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Amigurumi - the Tiny Craft from Japan

Hello Gang!
Well I'm back again and I've been let loose! Vicki is jet-setting around the Americas on her Honeymoon with her new husband Richard so whilst their sunning for the next 3 weeks on a well earned break we're all beavering away at Minerva HQ. I come to you today with something that has taken the crochet world by storm. Amigurumi! It's an amazing new style of toy making that had made its way over from the epi-centre of cuteness Japan. Often crocheted, but can be knitted, they're little figures of Animals or Personified objects, usually with large heads and small limbs (commonly referred to as a Chibli style outside of Japan). In true Japanese style, these things are always cute! 
Often with solid black toy eyes, brightly coloured cotton yarns are always the best accompaniment for a lovely polished finish, but regular Yarn can work well for a textured feel. They're very simple to do, too! More often than not you'll work in a double crochet in a spiral, as opposed to finishing off a round and chain stitching up. The smaller the cuter, obviously, but on my travels around the webesphere I spotted Zpagetti Yarn Amigurumi! Could you imagine how big they'd be?!
You can really see the spiral technique in the feet of the elephant.
Another fab thing about Amigurumi is there's a big online community for it and lots of free patterns as well as pre-made kits (great for gifts...to yourself hehe). The best online blog I've found is All About Ami. Run by a lovely lady by the name of Stephanie, she shared her yarn based adventures with the world as well as a collection of patterns and darling pictures of her children! My favourite by far is this Little Dragon and it's the perfect example of Amigurumi.
HOW CUTE IS THIS GUY?! Worked in 4 Ply, and a 2mm Crochet Hook this would be a great introduction to working with a low ply yarn. NOTE: Amigurumi is often worked on a smaller hook than the yarn recommends to keep the stuffing in!
Now Amigurumi doesn't have to be purely decorative and cuddly. For those who beauty is only in function, Sanda of Pepika has the answer. Her Bear and Bunny boxes are adorable, crafty and functional! Though I'm unsure if I could take their heads off to use them!
Possibly great in a nursery? The possibilities are endless.
So that's animals, admittedly one of them mythical. What about objects? Surely you can't make them cute? WRONG! Matt of According to Matt made this awesome Jammie Dodger, posted it, and got a million requests for the pattern. So he wrote it! You can find it here and it's just so fun! 
I'd be tempted to add eyes and a smile to the bottom. Watch this space ;)
So this is just a quick introduction to this little craze. I'm sure I'll end up featuring one of these gems for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network sooner or later, they're too adorable!
I always say this, but PLEASE share one of these with us if you make one! We needs the cutes!
Speak soon crafters!
Katie B xo
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Pattern of the Week Vogue 1395 - Easy Dress with Tie Front

Well this week we have a stunning little number! A lovely pullover dress designed by Rebecca Taylor with a narrow bias neck, pretty facings and a gathered neck at the back. Now, I'm not friends with any pattern that includes gathers but I may make an exception for this pattern. The semi fitted bodice and elasticated waist (go go  elasticated waists! I'm old before my time) gives this the ultra comfort factor, but this dress also has ties that come around the front, completing the sides of the bodice and creating a lovely front detailing.
The offending gathered back
The pattern recommends Crepe de Chine, Silk Broadcloth, ChambrayRayon Blends for usable fabrics. So think lightweight! I had a look through our Rayons and boy oh boy! This Fantasy Floral Print Viscose Challis Dress Fabric is divine. In two colour-ways, I'm in love with the brights against the dark background. It screams tropics for me!
The other colourway is slightly more on the pastel side, this version is more akin to the pattern sample and equally as delish!
Another great fabric is from the Bright and Bold Floral Print Viscose Challis Dress Fabric collection and bright and bold it certainly is!
If you're looking for something a little more muted, then a chambray would be right up your street. Why not try a pretty pastel?
or go dotty?
Keeping on the cotton theme, Katie of What Katie Sews has made a lovely version in a stunning Japanese Cotton
Love ties!
So as you can see this is a pretty versatile pattern, but remember it's a pullover! Having no zips makes it easy, but you do need to be cautious of your fabric choice. Katie has a really nice run down of her make!
Now down to it. The price. As Pattern of the Week this joy is just £7.50! As far as pattern prices go it's still up there but you can't argue with getting a designer pattern for a regular pattern price, can you?! Who's diving in to this pattern with me?
See you next time!
Katie B xo
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The Minerva Swatch Club!

Hey Guys!
Well May-June was a super busy time for us all here at Minerva HQ. Whilst all the wedding preperation was going on for our very own Royal Couple, our warehouse team were frantically cutting and preparing all the Swatch Club sample packs so distribute throughout June. We started wondering about how many people actually know that we operate this so I thought why not do a quick run down for you all! So here we go!
The Swatch Club is a subscription to receive 4 packs of samples throughout the year, one in March, June, September and December. Each pack contains at least 30 samples of the top picks of what we have up and coming that season. Pretty nifty, right?! 
You can choose to receive packs containing Fabrics or Yarns, in Mixed or Neutral Colours. All for £18! If you want to receive both Mixed and Neutrals you don't have to pay for 2 whole subscriptions, either. just £30 will get you the full Fabric or Yarn picks!
What about the all rounders like many of us here at HQ? Many of us knit/crochet as well as sew here. Well, never fear! For just £30 you can receive the Full Mixed or Neutrals selections, so that's the 32 mixed fabric swatches and the 30 mixed yarn swatches OR the 32 neutral fabric swatches and the 30 neutral yarn swatches. 
We even have the perfect package for those of you who really can't decide. For just £50 you can receive all four packs! Both Fabrics Mixed and Neutral and Yarn Mixed and Neutral. That's £22 saved!
All the fabrics/yarns chosen will be brand new or some of our most popular all year rounders, so you'll be getting the best chance to get these lovely lovely wares! We always see increased sales of the items included in the swatch packs each pack month, some are clearance, too, so we have limited stock of certain items. Once they're gone they're gone!
Now if you want even MORE of a saving (we're too good to you, aren't we ;D), the Swatch Club is FREE when you sign up to the Craft Club! For just £20 you receive 10% off ALL orders (online, in store and over the phone), a minimum of 12 exclusive discounts throughout the year (often up to 30% off or more!), 2 V.I.P. days in the year where your discount is doubled to 20% off your orders! All this AND one free swatch club subscription worth £18. 
So there we go! It really is a nifty little system and something to look forward to landing on your doorstop 4 times a year. For anyone who loves to buy fabric and yarn online, it's just too good to miss!
Speak to you all soon!
Katie B xo
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Pattern of the Week Butterick 6101 - Asymmetric Pullover Tunic Tops

We're going casual once again this week with out POW, featuring Butterick 6101 - Asymmetric Pullover Tunic Tops
No matter your shape or size, you can pretty much always find a tunic style top to suit you. Leggings, jeans, whatever you want, it goes! Though it can get a bit samey just throwing a tunic over leggings and going out. So keeping your tunics fabulous is key and this Katherine Tilton pattern does it so very well utilizing one of my favourite styling techniques - Asymmetry!
The draping in the pattern is absolutely fabulous, so using the correct fabric is key! Suggested fabrics for this pattern are LinenJerseysChallis.
If we look at the rear pattern information, the construction of this top becomes very clear (pattern companies have a habit of using busy fabrics that disguise the make up!) What's that we see on the right hand side? Oh yes, that's a Pocket! Just looks like a casual drape, but no. sneaky storage! The best kind. Sharon of Sharon Sews shows off this really well with her make of this pattern...
Using a plain fabric doesn't detract from the interesting nature of this top, but I personally would only use a plain fabric for the vest version, or if I was going long I'd use a contrast sleeve. I'd really like to use this Beige & Silver Lurex Stripe Linen/Viscose Blend Clearance Dress Fabric and play with the direction of the stripes!
I love how the construction of the design adds another dimension to the print! 
I think our Large Floral Print Stretch Jersey Dress Fabric Blue would make up really well! 
Now this is my favourite mock up of this pattern as you can clearly see the different sections and really play with patterns and texture. It's a great stash buster, too! The largest contrast piece you need is 0.8mt for contrast one, and 0.5mt for contrast 3, and that's for XXL!
I love it when a fashion designer teams up with a pattern company. Making your own clothes gives you something that doesn't look off the rack anyway, so when you can get a designer pattern it makes it  just that little bit more, gives it a bit more pop! And when that designer pattern is half price, it's even better! This week this pattern is just £4! A Designer take on a fashion staple for an everyday price. Beautiful!
See you all soon! Be sure to send pictures of your interpretation.
Katie B x
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Best of Burda - Our TOP picks from the Burda Sale

The sun is beaming over us here at Minerva HQ, and with Vicki jetting off to the Americas on her honeymoon next week we're all inspired to jump into some summer sewing! As if we needed more of an excuse, Burda are having a sale so here's our top picks!
Starting as we mean to go on, Burda 6756 is a brilliant twist on a classic. A lovely summer dress in either a shift style or a bias-cut flared skirt, both with fantastic paneled detailing. Suggested fabrics are Cottons, Lightweight wools and Crepe fabrics so this pattern could take you from summer right through to Autumn/Winter! For this, I can see our Linen Look Cotton for a fantastic range of colours or a Cotton Poplin if you fancy mixing up some prints. Just £2.93 in the sale.
Another fantastic dress in the sale is Burda 7056. Now this dress isn't for the faint of heart, it's striking simplicity makes the wearer the focus with this stunning high neck-line. Choose from an above the knee sixties vibe, for full floor length elegance. Work in a standing collar and/or feather trim for a truly outstanding piece. Fabulous,no? This pattern is also "Super Easy" so it would be a great dive into fashion sewing. With suggested fabrics such as Linen or Cotton fabrics, you could try out a Stretch Cotton Sateen for a lovely polished look. Another great point, it's only £2.93 in the sale. Boom!
Now I couldn't do a Burda Sale run down and not mentioned these bad boys! Burda 6856 is the mother of all trouser patterns featuring a well fitted pair of wide flare trousers, or a pair of tapered , high rise trousers with a wide waistband trousers and braces. BRACES! How could you not instantly fall in love with these. With recommended fabrics including Lightweight WoolsDenim and Gaberdine, I'd try a Gaberchino for a great wearable fabric in an awesome range of colours! Another £2.93 star pattern!
Next in line for the Burda Fashion Parade is Burda 6813. A fantastic pair of male fit jackets with a triple or single button option. Linen and Cotton fabrics make a 'suggested fabrics' appearance once again, along with Gaberdine/Gaberchino. Bright colours are all the rage right now, so why not experiment with our 54" wide Blades Cotton & Linen Blend Plain Dress Fabric. IF you're not feeling that brave, try the subtle detail of our Beige & Silver Lurex Stripe Linen/Viscose Blend Clearance Dress Fabric. One more £2.93 trailblazer.
Another fab jacket pattern is Burda 6872. More fitted that 6813, these jackets sport either a trio or duo of buttons, and fully endorse the use of Elbow Patches  (as do I). Recommended fabrics include VelvetWool and Corduroy, though I'm very tempted by our Green/Blue Tartan Suiting for some Topman inspired action. If you are thinking of going down the velvet route, or using this pattern in general, be sure to head over to our blogger network and read a great post by Curtis (of Pudleston Patchwork fame) on his Sleek Olive Green Jacket. Once again, just £2.93 in the sale.
With a snappy jacket, you will of course need an equally snappy shirt and Burda 6874 delivers! Three different views from formal, through work, to casual, you can choose your collar and your pockets, and whether or not to add a rather jazzy concealed button feature and/or contrast collar and cuffs. Another win at £2.93
Burda 6871 is my Gent's Cut fashion star pattern. Featuring a wonderful slim-fit three piece suit, comprised of a double button Jacket, high rise 5 button waistcoat, and tapered trousers this is a winner of a pattern. Not happy with being simply brilliant, this pattern also throws into the mix a single breasted frock coat! Designed for Lightweight Wools or Velvets,so a Wool/Wool Blend Suiting fabric would be perfect for this pattern. Why not go slightly off piste with this Deep Green Polyester Wool Blend Suiting Fabric. Pattern just £3.98 whilst the sale is on.
So that's the grown ups all suited and booted, but what about the tiny people? Sticking with the suit theme, Burda 9990 is a real charmer! A lovely high button waistcoat to be teamed with either trousers, long shorts or above the knee shorts, these would be an absolute gem at summer weddings! We're thinking linensGaberdine/Gaberchino, even a lightweight wool is recommended. Our Viscose & Linen Blend Dress Fabric Khaki would be perfect, I think. Another star at £2.93
Now it wouldn't be a summer party without dresses blowing in the wind and Burda 9465 is a gem of a pattern. Adorable puff sleeves, short bodice and a choice of knee length or floor length skirts, the floor length having a lovely high low extended peplum! This pattern is so versatile, you can use CottonCrepe, Batiste or Taffeta! Now my love for Taffeta is well known around Minerva HQ, and our new range of Plain Shot Taffeta at just £2.99 is screaming out to me right now, but I'd love to see this in one of our delicate Embroidered Border Cotton Clearance Dress Fabrics. It would work for either length, and the fine nature of the lawn would be perfect for these gorgeous summer days! Pattern now just £2.93!
Now you can't have a summer pattern rundown for children without including the next garment. Burda 9464 is for the ultimate Children's fashion staple...the humble Dungeree! Featuring three lengths you can choose from Shorts, Knee length shorts or Capri length overalls for a durable fashion fix. Denim is an obvious choice for this pattern, and we have a fair few to keep you going! But why not branch out to a lovely stretch cotton or a linen?
Now I'll admit the next choice is a little out of season, but for £2.93 I'm sure we can put this in the stash for later in the year because it's so flipping ADORABLE! Burda 9421 is a simply darling collection of baby sleeping bags, one plain, one teddy bear and one bunny rabbit. TEDDY! BUNNY!! I mean come on people, how can we resist! Make up super cuddly ones in FleeceFlannel/Wincyette, Teddy, and Terry Velours or go for a lovely cool Cotton (I think our Quilting Cottons would be perfect!) Tres Adorbs.
Slightly back on topic is Burda 9802. A wonderfully cheap and cheerful pattern (now even cheaper at £1.98!) Featuring Two dresses, (buttoned at the back) with matching panties and cute little ruffle on the bum! So cute! As one would expect, Cottons are the go-to fabric for this pattern so let your imagination run wild with possibilities!
On to accessories! Burda don't just do fun and fashionable clothing, but fun and fashionable homewares and Burda 6827 delivers! 'Novelty' animal cushion (novelty translates as 'everyday' in my eyes) that will add joy to any room they're placed in! Choose from a pug dog, a fox, an owl owl, or an adorable raccoon! The pattern is 'super easy', too, so a great intro project for young and old learning to sew, especially as recommended fabrics are cottons! and at £2.93 it won't break the bank,
Once again I#ve been suckered in my a bag pattern. Burda 6962 offers a lovely selection of handbags (one of which look a little Michael Kors-esk) and with the recommended fabrics being Cotton and Faux Leather (or even Suede!), you can make a lovely cotton practice bag, then rock up a lovely little leather number! Simply lovely at £2.93
Now my Pattern of Patterns is a real head turner for me. With so many different looks included it's suited to almost everyone! With Burda 6869 you can choose from knee length or floor length skirt, short or long sleeves. Now that in itself makes a fairly well rounded pattern, but throw in a detachable peplum over skirt (short and long peplum option of course) AND the long skirt is an AMAZING fishtail/mermaid that flows out of the main skirt. It. Is. Divine! Being designed for stretch fabrics only, such as Jersey or Stretch Satin, this dress would be SUPER comfortable and a Scuba Jersey would work perfectly. Utilising the panels, you could work in a contrasting colour or panel. If you're working in the overlay, you can also pick up Stretch Lace Fabrics!
So that's my run down on this sale. I've already scanned through and bought my deals, but it seems I may need to make a return trip! The sale is only on for a limited time so get your deals quick!
See you soon, and remember to share your makes with us! You may make it onto the blog :D
Katie B xo
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Only two days to go...

Hi everyone,
Just a quick post from me today!
You might have noticed I've been a bit quiet this last week or so here on the blog. To be honest we have just about had time to finish all the dresses and outfits for the wedding and had no spare time for blogging!
As you know we left Vicki's dress until last. Vicki's dress was always going to prove the hardest because many parts have not been worked from a pattern. We have been working with a paneled fabric which brought about its own challenges. And then we have also made up the most fabulous 'statement' piece for the dress out of some of our couture bridal appliques. Again, completely out of our heads, making up as we went!
These last 2 weeks I've called on Vicki to help and between the two of us we have really pulled it all together at the final hour I'm happy to say. Her dress is looking amazing and the few people who have seen it (the bridesmaids) have mostly been brought to tears, so I think we must have done a good job.
The wedding is this Saturday so as you can imagine the suspense is starting to build here at Minerva. Tomorrow myself and Vicki will be nipping to Astley Bank to drop off all the decorations for the room, most of which we have made.
Here's just a few sneak peeks of what we have been up to these last 2 weeks to tease you before the big day, and we promise to show you some photographs afterwards!
Until next time,
Annette xx
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Pattern of the Week McCalls 7025 - Fitted & Flared Lined Coat

Hello Again!
This week's POW certainly packs a punch! McCalls 7025 Fitted and Flared Coat by Designer Joi pattern is, very basically, a close fitting lined coat with princess seams and a flared skirt, also sporting a standing collar and cuffs. Sounds jazzy enough, right? Well! The skirt is designed as a contrast so you can really rock things up! Just look at the sample coat they made...
How cool is that?!
I know is says "flared skirt" but this is just amazing! The sample is done with a denim top and what seems to be a wool contrast. Pretty striking, no? 
Not surprisingly, when I did a bit of research for this pattern I couldn't find a single blog that had actually tackled the coat! So I got thinking, if I was to make up this coat, how would I do it? Well, the suggested fabrics are Wool BlendsTweedsBoiled WoolWool Flannel. Let's look at a Wool Blends;
Our Wool Heavy Weight Coat Fabric in Navy Blue would really work well with this pattern, teamed with a Black Watch Tartan Coat Weight Wool Fabric would really utilize that contrast skirt, but is still a bit on the safe side...
For tweeds, we really are spoilt for choice. You can chop and change the contrast to have a tweed top and a plain bottom! My particular favourite being our Black & Ivory Heavy Wool Blend Tweed, teamed with our Black Washable Melton Coat Weight Fabric me thinks!
For boiled wool, there's only one place you have to go. Our Ex Jaeger Navy Blue 100% Boiled Wool Designer Dress Fabric. That's right, JAEGER!
I personally think this fabric speaks for itself, and I wouldn't team it with a contrast. If pushed, I'd go for our Lochbrie Clan Tartan Coat Fabric, or maybe brighten the mood with our Highland Large Check Coat Fabric!
 
For Wool Flannel, our 100% Wool Flannel Fabric is the place to be, clearly destined to be teamed with our Black & Cream 70% Wool Dogtooth Check Coat Weight Designer Dress Fabric...
Now on my travels around the Minerva Fabric-sphere I stumbled across something a fabric I can only describe as magical! You know when you see a fabric and you know you need it in your life, this is mine! Our  60% Wool Melton Heavy Designer Dress Fabric in...Purple! (now out of stock but we have plenty of Coat Weight Wool Fabrics!)
"What could you possibly team this with?" I hear you cry. Our Elgin Polyester & Wool Blend Plaid Check Dress Fabric of course!
Divine, divine, divine! If you're wondering where you may have seen this below, we featured another Purple Elgin Fabric a few months ago that Deborah used in the Great British Sewing Bee for her Kilt in Episode 4!
Now, the obvious downside to making up your own wool coat is the costings. If you're going to make your own coat, you're going to want to do it properly! With even the most reasonably prices wool fabrics being at least £10 + p/m this project is a definite investment piece. All of this makes the price of the pattern even more important, and as our POW it's now just £4.40! Save on the pattern, treat yourself with the fabric! It's logic, really.
Do let us know if you make this up! We'd love to see it.
Until next time!
Katie B xo
 
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Pattern of the Week Vogue 9057 - Stretch Knit Tops in 5 Styles

Hello Hello Hello!
Another week, another POW! This week we're going casual with Vogue. Vogue 9057 - Stretch Knit Tops in 5 Styles to be exact!
To work from a Vogue Pattern is something I aspire to do as a sewer and I think this could be a good first try! Even something as everyday as Tunic tops are somehow amazing when Vogue do them, particularly their feature designer for this pattern Marcy Tilton. As you can see from the pattern front above, this is a really great way to get to grips with Jersey and Knit fabric. The rear envelope information shows off the cuts of the tunics best, I think.
As you can see this pattern really includes something for everyone, and the asymmetry of the hems adds a touch of something different to an otherwise standard top. 
Why not try View E in our Blue and Grey "Street Life" Stretch Viscose Jersey? I particularly like the contrasting sleeve and neckline! a feature perfect with our Stripe Viscose Jersey 
Or keep it casual with View B 
You could utilise a plain jersey for this, and layer it with View C for a great contrast, especially as the hem is cut the other way!
I see the vest top version as a great way to mix up the prints here. Maybe a border jersey like our Rust Red Border Print Soft Touch Jersey
Or go wild with a Abstract Viscose Stretch Jersey - very 'abstract aztec', no?
Or if you're looking for a slightly more subtle effect, I'd highly recommend a Burn-Out Jersey, I'm a fan of this little number - an Abstract Heart Burn Out Jersey
Of course, don't just take my word for it. Andrea at Satin Bird Designs has made a lovely version using a plain black for the sleeves, back and neckline and a great houndstooth/dogtooth for the front panel.
Andrea also talks about how Marcy (the designer) uses a different method for finishing the neckline that she herself would you. The neckline is finished completely my sewing machine, not a serger (overlocker), which is great!
And, of course, the price is a great feature, too, at just £6.00 whilst on offer as Pattern of the Week.
I've recently received an Overcasting Foot for my sewing machine which binds the edges of fabric much like a serger would using a machine stitch, so I think this pattern would be perfect to practice neatening up my seams and hems!
See you soon folks!
Katie B x
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Bridesmaid Dresses Update

Hi everyone,
The adult bridesmaid dresses are virtually finished now, as are the cummerbunds. The 'problem' area for me is the over skirts that Vicki really wants. We have chosen a beautiful fabric. The background is a black tulle and then all over are gorgeous ivory motifs. This fabric is lovely to look at but on placing it over black it becomes something I can only describe as stunning!
There is also a border along both edges in ivory. As you can see it is not a straight edge, but forms points. It has worked out that I am using 10 of these 'points' for Jessica's overskirt and an extra point for each size up to the largest where I am sewing 13. I have measured from the waist line on the dresses to the edge of the hem and cut off accordingly. To save a lot of time I have hand sewn the back seam as I did with Lexi's dress. 
Next I have measured around everyone's waist with 2 inch wide elastic (our lovely quality Hemline woven elastic range) and left enough for a overlap, then sewn this so it forms a circle. There is far too much fabric at the top edge to gather it into the elastic so I have sewn two seams up the sides starting at the points. Again this as hand sewn.
On the hem of the dress and lining I have sewn horse hair braid which is a flexible mesh, mostly using for bridal and in sewing skirts and dresses for around the hem.
On the inside edge of the lining I have then gone on to sew some 1 inch bias polycotton bias binding. This will form a tube for me to insert steel boning. Very similar to what I did on Lexi's underskirt. 
The idea with this is to hold the train of the dress in a perfectly formed circle, as how it is at the moment it is tending to flatten in and it isn't showing off the train or the over skirt to its full potential. We'l see how it turns out...!
Bye for now!
Annette xx
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One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

Hello,
I didn't have the best of sewing days yesterday. First we decided that the zip on Vicki's dress would be better down the side because of a last minute change of plan with some of the fancy detailing. I had already inserted the zip at the back so I wasn't too happy! (Originally the top part was being covered but now it is going to show and a zip being there would spoil the look). So there I was unpicking!
My next step was to sew in some boning into the bodice. I've chosen our Hemline covered boning. It is really easy to sew in, you just sew on the machine down each side. I attached this to the lining. I think I must have been quite tired yesterday because I only went on to sew the boning in the wrong way round. The curve of the boning should follow the curve of your body. Because I as sewing it in the lining I have obviously envisaged it the wrong way around, so yes you've guessed...I was unpicking again!
And now to today. Vicki tried on her dress and so far so good, until we looked at where the 'top' (more about that later) would hang. You are not going to see the zip at all after all. I was gutted, more than anything because I wasn't too keen on how the side zip was lying. And yes here I've been nearly all day taking the zip out, unpicking the back seam, re-inserting the zip (thank goodness it's gone in ok). However as you can see below, the re-sewn side seam looked awful so I've replaced the side front and the side back. 
If its not right now I'm going to scream!!
Here's to a better day tomorrow...!
Bye for now,
Annette xx

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