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Archives: March 2015

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Vogue 1320 - Pink for a Princess!

Hello again!
One Saturday evening a few weeks ago, after a couple of glasses of wine, I agreed to make my grand-daughter Jess a coat. She has been going on and on about this Vogue Pattern 1320 (now out of print but there are plenty of similar Vogue Coat Patterns!) and this pink coating fabric, which she chose well because it is the ideal weight for this style of coat. 
And so here I am making her a coat after being twisted round her little finger (again). Having said that, she is a pleasure to sew for because she is a perfect size 8 and patterns need very little, if any, alterations.
And so to sew...
I have chosen the Vilene brushed cotton interfacing for this project. It does suggest a sew-in interfacing, but after thoroughly examining the pattern I cannot see why I cant use iron-on.
To prepare the front piece I have snipped all the notches (there is really no need to cut out the nothes, either outwards or inwards). By snipping down the middle of each notch it proves to be a very accurate way of marking.
I marked the position of the pocket seam by using a self erasing marking pen, these pens are fantastic and come in useful so many times. At this stage I haven't marked the button holes because when the coat is finished I will just place the front piece over the coat front edge and mark the buttonholes then.
The pockets are quite easy to prepare and sew. I am using this multi coloured patterned satin fabric below for the lining, even though you cant see the pockets from the outside, the insides of the pockets will look really good! When you put the two fabrics together they look brilliant!
The sleeves next. They are sewn in two pieces - the upper and the lower sleeve. A two piece sleeve is my favourite kind in a coat or jacket because of the shaping it achieves. I found the sleeves very easy to insert. The bottom half goes in first and I found there were no 'fiddly' areas, it fit perfectly.
Next the yolk. I ironed on the interfacing, you must hold the iron on each bit for 8 seconds, preferably 10. I know it sounds silly but count to ten slowly before moving on your iron. In this time the glue melts and starts to adhere to your fabric so the other important thing is to leave it on your ironing board for a good few minutes afterwards. This allows for the glue to set. Its a good idea to attach all your interfacing's in one go at the beginning of your project.
Like the bottom half of the sleeves, the yolk was extremely easy to attach, again everything fell into place. I pressed this seam down towards the main part of the jacket. It doesn't tell you to do this so I hope I've done right!
And then the collar, from a dressmakers point of view this is a very unusual collar, there are 4 darts in the main piece! Having said that these are 4 small darts and quite easy for a beginner to achieve I would say.
As I've mentioned on previous posts, I always snip the edges of the dart and place a pin at the point of the dart. If you don't want to mark it with a pin, you could use the water soluble marker pen again.
There is a small facing which attaches along the edge where the darts are. It does tell you to trim this seam but I also snipped along this edge because it it slightly curved. Another tip is to cut off the edges of the dart which lies within the seam as this cuts down on the bulk and will give a neater finish.
And now for the lining. I must say by choosing this multi-coloured satin as the lining, Jess has made it a little harder sewing for me than it would have been to put a normal anti-static lining in. But the effect it gives is far far nicer. Some of the lining pieces are different shapes to the main fabric pieces but it all slots together really well.
As is usual with a coat or jacket there is a pleat in the back seam. This allows for freedom of movement with your arms. So in this coat the back seam is sewn from the back neck to the small circle which is marked on your pattern approx half an inch.
After thinking I may have a few problems with the slippery satin I found it very easy to put together. With this pattern you sew the bottom half of the sleeve head in first and then the top half. Even this was much easier than I thought.
And so the lining and the coat are sewn together (enclosing the collar). This bit proved a little fiddly around the neck edge but with a bit of 'gentle persuasion' it does fit.
The pattern then tells you to trim round the sewn edge but I would suggest you should then snip little ' V's ' out of the curved edges.
When turned to the right side and pressed this helps the curve to lie flat. In order to press the jacket edges professionally I would suggest to tack up the edges, 'rolling' the edges so that the seam is slightly towards the inside facing.
And here are some pictures of the finished coat - it turned out pretty well didn't it?!
You might be able to make out from the pictures but I also used my favourite magnetic buttons down the front, then sewed some fancy silver buttons on the top, so from the outside they look like normal buttons. Jess hates fastenings of any kind - has always been like that since being a child - so this was the perfect solution for her!
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Q&A with Jo of Three Stories High

When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start?

I started sewing in when I was very small. In fact I sustained a little finger injury pressing the foot pedal on my mum’s machine when I was 4 while she was out of the room. I was curious, I got hurt!

What is your favourite craft?

I am a ‘crafter’. I just want to make things, I really don’t mind what it is. When my children were little I used to knit and crochet because it was easy to pick up and put down. Now they are older, I Iove to sew clothes.

What was your first sewing project?

My first real one was and an elasticated cotton petticoat with lace around the bottom that I made with my mum when I was 9.

What do you love most about sewing?

All the F’s really…Sewing; it is fast, fun and you can make it fit.

What made you decide to start to blog about your sewing and crafting?

I slowly realised that our house was full of all the things I had made and I came to see that not everyone does that so I wanted to show what I made to give people ideas.

How are you liking being part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network?

I like to see the work of other bloggers and watch them grow. I love being able to vary my craft projects and try new things. I love being part of the Minerva family business.

What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?

Good Scissors

My Overlocker

Large headed pins so that I can pick them up off the floor!

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

I love all sorts. I have spent the last 20 months getting to grips with Jersey which has made making children’s clothes a doddle.

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

Seeing what has been made on the Blogger Network, Pinterest, magazines, my vintage pattern collection and my favourite, Ottobre magazine from Finland.

Are there any other crafts that you enjoy doing other than Sewing?

Oh yes…crochet, knitting, card making, scrapbooking and quilting.

As you have inspired many others in the past to start sewing and crafting through your blog and Social Networking sites, what would you say to other potential sewers who may want to give it a try?

Make lots, the more you make the more you find out about what you like, don’t like, what shape your body is, which techniques are best and what you enjoy the most.

Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?

Have a go!  

Here are just some of Jo's makes and see all her posts from the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network;

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Q&A with Amy of Almond Rock

Meet Amy of Almond Rock...

When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start?

I started sewing in 2010. I’d reached my mid-twenties and realised I didn’t have a hobby. Sewing was something I’d always wanted to learn so I thought, what’s stopping me?!

What is your favourite craft?

I’m a dedicated garment sewist. I sew clothes for myself and others.

What was your first sewing project?

My first project was a strapless Butterick dress that didn’t fit, was terribly finished and I LOVED IT.

What do you love most about sewing?

Sewing allows me to be creative and at the end of a project I get something to wear out in the world.

What made you decide to start blog about your sewing and crafting?

When I first started sewing I began obsessively reading sewing blogs. I absorbed as much inspiration and tutorials as I could. I thought it seemed such fun to share what you’ve been sewing, and use a blog to chat with other sewing enthusiasts. I haven’t regretted it since.

How are you liking being part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network?

The Blogger Network is great fun. It’s perfect for helping me push myself with new more complex projects. I also love seeing what the other bloggers are making.

What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?

  • Clover water soluble pencils

  • 1.5cm wide tape measure

  • My unpicker… or should that be one of my many unpickers!

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

I love wearing viscose and rayon so I’ve taught myself how to sew with them. They can be slightly more difficult to wrangle but I love my finished garments twice as much.

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

Inspiration can be found anywhere. Primarily from other bloggers. Seeing what they’ve made on the Blogger Network, Social Media or in my blog reader sparks my excitement to sit at my sewing machine. The other thing that gets my heart racing is spotting a beautiful fabric and letting my mind whirl with all the wonderful possibilities.

Are there any other crafts that you enjoy doing other than Sewing?

I’m trying to learn crochet at the minute. I’m still struggling to get my tension right but I’m enjoying having a hobby I can take on my commute!

As you have inspired many others in the past to start sewing and crafting through your blog and Social Networking sites, what would you say to other potential sewers who may want to give it a try?

Be fearless! What’s the worst that can happen? You might ruin a bit of fabric but you’ll learn lots and you can try again. The first time you walk out the house wearing something you’ve sewn you’ll be beaming ear to ear. It’s now easier than ever to start sewing… you won’t regret it.

Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?

Obsessively sewing dresses!

Here are just some of Amy's makes and see all her posts from the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network;

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Great British Sewing Bee - Series 3, The Final!

What a fluting good final!

I think we can safely say not many of us saw that coming! Don't worry, I'm not going to ruin it for anyone who's going to watch it on Catch Up later, I will give plenty of warning for any spoilers!

I think a good place to start would be with that top! Lorna wasn't half wrong when she said you'd need to be an engineer to work it out. Referred to as the Drape Square Top, this style is HUGE in Japan. Pinterest is filled with pattern downloads, this being my favourite. If you're slightly less confident with this type of sewing, there are plenty of Drape Top Sewing Patterns out there to recreate the look! (don't worry, we won't tell!). I was a BIG fan of the A-Symmetry, too! 

This Vogue pattern is one of our favourites and its currently on sale at half price at the moment!

Vicki and I had a great discussion about the best fabrics to use. I imagined this a lovely summer top, so immediately thought of Cotton Lawn. As cottons go it has a good drape, and would be lovely and light for the sunshine! Vicki, ever elegant, saw more of an evening style and thought of a Chiffon or Soft Polyester, utilising the gorgeous drape of the fabric to full effect! 

I love Lorna's adaption of the pattern, so I'm definitely going to using the reverse side of our Prada Self Lined Crepe. A great range of colours (I'm thinking Fuchsia or Jade!) and a bit more 'substance' than what Lorna used so it would be easier to handle for that tricky bias neckline. The picture below shows the matte (non shiny) side of the fabric, but the reverse has a beautiful soft sheen - very similar to Lorna's top. You could use either side or get creative and use a combination of the two! Winnie from the Minerva Crafts Blogger network has used this fabric in two of the Minerva-makes now and loves this fabric! Be sure to check out her champagne skirt and bow neck dress to see this fabric in all it's glory!

And speaking of tricky bias necklines, what was that about?! Such an interesting technique! It seems to be one of those tricks that once you've grasped it, you've got it for life and you'll use it everywhere. I'm definitely going to try and learn it, so stay tuned to see if I do it or go mad trying (well, madder!)

Our house god Minerva would certainly have loved the adaption challenge. A gorgeous Greco/Roman gown in a rich crinkle fabric. Lorna and Neil both went for the boning to create the structure element (though they certainly went in different directions with it!), but I think Matt's use of buckram to create the wave effect really stole the show, even though it was Lorna who won that particular challenge. As Patrick said, it appeared to be the least dramatic change but if you actually look at the techniques utilised it's drastically different. The subtle use of elastic in the low back was divine, adding yet more structure to the garment! Very Poseidon-esque.

SPOILERS SWEETIE!

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OK Let's Go!

 

Avant Garde is a French term literally translating as Fore-Guard, and boy did our finalist march forward in their final challenge! Lorna utilised the McCalls 6838 sewing pattern which is a beautiful evening dress pattern to create that vibrant wiggle dress with the high-low over-skirt (gotta love a high-low hem!). She used a heavy curtain fabric, which was truly lovely. The alterations challenge from Episode three obviously had a lasting effect on her! A lovely Sateen would bring this pattern out a treat, teamed with a tulle for a wow factor! A truly "wearable garment", as Patrick and May would say!

Neil's Avant-adaptaion was the stunning Liala Floor Length Asymmetic Drape Dress (now discontinued but we fave a lot of Floor Length Asymmetric Dress Patterns!) and this is another pattern we currently have for sale at half price! 

The fabric he chose was our stunning Purple, Blue and Silver of a John Kaldor Border Print Fabric

This dress suited his model, literally, down to the ground and the movement of the fabric left us speechless! I think everyone would agree though that he made life very hard for himself with the combination of fabrics chosen - I think I will steer clear of fine silk-like fabric and jersey combos! I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing about our Kaldor fabrics for a while now, but I am well and truly converted! Vicki was right (as always), they are truly special.

And our diamond in the rough, Matt, created a simply stunning piece of art! A fabric usually reserved for pantomime dames, Matt's use of the Sequin Fabric has truly changed our perceptions of fashion, transforming it into a winner of a skirt! We've certainly never seen it used for anything like this, nor have we seen darts that big! He truly pulled it out of the bag this week, finishing a perfect skirt with a truly beautiful corset. Perfect boning and binding, and a lovely pewter satin set the skirt off perfectly and was truly deserving of the top prize! We were all very surprised  at our sewers performances in this final week. As great as Neil and Lorna are, Matt really pulled out his A Game for the final week and smashed the competition, blowing everyone else out of the water. A truly stunning win!

My pattern of the week is  Simplicity 1656 (now out of print but Simplicity have a lovely range of evening dress patterns!), An Draped, A-Symmetric Evening Dress. For me it has everything this episode embodies; the A-Symmetry of the Japanese Drape Square top, the Drape of Neil's Kaldor gown, Lorna's tulle over-skirt, and enough blank canvas needed to create a work of art like Matt's!

 

I'll be back with some more blog action soon, be sure to keep your eye on our "Free Patterns" section for some Drape Square inspired projects!

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

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Free Pattern for the Marie Curie Daffodil appeal month

This month is Marie Curie Daffodil appeal month and the bunch of daff's which appear in the Sirdar Knitting Pattern Book 428 'Knit Pretty' are perfect little knits to help with fundraising for such a worthy cause and are knitted in Hayfield Bonus DK.

This Fantastic knitting book from Sirdar is the second Big Book of Little Knits created in the Hayfield Bonus DK, which is crammed full of the prettiest hand knits and crochet designs to make as gifts or to decorate your home. Sirdar have created some delightful little knitted flowers in gorgeous spring colours including purple pansies, pink rosebuds and happy yellow daffodils. It's just so cheerful to have a bunch of spring daffodils that lasts all year round! They're a creative gift for Mother's Day or for a spring birthday. They have gift idea for Easter too, with three pretty pastel egg cosies, including a chirpy little chick with wings. Announce the arrival of a new baby with their knitted 'Congratulations' bunting, create their birdie mobile, or crochet Sirdar's beautiful yellow baby blanket to brighten up the nursery. They've also designed the simplest little teddies knitted in Powder Pink for girls and Iced Blue for boys - they're adorable gifts for a first birthday. 

To offer their support, Sirdar have given us the instructions for the daffodil to pass on to our lovely customers for free, so you can get knitting and show your support. Here is your free pattern below;

As noted in the instructions you will need 1 ball each of colours 957, 978 and 819 from the Hayfield Bonus DK range. You will also need a pair of 4mm knitting needlesbrooch pins and green pipe cleaners.

Have you knitted for charity before?

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Great British Sewing Bee - Series 3, Episode 5

Butterick 5466Boom! The semi finals certainly did hit with a bang. 

What a superb week! To say this week's theme was "tricky fabrics" is most definitely the understatement of the series. Episode 3 upped the ante with sheer fabrics and it's gone on a steep incline since, truly testing our sewing friends. With all the specialist fabrics included this week, I'll be throwing in recommendations for the best haberdashery to use with them; specific needles etc., because if you're going to delve in with a tricky fabric you better go high or go home! There's no half measures (and yes I did learn the hard way!).

I really loved the first challenge because it did one of my favorite things in sewing; taking something ordinary and make it fantastic! There's a simple grace to a pencil skirt and much like the walkaway we saw a few weeks ago,  the power is in it's simplicity. Take a lace fabric, match a satin lining and boom! you have a stunning piece of clothing that truly stands out from the crowd.  For your first dalliance with a tricky fabric, a nice easy beginners pattern will see you right. Simple Sew have a pencil skirt pattern that's great for beginners (it's in the name, really!). 

Butterick 5466 is a great value pattern with plenty of variations. 

Burda 7421 is the perfect Plus Size pattern (get those curves workin'!). 

So you've got the perfect fabric, the perfect pattern, now for the perfect tools! The good thing about lace is that you can still pin it, but using Bridal/Lace pins are a must. They're finer and sharper so will damage the fabric less. Similarly, using a Sharp/Microfine Machine Needle is highly recommended for the same reasons. Last, but certainly not least, a good quality thread. Vicki recently recommended our Gutermann Sew All for a 'tricky fabric' project of my own and it really made a difference. I was working with Taffeta so I had the delicacy of lace and satin with the un-pick-ability of leather so I needed something just a touch smoother than my go-to moon thread, and for this project it was perfect.

Challenge 2 really did give us all a laugh! If anyone has ever worn a wet-suit, they will tell you they are awful and hilarious in equal measure, so to sew with one is craziness! Deborah really stole the show with her use of a Digital print scuba (we have a similar one here!) Digital prints are big news on the high street but Scuba fabric comes in such a great range of plain and pattern designs there is something to suit everyone. As a jersey, a Stretch needle will see you right. With slightly less of a ballpoint and a longer thread groove to prevent skipped stitches (common due to the thickness), working with this fabric won't be an issue at all, and you can channel the Newquay surfer influence without looking like a sausage or a wet dog!

 

Now then, now then, Challenge 3! As a biker, I already have a deep rooted love for leather, (well,it's not so much I love leather in as much as I value my skin staying on my body should the worst happen!) but I have recently fallen in love with working with our Faux Leather. I love the structure it gives and that it's sooooo sturdy. I knocked a wine glass off a table onto the skirt of a skater dress I made! It's also wipe-clean which is great for rock gigs (they're a messy lot). Now as May and Patrick were explaining, what makes leather a brilliant material is also what makes it hard to work with. You really need to utilise it well or it will bite back! Not using pins, for example, it a big one. I use Neil's trick and pink in the seam allowances, but for fitting to a model, using clips like Clover's Wonder Clips would be better. You could bulldog it up like Matt, but I'd be personally worried about marking the leather.

The wonderful thing about leather is you can make it as simple or extravagant as you like! Lorna and Paul's simple fitted jackets were equally as striking as Neil's rolled collar, I thought. Making a feature of a metal zip is a simple, easy way to create a dramatic effect with your jacket, as we saw with Matt, though Deborah definitely make the right choice using a chunky plastic one!  Neil's use of magnetic button to create the rolled collar was nothing short of inspired! 

It could easily be adapted into so many jacket patterns, and I'm sure it will! Deborah's Peplum jacket was so close to being amazing, it's such a shame about the fit. For me this, and the challenge in general, showed that leather can be utilised for almost ANY garment. I think a leather blazer is in the pipe line for me! Along with a lace pencil skirt ;)  but heed my warning! You will need a lining fabric. Leather and faux leather alike are grippy mothers! So for comfort and durability, please line your leather! 

Sturdy fabric calls for sturdy tools, and leather machine needles are certainly the way to go. Prym answers the call once again for tools and their Revolving Punch is perfect for use with leather (and other materials, actually) if you're adding heavy duty eyelets or snaps.

SPOILER ALERT - you have been warned

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Now we can't talk about this week without expressing how sad we are to see Deborah go! As Patrick said, the sewing room is going to be a quieter place without her, but we're so proud over here to have a local girl get so far in the series. So a big WELL DONE to Deborah, and we'll certainly keep keeping our eye out for a book deal ;)

Now I don't have a pattern of the week in as much as I have a fabric of the week. Paul's Snakeskin Jacket made me SO giddy! I simply couldn't get over it, it reminded me so much for being a kid. I'm pretty sure I had that jacket! A perfect example of making something fantastic from something ordinary, which is my mantra. And if I ever feel like revisiting my childhood, I'll do it with our Red Sequinned Snakeskin Print Stretch Jersey Clearance Dress Fabric! A close university friend and I are BIG Nineties/Noughties kids, so this may have to make an appearance at his Time Machine birthday party!

 

Now the BBC are certainly keeping their cards to their chest about next week's features, aren't they? I'm sensing some form of Avant Garde, which I'm so very excited for!

See you next week, gang!

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