Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 24th June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 23rd June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Having become more and more dependent on the stretchy garments in my wardrobe, I was keen to give Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics’ a go. The book contains six basic patterns, which are included at the back of the book, ready for you to trace. Wendy guides you through the sewing of these six patterns, and includes multiple options with each pattern on how to further customise your creation.
The first pattern, the Peak tshirt, is the pattern I used to make the dress shown on the front cover. There are different sleeve options and different length options, and instructions for adding eye-catching details to your tshirt (or dress) such as shirring, patchwork, cuffs and colour blocking. Each option is clearly explained with thorough instructions and clear diagrams, plus beautiful photos of the finished garments.
The second pattern is for the Derwent trousers - a wide-legged pair of comfortable trousers with three length options: long length, standard length or cropped. These look super easy to make - just two pattern pieces. You could probably whip them up in an hour!
Next up is the Winnat’s tank pattern - a scoop-neck vest that can be lengthened into a knee length or maxi length dress (or even a colour-blocked maxi dress). As a vest it looks like the perfect stash-buster as it only uses 1 yard of fabric (assuming your fabric is 60” wide, which most knit fabrics are). I’m pretty sure this will be next on my list to make!
The fourth pattern in the book is for the Monsal lounge pants - another versatile pattern that could be used for lounge pants, pyjama bottoms, workout pants or shorts. My favourite version of these is the full length pants with pockets and cuffs. I particularly like the sample shown in the book where the cuffs, waist band and pocket bands are sewn in a contrast fabric.
The Kinder cardigan is next - again in a range of lengths with a range of customisation options. Wendy says she had ‘been thinking about making the perfect cardigan loosely inspired by kimonos’, and I must admit that I definitely get a ‘dressing gown’ vibe from this pattern! Included in this section are instructions for how to add a patch pocket, which is obviously a good transferable skill. The peak tshirt/dress and Winnat’s tank/dress would both look good with a patch pocket added, I think.
The final pattern is, I think, quite divisive: you’ll either love it or hate it. The Longshaw skirt is ‘an unusual and bold design that creates a flattering, curvy silhouette’. Personally, I love it! I would definitely like to try it as a dress with the Winnat’s tank vest as the top, possibly in plain black.
As well as all the patterns and variations thereof, the book is packed with information about all the different types of knitted fabrics and how to handle them, plus the tools you will need to sew the garments, information on sizing and measuring, sewing machine tips and explanations on using and adjusting sewing patterns. There really is everything you would need to know before sewing, and a whole lot more!
So, now I’d like to show you the dress I made from the book. As I mentioned earlier, I used the Peak tshirt pattern to make a short sleeved, knee-length dress with an elasticated waist. This basically involved extending the length of the tshirt by 40cm, and sewing some elastic at the waistline. I did make it a little more complicated than it needed to be, however, as when choosing my fabric I decided I wanted to line it with something smooth so it would slip easily over tights without riding up. So, when I ordered the Jersey Fabric from Minerva, I also ordered the same amount of Stretch Lining Fabric. This meant that in effect I had to make two versions of the dress and then sew them together.
I made the main body of the dress (front, back and sleeves) in both the lining fabric and the main fabric. I then sewed the two together (right sides together) at the neckline before turning out the right way. Technically, I could have just topstitched here and not bothered with the neckband, as the raw edges were hidden away by this point. However, I still added the neck band for durability and because I like the look of it. After this, I hemmed the lining into the sleeves so that they would stay together, and hemmed the lining in with the bottom of the dress. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
I matched the stripes at the side seams of course, like the dutiful seamstress I am. This was made much easier by the way that I cut the fabric in the first place: I matched up the stripes before cutting and even pinned every other stripe into place to keep it from shifting. It was worth the time it took to do this, because not only was it easy to match up the stripes, but also the stripes are definitely as straight as the spirit level!
Overall I’m pretty happy with the finished garment - it’s bigger on top than I am used to, but that is the style and the way it is meant to be, and I think the skirt transforms it from a just a baggy tshirt to something a little more stylish. It’s certainly something that is easy to throw on and you can dress it up or down, plus because it’s quite a loose fit I don’t feel self conscious in it, which is good!
I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to review Wendy’s book for the book tour, and to Minerva for the lovely fabric!
Posted in Projects on Friday the 22nd June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello everyone, I’m Joanne and I have spent the last few weeks trying out King Cole Calypso Yarn for you lovely yarn crafters.
Given the vibrant spring colour of the Lime Coconut colourway, what better way to use it than to knit a spring top. I followed the free pattern for the Layout tank top by Berroco.
The yarn itself has an interesting construction. It is made up of 97% premium acrylic, which make up the green and white fluffy fibres, and 3% polyamide, which makes up the super thin strand which wraps around the acrylic, causing the wavy appearance of the yarn. It also has a central core to support this wrapping.
The great thing about this construction is that the yarn does not lose its wave as it might if it had been crimped and then over stretched whilst knitting, and the yarn is really soft, as the main body of the yarn has not been set into shape which could make it wiry. The yarn has a relatively long loft which means it doesn’t shed like crazy, and does not need to be tightly spun to maintain its structure. In terms of how the ball was wound, I did not have any problems with knotting when using centre pull, nor did I encounter any knots or breaks within the ball.
The colour variation is created by white and green fibres running alongside each other, which are twisted every inch or so. While this seems a uniform patterning, I did not find there to be any striping or pooling happening when knitting, as you are seeing different sides of the yarn at different parts of the stitch anyway. The yarn has a consistent thickness throughout, so no need to worry about having patchy or lumpy areas.
The texture of this yarn is great. I really like how the knit stitches are not uniform, this being caused by the slant of the twist on the right side of the knitting, creating a rustic effect. The feel of the ripples running through your fingers when working was also quite nice, and not rough. This yarn does have a slight sheen to it, which makes it look a lot like a cotton yarn but without the sagging and inflexibility.
Given that the yarn is made up of 4 different parts, I didn’t find splitting too much of a problem. The most troublesome element was the thin wrapping strand which sometimes decided not to drop off the needle when dropping off the stitch. This is easily and undetectably remedied on the next row when you can simply push it off before making your new stitch. I found the yarn more likely to twist up, rather than untwist, when working, so the chance of splitting was reduced.
It took me two weeks to knit the Layout top, knitting an hour or so per day. The Layout tank top is knit from the bottom up in the round, until you divide for the armholes where you then work the back and front separately, incorporating some flattering pleats by the neckline. I made the smallest size and I did make some modifications. I knit the body 1” longer and instead of knitting the neckband separately, I picked up the stitches on the front and back and cast on 15 stitches at each shoulder. I then knit in the round for 12 rows, decreasing every 14 stitches on row 8 and every 10 stitches on row 11. I then bound off using a regular bind off, trying to keep it loose. I decided to do the neckband using this method because it gives a much nicer join on the main body of the piece and works up faster than knitting separately and sewing on. This does make the neckband curl but I took my iron to it on the reverse side, using a pressing cloth, and flattened it out. I did this to the bottom, cast on edge of the top as well which gave it a nice wavy hem.
In terms of wear, it is very soft and I don’t find it scratchy or tickly at all. It is lightweight, not too warm on those sunny days, and the drape is lovely.
I did try to crochet with this yarn but this was more challenging. I found the hook got caught up in the fibres a lot when pulling the yarn through the loops and it was harder to distinguish the individual stitches.
To conclude, I was delighted at the softness of the yarn and its good quality. It is excellent value for money and I highly recommend it for your knitting projects. I would definitely use it again in the future.
Thanks for reading,
Joanne @ Stitching Joanne
Posted in Projects on Thursday the 21st June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
I was really thrilled to be asked recently by Minerva Crafts to review their new Stylecraft Head Over Heels Boho Sock Yarn. I chose the Danube colour which has gorgeous shades of blues, grey and cream.
Before the yarn arrived I had time to think about what I would like to make with it. I could knit socks after all it is a sock yarn but I would only need one ball and Minerva had kindly sent me several to review. I thought the colours would also look very nice in a crocheted or knitted shawl but I really fancied making a garment. When the yarn arrived I was really impressed with how soft it felt compared to some other commercial sock yarn that I have previously tried.
The pattern I chose was the Zigga Zigga crochet cardigan by Kat Goldin which was featured in issue 1 of Crochet Now magazine. You can still buy a digital copy of the magazine if you would like the pattern. The cardigan is crocheted flat and you sew the pieces together. The pattern uses a 4mm hook but I used a 4.5mm hook to get the correct gauge. The pattern comes in 5 sizes and I made the 2nd size which was medium.
I began with the back section and I particularly liked the striping effect of all the different shades of of blue. At this stage I was not particularly worried about pattern placement and I just started crocheting from the beginning of the ball.
The pattern has short sleeves but I preferred to make long sleeves which I think really shows of the yarn nicely. The only change I made to the pattern was to go up 2 more sizes for the sleeves for a better fit but that’s the only change I made. I continued with the sleeve decreases set out in the pattern until the sleeves were the length I wanted. I also made sure the stripes on both sleeves matched each other.
However when it came to crocheting the two front panels I did want them both to match. So I pulled out some of the yarn so I could start and finish both pieces at the same colour section. I also did the same for the front edging which you crochet after you have made the front panels.
The pattern suggests sewing or crocheting the pieces together. I decided to crochet all the pieces together with all the right sides together so all the seams were on the inside. I used a 4mm hook and double crochet which looks lovely and neat and virtually invisible on the right side.
And here is my finished cardigan. I am really pleased with how well it turned out and the fit is really good. I think it is a real statement piece where the colours really stand out. I have styled it with a navy t-shirt and a denim skirt but it would also look really nice worn with jeans.
Thank you so much Minerva for letting me review this lovely Yarn. I am thrilled with my new cardigan and I’m sure that I will be making more.
Thanks for reading
Yvonne @ by-yvonne
Posted in Product Reviews on Wednesday the 20th June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Let me start off by saying, this will be the best haberdashery purchase you ever make! I haven’t felt this strongly about a product since I bought my new sewing machine. Do you feel like you are always buying repeat patterns? Do you like to keep your original pattern papers whole? This is the product for you. I am so glad I have this Swedish Tracing Paper in my collection because without a shadow of a doubt this makes tracing patterns so much easier.
In the past I have used baking paper as my tracing material of choice, it easy to buy and super cheap but if you’ve used it before you’ll understand the pain when it comes to sticking multiple sheets together, especially for long garments such as trouser legs. The sticky tape never sticks and you spend more time trying to find items heavy enough to place on top to stick it down. Well this tracing paper is a dream! It is 1m wide and 10m long so no need for sticking additional sheets on for the width. See the difference?
When it comes to sticking additional length on for adjustments for leg length or arm length the tape sticks to it strongly and makes like so simple.
It is lightweight and easy to use. I would call it material rather than paper because that’s what it feels like, extremely lightweight material. It is thin enough that you can easily see your pattern and essential notches through it but still strong enough for you to place pins through it and it not rip with ease.
One downside I did find is that certain pens actually bleed due to its porous texture. I ended up using pencils and good old fashioned biro pens to trace my patterns. Another thing I found was there were slight cuts in the paper/material which meant that it split in certain areas, but that may have just been my roll. It still worked extremely well it just meant I had to be slightly more careful with it when moving it around my tiny room.
Anyone who has those expensive patterns or who enjoys keeping their pattern papers intact this is the paper for you, this allows you to keep those patterns intact and you can use this to help make those tricky adjustments especially if you are multiple sizes like me. I have that lovable pear shape which usually means I have to adjust my patterns for a smaller top half and larger bottom half. This made that easier as I just adjusted the pattern straight onto the tracing paper. I actually made a mistake on one pattern and using a pencil I simply rubbed it out and started again. This paper was strong enough to handle my rubbings and still not break.
I am really pleased with this product and will be ordering it again once it runs out, but judging by the amount you receive and if you are careful and frugal it will last longer and have much more longevity than my old choice of baking paper. I’m planning on storing this carefully so that I can reuse it again. Without a doubt my new favourite item in my stash!
Thanks for reading,
I don’t like to admit how much of my time is spent on Instagram (let’s just say it’s the most-used app on my phone). When I’m not looking at cute pets, or lusting over other knitter’s yarn stashes, I’m looking at outfits and clothes inspiration.
Like most of us these days, Instagram has a big impact on what I choose to wear and also what I decide to make. Lately I’ve seen a lot of beautiful summer dresses, the ones I particularly love have been cream, button-down with tortoiseshell buttons, made from a linen, or crepe, with a nice relaxed shape.
Long story short, that’s what I decided to add to my ‘Summer To-Sew List’.
I was lucky enough to test out some of the beautiful Prestige Polyester Crepe Fabric from Minerva, which I immediately knew would work well for this summer dress project. Crepe is one of my favourite fabrics to work with, and this was no exception - in fact it was a dream to work with. It was easy to cut, sew and it drapes wonderfully.
I choose the cream colour which I think will be great for summer (if I can manage not to spill an ice cream down it of course!). Being cream, it is a little see-through, so if you’re creating a garment to be worn on your lower body, you’ll probably need to line it. I already had a little skirt slip that I knew would be fine to wear with this sort of fabric.
I didn’t have a pattern in my stash that would give the button-down, gentle skater shape I was looking for, so I looked for a pattern I could hack. I decided to go for a Leanne Marshall for Simplicity pattern, 1196. It’s one I know fits well on the bodice, with a full skirt, sleeves, and simple in construction. I made a few modifications to get the effect I was going for.
The pattern has a zip in the back of both the skirt and the bodice. Instead I cut the back pieces on the fold and cut two of the front pieces. I created a gentle V on the front pieces and left an extra few centimetres seam allowance. I made a facing for the front pieces to follow the line and reinforce the area I wanted to add button holes.
The pattern asks you to cut three of the skirt pieces, but to make the skirt less full I only cut two pieces and ensured the two sides lined up with the front opening of the bodice. Again, I made a facing for the skirt front. Another pattern modification I made was to increase the width of the sleeve pieces, as they were a little tight on my upper arms.
I already had some tortoiseshell buttons in my stash, and I think they work really well with the fabric. They also give the dress a bit of a vintage feel which I quite like. My husband even said this was the nicest thing I’ve made, so I’m counting it as a win.
I’d definitely work with this fabric again, and I think it would look amazing made up into some gorgeous wide-leg trousers for the summer. It’s the perfect weight for anything needing drape, but also a little weight. If you want to have a look at some of the other things I’ve been making recently, then you can find me over on Instagram at Instagram.com/craftworksblog.
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 19th June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Monday the 18th June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
I didn’t have a plan for this Fabric! Then uuhhhmmm, flick-flick-flick through my patterns, OK this top will do and I asked for 1.5m. Then Burda magazine’s April issue came out, and Haaaalellujah! I saw this top (#116) and now I had a solid plan.
Now let’s talk a bit about the object of review here: The fabric.
First I want to say that this looks even better and expensive in real life. It’s a Lurex lacey knit in a mix of polyester, acrylic and wool. The knitted parts are a mélange pink with purplish greyish hues, and there’s gold lurex thread in lacy knit in the open circles. The pink part is not see-through, the gold lurex part is, which results in a semi-transparent effect in general. That’s the first interesting part about it. The second is that’s it’s warm and airy at the same time! The pink acrylic/wool bit is quite warm, but the open lurex bits are airy making this perfect for spring here in Norway. It’s soft to the touch too and you don’t feel the lurex against your skin as the pink parts are thicker so they lie against your skin, while the gold parts kind of float a bit above it!
When it comes to sewing and handling, I must say straight away this is not the easiest fabric to deal with, it’s quite stretchy, it unravels at the edges, you can’t iron it (lurex…) and as mentioned above there’s a difference in thickness between the pink and golden bits. This doesn’t at all make it a nightmare to work with however, you just need to be a bit more careful and patient.
For my blouse I used some remnants of rib jersey for piping and neckline, but since I deviated from the pattern which wanted me to first bind the back details then attach piping but I kinda combined the two, I attached the rib as piping then topstitched the seams for binding, I had to figure out the lengths myself…and I didn’t :D and ended up stretching the back piece quite a bit so it hung loose and ugly and I had to redo it…As I said: This fabric is stretchy!
I didn’t line my top and in most cases that’s OK, but the wrong light and the wrong shade and your silhouette is on display, so I might consider lining the front later, we’ll see.
My advice to you when using it is:
Use a walking foot and/or overlocker.
Don’t cut your seam allowances too narrow (keep 2-3cm then trim or overlock them later).
Use a piece of cotton fabric between it and the iron and iron at low heat. You’ll only need to iron it if you want to press seams anyway.
Double check what you’re doing and make sure you’re not overstretching before you sew.
And pin/clip in place before you sew.
I love my top! It looks so cool and stylish! I almost can’t believe this fabric I was only mildly interested to see turned into something I totally love. And the bit of extra care needed when working with it was totally worth it!
At this point you’d expect me to wrap up and thank you for reading, but I have a little surprise for you, or you can call it a bonus feature…Ta da!
Since I didn’t cut binding from the same fabric and used rib instead, and since Burda fabric recommendations are usually a bit optimistic, I had quite a bit of fabric left over. And I really wanted to do something about that, therefore: Shorts!
I could’ve made a second top, but I wanted to go a bit off-piste and make something unpredictable with it, such am I…the ever-experimenting seamstress!
I used another Burda pattern for these, #132 from 12/2014 issue which are actually pajama shorts. Unlike the top these had to be lined, so I used some leftover linen-look viscose woven fabric to line the legs and some jersey to line the waistband/yokes (I didn’t want to start inserting closures). I made it more out of curiosity believing this can never be worn, but the more I look at it the more I think that there’s nothing wrong with this with a T-shirt for the summer, don’t you agree?
Welcome to my first blog post for Minerva Crafts!
When I was asked to review Minerva’s new gingham Scuba Fabric I was super excited as I haven’t sewn with scuba before though I have several lengths of scuba in my stash awaiting a good project! I’ve noticed that gingham fabric has had a bit of a revival this year so nice and on trend too.
Scuba is a fabric that is rising in popularity but you rarely see it as a suggested fabric on the back of patterns. I’m sure this will change with time. I did some background research and found some really good tips on sewing with scuba. Cheryl, from Stitchy Bee, did a vlog on You Tube about the subject in March which I found very useful. Sarah, in the blog section of Minerva Crafts, reviewed the Named Gemma sweatshirt pattern in a reversible scuba which was also helpful background information. And issue 47 of Love Sewing Magazine ran an article on sewing with scuba.
I was sent the yellow and white gingham fabric. The yellow is quite a ‘bright yellow’ but if you suit that colour it’s a lovely spring fabric. I had a job deciding on what to make with it. I considered tops, dresses, jackets and even trousers (Jade ‘The girl with the bright red hair’) recently featured a pair of trousers in scuba in one of the main sewing magazines!
I finally decided to use a pattern I had road tested before and that I knew had a good deal of drape to show off the fabric. I chose New Look 6301 which is a wrap dress I had used on a Stretch Fabric course with Katya from Sew Pretty in Wimbledon.
It’s a great little wrap dress pattern with a choice of A line skirt or pencil style skirt. It also has sleeveless, short or 3/4 length sleeve options. I suit the A line style best and I thought it would demonstrate the drape of the fabric better. I chose the 3/4 length sleeve version. I made the size 10 and I didn’t need to make any alterations to the pattern.
The wrap is in the bodice only, so the skirt part is not wrapped. It has a belt that is sewn into the side seam and can be tied at the back or front, or if you prefer, you can do without it. It has some fine elastic threaded through a casing in the waist but it doesn’t make the skirt look too gathered when on.
Here are the main aspects of sewing with this scuba:
Firstly it is a dream to cut. I grew up with sewing shears and have only tried a rotary cutter in the past three years. I tested both scissors and rotary cutter on this fabric and it worked well with both. My favourite shears are the Fiskars Softgrip Dressmaking Shears because they don’t lift the fabric very much as you cut. The lower blade lies horizontal and the upper blade does the moving so there is very little slippage of the fabric. However, that said, the fabric is very stable and hardly slips around at all anyway - the layers of fabric seem to stick to each other quite well. It doesn’t curl at the edges either - phew!
I used pins and they didn’t leave holes. If you have very fine pins they would work best.
It has a lovely weight to it and so drapes beautifully for a dress fabric. It would also work well for a drapy top or skirt. It has a nice amount of stretch and quite a smooth surface. You could also use it for a more bodycon style.
Before making my dress I washed the fabric on a gentle wash and hung it over my landing bannister to dry. It laundered beautifully with absolutely no distortion of the fabric and no shrinkage.
I was cautious when ironing it but it coped well with steam ironing. I used a pressing cloth just to be on the safe side as stretch fabrics sometimes don’t tolerate high temperatures. It’s quite a bouncy fabric and I found the best way to get seams to lie flat was to iron them on the wrong side first and then finish them off from the right side.
Some people say it can be a bit hot to wear but I haven’t tried wearing my dress in warmer weather yet so I can’t comment. Certainly for a springtime make it’s perfect!
The only drawback I found was that the material is quite substantial so if you use your Overlocker to construct your garment it can be hard to sew across a seam - such as sewing across the sleeve seam when sewing up the side seam.
If I were making the dress again I would have sewn the centre back seam with my lightening stitch on my sewing machine and ironed the seam open instead of using my Overlocker. So when you attach the neckband your sewing machine won’t struggle to cross over the centre back seam. I love using my Overlocker whenever I can as it’s so quick to construct and finish all in one and the stitch gives natural stretch. However, there are times when an ordinary sewing machine with a stretch stitch (lightening stitch or zig-zag) can work just as well if not better! Especially when the edges of the fabric don’t really need any finishing as they don’t fray at all.
The bodice has a few pleats on each bodice piece that are sewn into the side seam and that give it a nice soft drape around the bust.
I used Formband to stabilise my shoulder seams. It is easy to iron along the back bodice shoulder seam before sewing the front bodice pieces to the back bodice. This stops the shoulder seam from stretching out on the hanger.
I finished my sleeve and skirt hems with a single turned hem and my twin needle which gave a really nice professional finish. I used a fabric marking pen and my Clover Measuring Tool to mark up the hemline.
The neckband on wrap dresses can sometimes misbehave and stretch out of shape. The combination of this lovely, stable fabric and a good pattern made this step very easy and it lay beautifully flat - helped by twin needle top stitching of the band seam allowance to the dress bodice.
So in summary I really enjoyed making this dress and found the scuba fabric lovely to work with. It has given me the confidence to start making my ‘stash’ scuba into other garments! Watch this space! If you are new to sewing with stretch fabrics it’s a great one to start with as it’s so stable. Ta-da!
Here's some photos of the finished dress...
Thanks for reading,