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Making a Mock Wrap-Over Dress by a Complete Sewing Novice!

Hello everyone!

Firstly let me introduce myself. I'm Alison (aka 'Thalbobbins') and my connection with Minerva is that I am another daughter/sister of the owners. Annette is my mum and Vicki my sister. I often work in the Minerva Craft Centre shop on Saturdays, so for in-store Minerva customers, you may recognize me. I have been invited to blog some of my projects here on the Minerva blog for you all to see and I am really looking forward to sharing them with you :)

To describe myself as a ‘dress making novice’ is being kind!!  I have grown up with my mum making everything imaginable from clothes to three piece suite covers and even my Wedding Dress, yet I have never mastered the art.  I can knit and cross stitch yet sewing and dress making is the craft I have yet to master ... and master it I will!!

I have had a go at a few dresses over the past eighteen months but I have always had my mum on hand to do the ‘tricky bits’ whilst I have made her a brew!  I have learnt a lot from having a go and watching my mum but I had still to make something that I could honestly say ‘I have made that’ and feel proud to wear my own creation.

I am going to a family party in two weeks where I will be meeting some of my husband’s family that I have never met so I want to wear a dress which I will feel confident in and one that I know no-one else will be wearing!  My sister Vicki recently made a gorgeous wrap over dress which I love but after talking to my mum, I have realised that this is something which I can aim for but not tackle yet.  Keeping this style in mind, I have chosen a Vogue pattern, V8724  which has a mock wrap around style but is a ‘Very Easy Vogue’ pattern which sounded appealing!

The pattern is made in a jersey fabric so I have chosen a beautiful bright floral jersey print.  The dress pulls over the head so the only other item that I needed to buy was a black gutermann cotton.

Before I started, I read the instructions on the paper within the pattern to ensure that I had a good understanding of what I would be doing.

I realised that the front of the skirt was cut out in one flat piece; not cut along the fold.  The chest was cut in two pieces and the best thing was that the pattern supplies four different cup sizes; A, B, C and D.  The back of the dress was cut in three pieces; one central back piece and two smaller pieces for each side of the back.

I cut the paper pieces out of the pattern and decided to cut the skirt part of the dress out on a bigger size than the top of the dress as I am a 8 at the top and 10 at the bottom, so by cutting it into a bigger size at the bottom I was hoping that it would fit better.

I laid the skirt pattern out onto the fabric and positioned it so that I had three of the coral flowers in a prominent position on the front of the skirt.

Once I had pinned the pattern in place, I cut it out making sure that I used good quality fabric scissors which cut the fabric smoothly and easily, ensuring that I snipped the darts so that I could line the pieces up easily when I came to sewing them together.

The pattern then explained how to create the fold at the top of the skirt area.  I followed the pattern, created the fold and pinned it into place.

I then cut out the cups, making sure that I turned the paper pattern over so that I had a left cup and a right cup.  The pattern had a dart the base of each cup to provide the shape.  After watching my mum in the past, I knew to snip the base of the dart and place a pin at the top of the triangle shape of the dart.  I then removed the paper part and left the pin, at the top of the triangle of the dart, in place.

I turned the fabric over and folded the fabric from the pin at the top of the dart, matched the two snips and pinned it to create a triangle shape.

I set the sewing machine to a stretch stitch and sewed down the pin line to create the dart and shaping on the chest; I repeated this with the other side and then ironed the darts so that the folded fabric lay towards the middle of the dress.

This created a sharp dart and the shaping of the cup.  I laid the pieces out and admired my work so far!  So far, all my own work!

Next, the pattern told me to work on the back of the dress.  I placed all three pieces into place and pinned them together leaving 5/8 of an inch space between the pins (sewing line) and the edge which I had cut out.  The edges of the pieces were not straight so I had to follow the shaping which I knew would form the shaping of the dress, ensuring a lovely fit.  First of all, I pinned the top of the pieces, then the bottom.  I laid the pieces out flat then pinned where I had cut the darts; lining the snips up.  After that I made sure that the pieces were together and smooth and then pinned between the pins, evenly, 5/8 inch in from the edges.  I repeated this for the other side then laid the back out flat to make sure that there were no ‘puckers’, the edges were lying flat and it was ready to sew.

I started to sew the pieces together, using a stretch stitch.  To make sure that I sewed in a straight line, I lined the edge of my fabric up against the straight line which says ‘15’ underneath the foot on the machine.  By following this line, I could make sure that I always stayed 5/8 of an inch in from the edge and the sewing line followed the ‘curve’ of the cut out fabric, ensuring that the shaping of the dress was sewn.

As I am a novice, I take my time and sew at a relatively slow speed ... well, much slower than my mum does anyway!!  By taking my time, I have more control over the stitching and I am less likely to make mistakes.

I then ironed the seams open to make a professional finish ... and I have seen my mum do it many times!

Next I was ready to attach the cups to the back of the dress.  I pinned the shoulders of these two pieces to the shoulders of the back, keeping the right sides of the fabric together.  Again I pinned it at 5/8 of an inch down, making sure that the shoulder pieces were lined up so that they were pinned together at the sewing line.

Once I had sewed the shoulders, I pressed the seam open, like I did with the back seams.

The pattern then told me to hem the edges around the neck.  I pinned a hem line around the neck and down the two front edges and I pinned this so that it was narrower than the other sewing lines, making sure that the shoulder seams were open and did not pucker at all, ensuring a neat finish.

When I sewed this edging, I followed the narrower line underneath the foot of the sewing machine, following the line which says ‘10’ rather than ’15’ which I followed on most edges.

I then ironed the edge to create a neat finish.  I was very proud that the edges were nice and neat and not puckered in any way.  There is nothing worse than buying an item made from jersey from the shops and seeing that the hem or edging has moved whilst being sewn and looking all puckered; it never looks neat and will not iron flat.  I had managed to sew this pretty perfectly – even if I do say so myself!!

The next stage was to pin the skirt part of the front to the cups – this was the scariest part as I knew that if I messed this up, I could ruin the whole dress and I was doing well so far!  I had to sew the two pieces together, making sure that the folds stayed in place, the fabric did not slip and the sewing line was in the correct place to ensure that the length of the skirt was the same at the front as the back – a lot to get right!!

I pinned the two pieces into place and then, I have to admit, I asked my mum to have a look at it to see if I had pinned it right.  My mum suggested that before I pin the skirt to the cups, rather than rely on the pins holding the folds into place, I sewed them down using a normal straight stitch; this way, the folds would not fall out and there would be less pins in place which would be less bulky when sewing the seam.  I followed my mum’s expert advice, sewed the folds down and then re-pinned the seam.  My mum checked it and said that it was fine to sew.

Very carefully, I sewed this seam, after switching back to a stretch stitch, following the ‘15’ line under the foot of the sewing machine to ensure that I followed a straight line.  When I finished this seam, I was scared to look in case I had gone wrong but luckily, it was fine – phew!

Next, I had to iron the inside of the seam to make the fold lie ‘upwards’.  Where the fabric was quite bulky, I trimmed some of the excess fabric away and re-ironed it and the seam lay flatter.

The dress was all in one piece now; the back was attached to the cups by the shoulder seams and the skirt was sewn onto the cups.  Now I had to sew the side seams up.

As I have grown up with a dress making perfectionist, I was fully aware that the dress needed to be tried on now to double check the fit and see where the side seams should be sewn.  I could have just sewn the sides up at 5/8 of an inch but by doing this, I would have run the risk of the dress not fitting me; either being too big or too small!

I tried the dress on inside out and asked my mum for her help in fitting it on me.  Whilst I was wearing it (and admiring my work so far), my mum pinned the side seams to check the fit.  Luckily, it was a perfect fit, pinning the seams at 5/8 of an inch in from the edge.  I unpinned one side, took the dress off and re-pinned it at 5/8 of an inch.

I sewed the side seams and then tried it on again to check the length.  The pattern comes in two lengths and I had decided to make the shorter version and wanted the hem to lie on my knee.  The dress came a few inches below the knee so I knew that it needed to be shortened.

Again, I asked my mum to help and mum virtually led on the floor whilst I turned around very slowly to check that the bottom of the dress was level all the way around (I have spent many an hour doing this over the years!).  My mum was happy that the level was straight so she placed a pin in place which would be my sewing line.

I followed this sewing line and pinned it across then cut the excess fabric off, making sure that I kept a straight line, leaving enough fabric for my hem.

I pinned the hem in place using 5/8 of an inch depth and then sewed all around the hem following the ‘15’ line under the foot of the machine.  Again, this seam was a scary seam as I knew that if I messed it up, the hem of my dress would be puckered and uneven which would look a total mess and ruin all of my good work.  Luckily, I did well; I pressed it to create a sharp hem and admired my work!

Finally, all that was left to do was to sew a neat seam around the arm holes and my dress would be finished!  I pinned a narrow hem, like that around my neck line.  This was quite tricky and fiddly as the armhole space is quite a small area.  I was quite scared doing this but knew that once I had done it, I had mastered my first dress all on my own!  I took my time, sewed it along the ‘10’ line and then pressed the seam flat, again very pleased that I did not have any puckers in the seam.

I can honestly say that I am over the moon with my dress!  I have made it all myself with the comfort from knowing that my mum was in the next room if I needed her! 

My next project will be a dress for my 15 year old daughter, also for this party.  I have chosen another easy pattern whilst I am building my skills and confidence but I will face the challenge of making an outfit for someone else and fitting the dress on a ‘model’.

Roll on next Sunday when I can continue to master this new skill and enjoy my new hobby!!

See you next time,

Alison x

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Prada Dress

I recently saw this beautiful dress over on Sew What Are You Waiting For. It's made by Emma who writes this great blog, using a self-drafted pattern and our prada crepe fabric.
This dress has made up so pretty that I had to share it with you here on the blog. I really like the way Emma has used the matt (dull) side of the fabric for the main, with the shiny reverse used for little finishing touches.
It's such a great style to use for this fabric, and very wearable! Emma also mentions on her blog she is soon to blog about another dress made in our black prada crepe - be sure to pop on over to her blog to see that!
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Navy Bengaline Megan Dress

Frankie from over at KnitWitOwls blog posted this lovely project the other day. Its the Megan Dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons, made in our Navy Blue Bengaline fabric. I think this dress has turned out fantastic so I had to share it with you!
The navy blue bengaline fabric (sadly now out of stock but we have lots of other Bengaline fabric!) Frankie used is currently on sale at just £2.99 per metre! Its an amazing bargain! With a couple of metres you could recreate this dress or a similar one for under £6.
We also have lots of other colours in bengaline fabric - many of which are at clearance prices! Have you ever sewn with bengaline before?
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Minerva

Minerva

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The Sewing Bee is Back!

Drum roll....It’s back!  The new series of The Great British Sewing Bee will be back on our screens on Thursday the 5th February on BBC2 at 8pm.  
However we don't have to wait that long, before that there is a look back at series 2 airing tonight (28th January at 8pm) to whet our appetites.   
Fiona from the Sewing Directory has done a really good round up and introduction to all the new contestants on her website here, so pop along if you want to find out more!
We can hardly wait...will you be watching?
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Q&A with Lucie of Love Lucie

Meet Lucie from Love Lucie...

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

I have stitched and embroidered from an early age. It was quite normal to have various crafts going on. My mum was big into macrame, knitting, tapestry and flower arranging. She would make many of her evening gowns for diner parties and fancy dress outfits for other more weirdly themed parties during the 80's when I was growing up. Tarts and Vicars, Black and White, Andy Cap (a comic strip apparently!) were just some of the highlights I remember. We also sewed at primary school with additional after school sewing clubs as well! Through my twenties and thirties I mainly stuck to making curtains and cushion covers on an old machine my mother gave me. I must have saved a fortune over the years. But it is since I turned 40, a couple of years ago that I've really seriously caught the crafting bug. I had knitted some cushion covers and then made some applique owl cushions, copying what I had seen in the shops. Now I'm completely addicted. 

What is your favourite craft?

I couldn't choose! I love crochet and knitting, anything that I can do while seated in front of the TV in the evening with the family. But I also love my sewing machine. I enjoy sewing for the home but I'm slowly building up my dressmaking skills. I'm so pleased with my recent garments.

What was your first sewing project?

That would have been a felt rabbit we hand stitched at school, followed by a hexagon paper piecing cushion and a cross stitch pencil case.

What do you love most about sewing?

An easy question, this one. It allows me to escape away from the day job which is civil engineering. I wouldn't change my job but sewing allows the crafty, creative side of me to come out.

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

Initially I wanted to write about my first disastrous year at craft fairs. It was meant as a diary to record my progress. I had dreams of becoming the next Cath Kidston! Well the craft fairs continued to be a disaster. I make now purely for myself, my home and any friends and family who are appreciative of a handmade gift. I've made so many blog friends along the way, from all over the world. I wouldn't dream of not blogging now.

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

The thing I love the most is that we get to play with an enormous stash of fabric, yarn and haberdashery. I love choosing my next project and the fabrics and other bits and pieces I need. This and the Minerva Bloggers Day last year where I became quite humbled; meeting all these bloggers I'd followed over the past year.

I love catching up with the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network page. Seeing what others are using certain fabrics for really inspires me to push myself more. This time last year I wouldn't have known what poplin was, let alone jacquard.

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

My new dressmaking mannequin comes at the top of my list. Her name is Lola and we get on famously. Lola, my Prym rotary cutter and my huge cutting mat all help to make my sewing a lot more accurate. 

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

 I'm yet to really move out of the stable cottons however I've just ventured into stretch cotton which is giving me the ability to make a fabulous fit but still be able to move.

What are your favourite yarns to knit and crochet with any why?

Anything! I'm governed by the colour, fit for purpose and whether it will be itchy on my skin. However for my crochet amigurumi I always return to DMC crochet cotton. 

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

Pinterest. I'm addicted. I always have a quick 10 minutes before lights out. Much to my husband's displeasure! I also relish my monthly Love Sewing magazine. It is really refreshing to have something that is not aimed at the pure beginner. There is the right amount of challenge about many of the projects featured. 

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

Baking. I love anything wrapped in pastry both savoury and sweet.

Are there any other crafts you would love to learn?

I'd like to become good at felting. I've tried but I'm not pleased with the 3D animals I've made so far! They have not even made it onto my blog. I have high expectations of myself.

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

Have a go and don't expect to be amazing at it first time around. You learn from every project however badly you think it might have gone. You, at least, are doing something that most other are not, you are having a go.

Then watch your skills develop and flourish.

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

Nit-picky, ambitious, but impatient.

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

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Q&A with Louise of Thread Carefully

Meet Louise (aka Tabatha Tweedie) from Thread Carefully...

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

For my university final-year ball in 2003 I borrowed a red satin, strapless, full-length dress that my friend's mum had made for her a few years previously.  I was so jealous that she had a Mum who could make dresses like that!  I wanted to sew from then on, but I didn't get around to it until my great aunt gave me her old Singer sewing machine and my friend Aileen booked a group of us onto a beginner's sewing course in 2009.

What was your first sewing project?

On the sewing course I turned a wrap skirt that I had bought in Thailand into an a-line skirt with a side zip.  Next, I made my first dress - a shapeless sack which I no longer own - and then I got a lot better!  Even 5 years on I still wear the second dress I ever made.

What do you love most about sewing?

I've always been interested in arts and crafts, and sewing gives me the opportunity to be creative in a practical way.  I love that I can choose a fabric I like and a pattern I like and put them together to make a totally unique piece of clothing.  Sewing has given me the ability to create one-of-a-kind pieces.  My devotion to sewing also coincides with motherhood.  I'm a stay-at-home Mum now, so having no income of my own has impacted my ability to go out and buy lots of dresses like I used to.  Sewing isn't always cheap, but on the whole most of what I make does cost less than I used to spend in the shops.

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

I love being part of the network as it's so full of inspiration.  I enjoy seeing what the other members make, and their projects do a very good job of showcasing some of the different products that Minerva stock.  The monthly sewing and blogging schedule keeps me motivated to sew, which is good for me, and of course we are spoilt for choice when it comes to supplies for our projects.  I loved attending the meet up in 2014, too, where I got to meet some lovely people.

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

Obviously, my sewing machine is number one.  Secondly, my cutting table, which is set to a height of 93cm so I don't get back ache whilst standing to trace patterns or cut fabric.  Thirdly, my iron.  I never iron anyone's clothes in this house, so we rock the creased-clothing look pretty well, but when I'm making a garment I press all my seams religiously.

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with and why?

I guess cotton is the easiest, but I'm growing more and more fond of knits too, especially the heavier double-knits.  But maybe that's just because it's winter and I like being warm and cosy.

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

Go for it!  There's loads of help out there on people's blogs, there are tutorials for lots of different sewing techniques and even detailed sewalongs designed to help beginners with certain patterns.  Embrace your creativity whilst also learning a new skill!

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

Pernickity fussy perfectionist

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

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Question and Answer with Maria of How Good Is That

Meet Maria from How Good Is That...

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

Would you believe I've had two craft starting points. The first was at school during sewing classes. Sewing a fun class because we could chat and sew and the same time – and not get into too much mischief. I then became a Home Ec teacher but I sewed less and didn’t enjoy teaching but I still loved the crafts. After I gave up teaching I forced myself to start sewing again because I ended up working full-time in the corporate world and needed suits. This was during the era of big shoulder pad jackets and power suits so I made loud suits just like in the tv series ‘The Nanny’. I haven’t stopped sewing since then.

What is your favourite craft?

Sewing clothes. Most types of clothes and I constantly work on getting the fit right, especially if I’m sewing for the family.

What was your first sewing project?

My first sewing project would have been a pillow cover at school. At school we learnt how to thread a machine and sew a straight seam. I was really proud of my pillow cover and still have it.

What do you love most about sewing?

Sewing is my time-out or ‘me’ time. Everyone’s life is so busy and there’s always that struggle to find the time to sew. It’s very common to let time slip away when you have family and other pressing commitments filling your day. Sewing always gives me a positive lift to my day no matter what life throws my way.

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

I used to sew in a group with a dedicated sewing teacher and when she moved away, blogging made sense to document what I was sewing. My plan was to use my blog as my sewing resource for techniques I didn’t use very often. That's why I write technical posts. I take photos as I sew to create these technical posts so they're true to life. I still use my blog as a refresh of techniques I haven’t used for a while. Since then I've seen how many people blog about their sewing and crafting and they've opened my eyes to all the variables to creating clothes for any style and shape. This has helped me make clothes for the family and not just for myself.

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

I love the challenge of planning sewing projects for MCBN. Each MCBN blogger has such individual style and each one is really talented. They create wonderful projects and still stay grounded with their work and family lives. I'm enjoying having the opportunity to browse though all the fabrics and notions Minerva's website has to plan ahead and make clothes that are very wearable.

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

Unpicker: I have a few unpickers and they get used for every project. I’m not super accurate and having an unpicker at hand means I have a second chance at creating my best work.

Embroidery scissors: I’ve tried a few scissors and methods for finishing off buttonholes but I always have great success in opening a buttonhole with long nosed embroidery scissors.

6mm double sided tape: Any type of double-sided iron on tape that makes hem edges straight is worth its weight in gold. If I can’t buy it locally, I’ll buy it online.

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

Coatings or suiting fabrics. I love making coats and jackets because of the tailoring work that goes into them so coatings and suitings are my favourite fabrics. When I look at a coat or jacket I want to make, what I see is a more detailed version of a shirt so I have more motivation to tackle a coat than if I saw it as a coat and then felt overwhelmed by the effort that goes into making it. It's like, when I'm about to cycle for 90kms, I think of it as riding 15kms at a time - smaller chunks of time becomes more achievable.

What are your favourite yarns to knit and crochet with any why?

One day I might go back and learn to knit and crotchet. There are so many wonderful crafters who have knit and crotchet such lovely work but I’m not one of them yet. I do admire their work – a lot especially when I see all the lovely clothes and toys you can make with yarn. My Mum used to knit and my Grandmother used to crotchet with fine cottons so I'm bound to knit or crochet at some point.

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

I’ll look at trends and inspect ready to wear (rtw) clothes for style and colours. I sew because rtw don’t fit me off the rack. I used to get embarrassed when I would see someone else wear what I’ve bought on the street or at a special event. That hasn’t happened since I've been making my own clothes. These days I research styles online and collect sewing ideas on my pintrest board. These boards are fun to watch when others repin the items I’ve selected.

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

I do enjoy cooking, especially making preserves.

Are there any other crafts you would love to learn?

I would love to knit and crotchet one day. I really should have done the crochet session at the Minerva Meet up last year.

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

Everyone's different so here's my take on giving a craft a try.

Passion:

Being creative means you are passionate about your project. Your passion can go from joy to frustration and these emotions drive your sewing or crafting project. I’ve accepted this and have found a majority of projects very satisfying.

Find other crafters:

Find some like-minded crafters to share your project passion and have fun with it. PS. Like-minded crafters exist locally and online. You just have to find them.

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

I love sewing.

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

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Eliza M and Minerva Crafts Collaboration

Exciting News! We have teamed up with the fabulous ladies behind the scenes at Sew Print UK who design the gorgeous range of Vintage Style Sewing Patterns 'Eliza M'.
Claire the designer and Rachel (the gorgeous model in these photographs) choose some beautiful fabrics from our website to make a selection of their patterns to shoot this fabulous collection of images. I think you will agree they are rather stunning!
First up (and my favourite of them all) is the Eliza Dress pattern. This was made up in our teal blue animal print viscose fabric. It also comes in a magenta and lipstick pink colourway.
Sticking with dresses, next up is the gorgeous Audrey dress pattern. How lovely would it be to have a pattern named after you? If they bring out a Vicki or Victoria pattern I think I would have to have a go if it was my sort of style! The Audrey pattern has been made up in our red polka dot stretch cotton fabric, which also comes in blackwhite and navy - such classic colours for this style. 
Next up is the very pretty Daisy Dress pattern. I know this pattern is a real favourite with lots of our customers. I can see why - it is so pretty and feminie, I think it really captures the 'Vintage Vibe'. In fact if you are a shopper at Minerva Crafts you might have met Claire at the Minerva Crafts Meet Up event last year when she was kindly demonstrating some of her patterns for us. Claire made this up in our red floral print stretch cotton fabric (unfortunately now out of stock but you can find similar floral stretch cotton), which also comes in black, denim blue, and ivory (again, unfortunately now out of stock but we have a wide range of stretch cotton!) 
And next for something a little different, but still with a vintage theme we have the Hop & Swing Pants pattern teamed with the Gypsy Jane Top pattern. The pants are made from our 7.5oz denim fabric in indigo blue (also available in black) and the top is made from our red gingham fabric! This gingham comes in 17 colours so there is plenty of colour choice and at just £2.99 per metre you could make this top for very little.
We were really excited to be involved in this collaboration and since then have supplied more fabrics for their new collection of patterns being launched soon. As soon as they become available we will have them in stock and will be sharing more of these gorgeous images so please watch this space! I think these images look absolutely amazing and are a huge credit to Claire and Rachel.
If you have created any of your own Eliza M creations please send us some pictures through on our facebook page, twitter or instagram, I would love to see them!
Bye for now,
Vicki
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Q&A with Katie Betty of Crafty Crafter

Meet Katie Betty from Crafty Crafter...

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

This is going to sound like a cliche, but I've genuinely been crafting for as long as I can remember. I loved doing art in primary school, learning about new things, different artists, and using new and old materials. I think my first big crafting memory is begging my mum to buy me some clay! I had to give her a full brief on what I wanted to make with it each time I wanted to use it before I was allowed to cut into it, clearly it cost quite a bit but my mum soon saw it was worth every penny. I have a really good memory of doing Cross Stitch that my Grandma has bought me with her one afternoon when I was about 8 or 9. It felt great!  I could see the image appearing before my eyes. Lots of little bits coming together to make something amazing. Admittedly my Grandma's cross stitch was a stunningly intricate landscape and mine was Tigger but I was proud of it nonetheless! I always admired my Grandma's needle work so I felt I was being accepted into the fold when she taught me. In terms of sewing, that was from the age of about 5. My mum taught me to sew on our manual Singer machine. so I was told off a bit for sewing with only one hand when I got to secondary school! As much as I loved sewing I dropped it at school as soon as I could. It was too structured and boring! I took Food Technology instead (Home Economics) as I could be more creative. 

What is your favourite craft?

Omph! What a question. I think it would have to be Jewellery Making. I really like taking random objects and making them into wearable things! Like taking images from magazines and setting them into cameos. I do love my Comic Book Bottle Cap necklace! Second to that would be sewing. It's quick enough for me to stay interested. I really do love crocheting but it takes so long to actually look like what you're making! Though it is very therapeutic.

What was your first sewing project?

With exception to the slipper I made in year 5 (it was so good it went in the display cabinet in the school reception, o yea!) my first proper project would be converting my black flared jeans into skinny jeans. I was big into the rock scene as a teenager, and you weren't anyone if you didn't have a pair of black skinnies! Couldn't afford to buy any so I took a pair of flared jeans, turned them inside out and used my little sister as a tailors dummy. I wore them to death and they lasted me aaaaaaaaages. 

What do you love most about sewing?

Taking something ordinary and making it mine! I have an eclectic taste in almost everything in my life and that certainly extends to my wardrobe. My home growing up was very much a make-do-and-mend household. We didn't throw something away just because it got a hole in it! So my sewing career, if you will, really started there and then evolved into customising my clothing. All band shirts when I was younger were cut for males, so I'd take them in, stuff like that. Now, as a trainee sewist, not only do I enjoy making something truly my own from beginning to end, I really enjoy learning how my clothing is put together. Growing up in a town founded on the cotton industry it's in my blood and I truly have a feeling of closeness with people of the past by learning this most basic, almost forgotten, yet fantastically essential skill.

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

I'm quite open with the fact I have stress, anxiety depression and crafting really helped me through a particularly difficult time. I only ventured out of the house to go to work, I couldn't leave the house to do my hobbies, so I really indulged in my crafting because I could have things delivered to my door and I didn't need to leave the house. I was supporting my partner and I on a part-time wage at that time so I had to be crafty with my crafting (now you can see where my blogger name comes from :D). Then I started work at Minerva and Vicki and I shared an office. We spoke about this a lot, and how I managed to sustain my hobby through this time and my little tricks, and she invited me to be part of the Blogger Network as she thought it was a very interesting aspect on crafting. Unlike the other members of the network I had only just started my own blog so I thought I'd give it a shot! Sharing hints and tips about crafting and learning new skills on a budget. Every body loved it! I didn't think anyone would really bother about things I had to say, but the support I've had is fantastic. I still think I talk nonsense but people seem to read either way!

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

It's alright, I guess......oh who am I kidding I LOVE it! The highlight of my time as a blogger to date is most defiantly the big meet up in June 2014. I was scheduled to be working in the office that day, so when Vicki and Phil asked me to lend a hand in store on the day I was over the moon! My job was to document the day as the photographer, so I got to see all the workshops, chat with customers and visitors, learn new things, listen to all the talks and I got to meet a lot of bloggers from the rest of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. It was simply amazing, it was like meeting my heroes and I was not disappointed! What was really fun, was giving the other bloggers a sneak peek in our warehouse. Their faces lit up like kids at Christmas! They had never seen anything like it. It really enforced in me something I'd always sort of knew. That at Minerva, as a blogger and member of staff, I am part of something unique and truly great!

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

Super Glue, Seam Ripper, Pliers! 

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

I'm really enjoying working with Taffeta at the moment! It's really crisp and gives fantastic structure. The way it looks gives a really great finish, but without the slip and slide of some sheer or slinky fabrics that you generally tend to go towards for something special.

What are your favourite yarns to knit and crochet with any why?

Bamboo Cotton! All the way. It's so smooth and lovely. How it feels on the ball is great, and made up the texture is brilliant. You can see it's composition of each stitch clearly and has a slight sheen sometimes that just emits a subtle glow. Lovely. 

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

Customers. I'm in a very privileged position with my job in that I get to talk to crafters all day, everyday, so I get a great insight into how people are using the products I see everyday. Disney's Frozen gave us a great look into how people worked and improvised with what was on offer. It also gives us opportunity as crafters to use our talents to answer queries and solve problems. My personal favourite was a customer who was making a replica Batman costume! We discussed in great detail exactly which Batman he was working on, the best fabric for this (our faux leather was bob on), and how best to cut the panels to make the most of the fabric. He sent us images of the finished product and it was great and definitely inspiring. 

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

Jewellery Making is most definitely my 'other' craft. It's taken a side-line as I'm learning dressmaking and enhancing my sewing skills, but I'm constantly thinking "oo, that would look great on a necklace!" 

Are there any other crafts you would love to learn?

I would love to delve into wire work within jewellery making. I have a gorgeous ring that my colleague in the office made and I love that such beauty can be made from such hardy things as pliers and wire! 

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

As one of my favourite comedians would say, "Gan for it, Pet!". I would recommend it highly. Even if all you learn is to do a running stitch or sew on a button (which is harder than people say, I tell you!), it's well worth it. It's a useful skill in general, but it really boosts your self esteem being able to do these kind of things! It may be considered "old fashioned", but it's a true skill. I personally don't think it's old fashioned, but if you're still unsure, I'm a thoroughly modern person but sometimes you just have to kick it old school! Also, in the event of a zombie apocalypse you're going to be worth your weight in gold if you can make and fix clothing. It's not old fashioned, it's a post apocalyptic life skill!

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

A Bit Odd!

If you had to pick an crafting item/tool to describe your style of crafting, what would you pick?

A kilo bag of scrap fabric! We had this chat in the office one time, and the laughter that arose when I said this was hilarious! Everyone agreed whole heatedly and I'll always wear my scrap fabric heart on my sleeve ;)

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

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