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B6453 Review & How to Widen the Straps by Allie

Hello, I’m Allie from The Aspiring Seamstress and today I’ll be sharing my thoughts on my current favorite dress pattern, the B6453 from Patterns by Gertie. I’ll also show you how I widened my dress straps so that they hide my bra straps. Before I get started though, I’d like to thank Minerva Crafts for allowing me to write a guest post on their blog and for sending me some lovely materials for the dress.

So for those of you who don’t know, the B6453 Sewing Pattern is a pretty little sundress with the option for either a full or fitted skirt. It has a good mix of easy and challenging techniques, which to me makes it perfect for the beginner seamstress. I myself am a beginning seamstress and while some parts were hard, I did make it through alright. I learned how to do an FBA, sew princess seams, and put in a lapped zipper. The hardest parts for me were the princess seams, I still need some practice with those!

This will be my third B6453 dress. I’ve already made two others, both full skirted versions as well. I’m kind of in love with this pattern! I chose this pretty claret red Cotton Poplin Fabric for this version, as I wanted something a little more grown up than the other ones I’ve made (if you want to see those, check them out on my blog!).  I’m very happy with my fabric choice, it feels nice and the color is so gorgeous and rich!

I love pretty details so I chose the Heart Pull Zipper. The pattern calls for a 14” zip and the longest this one comes in is 12”, but that wasn’t a big deal. I just sewed the back skirt panels up a couple inches higher than usual. I can still get the dress on AND I have a pretty little heart dangling in the back.

I also added some waist ties because I love bows. I made some long rectangular tubes and sandwiched them in between the side front and back seam, making sure to keep them above the skirt and bodice seam. I also ironed on some interfacing so the bow would keep its shape and not droop.

This dress can be styled in the retro way as it’s meant to be…..

Or in a modern way.

I really love that because as much as I love vintage fashion,  I don’t always feel like wearing it. It’s nice that I can wear this dress both ways.

So, how did I widen my straps? Well, I’ll show you! You will need: measuring tape, a rectangular ruler(not needed but it does make things easier), scissors, and something to write your pattern onto(paper, pattern paper, muslin, etc.). Oh, and a writing tool of your choice of course!

I didn’t make my straps adjustable, by the way. I don’t need them to be adjustable and I’m not entirely attached to the look so made I them stationary.

We will need two measurements, how long we want our straps and how wide we want them to be. To get the strap length, try on your dress bodice(or dress muslin bodice) and measure from the back strap point to the front strap point. You might need some help with this! Add about ½” to the length measurement as seam allowance.

The width is a little trickier to get, you may have to experiment with it. I measured the width of my bra straps and added ¼” to get 1” wide straps, which worked ok for me. I was experimenting to see if I could go a little smaller this time(it works, but just barely). It may be different for you, depending on how wide your straps are.

Take your width measurement and multiply by two(since we’ll be folding them in half). Then add your seam allowance(mine was 5/8” but you can do whatever seam allowance you're comfortable with). Here’s a handy  graphic for you:

Next, use your measurements to draw a nice little rectangle onto your chosen pattern paper. It’ll look something like this.

Cut your new customized strap pattern out(you just made a pattern, yay!). Pin it to your dress strap fabric and cut away. Remember that you’ll need two straps, so fold your fabric in half before you pin. Or you can cut them out one at a time if you’d like, whatever floats your boat.

Alrighty now we’re going to fold each rectangle in half (right sides together!) and sew a straight stitch down the long sides so we end up with two tubes:

Turn those babies right side out. I just used my fingers to do this because my straps were wide enough, but you can also do the safety pin method. Or use one of those helpful strap turner contraptions.

Ok, now you’re going to attach the straps to your bodice. All you have to do is line up the end of your strap at the original pattern’s strap point. Sew close to the end of your strap and then just a little above that to make sure it stays on.

Now continue making your dress the usual way until you get to the facings. Not much is different here really, you’ll just be sewing with a smaller seam allowance at the sides of the straps.  Mark the top of the strap and where it begins/ends with pins. It’ll look like this:

Sew on your facing, and when you get to the straps sew where the pins were. Be careful not to sew the sides of the straps with the facing! Continue making your dress according to the pattern directions and ta-da!

Now you can wear your favorite bra with your B6453 dress! I hope my instructions were clear enough. If you have any questions just ask by leaving a comment here on the Minerva blog and I’ll be quick as I can to answer.

I really love my B6453 dresses, they get a lot of wear. I’m so glad I decided to make them! I learned so much from this pattern and I’m now very excited to make all sorts of pretty things to wear.

If you’re a beginner like me and you’re thinking of attempting the B6453 dress, go for it! You will not regret it. If you get stuck there are some nice ladies in the sew along group on Facebook who are happy to answer your questions, and Gertie wrote some very helpful posts on her blog about each of the dressmaking steps. The making process can be frustrating at times but I promise you it is worth it! You’ll have some very twirlable dresses in the end. Or some sassy fitted dresses, depending on what you choose.

Thank you for having me here!

Allie @ The Aspiring Seamstress

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Q&A Welcoming Athina to the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network

Hi everyone,

We have a new blogger joining the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network next month, so here is a little Q&A to introduce Athina to the team...

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Can you tell us a little bit about you and your blog?

My name is Athina and I am 26 years old. I live in a small town in Greece and I’ve been sewing since 2012. My personal blog is athinakakou.com where I share my sewing adventures and my quest to a fully handmade wardrobe.

I love organizing my pattern stash but I wish the day had more hours so I could make them all!

When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start? What was your first project?

I have always been a creative person and did lots of crafting since I was a little girl. Sewing came to my life much later, though, when I was in university and I was trying to find a hobby for my free time. I started making felt animals, key chains and softies and I then moved on to kids clothes and accessories. A few years later this became my job when I opened Craftaholic, my handmade business here in Greece.

A peek into my sewing space

Do your friends or family craft along with you?

Unfortunately, I don’t have many friends that share my passion for sewing but my mom and I like to crochet in the winter. My grandma is always a seamstress and when all of us are together we like to discuss our sewing projects and make stuff for one another, she helps me with fitting issues and offers me advice.

My SOI Nancy dress

Who do you make things for?

Well, as I said I sew for a living so I make kids clothes for many children every day. When it comes to... grownup clothes, I mostly sew for myself but I very often make things for my mom and my friends.

One of my favorite outfits is this Sew Over It combo, an Ella blouse with an ultimate pencil skirt

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

I love a good quality Viscose Fabric. It presses really well and it hangs beautifully, it’s my go-to fabric!

This summer I made lots of Kimonos, one of them is this gorgeous Sew Caroline Florence Kimono made of a floral chiffon

How many projects do you have on the go at one time?

I always work on 2-3 project simultaneously. That prevents me from getting bored and if a project gets harder or it’s a bit trickier to work on in an evening, I pick an easier one and leave this for a day until I am well rested. However, this has it’s disadvantages because it can be very overwhelming.

My Vintage Shirt Dress from SOI

What's your favourite thing you have ever made?

Without a doubt, my first Betty dress, which I made for my birthday. There’s something about a full circle skirt that makes a girl happy :)

My birthday dress, a SOI Betty in navy polka dots. I love it!

What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)?

I recently made a maxi dress for my mom to wear at a wedding she attended. It was made out of a beautiful floral viscose and she looked stunning!

My Tilly and the buttons Clemence Skirt

What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start crafting?

A few months ago Pinterest was my main source of inspiration. These days though Instagram has taken over. The sewing community there is so active and my feed is always full of beautiful garments, ideas and useful advice. I find myself saving lots of pictures and I’m so thankful for everyone I met so far!

That said, The Foldline is a website I visit almost daily for pattern inspiration and of course the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is also amazing!

A “named clothing” Reeta dress in a floral viscose, which I made as a wearable toile before I cut into the “real” fabric. This will be my first project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network, coming soon!

Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?

Oh, yes! I follow so many lovely bloggers that it’s hard for me to choose! From the top of my head, Jessica Lorraine, Rosabella from Sewn, Gabberdashery, Emilly Hallman, Self Assembly Sewing, The Crafty Pinup and many more!

A SOI Susie Blouse made of a beautiful viscose with contrasting cuffs and collar

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And that's it for today. Thanks so much to Athina for this lovely Q&A today, it's been great to get to know you ahead of you joining the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network!

Keep your eyes peeled for Athina's first post on the #MCBN, which will be out in September :)

Thanks for reading,

Vicki

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Felt Duffel Bag by Diane

I have always loved sewing with Felt and there are several examples of crafting with this fabric over on my blog at www.margueritedesigns.blogspot.co.uk. I even wrote a dissertation on the history of the felt hatting industry in my hometown of Denton, Manchester. I was curious to see what I could do with the felt sheets stocked by Minerva in both soft and hard qualities.

You can buy these Soft Felt Fabrics and Hard Felt Fabrics in packs of 10 assorted sheets. Each pack comes in a variety of geometric designs that complement each other which helped me decide that I would like to use the sheets in a patchwork effect. I have recently begun bag making and thought I could create a patchwork duffel. The sheets are just the right size to attach to each other – 2 each for the front and back. I attached them with a decorative zigzag fell seam in the centre front and back.

I used the hard quality felt for the body of the bag to give it some shape. I needed to make a contrasting lower band and upper drawstring band on the bag and for this I used a shiny crepe backed Satin Fabric as a different texture to the fuzziness of the felt. Crepe backed satin is a very volatile and difficult fabric to manoeuvre and I wasn’t impressed with my attempt at sewing it to the felt neatly on the lower band.

I found some Grosgrain Ribbon and used this to hide the machined seam, sewing it on by hand. I was happy with this result although it delayed my progress.

I wanted to use the satin for the strap to tone in with the rest of the bag and I wrapped a length of the fabric around an inner core of canvas ribbon with the raw edges to the centre. I cut a zigzag patchwork band to run along the entire length of the middle of the strap to make a decorative effect and tie in with the rest of the bag. This made a nice co-ordinating feature with the centre front seam. The canvas ribbon helped to keep the satin stable and I was able to machine along the length with no trouble.

I also made a feature of the bag’s closing flap. I used a white and purple gingham for the outside and again white and purple on the inside in a star print. In a small quantity, it doesn’t look out of place with the black and purple of the rest of the bag. I used the soft felt for the outer surfaces and, to give it a bit of body, cut a piece out of the firm felt as an inner to give it shape.

The satin drawstring casing at the top of the bag was easier to construct than the lower band in that there was no seam on view – it was hidden inside. I used the soft felt as a backing to the casing and to give a bit of body. A cord was threaded through and out to the centre front where it can be tied and hidden by the closing flap.

Soft felt was also used as the base of the bag as it had some ‘give’ in it and was easier to sew to the main harder body but I also cut another base out of the harder felt to place inside the bag to make it firmer.

I have made this bag a couple of times before and loved it – it’s from a very old Vogue pattern that I have in my stash. On each occasion I’ve used different fabrics and been happy with the result. I am just as happy with this felt version. It’s turned out really well and I’m looking forward to using it on a weekend out somewhere.

Thanks for reading!

Diane @ Marguerite Designs 

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Jersey Knit Fabric Bundle Review by Helen

If you’re anything like me then a surprise is just about the best parcel you could hope to receive! This is exactly what I got when I signed up to review a Fabric Bundle from Minerva. It’s so exciting to not quite know what you are going to get…of course it’s not a complete surprise – you can choose your fabric type or colour and amount. I opted for Knit Fabrics as I just can’t get enough of how comfy they are to wear. I knew I was getting 5m of fabric but did not know what lengths it was going to be. Each piece would be a minimum of 0.5 m but after that anything goes, 10 half metre pieces, 1 five metre piece, or anything in between.

When my parcel arrived, I was so excited to see what I had received. Each piece was as exciting as the rest. There were 5 pieces of fabric in my bundle, each a metre in length (some were even a little more). The first piece, which I was drawn to immediately was a deep red/burgundy colour. It is quite a dense knit, but with some drape and a slight sponginess. I think it is probably a scuba knit.

There was also a creamy white fabric with a similar feel to it but slightly lighter weight.

The next fabric that caught my eye was a black double layered knit. The two layers are held loosely together and are quite different in texture and weight. The back piece of fabric feels like Ponte de Roma with a loose patterned knit on the front. This fabric is so soft and feels like it will be nice and warm to wear due to the layers whilst being light weight.

Next up were two quite different fabrics which I probably wouldn’t have picked out myself but I already have lots of ideas on how to use them. This is one of the bonuses of getting a mystery bundle – you get to try fabrics you might not have otherwise chosen. This yellow shiny loose knit is a medium weight with a strange almost tie-dye effect but in stripes. It is very drapy and has a lot of stretch. I think it will be perfect to try making some sportswear, such as leggings and vest tops.

Finally, this black/blue fabric is particularly interesting, it feels like jersey fused onto tights! The jersey has cut out holes so you can see the tights material behind and creates an animal print. It is not something I would have picked out but I can see how you might use it for making a costume – perhaps for Halloween.

Once I had unpacked all the fabrics and made a quick assessment as to which ones were my favourites, I started to hatch some plans in my head as to what I could make with all of them. Whilst doing this, I stuck them all straight in the wash to avoid any nasty surprises once you’ve finished sewing. Nobody wants to spend all that time sewing something amazing, only to find it shrinks in the first wash. However, I needn’t have worried. All the pieces came out of the wash the exact size they went in! This is always a bonus when buying fabric as you really do get the yardage you had hoped for.

Whilst the fabrics were washing I set about hunting in the packaging for the packing slip. It was here I found the first and only downfall of the mystery bundle – it was just that, a mystery; no description of any of the fabrics. If you know your fabric types well I guess this is not a problem, but sometimes it is nice to know exactly what you have got, but I guess it is also fun to just go ahead and make something without sticking to the rules!

With so much fabric it was impossible to decide what to make first but I had to trust my instincts and go with the dark red material, with a metre of fabric it was plenty to make a pencil skirt and the weight of the fabric was just right! It was such a speedy sew, the fabric just glides through the machine and this type of skirt is so easy to make as you can just try it on and pin it to fit and then sew away!

To go with the skirt, I needed to make a cardigan and the black fabric from the bundle was perfect for this. Again, a simple sew but this time there were a few snags along the way (quite literally!). As the fabric has two layers the looser knit on the top kept getting stuck on the foot of my machine and so it was necessary to take it quite slowly but I think the result was worth it.

I loved my mystery bundle – 5 metres of Fabric and it is only £9.99, what a bargain! There is bound to be something you will love with such a selection of fabric and even if it is not all the sort of fabric you would normally choose to buy it is a great way to try something new without breaking the bank!

Thanks for reading,

Helen @ H's Handcrafts

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Slashed Jersey Seamwork Wembley by

When I was given the opportunity to review this slashed animal Jersey Fabric at first I wasn’t sure if it was my style. But looking at it at bit further on the Minerva website I decided to jump out of my comfort zone.

I thought the fabric would be perfect for a jumper and online it looked quite a thick fabric.

When the fabric arrived I was quite surprised to find it was different to how I’d perceived it on the site. The fabric is thick (and warm!) but also has a lot more transparent gaps than I imagined.

The fabric consists of two layers fixed to each other. One is a netting which makes the transparent circles, the other is the base layer of the fabric. I don’t think I’ve seen a fabric quite like it!

Due to the double layers I found it quite problematic to work with. When cutting the fabric it was hard to cut a straight edge with a rotary cutter as it was very slippy on the wrong side of the fabric. Also my Janome sewing machine definitely liked the fabric a little too much! It would easily get caught in the machine, and I had to develop a technique to make sure it wasn’t damaged at the beginning of every session. Because of this and the Jersey elements of the fabric, I would definitely recommend only using a walking foot on your machine.

I also had to change my plans for my jumper. Due to the transparent sections of the fabric making a jumper without any lining would be a bit indecent! So I decided to make the Seamwork Wembley instead. It had been a pattern I’d been wanting to make for a while so this was a good opportunity.

It turned out this was exactly the right pattern for the fabric. After mastering feeding the fabric into my machine and the pattern and fabric was very easy to work with. The stretch and feel of the fabric was perfect for a cardigan and if you had an overlocker I imagine you could finish the whole garment beautifully. 

As you can see the stretch in the fabric was great for the cuffs too!

I’m very happy with my cardigan and I think stepping out of my comfort zone is something I will do more of in the future. I managed to get a polished finish on the cuffs and facings and it’s a perfect item to glitz up a t-shirt and jeans!

Thanks for reading,

Ruth @ A-Hem

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Crochet & Knit Cardigan by Maria

Hi everyone! I'm Maria, a hobby sewist, crocheter and cross-stitcher :) You can read more about my work and other adventures on my blog, my BurdaStyle project page and my Instagram account.

I got the chance to test Sirdar Snuggly Tiny Tots Knitting Yarn in shade 932 named Snug which is a baby blue with white decorative thread with some “pop-corns” running along it giving it also some texture.

My first impressions when I opened my parcel were:

-              Oh! What a cute color! The color in real life is a bit brighter baby blue than what I thought it’d be looking at the webpage. Very subtle difference but it looks even better in real life.

-              Oh…I thought it’d be softer…The label says baby fashion, in my head this translates to soft, maybe based on baby wool vs. wool…I don’t know. But it wasn’t as soft as I expected based on other acrylic yarns I’ve touched in my life. I thought it might just be due to the white thread on top, so I cut a piece and removed that thread from it, but no, the acrylic itself is like that. I’m not saying it’s rough, just not “baby” soft. It’s kinda half way between towel and velvet.

The above brings us also to the next point: The white trim thread is simply wound around the main blue one, which means that if you stretch the yarn a bit tight or something, you might get uneven distributions of the white trim and hangings in some places. In some cases, it’s how it’s wound and it’s not even your fault :) Also because it’s loose, it can slip off the hook when you crochet and you get a similar effect of loose bits here and there so pay attention!

The next thing I did was to knit a sample. I used the recommended 4mm pins and knitted a rectangle of 22 stitches by 14 rows which was supposed to be 10cm wide, 5 cm high (label says 28sts x 28 rows is a 10x10cm square).

Didn’t match exactly what’s on the paper, but I’m a beginner when it comes to knitting so it’s expected.

My project using this yarn will be mostly crocheted, so I did a small sample in single crochet just to get the feel for how it’ll look. This was also using a 4mm hook, 22 stitches but I did only 3 or 4 rows. (And now you can clearly see what I do most...Hint: it’s not knitting :))

What I was a bit worried about is how it behaved if I had to undo/unravel some. The answer to this question is: Surprisingly well! The little white bulges don’t get stuck and are easy to get through stitches again, but the more you unravel the same bit, the higher chance you have of the white trim sliding about and sometimes even hanging off the blue yarn.

I decided to make this cardigan I found on Verena.ru which is mostly crocheted apart from the elastic around the cuffs and front opening/neckline which is knitted.

Working with this yarn wasn’t difficult as such, a bit of extra care was needed around the bulgy white bits as expected, but nothing dramatic and it looked good.

I did however keep getting the issue of that same white decorative thread sagging a bit here and there. Doesn’t show unless you look closely and probably not a bad thing since it’s not stretchy while the acrylic blue yarn is so the one compensates for the other, but still a tiny bit irritating. You can see a bit of that in the photo above if you look closely and a close-up on the next.

I absolutely love how it turned out looks-wise and I still think this colour is super cute, so this cardigan will indeed see a lot of wear throughout the Norwegian summer (after I've redone the front opening elastic to make it a bit longer so it doesn't curve up...).

All in all, the plusses are more than the minuses: The color is great, it’s easy to work with, it’s fluffy, seems to be warm enough and looks good crocheted and knitted but it’s not so soft, not of a natural fiber and the white trim hangs a bit here and there.

I like it but don’t love it and I’d chose a natural fiber yarn (wool or cotton) over this anytime.

Here’s the finished product :)

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Woven Fabric Bundle Review by Sarah

There is nothing better than a little bit of anticipation and excitement and I have to admit that’s how I felt waiting for my mystery Woven Fabric bundle to arrive from Minerva Fabrics. I have to admit, however that when I received my package and immediately ripped it open the fabrics weren’t quite what I was expecting. I mean I don’t really know what I was expecting to be honest but it’s safe to say that a mystery package is not going to satisfy all of your wildest fabric desires on every level, but this is where I found it an interesting challenge, to take what I was given and make something fantastic and usable from it.

The first fabric I pulled out was a patterned corduroy fabric covered in stylised flowers that was reminiscent of paisley designs and a beautiful flowery fabric in hues of rust and oranges. I have no idea what type of fabric this is, nor its composition, but it didn't feel like typical dressmaking fabric. It is a sturdy, thick woven fabric and with my limited knowledge I am assuming it's a heavy cotton with something synthetic in it.

I have to admit to being a little bamboozled by what to make with these fabrics as neither were immediately popping out at me. Deciding to concentrate on my favourite of the two fabrics, the bold orangey, flowery fabric, I took some time brainstorming what to make. In the end I decided it would make a perfect statement clutch bag, settling on an accessory in part because I didn't know what the orangey fabric was made of and I didn't think it would be a comfortable dressmaking fabric. It turns out it's the perfect purpose for this beautiful pattern, to show it off and to get the most use out of it.

I searched high and low for the best clutch bag pattern. Having not made a bag before I wanted a base pattern to work from. I eventually settled on a free pattern from Grainline patterns and freelovefest. It was originally made for leather but as I didn't want to glue my fabric together I adapted it by adding a lining and at the same time stash busting my supplies! Here's what I did to make this super simple bag.

1 - Download pattern here, print, stick it together and cut it out. 2 - Cut out the pattern in an outer fabric and in a plain black cotton. You could also use a proper lining fabric for the interior.

3 - To make the fabric sturdier and to stop the handbag flopping about when finished you need to stabilise the fabric on both the lining and outer fabrics to make it stronger. Don't skip this unless the fabric is thick enough already. Cut out two pattern pieces in fusible interfacing. I used hair canvas as it's the only heavy weight one I had to hand and it worked perfectly. Fuse one piece to lining and outer fabric.

4 - If you want to add a label to your bag do it now just below the top fold on the lining fabric.

5 – You need a closure on your clutch to secure your bag when finished. I chose a tie closure from a piece of leather but you could also use ribbon, it just needs to be long enough to wrap around your bag a couple of times and tie in a bow.

Sew a small buttonhole big on to the lining big enough to fit your choice of tie through. Use the marker for the clasp on the lower flap for the buttonhole. 6 - Secure your ribbon or leather thread with several neat stitches on the wrong side of the outer fabric at the marker for the clasp on the bottom flap. 7 - Sew the lining and outer fabric together, right sides together. I used a small 3/8 allowance here. Remember to leave a hole big enough to pull the fabric out the right way again.

8 - When the fabric is the right way out iron flat. At this point I also cut out some wadding to put into the bag to make it squishy. I notice a lot of patterns asked for this and it just adds more volume and sturdiness to the fabric. You may feel it's not needed. I didn't have the normal stuff to hand so used thinsulate which when added to coats helps keep you warm in winter. It's still pretty thin so was just about OK! I cut it out in the pattern piece and then cut off the seam allowance and a teeny bit more to make sure it wouldn't buckle inside. I then fed it in through the hole and moved it around until I was happy with the position. 9 - Make a button hole through the front flap. This is where your ribbon or leather thread will go through to tie the bag when in use. I moved my button hole up very slightly from where it was marked on the pattern to take into account the seam allowance I had taken away from the pattern piece.

10 - Sew up the open section by hand and then pin the envelope together. You will now see the shape of the final bag. Hand sew the bag together and viola! A lovely new bag! Enjoy!

The best bit about this experience is that it really made me think outside the box and it pushed me to be a bit more creative. I love what I have made and the fact it's something slightly different from my normal makes. When I first looked at the fabrics, I can't lie, I wasn't sure I would have bought either of them but I love them both now. I now plan to wait to winter and sew up a Moss mini skirt from Grainline patterns in the corduroy so they will both be used.

So in essence I would highly recommend buying a mystery Fabric Bag because it really pushed me to think about how a fabric can work best and what it’s perfect purpose is, something I should probably adopt more with my own fabric stash!! I will definitely order one of these mystery bags again and as you can get them in so many different variations, including wovens, jerseys, abstracts, floral and all sorts of colours, as well as being sold at bargain prices you can’t really go wrong.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah @ Sewing-Beautifully

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A Needlecord Pinafore Dress with Joanne from 60 Degrees of Inspiration

Hello everyone,

Im Joanne from 60 Degrees of Inspiration and this is my first review for Minerva Crafts, I was very excited about receiving lovely #fabricpost and using it to make something just for me.

I requested the brown colourway in this leaf print stretch Needlecord Fabric. The fabric also comes in burnt orange, green and olive green. It is an absolute bargain at £1.99 per mt.

When the fabric arrived it had a larger print than I expected (I am awful at visualising sizes). This resulted in it being bolder and less busy than it could have been. It is a lovely soft cord with a good amount of stretch. My initial plan had been to make the staple shift dress with large pockets, however when sorting through my patterns I found the Freja dress which was perfect for this weight of fabric.

The Autumnal hues of the fabric are warm and rich and I loved the rusty red. The lines on top of the fabric look like they have been embroidered despite being printed and add an extra depth and texture.

It washes really well and didn't appear to shrink much on the pre-wash. I washed it on a 40 degree wash and left it to dry. I was very easy to iron which was great. I would obviously still advise doing a prewash just to be on the safe side. 

There was something about the fabric that made me want to make something practical and with pockets. There are a lot of pinafore/dungaree dresses about but I wanted something that was not too bulky on the waist and had no gather - both the pattern and the fabric allowed quite a smooth finish even on the waistband. This is in part due to it being the right weight to hang well without being too thick.

I decided to line the pockets with a little bit of leftover burgundy cord as I liked the contrast.

The fabric was really nice to work with and any concerns I had over the stretch were soon dispelled. Because of the stretch and the cord texture it was important to consider the direction of the fabric when laying out pattern pieces.

I used a contrast thread for the top stitching and it seemed to work really well, I also used some burgundy bias binding to hem it which tied in with the pockets. I have to confess this was my first button hole - I had avoided them and used buttons for decoration for a while so I was ready for the challenge. It was actually very straight forward and I covered my own buttons using another scrap of burgundy cord.

The dress went really well with my boots but could equally have been worn with a pair of dolly shoes. On my first outing I got some lovely comments about the colour of the fabric. It would be a good dress to wear in the Autumn / Winter with a jumper underneath it as the cord would allow it to hold its shape on top. 

It would be a perfect fabric to make a long panelled skirt or even a mini skirt with. I have some left over which I might make into a tote bag and embellish with a large flower.

Joanne Riley @ 60 Degrees of Inspiration

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Product Review: The Vilene Multi Bag Kit by Michele

Hi everyone,

I'm Michele and I am here on the Minerva Crafts blog today to review the Vilene Multi Bag do it yourself Sewing Kit.

If you are a quilter or a sewer that travels with all your sewing goodies, then this little bag may just be for you.

I wasn’t quite sure what it was when it arrived – apart from a cute bag! Only when I opened it and read through the contents and instructions did it become clearer that this wasn’t just a bag, but morphed into a little ironing mat as well – how exciting!

The contents of the kit include all the iron on pieces you need to complete the project. You will need to supply the fabric, ribbon and a couple of buttons if you use the button closure method.

From reading the packaging I had no idea what 272 Thermolam, Decovil I or Bondaweb T10 was, but as I read the instructions this too became clear.

Here we have the ‘bones’ of the bag/ironing mat…..

First you iron the board-like Viseline product onto the outer fabric – this gives you the shape of the bag. Add your layer of Thermolam and inner fabric.

Then using the narrow Bondaweb to iron on the binding and make the handles.

Once you have finished the binding and adding the buttons and loops – or ribbons if you prefer to tie it together in a bow – you simply stitch all round the board to allow the bag to fold neatly along the correct lines.

This project has very little sewing and should be managed comfortably by a new sewer. This is an ideal gift for the crafters in your life and can be very useful to carry bits and pieces to classes or retreats.

Mine was made in a piece of cotton for the outer I had in my stash, and a contrast cotton inner too. The ribbon and buttons were all from my sewing room so this can be a good stash busting project.

I now have my travel iron stowed away inside and when I go out, I can also throw in a few hexagon shapes, fabric and small notions to allow me to create and stitch on the go.

Mine will become part of my Handmade sewing group on a Saturday in our local coffee shop. It gives me another surface to iron on without the need for a heavy board or iron. Ideal when you consider how much other stuff we have to carry around with us.

I wasn’t sure about this project to start with, but now it is finished, it is really cute and will be very useful as a place to iron next to my sewing machine or in classes away from home.

A lovely gift for the crafty person in your life.

Thanks for reading,

Michele @ Swiss Army Wife

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Lucky Dip Fabric Bag Product Review by Simona

Hello again,

The lovely people from Minerva Crafts this time asked me to test for them one of their Lucky Dip Fabric Bags. I had a choice of which bag I could pick. After being overwhelmed with the bags on offer in the end, I chose to go for the Viscose Fabric 5mt bag, a bag of viscose and viscose blend fabric remnants in assorted colours!  

Each lucky dip bag is chosen at random containing fabric from ranges that Minerva have stocked in the past, where they only have small ends of rolls left. The description on their webiste reads...

"Each fabric piece in your pack will be at least half a metre long and your pack can contain any number of pieces in various lengths and widths to make up  the total amount of metres.  I.e. you may receive 10 half metre pieces, 1 five metre piece, or anything in-between. There are no seconds or soiled fabrics in these packs, they are all as you would buy them per metre in a shop, except because you are buying blind you save hugely on the price! Every bag may be different so you can order more than one bag and get a great assortment of fabric! They are great for dressmakers and crafters looking for good quality fabric on a budget. They are also great for people new to sewing as you  can experiment with a variety of different types of fabrics without going to the expense of buying lots of fabrics by the metre."

Once ordered, I just waited for my parcel to arrive. I was really excited as I did not know what exactly I would get, how many pieces or how long will they be. This means I could not do any pre-planning as I did with the previous fabric I tested before (here is a link to my previous review). As usual the parcel arrived really fast and in no time I put the fabric in the wash, waiting for it to dry.

My bundle consisted of two fabrics one of one 1 metre (back background with flowers) and the other one of 4 metres (olive/brown Aztec print).

Finally, I could start thinking what to make! From my 1 metre piece I decided to make the Juliet Blouse from SimpleSew Patterns. As I only had 1m of fabric, I shortened the sleeves and made the ties out of a different fabric as well using ready made bias tape to finish the neckline.

With the second piece I made a Butterick Sewing Pattern no 5889 (I made view C) and a Kimono with a tie (the pattern for this was free with one of my sewing magazine subscriptions). Again for the tunic I used ready made bias tape for the neckline facing.

With the top and the tunic I used the overlocker to finish the exposed seams (shoulder or side seams).

For the kimono, I decided to do a French seam to have a clean finish inside. Then to finish the hem on the black top I chose to turn .06 cm and then again 2.5cm. Because the fabric was moving a lot I ended up using a zigzag stitch to make sure the hem is secure.

When I made the fabric belt, after trimming the seam allowance, I found it easier to use a ruler to turn it to the right side and it prevented from rolling around. Obviously you need to use a ruler that's smaller than the width of the belt you want to turn.

Later I pressed it and stiched the opening shut.

My tips when working with viscose:

  • consider using Fabric Stiffener to temporary stabilise the fabric, so it is easier to handle

  • staystitch the necklines and/or armholes inside the seam lines to prevent them from stretching out of shape

  • take your time, do not rush, consider tacking the seams in place first before sewing them together

  • press seams as you go along

Although viscose can be a pain to work with, it is so soft against the skin that it is well worth the pain working with it. Here are the three items I made with my Lucky dip bag:

Simple Sew Juliet Top

Butterick B5889 view D

The Kimono - free with a very old issue of Sew Magazine.

Although with Lucky Dip bags it is like playing the lottery, I love them, because so many times I end up with fabrics I like, but I would have not picked them otherwise. So if you want to get yourself out of you comfort zone I think they are quite a fun way to either try new fabrics or prints you would not normally pick yourself. If they do not turn out the way you want them, you won't cry over it, as you did not spend a fortune. I also tend to use the fabrics I get in my lucky fabrics to make wearable muslins as well.

We would love to hear and see what you have been making with the fabrics you got with the Lucky Dip bags you got from Minerva Crafts. Please share your makes with us. Tag @minervacrafts on instagram and twitter and use the hashtag #LuckyDipBag.

Like always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my review and happy shopping!

Love Simona

SewingAdventuresInTheAttick

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