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Archives: February 2020

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Sewing Your Own Underwear

Have you ever thought about sewing your own underwear?
Have you got scared about the idea?
Have you been lurking at the Instagram accounts and hashtags dedicated to it for a while and still done nothing to actually make a bra or pants?
I’m here to tell you that you have nothing to be worried about. Between some picot elastic and a nice mesh fabric there’s not much you need to invest into before embarking on the journey of underwear making. You don’t even need to buy a pattern. Yes, you heard me (read me) right. I don’t know why this was one of those sewing projects I really feared but I know now that the actual process was far more enjoyable and satisfying than I could imagine.
When I spotted this blue and yellow roses Mesh Fabric from Minerva I knew exactly that it would become an underwear set. I was kindly given half a meter of this fabric and that was more than enough to do both pants and bralette and that’s even taking into account that one cup I had to cut twice because it might have been eaten by the vacuum cleaner... might have. The point is that I still have some of it left despite my somewhat successful effort of pattern matching which meant that I wasn’t overly frugal with the fabric.
For my set I chose a duo of free patterns; Madalynne’s Barrett bralette and Megan Nielsen’s Accacia pants. 
I previously used the bralette pattern for a bikini top hack (fabric also from Minerva and I can totally recommend buying it if you’re after a classic black swimwear). I have never though tried sewing my own underwear and I was itching to finally give it a go.
The instructions were great on both patterns and I have done a toile using fabric from my stash. After all I wasn’t going to cut into the good stuff without seeing if I can actually do it... I am glad I did so because that gave me a chance to fine tune some details like neatly finishing all seams and getting a more comfortable length of bra straps. 
Also, it taught me to always (!) use tissue paper when sewing mesh only because my machine loves to eat it. I did have to unscrew the needle plate to get the fabric out at some point. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re using a different lining fabric. I used plain pink mesh from my stash and that was just a bit too light and slippery for my feed dogs on a 1/4 inch seam. 
Finally, I decided to pull the lining out by about 2mm all around for all pieces because on my toile version the lining was a bit loose and didn’t lie flat under the mesh, which is not a massive issue but not as aesthetically pleasing as it could be.
I’m totally in love with the end result and with the whole idea of lingerie sewing.
I think I truly caught the bug so don’t be surprised if you see more lingerie sets coming out from under my needle. This set of patterns is great for your first attempt at lingerie sewing as it gently introduces you to using picot elastic, installing rings and sliders on a bra strap and leaves you with a very nice and comfortable result (particularly in hot summer months). 
Are you convinced yet?
Till the next time!
Joanna @ Sew Your Happy

A Ponte Blackwood Cardigan

Hello again stitchers!

Today I am lucky enough to be reviewing another Lady McElroy Fabric! Today it is a ponte roma in the most beautiful bright red. So let’s get straight to the details! It is 58 inches wide and composed of polyester, viscose and spandex. It has about 40% stretch on the width and about 11% vertically.

I had initially planned to make a Lindy Petal Skirt by Itch to Stitch but I know I would only get occasional wear out of a skirt and this ponte feels so nice, I wanted something I could put in heavy rotation. I decided a Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet could be worn with a lot more outfits and throughout the year!

The pattern calls for fabric with at least 12% vertical stretch but since I was going for a size slightly larger than my measurements I didn’t think it would be an issue. The fabric was easy enough to cut out and I just about squeezed it out of the 2m I had.

I had previously read through the instructions and construction of the garment seemed simple enough and the previous Helen’s Closet patterns I have used were both excellently drafted. I figured it would be a refreshingly quick make and was so excited to get started.

The trouble started with the first stitch. I kept getting skipped stitches when trying to zigzag the pockets and just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I changed to a fresh ballpoint needle, rethreaded my machine repeatedly and experimented with my stitch width and length. In the end I found the triple stretch stitch to be the best of the bunch and managed to attach the pockets.

After wrangling with the pockets the project languished in the naughty corner for several days. When I returned to the actual assembly it was as easy as I had imagined. My overlocker did struggle a lot with the bulk where I had to sew over the shoulder seams and where the bottom band attached but I got there in the end.

I really love the fit of this cardigan. The neckband is applied in a way in which some volume at the back of the neck is eased into the neckband. This allowed room for movement and comfort in the shoulders and back without the cardigan wanting to slide off your shoulders. The neckband sits quite snugly against the back of the neck.

I was really delighted with how the fabric presses. For a relatively thick knit I was able to get nice clean, sharp creases on the bottom band and neck band. Overall, I think my struggling with the topstitching shows in the end product but it isn’t visible enough to me to put me off wearing it. In fact, I’m getting a crazy amount of wear out of it thanks to this unpredictable weather we are having!

What are your tried and true patterns when working with ponte roma? I have a plan for this fabric in a simple long sleeve dress for the autumn, it’s so cosy!

Happy stitching!

Oonagh @oonagh.casey


A Scuba Deer & Doe Sirocco

Ever wondered what the most popular pattern of the summer is? I would hazard a guess it's the Deer & Doe Sirocco - it seems to be flying off the shelves judging by the number of posts on Instagram and challenges with getting hold of the pattern! Since I saw this jumpsuit earlier this year I was excited to make it, but when I saw it was out of stock my heart sank.  
Nevertheless I spotted this Scuba Crepe Fabric at Minerva and saved it away for the time when I could get going with this make and thankfully I found the pattern just in time! The fabric is a black scuba crepe with light yellow flowers and green leaves all over - a great fabric that could be worn either in summer or winter.
Starting out with this, I was thoroughly confused by the waist measurement as it has a lot of negative ease. It took me a while to think through the size I needed and I wouldn't say I got it quite right. I graded between two sizes - slightly larger on the hips and smaller on the top half. I probably wouldn't do this in future and would go down a size on the bottom half, particularly if my fabric had the recommended level of stretch.
This was my first make with a deer and doe pattern and I was very impressed. The pattern is really easy to use with clear instructions and great illustrations to follow.  This didn't stop me going wrong on the pleats near the pockets but a quick stalk on Instagram tells me many others have done the same!
Another area I struggled with was ensuring all layers were captured when attaching the waistband. As I was using a scuba crepe with a decent weight I found it was too thick for my overlocker and so I had to try a few different ways to keep it together. Next time I would use a stretch stitch before overlocking to ensure it was even. As I went straight for the overlocker my waistband is a bit wonky but I don't think it matters too much.
Once the make was finished, I was heading off on holiday with the in-laws to their boat in the south of France. This provided the perfect backdrop for a photo shoot although in 40 degree temperatures it wasn't quite the weather for scuba! I'm sure I'll be wearing this all the time in London - it's a great weight for in between seasons and the fabric can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
I enjoyed my first time sewing with scuba and with the Deer & Doe pattern and I'm certain I'll be doing both again soon!
Thanks for reading,
1 Comment

Tie-Sleeved T-Shirt, FBAs On Knits And Future Pattern Hacking Possibilities

I am now of that certain age when I migrate towards tops and dresses etc with sleeves. Sleeves can be elbow length or slightly shorter...just so long as they cover my, now, not so skinny arms. So the recent trend towards the ‘cold shoulder’ style has been is so much cooler than a full sleeve but still cunningly disguises those less than perfect areas.

The June issue of Burda has a lovely top with split sleeves that tie to create a ‘cold shoulder’ effect (style #118/6/2019). The pattern calls for jersey so when I saw this fun Cotton Jersey Fabric stocked by Minerva I put in my request. The fabric is made by the Danish ‘Stof’ company so, as expected, it is a lovely quality and beautifully soft. The print is of fun London icons including symbols from British pop culture. It’s printed on a ‘washed denim’ blue background.

As always, I washed and tumble dried the fabric before cutting out to ensure that any shrinkage was accounted for. The pattern comes in sizes 34 to 44 (European) so I needed to grade up as I am a size 46. I also needed to make a full bust adjustment as I am a D cup, as opposed to the standard B cup for which the pattern is drafted. As I am working with a knit I didn’t want a dart in the bodice. There are three ways to add an FBA to a knit without creating a dart. The first is to use the slide and pivot method. The second is to make a classic FBA but instead of sewing the dart, to make a gentle curve and ease the excess into the side seam when sewing. The third method, and the one I used, is to create a classic FBA side dart; then close the dart to create a waist dart; then draw a new dart from the dart points on the waistline to the arm scye near the side seam and then close this dart. Finally smooth the hem line with a hip curve.

Helen’s Closet has an excellent tutorial here.. It does create a rather impressive looking piece of paper pasting / origami but it gave a perfect fit and is a technique that is definitely worth mastering as it will massively improve your finished garments. Once all the FBA pattern adjustments are done the construction is relatively simple - even though the pattern is graded as intermediate.

The pattern is quite fabric hungry as the two piece sleeve pattern pieces are cut twice so that the reverse of the fabric isn’t visible when the finished sleeves are tied. 

I requested 2m and I needed it! Take care cutting out to ensure you have the correct number and orientation of the sleeve pieces and that you have properly marked all the notches as these will be important when you come to insert the sleeves.

I used stay tape to stabilise the shoulders before joining the shoulder seams. After sewing the side seams, the interior and exterior sleeves are constructed by joining each front and back sleeve pieces at the underarm seams giving you four sleeves. The sleeves are then placed right sides together. Stitch down the straight end sides, around the ties and along the bottom leaving the sleeve insertion seam open. Turn the sleeves right side out. The sleeves are then inserted by matching the sleeve seam to the side seam and then matching the notches so that the open edges sit at the shoulder seam. The neck band is a standard rectangle, joined at the short ends to create a loop then folded wrong sides together then stitched to the neck opening with the seam at the centre back. I sewed everything on the overlocker with the exception of the hem and top stitching the neckband where I used a straight stitch and my walking foot...the neck is wide enough not to need a stretch stitch / twin needle.

I was very please with the finished result – although, as my husband laughingly pointed out, my pattern placement could be a little better as I have a large red bus with a ‘I’m here’ right over my left bust!! Hopefully, others will not be as sharp eyed!

I think this is a pattern that could easily be hacked to create other sleeve options. For example, shortening the long tie shaped pieces to a small overlap and then securing with a decorative button rather than a bow could be an interesting twist. Alternatively, the sleeve tie part of the pattern pieces could be removed and the straight edge joined all the way down to the edge of the sleeve with the sleeve slit closed by adding a cuff. Both of these options would be less fabric hungry as the sleeve pieces wouldn’t need to be cut twice. Having done the hard work of the FBA, I will definitely be sewing more versions of this top.

Thanks for reading,

Kathie @hidensilk


T-Shirt Crazy

Sew… I’ve gone t-shirt crazy and made a batch of Stellan tees using this French Terry Loop Back Jersey.

The fabric is described as medium weight and is a nice warm blue (if you can describe blue as warm) colour with white mottling, what is the proper name for this pattern on fabric? It has a two way stretch so make sure you take this into account when cutting out your pattern otherwise you will end up with no stretch in the direction you need it.

I was hoping to make the Linden sweatshirt but when I received the fabric I wasn’t sure if it was a heavy enough weight of fabric and didn’t want it to look saggy so decided to make a couple of t-shirts instead as you can never have enough t-shirts right? With autumn/winter just around the corner they will make some really snuggly t-shirts to layer under a pair of dungarees or make a cosy pyjama t-shirt. Oh you could totally make a pair of jogging bottoms for some very comfy lounge wear.

The fabric is lovely and soft and super wide and I easily managed to get three t-shirts cut out of 2m of fabric. I used the French Navy Stellan tee pattern which has a really nice cropped-ish slim but boxy shape and the best part is the pattern is free! I have so many plans for all the Stellan tees.

The fabric washes really well and only needed a quick iron, if you aren’t a fan of ironing you could probably get away without ironing your finished garments, yay! There is some rolling at the edges but this was only really noticeable when sewing the neck band and reinforcement binding. Even though there was some rolling the fabric was still easy to work with and I just used a few more pins to keep it in place.

The pattern instructions are that you construct the tee on the overlocker. You can use your machine but may want to increase the seam allowance as it is designed for overlocking so is only 6mm. I do like the finish with the overlocker and although the fabric doesn’t fray where its loop backed it meant that there was lots of spidery bits where the loops had been cut during cutting out. The pattern has the most amazing back neck reinforcement binding which I often see on ready to wear t-shirts but not of sewing patterns. It hides where the overlocking meets and makes it look super neat and professional.  I also finished the sleeves and hem on the overlocker before turning them up to hem. I used my twin needle for the topstitching which I was a bit worried about because it’s always a bit hit and miss but it worked perfectly first time on all three tees.

I really find that batch sewing speeds up the process and is perfect if you only have small chunks of sewing time. I had some spare time so I whiped them up in a day.

So that I didn’t have three identical t-shirts I took them on a day out to Happy Fabrics and used heat transfer vinyl to add sewing themed slogans to the front of them. I love the pop of colour its added and made them even more unique.

Thanks for reading,

Georgina @sewinthegarden

1 Comment

The Yanta Overalls

As soon as Helen’s closet released the Yanta overalls, I was online and purchasing the pattern (there’s nothing like a new release discount to spur me on!). I haven’t owned a pair of dungarees since I was about 7 years old, but they look so so comfy, I was intrigued to try making a pair.  

Sometimes once an idea forms in my mind, I cant stop thinking about it, and the only way to move on is for it to jump to the top of my sewing queue and get sewn up straight away. I’m a huge PDF pattern fan, but I ALWAYS send it to the printers so I don’t have to do the dreaded cut and stick preparation, but this time I just couldn’t wait for it to be sent off and arrive, even though it usually only takes a couple of days, and I was printing, gluing and sticking as soon as I had bought the pattern.

The fabric which Minerva sent me was the perfect match for the Yanta’s. This mid to heavy weight Stretch Denim Fabric from Lady McElroy, was super easy to work with. It has such a stable structure but feels soft to wear, which made the whole process super easy.

I wanted to go with a “workwear” vibe, something which wouldn’t look out of place when I am working in the garden, which would withstand country walks, and feel super easy to wear. This fabric was perfect! The olive green colour really highlights the utility feel of the pattern, and I’ve worn it non-stop since making it several weeks ago.

The pattern itself is a deceptively involved make. There are a lot of patch pockets, 5 in total, 2 on the rear, 2 on the front hips and one large pocket on the bib part. There is a bit of topstitching, which in this make I used matching thread so it’s not at all obvious. Then adding the straps into the back takes time to line it all up straight and not catch in the facing (ask me how many times I unpicked that section...). I really zoomed through the construction of this, because I wanted to wear them so quickly. This is my second pair so I knew where the bits were that needed a bit of extra love and attention.

I finished the overalls off with jeans buttons. If I had the patience to wait for dungaree clips to be delivered, I think this would be a great look, but I was too impatient and jeans buttons give a similarly workwear look to the overalls.

I can’t overstate just how much I love this pattern in this great fabric, and the proof is that they are in the constant, wear, wash, dry, repeat wardrobe cycle, and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. You can see just how overjoyed I am about these in my last photo!

Thanks for reading.




Mid-Summers Night Gown

Hi everyone, It’s Liz again from Liz Sews. Today I have for you a fairytale dress that I’ve wanted to make for ages.

This project uses the most luxurious Lady McElroy Large Scale Floral Silk Voile. When the fabric first arrived it was so breathtakingly beautiful I was scared to even cut into it (but I’m sure Minerva would be a wee bit irritated if I didn’t). I debated for a week over what pattern would do it justice. Eventually I decided on a Leanne Marshall pattern, Simplicity 8289.

This pattern was on my make nine list for the year, so I was happy to cross another one off the list and the floor length circle skirt would really let the fabric speak for itself.

 Since I planned on this being a dry clean only gown I decided to forego any fabric pre-treatment. For the construction I treated the silk as the “organza overlayer” in the pattern so the bodice is flat lined with interfaced lining as well as an actual lining. I chose an inexpensive flesh tones lining because I didn’t really want to interfere at all with the colors and print of the fabric but still wanted some modesty for the semi shear silk. I also think this fabric would have worked well with a voluminous over dress worn with a slip.

The silk was surprisingly easy to sew with. I’ve had my fair share of shifty chiffons in the past, so I was preparing myself for battle but if you use copious amounts of silk pins everything behaves nicely.

When I first started constructing the bodice I was very carefully using a pressing cloth to avoid any silk mishaps but I forgot to use it on one seam and nothing tawdry happened so I was happy to ditch the pressing cloth for the rest of the construction. Once everything was sewn together I let it hang on my dress form for a week to let the bias drop on the circle skirt before lining. In some places I cut off nearly 8 inches to level the hem!

Now I always have things on my garments that I would change for next time ( what’s the point of doing it if you're not learning and growing). As you can see the neckline is extremely low cut which makes me slightly uncomfortable so I would alter the pattern to raise it … or perhaps size down next time so the bodice holds me in a little better.

I really love the open back on this dress, though it might not be the best if your someone who must wear a bra.

All in all the gown is a dream to wear. Even though I have 10 meters of fabric draped across me ( 5 of the silk and 5 of the lining) It still feels like I’m wearing nothing at all. It would be perfect for a warm outdoor summer wedding. Or frolicking though the woods in a mid summers night dream.

Till next time,

Liz @ Liz Sews


Purple PJ Set

Hello, for this month Minerva make I am using this wonderful Silky Satin Fabric in aubergine. My original intention was to make an underwear set with it but on reflection that wasn’t the best choice as the pattern I had in mind needed a good amount of stretch. This turned out to be a good thing however as I am delighted with my new summer Pyjama set.

I didn’t use a pattern specific for pyjamas instead I chose the Simplicity 8337 which gives you the option of four different styles so this is a really useful pattern to have. In this case you also get to make a pyjama top with it, this super soft and shiny fabric lends itself beautifully to nightwear. It also adds a little bit of luxury too.

What I liked about the top I chose was that it is a simple make (only four pieces) but with a nice bit of detail at the front. So that version is option C and it does require bias binding but here I chose to make my own using some scrap fabric. If you are not wanting to add that extra step you can buy it from the wonderful selection Minerva have to offer.

This pattern does state that it is sized for stretch knits, to accommodate for this I chose to cut out my pieces one size up and this worked out well for me. It is roomy and comfortable as I certainly didn’t want anything fitted for nightwear.

The fabric did sew like a dream and all I had to do to finish the edges of the frill was set my machine to a small zig zag (a number 6 on my machine) and then the stitch to number 1. This gave an effect like a button hole edge and I pulled it a little as I sewed so that it curled. Try this out on a piece of scrap fabric first to get the effect you like.

Another little tip is - Id to jump over the frill when you are sewing around the neck, just stitch all the way up to it back stitch then flip the frill over and do the same at the other side. This will ensure your neck top stitching stays in line. You can snip the threads after.

Moving on to the shorts I also used a regular pattern and just hacked it a little. Here I used NewLook 6532 and adapted the trouser pattern. These are an easy pair of trouser already but this makes them even easier. Simply lay the pattern pieces on the fabric, when you cut out the trousers allow it to taper out to 4cm from the hip to the waist. This is so you can add elastic and just pull them on. Allow an additional 4cm at the top of each pattern piece to fold over and encase your elastic, or add binding or contrasting fabric as I did. It is up to you where you cut the shorts across depending how long you prefer them. In my image where I placed my scissors was where I cut them across.

When you have stitched together your front and back shorts pieces, cut a length of elastic, measure around your waist to find a comfortable amount of stretch and stitch at this point. Place it over the shorts inside out, fold over your extra allowance then stitch around encasing the elastic. Even out the gathers, then when you are happy you can add an extra line of stitching through the elastic or leave it running free. I also made a little bow at the front for detail.

I couldn’t wait to wear these and they are so comfortable. If you are wanting some luxurious summer Pyjamas for your holiday this could be your next project. Thank you Minerva for providing the fabric.

Dianne @ Sew, Create & Recycle


Suki Robe

This bright cotton Broadcloth Fabric is so cute, I couldn’t resist requesting it from Minerva. The color really pops and the potted succulents fit right in with life here in Southern California. The only problem; I didn’t know what to make with it. I had a couple of options, so I ordered 2 Meters. It arrived fast, but in the brief time it took to ship, I changed my mind and decided to tackle one of my Make 9 for 2019 goals, the Suki robe by Helen’s Closet. Unfortunately, the Suki robe calls for up to 3 Meters of fabric! What to do? I opted for View B, the shorter length, and considered making it without pockets. But between the generous width of the fabric (64 inches!), piecing the ties and just one pocket together with some spectacular Pattern Tetris, I made it work, pockets and all!

Zero pattern matching was attempted, and I feel just fine with that decision. The pattern is bright and busy enough to not require any pattern matching whatsoever. I used nearly every single inch of this fabric. The remaining scraps were so teeny tiny that I felt pretty smug having nothing leftover. Sustainable sewing for the win!

Helen writes excellent and thorough pattern instructions, which made this a simple and pleasant sew. I had to laugh, because I had been listening to the Love to Sew podcast where Helen and Caroline talked about speedy sewing. Caroline suggested that one way to speed up sewing is by not bothering with all of the details, like cutting and matching notches. Helen was aghast at this, but I’m here to say that I marked zero notches and not only survived but thrived! Every pocket, every tie, every sleeve, every loop ended up exactly in the right place. Speedy sewing for the win!

This fabric made sewing a piece of cake. Cotton Broadcloth is SO forgiving, so easy to iron, with zero slip or stretch to make anything wonky. Perfect fabric for a beginner sewist, or a more advanced sewist looking to make a project a little easier. I love beautiful slinky fabrics, but sometimes I just need a stable woven fabric to remind me that sewing can be easy and fun!

There are so many delightful details on this robe. The waist ties are sewn in, which not only keeps it in place for a crisper look, but also when laundering. I hate having to hunt down a waist tie or a drawstring after doing the laundry! The robe also features an inner side waist tie which helps to both look nicer and to maintain some decorum. Of course, it also features pockets, because honestly, every garment needs pockets!

I am delighted with the way it turned out! I love both the fabric and the pattern. I only wish I had made it prior to our trip this summer where I could have worn it to the beach. What a fun beach cover up it will be! For now, it is the perfect lightweight robe for enjoying my tea under a shady tree in the backyard.

This fabric was generously gifted to me by in exchange for a fair blog post about my experience.

Thanks for reading,

Kirsten @readrunsew


Spotted Tilly and the Buttons Romy Dress

Polka dots are such a fun print to wear, especially in these colors. When I saw this Rico Cotton Jersey Fabric, I knew it and the Tilly and the Buttons Romy Pattern were a perfect match! This spotted fabric has an ivory background with splashes of pastels, olive green and metallic. The pale gold metallic spots are a special touch. Since it is cotton jersey, it’s a medium weight and so comfortable to wear.

The Tilly and the Buttons Romy is a very versatile pattern. Romy is an envelope neck style top or dress with a bunch of possible combinations. In addition to the top or dress option, there are 3 different sleeve lengths, contrast binding or hidden binding as well as the tie back or plain back. I recently made a plain short sleeve top version but I knew I wanted to make the tie back dress one day. This fabric was just perfect for it!

I took an afternoon to sew this up. It was fairly quick to make as most knit garments are. I did take extra time to work on the fit. I had heard from other sewists that this pattern runs a little large. It is supposed to fit a little looser but I still found myself sizing down and very glad that I did! 

I highly recommend trying the dress on after attaching the sleeves if you make the tie back version. I had a little bit of gaping in the back but fortunately it was an easy fix. I just opened the seam where the back and the sleeve meet, and took out a little wedge of the back to pull it tighter. It worked great but I probably should have pulled it a tiny bit more. Another thing to note, it is very important to mark your fabric where the neck pieces overlap. I wasn’t quick enough to sew this after I cut it out and my marking pen had disappeared! Luckily I was able to hold up the pattern pieces after I started and figure out where the marks were supposed to go.

I really love the details on this pattern. I am a big fan of knit dresses. I love how the envelope neckline and tie make this different from any other knit pattern I have. The contrast binding option could be really fun, too. Any of the colors in this fabric would be so fun as a contrast binding around the neck. 

This fabric and this dress style are a great match. I definitely recommend a cotton jersey for the Romy pattern. This dress is so easy to throw on. I know I will keep reaching for it in my closet. I will have to make another. Maybe a long sleeve version with a plain back for the cold months! I wore this dress to one of my sewing classes and it was a hit in the shop! One of the ladies thought this fabric would be great for childrens clothing too and I have to agree. This fabric is so fun and I’m so happy with my spotted Romy dress!

Erin @ Poetic Memory

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