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#FabricFriday - Stunning New Fabrics

Today is definitely all about fabrics, fabrics and more fabrics! All of today's fabrics are brand new here at Minerva and are simply stunning and beautiful. We have many new Batik Fabrics either already in stock or arriving shortly (which you can pre order now) but what has immediately jumped out at me is this Floral Fabric...
This is a splash of golden yellows and gorgeous jades and is quite vibrant with an off-white petal. Also in the same print is this second colour...
This is a little more subdued being mainly pinks and blues with a dark cream petal. Either or, are they both simply must-haves and both are priced at just £7.99 per mt.
On to two new John Kaldor Fabrics. First is this gorgeous Stretch Cotton Fabric...
This fabric as the title suggests has vibrant shades of gold and orange across the design mixed with beautiful shades of pink and green all against an ivory background.
Sorry but I could not pass by the next one without showing it to you. How amazing is this Fabric...
Yes it is very me and will probably find its way into my stash!! (hehe) The mushroom floral shapes measure approx 4" across so it is quite a big pattern but I think what 'sets' it off most is the striking background of ivory with the 'drawn' black leaves effect. Look at the 'pencilled-in' effect. 
Both these stretch cottons are £13.99 per mt.
Oh dear me, look what has happened. Sorry but this Ponte Roma Fabric just dived off the shelf and flew right next to the above. Oh well you would be disappointed if I didn't show you them together, wouldn't you? 
OK so what do you think?
Would you believe I already have a piece of this in my ever expanding stash. Must dash and see how much.
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx
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Guest Post: Shirt Tutorial by Nicky Broom

This is my third tutorial using Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8180, a great pattern for men & boys. For the short sleeve shirt you will need;

2.40mts Cotton Poplin Fabric (less may be needed depending on size required & fabric width)

1 mt Lightweight Fusible Interfacing

Sewing Thread

1.3cm Shirt Buttons x 6

Pre-wash & press fabric before cutting out, and ensure pattern pieces are also crease free.

Transfer pattern markings. This can be done by cutting notches, stitching Taylor tacks or using a chalk pencil. 

Stay stitch the front & back neck edges to prevent stretching. This can be done with a longer straight stitch on the machine but should be sewn in the direction shown on the pattern. For this shirt it's from the neck edge to centre.

For the pocket turn under 6mm on upper edge & press then fold to outside along foldline. Stitch along seamline. 

Trim seam allowance on facing section before turning out. Fold sides in along stitch line & press.

Top stitch facing close to the edge.

Position pocket on left front, matching large dots. Stitch close to side & bottom edges.

Take loop piece, fold in half lengthwise, right sides together & 6mm from fold. Turn tube using a loop turner or by connecting a strong thread to end & pulling though.

Fold loop in half & position on left side over small dot. Tack in place.

Join shoulder seams. Finish seam edge with zigzag or overlock stitch.

Apply interfacing to one collar piece, then stitch along notched edge. Clip seam allowance to small dots and fold centre section down to stitchline & press.

Place collar pieces right sides together. Leaving notched edge open stitch around rest of collar.

Trim seam allowance & corners.

Turn collar & press.

Clip neck edge of shirt to stay stitching. This will help straighten edge out to pin sections together. On rightside of shirt pin facing side of collar to neck edge. Matching the small dots at shoulder seams.

Baste facing section only to shirt between dots but both layers from dots to collar edge.

Apply interfacing to front facings & finish un-notched edge. Machine baste along top seamline.

With rightsides together pin facing to front & neck edge. Stitch from small dot to lower edge. Trim seams, corners & clip curves.

Turn facing to inside, press. 

Fold neck neck edge towards collar & handstitch opening closed. Also secure top of facing to shoulder seams. 

Matching dots & notches pin sleeve to armhole, rightsides together. (I find holding the shirt in my hand with sleeve section on top I can pin while bending over my finger to ease in any fullness).

Stitch in both sleeves.

Stitch side seams. 

On sleeve hem, turn edge by 6mm, press then turn up full hem allowance, press & stitch close to edge.

On hem edge turn facing to outside. Stitch 1.5cm from edge.

Machine baste 1.5 cm from edge all along bottom edge.

Trim facing close to stitching up to 1.5cm from inside edge. Turn & press.

Press up hem all along basting.

Tuck under raw edge, press & stitch. Basting can then be removed. 

Using guide mark buttonholes on left front. 

Machine button holes & cut.

Sew buttons on rightside to correspond with the final one at small dot.

There you have a smart simple design short sleeve shirt perfect to pair with the tie from my previous tutorial. 

Happy sewing :)

To see more from Nicky, please head over to her blog Sew and Snip!

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#PatternoftheWeek - Butterick 6382

My half price #patternoftheweek offer for you this week is Butterick Sewing Pattern 6382 which is a superb choice of jackets. There are 3 choices of neckline - quite a formal collar and revers and two versions with no collar but one being a lower neckline than the other. 
Suggested fabrics are Boucle, Linen, Gaberdine and Tweeds. Quite a variety don't you think. I am so excited to show you my first choice of fabric. It is this gorgeous Boucle Tweed Fabric. It is hard for a photo to do this fabric justice so I have tried to show it to you close up. 
Our website description is...
"This beautiful boucle tweed fabric has a loose open weave so depending on the style of garment you choose to make, you may wish to line it. The base colour of this fabric is a cream, with multicoloured chenille threads woven in to create the tweed look. We imagine this fabric being made into slouchy cardigans and sweaters, tops, skirts and dresses."
With it being an open weave we do suggest you line this fabric. So because this jacket is lined, this fabric would be ideal. My first photo shows the fabric against a cerise pink lining, this tones it down a little but doesn't it look fab.
My next photo which is against a white lining gives the fabric the WOW factor, it really shows off all those little chenille tufts.
If you fancy edging it as in version A look no further than our Wooly Textured Fold Over Elastic/Binding. There is lots of colours in this fabric so I would opt for Ivory as an edging.
Tucked up in the corner of the pattern is version C, this would look superb in our Chenille Tweed Fabri from Spain. 
Our website description of this fabric is...
"This is certainly a wow fabric! This luxurious woven chenille tweed made in Spain is absolutely fabulous. There are so many colours and textures of threads that are woven together to create this fabric, even very tiny sequins every so often. The main base colour of this fabric is black, with lots of other colours woven in, including coral pink, airforce blue, white, silver and a gold sage. We image this fabric making a channel style jacket and fitted pencil skirt or a warm dress for winter." In my next photo I've tried to show you some detail of the fabric. It is simply stunning!"
One of the featured colours within this fabric is Airforce Blue and guess what we have an Airforce Blue in the Wooly binding featured above! 
I looked at pink and white checks to feature for version B. Apart from our Polycotton Gingham Fabrics, we do have two seersucker ginghams which are here and here.
Either of these would give a look similar to version B but it must be remembered they are both cottons. This doesn't mean you can't use them because after all it is a lined jacket but the weight would be much lighter. Just a thought here - if you didn't line it and made it up in a cotton it would make a lovely summer weight jacket.
And my last choice for you today is our woven Houndstooth Fabric. I simply love this fabric.
Beware there isn't much left. If you would like some of this fabric please snap it up quickly before it all goes. 
Have a lovely happy day sewing and thanks for reading,
Annette xx
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#FabricFriday - Chunky Knits

I must show you these fabulous Knitted Fabrics, new in stock here at Minerva. There are 3 available and all a terrific weight and amazing price of £9.99 per mt. The following photo shows our khaki coloured chunky Stripe Fabric. I've tried to show how you could use the stripes.
Take a look at McCalls Sewing Pattern 7252...
This shows a clever way of using the stripes. I think that by cutting the cuffs and collar on the stripe, sets the diagonal stripes off perfectly. The back of this fabric is plain black, so with the khaki and beige stripe there are some good contrasts going on.
The brown colour in this same Fabric is made up from brown and beige stripes with a brown back, just think the cuffs and collar could be done in the plain side.
I hope you can see from my photo that the plain/wrong side is also like the right side of knitting, in other words they are double sided fabrics. Our website description of this fabric is as follows...
"This dressmaking fabric is a gorgeous knit with a lovely texture, a nice soft feel and very little stretch in comparison to some of our other knits. It is a heavy weight fabric and would be ideal for making ponchos, coats and jackets. The stripes measure approx 15mm and 7mm wide. As part of our clearance range this fabric is fantastic value for money as we are able to bring it to you at a much cheaper price than the RRP, but only whilst limited stocks last!"
Last but not least my personal favourite is this orange and brown Stripe Knit Fabric. This is a little different to the other two in that the stripes are equal size. The colours are orange and a rich brown with the back being the plain orange or a beautiful shade of rust as I prefer to call it. 
Take a look at Butterick Sewing Pattern 6377...
Now I visualize version A made as in the pattern but where the pale grey panel is I would make that with the stripes running vertical and obviously the top left panel in the plain orange/rust.
Happy Sewing and thanks for reading,
Annette xx
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Guest Post - A Q&A with Harriet from Hobbling Handmades

Hello everyone!

We have a special blog post to share with you today - a Q&A with the lovely Harriet from Hobbling Handmades. We chat to Harriet about all things sewing and crafting and get a little glimpse into the world of the lady who writes this fantastic blog! Il now pass over to Harriet...

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Can you tell us a little bit about you and your blog?

Hello! I'm Harriet, aged 17, and my blog and YouTube channel are both called Hobbling Handmades. I have a heart condition and a mobility disorder which means that a lot of the time I'm sitting in my wheelchair; hence the name! My blog documents my sewing and knitting trials and tribulations, and once a month (though usually more) I write a post about my disabilities.

What made you decide to start your blog about crafting?

I decided to start my blog late last year so that I could document my makes as I went along, and so that I can look back every now and then to see what progress I have made – though a lot of the time I only read the posts about the things that went wrong so that I can have a good laugh. After a couple of weeks, I started writing about my life as a less-than-healthy Harriet and found that these were getting read and shared a lot by my friends on Facebook – cripples and non-cripples alike. So, I've kept doing the odd post about that to inspire others with illness and to help the people around me understand what my life is like on a day-to-day basis.

When did you start sewing and what inspired you to start? What was your first make?

I started to knit before I started to sew, and to be honest I learnt by a happy coincidence. (But how can you learn by accident? I hear you say) I happened to be sitting in the same room as when my cousin asked my nana if she could teach her how to knit. And, because my book wasn't very exciting at that point, I asked if I could learn too. My first object off the needles was, as with most new knitters, a scarf. It wasn't very good at all if I'm honest, but I was very proud of it nonetheless. That was two years ago, and I've loved to knit ever since. I've found it to be a welcome distraction from my pain, and I became more and more in love with it. I started watching knitting vloggers on YouTube and, when I saw that most of them did sewing as well, I decided to give that a go. I got a pattern for a dress and went off to the shop to get some fabric. I didn't have a sewing machine and neither did anyone else in my family, so I made the whole thing by hand! It took absolutely ages, but I'm so proud of it, and, needless to say, got my first sewing machine soon after.

What do you love most about crafting?

There are so many things that I love about crafting! When I was first diagnosed, I had to give up most of my hobbies because I wasn't able to do them any more (believe it or not, I used to be quite sporty). Finishing a make gives me back the sense of achievement that I lost after having to stop running and horse riding, and at the end I have an item of clothing with a story behind it, and that is completely and utterly unique to me (thing I love number two). I also adore the sewing and knitting community itself. I've never felt so supported or inspired before, and everyone is so lovely!

What is your favourite product on the Minerva Crafts website and what would you make with it?

I'm not sure if I'm really allowed to do this, but I'm going to be sneaky and have the products that I'd use for a whole garment...

(This one doesn't really count, so I'm going to include it as well – the Hemline 40 spool thread organiser!)

Sewing -

The Sewing Pattern that I would use:

The Fabric that I would use – I'd use this Daisy Puff Pink Gingham Fabric in pale blue, and a little bit of white fabric for the collar:

Knitting -

The Knitting Pattern that I would use – I love a good Christmas jumper!

I'd stick to the traditional Christmas pudding colours for the colourwork, but I'd use this lovely Soft Knitting Yarn in pale blue for the rest of the jumper:

How many projects do you have on the go at once?

I try to only have one sewing project and one knitting project on the go at once, but I usually get too excited and have multiple of each craft! I have been good recently with sewing, but I have quite I high pile of quick fixes I need to do with my garments – zip replacements, hemming and things like that. Oops! With knitting though, I'm not even sure how many I have on the go. I think about four?

What's your favourite thing that you've ever made?

I think my proudest make is definitely the shirt I made for my dad at Christmas. It was the first time I'd ever used a Vogue pattern, or made anything for a man – so I definitely took my time! I was so pleased with the end result though, the inside was all French seams, and I'd even done some hand stitching to make extra sure that it would be perfect!

Here's the link to my post in case anybody wants to read more about it.

And the little bee and the little dinosaur I thought I'd include because they're a couple of the favourite things that I've crocheted (I feel bad because I haven't included any photos of the knitted things I've made!)

Do you watch TV/ listen to music as you craft?

I find that I'm not very good at watching TV as I sew, because I end up not looking at what's on. Instead, I opt for something that I can listen to with headphones (to avoid it being drowned out by the noise of my sewing machine) and I've recently been really enjoying podcasts and audiobooks. I'm working through all of the Invisibilia podcasts, (which I really recommend if you like science or documentaries in general) and replaying the Hamlet audiobook so that the quotes start sticking in my head ready for my exams! When I'm knitting, though, I'm a big fan of the TV and YouTube – mostly Mad Men, Modern Family or vlogs from my favourite sewing and knitting YouTubers.

Do you follow other blogs? If so who?

Goodness, I follow so many blogs! I'll try to list my top five – so, in no particular order…

  • Gabberdashery – Gabby Young, on YouTube and her website

  • Sewn – Rosabella, on YouTube and Blogger

  • Sew Over It – Lisa Comfort, on YouTube (And more recently, on her own channel and website!)

  • CocoWawa Crafts – Ana, on YouTube

  • Rosie Peña – Rosie, on YouTube and her website

I follow loads more, but I think these are the ladies that I watch the most!

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

As many of the people reading this probably are, I'm a Pinterest addict. I have so many boards that I don't think I could ever be lost for inspiration! I just scroll on through and get ideas for future makes, and save the ones that I really like. If I get a new pattern (especially if its from an indie company – they usually have their own boards for each pattern). I type in the name, and loads of finished makes come up to give some inspiration. Another way that I like to find inspiration (and do some recycling) is going through old magazines. I cut out all of the things that I like, and stick them in a little notebook to give me ideas for future makes.

Do you have any sewing disasters?

I've definitely had a few! I think my biggest failure though was when I was making my first shirt. It had a notched collar… and I cut it in half! Needless to say I did not finish that one!

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Thanks so much for that Harriet! And thank you all for reading. Head over to Harriets blog if you would like to read more and see what Harriet has been crafting since we spoke :)

Vicki x

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#FabricFriday - Clearance Fabric Picks

Strike while the irons hot! That is my message to you today on #fabricfriday. My choices today are all from our extensive Clearance Fabrics range and as always once they are gone they are gone.
Now I am of an age to remember crimplene, I also remember hating it with a vengeance and here I am promoting it to you! I was a child/teenager at the time and thought of it as a 'Grandma' fabric and yes I know I'm a grandma now, or Nanny as I prefer to call myself to 5 of them! Weird isn't it, Jess my oldest Grand-daughter is wearing garments made out of crimplene. Polyester as we know it now with a little lycra.
So my first two fabrics today are this Pink Jersey Fabric and this Navy Blue Jersey Fabric both being what we used to call crimplene but I have to say much softer! They are very very similar, the only difference seems to be the navy fabric has a very subtle self stripe running through it and even looks pretty good on the wrong side. They feel fab together and certainly will sew well together so I have no problem with recommending them to be sewn together in something like McCalls Pattern 7121...
The simple colour blocking used in version A looks stunning and would be perfect in my choice of cerise and navy. And at £5.99 and £4.99 respectfully per mt they won't break the bank. Take a look at the lineart on this pattern. I love the V-necks on the fronts and backs of versions A and B but then note the more unusual shaping of versions C and D, Racer-back is it called?
My next fabric for today is our Scuba Crepe Fabric.
Our website description is...
This fabulous new fabric called scuba crepe has the bounce and spring of scuba fabric but it is slightly lighter in weight and has a lovely texture that looks like crepe. It is still a comparatively thick jersey compared to most other types of jersey fabric and it has the most fabulous stretch recovery. This makes it perfect for making fitted, body hugging clothing like bodycon tops and dresses and for making structured garments like skirts and full skirted dresses. As part of our clearance range we are able to bring it to you at a much cheaper price than the RRP, but only whilst stocks last! 
This comes in 15 fabulous colours and even appears to have a hint of a sparkle. I can certainly understand why it is called Scuba Crepe but it must be said it is different to Scuba as we  know it. This fabric could be made up into numerous items of clothing as our description suggests and will wash and wear extremely well.
Before I go I must show you a very pretty new Polycotton Fabric now in stock here at Minerva. The print is of multi-coloured stars of slightly different sizes on a white background.
Just think of the possibilities here, maybe you could combine it with our Stripe Fabric also in a polycotton. This is an amazing multicolored stripe, again on a white background, that comes in 4 different widths of stripes - 2mm, 7mm, 15mm and 25mm. How's that for choice!
So long for now and thanks for reading,
Annette xx
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Guest Post: Fitting a Princess Seam Bodice Dress – Part Two

Hello again, it’s Wendy here with part two of my tutorial on how to fit a princess seam bodice. 

In case you missed part one, I am a secondary school textiles teacher in East London and also a sewing blogger at www.wendystitch.com.

As part of my job I have taught hundreds of children, and a few adults, how to design and make clothes. In this tutorial I am going to share with you how to get a perfect fit on a princess seamed bodice dress.

The Sewing Pattern I have used is New Look 6341, available from Minerva Crafts, and I am going to be making view A. 

If you don't fancy this one then there are lots of other princess seam patterns available and they all follow the same fitting procedure.

In part one of this tutorial, I talk about bust adjustments and tissue fitting. Go back and have a read of that, if you have not already. But this week let’s move on to fitting the toile and making the dress.

Time to Toile

A toile, also known as a muslin in the US, is a prototype of your garment, usually made in a cheap fabric, to get the fit right. I'm using Specialist Muslin Fabric available from Minerva Crafts at £2.99 a metre.

Using your newly adjusted tissue pattern that you made in part one, you now need to cut out all of the bodice pieces from your muslin fabric. We will be making the whole bodice this time rather than half of it, so make sure you cut out all of the bodice pieces.

Don’t worry about facings for now though. Following the instructions in your pattern, sew up the bodice leaving the back seam open. It may seem like extra work that you don’t really need, but it is so important to stay-stitch the curved pieces of the bodice sections. This will prevent your fabric from stretching out of shape. You’re also going to want to clip those curves to make it easier to sew.

Match up your notches on the pattern pieces and really take your time pinning so the edges of the bodice pieces are perfectly lined up. Take your time sewing the princess seams; making sure your fabric is not bunching underneath. This is such a common problem with my students and usually they just need to slow down.

Remember to press your seams open when you are finished.

Once you are all sewn up and pressed, the next step is to try on the toile and check the fit. It is pretty hard to pin up the back seam of your bodice yourself so you have two options here. Either enlist a willing assistant to help pin you in or, my preferred method, quickly sew in a long zip (I use 16 inches) so you can easily get in and out of your bodice. Doing it yourself saves the frustration (and let’s face it, the heated arguments) that come from relying on another person who is not so great with pins!

Fitting

As you have already done a tissue fit you may find that the toile fits you perfectly or, as in my case, you might find you have a couple of minor alterations to make.

There are various methods for checking the fit, and I am by no means an expert, but this is the method that works for me and my students.

Start at the shoulders and, armed with plenty of pins and a marker pen, work your way down the bodice making any necessary adjustments.

1. Check the shoulder width – you want the seam allowance edge of the bodice to sit at the edge of your shoulders.

2. Check the arm hole depth – 2.5cm below your arm pit is ideal.

3. How is the neck line sitting at the front and back – do you need take out any fabric?

4. Check all the seams, including the princess seams. Is the fabric smooth against the body?

5. Is there any extra fabric rippling at the base of your spine? You might need to do a sway back adjustment if there is, whereby you open the centre back seam and re-pin with a larger seam allowance so the fabric lies flat.

6. Check that you are happy with the length. You want your bodice to end at your natural waist.

If there are any adjustments, transfer them to your paper pattern – literally pinching out excess or inserting scraps of tissue. On my pattern I have decided that the neckline is sitting a little too high for me so I have cut a new lower neck that suits my figure better.

I would make another toile at this stage so you can be sure you have it fitting perfectly. I will warn you though, it can get a little addictive making toiles and adjusting the fit. The most I have ever made is five, but hopefully two will be more than enough!

Putting it all together

Happy with the fit? Congratulations! You now have a pattern for a princess seam bodice that fits you perfectly. You can now go ahead and cut into your fabric, knowing that this dress is going to look amazing.

For my dress I have used this beautiful red and white floral print cotton and linen blend Dressmaking Fabric from Minerva Crafts for just £5.99 a metre. I chose this because it is heavy enough to show off the fullness of the skirt and light enough to be breathable in warmer weather. I just love how bright and cheerful it is, it will be perfect for summer.

Before I sign off I am going to leave you with a few more points to remember when you are making up your final dress:-

  • Double check the waist measurement of the skirt and try it on with pins before you sew up the side seams, so you can adjust the fit if you need to.

  • If you have made any changes to the neck or shoulders on your bodice pattern, and you are not lining the bodice, you will also need to make changes to the neck facings.

  • Press all the seams as you go along and, ideally, use a pressing ham on those lovely curved princess seams.

  • Take your time and enjoy it!

That’s all from me. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Many thanks to Minerva Crafts for hosting me and do check out my blog www.wendystitch.com for more of my makes and tutorials. 

Happy sewing!

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#FabricFriday - New Look 6000 as our Inspiration!

You know I love my browns and beige's! So you can imagine how I felt when I spied this first fabric on the shelf here at Minerva. Not sure whether I'm into feathers but the overall effect of this fabric is simply stunning and certainly caught my eye. This gorgeous Satin Fabric is 100% polyester, has the most fantastic drape and is priced not too harshly at £11.99 per mt. 
I do like to source sewing patterns that we tend to 'skim' over when looking through the pattern books or browsing the website. One such pattern is New Look Pattern 6000. 
There are 4 lines full of suggested fabrics on this pattern from lightweight denim to wool blends and from taffeta to jersey. So I was sure this fabric would be suitable and yes right in the middle of the suggested fabrics stood satin. Looking at version D made me think of this very 'busy' fabric being suitable, I know version D is only a drawing but it does give you a good idea.
I love the necklines on this pattern, version A and E has a classic round neckline but just look at the versions with a collar. It is most obvious on the real model version C. Apologies for mentioning Ponte Roma again but I can't help it haha - I just love it! Take a look at the marl brown colour in our Plain Ponte Fabric range, with our Floral Shaped Buttons
What an amazing effect those buttons would make.
I couldn't resist showing you the red ponte too, along with these new Metal Buttons, this time these buttons come in 3 sizes. I am showing you the large and middle sizes. These buttons have a silver rim and each little hole has a silver rim. So effective don't you think!
I must admit I am loving buttons at the moment, in fact sometimes I see a brilliant button and then find fabric or yarn to go with it! So here are some more Flowery Buttons from the Dill range that look amazing on the claret ponte. (I love the other 3 colours in these as well, white, cream, peach and a taupe background, so pretty).
Version E looks so summery, I love the mustard they've displayed on the pattern and guess what we have something quite similar from the Michael Miller Fabric Range. Yummy or what. This fabric is at the top end of our cotton price range at £14.99 per mt but take a look at the fabulous choice of colours.
If you like the idea of multicoloured spots then look no further than this Gorgeous Fabric. This very contemporary design comes in just the one colourway but how gorgeous is that and at just £8.99 per mt it is quite affordable. (I'm just thinking how nice this would look in cushions mmmmm).
Last but not least for today I want to show you this Polka Dot Fabric. This comes in 6 more unusual colourways, I like each and everyone of them, so because I'm struggling which one to show you, you must click on the link and have a look at them all. OK go on then I'll show you the pink! Don't forget this is from our immense cotton poplin range that is priced at just £6.99 per mt. 
Before I go I want to mention the pattern again. What appear to be tucks on the front of versions A B and C are actually sewn similar to darts but without the point at one end. The broken lines are brought together, pressed then pressed towards the bottom edge.
Plenty of patterns that appear the same as this are actually tucks and I find when wearing something made like this that the 'tucks' sort of 'balloon' outwards and emphasize those few extra pounds associated with holidays etc., Whereas when they are sewn as in this pattern, it keeps this area flatter but still showing 'tucks' Hope that makes sense! And I can't go without mentioning the beautiful floral decoration on version A, so easy yet so effective.
So, lots to think about this week and I think the following quote is pretty apt don't you!
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx
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Guest Post: Fitting a Princess Seam Bodice Dress – Part One

Hello everyone, my name is Wendy and I'm delighted to be here as a guest blogger on the Minerva Crafts Blog. When I am not making things and blogging about them on my own blog over at www.wendystitch.com, I am a secondary school textiles teacher in East London.

As part of my job I have taught hundreds of teenagers how to make clothes - literally hundreds of prom dresses! Today I am going to share with you the first of two tutorials on how to achieve a great fit on one of my favourite dress styles - the princess seam bodice. It is one that my students really struggle with, but it just takes a bit of practise.

This week I am going to focus on the bust adjustment and tissue fitting of the bodice. In part two I will show you how to make and adjust your toile, before sewing up the actual dress.

The skirt part of a dress is pretty easy to fit, it is often just a matter of adjusting the side seams. But a dress bodice can be harder to get right. Particularly the close fitting lines of a beautiful princess seam bodice.

The pattern I am going to be using for this tutorial is New Look Pattern 6341 and I am going to be making view A. If you don't fancy this one then there are lots of other princess seam patterns available and they all follow the same fitting procedure.

For this tutorial you are going to need your pattern, Dressmakers Tissue PaperMuslin Fabric, a Long Zip (mine is 16 inches), a pencil, Measuring Tape and Pins.

Before we properly get started I think it is important for me to point out that there are loads of books you can read on fitting methods. I’ve read dozens of them and have taken classes from experts – including the wonderful Gretchen Hirsch - on dress fitting. Not every technique is going to work for everyone and some are more sophisticated than others – I am going to show you some simple pattern tweaks that work for me.

Got your pattern and supplies ready? OK then, let's begin!

Sizing up

The first thing you are going to have to do is figure out which size to trace off. We are concentrating on the bodice so we are going to need your bust measurements and waist measurement. My bust is 36 inches and my waist is 28 inches, which puts me at a size 14 for this pattern. (If you are between sizes it is best to size up and make the adjustments later.)

Once you have found your size you need to carefully trace off the bodice front, bodice back, side back bodice and side front bodice pieces onto some dressmakers tissue paper, ready to do a tissue fit. (You can of course do a tissue fit without tracing the pattern but tracing it off is a good habit to get into, plus it means if you change sizes you can use the pattern again!)

Bust adjustment

Once you have traced off your pieces the next thing I always like to do is to a full bust adjustment. It is particularly important that the bust fits you right on a princess seam bodice otherwise it will really ruin the line of the dress.

If you are larger than a C cup then I would recommend doing this first. I use a simple method of slashing and spreading the pattern to add in some extra room for the bust. Not sure how much you need to add? Well, all patterns are different but a general rule of thumb is to add one inch for each cup size over a C cup. So if you are a D cup add one inch, an DD add two inches and so on.

To adjust the bust:

On the bodice side front piece, draw a horizontal line from the side seam notch to the curved side seam and, with scissors, slash almost to the seam line. Spread this slash the amount you need to increase, hinging at the seam line. Then draw a corresponding line across the front bodice piece and slash this one too. Spread the slash as much as you need.

Add some tissue scraps behind the slashed pattern pieces and use some sticky tape to hold it all in place.

If you have a smaller bust, the adjustment follows the same principle but you need to overlap the slashed pieces rather than spread them.

Tissue Fitting

Happy with the bust adjustment? The next step is to mark off the 1.5cm seam allowance on all the seams.

Tip- a standard measuring tape is 1.5cm wide. You can this to mark off your seam allowance.

Next we are going to cut out the tissue pieces and pin together along the seam allowance to create half of a bodice.

It can be quite tricky to pin the curved princess seams together but there are a few things you can do to make it easier - cut notches in the tissue paper so it bends around that curve easer, use a lot of pins and, the crucial bit, take your time.

Try on your tissue bodice in front of a mirror and have a look at how it fits. And I mean properly try it on – don’t just put it on your dress form. Straight away you should be able to tell if the bodice is too big or too small, too long or too short for you. Use pins and a pencil to mark the necessary changes on your bodice.

I also like to check the fit of the shoulders at this stage. Ideally you want the shoulder seam allowance to sit right on the edge of your shoulders. If your shoulder pieces are too wide or too narrow, mark off where you want the seam to be. Also check the arm-hole, it should be about 2.5cm below your arm pit. Alter your seam if necessary.

Once you have figured out those basic changes and made the adjustments on your paper pattern - through slashing, pinching or adding extra bits of tissue paper - it is time to move on to Part Two.

I hope you have enjoyed the first part of this tutorial, come back for part two, next week, when I will be showing you how to perfect the fit of your toile.

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#PatternoftheWeek - Art Gallery Fabrics

And now for something completely different!
This week I am offering to you the Art Gallery Fabrics Ladies Maxi Dress Sewing Pattern as our #patternoftheweek, with 50% off for this week only. 
Where is this different you may ask. Well not only do you get your sewing pattern but all your instructions come as a PDF file. Plus you get a tutorial on making continuous bias-binding!
How cool is that? The pattern pieces are printed on good quality white paper that won't tear easily when working with it, pinning on fabric etc., Ideal for anyone who uses the method of fitting where you actually fit the pattern pieces onto the body. 
I've had a look at the PDF and I'm thinking "I quite like this for a change". Everything is in colour, the following photo is just the symbols used.
Each instruction is followed by the actual sewing, the following photo shows a drawing of where some pleats will be folded and underneath those pleats actually being sewn. I love this touch.
My only concern is the measurements. The next photo shows 'standard body measurements' and the following photo shows 'finished dimensions'. With it being American everything is in inches but don't worry if you are used to metric, all metric measurements are given too. 
 All sizes are on the one pattern so at least you know you are not buying the wrong size. When studying the above two sets of measurements you will see that the bust measurements are the same, whereas the waist and hips are a few inches bigger. I'm not saying this is wrong, just seems a little unusual in that there is no 'give' in the bust measurement. With not having made any of these patterns I cannot comment any further but would be very interested in any of your comments about these patterns. All I can say is measure yourself carefully and be wary that the bust measurement has no 'give'. The 'sizings' are different to Simplicity etc., which we all realise more and more are different to shop bought, ready to wear, sizes. To give you an example, on this pattern size large is size 10/12 with a bust measurement of 39" (as I said earlier, to fit 39" and also measures 39"). When I look at Simplicity patterns they are saying size 10 is 32.5" bust and 12 is 34". Now I am a size 12 most of the time in shop bought clothes but I measure approx 39". So if I was making this dress I have to say I would measure the actual pattern piece.
I must admit I would love to make this dress for my hols especially in Batik Fabric and so today I will show you some of these wonderful fabrics. 
My first choice is this Hand Printed Batik Fabric. This looks remarkably like the fabric on the pattern and is priced at just £7.99 per mt as are all the fabrics I am showing you today. Our website description of this fabric is...
 "This beautiful batik fabric is hand printed in India and features a busy floral design. Due to the hand processes involved in creating this fabric, every metre is unique and irregularities in colour and print are all part of its naive charm! It is 100% cotton and a medium weight, perfect for making so many styles of clothing including dresses, tops, shirts, skirts and more. Or why not bring this fabric into your home by making cushions!"
I quite like the idea of using another colour in this same fabric for the contrasting sash but hey wait while you see some more of the batiks!
This Fabric has a very pretty butterfly within the design, I just love this pink shade.
A slightly different look in Batik is 'Bubble Batik Fabric.' 
This leaves print is just such a fabric and the description is...

"This beautiful bubble batik fabric is hand printed in India and features a colourful spotty circles design. The process for creating 'Bubble Batik' fabric remains the same as Batik but in bubbled fabric, after wax printing the fabric is subjected to a crinkling process where the ground fabric is shrunk in both warp and weft direction by 25%, creating bubbles on the wax printed areas. Areas covered with wax remain the same whereas the base fabric shrinks by 25% creating a bubbled textured appearance. Due to the hand processes involved in creating this fabric, every metre is unique and irregularities in colour and print are all part of its naive charm! It is 100% cotton and a medium weight, perfect for making so many styles of clothing including dresses, tops, shirts, skirts and more. Or why not bring this fabric into your home by making cushions!"

This method creates a little more texture which I love. 

Last but certainly not least I must show you one of the Hand Painted Batik Fabrics

For me, this is stunning, our website description is...

"This beautiful fabric is hand painted in India. You can feel the brushstokes of the paint on the fabric surface, and the paint has a slight iridescent quality. Due to the hand processes involved in creating this batik fabric, every metre is unique and irregularities in colour and print are all part of its naive charm! It really is a stunning fabric. It is 100% cotton and a medium weight, perfect for making so many styles of clothing including dresses, tops, shirts, skirts and more. Or why not bring this fabric into your home by making cushions."

Batik is a wonderful fabric, I do like to wash it first but from then on it is a dream to work with, sewing and ironing it and especially to wear it, is just wonderful. What comes across in each of the above descriptions is how each process is done by hand and therefore irregularites do occur. It has to be said this to me is part of the fabrics charm but it is worth mentioning as some customers do purchase a little more if they want to 'place' their pieces in a certain way.
My last photo for today is so me, I'm sure you will relate to it too haha...
Happy Sewing and thanks for reading.
Annette xx

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