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1980's Vintage Culottes

As a sewist with a serious fabric addiction I’m like a magpie when it comes to prints. Florals, geometric, polka dot, stripes - I love and buy them all. However, when it comes to making a handmade wardrobe with mix and match potential, plain fabrics are a must. There are some people who can get away with top to toe patterns but I’m certainly not one of them, plus I think there’s something rather striking and elegant about solid colours. With this in mind, in 2018, I am seeking out more neutrals to add to my stash.
Thankfully, Minerva Crafts has a fantastic selection, not least their impressive range of Cotton Poplin Fabrics. There are 39 colours to choose from - emerald green, cerise pink and royal blue to name but a few - and they are 100% cotton, meaning they are easy to work with and easy to wear.
I’d been eyeing them up for some simple tops and summer dresses for myself for a while but, in the end, my first order was for a selfless sewing project. My sister Jenny’s birthday was coming up and she was celebrating the occasion with a short break in Athens. She was on the look out for some lightweight summer trousers and, like a good sister, I offered to make her some.
The first task was choosing a pattern. Jenny’s style icon is Katharine Hepburn so our vision was a pair of wide-leg high-waisted slacks. We found quite a few suitable designs but after much deliberation we opted for a vintage culottes pattern from the 1980s. It’s part of a wonderful collection called Make it Easy, which originally belonged to my friend’s grandma. Jenny and I were attracted to the wonderful large pleats at the centre front and back, and I don’t think you could find a wider leg.
Unfortunately, vintage patterns are not widely available so here are a few similar designs you could choose; Simplicity 1069Simplicity 8447Simplicity 8177Vogue 9257 and Vogue 9091.
For fabric, Jenny wanted something light and natural to help keep her cool. She also wanted it to be plain, preferably in pale shade to reflect the heat. Minerva Crafts’ cotton poplins seemed the perfect choice and Jenny settled on beige - she imagined herself wearing the trousers with a white shirt for a vintage safari look!
Due to the width of the leg pieces, the culottes called for four metres of fabric but because I was lengthening them into full leg trousers I ended up ordering another two metres. Yes, that is a whopping six metres of fabric, but at just £5.99 per metre I don’t think that is too much to spend on a well-fitting pair of trousers. I may stick to the cropped culottes if I use this pattern again though.
Just as I’d hoped the cotton poplin was a dream to work with - silky soft with a luxurious sheen but not in the least bit slippy. It also managed to hold the pleats and drape beautifully at the same time. Another advantage to choosing cotton poplin over a regular cotton is that it doesn’t crease as much. This was especially appealing to Jenny who needed to pack her new slacks into a hand luggage sized case.
Jenny loved her finished trousers and I think they really suit her. She is quite tall - about 5ft11- and so can pull off statement trousers like these. The trousers have yet to face the Athens test but when we did our little photo shoot Jenny said she felt cool and comfortable. Creating these trousers for Jenny has strengthened my resolve to sew with solid colour fabrics and I’m sure many Minerva Crafts’ cotton poplins will be finding their way into my own wardrobe in the future.
Thanks for reading,
Lizzie @ lizziethimble
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Scuba 1960's Vogue Top by Karen

Anyone who has ever read my blog will know I'm not a fan of knits. I wear Knitted Fabric, what woman doesnt own a pair of leggings? But I don't usually sew with it.

But I want to challenge myself and improve my sewing skills. So when I got the chance to work with this holey Scuba Fabric, why would I say anything other than yes please!

The front of the fabric is smooth, but I love the texture of the reverse.

So I knew that whatever I made I wanted to reverse the fabric.

When it first came I spent a good bit of time scratching my head, trying to decide what to make. I actually started to cut out a dress but I wasn't in love with the pattern, so I set it aside and waited for inspiration to hit.

And when I saw Dr Alice Roberts wearing a t-shirt with some open fabric inserts on TV, inspiration was right there between the eyes.

I already had this 60's Vogue Sewing Pattern in my collection.

So I set about thinking how I could incorporate the scuba. Most of my makes are worn for work, so I knew I couldn't just do something as simple as replace the side panels. That would be a little too risque. But I knew I wanted to make a version of view B. So I decided to make the main body of the top from some plain jersey I had in my stash, with the sleeves made from scuba, and insert a panel of the scuba on the chest.

The top itself is very simple to make and works perfectly in a woven or a knit. It has princess seams in the front and the back to add some shape and a little bit of visual interest.

I don't have a huge amount of experience of princess seams, so I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.

And what about the scuba? It was a dream to work with. It stays put when you have 2 layers on top of each other, making it simple to cut and pin. It has just the right amount of body to hold a shape, and a good amount of stretch which will make it comfortable to wear.

I had expected it to be stiffer, thicker and heavier. Which wouldn't have been much fun at all. But this scuba fabric was great fun to use and definitely makes a potentially boring top a lot more interesting.

I wore the top to work today and can confirm it's very comfortable and feels fresh and modern. One of my colleagues was wearing a very similar RTW top, so I was chuffed to be able to say I had made mine.

Would I make the pattern again? Yes, but above learnt to my expense, it's quite cropped. I guess ladies in the 60s didn't have to reach up to the luggage rack on the train every day. So I would add an inch or 2 to the length.

Would I work with the scuba again? Definitely. I think it would look great layered over a funky print with just hints of colour peeking through. I also think it could be a great little peekaboo insert on a pair of leggings, or for the more daring it would also make a great top on it's own.

Thanks for reading,

Karen @ dorisdoesdressup

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Seams Right Multipurpose Sewing Tool Review by Claire

Hello!
I received the nifty Seams Right Multipurpose Sewing Tool from Minerva Crafts just as I was preparing to sew the Sew Over It Clara Blouse in the gorgeous 'Busy Blossom' Lisa Comfort Fabric. This pattern has sharp corners on the hem of the blouse, cuffs to turn out neatly and a collar which requires smooth edges, the perfect make to test a product that helps you measure precisely. At first I wasn't sure how to use the Seams Right but I love a challenge and it didn’t take long to work it out.
Seams Right is a credit card sized aluminum measuring tool with a multitude of different measuring increments. Essential to a quilters tool kit I’m sure but equally handy when sewing clothes.
The Seams Right has various measurements, 1 inch, 3/4 inch, 5/8 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/4 inch protruding from the rectangle and various other measurements sunk in between the protrusions around the outside edge. The Seams Right also has a 1 inch long button hole gauge to accurately mark button holes onto garments. The down side for me is that many of the independent pattern makers I currently use, all use the metric system and the Seams Right is all in inches.
Here’s how I converted and used it: 
When my pattern asked me to iron the seam I had sewn open and continue the open edge with the same 1,5cm seam allowance I used the 5/8” corner to make sure my ironing was accurate.
I used the same corner when I ironed the hem up by 1,5cm.
Then I needed to top stitch around the hem of my blouse, 1cm away from the edge ensuring neat corners. I marked the pivot points onto my fabric using the 3/8” corner and I have to say I'm really pleased with how well this worked and how neat my corners turned out.
My blouse had button loops sewn into the back neckline and cuffs, I used the Seams Right to mark where to sew the buttons onto the shirt and cuffs.
The size and weight of the Seams Right fits comfortably in my hand and although it gets warm when ironing, it never got as hot as the iron or retained the heat. The aluminum is lightweight but sturdy, you can’t bend it. There is a warning on the packaging to keep it out of reach from children and the corners are rather sharp but I think most of us keep our sewing tools out of the reach of little hands.
I was very pleased with the accuracy that the Seams Right helped me attain, ironing straight edges and also pushing corners out on the collar and cuffs. I am sure I will use it with each new project I make and each time I’ll discover another way it can improve my precision.
Happy sewing,
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Wendy Ward Book Review by Louise

Having become more and more dependent on the stretchy garments in my wardrobe, I was keen to give Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics’ a go. The book contains six basic patterns, which are included at the back of the book, ready for you to trace. Wendy guides you through the sewing of these six patterns, and includes multiple options with each pattern on how to further customise your creation.

The first pattern, the Peak tshirt, is the pattern I used to make the dress shown on the front cover. There are different sleeve options and different length options, and instructions for adding eye-catching details to your tshirt (or dress) such as shirring, patchwork, cuffs and colour blocking. Each option is clearly explained with thorough instructions and clear diagrams, plus beautiful photos of the finished garments.

The second pattern is for the Derwent trousers - a wide-legged pair of comfortable trousers with three length options: long length, standard length or cropped. These look super easy to make - just two pattern pieces. You could probably whip them up in an hour!

Next up is the Winnat’s tank pattern - a scoop-neck vest that can be lengthened into a knee length or maxi length dress (or even a colour-blocked maxi dress). As a vest it looks like the perfect stash-buster as it only uses 1 yard of fabric (assuming your fabric is 60” wide, which most knit fabrics are). I’m pretty sure this will be next on my list to make!

The fourth pattern in the book is for the Monsal lounge pants - another versatile pattern that could be used for lounge pants, pyjama bottoms, workout pants or shorts. My favourite version of these is the full length pants with pockets and cuffs. I particularly like the sample shown in the book where the cuffs, waist band and pocket bands are sewn in a contrast fabric.

The Kinder cardigan is next - again in a range of lengths with a range of customisation options. Wendy says she had ‘been thinking about making the perfect cardigan loosely inspired by kimonos’, and I must admit that I definitely get a ‘dressing gown’ vibe from this pattern! Included in this section are instructions for how to add a patch pocket, which is obviously a good transferable skill. The peak tshirt/dress and Winnat’s tank/dress would both look good with a patch pocket added, I think.

The final pattern is, I think, quite divisive: you’ll either love it or hate it. The Longshaw skirt is ‘an unusual and bold design that creates a flattering, curvy silhouette’. Personally, I love it! I would definitely like to try it as a dress with the Winnat’s tank vest as the top, possibly in plain black.

As well as all the patterns and variations thereof, the book is packed with information about all the different types of knitted fabrics and how to handle them, plus the tools you will need to sew the garments, information on sizing and measuring, sewing machine tips and explanations on using and adjusting sewing patterns. There really is everything you would need to know before sewing, and a whole lot more!

So, now I’d like to show you the dress I made from the book. As I mentioned earlier, I used the Peak tshirt pattern to make a short sleeved, knee-length dress with an elasticated waist. This basically involved extending the length of the tshirt by 40cm, and sewing some elastic at the waistline. I did make it a little more complicated than it needed to be, however, as when choosing my fabric I decided I wanted to line it with something smooth so it would slip easily over tights without riding up. So, when I ordered the Jersey Fabric from Minerva, I also ordered the same amount of Stretch Lining Fabric. This meant that in effect I had to make two versions of the dress and then sew them together.

I made the main body of the dress (front, back and sleeves) in both the lining fabric and the main fabric. I then sewed the two together (right sides together) at the neckline before turning out the right way. Technically, I could have just topstitched here and not bothered with the neckband, as the raw edges were hidden away by this point. However, I still added the neck band for durability and because I like the look of it. After this, I hemmed the lining into the sleeves so that they would stay together, and hemmed the lining in with the bottom of the dress. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

I matched the stripes at the side seams of course, like the dutiful seamstress I am. This was made much easier by the way that I cut the fabric in the first place: I matched up the stripes before cutting and even pinned every other stripe into place to keep it from shifting. It was worth the time it took to do this, because not only was it easy to match up the stripes, but also the stripes are definitely as straight as the spirit level!

Overall I’m pretty happy with the finished garment - it’s bigger on top than I am used to, but that is the style and the way it is meant to be, and I think the skirt transforms it from a just a baggy tshirt to something a little more stylish. It’s certainly something that is easy to throw on and you can dress it up or down, plus because it’s quite a loose fit I don’t feel self conscious in it, which is good!

I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to review Wendy’s book for the book tour, and to Minerva for the lovely fabric!

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King Cole Calypso Layout Tank Top by Joanne

Hello everyone, I’m Joanne and I have spent the last few weeks trying out King Cole Calypso Yarn for you lovely yarn crafters.

Given the vibrant spring colour of the Lime Coconut colourway, what better way to use it than to knit a spring top. I followed the free pattern for the Layout tank top by Berroco.

The yarn itself has an interesting construction. It is made up of 97% premium acrylic, which make up the green and white fluffy fibres, and 3% polyamide, which makes up the super thin strand which wraps around the acrylic, causing the wavy appearance of the yarn. It also has a central core to support this wrapping.

The great thing about this construction is that the yarn does not lose its wave as it might if it had been crimped and then over stretched whilst knitting, and the yarn is really soft, as the main body of the yarn has not been set into shape which could make it wiry. The yarn has a relatively long loft which means it doesn’t shed like crazy, and does not need to be tightly spun to maintain its structure. In terms of how the ball was wound, I did not have any problems with knotting when using centre pull, nor did I encounter any knots or breaks within the ball.

The colour variation is created by white and green fibres running alongside each other, which are twisted every inch or so. While this seems a uniform patterning, I did not find there to be any striping or pooling happening when knitting, as you are seeing different sides of the yarn at different parts of the stitch anyway. The yarn has a consistent thickness throughout, so no need to worry about having patchy or lumpy areas.

The texture of this yarn is great. I really like how the knit stitches are not uniform, this being caused by the slant of the twist on the right side of the knitting, creating a rustic effect. The feel of the ripples running through your fingers when working was also quite nice, and not rough. This yarn does have a slight sheen to it, which makes it look a lot like a cotton yarn but without the sagging and inflexibility.

Given that the yarn is made up of 4 different parts, I didn’t find splitting too much of a problem. The most troublesome element was the thin wrapping strand which sometimes decided not to drop off the needle when dropping off the stitch. This is easily and undetectably remedied on the next row when you can simply push it off before making your new stitch. I found the yarn more likely to twist up, rather than untwist, when working, so the chance of splitting was reduced.

It took me two weeks to knit the Layout top, knitting an hour or so per day. The Layout tank top is knit from the bottom up in the round, until you divide for the armholes where you then work the back and front separately, incorporating some flattering pleats by the neckline. I made the smallest size and I did make some modifications. I knit the body 1” longer and instead of knitting the neckband separately, I picked up the stitches on the front and back and cast on 15 stitches at each shoulder. I then knit in the round for 12 rows, decreasing every 14 stitches on row 8 and every 10 stitches on row 11. I then bound off using a regular bind off, trying to keep it loose. I decided to do the neckband using this method because it gives a much nicer join on the main body of the piece and works up faster than knitting separately and sewing on. This does make the neckband curl but I took my iron to it on the reverse side, using a pressing cloth, and flattened it out. I did this to the bottom, cast on edge of the top as well which gave it a nice wavy hem.

In terms of wear, it is very soft and I don’t find it scratchy or tickly at all. It is lightweight, not too warm on those sunny days, and the drape is lovely.

I did try to crochet with this yarn but this was more challenging. I found the hook got caught up in the fibres a lot when pulling the yarn through the loops and it was harder to distinguish the individual stitches.

To conclude, I was delighted at the softness of the yarn and its good quality. It is excellent value for money and I highly recommend it for your knitting projects. I would definitely use it again in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Joanne @ Stitching Joanne

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Zigga Zigga Crochet Cardigan by Yvonne

I was really thrilled to be asked recently by Minerva Crafts to review their new Stylecraft Head Over Heels Boho Sock Yarn. I chose the Danube colour which has gorgeous shades of blues, grey and cream.

Before the yarn arrived I had time to think about what I would like to make with it. I could knit socks after all it is a sock yarn but I would only need one ball and Minerva had kindly sent me several to review. I thought the colours would also look very nice in a crocheted or knitted shawl but I really fancied making a garment. When the yarn arrived I was really impressed with how soft it felt compared to some other commercial sock yarn that I have previously tried.

The pattern I chose was the Zigga Zigga crochet cardigan by Kat Goldin which was featured in issue 1 of Crochet Now magazine. You can still buy a digital copy of the magazine if you would like the pattern.  The cardigan is crocheted flat and you sew the pieces together. The pattern uses a 4mm hook but I used a 4.5mm hook to get the correct gauge. The pattern comes in 5 sizes and I made the 2nd size which was medium.

I began with the back section and I particularly liked the striping effect of all the different shades of of blue. At this stage I was not particularly worried about pattern placement and I just started crocheting from the beginning of the ball.  

The pattern has short sleeves but I preferred to make long sleeves which I think really shows of the yarn nicely. The only change I made to the pattern was to go up 2 more sizes for the sleeves for a better fit but that’s the only change I made. I continued with the sleeve decreases set out in the pattern until the sleeves were the length I wanted. I also made sure the stripes on both sleeves matched each other.

However when it came to crocheting the two front panels I did want them both to match. So I pulled out some of the yarn so I could start and finish both pieces at the same colour section. I also did the same for the front edging which you crochet after you have made the front panels.

The pattern suggests sewing or crocheting the pieces together. I decided to crochet all the pieces together with all the right sides together so all the seams were on the inside. I used a 4mm hook and double crochet which looks lovely and neat and virtually invisible on the right side.

And here is my finished cardigan. I am really pleased with how well it turned out and the fit is really good. I think it is a real statement piece where the colours really stand out.  I have styled it with a navy t-shirt and a denim skirt but it would also look really nice worn with jeans.

Thank you so much Minerva for letting me review this lovely Yarn. I am thrilled with my new cardigan and I’m sure that I will be making more.

Thanks for reading

Yvonne @ by-yvonne

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Cut Out Scuba Skirt

Cut. Out. Scuba. When I saw this Fabric on the Minerva Crafts website, I just knew I had to sew something up with it. This was such a fun challenge to sew; I envisioned something to wear to a gala or the theatre and I'm pretty thrilled with the end result. 
The Pattern
I knew I wanted to make an elasticated waisted skirt, with a midi length to give it an elegant, more dressed-up feel. I rifled through my pattern stash and found Butterick B6326, which suited my needs perfectly. I made View D, which has a lace overlay. 
However something like the Sewaholic Rae Skirt would also work perfectly well. I based my size solely on my waist measurement; the beauty of full skirts is you don't tend to need to adjust the hip measurement - a lovely plus!  
The Fabric
I picked the black cut out Scuba Fabric, and used a couple of metres of it to make the skirt. The scuba has a textured side and a plain side - I opted to use the plain side because I wanted the skirt to look classic and simple. On reflection, it might have been nice to alternate panels of the skirt - so the textured and plain sides would alternate. 
I also created a shorter underskirt from some black satin I had in my stash - similar to this Liquid Satin Fabric
I needed less than a metre for the underskirt so it was a great scrap buster! I could have used a contrast lining to highlight the cut out texture of the scuba - something I'll consider for future makes! However I wanted the scuba to finish considerably longer than the lining to give a hint of leg, so I picked an all black ensemble to highlight that. 
The Make
Overall, this was a really quick sew which I think is because of the lack of notions (no zips, buttons, hook and eyes - just elastic). Sometimes you just need a quick sew - it's so satisfying isn't it? The pattern instructions were easy to follow and that, coupled with the easy-to-sew scuba, made for a relatively straight forward make. 
I sewed all the scuba skirt panels using my overlocker, and it coped really well with the lacy texture. I then sewed a shorter lining with the satin, using my sewing machine. I used French seams on the lining because I thought the seam might show through the cut outs in the scuba. Plus, if you have the time to sew a French seam, why not? It really does create a lovely clean finish. 
For the waistband, I underlined the scuba with the satin which meant I sewed them all as one. That was particularly challenging because it involved sewing a stretchy fabric to a woven, but it worked out in the end by taking the sewing relatively slowly. 
The pattern I used calls for two rows of half inch elastic; however I only had one inch elastic in my stash so I just used one row. I actually prefer the look of it, and it was a good way to use up elastic in my stash.  
To finish, I hemmed the lining of the skirt, but left the scuba hem raw. I don't think the scuba will fray, and so far it's proved to be correct! 
Verdict.
Overall, I'm really pleased with how this turned out. It looks really elegant, and I feel it would be perfect for a fancy event... if only I had a suitable event! I think it looks really good with a belt to cinch in the waist. The scuba fabric was fun to sew with, and pretty easy to work with. 
Thanks for reading,
Isabelle @ izzysewsblog
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Swedish Tracing Paper Roll Review by Amy

Let me start off by saying, this will be the best haberdashery purchase you ever make! I haven’t felt this strongly about a product since I bought my new sewing machine. Do you feel like you are always buying repeat patterns? Do you like to keep your original pattern papers whole? This is the product for you. I am so glad I have this Swedish Tracing Paper in my collection because without a shadow of a doubt this makes tracing patterns so much easier.

In the past I have used baking paper as my tracing material of choice, it easy to buy and super cheap but if you’ve used it before you’ll understand the pain when it comes to sticking multiple sheets together, especially for long garments such as trouser legs. The sticky tape never sticks and you spend more time trying to find items heavy enough to place on top to stick it down. Well this tracing paper is a dream! It is 1m wide and 10m long so no need for sticking additional sheets on for the width. See the difference?

When it comes to sticking additional length on for adjustments for leg length or arm length the tape sticks to it strongly and makes like so simple.

It is lightweight and easy to use. I would call it material rather than paper because that’s what it feels like, extremely lightweight material. It is thin enough that you can easily see your pattern and essential notches through it but still strong enough for you to place pins through it and it not rip with ease.

One downside I did find is that certain pens actually bleed due to its porous texture. I ended up using pencils and good old fashioned biro pens to trace my patterns. Another thing I found was there were slight cuts in the paper/material which meant that it split in certain areas, but that may have just been my roll. It still worked extremely well it just meant I had to be slightly more careful with it when moving it around my tiny room.

Anyone who has those expensive patterns or who enjoys keeping their pattern papers intact this is the paper for you, this allows you to keep those patterns intact and you can use this to help make those tricky adjustments especially if you are multiple sizes like me. I have that lovable pear shape which usually means I have to adjust my patterns for a smaller top half and larger bottom half. This made that easier as I just adjusted the pattern straight onto the tracing paper. I actually made a mistake on one pattern and using a pencil I simply rubbed it out and started again. This paper was strong enough to handle my rubbings and still not break.

I am really pleased with this product and will be ordering it again once it runs out, but judging by the amount you receive and if you are careful and frugal it will last longer and have much more longevity than my old choice of baking paper. I’m planning on storing this carefully so that I can reuse it again. Without a doubt my new favourite item in my stash!  

Thanks for reading,

Amy

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Cream, Crepe Summer Dress

I don’t like to admit how much of my time is spent on Instagram (let’s just say it’s the most-used app on my phone). When I’m not looking at cute pets, or lusting over other knitter’s yarn stashes, I’m looking at outfits and clothes inspiration.

Like most of us these days, Instagram has a big impact on what I choose to wear and also what I decide to make. Lately I’ve seen a lot of beautiful summer dresses, the ones I particularly love have been cream, button-down with tortoiseshell buttons, made from a linen, or crepe, with a nice relaxed shape.

Long story short, that’s what I decided to add to my ‘Summer To-Sew List’.

I was lucky enough to test out some of the beautiful Prestige Polyester Crepe Fabric from Minerva, which I immediately knew would work well for this summer dress project. Crepe is one of my favourite fabrics to work with, and this was no exception - in fact it was a dream to work with. It was easy to cut, sew and it drapes wonderfully.

I choose the cream colour which I think will be great for summer (if I can manage not to spill an ice cream down it of course!). Being cream, it is a little see-through, so if you’re creating a garment to be worn on your lower body, you’ll probably need to line it. I already had a little skirt slip that I knew would be fine to wear with this sort of fabric.

I didn’t have a pattern in my stash that would give the button-down, gentle skater shape I was looking for, so I looked for a pattern I could hack. I decided to go for a Leanne Marshall for Simplicity pattern, 1196. It’s one I know fits well on the bodice, with a full skirt, sleeves, and simple in construction. I made a few modifications to get the effect I was going for.

The pattern has a zip in the back of both the skirt and the bodice. Instead I cut the back pieces on the fold and cut two of the front pieces. I created a gentle V on the front pieces and left an extra few centimetres seam allowance. I made a facing for the front pieces to follow the line and reinforce the area I wanted to add button holes.

The pattern asks you to cut three of the skirt pieces, but to make the skirt less full I only cut two pieces and ensured the two sides lined up with the front opening of the bodice. Again, I made a facing for the skirt front. Another pattern modification I made was to increase the width of the sleeve pieces, as they were a little tight on my upper arms.

I already had some tortoiseshell buttons in my stash, and I think they work really well with the fabric. They also give the dress a bit of a vintage feel which I quite like. My husband even said this was the nicest thing I’ve made, so I’m counting it as a win.

I’d definitely work with this fabric again, and I think it would look amazing made up into some gorgeous wide-leg trousers for the summer. It’s the perfect weight for anything needing drape, but also a little weight. If you want to have a look at some of the other things I’ve been making recently, then you can find me over on Instagram at Instagram.com/craftworksblog.  

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A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knits Book Review by Georgina

Sew... I was super lucky to be given a copy of Wendy Wards new book, A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knits, and some lovely stripe Jersey Fabric and some Floral Jersey Fabric from Minerva Crafts so that I can properly review the book.Let's start with a bit about the book before I tell you what I made. At the beginning of the book there is so much information about sewing with all the different types of knit fabrics. Wendy covers all parts of sewing from picking the right fabric, the amount of stretch, how to prepare your fabric, stitches to use, the right hem for the right fabric and so so so much more. Each section covers the different fabric types so whether you are making something from the book or not it's the prefect reference guide to have on hand for all your knit projects. The book is clearly laid out with a mixture of diagrams and photographs. 
There are six patterns in the book, however each has various alterations you can make, all of which are described so it's really like you are getting 20 patterns. The format for each pattern is the same with lots of photos and a detailed description of the garment. Wendy then advises on the best fabrics to use and how to prepare your pattern pieces and cutting out the fabric. Throughout the instructions there are simple diagrams with each step. There also prompts throughout the referring you back to the beginning of the book to ensure you are using the correct stitch and hem as this will vary depending of what fabric you are using. I much prefer the prompts rather than repeating all the information for each pattern. Within the instructions it will tell you what step to go to if you are making one of the alterations. There are also handy tips to help you out. 
The pattern pieces are included but you will need to trace. I'm a tracer anyway so this doesn't bother me and I think most people expect to trace when buying a sewing book. The pattern pieces are colour coded so it's easier so see which ones you need. There is a key for each pattern size and a colour key for each pattern. 
Now let's talk about what I made. I decided to make the Kinder Cardigan as I don't have one in my wardrobe. I haven't done much knit sewing previously and have only make the Tilly and the Buttons Coco, I have made quite a few of these! I tend to go for a Ponte as I find it stable to work with so it doesn't give me the knit/stretch fear! The cardigan comes in three lengths and I decided on the middle one to begin with, yes I will be making more! I chose this stripy Ponte for the main cardigan and a contrasting floral pattern for the pockets. 
To give an accurate review I followed the instructions exactly and did everything Wendy suggests, even the basting! After cutting out the pieces and pattern matching my stripes. Stripes must always be matched. I tested out the recommended stitches on a scrape of fabric. I have both the stitches on my machine and decided on the stretch straight stitch, it looks like a really narrow lightening bolt shape, for the seams and the three step zig zag for the hems. Each step was easy to follow and the cardigan came together really quickly. The pocket construction was a new technique for me but it worked perfect first time. I was worried about adding the neckband and cuffs but again there were no issues with adding these.  I decided to do the stripe vertical for the neck band in contrast to the horizontal stripes on the main body. I also spent a few head scratching minutes on pattern matching the cuffs so now they look invisible!
I'm hoping when the weather finally decides it's Spring I can wear this instead of a coat! Next time I make this I will probably size down as the shoulders are a little big and I had to take in the sleeves by an inch. 
I really do love this book and have lots more makes planned. I have already made the Peak t-shirt dress with elasticated waist which you can see on my blog. So in summary this is a great book for both new sewers to knits and also for more experienced sewers as it containers some really great patterns. The fabric was also amazing to work with and Ponte is definitely a great fabric to start with if you haven't sewn with knits before. 
Thanks for reading,
Georgina @ Sew in the Garden

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