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Cream, Crepe Summer Dress

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.  

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A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knits Book Review by Georgina

Sew... I was super lucky to be given a copy of Wendy Wards new book, A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knits, and some lovely stripe Jersey Fabric and some Floral Jersey Fabric from Minerva Crafts so that I can properly review the book.Let's start with a bit about the book before I tell you what I made. At the beginning of the book there is so much information about sewing with all the different types of knit fabrics. Wendy covers all parts of sewing from picking the right fabric, the amount of stretch, how to prepare your fabric, stitches to use, the right hem for the right fabric and so so so much more. Each section covers the different fabric types so whether you are making something from the book or not it's the prefect reference guide to have on hand for all your knit projects. The book is clearly laid out with a mixture of diagrams and photographs. 
There are six patterns in the book, however each has various alterations you can make, all of which are described so it's really like you are getting 20 patterns. The format for each pattern is the same with lots of photos and a detailed description of the garment. Wendy then advises on the best fabrics to use and how to prepare your pattern pieces and cutting out the fabric. Throughout the instructions there are simple diagrams with each step. There also prompts throughout the referring you back to the beginning of the book to ensure you are using the correct stitch and hem as this will vary depending of what fabric you are using. I much prefer the prompts rather than repeating all the information for each pattern. Within the instructions it will tell you what step to go to if you are making one of the alterations. There are also handy tips to help you out. 
The pattern pieces are included but you will need to trace. I'm a tracer anyway so this doesn't bother me and I think most people expect to trace when buying a sewing book. The pattern pieces are colour coded so it's easier so see which ones you need. There is a key for each pattern size and a colour key for each pattern. 
Now let's talk about what I made. I decided to make the Kinder Cardigan as I don't have one in my wardrobe. I haven't done much knit sewing previously and have only make the Tilly and the Buttons Coco, I have made quite a few of these! I tend to go for a Ponte as I find it stable to work with so it doesn't give me the knit/stretch fear! The cardigan comes in three lengths and I decided on the middle one to begin with, yes I will be making more! I chose this stripy Ponte for the main cardigan and a contrasting floral pattern for the pockets. 
To give an accurate review I followed the instructions exactly and did everything Wendy suggests, even the basting! After cutting out the pieces and pattern matching my stripes. Stripes must always be matched. I tested out the recommended stitches on a scrape of fabric. I have both the stitches on my machine and decided on the stretch straight stitch, it looks like a really narrow lightening bolt shape, for the seams and the three step zig zag for the hems. Each step was easy to follow and the cardigan came together really quickly. The pocket construction was a new technique for me but it worked perfect first time. I was worried about adding the neckband and cuffs but again there were no issues with adding these.  I decided to do the stripe vertical for the neck band in contrast to the horizontal stripes on the main body. I also spent a few head scratching minutes on pattern matching the cuffs so now they look invisible!
I'm hoping when the weather finally decides it's Spring I can wear this instead of a coat! Next time I make this I will probably size down as the shoulders are a little big and I had to take in the sleeves by an inch. 
I really do love this book and have lots more makes planned. I have already made the Peak t-shirt dress with elasticated waist which you can see on my blog. So in summary this is a great book for both new sewers to knits and also for more experienced sewers as it containers some really great patterns. The fabric was also amazing to work with and Ponte is definitely a great fabric to start with if you haven't sewn with knits before. 
Thanks for reading,
Georgina @ Sew in the Garden
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Burda Style Magazine Lurex Knit Top by Maria

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?

If you’ve reached this far, thank you so much for reading. If you’re interested in seeing more of my makes, follow me on Instagram: @hayek.m83 and/or follow my blog “Hello…I’m your new neighbor”.

Keep on sewing!

Maria

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New Look 6301 Scuba Dress

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,

Diana

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Wendy Ward Book Review by Jo

I am lucky enough to part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network which has kept me in fine fabric and wonderful wool for a good few years. Sometimes I get the opportunity to try something new through them and an exciting email appeared asking for volunteers to join a book review collaboration with Wendy Ward. 

Her new book Sewing with Knitted Fabrics is a comprehensive encyclopaedic offering of useful knowledge on sewing with stretch jersey fabrics along with a capsule wardrobe of patterns. 

If you sew for yourself or your family you may find that making woven cotton dresses and skirts starts to become a little limiting after a while. I found this and once I had decided that I wanted to make most of my everyday clothes it became apparent that I needed to be able to sew jersey for T-shirts, tops, leggings, PJ's, loungewear and underwear.

The book contains paper patterns for tracing in the back. All of the patterns are interchangeable so the T-shirt pieces double up as a T-shirt dress, crop T-shirt, Long sleeved T-shirt and a natty patchwork detailed one. There is a creative element of building your own design each time which I really like.

Minerva asked me to try a pattern from the book and sent me a top quality piece of Art Gallery Cotton Jersey Fabric. I like a new learning challenge as you know so I went for a T-shirt with a shirring waist detail. I have not done this before so I referred to the section on winding a bobbin with shirring elastic and had a go on a practice piece first.

In order to mark the shirring sewing line, I cut the square outline out of the paper piece and then drew the grid on the fabric with a temporary pen. I drew it on the right side but I am showing you on the wrong side because it is easier to see.

Previously, I used trial and error, blogs and Youtube to learn to sew jersey but I wish I had had this book back then. The knowledge section of the book is really good. It is written for home sewers of a beginner level, however as a more experienced sewer, I still found it very stimulating but easy to understand.

The T-shirt was a triumph. It is worth mentioning that I made this entirely on my normal sewing machine without using my serger. The techniques in the book guide you to useful stitch selection, length and width choices which made sewing easy.

The fabric is a super quality - thick but with a nice stretch which made it easy to sew and beautiful to wear.

Next up I am going to make one of these dresses for my summer holiday suitcase with some Navy spot jersey from my pal Christina.

It is a good book for sewing stretch knowledge and I am so glad it is in my collection.

Thanks for reading,

Jo @ Three Stories High

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Floral Jersey Wrap Dress by Shelby

I’m so excited to be on the Minerva Crafts blog for the first time. I got to try out this floral Jersey Knit Fabric to review for you. A quick intro for you: I’m Shelby, age 25, from Missouri, USA. I’ve been sewing pretty hard for about a year and a half, self taught.

Who was excited to hear that the #SewTogetherforSummer theme was wrap dresses this year? I’ve had Butterick Pattern 6054 on my #2018makenine, so it was the perfect announcement for me. I feel like wrap dresses are really flattering. I only have one shirt in the wrap style, so I’ve wanted to add that style in dress form. I’ve been on a bit of a big 4 pattern kick lately. I love Indie patterns but in the States, JoAnn has $2 pattern sales all the time, it gives me so many style options.

Butterick 6054 calls for 2 way stretch knits. This floral knit is just that. The back of the package does say wrong sides show. This jersey knit is a deep navy print on the front and a white on the back. So, I was hesitant, but after looking at the pattern, the wrong sides only show if the wrap front flaps open. I was totally fine with that.

I sewed up a straight size 12. The only change I made was lengthening it by 3 inches. I’m 5’7” and normally lengthen 1.5-2” on most patterns to have dresses hit me just above the knee. I had read on some blogs that this dress is a bit short, so I added a little extra. So unless you are on the short end, I recommend lengthening this. 3” was just about perfect for me, if I were to make it again, I might add ½” more.

I was a bit nervous while taking the photos that I was going to flash some people. It was quite the windy day. I will probably wear this with leggings or shorts underneath. This pattern is a full wrap, not a faux, so although the fabric overlaps. I need a bit more to feel comfortable. I also am wearing this with a cami underneath for extra coverage.

The construction of this dress wasn’t hard but it was very involved. This dress has darts, pleats, snaps, and slipstitching. There is a lot of basting, but I skipped some of that. The fabric took the darts and pleats pretty well. I had really only used darts and pleats on wovens so I was nervous about that. The pleats are a little tricky because they all stack up on each other.

This pattern has a snap and hook and eye to help keep the wrap secure. I love this feature. The wrap top I made, Simplicity 8424 does not, and I always find myself wanting to adjust the wrap.

The fabric looks so pretty in a wrap dress. The only part I struggled with the fabric was the hem. The white backing wanted to show through the stitching. I’m thinking hem tape might have helped, or maybe a zig zag stitch rather than straight stitching. I decided I could live with a few white dots along the hem so I did not redo it. I do not like unpicking things.

I would suggest waiting to cut out the neckband facing until the day you are going to sew it up. The knit rolls at the edges after a few days and it made my job a bit harder. That is just the way knit fabric works. Since the neckline facing is not very wide, it had to be unrolled and then folded. Extra steps I’d like to avoid. That also added a bit to my hem troubles.

Overall, I’m so excited to wear this. The weather here has been up and down, hot one day, snowing the next, not even kidding. This floral print has me ready for steady warmth. Jersey is such a comfortable fabric, so this will be worn a lot.

Thanks for reading,

Shelby @ Handmade Shelby

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Handmade Gift Ideas for Bridesmaids by Kira

I'm lucky enough to be part of an art guild where we create all manner of wonderful things together, that being said, we all have different strengths  and I seem to be the only one who still sews. The self-proclaimed "traditional" member of the group is getting married soon, like most of us, she is on a tight budget but still wants her special day to be memorable and reflect her own style and tastes. We all know how costly it can be to get wed these days, so as a group we were set the challenge of creating as much as possible for her shabby chic wedding, as someone with champagne taste on a squash budget, 
this was going to prove to be no easy task to undertake. 
I drew the short straw so to speak and was assigned gifts for the bridesmaids. I had to make sure the gift would be fast and simple to create, beautiful, and budget-friendly. 
The instant I saw the Beautiful Fabrics from Minerva Crafts, months of trying and failing to fill that brief had come to an end!
With just half a metre each of this Pleated Satin Fabric, in "nude" and this Ruched 3D Net Mesh Tulle Fabric in "dusty nude", I knew I could easily make a stunning gift for each of the bridesmaids that looked like it took forever to create, but thanks to the beauty and texture of the fabric, allowed me to produce something that is totally gorgeous and looks like it came straight from an upscale bridal shop. 
The wrap is held in place with a lovely ribbon rose and loop stitched from the same lush fabrics. The simple rose closure allows you to hold your handbag or make a toast without fear of your wrap slipping to the floor, when wrapped around your neck or tied, it simply disappears into the glorious soft folds of the fabric. 
Both fabrics are lightweight enough to make them a wonderful choice for a little something on a cool evening, but still substantial enough to keep you from shivering in a strappy gown. 
The wrap is so versatile, it can be worn with either side of the fabric on display and can be styled in so many different ways, you'll only need one stunning wrap for every occasion, perfect for a trip to the theatre, or a night out with your mates.
The fabrics were pre-washed together at 40 degrees before creating the wrap to ensure there would be no shrinkage or colour bleed after the two fabrics were sewn together.
Thanks for reading,
Kira x
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Rosa Shirtdress

1.5 meters of the Gutermann Fabric… what would you make from it? If you follow the instructions in the name you’d likely use it for quilting, but then I’ve never been much of a rule follower. I always think fabric tells you what it should be, not always instantly mind you (I have a studio full of fabric that clearly can’t make up its mind) and this fabric was absolutely certain it should be a shirt dress!
There is of course a process I go through with fabric to figure out whether or not its suited to what I’m planning to make. This was an easy one for me as poplin is one of the most versatile fabrics. The cotton fibres mean it breaths and the polyester content means that it doesn’t crease as much as washes more reliably than 100% cotton. Gutermann fabrics also have a great advantage of being wider than most cotton fabrics. At 56” wide, you get more fabric for your money (which is always a great perk).
I decided I really fancied trying the Tilly and the Buttons Rosa, it’s been on my mental list of ones I’d like to try for a while so when I had decided the fabric needed to be a shirt dress it seemed the obvious choice. Now Tilly does state for the dress version that i’d need at least 2.2m but with spring on its way I decided I’d make a short sleeve variation which should make it possible in the 1.5 meters I had.
Now I should probably add here that I am not one for pattern matching with fabrics like this, it’s just not who I am as a dressmaker. If you are, I’d suggest you’d need at least the 2.2 suggested (possibly more). I love testing the capabilities of fabric amounts though, playing Tetris with the pattern pieces and seeing how little I can have left behind.
After cutting this out (and note I did cut the 2nd collar and under-collar in a contrast fabric) I had a small pile of scraps and a couple of small pieces that have since been added to my quilting scraps – the frugality would have thrilled my grandmother.
Cutting the sleeve short was super easy and is always an option on any sleeve pattern. I always measure down from my shoulder to where I want the finished sleeve to sit, it’s a more accurate way than trying to measure the under arm seam on yourself. I then measured down on the pattern from the sleeve head (accounting for the seam allowances on both edges). Then measuring where this point came to against the under arm seam edges to make it easier to create a level line so when I was sewing up the sleeve underarm seams they would match up. (I didn’t cut the pattern, I just laid the straight edge of the fabric at the line I had drawn so I have the option of making the long sleeve version in the future.
So once everything’s cut out the next challenge with a highly patterned and colourful fabric is to figure out what thread colour is going to work. I always suggest going for the background colour (unless you’re wanting a contrast) so for this fabric I used an unbleached. It is my favourite thread colour, which I know sounds odd, but it is so much softer than using white. For this fabric it just blended into the fabric so nicely, not creating a statement and letting the fabric create the impact.
Following the Tilly and the buttons pattern was easy, she’s incredibly thorough with her instructions (almost too thorough in my opinion, but that’s possibly just because I’m experienced) and the dress went together really quickly. Collars are always a fiddly part but it fit together nicely. Against my instincts I followed her instruction on cutting the inside collar pieces on the bias and if I’m honest I’d rather I hadn’t. It meant the fabric stretched out of position all too easily and I’m not sure it really added anything to the dress – although it still worked so no harm done.
The fabric handled and pressed so beautifully, it’s a massive perk of working in poplin. It also wears so well and is really comfy. The only thing I would do differently (when I invariably make another) is to use a much softer interfacing. The one I used is great and holds the form of the collar nicely but actually for this purpose it’s too formal (I’m hoping it’ll soften up a little after a couple of washes). All in all though, I am so pleased with this and with the weather looking like its improving (at long last) I’m excited to gets lots of wear from it.
Thanks for reading,
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Named Ailakki Jumpsuit Sewing Pattern Review by Amy

Now I normally love a good challenge and usually take the skill levels on sewing patterns with a pinch of salt. The Named Ailakki Jumpsuit Pattern however is appropriately labelled. This had to be the trickiest sewing project I’ve ever done. From sewing trousers, to inserting zips to getting my head round the cross over front generally this isn’t a project you could do on low amounts of sleep or caffeine. I became best friends with my picker regularly.

That being said I thoroughly enjoyed it once I got into the swing of things. I used Minerva's textured Jersey Fabric (I know is says do not use stretch fabric but I just loved the feel of it) With good reason they suggest non stretch fabrics, it took a lot more effort to ensure that the fabric didn’t stretch, especially when using cotton for the lining which had no give in it what so ever!

The top of the jumpsuit is beautiful and I can’t wait to try it again in a different fabric and maybe even throw together a skirt instead of trouser bottoms. This pattern is so versatile that once you’ve got in your stash, there are really no limits to the garment you can create with it.

The hardest part of the top had to be the squared edge on the back, side panel. All seemed fine until it came to turning the top the right way round and that’s when I discovered that the angle and sewing was going to create a problem. It took several attempts to get that part right. I’d suggest marking the fabric with chalk before hand (lesson learnt for next time).

These bottoms were a breeze in comparison to the top half, they are beautifully tapered and super comfortable once you wear them. I have the added bonus of super long legs so I adjusted the pattern an inch at the hip level and a whole 5 inches at the knee level, both areas had pre-set markers for adjusting the length. The standard length is 29inch inside leg and with my super long legs that would have practically been ¾ pants! I was worried that it would look odd adding such a length to it but they really turned out lovely and just like the top half, I can see me using these bottoms with an alternate top half for a different look.

I did find that the waistband ran slightly shorter than the top half and it took a few attempts to get this to sit right. Then came the dreaded zip! Now I’m not a fan of zips in the first place and I had considered swapping the exposed zip for a concealed one. Thank goodness I didn’t because exposed zips are so much easier and this was tricky enough. I did find that the 13inch zip didn’t leave much wiggle room in terms of length and I wish I had bought a longer one just to allow for the stopper to be well covered by the fabric.

All in all this is one of the trickier patterns but I look forward to making it with different fabrics and using the pattern to make alternatives. Without a doubt I am so glad I have this in my stash and anyone looking to challenge their skills or looking for a comfortable evening jumpsuit this is your pattern…although if you don’t fancy your top half being accessible you may want to throw in a quick stitch to secure the cross over section.

Thanks for reading,

Amy

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Wendy Ward Book Review by Chloe

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped many sewist’s attention that Wendy Ward has released a New Sewing Book. Her hotly anticipated book A beginner’s guide to sewing with knitted fabric was released in January, and social media is full of amazing makes from her new book. You can’t fail to scroll through Instagram without seeing a fellow sewist’s latest make from the book, generally accompanied by a comment saying it won’t be the last time they make this pattern. Well having been sent a copy of the book to review, I’ll add my name to that list or people who love this book and will make lots of new clothes from it.

A beginner’s guide to sewing with knitted fabric is very typical of Wendy’s other books. The modern styling, the clean lines of the patterns, the advice throughout, the ability to customise a pattern and to use it in lots of different ways, this book has everything you’d expect from a Wendy Ward book. If you’ve got either of her previous books: a beginner’s guide to dressmaking or a beginners guide to making skirts, I’d add this book to your wish list as well.

The book has 6 different patterns in, and each one can be customised lots of different ways. There is a t-shirt, a tank top, a jacket, a skirt, lounge pants, and trousers. This meant that when it came to choosing what I wanted to make as part of this review I was spoilt for choice. Both pairs of trousers stood out as items I would make, and I particularly like the look of the Derwent wide leg trousers that look smart and suitable to go to the office in, but look so comfy they could actually be secret pyjamas. However I wanted to make a statement piece and use some of Minerva’s amazing printed Knit Fabrics and that meant I chose to make the Kinder cardigan.

The Kinder cardigan is a loose fitting jacket which can be made short (at the waist), mid-length (just below the hips) or long (reaching your knees). The 2 longer patterns also have humongous pockets. The fabric suggestions reckoned a whole variety of different types of knits which this pattern would work well with the Kinder cardigan, and I chose to use some leaf print Scuba Fabricfrom Minerva to make my jacket. I really like that Wendy writes about which fabrics she made all the photographed samples from, so you can see how a fabric alters the appearance of the finished item. I did worry that my scuba would be too stiff, but I really wanted a statement jacket which I could pair with jeans and a tank top and look like I had made an effort. After all this book is all about sewing with knits, and sewists know that most items made from knits are super comfy, easy to wear and can still look stylish.

The book itself is a treasure trove of advice for how to sew with knits. Sewing with knits seems to have had a bit of a reputation of being difficult and fiddly to sew with, a type of fabric which isn’t suitable for beginners and something which needs to be treated with caution. Wendy’s book holds your hand throughout. The book has a reference section at the front of the book, giving lots of tips and tricks for sewing with knits, the type of stitches to use, the way in which you should pre-treat the fabric, and how to best cut your fabric. I really liked that Wendy gives you several options to achieve the same finish, and also discusses some of the common issues and some support with how to overcome any problems. There isn’t an assumed knowledge of being a confident sewer, but I do think that even if you were a competent sewist you could still pick up some useful tips from the book. I really liked learning about all the different types of stitches that machines had that all related to sewing stretch fabrics. As a self-taught sewist, I often wonder whether I am using the correct method or stitch etc, and Wendy’s book really helped build my confidence.

Throughout construction of the Kinder cardigan there were clearly explained steps accompanied by hand drawn diagrams. Each step was in a manageable chunk and the jacket came together pretty quickly. The patterns seem to have only a few steps, but this is because for several steps another area of the book is referred to. For example when it comes to inserting the sleeve, another pattern earlier on in the book uses the same method so Wendy will give you the page number and the steps and ask you to follow that. I quite liked this as it meant that I used more of the book, recognised that some methods are common tasks which apply to a lot of knit patterns and it meant I didn’t feel daunted by pages and pages of instructions. My only minor quibble is that the Kinder cardigan pattern puts the information about how to construct the pockets (the first step) at the end of the pattern, I’m usually a dive straight in and follow the instructions kinda girl, but I did read through it all to begin with this time, if I hadn’t I would have missed the construction detail for sure and would have had to get acquainted with my seam ripper.

You might spot on my pattern that my pockets don’t look exactly as the pattern intended them to, they sit right on the hemline where really there should be a couple of inches of above the hemline. For some reason my collar band was a bit too short and so I decided that the easiest things would be to make the jacket 2 inches shorter and have the pockets sit on the hemline and then everything lines up. I went back and looked at the pattern piece again and I must have had an error with the tracing of a pattern piece. I’ve made this again in another Minerva scuba and this time it’s worked out as per the pattern.

I’m sure that this relaxed look jacket will work well in the summer, and will quickly become a much-loved make. Both my versions are being worn a lot in the office, and have only not been worn when they are in the wash. Having washed both several times I can testify that this is a great quality scuba that washes really well.

Overall I love Wendy’s new book and am sure that before too long my wardrobe will have several pieces from her A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabric book.

Thanks for reading,

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