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New Eliza M Sample Garments

Hi De Hi! 
June is Indie Pattern Month over at The Monthly Stitch (check it out, it's good!) so what a fantastic time to showcase our lovely friends who produce the Eliza M Patterns! They've brought out a few new patterns recently and used our fabrics to show case them!
First off the bat (and my personal favourite I think) is the Audrey Dress. Featuring a wide Boat Neckline, a low V back and a wooshy skirt (yes that is the technical term) this is a true vintage gem!
For this image they have featured our Sea Blue Floral Stripe Print Rayon Satin and they couldn't have chosen a more perfect fabric. The way the print flows down the dress is perfect and the weight of the fabric is just right for sitting over the netted petticoat.
It's very easy to imagine a dress like this in a polka dot cotton, so to see this made in a satin is truly inspiring.
Next in line is the Betty Dress! An obvious favourite of mine, the Betty features a halter neck with nautical-esq collar detailing. Another full circle skirt so you can swoosh the night away!
Think gingham is just for young girls? Think polycotton is just for tablecloths? No and no! Our everyday 1 Inch Gingham Polycotton at a pocket friendly £3.99 p/m in Royal Blue is this feature fabric. Honest! Lightweight and crisp, this fabric is perfect for this kind of dress. Just screams Daytime cocktails, doesn't it? Plus, it won't crease that badly so you can carry it on through to the night. 
It's also available in a ba-jillion colours! (well...15)
Last, but of course not least, is the Hop and Swing Pants featured in our Ex-Barbour Camel Check 100% Wool Suiting. High Waisted with a super wig leg, these will add a figure to anyone. Perfect if you're not quite a skirt person because you can still sashay and sway.
I love this fabric choice, too. Perfect for a chilly British autumn
A certain A/W 2015 staple in the Katie Betty Wardrobe.
It's always fun to see pattern such as these sewn up in different fabrics, I find it helps inspire you and aids you in thinking out of the box so you can make something truly yours and not just as it is on the pattern packet! Have you had any pattern revelations recently?
Katie B

The Brides Dress

Hello everyone,
And so to Vicki's dress!
I've had the dress and lining cut out for a few days now. We are using pure silk dupion fabric (yes I won haha!) for the base dress and a lovely weight lining. I could have chosen one of our lighter weight linings but I felt that the heavier one will add more body to the dress, baring in mind that we are not going to have a net underskirt.
I am using Simplicity pattern 1606 for the top of the dress (a bit of a change since last time we spoke). 
This is one of the Amazing Fit patterns by Simplicity. You get 4 different cup sizes ranging from A through to D. Whereas I am lucky in the fact that being small busted all sewing patterns fit me in that department, Vicki needs a bigger cup and this pattern has certainly done the job. I've got a really good fit on her using this pattern and she feels comfortable in it.
As you have probably guessed I am using view A, but with ordinary shoulder straps, not the halterneck. 
The skirt part I have adapted from the older Simplicity pattern as mentioned before (1909). Unfortunately this pattern is now out of print but Butterick 5710 is really similar.
The shape of the skirt on this pattern is exactly as Vicki wants, but I've had to cut it off at the waist point and although there is both a short and long train, Vicki wanted it in the her to be awkward haha! Nothing is straight forward with Vicki :)
I am using Vilene Easy Fuse on the bodice lining piece but on the actual silk bodice I am using a medium weight sew in interfacing
My new sewing machine (Pfaff Performance 5 - I know, how lucky am I?) has a 'tacking' stitch but at the moment it seems to pucker up a bit. When I get a minute I'll read the instructions properly! So instead I am resorting to the best method I know which is a form of tacking that tailors use. It attaches the whole piece, not just the edges. This tacking stays in until the very end, so it doesn't move. When you eventually take it out, this forms a superb interlining. The tacking thread I am using is Gutermann Basting Thread. It comes in three colours and I am using the yellow one which shows up enough on the ivory fabric to see where the stitches are, but is discreet enough to not stand out and take your eyes off the more important details as the dress is being made. A tip is not to sew these tacks near the edges. The reason is because they just don't need too, because the middle stitches hold it all in place and when sewing the actual seams, your stitches now wont get sewn in. What a job that would be picking them out!
The Vilene Easy Fuse is a superb iron on interfacing especially for ease of use. It irons on perfectly, you can virtually iron over it once and its attached! Not the usual 20 seconds on each little bit as with cheaper interfacings. Well worth the money in my opinion.
These two interfacing's I feel are providing enough support for Vicki because we are having straps. It should prove to be quite comfortable on the day. If we had been making it without straps (which was the original plan), more like a basque, then it would have had to have had much more body and quite a lot of boning. As it is I'm thinking of just boning the side seams, we'll see!
And so now after having sewn the seams in the back and front pieces I am now ready to start the skirt.
Because I am happy with the fit of the dress toille I can carry on with the side front and side back seams.
I am not using picking shears on the wedding dress because I know Vicki will want to keep the dress and also just because it is the wedding dress! I am just using a small zigzag stitch to neaten the edges.
Well folks, that's as far as I've got. I'll be back soon to update you on my progress :)
Bye for now,

Pattern of the Week! Butterick 6094 Vintage Style Dresses with Back Detail

Hey Guys!
Seriously, how exciting is this new feature? You've no idea how giddy we are about Pattern of the Week here at Minerva HQ. I of course get the best job of being able to write about them and I am SO excited for my first write up to be about this pattern. 
Designed by Gertie of "Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing" fame, the dress features a classic high boat neckline, close fitting lined bodice and flared skirt creating a classic vintage silhouette. But wait, there's more. Back detail.
Oh yes. BACK DETAIL! It's almost cheeky. A little bit like when you flash a bit of petticoat! I adore this feature, particularly as it's a bit of a surprise. The front gives nothing away! I also love the use of Self Covered Buttons (love a button me).
Another thing to love about this pattern is it's very multi-functional. You can create a formal version with a Satin or Taffeta, or create an equally lovely version in a poplin. The world is your oyster with fabric choices for this pattern. Any light-medium woven fabric will suit it. The envelope information even recommends a tweed. A TWEED! How can you not be excited by that prospect?! 
"A tweed? With a flared skirt like that? Surely Not!" I hear you cry. Well! This pattern has another trick up its sleeve (so to speak) with the inclusion of a second skirt version. A gorgeous straight skirt, creating an equally striking and classic silhouette.
On my travels around the blogosphere I stumbled across Nicole from "Sartorial Sewing?" and she made up this version here, and it is lovely!
Business in the front...
Party in the back!
Nicole actually mentions in her write up that it looks like a simple shift in the front, admittedly with some interesting seam work, then Boom! It just wows you. 
Another great version of this pattern that I saw is actually a hack. Vicki and I have been chatting about pattern hacking a lot recently so it's really interesting that we stumbled across this one. Demi from Carbon Chic has done this really interesting mash up of this pattern with Vogue 8789, making use of the button detailing on the shoulders (more buttons!)
I also love how she's used a plain fabric for the back feature and a patterned fabric for the main piece. A cheeky twist on an already twisty pattern!
Also, who doesn't love a bow?
As if all this wasn't reason enough to pick up this gem of a pattern, it's now available for only £4.00! FOUR BRITISH POUNDS! I bet you can see why we're all giddy about it now! I have a big birthday bash coming up and I thought I'd chosen the pattern I wanted...may have to go back to the pinterest drawing board!
See ya soon Sewers!
Katie B x

Making my Wedding Outfit - The Coat and an Update on the Dress

Hello again,
As far as the coat is concerned with my outfit for mother of the bride, would you believe I have looked at 3 more jackets since we last spoke about this - and even made toilles for them all!
However after getting all this out of my system I am sticking to my original choice which was Burda 7077.
It could be said I've wasted time making these other toilles, and it did feel like that at first, but I am left feeling completely satisfied that I've made the right choice so I'm happy!
I have cut out the pattern in the 'real' fabric now (the lovely stretch brocade) and sewn it as far as my toille was sewn. The interfacing I used was my trusty Vilene Easy Fuse and I've used black interfacing on the black fabric and white interfacing on the ivory.
After applying the interfacing to the facing, sewn it on the coat and trimmed and clipped the curves, I am now tacking (with basting thread) the facing in place and slightly rolling it with my fingers so the seam 'sits' on the inside.
The sleeves have proved quite easy to insert and I've made them a little longer than the pattern suggests, literally by just sewing a 1inch hem instead of a 1/2inch hem.
Although there are no allowances for shoulder pads on the pattern I feel I need some because I am suite narrow on the shoulders.
The ones I have chosen to use are our Hemline shoulder pads H902.SB. These are small (just 13mm thick) and they sit nicely on my shoulders. They are actually making the coat hang better. Bonus!
That's as far as I've got with the jacket. The next job I tackled was to sew the lining for the dress.
The dress is fitting nicely and my usual thing of cutting a size 12 going into a 14 at the waist and hips has worked yet again. Virtually no fitting required. I am now left with quite a bit of hand sewing, which, if I get pushed for time, I can do at nights.
Likewise with my coat there is now just hand sewing left to do.
Well that rounds up where I am up to so far. The next step is to really tackle the brides dress.
I'll be back soon to update you on my progress!
Bye for now,
Annette x

Making my Wedding Outfit - The Dress

Hello again,
Well here I am making my actual dress to wear as mother of the bride for Vicki's wedding on the 4th of July!
It's even more scary than cutting out the toille. Which pieces to do in ivory and which to do in black? It was decision time!
One things for sure - I'm taking my time. You can see from the pictures it's coming along nicely. Two years ago when I decided on making a dress and coat I was convinced I would make it up in our pure silk dupion fabric. When my eldest daughter got married years ago the outfit I made then was in this fabric. 
However since then, Vicki mentioned to me we had a beautiful brocade fabric come into stock. And what two colours was it is - only black and ivory, what luck! It was a fabric we had sourced from a fashion house which means it was in limited supply, so I cut off a length of each colour and kept it to one side just in case I decided on using it. It turns out it was a good job I did as we sold out of both fabrics ages ago! 
I have spent months debating on which fabric to use. In the end it was Vicki who convinced me to go for the brocade. Her reasoning was because the coat is such a simple style, the very subtle patterning in the brocade (as opposed to the almost completely plain (apart from the slub texture) of the pure silk dupion), will make it look more 'designer'. 
It is actually much easier to sew in my chosen fabric than the polycotton was, or the dupion would have been. This is because the brocade has a little bit of stretch to it across the width. This stretchy-ness allowed me to manipulate the curves easier than the polycotton. 
When you are fitting the 'curves' together, after you've aligned the notches etc, it is then best to clip the curves. It's surprising how it elongates the seam.
Well I must say I am really pleased with the top front.
I've taken my time and all has gone to plan. So far so good. 
It's years since I've used sew on interfacing. I think most of us find that iron on is much easier. However on my dress it is suggesting sew on. This is tacked in on the main pieces. I suppose I could have ironed some on to the lining but I felt it wouldn't be quite right.
And now on to the zip. Many of you will know I do have a 'mental block' when it comes to concealed zips! But I must use them in all of these wedding outfits. A friend of mine who is quite new to dressmaking  had a go at inserting one with no help, just a brief look on Youtube and dived in so to speak. It was perfect and she has now inserted quite a few! So here goes...
First side pinned in.
First side being sewn. 
Second side pinned.
Second side sewn. I can't actually believe this - it looks perfect! I can breathe a sigh of relief now. One zip down!
And so I'll leave my dress for a while now, only because I am hoping to loose just a couple of pounds more in the next couple of weeks and it wont make any major difference to the fit, only the side seams. 
Until next time,

My Mother of The Bride Sewing Project - The Toille

Hi Everyone,
For the last few days I've concentrated on sewing my own outfit for my daughters wedding and put the bridesmaid dresses to one side.
I decided two years ago I would wear a dress and coat for Vicki and Richard's wedding and when I saw Burda pattern 7077 I fell in love with it. 
It's quite an elegant but simple style coat. However I wasn't too keen on the dress, it seemed too plain.
The first choice for my dress was Butterick 5998.
I then found Vogue 8948.
Both of which as you can see adapt beautifully to the ivory/black theme inu using both colours of the same fabric in the same dress.
And then just recently I spotted Vogue 1432 from the latest issue.
Look closely at this picture and you can see all the panels around the bust area (this images doesn't to the pattern justice in my opinion!) 
I visualized it in ivory and black making full use of the front cut of the dress and it blew me away!
What hasn't 'blown me away' is the amount of fiddly pieces which obviously I've had the addition of sorting out into black and ivory pieces. As I did for the bride and bridesmaid dresses, I toilled this dress first in ivory and black polycotton fabric.
As the pattern suggests I worked from piece 1, joined piece 2, joined piece 3 etc,. So piece 1 I cut in ivory, piece 2 in black, joined these together than cut piece 3 in ivory and joined these together etc, etc,.
I couldn't decide which colour to do the side pieces in which are small triangles. So I did one in black and one in ivory on the toille. In the end the ivory was definitely the right choice. It defines the black stripes as in there are two on each side, overlapping in the middle. 
I have never put as much work in a toille before so I'm hoping it's worth it.
Another option would have been to have a black dress with ivory panels, rather than an ivory dress with a small amount of black (which is what I decided on in the end). I do think I suit black so I was tempted to make the dress predominately black, but it will dull the ivory of the coat. Plus I think the ivory option is more wedding-y! But the main thing at the moment is to get the fit right - colour choices can come later! By making a toille I can see how the colours look too.
Another possibility is to make the coat edge to edge and instead of the round neck on the pattern, shape it down from the shoulder seam to where the black finishes. 
As usual when sewing for myself I cut the top part of the pattern in a size 12 and shaped it down the sides into a 14. This works well for me every time, I hope I haven't spoken too soon!
One change I am making to the coat pattern is not to have pockets. If you look at the pattern they are within the hip line seam. Now because I am not doing the pockets and also because there is no shaping on this seam I am joining the pattern pieces together. 
I am just using pins because then I can always make the coat again at a later date with pockets. 
So far so good I am very pleased with how the coat toille has sewn up. There isn't much I can share with you about making up the coat toille apart from it was very straight forward. I've 2 pictures to show you. The first once here shows how it would look as the pattern is.
And this one with the neckline folded in to form a V neck.
This would show a little bit of the dress underneath. I can't decide whether this would look good or not. I think I need to try it on with my hat, bag and shoes. My hat is ivory and black and I have a black bag and black patent shoes.
Well that's it now for the toilles. I'll be back soon to share progress on the 'real' dress!
Until next time,
Annette x

Flower Girl Dress - Update

Today I'm concentrating on Lexi's flower girl dress. I've decided on Butterick pattern 3351 which as you can see looks quite summery. 
We went up to Coundon in County Durham to see my Nephew and family over the weekend. We had a lovely time however it's not done my weight loss any good!
I took the boned underskirt and the toille of the dress up with me and also a length of the lace fabric that the 'real' dress will be made from, so Lexi could see it.
I thought after waiting so long to see the dress she may be a little disappointed if she'd only seen the toille in plain polycotton. Lexi (who is only 5) was absolutely delighted and kept twirling the underskirt round. She cant wait to be a bridesmaid again and we couldn't have hoped for a better reaction from her about the dress!
And so to sew it!
This gorgeous fabric we have chosen is a net base with lots of little flowers sewn on to it and lots of embroidery. 
I am using the toille top pieces to line the fabric and act as an interlining (waste not want not!). I feel it needs a bit more body (no pun intended) so I'm applying my go-to iron-on interfacing (Vilene Easy Fuse). This will give it that firmness that it needs. I'm using my usual tailors tacking stitch.
For the straps of the dress we are using this trimming.
It compliments the dress fabric beautifully. At first we thought it was a trim made out of identical fabric but on closer inspection it is different. It has more beads than the fabric, but they still work together really well, in fact the beads make the straps look really special, like it was meant to be.
I am lining the trimming with our Berisford double satin ribbon in colour 419, in 35mm wide. With a matching Gutermann sewing thread (colour 111) I will now sew this from the right side with with a running stitch or a backstitch to attach them together. 
Well that's as far as I've got so far! I hope your enjoying reading my wedding sewing adventures!
Until next time,
Annette x

Cummerbunds for the Bridesmaids

Hi again,
Well I've made the cummerbund for Jessica's bridesmaid dress since we last spoke. I can't decide whether I like it or not!
I love the bow but it could do with being a little bit bigger and I'm now thinking to do a straight band instead of slightly curved. The bow I've made (which I'll talk about later) will come in for Lexi's dress too.
For the straight cummerbund I am cutting the waist size plus 5 inches. This gives me plenty for the end seams plus a good overlap. You can always cut down but not add on! I have tacked on a piece of sew in Vilene interfacing. The width by the way I've cut at 7.5 inches. 
For the bow I've cut a template out of Vilene Easy Fuse. It measures 10.5 inches from the extreme points and 5.5 inches across the middle. They are the same size as the first bow which is now going to be used for Lexi's dress. For these four slightly bigger bows I will sew 1/4inch from the edge whereas the one Lexi is having I used the full 5/8inch seam allowance. Overall it should bring them to 1/2inch longer and 1/2inch wider. This is hopefully big enough!
I have cut the two pieces in ivory satin, 1 piece in Vilene easy fuse, 1 piece in sew-in Vilene and because I know the size of the bow I have cut the Velcro that will be attached to the bow. On all of these four I have applied the Vilene easy fuse to one side of the bow and then over on the silk side I have attached the soft side of Velcro in 30mm wide.
I have applied the sew in Vilene to the other silk wrong side. It's a good idea to trim off any excess interfacing both sew on and iron on because it can distract your line of sewing when at the machine. Pin both sides together ensuring the Velcro is on the inside! Make sure you pin towards the centre, by doing this you can keep the pins in until you have finished sewing.
Mark with two pins where you are going to sew from and too. 
Next clip the corners, there are no curved edges so you don't need to snip these. After turning them right sides out I have tucked in the raw edges and then machine sewed along the entire bottom edge, this looks fine and has saved some time!
After taking the tacking out and pressing both sides they are now ready for the buckle. This is the buckle we have chosen for the adult bridesmaids and a smaller version of the same buckle for Lexi's dress. They are such a beautiful quality crystal diamante, they will sparkle and catch the light and look gorgeous on each of the dresses.
I have sort of pleated the bow at the centre then threaded them through the buckle. I'm not sure if you can tell from this picture!
Again I have used the large hand sew tacks for the cummerbund and interfacing. It does take a while but it is well worth tacking it in. It certainly helps with keeping the interfacing straight and therefore not puckering up.
To turn it inside out I used a knitting needle, using the knob inside the cummerbund. After turning it fully through, before pressing it, I inserted the pointed end up towards the corners to push them out. A point turner is usually very good for this job but with the cummerbunds being quite long I find the knitting needle gets to these corners much more easily. If you try this be very careful not to push too hard, it is quite easy to push the point straight through!
For the next step which is the fastening I have used 50mm wide Velcro. I have sewn the 'soft' side to the underside of the cummerbund (the end that is finished).
Next I have cut a piece of the 30mm hook side to match the length on the back of the bow. This I have stitched on the top side of the cummerbund over where the 50mm was sewn.
This is where the bow will be attached too. I forgot to say I've left the other end of the cummerbund open at the moment because apparently there are going to be these unbelievable weight losses in the next four weeks!! But hey I've room to talk as I'm still hoping to lose a few more pounds before the big day haha! But to be serious it will only take a few minutes to finish each one so it's not a problem.
Last but not least I just wanted to mention that they actually feel padded. This is because there are two layers of Vilene in the middle (because I folded them in half) and with me not using iron on it feels quite spring-y. That's the only way I can describe it but I'm well suited with how they've turned out! Here are all 5 together;
Bye for now everyone,
Annette x

Bridesmaid Dress Update

Just a quick update today. Well here I am 'finally' making the bridesmaid dresses. We've changed our minds so many times, had a few fitting problems with the toilles, thank goodness I made them for us all. The fabric we eventually decided to use for the bridesmaid dresses is our black pure silk dupion
The weeks are flying by and because in reality the dresses are only being worn for one day I have decided to cut out the fabric with pinking shears to save on having to finish off all the seams. (Having seen my ironing board cover I'm beginning to wonder if I made the right decision!)
Next comes inserting the concealed zip. A tip I found on Youtube is to iron the zips teeth away from the tape. It really does seem to sew in easier and give an even neater and more 'invisible' finish.
I am following the pattern instructions in as much as I am putting the little cap sleeves in before the side seams. After this the lining is sewn to the dress on the neckline. One thing I am doing different is I am lining the sleeves. Whereas on the instructions it just tells you to turn up a narrow hem, I feel adding a lining will add a nice amount of body to the sleeve.
I am using our best quality lining in the standard weight. Our beautiful lighter weight lining would have been ideal if they had been more floaty dresses. 
The sleeves have gone in really well. One thing I love about these sleeves is the pleated tops, they are so easy to sew in. The only thing I am disappointed with on the way I have sewn in the sleeves is that you may be able to see the raw edge so I am trimming this down to 1/4inch and then covering the seam with bias binding. The one I am using is the stretch satin bias which is very soft and just the right width. Yes, I'm very pleased with that!
And now to the side seams. Going off the toille I need to sew 1" seams, which I will then trim down with pinking shears. Talking of pinking shears, I have near enough tried every brand and no matter how much you pay I always find them heavy handed and cumbersome for my small hands, or the other problem is they stop cutting just short of the edge. However both of these problems have been eliminated with my current pair of Hemline ones. They are simply amazing!
All I have to do now is hand sew the lining around the zip. The hem I am probably going to leave until I have all 4 adult bridesmaids together with their shoes on so I can get them all looking the same. 
Oh yes and then there is the 'apron effect'...but more on that later!
Until next time,
Annette x

Flower Girl Dress - The Underskirt

Hi Everyone, 
I'm still cracking on with all the outfits I'm making for Vicki's wedding.
The next toille I am making is little Lexi's, but first I need to make the underskirt. The pattern I am using for this is Butterick 5901.
The structure this pattern will create will save me hours and hours of work sewing layers and layers of net fabric. It is basically rectangles of fabric (using ivory polycotton fabric again).
After the side and back seams are sewn, three strips of tape or bias binding are stitched on to the fabric. These stitching lines are shown on the pattern, so before I take off the pattern pieces I have marked these lines either with pins or I've snipped into the side or back seams.
Now the pattern just states to use 'boning' so I decided to try Rigilene at first but unfortunately it didn't hold the structure. It keeps dipping inwards at one side. So plan B, I'm using steel boning instead. 
This stuff is very strong and stiff and I'm sure will hold the structure very well. 
I have a vision in my mind of the Yul Brynner film 'The King and I' where all the Thai ladies get all dressed up in their 'English' dresses and when the King enters the room they all drop to the floor bowing to the King as is their custom. The hoops of the dresses spring up at the back and show all their bloomers!! I hope that doesn't happen to our little Lexi haha!
So, to insert the steel boning into the underskirt. The width of the underskirt is 75" so I am cutting the bottom hoop at 76", so I can overlap the two ends by 1".
The pattern suggests to cut all 3 boning lengths the same but because we want more of a graduated and softer look, I am cutting the middle one at 73" and the top one at 70". The steel boning although very hard to cut (you need to use pliers), is very easy to insert through the bias binding.
I have unpicked a little of the bias casing, then I thought of using glue to stick the ends of the boning together with masking tape over the top. But I hate using glue!
In the end I fastened the boning together with some extra strong double sided tape, then covered it with masking tape. I'm not going to sew the ends of the casing up yet. Il see how the tape holds and if there are any problems I can get to it easily.
There must be an easier way of sewing the bias tape back down. I couldn't do it on the machine so I sewed it down by hand. Boy did that hurt my fingers - in the end Vicki has to finish this bit off for me!
So after sewing two ribbon loops on the side seams to hang it up, it is now finished apart from a fastener at the back. I'm leaving this until I try the dress on Lexi.
Until next time,
Annette x

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