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Matilda Shirtdress by Sarah

Last year, along with two lovely sewing buddies, I hosted an Instagram based sewing challenge to push myself and my fellow sewists to sew something a lot of us had expressed desire to sew but had seemingly been putting off; a shirtdress. It seemed the notion of constructing collars and sewing buttonholes gave quite a few us the heebie-jeebies! The response to the #sewtogetherforsummer 2017 challenge was overwhelming with over 400 shirtdresses lovingly completed - that’s a lot of stitchers upping their sewing game. And guess what we all discovered - constructing collars and sewing buttonholes isn’t that scary after all! (There are tutorials and handy tips for both over on my blog).
As part of the challenge, I sewed the iconic McCalls 6696 – twice – to perfect the fit as well as some of my newly acquired skills. However, just as the challenge was coming to an end one of our sponsors, Megan Nielsen Patterns, released the Matilda Shirtdress Sewing Pattern. It  was instant love on my part! Available as a beautifully packaged paper or PDF pattern, Matilda is described as a fairly relaxed fit ‘modern utility style dress’. It features princess seams and drop shoulders, pleated breast pockets, an A-line skirt with really roomy statement pockets, 13 buttonholes and a full collar with stand. 
The pattern offers lots of opportunity for customisation and scope to modify the design i.e. by omitting certain features, like the collar or pockets, or by changing up some of the details.  You could alter the overall look of the dress by simply using contrasting fabric in certain areas, like I did - the inner yoke, internally faced waistband, pocket flaps; even the button placket and sleeve bands could be finished this way. I thought that was a lot of potential in one pattern!
It immediately went in my sewing queue … and then stayed there for a while. 
However, when I was invited to do this project (err, yes please!) , I knew instantly this was the pattern I wanted to make. So I duly dusted it off and began to think about how to make the dress my own and to source the supplies I’d need. I knew I wanted the pattern’s utilitarian style lines to be a key feature of my dress and to emphasise them with topstitching. To my mind, this meant using a solid colour rather than a print fabric. That didn’t mean I wanted a plain boring fabric though! After some searching, I found this perfect Linen-Look Cotton Fabric from Minerva Crafts online; it’s a non-stretch woven with a fantastic slub texture that I felt added just the right amount of interest. It comes in an array of colourways but I opted for the ‘wine’; a deep rich Autumnal colour. It has a lovely ‘hand’ and doesn’t crease nearly as much as I expect a regular linen would. (I’ve also ‘panic bought’ more of the other colours because I knew instantly this was a fabric I’d want to use again and again!)  
To add yet more interest, and as a way of personalising further, I decided to use a contrast fabric in just two key areas; peaking out from the inner collar and from the under pocket flap. I found this beautifully soft Cotton Lawn Fabric in a vintage-style floral print, again in the ‘wine’ colourway. (Are we sensing a ‘vino theme’ here? Hey, a dress that hides inevitable wine spillages is definitely a good thing, right?!)
I also needed interfacing and buttons. I had plenty of black and white fusible woven interfacing in my ‘haberstashery’ but testing on scraps of the main fabric, I felt both weren’t quite right against my main fabric. The black was too dark and the white too stark - so I ordered some in a traditional natural colour and that worked out perfectly. As for the buttons, with my previous shirtdresses I’d opted to self-cover them but here, again keeping the utilitarian feel of the dress in mind, I chose these bronze domed military crest buttons. Stylistically, I felt they made more of a statement without being ‘loud’.
My supplies all sourced, I was ready to start! 
There are a total of 18 pattern pieces and I knew from the off, as is my standard practice, that I’d have to redraft some of the pieces to get the fit I wanted. Megan Nielsen states that the pattern is designed for a height of 5.9” and a B/C cup. It probably goes without saying that I’m shorter and bigger than this! My main focus then was ensuring that the princess seams of the bodice not only lined up with my apex but also had enough curve to accommodate my chest! Looking at the finished measurements of the pattern I decided against doing an all-out Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) as I only needed a little extra room. To my joy, I discovered that princess seams actually offer great scope for fit alterations as you can easily adjust their curves in a variety of relatively easy ways to ensure they follow your own body shape. I simply let out the seam over the bust. I’ve fallen in love with the use of princess seams for bodice shaping, they’re just so flattering!  
I also took the shoulder in by half an inch. I decided against removing any length from the bodice; although I’m relatively short I’m longer waisted. I traced my skirt pattern pieces to the shortest length available though! I made a quick toile of the bodice out of an old cotton bedsheet (I’m constantly buying them in charity shops for this purpose!) and, satisfied enough with that, I got stuck into my lovely wine cotton! 
The fabric behaved impeccably throughout and was a joy to cut, press and sew. Whilst this is not a quick make, by virtue of the amount of pieces and all the optional topstitching, it was immensely satisfying. Megan Nielsen’s instructions and illustrations were fantastically clear (and there is an online ‘sewalong’ available to accompany the instructions too!) which meant that there were no protracted periods of confused head scratching, making the whole process of assembling this dress a delight.
I love, for example, that the instructions remind you when to do the optional topstitching; give a very straightforward explanation of the construction of the collar and collar stand so that they go together smoothly and provide brilliantly clear instructions for sewing the yokes using the ‘burrito method’ so as to fully enclose their seams on the inside. I’d always shied away from this in the past, opting to hand stitch the finish instead and I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out this time!  I’ll refer to these instructions for every yoke I sew from now on. (I admit, I was so pleased with it I danced a jig around my sewing table holding the bodice aloft, Lion King style!) 
The only instruction I ignored was that for the button band placement given on the placket pattern piece, instead marking my own key points -  the waistband, the fullest part of my bust and the neckline. I then used my buttonhole gauge to work out even spacing for the placement of the remaining buttonholes. 
My buttonhole gauge is just one of a few key tools I used for this make. I confess to being something of a Gadget Queen (as anybody who follows me on Instagram will testify!) but the right tools really can make all the difference; I wouldn’t have been without my walking foot and edgestitching foot (for all the topstitching), hot hem presser and humble tailors’ chalk for this project. I always mark stitching lines with tailors’ chalk on areas where I really need accuracy; for example at the curves of collars and pocket bags; and fork pins make it so much easier to match up seams, err, seamlessly! Somewhat unbelievably I barely used my seamripper at all, except to rip open the buttonholes (using a pin to make sure I didn’t rip too far!) 
And I love the resultant dress! The style lines and topstitching give it a beautifully tailored feel whilst the fit is relaxed, feminine and flattering.  I just feel ‘put together’ and stylish in it which is great in a dress that is so easy and comfortable to wear. I’ll certainly be making it again! 
Thank you so much Minerva for sending me the fantastic supplies to make this dress and to you for reading! 
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Butterick 6318 Luxury Crepe Dress by Frankie

This Fabric makes me feel like an absolute queen! That’s right I said it this fabric is regal.

As soon as I opened the parcel and the Crepe Fabric slid out I was speechless, It feels luxurious and expensive which at £11.99 per metre it isn’t exactly breaking the bank. Even the six year old of the house announced that it was a “very pretty” fabric.

So lets get into the details, its got a beautiful drape. But its not sheer which means its good for trousers and dresses alike and you won’t need to line it. I chose the burgundy colour which is rich and deep and sort of reminds me of one of those really expensive bottles of red wine. The fabric is silky smooth to the touch and feels like lovely against the skin!

It is a however an absolute brute to photograph, but the picture on the website is a very accurate representation of the colour.

I decided this fabric would be perfect for a dress that needs a bit more of a drape so I chose to make Butterick Pattern 6318. I knew the drape would look great on the dolman sleeves and the fabric looks lovely gathered up so I knew it would be great for the skirt and the waist ties.

Cutting into the fabric was surprisingly easy. I was worried it might shift around but I weighted it and I didn’t move. I would suggest using Fine Dressmaking Pins though because I noticed that thicker ones could mark the fabric and just to be on the safe side it is worth just pinning within the seam allowance.

I also used a walking foot because it was worried that the fabric might shift whilst I was sewing. I do think it made it easier but I did only use a regular zipper foot when I inserted my zip and that was okay, so I’m not positive if you actually need one.

In the end I was really pleased with how the dress turned out. I did a lot of pressing to get seams flat [I used a medium heat iron but make sure to test on a scrap first!] It does take a bit of persuasion to press into shape because of the bounce of the fabric but it can be done with the help of some Pressing Tools!

Pattern wise it is a nice pattern. I’ve made a few changes to the pattern pieces for next time, like shortening the waist. A few things to note are that the ties are not lined they are just hemmed around the edge. I personally think they would look better lined and it might even be nice to add a contrast lining and I’d also lengthen them because I love the idea of being able to tie them in a huge bow and right now they are pretty short. Also the side seams of the bodice and the skirt don’t match up [It is meant to be like this but I can’t work out why]. Anyway the offset side seams give me a twitchy eye so I’ve made those the same size on my pattern pieces as well.

All in all I really really love the dress. The fabric hits the mark between casual and dressy so its perfect for day to day wear but it doesn’t look out of place if we decide to pop somewhere nice for lunch or if we have a parents evening to attend at school. The looser fit on the bodice also means that its really comfortable to wear all day and you can eat a big meal in it which we all know is very important!!!

Much Love

Frankie @ Knit Wits Owls

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Q&A with Lisa of Bobo Bun Craft Blog

Can you tell us a little bit about your blog?

My blog Bobo Bun has evolved since I started writing it in 2009. At first, I wrote about every aspect of my family life and how my creativity fitted within that. I started blogging before Instagram arrived and so this was the ideal place to connect with other creative people. Suddenly from all over the world I could have a conversation with people who enjoyed the same things as me, share stuff and have a good laugh into the bargain. I love writing and taking pictures so blogging brought these two together, plus it’s given me a wonderful place to hold so many memories. The only downside of blogging for me was and still is the difficulty to connect with a flowing conversation. My reply to a comment will only be seen if that person checks back. I used to blog a few times a week, but when my marriage ended a few years back I lost my creative mojo for a time, plus it was pretty difficult with our belongings in storage while we looked for a new home. Once my daughter’s and I were settled again I found my creativity came back in full force. Throughout this time I always used instagram, but was less frequent with my blog as I felt it needed a new direction. Now I blog about my dressmaking as I cover that and life stuff on instagram. On my blog I love being able to go into more detail about the process of making each garment, sharing which patterns and cloth I used and hopefully inspiring other people to try them out.

Can you show us a photo of your crafting space?

I used to dream of a room to myself to make in, but since my daughter’s and I have moved into a small terrace that’s not possible and to be honest I actually prefer sewing in the heart of the home. I cut out my cloth on the dining room table and I sew on a table underneath a long window so I have a lot of natural light. All of the bits and bobs I need are stored in cupboards and baskets. My treasured Sylko drawers are behind my sewing machine and this is where I keep my scissors, needles, seam ripper…everything I need immediately when I’m sewing basically. It all works perfectly for me, although a shelf for my books and a pinboard would just make it that much better.

When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start? What was your first project? What is your favourite craft?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn't doing something creative. My earliest memory is sitting on the floor when I was about five or six making an owl out of an old dress, stuffing it with my mum’s tights and glueing cake tins on for the eyes. I moved on to making clothes for my dolls who in my imaginary world went to boarding school after reading Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers and St Clare’s. Being creative is a strong urge in me just as it is in my daughter’s. I’ve always sewn and as the years have gone by I’ve just learnt more and more which I love, there’s always so much more to tackle and learn. I also knit, crochet, quilt, embroider, make bags and felt brooches (which I sell through my small business). I taught myself to crochet after quite a lot of initial swearing and my mum taught me to knit so I’d sit still while I was pregnant with my second daughter Millie. I enjoy lots of crafts in bursts, but my first love and my passion is dressmaking every single time. 

What do you love most about crafting?

The happiness it gives me. I truthfully can’t imagine a life where I wasn't coming up with ideas or making something new. My head is always buzzing with projects and ideas. I stopped looking in high street shops quite a while back as I rarely found just what I was looking for and as I am 6ft it never fitted properly anyway. Sewing means I can buy the cloth I want and either use a pattern, draft my own or pattern hack to get the exact outfit I want to be wearing. I love the individuality of it too as no one will be wearing exactly the same thing even if we have been initially inspired by the same pattern. It also means I can pretty much make anything we need, new curtains, clothes requested by my family and presents for everyone. 

Do your friends and family craft along with you?

I have a few creative friends and ones for who it is full-time job, but I much prefer chatting about it with them. When I’m sewing for me I like to sew alone and lose myself in the pleasure of it. I like talking too much so I’d get distracted. That said it’s absolutely the opposite when I’m teaching as I love being part of a groups sew then. My youngest daughter is studying GCSE Textiles and will be going on to do this as an A’level this year so I do help her with technical issues and look for ideas that might help her with her projects. In the summer I’ll be teaching her and a friend dressmaking to help them with their A’level as they both want a career in this or fashion. 

Who do you make things for?

It’s a mix. I take custom orders for frocks through my instagram page and I make a variety of vintage fabric bags and accessories to sell. I’ve built up such a lovely network of customers who I have known for many years through my blog that in reality I’m sending my products off to friends to enjoy which makes it even more special. I squeeze time in around family life and stay up ridiculously late to sew for myself. I did stay up until 3am to make sure I could surprise my man with a waistcoat for a family party later that day. I make clothes for all of my family as requests or surprises which they love to wear.

What made you decide to start blogging about your crafting?

I wrote my first blog post in January 2009. I followed the lovely Donna Flower who sells amazing vintage fabrics, she was so supportive and said do it, so I did. At that time, I was a stay at home mum, living in the Norfolk countryside after a career teaching in London. I was also selling my bags and accessories at markets under my small business name of Bobo Bun. I used my business name for my blog as I also do on Instagram so people could find me easily. The name comes from Bobo, the handknitted rabbit given to me by my nanny Daisy when I was one. She was my first crafty thing and is still loved to this day, she sums up all the joy and love of handmade things to me so was the inspiration for my name. I've also made my own versions of Bobo Bun bunnies wearing the outfits that Bobo wore before the moths attacked them. With blogging I wanted a way of connecting with other people interested in the same things as me. I had no idea at the time though what a marvellous world I was entering into. Several new opportunities came my way, I made new friends who are still in my life today and we natter away online, I am constantly inspired by the creativity out there which gives me confidence to pursue what I love. 

What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?

My mannequin named Foxy Lady has become an essential sewing friend. Being able to pin patterns on her and check the overall fit of a dress to see how it hangs has helped my sewing enormously. She was one of my best buys. After that it’s the seam ripper. That’s saved the day plenty of times.

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with and why?

My first love is vintage fabric, especially barkcloth which I swoon over. I love the one off nature of it, the quality of the cloth and the individual prints. Often I can only get a small amount so the cloth decides what it will become which is fun. That said, there is some amazing great quality contemporary cloth out there. I’ve got tons of pictures saved of cloth that I want to use in the future. It’s always the colours and design that inspire me. Sewing with cloth that isn’t good quality totally lets down the time spent creating something to my mind. At the moment I’m obsessed with jerseys and am constantly looking for great designs, I’ve seen quite a few on the Minerva Crafts site that I’ll be buying. My other new interest is pleather. I’ve just bought a couple of pieces to experiment with.

What is your favourite pattern you have ever followed?

Oh my word, choosing a favourite anything always makes me panic a bit because how do I say just one thing. I have so many patterns I love for different reasons. Narrowing it down a bit, I’d say Indie pattern designers are my favourite over the Big 4. My favourite pattern at the moment though and my current obsession is The Rita Blouse by Gretchen Hirst’s Charm Patterns. I have all her books and have used several of her patterns for Butterick too. I love to wear contemporary 1950’s style clothes that are fitted and ooze sass and fun. I’ve made several Rita Blouse’s as they need only a small amount of cloth, don't require an FBA for my FF’s, are really easy to make up and great to wear with everything. Recently, I pattern hacked the blouse into a fitted dress with a wiggle skirt. Next up will be one with a full skirt.

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

I love the Atelier Brunette French Terry in black with gold spots. I’d make a Seamwork Astoria Jumper and maybe a looser fitting top to snuggle in when I find exactly the pattern I’m after.

How many projects do you have on the go at any one time?

Far too many. I have so many WIP’s that have been sitting in a bag for an age because I get excited about a new project. Currently, I’m making a dress for my youngest daughter, plus some birthday gifts, I’ve just started making my first pair of jeans, using Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans, then there is a dress I’m halfway through for myself and an absolute pile of cloth that I know exactly what it will become once I get round to cutting it. 

What’s your favourite thing you have ever made?

Pretty much I love everything I’ve made. There’s only a few things I make that afterwards I just think no, it just doesn't do it for me, but I’m glad of what I learnt while I made them. I'd say making the Wearing History Overalls was a favourite. It was a tricky pattern adapted from a vintage one. I made a toile in an old sheet first to get the fit right. I've worn them loads since, they're especially comfy to wear at our Lindy Hop dance class. Everyday summer frocks are another one of my absolute favourites with full skirts and a fitted bodice in a pretty floral fabric. Making shirts for my man is also on my list of favourite things. I absolutely love topstitching and the professional look it gives. Men’s shirts give you a lot of topstitching opportunities. 

Do you watch TV or listen to music while you craft?

Always. I’ve never been able to concentrate without background noise. It stops my head wandering off into other thoughts so I can stay focused. I sew either with the radio on or catch up on TV shows on my Macbook while I sew, not that I see much of what’s going on, I just tend to listen and look if something important happens. 

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

Inspiration comes to me from so many places. From watching films and period dramas where I see outfits that I’d like to copy, Instagram and blogs inspire me to find out about new to me patterns and being surrounded by fabric. Fabric always inspires me. 

Do you have a crafty tip you would like to share?

Don’t rush things or be tired when you’re making. I’ve made mistakes when I’ve forgotten to wash new cloth first and then it shrinks which makes it a bit tight to wear. If I’m tired I’ve cut pieces out the wrong way round or knitted and ripped the same row again and again because my tired brain read the instructions the wrong way round. My best tip though is to not be afraid to make a pattern your own and mix it up a bit. Change the skirt, bodice or sleeve if you don’t like that bit. You could add frills, piping lace to jazz it up too. Just let your creativity wander as the pattern is only a starting point really.

Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?

I follow quite a few blogs, but my favourite sewing blogs are The Crafty Pinup, Like Sew Amazing and Sew Dainty. I like the fun and passion they put into their sewing.

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

I would say write from your heart. Use your own voice and talk about what makes you tick, what you’re passionate about. Basically keep it real and then you’ll enjoy it and so will your readers. Good photos are really important too if you’re showing your makes. 

What are your crafting ambitions?

For quite a while now I’ve been taking on sewing commissions for lovely customers. I was approached recently to teach dressmaking and crochet classes at The Makeplace in Norwich. I’ve dreamt for a long time to be able to help people learn to sew and inspire them with how fabulous sewing is, especially when you get to wear your own creations. As a qualified teacher, I’ve taught academically as well as creative workshops in the past so this will bring together everything that I absolutely love to do. I’ll also be teaching workshops for my Happy Shopper Bags as well as other creative classes so it’s all hugely exciting. There’s a lot of planning going on behind the scenes at the moment, class dates will be available very soon though. I also want to start my own Vlog to share my passion for fabric and dressmaking. I do think it’s pretty fair to say I’m addicted to sewing, but that’s a good thing isn't it. My other ambition is to go to one of the short courses run by London School of Fashion so I can learn pattern drafting and couture techniques. 

What would you say to anyone looking to start a new craft?

Enjoy the whole process definitely and don’t beat yourself up if things go wrong. I’ve learnt so much from the mistakes I’ve made far more so then when it goes right. I think we tend to think too much about the end product rather than just enjoying every bit of crafting from choosing the cloth or yarn to working on our current project. Once you find the craft that is for you it can become a real passion that gives you 100% happy time.
Thanks for reading,
Lisa @ Bobo Bun

A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knits Book Review by Sewing Su

I love sewing with Knitted Fabric, garments are usually easy to fit and nice and comfortable which are my top two requirements when choosing things to sew!

I hadn't made any of Wendy's patterns before and didn't have a knitted fabric sewing book so I was more than keen to get my hands on a copy and have a good excuse to spend some time sewing over the Christmas break.

Although I have sewn many jersey garments I actually know little about the fabrics and how best to sew them. I didn't realise how little I knew until I read this book! It has great information about the different types of knits there are and how to tell the difference between them. What size and type of needles to use for which type of fabric (I found this particularly useful as I really had no idea about the sizes and have to admit I didn't know the difference between a ballpoint needle and a stretch one or when to use them!). There are a few really helpful tables such as the one comparing the types of fabric and what to use them for.

At the beginning of the Book Wendy gives details of particular techniques that are important for example instructions on creating different types of waistband and gathering with elastic. These explain many of the techniques used in the book in a clear and concise way.

There are 6 basic patterns but they can all be adapted themselves or combined with other patterns in the book to create many different looks.

First the pattern is introduced, possible types of knitted fabrics you could use are discussed and how these may affect the final look of the garment. Wendy also tells you the type of fabric used for making the samples in the photographs (I found this particularly useful – it is great to be able to recreate a certain look that you like and I haven't seen this in any other sewing books I have read). All of the finished measurements are given as well as the fabric requirements and cutting layout. If there is a pattern piece that might be confusing/ difficult to deal with there is a helpful warning sign put onto the diagram with a corresponding explanation. The instructions are straight forward and the diagrams clear. As well as going through how to make the basic garment there are instructions on how to make changes/alterations such as turning the Longshaw skirt into a dress. There are little boxes throughout the instructions giving helpful tips.

I couldn't possibly decide on making just one of the items so I chose to make the Longshaw skirt and the Kinder cardigan.

I had seen a couple of Longshaw skirt instagram photos from pattern testers for the book and instantly fell in love with the pattern. I thought it would be a really complicated garment to produce as it looked so different – how wrong I was! I think it is probably been the quickest garment I have ever made and ooooooooh the pockets..........

It is made up of only two pattern pieces (yes just two!) I am a total sucker for a weird pattern shape and love to see how it all comes together.

I loved the idea of making this a statement piece by using a structured fabric such as ponte roma or scuba but due to my body shape I decided a drapey fabric would be more suitable. The fabric I chose to use was a medium weight Cotton Jersey Fabric from Minerva – fluid enough for the pattern but nice and stable so easy to sew with. I went for the grey colourway so that it could be mixed and matched with lots of different garments in my wardrobe.

The instructions were great making it a very easy sew. I love the finished garment it looks casual but with a smart twist and I can confirm that it is very comfortable!

Even though I now know how the pattern pieces come together I still love how unusual it is.

It hangs nicely and could be worn in lots of different ways.

And the pockets are just fabulous!!

Next up the Kinder cardigan! There are several versions – short, regular, and long, with short or long sleeves. It can be made in a heavier weight fabric such as ponte roma for a jacket like cardigan or in a softer knitted fabric. I made the regular length, long sleeved version. I went for one of Minerva's unusual Jersey Fabrics which looks knitted from one side but has a lovely fluffy brushed cotton look on the other side. I chose the black colourway so that it would go with everything, this does make photographing the details a little tricky.

The construction of the cardigan is slightly more involved than the Longshaw skirt but still very easy to make helped of course by the clear instructions and diagrams.

As well as going through the steps to make the garment Wendy also refers you to other pages in the book for special instructions such as taping the shoulder seams when using very heavy or very drapey fabric (or else the shoulder seams can stretch out of shape). Wendy suggests using iron on bias tape or cotton tape, I didn't have either of these but for once my hoarding came in useful as I had two pieces of clear elastic just long enough for the shoulder seams (I have also used scraps of ribbon before).

My finished garment is light to wear but warm and goes with absolutely everything! I have hardly taken it off since it was made (I should probably wash it now though!).

I can see it being a wardrobe staple.

For me 'bum coverage' is essential for most garments I make – as you can see the regular length cardigan has enough 'coverage'.

The pockets are roomy and incredibly useful – demonstrated by holding lots of gubbins during dog walks.

And of course the two can be worn together!

I will be making lots of other garments from this book - I can see a pair of Monsal lounge pants in my future as well as several Winnats tanks and a peak t-shirt dress for the summer.

Thanks for reading,

Su @ Butterflies and Lemondrops


Cocktail Fabric Violet Blouse by Annie

As soon as I saw it I immediately fell in love with this Cocktail Hour Fabric. It’s retro colours and 1950s inspired design really called out to my vintage loving heart! This particular fabric is 100% cotton and composed of very fine threads so the fabric has a lovely drape, making it’s lightweight nature perfect for a spring or summer wardrobe piece.
Cotton Lawn is a material that I have not sewn with before but after this project I am now addicted to. There are definitely some more cotton lawn pieces coming to my wardrobe very soon.
When the fabric arrived from Minerva Crafts it was lovely and soft, and oh so floaty! I was concerned about how it would stand up to washing but I popped it in the machine on a 30 degree wash and it came out fine. It feels very smooth to iron, using a low temperature I ironed on the reverse of the fabric and during garment construction I used a pressing cloth. The fabric keeps it’s shape well and has the bonus of not succumbing to wrinkles easily. 
Due to it’s lightness I decided to stitch up a spring blouse using Colette’s Violet Blouse Pattern.
I love the vintage style of this blouse and thought it would be a great partner to the fabric’s 1950s style cocktails pattern. 
I used my sharpest of fabric scissors and achieved a cut with only slight fraying and noted any pattern markings on my fabric with a water soluble pencil as I didn’t want my ink pen to hold within the threads. Next time I’ll use my rotary cutter and pattern weights to achieve minimal fraying. I made sure to match my needle and thread to the lightness of the fabric to prevent any puckering during stitching and I ran a few test stitches first, checking my machine tension, especially when it came to the buttonholes. It was very easy to sew with but a top tip that I found useful was to use a piece of tear away stabiliser at each stitch starting point to prevent the fabric from being eaten by the machine. That’s something I tend to do with all lightweight fabrics. I then just trimmed that down rather than tearing it so that the stitching wouldn’t be disturbed.
The Violet blouse is billowy in nature and so this fabric suits patterns of that ilk due to having no stretch factor. The pattern calls for elasticated sleeves in the version that I stitched but I decided to just hem them as normal, having the sleeve finish just at the elbow. I think the looseness of the sleeves gives this blouse that artist’s smock vibe which suits me down to the ground! I’ve worn the blouse quite a few times now and I love that I can wear it tucked into jeans or trousers, or have it loose in a tunic style. Due to the cold weather at the moment I am layering it up but the lightweight nature of the fabric lends itself perfectly to the current mixed weather season.
This was a beautiful project from start to finish. I found it very enjoyable to sew using this cotton lawn and can’t wait to plan more cotton lawn projects!
Thanks for reading,

Timeless Metallic Shirtdress by Sylvia

Every sewist knows how daunting it is to cut into really gorgeous fabric! When I received this beautiful fabric, I had to make sure it was just right so I decided to make one of my favourite things… a shirtdress!

Fabric Details – This is an elegant abstract peacock print poplin fabric with the most gorgeous gold metallic finish from Timeless Treasures Fabrics, generously provided by Minerva Crafts. It is 100% cotton, medium weight, and has no stretch. I prewashed it to allow for any shrinkage to occur and ironed it on the reverse side. It did not shrink significantly which is always great. This fabric was such a breeze to work with. The more I work with cotton poplin, the more I fall in love with it (remember the polka dot cotton poplin I blogged about a few months ago?)

*Unfortunately Minerva have now sold out of this exact print, but there are loads of other gorgeous ones to choose from in the Timeless Treasures Fabric Range.

Pattern – After deciding on a shirtdress, I now had the daunting task of choosing which pattern to use. I finally settled on Deer and Doe’s Bleuet Shirtdress with princess seams and I chose to go with the sleeveless version. I love making shirtdresses but this was my first time using this specific pattern and I am so happy with how it turned out. I loved the princess seams detail, which I have not had on any shirtdresses I have made in the past. I made a size 42 but had to take the waist in about 2 inches. Next time, I will sew it up in a smaller size. 

I used gold thread throughout the entire dress. I thought it would help bring out the princess seam detail but the fabric was too vibrant to get the effect I was looking for. I then finished it up with gorgeous yet simple gold buttons.

The fabric and pattern combination could not have been any more perfect. Since the pattern did not require any lining, this medium weight poplin worked great.

Styling – It can be tricky to style such a vibrant fabric but I saw this as an opportunity to bring out my dark green thrifted vintage jacket and my metallic gold shoes. It is almost like this fabric was made just for this moment. Have you ever felt that way?

Thank you Minerva Crafts for the wonderful fabric. Your fabrics are always so amazing!

Thanks for reading,

Sylvia @ The Ravel Out


Wendy Ward Book Peak T-Shirt Scuba Dress by Helen

As a great admirer of Wendy Ward’s inimitable style I was so excited to hear about her new book focussing on sewing with knits. I was imagining stylish silhouettes that wouldn’t look out of place at the office despite being made from the comfiest knits. When the book arrived I was not disappointed; the projects that it contains are perfect – simple outlines that can be made to suit every style simply by changing the fabric choices. I simply couldn’t choose which to make first! A simple t-shirt for a stroll in the park, chic wide-leg trousers for work (Nobody would ever know I was wearing secret pyjamas!) or an elegant coatigan to throw over the lot and keep myself warm through the winter.

As I started to browse the extensive range of Knit Fabrics available on the Minerva crafts website I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy choice, they are all so lovely and I could imagine myself quickly getting carried away and planning a whole wardrobe! I eventually decided upon this gorgeous Scuba Fabric. It is a black base with beautiful cream flowers and I just knew it would make the perfect t-shirt dress for winter. As this book is written with knit newbies in mind I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to refresh my knit sewing skills and choose a simple project with an easy to sew fabric and scuba was the perfect choice – it doesn’t have too much stretch and glides easily through the machine.

I was eager to get started and the first step was tracing off the pattern. The pattern layout might seem a little daunting at first with all the patterns in the book spread over four sheets. However, each pattern is printed in a different colour so it is really easy to find what you are looking for and can easily trace it off without getting confused with the overlapping patterns. The lines for the different sizes are also really distinct making it simple to distinguish which line you are following.

The directions for each pattern are pretty simple to follow. I chose to do the dress length version of the Peak T-shirt and had no problems. Although if you are choosing one of the variations whch doesnt just follow the basic pattern it looks as though there would be more jumping between pages required. I really liked how all the basic instructions like choosing your machine settings and hems were at the front of the book, separate from the projects. This means the project pages aren’t too cluttered (the basic Peak t-shirt is spread across three pages) and once you have mastered these basics you can get on with your project without interruptions.

I also really love that there are loads of great tips and tricks included in this book, I picked up so many new ideas about which stitches to use with which fabrics, when different seam finishes are most appropriate and perhaps my favourite – stripe matching as I do love a good stipy knit! In fact I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to try this out, but maybe my next project will have to be a stripy one!

I am really pleased with how my make came out – the Peak t-shirt seems so versatile and in this heavy scuba fabric it makes the perfect winter dress to throw on over leggings. I chose to make the size down from that suggested as there is a lot of positive ease built in, but graded up a size at the hips to keep that loose fitting style. I will definitely be making more of these and can see this pattern becomng a wardrobe staple. 

Thanks for reading,

Helen @ H's Handcrafts


Vogue V1392 - My Dream Dress by Kathy

The moment I saw this Sewing Pattern I knew that I was desperate to sew it. It is totally my style. I love a dress with a fitted bodice and pleated skirt, and I'm totally in love with the adorable neckline and off-the-shoulder straps.
The pattern is V1392 and is a Kay Unger design for Vogue. Although I have been sewing for many years, incredibly this is the first time I have sewn a Vogue pattern so was really interested to see what it was like.
The sewing pattern and supplies are from Minerva Crafts, and browsing through their website for the perfect fabric is always an absolute pleasure. I knew that I wanted a fabric that would have enough body and weight to show off the pleats in the skirt, and also support the beautiful fitted bodice and shoulders straps.
I opted for a Stretch Brocade Fabric with a floral design ( I love a floral print), in beautiful shades of green, copper brown, pink and cream set against a black background. The brocade has a medium weight and a small amount of stretch in the width and the bias. 
When I had a closer look at what the fabric requirements and notions were for this dress I was astounded with just how many items were needed. Alongside your main dress fabric you require fusible interfacing for the bodice, lining for the whole dress, and organza for the petticoat. In addition to this your notions are thread,  a zip, some elastic, boning, ribbon, seam binding and a hook and eye. I absolutely realise now that the combination of all these items make for a stunning dress which is so beautifully constructed and worth all the attention to detail that this pattern provides you with.
This is the full list of materials I used;
Textured Floral Stretch Brocade Dress Fabric LX-LX1759 2 metres @ £6.99 per metre
Black Sheer Organza Dress Fabric SHEERORG-25 1.5 metres @ £2.99 per metre
Black Premium Anti Static Taffeta Dress Lining Fabric 426-2300 2 metres @ £2.99 per metre
Vilene H250 Light-Medium Firm Iron On Fusible Interfacing 2V305 1 metre @ £4.99 per metre
Black 10mm Flat Value Braided Elastic GBE10\BLK 1 metre @ 19p per metre
Black Concealed Invisible Closed End Zip 55cm 3CC56-580 1 @ £1.59
Black 7mm Berisford Rigiband Boning R423117\10 1 metre @ 89p per metre
Black 3mm Berisford Double Faced Satin Ribbon R35013\10 1 metre @ 39p per metre
Black 13mm Essential Trimmings Seam Binding Tape R78113\BLK 1 metre @ 49p per metre
Vogue Ladies Easy Sewing Pattern 1392 Off Shoulder Dress @ £15.00
Before cutting into my beautiful fabric I made a quick toile. I am very careful to almost always do this with a pattern I have never made before and it was especially important in this case as I had never sewn a Vogue pattern before. It was important for fit of the bodice had to be perfect. The toile came together beautifully and the only alteration I had to make was in the length of the skirt. I needed to shorten it by approx 4cm.
After altering the skirt pattern pieces to make them shorter, I set about cutting out my fabrics. I have to admit this did take me quite some time - there are thirteen pattern pieces which make up this dress.  It wasn't until this point that I realised I had some serious pattern matching to consider, and this took some careful pattern placement. Also it is worth noting that the bodice/shoulder piece is cut on the bias and has a vertical seam running right down the centre front, so pattern matching this would be incredibly challenging. I settled for matching one of the copper brown coloured flowers at the centre front as this is where your eye might be drawn to, and was pretty pleased with how this turned out. The other areas to match were the centre back seam on the bodice and skirt. 
I found the instructions to be clear and helpful. There are also black and white drawings which are great. It's not a dress that you can make in a flash, but just lately I have made so many easy quick patterns that this time it was really enjoyable to take my time with something a little more detailed. I'm not saying that it was difficult at all, just more time consuming. In a good way.
One of the construction features of this dress is that it has boning sewn into the bodice. On this occasion I decided to skip this part as I felt that the bodice that I had interfaced already had enough structure and didn't need any more. If you have chosen a weight of fabric that you think will still need the boning, the instructions are beautifully written and clearly illustrated to take you through this process.
Another cute feature of this dress are elasticated straps which are attached underneath the shoulder straps and stop them from slipping down. So clever and they really did make the shoulder straps stay in place.
A dress with pockets is a winner in my eyes. This amazing dress has pockets with pocket facings. How fancy. The pocket pieces are made from lining fabric, and the back pocket pieces have a facing piece sewn to them using the main fabric so that this just blends in with the skirt. Just another example of the attention to detail that this Vogue pattern gives you.
The petticoat was fiddly. This is the first time I have sewn with organza,  it's slippery and it frays a lot! Neat little French seams give this a professional finish and whilst I don't think that it really gave my dress any more 'body' I must admit it feels all the more special knowing it has this luxurious petticoat. Hemming it was also challenging. I tried to use the 'rolled hem' foot on my machine, but this was tricky and in the end I opted for a teeny tiny double hem. 
In addition to the petticoat, the skirt is lined. Again following the instructions gave a beautiful result and the point when you attach it to the bodice lining and it becomes a fully lined dress is hugely satisfying. It feels so special!
Before the dress is finished there are some special finishing touches. The skirt hem is neatly finished with seam binding. At this stage I realised that I had not ordered enough so used some black bias tape. I loved how pretty this looked and whilst hemming is probably one of my least favourite part of sewing, this method was much more enjoyable.
Sweet little ribbon dress hanging loops are also part of this dress. Whilst on many of my 'ready to wear' clothes they are one of the first things I cut off, they are a valuable part of an off-the-shoulder dress and will help my dress from slipping to my wardroble floor I'm sure.
My hand sewing skills were tested when I made little French Tacks which keep the elastic strap anchored to the inside shoulder of the dress. These were fun to sew and definitely did their job in keeping the shoulders of the dress just where I wanted them.
I am so in love with this dress, and whilst it is a style that is quite formal and probably best suited for special occasions, I think you could achieve many different looks depending on your fabric choice and colour. I couldn't be happier with the outcome of this dress and will certainly make it again as I think the style is classic and elegant. The design and construction of the dress is outstanding, and I am eager to use Vogue patterns because of every little perfect detail that this dress included.
Vogue give this dress an 'easy' rating, and whilst I don't think it would be a good pattern for a total beginner, it could be perfect for a slightly more confident sewist who might want to push their sewing skills to the next level.
Thank you to Minerva Crafts for such beautiful fabrics and supplies, they really have created my dream dress. My challenge is now deciding where my husband can take me so that I can show it off!
Happy sewing!
Kathy @ Sew Dainty

Floral Sweatshirt Fabric Review by Simona


I am back on the Minerva Crafts blog with a review for another fabric I tested for them recently. On this occasion I had the pleasure of working with their floral print light weight Sweatshirt Fabric.

This is a mix of polyester, cotton and elastane fibres 64 inches wide. It’s softer than I expected, considering it is a sweatshirt fabric. It is also quite light, perfect for using it in spring, summer or autumn makes.

I was in such a hurry that I decided to take a risk and start cutting it straightaway, without washing it (I do advise, always wash your fabric the same way you will was whatever you use the fabric to avoid disappointment) It’s got stretch right? I was sent 2 meters of the fabric which was enough to make a dress and a top by mixing it with black coloured fabric.

When working with knits to avoid wavy hems or wavy shoulder seams, I always stabilise shoulder/hem areas before I start construction.

Be aware that because the fabric is sweatshirt type, it will shed a little and it will create a little mess, but not too much. It is a good idea to think about how you will finish the raw edge if you are not using an overlocker/serger.

For the construction of both the dress and the top I mainly used my overlocker/serger. The whole process goes really fast this way. After cutting the fabric a day before, I managed to finish both the tops and the dress during a Sewing Date with my friend Gemma.

On the dress, as the black fabric was a bit unruly, I used the lightning stitch on my machine to understitch the pocket bag to make sure the pocket stays hidden while I wear the dress.

As the front hem and the back hem were in different fabrics I thought it would be fun to use different colour knit interfacing. And for the hem, I used the twin needle with two different colour threads for the back part of the hem, just for the fun of it.

Since I’ve learnt that by using wooly nylon thread in the bobbin, using the twin needle on knits is my preferred method of finishing hems. This is what I did with the hems on the top as well. Using knitted interfacing was sufficient for this fabric. The only thing you need to be aware is to go slow and make the stitch longer for the hem. This will prevent broken treads and will make your hems look professional as if done on the cover-lock machine.

The fabric is quite easy to work with and if you have an overlocker you can make yourself a lovey dress or top in no time. The fabric is also stable enough that if you do not own an overlocker/serger you can easily use your sewing machine to sew up this fabric.

I love that my mixing the fabric with some left over from my stash I managed to make myself both a dress and a top.

Can you spot the back thread I used on the back hem? Even though it’s black it blends with the fabric. I also like that by using a different fabric for the sleeves you get the impression of several layers.

I’ve been wearing my top a lot since making it. I’ve been asked quite a few times where I bought it. ;)

My tips for working with this fabric:

  • interface your shoulder and hem areas, it will help prevent having wavy seams.

  • if available use your overlocker, it will make construction much faster and finish the seam, remember the fabric sheds a little when cut.

  • Used wooly nylon thread in the bobbin if doing your hems with a twin needle.

Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog post. We would really love to see your projects made with supplied from Minerva Crafts, so please do share your makes on Instagram/Twitter by tagging @MinervaCrafts or using the hashtag #MinervaMakes. I’d love to see what you create.


Sewing Adventures in the Attick


The Minerva Blush Fabric Review, 1 Fabric 2 Ways

Who always sticks to sewing with the same fabrics over and over again? Ok so that will be me!
If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that my go to fabric is cotton lawn, but one of my “re-sewlutions” this year was to try out different fabrics as I was totally aware that I was limiting my handmade wardrobe by sticking to the same fabrics.
So when Minerva Crafts called out for people to try out a huge variety of fabrics my hand was right up in the air!
I have selected 3 different fabrics and this is my first review, the absolutely gorgeous Lady McElroy Sydney 4 way Stretch Crepe Suiting Fabric.
Another of my re-sewlutions was to work with block colour a little more this year rather than so many prints (although I do still love prints very much), you probably already know that I love pastel pink, so I immediately fell in love with the blush colour.
I have used this lovely fabric to make 2 totally different styles of dresses and I can’t wait to tell you all about them.
I have also added a video to my YouTube Channel so that you can see the fabric in detail.
Dress 1
I had thought about the pattern that I wanted to make, and I love the simple but classy design of the Seamwork magazine Catarina dress, so that was what I had imagined for this lovely blush fabric.
The fabric arrived and my oh my is it special. The texture, the drape, the stretch, its just perfect and is not see through at all. 
However, I wasn’t anticipating just how heavy weight it is (even though the description on the website said heavy weight).
The Catarina pattern calls out for a farbric with drape (tick) but it also calls out for lightweight fabric (cross), but I have planned this dress, in this fabric, in this colour so firmly in my mind, and decided to just go for it anyway, sometimes you have to break the rules, right?
I’m so pleased that I did ignore the little voice in my head telling me that it just won’t work as it turned out really well. 
The fabric was a dream to work with, even though it has spandex it sewed up just like a standard woven, I didn’t have to fiddle about with my machine settings at all. 
I used a Janome blue tip needle (to be honest I use these for everything) and they flew through the fabric with no problem at all.
The only exception to this was the waistline, so imagine 2 layers of bodice fabric (as its self lined) and a gathered skirt, this was a little too much bulk for my standard foot to handle, but nothing stops the walking foot! This breezed through all of those layers of fabric with ease.
One thing that this fabric does not like is pressing, I had no issues in relation to the fabric melting or anything like that, but it didn’t want to press easily even with loads of steam. That said, the seams and darts worked out so clean. I didn’t make a double folded hem as it would not have sat flat, instead I overlocked the bottom and hemmed a single layer of fabric.
I honestly cannot tell you how pleased that I am with how this turned out, its so comfortable to wear, it doesn’t feel that heavy when its on, and it swooshes!!!
Oh and an added bonus, it does not crease so its perfect for packing away for holiday.
I used bra strap elastic for the straps (rather than using the fabric) as I knew that I would struggle to get the fabric to press flat, but I did use the fabric for the tie belt.
Dress 2
I had ordered enough fabric to make the Catarina, but didn’t need anywhere near the amount it asked for, I think that this was because the tie belt is supposed to be cut parallel to the selvedge, but as this fabric had more stretch in this direction, I cut it parallel to the raw edge. This meant that I had enough fabric left to squeeze out a Colette Patterns Laurel Dress, yay!
I have made a couple of different versions of this dress before using woven with no stretch, and they fitted me really well. I did think about sizing down (as this fabric has some stretch), but then I thought that I would try making it in the same size, and maybe this would negate the need to add a zipper (yes I know another little risk) and this paid off too!
This fabric works really well with this dress as it looks so clean and really shows off the bust and back darts and looks such a lovely silhouette. 
I did initially add the patch pockets in the same fabric and this was a BIG mistake, they went all out of shape (I guess due to the stretch) so I had to unpick them. I was going to leave it without pockets but you could see the stitch lines from the previous pockets, so instead I made new ones using a quilting cotton and they turned out fine.
Now if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that I had an ‘oops’ moment when sewing this dress, I only went and sewed the sleeve on inside out, but shhh don’t tell anyone!
So, in summary I really love this Fabric, it worked well on both these dresses even though its probably not the suggested fabrics for the patterns (I love it when a risk pays off) and I will definitely be working with this again.
I think that my next project out of this will be some culottes or some kind of wide leg trouser (it comes in tons of colours!), so watch this space!
Thanks for reading,

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