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Sewing Outerwear

Sewing outwear is considered to be a serious task that's only available to advanced seamstresses. In reality, all you need to consider is that it's a very time-consuming process that brings a brilliant result!
I was planning on sewing a winter coat literally for ages. The only thing that was stopping me was the fact that I already had an absolutely perfect RTW coat. It was warm and comfortable, but also quite old. It literally fell to pieces last year and I had no choice but to start planning my winter outwear project. It was a very serious deal because it's nothing like a dress that has to be pretty and (sometimes) practical. It's something that has to be warm, durable, practical, comfortable and only after that, pretty. All the little things count, from the length to the fabric choice. 
In the beginning, I thought I'd like to sew a faux fur coat. There are so many options to choose from, from extremely realistic faux mink fur to obviously fake colourful and furry options. I had to omit this idea because my research led me to the idea that I wouldn't be able to make it warm enough. Faux fur is made out of loosely woven canvas, which isn't the best option for cold wind. Obviously, you can still make it warm and windproof in the end, but I decided to look for a bit more convenient option. 
Another popular fabric choice is wool coating. It's naturally warm and thick, which is ideal for both wind and cold. The bigger the wool content of the fabric is, the warmer it'll be. Needless to say, 100% wool coating is the best option you can find. Not only it'll be warm, but it also wouldn't make you boil when you step inside and experience a heated environment.
I picked a boiled wool fabric in a gorgeous rich amethyst colour and it must be the most luxurious material I've ever worked with. I was a bit worried it'll be too thin for a winter garment (which can happen with some of the boiled wools), but this fabric is just what you need for the task. It's thick, which means it doesn’t stretch as much as thinner versions of this material. It still drapes, which makes it great for both Autumn and Winter coats. 
Will this fabric be enough on its own for the coldest months of the year? It’s a very tricky question since all of us deal with cold in different ways. I’d say that any coating fabric isn’t enough for winter and it has to be insulated. There are plenty of options on the market and it’s possible to pick an insulation for any budget, preferences and specific garment specifications. Bear in mind that some of them (the most modern and popular) require very special care and preparation. For example, the most common one is Thinsulate, which will work perfectly only if you barely pierce it with your sewing machine needle or pins. What does this mean? As few stitches as possible, which can be quite tricky. On top of that, you need to make sure there is no way cold wind can get under your garments. That’s why it’s mainly used for skiing clothes, which have elasticated armbands and hems. Another important detail is a windproof fabric. You need it with modern synthetic insulations and it can add some complications too because it requires similar precautions with pins and needles. You can also use regular ripstop fabric, but it might work like a plastic bag instead of clothes and cause some serious discomfort. The idea is to stay warm, not reach boiling point!
I was considering using Thinsulate, but all those concerns didn’t excite me. Aside from that I’m fond of natural fibres and mixing luxurious 100% wool with 100% polyester felt quite wrong. I made my research and picked Zelwolwaterline which is a German insulation made of 60% wool and 40% viscose. It looks like a loosely woven fabric with lots of fluffy wool being knitted into it. On top of that, it’s very light and not too difficult to work with. I didn’t say “easy” because it still requires some time and effort. Have you ever seen patchwork blankets with little wool particles coming through the stitches? That’s basically what your coat is going to look like if you stitch your wool insulation directly to the lining. To avoid that you need to attach it to a separate inner “coat”, that’s made out of separate lining fabric. You stitch it with 10 cm squares to all of the details first, then assemble them together. You shouldn’t press the seams but topstitch them. This way you’ll get a flat seam without making the insulation flat and losing its ability to keep you warm. After the inner “coat” is made you can attach it to the outer layer (silky side to the coating, insulation one to the lining). If you do it all the way around your insulation will be constantly catching on the wool coating fabric. Is one layer of insulation is enough? It is, but if you’re as scared of feeling cold as me (and don’t want to have layers of clothes underneath it), you can try to install 2 layers for the body and 1 for the sleeves. Attaching two layers doesn’t mean to stitch all of them to the inner coat. It means to hand pad stitch one to the coating fabric, just like you’d do with a horsehair interfacing while constructing a traditionally tailored jacket or coat. It takes time, but the result is 100% worth it. I used this method for my coat and I didn’t feel any cold or wind anywhere (and at times I was at -14 Celsius). I could notice a bit of the wind with my arms where I had only one layer of insulator though. 
As for some other hand basting techniques, I used the catch stitch keep my facing and body of the coat together, and to flatten out all of my seams. It might sound like too much, but it’s the only way of making sure that your thick seams will stay flat without topstitching, which is something that wouldn’t work with the design I picked. 
As for design, I used Burda Style Princess Coat 09/2013 #104 pattern. It’s a beautiful double-breasted coat with a Peter Pan collar and raglan sleeves. It’s really easy to sew and doesn’t require much fitting - a belt does the job! The only worry I had was that the wide neckline wouldn’t be appropriate for winter but a warm wool scarf does the job.
Like I mentioned before, my coating fabric was a stretchy one. It’s easy to end up with misshaped pieces (or even the whole garment). To prevent it I decided to use fusible interfacing on every single piece of my coat. I used two types - Iron On Traditional Cotton Interfacing for body and Vilene G700 Light Medium Woven Iron On Fusible Interfacing for the sleeves. I must say that those particular interfacings aren’t ideal for the coating fabric and it took me quite a while to fuse them in a proper way. Apart from the fact that this method prevents stretching, it also works as a mild windscreen.
While working on my project, I also followed these basic rules:
1) Always prepare your coating fabric before cutting it. The fact that you aren’t going to wash your garment doesn’t mean that you can skip this step. It’ll lose its shape with humidity, the warmth of the radiator, change of temperatures, etc. Not only that, since you’re going to press your seams, that’s already enough to make you fabric shrink. To avoid shrinking, press your slightly damp fabric through a completely wet cloth. The more steam - the better!
2) Singer’s “Tailoring” book is probably the best one on the topic. It has lots of valuable tips and tricks. 
3) Working with boiled wool isn’t difficult, but it does require some precaution. For example, never ever hang your unfinished garment on clothes hangers (before attaching the lining). It can stretch easily and lose its shape.
4) Picking the right lining for your coat isn’t the same process as choosing the one for a dress. It has to be a bit thicker and heavier. 
5) Handsewing and other “old-fashioned” techniques might sound like too much if you’re used to quick dressmaking, but they’re truly essential if you want your coat to last for years. It’s not exactly cheap to buy all of the required fabrics and supplies, so at the end of the day you’d truly want to make it last. 
6) Last, but not least - don’t forget to protect your garment from moths. There is nothing worse than seeing the destruction that could be easily avoided!
Thanks for reading,
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Flocked Denim Carnaby Dress

Hi there,

I spent quite a while dithering over what to make with this Denim Fabric. When I first ordered it I had a denim jacket in mind however when the fabric arrived it wasn’t what I was expecting colour wise. I thought it would be much darker and more like a traditional denim. However, in reality it was fairly light and the weave of it reminded me much more of a chambray. The reverse of the fabric is flocked and I wasn’t sure about this as it makes the fabric quite sturdy.

As I always do now, I pre washed the fabric on a 30 degree quick wash. However despite the cool wash temperature the fabric seems to have gone “furry” on the denim side. I have tried to capture this on the photo and I’m sure you will see what I mean.

In the end I decided that it might make a nice Carnaby Dress by Nina Lee London so went ahead and cut out the pattern. I had been meaning to try this pattern and have had it in my stash for quite a while waiting for the right fabric! Does anyone else do this? I seem to do it fairly frequently!!

Anyway I got to work cutting out the fabric which cut very nicely and didn’t fray. As usual I marked on the darts by using cotton tacks and then once they are in place I then used my chalk pen and ruler to draw the dart lines on.

The joints on the shoulder seams felt quite thick once the neck facing was attached. I trimmed the seams to half the original seam allowance. I opted not to finish the seams as the fabric didn’t fray. The neckline sat pretty flat despite the thickness and I clipped into the curves to aid this. I did understitch as I always do with any facings as I feel it keeps it neat and prevents the facings rolling to the outside of the garment.

Even though there was no real need to finish the seams for any reason except for neatness and a more professional finish, I decided to finish them using my overlocker and have to say it overlocked pretty neatly despite the thickness of the fabric. I pressed open my seams using my trusty clapper as I generally do with most seams nowadays. The only issue I had was trying to gather the sleeve. I ended up making a pleat in each side of the shoulder and to be honest it didn’t spoil the look of the dress in any way. The pleats stay put due to the thickness of the fabric too so win win!!

I decided that when it came to hemming the sleeves and the bottom hem I would try out one of my fancy stitches on my Pfaff Performance Icon. I just thought that it would add interest to what is a relatively plain dress. The stitches worked out well as the fabric is stiff enough not to need any stabiliser. I just used a normal cotton for this but a rayon or metallic cotton could be used for a different look. Overall I was pleased and will no doubt use this technique again on other projects.

I decided that I wouldn’t put a zip in as per the pattern in favour of a tie strap. I simply made a buttonhole on each side of the back opening. The Pfaff went through the layers of fabric without any problem and it made a nice neat buttonhole. I simply measured how long I wanted the tie to be and cut a rectangle out of the same fabric as I had used for my pocket bags which was out of my scrap stash and just a blue striped cotton leftover from a dress I had previously made in the summer. I applied fray check to the buttonholes (I always use this when doing buttonholes) and left it to dry. Once it had dried I used both my seam ripper and scissors to split the buttonhole (I have since invested in a buttonhole chisel as I may have had a few accidents with the seam ripper in the past!).

I wore the dress to go on a walk one chilly morning round a local reservoir and have to say I was suitably warm!. I think the fabric was a perfect match for the pattern I chose but shall be interested to see how much more it softens with washing.

Hope you found this review helpful.

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

@lisa__loynes

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Scuba Twill Coco Dress

Hey everyone, I’m back on the Minerva blog to talk to you about this Scuba Twill Fabric!

This deliciousness basically has appearance of a woven twill, but with the comfort and stretch of a Scuba!

So, the best of both worlds really!

I must admit when I first ordered this I had planned on making it into a jacket, but once I'd felt its softness and saw the drape I knew it was destined to be a “next to the skin, kinda thing”

I chose the “Grey” but to be honest, it’s so much more! It’s got a really rich hue, almost with a lilac tinge, with much more depth of colour than just a regular grey. This Scuba actually comes in six colourways and they are all so nice. As well as the grey, I also particularly like the Navy Blue and Rose Pink, colour ways.

As is normal for me, I checked the laundry instructions on the Minerva website when this first arrived and then proceeded to wash at 40 degrees. I always pre-wash, if you don’t I really suggest that you should. Having made one thing without pre-washing, to then wash after Ive worn, only to find its shrunk in the wash and be too small is really distressing, ask me how I know?

The upper and lower sides of the fabric are quite distinct and might look really good in that jacket with folded back cuffs!? Oh well maybe next time ha-ha!

As the fabric is a fabulous 60 inches wide, its such good value for money, and I managed to get the front and back of my dress out of just the width!

Anyway, I digress! I cut and made my scuba twill, into a Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress as it’s such a classic shape I knew it would be perfect for this fabric, very sharp in a work environment but also perfect to dress up with accessories for a more casual or dressy occasion.

The fibre content is 95% polyester with 5% spandex which means that its super easy to wear, wash and iron. The fabric has a good feel and is really stable, although it does have good four way stretch. It didn’t stretch too much when cutting or sewing and certainly didn’t fray as it is a knit not a woven, I would definitely say this is certainly suitable for a beginner to use.

I sewed most of the dress up on my overlocker (as I’m fortunate to own one) but it also sewed beautifully on my regular machine with the aid of my walking foot. As you can see in this picture.

I do appreciate that the purchase of a walking foot is quite expensive, but it does make sewing knits much easier if you don’t own an overlocker or a cover stitch machine. But at about £40 for a genuine Janome branded one, (other brands are available!) it’s definitely a lot less expensive than an overlocker and cover stitch machine! (once again, ask me how I know?) and I would definitely recommend one, they take all that apprehension away from sewing that hem!!

I am really pleased with the dress now it’s finished. If I want to pack this to take on a business trip I can be assured that it won’t crease much and will be perfectly okay to wear after being on a hanger in the bathroom while I take my shower. The spandex content will also ensure that its super comfy to wear, so that I can wear it all day without feeling like I can’t wait to get home at the end of the day.

I also think this will look just as great in heels and tights, as it does in boots, so totally appropriate to go from the office to the evening effortlessly.

Equally as useful for casual daytime wear.

I can see me getting lots use out of this Coco, and I’m also planning makes in the other (Rose Pink and Navy Blue) colours too.

Happy sewing guys!

@carolbentley

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Twig and Tale Trailblazer

This Wool Blend Coating Fabric is described on the Minerva crafts website as heavy, so when it arrived I didn’t expect the fabric to be as soft and drapey as it was. I’m absolutely certain it will be very warm and cosy, but the fabric caught me totally by surprise!

Although it does recommend hand washing the fabric, I have not washed it at all.

I don’t believe it’s a garment which I will need to clean often and I think that washing may change the structure by washing out the sizing. When this gets dirty I will have it dry cleaned.

When I first requested this, and it arrived, I had plans to make a Twig and Tale Trailblazer.

I don’t know whether you are familiar with the pattern but it’s a gilet with a central zip, optional wind flap and shoulder patches. Very much the “country attire” waist coat. I chose this pattern as I definitely envisioned this green wool blend check, as giving me a garment, which looked like it would fit in a Joules store, but without the associated price tag and which would fit me better than any ready to wear purchase.

However, after I ordered it and it arrived I suddenly became very concerned that I had absolutely no idea how to pattern match the plaids and if I didn’t do this well enough, my beautiful gilet would look like a total dog’s dinner!!

Oh damn, I really set myself up for the fall sometimes. Oh well nothing ventured, nothing gained!

So, I spent a little time researching how to do this online and the general consensus was, start by drawing a horizontal line across from the underarms as that’s the common denominator front and back. Then match up the verticals from there!!

Yeah sounds complicated right??

Actually, although I procrastinated over this for a couple of weeks. Basically doubting my ability to create a usable garment and also worrying that I hadn’t ordered sufficient fabric to effectively match the plaid. However the generous 60inch width meant that I had nothing to fear and I had more than enough!

I drew on the seam allowances onto each pattern piece so that I could over lap them to the seam line. Using my Seams Right Tool.

From what I had read online it is advisable to not cut pieces on the fold, so as you can see in this image I traced the back piece and taped

Once I got properly stuck in and worked methodically through each step, it was remarkably easy, I did only spend a little time working on this each day as I wanted to be sure I wasn’t going to make any silly mistakes.

It is closed by a bottle green Chunky Zip (purchased from Minerva) an absolute bargain at less than £3.

Thanks for reading,

Carol @chatterstitch

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Animal Print Nikki Cardigan

I was selected to review this pattern by Athina Kakou and so wanted to absolutely do the pattern justice! I saw this Jersey Fabric at Minerva and just thought it’d be perfect. It is a grey/black animal print jersey knit fabric which is so on trend at the moment. It is 58” wide and an incredible £6.99/m. I only needed 2m for this pattern and so it made for a very reasonable cardi.

The best thing about this pattern is it can pretty much be sewn entirely on the overlocker if you own one! It is so quick to make. It literally took me a couple of hours from start to finish! You start off by sewing the shoulder seams and then the sleeves in. You then sew the side seams so, very quickly you have this…a shell of a cardigan!

Once you have sewn the main sections of the cardigan, all that remains is the hemband, the neck binding and the cuffs. Now, for the more seasoned sewists out there, you will know that this doesn’t take too much time at all! For the beginners, the hard work is done. These next sections are more about precision and so you may need to take your time.

To attach the hemband and cuffs you need to ensure that the notches are met (hemband) and that the cuffs have been equally spread along the cuff of the cardigan. This ensures that the cardigan hold its shape well.

Once you have sewn the hemband onto the cardigan, you can then topstitch the seam allowance down, this helps the band to lay nice and flat. The same goes for the neck binding, once sewn in, topstitch all the way around to secure it in place.

If you are using an overlocker as I was, I do recommend basting the binding on the sewing machine at your start point, this is because the fabric is quite thick at this point and the overlocker can sometimes move the fabric around and you end up with uneven edges!

Once this is completed and you have topstitched all the way around, all that remains is to make the belt. There is an option to make belt loops as well, which I did but I preferred the look of the cardigan without them. The belt is long enough to be tied twice and so holds itself in place.

So, all in all a very quick make! It is also an excellent pattern if you are a beginner as the instructions are clear and concise and there is also a sew along tutorial should you need to refer to it.

The fabric I used really compliments this pattern, I think it really livens up a plain outfit but is smart enough to be able to wear to work! I also like it dressed down with a pair of jeans and little cami top. The cardigan can also be made in a variety of fabrics, ponte roma, jersey knit and medium/heavy cotton jersey. Minerva stock some amazing fabric options that would be suitable for the Nikki cardigan. Why not pop this pattern on your winter list and browse the jersey section on their website to select your perfect fabric!!! I can guarantee you’ll be spoilt for choice!!!

Happy Sewing!!

Emma AKA @thezipperfoot

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Muse Patterns Jenna Cardigan in Waffle Knit Jersey

I love to wear a cardigan to add an extra pop of colour to an outfit, but it's often really hard to find just the right shade that fits at the waist to complement the 1950's style frocks I make. So making my own cardigan's has become something of an addiction. There are tons of fabulous designs to choose from to suit whatever shape you might be looking for, but for me the Jenna Cardigan from Muse Patterns ticks every box. 
Muse Patterns is a New Zealand indie designer, but that's no problem as all the patterns can be bought easily as Pdf's and once you've stuck all the pieces together, you're good to go. I also bought the Jenna extension pack so the choice of shapes is endless. You can make hip length or waist length versions and then play with either a V-neck, round neck or collared shape, choosing to add a gathered yoke or leave it plain. My favourite shape, that has a 1940's feel to it, is the V-neck with a yoke and that's what I used to sew my version in this stunning mustard Waffle Knit Jersey Fabric
I'd been getting pretty obsessed about making a mustard cardigan and so when the waffle jersey in the exact shade I was after became available at Minerva Crafts I was whooping with sewing dreams realised joy. Even better once I received the cloth it was everything I hoped it would be. It's super soft with just enough structure to hold the cardigan's shape. I love the waffle weave which gives my finished cardigan a knitted appearance too. Sewing with it was bliss, no rolling edges or misbehaving on my machine.
Once I finished my cardigan and searched for the right buttons, I left it on my mannequin for a few days and I was thrilled by the compliments it received from my family and friends. My favourite parts of this pattern are the gathered yoke and the deep waistband, they absolutely make it for me. 
I'm a real lover of topstitching and there's plenty of opportunities to do just that with this pattern to give it a totally professional appearance. I was also lucky enough to find buttons that matched the colour perfectly, although my eldest daughter thought tortoiseshell buttons would have looked lovely too and she's right. I usually go for contrasts in my makes, but for this one I wanted a cardigan that would go with lots of my wardrobe.
I've taken my cardigan on it's first outing now to the new Vintage Stitchers Union club that I've recently set up. One lady who is becoming a friend of mine absolutely loved it. Her favourite era is 1930's and she was really inspired by how this cardigan lends itself to a vintage vibe, but for her it was the waffle jersey that made it so. She is already off to make one for herself. I love how sewing inspires each other to new possibilities.
Lastly, well you need to see that back shot don't you, after me showing you all the fabulous front details of this design. 
If you do choose to make your own version, then I can guarantee you won't be disappointed. This cardigan will be getting a lot of wear from me I know because I absolutely love it.
Thanks for reading,
Lisa @ Bobo Bun
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Just a Pipe Away From Being Sherlock Homes

Hi everyone! Its Liz here of Liz Sews. Today I have for you a fun cape that makes me feel like I’m just a pipe away from being Sherlock Homes.

For this project I used Minerva’s Wool Blend Coating Fabric Green. Originally, I was thinking of making a much more structured pea coat with this fabric but once it arrived I just could not shake the image in my mind of a cape.  The Big 4 pattern companies have a surprisingly large number of Cape Sewing Patterns to choose from. I ended up going with View B from Simplicty 8263 because who doesn’t need a detachable fur collar, we only live once!

I picked this pattern because it was a relatively simple construction that would allow me to focus on matching all those lines in the plaid. There are four panels across the front and 3 in the back and I think I did a pretty good job of making sure everything lined up.  The side seams to come together at a point but I couldn’t figure out any way around that. I felt it was more important to have the fabric lines running parallel to the ground.

I didn’t pre-wash my fabric because I seldom clean coats so on the off chance I need to get it dry cleaned is not so bad.  I will say that this fabric loved to fray. After constructing the first half of the front I went back in and overlocked all my pieces before further assembly. There is nothing worse than a rapidly disappearing seam allowance. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with the fabric it’s just the nature of the beast for that chunky woven look.

For the button tab in the back I decided to cut in on the bias to add some visual interest. Now that I am looking at it I think that was a mistake. I might redo the button tab and try to pattern match it into the back, so it fades away. The tab is completely non-functional, so I may even remove it completely.

For the interior of this cape I looked at several options, but this red Bemberg lining just called to me. I thought it brought out the subtle maroon stripe running vertically in the fabric and it also gives me all the Christmas time vibes. The lining is bagged, you stitch along the top, sides, and bottom and the turn it out though the arm holes.  The lining is then hand sewn to the shell around the arm slits to finish. The lining feels so luxurious next to the skin but it does make the cape prone to just slipping off my shoulders. I’ve ordered a leather clasp to sit just under the collar, but it hasn’t arrived yet and I just couldn’t wait to share this with you!

Speaking of collars….I found the thread bare fur caplet in a rummage sale held by my local quilt guild several years ago. It’s been sitting in my stash ever since for the perfect project to give it a new lease on life. I think it’s perfect for this cape. I cut the collar out a little larger then the pattern suggest just because I liked the look of the exaggerated fur collar.  Rather than following the pattern instructions for finishing the detachable collar I looked to how the original fur was finished instead and followed suit. I sewed some grosgrain ribbon along the perimeter of the collar on the right side and then hand stitched it down to the inside which worked perfectly.

The collar attaches to the cape with a series of buttons along the neckline, so you can quickly change the look when you aren’t feeling so “extra”.

I am so pleased with how this cape turned out, though its so unique I don’t think I’ll be needing to make another one any time soon. If you're looking for a garment to make for someone this would be an excellent choice since it requires very little fitting and offers a lot of pizzazz.

Till next time,

Liz @ Liz Sews

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Butterick 6380 Sweeheart Neckline Dress

Hi Sewing Fairies,

Today on the Minerva Blog is this beautiful Rapture Stretch Crepe Fabric. I love the colours of light blue against my skin tone so I was very excited to receive this fabric! This is a great price for fabric at £13.99 a metre, especially for a special occasion dress.

The feel of this fabric is beautiful, it has a lovely feel to it and the drape on the fabric. It also has 2% elastane in the fabric so gives it a little stretch which is perfect!...especially if the dress is being worn out for dinner so there is plenty of room!

I wanted to make a dress that I felt feminine in, plus that was a style that could be worn dressed down in sandals for beach walks with Ted (our dog!) or heels for a date night with the Mr. As you can see, Ted loved the dress as he gate crashed the photoshoot! He seems to have decided my sewing room is his bedroom as even though we said no animals upstairs he seems much happier there while I’m sewing away in the evenings after work. Although he’s usually getting covered in threads or finds it ok to sleep on my fabric!

I decided to choose the 6380 sweetheart neckline dress Sewing Pattern by Gertie for Butterick.

The sleeves on the pattern looked like they could be a bit restrictive for a good dancing dress (this fabric is definitely an amazing swishy dancing dress fabric!!) so I raided my pattern stash and found my copy of the simple sew pattern Sienna Dress. I have already got a version of this dress so I knew I loved the sleeve style. I used the sleeves from View B to add into the dress instead of the sleeves from the original pattern. I attempted a rolled hem on the sleeve and in most places, it has worked but in parts it looks like it is curling up slightly! I am hoping another good press will sort that out. I used the shoulder seam mark on the sleeve to match up with the shoulder seam then stitched it in.

I folded over the fabric around the arm hole, pinned this to the main fabric arm hole making sure the sleeve was not caught up in the pins. I then top stitched around the sleeve. In an ideal world where there is 1000’s of hours in the day I should have hand sewed the sleeves in place but I think it looks ok and it is nice and secure for dancing and moving around.

This fabric was very slippery to cut out but with plenty of pins I managed to get it all cut out and ready to sew. The crepe fabric does fray quite badly so I would advise using an over-locker where possible. I had never used this pattern before but it was only the skirt that I eventually needed to use the over-locker for as the bodice is lined.

The bust is gathered so it has plenty of room for slightly larger busted ladies! I am small busted so I was slightly concerned that it would be too much fabric over the bust but once I used the little strips of fabric to pull in the neckline of the dress it changed the shape completely and I loved the style straight away.

I decided to go for a completely different fabric to line the dress, in my vast fabric stash I found this gorgeous strawberry thief fabric that is a cotton lawn. This was a good choice as it gave it a bit of structure and the birds matched the outer fabric. I love a pretty lining of an outfit as I feel its just as important to get the inside as pretty as the outside!

I love this dress and I can’t wait to wear it on my next date night with the Mr…or just a nice walk along the beach but I think I will have to wait until the summer for that.

Thanks for viewing! Hope you have lots of fun sewing!

Love

Sew Tanni xXx

P.S. As you can see Ted has now decided my Patchwork Chair is rather comfortable after he got fed up of being in my photos!

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Huey Hoodie & Mens Sweater in Fur Backed Jersey

Hey there! I’m Andrew, and boy have I got a treat for you today! When I saw this Fur Backed Jersey Fabric I fell in love with it straight away.

Of course it arrived promptly and as soon as I got my hands on it I wasn’t disappointed. The jersey side is soft and warm… and then… the other side… is a beautifully soft and snuggly short pile faux fur! As much as I knew I wanted this fabric, I hadn’t really decided what I’d make from it. A hoodie was the perfect choice I thought, with a zip up so the fur could be seen inside.

I kept the jersey sides facing each other while I cut the pattern out (I used the Huey Hoodie pattern from freesewing.org) the fur sides would have slipped around too much. And I kept my walking foot firmly in place! It wasn’t too tricky to sew with, but it can slip around a bit if you’re not careful. I used plenty of pins, clips where necessary and kept to a slow to medium speed while sewing.

I used some tape behind the pockets as the fabric is pretty stretchy. This gets hidden behind the seam allowance and will stop the pockets from going baggy. I got a nice chunky zip which I basted in to one side first. I marked the hem, pockets, hood-seam and top with chalk and used these marks to baste in the other side.

I also found some super-chunky ribbing which wasn’t cheap but matches the luxury of the main fabric.

I didn’t use a facing, instead I hand sewed cotton tape all the way up behind the zip, around the hood and back down the other side of the zip! This was more handsewing than I had done for a long time, but gave such a nice finish, I’m starting to learn to love handsewing!

I had enough fabric left to make something else and was really tempted to make drawstring trousers - so I had a full ‘arctic-ready-leisure-set’! - but in all reality, it would probably only be cold enough to wear it a few days of the winter. So I opted for another top. I wanted something that would show off both sides of the fabric and chose the men’s sweater pattern from the Ottobre Magazine - Family Edition. This top has little yokes on the shoulders where I could show off the furry side. This also got me thinking that I should try to make this top reversible, so I tested a few seam finishes.

It’s hard to see the difference here, but the tidiest option seemed to be the one on the right: I stitched the seam with a 2mm x 2mm zigzag stitch then used the lightning stitch to catch the seams on the furry side underneath. This all took much more time than simply overlocking the whole thing together, and I’m not convinced it’s been 100% successful.

I’m actually contemplating using a herringbone or fagotting stitch over the centre of the seams, like a coverstitch (which I don’t have!)  

I’ll run a few tests first to see how it looks.

But for the meantime I’m over the moon with my new tops.

So if you’re after something warm, soft and snuggly, I highly recommend this fabric! And if you’d like to keep tabs on my sewing journey you can find me on Instagram as @sewandrew or at www.sewandrew.com Thanks for reading!

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Crochet Cat Bed Using Hoooked Zpaghetti

Hi everyone!
I’m excited to be back on the Minerva crafts blog to share my latest project, a bed for my cat made using hoooked Zpaghetti T-Shirt Yarn. I was really excited about this project as I’ve been wanting to try hoooked zpaghetti for a long time. Hoooked zpaghetti t-shirt yarn is available in a wide range of colours and designs. It’s made from recycled fabrics from European textile manufacturers, so it’s eco friendly too! This is a chunky yarn which is perfect for a wide range of knitting and crochet projects - the hoooked website is great for project inspiration, as well as a wide range of pattern ideas, many of which are free. The yarn is 100% cotton and can be hand washed. It is recommended to use a 10 - 12mm crochet hook when working with this yarn.
I had been wanting to try crocheting a cat bed for some time and I felt the grey floral hoooked zpaghetti yarn from Minerva Crafts would be perfect for making Eilen tein’s cat bed pattern, available for free. In her pattern, Eilen recommends using an 8mm hook, to make sure the stitches are tight so the cat bed holds its shape. I found I wasn’t able to use an 8mm hook as it hurt my hand too much when working with the very thick hoooked zpaghetti yarn, so I opted for a 10mm hook instead. I don’t think this had too much effect on the overall look of the project, but I think it did affect the rigidity of the finished structure, which I will talk more about later. 
The pattern is easy to follow and is worked in a series of rounds of double crochet. To make the entrance, you cut the yarn at the start of the entrance space, then rejoin it 10 stitches later. You repeat this for 7 rounds to make the entrance (I actually decided to add a couple more rounds, to make the entrance hole slightly bigger). It’s important to finish and re-start the yarn at the same point each time, to avoid the entrance gradually getting wider!
You then crochet chain spaces above the entrance hole and continue to crochet in rounds, gradually decreasing to finish the cat bed. The entrance is then strengthened by adding two rounds of double crochets around the entrance hole. The pattern is well written and easy to follow and would be suitable for a confident beginner as it only requires knowledge of double crochet, including increasing and decreasing.
As you can see from the pictures, my cat enjoyed “supervising” me during the making process - it was actually quite difficult to work around her at times as she spent most of her time sitting in the half finished bed! In fact she actually seemed to prefer it in its half finished state, before I crocheted the top.
I’m quite pleased with my finished project, the cat bed shows off the pattern of the yarn really well. As you can see, my cat has decided she prefers to sit on top of the bed instead of inside it!  I think with hindsight I may have been better to crochet an open bed rather than a closed in nest-style bed. 
Although the cat bed seemed to hold its shape initially, the structure has now started to collapse. This is probably due to a combination of the fact I used a larger hook size than recommended for the pattern and the fact my cat prefers to sit on rather than in her bed. I did initially try to reshape the bed each time it got squashed so my cat could go inside, but this isn’t really a long term solution. I also tried using PVA glue to stiffen the cat bed but it’s still not holding its shape as much as I would like. At the moment, my lovely Dad is helping me to design a structure to hold the shape of the cat bed so it can be used as intended. This is still a work in progress but I look forward to sharing the finished results on my instagram soon!
Hoooked zpaghetti is a very versatile yarn and is great for making a wide range of baskets, bags and rugs. With the huge colour selection available, the possibilities are endless. Projects also work up very quickly due to the chunky nature of this yarn.
Thank you for reading and thank you to Minerva for giving me the opportunity to try hoooked zpaghetti yarn.

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