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Unicorn Believer

Welcome to my first guest blog post for Minerva Crafts reviewing the Sublime Stitching Embroidery Transfers Unicorn Believer. 

The item arrived in perfect condition in a reinforced envelope preventing the pattern from being damaged or bent in the post.  Until the package arrived I didn’t know which product had been chosen for me to use and review.  I was really pleased with the choice as I design my own embroidery patterns & usually transfer them onto fabric by tracing with a pencil and a light source, in my case an app on my iPad, and so I was looking forward to trying a new method. 

In the sealed envelope with the pattern was an instruction leaflet, one side with instructions on how to transfer the images onto fabric and the other side detailing some basic embroidery stitches.

I like to plan the layout and sizing before transferring a design and I did a very rough trace of my chosen images into a hoop template on paper. I then cut out the patterns that were required. There is enough space around each design to make cutting easy, all of which help to make the process quicker & easier. 

Transferring the image to the fabric was very simple and I followed the details on the instruction leaflet by ironing the fabric first to heat it before applying the transfer. The designer comments if this part of the process is missed out the pattern may fail to transfer to the fabric.  I had chosen a white cotton with a fairly tight weave as the backing Fabric & I batch cut some suitable squares to be able to experiment with the transfers.

The iron must be set to hot/cotton and with the steam settings off.

I was really pleased with how the images transferred although my first attempt wasn’t as good as the following two because I didn’t apply enough equal pressure with the iron, leaving a couple of areas that were quite pale. However, the image was still clear enough to see for stitching. The transferred image is a pale grey colour similar to a fine pencil line. 

I also tested how permanent/water resistant the transfer is. I like to use fabric paints and a waterproof transfer is essential to prevent the design from running. This transfer was completely permanent and waterproof and there was no sign of bleeding into the white cotton when I applied water.

I did a couple more transfers of the smallest design and each one was equally as good. The patterns states there should be approximately 6 transfers for each image. Once the ink runs out the design can still be used as a template to trace onto fabric using my usual method.

I used two DMC Colour Variation Threads (100% cotton) for the Unicorn, heart and letters in the DMC Perle Thread. The Unicorn’s mane was stitched with a lilac DMC Metallic Thread that I had in my stock and I stitched the whole design using a simple backstitch.

The fine lines of the transfer worked well under the light coloured thread and couldn’t be seen under the stitches and also didn’t smudge whilst handling the fabric, which can sometimes happen with a pencil transfer.

The finished work was mounted in a 4 inch white Flexi Hoop.

Overall, I was really impressed with the design, ease of transferring the pattern and the quality of the transfer.  I like being able to mix and match the designs and my stitches easily covered the lines of the pattern.

There are many Sublime Stitching Embroidery Transfer Designs and I plan to use more of them in the future from Minerva Crafts and have already started working on another Unicorn picture.

Thank you for reading my review,

Helen @ Just Sew Helen

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Super Warm Faux Fur Collar Easy Knit Jumper by Anastasya

Hi guys!

I got the change to try out the Peter Pan Precious Yarn and when I received the yarn, I was really happy to see how fantastically soft and furry and huggable it is! It spoke to me in a warm whisper and it said “fur”.

I went back to the Minerva site and found a Knitting Pattern with the largest collar I could see.

Luckily, it was easy-knit and included larger sizes – both essential, as I was planning to knit it by myself for myself. The pattern is really very simple. All you need to know is knit and purl stitch. You use knit 2 purl 2 rib for bottom, cuffs and collar and knit row purl row for the rest of the jumper.

After consulting Nelly, my favourite elephant (you can see her looking bemused in the corner of the picture) I added some old wool, a pair of knitting needles and a glass of red. I was ready to begin.

I began. Knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2… Then I put on some music. Knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2… pick up dropped stitch… knit 2, purl 2… Then I found some more old wool, as I didn’t have nearly enough. Luckily, I had the same type of wool in a different colour. Nelly was sniggering in the corner, but I ignored her. Those who can do – do, those who cannot do – critique, those who cannot critique - manage. Nelly is a born manager. I am not. So, back to work I go: knit 2, purl 2… Two weeks and a bottle or two later I had a jumper: three colours, three textures, the softest, furriest and huggabliest collar ever. The third texture was obtained by the simple expedient of turning the sleeves, knitted according to the pattern, inside out.

I was happy. But Nelly wasn’t – look at her, looking positively despondent under my beautiful new jumper!

She thought the collar needed to be balanced by something else, just as furry. There is nothing more infuriating than a back-seat knitter, especially when they are right! I added a strip at the bottom by embroidering it on top with a latch-hook (someone with more malice of forethought can just knit the strip to begin with). It did look better.

The strip balances the collar in front.

and on the back.

If you make it big enough, you can also change the shape of the collar – for extra ventilation and allure.

I am happy – and so is Nelly. Here she is, giving you a wave. Until next time!

Thanks for reading,

Anastasya @ Scarlet Line

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Prym Ergonomic Sewing Tools Gift Box Review by Kathy

Hi everyone, it's Kathy here from www.sewdainty.co.uk and I have had the pleasure of testing out this super Prym Ergonomic Sewing Tools Gift Box, available here at Minerva Crafts for £18.99.
The kit contains four handy sewing tools all packaged together so is perfect to give as a gift, or as a treat to yourself! As you would expect with Prym tools, they are high quality and built to last, and as the name suggests- they have ergonomic anti-slip handles to assist you with fatigue free movement.
I recently tested out my new tools on my latest sewing toile and was delighted that I could use all four on one single project!
The Tracing Wheel
The Tracing Wheel is a fine toothed tracing wheel which is used to transfer pattern markings onto pattern paper or fabric, and can be used alone or with tracing paper. It draws a clear dotted line.
I used it with some dressmakers tracing paper to transfer pattern markings from my traced pattern piece (a skirt waistband) onto the wrong side of the fabric. I had already cut the waistband piece out.
In the picture below I have placed the tracing paper on the table with the 'chalky' side up. I then placed the fabric on the top of this with the wrong side down. The pattern markings will now transfer on to the wrong side of the fabric. The pattern piece is placed on the top, and the pattern markings that you need to trace will be clearly visible.
I am showing you here how I ran the wheel along the 'centre front' line marking on the pattern. You can do this 'freehand' or use a ruler if you prefer.
When you turn the fabric over you will see the wheel has left a clear dotted line.
I also used the tracing wheel and tracing paper for some of the other pattern markings. Here you can see I marked short straight lines on the bottom edge to show where the notches are, and crosses to show where the small circles are.
The Stitch Ripper
The Stitch Ripper has a sharp blade with a rounded tip. It is suitable for right and left handers and the handle length can be extended by using the end cap. What can I say guys.. you can never have too many seam rippers! I used the seam ripper on this project to remove the line of basting that I had sewn when inserting the zip.
The Needle Twister
I love a good sewing gadget and have wanted to get my hands on one of these magic devices for a while now. The Needle Twister stores and protects your sewing or darning needles and displays them like a fan, so that you can select the one you need quickly and easily. You simply take the top off and twist the needles up. It contains a magnet inside to ensure that the needles stay put and when twisted back down again the cap snaps into place making it a great travel accessory too. I used my needle twister on this project when I needed to hand sew the waistband to the skirt on the inside.
It is suitable for needles up to 64mm in length and these are not included - I popped in some new needles that I had in a packet in my sewing basket. You can find packets of needles on the Minerva Crafts site.
The Chalk Wheel
So this is another way of transferring pattern markings onto your fabric, and I used it on the other end of the waistband piece as a comparison with the tracing wheel technique. The Chalk Wheel contains dressmakers chalk in powder form which will brush/wash out when you are done with it. It has a small wheel at the top of the pen which draws a fine chalk line. As with the other tools it is suitable for right and left handers.
I am showing you how I marked the 'centre back' line using the chalk wheel. I popped a pin at either end of the line that I wanted to mark, flipped the piece over and, using a ruler, ran the chalk wheel  from one pin to the other, (I removed the pins at the last minute to enable the ruler to lay flat),  on the wrong side of the fabric. This leaves a fine chalk line which I somehow managed to smudge a little.  Again, the chalk line will disappear when rubbed or washed away. 
I also used the chalk pen to mark out the notches on the lower edge with short lines and the circle markings by marking crosses.
What's also great about this particular tool is that you can swap over the chalk cartridge either when you have used up the chalk or when you want to use a different colour. Refill cartridges are available on the Minerva Crafts website in either white or yellow chalk. Simply pull the old one out and click the new one in! This tool also comes with a lid to protect the wheel.
A huge thank you to Minerva Crafts for allowing me to test out this super gift set. They are great quality and comfortable and easy to use, and all will play a very important part in my future dressmaking needs.
Take care, and happy sewing,
Kathy x
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Summer Tops to Wedding Gowns, Supreme Chiffon Fabric

I love to layer garments! I need to be warm, but don't like thick restrictive clothes. In summer I rarely wear cardigans, but still like to be warm, often wearing open shirts over summer tops and dresses. Equally I don't have much need for formal clothes, so I like to make things that can fulfil both functions.
When I had the opportunity to review this delicate Chiffon Fabric that's available in over 30 colours I knew exactly what I'd make with it.
Marcy Tilton's Vogue 9153 was a pattern I'd already made. It's incredibly versatile due to its asymmetric design.
You can make it just like the pattern. However, you can use each side of it to make a symmetrical shirt. I already have 3 completely different shirts from this pattern.
I chose the Ivory Chiffon as I thought it'd work well with loads of different coloured fabrics. The fabric has a crepe finish more like georgette giving it a lovely soft drape. It's remarkably strong, but suits fuller designs as it shouldn't be too tight at seams.
This isn't a fabric for someone very new to sewing, it moves at all stages of making a garment and can be difficult to cut on grain. If using on the bias it'll need hanging to allow it to drop before hemming. Also put it on to get the hem level. Patience and preparation is key to success. Stabilising with spray starch will help with cutting out and making, but the starch will need to be washed out before wearing to regain the beautiful characteristics of the cloth.
Fine, long pins are going to help throughout, as well as a size 70 machine needle.
Scissors or rotary cutter? This has to come down to preference. I hate having to move fabric around as I don't have a permanent cutting table with a large cutting board, however, with such a transient fabric I chose to cut out one piece at a time. Stopping it from slipping and getting the fabric on grain is the most important thing. I started by making sure my pattern layout would work as I didn't pin all the pieces at the same time. I always lay fabric parallel to edge of my table or cutting surface as it helps to keep everything parallel. I used a long ruler and weights to do this. My ruler came from Wilko and the weights from a discount supermarket.
I pinned each major pattern piece and cut it. Always pin out to the edges at corners and at regular intervals in between, closer together on curves. Pinning with the points toward the edge keeps the pattern in the right place, making sure the pins don't stick out past the edge so you don't ruin your scissors or rotary cutter.
As you cut the weight of the fabric hanging off the table is going to pull it off grain. As I cut I lift the fabric onto the table to help keep everything in line.
There are many ways to transfer pattern markings to your fabric. It's essential to try out any pens on a sample of fabric before committing to your cloth to be sure they will really disappear! On such a delicate cloth I used traditional methods using a light coloured thread. A coloured thread can leave fibres in the cloth.
For darts I used tailors tacks, making a very small stitch through the dot of the dart.
On a firmer fabric I often only mark the top and bottom of fold lines, however on this delicate cloth I thread traced the centre front and fold lines. Making long stitches along the pattern lines with a double thread. Cut between each stitch and carefully remove the pattern.
This fabric is see through so multiple layers will be more opaque and any interfacing is going to show. A fusible interfacing might change the characteristics of the fabric and the glue might be really obvious. I used Silk Organza to interface the button stand and the collar. I like silk organza because it's not a solid colour and adds stability without being too stiff.
It was important for me that the seams and hems were to be a design feature of this shirt. It's impossible to hide them, so I wanted to make them part of the finished garment. French seams are ideal for translucent fabric, making them as narrow as possible. However, I wanted something a bit more obvious! I use felled seams for shirts and to have solid areas of fabric in this shirt appealed to me. The felled seams created bands of solid fabric which I really like. This type of seam takes a bit more preparation, stitching and trimming, pressing and probably tacking before the final stitching. This pattern also has exposed darts made on the right side of one side that need some careful matching at the side seam, especially as the three layers of fabric make them more obvious.
The right front has a gathered casing. I'd intended to leave this out, but it made the shirt really lopsided, so I inserted elastic into a casing and secured it to the side seam with a button.
If, like me, you make a collar or cuffs, neck bands etc, you need to give some thought to how to do them. I used a layer of silk organza tacked to both layers of the collar and collar band, trimmed very close to the stitching line. However the seam allowances still show.
I'm happy with that, but trimming evenly and reducing bulk round curves and corners is essential as the inner workings are going to show unless you use a solid fabric for interfacing. If you choose a coloured chiffon the interfacings are going to affect the colour of the fabric, white might not be the best choice, a coloured cotton will add more intensity of colour if that's the effect you want.
I use a Simflex buttonhole gauge to space buttonholes. 
A tip is to make buttonholes starting at the bottom of the shirt, as you move up to the next buttonhole the threads don't get caught into the next one.
Chiffon snags easily, so I prefer to use a buttonhole chisel to open my buttonholes. A blunt stitch ripper could spoil your garment, often at the centre front where it's so obvious.
I made one other alteration to this pattern, adding a seam to the front of the sleeve with a split down to the hem. It's certainly not important, but it achieved the effect I was after.
As I wanted the contrast between single and multiple layers of this fabric the hems were also important, making them a design feature. This was achieved with a deep hem, tacking them along the fold line might take more time, but really helped in getting a good finish.
This is a lovely fabric in so many different colours. It'll look beautiful as a floaty layer over tulle and perfect for special occasion wear, including bridal and prom dresses. Also great for swimwear cover ups as well as beautiful summer tops worn over camisoles and just slipping on as summer evening get slightly cooler.
Thanks for reading,
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Wendy Ward Book Review by Sarah

Wendy Wards much anticipated new book 'A Beginners Guide to Working With Knit Fabrics', has been a complete success, flying off the shelves to a quick sell out as soon as it was released. When you get your hands on it I think you will quickly understand why.

Sewing knits always seems to be a nerve inducing experience for new sewists. There seems to be a myth that it's harder to work with knit fabrics and more difficult to get the correct fabric for your projects without some prior existing sewing knowledge. Well I can confidently say that Wendy manages to push all your worries about working with knits aside in this book and makes it a really accessible new skill to acquire. She guides us through every step from picking your first project, even suggesting the easiest ones from the book for complete beginners, which tools you need, picking fabrics, understanding stretch, how to measure yourself and use the size charts, how to wash and care for your knits and how to sew together each item, all with great instructions, pictures and illustrations.

My first make from the book was the Longshaw skirt. I was inspired, looking ahead to long summer days when I wanted something floaty to wear. The great thing about this is that you can also pair it with either of the tops in the book, the Peak tee or the Winnat tank, or sew them together to make a dress. With versatility in mind I opted for separates and a neutral colour. Black after all goes with everything, it's just a total pain to photograph! I teamed it with a black tank, feeling that as with the faux jumpsuits I have seen all over Instagram I could make it look like a dress when I wanted to. I think it works well and it feels kind of elegant to wear but with the added bonus of being like secret pyjamas!

The skirt is incredibly simple, only consisting of three pieces and some elastic. It took me less than an hour to put together and I love it! There is an interesting drape detail at the sides which forms two really deep pockets and it’s a great little design feature which sets it apart from other simple jersey skirts.

I used caviar black Art Gallery Jersey Fabric from Minerva, it isn't cheap but it is really good quality and has good recovery which you want for this skirt as you want the hem of the skirt to be able to stretch when you walk. I actually learnt that it isn't appropriate to use a twin needle on these types of hems as it won't stretch enough so this is my first time hemming something with a three step zig zag stitch. I have been sewing with knits for a couple of years now and I am still learning and picking up tips and I love that even a simple project meant I learnt something new.

The second item is a black Winnats tank top, again made in the caviar black jersey. This pattern can also be lengthened into a dress, something that I think I will do with some other Art Gallery Fabric I own. I feel the fit on this is loose enough to avoid tummy issues with clingy jersey!!

This top came together impeccably and I love the fact I have a wonderful basic to throw together with jeans or other skirts and that it makes a complete outfit when paired with the Longshaw skirt. I lengthened the top about six cms from the normal hem line suggested for the top. I have a bit of a tummy and find longer tops I can ruche up a little more forgiving on me.

Finally I made the Peak Tee in the cropped length, which for those worried it will be too short for them I can reassure that it's not too cropped! Made in another Art Gallery Knit Fabric I just love how these beautiful jerseys can be showcased on such a simple silhouette. I will definitely be lining up some batch sewing for more summer tees very soon! I didn’t think that sewing basics could be so much fun but I love it. This tee was so simple to make and these patterns are so well drafted that they come together impeccably.

The thing I like most about this book is that every single project is straightforward. Having sewn three items from this book I can attest that they all went together with ease, they were quick to make and best of all, possible to sew together on a normal sewing machine. No overlocker required. The projects create a mini capsule wardrobe of basics that sit perfectly with each other and slide into those holes we all have in our closets. I love the Winnat tank paired in this photo with an existing me made Esme cardigan from Named Patterns. I think the Kinder cardigan in Wendy’s book would also be great for this look.

Wendy also shows us variations to expand each pattern and make it our own, I love the examples of the Peak tee cut from scraps of fabric and the box shaped shirring that makes gathers on one side of the tee for an interesting detail. So many cool ideas to try. She also shows us colour blocking techniques to great effect. Plus on top of what I have shown you, there are a couple of trouser patterns and a lovely cardigan to try so lots more options to sew up.

Overall a fantastic book and I have been so happy to be able to review it. Go out and buy it and start your journey sewing up knits now!!

Sarah @ Sewing Beautifully

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Powder Pink Linen Jumpsuit by Carly

As winter slowly started to turn into Spring and the flowers started to bloom and the sun began to make some fleeting appearances, my mind instantly turned to my summer wardrobe. Pretty much all I want to wear on long, hot sunny days are natural fibres. Summer clothing needs o be able to breath, easy to wear, simple and stylish. Not too much to ask, right?

So, when the oppurtunity arose for me to try out this Blades Linen and Cotton Mix Fabric, I literally stumbled over myself to say 'YES!'. I have a huge crush on linen, but we all know that it can be a little bit wrinkly...that's not so easy-care is it? But add some cotton into the fibre mix and you end up with a stable, breathable fabric with minimal creasing. Result!

I've been experimenting a bit with colour in my wardrobe lately, and pink is a colour that I don't use or wear a lot. When I spotted the powder pink colour way of this fabric, I knew that it was the one. It's pink without being 'too' pink. A lovely dusky shade, with a little hint of blue to the tone. The perfect pink to get me started.

When my fabric parcel arrived from Minerva Crafts in just a few days, I ripped into the wrapping like it was Christmas morning and it pretty much felt like it to be honest. The Linen and Cotton fabric is so dreamy! It's a heavy weight, so it has lots of body to it, but it's got a lovely soft and drapey handle too. Perfect for a jumpsuit!

My ultimate all-weather item of clothing is the jumpsuit. It can be layered in the winter over roll-necks and worn with boots, but it's also the perfect summer attire too. I'm not much of a seperates girl, I much prefer a one-peice as you don't have to think too much about styling it. Literally just pull it on, pop on a pair of sandals et voila! No worrying about whether I have a top that'll match with that skirt or whether those shorts can be worn with that vest.I spent a ehile looking at jumpsuit patterns and I decided to try the Butterick See & Sew 6312 Pattern. I've seen a couple of sewing bloggers make this jumpsuit on social media and I loved it's ease and versatility. I didn't want to faff around with fitting too much so thise loose-fit jumpsuit looked like a good option.

The pattern is easy to sew and has lots of built in ease, so it would be a great starting point for beginners and also great for more seasoned sewists as you can take your time over this sew and flex those skills that aren't used too often. I decided to omit the zipper on the back of the jumpsuit, and instead mirrored the front v-neck. This meant that I didn't have to install a zipper, which if I'm honest, isn't my favourite sewing task! Instead I could just slip this on over my hips without the need for an extra opening. WInner! 

I bias-bound both the front and back neck lines with some cotton bias tape from my stash which I picked up last year on a trip to Amsterdam. Using binding isn't a sewing skill I use often, but I thouroughly enjoyed it, and I am really pleased with the tidy finish on the inside of the jumpsuit. I think it makes the seams and openings a little more robust too, and we all know that a robust outfit is necessary when you're the busy Mum of two wildlings!

The linen and cotton blend fabric is a joy to sew with, and this was such a quick a satisfying make in general. It stitches beautifully and presses perfectly. I opted to make a belt from the same fabric, and simply cut a length of fabric 6 inches wide, folded in half and topstitched. I think the belt really pulls this look together and is really flattering, almost kimono-esque with the grown on sleeves and pulled in waist.

This make has come out better than I could have dreamed! I think the fabric, colour and pattern are all a match made in heaven. The weighty fabric in a saturated dusky colour mixed with the shape of the jumpsuit have combined to make a suprisingly elegant and versatile garment. I've been lusting over some similar high-end linen jumpsuits from indie designers and small clothing companies, but the price tags are around the £150-£200 mark. I used 3m of this fabric making the total cost £44.97 (and there's a little left over to make my daughter some summer shorts too). To me, that is an absolute bargain. 

This fabric is such high-quality and because it's a nice heavy weight, it should last the test of time, making it the perfect slow and concious item to add to my me-made wardrobe.

I'm already planning which colour to make this jumpsuit in again next - this fabric comes in so many delicious colours, it's a hard job to choose, but I'm leaning towards the ochre!

Thanks for reading,

Carly @ Lucky Sew and Sew

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Zippy "Pussy Bow" Blouse in Soft Crepe Fabric by Isa

Hi everyone! 
I'm Isa, writing to you from Portugal. Usually you will find me over at my blog but today I'm delighted to have been considered to test yet another of the marvelous products offered by Minerva crafts: the well loved and best seller Soft Crepe Fabric.
I'm as much of a sucker for a pretty print as the next sewist, but in the end I have no idea what to pair it with in my wardrobe. I end up making something else out a solid fabric to combine with it, and this is where Minerva crafts fantastic range of solid fabrics becomes an invaluable source. Minerva's Soft touch polyester crepe is awesome as a basic garment fabric, it makes gorgeous blouses and tops, and would become lovely in a flowy dress, but do consider lining it as it has very little bottom weight. Vicky from Minerva crafts gave me a help with my color choice after I narrowed it down to two of the lovely 60!! color options.
I dithered on what to make with the fabric, and my source of inspiration (aka blatant copy of the idea) came out of a genius make a member posted on the Sew Over it facebook group - I made the Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse Pattern, yet instead of the tie, I applied a pretty metal zip to the neckline. 
I also changed the hem a bit, to make it cuter to use without tucking it in - I combined the curved hem of the Bruyére Shirt Pattern by Deer and Doe to make a prettier rounded hem. I love the pussy bow blouse pattern, it gives a really nice preppy look, and if sleeve plackets scare you, fear not, this has none.
As my usual, I used french seams throughout, except for the center seam, as it would add unnecessary fiddlyness to my zipper insertion.  I'm really happy with my new shirt, the soft crepe worked wonderfully with this pattern, it is the quintessential workwear blouse material - you get to the end of the day with minimal creasing (specially if you're used to using viscose fabrics), and you don't feel like you're in a sauna inside it.
If I were to change something I would get a even longer zip, insert it quite lower, and use the pull to cinch it closed. Also I should have been a bit more mindful to the fit, I thought my first version had worked pretty perfect, but the soft crepe wears a bit different, and now I think I might need a FBA, front shoulder and sway back adjustment.
And there we have it - another pretty work-appropriate blouse to add to the collection, and this is definitively not my last out of this lovely fabric.
See you for now!
Best
Isa
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Yellow Needlecord Pinafore Dress

Hi Everyone, 
So today I’m going to be talking about this 21 wale Cotton Needlecord Fabric. I found it hard to chose a colour from all the beautiful choices but I finally decided on the bright yellow. I don’t usually wear yellow, but I thought it would be a fun colour choice for the summer season. Plus all this hot weather has made me very happy indeed. So maybe it’s my offering of gratitude to the sun.  
Firstly this needlecord is so soft. The fine ribs make it feel really velvety, which I love. It’s such a great quality for a lighter weight corduroy too. I already had an idea of what I wanted to make with it. Last year I made a navy needle cord Cleo Pinafore Dress (A Tilly and the Buttons Pattern) and I’ve worn it so much since then. So I thought a summer version would be great fun to make. 
Before I did anything, I obviously washed the fabric. Sometimes I feel needlecord gets really ‘dry’ after you wash it, but I was pleased to see this one came out the machine just as soft as before. It was really easy to press too. Cutting out my pieces were a breeze. I use a rotary cutter when doing this sort of work. As this corduroy isn’t too thick, it’s so easy to cut and all my pieces were on the table in minutes.

I thought I’d change the Cleo pattern slightly, so I went with a knot front tie instead of the usual buckles and jeans buttons. I think it’s turned out really cute. Before I added the facings, I cut two small rectangles and pressed them in half lengthways then pressed both long sides into the centre. I used my machine to top stitch both long sides, then put both raw ends between the facing and the bib front. Before sewing as normal to the pattern’s instruction. 
When it came to the straps I lengthened them by about 15”. You may, however, want to measure where yours would sit on you and add extra length for the knot tie. It was super fun to change the pinafore to this style. And I really like how it looks. Not a hard adaptation either.
Please ignore my twisted straps in the photo!! 
The fabric was easy to sew with. It went through my machine with ease. And as I’ve made this pinafore a few times before it didn’t take long to sew at all. I would urge you to try out a pattern using this fabric. It’s so soft and comes in a huge array of different colour choices. Next, I think I  would love to make a little pinafore for my bestie’s daughter. Maybe in the Soft Pink or Kingfisher Blue. It’s a great fabric choice for children’s clothes. 
I hope you like what I’ve made and I’ve inspired some of you to try out this fabric. Think skirts, dungarees, dresses. You can be really creative. 
Happy Handmade everyone!
Sophia x 
@Jessalli_Handmade / jessalli.co.uk
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A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics Book Review by Elaine

Well, now I'm really buzzing to be invited to take part in the blog tour launch of Wendy Ward's new book, A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics. Designer and teacher Wendy has been working in the fashion industry for many years and this is her third sewing book. I've been watching in anticipation as Wendy developed her pieces over the course of the year, giving us sneak peeks of both fabric prints as well as garments themselves and been I’ve been filled with admiration. So I was super excited to get the chance to help review the book before its launch.

If you follow Wendy on social media, you may already be familiar with the cover and as soon as you open the book you will see that it has a fresh, clear layout that makes it easy to read and accessible for beginner sewists and more seasoned sewers alike. It has beautiful photos of suitable fabric and the garments that help you see what you could create using this guide.

Wendy starts the book with an introduction to sewing fundamentals that will help you get started if you are brand new to sewing, right from basic equipment to how to take measurements. The information is laid out carefully and clearly and is easy to understand. You needn’t worry about understanding technical sewing terms as Wendy plainly explains all the relevant “rules” for sewing knits. It’s also suitable for people who already sew but maybe haven’t tackled knits that much.

She then introduces different types of knit fabric, how to handle them and which garments each type of knit is suitable for before explaining how to set up your machine to create the clothes. The information is summarised in a glossary for quick reference.

While knit fabrics tend to be used for casual clothes, with imaginative fabric selection, these garments can be very informal or dressed up depending on how you style them so they give great scope for forming capsules for work or play and different seasons as well.

Wendy has designed six core garments, which offer a selection of pieces that can be mixed and matched to created bespoke wardrobes to fit your own personal style. They are also suitable to be made using your regular machine, so there is no need for an overlocker if you don’t have one. These include trousers, skirts, tops and jackets. With adjustments to lengths, sleeves, and fabric weight, you get a huge number of permutations on how you can make and style these garments; the book provides 20 different options in all. The book is primarily aimed at beginners and is presented in a way that you could gradually develop your skills sewing with knits.

In addition to all this technical information and inspiration, the book contains full scale patterns in 10 sizes, which allow you to create all of the beautiful designs shown in the book.

Now to see how well this book works hands on I was challenged to make a garment from the book. It was really difficult as I wanted to make more thank one and I will be doing more sewing from this book, I’m absolutely sure. Finally, I chose to make the Derwent Wide Legged Trousers in Ponte Roma Knit Fabric in a lovely denim marl finish from Minerva Crafts (Thank you!) Spoiler alert: I actually ended up making the Kinder cardigan as well in grey Sweatshirt Knit Fabric..

In addition to the book you will need fabric as well as some simple tools, rulers and pens and paper for tracing and cutting your pattern. Then scissors or a rotary cutter and cutting board, which I find very useful with knits; and obviously your sewing machine.

The first task and probably most time consuming is the tracing of the patterns. All six patterns are printed on three doubled sided sheets of paper. The patterns overlap so you must follow the colour key to ensure you have all the correct pieces. If you have ever used a Burda magazine then this will be nothing new to you. They are printed on good quality paper and each piece clearly identified. Probably my only gripe with this book was the pattern’s packaging. Once out of the cellophane package I couldn’t get the pattern sheets back in again and to add to my annoyance I couldn’t easily remove the packaging from the book. I’d love it if there were a pouch or pocket in the back of the book where I could keep my patterns for future use. Apart from that I’m really impressed with it.

Also it is important to follow the correct size line on the pattern, using the guide in the book, measure yourself and identify the your size. These are all relatively easy pieces to sew up and could easily be done in 3-6 hours by a novice sewer. The instructions are clear straightforward and comprehensive.

Bear in mind that these pieces do not have loads of elements so it should be quite easy to prepare each one. The Derwent trousers for example have only four seams!

This book has given me lots of inspiration to create and wear a new shape and also to dabble in different prints and fabric to my usual choices. It’s so versatile that I’m sure this could become a collection of TNT patterns.

So what do we have, a collection of timeless, essential garments that allow beginners or seasoned sewers to create a set of beautiful outfits. Accompanied by comprehensive instructions on how to select, prepare and construct your knitted fabric garments. With a potential 20 different pieces this collection is also amazing value and any sewer would be delighted to have this collection at hand with which to create a fabulous capsule wardrobe. I really think this is a great book to give as a gift or even better, keep for yourself.

I highly recommend this book and unlike other sewing books I’ve bought before I actually want to make all of the items in it. I was asked to make one piece and I’ve already made two, as well as the lounge pants I made a Kinder cardigan as well. Go and ahead buy The Beginners Guide to Sewing Knitted Fabric, excuse me while I start on my next item!.

Thanks for reading,

Elaine @ That Random Madam

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Jurassic Park Bag Making with Emma

Jurassic Park! What excellent Fabric Minerva Crafts sent me to review for this blog post! Anyone that has seen my Insta feed knows I’m a big fan of the novelty print and in particular, the ol’ dinosaurs. So of course, I jumped at the chance of giving this Art Gallery Cotton Canvas Fabric a test drive.

The fabric is from the ‘Esoterra’ range from Art Gallery Fabrics designed by Katarina Roccella. It is described as “bringing to life an extinct luscious land where beautiful and exotic creatures roamed. Katarina captures the archaeological essence of this mysterious world with lush foliage and rugged textures enhanced by deep green, dark teals, greys and hints of fuchsia.” Can’t argue with that. It’s refreshing to have a ‘grown-up’ dinosaur print rather than the usual cartoony style. 

This fabric is a fantastic weight for an array of projects, but I fancied giving bag making a go. The pattern I chose was The Everyday Tote by Bagstock. This appealed as the design of the bag would make the dino fabric the main feature and it wouldn’t be obscured by zips or handles.

This is the first ‘proper’ bag that I’ve made using all the techniques and supplies needed and I certainly learnt a lot! I would call this bag a ‘wearable toile’. It’s far from perfect but I definitely want to use it!

Lucky for you guys if you want to make one yourself, Minerva also supply most of the equipment including this Foam Lining which gave the bag excellent structure.

I’m not going to run into a massive tutorial on this one, as the pattern instructions are excellent and well photographed, however, I thought a few pointers from a novice would be a good idea!
I chose to use faux leather vinyl for the contrast and straps on this bag. The first thing to note about this is that it does not enjoy going under a sewing foot particularly well. A walking foot is an absolute must for this – I’ve also heard you can pop a bit of scotch tape on the bottom of your regular machine foot to make sure it slides nicely under without sticking. Another handy hint is to use a good leather needle and topstitch with a longer stitch length than normal. Also – don’t pin it! Leatherette is going to get ugly marks in if you pin it – binder clips all the way!

Another thing I discovered when making this is that my Prym Pliers from previous reviews came in super handy! Rivets are used to attach the handles to the bag – in theory. I did not have any bag rivets and thought jeans rivets would do. Turns out no. Bag rivets are significantly longer and designed to pass through about 8mm of layers! I attached my mini rivets for decoration but had to sew the handles to the bag (not well, unfortunately!)
I would say here that the pattern says to leave the edges raw but I’m not a fan of that and tried to turn them under – however 4 layers of vinyl, foam, fabric and interfacing is pretty difficult to sew down neatly!! For next time I would buy some nice metal hardware that clips onto the raw edges of the straps.

Sewing the bottom panels is a bit of a challenge but a lot easier than anticipated. Prepare your bottom panel well, with interfacing, and additional layer of foam but keep the ½ inch seam allowance free and it will be much easier to attach. Bag feet are optional, but the sewing gods were on my side that day – and I found a set I had been hoarding for years!! I think they give the bag a lovely professional finish.

The lovely shape of the bag is formed by squashing the side edges down to the bottom panel – clip it well people. Don’t be afraid to manhandle that bag either, you absolutely have to Crocodile Dundee style wrestle that thing under the needle!

Flipping the bag the right way around and it starts to take shape. At this point, I wanted a little extra structure in the bottom and again raided my stash for something that would do the trick. I think this plastic stuff is called ‘7 Count Plastic Canvas’ and used for cross-stitch, but it’s essentially sheet plastic ideal for bag bottoms and cutting to size. I tacked it down to the seam allowance inside, so it didn’t shift around. 
Next up is the lining- I had some cute mini dinos just perfect for this bag! You could absolutely go to town with all the bells and whistles on the interior here. Mine has an inner zip pocket and two slip pockets for keys/phone etc.

In my opinion, the best bit of any handbag is having a zip! I am clumsy/boisterous and often wing my handbag into the car, who wants al their stuff dropping out?! Zips are a necessity in my opinion. This one is an absolute beauty as it opens wide allowing the bag to be filled to its full potential and its trapped into the lining, which creates a lovely recess.
Now the magic happened when the outer bag goes into the lining, and the clips magically make it fit together – the more clips the better at this point as again it’s going to need wrangling under the machine all the way around the top (keep those straps out of the way!)

Ensure you leave enough room in the lining for turning – there’s a point here where I started to wonder whether I had destroyed the work of the last 2 days but out it came!!

The last part of this make requires a top stitch 1/8” all the way around the edge – oh my. That’s a LOT of layers its going through right there. I tried 3 different feet and 2 different needles but settled on a walking foot in the end. Vinyl is not forgiving and will not let you unpick stitching without scars! Many clips and much breathing through it later it was finished!!

Here it is in all its Jurassic glory – closest to a pre-historic plant I could find in my office. One of my fav parts is also that when you peek inside the bag, there’s a dinosaur looking back!
Thanks for reading,
Emma @ Crafty Clyde

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