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A Christmas Orla Top

Hello, Becky here from notes from the sewing room. 

This month I was asked to review a beautiful black sparkly Ponte Roma Fabric from Minerva Crafts. 

With Christmas just around the corner I wanted to make something that I would be proud to wear out across the festive season. 

The Fabric

Described as a ‘Lurex Ponte Roma Knit Fabric’ the material has multicoloured sparkly bits all of it that really catch the light.

It's not too thick and not too thin and has a comfortable amount of stretch, to make top/dress/cardigan easy to wear. There is nothing worse than clothes that are tight and really restrict your movement particularly over what is effectively party season where you may go out dancing! 

I love that the fabrics shine is made up of a few colours making it pretty to look at, without being too over the top!

What Did I Make?

I decided to make a Tilly and the Buttons Orla Top. My husband bought me the pattern last Christmas but I've been keeping my eye out for the perfect fabric to make it, so I was delighted that the time now seemed right! 

The Orla top is a semi fitted top that can be made with long or short sleeves. It's designed to be made with a woven fabric but it worked great in my ponte fabric too. 

The pattern also gives you the option to include a collar or not.  As I was using a stretch fabric I decided not to add a collar this time, but I'm hoping to try this next time.  

The top has a beautiful shape and sits really nicely around the bottom thanks to a lovely curved hem. 

The darts on the front bodice are quite unusual in their shaping but when sewn up really work well. Of course, as always Tilly’s pattern instructions are great.  There are pictures guiding you through the sewing process step by step, as well as additional 'tip' text boxes that give you extra help and guidance top.  

Did I Make Any Changes to the Pattern?

The pattern suggests you use an exposed zipper like the ones with metal teeth that can look really smart on tops/dresses. However, keen as ever to use supplies I already had in my stash I used a black lace zipper, this looks great on my top - it's still exposed but sits completely on top of the fabric rather than the teeth just being on display.  

I lowered the neckline by about 1cm too and mirrored this change on the neckline facing mainly as I have found previously that Tilly’s patterns are a little high in this area for me. This is probably just personal preference though.

The top is also supposed to be finished with a hem facing.  As I used a stretch fabric I literally overlooked the bottom edge and turned it under to stitch, this worked well for me.  

I also made most of my project on my over locker, apart from the darts, sewing in the zip and finishing my cuffs/hem line. 

I think this top will look great with jeans or tucked into a high waisted skirt. I wore it out to the theatre last night, we went to see an amateur dramatics performance locally – so I thought why not wear my new Orla. I teamed the top up with my blue jeans and boots, and I am pleased to report it kept me warm whilst still looking stylish (if I do say so myself)!

Overall

I really enjoyed making this top and love the fabric, so much so that I'm thinking of ordering it in a different colour too to make something else!  

I just need to get myself invited to a party or two now to wear my top out. If not, I will still wear it over my trousers or tucked in to a denim skirt to bring a bit of cheer to my day.  

If you'd like to keep up to date with my latest sewing projects follow me on Instagram or check out my blog Notes from the Sewing Room.

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Create a Christmas Craft Decoration (for Adults or Children aged 5+)

Materials You Will Need

*Christmas Felt Pack

*empty cotton reel

*wooden downing or kebab stick

*colourful buttons

*gold sparkly ribbon

*gold pre-made bow (if you wish)

*paper

*any other decorations you would like to use

Equipment You Will Need

*paper scissors

*pinking shears/zig-zag scissors

*pencil

*pins

*glue gun

This activity is great for both adults and children aged 5+. Please ensure if a child is undertaking this activity that an adult has supervision at all times, especially when using the glue gun and scissors.

How to Make

  1. The first step is to draw a triangle onto a piece of paper and cut this out. This will be your template for the tree.

  1. Fold a piece of the Christmas Felt in half. Then place your triangle template on to the felt and pin or draw around it.

  1. Next cut out the triangles using pinking shears or zig-zag scissors. Once cut you should then have 2 green felt triangles.

  1. Put your two felt triangles to one side for the minute.

  1. Poke your wooden downing/kebab stick through the hole in the cotton reel.

  1. Using some ribbon tie a knot around the middle of the cotton reel. Then you can either tie a bow (like a shoe lace bow) or use a bow that has been pre-made. If you are using a pre-made bow, like us, then glue this on top of the ribbon with the glue gun.

  1. To create the tinsel on the Christmas tree, you need to cut a small line out of the lime green felt using your pinking shears or zig-zag scissors.

  1. Once this is cut, place one end of the lime green felt at the top of the triangle and fold it in on itself at the corner. Repeat this until all of the tree is covered with tinsel.

  1. Position your buttons, star and any other decorations you wish to use on your triangle. When you are happy with where they are, glue them on, making sure you only glue them onto ONE of the triangles with the glitter facing up.

  1. Move the decorated triangle to one side and get your second non-decorated triangle. Lay this triangle glitter side face down on your work surface and then position where you would like the wood and cotton to reel sit.

  1. When you have decided on this, glue a large blob where the top of the wood starts and push this firmly down to make sure it sticks. Let this dry for a minute or so.

  1. Then glue all over the triangle that is laying face down and place your decorated triangle on top FACE UP.

  1. Give this a few minutes to dry and TADAA you have completed your Christmas Craft Decoration!

Perfect as a gift for Christmas or a decoration for the home.

Thanks for reading,

Emma @ pomstitchtassel

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Foil Scuba Occasion Dress

I was very pleasantly surprised upon receiving this Scuba Fabric. It looks even better in person than in the photos! It’s a lighter weight than a lot of scuba fabrics I’ve used, but still a medium weight with a slightly spongy yet firm feel. The gold is lovely and shimmery. It’s clearly a good quality fabric and the pattern doesn’t break apart when you stretch it. It has a good recovery that would make it ideal for bodycon dresses and wiggle skirts. 

I knew with such a beautiful pattern, this would have an occasion dress. I settled on using the surplice bodice from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress book with a self-drafted pleated skirt. The scuba sews up beautifully. I used a jersey needle and a normal straight stitch for all the seams except the waist. As I omitted any zips or closures, I used a lightening stitch here to allow for the extra stretch needed. The pattern repeats are quite small making this ideal if you want to pattern match. With all the gathering and overlapping on my bodice though, pattern matching was pretty pointless! 

The scuba doesn’t fray so seams do not need finishing. I did find I had to grade all my seams as they can get very thick and bulky. A quick tip, leave the seam that is against the outer layer alone and grade all others. This makes your seams less visible from the outside.

When cutting the fabric, I used a rotary cutter and self healing mat. I did find that, even with a brand new blade, the fabric would not cut cleanly. You may find that scissors do a better job. 

For the skirt portion of my dress, I made a pleated skirt. I didn’t want to distort the pattern by making a circle skirt. Pleated skirts still allow you to have a full skirt but without lots of extra bulk around the waist. If you want to make your own, it’s easy enough to calculate how much fabric you need. This method can be used for both skirts and dresses.

I used separate measurements for the front and back but the method is exactly the same. 

I measured the waist seam on my bodice front. This was 15”. Multiply this by 3 to find the width of fabric required for your skirt panel. (Pleats are 3 layers of fabric. If your finished pleat measures 2” wide, it will contain 6” of fabric). The length of fabric required will be your desired skirt length. We will add all seam allowances later. 

Using my numbers, my fabric needs to be 45” wide (15” x 3) and 23” long. Decide on how many pleats you would like to calculate how wide each one will be. I went for 6 pleats for my skirt. Divide your fabric width (45”) by how many pleats you want (6). So each of my pleats will use 7.5” of fabric (45 ¸ 6 = 7.5). The finished pleat size will be 7.5 ¸ 3 = 2.5”. 

Add a seam allowance to the top and both sides and the hem. I used 0.5” on each side and at the waist and 1” at the hem. So my skirt panel needs to be 24.5” long by 46” wide. 

Once you have your skirt panel cut to size, you need to mark each pleat placement. Starting at one side on the waist seam, mark your seam allowance. From here, mark each finished pleat size. As mine are 2.5”, I marked 2.5” across the entire width of the skirt. Once you’ve marked all your pleats, you should just have your seam allowance left at the end. 

Make each pleat by folding your fabric into an ‘S’ shape and pin in place. Work your way along the width of your fabric until you have all your pleats pinned in place. Baste the pleats then sew as normal. Your pleats can face either way. I chose to alternate the direction of each pleat, which results in a box pleated skirt. (If they all face the same way, you have knife pleats).

In summary, a lovely fabric that would be perfect for a whole range of garments.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

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The Christmas A Line Dress

I’ve always wanted to make a dress from Christmas Fabric – something that on first perception doesn’t look obviously Christmassy but on closer inspection is.

I found this lovely soft 100% Cotton Poplin Fabric, Noel by by Poppy Europe, on the Minerva website.  I love the dark background and the Christmas motifs that look like jewels scattered all over it.  It doesn’t scream Christmas, but yet it is in a subtle way. 

I needed a simply cut dress to show it off and found this ‘A’ line dress pattern by The Avid Seamstress on the Minerva website.  I’m really impressed by the presentation of it. 

You get a strong card envelope holding the contents which consist of the pattern printed on thick paper, a booklet of instructions in which you can write notes and a card on which you can record your measurements, along with another card telling you all about the pattern company.  It’s all something that I know I’ll keep and use again.

I pre-washed the fabric for shrinkage and it came out beautifully – no fading at all and no ironing either.  The deep black background also stayed that colour and still felt so soft. 

The body measurements of the pattern were consistent with what I usually expect.  I did make one small adjustment to customize the dress to my shape and I cut out the skirt section at a slightly larger size and graded out the bodice section to fit the larger skirt, which was easy to do.  4 metres of fabric allowed me to pattern match the skirt and bodice seams when cutting out, although you could get away with a lot less fabric than that if you were using a fabric with a plain ground for example.  

I also managed to pattern match the fabric on either side of the zip insertion.  This is only the second time I’ve inserted an invisible zip.  It really is worth getting your head round how to do it – it looks so effective and professional in the end.

I deep V on this dress is really flattering.  It is achieved with facings which extend down to the waistband, which make it easy to get a nice point at the base of the V.  There is also some understitching to do to make the facings lie flat.

Believe it or not, there are also pockets in this dress, they are really unobtrusive, or perhaps it’s just the soft fabric which drapes so well.

I love how the dress fits me.  It really suits my shape and I plan to make more.  I’ll be wearing this one for my Christmas Dinners at work and also at home.  I want to make some more dresses in plains for work and also some in other novelty fun fabrics.

I also loved making this because it’s the first project I’ve done on my new sewing machine.  My old one gave up the ghost after 35 years loyal service …  I was kind of sentimentally attached to it and had resisted upgrading for a long time … but I didn’t realise how I’d been ‘managing’ with it for so long.  My new one is so easy to sew with and there’s no snagging or niggly problems.  I had to buy in an invisible zipper foot for it, which delayed me a bit with finishing this dress, but there’s no stopping me now :-)  Look forward to more makes for Minerva!  Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for reading :-)

Diane @ margueritedesigns

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Christmas Cosiness

Well it seems I blinked and it was suddenly November! Luckily for me, Minerva have some awesome Christmas Jersey Fabric in stock, so I am now sitting in complete and utter Christmas cosiness!

I am always so jealous of the lovely soft onesies that my girls have, so I was thrilled to get my hands on the Simplicity Jumpsuit Pattern 8520 from Minerva, especially as it includes pattern pieces for both ‘Misses’ (grown-ups!) and ‘Girls’ (kids!). The reason I say grown-ups and kids is because I don’t see any reason why this pattern couldn’t be unisex, great if you wanted to go for matching family PJs! The fabric I selected was the Eyko Christmas Print Stretch Jersey Knit Dress Fabric in Red and Blue. I could not resist the cute little fox (the reindeer and polar bear is pretty cute too)! For an adults onesie you will need 2.5 to 3 metres depending on the size as well as a 22 inch zip, so don’t forget to add that to your basket too!

After spending a good 20 minutes trying to work out the difference between views B & C (turns out view C is just with the colour blocking!) I opted for view A, because let’s face it, who doesn’t love hoods and pockets!

I knew this make would get a lot of wear and therefore a lot of washing, so I was conscious to wash the fabric exactly as I would once made up at 40 degrees, then left it to dry as flat as I could on the clothes horse.

Now, I am usually a pretty reliable small/size 8 in ready to wear clothes, and I rarely make huge adjustments to clothes patterns, but looking at the finished garment measurements on this pattern, I could see that my hip measurements were on the top end of the Small size range and this would give me no ease at all. So I actually cut out everything on the top half, including sleeves and hood, as a Small, then graded out to a Medium at the hips, and I am so glad that I did, as the finished garment is a perfect fit.

Before attempting to cut into my fabric I spent a while painstakingly trying to line up the stripes. I began to get frustrated and realized I needed a new strategy so I just picked it up at the midpoint, lined up one row gave it all a good shake, and it all fell neatly into place!

Cutting out was all relatively straightforward using a rotary cutter, so with no drama I got to sewing straight away! I used a stretch needle, and as I sew with a Pfaff I used the IDT (basically a built in walking foot), but I don’t imagine you’d have any issues with this fabric using an ordinary sewing foot. For the top stitching around the pockets I used a triple stretch stitch, which is my favoured stitch with Jersey, I think it gives a much neater finish than a lightening or zig zag stitch. My inside seams were all overlocked (and yes I am lazy, I don’t change my overlocker thread unless I really have to, so it’s all black inside!) and then I used a twin needle around the neck line, as I like having the extra stich line holding down the seam allowance on the neck.

I was so surprised with how quickly the onesie came together, it’s a real easy sew, the pattern is simple to follow, and there are no real tricky parts. With hindsight, I would have done only two things differently. Firstly. I would have used some interfacing for the zip, as it’s a little bit wavy where I allowed the fabric to stretch whilst inserting the zip. Secondly, I would have read ahead and considered how the zip was going to be finished at the top, as it is not as neat as I would have liked. It seems I didn’t leave enough of the zipper tape to turn over the seam allowance at the top of the neck.

Luckily for me, when I did need my seam ripper the fabric held up really well to being unpicked! There were no real visible marks left, which I think just shows the quality of the fabric. The jersey seems like it will be very durable, and hopefully stand up to family life, and being pulled around my the kids on those Christmas Movie nights on the sofa!

Overall, I am absolutely thrilled with the make! The pattern is awesome, and I will definitely be making matching onesies for the girls’ before Christmas (and maybe one for Daddy too, if I have time!). The fabric is gorgeous, and I will be looking out for more of the same in different prints, or maybe I will go for the Grey & Taupe version of this one for some PJs! (Did I mention how cute that fox is!?)

So, if anyone needs me between now and Christmas, I can be found mostly lounging around in my new onesie (it’s OK to wear this for work right?)!

Thanks for reading! If you want to see more of my makes, you can find me on Instagram or check out my website notionsofadressmaker.

Until next time!

Stacie 

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Slinky Jersey Cami

Hello everyone!  Today’s project has been a really fun one for me. The inspiration for today’s project was to re-create a ready-to-wear (RTW) camisole. The RTW cami is two years old and is worn out. A unique feature in this cami is that it is reversible, front to back. One side of the cami’s neckline is a scoop neck and the other side is a v-neck.  I have loved this feature as I rotate which neckline I wear in the front based on the garment that I’m wearing the cami underneath.
The pattern that I was inspired to pair with this project is the Sew Over It Silk Cami Pattern. This pattern is technically drafted for use with woven fabrics (so I will share about my mods with the pattern with this detail in mind).  I have been wanting to sew a second SOI pattern (after sewing the SOI Ultimate Shift Dress via this post).
The fabric that I’m using is a wonderfully drapey, slinky knit Jersey Fabric from Minerva.  I did want to note that when I first received the fabric, the texture felt a bit scratchy.  I put the fabric in the washer and dryer (as I usually do before sewing) and it drastically softened afterwards.  I share that to note that the texture of the fabric changes after washing (in a lovely way).
I know seeing fabric online doesn’t give justice to seeing it in person.  I wanted to share a few photos of the fabric in an attempt to show the drape of the fabric.  I used a little mannequin that I had on my sewing desk to show a few views of the drape on the mannequin’s hand.
Supplies needed:
- 1.5m Slinky Knit Fabric in Blue Grey (technically I used 27” (0.7m) for the size 8 but 1.5m will cover all sizes)
- Rotary cutter (or fabric shears)
- Fabric weights
- Walking foot for a standard sewing machine
Preparing the pattern:
Typically when you switch a woven pattern to use a knit fabric, it is suggested to go down one size.  After studying the body dimensions I decided to start with a straight size 8 (which is one size down from what I would normally pick, referencing the bust dimensions). I knew that the pattern, intended for wovens, has more fitting ease built-in.
I layed the RTW cami on top of the SOI silk cami pattern (size 8) to test the length.  I decide to not modify the length of the pattern. My initial concern was to make sure that the length wasn’t too short.
I measured the shoulder strap length from the RTW cami and referenced the strap length in the pattern.  To shorten the silk cami strap length, I moved the shoulder seam down by approximately 1”/2.5cm (keeping the 5/8” /1.5cm seam allowance in mind).
I decided to use the silk cami front pattern piece for both the front and back of my versions. Recreating the commercial cami (with V and Scoop necklines) the lower neck line will be beneficial for both sides of the garment.
To summarize, the followings are the mods that I made to the pattern:
- Substitute knit fabric for woven
- Omit the cami back pattern piece
- Shorten the shoulder seams by 1”
- Omit the front and back facing pattern pieces
- Finish the neckline and arm holes with binding
- Add a 1/8” elastic piece for the v-neck detail
Making the muslin:
I have to confess that I might have had a little too much fun with the making of my muslin. I have been in a place with my sewing lately where I want to use my fabric scraps in creative ways. I have tended to save fabric scraps after finishing a project (but I have not necessarily used said scraps at a later date). I had a black rayon knit fabric in my stash. I thought the rayon knit would match the end fabric, drape wise, to test the fit. The scraps were at very odd dimensions. I had an infinity dress that I had previously made that I didn’t love (so I cut it apart). The size of the scraps were very long rectangles.  They had been too narrow for me to use as is so they sat in my stash for awhile.For the muslin I serged together two of the rayon knit rectangles together.
I then sewed a flat stretch stitch along the serged seam to flatten the seam.
Aligning the seam in the center helped the seam to look intentional.  Sewing the serged seam flat also helped improve the drape. I like to use the “lightening bolt stitch” when sewing with knits (stitch number 8 as shown in the photo).
The following photo shows this seam on the right side of the fabric.
The original pattern has facings in the front and back. With the knit fabric substitute, I decided to skip the facings and instead sew knit bindings along the neckline and arm holes edges.  
What was nice about this project is that it uses a small amount of fabric.  Knit fabrics typically come at a 58-60” width. The length that I needed for this project was approximately 27”.  
Your sizing may slightly vary with these dimensions, of course, but the muslin ended up being a great stash busting project!  To cut out the binding I utilized the left over fabric in between the two cami fronts. When sewing a knit binding, I like to cut the fabric with the grainline.
I chose to sew the muslin in a flat construction method.  I find that sometimes I really enjoy diverting from pattern instructructions and sew with a flat construction method (especially in times that I coverstitch the hems).  In case you’re not familiar with a flat garment construction, I followed the following order to sew the cami (which is different from the suggested construction order in the pattern):
- Sew one shoulder seam (top stitch this seam flat).
- Measure the neckline length with the front and back pieces laying flat.
- Cut out the neckline binding, 1” (2.5cm) wide and at a length that matches the neckline and arm hole lengths, with the grain (you’ll need 3 separate binding pieces).
- With the right sides together, sew the binding to the neckline at a 1/4” (0.6cm) seam allowance.
- Flip the binding around to the wrong side and clip (or pin) the binding in place.
- Sew along the right side of the neckline (in the ditch of the binding seam), catching the back side of the binding as you sew.
- Sew the second shoulder seam (top stitch this seam flat).
- Repeat steps 2 - 6 for the arm hole bindings.
- Measure and fold the bottom hem.
- Sew the bottom hem (flat).
- Sew the side seams in the cami (I serged the side seams to finish the edges).
To measure the neckline of the cami, I slowly move a flexible measuring tape around the length.
The following photo shows the process of sewing the binding.  I kept the back side of the binding flat and sewed the front of the seam in the ditch to catch the fabric and enclose the seam.  
I will share more details in the Final Garment section for how I approached the V-neck detail. The following are photos of the finished muslin (with the serged flat seam running down the center of both sides of the cami).
V-neck facing front:
Scoop neck facing front:
Close up of the center front seam, scoop neck side:
Final Garment:
I took an early photo of the slinky knit cami to share the short length needed for this project.  I was so excited about this detail. Now I want to look through my fabric scraps to look for more cami’s to make.
The following photo shows another reference for measuring the neckline flat (with a flat construction method).
I measured 34.25” (87cm) for the neckline binding length.
The next photo shows the amount of fabric that was remaining (in between the two cami fronts).  I was excited to utilize this small amount of fabric for the bindings. This smaller scrap of fabric would usually sit in my stash (being too small for most projects).
I cut multiple 1” (2.5cm) wide strips of fabric.  
I sewed these strips of fabric together (right sides together) at a 3/8” (1cm) seam allowance.  These pieces became the binding that I cut to length for the neckline and two arm holes.
I found the seams from the binding joins were subtle with this fabric.  The following is a photo on the wrong side of the neckline to reference this seam.
The right side of the garment of this same binding seam.
For the hemline, I found that the slinky knit was challenging to mark with the marking pens that I typically use.  I decided to mark the hem edge with ball point pins.
This was a helpful and quick reference to then fold up the hem.  As you’ll note in the photos, I waited to sew the side seams until the last step (so the hem seams were sewn flat as well).
The v-neck detail in the RTW garment that I referenced had a simple fold in the neckline.
I’ve found that I like a little more exaggeration in a v-detail so I added ruching as well.  I’ll share in this next section how I executed the v-neck feature.
V-neck detail:
Cut a 1/8” (3mm) elastic, 2” (5 cm) in length. Mark with a fabric pin 1” (2.5cm) from the end of the elastic (optional).  Set zig zag stitch to 1.5 width and 1.5 length.
Fold the cami top in half and mark the center front with a ball point pin.  Open up the cami and place it flat with the wrong side facing. Place the top of the elastic underneath the binding detail.  
Using the previously mentioned zigzag stitch, tack the beginning stitches (sewing forward and backward) to hold the elastic in place. Pull the elastic as far as you can and slowly sew along the length of the elastic (the elastic will be stretched and the fabric is relaxed). Stop sewing at approximately the 1” (2.5cm) mark on the elastic.  Back tack the end of the elastic to hold the stitches in place. Trim off the 1” (2.5cm) elastic from the edge and discard the piece you trimmed off.To help encourage the v-neck shape I next sew a fold in the neckline.  To start, fold the center ruching area area in half (right sides together).  Mark 1/4” (0.6cm) from the center front in the binding. Use a straight stitch on the sewing machine. I set the stitch length to a basting stitch or 5.0 length. Using a basting stitch helped me test the look and remove the stitches if I needed to tweak the spacing.  
Starting along the top of the ruching, sew a small triangle that tapers against the top edge to this 1/4” (0.6cm) mark. I’ve noted the stitch path of this tapered triangle in the photo (the red line shows the stitch path).
When you are done stitching, if you find that you sewed this triangle too long (if you can see your stitches at the top of the binding) unpick the top stitch so that you can hide the stitches behind the binding. Tie off the top and bottom of this seam and trim the ends.  The following picture shows the wrong side of the finished v-neck detail, for reference:
To encourage the ruching detail, I like to steam or iron the ruching to even out the stitching.  From previous history I’ve noted that the rayon knit (that I used for the muslin) can show shiny iron marks if the iron and steam settings are too hot.  For both the muslin and the finished camis I used a small garment steamer to even out the ruching and finish the final seams. I recommend testing a swatch of your fabric with your iron before placing it on the finished garment (to test the iron settings).   
I did want to note one detail in the shoulder seams.  When sewing with knits I typically sew in clear elastic along the shoulder seams, to reinforce and stabilize the seams (so they don’t stretch out over time).  For this cami I didn’t add clear elastic but I did top stitch the shoulder seam allowances to add reinforcement. The following photo shows the wrong sides of the shoulder seam.
The next photo shows the right side of the shoulder seam.
You now have a versatile cami that offers both a scoop neck or v-neck (to wear under multiple garments).
I am looking forward to wearing both of these camis in my wardrobe (and moving the RTW version out of my wardrobe).  I love wearing cami’s under tunics and sweaters (so they have quickly moved to my closet for fall wear).
The following two photos show the v-neck detail facing front:
The next two photos show the scoop neck feature facing front.
I wish you all a very happy time with your own sewing adventures!  Let me know if you sew a knit cami for yourself as well.
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Mini Iron Review

Hello Minerva Crafters, this time I'm reviewing one cool gadget, from time to time I've seen on blogs people using mini irons which were literally a mini version of the conventional iron but I had not seen before a Mini Iron of this kind. I'm talking about the Habico mini iron that features a small triangular shaped base, it has an option for low or high heat and a little stand.

I was so excited to receive this smart tool, it came in a minimal package with a clear plastic cover having all the parts visible, so you immediately know what you're getting. In the back of the package, you'll find the instructions, cautions and maintenance information.

Using the iron is pretty easy, the only downside is that it takes 5 minutes to reach the chosen temperature so you have to be a bit patient at first. There are two temperature options, the first is Low which corresponds to approximately 150 grads and the second one is High corresponding approximately to 230 grads. The handle is very light and being used to the heavy conventional iron it took some time to get used to the light weight of it as it feels as if you're holding a feather. I find the cable to be a bit short, only 105 cm, I think if it was longer it could be much more convenient to use. Lastly, I would like to mention that this iron features interchangeable tips (not included in the package) attached with a screw and that can easily be removed if you want to use a different tip but you have to wait until the iron is cold again to do so.

Now to give it a go and test it I made the Petal pouch by Noodlehead, a favorite pouch pattern that I've used many times in the past, it is a great gift solution and pouches are great for using fabric scraps. This time I made the pouch for myself with the purpose of using it as a knitting project bag for small projects like socks or hats. I used the mini iron throughout the process of making the pouch, it was so convenient and easy to press the seams open, I used the high temperature on this cotton fabric and it gave a really nice and crisp result. I used my press ham while pressing the curved seams from habit but with this mini iron, you don't really need to use the press ham due to the shape and the small size of the tip.

As a conclusion I find the mini iron a great gadget to have, love the experience of using it on small projects where the big surface of the conventional iron is redundant and sometimes not convenient at all. I have not had the opportunity yet but I look forward for any future project made out of wool fabric, I think that the mini iron would be perfect for pressing out the seams on wool as you don't have to be careful of leaving marks on the fabric.

Take care,

Aida @ Ida Aida Sewing

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Sparkle Red Dress

I was very excited to try out some Sparkly Jersey Fabric and wanted to make a new dress for the festive season. I wanted a long dress with sleeves and something with a feature on the front like gathers or pleats to make it more flattering. I decided on McCall’s Pattern 7429. I loved the twisted front and thought I could lengthen this to create a floor length dress.

It took a while to decide which size to go for on the pattern - there’s no finished garment measurements and there’s no indication of how much ease has been added or not. In the end I matched my measurements to those on the envelope and hoped for the best.

When I opened the bag of sparkly fabric I could already tell that this fabric would shed glitter for a while and these sparkles were going to go everywhere. I didn’t fancy prewashing this and filling my washing machine with glitter so jumped straight in to the cutting stage and hope I never need to machine wash this garment.

This fabric has a beautiful weight and drape to it. Although it’s a light to medium weight jersey fabric it was easy to lay out, pin and cut and didn’t cause any problems with moving about when I was cutting. I used regular pins too, not the ball point ones and didn’t have any problems. I did use my least favourite fabric scissors just in case the glitter caused any problems with the blades. I transferred my markings with tailor’s tacks. I sometimes use a disappearing pen or chalk but didn’t have one to hand.

To construct the dress I machine tacked the seams first using a jersey needle and then overlocked them using a 4 thread stitch.

This process allowed me to put the pieces together, check they were correctly stitched and then overlock to secure them once I knew I’d correctly followed the pattern instructions.

For the hems and the front split openings I tacked by hand first and then used a cover hem machine as this gives a brilliant finish on stretch fabrics and allows for stretch much better than twin stitching on a sewing machine.

I didn’t like the instructions to insert the sleeves and so ignored them and instead of ‘easing’ in the sleeves as you would on a woven or non stretch garment I opted to stitch the sleeves in flat like you would on a man’s shirt, sewing the sleeve head first to the armhole and then stitching the sleeve seam and side seam in one go.

I didn’t like the look of the dress with sleeves and after all the efforts of sewing them in I then took them out. I’d only tacked the seams to it wasn’t too painful to pull the stitching out. At this stage I made an alteration to the neckline, making it a little lower.

I’m not too sure of the length and think I might shorten this back to knee length but for now I have a beautifully sparkly red evening dress.

I could have made a slightly smaller size to give a closer fit but at least there’ll be plenty of room for all the indulgence in the month ahead! I’ll definitely make this dress again. I’ve got my eye on some navy Velvet Jersey Fabric which I think would look stunning in this style.

Thanks for reading,

Julia @ Julia Hincks

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The Most Glamorous Jumpsuit I Will Probably Ever Make

You know that feeling when you instantly see a fabric and just know it's destiny? As soon as I saw this Velour Fabric on the Minerva crafts website I just knew. It looked glorious, and when it arrived I was even more in love. Any apprehensions about working with it were ignored while I sat and stroked it for what felt like forever. And I knew pattern wise it had to become the most glamorous jumpsuit I would probably ever make.

Let's talk about the fabric. It's a black stretch velvet knit fabric, with a glitzy gold foil pattern reminiscent of brocade type decoration. Its a medium weight, with good hold and lots of stretch, so perfect for patterns that require movement, such as close fitting dresses, trousers etc. It's hard to fully see just how beautifully gold the pattern is from the website (i've tried my best to capture it here!) but it is a wonderful contrast to the dark black of the velvet. When you see and touch it you instantly think luxury. It's a slightly higher price point, but well worth the price tag to make a one-off special piece, as the quality is just superb, and feels like it will last (usage considered, I tend to judge my garments by how much dancing I will get from them!), so perfect for occasions such as weddings, birthdays or anytime you just want to dazzle with a show-stopping outfit!

My go-to jumpsuit pattern for the moment is the Tilly and The Buttons Marigold - I love the deep slash pocket feature on the front of the trousers (as pockets are always essential when making your own clothes!) and the elasticated waist is great for accentuating your figure.

Its a comfortable fit, not to tight but with plenty of room for movement, and some shaping with darts and pleats on both trouser and bodice, as well as an invisible zip. As with all Tilly patterns the instructions are clear and concise with well thought out pictures, so technical wise it's easy to follow. The most difficult part I find is inserting the elastic through the waistband - making sure the gathers are even can be quite tricky!

That said, a confident beginner could take this on, and the fabric itself sews like a dream. It is a different weight than is suggested for this pattern, but I love a challenge, and wanted to see how a heavier fabric would affect the look of the jumpsuit. Because of the weight the fabric doesn't fray, so I was able to save time by using pinking shears to finish my seams, although because of it being a knit fabric you do need to use stretch needles on your sewing machine. I was quite apprehensive at first, as I haven't sewn with knit fabric before and using such a beautiful fabric for my first time seemed quite daunting, but I needn't have worried - it went through my sewing machine easily, and by using a zigzag stitch it meant the stitches would be flexible enough for this type of fabric.

I did attempt my topstitching with a gold thread, however my machine didn't seem to like this as much and it kept snagging and snapping, which was a shame as I think it would have looked amazing!

Pattern wise, I did make a slight adjustment to the bodice - instead of the sweetheart neckline I squared it off instead, as I prefer the look of a straight neckline. To do this I just carried on cutting a straight line on the pattern piece instead of the curve, and adjusted the facing shape as well.

When it came to the fit  I did find the fabric was drapier than I thought it would be, and decided to put a dart in the back to bring in the bodice slightly (but luckily due to the pattern it isn't that noticeable!), however this did mean that this changed the position of where my back straps sat, so would do this on the back piece before attaching the straps next time, so I could reposition the straps accordingly.

I'm also thinking I will probably take in the trousers at the leg a bit, as they are quite loose and feel it would look better a little more fitted.

Other than those adjustments I think it is a success! It is the glamorous jumpsuit I was hoping it would be - the fabric weight is heavy enough to be warm in the upcoming colder weeks (I’m thinking ahead to seasonal parties!) with the right level of glam to be show-stopping yet functional (those pockets!) and will definitely sit in my wardrobe as a ‘little black dress’ type statement piece!

Thanks for reading,

Gemma @ginger_doodlesdesigns

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Mis-Print Stripy Jersey Dress

I just couldn't resist this bargain Jersey Fabric. It's a black and grey stripe but with a difference. All the stripes are a little hit and miss like the printer is running out of black ink!
I'm probably totally wrong here but I would class it as a little bit shabby chic and bearing in mind this fab fabric is priced at just £6.99 per mt and measures a full 60" wide, I think it's a pretty good buy. I definately wanted to make a dress making full use of those stripes. I chose pattern Vogue 1336 which unfortunately is now discontinued but it is a dress which I've wanted to make for years and never got round to it.
For those of you who haven't used a Sandra Betzina by Vogue Patterns before, she doesn't follow the 'usual' method of pattern sizing that all the big 4 use. Instead there is a list of measurements to which you check your own measurements. Each set of measurements is given a code from A through to J and you cut out that size. For my measurements I cut the pattern on a size E going out to an F at the waist and hips. Now it has to be said that on a big 4 pattern when we check our patterns and say your measurements coinside with a 12 through to a 14 we all say "but I'm never a size 12/14", or whichever! At this present time I am about a 12 going into a 14 (that's if I was buying a dress) but my measurements on a big 4 pattern state I am about a 16 going on to an 18! It is hard to believe that they aren't really meaning dress sizes as we know them. So it is a refreshing change to say I am an E/F! Many of the Indie patterns use this method of sizing, it just seems to make sense. It makes you measure yourself as well so less mistakes!
So back to my dress, as usual I pre-washed my fabric and found it didn't seem to shrink at all on either the width or the length but it did make it much softer. By the way I only had a 1 mt piece and thought I could make my dress out of it!
I decided I wanted the stripes as follows.
At first I wanted to place the stripes so that when you looked at me from one side all the stripes would be vertical and from the other side they would all be horizontal with all the other pieces fitting in accordingly. Famous last words! I was convinced that I had got it right but as soon as I started to pin the relevant pieces together I knew I had boobed! So the front of my dress has the vertical stripes at the righthand side and so has the back. However I soon realised how much easier it now was because I had no stripes to match up! The following is a photo of my back pieces placed together.
At this stage everything was going well. The following photo shows me cutting out my last piece, the armhole band and that was all the fabric I had left!
I sewed all the seams with my lovely new overlocker, Babyliss Enlighten. I practiced a little on the teeny tiny scraps I had left and found the differential feed just wanted altering to 0.8. The next photo is of my first few seams, just a dream to sew with my overlocker.
After a quick try-on I knew there was no alterations to be made on the shoulders so after sewing these it was time to attach the neckband. First step was to fold it in half along its length and press it.
After marking the centre front circle with a pin, I then marked the corresponding circle on the neckband with another pin.
I sewed around the neck on the overlocker but then remembered it had to be stitched to the centre of the circle (where my pin was positioned) so I just switched to my Pfaff machine and sewed the rest of it. The instructions also tell you to stop sewing about an inch from the end.
And shown as in the instructions.
You then clip at the large circle and slip the neckband through to the back.
Here are the instructions for the rest of the neckband.
And here is the finished neckband, it actually hasn't turned out too bad but I must admit I think I would choose an easier way of sewing in the neckband if I make this dress again!
Just wish I had cut the stripes a little bit more centred on the neckband.
The same process was used to attach the armbands but without the fiddly bits! Just to finish these bands off I always like to top-stitch close to the band. The next photo shows me doing this and can you see those 2 red dots on the foot of the machine?
I positioned the right hand dot on the seam of the band. Instead of stitching in the ditch I stitched slightly to the left of it which I did very slowly to get it looking perfect.
After trying on the dress and roughly pinning up the sides I realised it was quite big on me (so much for my measurements on the pattern, still it is better being a little big than too small). My next step was to machine tack where my pins were.
I find this method much easier for fitting on myself, the stitches are very easy to pull out if you've sewn it too tight. I didn't make a toille because it is quite a loose fitting dress with minimal fitting. The following photo shows how much more I had to take it in!
Those of you that know me will know I'm constantly on a diet and don't tend to ever get to goal. This time however I'm really trying so this is why I have purposely sewn the armbands first before the side seams. This means that as the weight drops off me (I'll believe it when I see it) I can take it in quite easily down the side seams. 
I had thought that I could get away with not sewing the bottom band on but after trying on my dress I realised it would be too short even with the narrowest of hems. I knew I needed more fabric so I got another metre piece and washed it as before. Now do I cut this band with vertical or horizontal stripes? I pondered this for a short while then I had a brainwave. I could cut this band on the bias and it would totally contrast with the stripes of the dress. I didn't bother getting the pattern piece out I just measured around the hemline and cut a bias piece accordingly. 
I stitched the 2 side seams on my Pfaff and pressed them open.
Then folded it in half and pressed again.
Last but not least I pinned then stitched the band on to the dress and pressed again. Well I hope you like my dress, a few hiccups along the way but hey I'm quite pleased with the end result.
Thanks for reading. 
Annette xx

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