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A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics by Wendy Ward by Hila

The tag line of this Book is “Everything you need to know to make 20 essential garments” and Wendy has divided her book into two sections: Techniques and Projects. The first section is written in a chatty way which demystifies sewing with knit fabrics. The techniques covered among others include how to find the grain, identifying the right and wrong side of knitted fabric and much to my delight, a quick guide to choosing the right seam for your project. Even the sizing is easy to choose – Wendy has included finished garment measurements with the sizing guide table.

The pictures are bright and light. The layout is fun and uncluttered. I really appreciated that every picture in this book adds value in the sense that there aren’t pictures of random haberdashery stuff. There are plenty of close up photos and illustrations. The patterns were easy to trace out as the pattern sheets have different colours for each project. The projects in this book are all modern and wearable.

What did I make? 

Let me preface by saying that choosing what to sew was very challenging as I would make every single garment in the book. Every. Single. One.

In the end it was the fabric that decided for me. While browsing the Minerva site for fabric I stumbled upon some hot pink Silk Jersey Fabric. Suddenly, it was decided that I would be making the Winnats tank and Longshaw skirt. 

Longshaw Skirt

The skirt is an unusual and bold design that attracted me with its drapey silhouette. I chose a bright pink beautifully soft silk jersey which has a soft lustre. Having a fluid drape and buttery texture it was perfect for the Romanesque draped sides. Very simple to sew it took less than an hour to finish. It is made up of just 2 pattern pieces and a waist band. I used an overlocker on all the seams and hemmed with a zigzag stitch.

Winnats Tank

I made the tank in size 88cm without any alterations and the fit is exactly what I like on a tank! The instructions are well written – care has been taken to ensure that even the newest novice to sewing can tackle this. Another point that impressed me was the neckband and armholes; the band snaps perfectly flat against my body. I love that these 2 garments can be worn together to create the look of a dress and also separately.

Will I be sewing more from this book? Definitely! (I already have a Kinder cardigan cut out.)

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!

This book to me comes across as something that will be a classic in the cannon of sewing books. Not only because it covers essential techniques for working with an oft feared fabric but also for the stylish patterns that come with the book. A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics is a great sewing book and a welcome addition to any library.

Thanks for reading,

Hila @ Saturday Night Stitch

I was delighted to be asked to make a garment by way of review from the new Wendy Ward book ‘A Beginners Guide to Sewing Knitted Fabrics’ especially when I picked it up off the doormat and a quick flick through revealed that – yes – it included a pattern for pair of lounge pants, the Monsals. And then I noted it had a pattern for a long cardigan, the Kinder, with kimonoesque sleeves. Double yes
But before I go into the detail of these specific makes, let’s consider the book itself shall we? The book is split into two main sections, ‘Techniques’ and ‘Projects’ and comes with 6 basic pattern blocks which can then be altered, in simple ways, to make 20 different garments overall, in sizes ranging from UK 8 to UK 26 (US 4 to US 22). The patterns are thankfully included as actual paper pieces (rather than web links to downloadable content as you might have expected) in a thin plastic wallet at the back of the book (which I haven’t the patience to get mine back into!) They are overlaid though so you will need tracing paper to hand. 
In terms of the Project patterns, not everything is going to appeal to everyone. How would that be even possible!? These are your classic basics, from t-shirts, tank tops, cardigans, wide leg trousers, lounge pants, dresses and skirts. As you might expect from a book intended for beginners, the patterns are drafted to avoid fitting issues, apart from the rudimentary lengthening/shortening. On the whole, there are lots of straight lines and boxy shapes with a fair amount of wearing ease built into them. Importantly, however, they cover a collection of features such as bias binding finishing, knit hem techniques, basic hacking and elasticated waistbands, which, if a beginner worked their way through the book, would lead to accomplishing a solid set of core skills. 
My version of the Kinder Cardigan & Monsal Lounge Pants
The Technique section of the book covers all your basic knit know-how; from the tools you’ll need, setting up your machine and machining techniques through to special treatments, like taping seams and shirring. Particularly useful is the guide to the different types of knitted fabrics, working out its stretch percentage and the Quick Guides to choosing the right seam or needle for your fabric and project etc. There are also Tips and Handy Reminders dotted throughout its pages. 
This then is the book I wished I’d had at the start of my sewing journey; it might have been less circuitous if I had! The book is what it is; a great introduction to sewing with knits and is clearly intended, as the title implies, for beginners. As such, the book doesn’t go into using an overlocker, with everything designed to be sewn up on a regular basic sewing machine. I don’t think this is an oversight … there is enough information within this book to enthuse a beginner whilst not overwhelming them with info, before they progress to buying further expensive equipment.
The Derwent Wide Leg Trouser - I think these may find they’re way into my sewing queue too! 
However, there is also enough here to make it a worthwhile purchase, or gift, for the more advanced sewist too. Sometimes it’s just good to be reminded of your former diligent self who used to nervously take the time, for example, to hand baste hems in place prior to twin needling them. I find that I’ve a tendency to over-confidently plough through things these days ... but it’s not always to my advantage! Being reminded of the basics; to slow down, to take the time to take care and do things properly is a good thing, and potentially less time consuming in the long run for any sewist, I guess. I think the price of the book is very reasonable too; even if you only choose to make a couple of items, you’ll potentially have saved money you’d otherwise have spent purchasing similar patterns separately.
So shall we take a look at what I made?
I already had the fabric in my stash for the cardigan since the idea for something similar had been germinating for a while but I was sent the fabric for the lounge pants as part of the review. I started by making the cardigan…
.. And I tried to look at the make with Beginner Eyes. The Kinder cardigan can be made in three lengths; if you want the full length version like I did, you are instructed to lengthen the pattern pieces by 10.5”. All good experience for tracing and altering pattern pieces. 
There are really clear tips for each pattern as to what kinds of jersey to choose and the Kinder pattern states that it should be made in a heavier weight knit, like a Ponte so I did go a bit off-piste here as I wanted mine to be more slouchy and less coatigan like. My Knit Fabric is a true loose poly/spandex fabric you could almost imagine having knitted yourself, in the most divine colour! (Though I had a bit of trouble defining what that is…Mustardy? Old Gold? Ochre? Anyway, I digress and it’s called ‘Thatch’) I had to take a little extra care when sewing it up as the almost imperceptible threads kept catching on my walking foot and my raggedy nails!  
Remember what I said earlier about slowing down? I initially ploughed through this cardigan at break-neck speed, only surfacing to actually think when I realised I’d missed the point of adding in the pockets which are sewn into the side seams and front band. The pockets option is detailed a few pages later in the book. Daft of me, yes, but it would have been nice to have had a little *reminder at the relevant point in the instructions to turn to that page if you wanted to include them. So I ended up patching mine on. Lesson learned. Slow down. Read things through first and don’t get cocky!
Anyway, I love my cardy! I think it’s a gloriously slouchy mustardy marvel. (Try saying that fast!) And, yes, because I used one of Wendy’s top Tops included in the book, to hand baste my cuffs before hemming in place, I was really happy with how accurate my twin needle finish was!  
Then I sewed up the Monsal lounge pants in a really gorgeous quality marl grey Ponte Roma Fabric. I was really happy with this pattern, I’d been hankering after a pair of sweat pants/joggers for a while…basically PJ bottoms you can wear outdoors. I wanted pockets, a contrast waistband and ankle cuffs and the Monsals have these plus the option of adding a ‘Go Faster’ type stripe down the outside leg seam. I left this off in case they veered off into being too sporty looking for this coach potato!
The instructions have you cut your size according to your hip measurement which, even though my waist falls into a higher size bracket, is fine since the waistband is elasticated. In fact, I sized down one size smaller than my hip as I didn’t want them to be too relaxed in fit. Probably as a result, they’re a tad fitted at the calf…despite not being sporty I have what can only be described as ‘athletic’ calves…but overall I’m really happy with the fit. They are supremely comfortable and the Ponte knit I used is perfect with the marl in the grey adding just the right amount of interest I feel. The contrasting black Ponte I used is slightly less heavy which is perfect for adding the stretch needed in those areas. 
They sewed up really well. They’re a basic pant but are still a pretty interesting sew. I love the little details like how neat the opening for the elastic casing is and the way the pockets come together with the contrasting band. In fact the only thing I wished I’d done differently was to omit topstitching the waistband as my machine struggled at the junction above the pocket opening. Next time I’ll forgo that and perhaps just anchor the seam down with a few hand stitches on the inside, though even that’s probably not necessary. 
I’ve worn these a ridiculous amount already and the quality of the poly/viscose/elastase blend fabric has meant they’ve withstood repeated laundering without any noticeable pilling. In fact they look as new as the day I made them!
Congratulations on the success of the book Wendy; thank you for sending me the review copy and thank you Minerva for the supplies!
Sarah x

Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginners Guide to Knitted Fabrics’

Hi Everyone, 
I hope you’re all well and your makes this month have been a success and more importantly, loads of fun. I’ve been working on lots of great dressmaking projects lately. And I’m so ready for the warmer spring days. I had so much fun making coats and jumpers last season, but can’t wait to make more t-shirts and dresses. I think, if you also live in England, you will probably agree with me.

Today I want to talk to you about Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginners Guide to Knitted Fabrics’. I was lucky enough to be one of the bloggers to review the book before its release date. I was so excited to be a part of it and as soon as I saw the book I was even happier. The patterns which are included are amazing - total wardrobe staples for anyone of any age. Timeless pieces of loungewear to make you confident with knitted fabrics and start off your handmade capsule wardrobe. (Already a great start right?).
So lets firstly talk about the information included. The book starts by giving you clear facts and tips about knitted fabrics, choosing the right ones for which project and what you should be looking for in a fabric. As someone who has used a lot of stretch fabrics before, I was surprised by the amount of information that I didn’t know. So I’ve definitely learnt a lot more about knitted fabric types from this book. Since expanding my knowledge on how stretch fabrics vary and their make-up, I’ve found sewing with them much, much easier. Don’t think this book is just for people who have never sewn with these ‘specialist’ fabrics, it’s now become my bible for all things knitted and stretch. 

The tips for cutting knitted fabrics were the best part for me. I always struggle with things like stripes and direction. But Wendy’s clear tips have definitely raised my confidence with cutting pattern pieces out. The top I’ve made from the book was only my third attempt at stripe matching. The first two tries worked out ok, but took me hours and a lot of hair pulling. Now I know how fabrics work, and the best way of cutting them without moving the fabric, it’s so much easier. 
I know, from a lot of the young students I teach, the fear of stretch fabrics is sometimes just in the sewing part and not being able to sew it flat like a basic cotton. Or on a normal sewing machine! Wendy’s book clearly sets out tensions, needle types and stitch options for different aspects of sewing. This is so important for those of you who struggle with your machine and sewing thin jerseys and things. We’ve all been there when our machine starts eating up our beautiful material. Her tables make it so clear; what fabrics you’re using, what the tension should be and which needle is best for sewing that particular material. Hurrah! 
The drawings and diagrams for all the instructions are very clear and all of them make complete sense. I have seen ‘drawn instructions’ be completely vague in other patterns. But luckily Wendy’s  are bold and informative - thank goodness! The steps are really easy to follow to, so you won’t get stuck on any part (that’s a promise). Wendy gives you a few finishing options too, so you can choose what you feel most confident doing. I don’t know if you can tell, but I really, really love this book!

The patterns in the book include the Peak T-shirt, Derwent Wide Leg Trousers, Winnats Tank, Monsal Lounge Pants, Kinder Cardigan and Longshaw Skirt. All of the patterns can be customised to suit your style, add pockets, lengthen to a dress, shorten for shorts; it’s so easy and versatile. Plus all can be tailored to suit either day or evening styles. It all depends on what fabric you choose. This was great for me as I now know I can use my favourite, most comfy patterns for going out clothes too. Comfort and style - Win win!

I chose to make a short, box version of the staple Peak T-shirt. I used this Black & White Stripe Textured Stretch Jersey Knit Dress Fabric. It’s a printed stripe and great value for money, so was perfect for combatting that stripe-matching fear I have. The thickness and regularity of the stripes on this fabric are also perfect for easy pattern matching too. 
I’m so pleased with the fit and shape of this top. I’m a huge fab of boxy cropped shapes at the moment, so this style and variation is perfect for me. I’ve worn it so much since I made it. It didn’t take long to make either so I cannot wait to make more!

The second item I made was a pair of Monsal Lounge Pants with contrasting cuffs, waistband and pocket seams. I absolutely LOVE these joggers. Honestly they’re so comfortable. I made the main joggers with this dark grey Polycotton Sweatshirting Dress Fabric which is super soft and cosy. Perfect for cooler evenings, lounging around the house. I used the Ponte Roma Stretch Jersey for the orange contrast pieces. I am definitely going to purchase this jersey in loads of colours. It’s a lovely weight, soft to the touch and I found it really easy to work with. I’ve had so many nice comments about these joggers, and a lot of my friends have now asked me to make some for them too! I better get shopping for more fabric! 

The whole book is totally inspiring without being overwhelming. You will be able to make EVERYTHING in the book. There’s so many hints and tips as you go along, making the whole process clear, simple and straightforward. I urge anyone who’s a little hesitant to work with knitted fabrics to purchase this book. It’ll get rid of your fears and make your confident with all things stretchy. 
Happy Handmade everyone! And good luck with your stretchy makes!
Sophia x 
@Jessalli_Handmade /

How to Make a Simple Tote Bag with Tracy

Hello lovely makers, today I am trying out doing more than a review for Minerva crafts, I am doing a kind of make along, more like highlighting some hints and tips as we work through See and Sew B6477 Pattern, a simple tote bag. Using some lovely fabrics from Minerva crafts that actually have scents on them.  
I kid you not I used Camelot Fabrics Scented Fabric plain colours in apple and tropical as my contrast and lining, and their patterned Tropical fabric as the main, I asked my husband what they smelt like before telling him they were scented and he said apple and mango, they were lovely quality, great colours and smelt lovely to boot - what's not to like. 
I decided to do view b (the red one on the pattern pack).
As well as the fabrics needed you will need 2x 12" zips, sew on light/medium weight interfacing (although I used Iron on as that is my personal preference) Fusible fleece to give the bag some structure and bulk. Along with your normal pins, threads etc.
Before even looking at any of the pattern it is good practice to wash your fabrics, dry and then iron them. This helps to avoid shrinkage on washing our finished projects, whilst in this make along we are making a bag so may not seem needed, if this was a garment and your finished project shrunk or went out of shape after your first wash, I can't even imagine how that would feel after all our hard work.
Now the first thing to do when you open the pattern is to read it through to get an idea of what steps you will be doing, It will tell you what pieces you need for each view and how to lay them on the fabric for cutting etc. 
The first thing I like to do Is circle all the pieces I will need for my chosen view.
Next its time to put our attention to the pattern pieces. Iron your pattern sheets as those little creases can really distort the pattern pieces, we need them nice and flat. Now if this was a garment or accessory pattern with various sizes we would be discussing tracing the pattern on the sizes we need but as this is a simple one size pattern we just need to cut out the pattern pieces we need on the outer of the thick black line.
Place and pin or weight pieces on fabric as pattern describes and cut them out, transferring all marking as needed. 
Iron or sew on all interfacings as required by the pattern.
Then you are ready to start assembling your bag as per the instructions.
I use little clips rather than pins, a) they hold the pattern and fabric really well without marking the fabric,B) I won't inadvertently sew over them and cause damage to my needle and c) I won't prick myself and bleed over the fabric (ASK ME HOW I KNOW!). These are available on Minerva crafts too.
Another tip I can share is that once you place your sewing under your foot, before you start sewing just hold the threads a little taught as you put your foot on the pedal this avoids those ends getting caught and causing that underneath birds nest that sometimes happens. ASK ME HOW I KNOW!!
So go ahead and attach the 2 contrast panels to the main panel of both front and back.
Next tip: It does not say it on the pattern but, too make the bag look a little more finished I then topstitched a line of sewing  approx 1/8" from the seam line on the plain sides. Remember to repeat this if you decide to do it when you join the side pieces  later on.
Once this is done we need to start on the handles. 
The pattern calls for you to mitre the corners of the handle on the ends
Then fold, iron and sew the sides. Ready for placement. 
When I did this I collected the pattern pieces with the handle placement rectangles marked on them and placed on my bag pieces,
I took my friction pen (erases on ironing) and just marked each corner of the rectangle through the pattern onto the fabric.
Then sew, the pattern calls for a straight rectangle sewing but I tend to criss cross as well to hold the handles firmer.
From there just follow all the rest of the instructions for the bag as they are actually fairly straight forward sewing up the sides, adding a very simple patch pocket to one of the inner lining pieces. If you want a really simple bag omit the zips. 
Enjoy your finished bag.
So my thoughts, I love, love the quality and smell of  the Fabrics, I only like the pattern. Although the zipper closure on view B to me was not aesthetically pleasing and if I were to do it again I would either use a long zipper, or omit it completely and just do a magnetic snap clasp closure of even a big button and loop. But a great easy bag for a beginner. 
Thanks Minerva, I would love to use my bag for shopping trips, but my MUM has claimed it as hers!!!
Thanks for reading,
Tracy @ T Plays Nice

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans by Anna

Jeans are one of those things that a lot of people are scared about sewing. After having put them off for so long, I have finally made a pair, and I am so pleased with them!

I used this Indigo Stretch Denim Fabric from Minerva Crafts. Ordering fabric online is always a risk, but I could not have been happier with the colour of it when it arrived. It's a really lovely shade and has a nice weight to it. After pre-washing it, I was set to go. Denim does fray a lot, so I made sure to finish all my seams with a zigzag stitch. To make these jeans, I used the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans Pattern. The pattern comes in two views, I decided to make view B which features a high waist and skinny legs. It's exactly the kind of style I like, and the waistband fits perfectly above my hips.


In the end, the fabric that I used meant that my jeans don't look exactly like the view on the pattern. This is because the pattern requires a fabric with slightly more stretch. However, I found that it worked fine with the amount of stretch that my denim had, it just meant that I couldn't have the legs super-tight. To be honest, I'm quite pleased with this as I like the look of the slightly wider legs that view A feature, but much prefer the high-waist of view B, so I suppose that my jeans are a slight combination of the two.

I didn't realise that my fabric wouldn't account for the negative ease required in the pattern until I tried them on for the first time, so I would highly recommend basting your jeans on the side seams. I ended up sewing the side seams quite a few times, but this was easy to do seeing as I used a wide stitch length. I would also recommend trying them on again and again - while it's tedious, it will mean that your jeans will fit much better at the end! To hem the jeans, I cropped them first. It's a style that I like and I'm really pleased I did it.