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Prym Espadrille Classic Instruction DVD & Sewing Pattern Review by Julia

Hi I’m Julia from juliahincks.com and I've been reviewing the Prym Espadrille ‘classic’ instruction DVD and Sewing Pattern
I’m seriously excited that I can make my own bespoke shoes!  I have big feet (size 8) and often find that I can’t get the shoes I want in shops.  It’s also not easy to get nice looking flat-heeled shoes so this is a perfect project for me.
The DVD comes in a packet with a paper pattern. There are three choices of style of espadrille that you can make.  As you have the basic shapes you can quite easily adapt the pattern and create whatever style you like. The soles also come with a paper pattern but the one included with the DVD is much better and gives more options of style.
The sizing for the pattern is shown in UK and EU sizes and covers a wide range from a child size 8.5 to adult size 10.5 so I’m pretty sure that would cover most shoe sizes.  The reverse of the packaging gives small images and product numbers for all the Prym products that you will need to make the shoes shown on the front.  In order to review the video I thought I’d make some espadrilles as I watched it. 
There’s a long list of items required for this project but depending on the style you choose, you won’t need them all:
(Prices from Minerva Crafts);
Espadrille Soles £9.99
Espadrille Base Fabric – comes in a range of colours £4.59
- 40x55cm piece of Fabric for the toe section –  you could use any fabric for this as you’ll be reinforcing it with interfacing.
Textile Glue - £3.89
Assorted Darning Needles £1.59 for a pack of 6
Prym Creative Interfacing £6.99 (this is double sided so I’d call it bondaweb, rather than interfacing)
- 20mm Bias Binding 69p per metre
I wasn’t entirely sure what the last two items were but this became apparent after watching the video, in fact I had to search for the codes for many of the other items as I didn’t know what they were.  It would be much easier if each item was listed with what it is, rather than just an image and a code.  Thankfully everything is stocked by Minerva Crafts so they were all relatively easy to find online and in my search I found some Heel Sections which I chose to buy too, instead of using the heel pattern provided. 
I’m always looking to save money so thought I’d avoid buying the non-essentials.  I definitely needed the soles and thought I should probably purchase the base fabric as I wasn’t sure what that was.
I didn’t buy the dressmaker’s carbon paper as I could trace the pattern instead.  I also didn't bother buying the interfacing and used the base fabric instead.  There are other things on the list that you may already have in the cupboard such as darning needles or glue so although it looks like a rather expensive project based on the list of items above, it doesn’t need to be. 
The DVD opens with easy listening music and a screen showing three options for which pair of espadrilles you wish to make; a peep toe style, closed toe option and an open toe sandal. 
I chose the last option, the open toe sandal but I had a few ideas about how I wanted to change it to create something more my style.
I was expecting someone to start talking but the entire video is done visually which actually works really well and saves you becoming irritated by the presenter.  The music does become a bit annoying after a time but this can be muted, since there are no verbal instructions you can simply watch the screen and follow the steps of construction.
The video is really clear and easy to follow.  I measured my foot as I was shown to and selected the size required.  I traced off my pattern (they suggest carbon paper) and cut out my pattern pieces.  I attached my fabric to the base of the sole using the glue and left this to dry.  The video doesn’t suggest drying time but I wanted to make sure that stage was set before I began sewing the heel and toe sections in place.
I left the soles to dry overnight and prepared the other parts.  I swapped the heel pattern piece for the heel sections and after inspecting a pair of espadrilles in my cupboard, decided to add buttonholes to the heel section so I could thread my cord through this for lacing.  I reinforced the front shoe fabric with the base fabric and hemmed the edges. 
I pinned the heel section in place ready for the hand stitching and then watched the video for further instruction to see how to anchor the thread and to watch their technique on the blanket stitch. 
Each step is really clear and easy to follow, from tying the knot, where to start stitching, how to create the stitches and how to finish off. 
The actual hand stitching is quite difficult as you’re going through such a thick layer.  Someone suggested to me, having made their own espadrilles, that a pair of gardening gloves would help with this stage but I took it slowly and it wasn’t anywhere near as painful or difficult as I thought.
I put in a few more securing stitches than the video suggested to make sure they’re not going to come undone but other than that I can’t really fault it.  It’s a really clear video to follow.
As others have said, they do come up a bit big and so I think I’m going to try a size smaller next time.  I’m really happy with how they’ve turned out and can’t wait to make some more!!
Thanks for reading,
Julia @ Julia Hincks
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Embroider a Tortoise with Emma from Crafty Clyde

I had only just been 5 minutes fresh out of my first ever embroidery workshop when the opportunity to test some new Embroidery Threads from Minerva arose! Excited at the prospect of all those colourful threads to try I was so grateful to get chosen to test them out….

Sure enough an exciting surprise arrived in the post in the form of these beautiful threads. These are the Duchess Embroidery Silks Thread Floss. I opted for the variegated threads, which beautifully transition from white, through pastel shades and onto bright hues of each colour on each individual thread.

It makes for a very beautiful effect, even just looking at the box. In this box there is an incredible amount of thread! 12 different colours, comprising of 6 ‘skeins’ each (which I had to google to find out means ‘length of coiled thread’ i.e. a bundle) giving a grand total of 72 lots of thread! That’s 576 meters of deliciously colourful thread…. That’s a whole lot of sewing to be done.

Now what to make……. The possibilities were really endless especially as the variegation in thread colour could be used to wonderful effect. Of course, there could only be one choice really. A tortoise. This will come as no surprise to anyone that’s ever seen my blog. How predictable, but how fun to make!

Now please be reminded at this point that I’ve only ever tried embroidery once and really have no idea what I’m doing – but it’s fun to play right? I gathered up some supplies including a bit of black Cotton Twill Fabric (I figured any design would stand out better on a black background with these wonderful colours), an Embroidery Hoop, some Hand Embroidery Needles and a Chalk Pen.

Not being particularly blessed with drawing skills either I sketched a very rough tortoise design onto the twill as a guide for where to start stitching. I wanted a fun geometric design that would show off all the different colours and a tortoises’ scutes lend themselves to this very well.

Each piece of thread consists of 6 strands which you can gently pull apart from each other. I started off by using 3 strands of thread in my needle to create the outline of my tortoise and give it some structure to colour in later. You can see in this next picture how lovely the colours merge together in the variegation.

Now there is no discernible skill or technique used here, I just went for it so that I had a green outline of a tortoise. It worked – so for anyone thinking of embellishing clothes, accessories or just giving it a try – go for it!

The thread was easy to use, and was actually fairly easy to thread through the needle despte being in separate strands. It was smooth and didn’t knot or tangle which was a pleasant surprise.

The jade, lilac and coral colours were done with 3 strands of thread and that gave a rather nice fading effect. I then tried stitching with all 6 strands in the needle, which also worked but was a little tougher to get through the fabric. The blue and orange scutes were noteably those sewn with the entire 6 strand thread. It gave a nice thick textured effect but the variegation was not as noticeable as it used less thread to fill the space and sometimes missed the colour change. The least variegated colour was yellow, which did just look yellow throughout but there is a very slight variation from lemon yellow to bright yellow present if looking hard enough for it!

All in all a great experience to use these Duchess threads and try something new. They are certainly value for money and the colour and quality outstanding in my opinion. 

Thanks for reading,

Emma @ Crafty Clyde

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#FabricFriday - Random Fabric Picks!

Inspiration comes from unusual places at times. However this morning I just couldn't think what to write about. Then hey, I dived among my new samples, closed my eyes and picked 3 randoms. What beauts have I come up with!! 

First up is this Lace Applique & Pintuck Cotton Lawn Fabric

This is 100% cotton lawn fabric with fab pin tucks sewn in the fabric and a beautiful white braid sewn on at intervals. I am visualizing a white cotton shirt making full use of that braid for the collar and cuffs. My first pattern choice would be Vogue Shirt Pattern 8927.

This is a traditional shirt style with a two piece collar (easy to do a grandad collar, see version C) and various sleeve options. If you fancy something a little easier try Vogue Pattern 9226.

That collar is so easy and if you don't fancy the dipped hemline, it would be quite easy with this pattern to just straighten it. You will notice on both patterns that the back and front pieces don't have any seams just darts. I think this is a must when choosing this fabric because you don't want to stop the flow of these pintucks and braid. There are 3 lengths of the braid across the width of the fabric which is 140cm wide so care should be taken when cutting out these randomly placed tucks and braid. Possibly an extra half metre would come in handy bearing in mind it is priced at £8.99 per mt so not too expensive.

My next 'random' pick is this beautiful shimmer Linen Fabric. This also comes in a lovely salmon shade of pink.

This fabric is made from 55% linen and 45% rayon and the shimmer side of the fabric really glistens. It is from our range of clearance fabrics and is priced at just £2.99 per mt while stocks last. Last year I bought myself a beach cover up/dress in a peach linen that looks exactly like this apart from the colour obviously! As is usual with me I washed it in the machine and dried it in the tumble dryer after my holiday and yes, as was expected, it shrunk a little. It was a little too long to begin with but hey now it's perfect. So where I am going with this is please wash it first, my dress from last year only shrunk in the length but this fabric could shrink in just the width or even both. 

Something like New Look Pattern 6500 would be gorgeous for this fabric, quite a simple shape dress. 

Last of my 'random' fabrics is this beautiful Felted Coat Fabric...

This is brand new in stock! Last year we had a tremendous response to our 'felted' fabrics and now we find lots more coming into stock for the coming months. This is simply stunning. It does say handwash only so beware, I feel it must be because of the felted areas because the whole fabric is made from 100% polyester which is usually very easy to wash. 

I think this is perfect for a coat, to take us through those Autumn months and continue on into the Winter. How about Butterick Pattern 6423...

With this fabric being priced at £19.99 per mt, I think I've covered a few price ranges today in my 'random' pick. I may do this again!!

Thanks for reading and please comment to let me know if you enjoyed it,

Annette xx

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Ondee & Chataigne Outfit by Sophie

Hi, again! Sophie from www.sopbac.com back again with a new guest post for you all to enjoy. This time I have tried Minerva Crafts striped ponte Knit Fabric and the Gaberchino Fabric. I also got the matching color thread (color 701 and 387) from Gutermann for both the fabrics.

Minerva crafts has recently started stocking the French indie pattern company Deer and Doe, and me being a huge Deer and Doe fan wanted to make something of theirs. For this review I choose to do a double feature, making an Ondeé Long Sleeved Sweater and the Chataigne High Waisted Shorts with cuffed hem. There is finally beginning to be spring here in Norway, so this was perfect to make shorts. Even though it’s still to cold to go without tights.

What I love about the Deer and Doe patterns that they are very straight forward. It’s easy to follow so you rarely make mistakes. Their design is very modern and timeless in my opinion, clean looks that could be dressed up or down.

I started with the Chataigne shorts, because they would take longer time to make than the Ondeé sweater. I originally wanted a burgundy red fabric and make the scalloped hem version of the pattern, but when I didn’t find the right kind of red I stumbled across the Gaberchino Fabrics. I was looking for gabardine fabric because it was listed under suggested fabrics to use for the shorts when I noticed gaberchino - What’s that? I clicked on the link and what do you know. Minerva Crafts described them as a twill weave and non stretch that has a weight between garbardine and chinos. I had to try them, so I went for the safe navy color fabrics.

I have never worked with garbardine before, but I have with twill and I can say they are similar in some ways. For the shorts it was amazing to work with. Clean corners and pointy mock pockets. The fabric was great for making shorts, and I believe it will be suited for anything that suggests twill as a suitable fabric.

I adjusted a bit on the pattern to fit my bottom more. I did a full butt adjustment giving me more room, and a sway back adjustment. For my next shorts I would probably shorten the back waistband more and add more to the front crotch seam. But(t) I know my bottom is tricky to work with and that’s the reason I rarely wear shorts or pants at all.

Over to the next item. I have made the Ondeé sweater before, for me and my mother. Earlier I’ve made the short sleeved version with a collar for myself, so I wanted the other version this time. I choose the striped grey and white ponte knit to work with. I decided that this was going to be my first time trying to pattern match the seams, and for my first project I wanted something a little easier. I read somewhere that the bigger the stripes the easier it gets. I would say that this was an success.

I cut the front and back bodice on the fold after making sure that the stripes underneath was perfectly aligned. For the sleeves I tried matching up the edges. I don’t believe I have ever used that much pins in one garment before, so that’s a first!

I love this look, and I do believe it will be my go to outfit for the summer months. It’s easy to make and easy to put on. After cutting out the pattern pieces it took me about a day to make both garments. That’s something! So I would really recommend this. Both the fabrics was great to work with and easy to fit. I hope you liked my review, and I’ll be seeing you until next time!

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Product Review: Patterned Felt Fabrics by Cynthia

Hello,

I've recently been product testing Hard and Soft Felt Squares for Minerva Crafts and my major observation is if there were no limit to the day, to my time available to work with this product life would be so joyous, well life is full of more than this BUT - I have so many ideas and considerations that I still haven't gotten to!!!!

I've created a keepsake, trinket box out of the Hard Felt, with some embroidery for added surface design....

It's bright and cheery..... I then used the Soft Felt as a building block for a mixed media postcard - you can see the blue felt on the edges. This postcard represents Hope and Dreams, where as we move from one to the other a window opens while the other closes....

My most recent creation used both hard and soft Felt to make some studio decor using block lettering, some other fabric scraps and paper - decoupaging it to the lettering....

I haven't stopped yet though, I am assembling pieces using the hard felt to make a small book journal....

I also plan on making some whimsical succulent type flowers/plants by cutting petal shapes and layering them on top of each other to create the actual succulent shape..... I believe my own creativity or ideas are my limit, I can make these items realistic or whimsical based upon the colour/design of the felt I choose!! The hard felt has a nice firmness or stiffness to it that makes it perfect for applications or crafts that you might want to construct a shape or design that holds...for that reason I used the hard felt when making my keepsake box, because it needed to maintain its shape on its own. While the soft felt I really could use in almost any application, especially if I used another product to decoupage over it or firmness didn't matter. I urge you to let your imagination go wild as you come up with your own ideas to make with these terrific felt squares!!! Have fun, I am.
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Clover Pompom Makers with Dinushi

Hello! My name’s Dinushi, I’m a sewing blogger at stuffivesewn.blogspot.co.uk. I regularly sew and occasionally knit. I’m excited to be trying out the Clover Pom Pom Makers as although I love adding pom poms to my knits, making them is always a chore!

The two sizes I’m trying out are 35mm, 45mm and 20mm, 25mm.

After ripping open my pom pom makers from their packaging I was pretty excited and a tad confused… Mostly because I hadn’t used anything similar to this product before, but also because the instructions on the back were pretty basic and don’t go into much detail (though I should say I’m not the best with reading instructions and following diagrams).

So I jumped right in, and after some experimental pom pom making, my first few attempts turned out a bit wonky and disappointing (despite the technique behind the pom pom making being quite simple).

But before writing off these little gadgets, I looked up a tutorial for the clover pom pom makers. Fortunately, I quickly found this video explaining how to make even and fluffy pom poms. (And by the way, there are loads of creative tutorial videos for Clover pom pom makers, including ones to make heart-shaped and even panda-shaped pom poms!)

I learnt that I was skimping with my wool (wrapping them around the arms only once), and to end up with beautiful fluffy pom poms just make sure you wrap your wool several times around the arms, adding multiple layers of wrapped wool (the more wool the fluffier). Then trim your pom pom after you remove it from the maker to make sure it’s all even.

I ended up making loads of these pom poms for a couple sewing projects, and would recommend these to anyone. It’s good if you want to quickly and painlessly add a pom pom to a knitting project, but also great if you’re making several at a time (though my arm did start to hurt after repeatedly winding wool :P). I did find making the smaller pom poms a bit trickier, as you need big sharp scissors to cut the wool and maneuvering these around the little pom pom maker is not easy.   

The only thing I’d find annoying about buying the product is that I think it would be better if you could buy each size individually (instead of buying 2 similar sizes each time). However, this isn’t a fault with the actual product.

To conclude, these little things are a fool-proof and fast way to make pretty pom poms (as long as you wrap enough wool around your pom pom maker)!

I’ll end my post with what I made with my pom pom makers… (hoping to add tutorials to my blog soon).

The cushions were made using the 35mm and 45mm pom poms, and the zipper case was made using the 20mm and 25mm pom poms.

Thanks for reading,

Dinushi x

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#PatternoftheWeek - Kwik Sew 4111

It's #PatternoftheWeek time again, doesn't it come round quick. Yes time flies by too quick but I'd better not get on that subject or I'll be here all day!! I've chose for you lovely sewists this week Sewing Pattern 4111 by Kwiksew.
Incidentally I would love to know your thoughts on the word 'sewist'. So far, some people love it and some people hate it from those I talk to. For those of you who don't like it, it is worth mentioning that it is apparently a combination of the words 'sewer' and 'artist'. Personally I think it sums us sewers up perfectly!! But as I say I would love to know your thoughts.
Anyway back to the subject of today! Kwiksew 4111 is a fairly easy straightforward pattern. The top has a slight blouson effect so quite comfortable to wear.
Added to this is a mock wrap skirt which is 'caught' in at the side seams.
The top is gathered at various points along the bottom edge and then attached to the skirt part in one continuous seam. 
View A is sleeveless with a little split at the front neckline and view B has a plain neckline along with the tiniest cap sleeves. And now for some fabrics hehe!
In keeping with the theme on the pattern I have chosen this John Kaldor Crepe Fabric. I love this fabric and have a piece at the ready to make a shift dress (I'll show you that another time). Much as I like this pattern, this pattern does not like my waistline at the moment so I thought a simple shift dress would be more appropriate!!!
Now I am on a roll at the moment in showing you something to knit that would compliment the featured pattern/fabric and today is no exception. For me, something light and summery would be ideal, so immediately I think of Wendy Air Yarn, this is so pretty and lightweight (much lighter in weight than Mohairs of previous years) and each design takes so few balls of the yarn that even though it is £5.29 per ball, it is quite economical to knit with. Take a look at the next photo...
Look at all those little buttons up the front of the cardigan. 10 altogether, I have to say I think I would choose my favourite Flower Buttons from Dill in the smaller of the 2 sizes available. Don't they look adorable?
The richness of this red mohair yarn is beautiful and it really brings out the dark tones of red in the fabric. However we don't all like strong colours so the peach likewise brings out all the pale tones. Something for everyone.
Wow look at this next combination showing our gorgeous Crepe Fabric at its best. Both this and the previous fabric are perfect for this style of pattern, they will hang and drape beautifully. Wendy Air Knitting Pattern 5726 is the pattern I've chose to show you here alongside the fabric.
No buttons this time just a lovely tie neckband which will hang perfect just above the neckline of the dress. As with the previous yarn and fabric these two shades of mohair capture the beauty of this fabric. What do you think?
I can't resist showing you 2 more knitting patterns for Wendy Air. First up is 5764, such a pretty crossover design that I feel would compliment the wrapover skirt of the dress.
And last but certainly not least I must show you this stunning shawl Wendy 5727. Just look at all that detail, I don't think it's far removed from a 'shetland shawl'. Whether it would fit through a wedding ring? Well, that's to find out!!
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx
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Vintage Style Cotton Voile Blouse by Anna

Hi there, I’m Anna of Anna Jo Sews here with my very first blog post for Minerva. I’m so excited to be here! I’ve been sewing all my life but only making clothes for the last six or seven years, and only making everyday, WEARABLE clothes for the last three of those. Before that it was all party dresses and corsets - pretty, but not exactly practical for a mum of a kid with special needs and a new baby on the way. That’s when I started sewing Knit Fabrics and the rest, as they say, is history. Albeit recent history…

Anyway, that baby is now two and half and I have a wee bit of time back on my hands, so when the chance came up to make a project for the Minerva Crafts blog I leapt at it. And rather than go for a simple, knit fabric project I wanted to make something a bit more special. 

That’s when I remembered the 6217 Butterick Blouse Sewing Pattern I’ve been meaning to make for years. It’s one of the Butterick Patterns by Gertie range, and it’s a retro style summer blouse with a sweetheart neckline, various sleeve options, and optional bias ties at the bust. I’ve been a Gretchen Hirsch fangirl for years - hers was the very first sewing blog I ever followed - but I’m amazed to say this is the very first of her Butterick patterns I’ve ever sewn. I’m not sure what’s taken me so long as this is the perfect summer top!

First up, I must mention the pattern sizing. My measurements (bust 36”, waist 29”, hips 40”) put me in the 14-16 size range, but I’ve sewn Big Four patterns before and learnt the hard way about the massive amounts of ease they include. I checked the final garment measurements on the Butterick site (look under the yardage tab), I realised that would give me a top with 42” at the bust and 47.5” at the lower edge. I’m pretty sure Gertie’s envelope cover version doesn’t have that much ease! Rather than end up swimming in fabric I took a gamble and went for a straight size 12, which was the size I always used to go with in Butterick patterns. 

I made a toile version using some thin cotton lawn, and discovered it fit amazingly well - a flattering fit but not too tight. The only alterations I ended up making were to solve a bit of gaping at the back neckline by taking two centimetres out of the centre back at the neck, tapering down to nothing by the top of the darts (this was an easy alteration to make as there’s a centre back seam), and to lower the armscyes by an inch as they felt a little high for my tastes. I’m sure they’d have been fine comfort-wise, but for a summer top I prefer a little more air circulation under my arms. Unfortunately this fairly simple alteration meant I had to make small changes to almost every single pattern piece, so it’s a good thing I like a bit of drafting.

When it came to shopping for fabric I initially looked for polka dot patterns, but I kept returning to the pattern envelope pic of Gertie modelling a gorgeous floral version. I knew I wanted to sew that view with the tulip sleeves and bust ties, so I widened my search to include floral patterns (I love that the Minerva site lets you search by pattern type!) and that’s when I came across this beautiful Vintage Floral Cotton Voile Fabric. It comes in three colourways and the white background would be an almost perfect match for the version on the pattern envelope. However, I knew the black background would be a better fit in my wardrobe, so that was what I ordered.

I was a little nervous about ordering voile as I’d never sewn with it before. How see-through was it likely to be, I wondered? Was I going to end up with something like chiffon and need to line it all? I needn’t have worried, however. While this fabric might become transparent when held up to the light (skirts and dresses would need lining), it’s definitely opaque enough for a top. I even modelled for these pics in a black bra, so if it were at all see through you’d know about it! By the way, should you be interested in ordering this fabric: the background isn’t a true black—more of a deep charcoal. I think that makes it more versatile, but it’s definitely worth mentioning in case you’re expecting BLACK black.

To go with the delicate voile I chose a Lightweight Woven Interfacing. This was my first time using a woven interfacing and I’m a total convert now! Despite being an iron-on type there’s none of that horrible stiffness you can get with the non-woven kinds of interfacing, and it doesn’t change the handle of the fabric at all. Definitely worth giving a try if, like me, you’ve been getting frustrated with your interfacing.

And let me tell you, if you’ve never sewn cotton voile before, you’re in for a treat! It’s thin and easy to handle, meaning it presses like a dream and doesn’t need too much pinning as it won’t slip around. This is about the easiest fabric I’ve ever sewn darts in, which is good as there are a whopping eight in this pattern! The downsides of voile’s open but fine weave are a tendency to both fray and show needle marks. However, I experimented with machine needles and ended up going with a Microtex 60, which didn’t leave visible holes. 

To get around the fraying I used my overlocker to finish the edges of the facings and pinked the seam allowances enclosed by the facings. For the seams and hems I also deviated a little from the pattern instructions, using French seams and my favourite (but time consuming) narrow hem technique.

All those French seams took me a long time to sew and next time around I make this blouse I might well seam it with the overlocker, but I enjoyed the process and the well-behaved voile made them much easier than I anticipated. I even used French seams to set in the sleeves, which is something I’ve never attempted before. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re already confident with setting in sleeves, but with this lightweight fabric it worked like a dream. I’ll definitely be trying this again!

The pattern instructions are typical of Big Four patterns: sufficient and well-illustrated but not necessarily beginner-friendly. This is rated easy and I’d say anyone who’s sewn a seam before could handle it, although they might have to look up more detailed instructions for darts and setting in sleeves. My one criticism is that the instructions don’t tell you to staystitch the armscye or sleeve edge. Do it! I staystitched the armscye but not the corresponding sleeve edge for some reason, and when it came time to fit the sleeve it had grown by a couple of centimetres! This wasn’t too much of a problem as I simply used a couple of lines of basting stitches to gather the sleeve head until it fit, but I can see it being a major stumbling block to someone who wasn’t used to setting in sleeves. My finished sleeve does have more volume at the top than the one on the pattern envelope, but I actually rather like this and might do the same - intentionally this time! - next time I make this version of the pattern.

The tulip sleeve is an unusual pattern feature but was really simple to sew, so long as you carefully label your four pattern pieces (right front, left front, etc) as they all look very similar. I found this out the hard way on my toile where I sewed them the wrong way round. I like the way the finished sleeve gives some shoulder coverage but without covering up too much of my upper arm. Good for showing off tattoos if you have them!

I finished my blouse off with seven Shell Buttons, as I’m of the firm belief that mother of pearl goes with EVERYTHING, and is an especially safe choice when choosing buttons online. These buttons come in a number of colours and sizes, and I went with the 15mm dark grey option. I love the way they look with this fabric and don’t think I could have picked a better match! Also worth mentioning: the buttonholes are spaced perfectly and there’s no gaping at the bust.

So, what about the finished blouse? Is it really as comfy as a knit top? OH MY GOD, yes it is!!! This lightweight fabric with a just-loose-enough fit is absolutely perfect for the heat, and I’ve already worn it a couple of times in the four days since I finished sewing. While making it I was a little worried it would end up being too pretty-pretty for my tastes, but I’m relieved to say those worries were unfounded. Yes, the shape and fabric are feminine, but the fact it’s a dark floral and the lack of any frills give it enough of an edge for me. I love the way it looks more casual with skinny jeans or a denim skirt, but I’m also planning to dress it up sometimes with a black pencil skirt for a vintage-inspired evening look. The back, in particular, is beautifully shaped and surprisingly sexy considering it gives full coverage there.

I also love the bust tie, which was one of the details that first attracted me to the pattern, but was also one I had wibbles about while sewing. The bow on the toile didn’t sit nicely, but the voile has enough drape to let me manhandle the ends of the ties so they hang down and look symmetrical. Nice one! I find it’s best not to cinch the tie in tightly as it then pulls the armholes round too much, but a slightly looser fit here is perfect in the heat.

I’ll definitely be making this pattern again - I can see it being one I return to every summer. Next up I’m going to make view C (sleeveless without the bust ties), so now I’m on the lookout for the perfect dotted swiss or double gauze fabric. Better get browsing Minerva’s selection!

Anyone else tried this pattern, or perhaps inspired to have a go sewing with cotton voile? Do share your thoughts - I love chatting sewing!

Anna-Jo x

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Minerva Crafts Lucky Dip Fabric Bag Review by Frankie

I love surprises! Especially when I know I’m going to like the surprise, so when Minerva Crafts was looking for people to review their Fabric Lucky Dip Bags I jumped at the chance. I mean what could be better getting a lovely parcel of fabrics delivered and it being a surprise!!!

So I ordered the 5 metre Summer Fabrics bundle. At £9.99 which works out as roughly £2 per metre. Now its a lucky dip of what you get but the minimum length you will receive is half a metre. So you might get a 5m length of one type of fabric or you might get 10 half metre lengths of fabric. And all of the fabrics are brand new! Which is brillant especially considering most other fabric bundles contain seconds or soiled fabrics!

Which bring me to the important bit!!! what did I receive? Well I got 2.15m of apple green cotton gingham by rose and hubble (this Fabric alone sells for £7.99 on Minerva's website, so I got over £17 worth of fabric in this one piece), 2m of a cotton flowers and hearts print also by rose and hubble and 1m of a very floaty boarder print fabric! Now the eagle eyed of you will notice that I ended up 15cm over the 5m advertised! So you could say I was feeling pretty smug!

So my first impressions were that I loved the smallest piece which was the boarder print! I loved the weight of the fabric and the print and colours were beautiful. I'm a huge fan of gingham [who isn’t?] so I liked the 2.15m of apple green gingham I received although the colour threw me at first because I don’t really “do” green, but I guess that’s what fabric bundles are all about! Pushing boundaries! Now the last print is definitely not something I’d choose for myself, In fact my hubby mentioned that it reminds him of some of the prints that Screech used to wear on saved by the bell! That said I think I’ll be able to use it as lining or to make a pair of pjs! Actually I think its quite a nice fun fabric for pjs!

But seen as the boarder print was my favourite that’s what I decided to test!

Seen as it was such a small length I knew I’d have to do something really simple so I opted for a hack of the camisole pattern from the third Great British Sewing Bee book!

And I even had enough left to add a cute ruffle to the bottom of the dress! The fabric itself was a pleasure to sew and the cost of the dress worked out at just £2!

So would I recommend the bundles? Well I think it depends on what sort of person you are! If you are very organised with your sewing and only buy fabric with projects in mind and are generally quite fussy then I’m not sure you’ll like the surprise factor as much as I did! However if your a new sewer who wants to try different fabrics or someone who wants to jump-start their sewing mojo then I think this is a great product for you. In fact I’ve already suggested it as a birthday/Christmas present option for myself, that way I get the joy of fabric but he doesn’t have to deal with the pressure of choosing things!

And there are lots of options if you don’t like the fabrics you receive, you could make a gift for family/friend, you could use it for lining clothes or bags, making muslins or for pyjamas, because lets face it no one really sees you in your pjs do they? But if you really do hate them Minerva even offers an opportunity to send them back [but you pay postage].

But to be honest looking at the beautiful selection of fabrics that are on the Minerva crafts website I’m not sure you could really go wrong with one of their fabric bundles!!!

Frankie Baldwin @ KnitwitsOwls

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How to Cast on your Knitting Projects by Helen

How often do you find yourself about to knit a pattern and it calls for a particular type of cast on – but you don’t know that so you instead you just stick to your tried and true method? Well in fact there are merits to different types of cast on; some provide a stable edge that doesn’t curl, others allow lots of stretch, whilst some are better for ribbing or they can even be decorative.

The long tail cast on is a strong and stable cast on with little curling whilst providing a decent amount of stretch making it great for hats, sleeves and cuffs.

  1. To begin your long tail cast on you need to start with a long tail. I usually take about 1.5 cm for each stitch – but if in doubt always leave more!

  1. Tie a slip knot in the yarn. To do this wrap the yarn twice around your index finger on your left hand from left to right.

  1. Take the left-most loop and lift it over the loop on the right, leaving it on your finger.

  1. Next take the other loop and lift it over again – this time dropping it off your finger.

  1. Put the loop that was left on your finger onto your knitting needle and tighten.

Now comes the fun part!

  1. Hold the needle in your right hand with the tip pointing left. Take both pieces of yarn in your left hand with your palm facing down and hold the tail end over your thumb and the ball end over your index finger.

  1. Now you need to twist your left hand anti-clockwise so that your palm is facing up. The tail end of the yarn will still be wrapped around your thumb and the ball end of the yarn around your index finger.

  1. Take your needle and hook the tip of it, from front to back, under the length of yarn coming in front of your thumb

  1. Next hook the needle, from back to front, under the length of yarn in front of your index finger.

  1. Bring that second loop of yarn (from your index finger) under the first loop (on your thumb).

  2. Dropping the yarn off your thumb and finger tighten the stitch you have just made on the needle.

  1. Repeat steps 6-11 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed this mini tutorial! Also, see my review on the new Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles!
Helen @ HSHandCrafts

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