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The Minerva Blush Fabric Review, 1 Fabric 2 Ways

Who always sticks to sewing with the same fabrics over and over again? Ok so that will be me!
If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that my go to fabric is cotton lawn, but one of my “re-sewlutions” this year was to try out different fabrics as I was totally aware that I was limiting my handmade wardrobe by sticking to the same fabrics.
So when Minerva Crafts called out for people to try out a huge variety of fabrics my hand was right up in the air!
I have selected 3 different fabrics and this is my first review, the absolutely gorgeous Lady McElroy Sydney 4 way Stretch Crepe Suiting Fabric.
Another of my re-sewlutions was to work with block colour a little more this year rather than so many prints (although I do still love prints very much), you probably already know that I love pastel pink, so I immediately fell in love with the blush colour.
I have used this lovely fabric to make 2 totally different styles of dresses and I can’t wait to tell you all about them.
I have also added a video to my YouTube Channel so that you can see the fabric in detail.
Dress 1
I had thought about the pattern that I wanted to make, and I love the simple but classy design of the Seamwork magazine Catarina dress, so that was what I had imagined for this lovely blush fabric.
The fabric arrived and my oh my is it special. The texture, the drape, the stretch, its just perfect and is not see through at all. 
However, I wasn’t anticipating just how heavy weight it is (even though the description on the website said heavy weight).
The Catarina pattern calls out for a farbric with drape (tick) but it also calls out for lightweight fabric (cross), but I have planned this dress, in this fabric, in this colour so firmly in my mind, and decided to just go for it anyway, sometimes you have to break the rules, right?
I’m so pleased that I did ignore the little voice in my head telling me that it just won’t work as it turned out really well. 
The fabric was a dream to work with, even though it has spandex it sewed up just like a standard woven, I didn’t have to fiddle about with my machine settings at all. 
I used a Janome blue tip needle (to be honest I use these for everything) and they flew through the fabric with no problem at all.
The only exception to this was the waistline, so imagine 2 layers of bodice fabric (as its self lined) and a gathered skirt, this was a little too much bulk for my standard foot to handle, but nothing stops the walking foot! This breezed through all of those layers of fabric with ease.
One thing that this fabric does not like is pressing, I had no issues in relation to the fabric melting or anything like that, but it didn’t want to press easily even with loads of steam. That said, the seams and darts worked out so clean. I didn’t make a double folded hem as it would not have sat flat, instead I overlocked the bottom and hemmed a single layer of fabric.
I honestly cannot tell you how pleased that I am with how this turned out, its so comfortable to wear, it doesn’t feel that heavy when its on, and it swooshes!!!
Oh and an added bonus, it does not crease so its perfect for packing away for holiday.
I used bra strap elastic for the straps (rather than using the fabric) as I knew that I would struggle to get the fabric to press flat, but I did use the fabric for the tie belt.
Dress 2
I had ordered enough fabric to make the Catarina, but didn’t need anywhere near the amount it asked for, I think that this was because the tie belt is supposed to be cut parallel to the selvedge, but as this fabric had more stretch in this direction, I cut it parallel to the raw edge. This meant that I had enough fabric left to squeeze out a Colette Patterns Laurel Dress, yay!
I have made a couple of different versions of this dress before using woven with no stretch, and they fitted me really well. I did think about sizing down (as this fabric has some stretch), but then I thought that I would try making it in the same size, and maybe this would negate the need to add a zipper (yes I know another little risk) and this paid off too!
This fabric works really well with this dress as it looks so clean and really shows off the bust and back darts and looks such a lovely silhouette. 
I did initially add the patch pockets in the same fabric and this was a BIG mistake, they went all out of shape (I guess due to the stretch) so I had to unpick them. I was going to leave it without pockets but you could see the stitch lines from the previous pockets, so instead I made new ones using a quilting cotton and they turned out fine.
Now if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that I had an ‘oops’ moment when sewing this dress, I only went and sewed the sleeve on inside out, but shhh don’t tell anyone!
So, in summary I really love this Fabric, it worked well on both these dresses even though its probably not the suggested fabrics for the patterns (I love it when a risk pays off) and I will definitely be working with this again.
I think that my next project out of this will be some culottes or some kind of wide leg trouser (it comes in tons of colours!), so watch this space!
Thanks for reading,
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Stripey Peak T Shirt from Wendy Wards New Book by Athina

A few months ago I was chosen to be part of the blog tour of Wendy Ward's new book 'A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knits'. This book came out in the beginning of the year and it sold out so quickly, that our blog tour got postponed until the second run of copies was printed. Amazing, right? There are so many talented bloggers involved and they all made some gorgeous versions of the patterns included in the book, so make sure you pay them a visit.

Before I show you what I made, I wanted to talk about the actual book. As it states it the title, it is a beginner's guide to sewing with knits and it contains so many useful information on this topic. If you read Wendy's bio in the back cover, you will understand why she is the ideal person to write this kind of book. She has years of experience in the fashion industry and she also teaches dressmaking, pattern cutting and textiles for adults since 2007. Wendy will take all your fears of sewing with knit fabrics away, helping you choose the right fabrics for each project, listing the tools you are going to need, explaining the best ways to finish your hems, to sew the seams and many many more. I will admit that there were a few things I was doing completely wrong and after I read this book I think it took my knit garments to a whole other level!

The best thing about this book though, is that it includes 5 sewing patterns. And they are for really basic, staple items in your wardrobe, which is something I really love. With their variations, you can actually make 20 essential garments! There is the Peak T-Shirt, the Derwent wide leg trousers, the Winnats tank, the Monsal lounge pants, the Kinder Cardigan and the Longshaw skirt.

I had sooo much trouble choosing only one of them to make for this blog tour. So I tried to be sensible and pick the one that I was going to get more wear out of. This was, without a doubt, the peak T-shirt. As spring has finally come, easy-to wear T-shirts are perfect for working from home and I desperately needed more in my wardrobe. To make this garment, Minerva Crafts very kindly provided us with a fabric of our choice. Choosing the fabric from their huge collection of jerseys was even harder that choosing the pattern from the book. I spent days searching for the ideal jersey for my T-shirt and the one that stole my heart was this Striped JerseyFabric. It is grey with white stripes and I knew it was going to be perfect for my T-shirt.

The first order of business was to trace off my pattern. In the back of the book there are three big sheets with full-size pattern pieces and each garment has a different color, which makes it easier to find. In the book, Wendy actually tells you which pattern pieces you need to trace for each version, which makes the whole process much easier. The pieces overlap and I'll be honest, I had some difficulty tracing them at first, but it wasn't too hard in the end. As each size has a different styled line, it makes it easier to identify what you need to trace. For my Peak T-shirt I only needed to trace 4 pieces, the front and back bodice, the neckband and the sleeve.

The instructions for the sewing part are extremely detailed and easy to follow. There are illustrations for each step, which are very easy to understand and the entire book is packed with little tips that will make a huge difference to your final garment. I made the entire top in less than 2 hours using my overlocker for sewing the seams and my sewing machine for hemming.

As for the sizing range, each pattern is available from a size 8 (UK) to a size 26 (UK). According to my measurements, I had to make a size 14. I am usually a size 10, so I think the sizes are pretty generous. The T-shirt fits like a glove, it is as loose as I like it to be, very comfortable to wear everyday. I especially like the high neckline, which is something I don't normally wear, but I actually really love in this T-shirt. It is perfect to throw over jeans or tuck into a skirt. The fabric was a joy to work with, it washed up beautifully and it didn't stretch out of shape.

Overall, I am very happy with my Peak T-shirt. I reckon I will make many more in plain colors to add in my wardrobe, as they are a very quick sew and fit great.

The book is a valuable addition to my sewing book collection and I'm sure I will be referring to it many times in the future. If you like to sew with knits, I definitely recommend it, as you will find it extremely helpful. And even if you are experienced and don't need any help with that, it is worth buying it just for the sewing patterns. They are very well drafted, staple pieces that you will enjoy having in your wardrobe. I know I am going to make at least a couple more, with the Derwent wide leg trousers being next on my list.

I hope you enjoyed my review. Make sure you visit the other blogs involved in this tour to see more patterns in action and read about their thoughts on this book.

Happy sewing,

Athina

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Turquoise Kinder Cardigan by Amy

I am so excited to share with you my experiences of Wendy Ward's latest book, A Beginner's Guide to Sewing With Knitted Fabrics.

It contains 20 modern, comfortable and stylish patterns which will provide you will a wardrobe of items you will really want to wear.  It starts by giving the reader detailed information about the tools and equipment you will be using, how to take your own measurements and then perhaps most importantly information about different types of knitted fabric.

I chose a Ponte Roma Fabric in a gorgeous shade of turquoise.  I am not an expert sewer and I have no experience using knitted fabrics so I took Wendy's advice that this was a good fabric for beginners.  As I am clearly incapable of starting small I decided to make the Kinder Cardigan Pattern. This is a stunning pattern and comes in three lengths and an option for a long or short sleeve length.
I used tracing paper to trace the patterns provided at the back of the book and pinned them to the fabric.  This way you can reuse the paper patterns as often as you like and you can make the same pattern in different sizes as gifts. 

The cardigan starting looking like an actual cardigan really quickly which gave me the confidence to keep going.  The fabric, which I prewashed to avoid any issues with shrinkage later on, was a pleasure to work with.

I absolutely love big pockets, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to the Kinder Cardigan. 

I was most worried about the sleeves, as this seemed to be quite an advanced sewing technique, however, I was delighted that by following Wendy's simple informative diagrams it all came together really nicely.

I don't appear in front of the camera very often but a family trip to Ashdown Forest, specifically to the wooded area which inspired the Winnie the Pooh stories was a perfect excuse to take my new Kinder Cardigan for an outing.

The scenery was stunning and my new Kinder Cardigan was warm and cosy. 

I will definitely be making more designs from Wendy Ward's new book.  The step by step instructions made me feel confident to try new techniques, and I love the style of the clothes.

I can't wait to try the Peak T-shirt pattern.  I always struggle to find T-shirts which are long enough because I am tall and have a long body and after three children no one wants to see my belly!  By making my own I can make them as long as I like.

Thanks for reading,

Amy @ Amy Is Hooked

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The Kinder Sequinned Cardigan

When I first saw the call for bloggers to join in the blog tour for the new Wendy Ward book I was unsure whether to apply. Would any of the patterns work for a pregnant body, I wondered? However, when I found out one of the patterns was for a cardigan I figured I’d be on safe ground. I’m of the firm belief that any cardigan can work over a bump. It’s just that some need to be left unbuttoned :-)

As luck would have it, the Kinder Cardigan turned out to be perfect for my needs: a roomy fit, no fastenings so it hangs open with plenty of room for the bump, and there’s a longline option which is something currently lacking in my wardrobe. After reading through the book I was raring to go—all I had to do was choose some fabric.

I browsed through the medium weight jersey fabrics on Minerva’s site looking for something a bit special that would make this cardigan something I could wear out in the evenings as well as during the day (versatility is key for maternity wear!), and found this wonderful sequinned textured Jersey Fabric. At the time of writing this post there is limited stock left in the black, but plenty in the other three colours (ivory, grey and mauve), all of which are really appealing too.

What I love about this fabric is the sequins are subtle, being small, quite widely spaced and the same colour as the fabric. This means the sparkle isn’t too DISCO for the school run, but it gives a luxurious shimmer under artificial light in the evenings. It also means that you can treat the fabric like any other medium weight sweater knit, rather than having to go to all the trauma of cutting out sequins from the seam allowance like you do with heavily sequinned fabrics. I didn’t bother removing any sequins before sewing and didn’t break a single needle. There are a few sequins that are in contact with my skin at the collar and cuffs, but they’re not remotely itchy so I’ve left them in place.

The patterns in Sewing with Knitted Fabrics are printed on sheets and need tracing out as the printing is on both sides and different pieces overlap. With the cardigan several pattern pieces were too large for the sheets, so had to be traced off two different sheets and joined together. I tend to always trace my patterns anyway, so this wasn’t a problem for me. The only thing I found a little confusing was that the cardigan pieces were printed on different sheets, but with each pattern having its own colour that made them easier to trace. It just took longer to find the pieces I needed than it would have if they’d all been together on one sheet.

When choosing a size I went with the middle size (96-101 cm) as the instructions said to go with your actual bust size, and mine was between that and the next size up. However, this turned out to be a mistake and I should have gone with my high bust measurement, putting me in the next size down (88-92cm). Perhaps it’s just me, but the oversized, boxy fit of the middle size just wasn’t doing me any favours. I thought I looked like a child dressing up in her parent’s clothes—not the look I was going for!

Luckily it was simple enough to take the cardigan in at the arm and side seams to approximate the next size down. I didn’t go to the trouble of redoing the armscye and shoulder seams, but I think I got away with it.

The instructions in the book are comprehensive and easy to follow, with plenty of diagrams. I did change the order of construction slightly by sewing the side seams before adding the neckband, so I could overlock along the bottom hem. This was essential with this particular loose-knit fabric as it frays and unravels.

I also used some Fusible Stretch Interfacing to line the pockets, which I fused on the cross grain to give the fabric more stability. As well as this I stitched some twill tape across the top fold of the pockets as I was worried about this knit stretching and bagging out. It doesn’t have the greatest recovery, and I know I tend to overstuff my pockets at times! My final pocket reinforcement was sewing small triangles at each side of the top—a technique I’ve used before for patch pockets.

I’m really happy with my finished cardigan, although I’ll admit it’s not the warmest fabric so it hasn’t yet had a huge amount of wear. I can see this changing once spring finally gets going, though. It’s the perfect basic layering piece that goes with most of my wardrobe, and that subtle sparkle makes it more fun than a plain black cardigan has any right to be.

As for the book as a whole, I’m really impressed. I’ve got several knit sewing books on my shelves now and have been sewing mainly knit fabrics for the last few years, but Wendy’s book definitely brings something new to the party and I found some really helpful tips in there.

What I particularly like about this book is the really comprehensive charts of knit fabric types, along with the best stitches and needles to use with them. I wish I’d had this information at my fingertips when I started out sewing knits as I’ve had to pick it up by trial and error.

I was puzzled that there’s no mention made of using clear elastic or stretch interfacing for stabilising purposes (regular interfacing is mentioned for solving problems hemming), as they’re something I use all the time when sewing knits. However, for the projects in this book they’re not necessary and perhaps Wendy left them out to keep things simple for knit beginners.

I will definitely be making more from Wendy’s book in the future, although not until after I’ve had the baby. The Derwent Wide Leg Trousers and the Monsal Lounge Pants look like the perfect secret pyjamas for wearing while looking after another littl’un, so I reckon those will be first, although I’m also tempted by the dress version of the Winnats Tank. Decisions, decisions… although not one I need to make for a few months. I’ll just get the whole giving birth thing out of the way first. And the sleepless nights. Heh, I’m not nervous about this impending life change at all…

Happy sewing, everyone!

Anna-Jo x

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All materials for this make were kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!

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Kinder Cardigan from Wendy Ward's New Book by Sophie

I was so happy to review Wendy Ward's new book “A beginners guide to sewing with knitted fabrics”. I’m not so experienced with knitted fabric, they tend to scare me. But as I read Wendy's reason for writing the book, that knits was previously described as fabric hard to work with and its tendency to do unknown shifting, and that she said it wasn’t as hard as people made it out to be I relaxed a bit more. This was my perception of the topic as well, meaning this book will help me demystify knits.
I read the book and it’s explains everything from different types of knits (and which fabric will be suitable for different types of garments) to set up your machine ready to sew knits. As the title of the book said it really is a good book for beginners to sewing with knits.
Throughout the book, you’ll learn different techniques and to put this new skills to the test there are projects which will be relevant. This book contains six projects with different variations to it. The projects are Peak T-shirt, Derwent wide leg trousers, Winnats tank, Monsal lounge pants, Kinder cardigan and Longshaw skirt. All the names of the projects in this book were named after Wendy’s favourite place, the Peak District, which is a national park outside Sheffield.
With all of the projects, it was hard to pick just one, but I’m so happy with my decision. In the introduction to this pattern Wendy wrote: “It’s such a great “between seasons” garment and I’ve worn the samples I sewed up when developing the pattern almost daily. (...) Make yourself one and it will quickly earn its place in your wardrobe as one of your go-to pieces.”
I’m of course talking about the Kinder cardigan. I made the long version both for the bodice and sleeves. To make this I chose to go for this amazing ivory floral scuba fabric. Minerva have sold out of this one now, but they always have loads of new printed Scuba Fabrics coming in all the time. To show you how well the pattern works for between seasons I tried taking photos of it in the coming months. The only problem is that I live in Norway - so January, February and the beginning of March seems just the same here, but take a look anyway!
January: Here I’m wearing the cardigan with my Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Pattern.
February: here is the cardigan matched up with some simple leggings and a knit top.
March: Cardigan paired with one of my newest Minerva Crafts blogger network makes. My Rosari skirt made with denim.
The one thing that I wish was better with this book was the pattern paper. The pattern comes on three sheets, front and back, and you have to piece some of the patterns together like I’m doing with this bodice piece for the cardigan. Where my ruler lies is where the two sheets meet. There is no option to cut the pattern. Trace, trace, baby! I was making the long version, so I had to add 26 cm to the cardigans front and back piece also since the pattern on the sheet only goes to the hip length.
On the other hand, it’s one small thing that makes me instantaneously like a book or a pattern much more. And that is the fact that it has both metric and imperial measuring system, makes it more appealing in general for me. As a Norwegian, I’m all about the metric, and I love the fact that this book has it!
I can’t wait for spring to come in full swing here so that I can use this cardigan as a perfect coatigan outdoors. This really brightens up my day these days.
Thanks for reading,
Sophie @ Sopbac
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A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics by Wendy Ward by Hila

The tag line of this Book is “Everything you need to know to make 20 essential garments” and Wendy has divided her book into two sections: Techniques and Projects. The first section is written in a chatty way which demystifies sewing with knit fabrics. The techniques covered among others include how to find the grain, identifying the right and wrong side of knitted fabric and much to my delight, a quick guide to choosing the right seam for your project. Even the sizing is easy to choose – Wendy has included finished garment measurements with the sizing guide table.

The pictures are bright and light. The layout is fun and uncluttered. I really appreciated that every picture in this book adds value in the sense that there aren’t pictures of random haberdashery stuff. There are plenty of close up photos and illustrations. The patterns were easy to trace out as the pattern sheets have different colours for each project. The projects in this book are all modern and wearable.

What did I make? 

Let me preface by saying that choosing what to sew was very challenging as I would make every single garment in the book. Every. Single. One.

In the end it was the fabric that decided for me. While browsing the Minerva site for fabric I stumbled upon some hot pink Silk Jersey Fabric. Suddenly, it was decided that I would be making the Winnats tank and Longshaw skirt. 

Longshaw Skirt

The skirt is an unusual and bold design that attracted me with its drapey silhouette. I chose a bright pink beautifully soft silk jersey which has a soft lustre. Having a fluid drape and buttery texture it was perfect for the Romanesque draped sides. Very simple to sew it took less than an hour to finish. It is made up of just 2 pattern pieces and a waist band. I used an overlocker on all the seams and hemmed with a zigzag stitch.

Winnats Tank

I made the tank in size 88cm without any alterations and the fit is exactly what I like on a tank! The instructions are well written – care has been taken to ensure that even the newest novice to sewing can tackle this. Another point that impressed me was the neckband and armholes; the band snaps perfectly flat against my body. I love that these 2 garments can be worn together to create the look of a dress and also separately.

Will I be sewing more from this book? Definitely! (I already have a Kinder cardigan cut out.)

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!

This book to me comes across as something that will be a classic in the cannon of sewing books. Not only because it covers essential techniques for working with an oft feared fabric but also for the stylish patterns that come with the book. A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics is a great sewing book and a welcome addition to any library.

Thanks for reading,

Hila @ Saturday Night Stitch

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I was delighted to be asked to make a garment by way of review from the new Wendy Ward book ‘A Beginners Guide to Sewing Knitted Fabrics’ especially when I picked it up off the doormat and a quick flick through revealed that – yes – it included a pattern for pair of lounge pants, the Monsals. And then I noted it had a pattern for a long cardigan, the Kinder, with kimonoesque sleeves. Double yes
But before I go into the detail of these specific makes, let’s consider the book itself shall we? The book is split into two main sections, ‘Techniques’ and ‘Projects’ and comes with 6 basic pattern blocks which can then be altered, in simple ways, to make 20 different garments overall, in sizes ranging from UK 8 to UK 26 (US 4 to US 22). The patterns are thankfully included as actual paper pieces (rather than web links to downloadable content as you might have expected) in a thin plastic wallet at the back of the book (which I haven’t the patience to get mine back into!) They are overlaid though so you will need tracing paper to hand. 
In terms of the Project patterns, not everything is going to appeal to everyone. How would that be even possible!? These are your classic basics, from t-shirts, tank tops, cardigans, wide leg trousers, lounge pants, dresses and skirts. As you might expect from a book intended for beginners, the patterns are drafted to avoid fitting issues, apart from the rudimentary lengthening/shortening. On the whole, there are lots of straight lines and boxy shapes with a fair amount of wearing ease built into them. Importantly, however, they cover a collection of features such as bias binding finishing, knit hem techniques, basic hacking and elasticated waistbands, which, if a beginner worked their way through the book, would lead to accomplishing a solid set of core skills. 
My version of the Kinder Cardigan & Monsal Lounge Pants
The Technique section of the book covers all your basic knit know-how; from the tools you’ll need, setting up your machine and machining techniques through to special treatments, like taping seams and shirring. Particularly useful is the guide to the different types of knitted fabrics, working out its stretch percentage and the Quick Guides to choosing the right seam or needle for your fabric and project etc. There are also Tips and Handy Reminders dotted throughout its pages. 
This then is the book I wished I’d had at the start of my sewing journey; it might have been less circuitous if I had! The book is what it is; a great introduction to sewing with knits and is clearly intended, as the title implies, for beginners. As such, the book doesn’t go into using an overlocker, with everything designed to be sewn up on a regular basic sewing machine. I don’t think this is an oversight … there is enough information within this book to enthuse a beginner whilst not overwhelming them with info, before they progress to buying further expensive equipment.
The Derwent Wide Leg Trouser - I think these may find they’re way into my sewing queue too! 
However, there is also enough here to make it a worthwhile purchase, or gift, for the more advanced sewist too. Sometimes it’s just good to be reminded of your former diligent self who used to nervously take the time, for example, to hand baste hems in place prior to twin needling them. I find that I’ve a tendency to over-confidently plough through things these days ... but it’s not always to my advantage! Being reminded of the basics; to slow down, to take the time to take care and do things properly is a good thing, and potentially less time consuming in the long run for any sewist, I guess. I think the price of the book is very reasonable too; even if you only choose to make a couple of items, you’ll potentially have saved money you’d otherwise have spent purchasing similar patterns separately.
So shall we take a look at what I made?
I already had the fabric in my stash for the cardigan since the idea for something similar had been germinating for a while but I was sent the fabric for the lounge pants as part of the review. I started by making the cardigan…
.. And I tried to look at the make with Beginner Eyes. The Kinder cardigan can be made in three lengths; if you want the full length version like I did, you are instructed to lengthen the pattern pieces by 10.5”. All good experience for tracing and altering pattern pieces. 
There are really clear tips for each pattern as to what kinds of jersey to choose and the Kinder pattern states that it should be made in a heavier weight knit, like a Ponte so I did go a bit off-piste here as I wanted mine to be more slouchy and less coatigan like. My Knit Fabric is a true loose poly/spandex fabric you could almost imagine having knitted yourself, in the most divine colour! (Though I had a bit of trouble defining what that is…Mustardy? Old Gold? Ochre? Anyway, I digress and it’s called ‘Thatch’) I had to take a little extra care when sewing it up as the almost imperceptible threads kept catching on my walking foot and my raggedy nails!  
Remember what I said earlier about slowing down? I initially ploughed through this cardigan at break-neck speed, only surfacing to actually think when I realised I’d missed the point of adding in the pockets which are sewn into the side seams and front band. The pockets option is detailed a few pages later in the book. Daft of me, yes, but it would have been nice to have had a little *reminder at the relevant point in the instructions to turn to that page if you wanted to include them. So I ended up patching mine on. Lesson learned. Slow down. Read things through first and don’t get cocky!
Anyway, I love my cardy! I think it’s a gloriously slouchy mustardy marvel. (Try saying that fast!) And, yes, because I used one of Wendy’s top Tops included in the book, to hand baste my cuffs before hemming in place, I was really happy with how accurate my twin needle finish was!  
Then I sewed up the Monsal lounge pants in a really gorgeous quality marl grey Ponte Roma Fabric. I was really happy with this pattern, I’d been hankering after a pair of sweat pants/joggers for a while…basically PJ bottoms you can wear outdoors. I wanted pockets, a contrast waistband and ankle cuffs and the Monsals have these plus the option of adding a ‘Go Faster’ type stripe down the outside leg seam. I left this off in case they veered off into being too sporty looking for this coach potato!
The instructions have you cut your size according to your hip measurement which, even though my waist falls into a higher size bracket, is fine since the waistband is elasticated. In fact, I sized down one size smaller than my hip as I didn’t want them to be too relaxed in fit. Probably as a result, they’re a tad fitted at the calf…despite not being sporty I have what can only be described as ‘athletic’ calves…but overall I’m really happy with the fit. They are supremely comfortable and the Ponte knit I used is perfect with the marl in the grey adding just the right amount of interest I feel. The contrasting black Ponte I used is slightly less heavy which is perfect for adding the stretch needed in those areas. 
They sewed up really well. They’re a basic pant but are still a pretty interesting sew. I love the little details like how neat the opening for the elastic casing is and the way the pockets come together with the contrasting band. In fact the only thing I wished I’d done differently was to omit topstitching the waistband as my machine struggled at the junction above the pocket opening. Next time I’ll forgo that and perhaps just anchor the seam down with a few hand stitches on the inside, though even that’s probably not necessary. 
I’ve worn these a ridiculous amount already and the quality of the poly/viscose/elastase blend fabric has meant they’ve withstood repeated laundering without any noticeable pilling. In fact they look as new as the day I made them!
Congratulations on the success of the book Wendy; thank you for sending me the review copy and thank you Minerva for the supplies!
Sarah x
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Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginners Guide to Knitted Fabrics’

Hi Everyone, 
I hope you’re all well and your makes this month have been a success and more importantly, loads of fun. I’ve been working on lots of great dressmaking projects lately. And I’m so ready for the warmer spring days. I had so much fun making coats and jumpers last season, but can’t wait to make more t-shirts and dresses. I think, if you also live in England, you will probably agree with me.

Today I want to talk to you about Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginners Guide to Knitted Fabrics’. I was lucky enough to be one of the bloggers to review the book before its release date. I was so excited to be a part of it and as soon as I saw the book I was even happier. The patterns which are included are amazing - total wardrobe staples for anyone of any age. Timeless pieces of loungewear to make you confident with knitted fabrics and start off your handmade capsule wardrobe. (Already a great start right?).
So lets firstly talk about the information included. The book starts by giving you clear facts and tips about knitted fabrics, choosing the right ones for which project and what you should be looking for in a fabric. As someone who has used a lot of stretch fabrics before, I was surprised by the amount of information that I didn’t know. So I’ve definitely learnt a lot more about knitted fabric types from this book. Since expanding my knowledge on how stretch fabrics vary and their make-up, I’ve found sewing with them much, much easier. Don’t think this book is just for people who have never sewn with these ‘specialist’ fabrics, it’s now become my bible for all things knitted and stretch. 

The tips for cutting knitted fabrics were the best part for me. I always struggle with things like stripes and direction. But Wendy’s clear tips have definitely raised my confidence with cutting pattern pieces out. The top I’ve made from the book was only my third attempt at stripe matching. The first two tries worked out ok, but took me hours and a lot of hair pulling. Now I know how fabrics work, and the best way of cutting them without moving the fabric, it’s so much easier. 
I know, from a lot of the young students I teach, the fear of stretch fabrics is sometimes just in the sewing part and not being able to sew it flat like a basic cotton. Or on a normal sewing machine! Wendy’s book clearly sets out tensions, needle types and stitch options for different aspects of sewing. This is so important for those of you who struggle with your machine and sewing thin jerseys and things. We’ve all been there when our machine starts eating up our beautiful material. Her tables make it so clear; what fabrics you’re using, what the tension should be and which needle is best for sewing that particular material. Hurrah! 
The drawings and diagrams for all the instructions are very clear and all of them make complete sense. I have seen ‘drawn instructions’ be completely vague in other patterns. But luckily Wendy’s  are bold and informative - thank goodness! The steps are really easy to follow to, so you won’t get stuck on any part (that’s a promise). Wendy gives you a few finishing options too, so you can choose what you feel most confident doing. I don’t know if you can tell, but I really, really love this book!

The patterns in the book include the Peak T-shirt, Derwent Wide Leg Trousers, Winnats Tank, Monsal Lounge Pants, Kinder Cardigan and Longshaw Skirt. All of the patterns can be customised to suit your style, add pockets, lengthen to a dress, shorten for shorts; it’s so easy and versatile. Plus all can be tailored to suit either day or evening styles. It all depends on what fabric you choose. This was great for me as I now know I can use my favourite, most comfy patterns for going out clothes too. Comfort and style - Win win!

I chose to make a short, box version of the staple Peak T-shirt. I used this Black & White Stripe Textured Stretch Jersey Knit Dress Fabric. It’s a printed stripe and great value for money, so was perfect for combatting that stripe-matching fear I have. The thickness and regularity of the stripes on this fabric are also perfect for easy pattern matching too. 
I’m so pleased with the fit and shape of this top. I’m a huge fab of boxy cropped shapes at the moment, so this style and variation is perfect for me. I’ve worn it so much since I made it. It didn’t take long to make either so I cannot wait to make more!

The second item I made was a pair of Monsal Lounge Pants with contrasting cuffs, waistband and pocket seams. I absolutely LOVE these joggers. Honestly they’re so comfortable. I made the main joggers with this dark grey Polycotton Sweatshirting Dress Fabric which is super soft and cosy. Perfect for cooler evenings, lounging around the house. I used the Ponte Roma Stretch Jersey for the orange contrast pieces. I am definitely going to purchase this jersey in loads of colours. It’s a lovely weight, soft to the touch and I found it really easy to work with. I’ve had so many nice comments about these joggers, and a lot of my friends have now asked me to make some for them too! I better get shopping for more fabric! 

The whole book is totally inspiring without being overwhelming. You will be able to make EVERYTHING in the book. There’s so many hints and tips as you go along, making the whole process clear, simple and straightforward. I urge anyone who’s a little hesitant to work with knitted fabrics to purchase this book. It’ll get rid of your fears and make your confident with all things stretchy. 
Happy Handmade everyone! And good luck with your stretchy makes!
Sophia x 
@Jessalli_Handmade / jessalli.co.uk
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How to Make a Simple Tote Bag with Tracy

Hello lovely makers, today I am trying out doing more than a review for Minerva crafts, I am doing a kind of make along, more like highlighting some hints and tips as we work through See and Sew B6477 Pattern, a simple tote bag. Using some lovely fabrics from Minerva crafts that actually have scents on them.  
I kid you not I used Camelot Fabrics Scented Fabric plain colours in apple and tropical as my contrast and lining, and their patterned Tropical fabric as the main, I asked my husband what they smelt like before telling him they were scented and he said apple and mango, they were lovely quality, great colours and smelt lovely to boot - what's not to like. 
I decided to do view b (the red one on the pattern pack).
As well as the fabrics needed you will need 2x 12" zips, sew on light/medium weight interfacing (although I used Iron on as that is my personal preference) Fusible fleece to give the bag some structure and bulk. Along with your normal pins, threads etc.
Before even looking at any of the pattern it is good practice to wash your fabrics, dry and then iron them. This helps to avoid shrinkage on washing our finished projects, whilst in this make along we are making a bag so may not seem needed, if this was a garment and your finished project shrunk or went out of shape after your first wash, I can't even imagine how that would feel after all our hard work.
Now the first thing to do when you open the pattern is to read it through to get an idea of what steps you will be doing, It will tell you what pieces you need for each view and how to lay them on the fabric for cutting etc. 
The first thing I like to do Is circle all the pieces I will need for my chosen view.
Next its time to put our attention to the pattern pieces. Iron your pattern sheets as those little creases can really distort the pattern pieces, we need them nice and flat. Now if this was a garment or accessory pattern with various sizes we would be discussing tracing the pattern on the sizes we need but as this is a simple one size pattern we just need to cut out the pattern pieces we need on the outer of the thick black line.
Place and pin or weight pieces on fabric as pattern describes and cut them out, transferring all marking as needed. 
Iron or sew on all interfacings as required by the pattern.
Then you are ready to start assembling your bag as per the instructions.
I use little clips rather than pins, a) they hold the pattern and fabric really well without marking the fabric,B) I won't inadvertently sew over them and cause damage to my needle and c) I won't prick myself and bleed over the fabric (ASK ME HOW I KNOW!). These are available on Minerva crafts too.
Another tip I can share is that once you place your sewing under your foot, before you start sewing just hold the threads a little taught as you put your foot on the pedal this avoids those ends getting caught and causing that underneath birds nest that sometimes happens. ASK ME HOW I KNOW!!
So go ahead and attach the 2 contrast panels to the main panel of both front and back.
Next tip: It does not say it on the pattern but, too make the bag look a little more finished I then topstitched a line of sewing  approx 1/8" from the seam line on the plain sides. Remember to repeat this if you decide to do it when you join the side pieces  later on.
Once this is done we need to start on the handles. 
The pattern calls for you to mitre the corners of the handle on the ends
Then fold, iron and sew the sides. Ready for placement. 
When I did this I collected the pattern pieces with the handle placement rectangles marked on them and placed on my bag pieces,
I took my friction pen (erases on ironing) and just marked each corner of the rectangle through the pattern onto the fabric.
Then sew, the pattern calls for a straight rectangle sewing but I tend to criss cross as well to hold the handles firmer.
From there just follow all the rest of the instructions for the bag as they are actually fairly straight forward sewing up the sides, adding a very simple patch pocket to one of the inner lining pieces. If you want a really simple bag omit the zips. 
Enjoy your finished bag.
So my thoughts, I love, love the quality and smell of  the Fabrics, I only like the pattern. Although the zipper closure on view B to me was not aesthetically pleasing and if I were to do it again I would either use a long zipper, or omit it completely and just do a magnetic snap clasp closure of even a big button and loop. But a great easy bag for a beginner. 
Thanks Minerva, I would love to use my bag for shopping trips, but my MUM has claimed it as hers!!!
Thanks for reading,
Tracy @ T Plays Nice
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Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans by Anna

Jeans are one of those things that a lot of people are scared about sewing. After having put them off for so long, I have finally made a pair, and I am so pleased with them!

I used this Indigo Stretch Denim Fabric from Minerva Crafts. Ordering fabric online is always a risk, but I could not have been happier with the colour of it when it arrived. It's a really lovely shade and has a nice weight to it. After pre-washing it, I was set to go. Denim does fray a lot, so I made sure to finish all my seams with a zigzag stitch. To make these jeans, I used the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans Pattern. The pattern comes in two views, I decided to make view B which features a high waist and skinny legs. It's exactly the kind of style I like, and the waistband fits perfectly above my hips.

 

In the end, the fabric that I used meant that my jeans don't look exactly like the view on the pattern. This is because the pattern requires a fabric with slightly more stretch. However, I found that it worked fine with the amount of stretch that my denim had, it just meant that I couldn't have the legs super-tight. To be honest, I'm quite pleased with this as I like the look of the slightly wider legs that view A feature, but much prefer the high-waist of view B, so I suppose that my jeans are a slight combination of the two.