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Colette Sewing Planner Review by Wendy

Remember as a child how excited to you would get in September when you got your planner for the new school year? 
Or maybe you are someone who would get excited when given a new diary in January? Oh to experience the thrill of those empty pages and a whole year of adventures yet to come!
Well, reader, as an adult I still feel exactly that way. I love planning, organising, setting goals and, crucially, I really  love stationery.
I have had my eye on the Colette Sewing Planner for a while now and when Minerva Crafts asked me if I would like to review a copy, I’m not ashamed to say, I did a little happy dance. 
Organise my sewing plans within a cute little book? Yes please!
Lets get one thing clear here. You don’t need the Colette Sewing Planner to organise your sewing. A plain notebook would do. Or there are plenty of other sewing planners available - some which are downloadable and  free of charge.
But I am here to tell you I have tried them all. No exaggeration. What can I say, I am an organisation geek and I love planners.
I have tried them all and can say with authority that the Colette Sewing Planner is my absolute favourite.
Let me show you mine and how I use it to get the most out of it. 
The planner is a hard back, wire bound book, with sections for you to plan out your handmade wardrobe for the spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons.
It starts with  a section on style and favourites, where you can make notes on your own particular style and what clothes fit your lifestyle.
There are also inspiration, colour and goal setting pages to help you get an idea of what you might like to make and what you want to prioritise. 
I don’t really wear many prints and this is an area I quite fancy exploring on 2018, so my inspiration page is full of prints that I am drawn too.
The colour palette page is one that I am going to find really useful in planning a cohesive wardrobe. I have broken down my palette into main colours, neutrals and accent colours. Sticking to these colours helps me because I know that they suit me, they generally work with everything else in my wardrobe and that stop me from getting too overwhelmed when buying new fabric. But there are no rules here, the beauty of this planner is that you get to do whatever works for you.
Then we get to the project pages, which are the ones I love the most. Over two facing pages you have a page of boxes to fill in all the details about your project and a blank page to sketch out your design.
Here is where you can add information on the pattern, the size, the fabric. You can keep track of what supplies you need and those you already have. There is space for a fabric swatch and for any notes on customisation.
I’m very much a visual person so I love to sketch out my projects as part of my plans. If you are not very confident sketching, the book has a selection of body templates (of varying shapes and sizes) that you could trace off.
I like to have sketches of my current works-in-progress pinned to my notice board above my sewing machine to keep me motivated. So, rather than drawing them out twice, I have decided to tape these drawings to my planner when the garments are completed. Flicking through these project pages really makes me smile - I can’t wait to look back on it all at the end of the year.
The Colette Sewing Planner is not just a book to plan out your sewing; it is an organisational tool, a reference book, and inspiration source and a diary.
I seriously don’t know how I managed without it for so long.
Wendy
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Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker Review by Teena

When Minerva Crafts offered for me to try out the Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker, I couldn’t resist. For a long time I have wanted to make Bear and Boo a pretty little clip. Why? Well I always struggle to find anything that matches their Indian outfits. So this was my chance to make them something unique, made by me. 
The Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker comes in a simple package with some instructions on the back. My initial thought was that it is a straightforward tool to use, and the rose should not take too long to make. And I was not wrong. The Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker also comes with a bobby pin/hair grip, which I thought was to make the rose into a hair accessory, but it’s actually to help make the rose itself. A simple tool but so important. 
The versatility of this tool allows you to use any fabric you desire, which for my goals is perfect. I could create any rose I wanted from any fabric. For this product review I chose a silk dupion, matching the girls’ outfit. Plus the fabric itself has some body to it so the rose looked effective. 
The tool is made with a plastic coating which is so clever, because it means that you can use the rose maker time after time. And, that means I don’t have to search frantically for matching hair accessories because I can make my own.
My initial thoughts were that the rose maker is easy, just two strips and a bobby pin. There are instructions on the back of the packaging, these, I would say are a quick guide. The more detailed instructions are inside, and these are much more easy to follow and understand. There are great pointers/hints which help you get the desired rose.
So I set myself the challenge to make one small rose. I began by cutting the fabric to the recommended size, then placed the inner and outer pattern again as per the instructions. They even tell you which way round to place the fabric.  Once the pattern was pinned it was time to start stitching the rose. 
The initial folds for me were the trickiest, it was all about getting used to the pattern, and making sure that the fabric did not fold into the pattern. My advise would be to stitch as close to the pattern as possible. This way you can keep all excess fabric away. A running stitch was used all the way until the “stop” sign.
Removing the patterns again is easy, the outer pattern should just slip away. It is the inner pattern, that I should have paid more attention to, it was stuck inside what is a tube. So I carefully held the opposite end of the tube and gently tugged the pattern out. Now at this stage the tube is inside out, I had missed one of the hints in the instructions on what to do to turn the turn fabric. So note to self next time round: read the instructions fully first and then make…Well I was too excited to start.
I made small gatherings and then twisted the tube to form a rose pattern, stitched the ends to the centre of the rose.
And ta-da! One small cute rose. I’d say it’s not bad for a first attempt.
Would I recommend this tool? Absolutely. It is so easy to use. Now that I have made my first one I know exactly what to do to make my next, a lot more rose looking and quicker.
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Sew Your Style by Aimee

The Dress Shirt Sewing Pattern has been on my radar since I started making my own clothes a couple of years ago. Everything from the Merchant & Mills stable exudes quality and an understated style I’ve long admired. But the recurring question I couldn’t escape, ‘Is it me?’ prevailed and the project remained at arm’s length.
 
 
Until a few month’s ago, when Vicki from Minerva Crafts invited me to join their Bloggers Network. Like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, I gazed at the bounty of patterns and fabrics on offer and found myself returning to the silhouette so artfully portrayed on the pattern envelope. And that’s when I realised that I’d been unduly influenced by the designer’s aesthetic - the effortless chic of crumpled linen in muted hues wasn’t going to cut if for me. 
 
I’ve had a strong sense of style from an early age - eschewing fashion trends in preference for vintage magpie finds in charity shops. But sometimes the presentation of a design can be so powerful, that it’s hard to see yourself in the picture. Unless you’re lucky enough to find the hook that brings it all together, which in my case was this glorious Cotton Poplin Fabric. I’m still finding my feet when it comes to fabric types and handling this material was quite revelatory with it’s dense durable weave and crease resistant properties.
One of the reasons I didn’t jump on the dress shirt wagon earlier, is a concern that the shape would look sack-like on my bottom heavy frame. You’ve got to work with what you’ve got and I tend to opt for styles which accentuate my waist and mask everything below. Mindful that a generous amount of ease at bust and waist as well as hip would not flatter my form, I used the finished measurements as a guide and cut on a size 10. 
 
Pattern construction starts with the bib - a feature which many have chosen to highlight with contrasting fabric and optional edge stitching. I did prevaricate on this score, as the stitching is such a defining feature of the dress. However, I shifted my mind away from images of beautifully crafted interpretations I’d seen and concentrated on my own vision. I complimented the busy print with a barely discernible seam, which draws the eye to the overall shape, rather than its constituent parts.
 
The dress shirt is pitched at advanced beginner level, necessitating a few skills which could stump a complete novice. I almost came unstuck by ignoring basic pattern markings when attaching the bib to the dress front. Although I had notched the pattern pieces at the outset, I proceeded to ignore these guides and the pinned seam was completely mismatched. On my second attempt, I fully recognised the importance of those strategically placed markers and took my time easing in the bulk between them. I was aided in a few wisdoms I’ve picked up along the way - placing the bigger curve nearest to you, pinning on the seam line and utilising the bubble method to distribute fullness.
 
Sampling is something I have often overlooked in my haste to complete a garment but I’ve come to appreciate the value in taking my time to achieve a finish I’m happy with. Whilst I practised overlocking that curve on a scrap of calico, I still didn’t manage to get my stitches hugging the edge quite as I would’ve liked. Hopefully I’ll pick up some tips next month when I pop along to an overlocker masterclass at the Janome Centre in Stockport. 
 
Anyway, back to the pattern - did I say how beautifully presented the instructions are? The hand drawn illustrations are elegant in their simplicity but no amount of style can make up for the horrors I discovered at the top of page 4  - my sewing nemesis …. GATHERS. I’d completely missed this feature, being swayed by the design lines on the front view. I wasn’t going to jump ship this far into a project, so I gritted my teeth and got on with the task in hand. I really should take the time to perfect this technique but that would mean spending a lot of time doing something I hate, so for now I’ll settle with good enough and move on. 
 
My final omission feels quite glaring and I’ll forgive you, if you think I’ve avoided anything which requires a modicum of skill. But I promise, the lack of sleeves was a considered choice - I’ve added them before and they always end up for the chop. So as with everything else on this dress, I decided to stay true to my style and go sleeveless. It definitely wasn’t a time saving decision as I spent the best part of a morning knocking up some continuous bias binding, thanks to an excellent tutorial from Wendy Ward.
 
And so here you have it - my barely recognisable version of a Merchant and Mills classic. It’s a far cry from the impeccable stylings on the pattern envelope but honours my intention to sew my style. Feeling inspired? Come and say hello over on wrongdoll.co.uk I’d love to see how you put a spin on things to sew your style. 
Thanks for reading,
Aimee
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DMC Novelty Embroidery Hoop Review by Tina

Hello my name is Tina and I have a blog and You Tube channel called Simply in Stitches. I am passionate about cross stitch and love to share my projects so I was delighted to review this fun Embroidery Hoop by DMC. I use DMC threads most of the time as they are such high quality and very respected in the cross stitch community. I chose the 10cm kitten hoop as I am well known for my love of cats. The other options are teddy ears or bunny ears. There is also a mini version with the teddy or kitten ears. The frame is made of a lovely smooth wood and has a metal hanger.
The frame is for decorative finishing of the stitching it is not intended to use as a frame for working on a project. The inner circle is loose in the center without a means to tighten so it can not hold the fabric tight in the hoop while being stitched.
The wood being a nice light colour makes easy to find a fabric that will work well with the frame. I chose a piece of hand dyed evenweave fabric to add interest to the background.
I wanted to play along with the kitten theme and find a design with a cat. I found the perfect one in a 2012 free calendar from The world of cross stitching magazine. It is a cat stitching with some balls of yarn. As a cat lover who stitches and knits it ticked all my boxes. The designer is Margret Sherry who is very talented in this style of design. The original design is much larger than my 10cm hoop so I just took the element of the design I wanted to use that would fit. It is worth remembering when choosing a design to fit a frame or if you only want a small stitch, that the design can be cropped or single motifs can be used. 
It was a very fun stitch to do. I used the recommended  DMC colours. The back stitching really brought the cat to life with his huge whiskers and sweet little face.
The frame does not come with instruction to frame your stitching. I decided to use wadding behind the stitching to give it a nice soft cushion type look. I then used cardboard to give it stability. 
I used dress making thread to lace the bac . I wanted to pull the fabric tight but wanted to be able to adjust to make sure it is even in the frame. Using this method also makes it reversible which you will see came in very useful later.  Glue can be messy and may cause harm to your fabric making it discolour later.
Here you can see I placed the design inside the inner ring. This was really loose and didn't work. It was my You Tube viewers that saved me by pointing out the fabric should be stretched over the inner ring. I don't know why I thought it went inside. It should be constructed just as you would use a embroidery hoop to stitch. Which makes perfect sense. I pulled it apart and laced it again using the inner ring. This made it far more secure and was far neater at the back.
I used a piece of felt to back the hoop to make it tidier and protect the inside of the stitching. This is for myself but if it is for a gift it makes it prettier and you can stitch a date or a private message for the recipient. I attached this with glue onto a piece of cardboard at the back of the stitching and the outer wooden ring of the frame.
Here is the finished hoop. I think it looks lovely hung by the metal triangle hanger on the back. It's a really cute idea to finish a piece of embroidery. I think it would be ideal for a birth sampler or a birthday for a cat lover. I'm really enjoying having mine in my craft room. It's such a fun item to have in the room. If I hadn't chosen a cat theme I would have used it for an inspirational quote as the frame is small but catches my attention.
Thank you for reading my review. I hope you found it interesting and useful.
Tina x
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Adjusting for a Narrow or Broad Back on Sewing Patterns with Claire-Louise Hardie

If you find that clothes strain at the back, and you end up buying a bigger size that then doesn’t fit your front, chances are you have a broad back. If clothes stand away from your spine along the centre of your back, then a narrow back adjustment can help. This is the real beauty of dress-making, you can fine tune the fit exactly where you need it. This technique involves slashing and spreading/overlapping areas of your pattern pieces.

Narrow Back

Some patterns will come with an adjustment line for narrow or broad backs drawn on. If your pattern doesn’t, draw a vertical line down from the shoulder, 3 cm from the armhole to just below the bottom of the armhole. Draw a second line at a right angle from this point.

Cut along the 2 lines, and slide the armhole side over, lapping the paper. Stick in place. There are no hard and fast rules, but generally a small ¼ inch adjustment is enough. Play around with this amount as you develop your fitting skills.

Use a ruler and pencil to true up(match) and re-draw the side seam.

You’ll now need to make the front shoulder a little shorter. Line up the notches on the shoulder ensuring sure the neckline is lined up. The front will be a little longer than the newly adjusted back shoulder. Draw a new narrower line from the back around the front, trimming a little of the front armhole away. NB- Make sure your new curved line is smooth at the shoulder.

Broad Back

Start in the same way as a narrow back adjustment drawing the 2 lines and cutting.

Instead of overlapping the cut pattern pieces, spread them. Again there are no hard and fast rules, but a ¼- ½ inch adjustment is usually enough.

Fill in the space with some tracing paper and stick together.

Use a ruler and a pencil to true up and re-draw the outside of the side seam.

This time you’ll need to make the front shoulder a little longer. Again line up the shoulder seams, ensuring neckline is aligned. Place some paper underneath the shoulder area. Draw a curve line from the back shoulder down towards the front armhole, adding a sliver to the front shoulder and armhole. Check that you’ve drawn a smooth line over the shoulder

Making Back Adjustments on a Princess Seam Pattern

So how do you alter the back of patterns with shaped seam lines like princess seams? The principles are much the same, spreading and adding for a broad back, reducing for a narrow back.

Shoulder Princess Seams

The easiest way to approach this is by either increasing the seam allowances where you need extra width, or to take them in to adjust for a narrow back.

Armhole Princess Seams

Mark the adjustment lines as before on the centre back panel.

For a broad back, spread the armhole section as before, then re-draw a new wider seam line, truing up the edges of the shoulder and the princess seam line

For a narrow back, over-lap the armhole section, and trim away the excess along the princess seam to true. 

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Dita Wrap Dress by Wear Lemonade

Hello everyone! My name is Argyro and I'm soo happy to share with you my first Minerva Crafts guest blog post. I really enjoy making things, anything creative actually, but mostly sewing. You can find me on Instagram where I like to share my makes and on my blog "Happy Sewing Blog" which is full of sewing inspiration, sewing pattern reviews and my sewing-related thoughts, tips, hacks, and lessons learned. I plan to accomplish my goal of a handmade style by building a handmade wardrobe full of clothes that I truly love and wear daily.
Making the gorgeous Dita Dress by Wear Lemonade (WL) was a dream of mine for such a long time! The feminine style of the dress and its French vibe made me want to try it as soon as it was released. The thing is that I was waiting for the perfect fabric for it which thankfully I found on Minerva Crafts!
Dita is a wrap dress with a loose-fitting bodice and kimono/batwing sleeves. You are able to wear it with the wrap at the front or at the back! Isn't that cool!? The dress is fastening around the waist with long ties. Finally, the hem of the skirt is just above the knee. Read the full pattern description here
That was the second time I used WL pattern. My first one was the Mona jacket which I adore. If you are not familiar with Wear Lemonade patterns let me share a few things with you. These patterns come in two formats; Printed or pdf. Pdf patterns come along with a 3month/6month or 1year subscription. Here is the most important thing: when you purchase a subscription you have access to every single Wear Lemonade pattern in the store! You can actually download all of them if you like! How ahhmazing!?? Read more about the "Netflix de la couture" (pdf subscription) by Wear Lemonade on my blog.
Requirements
I was looking for the right fabric for this project for such a long time. I came across to this beautiful Fabric from Minerva Crafts. It is a John Kaldor crepe floral fabric in coral and purple. I would love to share how beautiful and drapey this fabric is. That was the first thing I noticed when I got it in my hands. Soo dreamy. I really enjoyed working with it as it feels like cutting butter when you cut it. Also, even if it is a crepe fabric, it does not fray as much as other crepe fabric that I have used in the past.
The Dita dress pattern asks for 3,30 meters of a 1,50 meters only wide fabric. I decided that 3 meters were enough and I can squeeze all those pattern pieces in so that is what I asked from Vicki (from Minerva crafts). Guys, if you ask me I will now tell you to go for more meters than 3 in order to avoid a headache unless you want to challenge yourself! Haha! Order more meters especially if the fabric has one-way design/print.
Construction
The pdf pattern has 51 pages but you shouldn't be scared of it even if it actually looks huge! I taped the pages together and traced it quickly. I always like to trace my patterns whether they are printed patterns or pdf. That way, I don't damage them and I can keep them nice and beautiful in my collection. 
I chose size 38 for the bust which I graded to size 40 for the waist and the hips. I sew the entire garment using my trusty walking foot that I love. It is a really handy little tool that provides stability for your sewing. It works great not only with any slippery fabric such as crepe, rayon, viscose, satin and etc but it also does wonders while working with knit fabrics. If you don't have one, go buy it! You will not regret it! 
The dress comes together quickly as the patterns do not have anything complicated on its construction. The instructions of the pattern are in two languages; French and English, and they are clear. They are written in step-by-step phases along with a detailed photo in each step. Another great thing of Wear Lemonade patterns is that there is one video on YouTube for each pattern of their collection where Lisa (the owner of the shop) explains with a sew-along every pattern. The videos are in French, but trust me they are easy to follow and understand. Here is the video sew-along of the Dita dress.
The bodice of the dress is faced with a self-fabric across the front opening. One of the long ties comes through an opening that you create on one of the sides of the bodice. That helps you to tie the longs ties around the waist and secure the dress. I created mine on my right side.
When I cut the pockets, I realized that they were quite small. First, I thought that there is lack of seam allowances at the pocket pattern which I had to add and that causes the small size of them. However, I read the pattern instructions twice but nowhere is written that I need to add s.a. to them. Maybe it is just me, but I just found them small. Anyway, I decided against the pockets not only because of the size of them but also in order to avoid adding weight to my dress. I love how beautifully the skirt of the dress flows without the pockets.
Finally, I hem the skirt of the dress using hemming web and that made that process easier!
Final Thoughts
I'm so so in love with my new dress! It fits nicely and how it is supposed to fit and it is totally adorable! Not to mention how beautifully the fabric hangs on the body! 
The fabric was provided to me for free from Minerva Crafts (thank you a lot) for reviewing purposes.
If you enjoyed what you read and you love sewing as much as I do, I would be soo pleased if you join my sewing journey!
Sewing Summary
Sewing Pattern: Dita dress by Wear Lemonade
Size: Bust size 38 graded to size 40 for waist and hips
Size: John Kaldor crepe floral fabric in coral and purple from Minerva Crafts. It is on sale now for just £11.99.
Alterations: I didn't do the pockets.
Total Cost: The fabric was provided to me by Minerva Crafts for reviewing purposes. I used the pattern from my WL subscription and I just bought the threads.
Make Another One: I would love to make another one using viscose fabric this time. That will be great for summer!
Until next time,
Happy sewing!!
Argyro
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Butterick 5748 Pattern Review by Louise

Whilst perusing Minerva’s website on the prowl for pretty fabrics, this stunning floral print viscose/rayon challis dress fabric jumped out at me (unforetunately it has now sold out on the Minerva site, but there are other alternative Viscose Fabrics to choose from). It comes in four different colourways - bright pink, golden yellow, grassy green and turquoise. I liked the yellow and the pink best of all and had a hard time deciding between them! Once I had settled on pink, I knew I had to find a pattern to showcase the fabric - a circle skirt felt like the obvious choice, and a simple bodice. I chose Butterick Sewing Pattern B5748, which is from their ‘Retro’ range and is a reproduction of an original 1960 pattern, although the design is more of a classic 1950s style.

The fabric is 56” wide, which makes it perfect for a circle skirt, and the print isn’t clearly directional, meaning it can be cut crosswise. 

The drape is beautiful and the fabric is lovely and soft. It even has some very subtle glitter detail which you can see closer up. I fully lined my dress with some ‘anti-static’ lining, which gives the skirt extra fullness and swooshiness, and it means I don’t need to wear a slip underneath. The main fabric and lining both handled very well during sewing. Once the dress was sewn, I left it to hang on my dressmaker’s dummy for just under 48 hours to let the fabric drop. The viscose certainly benefited from this, and it took me a good few hours to even it all out and then hem both layers. I didn’t hand stitch the hem, because...well, I just didn’t want to! Once I had trimmed it all level, I overlocked the edges of the skirt and lining and then turned each layer twice and stitched each with a narrow hem.

The pattern design is lovely. It only uses four pattern pieces - front bodice, back bodice, front skirt and back skirt! There are options to have a little slit at the front or back, or a bow at the front or back, but because the fabric I chose is such a large and striking print, I wanted to keep the design of the dress as simple as possible. 

A detail that I really like about the dress is the low, scoop back, and the fact that the zip is a side zip rather than a centre back zip. It makes it so much easier to zip and unzip by oneself, and it means the back is super neat and tidy. I used a regular dress zipper for the side opening, which I sewed as a centred zip. It’s neat enough and not noticeable tucked away under my arm. I think the pattern would be suitable even for beginner sewers.

The sewing was straightforward and the instructions were easy to follow. All the notches and seams etc matched up perfectly, so I was very happy with the quality of the pattern. When the dress is hanging inside out, as beautiful as that viscose print is, seeing it with the lining side out it makes you realise how stunning this dress would be in a solid colour as well. It’s definitely a pattern I would like to reuse for a future dress.

Fit-wise, on the whole I am happy although it is a little loose under the bust despite some alterations here. On the photo you might notice a large horizontal crease at the front waist - this is due to me having been sitting travelling in a car, four trains and a taxi over a period of four hours before the photos were taken. Ideally I would have had my photo taken when the dress was fresh on, but life is rarely ideal these days. I wore the dress for the entire day - the journey back involving two buses, three trains and a car journey - and it was very comfortable to wear and didn’t dig in anywhere - which is a bonus of not over-fitting! It was a beautiful warm and sunny day when I wore it, and I felt very spring-like and bright and happy (not least because I went to meet up with two of my best friends). 

The dress definitely fits into the occasion-wear category, not being really practical for walking kids to school etc as circle skirts and windy days do not mix well! It looks even better with a 50s style tulle petticoat underneath - and it would be great to wear to a wedding or garden party of some sort.

Louise @ Thread Carefully

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Mermaid Sequin Fabric Review by Sarah

I jumped at the chance to review this Mermaid Sequin Fabric. I love anything sparkly and I’ve been coveting this reversible fabric for ages. Be warned, you may spend longer playing with the fabric than you do sewing with it!

I’ve never sewn with sequins before and wanted to stick to a simple pattern without darts or multiple seams. I opted to make a simple fitted pencil skirt from the book ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual’. The fabric has a bit of stretch across the width and none on the length, ideal for something figure hugging. (Since this fabric doesn’t have a huge amount of stretch, you may need to size up. I can just about get this on and off but it involves an awful lot of wiggling!)

The pattern is really simple, with just two pattern pieces, a front and a back. I cut each piece in a single layer as cutting through sequins is not easy. A word of warning, tiny pieces of sharp sequin will fly everywhere. I managed to get a piece in my eye, thankfully without doing any damage. Through trial and error, I found the best method is to lay your fabric sequin side down and cut slowly. It really helps to minimise the amount of bits flying up. 

The aftermath of cutting two skirt seams. This stuff gets absolutely everywhere. 

Being a sequin newbie, I found lots of information online that says to cut away the sequins from your seam allowance before sewing. I started doing this, but it was so fiddly and time consuming I gave up pretty quickly.

Instead, I brushed aside the sequins each side of my seam allowance. This left a clear sewing line with no sequins. I also used a size 16 leather needle when sewing my fabric. It meant any sequins I did manage to sew through didn’t result in a broken needle. 

After my front and back pieces were sewn together, I flipped the sequins over and ended up with an almost invisible seam. 

The base fabric that the sequins are attached to is very see through and would most likely be very uncomfortable if worn next to your skin. I used a Stretch Lining Fabric in a beige/nude colour. Underneath the sequin fabric it’s not noticeable at all. It also means the skirt is easier to get on and off as the lining is very smooth and silky.

Once the lining and waistband elastic was inserted, I hand stitched the hem to the lining. Hand stitching obviously takes longer but it meant I could avoid sewing through anymore sequins.

I love love love the finished skirt and will more than likely use this fabric again. Yes, it is very time consuming but you definitely end up with a showstopper garment. If you’re looking to make an impact, definitely go for reversible sequin fabric.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah x

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Go Handmade 8 Knitted Animals Book Review by Teena

"8 Knitted Animals" by Go handmade was the dream Knitting Book when I saw the opportunity to review this product. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love knitting, and I absolutely love knitting something for my girls, which I haven’t done in a long time. And what can more cuter than knitting a little cuddly.
This was the first time I had knitted a toy, I have crocheted Christmas tree decorations but this was definitely a new skill. So I needed a book that was beginners with easy to follow instructions. There are 8 animals to choose from, and immediately when you look at the front cover you just fall in love with them. Each one just makes you want one no matter what age. 
The first page is a great guide. It helps to set the expectations for knitting. And the bit I like the most: “All kinds of yarn can be used.”
This was the best line I read in any knitting pattern, because if you’re like me, there are always plenty of odd balls of yarn lying around the house. Yep I mean house. 
What’s also great about this first page is that it really does advise, like the length of the ball of yarn, and what consumption you will get. So for beginners I think this book does offer a fantastic start. 
My favourite page has to be pages 4-5. Why? Well look below:
It just takes me back to a fairy tale and the animals suddenly personify, even more reason to get knitting. Page 6-7 there is more advise about tension and the different types of stitching involved. 
The book is lightweight, easy to pack away on your travels if you enjoy knitting away from home. I may take mine to the office for a lunch-break knit. The whole layout and pictures are so aesthetically pleasing, I can’t stop flicking through even when I’m not knitting. 
With confidence to begin, it was down to Bear to choose which animal she wanted. Great minds think alike, because she chose Lukas the bunny. There was something Scandinavian, minimal and gender-neutral about this character. I was delighted.
Now down to knitting. I read the pattern thoroughly before I began knitting any swatch. I would strongly recommend this because if this is your first toy knitting or even your first knit (brave or what!) then you should familiarise yourself with the stitches, techniques and equipment involved. I have never knitted using Double-Pointed Needles (DPN) so this was a little scary, but I wanted to try.
After a few trials knitting a round using the DPNs I finally got to grips with the pattern. It really was not as scary as it seems. Because of the size of yarn I chose (3mm 4ply) I did find I worked slower than my usual pace, but that’s ok. I want this bunny to be perfect, so slow knitting it is.
So as I continue to knit the head and body, I must say that this book is a great one for new knitters. The pattern is super easy to follow. There are little hints too. In the future, I can see more animals being knitted, perhaps as gifts/keepsakes for friends’/families’ children. Meanwhile don’t forget to follow my knit on Instagram @thatmakesher
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Retro Butterick 1961 - B6318 Tie Waist Dress by Abi

Hi pinups! When I first started my dressmaking journey about 2 years ago now, recreating vintage dresses was high up on my sewing agenda. So when scouring the internet for 1950s and 1960s inspired or reproduction sewing patterns, the Retro Butterick B6318 tie waist dress pattern stole my heart immediately.
It ticks all my vintage style boxes as the late 1950s and early 1960s are my favourite periods for fashion. This vintage pattern combined with some equally vintage looking floral Liberty fabric, I hoped this dress would be a pattern and fabric match made in heaven.
Here's a peek at the pattern:
Before I start sewing a new project I always like to do a bit of research on the pattern via Google and Instagram to see if there's anything to look out for and of course for some inspiration. The B6318 pattern certainly does not disappoint! There are so many stunning versions out there, if I wasn't already excited about sewing this pattern, I was now.
The pattern features simple short dolman sleeves (the bodice and sleeves are one pattern piece), waist darts, a full gathered skirt and waist ties. The dolman sleeves are a nice change from setting in sleeves, which is my least favourite sewing task. I also loved the look of the wide neckline, along with the reasonably loose fitting bodice with the nipped in waist achieved by the two ties. Compared to other vintage style sewing patterns out there, this one looked as though fitting would be simple with this style.
The instructions for the pattern are clear and there isn't too much to get stuck on, making this a great sewing pattern for beginners. It features some great techniques to add to your sewing arsenal, like inserting a zip, gathering a skirt and sewing a simple neck facing.
This simple style and design of the B6318 dress pattern also made for a nice and simple sewing process. The pattern features a lapped zipper, like a lot of vintage patterns do, but instead I opted for my tried and tested concealed zip. Otherwise I made no changes to the pattern or sewing process.
Not only do I love this pattern, I'm also in love with the beautiful Liberty Cotton Lawn Fabric I used to sew the dress with. The quality is lovely, the shade of pink is the perfect vintage rose colour and the weight of the fabric works so well for the full skirt and summer wear.
Fit wise, I do find this dress a little long in the body. Through sewing I have discovered I have a shorter torso than average and occasionally I'll need to shorten bodices to fit me a little better. I hadn't made any alterations to this dress before hand and even with a try on of the bodice once I had sewn that section I thought it was okay. But I suppose the weight of the skirt pulls the bodice down further. If I were to sew this dress again, I could certainly loose at least an inch at the waist. If it weren't for the waist ties, I would have unpicked the dress, but when the ties are knotted, you can't see that the bodice is too long for me.
As always, here's my short sewing summary with everything you need to know...
Sewing Summary:
Pattern: Retro Butterick 1961- B6318 Tie Waist Dress
Fabric: Liberty Vintage Style Floral Cotton Poplin Dress Fabric Pink
Notions: 22" invisible zip
Sewing time: A day.
Modifications: I used a concealed zip instead of a lapped zip.
Fit: Other than a long bodice, I'm pleased with the fit.
Difficulty: Simple, this would be great for beginners looking to sew their first vintage dress.
Watch out for: Getting a tidy neck edge and even gathers on the skirt. 
Make Again?: Yes! I love this pattern and look forward to sewing this again.
Overall, I love my first attempt at the popular B6318 dress. It's such a gorgeous style, I don't think I could ever get bored of it. My only regret is that I hadn't tried this pattern sooner so I could get more wear out of this dress! I can't wait to bring this out again this summer, along with sewing No.2 with a shorter bodice to nail the fit this time. I would recommend this pattern to anyone who is a lover of pretty dresses and vintage style.
Thanks for reading, pinups.
Abi xo

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