Posted in Projects on Saturday the 7th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello everyone. I’m Lauren, a sewing / knitting addict and I want to share one of my most-recent knitting projects.
Just a bit of background for you – I knit baby clothes and accessories in my spare time, and sell them in my Etsy shop. But it’s rare that I actually knit anything adult-sized. However, recently I’ve made an exception.
My brother - after complaining about his cold feet for the 14th time - jokingly asked me to make him a man-sized version of the baby booties I knit. Challenge accepted mate!
After looking on the Minerva Crafts site for appropriate slipper-sock patterns, I found this one: King Cole 3275. It looked perfect - cosy, chunky, fun to make; they also bore a strong resemblance to the baby-boots I make, which was an added bonus!
The pattern recommends using King Cole Baby Alpaca DK, which I’ve used before on another project in the past and loved. It’s such a soft yarn and the colours are lovely. I ordered 5 balls – enough to make a pair of slipper socks in the largest size – in the camel colourway.
After working with this yarn for a while, I still love it. It is wonderfully soft, with a slight halo, and although it can be a little splitty, I found that this became a lot less of an issue after I had got used to working with it.
The only down-side I found with the yarn is its suitability to this kind of pattern. As it’s hand-wash only, I do wonder whether it’s a little impractical for an item you wear on your bare feet, on the floor. So far, they have been hand-washed a couple of times and still look good. Being a pretty heavy-duty item, the yarn has shown some signs of wear on the sole of the foot, but I think this is understandable and not really an issue for my brother.
The slipper socks are constructed in three parts, the sole, which is done in basic garter stitch, the upper part of the foot, and the leg and leg linings, which are done in rib and stocking stitch. Making them up was fairly straight forward, I just safety-pinned all the pieces in place evenly, and used a whip stitch to attach them.
I think it came out really well, and overall the pattern was fairly easy to follow. However, it did take me a lot longer to make than I expected. The only other issue I had with this make, was that the finished article didn’t really come out as I first expected. The pattern cover art makes the slippers look really sturdy, as though they are similar to an actual boot, when in fact, they don’t stand up on their own and are more of a sock when they’re off the foot. I think it was probably a bit silly of me to have that expectation though, after all, they are only made of yarn, and when they’re on the foot, they look great :) I could perhaps try some of these Slipper Soles next time.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend the King Cole Baby Alpaca yarn to anyone who wants a super-soft, fluffy DK wool, that comes in loads of colours. I’d probably also recommend the pattern too, but I’d just say to bear in mind that they might not look like the pattern illustration.
Anyway, my brother likes these slippers a lot, and has so far not complained anywhere near as much about having cold feet, so that seems like a winner to me!
To find out more about my makes, just nip over to my website and say hi – www.craftworksblog.com
Posted in Projects on Friday the 6th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Wednesday the 4th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
I love button down shirts. Made up in slinky silk or a super sharp shirting fabric, a beautiful button down paired with skinny jeans is my failsafe look for day-to-night dressing.
So when Minerva Crafts kindly invited me to blog about one of their Style Arc Printed Patterns, I knew at once that the Lauren boyfriend shirt would be the one for me!
With its relaxed fit and oversized cuffs, the Lauren combines classic menswear shirting features with unexpected details. This pattern is designed for non-stretch, woven fabrics, from light to medium weight, but I would definitely advise using a shirting fabric like the ones listed on the Minerva site to help you get the best finish on some of those tricky-to-construct details.
And speaking of tricky-to-construct details, here’s a quick rundown on what you can expect to be sewing for the Lauren (tip: prewashing and pressing are key to achieving a lovely finish on all of these techniques).
- Inserting a collar, collar-stand and a particularly tricky cuff construction and insertion
- Precisely placed buttons and buttonholes
- Sleeve insertion
- Inserting a box pleat
This fabric is absolutely stunning. I wanted to make a really classic, wearable shirt so I chose this Shirting Fabric. At £4.99 per metre, it was fantastic value for money and it was a perfect match for my Lauren. The fabric felt very crisp and starchy when it came out of the packet and I had expected it to keep its structure but after prewashing (at 30degrees) it softened to have the most beautiful love-worn texture. You can see that it looks almost like seersucker in this picture (I promise it’s pressed!) but I love the slightly crumpled, tousled effect in a borrowed-from-a-boy-the-morning-after-the-night-before kind of way.
How long did it take to make?
I’m a marathon sewer, and I’ll happily sew from dawn till dusk and then well into the night. I completed this in one evening and a full day, and though I had some difficulties with the sleeve insertion (more on that later), I really enjoyed taking my time with all the little details that make it feel like a ‘proper’ shirt.
The difficulty is listed as Medium-Challenging on the packet. However, I’ll be honest; Style Arc’s instructions leave a lot to be desired, so I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to anyone who had never made a button down shirt before. Though there are a number of tutorials on Style Arc’s website that offer help with some of the trickier techniques required, they weren’t hugely helpful to me, and it was a pain trying to search through their blog posts for tips while I was trying to focus on sewing.
If you are between sizes, go for the smaller size, seriously. I usually sit between a UK size 8 and 10 and have a larger bust. I didn’t want to bother with an FBA, but didn’t want to risk any boob gape-age (y’all ladies know what I’m talking about) so I decided to cut a size 10 and really embrace the oversized look. It ended up being massively oversized and I actually took off a whopping two inches from both shoulder seams and another inch and a half on either side of the bodice. Generally though, I think that the shape would be flattering on lots of different body shapes, and if you’re keen on hacking patterns, there is a lot that you could do with the Lauren.
The Great Bits
I really like the Lauren shirt’s oversized pocket detail and the exaggerated dipped hem at the back. It’s really flattering paired with jeans, and if you hacked the bodice to make it dress length then I think it would make a really great summer shirt-dress made up in a linen or linen blend. The collar was surprisingly simple to insert and looks great buttoned up or open, which was a nice surprise, as I like to mix up the styling of my shirts. And though initially I wasn’t sure about those massive cuffs, in the end they were really fun to make and I think they look pretty great.
The Not So Great Bit
No matter how hard I tried, I could not get those cuffs to fit without significantly gathering the sleeve – and when I tried that, it was uncomfortable to wear and made me look like an awkward marionette doll. It took me a good couple of hours and a lot of seam ripping to realise that the pattern pieces were just not built to fit together and so I ended up taking a good inch and a half off the sleeve where it joined the cuff. Again, maybe there was a special technique to inserting this cuff, but since there were no instructions on how to attach them, I had to improvise, but in the end it worked out all right!
Thanks again Minerva for giving me the opportunity to try out this pattern, it challenged my skills and gave me a shirt that I know I’ll wear again and again.
It may have only been a couple of weeks ago that we were at home enjoying a February snow day (or as it became known in my house, sew day), but I’m already thinking about my summer wardrobe. One of my goals for 2018 was to plan my sewing better, so that I wasn’t sewing summer clothes at the end of August that I never got the chance to wear. Nope. Didn’t happen last year AT ALL. I’ve been stockpiling summer patterns since the beginning of the year, so when I was asked to review Minerva’s new range of Luxury Crepe Fabric fabric I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it - Vogue Pattern 9252. Although I’m usually a print kind of girl, I found this luxury crepe in Bottle Green hard to resist.
Now I’m no fabric expert (although after Love to Sew’s Fabric 101 podcast, I’m learning), but I knew I would be dealing with something relativity light and drapey. When the fabric arrived I was really impressed with its quality - it lives up to the product description of luxury crepe. The fabric is super soft, substantial (I'm always happy when a crepe isn’t see-through) and very stable to sew with. This was the first time I had made Vogue 9252 so I had to refit the bodice, which I lined with the same fabric. I’m pleased to report it stands up really well to unpicking and re-sewing (!). It didn’t weaken the integrity of the fabric at all, which is something I have struggled with with crepe previously. This was a really good indicator of quality for me.
The dress was one I just *had* to wear out for the dinner the night I finished it - despite the fact it is a summer dress, and it’s still winter. Luckily the dress and fabric work well with a pair of tights, so I think it’ll make a good dress for an evening out whatever the season! The whole things falls really beautifully, and the weight of the fabric gives the skirt a good swish. I just felt unashamedly elegant wearing it. And who doesn’t want that in a dress?!
My thoughts on the pattern are as always to do with sizing and ease. I chose the size on my upper body measurements due to the shape of the dress, and yet it was still far too big around the shoulders and under the arm pit. These are however common fit issues for me. The alterations I made were to shorten the straps (by about 2 inches!), and to grade the side seams to take the excess ease out from under the arms. As always, the faffing with fit was worth it and the bodice fits beautifully now. And of course, the dream feature for any woman - it has pockets!
Overall? As I think you’ve guessed, I was really impressed. At £11.99 per metre, the fabric is a really reasonable price for the quality that you’re getting. It sews beautifully, it drapes beautifully - it’s a winner for me. And you know what? It’s good for twirling too :)
Thanks for reading,
Kelly @ sewandstylelou
All photos by GCP Photography
This is most definitely a gadget that I didn’t know I needed until I got it. An amazing little thing that once you’re started using, you can’t imagine your sewing and crafting life without it!
This Mini Iron is so very compact, comes with very easy instructions and dials and a small beaker for pouring water into it for the steam function. Because it’s probably been designed as a travel iron, it comes with a two pin continental plug (as you can see in the pics above). I haven’t got a travel adapter and was only ever going to use it for my sewing, so my husband kindly fitted a three pin plug to it.
You can see the difference in size when you see it next to my regular iron –
I have used this fabulous iron so much. From pressing small seams, to collars and cuffs, small darts, hems, tricky to get at plackets, baby clothes and lingerie. It’s excellent for getting into small places and the steam function is brilliant and so easy to fill through the little hole.
For the purpose of this review, I took photos whilst pressing the leg hems on boxer pants I’m making for my husband, the Comox Trunks by Thread Theory Designs. The mini iron is perfect for getting at the leg hems without pressing lots of other bits that you don’t want to! It’s so comfortable to hold and manage.
Can you tell that I love it?! I recommend you all have one, it’s always plugged in alongside my big iron and makes the weekly ironing a much easier job as well as all my sewing activities.
Thanks for reading,
Posted in Projects on Sunday the 1st April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 31st March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Crochet blankets bring back childhood memories of my Nan sitting on the garden bench with the blanket she was working on spread out before her. In fact wherever she was her crochet wasn’t far away; a randomly coloured piece using up left over bits of yarn that had appeared from somewhere!
So I jumped at the chance to try out this kit for the Eastern Jewels Blanket Kit. A riot of glorious colours put together in a fantastic design of tiles. A lot more sophisticated than my nan’s colourful creations and I must admit I felt a little overwhelmed at first when the large bag arrived.
The kit contains fourteen 100g balls of Stylecraft Special Double Knit yarn which is 100% acrylic and machine washable, enough to complete the make, plus two booklets. One providing the charts as to which colours are required for each section. The other giving the instructions of how to complete the octagons, squares and triangles that make up the blanket as well as instructions on bringing it together and edging. The only extras you need are crochet needles (3.5mm, 4mm & 4.5mm), a wool needle and stitch markers.
As I was going off on holiday I took enough wool with me to get started. It’s great having a transportable project and has started numerous conversations on the train!
The pattern book list the stitches you need to crochet but doesn’t give actual instructions on how to do them. As I haven’t done much more than a basic double stitch in years I started up with an internet search of the basics. Numerous references came up so there is plenty of information out there.
Starting my first octagon I did find it a little daunting and ripped it back a number of times as I didn’t get it quiet right. In the end I wrote myself a little checklist of stitches to stop myself getting confused between my trebles and double trebles!
Once the first one was complete I found starting the second much easier and as it one progressed the stitches and pattern flowed much better as I started to remember the sequences. So if you haven’t crocheted much before don’t be put off. As each tile has the same design, just different colours, it becomes so much easier as you go along.
I found it very additive watching each tile grow and as you do a round at a time it’s something you can pick up in a short interval. As each round is a separate colour there are a lots of ends so I found it best to sew these in as I went.
I blocked each tile as I completed it as I find that easier than trying to block the blanket a a large piece. I do this by pinning the damp piece to an old notice board and placing by the radiator to dry.
It always amazes me how the design improves even more after blocking.
As the pile of blocked tiles piled up I was to impatient to wait so started to join together. Following the instructions and chart the edges are matched, with right sides together and joined by double crochets.
These are such a fantastic rainbow of colours that I wouldn’t have dreamt of putting together myself but the compliment each other so well.
It is a blanket that is worth taking time over and for me it’s still a glorious work in progress but I’ll be showing off the finished result soon!
Thanks for reading about the journey so far!
Nicky @ Sew N Snip
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 30th March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
The fabric is 100% cotton and is super soft. Minerva describe it as a cotton poplin. Its green foliage print looks really lovely against the blue background. The foliage design is made of different types of leaves which really makes it stand out from the single leaf designs. One of the leaves also has a red stem which creates a lovely pop of colour.
With Spring just about here I decided to make a pair of Named Ninni Culottes. Although the pattern suggests a knit fabric it's definitely a pattern that's also suitable for woven fabrics.
Always prewash your fabrics, especially cottons. Minerva recommend washing at 30 degree but I always use my eco 40 degree cycle so pre washed using this settling and the fabric washed fine. If you aren't sure about which temperature to use either go for a cool temperature or put in a swatch at your normal cycle and see how it comes out. Life's too short to faff around with washing at lots of different temperature so love a fabric that I can shove in on my normal wash.
Another pre sewing task is to iron your fabric. I love a hot steamy iron so tried it out on a small corner section and they creases came out instantly. The fabric is a dream to iron. This is a good sign for when you have to press all your seams.
Once washed and ironed it's time for cutting out. My rotary cutter glided through the fabric. So far this fabric has been amazing to work with but how it sews is also very important.
The Ninni culottes are a simple style with wide straight legs and an elasticated waist. And yes they have pockets! Using my trusty Gutermann thread I had no issues sewing with this fabric. It just glided through my machine with no tension adjustments needed.
This fabric has a lovely drape which makes these culottes look like a skirt which I love as it means I don't have to worry about accidentally flashing my knickers on a rainy day! I'm looking forward to getting lots of wear out of these culottes throughout the warmer Spring days and summer sun.
The Lady McElroy Cotton Poplin Fabrics are perfect for so many garments whether it be these culottes, a cute dress or a circle skirt. There are so many gorgeous detailed designs you will want them all for your stash! I definitely need some of jade flora songbird, robyn, hut city and cocktail hour....
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 29th March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Wow, this stuff is seriously fabulous. I’m not usually a tracer, I find it a bit of a faff, I usually cut straight into my patterns. But recently I’ve wanted to make different sizes of things and it seems rather extravagant to buy another pattern.
So, I was thrilled to test this beautiful Swedish Tracing Paper. I’m a mature lady and I wear glasses for reading and close work so I was concerned about seeing the pattern markings through the paper. However it was really clear, in daylight and at night time. I had no problems with tracing over all the markings.
The Swedish tracing paper is thick enough to withstand lots of pinning and usage, but transparent enough to be able to see through. It folds up easily so the new traced pattern pieces can be easily stored.
I am a convert – I shall be using it a lot now. Recently I have been making The Comox Trunks boxer shorts for my husband and this seemed to be the perfect pattern to test out the tracing paper on. My two sons and my husband are different sizes so it means that I can use the pattern for all of them.
Here are some pictures to illustrate how easy it is to use. It comes as a roll and can easily be stored under a bed if, like me, you don’t have a sewing room!
If you do a lot of sewing for others or if you want to keep your patterns in their original condition, I recommend you buy a roll of this lovely stuff!
Thanks for reading,