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Archives: January 2017

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#FabricFriday - 6th Jan


#PatternOfTheWeek - Mon 23rd Jan


#FabricFriday - 20th Jan


Guest Post: The Perfect New Year Sewing Project - The Sewaholic Dunbar Top

Hello Everyone!

Its Alex here from Alex's Adventures in Fabric and I am super excited to be writing a guest post here on the Minerva Crafts Blog!

Like most people, I usually start January desperate to get back in the gym after all that festive feasting!  What better motivation to get back than brand new, me-made gym kit? I decided to make the Sewaholic Dunbar Top Pattern. This is a sports vest with a built-in sports bra.  I loved the idea of a built-in sports bra - perfect for pulling on quickly for an early morning gym session, plus I've never sewn any kind of lingerie before and I'm always up for a new sewing challenge!

I chose some lovely, medium weight Cotton Jersey Fabric in turquoisejade for the main part of the body and anthracite grey for the contrast detail. I actually prefer gym clothes in cotton for comfort so these were perfect.

I started the project on one of those strange 'limbo' days between Christmas and New Year.  Not only is sewing the perfect activity for those aimless days, it is still legitimately fine to fuel the creative process with seasonal treats (hence the chocolate coins!):

There were a lot of pattern pieces to cut in three different fabrics (this project uses Power Net for the bra in addition to the main and contrast fabrics).  Although I have an Overlocker, I decided to make the majority of this project on my normal sewing machine, to give more control, especially around some of the trickier details such as the sweetheart contrast detail on the front:

I really took my time matching the pieces to make this detail and was generally pleased with how it turned out, although the point isn't exactly in the middle of the neckline, which is frustrating.  

The bra was slightly confusing to make, and I had to re-read the instructions several times before they sunk in.  I've never seen with power net before and found it a bit tricky.  I felt like I was constructing the bra and not really getting anywhere for ages.  In the end, it came together pretty well with some steady stitching and a lot of pins:

When it came to attaching the bra to the main body, I misread the instructions again and ended up sewing round all exposed areas of neckline, armhole openings and shoulders before realising I couldn't turn it through.

Not for the first time during this project, I became closely reacquainted with my seam ripper...

When attaching the binding to the neckline and armholes, I found that the length given in the instructions wasn't enough and I had to make more. The finish on the binding wasn't brilliant at first, but I got better with practice and would definitely be more confident using this method again for stretch fabrics in future. Finishing the rest of the project was quite straightforward, attaching elastic for the bottom of the bra and hemming the main vest. I decided to use Foam Bra Cups for the bra, for extra support and also a bit of padding.  I was nervous that these would move around while I was working out, so I stitched them in place by hand.

Although my first attempt at the Dunbar top is far from perfect, I really enjoyed making this pattern.  Once I got my head around the instructions and some of the new techniques, I enjoyed the challenge:

I wore it to the gym for the first time on Saturday morning for the ultimate test.  It was fantastically comfortable - much more so than any of my existing sports tops worn with a separate sports bra. The only adjustment I need to make is to change the elastic at the bottom of the bra for wider elastic to give some more support. The patterns calls for wider elastic than I used, I was just trying to use up odds and ends from my stash. I'll definitely be making this again. Once of the beauties of this pattern is that it uses a relatively small amount of each type of fabric so it's a great stash buster. Plus, it's easier to go to the gym when you have new clothes to wear!

Thanks for reading,

Alex x


Guest Post: Boxer Shorts Tutorial by Nicky Broom

A great little gift idea for a man or little boy - the Boxer Short!

Materials Needed

Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8180

1.20m Cotton Fabric for Men, 0.90 for Boys.  Max amount, less required for wider fabrics.

Matching Sewing Thread

19mm wide Elastic

The boxer shorts are made using 3 pattern pieces; front, back & waist elastic casing. Fold pre-washed fabric so it's double with selvage edges together, pin and cut required size.

Transfer markings onto fabric. On left front section mark stitching line with hand basting or using dressmakers carbon paper.

Stitch front to back at leg seam & repeat for other leg.

Finish seams as you go by overlooking, zigzag stitch or pinking shears. (I also finished centre seam edge before joining in next step)

With right sides together pin centre seam, matching inner leg seam & marking. Sew from back upper edge to large dot. Re-sew over the top to strengthen seam.

Baste from waist top edge to large dot along centre front line. Clip to seam line on right hand side seam allowance to allow fly extension to fold towards the Left front.

Press fly extension in place & baste across top edge.

From right side top stitch left front along marked stitching line. Remove basting.

Stitch side seams.

Taking the 2 casing pieces pin right sides together right side seam then left seam leaving an opening between the dots.

Press seams open & stitch seam allowance to casting to stop elastic getting stuck in them when being threaded through.

Fold casing in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Baste raw edges together.

With the gap in casing facing out, pin casing to rightside of shorts matching side seams & centres. Stitch in place.

Finish raw edges. Fold casing up with seam edge facing down. Press.

Cut elastic to waist measurement plus 2.5cm, thread through & secure with safety pin before trying on to fit. 

When adjusted, securely stitch ends of elastic overlapping.

Slip stitch opening.

Check fullness is even all the way around then topstitch through casing & elastic along side seams to prevent elastic from twisting.

To finish hem turn raw edge by 6mm, press then turn up a 2.5cm hem. Stitch & press

You now have your finished shorts :)

To read more from Nicky please head over to her blog SewandSnip!


#PatternOfTheWeek - New Look 6298

Would you like to make a dress that you could sew in a very short time, have a choice of neckline, a choice of sleeve length, a choice of hemline and the choice of fab easy patch pockets that partly sew into the side seam? Add to that made in jersey fabric, no zip, raglan sleeves and a very slight fitted shape which will hide those lumps and bumps left over from Christmas, well look no further than New Look Sewing Pattern 6298. 
At first glance it looks like an elongated jumper, especially version D where there is a separate band sewn round the bottom edge. This band is slightly smaller than the bottom edge, therefore when stitching, the band is stretched slightly to fit the bottom edge of the dress.
I have to say I do think this hemline is very flattering when one is a little apple shaped (guilty!), So if this does appeal to you then I have great pleasure in offering it to you as our #patternoftheweek with 50% off for this week only. Each design is for stretch knits only and do remember if you are unsure of whether there is enough stretch in the fabric just use the pick-a-knit rule as shown on the back of the pattern envelope. Basically this means a 4" piece needs to be able to stretch to 6" reasonably easily for this pattern to be successful. From 4" to 6" is the amount of stretch needed for most patterns, however always check.
Here at Minerva we have 100's of Jersey fabrics but as usual I have tried to replicate the look on the pattern. Yet again I have to mention my favourite range of Ponte Roma Fabric. This is such an amazing fabric, I love it to bits. This comes in an amazing 22 colours. My favourite at the moment is Marl Brown which would quite replicate version B.
Looking at version A the fabric that springs to mind is our Poly Lycra Jersey Fabric. At first glance you would think it was this fabric. This is a 96% polyester and 4% lycra fabric at £9.99 a mt. 
And remember if you are new to dressmaking, a busy pattern can 'hide' one or two little errors!
My next choice, our mambo Spandex Jersey Fabric, replicates version C. This fabric is made from Rayon and Spandex and is also £9.99 a mt. I know on the pattern envelope it is just a drawing but they have tried to show how good it would look if you take time to match the stripes on those pockets and also line up the stripes on the sleeves with the main body.
My last choice for today is a fabulous Boucle Fabric that comes in 3 fab colours - Teal, Purple and Dark Red. Although my choice would usually be the Teal, I keep looking at the red, so rich and warm looking...
This fabric is a combination of 85% Acrylic, 10% Polyester and 5% Wool. It does say to hand wash this fabric but I must say I would be tempted to wash a little piece of this fabric before cutting out just to see what happens. I am pretty sure hand washing is suggested because of the wool content but at just 5% wool I don't think it would shrink much. So if you cut a strip of fabric off, wash and dry it, see what happens. If you are happy with that then wash and dry the whole piece and off you go! Our website description below describes it well and at just £8.99 per mt I feel it is a good buy.

"This beautiful jersey knit fabric has a small amount of wool fibres which give it that soft and fuzzy textured appearance. The boucle texture is just gorgeous and helps give this fabric some weight, making it ideal for making slouchy cardigans and sweaters, skirts and dresses".

As always thanks so much for reading and happy sewing!

Annette xx


#FabricFriday - Denim!

We're talking Denim Fabric today but where to start. Some look upon denim as their favourite pair of jeans or the go-to garment when all else fails. Every fashion shop has rows upon rows of denim garments, both Winter and Summer. So I think we can safely say Denim is everywhere and certainly here to stay. 
The first time I made a garment in Denim was way way back in the late 70's. I made a pair of trousers/jeans. At the time I didn't think it possible to make a pair of 'proper' jeans. The only denim available was quite a heavy denim, certainly not the easiest fabric to work with but somehow I managed to make some brilliant back pockets! Strips of denim were plaited and placed behind a 'window' of denim. Very hard to describe but I can assure you they were my pride and joy and bear in mind I could only look at the jeans in the shop for ideas and remember that info till I got home, what I would have given for a phone/camera (obviously unheard of then) to take a quick pic! 
I look back at this now and smile because although I have still never made a pair of 'proper' jeans, many people have. Take a look at Winnie's blog post on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network and see what a fantastic pair of 'proper' jeans she made. Superb. Although there are some 'proper' jeans patterns in all the main stream patterns, my favourite at the moment is Closet Case Ginger Pattern. This Indie pattern looks exactly like a 'proper' pair of jeans and therefore encourages you into having a go.
Also, way back then, it was the 'in' thing to wear denim garments together as in a shirt or jacket along with your jeans. Over the years this changed to just a pair of jeans or just a jacket but never more than one piece worn together. They do say what goes round comes round because look at the fashion world now, it is again 'cool' to wear denim outfits alongside each other!
So all this leads me to now say "The world is now your oyster" if you fancy making a denim piece. The choice goes way beyond the heavy denims of old (although yes they are still available). This season we have so much choice ranging from different weights to spotted, striped, flowered just to name a few. But today I want to show you the absolute latest to arrive here at Minerva.
First is our gorgeous new Stretch Denim Fabric which comes in 3 colours light, medium and dark blue. This fabric has just that little bit of stretch, similar to a stretch cotton, that makes it a joy to sew. This fabric would easily adapt to a very feminine style such as Kwik Sew Sewing Pattern 4068. This style is so easy to wear and would look fab in the light blue. I love the 3 buttons down the front of the dress and I've chosen these Heart Shape Buttons in red. Wouldn't they look nice?
Taking the buttons a stage further, take a look at our range of Dress it Up Buttons. These are a fantastic range of colouful and varied shape buttons that covers so many subjects, far too many to mention. For here and now I chose 'April Showers' to show you. How pretty and unusual would these look down the front of a dress, there are 8 pieces in 4 colours, 2 of each. I chose 3 of the colours in my next photo but if they looked a little too much, 2 buttons in 1 colour would look brill.
Two shades of this fabric could be used together as in the following photo, using KwikSew Sewing Pattern 4133 and why not go for the ultimate shirt look and use Fashion Snaps down the front as suggested on this pattern. It makes a change from buttons and buttonholes.
Moving on to another denim, we now stock a 4oz Washed Denim Fabric which as you would imagine is fabulously lightweight and soft and would feel wonderful against your skin. It comes in 3 fab shades of blue.
Apart from obvious choices like shirts, dresses etc., this would be ideal where gathers are used. Take a look at the following photo and you can see a fine fabric would be needed for these dungarees, Kwik Sew 4138, because of the gathers. Fab price too, £8.99 per mt and 58" wide.
Last but certainly not least is our new Embossed Denim Fabric. This fabric with a bit of stretch and comes in one shade only but is a very rich blue which is slightly embossed and again at £8.99 per mt, 58" wide is a good buy.
As you can see from the photo this fabric would be perfect for these dungarees or take it a stage further and add some red Stretch Cotton Fabric as a contrast. Take a peek at the top right hand corner of the pattern, New Look Sewing Pattern 6446, see how they've used the red contrast.
Just to throw a spanner in the works take a look at all the gorgeous bias-bindngs that are available these days
I chose this print at random but how pretty does it look? This effect would look great either as a trim on a garment or something around the home and we have so many choices of Patterned Bias Bindings here at Minerva, they really are worth taking a look at and having a think about how you can incorporate them into your designs.
Yes my fellow sewists Denim has come a long way from when it was first introduced as a 'work' fabric in the 1800's. It was produced as a very strong, very tightly woven, very hard wearing and very durable fabric for work wear (usually dungarees) in America. Thank goodness it has come a way since would we cope without our jeans?!
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx

#KnitPicksforEwe - Sirdar Wild

Wild from Sirdar looks like the name suggests. For me it is the most exciting textured yarn I have seen in some time. Take a look at the colours they are simply stunning. 
I class myself as a compulsive knitter and I love knitting in mainly DK and Aran yarns, working in textured, cabled and lace stitches. However I do like something 'easy' on the go. This I class as my 'watching TV' knitting - which is watching TV and occasionally glancing down at the knitting. Wild fits the bill perfectly and on running my fingers along the length of the yarn I know this will be a dream to knit. It is worked on 8mm needles so although a little thicker than chunky it doesn't exactly fit in the super chunky category. The range of Knitting Patterns for this yarn is pretty good, they include ladies and childrens designs plus accessories and even some designs for the home not forgetting the cuddly Husky toy (which is mine and Vicki's favourite!) 
Two patterns really appealed to me, 7970 which is a longline cardigan, either round neck or V neck, coming in sizes 24 to 46 chest or 7968 which is a kimono style wrapover cardigan with a belt, again in the same brilliant size range...
I eventually decided on 7970 for 3 reasons. First, I really love the straight style of this and may knit it a little longer. Second I have some fab buttons in mind and third I fancy knitting the little snood. This takes just one ball and incidentally the pattern comes on the back of the ball band. I think this will give an alternative look to this cardi.
I had no hesitation in choosing the colour, 400 which is aptly named Chinchilla.
I am a size 12 so have decided to knit the 36/38 which actually measures 40". A lot of knitters take too much notice of the 'actual measurement' usually saying something like "that will be too big for me so I'll do a size less than that". My rule is - if you like the fit of the model's garment on the pattern cover then go off the chest/bust measurement. The excess is for ease of movement but if you want it to be very fitted then go off the actual measurements. Remember it is the garment on the pattern and how it fits that model that appealed to you in the first place!
So here is the start of my knitting...
I'll keep you updated and thanks for reading. 
Annette xx

Guest Post: Tie & Pocket Hankie Tutorial by Nicky Broom

Perfect for a gift or simply to co-ordinate an outfit. Here is a quick make using Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8180.

Materials Needed

0.90m Cotton Lawn Fabric (Pre washed & pressed)

0.70m Lightweight Fusible Interfacing

Matching Sewing Thread

Cutting Out

With sewing getting the straight of grain correct is an important aspect as it allows a the garment to hang correctly. As I was using a woven fabric I used the tear method to find the thread going across the fabric.

To do this make a small cut through selvage edge, then grip both sides of fabric firmly & pull apart.


Iron the pattern pieces to ensure there are no wrinkles distorting the shape. The tie consists of two pieces. Lay these following the grainline & secure in place. I have used a mixture of pins & weights to prevent pattern moving.

Do the same with the 2 interfacing pattern pieces.


Use hand basting to transfer fold lines & markings to fabric.

Join the two sections together at centre, matching the dots, press seam open.

Apply interfacing, overlapping at centre, making sure that it is placed between the two fold lines you marked earlier.

Fold ends along foldlines (right sides together). Secure & stitch.

Trim seam & corner then turn out the right way. Press.

Now fold tie right sides together, matching notches, pin and stitch long edges together.

Turn tie right side out and press.

Hand basting can now be removed. As an added extra why not add a strip of ribbon to back to provide a tie stay for narrow end to be threaded through.

Pocket Hankie

For the matching pocket Hankie cut a square of fabric measuring 26cm.

To neaten edges turn a narrow fold to wrong side & stitch close to edge. 

Then trim close to stitch line. Repeat this on all 4 sides. 

Finally turn each edge over again, stitch and press. 

Now you have the perfect matching pair.

To read more from Nicky please head over to her blog SewandSnip!


#PatternOfTheWeek - Simplicity 8218

I have to confess, if you read my blog post last Monday for #patternoftheweek, I didn't send you any season's greeting's, oh dear. Actually twas a little cheat on my part, I wrote that blog post pre-Xmas. So here I am wishing you all a very Happy Sewing filled New Year! So for my first (proper) #patternoftheweek for 2017 I have chosen something warm and cosy especially as snow is predicted this weekend! The Sewing Pattern is Simplicity 8218 and consists of 4 designs for jackets in 3 different lengths, 2 of which have a shawl collar and and 2 a cross-over front with collar. 
Just look at version B and imagine it made up in this Gorgeous Fabric. This has to be the most luxurious fabric to feel and even the wrong side is lovely and soft and so versions A, B and C that are not lined would feel amazing made in this to wear next to your skin.
Our website description of this is; 
"This gorgeous sherpa fleece fabric is beautifully soft and is designed to have the look of lambs fleece.  The fabric has a thick, textured pile on one side and a knitted backing on the other. This sherpa is specifically a dressmaking fabric as it is soft and has a bit of drape and comes in a fabulous selection of colours. It is perfectly suited to making coats and jackets, but could also be used to make luxurious pet products, blankets, cushions and other soft furnishings for the home"
It mustn't be confused with ordinary Sherpa Fleece Fabric which although quite soft on the outside is definitely a little harsher on the wrong side. Our website description of this is; 
"Sherpa Fleece is a more heavy weight fleece fabric, originally designed to have the feel and softness of lambs fleece. The fabric has a thick, textured pile on one side and a knitted backing on the other. Sherpa fleece fabric is machine washable and has many uses, the most popular being pet products, blankets, cushions and outdoor clothing"   
My choice would be use the second one for pets and household items purely because of wear-ability and keep the luxurious one for yourself and at just £10.99 per metre it is just £1.00 more than the original sherpa fleece. Take a look at the 11 amazing colours as well. This teddy brown is another of my favourites...
At first glance of version B, it looks like a welt pocket and because of the nature of this fabric I wasn't too keen, but on looking at the instructions I find it is actually a patch pocket with the opening on a diagonal, take a look at the following photo's.
Easy Peasy!
My next choice of fabric would again be suitable for any of the designs but I have shown it again alongside version B. This gorgeous Fur Fabric which is a Metallic Finish Swirl Texture Luxury Fur is priced at £14.99 per mt.
This is one of those fabrics where a photo does not do it justice, I can only describe it as divine. Our website description may help... 
"This beautiful fur fabric is ever so soft, you have to feel it to believe it. The fur pile is a dark grey or black colour called platinum and it has a glossy metallic finish with a swirly texture. This results in a stunning looking fur which has an expensive look. We picture this fabric being made into jackets and coats, as well as soft furnishings for around the home including cushions and throws" 
Take a look at my next photo...
Isn't that something else? I'll start with the price. It is £38.99 per mt but if you make something like version D, it isn't going to cost a fortune because you don't need that much with it being 60" wide. The amount you do need varies from 0.80 of a mt to 1.30 mt depending what size you make and considering the sizes go from bust 30.5" to 46" I don't think that's too bad. 
I took note as well that with fur fabrics being recommended for this pattern all the pieces are cut the same way on the cutting layouts. That means you don't need to 'add' any amount. Note this version is lined so no tricky facing's to contend with! 
Our website description of this Luxury Fur is... 
"Treat yourself to a little luxury with this stunning faux fur fabric. This fabric is so soft to touch, within just a few seconds of handling it you can feel the quality is second to none. The colour of the fur pile is a blend of beige and grey shades. This blend of colour creates a stunning effect with movement as you see all the shades shining through. The back of the fabric is a plain woven. There is lots you could make with this fabric and simple styles will show it off the best. A coat or jacket would definitely be a head turner! Or you could make a gorgeous handbag. Or why not treat your home to some new cushions or throws and add the wow factor with this stunning fabric"
It does mention on the pattern that it is ideal for Ponte Roma Jersey Fabrics so instead of me mentioning my all time favourite (oh go on then it's our plain Ponte Roma that comes in 22 amazing colours, can't help myself) I thought how about something cheerful to brighten up these dark dismal days. So the following photo shows a very colouful heavy-ish Jersey Fabric, that would look ideal made up in version A or C.
Bear in mind that versions A and B have Dolman sleeves which are a loose sleeve cut in one piece with the body of a garment, thus, when working with a busy patterned fabric such as this, it shows the pattern at its best. I always feel the less pieces the better for a busy patterned fabric. Having said that, the sleeves on version C are easy peasy. Take a look.
So here I am at the end of my first 'official' blog post of 2017. I'm looking forward to sharing so much with you over the coming months, I can't wait!!
Thank you for reading,
Annette xx

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