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Viscose Challis Eve Dress

Hello, I’m Adelle, I am on a mission to create a handmade wardrobe which I’m writing about over on my blog. I’m excited to be here to review this floral Viscose Challis Fabric from Minerva Crafts.

The Fabric:

This beautiful lightweight dressmaking fabric is a light and floaty woven viscose chalis with large flowers and foliage across it. The flowers are approximately 10cm in size so it’s just a perfect bright summer fabric. I did worry that with the lightweight nature of the fabric it could be a little sheer, however it has great opaque nature whilst still being breathable. The quality of the print is also great and I feel that it wouldn’t fade over time.

The lightweight quality of the fabric makes it versatile for a summer make because it is breathable and light to wear. It presses well, which makes it a good option for a semi-fitted garment.

The Pattern:

A summer dress in my mind needs to be skimming and comfortable. A wrap dress is just the answer, especially to suit this beautiful weather that we’ve been having in the UK recently. The Sew Over It Eve Dress just seemed to suit this fabric perfectly, and could carry the large print well. The Eve dress has two versions, a more boho romantic look perfect for summer and another more sleek and elegant dress suitable as an everyday dress. I have chosen to sew version 1, with statement relaxed sleeve and a dipped hem. This version would look great as a wedding outfit too.

The Sew:

The Eve dress is only fitted at the waist with a tie and a gathered yoke for fitting at the bust so picking a size is simple by just using the pattern measurements.

I cut out a size 10 from 3m of fabric which was ample. The pattern recommends 3.2m but with past experience of Sew Over It, they do slightly over estimate their fabric requirements. The fabric is easy to handle despite it being lightweight. After reading other reviews of the Eve dress, I was aware of how easy it could be to stretch out the front wrap piece. You sew in stay tape to stabilise this piece but I have seen recommendations to use the fabric selvage as it has the same weight as the fabric that you are using. The back piece is made up of 2 pieces but in reflection I feel that I would change this to 1 piece, cutting it on a fold, which will help continue the pattern when the fabric has a large print this this viscose.

The Finished Dress:

Putting on the Eve dress for the first time I just wanted to dance and spin around the garden. It is super comfortable, but elegant and feminine. The ties are long, so I wrapped them around finishing at the front tying at the wrap over waist.

The gathers on the yoke give enough drape to fit over the bust, but with a larger bust I do wonder if further gathers may need to be added so that it wouldn’t pull up the waist.

The sleeves offer cover but without any restrictions and are very on trend to what I have seen on the high street. The notches only match up for the longer sleeved version so I had to just go with my gut to how they fitted.

The dipped hem it’s a great feature and would look wonderful when wearing heels. It would also accommodate a taller person without having to add any extra length to the dress. You could easily mix up the versions to create a straight hem from version 2 but with the short sleeves.

A wrap dress is just a perfect feature that will fit right into my summer wardrobe. I’ll be taking it on holiday to wear in the evening for dinner and drinks. If I receive any formal invitations in the future I will look to the Eve dress first.

Adelle x

@button_and_pip

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McCall’s M7542 Blouse with Fluted Sleeves

Hi everyone!

Welcome to my review of some beautiful Cotton Poplin Fabric in blush colour. Although it’s called blush I would personally describe it as more of a peach, apricot or even soft coral colour. I think of blush as a pale peachy pink but this is much bolder. In some of my photos the material looks quite pink but it is best represented in the first couple of shots.

I thought I would research on the internet the different types of cotton fabric and was amazed to find there are at least 32 different materials made with cotton! Cotton poplin can also sometimes be called cotton broadcloth. It is supposed to be a medium weight cotton with a tight weave that’s suitable for dresses and blouses for example. I was pleasantly surprised to find this one was really quite fine in texture and lovely and smooth - almost like a lawn – obviously great quality.

About a year ago I made myself the McCall’s M7542 blouse in view C with short fluted sleeves. I’ve wanted to make it again in a different view and thought this fine cotton fabric would lend itself well as it drapes nicely. It was a toss-up between the pleated sleeve and the long fluted ones and the fluted won through! 

This is a great pattern as it has 5 different sleeve options: tulip, long fluted, short fluted, gathered bell and pleated. 

The blouse has quite a high curved neckline with a small opening at the back, fastened with a hook and eye. There are no zips to worry about so it’s quite easy. The bodice comes in two different lengths to choose from - a cropped length roughly to the waist and a more normal length to about the hip. I chose the hip length.

So it’s a really versatile pattern and the plainness of the fabric I thought would show the sleeve shape off perfectly.

I don’t like my blouses too snug around the hips so I graded my pattern from a 10 at the bust out to a 14 at the hip. There is quite a lot of ease in the pattern and my actual body measurements would have put me in a 12 grading to a 14, but taking the ease into account I sized down. 

The only other alteration I made was to do a button and Rouleau loop fastening at the back of the neckline as I think that’s so much nicer than a boring old hook and eye!

The bodice is a simple construction with two bust darts, side seams and a centre back seam. The neckline is finished with an interfaced neck facing. I used a combination of sewing machine and my Overlocker but an Overlocker is not required.

The sleeves are not too tricky to make. They come in two parts - the normal sleeve part that you attach at the shoulder seam and a lower sleeve which creates the fluted part. This lower sleeve is a large circle of fabric with a hole set in the upper part of the circle which produces the flute which is longer at the back than at the front. This poplin is nice and wide so you can cut the circle out with plenty of room.

To finish off the hem of the fluted part, you sew a line of stitching 1.3 cm in from the raw edge. This gives you a firm line to fold the fabric back along. 

Once ironed you then trim off the excess fabric close to the line of stitching along the folded edge.

Finally you fold the hem up again along the raw edge where you cut the excess material away and stitch it in place. It sounds complicated but it’s very well described.

Attaching the fluted part to the lower edge of the sleeve is also quite straight forward. Again you stitch just in from the seam allowance from the raw edge around the inner hole. You then clip the seam allowance at regular intervals up to but not into the stitched line. It is then easy to fit the sleeve edge to the lower sleeve. It went in very smoothly with no puckers in sight!

The Rouleau loop for the back fastening was simple to achieve but you have to remember at what stage to sew it into the facing/centre back seam and at what distance from the neckline raw edges - taking into account the seam allowance.

I simply took a piece of fabric 1” wide. I folded it in half wrong sides together and pressed it. I then folded each long edge in again to the centre fold line and pressed the folds. Next I folded it in half (now 1/4” wide and machined along the open side. I then made a loop and stitched across the end of the loop to hold its triangular shape. 

Finally I calculated how much I needed so that there was 5/8” of both ends of the loop within the seam (I allowed more and trimmed afterwards) and enough protruding to fit over the button of my choice.

I pinned it between the facing and the centre back with enough allowance above it so it would sit perfectly once the facing seams had been sewn. I hope you will agree it makes a really nice feature.

I’m really pleased with the final results. I love the colour and feel of the cotton. I think it could be dressed up or down - worn with jeans or a really nice pair of more tailored trousers.

I also considered making a dress - perhaps the Lisette 6168 or a summer jacket. I so often choose a patterned fabric but it was nice to use something plain with a pattern with features that would show up nicely.

Thanks Minerva for the lovely fabric as always! 

Diana

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Erika Knight Studio Linen and the Tranquil Shawl

I'm delighted to be back on the Minerva Crafts blog with a review of the Erika Knight Studio Linen Yarn and another crochet project. Crochet has become my new favourite craft for my morning and evening commute - #traincrochet is definitely a thing!

As I already made a tidal wave shawl earlier this year, I was going to go for something really simple for my next crochet project, such as a scarf or hat. Instead, I saw the Tranquil Shawl by Sarah Hazell, which was designed specifically for this yarn and I was completely seduced - I love the oversized casual style of this shawl and surely you can never have too many shawls?

The Studio Linen yarn is made up from 85% recycled linen and viscose fibres, combined with premium linen fibre. This mix of fibres results in a drapey and slightly slippery feel when crocheted into a fabric. I haven't yet washed my shawl but the Erika Knight website says that the yarn will soften with wear and washing - just like a linen shirt I guess!

I used three shades for this shawl - Bone - the light cream/beige colour, Mood - the lilac shade and Lacey - the darkest colour which is somewhere between brown and purple. All the colours in this range are gorgeous and I spent a long time agonising about the combination I wanted - I can see myself making this again in a completely different set of colours...

The Studio Linen yarn is lovely to work with - it doesn't split when crocheting and makes very neat distinct stitches, the feel is similar to cotton yarn, with very little elasticity compared to the softness and slight stretch of wool or acrylic.

I did find that the yarn loves to tangle around itself really easily if you don't wind it into a tight enough ball at the start - I spent several hours untangling knots of yarn before I worked this out! I also found that the cut ends start to unravel really quickly, so I have tried to weave in my ends as tightly as possible!

The Tranquil Shawl looks really lacy and delicate on the pattern cover, but the yarn is quite dense and so the finished shawl is actually quite substantial and has a real weight to it - however the breathability of the linen fibre means that it works as a light cover up for a summer evening as well as something to throw on over a cardigan as it gets colder. 
The pattern is made up of crochet shells made in individual strips which are joined together with slip stitch. Each shell is made up of five treble crochet stitches (uk treble) - so the actual crochet is really straightforward. 

You make the longest strip of shells first - 66 shells in total and once you have counted that strip you simply make one less shell in each following row until you get down to one shell! This means that the shawl is initially very slow to get started as each strip takes ages to complete but once you get past half way then you can zip along very quickly!

The pattern instructions are very brief and there are no detailed pictures - I didn't find a lot of completed examples online to look at and compare, so as a still inexperienced crochet-er I spent quite a while worrying about whether I was getting everything right.

The Tranquil shawl uses a lot of yarn - the pattern recommends 14 skeins of yarn - 8 of the main colour and 3 each of the contrast colours. At the end of this project I have most of the last skein of the main colour left over, one whole skein of the lighter contrast colours and about half a skein of the other, so depending on your gauge you might be able to get away with slightly less yarn than suggested.

When I finished the shawl I hadn't reached the measurements given in the pattern and I think I was crocheting slightly tighter than the suggested gauge, but after I blocked the shawl it is now pretty close to the finished size mentioned in the pattern.

As I started this shawl I thought that making 66 strips of shell crochet might drive me a bit crazy or that I would get bored, but actually I found the repetition incredibly soothing and really enjoyed the process of making this shawl - I would definitely make it again - if I could only decide on which colours to use next!

Thanks to Minerva for the opportunity to try this yarn - definitely recommend!

Louise @ notsewsimple

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Diablo Jersey Diamond Drape Dress

It’s just one of those things … you are more excited about putting some patterns together than you are about others and the Trish Newbery Diamond Drape Dress is one of those projects. So when I got the chance to try the eye catching bronze coloured slinky Diablo Jersey Fabric from Minerva Crafts they were the obvious match.

The word “slinky” describes this fabric perfectly. It has superb drape and although I expected it to curl when I cut it I was surprised that it didn’t which meant it was relatively easy to work with. It is a little sheer, which might make it more suitable for a top unless you plan to line your dress, but I already had my heart set on making the drape dress with it and I’m glad I did because the sheen of the jersey and the way it lies work together with a great pattern to produce an outfit with a real wow factor. 

I can wear this either with a slip underneath, to avoid flashing my underwear, or on holiday over a swimming costume when it doesn’t matter if people can see what you have on under it. My little girl, who is already intently following several sewing vloggers on You Tube, suggested I use the left overs to make some cycle style shorts to wear under the dress, instead of a slip, which might work well but I haven’t had chance to try this yet.

I made the majority of this dress on my overlocker, because I can, but you can use your regular sewing machine. This is a trickier jersey by nature of it’s weight and shininess so probably better saved until you have sewn a few garments in standard knit first but at the current discount price it’s worth having a play. You could try at making a cowl neck top, which would show off it’s best features, for example Burda 6695.

I have a pack of Dritz ball point pins which come in very handy for pinning jersey and are especially useful when you are dealing with something that could click or ladder. Keep in mind that they are still sharp … guess how I know!

If you haven’t heard of Trish Newbery check out her website to see her range. Her patterns are PDF only but you are rewarded for your printing and construction with You Tube sew a longs for most, if not all, of her designs and I call her the Queen of Notches as she includes plenty of reference notches to keep you on the right track. I should also point out that Trish’s prices are in New Zealand dollars so don’t be put off. Check the exchange rate before you buy but the patterns work out the same as we are used to paying else where for independent designs.

But back to the dress.

I made view 2. It has pockets but I’ve had to reduce the depth of mine as the fabric wasn’t quite wide enough to cut the full pattern piece out but I don’t think it has had a detrimental effect on the finished drape. To be honest I’m never going to put anything in the pockets because it will just pull the lines of the dress out of shape but their purpose is probably more sculptural than practical anyway so losing half an inch of depth isn’t a big deal.

What I will say is that this dress is completely out of my comfort zone. I would never have walked in to a shop and bought it but over the last year sewing my own clothes has made me brave. I suppose my age might have a little bit to do with it too but we will gloss over that one. Either way I love it and I’m already on the look out for more fabric to make a second one.

So take a look at the Slinky Diablo Stretch Jersey Knit, which is currently available in more than ten colours, but don’t forget that Minerva Crafts have a huge range of jersey and ponte roma so if this one doesn’t take your fancy there almost certainly will be something that does. 

Thanks for reading,

Sue @craftysue103

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Embroidery Transfer Ideas

I’ve been into embroidery for some time now, but funnily enough I have never used transfers! I normally just free-hand my design onto fabric with my water soluble pen, but I had a project coming up that I’d agreed to create as a raffle prize for a friend’s Charity event, so I decided that I would opt for Embroidery Transfers to help with the design and accuracy of my work. My friend wanted me to create something that says “Sometimes, you’ve got to create your own sunshine”. So I started off using my normal technique of drawing free-hand onto my fabric.

I decided I’d use my new transfers for the word “sunshine” at the bottom.

Deciding on thread colours was probably the hardest part of this project (well, any project, am I right?).

I used a simple seed stitch to complete my lettering, and a combination of seed stitch and chain stitch to finish the sun. Once I was finished with the free-hand section, it was time to move on to the transfers!

I’d like to just take a moment to appreciate the instructions that came with the pack. They are SASSY, and I’m here for it! There aren’t many things in this world that I love more than instructions with sass. It makes for very entertaining reading!

The transfers come printed on one large piece of paper which you then cut out the pieces that you need.

Of course, the letters are all backwards, because when you press them down onto your fabric, they’ll be face-down, and therefore will print out the right way round. I decided to cut them all out, and to do a test run on a bit of scrap fabric!

And then I was ready to go!

I was so pleasantly surprised how clear the transfer came out. It was almost clearer printed on fabric than the transfer is itself! I was really happy with this so I went full steam ahead with my “Sunshine”. I had already decided on the positioning, so I picked out my required letters and placed them onto my fabric. I did struggle with this part slightly, because I found that in order to make sure the positioning was correct, I had to move all the other pieces out of the way and do one letter at a time, which meant that my positioning was all a bit of a gamble. Also, as there are two S’s and N’s in the word “Sunshine” I had to edge my bets with the gaps that I left to reuse the letters. What I probably should have done, is transfer the “sunshine” first, so that just in case I did something wrong, I wouldn’t have to start the project all over again (oh hindsight, you wonderful thing). Having said that, this process was still super simple, nothing went wrong, and I was really impressed with the way the lettering stamped on so clearly. I pressed on each letter with the iron for about 10 seconds, being careful not to move the iron or the transfer, mid-transfer. I started off a bit nervous, and gained confidence as I went along, which I think is perfectly reflected in my finished transferring!

See how my “sun” is quite faint, whereas the “shine” is quite clear? This is determined by how long you leave the iron on for. The longer the heat is applied, the clearer the design will be, though I wouldn’t recommend any longer than 10 seconds. I then washed my fabric to remove the blue water-soluble pen I had used earlier, but also to test how permanent the transfers actually are, and it’s fair to say they didn’t budge much at all!

It was time to finish the project! Time was running out, and on the morning of the day of the Charity Event I managed to finish the piece, once again using the speediest stitch I know - seed stitch (or speed stitch, if you will).

I finished the project with just an hour to spare, and in my rush, forgot to photograph the finished project. Once I was finished with the embroidery part, I trimmed the extra fabric from around the edges of the hoop, gathered and glued them all at the back, and backed the hoop with felt, with an added felt hoop, ready for wall hanging! (For more like this, check out my Instagram @jen.elz).

My friend Kath was really happy with the finished piece and the Charity Event went on to raise a wonderful amount of money for the MS Society Cymru. Overall, I’d definitely recommend trying these transfers for your embroidery, and other crafts! They really help with accuracy, but also make your life so much easier than trying to re-create a specific style of font free-hand. The transfers are also re-usable, so they make for excellent value for money. I know that the transfers also come in a variety of images and font styles, so I will definitely be coming back for more.  

Thanks for reading,

Jen @jen.elz

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A Super Simple Macrame Plant Hanger

Hi everyone, it's Kathy here, and I have been working on something different to dressmaking for a change.
I have noticed that macrame crafts seems to be popping up everywhere, and I have been itching to give it a go. I particularly wanted to make a classic plant hanger, but have also seen some really pretty wall hangings, so might give this a try too now that I have got the hang of some of the basic knots. The plant hanger was super easy to make and is already hung in pride of place in our hallway.
One of the great things about making this plant hanger is that you only need a handful of supplies. I used one ball of Hoooked Zpagetti T-Shirt Yarn in a gorgeous natural beige colour. I love that the yarn is made from what are basically recycled leftovers from the garment manufacturing industry, and whilst I have used it for this macrame project, it is a great alternative yarn to knit or crochet with too. Minerva Crafts have a huge range of colours available, so although I have opted for a neutral shade, it could be fun to add a pop of colour to your decor by choosing something more adventurous! I have lots of yarn left over, and am hoping to get at least two more plant hangers from what I have remaining.
Aside from the yarn, you will need a plant and pot of course, scissors, a measuring tape, a curtain ring or something similar, and a hook to hang it from the ceiling. I used a wooden curtain ring from a pack of 6 that I picked up from a DIY store for just 83p for the pack, and I just removed the little metal screw from it. The inside diameter of this ring is approx 3cm, but anything around that size will be just fine. I have since noticed that Minerva sell some brass curtain rings for just a few pence each which would look pretty for this project too. The ceiling screw was also picked up at the DIY store, and as this was loose on the shelf from a bag which must have split, the store just let me have it! How lucky!
I am very much a visual learner, and there are a huge amount of free macrame plant hanger tutorials on the internet. I will link you to the free video tutorial that I used here, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is really clear to follow, with the entire process being very well explained. The knots are shown to you several times to make sure that you are happy with how to make them, but of course the beauty of following a video is that you can pause and replay it as often as you need to.
To get started you will need to cut 8 strands of yarn, each measuring a whopping 550cm long. Due to the fact that this product is made from recycled leftovers from the manufacturing process, you will come across a few knots where the yarn is joined together. I didn't find this too much of a problem, and managed to cut my strips avoiding these knots with barely any wastage. Thread your 8 strands of yarn through the curtain ring, so that they are doubled and have pulled through equally in half. You now have 16 strands of yarn hanging from the ring. Use another piece of yarn that you have cut to approx 150cm to make a Wrap Knot directly below the ring to secure all the strands tightly. I should mention that I suspended my curtain ring from the top of an open door, but you can use anything to hang it from that you are comfortable with.
To begin, you need to divide your 16 strands into groups of 4. The first knot that you are shown is the Half Square Knot. A chain of several of these will give you a pretty twisted braid. Repeat this twisted braid with the other 3 groups of yarn and in no time at all you are left with 4 lengths of twisted braids.
The next knot that you are shown is the Josephine Knot. This took me a little more time to master, and I did have to replay the video a few times before I got the hang of it. The result is a really pretty flat knot, and you will tie two Josephine Knots below each of your 4 lengths of twisted braids.
Below the Josephine Knots you are shown how to make a regular Square Knot. These are similar to the Half Square Knots that you have already tied, but this time they are flat and do not form the twist that the Half Square Knots do.
After this you will need to create the 'cage' that your plant pot will sit inside. This involves taking two strands from one group and two strands from the next group to it and knotting them together with a Square Knot. Repeat this process again, to ensure that the 'cage' that your pot sits in is nice and secure. This is quite difficult to explain, but when you view the video it will all make perfect sense!
The final touches are to simply tie a large knot (nothing special here) to tie off the bottom of your plant hanger. Pull it nice and tight and, leaving a few centimetres as a 'tail', and cut the leftover ends off straight.
I'm over the moon with how it has turned out and also how incredibly easy it was to make. It's a fun project to make for your own home or to give as a gift, and I found it a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
Thank you so much to Minerva Crafts for the fabulous t-shirt yarn that I used for this review, I do hope that you may have found it useful. You can find me over on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network as Sew Dainty and my personal blog is www.sewdainty.co.uk.
Take care, Kathy x
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New Look 6163 Linen Summer Coat

When thinking of summer fabrics linen and cotton have to be a couple of the first fibres that spring to mind so I was pleased to be given the chance to try out and review this lovely Blades Linen & Cotton Fabric.

Being 55% linen and 45% cotton it’s a perfect fabric for a number of dressmaking projects and I decided it was the ideal weight to use for the longline summer jacket I’ve been thinking about.

Available in a wide range of different colours it was hard to choose but I finally decided on the charcoal grey as I thought it would be practical for an outer garment and go well with so much already in my wardrobe!

The pattern I used was New Look 6163. The unlined coat has bust darts, side splits and a small collar.

The fabric has a great woven look and a soft feel. I pre-washed in a 30’ machine wash, as this is the cycle I will use when laundering, then steam pressed before pinning pattern and cutting out to ensure that any shrinkage happened before making up.

The pattern went together well. Neck edges were stay stitched to prevent them stretching before attaching the collar. Facings were top stitched to prevent them from rolling out and the only alteration I did to the construction instruction sequence was to add the sleeves flat before sewing up the side seams as I find this easier.

The loose weave of the linen does fray and as I had chosen to make an unlined jacket I decided to finish the seams using bias binding. I made my own using a soft cotton lawn but there are some pretty premade ones. With the inch wide strips I attached to the right side of seam allowance then folded over, top stitched and pressed. The unfinished edge was then hidden under the seam allowance.

Finishing each edge like this does take a little longer but I think it’s worth the extra effort. It’s great to see a pretty inside too.

For the hem at the coat and the sleeves I opted to hand stitch. Again takes a little longer but using a slip stitch it was almost invisible from the right side.

I found the Blades Linen and Cotton blend an easy fabric to work with. It presses well to give a crisp finish to seams and didn’t crease as much as some linens I’ve worn. It has enough weight to it that I would consider using for trousers and skirts as well as cool summer dresses or soft furnishings such as a pile of colourful scatter cushions.

Loving my new coat…just need the warmer weather to wear it! Happy sewing :)

Nicky @ Sew N Snip

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Sienna Crepe Orsola Dress

I was so thrilled when Minerva Crafts sent me 3m of this navy Sienna Crepe Fabric. They have such a fantastic range of colours, but Navy is one of my favourites to wear. It’s one of those great colours that feel like a neutral and a statement all at once. The fabric was very soft and drapey, and even though it is 100% polyester, I was extremely pleased to discover it didn't have that plastic-y feel that lots of polyester fabric does. It took me a while to decide what I wanted to make out of it, and I spent a lot of time stroking and draping it and wrapping it around myself, waiting for inspiration to strike. Eventually, I ended up browsing The Fold Line’s recommended patterns for drapey-fabrics, and settled on the By Hand London Orsola dress.  

I’d seen a few Orsola dresses popping up on Instagram and various blogs, and though the versions I’d seen online had varied dramatically depending on the fabric chosen, the fact that it was knee-length, relatively high-necked and cuts a generally elegant silhouette, made me think that I’d get a lot of wear out of it. I thought it would be perfect for those times when I have evening work events and I’m looking to make a statement without showing too much skin. Having said that, I absolutely love the back detail on this dress, and it really was the perfect fabric to showcase that soft, petal shape wrap.

I won’t lie. I was also drawn to this pattern because of its lack of fastenings. It’s beautifully fitted but there is nary a buttonhole or zip in sight. Since I was product-testing I probably should have shown how it holds up to zipping and buttoning but…I chickened out. The fabric is strong, but it does fray rather a lot, and I wanted to save myself the heartache of ripping out a zip inserted into a slinky fabric.

A word to the wise, if you don’t have the patience for marking precise darts, this pattern is not for you. Orsola has SO MANY DARTS, and I had yet more darts to do because I chose to line the skirt as well as the bodice. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to line the bottom half, as another great thing about this fabric is its opacity. Considering its slinky drape, I would have sworn that I would have had to be wary of using it on my bottom half…for fear of revealing too much…but even when I held it up to the light it retained a reassuringly thick weave. 

A tip for working with this fabric, is spend a couple of quid on some sharp, thin needles. It will make the sewing experience a hell of a lot easier and much more fun. I recommend microflex needles, but make sure that if you do opt for sharps, that you are using a fine thread to get through the eye. If your thread is at all wooly, it’s likely that your thread will misbehave and unthread itself a fair few times…trust me, I made that mistake when I first started this project.

I love Minerva’s sienna crepe and would definitely make something with it again. I think that it would be perfect for any pattern that requires a woven fabric with lots of drape. The ogden cami, Fifi pyjamas, a woven wrap dress, the list goes on and on…

Thanks for reading,

Sonny @ sew_london

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Robert Kaufman New Look 6302

I was asked to try out this 100% cotton broadcloth Robert Kaufman Fabric from Minerva - it comes in a staggering 24 different colours so there will be one or more which suit you.
Broadcloth is a plain dense woven fabric, suitable for shirts, dresses and a million other things. This cotton broadcloth has been dyed in so many different colours that it was hard to chose my favourite but in the end I chose poppy.
The pattern I chose is New look 6302 which is a simple shift dress with a cardigan style jacket to wear over it. This in my opinion is the most versatile summer outfit you can make, it suits any figure and is suitable for any occasion. This pattern comes in a huge range of sizes from 8 - 20.
My first task was to take some tailors chalk and make a simple cross on the back of each piece, on a fabric like this it is so easy to get the right and wrong side mixed up!
This is a very simple pattern with excellent instructions so instead of going through the entire process I am going to show you how to do an all in one facing instead of the recommended bias edging.
It is easy to do and makes for a very smart finish to the garment.
The first task is to make the facings.  Cutting the front facing on the fold and using the pattern edges as your facing edges draw a line from a couple of inches below the side seam under the armscyce and ending about four inches from the centre front as in the photo above
Do the same for the back remembering that the back is not cut on the fold.
Make up the darts in the usual way and then sew the shoulder seams  of the dress.
Sew the shoulder seams of the interfaced facings and finish the edge. This fabric frays so if you do not have an overlocker then use a narrow zigzag on all the seams. I used the overlock foot on my regular sewing machine.
Stitch the facing to the dress, right sides together all around the neck and arm openings.
Clip the curves - I cut out small V shapes and press the seams.
Attach a safety pin to the bottom of one of the backs.
Thread the pin and the entire back through the shoulder and keep pulling gently until that side is turned right sides out.
Do the same for the other side. Using a ruler or a chopstick push the seams out until they are neat and then give the whole area a good press.
I do not want any topstitching on my dress but I do want to hold the facing in place. Understitching is the answer. Simply study the seam allowance to the facings as far as your machine will allow you to go. It can be seen on the wrong side, but not on the right.
Insert your zip, I chose a centred zip for a 1960s feel, but use an invisible zipper if you prefer.
Then stitch the side seams, catch the facing down at the sides and finish the hem. I used an invisible hem.
I made the short version of the jacket too, shortening the sleeves by a few inches.
This is a lovely versatile summer outfit , it's so wearable and comfortable and I totally love this fabric. A hint for you is to use a bit of spray starch when pressing it as it will stay crisp and fresh looking all day.
Thank to Minerva for giving me the opportunity of trying out this fabric. My verdict? When can I have some more - that says it all really..
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Funky Floral Simplicity 1873

For my next guest post for the Minerva Crafts Blog I choose this funky floral Cotton Poplin Fabric. Working with cotton is wonderfully straightforward and I knew cotton poplin would give me the freedom to make pretty much any garment, which was an exciting prospect.  I love the striking design of this fabric; and although modern, I can’t help but feel a little mid-century nostalgia in it and the abstract florals just top it off perfectly!

When the fabric arrived I was pleasantly surprised with how soft it was, and how vibrant the colour was on it. After pre washing there was no colour bleed or fading which I had been slightly worried about given the depth of the colours against the white background. It did need a quick iron but generally the creasing was minimal.

Wondering where to start with choosing a pattern to use, I tried to imagine what would look good with this design – a shift dress would have looked terrific and in keeping with the era I had in mind but I had 3 metres of this wonderful fabric and wanted to really make the most of it. So, I decided that a dress with a fuller skirt and a high neck, no-fuss-kinda-bodice would be best so the fabric design could be flat enough to be seen properly and appreciated. I found the perfect dress pattern to suit my requirements in Simplicity Cynthia Rowley K1873 which is a dress with crew neck option and just bust and waist darts on the bodice. I made option B, which was without the sleeves or waist tabs, but added my own decorative touches at the end.

Alterations I made to the pattern included adding 3 inches to the length of the skirt because I wanted it to end just below the knee and the pattern is designed to be above. The pattern includes a bodice lining which I always prefer to have as it just makes the whole garment feel more professional and substantial. There was no lining for the skirt included but I added one in a polyester lining fabric, in white, just to keep the colours sharp and as vibrant as they would be on the bodice with the white lining behind. The skirt lining I just gathered rather than pleated (as the skirt is) and it’s created a wonderful ‘pouffy’ shape around my hips which I love (adds to the ‘vintage‘ feel), but if you wanted a sleeker look you could create just minimal gathers at the waist as long as the bottom of the lining was wide enough to match the skirt. I attached the lining just inside the seam allowance after the skirt had been sewn to the bodice. Then you can still hide all the raw waist seam edges when you fold the bottom of the bodice lining down and slip stitch it over the top so it looks beautiful inside and out!

I didn’t actually worry about doing any pattern matching with this fabric – naughty, I know! – it was so busy and the design quite small I just didn’t think you would be able to notice any joins. Now it’s complete I still think this, so I’m glad I didn’t waste the extra fabric and time it would have needed to do this. Another note on the design is just a friendly reminder to check you’re cutting your pattern pieces the same way up. If you lay all your pieces down and cut in one go then I think you’re safe but I’m one for cutting each at a time so as to be as economical with the fabric as possible and I was worried, with only a subtle difference in the direction of the print, that I would be caught out. Luckily for me, I managed to keep my mind on the job and successfully cut everything the right way up!

Once I had finished the dress I really felt like it just needed something to be the cherry on top. I considered a peter pan collar which would have looked super cute but I rejected that idea as ideally I would have sewn it into place when I attached the lining around the neck. My next favourite accessory after a collar is a bow, preferably a very large bow! So, I added one at the neck front in a turquoise cotton from my stash which matched one of the colours in the design (the bow shape I decided on was inspired by one of the options on the earlier rejected shift dress pattern, Simplicity 1609). The waist was also crying out for a belt so, in the same turquoise cotton I made a simple belt with an amazing red flower buckle (the charity shops  gods were smiling on me that day!), which matches the dress like an absolute dream.

I’m thrilled with how the fabric pattern and shape of the dress have blended and I know I’m going to get so much wear out of it throughout the year. The colours are really multi-seasonal – I can see myself wearing it with sandals and sunglasses in the summer, and thick coloured tights and a beret in the Autumn!

Thanks for reading - happy sewing!

Rebecca
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