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Q&A with Amy of Almond Rock

Meet Amy of Almond Rock...

When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start?

I started sewing in 2010. I’d reached my mid-twenties and realised I didn’t have a hobby. Sewing was something I’d always wanted to learn so I thought, what’s stopping me?!

What is your favourite craft?

I’m a dedicated garment sewist. I sew clothes for myself and others.

What was your first sewing project?

My first project was a strapless Butterick dress that didn’t fit, was terribly finished and I LOVED IT.

What do you love most about sewing?

Sewing allows me to be creative and at the end of a project I get something to wear out in the world.

What made you decide to start blog about your sewing and crafting?

When I first started sewing I began obsessively reading sewing blogs. I absorbed as much inspiration and tutorials as I could. I thought it seemed such fun to share what you’ve been sewing, and use a blog to chat with other sewing enthusiasts. I haven’t regretted it since.

How are you liking being part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network?

The Blogger Network is great fun. It’s perfect for helping me push myself with new more complex projects. I also love seeing what the other bloggers are making.

What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?

  • Clover water soluble pencils

  • 1.5cm wide tape measure

  • My unpicker… or should that be one of my many unpickers!

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

I love wearing viscose and rayon so I’ve taught myself how to sew with them. They can be slightly more difficult to wrangle but I love my finished garments twice as much.

What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start sewing and crafting?

Inspiration can be found anywhere. Primarily from other bloggers. Seeing what they’ve made on the Blogger Network, Social Media or in my blog reader sparks my excitement to sit at my sewing machine. The other thing that gets my heart racing is spotting a beautiful fabric and letting my mind whirl with all the wonderful possibilities.

Are there any other crafts that you enjoy doing other than Sewing?

I’m trying to learn crochet at the minute. I’m still struggling to get my tension right but I’m enjoying having a hobby I can take on my commute!

As you have inspired many others in the past to start sewing and crafting through your blog and Social Networking sites, what would you say to other potential sewers who may want to give it a try?

Be fearless! What’s the worst that can happen? You might ruin a bit of fabric but you’ll learn lots and you can try again. The first time you walk out the house wearing something you’ve sewn you’ll be beaming ear to ear. It’s now easier than ever to start sewing… you won’t regret it.

Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?

Obsessively sewing dresses!

Here are just some of Amy's makes and see all her posts from the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network;


Great British Sewing Bee - Series 3, The Final!

What a fluting good final!

I think we can safely say not many of us saw that coming! Don't worry, I'm not going to ruin it for anyone who's going to watch it on Catch Up later, I will give plenty of warning for any spoilers!

I think a good place to start would be with that top! Lorna wasn't half wrong when she said you'd need to be an engineer to work it out. Referred to as the Drape Square Top, this style is HUGE in Japan. Pinterest is filled with pattern downloads, this being my favourite. If you're slightly less confident with this type of sewing, there are plenty of Drape Top Sewing Patterns out there to recreate the look! (don't worry, we won't tell!). I was a BIG fan of the A-Symmetry, too! 

This Vogue pattern is one of our favourites and its currently on sale at half price at the moment!

Vicki and I had a great discussion about the best fabrics to use. I imagined this a lovely summer top, so immediately thought of Cotton Lawn. As cottons go it has a good drape, and would be lovely and light for the sunshine! Vicki, ever elegant, saw more of an evening style and thought of a Chiffon or Soft Polyester, utilising the gorgeous drape of the fabric to full effect! 

I love Lorna's adaption of the pattern, so I'm definitely going to using the reverse side of our Prada Self Lined Crepe. A great range of colours (I'm thinking Fuchsia or Jade!) and a bit more 'substance' than what Lorna used so it would be easier to handle for that tricky bias neckline. The picture below shows the matte (non shiny) side of the fabric, but the reverse has a beautiful soft sheen - very similar to Lorna's top. You could use either side or get creative and use a combination of the two! Winnie from the Minerva Crafts Blogger network has used this fabric in two of the Minerva-makes now and loves this fabric! Be sure to check out her champagne skirt and bow neck dress to see this fabric in all it's glory!

And speaking of tricky bias necklines, what was that about?! Such an interesting technique! It seems to be one of those tricks that once you've grasped it, you've got it for life and you'll use it everywhere. I'm definitely going to try and learn it, so stay tuned to see if I do it or go mad trying (well, madder!)

Our house god Minerva would certainly have loved the adaption challenge. A gorgeous Greco/Roman gown in a rich crinkle fabric. Lorna and Neil both went for the boning to create the structure element (though they certainly went in different directions with it!), but I think Matt's use of buckram to create the wave effect really stole the show, even though it was Lorna who won that particular challenge. As Patrick said, it appeared to be the least dramatic change but if you actually look at the techniques utilised it's drastically different. The subtle use of elastic in the low back was divine, adding yet more structure to the garment! Very Poseidon-esque.









OK Let's Go!


Avant Garde is a French term literally translating as Fore-Guard, and boy did our finalist march forward in their final challenge! Lorna utilised the McCalls 6838 sewing pattern which is a beautiful evening dress pattern to create that vibrant wiggle dress with the high-low over-skirt (gotta love a high-low hem!). She used a heavy curtain fabric, which was truly lovely. The alterations challenge from Episode three obviously had a lasting effect on her! A lovely Sateen would bring this pattern out a treat, teamed with a tulle for a wow factor! A truly "wearable garment", as Patrick and May would say!

Neil's Avant-adaptaion was the stunning Liala Floor Length Asymmetic Drape Dress (now discontinued but we fave a lot of Floor Length Asymmetric Dress Patterns!) and this is another pattern we currently have for sale at half price! 

The fabric he chose was our stunning Purple, Blue and Silver of a John Kaldor Border Print Fabric

This dress suited his model, literally, down to the ground and the movement of the fabric left us speechless! I think everyone would agree though that he made life very hard for himself with the combination of fabrics chosen - I think I will steer clear of fine silk-like fabric and jersey combos! I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing about our Kaldor fabrics for a while now, but I am well and truly converted! Vicki was right (as always), they are truly special.

And our diamond in the rough, Matt, created a simply stunning piece of art! A fabric usually reserved for pantomime dames, Matt's use of the Sequin Fabric has truly changed our perceptions of fashion, transforming it into a winner of a skirt! We've certainly never seen it used for anything like this, nor have we seen darts that big! He truly pulled it out of the bag this week, finishing a perfect skirt with a truly beautiful corset. Perfect boning and binding, and a lovely pewter satin set the skirt off perfectly and was truly deserving of the top prize! We were all very surprised  at our sewers performances in this final week. As great as Neil and Lorna are, Matt really pulled out his A Game for the final week and smashed the competition, blowing everyone else out of the water. A truly stunning win!

My pattern of the week is  Simplicity 1656 (now out of print but Simplicity have a lovely range of evening dress patterns!), An Draped, A-Symmetric Evening Dress. For me it has everything this episode embodies; the A-Symmetry of the Japanese Drape Square top, the Drape of Neil's Kaldor gown, Lorna's tulle over-skirt, and enough blank canvas needed to create a work of art like Matt's!


I'll be back with some more blog action soon, be sure to keep your eye on our "Free Patterns" section for some Drape Square inspired projects!

Until next time, Happy Sewing!


Free Pattern for the Marie Curie Daffodil appeal month

This month is Marie Curie Daffodil appeal month and the bunch of daff's which appear in the Sirdar Knitting Pattern Book 428 'Knit Pretty' are perfect little knits to help with fundraising for such a worthy cause and are knitted in Hayfield Bonus DK.

This Fantastic knitting book from Sirdar is the second Big Book of Little Knits created in the Hayfield Bonus DK, which is crammed full of the prettiest hand knits and crochet designs to make as gifts or to decorate your home. Sirdar have created some delightful little knitted flowers in gorgeous spring colours including purple pansies, pink rosebuds and happy yellow daffodils. It's just so cheerful to have a bunch of spring daffodils that lasts all year round! They're a creative gift for Mother's Day or for a spring birthday. They have gift idea for Easter too, with three pretty pastel egg cosies, including a chirpy little chick with wings. Announce the arrival of a new baby with their knitted 'Congratulations' bunting, create their birdie mobile, or crochet Sirdar's beautiful yellow baby blanket to brighten up the nursery. They've also designed the simplest little teddies knitted in Powder Pink for girls and Iced Blue for boys - they're adorable gifts for a first birthday. 

To offer their support, Sirdar have given us the instructions for the daffodil to pass on to our lovely customers for free, so you can get knitting and show your support. Here is your free pattern below;

As noted in the instructions you will need 1 ball each of colours 957, 978 and 819 from the Hayfield Bonus DK range. You will also need a pair of 4mm knitting needlesbrooch pins and green pipe cleaners.

Have you knitted for charity before?


Great British Sewing Bee - Series 3, Episode 5

Butterick 5466Boom! The semi finals certainly did hit with a bang. 

What a superb week! To say this week's theme was "tricky fabrics" is most definitely the understatement of the series. Episode 3 upped the ante with sheer fabrics and it's gone on a steep incline since, truly testing our sewing friends. With all the specialist fabrics included this week, I'll be throwing in recommendations for the best haberdashery to use with them; specific needles etc., because if you're going to delve in with a tricky fabric you better go high or go home! There's no half measures (and yes I did learn the hard way!).

I really loved the first challenge because it did one of my favorite things in sewing; taking something ordinary and make it fantastic! There's a simple grace to a pencil skirt and much like the walkaway we saw a few weeks ago,  the power is in it's simplicity. Take a lace fabric, match a satin lining and boom! you have a stunning piece of clothing that truly stands out from the crowd.  For your first dalliance with a tricky fabric, a nice easy beginners pattern will see you right. Simple Sew have a pencil skirt pattern that's great for beginners (it's in the name, really!). 

Butterick 5466 is a great value pattern with plenty of variations. 

Burda 7421 is the perfect Plus Size pattern (get those curves workin'!). 

So you've got the perfect fabric, the perfect pattern, now for the perfect tools! The good thing about lace is that you can still pin it, but using Bridal/Lace pins are a must. They're finer and sharper so will damage the fabric less. Similarly, using a Sharp/Microfine Machine Needle is highly recommended for the same reasons. Last, but certainly not least, a good quality thread. Vicki recently recommended our Gutermann Sew All for a 'tricky fabric' project of my own and it really made a difference. I was working with Taffeta so I had the delicacy of lace and satin with the un-pick-ability of leather so I needed something just a touch smoother than my go-to moon thread, and for this project it was perfect.

Challenge 2 really did give us all a laugh! If anyone has ever worn a wet-suit, they will tell you they are awful and hilarious in equal measure, so to sew with one is craziness! Deborah really stole the show with her use of a Digital print scuba (we have a similar one here!) Digital prints are big news on the high street but Scuba fabric comes in such a great range of plain and pattern designs there is something to suit everyone. As a jersey, a Stretch needle will see you right. With slightly less of a ballpoint and a longer thread groove to prevent skipped stitches (common due to the thickness), working with this fabric won't be an issue at all, and you can channel the Newquay surfer influence without looking like a sausage or a wet dog!


Now then, now then, Challenge 3! As a biker, I already have a deep rooted love for leather, (well,it's not so much I love leather in as much as I value my skin staying on my body should the worst happen!) but I have recently fallen in love with working with our Faux Leather. I love the structure it gives and that it's sooooo sturdy. I knocked a wine glass off a table onto the skirt of a skater dress I made! It's also wipe-clean which is great for rock gigs (they're a messy lot). Now as May and Patrick were explaining, what makes leather a brilliant material is also what makes it hard to work with. You really need to utilise it well or it will bite back! Not using pins, for example, it a big one. I use Neil's trick and pink in the seam allowances, but for fitting to a model, using clips like Clover's Wonder Clips would be better. You could bulldog it up like Matt, but I'd be personally worried about marking the leather.

The wonderful thing about leather is you can make it as simple or extravagant as you like! Lorna and Paul's simple fitted jackets were equally as striking as Neil's rolled collar, I thought. Making a feature of a metal zip is a simple, easy way to create a dramatic effect with your jacket, as we saw with Matt, though Deborah definitely make the right choice using a chunky plastic one!  Neil's use of magnetic button to create the rolled collar was nothing short of inspired! 

It could easily be adapted into so many jacket patterns, and I'm sure it will! Deborah's Peplum jacket was so close to being amazing, it's such a shame about the fit. For me this, and the challenge in general, showed that leather can be utilised for almost ANY garment. I think a leather blazer is in the pipe line for me! Along with a lace pencil skirt ;)  but heed my warning! You will need a lining fabric. Leather and faux leather alike are grippy mothers! So for comfort and durability, please line your leather! 

Sturdy fabric calls for sturdy tools, and leather machine needles are certainly the way to go. Prym answers the call once again for tools and their Revolving Punch is perfect for use with leather (and other materials, actually) if you're adding heavy duty eyelets or snaps.

SPOILER ALERT - you have been warned







Now we can't talk about this week without expressing how sad we are to see Deborah go! As Patrick said, the sewing room is going to be a quieter place without her, but we're so proud over here to have a local girl get so far in the series. So a big WELL DONE to Deborah, and we'll certainly keep keeping our eye out for a book deal ;)

Now I don't have a pattern of the week in as much as I have a fabric of the week. Paul's Snakeskin Jacket made me SO giddy! I simply couldn't get over it, it reminded me so much for being a kid. I'm pretty sure I had that jacket! A perfect example of making something fantastic from something ordinary, which is my mantra. And if I ever feel like revisiting my childhood, I'll do it with our Red Sequinned Snakeskin Print Stretch Jersey Clearance Dress Fabric! A close university friend and I are BIG Nineties/Noughties kids, so this may have to make an appearance at his Time Machine birthday party!


Now the BBC are certainly keeping their cards to their chest about next week's features, aren't they? I'm sensing some form of Avant Garde, which I'm so very excited for!

See you next week, gang!




Great British Sewing Bee - Series 3, Episode 4

Is it just me, or was the double elimination a total shocker! There was definitely an obvious “loser”, but the 2nd to last was really open to anyone! An absolute scandal in my opinion.

This week really divided the gang and showed who is really in the running for the top prize.

Enough speculating, though, let's get on to the challenges!

Now, I am a giga-fan of the corset, and the corsets created were simply divine! I was really happy to see the range of corset sewing patterns we have available. I'm certainly going to be taking the plunge with boning sometime soon (Butterick 6151 is already on my shopping list!) 

If you're feeling slightly less adventurous, you could take a page from Deborah's pre-GBSB makes book and make a simple fitted Bustier, like Burda 6970

The possibilities for fabrics are almost endless with corsets or bustiers. We saw the team go for a lot of Jacquard and Brocade fabrics which really embrace a classic corset look, VERY Dita Von Teese. Of course there's always a classic Satin, a Duchess Satin would really hold the structure well, or embrace the contrasting textures of a Crepe or Dupion

On a slightly more practical note, how fun did those eyelet machines look?! Might ask our Managing Director for one for “research” purposes...but until then there's always the Prym Vario pliers which I spotted a few of the girlies using. They're equally as fun to be honest and one of Vicki's favourite's here at Minerva! We've got eyelets for every occasion here, though I'm swaying towards the Prym as I sense they'll create a smoother finish. Now if the judges comments to Ryan have taught us anything it's that everything is in the finishing so be sure to get a good Bias Binding

I spotted Amanda using some coloured tailor's chalk to mark her pieces, which I highly recommend to save confusion with so many pattern pieces!

This week's make do and mend nearly made me weep, those poor power suits! Though I'm sure anyone who actually had to wear one was fist pumping the air. Once again Neil blew us away with his adaptation, but something I noticed was Paul making a feature of an exposed zip. I recently made a Simple Sew Skater Dress from our Faux Leather Fabric (check out the Clothing Weight for corset inspiration!) and utilised a Metal Tooth Zip as a feature and it really adds a roughty toughty edge to it!

If you fancy something 80's inspired look at our Bi-Stretch fabric. The colours are simply amazing, you could really create a feature piece, like a jacket, that would stand out a mile in the best way and look truly fantastic – shoulder pads are optional!

Yet another challenge that's close to my heart this week – Kilts! Having spent most of my life parading in a Kilt in a Pipe Band, and being a proud Scot by blood, it really made me happy to see the dedication and effort that went into this week's big challenge. I can also tell you keeping pleats in a kilt is as difficult as putting them there in the first place! Patrick's attention to the sway of the kilt really emphasized what makes it so special, and the structure around the waist creating the striking silhouette. Once again, as with the corsets, the fabric is key to this! We have a simply stunning amount of Tartan, Plaid and Check fabrics and we're really spoilt for choice! 

If you're inspired by Lorna and Neil's traditional take, try a Clan Tartan, or Deborah's lovely purple heavy wool blend kilt (we only have very limited stocks of this colour left now though). 

Amanda went slightly more the fashion route with a gorgeous red plaid, or jump all in with Matt's fashion tartan with these bad boys

Wrap it all up (get it? Wrap..kilt..shh!) with Kilt PinsKilt Straps, and Buckles

Add a bit of sparkle with a Diamanté Buckle or a “Go Paul” with a Tartan Iron On Motif and/or some studs?! (I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to the kilt itself, but if you're channeling tartan, the punk inside me always loves a good stud with my tartan!)

My Pattern of the week is very much inspired by Deborah, Burda 7000 (sadly now out of stock, but be sure to check out the rest of the Burda Top range!) is a selection of bustiers, great for your first try at a structured top, and View C has a brilliant collar, reminiscent of her make-do-and-mend alteration (that jacket was very Moschino Couture).

Next week sounds like a great power ballads party is happening when the cameras stop rolling as we have Lace, Leather, and Rubber! It's yet another interesting combination. We'd all do anything for sewing, but would we do that?

See you next week Crafters!

p.s. If you're interested in the “Military Stripe” pleat that Neil and Lorna were discussing, it's a pleating technique usually used by the military, bands etc., where instead of pleating the fabric to replicate the tartan design (making the rear look like the front), the vertical stripes are used as the markers so the rear is a series of stripes, almost enhancing the pleat, and the front apron is the place where the tartan is visible. A cheeky google search will show plenty of examples!


Great British Sewing Bee - Series 3, Episode 3

This week’s sewing bee certainly had a lot of Razzmatazz! I watched this episode with subtitles and there is nothing funnier than seeing that word written down on the Beeb.

Now I was particular giddy about this episode as it combines my two passions; Sewing and Vintage! Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ was certainly that, and it kicked the austerity of post-war Britain out with a bang! Full circle skirts and lavish fabrics defined this period and saw a revival in 80’s fashion, and how could we forget the popularity of the 70’s film ‘Grease’?! (We were all Pink Ladies or T-Birds at one point weren’t we!). 

 So our team tackled the new silhouette with the most popular sewing pattern of the fifties, and in Butterick’s history – The Walkaway Dress!

As we saw the pattern has three basic pieces – The Front, the Upper rear and the Skirt. The dress goes over your head in what can only be described as a tabard-fashion and then the front piece is wrapped around and fastened at the back forming a shift dress. Then, the rear piece is brought round and fastened at the front, creating a full skirt. So as you can see the front becomes the back and the back becomes the front and we all get confused as to exactly what part of the dress the pattern is trying to point out. I, out of pure coincidence, am currently making this dress and all joking aside, the dress itself is terribly simple and it is truly a joy to make! What is fabulous about the dress is its simplicity; that a few darts completely defines the shape and the binding creating a neat, professional edge. Though its simplicity will be the downfall to many! Get the simple bits wrong and it all falls apart so you need to approach it like any other project and build a good foundation to build on.

What I loved with this dress is the fun you can have with fabric! I got very giddy at this as I know we have a great range of Vintage style fabrics, from Dots to Florals you can get lost in the vintage dream! I opted for our Mini-Stripe Seersucker fabric for the main part of the dress as the texture of it really adds to the body of the dress (for yardage I’d recommend using the 45” allowances – learn from my error!). You can then use plain poplin fabric for the contrast (I’m using the polycotton but I plan to wear my dress with a slip!).

Another thing to do would be to make a feature of the binding by using a plain fabric throughout (option B) and using one of our splendid Bias Binding (I am biased though!... don’t judge me, that joke is fantastic and I know you all laughed!). Why not co-ordinate a gingham or a fruity print? Once you’ve mastered this pattern and fancy a challenge, or if dresses aren’t really your thing, take a look at Eliza M patterns. Vintage silhouettes with modern techniques and they’re simply divine. I’m personally a fan of the Hop and Swing pants! (We can vouch that our fabrics look great with her patterns as most of the samples made for the promotion images were made up with Minerva's fabrics!). Of course the vintage fun doesn’t stop there as many pattern companies are reprinted their old patterns, so take a look at our huge vintage style pattern collection. I’ve got a lovely 1940s suit in the pipe line.

Now this week’s second challenge was really down my street! A true make-do-and-mend; using old curtains! Now everyone uses this as an insult, but I’m sure my mum spends more on curtains in our house than I EVER have on a dress so if someone says this to me I can only take it as a compliment. I know the ones featured were certainly lovely! I was particular fan of Lorna’s Wrap Skirt in this challenge, as were the judges as she finally won! Though we can’t deny that Neil’s ability to make an evening dress is nothing short of amazing and of course Paul‘s razzmatazz (we can confirm that that is indeed a technical term). I loved the high-low hem, but I am known for my love of the mullet skirt. If you fancy a challenge, have a good old rummage through our fabric remnants. Pick up something fun and just see where your imagination takes you!

Last but not least, challenge 3 and oh boy what a challenge it was! Sheer fabrics often fill everyone with dread, but with the right help and a few tutorials it is certainly worth the jump! When working with sheer you really need the right tools. Correct interfacing, good sharp pins and a decent pair of dressmaking scissors are key! We all saw this in everyone’s makes. It really upped the ante, didn’t it?! Neil’s wrap around top was definitely my favourite; I feel it really stood out from the rest, particularly as he drafted it himself! Though, we can’t deny Lorna’s adaptation of the underwear pattern. The Kimono sleeves where beautiful! We’ve some lovely nightwear sewing patterns if you’re feeling inspired my Lorna’s twist on a twist, though we won’t tell if you opt for a less scary fabric ;)

If I had to sum up this week in a pattern, it would definitely be Burda 7109 - Vintage Style 50's Night Gown & Pyjamas. A little nod to Lorna, this pattern has a lovely sleeved camisole top in which can be made in almost any fabric! You can be as daring or as safe as you like, and create a delicate garment whilst channel the vintage vibe from this week.

Be sure to get in touch if you make anything featured in this, or any of our Sewing Bee posts! We genuinely love to hear from you and it makes us office lot smile seeing our fabrics made up.

Next week is all about structure! Rigid Corsetry, Sturdy Kilts and the Larger than Life 80s! I’m certainly looking forward to that combination!


Great British Sewing Bee - Series 3, Episode 2

Wow wee – what a bee! This week’s episode was certainly a tough one, seeing the gang tackle tiny person clothing. It’s certainly interesting to see how much construction goes into making children’s clothing, I’ll have to thank/apologise to my mum for all the things I made her make for me when I was younger!

The first challenge was a child’s waistcoat, lots of detailing to get right; welt pockets, buttons holes, the works! But let’s start with what makes us all giddy; the fabric!

We saw a simply gorgeous range of wool fabrics used for the fronts of the waistcoat, in particular some lovely checks. We have a lovely selection here, and this one in particular reminded me of Ryan's superb waistcoat, our Elgin Polyester & Wool Blend fabric in green and red.

Some of the contestants were less brave/crazy when choosing their fabrics and went for something a little more subtle, not dissimilar to our Camel Brown Tweed or a fully plain fabric.

Equally as important are the satins! Now I have to gush, I love our satin fabric range. Using a crepe or a Dupion, you could really utilise the contrast in texture and create a lovely, unique finish. Then last, but certainly not least, is the lining fabric. As soon as they said “waistcoats” I IMMEDIATELY thought of our Jacquard lining fabrics, particularly the Paisley lining.

So if you’re as inspired as we are, follow these links for our waistcoat patterns!

For Boys

For Girls

For Women

And the Men

This pattern is particularly lovely for little tots, and is currently half price on sale at £3.63!

The make-do-and-mend challenge is always a chance to see everyone’s personality. The regimented Neil and his boxing shorts, Amanda the Deputy Head with her Cape etc. they really shouted to each person. What really stood out for me was A) the sheer amount of Shirring! and B) the harem trousers Alex whipped up! There’s been talk in the office for weeks about making these up for the warmer weather, I think they’re definitely going to get made now! Be sure to have a scan of our Jersey Fabrics, we’ve always got a great selection and some are on sale at the moment! I think I’m going to go for our Cherry Red Floral Print Stretch Viscose (sadly now out of stock but we od have lots of Floral Jersey Fabric!)

Now then, the final challenge was the costumes, and o my goodness how great they were. So bright and colourful ! One of our best sellers is our felt fabric and we saw some great uses this week, particularly with Ryan’s fox costume. It fills me with great excitement to share this with you all, but something we noticed was that there is a pattern for this! Simplicity 1477 is a Fox and Racoon jacket pattern which is perfect for replicating this design! 

Again, so much talk in the office about this pattern. A few are learning to scale up patterns so they can have grown up versions! Simplicity also have a pattern for animal onesies! If you really want to channel this joy but don’t fancy walking around essentially dressed as a fox, check out Burda 6828 which features some great ‘novelty’ animal bags, employing much the same ideas as the jacket.

There was obviously a clear winner when it came to the final product, but the ideas everyone had were all of such a high standard! I’ve done a run-down of some of the featured products to hopefully inspire you channel your inner child and to make some truly great costumes!

Boning was heavily featured, particularly in Matt’s peacock.

Buckram stiffener was integral to Alex’s cupcake case.

Toy Stuffing worked really well for Neela’s bookwork and Paul’s elephant.

And our Bridal Appliques will really work well if you’re inspired by Amanda’s flapper girl. Don’t forget the shoulder pads!

As for the fabrics; Metallic fabric for Anna’s cupcake case, and our Tulle fabric, particularly the Crystal, would be perfect for the frosting!

So much fleece fabric was used across the board; Paul’s elephant, Ryan’s fox, Neela’s bookworm, I could go on! It’s easy to see why, you can get some amazingly bright colours and prints and it’s great to work with as it doesn’t fray! Felt also featured heavily for much the same reasons!

Lorna’s boobee featured some lovely Fur Fabric and our Scuba fabric would be great for those leggings!

If you’re looking to really show off, why not channel Deborah and go for a big peacock with our Peacock feather cotton lawn fabric and peacock feathers!

I’ve popped a few links below to our children’s costumes, too, to keep you inspired!

Children’s costume patterns for Boys

Children’s costume patterns for Girls

If you want a project to really bring together everything you’ve learnt in this episode, why not go for Burda 9990, which includes shorts AND waistcoats! Throw a foxy jacket over the top and you’ve got episode 2 in an outfit! (you could omit the foxy jacket, admittedly, but why would you want to?!)

Next week we see the group tackle a vintage style, and sheer fabric! We’re all anxious about that one, I can’t wait to see how it goes!


A Tartan Jacket for my Daughter

During a recent browse of the Minerva website, I came across this gorgeous tartan jersey fabric.  As soon as I saw it, I knew that my daughter Jess would love it as it features tartan, but it is not a standard tartan fabric which is in all of the shops, it is something a bit different, exactly what Jess would love!

I showed the fabric to Jess, she also loved it and immediately asked me to make her a jacket in this. (Its unfortunately since sold out, but you can find many other check patterned jersey fabrics here).

Knowing that I am a beginner having not tackled a jacket before, I thought this would be a good challenge!

Jess wanted a casual jacket so she set about looking through the pattern books and chose this ‘easy’ pattern from ‘Kwik Sew’, opting for the long sleeve version.

Having chosen the fabric, pattern and got my cotton, I was excited to start this new challenge!

Sewing for my daughter brings challenges of its own.  She is a head strong 15 year old with her own personal sense of style, who will not wear anything that she does not love!  Hence, many projects made but not worn (and many clothes bought and not worn) ... no pressure!

The very same night, I set about cutting out the pattern.  I measured Jess and opted for the smallest size (XS) but she asked me to make it shorter.  I measured where she wanted the hem of the jacket (26.5 inches) and after looking at the measurements on the pattern (31.5 inches), I knew that I needed to take 5 inches off the length.  I decided to cut the pattern to the actual length (in case I wanted to make it again in the future) and then cut the jacket down to the desired length later.

The paper which this pattern is made from is much stronger than the usual tissue paper and it made it much easier to cut.  I enjoyed working with this pattern for a change.

I decided to wait until the following day to carry on as I did not want to attempt this and make any mistakes due to being tired!

The following day, I laid my fabric out and got all of the pieces which I needed to cut on the fold. 

The tartan of the fabric brought even more challenges!  As I have mentioned before, my mum Annette is a sewing enthusiast and seen within our family as an expert!  This is great and I have my very own mentor but I am also aware of her extremely high standards and I need to work towards these.  Whilst this has seen us over the years examining every seam, hem and pattern matching when buying shop items that very rarely match up to mums standards, it has installed into me the need for perfection which I am trying to bring into my work ... matching a tartan fabric up on the seams whilst also ensuring that the ‘stripes’ of the fabric stay straight.

With this in mind, I checked that the ‘lines’ of the tartan matched when it was folded.

Next, I laid my pattern out, pinned the back along the fold and then put the piece for the two front next to the back; again making sure that the back and front pieces were lined up to ensure that the tartan checks were lined up to give me a chance of matching them on the seam when sewing the fronts to the back.

Once I was happy that I had lined up the pieces and the checks, I set about cutting out the two fronts and the back.  I always use a good quality pair of scissors which cut through the fabric with ease, avoiding damaging the fabric in any way.

I carried on and cut out all of the pieces, following the pattern’s recommendations until I had all of the pieces cut out.  I then made sure that I had snipped all of the pieces as showed on the pattern (darts) to help match the pieces up, ensuring that they are in the correct place when they are sewn together.

What I forgot to mention was that I usually have my mum on hand to help when I need it or provide any advice but my mum was out so I was all on my own, tackling a jacket!

I thought that mum would have been back by the time that I had cut the jacket out but she wasn’t.  I was in two minds; should I start it ... but what if I did something wrong?  Or should I wait but how long would mum be?

I decided to be brave and start it!

I set the sewing machine up and knew that I needed to use a stretch stitch to sew jersey ... but I couldn't remember which stitch setting this was!!  I got some cut offs of the fabric and had a play with the two stitch settings that I was choosing between.  I knew the feel of the stretch stitch as the machine seems to sew ‘forwards and backwards’ as it moves along rather than just sewing forwards as with a normal stitch.  To double check that this was the correct stitch, once I had sewed the length, I gave a gentle tug on the stitching to make sure that it did not break.

I read the pattern instructions, pinned the shoulders together and sewed them.  Quite proud of my work, I admired the seams as I pressed them open and then laid the first part of my jacket out (inside out of course!).

I again checked that the tartan was lined up!

Next, the pattern said to fit the sleeves into place.  The thought which went through my head was ‘Eeeeek’ .... ‘Should I wait for my mum?’ I told myself to ‘get a grip’ and have a go ... I can always unpick it if I go wrong.

I have fit sleeves before but with my mum watching me and pointing me in the right direction.  I remembered what mum had told me and laid my sleeves along the armhole area of the front and back.  I lined up the darts which I had snipped and pinned the sleeves into place.

Nervously, I sat at the sewing machine and started to sew the sleeves in place, constantly checking that the darts were lined up.  I also made sure that the pressed hem from the shoulder seam remained open and ‘flat’ to make sure that it didn’t pucker when I sewed over the seam.

Once I had sewed both in place, I sat back and admired my work!  I ‘tried the jacket on’ so far to see if I could get the effect and I was sure that Jess would love it ... but as I am sure many of you, especially with teenage daughters, are aware ... you never can tell until they start to wear it – if she wears it, she approves, otherwise it is ‘lost’ in the wardrobe!!!

Now to sew the side and arm seams up ... definite ‘eeek’, this is where I needed to make sure that I had got the sides lined up neatly!

I pinned the fronts to the backs checking the line up of the tartan and then the arm sleeves – I tried to line up the tarten as much as possible but this isn’t totally possible due to the shaping of the sleeve.

Whilst sewing, I sewed the seam slowly, constantly checking that the tartan was lined up.  I finished these seams, pressed them open and excitedly turned them around to the right side to check out the lines in my tartan;

Looking at the inside of the seams, I have done very well but when I turned the pieces the right way around, the lining up isn’t as successful but nevertheless, I still think that it is better that some seams in some shop bought items!  I know that you can always improve and I hope that with more practice, I will get better but I am proud of my pattern matching.  

And here is Jess wearing the finished jacket!


You're Loving New Look 6217

Just a quick post today. I noticed our most popular selling sewing pattern at the moment is New Look 6217. I actually made the casual jacket up in this last year I think it was.
I can completely understand why so many of you are loving this pattern - I highly recommend it too. It's quick. It's easy. And you get good results for everyday kind of clothing. 
It can also be a really versatile pattern - depending on the fabrics you choose you can keep it casual or make clothes that would take you into evening wear. Imagine that jacket in a drapey sequinned fabric. 
Its also great value for money. The pattern includes the pieces to make the top, jacket, skirt and trousers for just £5.95. So you could look at it as if you are paying just £1.49 per pattern! And even better than that, New Look patterns are half price for a limited time, so you can pick up this pattern now for just £2.98!
Here's a picture of the jacket I made last year. 
I used our Black & Grey Knitted Ponte Fabric (Now out of stock but be sure to look at our other Ponte Fabric!). It look me no time at all. 
I'm definitely going to route this pattern out again and make a few more. I'm short of jackets like this at the moment to wear to work and at weekends. I'm off to find some fabrics...

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