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Guest Post: Simplicity 1318 Kimono Jacket

Hello everyone, my name is Kathy and this is my very first guest post for the Minerva Crafts Blog. You can find me over at www.sewdainty.co.uk where I enjoy writing pattern reviews, tutorials and product reviews.  I do hope you will enjoy reading my thoughts on this Simplicity Sewing Pattern - 1318 Kimono Jacket. I just love it! Let me tell you all about it.

I have to say that I do love a kimono jacket. Whilst I own a couple of ready to wear jackets like this I still wanted more so instead of buying another I decided that I would make one myself. Now that we can allow ourselves to turn our thoughts to Spring it seemed like the perfect time to do this. This jacket will easily see you through Spring, Summer and Autumn.

I really wanted a floral print, as I am a sucker for anything floral. I also needed a lovely light/medium weight drapey fabric. This Viscose Fabric I chose from Minerva is a really pretty viscose crepe fabric and is the perfect weight for this project. I really craved a background colour of blue as I knew I would wear this with jeans, denim shorts and white or navy linen trousers. Blue would be perfect to accompany all of these.

You will need very little supplies for this project. Aside from your fabric, you will need a small amount of Fusible Interfacing. Matching thread of course (use Minerva's matching thread service!), and basic sewing supplies that you probably already have including fabric scissors or rotary cutter and mat, pins and a needle for some hand sewing.

Before starting any project it is important to pre-wash your fabric. Viscose can be a little prone to a small amount of shrinkage and I did find this. I like to trace my pattern pieces - I find my weight goes up and down so this ensures that the pattern can be used again whatever size I am in the future! To get an accurate copy it's important to iron your pattern pieces, tracing paper and fabric before cutting. All time consuming but very important.

It's also crucial to study your fabric to see if it is directional. I didn't think my fabric particularly was but I did seem to prefer it one way up than the other so was careful to place my pattern pieces in the right direction.

I chose to make view D, and enjoyed that there weren't too many pieces to cut out. The style of the jacket means of course that the sleeves are attached to the body already so no tricky setting in sleeves. No zips. No buttons or buttonholes. No darts. No gathering. Easy right? Yes!

The back of the jacket comes in 2 halves and is sewn together with a central seam which runs from top to bottom. I chose to use a French seam for this, because as the jacket isn't lined I wanted it to be as pretty inside as possible. This was the right choice. This long vertical seam is nearly invisible using this technique.

I also decided that I would use the walking foot on my machine. For those not familiar with a walking foot it is very useful for working with slippery (or bulky) projects as it feeds the fabric through the machine from the top as well as the bottom. It's not essential - you will do very well using a regular foot too, but I found that using this made stitching smoother.

Next are the underarm seams. Whilst I would have loved to have used French seams here too, I knew that such a curved seam wouldn't lie flat using this technique, so I used a regular seam neatened with my overlocker. This worked out great. 

Pressing your seams as you go along is always important but it is especially so with this fabric. It ensures the seam stitches are pressed into place and was particularly useful in the underarm seams to avoid them looking 'pulled' or tight where the curve of the seam is (despite clipping the seam). I found my homemade Tailor's Seam Roll really great to help me with this and the difference before and after pressing was incredible.

Finally (apart from hemming your sleeves), it is time to make up the band which runs around the entire edge of this jacket. This is made from several pieces, and can be a little confusing, so take your time with it and follow the instructions carefully. I chose the slowest speed setting on my machine when sewing this on as it is nearly all curved edges so you need to take your time to make sure you get a neat finish. I should mention that there is a great deal of snipping and trimming the seam allowances for the band to lay flat. Take care when snipping not to catch the fabric below! Then repeat this for the band facing, and finally the instructions call for you to press the edge of the band facing under and HAND sew all the way around to attach to the jacket!

I have to say I wasn't expecting there to be so much hand sewing. Surely there must be a way of machine stitching this? Stitch in the ditch maybe? However I soon realised the reason for this is the curved edges of the band. In order to attach these to the jacket neatly without puckering there is nothing for it but to hand stitch. I actually quite enjoyed doing this. I sew very little by hand and found the whole process quite relaxing and I think my hand sewing skills have now improved.

This jacket is quick to make and I couldn't be more pleased with it. I know I will wear it lots and lots, and I will definitely be making another one (or two)! It's so flattering and can really dress an outfit up without being too fussy. The length is perfect for me (I'm 5'2"), but there are longer and shorter length options available if you prefer a different look.

I do hope this may have inspired you to have a go at making it yourself. I will warn you that the fabric choice at Minerva is huge, there are so many fabrics to choose from and very reasonable prices too. Grab a cuppa - it could take some time!

It's been such fun writing this guest post for Minerva, I do hope to write more, but in the meantime happy sewing!

Kathy

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Guest Post: The Jersey Aberdeen Top

Hello there! I'm Katie from Scatterbrained Seamstress for a guest post over here at Minerva Crafts! I hope you're all having a great 2017 so far, and aren't too amazed that it's already March and where has the year gone?!

I made the Aberdeen top by Seamwork! When I signed up for Seamwork a few months ago, I knew I wanted this knit v-neck made as soon as possible! I loved the idea of a batwing tunic, and the detailing of the mini v-neck on the back of the shirt. My measurements matched the size XS, so I cut the smallest size. It fit perfectly without any alteration -- as my first Seamwork make (the Nantucket shorts) didn't fit as nicely as Aberdeen, it was great to have such a perfect fit.

The back features another deep v-neck. I decided to leave off the 3/4-length sleeves since spring is coming soon here at the states, and I've never really been much of a fan of 3/4-length sleeves.

The hemming on the sleeves looked so professional with this Twin Needle I used! The thread matched perfectly from Minerva, which was nice! All of the seams were done with a zig-zag stich. I also decided to not topstitch the neck facing, as I thought it made it look more professional.

The Jersey Fabric drapes so beautifully!

The top sewed up quickly, it about two and a half hours. Cutting out the fabric took a bit more time, as knit shifts so much and I wanted to make sure I cut out the pattern accurately. Using a knit needle definitely helped the process, but cutting with knits is still not very fun.

Sizing-

I cut an XS, even though my bust measurement was a tad larger, into the S range. I knew it would be a loose top and wanted it a bit tighter. The measurements were spot on, although the v-neck was a little too low for my liking, but thankfully not too low that I wouldn't wear it all the time. ;)

Instructions-

The instructions were clear most of the time, but even when they weren't it was easy to discern what they wanted me to do, since the top was so simple. I had some trouble with the v-neck, as it was a first for me, but there were completely different instructions in their magazine as to what to do, which I happily followed! It really did stay true to Seamwork's motto of "2 hour makes," which was both surprising and great!

Fabric-

The fabric worked much nicely with my machine than knits usually do. Usually, the edges get sucked up into the feed-dogs or the bobbin tangles. Thankfully, that didn't happen this time! I'm pinning it on these Stretch Sewing Machine Needles I used from Minerva - I've never thought of using one before. 

One of the only complaints I have is the hemming - with the twin needle a lot of tunneling occurred, which after some research I found could be prevented by changing the tension on the bobbin thread. Overall, an easy make that was made better with beautiful fabric that behaved well!

Thanks all for reading!

Kate x

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Guest Post: How to Start Selling Your Craft Creations Online

So you have begun to get to a stage where you are feeling confident about your creations, and want to take it to the next level. You can begin by selling to friends and family, but the best way to reach as many people as possible is to start selling online.

Setting up your own shop is much easier than ever before, as there are so many different trusted e-commerce platforms that you can use. Having said that, choosing the right one for your needs can be a bit of a minefield. If you are just starting out, then it is essential to research as many as possible, comparing their features, prices, and relevance for selling your products.

Before you commit, make sure you are aware of all of the costs involved: costs for listing your items; the transaction costs taken by the e-commerce platform; any costs associated with payment processing; advertising costs; domain costs; and any other additional fees that may apply. The costs will then need to be weighed up against potential reach; the community around your selected platform; when you get paid; whether you can track orders through the website; whether the platform offers analytics; and what else is on offer.

Cost Comparison

If you are selling your own arts and crafts, such as hand sewn toys, fashion, greetings cards, paintings, and jewellery, then one of the most well known destinations is Etsy. For those just starting out, Etsy can be ideal, as it allows you to set up your own store for free, and charges just 3.5% per transaction. A listing fee of $0.20 also applies every four months for each item. One thing that Etsy are not as clear about is their payment processing fee. You can offer your customers PayPal as a payment option, and just pay the PayPal transaction fees, but if you want to accept card payments in your own currency, you will need to select the Direct Checkout payment option from Etsy. This will absorb another 4% of the entire price of the sale, plus 20p. So in total, you can expect at least 7.5% plus around 30p to be deducted from your profits.

That said, if you sell through Ebay, your first 50 listings may be free, but you will be paying 10% of the value of the sale to Ebay, including transaction fees, so Etsy is still better value.

Depending on how much you are selling, it may be worthwhile setting up your own website, through a provider such as Wix.com, as you can get your first year for as low as £60.60 + VAT, and then you are only responsible for the transaction fees, which you can get with Stripe payments from just 1.4% plus 20p. To perform a rough calculation, if you sell more than 33 items at £30 each during that year, you will have made your money back by going through Wix. Of course, this assumes that you already have a market to sell your products to, as you will not have access to the local team support that is available through Etsy.

Audience and Reach

As mentioned above, the support network can be a crucial factor in the success of your online business. If you set up a website with Shopify or Wix, then you need to be aware that your website can easily just sit online without anyone ever coming by to visit. You need to be prepared to promote your website yourself, online and offline, as you will be on your own.

If you desire your own branding, and want a bespoke website, but need a support network to help you get going, then Etsy Pattern may be your best bet. This offering from Etsy allows you to create your own website for $15 per month (or around £12 at the time of writing). This is in addition to the 3.5% transaction fee and the Direct Checkout fee. However, the benefits are that you will still have access to all of the other features offered by Etsy, including local teams, events, and the whole Etsy community. With 26.1 active buyers using the Etsy platform, this is not to be taken lightly.

Comparing Platforms

A directory of the most commonly used platforms can be found on my LoveMyVouchers.co.uk blog, here. This will enable you to cross compare all of the different costs and features for these platforms. It may also be worth considering eBay if the auction style format is likely to work for you, and WooCommerce if you already have a Wordpress blog.

Author Bio

Linda Firth runs the Lifestyle blog at LoveMyVouchers.co.uk, where she provides advice and tips on how to save money and how to earn money by selling your own craft creations online.  

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#patternoftheweek - Vogue 1234 Loose Fit Dresses

Vogue Pattern 1234, not just an easy pattern number to remember (haha) but a fantastic dress that even though it is short sleeved or sleeveless could take you through many months.This just has to be one of my all time favourites. From when it came out to now it is still on my todo list. So I am more than happy to offer this wonderful pattern to you as our half price #patternoftheweek.
It is classed as an easy pattern but I must say some will not see it that way. When you first look at the instructions all the pictures appear to be like a jigsaw! So all that I can say is with this pattern sew everything in the order of the instructions and yes you will find it relatively easy. Take a look at the lineart of the pattern and you start to see the unusual shaping of the dress.
The following photo shows the first step of placing the back pieces together;
Further on in the instructions you can see how the notches and the corners etc are numbered;
Thus corner no 5 will be placed at notch no 5, corner 6 to notch 6 and notch 7 to notch 7. I have gone through the instructions quite a few times and if you follow it step by step you will not have a problem. On version A the neckband and armbands are cut from the same fabric but you could always use a lycra bias-binding if you prefer. Version B has self-lined cap sleeves but if say your jersey fabric is thicker as in Ponte Roma then you could make the sleeves single layer with just a hem at the bottom.
The pattern is from the Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina. As I have mentioned on previous blog-posts there is no mention on her patterns of sizes as in size 10, 12, 14 or 16, 18, 20 and so you HAVE to measure yourself! This pleases me immensely because there is nothing else you can go off except those measurements on the pattern. 
I love how they have very cleverly used the stripes in version A. The centre front panel is cut on the crosswise grain therefore giving a vertical stripe down the front. You must make full use of whatever fabric you are using, hold the fabric in front of a mirror and see just how the stripes work with and against each other. See on the pattern front how they've used that red stripe and remember depending on which way you use the stripes may add a little to the amount you need. Something else to take into consideration is which way the stripes run on your chosen fabric. The fabric used in this pattern has the stripes running across the width so you can see from the following photo all the pieces are cut down the length of the fabric with the exception of that centre front piece.
Most of the fabrics I am mentioning today are from our clearance range, there are some absolute bargains but please remember once they are gone they are gone. First up is our Aztec Stripe Fabric.
This as you can see is made up mainly of orange and blues and the quality is superb. There is similar stretch both lengthways and widthways so is ideal for this type of pattern. Brilliant price, just £4.99 per mt
Our website description is...
"This beautiful quality stretch jersey knit dressmaking fabric has a colourful Aztec stripe design. If you love colour, then this fabric is for you! This fabric is a light to medium weight with a good amount of stretch, but not too slippery. As part of our clearance range we are able to bring it to you at a much cheaper price than the RRP, but only whilst stocks last!"
I want to show you another Aztec Stripe Jersey Fabric next but please bear in mind this is a wider 'stripe' so more may be needed in order to choose where you want that front vertical stripe to be cut from. Slightly more at £5.99 per mt but still a fantastic bargain.
Take a look at this Jersey Fabric. Get ready to sit down (or fall down in shock) when I tell you this is only £3.99 per mt, yes you read that right. It's like it is made for this pattern and remember the pattern is half price for one week only.
I couldn't not mention our navy tonal Stripe Knit Fabric. Also in brown. Our website description is...
"This gorgeous stripey jersey fabric features approx 10mm wide stripes all in tonal shades. The colours are very soft and muted. This fabric is ever so soft and has the most wonderful drape. Use this fabric to sew your own tops, skirts and dresses."
This is not a clearance fabric, is priced at only £4.99 and hopefully available for a while. The brown one is beckoning me haha.
Last but not least I must show you this stripey design from our range of Art Gallery Jersey Fabrics at £22.99 per mt.
I love how they give their fabrics a 'name' and this fabric is no exception, it is called 'Untangled Ribbons' - isn't that beautiful. For that special occasion where you may want to splash out on something wonderfully summery or you just think blow it I'm gonna treat myself then this is for you. 
Hope I've given you plenty to think about and thanks for reading.
Annette xx
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#FabricFriday - Positive/Negative & Reversible Themed Fabrics

Hi all, here I am back off a week in Maderia with Hubby Phil, his brother Geoff and my lovely sister-in-law Tracey. I have to say what a beautiful island, no beaches but so much greenery and those rocks, what can I say, stunning. The weather was warm (not jumping in the pool warm) but certainly walking about with t-shirts and shorts warm! So yes I've come back home with a tan, all be it a very mild tan! 
It is surprising how much I've missed writing my blog posts so here I am back with a vengance and oh my goodness where to start? It is mind blowing how many fabulous fabrics have arrived here at Minerva in the short time I've been away. What has stood out to me are the amount of positive/negative fabrics there are and guess what I just happen to have a Sewing Pattern in mind where they have made brilliant use of such combinations. 
The recommended fabrics for this pattern are crepes and georgettes and here I am about to show you what is 100% Cotton Fabric. I see no reason whatsoever to not use cotton, certainly for views B and D. By just looking at the front of the pattern I first thought version C had been made from cotton (mainly because it doesn't 'fall' around the sleeves). So because my first choice of fabrics for today is quite a soft cotton I think it would be perfect for this top.
Our website description is...
"This beautiful Ikat design cotton fabric is woven, not printed and made in India. It is a medium weight fabric and ideal for making summer tops, dresses, skirts, shorts and more."
But if like me you are not sure what Ikat means take a look at the following description I found while browsing the internet...
"The term “ikat” refers to the dyeing technique used to create the designs on the fabric. It is a resist dyeing process, where bundles of yarn are tightly wrapped together and then dyed as many times as is required to create the desired pattern. This dyeing process is different because the yarns are dyed before being woven into cloth. In most of the other resist-dyeing techniques, like batik for example, it is the final cloth and not the yarn, that’s dyed.Once the yarns have been suitably dyed and dried, the weaver lines them up on the loom to form the pattern. The design takes form as the yarn is woven into cloth. This is an incredibly complicated process, as the weaver has to precisely dye the threads, and place them correctly so it forms the correct pattern when woven. Just to reiterate how hard this is… in order to replicate a pattern, the weaver would have to dye the thread in exactly the same place as before AND line it up on a loom in EXACTLY the same place AND then they’d have to weave it exactly the same way."
Oh my that does seem complicated doesn't it. I think I'll stick to sewing it rather than weaving it!!
So if I was sewing it I would make version B or D because the other two versions have pleats at the bottom sides and I think pleats would spoil the pattern of this fabric. Lets face it the above 'work' needs to be displayed at its best, not 'mixed' in pleats! £13.99 per mt, not too high considering the work that goes into it.
My next Fabric, rather than positive/negative is more lighter/darker of the same design. It is up there with my favorites from the spring season fabrics.
Although this would look lovely in this top, I must admit I quite fancy a dress using both shades, maybe bring a little brown binding into it. Mmmmm must think about that!
Last but not least I want to show you one of our fantastic Clearance Fabrics. This is a simply stunning double sided fleece fabric. 
It is priced at just £6.99 per mt and although we have a reasonable amount in stock at the mo, remember it decreases daily. My imagination is running riot thinking about what I could make in this fabric. Possibly a jacket with maybe the collar and cuffs in the plain side or even vice versa in that you would have a camel effect coat or jacket with a fabulous check trim. (I'm thinking big check patch pockets). Or even a throw for your bed or lounge sofa after all it is 60" wide. (Don't forget matching cushions, possibly cut on the diagonal)
Happy sewing until next time,
Annette xx
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Guest Post: Blog-Rigel Bomber Jacket by Easy Tiger Atelier

Hi Everyone,

Im Belinda and I blog over at Easy Tiger Atelier. I am delighted to be making a guest appearance on the Minerva Crafts Blog today.

Anyone who’s been keeping half an eye on the runways and the general fashion scene lately will notice a LOT of technical, tricky fabrics sneaking into some stunning designs. Fabrics such as neoprene, leather, fur and velvet are all making appearances. In fact I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to my love of velvet at the moment! :) As creative individuals who appreciate ‘me-made’ clothes, it can be challenging to integrate some of these up-to-the-minute looks into our handmade wardrobes. So how do you make tackling these more difficult fabrics easier? If you’d like some hints handling leather and velvet, keep reading…

I’ve also been in love with the designs from the NZ indie pattern house ‘Papercut’ for some time now, especially their ‘Rigel Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern’. 

It’s perfect for mixing and matching fabrics and experimenting with different fabric weights and properties – and an ideal introductory pattern if you want to explore the (sometimes overwhelming!) world of technical fabrics. There is a particularly fabulous variation with divine shoulder detailing! You can’t ask for a better pattern to help you bust that stash of ‘special’ fabrics you can’t bear to throw out.

I, however, made the original version with classic raglan sleeves. I played around though, sewing them from a gorgeous Faux Leather Fabric that is butter-soft and feels fabulous to wear! To throw back to the traditional feel of the bomber jacket - while at the same time bringing it into this season - I made the bodice from a grey tie-dye Velour Fabric. Velour is a closely related, sister fabric of velvet, and is sometimes called velveteen. It has slightly less height and texture than velvet, and often comes in a knit-style fabric that has a bit of stretch or give (but not always!). Both fabrics I used are available from Minerva Crafts, who has a HUGE selection of colours, so you’re sure to find one that you love! I think this particular combo not only pays homage to the origins of the bomber jacket style and tradition, but reflects what we all want from our wardrobes – comfortable, stylish items that can adapt to whatever your outfit of the day demands!

But...let’s get back to the logistics of how to wrangle some of these more challenging fabrics into an item you are proud and excited to wear! Well, here are some of my very practical hints, tips and tricks to make sewing leather and velvet easier. Firstly, let’s look at pinning and cutting…

How to Cut

It’s difficult to pin faux leather without leaving tell-tale pin-holes, so laying a traditional paper pattern and pinning it onto you fabric to cut is a trickier job that usual. You have basically two options:

  1. Pin only within the seam allowances of your pattern, so that those pesky pin-holes are eventually concealed within the seams of the garment, or,

  2. Use Pattern Weights only and forgo the pins altogether – this is my preferred method, but granted you need to be steady, have a large cutting table or surface, and use PLENTY of pattern weights to avoid things shifting around!

If you opt for the first method, be mindful that alterations and fitting – especially letting seams out – may play havoc with your plan to conceal your pin-holes. The best way to overcome this is to make a toile (essentially a trial version of the garment) out of a cheaper fabric first, where you can perfect your fit – then tackle the garment in the trickier (and more expensive!) fabric. This way you can focus on just managing the fabric without the stress of keeping an eye on the fit also!

When it comes to velvet and its close relative velour, there is one ‘golden rule’ to cutting – you MUST cut all pattern pieces with the pile running in the same direction. Not sure what I mean by ‘pile’? – that’s ok! :) Take your hand and rub it parallel to the selvedge, then rub it in the opposite direction. One direction feels rougher doesn’t it...while the other is smoother? That is known as the pile. So ensure all your pattern pieces are laid out so that pile runs either from head-to-toe, or vice versa. If you overlook this ‘rule’ you risk your garment ending up looking messy and poorly-constructed, as well as suffer from patchy colouration, as light will play differently on the fabric depending on the direction of the pile. Is there a ‘right way’ to position your pile? No, not really, it’s all about your personal choice. But be aware the fabric will generally look richer and darker in colour if the pile runs from toe-to-head, while it will look smoother, shinier and lighter in colour if you cut with the pile running from head-to-toe. Take a closer look at my bomber jacket and you’ll notice I cut with the pile running from head to toe, as I really wanted to play up the texture and shine of the fabric.

One last thing to be mindful of when cutting velour and/or velvet – it can be very messy! Because of the tiny fibres contained within the pile, cutting into it leaves behind fine (quite annoying) dust-like fluff. So avoid taking in a deep breath when cutting, unless you want a lung-full of velvet fibres! Having a vacuum cleaner or dustpan close by for a quick tidy when you’re done cutting, is also a good idea. Trust me, you’ll need it!

How to Sew

As with laying out and cutting, pin-holes are also a problematic bi-product of trying to sew faux leather; so let me introduce you to a brilliant idea – Binding Clips (pictured below)! These are real game-changers, and will help you secure your fabric without the need to penetrate the integrity of the fabric. They are quite inexpensive, but if you don’t have the ‘real deal’ you can improvise your own binding clips with stationary bull-dog clips or small craft pegs…basically anything that will clip and hold the fabric together for you.

If your leather is bulky it’s wise to double-check your machine needle before sewing. Thick, firm fabrics are going to require a specialist needle designed for leather – they are thicker and can cope with the density of the leather without buckling (and potentially causing significant damage to your machine’s race and bobbin casing) or breaking! Otherwise, if your fabric is softer and more supple like the one I used, a universal needle with a gauge around 80-90 is fine. However, just like pin-holes, the needle puncture marks from sewing a seam can make permanent holes. Take care to try and sew a seam once, and once only, as unpicking and re-sewing on leather can very quickly become a messy business!

A Teflon foot (pictured far left, below) may also be beneficial when sewing with leather fabrics - especially bulkier ones – which may otherwise stick or end up marked by the pressure from the machine foot and feed dogs. You may also want to reduce the presser foot pressure on your machine if you find it still marks your fabric…save those off-cuts and scraps to perfect this balance before commencing sewing on your final garment. This same principle applies to other technical fabrics, such as PVC, oilcloth and vinyl and some water-proof coated fabrics.

When sewing right sides together with velvet or thicker pile velour fabrics, they can tend to ‘walk’ away from each other. This can lead to some really messy, frustrating and inaccurate seams – not a good look! A couple of solutions to this issue are:

  1. Use a walking foot (pictured at the top of the photograph, below), which feeds both the upper and lower layers of fabric at exactly the same rate; combined with a slow to moderate sewing speed, this can (in most circumstances) overcome the fabric distorting; or alternatively you can,

  2. Hand tack a double row of basting stitches either side of your seam line, prior to machine sewing; the hand basting helps secure the fabric and minimises unwanted movement. HINT: use a high contrast thread colour for your hand basting stitches, it makes it much easier to remove later!

If passing the velour or velvet through the machine is causing the fabric to ‘stick’ (ie. bunch up intermittently and/or not feed through evenly), consider swapping from an ordinary zig-zag foot to the walking foot which I mentioned earlier. Alternatively, you may find a roller foot (pictured in the centre of the photograph, below) also helps overcome the friction, allowing the fabric to pass smoothly and consistently through the feed dogs. Investing in the right feet for sewing your fabric is essential if you want to get the best possible results for your garment: this is even more important when considering trickier, technical fabrics.

How to 'Press'

Actually, this heading is a little misleading – sorry - because you don’t really press velvet or leather, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. Without going into the finer details, passing a hot iron plate over leather, or a pile-type fabric like velour or velvet is a potential recipe for disaster and disappointment – so proceed with a lot of caution! The ‘take-home’ message when setting a seam and adding structure/finish to your garment, is to steam: steam is your friend! Hold the iron plate an inch or so above your fabric and just allow it to steam its little heart out. My iron has a function that allows me to give extra bursts of steam on demand – and I love using this! :) When the fabric is well-steamed and hot, press flat with your hand (use a pressing glove if you find it a bit too hot) or use a tailor’s clapper – or improvise with basically anything flat and with a bit of weight behind it. (I have been known to use the spine of a hard-cover textbook!) Hold this in place until cooled, and you’ll find the seam sets well. I used exactly this technique for creating the welt pockets of the bomber jacket, and as you can see they set really precisely and well.

If you find yourself in a position where you can’t avoid applying an iron to velvet or velour, such as needing to apply an iron-on interfacing, you can slightly bend the ‘no iron’ rule by placing a large scrap of the same fabric, right side up, on your ironing board first. Ironing over the top of the scrap fabric allows the two piles to interlock, rather than flatten out – because flattened velvet won’t please anyone! Also, consider if possible, using a sew-in interfacing to support your garment, and eliminate the need to iron at all.

However you chose to set your seams on your garment, or ‘press’ it into shape, be careful to treat the fabric with care and respect, and you won’t compromise the quality of the finish.

Call is pleather, fake leather, faux leather – whatever – it’s not the easiest of items to sew with, and neither are velvets and other piled fabrics. Yet these technical fabrics are flooding our fashion markets presenting a challenge for the home sewist who’s looking to invest in creating up-to-the-minute looks. Rather than having to learn through trial and error, or worse, waste expensive beautiful fabrics, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the tips and techniques outlined above. I hope they will help equip you with some practical advice for cutting, sewing and ‘pressing’ these trickier fabrics so you can create stunning bespoke garments: there’s no excuse to avoid those fabrics any longer! :)

Happy sewing…

Belinda from Easy Tiger Atelier.

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Guest Post: Shirt Cuff & Continuous Lap Tutorial

Hi everyone, it's Nicky from SewandSnip here on the Minerva Crafts Blog today!

In my last guest blog post for Minerva I shared how I made the short sleeve version of the men's shirt from Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8180. 

This is a great basic shirt and can also be made in a long sleeve version for men & boys. The only additional process in this is to make the opening with a continuous lap (the binding that finishes the sleeve opening) before attaching the sleeve, then adding a cuff once the underarm seam has been completed.

The continuous lap can be a little fiddly so it's worth practicing this on a remnant first if you haven't done one before, so this is what I am here to guide you through today.

After cutting the appropriate pieces transfer the pattern markings onto the fabric. I have used pencil here just to make it easily seen but normally I would use basting stitch & tailor tacks.

Stitch along the stitch line you marked, making one stitch across end at pivot point.

Cut between stitching being careful not to snip through stitch at point.

To prevent fraying at this point I add a small dot of Fabric Glue & leave to dry before moving on but test this on a scrap of your fabric first.

With your continuous lap piece fold in 6mm along unmarked edge.

Pin the right side of this lap piece to wrong side of slashed edge matching the stitching line & dots.

Sew along stitching line & press seam towards lap.

Fold lap over to just cover stitching, pin & stitch close to edge.

Turn front edge of lap to inside & baste in place.

Stitch top of of lap diagonally to keep in place.

Make soft pleats as marked & baste.

Insert sleeve & sew side seam.

Apply interfacing to cuff, turn 1.5cm to wrong side along unmarked edge. Trim this fold to 6mm.

With right sides together pin cuff to sleeve, matching dots & easing cuff to fit.

Press seam towards cuff.

Fold cuff with right sides together, stitch ends & trim.

Turn cuff out, press & secure.

Make button hole at marking & add button.

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Guest Post: How to Improve Your Sewing and Crafts Skills

While there are an endless number of hobbies people can enjoy to pass the time, more and more find themselves sewing, crafting, quilting, and scrapbooking. While each has its own unique set of skills and possibilities, most people who enjoy one usually enjoy all of them at various points along the way. Considered great ways to relieve stress and keep your mind sharp, there are nevertheless a variety of ways in which you can improve your skills in each of these areas. If you love your crafting time but want to get even better at your projects, here are some ways to ensure you'll improve your sewing and crafts skills.

Image credit: eventfinda.co.nz

Designing your Sewing and Crafts Room

If you want to truly enjoy your crafting time, designate a room in your home to be the sewing and crafting area. Not only will it allow you to have all of your materials and equipment handy, but it will also give you a quiet area where you can create beyond your wildest dreams. And to help you relax and be even more creative, let as much natural light as possible shine into your room. Modern glass wall partitions, along with interior sliding doors, will let plenty of light in while also giving your room a modern and comfortable feel. And when you create storage space for your sewing and crafting room, adding glass closet doors will allow you to easily see what materials you have available when you become inspired to start your next great outfit or quilt. And as an added benefit, having modern glass wall partitions and interior sliding doors will allow your family to see what you're doing without disturbing you, allowing you to enjoy your special time in peace and quiet. If its glass closet doors or interior sliding doors you need for your room, working with the Sliding Door Company can let you create a relaxing and beautiful room you'll use time after time.

Pre-Wash your Fabrics

If you've sewed many outfits, you've probably had one or two that fit well after their completion, but then got a bit tight after they were washed. In most of these situations, this happened because the fabric shrunk after being washed. To avoid this problem, it's best to pre-wash your fabrics prior to sewing. By doing so, any shrinkage in the fabric will have already happened before the outfit is put together, ensuring you'll have a perfect fit when it's tried on for the first time.

Image credit: indiesew.com

Become a Technical Quilter

If quilting is your passion, committing yourself to the technical aspects of the craft can pay off in many ways. For example, learn to work accurately by starting out slowly and increasing your speed as you become more familiar with the patchwork process. If you want to create the perfect quilt, you've got to ensure your units or blocks fit together perfectly. To accomplish this, cut accurately, stitch accurately, and press accurately. If you do, you'll find your skills rapidly improving, which will let you begin to tackle more challenging projects.

Practice Makes Perfect

When it comes to scrapbooking, many people like the fact that there is no right or wrong way to do your project. However, by practicing your techniques over and over, you'll discover you can take your scrapbooking skills to the next level. Since those who are passionate about this hobby consider themselves artists, try to develop a signature style that will set your scrapbooking apart from all others. Experiment with different layouts and techniques, including stamping, photo placement, sticker placement, and so forth. If you're looking for fresh ideas, gather a few scrapbooking books or magazines together and spend an afternoon glancing through them. More than likely, you'll find plenty of interesting titbits of information that will make you more eager than ever to give them a try in your next project.

Image credit: brainscape.com

Social Sewing and Crafting

While you can learn plenty on your own, attending crafting or sewing classes with others who enjoy these hobbies will often give you a new perspective. Along with making plenty of new friends, you'll have the chance to learn from others who have a bit more experience than you. After all, it's great to meet a fellow quilter who has a trick or two she learned from her grandmother, or a classmate who has the same skill level as yourself and teams up with you so both of you can learn together. If this sounds like a fun and exciting way to learn some new skills, try checking the class offerings at your local community college or adult education center, or see if any of the local craft stores you frequent are offering any upcoming classes. By doing so, you'll find yourself making new friends and learning plenty of new skills.

Author Bio:

Carol Combs has been in the fashion industry for over 10 years. A mother of one, latest vogue and fashion trends keep her living hale and hearty. She aims to impart herself knowledge and experience to refine the look of womenfolk to look better than ever. She is also contributor on The General Post.

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Guest Post: The Moneta-Agnes Mash-Up

Hello everyone, it is so exciting to be guest blogging today for Minerva Crafts. I usually blog at naomisews.wordpress.com, where I love to share what I have been sewing.

Today I am thrilled to share my Moneta-Agnes mash-up!  This was going to be a pure Colette Moneta. I have seen so many across the internet, particularly on Instagram and it looked like a great option for a comfortable jersey dress, especially with those pockets.  I chose Minerva’s trailing leaves Ponte Roma Fabric which has a nice weight to it, but still drapes well for the full skirt.

I cut and sewed a size small, and even lined the bodice with a cream Ponte Roma from my stash. When I tried the bodice on however, the fit around the armscye was not great, and the top of the sleeve was loose and twisting around.  I wasn’t sure how to correct the pieces for myself, so I decided to merge the Moneta Sewing Pattern with one which I knew fitted my shape better - enter the Agnes Sewing Pattern by Tilly and the Buttons.

I laid the pieces for the Moneta bodice front and back over the equivalent pieces for the Agnes Top.  I wanted to keep the feel of the Moneta, but with the fit of Agnes, so I matched the waistline and then began to trace a new bodice piece.  I kept the armscye of the Agnes top, so that I could use the Agnes sleeve, narrowed the shoulders to match the Agnes, but kept the neckline distinctive high front neckline of the Moneta. 

I raised the back neckline a bit too, as I wasn’t planning on adding the collar, and thought it would keep me warmer!  I added the waist notches back in, to help match the bodice to the skirt.  It was a little bit of a hash because the two patterns have different seam allowances, so I just made sure to note which seam allowances were being used where!  Now that I know it is a success I think I will adjust the pattern pieces so that the seam allowance is the same throughout so that I don’t get confused next time I sew.

Fortunately, I had just enough fabric to recut the sleeves and bodice. I was very relieved to try them on and see that the fit was much improved! If you are struggling with fitting woes as I was, I would definitely recommend this as an easy fitting fix. Combining patterns is often simpler than redrafting parts yourself, especially if you have a tried and tested pattern which serves a similar purpose. At this point I could return to the ordinary Moneta instructions. I even remembered to add a piece of ribbon as my label.

I am very pleased with how my pattern combo has come together. As I suspected, this is a very comfortable and practical dress.  The waistline fits right on the smallest part of the waist, which helps to keep your silhouette in proportion, emphasising the smallest part before flaring out at the skirt.

When I put this on and told my husband and photographer how comfortable it was, his first comment was, “it looks very smart too”.  He is just right, so I decided to style my photographs two ways to show just how versatile this dress is.

With heels and a jacket, I could wear it for a wedding or to work. 

With boots and a cardigan it is perfect for the weekend. I’m not sure I am going to want to take it off!

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Guest Post: The Sew Over it Vintage Shirt Dress

Greetings from Trondheim, Norway! It’s me Sophie from www.sopbac.com doing a guest post for you here on Minerva Crafts blog. It’s such an honor for me to be here as a guest blogger, so thank you. These days I use my time mainly on sewing wedding stuff (I’m getting married this summer!!!) and pattern testing, and if not I’m still a selfish seamstress. You can read about my makes on my personal blog. 

When I’m not sewing or doing other crafts I work at a bank as a case manager. Enters the Vintage Shirt dress from Sew Over It. Did you know that Minerva Crafts stock the full range of Sew Over It Sewing Patterns now?

I just recently started working in the bank, and banks have dress codes. In my department it doesn’t really matter, but you should look somewhat nice. I have heels under my desk and put them on in the morning. That type. So with new job, one needs a new wardrobe. So what is more perfect for a bank job than a shirt dress? The Vintage Shirt Dress Sewing Pattern was perfect for this type of job. I’m naming the dress Flash after the sloth in Zootopia, he works at the DMV, but you get the gist. 

 

I’ve had this pattern for a long time, just waiting for the right fabric. So when I found this lovely blue floral crepe Viscose Fabric I knew it was it. Then the sewing began.

I’ve never sewed this pattern before, but I know that Sew Over It makes great, I’m sorry - I mean G-R-E-A-T, patterns that don’t need much alterations on my part other than lengthening  the bodice.  

I made the pattern in a straight up size UK 10 and the fit is just as I suspected. It’s a little loosely fitted as the pattern said, but I’ll be wearing it with a belt anyway so it doesn’t really matter. It’s nice to know that the dress still fits even after eating Friday cakes. You see, it’s a tradition at work that we have cake at 2 o’clock on Fridays. I love the feeling of wearing this incredible fabric. It is so soft, and drapey, but a huge bonus is that it’s not difficult to work with! I was amazed at how wonderfully easy it was considering it was a viscose. 

I also got these pretty 15mm Flower Buttons in cream that I adore. I have trouble finding pretty buttons with two holes in them here in Norway. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t looked closely enough. Either way, I think it makes the dress complete.

A good shirt dress needs to have a good collar. I have had trouble lining up the collars in some other shirt dress patterns, but this one was easy. The inctuctions was clear and the notches was marked. The only think I needed to do was sew straight! You can also see the gathered bodice front on this picture. I didn't know the pattern had that detail until I was about to sew it. A nice surprise. 

I don’t know how you do it, but when I cut out the pattern I cut from the wrong side of the fabric. Sometimes, when I work a time staring at the wrong side of the fabric I somehow think that the wrong side is a bit prettier than the right side, but then I see the right side again I understand why that is the right one. 

The guts of the dress is so pretty to look at when everything has a clean finish. Ruth (my dressformer) has been very excited to show you the insides of the dress. Take it away Ruth.

I did some small hacks to the pattern. If you have read any of my blog post earlier you know I add pockets to everything I make. The Vintage Shirt dress doesn’t come with any pockets, but since the skirt is an A-line there is an option for pockets. Since there is separate pieces for the bodice and the skirt I made an in-seam pockets that are sewn into the waist so they aren't flopping around under your skirt. 

Another itsy bitsy hack I did was adding two belt loops on either side of the side seams. I feel a bit weird wearing a belt without the loops, it gets disoriented at times and there’s such a simple solution for it. I also hang my ID-card on the belt, and the belt loops helps the belt stay in place and not being sagged by the weight of the card.

I actually just recently discovered Minerva Crafts. Sewing isn’t all that “popular” (even though it’s getting there!) here in Norway, so there isn’t as much to choose from. The fabric choices are limited and the prices are high, with shipping it get’s even higher. So when I discovered Minerva Crafts and their huge range of EVERYTHING I was so thrilled. And, and, and the shipping cost to Norway is only £ 2,99 no matter how much you buy! The shipping cost is actually lower than what I can get it for here and the options are endless. I love it, I’m a Minerva Crafts maniac now. I hope you liked my guest post, and I hope to be doing it again in the future. Smiles on!

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