Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 4th July 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I was excited to be offered the opportunity to review a Dressmaking Fabric for Minerva Crafts. I opted to receive 2 m of ‘Leaf Print Stretch Needlecord Fabric’. However, when the fabric arrived, to be honest I wasn’t initially thrilled; it just wasn’t a print I would usually be drawn to. It is available in 4 colourways and I was sent the green. This has a bright green background with a distinctive dark green leaf print, all interspersed with embroidered lines of contrasting cream thread.
It was obvious that the fabric itself was good quality, with a substantial feel. I pulled across the width of the fabric and found it had a decent amount of stretch (I estimated 15 to 20%), with excellent recovery. I also measured the size of the leaf motif to be around 8”.
Next, I did what I often do when trying to visualize the potential of a new purchase. I draped the fabric on Dolly the dressform, stood back and pondered. Hmm, what to make?
This is not a flimsy drapey fabric. It is described as medium weight on the website, but I would personally put it into the medium to heavy weight category. Having said that, it was moulding itself to the dressform, so I wouldn’t describe it as being stiff either. This fabric holds its shape well and in my mind was calling out for a pattern that would make the most of its stretchability.
I decided to put the fabric into a cool wash and ponder its future. I don’t usually tumble dry my makes, so chose to air-dry overnight. As with other needlecords I’ve used, it came out of the machine covered in bits of fluff – a bit of a pain, but the nature of the beast. It seemed to hold its colour well though and ironed beautifully.
I had recently made a ponte roma version of the Grainline Studio Morris Blazer Sewing Pattern and knew that this great little pattern worked best with stretch fabrics, especially those with a firm structure. Seemed like the stretch needlecord and Morris Blazer were calling to each other.
The Morris Blazer pattern indicates that the facings should be interfaced, but due to the needlecord’s weight, I decided to risk it and not to bother. I cut out the pattern pieces using my trusty rotary cutter. It cut easily and didn’t fray much. It sewed like a dream, the stitches sank into the fabric in a very satisfying manner. I have heard that corduroy can be a bit tricky to work with (the pile can cause the fabric to ‘walk’ while it is moving through the machine), so to combat this I used a walking foot and plenty of pins. In the event I had no problem at all.
I also took extra care when pressing – I used offcuts of the needlecord fabric as a pressing cloth to avoid marking the pile. I was pleased with the way the blazer turned out using this fabric – it had a lovely structure, which worked perfectly.
Since this is a wide fabric (56”) I had enough fabric left over to make a Great British Sewing Bee pencil skirt for my daughter.
At which point it occurred to me that I had effectively sewn a suit out of 2 m of needlecord fabric!
So in summary, although this wasn’t my usual style of fabric print, it had a lovely quality, which I enjoyed working with. In the end I surprised myself with how much I liked the 2 garments I managed to make with just 2 m of this fabric. My daughter has a new skirt and I have a new jacket.
Thanks for reading,
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 3rd July 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Make a pair of shoes in an afternoon, from one fat quarter? If you consider espadrilles to be shoes, then that is almost exactly what I did.
I was thrilled to be asked to review the Prym Espadrille Soles for Minerva Crafts. I've always fancied a pair of bespoke shoes, and this is a very affordable way of having some unique footwear.
The packaging contains a pair of soles, and tucked in the upper card fold is the pattern for standard espadrilles. The size of the soles is on the back of the packaging, in European notation. I'm a size 3, which is usually a 36, and yes, I know that's small for an adult, and yes, I do have problems finding shoes to fit. I was delighted therefore, to find that Prym cater for pixie feet too.
However, the pattern describes 36 as an English 3 1/2, and sadly I'd agree with that. Please bear that in mind if you are selecting soles for yourself. I'm not deterred though. I loved making these, and I'll make more, for my normal footed family, and I'll work out a way to make them to fit me.
The soles are coiled rope, with a rubber base. I was surprised and pleased to see that the base has quite good grips on it.
You don't need much fabric to make the outer, and you could quite easily make an outfit with matching shoes. I used one fat quarter for both outer and lining to demonstrate that it could be done, but obviously you could use as many as you like!
The pattern DOES NOT include seam allowances. This gives you the flexibility to chose your own seam allowances, but do remember to add it!
I traced the pattern, and added markings. You'll need two fronts and two soles (sides) for the outer fabric, and the same for the lining fabric. The front piece isn't symmetrical, and one of the front pieces for both fabrics needs to have the pattern reversed before cutting out. It's worth marking on the right side of the fabric which is the inner side, and which is the outer. It is possible to work out which is which, but I found this much quicker.
The Fabric I used is called 'Galaxy' and is a quilting weight, so I added lightweight interfacing to the outer pieces, to add a little extra stability. I left the seam margin without interfacing, to help reduce bulk in the seams.
If you're wondering, I did fussy cut the outer front pieces; a fat quarter was ample room. The pattern on the sheet I had goes up to 42, a U.K. size 8, and this would also fit inner and outer pieces on one fat quarter; maybe not if you fussy cut though!
The soles don't come with instructions, but instead direct one to the Prym website, where there is a PDF of clear instructions with photographs of the stages.
I chose to machine sew the parts that I could. This is very straightforward, and they turned easily. I sewed up the gap by hand, not my best work, but I don't think it's too obvious now the shoes are finished. These are the pieces sewn and pressed; I've put a pin in the outer side, but this isn't something you'd need to do if the lining was different to the outer. Don't they look good?
The next step is to pin the pieces to the sole. Start with the sole piece, then add the front.
I couldn't resist trying them on. I was able to walk in them, carefully, and although they are too big for me, I love them already. The material was bought for quilting, but I think it looks much better as shoes.
Pinning carefully is important at this stage, even if you can resist trying them on. The pieces have to be hand sewn onto the sole, and it is worth taking the time to angle the pins into the shoe so they don't catch you. The instructions advise to remove the front again, but I just removed the pins near the sole piece, and left the front mostly pinned in place.
I have this useful set of Sewing Needles in my tool kit, and used the carpets/heavy work needle. It has a large eye, and is a sturdy needle with a sharp point.
The fabric is sewn to the sole using blanket stitch. I found it a bit difficult to sew the front bit where it overlapped the back. I'm quite a slow hand stitcher, and this bit was done in front of the television, so the ‘afternoon make’ stretched into evening too.
Once both parts are attached, you can slightly alter the fit by how far the front overlaps the back. It doesn't reduce it half a size though! Use back stitch for the side seam. I wondered about continuing the back stitch all the way across the front, as it looked quite decorative, and I might try this on another pair.
Don't they look cute peeping out under my jeans!
They do slip off when I walk, but I’ve folded the back down, and wear them like that. I might try some elastic in the back, as this was loose even when I padded them out to make them my size.
Do I recommend them? Yes. They were fun to make, and I have plans to make some for other people, and for myself. There are other Espadrille Patterns for different shoes styles too that I'd like to try too. I’ve been asked for some with Christmas fabric outer, and fleece or plush lining; don't they sound comfortable?
Thanks for reading,
Emma @ Hot Tea on a Hot Day
Posted in Projects on Saturday the 1st July 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Thimble Bee here again, and this time we are looking at Espadrille Soles. I don't know about you, but these bad boys have been showing up all over my instagram feed recently, so when I had the opportunity to review them, I jumped at the chance! They are espadrille soles by Prym, and I requested my size (size 3) and was SO excited to get started.
I started by watching a few videos and reading a few blogs on how to make espadrilles, as one thing that this packet lacks is instructions (like seriously). After watching a few videos I mustered up the courage to gather my supplies and get started. I chose a super vibrant red as I wanted them to be really summery and match my predominately blue wardrobe, and for the lining I had a few scraps of Rifle Paper Co fabric so I decided to use them, because who doesn't like shoes with a pretty lining? And that reminds me of one VERY good thing about these soles, they are the perfect project for using up scraps.
So, by watching various vlogs and reading various blogs, I found out that the pattern pieces that come with the soles do not include the seam allowance, which means you have to trace them and add whatever seam allowance you desire. If I hadn't found this out from other sources then I would of been in a serious spot of bother. So remember people, add your seam allowances! Next, after I had traced my pieces I looked to the internet for some inspiration, and the types of espadrilles that really enticed me where the ones that had a tie around the ankle. So with the back piece I essentially just cut it down to just cover the ankle bit and then drafted some ties to attach to them, which I forgot to include in the picture (go me).
So after that I cut out all my pieces and began to assemble the shoe.
I used the traditional blanket stitch to attach the pieces to the soles, and what I have got to say is that the assembly was very easy, and it was a nice change to be able to sew something in front of Netflix, but, as I think it's a big issue, there was still a lack of instructions on the packet, so most of what I did was taken from the internet. Anyway, I managed to finish them anyway, and I was SUPER happy with the look, maybe I made the ties too wide, but that's a minor detail. But, my world came crashing down as when I put them on, they were super big, so I decided to gift them to my mum, shes a size 4, they were still to big for her. So, I gave them to my sister, who is a size six, and they fit her?! I don't know whether it's because I changed the back, that they became big or whatever, but I compared them to my RTW espadrilles and the soles of the Prym shoes were still much larger. Nevertheless, I will try again, and try to make the shoe to look like the one on the packet, and see if that changes anything.
So guys, my one bit of advice is; size down. They were beautiful shoes, and a great make, but far too big.
That's it! Until next time.
Hello all! My name is Carmen and I have a sewing blog over at Carmen Sews.
I was so excited to team up with Minerva Crafts to create this guest project post for their website. For this project I wanted to create a simple summer project that is versatile and simple for anyone of all skill levels. I chose the Simplicity Sewing Pattern no 1059 which is a retro dress with pleats in the shoulders with an optional wrap tie at the waist.
I have had this pattern on make list for a while and was excited to make this dress with one of Minerva Crafts' beautiful choice of Dressmaking Fabrics.
I chose to use this Fabric which is a colorful floral satin.
This print is so perfect for summer and is lightweight enough to handle the summer heat in Florida where I live.
The floral detail in this fabric is to die for and fits perfectly with my tropical climate. I would highly recommend this fabric if you are creating a light and easy summer frock such as a dress or light blouse and the bright pink hue of this fabric is so girly and right up my alley!
I used to be quite fearful of working with light and slippery fabrics; however, I feel that these types of fabrics become easy to use with practice and are worth the extra effort!
I chose to cut this fabric with a Rotary Cutter which decreases the chance of fabrics like satin or rayon from moving around or shifting while cutting.
This method will avoid inaccurate cutting of your pattern and will decrease the chance of making crucial mistakes that could ruin all of your hard work that you have put into making your garment. I would definitely recommend this method for anyone who is just beginning to venture into working with fabrics that are slippery and harder to handle that other fabrics.
I also use pattern weights in this process to hold down the pattern and to further avoid any shifting.
I sewed this dress together making sure to hold the fabric gently to avoid any movement or shifting.
While sewing with slippery fabrics I would also suggest pin pin pin! You can never use too many pins and please use as many as you feel comfortable with. This will ensure that no shifting will take place and that you will be left with a smooth seam without bunching which can sometimes occur with satin.
Overall, this fabric was incredibly easy to work with and to handle.
This pattern calls for the addition of a regular Dress Zip; however, I chose to use a transparent Invisible Zipper just because I love the look of invisible zippers, have never tried a transparent one and was curious on the results that I would achieve.
I use a regular zipper foot to insert my invisible zippers however, if you have an invisible zipper foot you can use that if you feel comfortable. As I used the regular zipper foot I made sure to pull back the teeth as I sewed down the tape. The result was great, however this same look can be achieved with any invisible zip of any colour.
I chose to make this pattern with the tie/scarf included in the pattern, I was afraid that if I did not use the tie I would look boxy in the dress and would not be happy with the result. I am very glad that I chose the tie option because the use of the tie shows off my figure in a flattering way.
I did shorten this dress about 3 inches because it was surprisingly long and I felt that this style of a dress is more flattering on me a tad shorter than the pattern calls for.
I love the result and I feel that this would be a go-to dress for a fun summer evening date night or a day by the pool.
Thank you so much to Minerva Crafts for collaborating with me and thank you all for reading this blog. I hope that you you all go out and create something wonderful for summer!
Have a beautiful day!
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 29th June 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
When I first received these Knitting Needles from Minerva my initial thought was – they look like knitting needles what could be so special? But then I looked more closely and started to notice the features and my opinion quickly changed! The main features of these needles are the ergonomic triangular shape, the shaped tips, and the clips. Each of these features add to the benefits of these needles and make them really fun to knit with.
The triangular shape of the needle is supposedly what makes them an ergonomic needle – I can’t really say much about that as I didn’t really notice much different in the comfort level for my hands as I don’t often have problems with this but wat I can say about the shape is it does mean there is less friction and the yarn glides more easily on the needles. Generally, this is a good thing as it can increase knitting speed. However, I did start to worry about the possibility of the knitting sliding off the needles at one point.
This is where the second great feature comes into play. The needles have little bobbles on the tips which are actually really useful in preventing the knitting from sliding off the ends as it would have to “jump” over that little bump. I personally found this to be a really useful feature as there were a couple of times I thought I was about to drop a stitch and that little bump saved me! Normally a dropped stitch is not the end of the world and can easily be picked up again using a crochet hook but in fact, if it does happen with these needles (as I forced it to) it was actually a lot easier to pick up with these needles as the shaped tip gave some help in retrieving the dropped yarn.
When I took the needles along to my craft club to get some second opinions however there was some disagreement as to the brilliance of this feature. For many of us there were no complaints and the benefits of the shaped tip were clear. However, for some knitters, especially those who knit English-style (yarn held in the right hand) the bump at the tip did slow them down somewhat.
Finally, we come onto the third, and arguably the best, feature of these needles: the clip ends. This handy feature allows you to clip the two needles together, this locks the stitches on the needles and allows for easy transportation of your knitting safe in the knowledge that you are not going to lose those precious stitches off the ends of your needles. No more stuffing the ends of your needle into the ball of wall, or wrapping an elastic band around the ends of your needles. this simple solution if really great!
As well as the great features of these needles they are really quiet to knit with. I usually knit with metal needles and so the absence of the continuous clicking was quite nice. It was also noticeable how much warmer these feel in my hands which was a nice bonus (not too sure how I would feel about this in the summer though. In fact, the only problem I could find with the needles was the length, at either 35 or 40 cm they might be perfect for knitting a blanket or a very large jumper but for most projects they are much longer than you would need. However, in light of all the great features of these needles this is the least of your worries and at least it means you know whatever your project it will fit comfortably on the needles!
Thanks for reading my review of the Prym Ergonimic Knitting Needles from Prym!
Helen @ HSHandCrafts
Posted in Product Reviews on Wednesday the 28th June 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Summer is officially here and it’s all about spring cleaning, re-organizing and re-decorating. I love sprucing up my home with handmade bits and bobs, that add such a unique touch to the house.
This month I had the pleasure of trying out Clover’s Pom Pom Makers. They come in four different size packs (XS, S, L, XL), plus a lovely heart shaped one. I used sizes XS and S, they both include two pom pom makers with diameters 20mm-25mm(XS) and 35mm-45mm(S) correspondingly.
After a full afternoon of making different color pom poms, I realized that making pom poms is an addiction, that one can simply not beat. Once you start, there is no going back, so be careful or you will end up with a full bag of multicolored, multisized pom poms and the desire to embellish everything with pom poms!
Using the pom pom makers is really simple.
1. Open the pom pom maker rings and start wrapping one side of the pom pom maker with the yarn. You can use one color or mix different ones together.
2. Close the first side and continue wrapping the second side of the maker with yarn
3. Close the two sides together and cut yarn.
4. Place your scissors between the rings and begin cutting all around the pom pom maker.
5. Take a length of yarn and tie it in a knot in between the rings, securing the bundle together.
6. I like to tie a second knot, just to be safe.
7. Open the rings and take the two sides apart to release your pom pom.
The only thing that’s left is to trim you pom pom to the desired shape. And you are done! Now the addiction begins.
All that’s left is to decide what you’re going to make with your new pom poms. I decided to make a pillow for my living room with mine. To make this you’ll need:
· A pillow
· Different color pom poms
· A Glue Gun
For this pillow, I used 30 pom poms in the 45mm(S) diameter in black, grey, white and red colors and I decided to be a lazy girl. So I found a pillow I liked and started hot gluing my pom poms to the pillow, because you know, you has time to sew, when hot gluing is an option! You can be as creative as you like with how you arrange your pom poms. I choose to create a multicolored grid. Simple as that!
Here is your new pillow!
Posted in Projects on Tuesday the 27th June 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hi everyone, I opted to review this lovely Needlecord Fabric for my latest make. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make another of Simplicity Sewing Pattern no 6346! I've made it before in a yellow needlecord and it lends itself really well to this fabric. It's also really easy to put together.
I had a real happy post day when the fabric arrived. It's a lovely muted colour and it has a floral pattern without being sickly. I think it has a real 1970s look; perfect for a button down skirt.
This needlecord is different from the one I have previously had, it's much more thick and substantial. It is also much softer so I was really looking forward to sewing it up.
It cuts really well, though it is heavily grained so you have to make sure you are really lining the grain line arrow of the pattern pieces up nice and straight.
The pattern requires quite a bit of pressing in place, the button plackets literally just fold back on themselves so it was made much easier by how well the fabric pressed.
I hacked the pattern very slightly by making the back piece 4 inches to big and inserting 2 pleats at the back waistband. I though it would add a nice shape to the skirt.
Tips and tricks:
I used a Denim Sewing Needle throughout as the material is quite thick and needed a bit of puncturing.
The material is quite stretchy and as the grain line is quite deep I would interface any areas where you intend to use buttonholes.
Stay stitching is really important as there is more stretch than you would think for a thicker material like this and I think on more complex makes it would easily stretch out of place.
I chose to use copper coloured Denim Buttons on this make, as I thought it would really suit the design of the skirt and the fabric. I had 10 in my stash and needed 6...I used all of them trying to get it right though. It was a very stressful experience! Well worth it though, I think and really sets this fabric off!
The hem is curved and I thought the Needlecord would work against this but because of the stretch it has I was able to ease the nice chunky hem I chose to do.
I gave my skirt a press and I was done. It's a really easy pattern, which I recommend, made even easier by lovely fabric which behaved so well!
My only criticism is that it's coming up to summer and I can't see myself wearing this much once it's warm but it can stay comfortably in my wardrobe as a great staple for with brown, black and cream. As you can see here, I wore it was a cream top, tights and brown boots and I think it's a great combination. The skirt really holds it's shape, thanks to the fabric and I think I was definitely right about the 70s thing. What do you think?
Thanks for reading!
Emma @ EmmandherMachine