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A Quilt Called ‘Summer’

People may think that to make a quilt topper or start some machine patchwork you need huge bags of scraps or a lifetimes collection of fat quarters but there are designs that use very little fabric meaning you can choose something you really love. Using a combination of solid and patterned fabric in a half square triangle(HST)design a very effective pinwheel block can be achieved.

Here, I have chosen three poplin fat quarters, one in each colourway, from the Camelot Beyond the Backyard Fabric Collection at Minerva. The fabric is a beautiful quality and matches well with their cerise and white Solid Poplin Fabric

Here is the full colour range; very striking and just right for a not-too-girly girl. I love the retro 1960's pattern

To make this block you need to follow the cutting list below in cm:

4 16 x 16cm squares in patterned fabric

2 16 x 16cm squares in pink fabric

2 16 x 16cm squares in white fabric

8 15.5 x 15.5 squares as border fillers in white fabric

You need 1m of cerise, 3 fat quarters in pattern and 1.5m of white filler.

Place a patterned piece right sides together with a solid piece. Draw a line diagonally then mark a sewing line 0.5cm either side of the centre line.

Sew the two sewing lines each side of the centre line.

Cut the centre line and press out your half square triangles. If you use white fabric, ensure you press your seams to the patterned side to stop them showing through.

Lay out the block in four rows to make the design. Sew each row together then sew the four strips together and give it a final press. To make a generous cot bed or small single sized quilt you need to make 6 of these pinwheels.

It has been backed with pieces of cotton and contains safe wadding. The binding is ready made and picks out the jade green colour but you could choose whatever binding you like.

I used my walking foot for the first time. It made great quilting seams through the layers without any bunching. A brand new needle is also a good tip before you start.

Experimenting with solid colours in quilting allows the patterned fabrics to really shine and you really don't need many of them to make a statement. This fabric was a great retro choice.

Thanks for reading,

Jo @ Three Stories High


Kinder Cardigan Review from Wendy Wards New Book by Eleanor

One of the first projects I sewed with the machine I bought when I was 21 (a little Jaguar from a sewing shop in Nottingham) was a set of hats for our rowing squad. They were made from a synthetic knit fabric, and I had quite a battle with it at first until I discovered that a different needle would make it possible to sew without tangled threads and skipped stitches! Since then, I have worked with many different knit fabrics but haven’t invested as much time and energy as I would like into understanding how they vary and how to get the best results, except by trial and (repeated) error.

This new Book by Wendy Ward is a fabulous resource, even for an experienced stitcher (I’ve been sewing garments for over 20 years), and its compilation has clearly been a labour of love. Covering how to take body measurements and identify ease, detailed descriptions of different types of knit fabrics, fibre content, stretch and recovery, Wendy explains just about everything you could need to know. This followed by clear descriptions of the construction techniques that are then applied in the six garments and countless variations on them.

One of the things that delights me most about this book is that there are no size charts, just body measurements and finished garment measurements, and with a wide range included (bust 80-121cm (31 ½ to 47 ¾ ins), waist 64-105cm (25 to 41 ½ ins), hips 88-129cm (34 ½ to 51 ins). Wendy has written about some of the issues surrounding dress sizes in detail on her website and about her reasons for using body measurements instead.

The instructions focus on using a domestic sewing machine for the garments in this book, making it very accessible. Wendy goes into incredible detail about needle types, sizes and tensions for different fabrics, troubleshooting and stitch types, to a degree that I have rarely, if ever, seen anywhere else, but in a way that is approachable and not overwhelming. Stripe matching, finding the grain and identifying the right and reverse side of knit fabrics are also covered.

Each pattern is accompanied by a series of photographs, illustrating the many variations and offering inspiration. Fabric recommendations are given as well as details of each fabric used in the samples.

Full pattern sheets are included in the book, and the pattern pieces all need to be traced. For many years I have used Burda Style Tracing Paper, although more recently I’ve tried cheap greaseproof/ baking paper and am quite happy with the results! The pattern sheets are clear and relatively easy to use (certainly in comparison with some of the well-known magazine patterns that require tracing). Although the pieces for some patterns are spread across multiple sheets and large pattern pieces need to be traced in more than one stage and joined together, they are clearly listed and so the process is manageable.

The pattern pieces are listed for each variation, along with detailed instructions for altering them to create the variations, so for example with the cardigan, the short version and the mid-length versions are shown in full on the pattern sheets and the extended measurements for the full-length version are given in the instructions. The cutting plans are laid out clearly and further details for each the suggested variations are then given in the project instructions, for example adding colour blocked contrast panels.

The first pattern I worked with is the Kinder Cardigan. It’s a relaxed, kimono-inspired piece with no fastenings or fussy details, which is ideal for layering (I’ve been known to wear it under two other cardigans on especially cold days) and for all seasons. The version you see here is the cropped, short sleeved version, which can be made with a metre (or even a little less) of 150cm wide fabric. I used a beautiful Atelier Brunette French Terry and was able to make the most of a small piece of fabric as it didn’t require pattern matching. It feels elegant with the gold sparkles but not so fancy that it has to be saved for special occasions. I will definitely be making a few more, in various body and sleeve lengths, and would love to make one in silk jersey for our summer holidays (not the annual week in a tent, which will require a warmer version!).

The design of the cardigan is thoughtful and makes for relatively easy construction. The shoulders are dropped and the sleeves are inserted flat, the use of (optional) cuffs and a neckband reduce the amount of hemming that is needed to just the lower edge.

I used an overlocker to sew all the seams and a and cover stitch machine (a recent and much appreciated investment, as I sew a lot with knit fabrics, but by no means essential) for the hem, which gave a neat finish to all the raw edges, but it would be a quick and straightforward garment to construct on a domestic sewing machine, as described in the book.

I have also made a very plain pair of Monsal lounge pants, in plain black loopback sweatshirting, with no pockets, trims or cuffs. They were quick and straightforward to sew, and are really comfortable for Pilates classes. When I make another pair I will probably straighten out the tapered legs a little, probably by reducing the ease in the upper leg, as I find it more flattering for my body shape, and will either lengthen them a little or add cuffs as they are on the short side even for me at 5’4”/ 162cm tall. As with the cardigan, all the variations are described and illustrated clearly, with a table showing the cutting plan to be used for each option, size and fabric width. Next up will be a Peak t-shirt, which I have traced but not yet cut and sewn. All the patterns are excellent wardrobe basics and the suggested variations add many more possibilities to the already wide range.

All in all, I am very impressed with this book and would be happy to recommend it to beginners, experienced stitchers and anyone in between as it is such a rich and well thought out resource.

Eleanor @ nelnanandnora


Pink and Gold Sparkly Cardigan by Rachael

When Minerva asked if I wanted to try out some Fabric to showcase on their blog, I immediately said yes. I love fabric and the more I can add to my collection the better. I didn't really mind which fabric, but I was secretly hoping for some knit as I'd been itching to try out a cardigan pattern. When the fabric arrived in the post I was thrilled to see it was this slightly sparkly pink and gold lurex lacy jersey. Perfect! 
I already had my Simplicity 8377 Cardigan Pattern ready. It's super simple and allows you modify the style easily. There are no fastenings which means it's a really quick sew. 

The fabric came out of the pre-wash with no problems. The guidelines say to hand-wash only, but as I've got no patience with hand washing clothes, I expect all of my fabric to machine wash, and luckily the jersey did not disappoint.

I was expecting the fabric to be tricky to cut, as jersey has a tendency to move around, but it was surprisingly stable. I cut a size 10, but didn't worry too much about sizing as the pattern is very loose fit. 
I used a ball point needle to sew it together as normal needles can snag stretchy fabric. I also used my overlocker to finish the edges. The fabric is quite lacy so I think an overlocker is necessary to give a neater finish. 
To stop the shoulders from over stretching, I used stabilizing tape on the shoulder seams. If you don't already, I'd really recommend doing this on stretchy tops or dresses as it makes your projects look much more professional and last longer. 
Finally, I hand stitched the hems. Hand stitching isn't for everyone, but I find it's one of the most relaxing parts of sewing. You can sit on the sofa with a good film or series and give your projects a nice, neat finish. 
I reckon this fabric would work well as a loose, summery sweatshirt too. Just remember to wear something underneath as it's fairly see-through! At the moment I'm enjoying wearing it over a simple T-shirt and jeans. The colours are really pretty and help to lift any plain, mundane outfit I might throw on. 
Thanks for letting me review this fabric Minerva team! 
Thanks for reading,

New Look 6723 Black Paisley Lace Dress by Hannah

Hello there fellow crafters my name is Hannah and I’ve been sewing since I can remember, well if you count making Halloween costumes out of cut up tights when you’re eight sewing. I’m absolutely thrilled to be guest posting on the Minerva Crafts blog, they do feed my addiction to fabric so they have a lot to answer for - most recent purchase the pink shimmer linen I mean please if there was fabric shop for mermaids they would be lapping that right up.
I’m a regular sewer and tend to whip up dresses so I can wear something pretty the next day. I am a definite dress and vintage fiend so when Minerva fabrics sent me this gorgeous black Paisley Lace Fabric I knew straight away I wanted to make a vintage style dress fit for a femme fatale. Something that clings to all the right places with a nice swishy skirt that I can prance around in.
There's a line in 'No Questions Asked' (1951) film noir 'I bet she wears black lace' the comment refers to the exquisitely dressed femme fatale.  There's always been something special about black lace its classic yet eccentric, so when the fabric arrived I was giddy as a kipper to behold the contents, a gorgeous pile of heavy yet stretchy lace, as I do with most fabric I instantly wrapped it around myself and danced round the room just so I could get an idea of how the fabric would feel on obviously.
But in all seriousness this fabric is a pleasure to sew with, I'm a quick win seamstress I like to make things swiftly without too much fussing. The lace is heavy enough to not slip all over your machine or mannequin, but also the stretch makes it fit so comfortably. In addition to this the fabric is forgiving on those who don't always sew in the straightest of lines... yes I am referring to myself.
The heaviness of the fabric created the most beautiful draping for my skirt I can definitely see myself using more of this to create a blouse or several. The actual shade of black is perfect too, you know when you get those black lace fabrics that look a bit sun damaged, this is a perfect raven black, ideal for making that little black dress that you always return to when you have nothing to wear.
For the pattern I went for the New Look Ladies Sewing Pattern 6723, I've used this before it's simple and adorable, I went for option C.  It’s a pretty straight forward pattern to use and does include a clutch bag to create which I shall get around to making soon.
Cutting the lace was easier than I anticipated, it does always help when your cat plonks herself on the fabric to keep it in place for you. The lace when cut did shed a little which is to be expected and I’d be careful with your scissors as it did pull a couple of times when I was being distracted, but apart from that I merrily cut away.
With the lace being see-through I added an extra layer to the skirt so it will be much more wearable. And I couldn’t help myself by adding some ruffling to the neckline, the lace leant itself so well to ruffles it would have been rude not to.  I added a vintage slip underneath for my first outing, because underwear is outerwear after all. I adore my little black lace dress and it will be a definite go to from now on, I’m already day dreaming about making a full black lace circle skirt with exposed pockets and velvet bow trims!
Thank you lovelies for reading.
Hannah x

Book Review by Simona: A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabric

I am very pleased to be bart of the launch of Wendy Ward’s last book A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabric in collaboration with Minerva Crafts.

It is not hard to imagine that, as soon as I received my copy of the book I armed myself with a cup of hot chocolate, my sewing notebook and started reading.

Before I even started actually reading it, I found that the paper the book is printed on is of a very good quality that will last through time as you use it over and over again. I think it was a nice idea to have a plastic envelope at the end of the book into which the pattern sheets are housed. On the last page, just before the envelope there is a Pattern Key that shows the sizes and colours that correspond to the patterns in the book. There are a total of 6 patterns that come in 10 sizes (UK 8 to UK 26), that can be modified and/or combined to make 20 garments.

The pattern pieces are overlapped so they need to be traced. However, they are colour coded and each colour is significantly different than the other ones making tracing easier. To ease identifying the pieces for your chosen pattern there is also a coloured box on each pattern piece to help you find them faster.

The book is structured into two main sections one about general knowledge and one that includes The Projects. The General Knowledge section includes information about tools and techniques generally used to work with knits mainly using just a sewing machine. Yes, you do not have to have an overlocker/serger to sew with knits and get a professional finish. Wendy gives details on how to sew your seams, press them or how to add an elasticated waistband.

I do recommend that you read the General Knowledge section even if you are not a beginner when it comes to sewing with knits. It has a lot of information about how to sew with knits that I was not aware of. I think everyone can learn a thing or two from this book even if they are already confident working with knits.

Throughout this General Knowledge section Wendy includes what I call desk aids which are quick reference guides, such as what needles to use, threads or type of fabric to use depending on the look you want for your project.

Also, she teaches you how to use the paper sheets at the end of the book to trace the pieces for the pattern you chose to make first. This section is on page 23. Personally, I would have put it at the end of the book where the colour key is.

I think the Fabric Shopping list included with the book is quite useful. It can be scanned/ photocopied and used over an over to get organized decide the best supplies for your chosen projects (add fabric samples or notes about each fabric considered for that particular project).

In the second section of the book, for each pattern Wendy gives a detailed description, what are the techniques you will be using/learning while making that particular project, the finished garment measurements, the recommended fabrics and includes instructions to make a few variations based on that particular pattern. For each variation/hack she also mentions which pattern pieces to use.

She spends a lot of time (translated into space in the book) to make sure that a beginner stitcher does not struggle to understand the pattern markings or cutting plans. The instructions are easy to follow and the wording is supplemented with diagrams to help those like me who are more visual learners.

The patterns in the book are quite versatile and modern, which made it quite difficult for me to decide which pattern to make first. I wanted to make them all, even the Longshaw skirt, which won’t suit my body shape. I think I spent trying to decide as much as it took me to read the book. I the end, I settled on the Kinder cardigan only because I really needed a cardigan.

Picture Credit : Wendy’s Blog

I chose to make the mid length version using contrasting fabric for the pockets, neck binding and sleeve cuffs. For the main body of the fabric I used black Ponte Roma Fabric and for the contrasting fabric silver John Kaldor Jersey Fabric. I gave names to the sizes to make it easier for me to identify (XS-smallest to XL-largest) them in my head. In the book the sizes are given by the bust measurements. Based on this I cut as size S (or bust 88-92 cm). I shortened the sleeves by 4 cm so that they are not too long for me.

To make my cardigan I used both my overlocker and the sewing machine. I used the overlocker to finish off the seams while sewing them together. For the hems I used a triple zigzag stitch, as this stitch worked best with my fabrics.

It did not take me long to trace, cut and sew up my new cardigan. Using a serger makes the construction process much faster. There are no fit issues with this particular cardigan. As I mentioned before, the only change I needed to do was to shorten the sleeves.

I will make this cardigan again. I’m even tempted to try in in viscose, to see if it works. As it is quite loose and not fitted. Could end up as a kimono.

Each of the six patterns includes variations/hacks. Wendy explains how to achieve them step by step without too much trouble. Also, she encourages us to use scraps of fabrics. For example for the Kinder cardigan she suggests that one can add a contrasting rectangle on the neck band or on one of the front pieces. Where or how wide it’s up to you. This is prefect for using up scraps that you cannot give up, but which are not big enough to use in other garments.

I believe the most versatile project in the book is the Peak T-shirt. For this one Wendy gives you 6 ideas (from short sleeved Tee to dresses). Among the hacks given in the book for this pattern, particularly, I loved the patchwork version, which can be perfect for using those little pieces of your favourite knit fabrics that were left over from some other projects.

All throughout the book there are included images that show close ups of certain elements of the garments showcased in the book, such as this elasticated waistband.

This book is in my opinion a fountain of knowledge, addressed not only to beginners, but also to experienced stitchers like me. I found it interesting to learn how knitted fabrics are produced on circular knitting machines, which are then cut flat or why some fabrics have those weird glue blobs on the selvages. The book serves as an inspiration and kickstarted my imagination to come up with other ideas on how I can go beyond the ideas in the book to customise the patterns even further to make my chosen garments.

Wendy Ward’s latest book A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing With Knitted Fabric is not only a good and informative read but a beautifully illustrated book that inspires a maker’s imagination while giving clear instructions to make all the projects.

Have you made any projects from Wendy’s book? Which pattern did you chose first? Did you find it hard to decide which one to make first?

Disclaimer: I was given the book and fabrics free of charge in exchange for a review. The opinions in this article are my own and not influenced in any way the publishers or Minerva Crafts.

Thanks for reading,

Simona @ Sewing Adventures in the Attick


Unicorn Believer

Welcome to my first guest blog post for Minerva Crafts reviewing the Sublime Stitching Embroidery Transfers Unicorn Believer. 

The item arrived in perfect condition in a reinforced envelope preventing the pattern from being damaged or bent in the post.  Until the package arrived I didn’t know which product had been chosen for me to use and review.  I was really pleased with the choice as I design my own embroidery patterns & usually transfer them onto fabric by tracing with a pencil and a light source, in my case an app on my iPad, and so I was looking forward to trying a new method. 

In the sealed envelope with the pattern was an instruction leaflet, one side with instructions on how to transfer the images onto fabric and the other side detailing some basic embroidery stitches.

I like to plan the layout and sizing before transferring a design and I did a very rough trace of my chosen images into a hoop template on paper. I then cut out the patterns that were required. There is enough space around each design to make cutting easy, all of which help to make the process quicker & easier. 

Transferring the image to the fabric was very simple and I followed the details on the instruction leaflet by ironing the fabric first to heat it before applying the transfer. The designer comments if this part of the process is missed out the pattern may fail to transfer to the fabric.  I had chosen a white cotton with a fairly tight weave as the backing Fabric & I batch cut some suitable squares to be able to experiment with the transfers.

The iron must be set to hot/cotton and with the steam settings off.

I was really pleased with how the images transferred although my first attempt wasn’t as good as the following two because I didn’t apply enough equal pressure with the iron, leaving a couple of areas that were quite pale. However, the image was still clear enough to see for stitching. The transferred image is a pale grey colour similar to a fine pencil line. 

I also tested how permanent/water resistant the transfer is. I like to use fabric paints and a waterproof transfer is essential to prevent the design from running. This transfer was completely permanent and waterproof and there was no sign of bleeding into the white cotton when I applied water.

I did a couple more transfers of the smallest design and each one was equally as good. The patterns states there should be approximately 6 transfers for each image. Once the ink runs out the design can still be used as a template to trace onto fabric using my usual method.

I used two DMC Colour Variation Threads (100% cotton) for the Unicorn, heart and letters in the DMC Perle Thread. The Unicorn’s mane was stitched with a lilac DMC Metallic Thread that I had in my stock and I stitched the whole design using a simple backstitch.

The fine lines of the transfer worked well under the light coloured thread and couldn’t be seen under the stitches and also didn’t smudge whilst handling the fabric, which can sometimes happen with a pencil transfer.

The finished work was mounted in a 4 inch white Flexi Hoop.

Overall, I was really impressed with the design, ease of transferring the pattern and the quality of the transfer.  I like being able to mix and match the designs and my stitches easily covered the lines of the pattern.

There are many Sublime Stitching Embroidery Transfer Designs and I plan to use more of them in the future from Minerva Crafts and have already started working on another Unicorn picture.

Thank you for reading my review,

Helen @ Just Sew Helen


Super Warm Faux Fur Collar Easy Knit Jumper by Anastasya

Hi guys!

I got the change to try out the Peter Pan Precious Yarn and when I received the yarn, I was really happy to see how fantastically soft and furry and huggable it is! It spoke to me in a warm whisper and it said “fur”.

I went back to the Minerva site and found a Knitting Pattern with the largest collar I could see.

Luckily, it was easy-knit and included larger sizes – both essential, as I was planning to knit it by myself for myself. The pattern is really very simple. All you need to know is knit and purl stitch. You use knit 2 purl 2 rib for bottom, cuffs and collar and knit row purl row for the rest of the jumper.

After consulting Nelly, my favourite elephant (you can see her looking bemused in the corner of the picture) I added some old wool, a pair of knitting needles and a glass of red. I was ready to begin.

I began. Knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2… Then I put on some music. Knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2… pick up dropped stitch… knit 2, purl 2… Then I found some more old wool, as I didn’t have nearly enough. Luckily, I had the same type of wool in a different colour. Nelly was sniggering in the corner, but I ignored her. Those who can do – do, those who cannot do – critique, those who cannot critique - manage. Nelly is a born manager. I am not. So, back to work I go: knit 2, purl 2… Two weeks and a bottle or two later I had a jumper: three colours, three textures, the softest, furriest and huggabliest collar ever. The third texture was obtained by the simple expedient of turning the sleeves, knitted according to the pattern, inside out.

I was happy. But Nelly wasn’t – look at her, looking positively despondent under my beautiful new jumper!

She thought the collar needed to be balanced by something else, just as furry. There is nothing more infuriating than a back-seat knitter, especially when they are right! I added a strip at the bottom by embroidering it on top with a latch-hook (someone with more malice of forethought can just knit the strip to begin with). It did look better.

The strip balances the collar in front.

and on the back.

If you make it big enough, you can also change the shape of the collar – for extra ventilation and allure.

I am happy – and so is Nelly. Here she is, giving you a wave. Until next time!

Thanks for reading,

Anastasya @ Scarlet Line


Prym Ergonomic Sewing Tools Gift Box Review by Kathy

Hi everyone, it's Kathy here from and I have had the pleasure of testing out this super Prym Ergonomic Sewing Tools Gift Box, available here at Minerva Crafts for £18.99.
The kit contains four handy sewing tools all packaged together so is perfect to give as a gift, or as a treat to yourself! As you would expect with Prym tools, they are high quality and built to last, and as the name suggests- they have ergonomic anti-slip handles to assist you with fatigue free movement.
I recently tested out my new tools on my latest sewing toile and was delighted that I could use all four on one single project!
The Tracing Wheel
The Tracing Wheel is a fine toothed tracing wheel which is used to transfer pattern markings onto pattern paper or fabric, and can be used alone or with tracing paper. It draws a clear dotted line.
I used it with some dressmakers tracing paper to transfer pattern markings from my traced pattern piece (a skirt waistband) onto the wrong side of the fabric. I had already cut the waistband piece out.
In the picture below I have placed the tracing paper on the table with the 'chalky' side up. I then placed the fabric on the top of this with the wrong side down. The pattern markings will now transfer on to the wrong side of the fabric. The pattern piece is placed on the top, and the pattern markings that you need to trace will be clearly visible.
I am showing you here how I ran the wheel along the 'centre front' line marking on the pattern. You can do this 'freehand' or use a ruler if you prefer.
When you turn the fabric over you will see the wheel has left a clear dotted line.
I also used the tracing wheel and tracing paper for some of the other pattern markings. Here you can see I marked short straight lines on the bottom edge to show where the notches are, and crosses to show where the small circles are.
The Stitch Ripper
The Stitch Ripper has a sharp blade with a rounded tip. It is suitable for right and left handers and the handle length can be extended by using the end cap. What can I say guys.. you can never have too many seam rippers! I used the seam ripper on this project to remove the line of basting that I had sewn when inserting the zip.
The Needle Twister
I love a good sewing gadget and have wanted to get my hands on one of these magic devices for a while now. The Needle Twister stores and protects your sewing or darning needles and displays them like a fan, so that you can select the one you need quickly and easily. You simply take the top off and twist the needles up. It contains a magnet inside to ensure that the needles stay put and when twisted back down again the cap snaps into place making it a great travel accessory too. I used my needle twister on this project when I needed to hand sew the waistband to the skirt on the inside.
It is suitable for needles up to 64mm in length and these are not included - I popped in some new needles that I had in a packet in my sewing basket. You can find packets of needles on the Minerva Crafts site.
The Chalk Wheel
So this is another way of transferring pattern markings onto your fabric, and I used it on the other end of the waistband piece as a comparison with the tracing wheel technique. The Chalk Wheel contains dressmakers chalk in powder form which will brush/wash out when you are done with it. It has a small wheel at the top of the pen which draws a fine chalk line. As with the other tools it is suitable for right and left handers.
I am showing you how I marked the 'centre back' line using the chalk wheel. I popped a pin at either end of the line that I wanted to mark, flipped the piece over and, using a ruler, ran the chalk wheel  from one pin to the other, (I removed the pins at the last minute to enable the ruler to lay flat),  on the wrong side of the fabric. This leaves a fine chalk line which I somehow managed to smudge a little.  Again, the chalk line will disappear when rubbed or washed away. 
I also used the chalk pen to mark out the notches on the lower edge with short lines and the circle markings by marking crosses.
What's also great about this particular tool is that you can swap over the chalk cartridge either when you have used up the chalk or when you want to use a different colour. Refill cartridges are available on the Minerva Crafts website in either white or yellow chalk. Simply pull the old one out and click the new one in! This tool also comes with a lid to protect the wheel.
A huge thank you to Minerva Crafts for allowing me to test out this super gift set. They are great quality and comfortable and easy to use, and all will play a very important part in my future dressmaking needs.
Take care, and happy sewing,
Kathy x

Summer Tops to Wedding Gowns, Supreme Chiffon Fabric

I love to layer garments! I need to be warm, but don't like thick restrictive clothes. In summer I rarely wear cardigans, but still like to be warm, often wearing open shirts over summer tops and dresses. Equally I don't have much need for formal clothes, so I like to make things that can fulfil both functions.
When I had the opportunity to review this delicate Chiffon Fabric that's available in over 30 colours I knew exactly what I'd make with it.
Marcy Tilton's Vogue 9153 was a pattern I'd already made. It's incredibly versatile due to its asymmetric design.
You can make it just like the pattern. However, you can use each side of it to make a symmetrical shirt. I already have 3 completely different shirts from this pattern.
I chose the Ivory Chiffon as I thought it'd work well with loads of different coloured fabrics. The fabric has a crepe finish more like georgette giving it a lovely soft drape. It's remarkably strong, but suits fuller designs as it shouldn't be too tight at seams.
This isn't a fabric for someone very new to sewing, it moves at all stages of making a garment and can be difficult to cut on grain. If using on the bias it'll need hanging to allow it to drop before hemming. Also put it on to get the hem level. Patience and preparation is key to success. Stabilising with spray starch will help with cutting out and making, but the starch will need to be washed out before wearing to regain the beautiful characteristics of the cloth.
Fine, long pins are going to help throughout, as well as a size 70 machine needle.
Scissors or rotary cutter? This has to come down to preference. I hate having to move fabric around as I don't have a permanent cutting table with a large cutting board, however, with such a transient fabric I chose to cut out one piece at a time. Stopping it from slipping and getting the fabric on grain is the most important thing. I started by making sure my pattern layout would work as I didn't pin all the pieces at the same time. I always lay fabric parallel to edge of my table or cutting surface as it helps to keep everything parallel. I used a long ruler and weights to do this. My ruler came from Wilko and the weights from a discount supermarket.
I pinned each major pattern piece and cut it. Always pin out to the edges at corners and at regular intervals in between, closer together on curves. Pinning with the points toward the edge keeps the pattern in the right place, making sure the pins don't stick out past the edge so you don't ruin your scissors or rotary cutter.
As you cut the weight of the fabric hanging off the table is going to pull it off grain. As I cut I lift the fabric onto the table to help keep everything in line.
There are many ways to transfer pattern markings to your fabric. It's essential to try out any pens on a sample of fabric before committing to your cloth to be sure they will really disappear! On such a delicate cloth I used traditional methods using a light coloured thread. A coloured thread can leave fibres in the cloth.
For darts I used tailors tacks, making a very small stitch through the dot of the dart.
On a firmer fabric I often only mark the top and bottom of fold lines, however on this delicate cloth I thread traced the centre front and fold lines. Making long stitches along the pattern lines with a double thread. Cut between each stitch and carefully remove the pattern.
This fabric is see through so multiple layers will be more opaque and any interfacing is going to show. A fusible interfacing might change the characteristics of the fabric and the glue might be really obvious. I used Silk Organza to interface the button stand and the collar. I like silk organza because it's not a solid colour and adds stability without being too stiff.
It was important for me that the seams and hems were to be a design feature of this shirt. It's impossible to hide them, so I wanted to make them part of the finished garment. French seams are ideal for translucent fabric, making them as narrow as possible. However, I wanted something a bit more obvious! I use felled seams for shirts and to have solid areas of fabric in this shirt appealed to me. The felled seams created bands of solid fabric which I really like. This type of seam takes a bit more preparation, stitching and trimming, pressing and probably tacking before the final stitching. This pattern also has exposed darts made on the right side of one side that need some careful matching at the side seam, especially as the three layers of fabric make them more obvious.
The right front has a gathered casing. I'd intended to leave this out, but it made the shirt really lopsided, so I inserted elastic into a casing and secured it to the side seam with a button.
If, like me, you make a collar or cuffs, neck bands etc, you need to give some thought to how to do them. I used a layer of silk organza tacked to both layers of the collar and collar band, trimmed very close to the stitching line. However the seam allowances still show.
I'm happy with that, but trimming evenly and reducing bulk round curves and corners is essential as the inner workings are going to show unless you use a solid fabric for interfacing. If you choose a coloured chiffon the interfacings are going to affect the colour of the fabric, white might not be the best choice, a coloured cotton will add more intensity of colour if that's the effect you want.
I use a Simflex buttonhole gauge to space buttonholes. 
A tip is to make buttonholes starting at the bottom of the shirt, as you move up to the next buttonhole the threads don't get caught into the next one.
Chiffon snags easily, so I prefer to use a buttonhole chisel to open my buttonholes. A blunt stitch ripper could spoil your garment, often at the centre front where it's so obvious.
I made one other alteration to this pattern, adding a seam to the front of the sleeve with a split down to the hem. It's certainly not important, but it achieved the effect I was after.
As I wanted the contrast between single and multiple layers of this fabric the hems were also important, making them a design feature. This was achieved with a deep hem, tacking them along the fold line might take more time, but really helped in getting a good finish.
This is a lovely fabric in so many different colours. It'll look beautiful as a floaty layer over tulle and perfect for special occasion wear, including bridal and prom dresses. Also great for swimwear cover ups as well as beautiful summer tops worn over camisoles and just slipping on as summer evening get slightly cooler.
Thanks for reading,

Wendy Ward Book Review by Sarah

Wendy Wards much anticipated new book 'A Beginners Guide to Working With Knit Fabrics', has been a complete success, flying off the shelves to a quick sell out as soon as it was released. When you get your hands on it I think you will quickly understand why.

Sewing knits always seems to be a nerve inducing experience for new sewists. There seems to be a myth that it's harder to work with knit fabrics and more difficult to get the correct fabric for your projects without some prior existing sewing knowledge. Well I can confidently say that Wendy manages to push all your worries about working with knits aside in this book and makes it a really accessible new skill to acquire. She guides us through every step from picking your first project, even suggesting the easiest ones from the book for complete beginners, which tools you need, picking fabrics, understanding stretch, how to measure yourself and use the size charts, how to wash and care for your knits and how to sew together each item, all with great instructions, pictures and illustrations.

My first make from the book was the Longshaw skirt. I was inspired, looking ahead to long summer days when I wanted something floaty to wear. The great thing about this is that you can also pair it with either of the tops in the book, the Peak tee or the Winnat tank, or sew them together to make a dress. With versatility in mind I opted for separates and a neutral colour. Black after all goes with everything, it's just a total pain to photograph! I teamed it with a black tank, feeling that as with the faux jumpsuits I have seen all over Instagram I could make it look like a dress when I wanted to. I think it works well and it feels kind of elegant to wear but with the added bonus of being like secret pyjamas!

The skirt is incredibly simple, only consisting of three pieces and some elastic. It took me less than an hour to put together and I love it! There is an interesting drape detail at the sides which forms two really deep pockets and it’s a great little design feature which sets it apart from other simple jersey skirts.

I used caviar black Art Gallery Jersey Fabric from Minerva, it isn't cheap but it is really good quality and has good recovery which you want for this skirt as you want the hem of the skirt to be able to stretch when you walk. I actually learnt that it isn't appropriate to use a twin needle on these types of hems as it won't stretch enough so this is my first time hemming something with a three step zig zag stitch. I have been sewing with knits for a couple of years now and I am still learning and picking up tips and I love that even a simple project meant I learnt something new.

The second item is a black Winnats tank top, again made in the caviar black jersey. This pattern can also be lengthened into a dress, something that I think I will do with some other Art Gallery Fabric I own. I feel the fit on this is loose enough to avoid tummy issues with clingy jersey!!

This top came together impeccably and I love the fact I have a wonderful basic to throw together with jeans or other skirts and that it makes a complete outfit when paired with the Longshaw skirt. I lengthened the top about six cms from the normal hem line suggested for the top. I have a bit of a tummy and find longer tops I can ruche up a little more forgiving on me.

Finally I made the Peak Tee in the cropped length, which for those worried it will be too short for them I can reassure that it's not too cropped! Made in another Art Gallery Knit Fabric I just love how these beautiful jerseys can be showcased on such a simple silhouette. I will definitely be lining up some batch sewing for more summer tees very soon! I didn’t think that sewing basics could be so much fun but I love it. This tee was so simple to make and these patterns are so well drafted that they come together impeccably.

The thing I like most about this book is that every single project is straightforward. Having sewn three items from this book I can attest that they all went together with ease, they were quick to make and best of all, possible to sew together on a normal sewing machine. No overlocker required. The projects create a mini capsule wardrobe of basics that sit perfectly with each other and slide into those holes we all have in our closets. I love the Winnat tank paired in this photo with an existing me made Esme cardigan from Named Patterns. I think the Kinder cardigan in Wendy’s book would also be great for this look.

Wendy also shows us variations to expand each pattern and make it our own, I love the examples of the Peak tee cut from scraps of fabric and the box shaped shirring that makes gathers on one side of the tee for an interesting detail. So many cool ideas to try. She also shows us colour blocking techniques to great effect. Plus on top of what I have shown you, there are a couple of trouser patterns and a lovely cardigan to try so lots more options to sew up.

Overall a fantastic book and I have been so happy to be able to review it. Go out and buy it and start your journey sewing up knits now!!

Sarah @ Sewing Beautifully

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