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A Super Simple Macrame Plant Hanger

Hi everyone, it's Kathy here, and I have been working on something different to dressmaking for a change.
I have noticed that macrame crafts seems to be popping up everywhere, and I have been itching to give it a go. I particularly wanted to make a classic plant hanger, but have also seen some really pretty wall hangings, so might give this a try too now that I have got the hang of some of the basic knots. The plant hanger was super easy to make and is already hung in pride of place in our hallway.
One of the great things about making this plant hanger is that you only need a handful of supplies. I used one ball of Hoooked Zpagetti T-Shirt Yarn in a gorgeous natural beige colour. I love that the yarn is made from what are basically recycled leftovers from the garment manufacturing industry, and whilst I have used it for this macrame project, it is a great alternative yarn to knit or crochet with too. Minerva Crafts have a huge range of colours available, so although I have opted for a neutral shade, it could be fun to add a pop of colour to your decor by choosing something more adventurous! I have lots of yarn left over, and am hoping to get at least two more plant hangers from what I have remaining.
Aside from the yarn, you will need a plant and pot of course, scissors, a measuring tape, a curtain ring or something similar, and a hook to hang it from the ceiling. I used a wooden curtain ring from a pack of 6 that I picked up from a DIY store for just 83p for the pack, and I just removed the little metal screw from it. The inside diameter of this ring is approx 3cm, but anything around that size will be just fine. I have since noticed that Minerva sell some brass curtain rings for just a few pence each which would look pretty for this project too. The ceiling screw was also picked up at the DIY store, and as this was loose on the shelf from a bag which must have split, the store just let me have it! How lucky!
I am very much a visual learner, and there are a huge amount of free macrame plant hanger tutorials on the internet. I will link you to the free video tutorial that I used here, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is really clear to follow, with the entire process being very well explained. The knots are shown to you several times to make sure that you are happy with how to make them, but of course the beauty of following a video is that you can pause and replay it as often as you need to.
To get started you will need to cut 8 strands of yarn, each measuring a whopping 550cm long. Due to the fact that this product is made from recycled leftovers from the manufacturing process, you will come across a few knots where the yarn is joined together. I didn't find this too much of a problem, and managed to cut my strips avoiding these knots with barely any wastage. Thread your 8 strands of yarn through the curtain ring, so that they are doubled and have pulled through equally in half. You now have 16 strands of yarn hanging from the ring. Use another piece of yarn that you have cut to approx 150cm to make a Wrap Knot directly below the ring to secure all the strands tightly. I should mention that I suspended my curtain ring from the top of an open door, but you can use anything to hang it from that you are comfortable with.
To begin, you need to divide your 16 strands into groups of 4. The first knot that you are shown is the Half Square Knot. A chain of several of these will give you a pretty twisted braid. Repeat this twisted braid with the other 3 groups of yarn and in no time at all you are left with 4 lengths of twisted braids.
The next knot that you are shown is the Josephine Knot. This took me a little more time to master, and I did have to replay the video a few times before I got the hang of it. The result is a really pretty flat knot, and you will tie two Josephine Knots below each of your 4 lengths of twisted braids.
Below the Josephine Knots you are shown how to make a regular Square Knot. These are similar to the Half Square Knots that you have already tied, but this time they are flat and do not form the twist that the Half Square Knots do.
After this you will need to create the 'cage' that your plant pot will sit inside. This involves taking two strands from one group and two strands from the next group to it and knotting them together with a Square Knot. Repeat this process again, to ensure that the 'cage' that your pot sits in is nice and secure. This is quite difficult to explain, but when you view the video it will all make perfect sense!
The final touches are to simply tie a large knot (nothing special here) to tie off the bottom of your plant hanger. Pull it nice and tight and, leaving a few centimetres as a 'tail', and cut the leftover ends off straight.
I'm over the moon with how it has turned out and also how incredibly easy it was to make. It's a fun project to make for your own home or to give as a gift, and I found it a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
Thank you so much to Minerva Crafts for the fabulous t-shirt yarn that I used for this review, I do hope that you may have found it useful. You can find me over on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network as Sew Dainty and my personal blog is www.sewdainty.co.uk.
Take care, Kathy x
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Funky Floral Simplicity 1873

For my next guest post for the Minerva Crafts Blog I choose this funky floral Cotton Poplin Fabric. Working with cotton is wonderfully straightforward and I knew cotton poplin would give me the freedom to make pretty much any garment, which was an exciting prospect.  I love the striking design of this fabric; and although modern, I can’t help but feel a little mid-century nostalgia in it and the abstract florals just top it off perfectly!

When the fabric arrived I was pleasantly surprised with how soft it was, and how vibrant the colour was on it. After pre washing there was no colour bleed or fading which I had been slightly worried about given the depth of the colours against the white background. It did need a quick iron but generally the creasing was minimal.

Wondering where to start with choosing a pattern to use, I tried to imagine what would look good with this design – a shift dress would have looked terrific and in keeping with the era I had in mind but I had 3 metres of this wonderful fabric and wanted to really make the most of it. So, I decided that a dress with a fuller skirt and a high neck, no-fuss-kinda-bodice would be best so the fabric design could be flat enough to be seen properly and appreciated. I found the perfect dress pattern to suit my requirements in Simplicity Cynthia Rowley K1873 which is a dress with crew neck option and just bust and waist darts on the bodice. I made option B, which was without the sleeves or waist tabs, but added my own decorative touches at the end.

Alterations I made to the pattern included adding 3 inches to the length of the skirt because I wanted it to end just below the knee and the pattern is designed to be above. The pattern includes a bodice lining which I always prefer to have as it just makes the whole garment feel more professional and substantial. There was no lining for the skirt included but I added one in a polyester lining fabric, in white, just to keep the colours sharp and as vibrant as they would be on the bodice with the white lining behind. The skirt lining I just gathered rather than pleated (as the skirt is) and it’s created a wonderful ‘pouffy’ shape around my hips which I love (adds to the ‘vintage‘ feel), but if you wanted a sleeker look you could create just minimal gathers at the waist as long as the bottom of the lining was wide enough to match the skirt. I attached the lining just inside the seam allowance after the skirt had been sewn to the bodice. Then you can still hide all the raw waist seam edges when you fold the bottom of the bodice lining down and slip stitch it over the top so it looks beautiful inside and out!

I didn’t actually worry about doing any pattern matching with this fabric – naughty, I know! – it was so busy and the design quite small I just didn’t think you would be able to notice any joins. Now it’s complete I still think this, so I’m glad I didn’t waste the extra fabric and time it would have needed to do this. Another note on the design is just a friendly reminder to check you’re cutting your pattern pieces the same way up. If you lay all your pieces down and cut in one go then I think you’re safe but I’m one for cutting each at a time so as to be as economical with the fabric as possible and I was worried, with only a subtle difference in the direction of the print, that I would be caught out. Luckily for me, I managed to keep my mind on the job and successfully cut everything the right way up!

Once I had finished the dress I really felt like it just needed something to be the cherry on top. I considered a peter pan collar which would have looked super cute but I rejected that idea as ideally I would have sewn it into place when I attached the lining around the neck. My next favourite accessory after a collar is a bow, preferably a very large bow! So, I added one at the neck front in a turquoise cotton from my stash which matched one of the colours in the design (the bow shape I decided on was inspired by one of the options on the earlier rejected shift dress pattern, Simplicity 1609). The waist was also crying out for a belt so, in the same turquoise cotton I made a simple belt with an amazing red flower buckle (the charity shops  gods were smiling on me that day!), which matches the dress like an absolute dream.

I’m thrilled with how the fabric pattern and shape of the dress have blended and I know I’m going to get so much wear out of it throughout the year. The colours are really multi-seasonal – I can see myself wearing it with sandals and sunglasses in the summer, and thick coloured tights and a beret in the Autumn!

Thanks for reading - happy sewing!

Rebecca
Find me on Instagram and on my Blog
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Robert Kaufman New Look 6302

I was asked to try out this 100% cotton broadcloth Robert Kaufman Fabric from Minerva - it comes in a staggering 24 different colours so there will be one or more which suit you.
Broadcloth is a plain dense woven fabric, suitable for shirts, dresses and a million other things. This cotton broadcloth has been dyed in so many different colours that it was hard to chose my favourite but in the end I chose poppy.
The pattern I chose is New look 6302 which is a simple shift dress with a cardigan style jacket to wear over it. This in my opinion is the most versatile summer outfit you can make, it suits any figure and is suitable for any occasion. This pattern comes in a huge range of sizes from 8 - 20.
My first task was to take some tailors chalk and make a simple cross on the back of each piece, on a fabric like this it is so easy to get the right and wrong side mixed up!
This is a very simple pattern with excellent instructions so instead of going through the entire process I am going to show you how to do an all in one facing instead of the recommended bias edging.
It is easy to do and makes for a very smart finish to the garment.
The first task is to make the facings.  Cutting the front facing on the fold and using the pattern edges as your facing edges draw a line from a couple of inches below the side seam under the armscyce and ending about four inches from the centre front as in the photo above
Do the same for the back remembering that the back is not cut on the fold.
Make up the darts in the usual way and then sew the shoulder seams  of the dress.
Sew the shoulder seams of the interfaced facings and finish the edge. This fabric frays so if you do not have an overlocker then use a narrow zigzag on all the seams. I used the overlock foot on my regular sewing machine.
Stitch the facing to the dress, right sides together all around the neck and arm openings.
Clip the curves - I cut out small V shapes and press the seams.
Attach a safety pin to the bottom of one of the backs.
Thread the pin and the entire back through the shoulder and keep pulling gently until that side is turned right sides out.
Do the same for the other side. Using a ruler or a chopstick push the seams out until they are neat and then give the whole area a good press.
I do not want any topstitching on my dress but I do want to hold the facing in place. Understitching is the answer. Simply study the seam allowance to the facings as far as your machine will allow you to go. It can be seen on the wrong side, but not on the right.
Insert your zip, I chose a centred zip for a 1960s feel, but use an invisible zipper if you prefer.
Then stitch the side seams, catch the facing down at the sides and finish the hem. I used an invisible hem.
I made the short version of the jacket too, shortening the sleeves by a few inches.
This is a lovely versatile summer outfit , it's so wearable and comfortable and I totally love this fabric. A hint for you is to use a bit of spray starch when pressing it as it will stay crisp and fresh looking all day.
Thank to Minerva for giving me the opportunity of trying out this fabric. My verdict? When can I have some more - that says it all really..
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Sienna Dolman Top

I was pretty excited to receive this abstract print Jersey Fabric from Minerva.
I knew exactly what I'd make with it, and I set right to work. 
I printed, traced, and cut the pattern and then set to work cutting the fabric.
 
The Sienna Dolman Top from Sinclair Patterns is the perfect pattern to pair with this fabric.
With the gathers on the sides the fabric drapes beautifully and also gathers very smoothly. 
As to how easy or hard the fabric is to work with, the jersey was quite easy to cut and work with. It's very drapey but not slippery--it has a bit of a rougher texture on the right side. Not a bad rough but not smooth or slippery like many polyester blend fabrics I've used before. I have dry hands but didn’t have any problems with the fabric getting caught on my sandpaper-esque hands.
Some jerseys are hard to turn a thin tube right-side out but this was quite easy--I attached a safety pin to the seam allowance and worked it through quickly for all four drawstrings as the fabric is not as 'sticky' as cotton jersey. A knot at each end and the drawstrings were ready. It would have looked really neat with a bead on each one but I didn’t have any appropriate beads and I’d be afraid to lose them with the toddler in the house (who likes to eat everything) so I went with the safer option.
Both sewing machine and serger reacted well to this fabric. I didn't have any problems with tension or with a hungry machine eating the fabric. (What? Does your sewing machine not ever eat your fabric?!) 
Another note to remember is that polyester needs a lower setting on the iron to avoid melting the fabric.
Breath-ability is not a concern either as it's a light-weight fabric that seems perfect for summer, even though it is a poly blend.
Bold prints are not a usual choice for myself but I'm very happy with this print. It's bold but not so bold that I'm at all uncomfortable wearing it. It does look a little more abstract in the listing but it is a large floral print—perfect for summer. The print pairs well with denim, black, grey, and white.
If you're looking for a top that works for both maternity and non-maternity, the sienna dolman fits the bill. With my small baby bump there's still plenty of room to grow and I'm excited to wear this top through the summer, and possibly into the fall depending on the weather! 
I'd love to get my hands on more prints in this type of fabric to sew up a whole slew of tops and dresses for myself (who am I kidding—there’d be a good number of Sienna’s in that mix!)
Also, if you like to travel, this fabric is ideal for that as it resists wrinkling very well. 
Shove it in your bag and it'll be completely wearable when you get to your destination. 
If you’re hoping to make a dress or top this summer, this would be a great option.
Thanks for reading,
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John Kaldor Crepe Anna Dress

There are some patterns which grab the attention of ever sewist on social media, those patterns which everyone has, and which time and time again come up on everyone’s insta feed. I think the By Hand London Anna dress falls into this category! Just search the #annadress on instagram and you’ll end up down a rabbit hole of inspiration from fellow sewists all sewing up gorgeous Anna dresses. When this John Kaldor Crepe Fabric arrived from Minerva, it deserved to be made into a special dress, and the Anna dress fitted the bill perfectly.

Before we talk more about the dress, let’s talk fabric first. This floral print comes in 2 colour ways - Black, and mustard yellow. I chose mustard, because surely it’s one of THE colours of 2018. The fabric looks more yellow than the picture, so it’s more vibrant. It’s also happens to be the same colourway as the marketing photos for the recent Sew Over It Libby shirt, so check that out to see another sample of this fabric “out in the wild”. Making a maxi dress in this fabric definitely makes a statement! Despite the slippery nature of this fabric, it’s a dream to work with, it’s really compliant, and even though there are a lot of panels to the skirt, the fabric didn’t shift as I cut. The fabric has a random placement of flowers on, and just a word of warning, all the flowers are up the same way, meaning that technically it’s a directional print, and you need to make sure you cut your pattern pieces all up the same way. Alternatively you can decide to play pattern tetris and ignore this completely and not let it bother you if some flowers have their stems upside down - if you look carefully you’ll see I chose this route (read: didn’t realise this until I had cut everything out).

The dress itself came together pretty quickly, despite all those pattern pieces. I chose not to go with a side seam split up one leg, as I made this to wear to a wedding in a Hindu temple, so just sewed up the entire length of that seam. That’s about the only amendment I made to the pattern. Once you have sewn up all those skirt pieces, the bodice comes together super quick, partly because there are no darts, but shaping comes from pleats at the waist seam. The sleeves are grown on, so there’s no extra pattern pieces to cut or sew, and the finish on the sleeve hems is a double turn up which is down before you sew the side seams, to make everything super simple and very neat. The Anna dress isn’t lined at all, so in these pictures I’m wearing a slip underneath, just to make sure you can’t see my undies through the dress.

I should mention that if you have an overlocker overlock the seams, I was rushing to get this dress complete, and didn’t bother, partly because there are so many skirt panels to overlock. I kind of regret this decision now, and may go back and do some seams. The fabric frays really bad, and after a couple of wears, I’ve had to cut all the fraying threads off.I’ve worn this in the super-hot weather we had at the end of June, and it’s a really good fabric choice when you want to look put together and keep cool. Despite walking around London all day in this, I didn’t melt in the heat, and it didn’t crease at all during the day. It’s certainly a fabric which doesn’t need ironing.

I really enjoyed working with this fabric, and if you are looking to make a statement I’d highly recommend using this colourway of the floral print crepe to make a special occasion dress. I’m thinking that this would also make a perfect jumpsuit, with the drape of this fabric, so maybe I’ll have add that to my summer sewing plans as well.

Thanks for reading,

Chloe @ handmadebychloe

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What a Gem Nina Lee Piccadilly Pyjamas

Hi again

I’ve gotta say I was chuffed to bits to have received 3 metres of the Camelot Cotton Fabric in the What a Gem pattern/colourway from Minerva. This was one of my choices and it was already destined to become the Nina Lee Piccadilly Pyjamas as soon as I saw it and I imagined myself sat in the sunshine on an evening drinking a nice glass of red! Okay, not in England at the moment with all this rain and cold but hey I can live in hope! 

 One of the first things I noticed when I laid out the fabric was the selvedge edge and the warning that it this fabric isn’t intended for children’s nightwear. I figured that as I was making for myself this didn’t apply. The fabric is also only 110cm wide and this is probably why I couldn’t fit all of my pieces on for the longer version.

Into the washer it went straight away as I was eager to get started. It washed beautifully and was dry and pressed in no time at all. My plan was to make the longer length pj’s and thought with 3m I would have ample, however, no amount of pattern tetris allowed me to get the longer length so I went for the short version. This fabric was non directional too so I was convinced it would fit.

It was a dream to sew and overlock. Even managing to get round the corners of the pockets and the button/buttonhole stands on the overlocker neatly.

As the pj’s started coming together I was getting more excited by the fabric and decided that to really make these “pop” I would need to get myself some nice turquoise bias binding and buttons. Admittedly I did buy turquoise and plain coral buttons just in case the turquoise might have been “too much”! You can never have too many buttons in your stash anyway right?? This fabric is a happy brightly coloured fabric and I managed to drop on what I think are the perfect happy buttons for popping on! 

 The bias went on a dream considering that I haven’t done much bias binding application in the past and really finished them off a treat. I opted for picot edge bias and it was the first time I’ve used this too. I made sure to press each and every seam and to get a crisp finish used my clapper for all seams.

I don’t know about you but I always hold my breath when it comes to doing buttonholes. Why is it that sometimes the buttonhole foot works perfectly but then the next buttonhole, for no reason whatsoever, the silly machine decides it’s not playing ball anymore! Anyway any disaster was averted on this as it worked perfectly first time (breathes a sigh of relief!!). 

I always use fray stop to help prevent fraying and have to say it does make a difference. I do really need to invest in a buttonhole chisel though now I’m being brave and tackling buttonholes as I still use the unpicker and a pair of scissors to open the buttonholes. This is really playing with fire and I have been caught out previously and ended up with a split right through the end of the buttonhole. 

As always when marking out my buttons and buttonholes I’ve used the Simflex expanding gauge. I love a good gadget and this one certainly gets plenty of use! I didn’t use the recommended amount of buttons on this make as I don’t particularly like things to be too fastened up at the neck, particularly in nightwear, so I decided to go “off piste” and do my own spacing. I ended up with 4 buttons leaving a nice gap at the top and bottom. I made a little bow from the bias binding to pop onto the centre of the shorts just in case the waistband was ever on view.

Overall I am really pleased with how these turned out and the fabric is just perfect for them. It sews and washes beautifully and what more could you ask for. I used a standard 70 needle and didn’t get any pulls or ladders.

Hope you enjoyed reading this and thanks for having me again!

Bye for now

Lisa x

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Going Dotty for Gyo!

Hey Minerva Makers!

It’s Vicky from Sewstainability here with a review of the new Gyo Top and Dress Pattern by Merchant and Mills. This is my first time using a Merchant and Mills pattern and I really enjoyed it, the packaging is lovely and I really loved the newspaper style pattern instructions. In fact, the pattern was so beautiful I couldn’t bring myself to cut into it so I traced it instead!

This pattern has a clean, geometric style. The packaging itself says it is Japanese inspired and I can totally see that. Because of this and because of several other versions I’ve seen online I wanted to go for a linen-y type material. I found this grey cotton/ramie blend Fabric on the Minerva website and thought it looked perfect. It has a crisp handle and a great texture very reminiscent of linen. It is a really great match for this pattern and there are so many colours to choose from!

I chose to make the top and I cut my size based on my bust measurement as there is quite a lot of ease in the bust and hips and I think that was the right call, there was no need for any adjustments or grading. It just pulls on over the head and so there are no fastenings to deal with, this meant it was a quick and simple sew. I enjoyed making the asymmetric straps and I also love working with patterns that have facings – anyone else? Just me?!

The top came together really quickly but I hesitated when it came to hemming. I knew the top was a cropped design but when I tried it on it seemed like if I sewed the 5cm hem it would be a bit too cropped for my liking. After a bit of experimenting I decided to bias bind the hem to retain the length and add a fun little design feature!

As it was coming together I did think it was looking really stylish, just like the Merchant and Mills promotional pictures. It was looking cool and simple and understated. So obviously I didn’t like it – I am not cool, simple or understated EVER. It just so happened that Zeena Shah (@heartzeena on Instagram) had just released a tutorial for how to print on her Tilly and the Buttons Stevie Dress with a parsnip. Obviously this was the solution to my boring top problem! I had some yellow Dylon Fabric Paint in my stash and one parsnip in my fridge – it was meant to be.

I did a few tester prints on some scraps of the grey fabric before I got stuck in. I found how to apply the paint really smoothly by dipping it and getting a nice even ‘spot’ on the fabric but I really wanted it to look hand-printed. I wanted it to look a little more uneven so I found if I applied the paint to the parsnip with my finger it would print with a patchy look I absolutely love. I didn’t have a plan as to where the spots went, I just applied them randomly. I did try and be really careful to avoid headlight boobs but apart from that there was no plan – I was just playing with paint! It was so fun!

Now it has this fun yellow pattern I am really happy with this top, I’ve worn it with jeans and a skirt and because it’s so cool and airy I think it will get a lot of wear this summer. There is only one problem I have had and that is the angle at which the skinny strap is sewn on – it is a bit too wide for my shoulder and feels like it is slipping down – something to take note of if you have narrow shoulders like me. I just need to unpick the strap slightly and sew it on a bit more straight than angled – a lesson learned for next time. I would like to make a dress version next, I’ve seen some stylish black versions out there but what do you think the chances are of me leaving it plain?!

Thank you to Minerva for sending me this gorgeous fabric and don’t forget you can find all my sewing adventures at Sewstainability.

Until next time – happy sewing!

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Blades Giverney Blazer & Staple Skirt

Hello again! It's Paddy from Dragon's Flame Designs here! I had been looking for some plain but lively fabric to make a casual blazer, and couldn't resist this Blades Linen and Cotton Fabric. Because the pattern I had chosen had an option to use contrasting colours, I picked out the Loganberry Purple for the main colour, with Lilac as the contrast.
Incidentally, the fabric was a perfect match for the thread spools I had sitting in my sewing bag – I used Coats Moon thread M0221 (purple) and M0024 (lilac). I guess you can tell that these are my favourite colours!
I'd always thought that linen had a slightly harsh feel, but this feels surprisingly soft; I'm not sure if that's just down to the mixture of linen and cotton, or simply the quality of the fabric, but it has a lovely feel.
I will admit I rarely prewash my fabric (I know, I really should!), but because linen and cotton sometimes shrink, I thought I'd better do this properly. It was washed at 40C and dried flat. When I removed the fabric from the washing machine, I realised it might have been an idea to have zigzagged the edges before washing – the ends frayed quite easily, and there was a lot of thread caught up in the washing machine!
I forgot to measure the fabric before it was washed, but after it was ironed and the fraying ends trimmed up, I had 108 cm in length, and 145cm from selvedge to selvedge in the lilac. Given that this is a greater size than the website says for the width, I'm assuming that the fabric had relaxed a bit, and effectively grown a little. The fabric doesn't have any stretch, but the looser weave means it has a slight amount of give: 10cm 'stretched' to 11cm in width, and 10.5cm in length.
I decided it would make a perfect casual Giverney Blazer. Before I dived into making the blazer, I wanted to test out how the interfacing would feel. It adhered really strongly to the fabric, but it made the fabric a little too stiff for my liking. Because I wanted my blazer to have a more casual feel, I omitted the interfacing on the facings and collar. The fabric holds a crease surprisingly well, so I was able to iron the fold on the lapel rather than relying on the interfacing to give that appearance. The only real difference is that using interfacing would result in a crisper fold to the lapel, allowing it to hold its shape slightly better. But for a casual style jacket, I think not interfacing it is perfectly fine.
Because of the potentially delicate nature of the raw edges, I used Wonder Clips instead of pins when holding the pieces together to sew. The clips give a much better grip without the risk of the ends fraying past them as you're sewing.
Although I was wary of how much the fabric could fray, given the amount of thread in the washing machine, it wasn't as fray-happy while sewing. I did have to unpick a couple of seams, and when the stitching was a little too close to the edge, the fabric did fray as I was unpicking, but as long as you don't need to unpick that close to the raw edge, it seems quite well behaved!
The Giverney Blazer's design includes bound seams; rather than attempting a colour match for the bias binding, I picked the 20mm sand Bias Binding to make a feature of the binding on the inside. It was surprisingly easy to attach the binding to the seam allowances, although it did make the hem section slightly more bulky than my sewing machine was happy to handle. If I made this again, I would trim off the binding just at the start of the hem so it wasn't folded up at the base. It didn't take much longer to attach the binding than it would have taken to zigzag the seams, but it's made a much neater finish which should withstand more wear and washes.
The jacket only needs a single button, so I raided my Mum's tin of buttons and found the perfect match for the Loganberry Purple, which could have been bought with this project in mind! I tested sewing the buttonhole on some offcuts first, just so I was confident that it would turn out neatly. I used the manual buttonhole option on my machine, as it has previously struggled to feed certain fabrics through neatly. A small piece of interfacing under the buttonhole gave the fabric just enough stability for the buttonhole to be sewn.
I was a little uncertain about adding in the 'belt' and sleeve tabs, as they needed to be sewn right sides together, then the tubes turned right side out. When I'd tried this with other fabric which was somewhat 'fray happy' I ended up with a fraying mess rather than a neatly turned tube, but for the best review possible, I knew I would need to try it out! I needn't have worried though – turning the belt went really smoothly. I didn't zigzag the edges before turning the belt, and none of the edges seemed to fray as I was turning it. As that was successful, I decided the sleeve tabs would be the finishing touch. These were slightly trickier to turn, but I tacked a small piece of ribbon into the closed end to enable me to pull the sleeve tab through to right sides out without too much hassle.
I think this was the perfect fabric choice for this jacket. It's listed as "heavy" but the jacket doesn't feel too heavy and bulky to wear on warm spring days. I'm pleased I opted to use a contrasting colour for the facing and waistband. The lilac lifts the loganberry purple, and gives it a more casual feel. It would be perfect to wear with jeans or casual trousers, but I think it would also work well with smart trousers for a more formal style. Of course if I'd chosen a more 'formal' colour such as black, it would have ended up with a less casual, smarter look, but I am partial to purple!
Because I was generously sent an extra metre to what I needed for the Giverney pattern, so I could make the facing and waist band in a contrast colour, I had enough fabric left over to make a second item. I was torn between a skirt and shorts, but decided that the feel of the linen/cotton blend would lend itself best to a Staple Skirt.
Keeping with the theme of contrasting colours, I used lilac for the back patch pockets, front pocket facings and the inner waistband. The Staple Skirt was originally designed for denim and requires a zigzag stitch to finish the seams, before topstitching. I've tried zigzagging fabric that frays easily before, and it wasn't a complete success, so I decided that zigzagging wasn't really ideal way of finishing the seams for me.
I had plenty of bias binding left from the Giverney Blazer (if you're making that one in a small size, you need more like 7 metres, not a total of 13 yards!), and used that to bind the seams on the Staple skirt. The front seam did have to be carefully zigzagged, because of the way the zip fly is inserted, but the rest of the seams look quite neat on the inside – which makes a change for me!
Top stitching is a novelty for me, and not something I would necessarily say I am talented at doing accurately. However, after adding the bias binding, I carefully topstitched the seam allowance to one side. It's not 100% perfect, but it's a lot more accurate than I thought it could be. I had added some 'sketchy' stitching to the back patch pockets, which I'm hoping will detract the eye from any wonky top stitching. The fabric lends itself to top stitching, especially when using contrasting colours with matching threads. I tried hard to use the opposite colour when topstitching, so the contrast stitching was a feature.
I used a medium iron-on interfacing for the waistband, which feels suitably stable without being stiff and restrictive. The Staple Skirt suggests using a jeans button, but I wasn't convinced that would look right on this fabric. So heading back to my Mum's tin of buttons, I was able to find another perfect match, this time in lilac!
While the Giverney Blazer is designed as a smart casual jacket which can be dressed up or down, the Staple Skirt is more casual in its style. However, when made from the Blades Linen and Cotton and worn together, they look surprisingly smart, and could even be worn as a suit. I'm really pleased with how both items came out, and I think they will be getting a lot of wear, both individually and as a smart-casual outfit. The Blades Linen and Cotton was a dream to sew and even more of a dream to wear! I would definitely recommend it.
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Retro Butterick ’60 6582

I’ve always preferred a vintage shape to a modern one, but like to give it a more contemporary edge. Now that there’s a wealth of reproduction patterns to choose from I feel spoilt for choice. When I chose this floral print Crepe Fabric I had four patterns in mind that I thought would suit this cloth. Once the fabric arrived I knew it would be absolutely perfect for Retro ’60 Butterick 6582. I love the shape of this frock with its front neckline which appears to wrap over, the shoulders that gather into gentle pleats and the V-back neckline. The zingy orange of the crepe contrasting with the white and blue florals was also more suited to a fun and feminine dress that I could wear day or night to my mind. I also wanted to make the most of the beautiful drape of the cloth with an on the bias skirt which Butterick 6582 has. 

A few years ago I made the fitted frock in a stretch cotton from this pattern. I always wanted to make the full skirted version one day and I’m so thrilled I have. Now I’ve pretty much avoided working with any cloth I consider slippery. Probably total laziness on my part as it requires a bit more patience or so I thought. This time I decided to knock that silliness on the head and I was very pleasantly surprised indeed. To be honest this crepe didn't throw up any of the issues I thought it would and behaved perfectly on my machine. To make sure it didn't slip about when I was cutting the pattern out, I laid tissue paper underneath the cloth. Usually I would lay another piece on the top to make a sandwich, but just one piece underneath did the job and the crepe stayed put while I cut through all the layers.

Before I actually cut into the crepe, I made a bodice toile as I generally have to work a Full Bust Adjustment to allow for my torso and bust which are three dress sizes apart. In the end I didn't work a Full Bust Adjustment as the only darts are on the waist and back. I chose instead to go a size up for my bust and then took the bodice in from under the armpits and graded it to the waist so I got the fit I was after. 

As this floral crepe is see through, I chose to fully line the bodice with an orange cotton. The pattern provides facings but it’s simple enough to line the bodice as all you have to do is make two bodices and then put them together following the same steps as with the facings. I did iron on a length of interfacing to the left front and along the front and back necklines to give them added strength which I felt the crepe would need. I didn't line the skirt though as I didn't want to make it heavy and take away from the drape of the cloth, so I wear a light petticoat underneath. 
I wasn’t going to make the belt, but once I finished the dress and tried it on it just cried out for one to finish it off perfectly, I found a vintage buckle in my stash and then altered the belt pattern to match the size of the buckle. Once that was made I simply stitched a popper on to where the belt fitted on my waist.

I have to say I really took my time with this frock and I feel it’s paid off. The crepe was a dream to work with so I enjoyed every step. I let the frock hang for a couple of days on my mannequin before I pinned the hem which I then hand stitched. I always prefer the speed of zipping round a hem with my sewing machine, but this cloth needed tiny slipstitches so it could hang perfectly. 

Do you know, I love all the details of this frock, the flat panel at the front of the skirt with gentle gathers either side all the way round finishes it off perfectly. It feels wonderful on and I just love how the cloth swishes around my legs as I walk. Now roll on summer so I can wear it with sun kissed skin and sandals.

Fabric: 3m of Floral Print Crepe Dress Fabric and 1.3m of lining cotton

Notions: 18” zip and iron on interfacing

Difficulty: I would definitely say for Intermediate sewers. The tricker part is sewing together the shoulder seams so that the gathers lay in the right direction. 

Thanks for reading,

Lisa @ mrsbobobun

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Pleated Satin Bell Sleeved Blouse

I don’t know about the rest of the sewing and knitting world, but a lot (okay, most) of the things I make fall into two categories – thick, warm winter items, or light summer dresses, so I’ve been trying to remember to also make some inter-seasonal garments to wear throughout the upcoming months too. You know, so I actually have things to wear!

When Minerva Crafts asked me to try out this Pleated Satin Fabric, I thought it would fit perfectly into this kind of category. The fabric is a polyester satin, with an irregular pleat detail and I chose the teal green colourway.

The fabric, although polyester, has a lovely feel to it, drapes really nicely and is not too shiny – which I definitely prefer. Looking at the image on the website, I wasn’t sure what the transparency would be like, but it’s perfect for tops and blouses. I did also think that it would make a gorgeous evening dress, but I fought against my instincts and decided to make something more practical that I’d wear a little more often.

Almost as soon as I opened the parcel containing this fabric, I immediately wanted to make a floaty, bell-sleeved top, with a V-neck, similar to so many I’ve tried on in the High Street. I didn’t have an exact pattern in my stash already, but I did have a basic t-shirt pattern – New Look 6434, which I hacked to form the shape of the top. I then made a few customisations, to suit the fabric and create the style I was looking for.

I added two semi-circle shapes to the bottom of the sleeve pieces to get a wide, floaty sleeve, and I lowered the neckline into a V shape. This was mostly a trial and error kind of process, so there was a lot of basting and unpicking, until I got the shape I was looking for. I planned to add a simple facing to the neckline, but due to the pleats on the fabric, I couldn’t get it to lie properly. Instead, I made a neckband and top-stitched it down. Luckily the fabric is quite forgiving, so any small puckers on the neckline end up hidden in the pleats.

I omitted the fastening that the pattern recommends at the back of the top. As the fabric has a little stretch, and as I had already lowered the neckline for the V-neck, I simply didn’t need a button and button loop closure to get it over my head.

I was surprised to find that this fabric doesn’t seem to fray! Even after one hand wash, the edges haven’t shown any signs of wear, which is great. Cutting the fabric isn’t too difficult, but I’d recommend using pattern weights instead of pins, to avoid damaging it. It does tend to move about – due to the pleats – and weights seem to work better overall.

The colour is descried as teal, but I think it looks more of a forest green. Either way, it’s beautiful and different to the majority of my wardrobe, which makes a nice change.

I’d recommend the fabric for simple, uncomplicated garments, so that you can really let the material do the talking. Any pattern needing something with a good weight, but with drape would work really well. (I can imagine this making a beautiful Megan Nielsen, Dove blouse.) I have a little bit left over, so I’m going to see if there’s enough to get a True Bias, Ogden Camisole out of it for the summer.

If you want to have a look at my other makes, then you’ll find me on Instagram or my Blog.

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