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The Sewing Bee - Series 4, Episode 6

I don't know about you but I am feeling increasingly sad that the Great British Sewing Bee is drawing to a close. We are now on the quarter finals with just five contestants left, Joyce, Charlotte, Jade, Rumana and Tracey. As I said last week I feel they are quite settled now, into the swing of it so to speak. It was quite sad seeing Angeline go because lets face it each of the contestants have similar strengths and weaknesses at this stage and I think it's gonna be harder and harder for Patrick and Esme to decide who has to go. 
This week they are having to sew active-wear, this usually means working with the stretchiest of fabrics - Lycra! On top of having to work with one of the hardest fabrics (yet again) they now have to contend with figure hugging garments! And so on to the programme.
I started to watch them sewing the Lycra Fabric (I've never sewn lycra in my life) thinking I wasn't going to be too interested in this part of the programme but do you know I quite warmed to it. Although I still think lycra will be difficult to sew, I think my fears of it are growing less! Lycra has become much more popular in recent years especially with programmes like Strictly Come Dancing. These outfits are extortionate in price and so more and more people are making their own. This extends into leisurewear and sportswear and yet again the fact that you can create something quite unique to you is a big plus! I thought all of the cycling tops were pretty good at first glance (that is until Patrick and Esme started pulling them apart, verbally of course). It seemed that the majority of the contestants made the same mistakes, mainly the seams didn't match around the zips. To be fair there would be an element of panic in their sewing and lets face it that's how mistakes happen. Overall though they did really well.
I do think they were being rather 'picky' with Charlotte's. It wasn't too bad at all around the bottom of the zip and what can I say about Tracey's it was near perfect. What the heck was Esme on about "the colour's popped"???
I loved Rumana's colour choice and like Jade's they both had a self coloured fabric with just the zip in a different colour. I recently bought (dare I say that word ha) a dress in grey with an exposed orange zip down the back and the pockets were lined in orange fabric. The way they have been sewn means the orange stands proud to the pockets and the whole dress looks really good. It's a 'modern' thing this with the exposed zips but it can look good.
Joyce's top was really good, personally I am under the impression that the judges were surprised at just how good these garments were because they definitely were quite picky!! Does anybody else think that? 
And now the dreaded middle section, for me at least, but hey yet again I was pleasantly surprised with how well they did. It was like looking back at shellsuit days (the 90's). I just looked at what they had to work with and thought thank goodness it's them and not me. So I have to hand it to them they did a fantastic job. Well done to them all.
The garment from Joyce was my favourite, I thought the embroidery was positioned really well on the back and for me it looked to be sewn pretty good. I think she deserved higher than 3rd place. I wasn't too keen on Jade's jacket, for me it should definitely have had a collar and because of this it didn't look balanced somehow.
When you get a programme like this it wouldn't look good if the same person was the best each week! I just wish it was edited a little better because as I've said before the judges contradict themselves.
My favourite section was the 3rd this week and again I think they all did a very good job. First up was Charlotte and I have to say I thought it hung really well at the back, to me it didn't need altering, again I think it was a case of having to find something wrong. The underneath bra part fit brilliant, the straps at the back were very effective, the choice of fabric was spot on. Well done Charlotte!!
On to Joyce. I seem to be very much a fan of hers and like Charlotte's was a very well made outfit. She used McCalls 7261 which has a lovely hooded version and a very effective lapped collar, version B.
Then Patrick said "it neither fits snug or loose" I go to the gym twice a week and for me this would be perfect because I prefer my gym clothes to be neither too snug or too loose. And so I just thought these were silly comments. Note the judges said to Charlotte "you are the only one who hasn't gone for a tight fitting garment". See what I mean about contradiction!!
Oh boy I loved Jade's and so did the judges. Just a pity she misplaced the straps at the back although did it look that bad?? Talking of these, Jade used a loop turner to turn these straps right side out. She made a great job of this because these can be tricky to turn through especially in lycra! Now for those of us who don't like doing this how about some ready made lycra cord. This comes in lots of bright colours that either match or are a good contrast to the lycra colours. 
A very similar pattern is Butterick 6295. The top seems identical to Jade's but the pants just go a stage further and include pockets sewn within the side panels.
On to Tracey's, again it looked pretty good, maybe she tried to do too much. I did agree with Esme about the colour switch at the bottom of the trousers. They picked up on the teeniest tiniest bit of bagginess at the front edge and then totally missed the bit of bagginess on the back just underneath the crossed straps.
Last but not least, poor Rumana. She used a pattern very similar to Kwik Sew 4163
Now I am not into making sportswear but if I did this surely would be a pattern I would pick. On reading the instructions I find them amazingly easy. I'm afraid I'm going to have to get that overlocker first though, possibly a cover stitch too!! Rumana's binding round the neckline and armholes wasn't good at all but her leggings were brilliant. Did she deserve to go, I'm not sure?
Thank you for reading and until the semi-finals happy sewing!!
Annette xx

#PatternoftheWeek - 50% Off The Walkaway Dress Pattern

Well we have had an interesting week here at Minerva, all the gossip seems to be how well the 'hacked pattern' from Vogue is doing. As you can see, it's our 3rd Bestselling Sewing Pattern of all time already! 
If you are one of the few who haven't seen this amazing pattern yet have a look on my  'The Great British Sewing Bee' blog post. The reaction to this pattern is incredible and it takes me back to series 3 of GBSB when the Walkaway Dress Pattern was shown. If the reaction to that pattern is anything to go by then Vogue 1557 will be a roaring success!
So may I take this opportunity to re-introduce you to Butterick 4790. As I've already mentioned this must have been the pattern of the year because it was so popular nationwide, probably even worldwide.
So with this pattern having been our best selling pattern last year I am very pleased to offer it to you as our pattern of the week at half price, for one week only. 
The next two photos show the lineart drawing of how the shape of the dress sews together and that there are just 3 pieces. Yes you read that right! 
The dress is placed over your head and then the front of the dress carries on round to the back and fastens with a button or snap fastener. Likewise the back then wraps round to the front over the front of the dress. Hope I'm not making it sound complicated because it certainly isn't. 
The edges are finished off with bias-binding and although it says to sew the hem on the machine, I think bias-binding would be good used on here too. I must admit if I have a lot of hand sewing to do, it doesn't faze me in the slightest because I find it quite relaxing to sit and sew in the evening!
Now to fabrics. If you look at the pattern, the first one that stands out is the blue check, version B. Now this dress could look fabulous in Gingham Fabric. I'm not usually a lover of checks being used in a circular skirt. Years ago it was a complete no no but is widely accepted in this age of anything goes and to be fair it does seem to work fine with this pattern. I have seen it made up in yellow gingham with white edges and it did look very pretty.
The mono look looks superb (version A) but I would like to take this a stage further and show a black patterned fabric with a plain black. My choice is our gorgeous floral print polyester Crepe Fabric (we have a fabric video of this for you to watch too! just click on the link). The black and white floral design of this fabric is very effective and perfect for those who love the monochrome look. This fabric is a polyester crepe which is soft and drapey and also has a little bit of stretch which will make it super comfy to wear. I have teamed this fabric with a New Fabric that we now stock in a fantastic range of colours. This fabric is polyester and also has that little bit of give/stretch so blends perfect with my Mono fabric.
While we are talking mono how about this Lovely Fabric. I am in love with this beautiful 100% viscose fabric. We are talking white random dots on a black background.
And don't forget you could always team this with the 100% visvose in plain black! Either have the front of the dress in the spot and the back to front wrap in plain black or even visa versa! And last but not least just to liven things up a bit how about this Floral Viscose Fabric, this is a stunning background colour with a floral design. Again this could be teamed with black viscose.
I hope I've given you some inspiration for the walkaway pattern with these fabric choices. For even more reading, take a look at Gabby's version of the Walkaway Pattern she made for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network - it's gorgoeus!
And so farewell for this week, thankyou for reading and see you tomorrow for a catch up on the Great British Sewing Bee.
Annette xx

Amazing Fit Dress

Hello, I plotted to make this dress about 4 weeks ago for a wedding I attended with my husband Richard last weekend. I had two really good reasons for making this dress. 1) I had NOTHING to wear to this wedding (OK, I'm sure I did, but I just wanted something new haha!) and 2) I just had to make something from this gorgeous new Jacquard Fabric that recently arrived here at Minerva. Just look at that fabric!
It is just the sort of fabric I love. Neutral shades with a bold print. And the fabric itself is amazing. It seems to be made of two layers that are somehow bonded together. So it has a good amount of body, yet isnt stiff. Watch our fabric video and it will give you a sense of how this fabric behaves.
Once I had decided to make a dress, and to use this fabric, next was to decide on the pattern. I had a vague idea of what I wanted. Because my shape is hourglass but slightly more bottom heavy I like fit and flare styles that pull in at the waist but then flare out over my tummy and bum. I never used to wear this style, but since trying it I realise just how much I like it and how flattering it is on me.
My mum and I had been talking about the Simplicity Amazing Fit Sewing Patterns only a few days before I decided to make a dress for this wedding. Having never tried one and hearing very good reports on them from some of the Minerva Bogger Network Team, I decided to try one out.
The first one I found was Simplicity 1011, which I still really love, but I decided against it because I thought the amount of panels in the dress would distort the pattern in the fabric too much. I got myself a copy of this pattern though as I will definitely make this in another fabric in the future.
The next one I looked at which was one my mum suggested was Simplicity 8047. I wouldn't have made the overbodice, just the dress underneath. This was a definite contender.
I finally settled on Simplicity 2247 view B. I just loved the shape of the skirt part, plus it has fewer panels that either of the other 2 patterns. I liked the V Neck and I also really liked the sleeves with the three little tucks.
I made my final decision on the pattern last thing on the Saturday here at work (the week before the wedding). I work 6 days a week here at Minerva so I knew I didnt have much free time and really needed to get cracking! 
I cut the pattern out that same night, cut the fabric and even got a bit of pinning done too. I managed all of that quite well to say I'd had a couple of glasses of wine haha!
As you can see in the photo above there are quite a few pieces to this dress, but since I read Sheila's post about her Vogue Ball Gown that was constructed from no less than 78 pieces (yes, 78!), this one seemed a doddle!
By the end of Saturday night I had all the pattern pieces cut! Yey!
For those of you who follow Minerva Crafts on Instagram you will have seen my 'sewing updates' throughout the day on Sunday. I started sewing at around 1pm and just got the dress finished in the nick of time by about 9pm. It was a full day sewing session to get it finished!
My 'sewing marathon' made me think of this sewing quote haha...
The constuction of the dress was pretty straight forward. Im very lucky that I have my mum (who is the best sewer I know) always on hand to help me out. I try to rely on her help as little as possible but it is a very good feeling to always know she is there.
I agree with what people say in that these amazing fit patterns are pretty awesome. You take your measurements as normal to determine what size of pattern to cut out, and you also work out your cup size. Now if I was to buy RTW clothing I would be a size 12 or 14 depending on the shop. On this pattern my measurements said an 18. You really do have to ignore the fact that your size may not be the same as the sizing you buy in the shops. It is much more important to go off your measurements. For the cup size, I would normally take a D cup, but going off my measurements the pattern told me to cut a C cup, so I did.
Simplicity Amazing Fit patterns give a bigger seam allowance on some of the pattern pieces, so when you come to fit them to you there is a bit of 'wiggle room'. In my case I went the other way in that I had to take quite a bit in on the side seams at the waist part, and continued this line down throught the skirt so that the shape of the piece remained the same. 
I would recommend this pattern for an intermediate sewist. Someone who has had a go at beginner patterns before and wants to try something a little harder than an absolute beginners pattern. It really was pretty easy!
The photo above is a picture of the dress taken on Sunday night. All I literally had left to do was a bit of hand sewing. "I will do that one night during the week" I said to myself... yep you have guessed it...I was there the morning of the wedding in our hotel room doing the hand sewing haha! Now that I definitely would not recommend!
The wedding we went to was at Burnley Football club (which is the team my husband Richard and all his family support, coming from Burnley). My family are Blackburn Rovers supporters. If you are local, or a football fan, you will know the rivalry between these two teams! So as you can imagine, at the wedding Richard was taking photos of me everywhere where he could get a shot of me against a Burnley club sign to prove I was 'one of them' haha. Even pictures taken against the ground itself...
Would you beleive it, out of all the pictures we took that day I dont seem to have a single one showing the full length of my dress, so I took some this morning so I could show it to you...
So what do you think? I have fallen in love with this new dress and am so happy I decided to make one for the wedding, which was a fantastic day!!
Thanks for reading everyone! 
Vicki x
P.S. if you would like to try out a Simplicity Amazing Fit Sewing Pattern for yourself they are all half price at the moment, so its the perfect excuse :)

Fabric Friday - Fabrics for Burda Pattern 6773

Here we are FabricFriday again!
Before we talk fabrics I must tell you that my daughter Alison and my little Princess2 are doing well. Thank you so much for your messages of congratulations. My Granddaughter Jess (yes that one!) said I couldn't call the new one Princess because she (Jess) was my only Princess but now she is allowing Emily Iris May to be called Princess2 because she is so darn cute. Sorry I could easily just write a blog on Emily, I certainly wouldn't be stuck for words!!
So back to fabrics! My first fabric is a gorgeous patterned linen mix. Now this Linen Fabric is coming to an end but I thought maybe you would like one last chance to buy. This is described as 'swirl abstract linen mix'. It is 55% linen and 45% viscose and is 56" wide. This is offered to you at £10.99 per mt. Now for my photo I have teamed it with Black Linen Fabric of which as you know we have plenty of choice. What do you think?
This Burda Sewing Pattern no 6773 has a very simple shape shift dress. I think this fabric would look fab in this, don't you? Take a moment to have a closer look at the jacket. The following photo shows the lineart of the jacket. Have a peep at version B at the front extension. It is barely noticeable on the front cover picture, I just think it is so unusual and would make a lovely bride's mother's outfit. The pattern says you need lining for the jacket but it is only for the facing of this 'extension' it would be just as easy to use the same fabric.
The dress is lined to the waist but could easily be lengthened to become fully lined or indeed could be left out altogether. The lining is put wrong sides together with the dress and then a bias binding is attached and hand sewn on the inside. See following photo's;
My next choice is this beautiful Needlecord Fabric. It is 72% cotton, 24% polyester and 4% lycra. The photo on our website doesn't do it justice so I hope my photo is a little more helpful. Again I have teamed it with black.
We have a range of Plain Cotton Needlecord Fabrics at an amazing price of just £4.99 per mt and are 100% cotton. When they are gone that will be it for these, so strike while the iron is hot! And it comes in 18 amazing colours. We also have this plain black Stretch Needlecord Fabric and our 21 Cord Fabric - both are beautiful and both have a lycra content. The prices for these are £9.99 and £8.99.
Last but not least I want to show you this fairly new Linen Mix Fabric
Our description is "A beautiful quality cotton and linen blend fabric ideal for making summer clothing, such as tops, skirts and dresses. This fabric has an interesting weave and surface texture and surprisingly for a linen blend fabric is has a wonderfully soft drape." I couldn't describe it better if I tried. Except to say it is 71% cotton, 29% linen and just 48" wide. I haven't teamed this with anything for my photo because it looks fantastic on it's own! Having said that it would look yummy with pure white linen or our very popular linen look cotton. I could go on and on and on and on.............
Thank you so much for reading.
Annette xx

The Sewing Bee - Series 4, Episode 5

I take back whatever Ive said!! I really enjoyed the Great British Sewing Bee last night. I felt that each contestant was getting into their stride and feeling much more relaxed. So last night was all about Vintage sewing, hence the 60's sewing machine's. I have to say I didn't see the point of using these machine's, for some contestants it held them up a little and it wasn't like they were making a feature of it to us the viewers. I absolutely loved the 60's shift dress and just to let you know that Vogue patterns have released a limited edition sewing pattern of a similar Mondrian Dress Pattern. This pattern is now available to order from us here at Minerva and is at a fantastic price of £9.99. With this pattern + pattern hack what you are actually buying Vogue 9048 in a new pattern envelope and will receive an extra page of instructions that will explain how to convert this pattern to how the original Vogue 1557 looked, picture of which is below.
You will need some dressmaking tissue paper, pen, ruler and some adhesive tape. If you've not seen Vogue 9048 take a look because it is very 60's looking in it's own right. I also think that when you've looked at how easy it is to convert the pattern into the above you could also take it a stage further and convert it into the sewing bee pattern. It wouldn't be too hard.
I loved some of the combinations the contestants came up with and it was good to see Jade using the method I mentioned in a recent blog post. This was having a drawing or photocopy of the shape of the dress (in this case the block design) and literally colouring them in to see the different effects you could achieve. I loved Joyce's colour choice, her sewing was spot-on and I think she thoroughly deserved to come first in this section. To me she deserved it even before I'd seen the others. 
They used Cotton Sateen Fabric for the dress but there are quite a few fabrics that would be suitable. One that comes to mind that would be highly suitable is bi-stretch Suiting Fabric. This is a reasonable priced fabric at just £3.99 per mt that comes in a fantastic range of colour, is easy to work with and easy to care for. Here at Minerva we have a brilliant selection of Cotton Fabrics from gaberchino to poplin and from sateens to lawns. Although if a fine cotton is used for this dress it would definitely need to be lined. It is hard to tell from the sewing bee whether the dresses have been lined or not but I can tell you that the Vogue pattern is lined. This could easily be adapted by using bias binding or making your own facings.
I was quite intrigued when Esme talked about the style of the dress being designed by Yves St. Laurent in the 60's as being the Mondrian dress. I had to find out a little more, I mean it's a funny name for a dress is it not. 
The designer took the idea from Piet Mondrian who was an artist, who although he came from the netherlands, he lived and worked in Paris. He developed a style of painting around 1920 of which he became best known for. This style was a form of cubism and this is what you see in the dress. How clever of Yves St. Laurent to bring art and fashion together. And brilliant that the GBSB brought it to our attention! 
So if you google Yves St. Laurent - Mondrian dress, you will find a picture of three models wearing three variations of the dress and there in the background is one of Piet Mondrian paintings. And so History lesson over for today, back to the sewing bee!
I think Joyce showed some of her experience in that where she topstitched, she used the right shade thread, I thought that made all the difference. To be fair both Angeline and Charlotte stitched in the right shade thread as well even changing colours where back met front. What seemed to let a few down was sewing in the zip. Unfortunately I feel Tracey's was the worst, so combined with the hemline stitching, unfortunately for her she came last.
For some reason I quite liked the middle section this week if not for anything else just to show how difficult these types of fabrics are to sew. First up was Rumana and I thought her red top was brill, her ideas were good and looked to be sewn quite well. Next came Jade, again I thought pretty good although I did see their point that she hadn,t changed the neckline. I loved Tracey's, what can I say, those pockets were amazing and it looked so 60's. Esme didn't like the shape! What difference dare I ask is there between this and the Mondrian dress!!! I didn't really 'get' Charlotte's, maybe I missed something and although yet again Joyce deserved to win, that pocket on the front annoyed me because it wasn't straight (how picky is that when they are so short of time). Poor Angeline's work got picked on again, I don't know whether it was fair or not, her outfit wasn't any worse than anybody elses. What do you think?
On to the last section, Tracey's jacket was really nice, she used a current Simplicity Pattern 2154 which is so 60's. Combine that with this stunning Italian Coat Fabric here at Minerva and hey you too could have a jacket like Tracey's. 
I agree with Esme that Charlotte's jacket looked at it's best on the dummy and I also liked the wide neckline. Poor Rumana, her hemline and buttons just didn't work. Again for me Joyce's was superb, am I right in saying they used to call this style of jacket a Reefer? For me it was very 60's like the Mods used to wear I think. Poor Angeline, the hemline was not good but I have to say I absolutely loved the idea. The colours and choices of fabric were fab. And then we get to Jade's WOW I loved it, loved it, loved it. So much care was taken in matching the fabric and to be fair she had enough time to do so. 
Now what I haven't had time to do this blog is work through our thousands of fabrics and sewing patterns to give you some ideas to make your own versions of these amazing projects. For anyone following my blog posts you will know I was about to become a Nanny again for the 5th time. My eldest Daughter has given birth to Emily Iris May this week at 9lb 3oz. We have christened her 'chunky monkey'...
Until next time thank you for reading,
Annette xx

Pattern of the Week - New Look 6035

At least once every week I am told how lucky I am working with our wonderful fabrics and knitting yarns. I never take for granted how lucky I am. I feel guilty sometimes mentioning in my blog posts that this is my favourite and that is my favourite. How can someone have so many favourites but honestly that is the way it is. Our warehouse here at Minerva Crafts is like the biggest sweet shop you have ever seen (and I do like my sweets, as my waistline would tell you). Each day I see a new fabric and I think I must show that one this #FabricFriday or new sewing patterns come in and I can't wait to mention them to you. I'm not allowed these days to do stock takes on the sewing patterns (or knitting patterns come to think of it) because I take too long browsing through them!! I pull out more than I count haha. So this week it is a few of our lovely fabrics that have prompted me to offer you New Look 6035 as our half price pattern of the week.
My first Fabric choice is this beautiful 100% cotton. 
As our description suggests this is certainly a head turner and bold in design and colour. For my photograph I have chose the off white background, probably because it's summer! I can say that the dark background is a stunner too and that's before we get on to the multi-coloured!! This is a little heavier weight cotton so would be perfect for the A-line skirt on the pattern. (Don't forget have a peep at our video's and you'll get a good idea of the weight and feel of this and all our other fabrics). 
As you can see in the photo below Ive teamed it with our Chevron Fabric from the same range to compliment this fabric for the skirt. Now here at Minerva I am getting crossed wires. Some of my colleagues are saying "don't put two patterned fabrics together" and others are shouting with glee as to how good these two look together.
So what do you think? Skirt in circles, Jacket in chevron. Please let me know, I love your feedback. As you will see these are the same fabrics so would be wonderful together even if you disagree with my choice above. 
So while we are talking putting patterned fabrics together, how about my next choice. This is a beautiful range from Timeless Treasures, primarily these are quilting fabrics but as I've mentioned before and no doubt will mention again, there is nothing to stop you using these fabrics for dressmaking. These fabrics come into their own when you want to make something with say a particular colour theme but need a few co-ordinating fabrics. In the coming weeks I hope to show you lots of these co-ordinating fabrics, there are 100's of quilting ranges but we now have plenty within our dressmaking ranges. So watch this space. Back to today (I know I'm wandering again aren't I).
My next photo shows Timeless Treasures Fabric 'Field Study'.
How pretty is this combination? And if florals aren't your thing (all be it that they are quite abstract) take a look at my next photo.
Because they are all from the same range the colours are identical so for me I think they would look stunning as the top and skirt.
The pattern is for an unlined jacket, a very pretty top with a few gathers in the front and self bias bindings, a lovely A-line skirt and trousers both with a shaped waistband. A good value pattern especially at half price, but remember as always with #PatternoftheWeek it is for one week only!
Can't wait for the Sewing Bee tonight.
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx

Fabric Friday - Sewing for Summer Holidays

Thinking of holidays my mind is drawn to jumpsuits. Butterick 6220 is such a good pattern for this. Lovely and loose for during the day, say on a coach trip. Equally nice for sitting and having a lovely meal and one or two glasses of wine. 
One of the best fabrics for jumpsuits is viscose challis or viscose jersey. And so my first fabric choice for this week (purely because version C is crying out for me to make it) is our large leaf print Viscose Fabric.
Is that stunning or what? This is a bright and beautiful patterned fabric in shades of yellow and green. The thing with viscose it hangs so beautifully so those wide sleeves will have a fantastic drape. Viscose will breathe and feel lovely and soft against your skin and at just £5.99 per mt this is an excellent buy.
Next is another patterned viscose...
This is hot off the press so to speak and has literally just landed at Minerva this morning. I just had to share it with you as I think this pattern and fabric combo is amazing. This fabric is so new it isnt even listed on the website yet! It will be shortly so watch this space. It is made up of such vibrant colours it would be ideal to wear in the sun.
The following fabric is a Viscose Jersey Fabric and would you believe the pattern is made up of little birds as in version B on the pattern, in fact it is described as 'Birds in Flight'. The colour is a beautiful sea green. This would be very suitable for during the day on holiday.
My last fabric choice for today is a crinkled Crepe Fabric which would be fab made up in the dress, version A.
This fabric is an unusual blend of viscose, cotton and linen. It is perfect for summer as the fabric is light, breathable and features a bright and cheery print! The fabric has a crinkled textured finish. The creases are purposefully within the fabric and are designed to stay put even through washing and handling. The lovely textured finish creates surface interest and makes this fabric a joy to sew as it is very forgiving. The design is very busy and would not require pattern matching. Look closely and you can see florals and paisley motifs. Perfect for making the dress from this pattern. 
Last but not least just a few words about the pattern. All I can say is it is very very easy! Hardly any pieces and very straightforward.
As you can see it is a V-neck but also a V-neck at the back. So the pattern includes instructions to place two ties at the back neck.
However if you are feeling a little daring, dare I suggest leaving the ties off, your jumpsuit or dress will 'slide' off one shoulder!! Mmmm I'll have to think about that one.
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx

The Sewing Bee - Series 4, Episode 4

Did you watch the Great British Sewing Bee last night? I'm sorry but I'm feeling a little negative towards it this week. Well actually it started last week with the bras. When the GBSB first started I felt they were making more practical items and it made more people want to actually sew. The tasks seem to be going more and more weird. A beginner to sewing would never make a bra or negligee nor would they make anything in such difficult fabrics like the slippery satins of last week or the chinese silks of this week. So I actually feel there is nothing to encourage a newcomer to the wonderful world of dressmaking. Rant over, what do you think? And so to last night's programme.
My first thought's are "I wonder who made the 'sample garment' Is it me or does that front edge look a little stretched!!
I like the idea of using pattern weights alongside the pins for cutting out the garment. It does help that the main front piece is cut singular as is the right shoulder piece. So the back piece when laid against the fold will be trickier. When using a fabric like this I find it would be easier to recut this piece on the fold, out of pattern paper, transfer all markings and then you can cut this piece out as one piece (not on the fold). There wouldn't have been time for this last night, fair enough, but it does make me think that in a pattern were the emphasis is on using this Chinese Silk Fabric that the back piece would be like I'm suggesting and not on the fold. Hope that makes sense. I do think it is worth mentioning (again they hadn't time for this last night) after you have transferred all your markings etc and taken the paper pattern off your fabric, overlock or zigzag around every single piece. That way you immediately eliminate the problem of fraying. 
I must admit I never knew this type of top was called a Qipao (I googled the spelling) and it was interesting listening to Claudia talking about why the left front goes over the right front. Apparently they consider right over left as 'barbaric'. So that leads me to two gorgeous sewing patterns from New Look and Burda that we sell here at Minerva Crafts. 
Oh dear, on both patterns the right front is crossing over the left front. Someone somewhere hasn't done their research properly have they. However there is an easy remedy just use your wrong side of pattern as your right side, transferring any markings along the way. I love the New Look pattern although apart from the wrong fastening it does steer away from tradition in that it is not fitted. Also there is no zip, either side or back seam. That's actually got me thinking I wonder how the original ones fastened, I must look into that. There are however two ties at the back waist level so these can be tied tighter to achieve a more fitted look. Now the Burda pattern is actually a dress pattern but could easily be shortened into a top. This pattern has princess seams at the front (which many sewers prefer because they can acheive a better fit) and a back zip. I personally always have and always will prefare a back zip to a side zip, mainly because a side zip can sometimes give an uneven silhouette. Added to this a side zip is being sewn into a curvy seam whereas a back zipper is sewn on to a straight edge or only slightly curvy seam. A back zip leaves the side edges to look nice and smooth.
And so to the contestants finished garments, it was brill to see this week that they all finished. At first glance they all seemed pretty good so well done to all of you lovely contestants. On closer inspection from 'you know who' there were some faults. With Josh coming a very close second in this section it was hard to see why he was the one to eventually go. I'm pretty sure there was only Joyce who stay-stitched the neckline and regardless of the fact that she mis-read the instructions for the binding I think she made a brilliant job. Charlotte mentioned that when she placed the garment on the dummy, she pulled the neckline and that was what stretched the neckline. I think the damage was done before that because if it had been done when she said then the stitching line would be broken. This proves the point that you must always stay-stitch ALL curves as soon as you take the pattern pieces off the fabric. I loved the contestants choice of fabrics as many of them were familiar to me here at Minerva Crafts. My favourite was the black Fabric that Josh chose;
I feel each design must mean something in history especially the dragons!
I also loved the red cherry blossom Brocade Fabric that Angeline used, again another fabric available here at Minerva.
Now for the middle section. As I've said before not my favourite section and I have to say last night was no exception. I'm all for recycling as and when needed but lets do this with something you wouldn't want to spoil in the first place. These Sari's were beautiful. Tracey's garment was quite stunning from how she made full use of the Sari's design to adding the decoration at the front neck edge. She certainly deserved first place in this section. 
Tracey didn't do quite as well in the last section. The sewing was good just the fit let her down. I loved Angelina's choice of fabric and thought it looked lovely. Charlotte's dress looked good but I had to agree with Esme in that the fit around the armholes didn't look too good. I loved Rumana's, it was different and looked to be sewn well. I wonder if she got marked down because she hadn't joined the two back pieces together? I loved it as it was with the pattern matching perfectly. I'm not sure that Jade's dress was made in  the right weight of fabric. I know this pattern well but unfortunately it isn't available now from New Look. I just think it should have been made in a softer more flowing fabric and because of this the waterfall peplum at the back seemed to stick out a little too much. Otherwise it looked pretty good. Initially I loved Josh's dress, I thought it looked stunning. Patrick mentioned the pattern matching, on one hand yes he was right but on the other hand I felt it added to the overall abstract feel of the dress. However Esme was right about the fit, the problem on the side seams should have been noticed and remedied and yes it was a little tight on the waist so therefore was riding up.
We were really sad to see Josh go this week, but its getting to that stage now isn't it, where somebody good has to go because there are only good ones left!
Thanks for reading everyone,
Annette xx

Pattern of the Week - Butterick 6319

This is such a pretty dress sewing pattern with the bonus of a little waistlength jacket and I am offering it as #patternoftheweek at half price for this week only.
The suggested fabrics are light to medium weight woven or moderate stretch knits. For me cotton, stretch cotton or linens are the most suitable (or is that because summer is nearly here or is it that summer should be here and hasn't arrived yet!!) Having said that the little jacket is described as a cardigan on the pattern and would make up brilliantly in a jersey fabric. More about that later. I'm not usually a fan of lilac's and purple's so it was not like me for my eyes to be drawn to the lilac dress, version B, on the pattern. Obviously any pattern can be sewn in any colour of fabric, spotted or striped, plain or full of flowers. (That's the uniqueness, that's not a word is it, but you know what I mean, of making your own clothes!!) For the purpose of my blog post here on the Minerva Blog it helps an awful lot of our customers to give a choice of fabric that is similar to the pattern envelope. All be it that version's B and C are drawings!! And so back to version B shown in lilac. My fabric choice is this stunning Stretch Cotton Fabric. Whether it is the ivory and taupe background or the mixture of greens with the lilacs, I'm not sure, I just love it.
It comes in just the one colourway and is at an amazing price of just £7.99 per metre.
Looks pretty good doesn't it?
I always seem to find something shown in black and white and here version C is no exception. I know it's quite fashionable at the moment, the Mono look, but I love black and white all year every year and in every fabric imaginable!! So here I've chosen our floral print Linen Fabric. Check out the price, £5.99 per mt. This I have teamed with plain black linen fabric of which we have quite a few and at various prices.This will look stunning.
This floral print linen blend fabric is bold and beautiful! Perfect for those who love colour and pattern in their life. The fabric is a medium weight and has a soft handle. It drapes very well for a linen and cotton mix and would be perfect to make summer clothes including dresses, skirts, tops, even trousers. It also comes in red and white and a gorgeous teal colour also with white.
The pattern has used these two fabrics quite effectively in that it appears to have a tabbard effect over a black dress.
Last but not least Version A would look pretty cool in our Linen Look Cotton Fabric. I have sewn in this fabric a few times and can honestly say it is lovely to sew and feels brilliant next to your skin. I wouldn't describe the orange as orange though, to me it is more of a pale coral or deep peach.
We have it described as "Fresh and crisp this fabric is perfect for making your summer wardrobe, from shirts and skirts to jackets and dresses! Keep cool in the heat in 100% cotton, with a texture that resembles linen in this beautiful non-stretch fabric. Available in a wide range of colours this fabric is machine washable and oh so versatile". At just £4.99 per mt and 20 colours to choose from, I class this as a good buy.
Now I was going to team this fabric with our stretch cotton Fabric. This is a stunning John Kaldor Floral Print Stretch Cotton and we describe it as "This beautiful stretch cotton fabric is a fantastic fabric to sew with. You have the ease of sewing with cotton, but the spandex content means this fabric has a one way stretch. This one way stretch makes this fabric super comfy to wear but also much easier to acheive the perfect fit. As you would expect from John Kaldor, this fabric is the best quality and will be a dream to sew and wear. We picture this fabric making a stunning cocktail dress, pencil skirt or cropped jacket." Hey note the 'cropped jacket' and what is on my pattern choice, yes a cropped jacket. So my next photo shows these two together.
However on reading the instructions PROPERLY!! it is referring to the jacket being made in jersey fabric. I realized there was no shaping in the jacket as in darts or princess seams and also all the seams where sewn with a double seam. This is a good choice of seam for a jersey fabric. Again I cannot emphasize enough to read your instructions properly!!  
So rather than leave out this sumptuous John Kaldor fabric, I am now suggesting it for the dress and team it with one of my all time favourite Knit Fabrics.
As I hope you can see from photo this is a very loosely knit fabric and is just £5.99 per mt. This compensates for the higher price of the JK fabric £17.99 per mt.
Just to throw a spanner in the works how about our French Boucle Knitted Fabric. It is one of our clearance fabrics and is priced at an amazing £2.99 per mt.
Thanks for reading and until next time keep sewing,
Annette xx

Fabric Friday - Ideas for New Look Pattern 6262

Oranges and lemons say the bells of St. Clemons - Why did that nursery rhyme come to mind? Well would you believe when looking at my first fabric of the week!! Weird how your mind works isn't it.  Before I show you that though, I have just received my copy of Sew Magazine, issue 86. The fabrics I am showing you, I am relating to pattern New Look 6262 and would you believe (yet again) this pattern is the freebie with this issue. If you miss this offer with the magazine we do have the pattern for sale here at Minerva.
So back to oranges and lemons (oh shut up I hear you say) Well here is the said fabric, I know there are no fruits to be seen! Isn't it fabulous? This fabric is from our quilting range and priced at £12.99 a mt. Dependant on size, view A would take between 1.90 and 2.30 mts.
My second choice of fabric is our Itty Bitty Flowers print cotton fabric. I've likened this to version C. It just takes a little more at 2.10 to 2.40 mts. 
My third choice for this week is another fabric from the quilting ranges. A lot of our lovely customers tend to think that quilting fabrics are purely for quilting, let me assure you you can use any of these amazing fabrics for whatever you desire. This opens up yet another avenue for you to choose from and believe me what a choice! So this third choice is the most gorgeous green patterned fabric from the Kabloom collection.
Whilst on my way through our seemingly endless warehouse (which is bursting at the seams with our fantastic fabrics at the moment) I decided to just add another fabric to my choice! It is from our batik range and is just beautiful. What do you think? 
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx

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