Archives: March 2018
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 31st March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Crochet blankets bring back childhood memories of my Nan sitting on the garden bench with the blanket she was working on spread out before her. In fact wherever she was her crochet wasn’t far away; a randomly coloured piece using up left over bits of yarn that had appeared from somewhere!
So I jumped at the chance to try out this kit for the Eastern Jewels Blanket Kit. A riot of glorious colours put together in a fantastic design of tiles. A lot more sophisticated than my nan’s colourful creations and I must admit I felt a little overwhelmed at first when the large bag arrived.
The kit contains fourteen 100g balls of Stylecraft Special Double Knit yarn which is 100% acrylic and machine washable, enough to complete the make, plus two booklets. One providing the charts as to which colours are required for each section. The other giving the instructions of how to complete the octagons, squares and triangles that make up the blanket as well as instructions on bringing it together and edging. The only extras you need are crochet needles (3.5mm, 4mm & 4.5mm), a wool needle and stitch markers.
As I was going off on holiday I took enough wool with me to get started. It’s great having a transportable project and has started numerous conversations on the train!
The pattern book list the stitches you need to crochet but doesn’t give actual instructions on how to do them. As I haven’t done much more than a basic double stitch in years I started up with an internet search of the basics. Numerous references came up so there is plenty of information out there.
Starting my first octagon I did find it a little daunting and ripped it back a number of times as I didn’t get it quiet right. In the end I wrote myself a little checklist of stitches to stop myself getting confused between my trebles and double trebles!
Once the first one was complete I found starting the second much easier and as it one progressed the stitches and pattern flowed much better as I started to remember the sequences. So if you haven’t crocheted much before don’t be put off. As each tile has the same design, just different colours, it becomes so much easier as you go along.
I found it very additive watching each tile grow and as you do a round at a time it’s something you can pick up in a short interval. As each round is a separate colour there are a lots of ends so I found it best to sew these in as I went.
I blocked each tile as I completed it as I find that easier than trying to block the blanket a a large piece. I do this by pinning the damp piece to an old notice board and placing by the radiator to dry.
It always amazes me how the design improves even more after blocking.
As the pile of blocked tiles piled up I was to impatient to wait so started to join together. Following the instructions and chart the edges are matched, with right sides together and joined by double crochets.
These are such a fantastic rainbow of colours that I wouldn’t have dreamt of putting together myself but the compliment each other so well.
It is a blanket that is worth taking time over and for me it’s still a glorious work in progress but I’ll be showing off the finished result soon!
Thanks for reading about the journey so far!
Nicky @ Sew N Snip
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 30th March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
The fabric is 100% cotton and is super soft. Minerva describe it as a cotton poplin. Its green foliage print looks really lovely against the blue background. The foliage design is made of different types of leaves which really makes it stand out from the single leaf designs. One of the leaves also has a red stem which creates a lovely pop of colour.
With Spring just about here I decided to make a pair of Named Ninni Culottes. Although the pattern suggests a knit fabric it's definitely a pattern that's also suitable for woven fabrics.
Always prewash your fabrics, especially cottons. Minerva recommend washing at 30 degree but I always use my eco 40 degree cycle so pre washed using this settling and the fabric washed fine. If you aren't sure about which temperature to use either go for a cool temperature or put in a swatch at your normal cycle and see how it comes out. Life's too short to faff around with washing at lots of different temperature so love a fabric that I can shove in on my normal wash.
Another pre sewing task is to iron your fabric. I love a hot steamy iron so tried it out on a small corner section and they creases came out instantly. The fabric is a dream to iron. This is a good sign for when you have to press all your seams.
Once washed and ironed it's time for cutting out. My rotary cutter glided through the fabric. So far this fabric has been amazing to work with but how it sews is also very important.
The Ninni culottes are a simple style with wide straight legs and an elasticated waist. And yes they have pockets! Using my trusty Gutermann thread I had no issues sewing with this fabric. It just glided through my machine with no tension adjustments needed.
This fabric has a lovely drape which makes these culottes look like a skirt which I love as it means I don't have to worry about accidentally flashing my knickers on a rainy day! I'm looking forward to getting lots of wear out of these culottes throughout the warmer Spring days and summer sun.
The Lady McElroy Cotton Poplin Fabrics are perfect for so many garments whether it be these culottes, a cute dress or a circle skirt. There are so many gorgeous detailed designs you will want them all for your stash! I definitely need some of jade flora songbird, robyn, hut city and cocktail hour....
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 29th March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Wow, this stuff is seriously fabulous. I’m not usually a tracer, I find it a bit of a faff, I usually cut straight into my patterns. But recently I’ve wanted to make different sizes of things and it seems rather extravagant to buy another pattern.
So, I was thrilled to test this beautiful Swedish Tracing Paper. I’m a mature lady and I wear glasses for reading and close work so I was concerned about seeing the pattern markings through the paper. However it was really clear, in daylight and at night time. I had no problems with tracing over all the markings.
The Swedish tracing paper is thick enough to withstand lots of pinning and usage, but transparent enough to be able to see through. It folds up easily so the new traced pattern pieces can be easily stored.
I am a convert – I shall be using it a lot now. Recently I have been making The Comox Trunks boxer shorts for my husband and this seemed to be the perfect pattern to test out the tracing paper on. My two sons and my husband are different sizes so it means that I can use the pattern for all of them.
Here are some pictures to illustrate how easy it is to use. It comes as a roll and can easily be stored under a bed if, like me, you don’t have a sewing room!
If you do a lot of sewing for others or if you want to keep your patterns in their original condition, I recommend you buy a roll of this lovely stuff!
Thanks for reading,
Posted in Projects on Wednesday the 28th March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
The pattern includes two tops, two pairs of leggings and a long, loose fitting jacket, which is what I have chosen to make for now, although the looser leggings will probably also join my handmade wardrobe soon. The fabric is very soft and warm but also quite heavy as it is formed of two layers bonded together.
I’d seen this jacket pattern first on The Fold Line, which prompted me to choose it. It’s ideal for days at home when my girls are at school, as an extra warm layer under my waxed cotton parka, and for when we go camping as it’s rarely very warm.
The jacket is designed to be lined but using the double sided fabric made that seem unnecessary, so I made a few modifications. For the seams, I used a narrow zigzag stitch (1.5mm wide and 2.5mm long) to allow a little stretch, and I hemmed it using my cover stitch machine. The edges are left unfinished – as the fabric doesn’t fray at all! - to minimise bulk, which also made the construction easier.
Having heard that the fit is very relaxed (i.e. there’s lots of ease) I made a size Small. It’s still generous on me (I normally wear UK size 10 or 12), which will be exaggerated by the stretch and weight of the fabric and perhaps by the lack of lining.
I opened the shoulder darts out slightly and kept seam allowances open where they crossed other seams. An alternative would have been to create mock flat fell seams (trimming one side of the seam allowance, pressing the other side over it and top stitching).
The cuffs and collar are made in a cotton Tubular Rib Knit Fabric and were – thanks to the good drafting and instructions that I would expect from Vogue – easy to insert. It does stretch out easily and the recovery isn’t great so if I were to make another I would cut them a little shorter to account for this. I attempted a hem band in the same fabric but it was rather disastrous so I cut it off (as the tiny stitches were so well embedded that I could not unpick them) and changed the plan!
The hem is designed to be straight and to fall a little way below the zip end but this didn’t seem to work well with the fabric, so I drew a gentle curve from the side seam to the point at which I wanted the hem to sit below the zip and created a curved hem at the front. This has the added (and unexpected!) advantage of sitting well under my parka. I’ve used a 24” YKK Vislon Zip as recommended but would probably opt for a 26” zip if I were to make another. I’m still not completely sure about the hem and may yet cut it again to form a straight, shorter version. That’s one of the many advantages of sewing your own clothes!
Thanks for reading,
Eleanor @ nelnanandnora
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 27th March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Welcome to my guest blog post for Minerva Crafts, reviewing the Style Arc Estelle Cardigan Sewing Pattern.
When the email came through to try Style Arc’s Paper Patterns as a part of the Product Review Team, it was meant to be as it coincided with February’s Sew my Style, win win!
These paper patterns are brand new to the Minerva Crafts and what better way to showcase these patterns than when someone sews them up for you to see!
Style Arc are an Australian based Company that offer a range of patterns that allows you to create your own style that will make you stand out in the crowd. The patterns are modern and you can make your own boutique style garments without the hefty price tag in shops!
I was quite impressed of the quality of the pattern upon opening it up, it is not just your usual tissue paper that big house pattern companies use its printed onto 49gsm weight paper and I don’t know about you but I sometimes find it difficult to read tissue patterns even with my glasses on! So it’s quite refreshing that the layout of it is simple to follow and includes Fabric estimates and all you need to know to sew you new cardigan are included.
Now look at the size of the Pattern Sheet!! Its huge! But at least the instructions are attached to it too so it doesn’t go astray!
I made this from a Jersey Fabric I got from Minerva in my stash, it’s a beautiful Boucle Double Jersey. It’s Grey on the Right side and Black on the Wrong Side.
I used my Singer Overlocker and Quantum Stylist 9960 to complete my Cardigan. I used my Sewing Machine for the Top stitching details which really do set it off a treat!
I even opted for the in seam pockets as a girl can’t have too many pocketed garments can they?! Perfect for carrying my phone in!
The only alterations I made were taking 3 inches of the length of the cardigan and 2 inches off the sleeve length as I am only 5 foot 2”!
I didn’t like the too rough and ready look on the edges of my cardigan, think it’s the perfectionist in me, so I decided to use a rolled hem using my overlocker and really like the look with the contrast of black and grey.
This is a great staple for my work when I go to head office as it’s quite smart yet relaxed at the same time. I love it! It only took me a couple of hours from cutting it out to completion just as it says on the instructions!
There is an array of Style Arc Sewing Patterns which are now available in the shop now, so why not treat yourself to make your own bang on trend garments.
Posted in Projects on Monday the 26th March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Confession time: I’m a proper Sew Over It fan girl! Ever since stumbling across the Sew Over It Shift dress kit at a bargain price, I’ve been hooked. What isn’t there to love? Great patterns that fit me well straight out of the packet, great designs ticking both the vintage and everyday wear boxes, and the fabulous weekly vlogs by Sew Over It’s founder Lisa and her team. Having said all of that it wasn’t love at first sight when the Eve Dress Pattern was released last summer. There were a few beautiful versions popping up on blogs (Nina Lee’s version really sticks in my mind), but whether it was the whimsical romantic look that just didn’t feel very like me, or that fact that it looked like a pattern which would take a long time to sew up and could be quite fiddly, I didn’t rush out and buy it as soon as it was released.
But over the winter, I was looking for a demure dress that oozed femininity, and Eve hits the spot perfectly. Yes it might have been freezing outside, but when you have an idea, the practicalities of not being able to wear it straight away shouldn’t deter you from sewing up a vision that you have in your mind.
When Minerva sent me this Fabric to review, it was love at first sight. Tropical prints and birds of paradise had me longing for warmer weather, or an escape to somewhere exotic.
The fabric is a Lady McElroy designed cotton poplin, Minerva have loads of different prints available and it was so hard to choose just one design. The fabric has a cream background and because it’s a busy print, there’s no need to (or hope of) pattern matching. It has a beautiful drape, and is a dream to sew with, there was no slipping when I cut out or when I sewed, it really is the perfect fabric for a sewer who wants to increase their confidence whilst still working with a fabric with drape.
The Eve dress I chose to make has the high-lo hem (my current favourite design feature!) and the flutter sleeves. The Eve dress is a wrap dress and so means there is no darts to sew, but that bust shaping is courtesy of the bodice gathering into the shoulder yoke. The pattern has a couple of tricky areas to watch out for: Firstly there is the wrap front, which is cut on the bias, I’ve made this dress twice now, each time there was a fair bit of stretching which happened, so I had to ease it back in. But the pattern says that it could happen, and you sew the entire bodice front onto some cotton stay tape (I used a cream one, and it was slightly wider than the pattern called for, but it didn’t seem to make a difference). The pattern divides the cotton tape into sections so you know how long each of the pieces should be, there’s a bit of maths involved here, and the need to be fairly careful with measuring, but if you take your time you will be fine. I haven’t seen this method used in any other patterns, but its great and means that you understand just how much your pieces might have stretched by and you can sort it out before everything looks misshapen, it’s just the kind of attention to detail step that I’ve come to expect and love from Sew Over It.
The most time consuming part of this dress is the wrap ties. For the dress you need to make 2, although the sewing only takes a couple of minutes, it takes forever to turn the ties the right way round. It’s fairly narrow, and I watched nearly an hour’s worth of vlogs whilst I did it. If anyone has some tips for turning these the right way out quickly I’d love to hear them. I used a pair of tweezers to pull them through, and even then it was fiddly and time-consuming.
After having to wait a few days for the gorgeous full skirt to drop (it’s on the bias, it does drop, don’t be tempted to skip this stage otherwise you’ll end up creating more work for yourself), I hemmed it, and have tried to find as many opportunities as possible to wear this dress. It became my most favourite holiday dress, and my holiday to Marrakesh was the back drop for my photos.
This isn’t going to be the last time that I sew with Lady McElroy Fabric, the prints are just too irresistible, and the fabric handles like a dream.
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 25th March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Style Arc Sewing Patterns are new to me and looking though the range I’ve seen a great selection of basic and creative looks. Excited by such a choice I decided to look at what was needed in my wardrobe and trousers instantly sprung to the top of the list.
The Georgie Stretch Woven Jean Pattern caught my eye with its jeans styling and elasticated pull on waist. It’s classed as suitable for a medium skilled sewer and requires a stretch woven fabric so I felt this would be an ideal for my first try at fitted trousers.
The pattern comes in the form of one large printed sheet with all pattern pieces and the somewhat minimal looking instructions.
As suggested by the pattern I choose this stretch Bengaline Fabric. With a fine stripe running across the wide width (58”) and the stretch lengthways the fabric was perfect to cut the trousers with the pinstripes running the length of the leg and the maximum stretch around the garment.
The Bengaline is a polyester, viscous and spandex mix. I think it has about 25% stretch & recovers well when it has been stretched. It’s machine washable and I prewashed at 40’.
The pattern shows the pattern measurements, for a size 10 with details of the difference between sizes, but does not show a chart of body measurements so I took a look at their website to find this.
Tracing the pattern onto paper was straight forward as they are clearly drawn, colour coded and the shapes aren’t too fiddly!
No layout plans are suggested but the pattern pieces are clearly marked with straight grain and maximum stretch lines, it is very important to transfer these to your copy, and the number of pieces to cut are listed in the instructions.
Double check that the stretch direction is correct before cutting (I was sure I had but still got one piece wrong & had to recut…luckily it was a small bit!) I used tailor tacks to transfer marking, such as placement of back pockets, to the fabric pieces.
Although there are only 5 construction diagrams I found the written step by step easy to follow. Using a 1cm seam allowance (included) the jeans came together during a snowy morning of sewing. The most fiddly bit was constantly changing the machine needle to do the twin needle top stitching. This is optional but helps give that traditional Jeans feel.
I did stitch one of the smaller parts with two separate lines instead.
Overall I’m very happy with my Georgie Jeans. They have a nice high waistband that sits comfortably up to the natural waistline and a narrow leg shape. I cut a straight size 10 and feel the fit is true to size.
The Style Arc Pattern allowed me to achieve the garment that looks just like the picture on the front and I found it suitable for my sewing ability. I think I may have found it a little daunting to have such a minimal amount of diagrams if I was new to sewing but the written part was broken down into small steps which would help.
This won’t be the only time I use this pattern and it’s definitely a pattern range I will look at again in the future. Happy Sewing :) :)
Nicky @ Sew and Snip
Posted in Projects on Saturday the 24th March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Grammar fans will have noticed that in my title, “Jeans” is in quotation marks. That’s because I’ve been dying to make the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns for the longest time, but what I needed most of all were some smart trousers for work, where jeans aren’t allowed. But by making them in corduroy instead of the traditional denim, I reckon I’ll get away with it. Just don’t tell my boss…
Anyway, how great are these?! As soon as I finished them, I sent a photo to my mum with the caption “I’m never buying jeans again. I’m making them all”. And it’s true! These are an absolute dream. I’ve always had trouble buying RTW because of my shape – my hips are a full two sizes bigger than my waist, and although I’m tall, I’ve got a long body and short legs. Weird, right? So when I came across Ginger Jeans last year, and realised that it is possible to make your own, I knew instantly that it had to be done. I’ll admit, I put it off for a good old while. Jeans are quite a project after all, and I felt daunted by the seemingly enormous challenge.
But it turns out I needn’t have worried! Yes, they took a long time, but they weren’t really all that difficult. The fine Italian Corduroy Fabric I chose has a small amount of stretch, which made it easy to work with yet forgiving on the body. What’s more, the fabric is super-soft and comfortable – the cotton in breathable, and yet the corduroy pile is surprisingly cosy. I spent a long time tracing the pattern (tip: It’s definitely worth tracing this one, rather than cutting straight into it. Jeans must fit in so many places that making changes is almost inevitable, so it’s worth keeping the original intact). I had to grade between the waist and hip, then increased the rise by 4cm. This might have been difficult had it not been for this post about fitting, which was really helpful. At this point I basted the whole thing together to check that the adjustments worked. It took a long time but was worth the extra leg-work (excuse the pun). As it happened, they were a great fit first time around my oversize booty, but I was able to take them in a bit on the lower legs, for a flattering skinny fit.
Construction was pretty painless – the instructions in the envelope are really clear and include lovely little motivational messages like “You can do it!”, which are surprisingly encouraging. The pattern suggests using a contrasting thread for the topstitching, but I decided against it given that I wanted to disguise these as smart trousers. I did use a Jeans Button, however, which was an absolute triumph – they’re only 9p(!) on Minerva, and really easy to install with the bash of a hammer. It gives a super-professional finish, which I love.
I also opted out of a denim-zipper, using a regular black plastic one instead – the corduroy is so fine, that I was worried that metal zip teeth might damage it. Controversially, I also went without the belt loops, because a long time ago I ruined some beautiful velvet trousers by catching one of the belt loops on a door handle and ripping them (oops). Given all the time and effort that went into these bad boys, I didn’t want the same thing to happen again!
I was pleased to be able to use a remnant of quilting cotton from my stash, which was the perfect fit for the pocket lining and waist-band facing. It’s so satisfying to use these small bits up right?
Believe me when I say I can’t recommend this Sewing Pattern enough. Ginger is a great wardrobe-builder, and goes with virtually everything. What’s more, now that I’ve transferred all my adjustments to the pattern, I think it’ll be pretty quick to whip up some more. Talking of which, I’m already planning some in classic indigo denim. I can see myself making these again and again and again…
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 23rd March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
The style is simple with wide straight legs and an elasticated waist. And yes they have pockets! Due to their casual loose fit I would say this pattern is perfect for beginners as fitting won't be an issue and there are no zips or button holes to deal with. Not that these things should put a beginner off of a pattern. Named patterns have five levels of difficulty and the culottes have a two scissor rating and classed as simple. I'm assuming the two scissors is because the pattern suggests using a stretch fabric. I used a woven fabric and when looking for inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest it seems a lot of people have made them in woven fabrics so don't let the fact that it suggests a knit fabric put you off. But by all means use a knit fabric if you would prefer.
Right lets take a minute to talk about the packaging. Indie patterns designs always make the most stylish envelopes for their patterns and Named is definitely up there with the most strokeable. A simple plain white box envelope with a card insert makes their patterns super stylish. Sewists love displaying their pattern stashes and this is one pattern that would definitely get pride of place in a sewing room. Inserted into the front is a photograph of the garment and the back is sealed with a branded sticker. I really didn't like ripping through the the sticker as I wanted to keep the packaging pristine!
The pattern is printed onto paper, no tissue paper yay, and the pieces don't overlap, another yay. So if you like cutting straight into your pattern then this is perfect for you. I'm a tracer so I'm not fussed either way but it did make it quicker to trace out. There are only four pieces so tracing and cutting is really quick.
Now for the construction. The instructions come in a little booklet. As with most instructions they come with details about fabric requirements, pattern piece placement and some definitions around key sewing terms you will need thought the construction process. Always read the instructions fully before you start so you know what to expect and the order of construction. Different pattern companies work slightly differently so you don't want to end up unpicking. You are then ready to go.
First up are the pockets. The opening on the back pieces need interfacing so they won't go saggy and out of shape. You just need too small pieces so raid you interfacing scrap bag, I'm sure all sewists have a bag of small pieces just encase! The pocket construction was different to what I have done previously but the instructions were clear and I was easily able to follow them. Just two pointers that I would do next time. First I would finish the seams after sewing on each pocket piece rather than before so that it is slightly tidier on the inside. Second, make sure the layers you don't want to sew though are out of the way as I did have to do a small bit of unpicking.
Whiz along the inseams and then sew up the crotch, hehe that word always makes me giggle!
Nearly there. The waist band needs interfacing but as I was getting read to attach it I decided against the interfacing so peeled it off. I felt that it would make the gathers stiff and uncomfortable once the elastic had been inserted. If using a stretch fabric then I would definitely use the interfacing so you don't end up with a saggy out of shape wish band. Insert the elastic and hand sew up the small opening. It's only a small bit of hand sewing and its on the inside so don't panic if you aren't a hand sewing fan. If you do want to improve your hand sewing I would definitely recommend making a hexagon patchwork quilt. I made a double sided one big enough for a double bed and now hand sewing doesn't faze me at all! This will also be the perfect place to add a personalised label if you have one. It will also make it quicker to work out which is the front and back when getting dressed! I didn't stitch the elastic to the waistband as I struggle to get it even when stretching it out.
And last of all hem them. I overlocked the raw edge, turned them up 3cm and top stitched in a contrasting green thread.
The instructions are simple to follow and contain text and drawings. I couldn't find a sew along on their website but due to their simple construction you shouldn't have any problems with just the booklet to follow.
The pattern is designed for someone 5'8" and I am no where near that tall. Being only 5'3" I shortened the leg by 5 inch. There are no lengthen or shorten lines but as they are straight legged I just took it straight off the bottom. From making Tilly and the Buttons Marigolds I found the crotch (hehe) to low so I shortened these by 2 inches. Again there were no lengthen or shorten lines so I just took it off of the top as the side seams are straight. With these to small adjustments they fit great.
I chose to make them in to Lady McElroy Foliage Fabric and they are perfect for dressing down with a tshirt tucked in and trainers or dressed with with sandals and a smart top. Obviously they aren't very seasonal appropriate at the moment, especially as it is -5 degrees, but I'm getting ready for spring and summer!
Posted in Projects on Thursday the 22nd March 2018 by Vicki Ormerod