloth is a plain dense woven fabric, suitable for shirts, dresses and a million other things. This cotton broadcloth has been dyed in so many different colours that it was hard to chose my favourite but in the end I chose poppy.
The pattern I chose is New look 6302 which is a simple shift dress with a cardigan style jacket to wear over it. This in my opinion is the most versatile summer outfit you can make, it suits any figure and is suitable for any occasion. This pattern comes in a huge range of sizes from 8 - 20.
My first task was to take some tailors chalk and make a simple cross on the back of each piece, on a fabric like this it is so easy to get the right and wrong side mixed up!
This is a very simple pattern with excellent instructions so instead of going through the entire process I am going to show you how to do an all in one facing instead of the recommended bias edging.
It is easy to do and makes for a very smart finish to the garment.
The first task is to make the facings.  Cutting the front facing on the fold and using the pattern edges as your facing edges draw a line from a couple of inches below the side seam under the armscyce and ending about four inches from the centre front as in the photo above
Do the same for the back remembering that the back is not cut on the fold.
Make up the darts in the usual way and then sew the shoulder seams  of the dress.
Sew the shoulder seams of the interfaced facings and finish the edge. This fabric frays so if you do not have an overlocker then use a narrow zigzag on all the seams. I used the overlock foot on my regular sewing machine.
Stitch the facing to the dress, right sides together all around the neck and arm openings.
Clip the curves - I cut out small V shapes and press the seams.
Attach a safety pin to the bottom of one of the backs.
Thread the pin and the entire back through the shoulder and keep pulling gently until that side is turned right sides out.
Do the same for the other side. Using a ruler or a chopstick push the seams out until they are neat and then give the whole area a good press.
I do not want any topstitching on my dress but I do want to hold the facing in place. Understitching is the answer. Simply study the seam allowance to the facings as far as your machine will allow you to go. It can be seen on the wrong side, but not on the right.
Insert your zip, I chose a centred zip for a 1960s feel, but use an invisible zipper if you prefer.
Then stitch the side seams, catch the facing down at the sides and finish the hem. I used an invisible hem.
I made the short version of the jacket too, shortening the sleeves by a few inches.
This is a lovely versatile summer outfit , it's so wearable and comfortable and I totally love this fabric. A hint for you is to use a bit of spray starch when pressing it as it will stay crisp and fresh looking all day.
Thank to Minerva for giving me the opportunity of trying out this fabric. My verdict? When can I have some more - that says it all really..
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Funky Floral Simplicity 1873

For my next guest post for the Minerva Crafts Blog I choose this funky floral Cotton Poplin Fabric. Working with cotton is wonderfully straightforward and I knew cotton poplin would give me the freedom to make pretty much any garment, which was an exciting prospect.  I love the striking design of this fabric; and although modern, I can’t help but feel a little mid-century nostalgia in it and the abstract florals just top it off perfectly!

When the fabric arrived I was pleasantly surprised with how soft it was, and how vibrant the colour was on it. After pre washing there was no colour bleed or fading which I had been slightly worried about given the depth of the colours against the white background. It did need a quick iron but generally the creasing was minimal.

Wondering where to start with choosing a pattern to use, I tried to imagine what would look good with this design – a shift dress would have looked terrific and in keeping with the era I had in mind but I had 3 metres of this wonderful fabric and wanted to really make the most of it. So, I decided that a dress with a fuller skirt and a high neck, no-fuss-kinda-bodice would be best so the fabric design could be flat enough to be seen properly and appreciated. I found the perfect dress pattern to suit my requirements in Simplicity Cynthia Rowley K1873 which is a dress with crew neck option and just bust and waist darts on the bodice. I made option B, which was without the sleeves or waist tabs, but added my own decorative touches at the end.

Alterations I made to the pattern included adding 3 inches to the length of the skirt because I wanted it to end just below the knee and the pattern is designed to be above. The pattern includes a bodice lining which I always prefer to have as it just makes the whole garment feel more professional and substantial. There was no lining for the skirt included but I added one in a polyester lining fabric, in white, just to keep the colours sharp and as vibrant as they would be on the bodice with the white lining behind. The skirt lining I just gathered rather than pleated (as the skirt is) and it’s created a wonderful ‘pouffy’ shape around my hips which I love (adds to the ‘vintage‘ feel), but if you wanted a sleeker look you could create just minimal gathers at the waist as long as the bottom of the lining was wide enough to match the skirt. I attached the lining just inside the seam allowance after the skirt had been sewn to the bodice. Then you can still hide all the raw waist seam edges when you fold the bottom of the bodice lining down and slip stitch it over the top so it looks beautiful inside and out!

I didn’t actually worry about doing any pattern matching with this fabric – naughty, I know! – it was so busy and the design quite small I just didn’t think you would be able to notice any joins. Now it’s complete I still think this, so I’m glad I didn’t waste the extra fabric and time it would have needed to do this. Another note on the design is just a friendly reminder to check you’re cutting your pattern pieces the same way up. If you lay all your pieces down and cut in one go then I think you’re safe but I’m one for cutting each at a time so as to be as economical with the fabric as possible and I was worried, with only a subtle difference in the direction of the print, that I would be caught out. Luckily for me, I managed to keep my mind on the job and successfully cut everything the right way up!

Once I had finished the dress I really felt like it just needed something to be the cherry on top. I considered a peter pan collar which would have looked super cute but I rejected that idea as ideally I would have sewn it into place when I attached the lining around the neck. My next favourite accessory after a collar is a bow, preferably a very large bow! So, I added one at the neck front in a turquoise cotton from my stash which matched one of the colours in the design (the bow shape I decided on was inspired by one of the options on the earlier rejected shift dress pattern, Simplicity 1609). The waist was also crying out for a belt so, in the same turquoise cotton I made a simple belt with an amazing red flower buckle (the charity shops  gods were smiling on me that day!), which matches the dress like an absolute dream.

I’m thrilled with how the fabric pattern and shape of the dress have blended and I know I’m going to get so much wear out of it throughout the year. The colours are really multi-seasonal – I can see myself wearing it with sandals and sunglasses in the summer, and thick coloured tights and a beret in the Autumn!

Thanks for reading - happy sewing!

Rebecca
Find me on Instagram and on my Blog
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John Kaldor Crepe Anna Dress

There are some patterns which grab the attention of ever sewist on social media, those patterns which everyone has, and which time and time again come up on everyone’s insta feed. I think the By Hand London Anna dress falls into this category! Just search the #annadress on instagram and you’ll end up down a rabbit hole of inspiration from fellow sewists all sewing up gorgeous Anna dresses. When this John Kaldor Crepe Fabric arrived from Minerva, it deserved to be made into a special dress, and the Anna dress fitted the bill perfectly.

Before we talk more about the dress, let’s talk fabric first. This floral print comes in 2 colour ways - Black, and mustard yellow. I chose mustard, because surely it’s one of THE colours of 2018. The fabric looks more yellow than the picture, so it’s more vibrant. It’s also happens to be the same colourway as the marketing photos for the recent Sew Over It Libby shirt, so check that out to see another sample of this fabric “out in the wild”. Making a maxi dress in this fabric definitely makes a statement! Despite the slippery nature of this fabric, it’s a dream to work with, it’s really compliant, and even though there are a lot of panels to the skirt, the fabric didn’t shift as I cut. The fabric has a random placement of flowers on, and just a word of warning, all the flowers are up the same way, meaning that technically it’s a directional print, and you need to make sure you cut your pattern pieces all up the same way. Alternatively you can decide to play pattern tetris and ignore this completely and not let it bother you if some flowers have their stems upside down - if you look carefully you’ll see I chose this route (read: didn’t realise this until I had cut everything out).

The dress itself came together pretty quickly, despite all those pattern pieces. I chose not to go with a side seam split up one leg, as I made this to wear to a wedding in a Hindu temple, so just sewed up the entire length of that seam. That’s about the only amendment I made to the pattern. Once you have sewn up all those skirt pieces, the bodice comes together super quick, partly because there are no darts, but shaping comes from pleats at the waist seam. The sleeves are grown on, so there’s no extra pattern pieces to cut or sew, and the finish on the sleeve hems is a double turn up which is down before you sew the side seams, to make everything super simple and very neat. The Anna dress isn’t lined at all, so in these pictures I’m wearing a slip underneath, just to make sure you can’t see my undies through the dress.

I should mention that if you have an overlocker overlock the seams, I was rushing to get this dress complete, and didn’t bother, partly because there are so many skirt panels to overlock. I kind of regret this decision now, and may go back and do some seams. The fabric frays really bad, and after a couple of wears, I’ve had to cut all the fraying threads off.I’ve worn this in the super-hot weather we had at the end of June, and it’s a really good fabric choice when you want to look put together and keep cool. Despite walking around London all day in this, I didn’t melt in the heat, and it didn’t crease at all during the day. It’s certainly a fabric which doesn’t need ironing.

I really enjoyed working with this fabric, and if you are looking to make a statement I’d highly recommend using this colourway of the floral print crepe to make a special occasion dress. I’m thinking that this would also make a perfect jumpsuit, with the drape of this fabric, so maybe I’ll have add that to my summer sewing plans as well.

Thanks for reading,

Chloe @ handmadebychloe

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Sienna Dolman Top

I was pretty excited to receive this abstract print Jersey Fabric from Minerva.
I knew exactly what I'd make with it, and I set right to work. 
I printed, traced, and cut the pattern and then set to work cutting the fabric.
 
The Sienna Dolman Top from Sinclair Patterns is the perfect pattern to pair with this fabric.
With the gathers on the sides the fabric drapes beautifully and also gathers very smoothly. 
As to how easy or hard the fabric is to work with, the jersey was quite easy to cut and work with. It's very drapey but not slippery--it has a bit of a rougher texture on the right side. Not a bad rough but not smooth or slippery like many polyester blend fabrics I've used before. I have dry hands but didn’t have any problems with the fabric getting caught on my sandpaper-esque hands.
Some jerseys are hard to turn a thin tube right-side out but this was quite easy--I attached a safety pin to the seam allowance and worked it through quickly for all four drawstrings as the fabric is not as 'sticky' as cotton jersey. A knot at each end and the drawstrings were ready. It would have looked really neat with a bead on each one but I didn’t have any appropriate beads and I’d be afraid to lose them with the toddler in the house (who likes to eat everything) so I went with the safer option.
Both sewing machine and serger reacted well to this fabric. I didn't have any problems with tension or with a hungry machine eating the fabric. (What? Does your sewing machine not ever eat your fabric?!) 
Another note to remember is that polyester needs a lower setting on the iron to avoid melting the fabric.
Breath-ability is not a concern either as it's a light-weight fabric that seems perfect for summer, even though it is a poly blend.
Bold prints are not a usual choice for myself but I'm very happy with this print. It's bold but not so bold that I'm at all uncomfortable wearing it. It does look a little more abstract in the listing but it is a large floral print—perfect for summer. The print pairs well with denim, black, grey, and white.
If you're looking for a top that works for both maternity and non-maternity, the sienna dolman fits the bill. With my small baby bump there's still plenty of room to grow and I'm excited to wear this top through the summer, and possibly into the fall depending on the weather! 
I'd love to get my hands on more prints in this type of fabric to sew up a whole slew of tops and dresses for myself (who am I kidding—there’d be a good number of Sienna’s in that mix!)
Also, if you like to travel, this fabric is ideal for that as it resists wrinkling very well. 
Shove it in your bag and it'll be completely wearable when you get to your destination. 
If you’re hoping to make a dress or top this summer, this would be a great option.
Thanks for reading,

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