Posted in Projects on Monday the 23rd October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
We have a new name for ourselves because of my 4 year old granddaughter. She is SO gungho about craft that it is beyond just a love of crafting, so she has been nicknamed the Craftist – as in activist etc.. ?
I can’t believe that it is already time to start on our Christmas projects – what is happening to time? Luckily for me, Minerva came to the rescue with a couple of wonderful products that kick started my projects. I am still not quite finished with them, but for now I have a few items that are ready to share.
My first project was a small selection of bags. I can’t seem to make and use enough of these….I have them in my sewing kits, in my knitting kits, in my toiletry kits for the camper and all over the car and house for various bits and bobs. My handbag is a cavern…I need it to carry all my medication but seriously, you cannot find or keep anything tidy in them. Hence the need for lots of little bags and pouches for everything; I even know what is inside each one – hubby doesn’t get it and can’t understand this type of magic.
Bags, bags….oh, yes, let’s get back on topic…
I received a metre each of this wonderful Christmas Fabric. One in green and one in red – your traditional Christmas colours.
This material feels a lot like African wax print when it arrives and is stiff and crisp. I love it because when you do craft projects it makes handling much easier. However, if you are going to use this for any sort of washable garment, I would definitely suggest a pre-wash because most cottons will shrink.
I didn’t use a pattern for these bags because I have made a few in the past and simply followed the same general principles. If you want an easy pattern you can find hundreds online and on YouTube. For this version I used a full fat quarter for the lining and cut the Christmas fabric to size. I added in a thin batting to give it volume and rigidity but you can also iron on interfacing or use iron-on batting for handbags. I wanted to keep the cost down because these were samples for my Saturday workshop and I don’t charge except for materials.
A bit of ribbon and contrast handles give it more interest. The box gusset was added after the main construction by folding the seams on top of each other to create a pyramid shape and sewing across the points. This created a box bag which can hold a lot of goodies and is perfect as a gift bag for Christmas.
Bag 1 done…..
The next two bags were made in a similar way but without the quilting. I sewed some of the lining fabric as a contrast on the outside and added a bit of lace to make these a bit more dainty. I think they are perfect for toiletries and makeup. One has a bottom gusset only because this is one of my favourite shapes; and the other is a box bag as well.
Bags done, now for the next, and completely different project…..boots.
What fun these are to make…and wear too! Who doesn’t need a pair of Christmas boots for running around, opening presents, eating too much and lounging around a fire?
The pattern for these is from Twig & Tale and I made a variety of sizes to sell at our church Christmas Market next month. This fabric was perfect ….
Does it get any cuter than this? This fabric was a perfect contrast to the brown wool outers of these Tie Back Boots. Now to make the green pair and another dozen or so for the moms who are already shouting “Me Please!”.
Thanks Minerva for once again providing the perfect touch for my projects.
Thanks for reading,
Michelle @ Swiss Army Wife
Posted in Projects on Sunday the 22nd October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hi everyone, I'm Aida from idaaidasewing and this is my first review on Minerva Crafts' blog.
I'm sure you all know this Sewing Pattern, I first noticed it in the Great British Sewing Bee years ago and ever since it seemed to me like everyone made this pattern at least once and I felt I had to give it a try, obviously I was very happy to be able to write a review for it here in the Minerva Crafts blog and off course I'm talking about the Walkaway Dress which is Butterick 4790!
This pattern comes in only 3 pieces, front, top back and circle skirt pattern which is cut twice, the construction is really simple as you just attach the two pieces of skirt together, attach the top back to the circle skirt , join the front and back pieces on the shoulders and that' s it. Off course there are darts, meters of bias binding to attach and hem to turn but despite all these it's a simple dress to make and even a beginner can manage, considering my first ever thing that I made which was a fitted woven dress with zipper and facings this is really a piece of cake.
The fabric I used is a polka dot chambray that I had for over a year in my stash, the pattern calls for 3.5 meters of 150cm wide fabric, what I had was 2.5 meters so I had to make a few changes to make it fit. Minerva have loads of beautiful Chambray Fabrics for you to choose from. First I shortened the circle skirt by 17 cm which was very useful as in this way I could cut the 2 pieces of the circle skirt (which are huge) in the cross grain, I also had to add a centre seam in the back of the top as it was impossible to cut that on the fold.
I read a lot of reviews about this pattern and there were two issues that were mentioned quite often and bothered me, first was the gaping in the armhole and second was the feeling of being exposed in the back as the front pieces that goes all the way to the back is left open like an apron.
One of the many versions of this dresses I saw was on Instagram and the lady that made it seemed to have added sleeves and there was no gaping on her dress, I was intrigued by the idea of adding sleeves and so I sent here a message asking her help on how to achieve the same result, it was very kind of her to send me detailed pictures and instructions on how she did it. In my version I did it differently but I did follow the most important part which was to draw how I would like the sleeve to lie directly on the fabric before cutting it and as one piece with the top (there is no seam) then cut the pattern including this so called sleeve.
About the open back of the inner skirt I just used the slash and spread method to make the skirt fuller so that I can add a seam and also a zipper, in this way I feel covered and not exposed wearing this dress and it is still easy to wear. Both changes I made are obvious in the picture that shows the front pattern piece on top of the cut fabric that includes the changes.
All in all I love how this dress looks on me the only thing that I'm not satisfied with is the uneven hem which I have to find the courage and remake, I did not hang the dress for a couple of days before hemming as it is suggested for circle skirts so I have to do the additional work now.
Thank you for reading!
Aida @ idaaidasewing
Posted in Guest Posts on Saturday the 21st October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello! It’s Allie from The Aspiring Seamstress again. Today I’ll be reviewing a fun cape pattern, the New Look Sewing Pattern no 6396.
I was inspired to make a red cape by a character I saw on a tv show. This particular character is a fashion designer who designs clothing out of her parent's basement. Most of the clothes she wears are very stylish, there are a lot of things I’ll be making because of her! On one episode she had this beautiful drapey red cape on, it was only on screen for maybe five minutes but I instantly fell in love with it.
If you're curious to look it up, the show is called Last Man Standing. The cape in question appears in season 6, episode 14 at around 12:40. I tried finding a picture of it on Google but I couldn’t!
I chose New Look 6396 for the military style closures and shoulder epaulets on view A. There are three other views on this pattern; two longer capes, one with a fur collar and pockets (B). The other has one simple closure near the neckline and is collarless (C). The last view is a sweet little capelet (D).
This pattern wasn’t too difficult. It doesn’t require any fitting really which makes it perfect for a beginner sewist. It’s a great pattern to tackle if you're looking to practice understitching and topstitching as well as learn how to install a lining.
The techniques used in the pattern weren’t challenging by themselves (for me at least), I think the hard part was working with a slippery Lining Fabric and thick fabric. The closures and epaulets were made by sewing two pieces of the main fabric together, in my case that fabric was wool (it got quite bulky when layered!) which made it tricky to maneuver under my sewing machine foot and difficult to get the points nice and crisp.
I did make it through though and I’m very happy with how my cape turned out. The Boiled Wool Fabric I used is perfect, it’s got great movement to it and the color is just so vibrant. I’ve been loving vibrant reds lately.
I made a couple changes to the cape design. I’m not really a fan of the collar so I just left it off. I contemplated figuring out a different style of collar to use but in the end, I decided to leave it plain.
The other change I made has to do with the front closures. The pattern instructions want you to make the closures stationary on the right side by sewing the Heart Buttons on through all the thicknesses. I didn’t like the idea of being stuck with the same tabs forever.
Perhaps I’d like to change the color of them in the future. What if it’s not too cold of a day and I want to wear the cape open? Will the closures look odd flapping about (they do a little bit)?
So instead of making them permanent, I just made buttonholes on both sides of the closures. It wasn’t that hard to do and now I have the freedom to change up my cape look whenever I want too.
One thing I wish I would’ve noticed before cutting my fabric is the unnecessary back seam. I’m not sure why you don’t just cut the back pieces on the fold of the fabric, instead of the front pieces. You do use the back seam in the lining to turn the cape right side out, but couldn't this have been done using a side seam instead? I think the back of the cape would’ve looked better without the seam, but I suppose it’s not a huge deal.
Overall I enjoyed sewing up the New Look 6396, it was only a little challenging for me and I’m pleasantly surprised that I can make a cape! I think it’s a great basic cape pattern to have, it has a good variety of options and can be tweaked to fit your personal style preferences.
Thanks for having me here again!
Allie @ The Aspiring Seamstress
Posted in Designer Spotlight on Friday the 20th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hi, I’m Alice and I have recently set up the indie children’s wear pattern label Sew Me Wear Me. It’s been a labour of love to get to this point, but I’m so excited to now get my designs out into the world. There are four digital sewing patterns currently available to buy through my Etsy shop. They’ve been designed using modern sewing construction techniques, but have touches of vintage detail. Easy to make, comfy to wear, but still feel like special handmade garments.
I learnt to sew as a child. My grandmother was a dressmaker, and my mum is a knitter and crafter, so making things was always part of family life growing up. After my second child was born I spent a week in hospital and watched The Great British Sewing Bee on an iPad. I felt totally inspired to learn some proper dressmaking skills. So, a few months later I sold all my maternity clothes on eBay and used the proceeds to buy a discounted sewing machine. I tried a few patterns and made a few wonky garments, learning loads along the way. There is something so completely absorbing about making something yourself. I was totally hooked.
For the last few years I have squeezed sewing into every spare moment I could. I took a few sewing classes, discovered indie patterns and the wonderful sewing community on Instagram. I started writing a blog (Alice’s Sewing Adventures) about my sewing adventures and joined the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. I really enjoyed making clothes for myself that fitted properly and starting making clothes for my children too. Frustrated by my failed attempts to sew a dress for my daughter, I had a go at drafting my own pattern. It worked brilliantly, and soon she had a wardrobe of Mummy-made dresses that she loved.
I have thoroughly enjoyed learning how to design sewing patterns. There’s something so satisfying about being able to create something 3D from a 2D paper design. I even love the geeky pattern-making maths! Having had a couple of my patterns published in Love Sewing magazine, I decided I wanted to have a go at digitizing my patterns and writing my own step-by-step instructions. I know how tricky it can be when you’re just starting out to follow a traditional sewing pattern, so I wanted to make mine really easy to get the hang of. It’s been a steep learning curve. With the help of a couple of online courses I have learnt to use Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and Muse to create my digital patterns, instructions and website. I’ve had some help from a couple of wonderful people on the graphic design, photos, support, cups of tea and general loveliness.
Coming up with a name was tricky. After lots of playing around with children’s literature themes, my hubby came up with Sew Me Wear Me (a take on the ‘Eat Me’, ‘Drink Me’ labels from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). I’d like my patterns to take the sewer and the wearer on new adventures. I really liked the name, it fitted with my blog name and it stuck. Making sure the patterns worked before putting them up for sale was very important, so I recruited a gang of willing and very helpful pattern testers to help me test out all the sizes and instructions. I got loads of useful feedback. Hopefully the patterns will be so much better for going through the testing process.
So, the website www.sewme-wearme.com is now open, with links through to my secure Etsy shop for instant downloads of the patterns. There are four patterns currently on sale: the Twinkle Twinkle Skirt and Pat-a-Cake Apron patterns are both beginner friendly; while the Flo Dress and Dreamland Pyjamas are more of an intermediate make. If you’re new to using digital patterns, they’re super easy. You simply download two PDFs: one is the pattern and the other is the instructions. The instructions take you through the whole process of printing the pattern pieces on A4 and sticking them together. You can even print just the sizes you need. All the patterns are between 18-30 sheets of A4. Much less than a full-sized adult pattern! There is also the option to request an A0 version for professional printing if you prefer. I am a big fan of Minerva Crafts Fabric, so each pattern includes links through to recommended materials from Minerva. It can be so overwhelming when you first start out to know where to start, I just wanted to make it that much easier for new sewists to get started.
I have so many ideas for new patterns and products! I am currently working on 3 new designs for release next year, and have plans for sewing kits and workshops too. I’d love to know what you think or if there are any particular patterns you’d love to see. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date with new releases and pattern testing opportunities, you can sign up to the mailing list or get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.
Happy sewing, Alice x
Posted in Projects on Thursday the 19th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
A beautiful simple bag, which is big enough for everything…
A metre of Gutermann Fabric
A metre of Michael Miller Painters Canvas Fabric
Prym Bag Straps in light grey (optional, as the straps can be handmade)
A metre of Matilda’s Own Premium Bag Batting
A meter of white Stabilizer/Interfacing
(N.B: A metre by the width of the fabric roll, additional fabric will be left over, and could be used to make another bag from this booklet of pattern 1387)
Start by cutting out all the pieces for Bag ‘A’, and iron on a low setting if needed. Prepare your pieces in order, as shown in the photo below, take note of the pieces that need to be cut on the fold of the fabric.
Below is a photo showing the choice I made for where I was going to position my fabrics, the painters canvas fabric is going to the main middle section.
Iron your Stabilizer to these pieces, as explained in the pattern, and mark the small dots with a fabric marker. Sew these together, matching up the dots.
Your bag should now look like this…
Press seams open.
If you are making your own straps, follow the pattern, if not cut two lengths from the bag strap, the same length at the pattern piece.
Attach the straps to the outside of the bag, and sew in place. Repeat this process for both sides of the bag.
For the ‘Patch’, cut out 8 of these from the painters canvas fabric, with right sides together, sew around the edge, using Fabric Glue, attach in place on the bag.
To make the internal pocket, iron the stabilizer onto the painters canvas fabric, then with right sides together, sew this piece to the Fenton House Blossom fabric, leaving a small gap to pull right side out. Trim the seams and corners, press.
Turn pocket right side out, and press the raw edge seam inside. Pin in place on the right side on the lining fabric. Sew along the three edges, making sure you include the side which has the unsewn edge.
Remember to reinforce the corners of the pocket, as shown in the photo below...
Baste the bag batting to the lining pieces of fabric, and sew together using the same process as before, for the outer fabric, only this time leave a 4” gap along the middle of one of the side seams. You should now have a piece that looks like this...
With right sides together, and making sure the top edges match up, sew ½” seam allowance along the top of the bag – joining the outer and lining of the bag together, turn bag right way out through the gap you left in one of the side seams. Press and Ta dah!
Thanks for reading,
Michelle @ Creative Blonde x
Posted in Product Reviews on Wednesday the 18th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I was delighted to be asked to review the Hex N More Quilting Template, a Jaybird Quilts product.
I enjoy quilting, but I'm certainly no expert. I'm aware that there are a lot of people like me who are improving their skills, and I want to show that this is a great product for them too, as well as the more experienced stitchers.
I had a few projects in mind for this, but in the end I chose the stash busting one.
And yes, my stash does include a towel! I really know where my towel is…
This is a simple project, but is a chance to practice several skills: feel free to count stash busting as a skill by the way!
Ok, it's perhaps more of a scraps busting project, but quilt as you go coasters are a useful way to demonstrate how easy this product is to use.
The enclosed leaflet has cutting information, and some piecing ideas.
There are even tips on use for left handed quilters; this alone gets the product a thumbs up.
The cutting guidelines assume that you're using a strip of fabric of an appropriate height. Here is the product on a jelly roll strip.
These are usually 2.5 inches wide, and it was very easy to see how simple it would be to quickly produce a number of hexagons; 13 from a 40 inch strip.
I'm going to show how easy it is to use, even if the fabric isn't quite as regular. This review is not a showcase of my quilting skills, but a review of a product designed to facilitate exact cutting. I do plan to use it in quilting projects, but for now, I'm sharing a quick and complete project that uses the product.
The template is a sturdy piece of plastic, with markings for hexagons, half hexagons, jewels, and 60° triangles from 2 to 8 inches.
The measurements are in inches, and include 1/4 inch seam allowance, so for example, the 2 inch hexagon is marked as 2.5 inches.
I'm going to make three coasters; two for mugs, and a larger one for a teapot. The towel will be both wadding and backing as it is quite a thick towel, and I don't want too much bulk. Why towel for backing? It makes the coasters more absorbent, and they can always be used that way up to catch drips better if required. I am not implying at all that my family are messy drinkers by the way!
The quilt as you go method is perfect for these, and I was able to prepare a piece of quilted fabric quickly.
I cut some strips of similar widths; they don't have to be exactly the same, and some variation adds interest. My backing fabric is right side down, and I place a strip of fabric right side up at one end. A second piece of fabric is placed face down on the first piece, with cut ends matching. This is then sewn.
and place a third piece of fabric face down on top of the second, and sew.
Repeat until the backing fabric is covered. If you're unfamiliar with this technique, I hope that I've clarified it sufficiently, but if not, there are much better instructions out there, and they'll also all remind you to press as you go. Pressing really does improve the look of your project.
This is my quilted fabric for the large coaster.
The back shows the quilting lines.
If you're wondering, towel is quite easy to work with, although it does shed at the cut edges.
I'm using the largest hexagon, and have enough fabric to fussy cut.
It's a job for a rotary cutter, but if you didn't have one, you could draw round it to cut with scissors.
There are three sides to cut, and despite not having a regular sized strip of fabric, this was not at all difficult.
The template stayed firm whilst cutting, and turning for the second half was straightforward, and lined up without problem, leaving a perfect 8.5 inch hexagon.
For the mug coasters, I cut some narrower strips, and created another piece of quilted fabric as above.
A safety note here. My rotary cutter was open, ready to use. I reached past it for my phone to take a photograph, and just brushed it with a knuckle. Cue a quick dash away from the fabric! Please be more careful than me.
This is the completed fabric with the template after the first cut of the first coaster.
I'm using the 4.5 inch hexagon. Again, it was very easy to follow the markings, and easy to cut from an irregular piece of fabric.
For the smaller hexagons, there are two cuttable sides before a turn is needed, although I found it easier with this fabric to cut a side and then turn.
This is the coaster with three sides cut.
Just one side left to cut, but this was a simple and straightforward process from first to last cut.
These are the almost finished coasters; they just need finished edges.
Even the backs look tidy.
I used Wonder Clips rather than pins as the coasters are quite chunky.
I had a suitable piece of bias binding in my stash that was just long enough to do the three, but you could make your own binding to coordinate better.
I should tell you now that I'm not very good at binding, and these are the first corners I've covered that aren't 90°.
However, despite being obviously homemade, they are attractive, functional coasters, and are being well used by my family.
This is just the first project I've made with the Hex N More Ruler. It was easy to use, and each time I look at it I think of something else I could make. I've even thought of some paper craft uses too, although I'll draw round it and use paper scissors to cut out!
Thanks for reading,
Emma @ Hot Tea on a Hot Day
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 17th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Watermelons seemed to be everywhere this summer and I had visions of a watermelon dress. When I saw the colours of this Denim Fabric I knew exactly what I was going to make. I've made a few (three!) Cleo's already so knew this would be a quick and easy make.
The front and back sections are in the pink with the straps in green. I didn't have any matching pink for the top stitching but did find some silver in my stash so decided to give that a go. Admittedly it probably wasn't the best choice as I don't think my machine liked it but it looks fine and who doesn't love a bit of sparkle?
Now for the star attraction of the dress... the watermelon pocket! To make it more watermelon themed rather than just a pink dress with green straps I made the pocket look like a slice of watermelon.
Here's what I did -
- using the pocket template redraw with a curved base and cut out in pink
- make another template where the sides and base are 3cm bigger and cut out in green
- clip around the edge of the pink pocket piece and turn over 1.5cm
- sew onto the green pocket piece using your top stitching thread of choice
- overlock the top edge, turn under 1.5cm and top stitch
- using small buttons as the seeds decide on their placement and attach by hand or using the most amazing time saving sewing machine foot ever the "button sew on foot"
- clip the edges of the green pocket piece and turn under 1.5cm
- using the top stitching thread sew onto the front of the dress
- ta dah a slice of watermelon!
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 14th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I am back with another product testing review for Minerva Crafts, one of the largest online craft supplies shop in the UK.
This time the lovely team from Minerva Crafts asked me to test for them their semi-sheer polyester Dressmaking Fabric.
It comes in three colours: red, purple and turquoise. This can be quite a tricky fabric to work with because it is light and delicate. I chose the purple one for my project. Being a tricky fabric, I challenged myself with this one.
For this project I chose to make a blouse using McCall's Sewing Pattern 7094, the pattern I got in my pattern stash from a sewing magazine, but it is available to buy on Minerva Crafts' website too.
I made a combination of view A and B. For the sleeve tab and the collar I used black cotton that I already had in my stash. Although the fabric is a polyester and I did not think would shrink, to be on the safe side I over-locked the edges and then washed the fabric before starting on my top.
The only adjustments to my pattern were to shorten the sleeves by 5 cm . I had to go really slow and put a lot of pins as the fabric is so shifty, but I made it.
It is a good idea to use thread to mark your notches or other pattern markings. The only other method would be to cut notches, however this would not work for pocket placements or pleats. I tried using other methods on a piece of scrap fabric. I suggest you do the same to see what works best for you. I also suggest you tack your seams to make sure you are accurate.
Polyester does not press. It was a pain for me to set in the pleats that the pattern asks for. It is clear for me that for this pattern one should pick a fabric that can be pressed and any fold stay in the fabric. Otherwise the garment will look a bit messy, especially if pleats are a feature, not to mention that putting the pleats in will be harder. I could have made gathers instead, but I only came up with this idea when I was writing the blog post for this.
Because I was under time pressure, I chose to overlock my seams. However, I think French seams are better on this type of fabric.
Knowing the fabric was semi-see through and the necessity to use interfacing, I decided to used Black Cotton Fabric for the collar and sleeve tap. And I was happy, as working with cotton was easier. I am not happy with how the centre front pleat looks.
Because the fabric is so slippery, once I stitched the collar on I hand-stitched the facing. I was not sure I'd manage to get all the layers if I used the stitch in the ditch technique. The only visible stitching is on the wrong side.
I hand-stitched the hems in place as well, by turning the edge over twice.
As the fabric is way too light, a button sewn on it would not last, I decided to lower it and stitch it on the area where the tab was attached to.
Although there were times when I though this project might become an UFO the finished top looks OK and I do intend to wear it with or without a belt.
Some of my tips for working with polyester are:
pick a simple pattern with a lot of ease, such as kimonos
use French seams
go as slow as you need
tack your seams before sewing them, as the fabric is slippery
We would love to hear and see what you make if you use this fabric. Please share your makes with us. Tag @minervacrafts on Instagram and Twitter.
Like always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my review and happy shopping!
Posted in Events & Social on Friday the 13th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod