Posted in Projects on Tuesday the 19th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Monday the 18th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 17th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Guest Posts on Saturday the 16th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hi there, I’m Anna of annajosews here with my third blog post for Minerva—and if you’ve been following my other makes (here and here) you won’t be surprised to see this is another retro-inspired make! What can I say? I’m all about those Rockabilly vibes these days. I should just get me a flaming hot rod tattoo and be done with it!
Anyway, as I’m on a quest for cute clothes that are a little bit bombshell, but not so much that they aren’t appropriate for taking a toddler to playgroups, one of the recent Simplicity patterns instantly caught my eye.
Simplicity Pattern 8342 is a bumper pattern pack that features a Rockabilly style knit top, pedal pushers and a pencil skirt with an amazing ruffle detail. Honestly, I could see myself wearing all the garments, but it was the top that hooked me in first. Apparently I really can’t say no to sweetheart necklines, cap sleeves and bust ties!
I figured as this was a knit top it should be practical for everyday wear, and it didn’t look too revealing (bearing in mind I’m quite happy with skintight clothes and plunging necklines—your mileage may vary). There are two versions, and much as I love the halter neck I thought the cap sleeves would be good for protecting my shoulders from the sun, and more practical to wear with a bra. You can see the cute retro stylings on the pattern cover models in the picture below—and I’ve got to say, kudos to Simplicity for showing two models of very different sizes on the one envelope—I wish more pattern companies would do this as I think it helps out everyone to see how the same pattern can fit different sized bodies.
And check out the fabric! I have to admit, I thought my first venture into nautical inspired prints would be more subtle—a ditsy anchor print, perhaps—but I fell in love with this Spanish nautical print Jersey Fabric on the Minerva website. While I was a little apprehensive about the pattern scale, I figured this top could take it. And I reckon I was right—what do you think?!
The jersey is a lovely quality—a true medium weight cotton lycra with good 4-way stretch and excellent recovery. The white base will show through the navy if it’s pulled really tight so it might not be suitable for something with a lot of negative ease like leggings, but for this top it’s just perfect. Cutting through it was easy with my rotary cutter and the fabric behaved nicely without too much rolling at the edges. Cutting did take me AGES, however, as I had to think really carefully about pattern placement and matching. Any inconsistencies would have been really obvious in a print with that much contrast in such a large scale. I ended up tracing out the front bodice pattern piece flat rather than on the fold which helped keep everything lined up. I’m pleased with my cutting decisions and glad I took the time to plan it all out. And it meant I didn’t end up with ships wheel nipples, which is always a good thing ;-)
For reference, my measurements put me at a size 14 for the bust, a 16 for the waist, and between 14 and 16 for the hips. Rather than grade between sizes I decided to go for a straight size 14, reasoning that the stretchiness should help it to fit. And besides, Big 4 patterns tend to be sized generously, so I figured I’d be likely to need to take the pattern in, anyway. I did measure the pattern pieces at the waist and figured the size 14 would have zero ease on me there, which seemed fine to me with this kind of style.
This version of the top uses a little more fabric than the halterneck, but can still be made out of just 1m of fabric (for the sizes 14 and below—larger sizes need a little more but it’s still very economical), so it could be an excellent stashbuster for those of us with too much fabric hidden around the house. Come on, I know I’m not the only one who does this!
Making the pattern up was a little bit more challenging than sewing a t-shirt, but that just made it more fun! It’s not a particularly difficult one to sew up and it could definitely be tackled by an adventurous beginner. The only bit that confused my poor little brain was the unusual and clever technique for sewing the sleeve where you end up with all raw edges completely enclosed. I couldn’t visualise how it worked from just looking at the instructions, but The Crafty Pinup has an excellent YouTube tutorial for sewing this top. I watched this through once, figured out the steps were straightforward if unfamiliar, and then sewed it up from the pattern instructions.
The back is held tight at the top using elastic in a casing, and I went for the 19mm Woven Elastic. The pattern specifies 13mm elastic, but as I tend to prefer wider elastic (more comfortable!) I went for this and made the casing was wide enough by simply overlocking and stitching down the casing, rather than turning under the edge before stitching. I cut the length of elastic specified for a size 14 but ended up reducing it by a whopping 3cm after basting the side seams and trying the top on for fit. Definitely a sign that I could have gone for the next size down in the bust!
The only other supply I used for this top was some H609 Vilene Fusible Knit Interfacing for the straps. The instructions do specify hem tape as well, but I decided not to go for that as the jersey behaved itself so nicely, and simply zigzagged my hem. Oh, and I used a 90 jersey needle for this one. I’m sure I could have got away with an 80, but as there are a few places where you have lots of layers to stitch through I’m glad I went with the thicker needle.
At just two and a half hours to stitch up I’d say this was a pretty fast make, although obviously a bit more involved than some knit tops (like I said, that’s a good thing in my book!). A couple of tips should you be thinking about tackling this top yourself: stitching the upper bodice together over the strap is much easier if you sew with the tacking side on top. It’s also well worth basting this seam first through all layers at the strap as it makes it so much easier to handle under the machine. I’d also baste the tops of the side seams to make sure you get them lined up perfectly at the underarm. I did this by hand and it worked a treat (after my first, abysmal attempt at sewing it without and a few minutes spent cursing as I unpicked all those annoying overlocker stitches).
So, what’s my take on the finished top?
Can you tell from the pics that I love it! It’s exactly what I was after to go with jeans or a skirt and it makes me feel like a Rockabilly Pirate with all those anchors on display. My little boy loves it too, but then again, he’s a sucker for anything pirate-themed. Prising him out of his pirate PJs is almost impossible some days, and I have been known to take him out of the house in them (Shhh! Don’t tell!), so he’s definitely getting something made out of the offcuts. There isn’t enough for a whole t-shirt, but I’m sure with some colourblocking I can make him something cute. Then we can be matching pirates! Arrgh, matey!
Before I finished this top I was a little concerned that there might be a large hole under the knot, but it’s pretty tiny on me. I’m guessing larger cup sizes might find it’s pulled a little wider. So yes, you do end up flashing the tiniest bit of bra here, but with the tie pulled down it’s barely noticeable. Still, not a top to make if the idea of random people knowing the colour of your bra gives you the heebie jeebies. Just sayin’.
My only problem with the finished top
is the straps. They keep falling off my shoulders. Sizing down in the
bust area would help, but what I really need to do is shorten the
straps. However, you can only adjust the length at the back and if I
shorten these any more they knock the cap sleeve too far back on my
shoulder and it looks silly in profile. Next time I will definitely
cut a much smaller sleeve, and will experiment with the best size for
me. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is necessarily a
problem with the pattern as drafted. I’m used to having to make
narrow shoulder adjustments, so I think it’s down to my body shape.
I could pick apart my straps and redo the sleeves, but since I’m a
lazy busy, I’ll probably settle to adding some
strap carriers (or these ready made Strap Retainers) and call it a day. Or just wearing a close fitting
cardigan over it. That works too, and let’s face it, I’m not sure
how much more bare arms weather we’ll be getting this year. I’m
still hoping for an Indian summer, though. Let’s all cross our
fingers for that!
So, next time I make this top I’m going to grade down to a 12 at the bust, and an 8 or 10 for the sleeves. Although I reckon my next one is going to be the halter neck as that’s seriously cute and summery… Or perhaps the next time I make from this pattern I’ll go for the skirt (I’m drawn to that hemline, which is weird as I’m not normally a ruffle girl) or maybe even those skintight pedal pushers… Which would you sew first?
All supplies for this make were kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 15th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Have you ever started working on a dressmaking pattern only to think how perfect it would be with added breast pockets but the pattern doesn’t have a piece for that? Do you feel unsure how to draft your own, or like me far too lazy to take the time to do so? Look no further than the Prym Pocket Template Set for blouse pockets. It’s the easier option that provides perfect results every time. What’s not to love? Oh and did I say its super simple to use as well?
So once you decide you want the additional pockets (and who wouldn’t because pockets on everything is the most important thing on any item of clothing in my eyes) you need to decide which style you want. As you can see the Prym pocket set comes in three styles so you can switch it up and choose something slightly different for all of your new shirts and blouses.
My choice was the simple v bottomed pocket. My go to pocket on shirts. The bonus with this set is that you don’t need written instructions as each template has visual instructions on them. Being a more visual person than sensibly being able to follow written instructions I found this really helpful. I always make mistakes if I have to read things!
So how do you use it? Firstly grab the fabric for your pocket, the template with holes in and a no iron sign and a marker of some kind. I used my fabric washable marker though a chalk would also work, just make sure it isn’t something that will leave a mark when you wash it later. Trace around the outside of the template and inside the cut out areas in the template. The cut out areas mark where you need to iron the fabric over to make the pocket shape.
Next you need to cut the pocket shape out and then move on to the smaller template with the iron sign on. Get your iron ready and hot and then with the right side of the fabric face down iron the seam allowance marked by the cut out holes in the previous template up and over the template edges. This should provide nice clean pocket edges.
On this smaller template you will notice a perforated top. You need to bend this over, don’t take it off of the template, and then place it over the pocket shape again. Iron down the top of the pocket to create a small flap.
Now to move to your sewing machine. With right sides together sew the flap down that you just created along the seam allowances on either side of the pocket piece. Turn out the pocket to the right side and then with a pin pull out the little corners to make them crisp and square. I gave it a little press at this point to sure all the seams were lying flat. At this point you should sew across the flap edge, about an inch from the top of the pocket.
Almost there! Grab your garment and pin the pocket in place. Topstitch around the outside edges, leaving the top free for putting things in and then voila! A brand spanking new pocket.
Now it only took me about 15 minutes from start to finish. With something that easy you can go forth and put pockets on everything!
Thanks for reading,
Sarah @ Sewing-Beautifully
Posted in Q&A's on Thursday the 14th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Can you tell us a little about you and your blog?
Hello! My name is Karen and I blog over at Hyacinth Bloom. A (worryingly large) number of years ago I wrote a history blog where I also published some of my short stories, but I stopped when history became my actual job. This year, however, I started a new blog all about my crafty pursuits. I had always enjoyed reading other people’s sewing blogs and seeing them try out patterns I was interested in. This really inspired me to create my own place to share what I was making with other like-minded knitters and sewists.
Sewing is probably my favourite craft (there’s nothing quite like sewing up and wearing a swishy dress, is there?). But I also have a big affection for knitting as well. The process of knitting is just so meditative and calming. I also like to dabble with cross-stitch and embroidery when time allows. And baking, don’t forget baking. I love to make (and eat!) a whole host of different flavoured cupcakes. Hopefully my new blog will include an eclectic mix of the best of these crafts (with the odd nugget of history thrown in when I just can’t help myself)!
When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start? What was your first project?
Well I’ve been crafting on and off since I was a child, as both my mother and grandmother enjoy a variety of craft activities. I still love being able to discuss my projects with them and visit yarn shops together. I started knitting and sewing more seriously, however, over the last two years or so. I was spurred on by the desire to create an entirely handmade outfit for my cousin’s wedding. I did manage to make a bag and a dress, but the cardigan I knitted went so horribly wrong I had to make a last-minute purchase from the high-street a week before the wedding.
What do you love most about crafting?
For me crafting is a way to relax and has really benefited my general well-being. The end product is usually the aim, but the act of knitting and sewing in itself is incredibly enjoyable. I love the way that crafting can focus your mind to what is directly in front of you, and during that time your usual cares and worries don’t seem so pressing.
What are your favourite fabrics to sew with and why?
This may sound more than a little odd, but I have a bit of an obsession with duvet covers! There are a couple of reasons why I think they’re so great. Firstly, they are made from a stable fabric that washes well. Secondly, they are often pretty good value for money if you think about how much fabric you are actually buying. And finally, you can get some amazing novelty prints on duvet covers that you just wouldn’t find on a dressmaking fabric. A good percentage of my handmade dresses actually started out life as a duvet cover!
How many projects do you have on the go at one time?
Usually I only have one project of each craft on the go at a time. So I might be in the middle of sewing a dress, knitting a jumper and cross-stitching a picture all at the same time. This enables me to move from one craft to another as the mood takes me, but I don’t end up feeling like I have too many projects started at once. Or at least that’s how I like to think about it!
What is your favourite thing you have ever made?
Oddly enough one of my favourite makes is a so-called ‘selfless’ make. Mostly I just make things for myself. The desire to learn to knit and sew came from the aspiration of having a handmade wardrobe filled with clothes that suited me better than generic high-street items. This year, however, I resolved to make handmade gifts for my friends and family. The very first garment I made for someone else was a dressing gown for my brother’s birthday (using the pattern New Look 6233). With this one I took even more time to make everything as neat as possible, going so far as to hand-sew a good percentage of the garment using couture techniques I found in a library book.
What is your latest work in progress?
At the moment I’m trying to plan a capsule wardrobe for the autumn. As part of this I’m attempting to make a lightweight jacket using the Victoria Blazer pattern from By Hand London. This isn’t just any old make though as I’m attempting to refashion this jacket from an oversized men’s shirt. Fingers crossed it turns out as I imagine it will in my head!
Do you watch TV or listen to music while you craft?
This is a new thing for me actually. Up until this year I used to craft in silence, as the whirring of the sewing machine was always oddly therapeutic. This year, however, I have been enjoying audiobooks (which you can get on loan from a local library). This enables me to read and craft at the same time, which couldn’t be more perfect as I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm.
What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start crafting?
The internet really can be a marvellous thing! Instagram is always a good place to start off seeking inspiration from other sewists or knitters. Reading or watching blogs is also a great motivation and a way to find new-to-me patterns or designers. There are some blogs that are all about vintage fashions that are truly inspirational and beautiful to peruse, but I also enjoy those blogs which are about more simple and uncluttered pieces of everyday clothing. Once a year I do also like to buy the ‘new season trends’ copy of Vogue to have a nosy at what styles might stand out to me.
What would you say to anyone looking to start a new craft?
To anyone looking to start a new craft I would say – go for it! Don’t be intimidated or put off by something that seems too difficult. So much of crafting is about trying new things, learning skills and techniques, and growing from mistakes. If anything, craft shows you that it is okay to go wrong, you can’t be perfect at everything. I would also say be careful of starting a new craft - it can very quickly take over all your free time, every waking moment and indeed most of your storage space!
Posted in Product Reviews on Wednesday the 13th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I am very pleased to share with you my impressions on a new product that Minerva Crafts are selling in their huge online shop. The lovely team at Minerva Crafts sent me a pack of Prym Blouse Pocket Templates to test.
Here is the description on the Minerva website...
"Great set of marking and ironing templates from Prym. Three marking templates and three ironing template blouse pockets, quick and easy in only a few steps with the aid of the marking and ironing templates which can be used repeatedly."
I really like the idea of having a couple reusable templates to make patch pockets. This particular pack has three different pocket templates – two for each pocket type (one template for cutting your fabric to size and one to use to press the seam allowances in). The templates themselves have the instructions making clear which one is used for cutting and which one for pressing only. That in case one does not realise that the bigger one is for cutting and the smaller one for pressing.
To make your pockets apart from your pins and sewing machine you need:
You need to start by deciding which shape you want to use of the three and pair them together. If you are unsure which one you like you can make three pockets and decide later. Each pocket only takes a minuscule amount of fabric. I used scrap fabric left over from another project and I still have some left to make another three.
Use the template that had the little holes to mark the folding lines first to cut your pocket.
Mark both cutting lines and folding lines (I used a Water Erasable Pen).
Then cut around the solid line.
Using the templates that have the symbol for the iron centre it on your cut pocket piece and press using the instruction printed on the template itself.
To make it easier as well as to protect the pressing template, I have decided that it will be easer to just, mark on the wrong side where for fold should be.
I used this mark to fold the fabric and stitch the corner.
Once this is done, I clip off the corner, ready to turn to the right side and press again.
As I mentioned before, I could not decided which one I want to use on my top, so I made all three of them to test on the garment.
This gave me the opportunity to place each template onto the garment front as decided which shape I like best.
Once I decided on which one is my favourite, I pined it into place ready to sew.
Here is my pocket stitched in place. It’s perfect.
Perfect corners every time. I think this is a great idea and would not mind having a pack that has more shapes for the pockets. I will definitely use these templates to add patch pockets to a variety of tops, whether the pattern has one or not. I just need to remember to place them a bit closer to the centre front than to the side.
We would love to hear and see how you have used this pack of Blouse Pocket Templates in your projects. Minerva also have Trouser Pocket Templates too! Please share your makes with us. Tag @minervacrafts on Instagram and Twitter .
Like always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my review and happy shopping!
Love Simona @ SewingAdventuresInTheAttick
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 12th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Monday the 11th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello Minerva readers, I am Tracey from Hooks and Dragons and I make all sorts of crochet delights.
Two of my most popular items over the past year have been my rainbow unicorns and my novelty hats. So when I was given the opportunity to write a guest post for Minerva Crafts I decided to combine the two.
Crochet Unicorn Hat Pattern
The child pattern will fit children between 4 and 10. The adult pattern will fit teens/adults.
There is a terrific range of Double Knit Yarn on the Minerva website. I chose to use Hayfield Bonus DK Knitting Yarn because it is a great value acrylic yarn and comes in a huge variety of vibrant colours, perfect for making a rainbow. These are the shades I chose.
993 - Arran - (for the hat)
838 - Silver gray - (for the horn)
690 - Pillar Box Red
981 - Bright Orange
978 - Sunflower
699 - Lemongrass
994 - Denim
701 - Juniper
828 - Bright Purple
For the horn I used a Polyester Toy Filling which is available from Minerva craft in 250g and 450g bags. This stuffing is super soft, great to work with and complies with European regulations for fire safety.
Pattern For Unicorn Hat
Childs hat use a 4.5 mm hook.
Adults hat use a 5.5mm hook.
Sc = Single crochet (US style)2sc = 2 single crochet into same stitch.
(1) Ch 4, join into ring. Make 6 sc into ring.
(3) *Sc next stitch, 2sc into next stitch* 6 times.
(4) *Sc in next 2 stitches , 2sc in next st* 6 times.
(5)*Sc in next 3 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times.
(6) *sc in next 4 stitches, 2sc in next stitch * 6 times.
(7) *sc in next 5 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times.
(8) *sc in next 6 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times.
(9) sc in each stitch.
(10) *sc in next 7 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times.
(11) sc in each stitch.
(12*sc in next 8 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times .
(13) sc in each stitch.
(14) *sc in next 9 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times
(15) *sc in next 10 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times
(16) sc in each stitch
(17) *sc in next 11 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times. For childs hat skip row 18.
(18) *sc in next 12 stitches, 2sc into next stitch* 6 times.
For childs hat sc into each stitch for the next 14 rows.
For adults hat sc into each stitch for the next 18 rows.
Last row - slip stitch in each stitch. This row makes a tidy edge to the hat. Slip stitch into the next stitch to join the round. Sew in end.
(1) Ch 4, join into ring. Make 4 sc into ring.
(2) *Sc next stitch, 2sc into next stitch* 2 times.
(3) sc in each stitch.
(4) *Sc next 3 stitches, 2sc into next stitch* 2 times.
(5-6) sc in each stitch.
(7) *Sc next 4 stitches, 2sc into next stitch* 2 times.
(8) sc in each stitch.
(9) *Sc next 5 stitches, 2sc into next stitch* 2 times.
(10) in each.
(11) *Sc next 6 stitches, 2sc into next stitch* 2 times.
(12-13) in each.
(14) *Sc next 7 stitches, 2sc into next stitch* 2 times.
(15-16) sc in each stitch.
(17) *Sc next 8 stitchs, 2sc into next stitch* 2 times.
(18) sc in each stitch. Stuff horn. Be careful not to over stuff it. Sew to the front of the hat 5 rows down from the top of the hat.
1) Ch 4, join into ring. Make 6 sc into ring.
(2) sc in each stitch.
(3) *sc next stitch, sc into next stitch* 3 times.
(4) *sc in next 2 stitches , 2sc in next st* 3 times.
(5) sc in each stitch.
(6) sc into next 3 stitches, 2sc into next st* 3 times.
(7-10) sc into each
(11)* sc in next 3 stitches, 2 tog* 3 times.
(12) sc into each stitch
(13) *sc in next 2 stitch, 2 tog * 3 times.
(14) sc into each stitch. Slip stitch to join the round. Placing the hat flat with the horn in the centre, sew each ear along the edge of the hat.
This is the point where you can get creative. I have made fairly short squiggles for the hair, but there are no hardened rules to how long or short they can be. Likewise I have spaced my squiggles out but more can be added for a fuller mane.
(1) chain 15.
(2) turn the chain over so you're working in the back loop of each chain. Starting with the 2nd loop from the hook sc into each loop, tie off. Leave a long enough thread to sew the squiggle to the hat. I made 25 squiggles in each colour. Sew the squiggles onto the hat in rows. Make sure the red squiggles face forward and the remaining squiggles lie towards the back of the hat.
The end result is a hat that will make any child or adult stand out from the crowd.
Thanks for reading,
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 10th September 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
When Minerva offered me this grey Chunky Rib Stretch Jersey Fabric I just couldn't resist. More and more I'm finding grey as a staple colour in my wardrobe and Grey Fabric is just something I can't help but be drawn to!
I've been wanting to make a proper jumper for a long time but when buying fabric I've ordered online only to find it's not quite thick enough or just doesn't live up to the job. So I was thrilled when this arrived to find it very cosy and warm - perfect for what I wanted.
It’s very thick, so perfect for those chilly winter days coming up. It’s so thick that I would say a jumper would be my main use for this fabric. I wouldn’t attempt a dress but maybe a cardigan or jogging bottoms would be super cosy.
I know everyone has been raving about Grainline Studio's Linden Sewing Pattern so I decided to give it a go for this project. With the fabric being so thick it was a dream to measure and cut out. I find it's always helpful when the fabric includes natural lines you can follow too!
The front of it is a ribbed light grey, with the wrong side completely white. This worked great for me as I didn't even need to change the thread in my overlocker! The fabric didn't fray at all and because of the ease of the pattern and material I managed to finish nearly all the project on my overlocker - another bonus! This Fabric is fantastic to use. It doesn’t slip around or cause problems with your sewing machine so making something with it is quick and easy. I am also so happy with this finished product and think it’s the most professional finish I’ve had, just because it’s easy to be precise with this fabric and it doesn’t move around as you’re trying to sew.
The stretch is great so the final product feels like a ready to wear item. No trying to fit it over my head when taking it on and off!
I'd highly recommend this fabric for jumpers, especially for the winter season. I know in winter I can just wear this with some jeans and it'll keep me warm in all weathers! The fabric is fantastic quality for the price and I’m tempted to just make three more jumpers exactly the same.
If you’re looking for Sweater Fabric to start making your first jumper this is the fabric for you.
Thanks for reading,
Ruth @ A'hem!