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Pattern of the Week - Vogue 1501 by Rachel Comey

I am offering to you Vogue Sewing Pattern 1501 which you can purchase half price this week at Minerva Crafts as our 'pattern of the week'.
This pattern has been designed by Rachel Comey (see her other patterns here) who apart from designing for vogue is a successful designer in her own right. Her designs always have a little twist to them and this pattern is no exception. Just look at the design detail on the front at waist level and the back design just speaks for itself. For me this pattern is just stunning. To help see it a little more clearly the following photo is of the lineart.
The next photo shows how few pieces there are for this dress and yet it creates such a beauty. 
The top half of the dress is only attached at the centre front to the skirt part. So although it is classed as a dress it more resembles a top and skirt.The following photos show a little of the construction of this amazing dress.
This is showing the pleates at the lower edge of the front, the hemmed outer edges of the front and also the interfaced facing. Where the pleats are is the part that is attached to the skirt.
This photo is showing the back, how the slit opening is formed at the back neck and the shape of the back hemline. 
There are quite a few pleates in the skirt front as the next photo shows and pockets within the sideseams.
And so after the pockets and side seams have been sewn, the waistband is then attached as the following photo shows.
With right sides together the lower edge of the front is pinned to the upper edge of the waistband and the waistband facing is then sewn to the waistband (right sides facing) thus enclosing the bodice front at the centre. The following photo shows this part of the construction.
Isnt it clever?
Now for some fabric suggestions!
Most of these fabrics are new to us and at this point I can't decide which is my favourite. So my first choice today is our large abstract print slinky Satin Fabric. Our description of this is "This beautiful satin fabric has a wonderful drape and hangs really well. The abstract design is large and very bold, this fabric is definitely a head turner! As you would expect from John Kaldor, this fabric is the best quality and will be a dream to sew and wear. We picture this fabric making a stunning evening dress." Perfect for my Vogue Pattern especially at just £11.99 per mt.
Coming next is our Royal Micro Satin Fabric also at £11.99 per mt and our description is "This slinky satin fabric is stunning! The detail in this design is gorgeous and a true mark of the quality of this dressmaking fabric. We imagine this fabric made into a beautiful evening dress, a maxi skirt, or a blouse top". Just fabulous.
Or how about something darker? This next photo is a patterned Microfibre Fabric which has a black background with an abstract pattern. If the brights are too much for you then this microfibre could be an ideal choice. Very reasonably priced too at £5.99 per mt.
And to switch from dark to light how about this beautiful Peachskin Fabric. I just love all the little dots of colour on it and at just £6.99 per mt, I think it's a perfect summer bargain.
And last but not least for today I just have to show you this fantastic microfibre fabric from our range of John Kaldor Fabrics. This has to be one of the most stunning abstract fabrics I've seen in recent years and is not too pricey at just £11.99 per metre.
Hope you like this pattern and these fabrics as much as I do and thanks for reading.
Annette xx

Fabric Friday - Pattern & Fabric Combo's

Hello again all you lovely sewists or budding sewists out there. I do hope you enjoy my little articles each week. I know I love writing them for you. I aim to show you as many fabrics as possible but at the moment it is impossible because we have so many. Each week I am faced with the terrible task of choosing a few fabrics to show you and write about. Yes come on, all feel very sorry for me, finding fabrics on the website, having to walk up and down the fabric aisles, up and down the steps, touching and scrunching and draping these wonderful fabrics to my hearts content. Ok I'm joking I love love love my job haha!
So what to show you this week, yes it's still a hard task!!! I so love the casual look whether for work, holidays even going for a night out to an extent. So this simplicity pattern 1701 is one of my 'fits the bill' patterns.
This pattern is a good stable pattern to have in your stash (I presume you have one haha). It first came to my attention when I was looking for a skirt pattern that would make up really good (and quick) in a scuba fabric. That shortly will be a blog post (only a short post because it is so easy and quick!) So I will talk about the pattern more at a later date. What I will say is I have been looking for the perfect fabric for version B which is the Kimono. I have found one which I am insisting on showing you today but unfortunately it is now none-reorderable so will only be available for a short time. So strike while the iron is hot so to speak (that's if you like it of course) It is this gorgeous Knit Fabric called Carnival which comes in 3 colourways.  Multi, as the name suggests, has quite a few colours running through it with a beige background. The other two are predominately pink or purple. 
This fabric has the most wonderful drape and is quite stretchy so will hang beautifully made up in this loose and baggy kimono. 
My next fabric is quite a new one and can you beleive only £5.99 per metre?! It is our Graphic Floral print jersey fabric (click on this link and you can watch a video of this fabric in action!).
I am loving this fabric, especially when I team it with Revue in black (yes as you know, one of my favourites). A recent addition to the Vogue range of sewing patterns is 9193 which is designed by Marcy Tilton. 
When I team these fabrics and pattern, look what I get. This is gonna look pretty good don't you think?
Marcy Tilton is a very experienced designer from Oregon, USA. Both Marcy and her sister Kathleen design for vogue patterns and between them create some fantastic designs. Vogue 9193 is no exception. 
This loose fitting top has dolman sleeves and the hemline dips slightly to the left hand side. The unusual part of this pattern is the pocket which is sewn within the front horizontal seam. When you look at the picture on the pattern I must say it is hard to distinguish where this pocket is! So just to help a little I am showing you the lineart drawing from inside the pattern envelope.
My next photo shows the pieces and at first glance they look a little mind blowing! 
When you realise (like with any pattern) which pieces you need for the sleeveless top or the dolman sleeve top or indeed the trousers (yes they have these unusual pockets too) then it is easier to understand. I am now dragging myself away from this pattern because yes it is another I want to make for myself in the coming weeks just as I have described above so again I'll not talk about it too much! 
My last fabric for today is one of our vast collection of patterned stretch cottons.
As with all our stretch cottons there is elastane in the fibre content. This makes for easy sewing, easy pressing, easier fitting and fantastic wearability! And look at the pattern I've chosen - Kwik Sew 4132 (incidentally this is on offer at half price at the moment, just £4.49).
Now look at my choices together...
I daren't say this but I think this pattern is gonna go on my 'to sew' list!! On looking at the lineart of the pattern I immediately saw how the sweetheart neckline has been formed. 
Instead of there being one front piece with a sweetheart neckline cut into it, this pattern boasts princess seams and the shaped neckline comes only from the front centre piece. Now sometimes a shaped neckline with a facing can lead to a baggy neckline (especially if you haven't stay stitched these edges!) With this way of constructing a sweetheart neckline you have the option of further fitting at these points.
Hoping I've given you some inspiration and thanks for reading,
Annette xx

The Sewing Bee - Series 4, Episode 1

How good was I feeling last night! Apart from having a bad back and not a brilliant nights sleep, I felt amazing. Why was that you ask. THE GREAT BRITISH SEWING BEE is back. I sat in great anticipation waiting for it to come on and I was not disappointed. It certainly lived up to my expectations. 
Sometimes it is hard to accept change and I was wondering what we would all think of the new presenter Esme but no need to worry, I thought she was lovely and fit like a glove so to speak. And then there's Patrick, I certainly hope he doesn't leave, eh ladies, need I say more!! Last but not least there's the lovely Claudia. I just love her presenting style and along with the other two make the show the success that it is.
And now to the contestants, quite a bunch don't you think (I do mean a nice bunch). The only thing I don't like is that one person has to go at the end of the first week. I know this is the rule in these elimination contests but oh it does seem so cruel. I felt so sorry for Duncan.
The first up was Charlotte whose top looked really good, the only thing that seemed to let it down was the stripes just being a little out down the front.
Jamie (one of our wonderful blogger's here on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network) definitely chose a hard fabric as Esme said. For me the most difficult part would be the cutting out. I think he coped brilliantly and deserved to win that first round.
It was a shame Rumana cut her top upside down. I think the cutting out proved the hardest part for most of the contestants. But regardless of what Patrick said about it being upside down, I do remember reading an article once ( one of these where they point out how to wear stripes - to draw or not to draw attention to certain parts of our bodies) and it stated how to wear chevron stripes. I wish I could just think of it, perhaps you know and could pass it on. So maybe Rumana wasn't wrong afterall! 
Duncan unfortunately did let himself down with some of the sewing but his stripe matching was superb as Patrick said.
Jade then Josh came next, both looked pretty good.
I felt sorry for Josh with his mixed up chevron's.
I think he seemed nervous when cutting out because it kept going wrong but hey he should have said - "I meant for it to be like this, it's a new slant on chevron's".
I thought Joyce (oh my goodness she does not look 71) chose a great fabric because at first glance it looked perfectly matched. Only on closer inspection did Patrick notice some slight irregularities. So here is a good point to make when choosing fabric for chevron's, the more straight the pattern 'stripes' are, the more time must be spent ensuring perfectly matching stripes.
As was mentioned, Tracey unusually chose a chevron fabric to then make a chevron striped top. Certainly different and I think if those chevrons had been matched up more, this garment could have won that round. As Patrick said "It's Natty" (Yes where did he get that word from?) Sounds good though doesn't it.
As Esme said Ghislaine got off to a rocky start. She so picked the wrong fabric for this top;
Incidentally this gorgeous fabric is still available from us here at Minerva Fabrics but in limited supplies. The irregular 'stripes' look fantastic if sewn horizontally or vertically.
She then went on to make a top in a different fabric and did really well in getting as much done as she did.
I couldn't help but wonder if Angeline chose her striped fabric for the chevron top knowing it would be easier to 'match' the stripes. It came across that she didn't know (or was that a secret 'knowing' smile she gave) but I bet she was glad she had chose that particular one! I do think it looked good. As Esme pointed out the roses disguised the stripes. 
The expressions on the faces of the contestants when presented with the maternity dress (round 2) was a look of fear haha (it certainly would have been fear on my face). This is most certainly NOT my forte. I love dressmaking, have sewn all my life but I love to sew a garment from scratch. To alter garments to that extent doesn't appeal to me at all. So I admire the contestants imagination in this round and love to see the outcome be it good or bad. 
Jade's skirt, with the grey side panels, I think reflected her age, just 18. Skirt's in this style are very 'in' at the moment and I'm pretty sure the grey panels were Ponte Roma or a similar stretch jersey and this made it so that quite a fitted stretchy look was achieved. I know she had to rush a little at the end, hence the waistband could have been better sewn but I thought a good idea, well done Jade. I would have placed this garment higher than 9th. I did agree that there were too many skirts made but hey lets give them a chance, it's only the first week. Considering there were quite a few 'gathered skirts' I was surprised to see Tracey's top with the lace frills at the bottom. 
I did think she showed more imagination than some of the other contestants.
Rumana's dress with the orange trims was equally imaginative as Tracey's but came 3rd. Don't get me wrong I think she deserved 3rd place, I loved the orange bias binding which she used on the outside of the garment to encase the elastic and then created a lattice effect back with more of the bias folded in half. Her use of the two colours was brill.

Joyce also used her imagination well in creating a dress with godet's (I must admit I have been pronouncing the word 'godet' wrong all these years!!) and deserved 2nd place.

1st place was well deserved by Jamie (Yes our wonderfull blogger, take a look at his fantastic 'Shacket' over on our blogger network). This dress reminded me of something you would see on a catwalk in that I wouldn't actually wear it, but its really cool. So well  done Jamie on using the most imagination and creativeness.

And now to part 3 of this fab program. 

All the contestants were asked to make a skirt of their own choice and their own choice of fabric.

Joyce's skirt hung really well. I think this was made up in a viscose. Viscose Fabric is well known for floaty dresses or skirts. My only problem was, as Esme said, you couldn't distinguish between the panels therefore not seeing the lovely shaped pieces and how they formed the skirt. An alternative would be to include some plain black panels.

I was very intrigued with the pleating tool that Tracey made herself. (I must look into this in more depth). Her pockets looked quite stunning.

I love Jade's skirt made out of taffeta, tulle and net. It was designed by Jade herself and I think she's made a terrific job. I love the binding on the hem edge of the net.

As Patrick said Josh's skirt wasn't the most complicated of the day but it hung beautifully and although I didn't agree at first about him turning a double hem up on this garment, I must say it was the right thing to do because it makes the skirt hang fantastically well and makes it stick out to a degree. Well done Josh. And he used our floral stretch denim fabric too!!

Angeline's fitted pencil skirt with peplum looked fantastic. It seemed to be made in a stretch cotton fabric with a contrasting bias binding. Stretch cottons with a Floral design are very popular this year. The elastane content in these fabrics helps enormously in getting a lovely fit as Angeline has done here.

Although I had a couple of favourites throughout the program I think Angelina's skirt deservedly won Garment of the Week. Well done Angelina!

So roll on next week when we can watch episode 2 of this compelling show.

Many thanks for reading my fellow sewists.

Annette xx


Pattern of the Week - New Look 6723

Hi everyone. Where has that sunshine gone? Where we are in Darwen, Lancashire we had two days of lovely sunshine and then wham back to rain. Apparently we are in line for a fantastic summer so I don't know about you but on hearing this it does make me start planning my summer wardrobe. There are some really pretty summer dress sewing patterns around at the moment, one such pattern is New Look 6723. And so I would like to offer you this as my choice for pattern of the week thus half price this week only.
I was saving this pattern for September time because when I look at the main photo, I immediately think Audrey Hepburn (as most people do) and Christmas parties. Then I thought why wait till September, it is such a pretty dress with a sweetheart or a boat neckline and a choice of sleeveless, 3/4 sleeves or the prettiest puff sleeves ever! (shown in white/black with a sweetheart neckline).
The 'Dorothy Hepburn' dress is such a classic dress and my favourite fabric for this would be our Taffeta Fabric, of course in black, with a diamante buckle used on the belt. Take note of the little clutch bag, how nice is that. You could make a little bow and attach the same buckle as on the belt.
Now black is not everybody's cup of tea, so if there isn't a colour you like in the other 15 colours available in the taffeta then how about having a look at this fabric. This is a taffeta with a swirl flock print on the fabric. It comes in brown and ivory or how about half and half!   
I couldn't resist showing you this next fabric. This is a beautifully soft cotton canvas fabric and has a great vintage style dressmaking themed print. Any dressmaker who loves pink is sure to fall in love with this fabric! It is described as a canvas which although is hard wearing and durable, is also soft and has a small amount of drape. Shame it only comes in pink but hey what a stunning shade of pink. 
I think Version D would be perfect for a wedding. My lovely sister-in-law Tracey wore a very similar looking dress to my Daughter Vicki's wedding last July (where has 11 months gone!) She looked so nice and I think the style has stuck in my mind since then! Now I've been looking at this fabric...
This stretch cotton sateen dressmaking fabric is the most beautiful quality with a satin gloss finish. It has a soft and smooth finish and the stretch element will make this fabric a dream to sew and very comfortable to wear. The design is a soft abstract print which is very pretty. This same style could be made out of a viscose or a viscose mix fabric. How about this fabric...
This is an Abstract Print viscose fabric and is so soft and drapey. The print is bright and cheerful and is sure to add a splash of colour to your wardrobe. Obviously the skirt of the dress is not going to 'stick out' as much but if you like the idea of a much softer fabric and still want a full looking skirt, you could always make a net underskirt (you may already have one).
How pretty are spots. (I'm using the word 'pretty' a lot this week aren't I?) I do love black spots on a white background and so my favourite for this week is this cotton poplin fabric. And I would make it just like version C.
I couldn't decide between this fabric and this nautical motif print cotton poplin fabric which I think is so sweet. The print is made up of tiny nautical motifs and only just missed being my favourite because I'd aimed at getting a black and white fabric and this has little hints of red in it. Now I don't know which I like best! What do you think? I added a piece of red ribbon to the photo to resemble a red belt, I think it could look pretty good. Remember as well, this fabric would be suitable for quilting, so save your bits!!
I hope you like what I've shown you this week and remember... "we are not fabric hoarders we simply need a bigger craft room" haha!
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx
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Fabric Friday - Annette's Picks

Dear friends, Thank you so much for your kind messages regarding my back. There is a little improvement every day so I am feeling a somewhat better this week. My first choice of fabric this week is a polycotton at just £2.99 per metre.
It comes in 3 gorgeous colours but for the purpose of my choice of pattern (which is McCalls 6883), I am showing you the white.
How uncanny is the similarity between my fabric choice and the one used for version C. 
This version has a full back and little raglan sleeves. There is a separate band around the hemline which is sewn double therefore giving a more solid look to this otherwise slightly see-through fabric. It matches the neckline which is also sewn double. And so there is a slip to go under version C if required, this is version D. For this slip crepe de chine is recommended and because the pieces are cut on the bias it will hang beautifully over the hips. My favourite though would be to use Burda 6964 and use our white stretch lining fabric. This would really hug your figure and be antistatic.
Another alternative for this very reasonable price fabric would be to make a beach dress for over your favourite bikini. Versions A and B are both worth a mention here because they both have a halterneck effect with two thin straps coming from the neckband to the back edge of the dress, this edge being elasticated.
Now my next fabric was only mentioned by yours truly a few weeks ago in a blog post but I just can't help mentioning it again because I have found the perfect pattern!! Butterick 6320 would be perfect for this fabric.
Doesn't that look fantastic!!
Now the pattern does suggest crepe or satin fabrics and I am recommending a cotton but it is quite a fine cotton and because the pattern is quite fitted with a zip fastening up the back I cannot see any reason to not make this jumpsuit in this fabric.
Last but not least how about this next fabric Comic Strip Fabric;
What I love about this fabric is - it's a jersey fabric made from 95% cotton and 5% spandex. Absolutely perfect for some casual around the house trousers/pyjamas. Or how about a cosy onesie. This next pattern covers both and even a casual top in sizes 29.5" chest right up to 44" chest. As I said perfect pyjamas or onesie!! Probably more suitable for a girl because there is a reasonable amount of pink in the design. 
The pattern is McCalls 6251;
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx

#PatternoftheWeek - McCalls 7122

I keep getting asked for something easy in jersey fabric. Well I don't think you could get easier than this pattern, McCalls 7122. So I am offering this to you as #PatternoftheWeek at 50% off for one week only!
This is a 'learn to sew for fun' pattern, especially designed for the beginner with easy to follow instructions and basic sewing tips. It offers information on pattern markings, basic adjustments, a very good section on the layouts for a pattern (guess what, it advises you to wash your fabric first, what am I always telling you haha) and ways of transfering markings on to the fabric.
 Raglan seams are used on the top and dress and sewn with a double row of stitching.
Alternatively you could use a stretch stitch (no way would I be without mine). Most machines today offer a version of this stitch and I can only say it is invaluable. The neck binding is very easy as is the continuous sleeve and side seam.
The leggings are ultra easy in that they have no side seams just the crotch seam and the inside leg seam, as you can see from the following photo.
I'm hoping you'll agree I've chosen some interesting fabrics that will show this pattern at it's best. First up today is this Floral Jersey Fabric...
Our website description is as follows "This luxury knitted fabric from the Cotswald collection is a gorgeous soft and drapey fabric with some body. This pretty 'Vintage-Style Floral' design is a lovely traditional floral print with so much detail and colours from a select palette. It is a medium weight with  a good amount of stretch in all directions and would be well suited to sewing patterns that require an all way stretch fabric. It has a very smooth, soft and cozy texture and would be lovely to wear against your skin. It is washable by either hand or machine. Ideal for making tops, skirts and dresses.(As I keep saying "wash first"). Although it is a dark fabric the flowers stand out nice and bright, as the description says it has a vintage look to it. I love that it has 4% spandex along with the 96% polyester. 
While we are talking flowery jersey's how about this fabric...
This fabric is a blend of viscose and lycra and is described as a stunning jersey fabric that is just bursting with colour! Two gorgeous colours as well at just £5.99 per mt.
 Our eyes are always drawn to the main photo on the front of a pattern, this one being no exception but it is a good idea to take in ideas from the drawings. Top A could be made up numerous times for yourself and I could write forever listing suitable jersey fabrics that would take you from daywear, with jeans, to evening wear with lots of sequins (just to say you need a pattern with as little seams as possible when sewing a sequined fabric, so yes this pattern fits the bill, as long as it is stretchy sequined fabric). 
Back to what I am showing you today - the next fabric is a scuba bodycon stretch jersey with a fabulous stretch-recovery and is perfect for making fitted, body hugging garments. The design is a lovely velour print in a sort of aztec design which is very soft to touch. Most of the stretch is in the width of the fabric (all 60inch of it) so the striped design will be going across the body.
My old favourite ponte roma fabric is jumping out at me for the dress. I think it would look pretty good in a plain fabric. This next photo is my favourite colour, a vibrant turquoise.
My absolute favourite is this brand new ponte roma fabric. The web description is "This is such a beautiful flowery ponte roma fabric! It has a lovely soft finish and is such a versatile fabric you can use it to make tops, jackets, skirts, dresses and pants. We love the floral print which has lots of colour, but set against the grey background is still reasonably subtle and not too bright." The last sentence describes it perfectly. One minute you think it has lots of colour and the next you think subtle, very subtle.
And a close up of this fabric...
I couldn't leave out a suggestion for the leggings! I thought this jersey fabric would look pretty good. It is described as follows "What a fabulous jersey dressmaking fabric! This double jersey is a good weight but is still very stretchy in all directions. The design features navy blue palm trees against a stripey background in shades of white, royal and grey. It is striking, yet subtle at the same time". My immediate thoughts are this is perfect for these leggings because they have no side seam so therefore the 'pattern' will 'travel' round the legs. These would be perfect for traveling in (yes I'm thinking about my holidays!) especially if you were going somewhere with palm trees haha! 
Hope this has given you some ideas and thanks for reading.
Annette xx
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#FabricFriday - Just Arrived Fabrics

Hello everyone. Here I am typing this blog post, perched on my bed at home in a peculiar manner having hurt my back! I am typing with one finger but even though it is taking some time I am determined to make sure you see some of this weeks new fabrics
If my back hadn't been playing up, my blog this week would have started with "I am surrounded by new fabrics!". Well I'm not, I'm stuck in bed with my laptop and painkillers! So to take my mind off the pain (come on, say ahh) I've been looking through all our lovely new fabrics on our fabulous Minerva Crafts website. I wish I could show and talk about them all here today but you would be reading for the next 2 weeks or more! 
I'm not sure if you know this but all our latest fabrics now feature a video showing you how the fabric moves, shows the wrong side as well as the right side of the fabric, shows the amount of stretch if a jersey fabric, how it handles in general and even gives you a good idea of the size of the pattern design if applicable. These individual video's feature on our website alongside each fabric accordingly. You will be pleasantly surprised how informative they are when buying on-line. 
One such fabric is our chenille texture stripe stretch woven suiting dress fabric;
This stunning dressmaking fabric has a beautiful chenille type texture that is lovely and soft. This woven fabric has 4% spandex which gives the fabric some stretch down the length. The chenille pattern is striped, with a grey smooth fabric woven in between. This clever design almost gives an optical illusion and is very unusual! So unusual is this fabric that I would recommend a rather plain pattern. I feel nothing should be taken away from the visual effect of this design. The pattern I have chosen for it is Burda 6890;
Now this pattern is an excellent one to have in your stash so I have no hesitation in recommending it to you. It has a fairly high round neckline which although I think looks very elegant (and will show more of this fabric off) it could be lowered quite easily. You have a choice of sleeveless, 3/4 or long sleeves, easily adapted for short, a simple split at the back hemline and darts at the bust and waistline. Remember these waist type of darts can be sewn wider or narrower in order to fit better. They can even be left out altogether if required. The dress is lined which is needed if you are making it in a lace fabric as version C would suggest. The pattern pieces it gives for the interfacing can be used as the facings so no problem if you don't want to line it. I love how the neckline has been finished where the top of the zip is, can't show you though like I normally do but take it from me it's pretty good.
This next fabric is beyond beautiful, my favourite for this week! It is a 100% linen fabric with a floral print. It is described as follows "A stunning floral print linen from Italy. This gorgeous dressmaking fabric is a lovely weight and hangs and drapes beautifully." A little more expensive at £17.99 per mt but in my opinion well worth every penny. Just my colours!
My choice of pattern for this fabric is Vogue 9167
Unsuitable for obvious diagonal fabrics but extremely suitable for this fabric. It has princess seams, a lined bodice and variations on the skirt.  My favourite though is the fitting - it has 4 different cup sizes. A through to D. Now I don't know if you have used these different cup patterns before but please don't assume that you will be say a B cup just because you take a B cup in a bra. Make sure you follow the instructions for cup sizes, very easy, just do it! I hope to share with you soon more info on pattern sizes for those unsure, for now make sure you measure yourself and compare with pattern.
My last choice for this week is our floral print cotton voile fabric which also comes in two more colourways which are Green/Purple and Lilac/Pink;
This is so floaty and pretty and would look lovely in a floaty dress or a soft flowing top. If you were making a dress it would be advisable to line it with it being quite sheer. Now although many many patterns would look fab in this floaty fabric I've chosen one that would be fantastic if you are attending a wedding this year or more importantly Mother of the Bride or Groom! It is New Look 6270;
So feminine and so easy!
And now my bad back and I will finish for today with this saying "I have all the fabric I need" said no seamstress ever. Haha I can relate to that, can you?
Thanks for your time,
Annette xx

Felted Jacket

Well as promised I'm having a go at Needle Felting on a garment. The pattern I chose is Vogue 8430 (which is on half price sale at the moment!) 
You may remember me talking about this pattern in a previous blog post where I was suggesting patterns for our washable wool fabric, which as I mentioned at the time has no wool in it, hence the 'easy wash' .
The more I looked at this pattern, and all the different colourways I gave, the more I wanted to actually make it. And so here I am using the brown washable wool, Sirdar Bouffle in shade 723 and Trimits Natural Roving in Cream Beige.
I decided I would just cut out one piece (that needed felting on) to start with, just in case I hated doing it or indeed made a complete mess of it!! 
I thought the best way would be to place a pin at all the points on the pattern which were ends of lines, where the lines crossed and centre of the circles. I took extra care checking each line and circle against my pattern piece and hey the next photo is the result. Lets face it you wouldn't leave it too long looking like it did in the above photo, so I immediately drew my lines and circles using a Clover Quilting Pencil and a ruler. All ready to start felting!!
At first I used a single point felting needle to secure the yarn. This was done roughly every centimetre along the length of the yarn. At this point it can be removed very easily and re-positioned if required. The more you 'needle' over the length of yarn, the yarn becomes more 'fused' into the fabric. The pattern suggests to keep turning the fabric over and felt from the wrong side until the yarns are firmly blended. I found I didn't need to do this because I had felted it so much from the right side! I so enjoyed it. Part way through my first piece I changed to this felting tool by Clover which is called a Pen style needle felting tool, this you can use with either 1, 2 or 3 needles. It does say in the instructions to use 2 needles when felting a line, as I am now with the yarn. I am actually using all 3, I suppose this is ok because of the width of the yarn. 
I felted all the vertical lines first, followed by the horizontal lines and last of all I attempted the circles. I practiced first on spare fabric
I used the 3 tool for this also and then when the circle was complete I I used a 7 needle tool (for speed) being careful not to let the needles go beyond the edge of the roving yarn. If it does go beyond the yarn I found there could be prick marks on the brown fabric and this did not look good. So careful does it! I have both a brush and a foam pad for felting on but for this project I found the foam pad more than suitable. The circles were easier to do than I imagined once I got into it. You start at the centre and wind the roving yarn around. Again securing it to start with. 
The felted design is different on all 3 pieces, these being the right front, the left front and the back.
Now on to the dressmaking part. This is pretty much straightforward, with there only being shoulder seams, side seams, sleeve seams, a long dart in the sleeves and actually sewing in the sleeves. 
Now what to do with the edges!!
On the pattern itself, ready felted wool fabric has been used to make the jacket out of and it doesn't fray. Oops!!!! mine does fray. Now there are no facings on this pattern, indeed no seam allowances on the edges at all because if you use the 'correct fabric' they aren't needed. I didn't look through my instructions properly did I? (and there's me forever preaching to you about always reading through them haha). So yes I've boobed but hey ho lets have a look at what my options now are. 
My first thought was to use bias-binding but I couldn't find an exact match to the brown nor could I find a contrast that I really loved, something that would have blended with either the Sirdar Bouffle or the roving yarn. My next idea was to use the Sirdar Bouffle and work a blanket stitch all around the edges. I tried to do it using a chenille needle but the yarn just did not want to be pulled through this tightly woven fabric. I then decided to attach the yarn using a zigzag stitch on my machine. After trying a few different stitches I realised the thread was always going to show. I wasn't happy with that so what to do now? 
And then an idea hit me!! Felt it on. I wasn't happy with it at first till I realised it would be better felting it on the wrong side too, double the work!! This is the first sleeve done. What do you think? I'll give you my opinion when I've done a bit more (I don't want to speak too soon).
Guess what I've only gone and broke all 3 needles in one 'prod'! Do any of you lovely experienced felters out there have any tips for a beginner like me? I seem to have done so much on my jacket and then all of a sudden 'snap'. Maybe I was getting too 'cocky'! So when getting myself some new felting needles, I came across Clover Speed Needle Refills. With these the 'barbs' are more concentrated at the tip of the needle, so the felting yarn can be condensed quickly with shorter strokes. Now there are only 2 needles per pack so I needed two packs. Although it's working out more expensive, I'm finding it much quicker and lets face it that's an advantage with how much work I've set myself! 
Oh dear, I've spoken too soon, here goes another oop's. I've just read that if using the Pen style needle felting tool with these speed needles, it is recommended to use just 1 needle and here I am using all 3!! Well so far so good but we shall see!!
'Update' I've broken 3 more needles so I am left with just 1 needle out of my 2 packets. So I'm going to carry on with 1 needle as advised! Success for a while but I've now broken my last one. Please, please please fellow felters, have you any tips to share with me. I'm gonna be pulling my hair out in a minute so I'm off to make a cup of tea!
Haha well I'm back, I may have solved the problem of 'how many felting needles can be broken in just one session' saga. (It's surprising how a cup of tea helps). First of all it is very easy to start holding your needle on a slant, it must be held upright. I also realised that I wasn't re-placing the 'guard' over the needles!! On the following 2 photo's look at the length of the needles without the guard on compared to with the guard on. No wonder I was breaking the needles!! 
I'm particularly pleased with how good the felting looks on these corners...
It really emphasizes the split level hem. I hope you like my jacket, I absolutely love it. 
I love it that much I am now thinking of knitting or crocheting a jumper to go under the jacket in the Sirdar Bouffle, a long one so I'll get a fabulous layered effect. The patterns I have in mind are this sirdar knitting pattern or this sirdar crochet pattern. Either would have to be worked longer so will definitely take one ball extra, possibly two. I'll let you know if I do make it.
So after an expensive lesson learned, I'll say tara till next time.
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx

#PatternoftheWeek - New Look 6013

I am pleased to offer you New Look 6013 at 50% off the RRP for this weeks #patternoftheweek
Now this pattern has been around for some time and I wish I had a £1 for every time a customer has asked for this same fabric! Unfortunately we've never had this fabric, I think it was only available in America. But now we have found this beautiful, stunning, fantastic (need I go on) stretch cotton fabric. There is just the one colourway but hey who needs more choice when a fabric looks like this! It is simply stunning (I know I'm using the same words again, I can't help it). I have teamed it with our crisp 100% linen fabric at just £6.99 per mt.
I love the shape of this jacket. It can be dressed up, as in the pattern or dressed down to wear with jeans and a t-shirt. The jacket comes as either long sleeves, short sleeves (these have a lovely little pleat on the shoulder line) or sleeveless which is shown on the pattern in a dog-tooth check. Check out our new stretch cotton dog-tooth (more on this at a later date).
Now the style of the dress has to be a favourite of mine. It is quite a classic style with there being bust darts and front and back waistline darts. Incidently this could easily be made into a top to be worn with the trousers and under the jacket. What makes it one of my favourite styles more than anything though is the raglan sleeves.
These tend to give a lovely fit anyway but I find it gives two more easy places where you can fit the dress. The front and the back sleeve fit very easily into the armhole of the dress. This can be much easier than sewing in a set-in sleeve. 
The trousers are exceptionally easy with just a turned down band to form a casing, elastic threaded through the casing and last a length of cord threaded through the two previously sewn buttonholes.
I've got to throw in a few more ideas for this outfit, lets face it there will be thousands. This next fabric for me was a close contender for this pattern earlier in the year and at just £6.99 per mt is a good price. I have teamed this with blades linen fabric (yes one of my favourites again) but remember either linen will go well with either dress fabric. 
This next combination is made up of this floral fabric which is a beautiful directional floral print polyester that will be very easy to care for and our linen look cotton fabric in Khaki (I chose Khaki because if you look closely at my following photo you will see the colour Khaki at the base of most of the flowers within the design). This linen look cotton is fresh and crisp and perfect for your summer wardrobe. Keep cool in the heat in 100% cotton, with a texture that resembles linen. This non-stretch fabric is available in lots of colours, is machine washable and oh so versatile.
Last but not least I have gone for something a little different and chosen this Fabric. This stunning fabric has a charming woodland sketch design printed on a cotton poplin base and at just £9.99 per mt I think is an excellent buy, something really different. Now lets face it I could easily find an ivory/cream or a grey/black to go with this fabric for the jacket but I wanted to present something that had the wow factor without taking over from the dress fabric. And so I chose the Chartreuse colour in our linen look cotton fabric again. This has the WOW factor and X factor all rolled into one!! What do you think?
Until next time, thanks for reading,
Annette xx

#FabricFriday - Fabrics for Girls Summer Dresses

Little girl's summer dresses! I thought this week I could suggest some 'pretty' fabrics for the girly little girls. My eldest daughter Alison is expecting a little girl in 5 weeks so although I won't be making her any of the patterns I'm showing you today, my mind is working overtime as to what I will be making her in the future. I'll start with an easy one. The title gives it away "It's so Easy" by Simplicity no 8077.
I am concentrating on the dress on the right with short sleeves. The dress on the left is not doing this pattern any favours but to be fair I think it is just the way the model is stood. The dress appears to be 'hanging' off her but considering the pattern pieces are just the same for either dress, the difference just being the length of the sleeves, I think it is safe to say you would be fine sewing the long sleeve version! Our description of my first choice of fabric for this week is - "This beautiful quality summery cotton poplin fabric has a really funky, bright and colourful floral design printed along the surface. The pattern is very busy with the largest flower measuring approx 45mm" This is a new fabric in stock, £8.99 per mt and I am sure you will agree it is beautiful and little girls will love it.
What to put with it for the band around the bottom? I am immediately drawn to our plain cotton poplin fabric. The quality is superb, it is continually a best seller for us and at £5.99 per mt you can see why. 
I decided to choose a small patterned fabric as well just to give an alternative to the above.  As I walked along the rows (and rows!) of quilting fabrics here at Minerva, my eye was drawn to this Timeless Treasures Fabric which comes in 13 fab colours.
On the instructions it gives you the option of adding some lace on the edge of the sleeves. I think this would look quite pretty. I chose this crochet effect cotton lace trim at just 89p per metre, its so pretty!
Lots of patterns these days give you the instructions for an invisible or concealed zip which are fantastic but just sometimes it's nice to be able to insert an 'ordinary' zip fastening. I like how they have sewn the neck facing on first then attached the zip. I'm pretty sure I've used this method before, a while ago. I must try it again. 
Last but not least for this pattern I am showing you the sleeve diagram. The long sleeves are gathered across the sleeve head and the short sleeves have a little pleat at shoulder level.
I just love the subtleness (is that a word?) in this next fabric. This is from the Michael Miller range of quilting fabrics. I have chosen the colour called 'Sunny' and just love how it is two shades of yellow rather than say yellow dots on white background or the other way round. I am showing it with our cotton poplin fabric in orange and alongside Simplicity 8104 which is a re-print of a much earlier pattern.
This is probably from the 60's or early 70's and the original is shown in the top right hand corner of the current pattern.
As you can see this is a reversible wrap around dress with only 3 pattern pieces and one of these is for the tie's at the front. There is no zip, no buttons and no snap fasteners. The following photo shows you the line art of the dress and how it's constructed. The possibilities for this dress are endless. 
I would have been ending this post now had I not just seen this Simplicity Pattern 8102
It was the bag that jumped out at me but then I spotted the red/blue/white dress. The simplicity of this dress is amazing, especially when put next to the bag. Just think of the combinations of colours or designs with a tiny scrap for the pocket.
My photo shows cotton poplin but you could use polycotton fabric (cheap and cheerful). The pocket could be made from a fat quarter and just a last minute thought you could cut the facings from the fat quarter and then when you tie the shoulders the contrast will show. 
Happy sewing and thanks for reading,
Annette xx

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