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The Christmas Rachel Wrap Dress

Hi everyone!! I'm Isa from Uma Crafter Portuguesa com certeza and I'm thrilled to be back here on the Minerva Crafts blog, today with a special cheery flair.
Most of us like to dress something special for Christmas or for a Christmas party, but being the practically-minded person I am I could never bring myself to make something that would limit me to Christmas. At my workplace we don't do Christmas parties, we're pretty small, but we do have a special Christmas lunch, in the middle of the workday, so my project was made with that lunch in mind.
When perusing the Minerva's website for a fabric with something of a Christmas feel, yet not blatantly Christmas I came upon this lovely Art Gallery Jersey Fabric, the lovely red background and the green leaves around the blooms evoke just a smidge of an image of Christmas, that was what I was hoping for. The pattern selected - the Rachel wrap dress by Maria Denmark is a simple wrap dress that would let the fabric shine.
This pattern doesn't have seam allowances, so don't forget to add them before cutting your lovely fabric!! This was my second time sewing this pattern so all the fit issues had already been addressed before: I had made a front shoulder adjustment, an FBA and blended between waist and hip sizes. I noticed on my first version that the pattern has a bit of a strange armscye and sleeve cap shape, so I used the armscye shape and sleeve cap shape of the Agnes Top to change the shape to one I liked best. The Art gallery fabric was a dream to sew with, as I was expecting for a fabric of such a wonderful brand. It is super confortable to wear and is a quite stable jersey, still suitable for dresses. 
I sewed the entire dress, except for hems, in the serger, and adjusted my differential feed to avoid seam waviness, a trick I only recently learned in this video.
I finished my hems with a zig zag and used a bit of Hemline Fusible Iron On Hemming Web Tape for Hems to stabilize my hems and avoid a puckery result. I still have to try it on a double needle, but I believe it would yield lovely results as well.
I'm all set for my Christmas lunch now!
Thanks for reading.

It's Christmas and I am Cassiopee

The perfect Christmas frock has to have lurex, red, green and enough room in it that if (in an emergency, you understand) I have to ingest a full Christmas pudding and a bottle of Baileys I can still dance unrestrictedly afterwards.
Enter my Christmas Cassiopie Dress, I think you will see that she ticks all the boxes.The camera doesn't quite pick out the lurex in all its glitzy glory, but believe me in real life she is quite the eye full.
This Christmas Fabric is a cotton mix, and so stable she pretty much cut herself out. Sewed up like a dream, french seams allover as although when worn she is opaque, hung up the fabric is slightly sheer. I am normally useless at French seams but may be practice actually does make perfect because this time, touch wood, it looks good - neat on the inside and non hairy on the outside! It will see me through a few Christmas dinners I think.
The pattern is very easy, no fasteners, no drama although the gathering of the skirt is a bit of a bore.
I added 5cm to the bodice, because I am a giant. I kept the skirt short, because you know, Christmas. If I make it again, which I will, I will add a bit to the skirt length.
I used bias binding on the neck rather than facing because I feel it works better, and I don't want a flappy facing irritating me while I am playing charades or something.I didn't worry about matching the plaid because life is short and let's face it, this isn't couture. I used a full 3m of fabric, pre washed and didn't seem to get any shrinkage and very little fraying.
This fabric almost has me wanting to make a table runner or something else more domesticated, I have a feeling I might buy some more to make the cat a jacket, because you know, Christmas.
Have a merry old time with whatever Christmas crafts you get up to.
Kirstan @kirstsg

Kwik Sew 3150 Bambi Tracksuit

Not so little Emily (my newest grand-daughter, now two) needed a little tracksuit for travelling on her holidays. I thought hey that could be my 'make' for her. For those who haven't read my previous blog posts I have decided to make all my family something. Something easy mainly because I want to practice on my new Babylock Enlighten Overlocker and my new Coverstitch Machine again by Babylock. Thus concentrating on learning my new machines rather than any complicted patterns. 
The fabric I chose is this beautiful glitter bambi Sweatshirt Fabric which for me is simply irresistible, those little bambis are so cute. With it being 2 small garments and a patterned fabric I realised the pattern I chose must have as few pieces as possible (I didn't want lots of half bambis here, there and everywhere). 
After lots of searching through our extensive pattern range here at Minerva I chose Kwiksew Pattern 3150 and decided early on not to add the pockets. I know you may be saying it would have been quite easy to pattern match the bambi print on the pocket to the fronts but I thought "will she actually use them at 2 years old"? With the answer being no it seemed silly to add work that wasn't needed especially as that holiday was drawing nearer!
Here is me cutting out my pattern, always use an old or cheaper pair of scissors to cut out your patterns as this would ruin your fabric scissors. 
As you will see at the end of this post I maybe should have gone for the next bigger size, I'm just hoping she gets a reasonable amount of wear out of it!
My fabulous Babylock Enlighten in full flow. Just in case you don't know, an overlocker machine sews the seam, encloses the raw seam with an overlocking stitch and cuts off the surplus fabric all in one go. Yes you read that right, all in one go!
As you can see from the following photo I am making the trousers first. and this is just to show you how the overlocker has saved so much time and effort. It really is a joy to sew on. Now this is partly because they are my new machines and I have to say this does not take away from my wonderful Pfaff Performance 5 machine. 
And here they are turned the right way.
For the waist you simply turn under a hem and insert elastic. I used this Hemline Elastic which is a 12mm non-roll elastic.
This does what it says on the can, so to speak, it does not curl up in any way. This can be the difference between a garment looking more professional rather than a homemade look.
The pant leg bottoms were so quick and easy and I think look pretty good, don't you?
Now to the jacket.The pattern suggests to sew the zip in first which I think is a pretty good idea whilst you have no other pieces to get in the way. So off I go over to my Pfaff Performance 5 to sew in the zip. (I'm sure there will be ways to sew in a zip on my overlocker but I'm not there yet. I'll have to youtube that one). Here I am sewing in the zip with the zipper foot.
And here is the zip all sewn in place. As you can see the zip is visible, quite a fashion statement at the moment and very easy to sew! 
Now I have chickened out of using my wonderful coverlock machine on this occasion mainly because I haven't had enough practice on it. It is so very very easy to sew a hem but I wasn't sure about finishing the ends etc., so back to my Pfaff (plus I don't want my Pfaff to feel left out haha).
Here I am using my Duck-Billed Scissors again. I seriously don't know how I managed without these unique scissors in times gone by!
Here is a pic of how neat the overlocker makes everything look inside the garment.
The following photo is of the finished jacket and then a close-up of the top of the zip. Closely followed by a photo of the bottom of the zip. 
And now for the model. Ok so it's not easy trying to get a decent photo of a 2 year old at the airport, in fact it must be said "Blinkin' hard work". But here are the results!
"I'll show you my back view first"
Now for some crisps I think! while climbing aboard my my new trunkie!
"Oh no back in my pram, anybody would think I'd been running around!!!"
Thanks for reading and see you soon. 
Annette xx

My Christmas Magnolia by Deer & Doe

Hey Minerva Crafts Friends,
It’s Renata again from TheTwilightStitcher with another project for MC’s Blog. I braved the cold (21 degrees F aka -6 degrees C) in Wisconsin to get these pretty close to professional shots. The sun just began to set as we started the shoot, at the end you’ll see a photo less tinged with the yellowing hue of the sun. Christmas is just around the corner, it’s my favorite holiday. I love this season, family, friends, good food and did I mention parties. Spring is normally dress making season, but this is definitely festive dress season! Let’s jump into it. Minerva Crafts has been a gem in 2018 to The Twilight Stitcher, I’m so honored to share a holiday post.
Deer & Doe recently released the Magnolia Dress Pattern! Isn’t this dress a beauty? Well I’m saying it, it’s a beauty! I’m gushing over the full maxi skirt and thigh high slit, princess seam and subtle crossover (*cough deep) neckline. The elasticized long sleeved is a nice detail, also the back bow makes this a timeless dress.
This Floral Crepe Fabric has been dreaming for eons of living as the Magnolia, a bouquet of red and pink roses on a lush blanket of denim blue. The hand of this fabric is perfect for long flowing skirts, dresses and blouses. It’s a crepe with no stretch and 60 inches wide.
Sewing this fabric was smooth as butter, very slight fraying was experienced. I’m not a fan of fabric with major fraying issues, because you lose inches of your fabric. With this being none stretch, I highly recommend pre-washing, it’s no fun completing a project only to be defeated by the washer and dryer. 
I’ve never sewn a Deer & Doe pattern before, as always I’m impressed with the quality of independent sewing pattern companies. Instructions are clearly illustrated and flows along nicely with it’s written step. The fit is true, I’m 5’9" with strong shoulders and an athletic build. Size 12 was perfect with no adjustments.
If you’re looking for holiday dress or fabric either one of these will work. Dark florals are on trend this season, they are everywhere as well as maxi dresses. The magnolia would be a show stopper in wine or hunter’s green velvet. It would tell a tale of romance in rose pink and take you to the dance floor in an abstract print. The holidays are a little more epic with this dress.
It’s an elegant design which will compliment all body types. One more thing, the project took a day to complete after cutting out the pattern pieces. Below is the true color of the fabric.
Thanks for reading,

V8956 in Water Repellant Faux Suede

Writing and sewing for the Minerva Crafts blog is a first for me, Jess, from Jess Sews Clothes—so, hi! I’m delighted to share my inaugural make with you; a forest green asymmetrical wrap skirt made with Vogue Pattern’s 8956 and a great Faux Suede Fabric.

Lately, I’m looking to bring texture to my homemade garments. I’ve also become interested in making garments that might be considered “basics” with a twist—or everyday items which have something extra in terms of design. Skirts are great garments to play around with, so, for my first project with Minerva, I aimed to create something simple, yet distinct.

The forest green color fits perfectly with the color palette I sew from, but I will say the Aubergine colorway still tempts me too! There are beautiful color options for this faux suede on Minerva’s website.

The V8956 is a quick pattern to make. It also comes with six different options which allow for skirts with different drapes, lengths, and closures. I chose version A, the knee length option with a long drape on one side. Since the base design is rather classic, possible variations are a plenty! Depending on the drape and thickness of the fabric you may chose, the pattern lends itself to many different ideas. Regardless of your preferred style, elegant it will remain!

Because the skirt is a great quick project with only a few pieces to cut and sew, and no fussy closures or challenging techniques, I took advantage of the pattern’s facility to work on my finishing methods. I hemmed the inner facings and finished the seams with bias binding.

For my closure, I added one button inside the skirt and one on the outside. Of course, I didn’t miss the opportunity to add a little embellishment. I added a gold button at the right hip waistband. If you follow me on Instagram, @jess_sews_clothes, or at my blog, you might have noticed that I often choose gold or tortoise shell buttons. Keeping some similarities with these little details can help bring together pieces that might otherwise seem hard to match. I know this skirt is going to be easily worked around my homemade wardrobe.

One thing to remain cautious of with using faux-suede, or any kind of textured fabric, is how you wash and press your seams. As always, I prewashed this fabric on a normal wash setting and allowed it to dry naturally. Minerva has the washing information clearly marked for fabrics on their website—such great information to have when you’re hoping to keep taking care of your projects long after they are made.

I also tested different ironing heats and techniques on a swatch before I moved to the project itself. Since all irons, like sewing machines, have their own idiosyncrasies, it’s a good idea to practice and see what works best for you.

Without forgetting a crucial detail--this fabric is water repellant, which means it’d be an excellent choice for a jacket. When it arrived, the neat texture and rich color made me second guessed my decision to use it for a skirt, but I’ve long had my heart set on a faux-suede pencil style skirt. I can see the fabric pairing nicely with a few trench patterns I have on my (long!) list of future projects, one of them being the Orageuse Londres Trench. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get there!

Because I chose to make the knee length version of this skirt, I have a good amount of fabric leftover. I’ve already got a compliment project in motion. I’m working on a simple vest to pair with this skirt for a coordinating outfit that will exude all kinds of holiday luxury!

Thanks for reading,

Jess @ Jess Sews Clothes


Simplicity 8602 Dress Hack

In my latest Minerva Crafts blog I’ve taken a slightly different approach and made something for my daughter. Another dressmaker left a comment on my personal blog which got me thinking, she’d remarked that she had used the same pattern adapted for different members of her family so I wondered, could I use one pattern and adapt it for three generations, my 83 year old Mum, my 24 year old daughter and me? The 3 of us settled on Simplicity 8602 which is a top pattern that Mum and my daughter each wanted lengthened into a dress. Katie went for view C with short ruffled sleeves. Minerva had kindly provided me with some beautiful soft Viscose Jersey Fabric which Kate liked and, although the pattern isn’t intended for jersey, it’s a simple shape which shouldn’t present too much difficulty with a few careful steps.

This is a pattern which comes with cup size variations so that means you should be able to get a good fit without too much difficulty. Because I want to use the pattern for three different people and we are all very different shapes and sizes I traced off the pieces for each of us. Katie is the tallest so once I’d traced the pieces off I pinned the paper pattern pieces together to ‘tissue fit’ on her first before cutting the fabric out. I’m glad I did because the bust dart was definitely not in the right place, it was much too high, as was the armhole. To rectify this, I added approximately 2cms to the shoulder seams front and back which caused the pieces to drop down and fit Katie much better, the armhole became larger and the bust dart was now in the right place. The back neck was now a little low so I raised that up by 2cms too, I left the front neck as it was.

Because it’s jersey quite a bit of the dress could be sewn with the overlocker if you choose to although the seam allowances are 1.5cms rather than 5mm which the O/L sews. This would mean the garment could be significantly bigger if sewn with the O/L so bear that in mind. [sew jersey or stretch fabrics with a ‘flattened out’ zigzag if you don’t have an overlocker, use a regular zigzag to neaten the edges if they need it, jersey doesn’t fray although the cut edges do tend to curl if left.] I’m not going to lie, I had a trouble getting a satisfactory stitch on my machine. I’d changed to a new ‘stretch’ needle but it kept skipping stitches. I consulted my machine manual and tried a few things such as stitch length, slight tension alteration, I even bought a new reel of thread specifically but nothing absolutely solved it, it was ‘good enough’. Eventually I changed the needle again to a ‘jersey’ needle instead and that seems better. If one needle size or type doesn’t seem to work, try another.

I started by sewing the shoulder seams together first, stabilise them with some iron-on tape beforehand.

Instead of a facing the neckline needed a band which wasn’t part of the pattern so I measured the neck edge and cut a strip about 5cms wide by a little shorter than the length of the neck, probably 4-5cms shorter depending on the stretchiness of the jersey. This strip would then need to be placed evenly around the neck opening stretching it slightly to fit. I sewed this on with the overlocker.

I attached the sleeves next on the flat with the overlocker and then the side seams.

I used the rolled hem finish on the edges of the sleeves and sleeve ruffles. I gathered up the ruffles using a long wide zigzag and attached them as the pattern intended.

I thought the effect was nice but Katie begged to differ so I had to change them and gather them onto the edge of the sleeve. I’m not convinced she likes them any better! She didn’t like the neckline either so I had to take the band off completely, cut the front neck into a V and put a new band on. [I’ve remembered why I prefer sewing for myself by this point!]

Eventually, after shortening the skirt and the addition of elastic in a casing under the bust my client was (relatively) happy. I’m very grateful to Minerva for providing me with this lovely soft jersey, I’ll stick with sewing for myself from now on, I’m not so demanding!

Thanks for reading,

Sue @ Susan Young Sewing


Christmas Dress (Gone Casual)

The most wonderful time of the year deserves the most wonderful dress of the year! Cause who doesn’t love to look good, especially with Christmas?! Although my family does not necessarily like to dress super fancy for the holidays, I always like to use this occasion to wear something nice and special. That means dresses!

I was a little nervous though to be sewing a dress again. Not because they’re hard to make, mostly they are not. But in the last couple of years I have not worn much dresses, especially not the fitted ones. So I was nervous if the fit would be right and flattering on this one!

Still I started with high hopes and super duper nice materials! First, and most important of all, the fabric: this gorgeous Sweater Knit Fabric by Atelier Brunette. It is some greyish navy shade with small golden stripes. (Handy to know: it stretches in the length instead of the width.) I’ve had my eyes on it forever, and now finally found the perfect project for it! The fabric is super soft due to the brushed back, and also warm, which is nice for these cold days.

This fabric I cut using New Look Pattern 6428. It’s an easy pattern to only use with knits. I made view D in size 14, but from the waist down I let out the side seams approximately 4 cm to add a little more ease around my belly.

In the details a little extra glamour was added. In the center back seam I installed this shiny visible Metal Zipper that perfectly matches the fabric. The pattern actually prescribed using a 55cm (22”) invisible zipper, but because of the amount of stretch in this fabric I figured I wouldn’t need that one. Turns out I was right about that, so now I have a cool and shiny detail on the back of my dress! Additionally, the neckline and hems were topstitched using golden thread. I really love this detail, because it makes it look so much more festive!

So the result is a super lovely dress! It’s warm and comfy while I still look fancy! On top of that it definitely was a quick and easy sew, so good for last minute sewists like me.

The only disadvantage about holiday sewing to me is that the garments are often worn just once or a few times. To prevent that from happening I already tried to come up with a way to casually combine this dress. I took a dive into my closet and found this ochre knitted cardigan. I paired it all with another pair of shoes and there I had my casual outfit starring this dress! Now I never want to take it off again, haha.

All in all, I love how this dress looks on me, the fit is much better than I hoped for. So now I’m thinking of sewing more dresses again.

Have a very merry Christmas! And happy holidays to all!




McCalls 6981 Winterberry Pine Rayon Dress

I like to make myself a new Christmas dress each year (as well as dresses for my 2 daughters), however I always try to strike a balance between “feeling Christmas-y” yet not looking like I belong on the Christmas tree! I really admire people who confidently wear novelty prints and look amazing in them, I’m not one of those people!

Christmas in Australia is usually a hot and sunny affair, so keeping cool is key! This beautiful woven Rayon by Art Gallery Fabrics met all my Christmas dress criteria. The fabric is lightweight and feels silky, without being sheer, and the beautiful green tones say “Christmas” to me without limiting the dress to only being worn at Christmas.

The pattern I used is McCalls 6981. I used the sleeveless bodice from view A with the longer skirt option from view D. I’m 182 cm tall and didn’t need to add any length to the pattern. I’ve made this shirtdress once before and find it be a great fit and easy to make. As it is a Palmer Pletsch pattern, you get a lot of great fitting tips throughout the process. If you have not tried one of their patterns before, I highly recommend it!

In my photos the wind is assisting me to show off the fullness of the skirt which has such great swish when I walk! Don’t you just feel a little more elegant with a swishy skirt?! The skirt has 4 panels and nice big inseam pockets. I add pockets to just about everything I make and this pattern comes with my favourite style of dress pocket; one that is secured into the waist seam. This style of pockets sits nicely in place and doesn’t add bulk (unless you’re like me and always end up carrying your children’s’ stuff in your pockets!).

The Art Gallery Fabrics rayon was a dream to sew with! It is beautifully soft and has great drape. I almost always use my rotary cutter and cut on a single layer, which is what I did this time too, and had no problems with the fabric shifting. Despite its silky feel, the fabric held creases really well when pressed. Another bonus was that it didn’t get terribly wrinkly after pre-washing! It did need to be pressed, but some other rayons I’ve sewn with have come out of the machine in an unrecognizable crumpled mess!

When I sew with finer fabrics, like this Art Gallery rayon, I use sew-in interfacing (like cotton organdie) rather than iron on interfacing. In the past I’ve had less than desirable results with the glue on the interfacing on fine fabrics. My top tip for working with sew-in interfacing is to hand baste the interfacing to the pieces, that way your fabric doesn’t shift and the two layers stay perfectly aligned. Of course, if you avoid hand sewing at all costs, I would suggest using a walking foot on your machine.

To finish my dress I chose simple clear buttons. I always consider clear buttons as the next best thing to fabric covered buttons as you can still see your fabric but you don’t have to spend all that time covering buttons!

I absolutely love how easy this Art Gallery Fabrics rayon was to sew with and more importantly, I love how it feels on! This dress will be getting worn a lot more than just on Christmas day, it will be summer staple.

Happy Sewing!

Allison @ The Tall Mama


My First Sewing Kit Review

I've always allowed my girls to be around my sewing and use small tool notions and leftover fabrics to experiment. I want them to be able to share in the joy I have of sewing. Of course, many things are just too dangerous for them to use at their age. Or, if I do allow them to use them, they need a lot of supervision to make it safe.
That's why I was excited to try this new kit, My First Sewing Kit. It's billed on the front of the box as "a fun way to start sewing." It contains everything a child needs to make four different projects: a photo frame, pencil case, secret diary, and cupcake handbag. The kit says it's for ages 6+, but my five-year-old tried it out, and I really feel that someone a little younger could attempt the projects with help from you.
The projects are definitely slanted towards typical girl activities. The colors, too, are mainly girly. This isn't to say that a boy couldn't enjoy trying his hand at sewing these projects, but they seem to have limited appeal in that direction. It could be a lovely gift or evena fun activity at a sleepover, with each attendee working on one of the crafts.
The individual projects are divided into their own plastic bags. They each contain the materials for that particular item. Each bag even holds its own needle, so there's no need to worry about losing one. It also means that more than one person can be working on sewing something at the same time. The box states that the needles have functional sharp points, but they really are quite dull. While you could poke it into something if you tried, your child won't be able to hurt their fingers as they work the needle through the pre-cut holes in the project foam.
My daughter immediately chose the most difficult project, the cupcake handbag. The directions aren't difficult, and there are a few drawings to help you figure it out. However, the directions do say that you should look at the color photos on the box for more help, and I would recommend that. Some aspects of the project were impossible to figure out otherwise. 
I did need to help my daughter work on this, but an older child would probably be able to work on it independently. Probably the most difficult aspect was just trying to get the cord through the needle eye. The cord kept unravelling as I attempted to shove it through. Perseverance won out, and I did get it, but my daughter never should have been able to.
Another issue we had was that each kit seems to come with the same amount of cord, and it was not enough for us to finish the handbag. My daughter did make a couple of stitching mistakes, so that may have contributed to this outcome, but I believe it wouldn't have been enough anyways.
We next made the photo frame, which was a straightforward project from beginning to end. In a lot of ways it was a glorified lacing card, but you end up with a cute little frame your child can display. I love that they get a sense of accomplishment that will help spur them on to trying new and more difficult sewing projects.
We haven't completed the other items in the kit yet, but we have been enjoying being able to sit down and work on a sewing project together that is just the right difficulty and size for a child. The projects are cute and immediately caught my daughter's attention. It's a great way to develop finger dexterity. All in all, a great little gift for the budding sewer in your life.

Embroidered Pincushion Project

Anyone who sews needs pincushions! I honestly don't think you can have too many, I have one in every room!
So I was excited to try out this cute Create a Pincushion Kit from Clover .
In the kit you get 2 parts of the pincushion, a grippy rubbery ring, and full instructions.
You need to add your own: fabric, fibre fill stuffing, embroidery thread (I used yellow and white).
You also need: needle, scissors, embroidery hoop.
I tried out some embroidery on a polka dot fabric to make a bag a little while ago.
I really loved the effect that you can get, playing with the regular dotty pattern so thought this pincushion kit was a good chance to try a little more.
Cut a square of polka dot fabric, the instruction let you know how big that needs to be, and find the most central dot. 
Pop the fabric in an embroidery hoop and fill that dot with yellow french knots, using 2 strands of embroidery thread.
Next work chain stitch petals in white, working from the central yellow dot, out to the next dot, round it and back to the centre. Repeat for each of the 6 petals and then chain stitch a line up the centre of each petal.
Add some smaller flowers on the dots between the petals. Work a simple lazy daisy stitch all around the dot to form a flower.
Take a handful of fibre fill stuffing and squish it into the base of the pincushion. 
It will spring back out, just hold it in as best you can and then lay the fabric over the top centrally.
Place the rubbery ring over the base, it will hold the fabric in place securely.
Take a minute or 2 to even out the gathers on the fabric then trim the excess. 
Pop the top over the pincushion.
Ta Dah!
This little kit makes making a pincushion super quick and simple. You can switch the fabric easily too, so if it gets worn out or you just fancy a change it's no problem. 
I'm loving the designs you can make stitching over polka dot fabric, it's a fun way to embroider! 

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