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Archives: March 2019

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Vintage Style Dolls Outfit

I chose pattern Butterick B6149, a retro reproduction from 1946 to create an outfit for my daughters ‘our generation’ doll. I chose dress view C to make, using beautiful red Taffeta Fabric as it has structure and a lovely sheen. I also thought it incorporates the vintage feel of the dress. Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the 80s but I can’t resist taffeta in ‘real’ party dresses.

I tissue fitted the bodice to Betsie’s doll, I added 5mm extra seam allowances to each piece, adding a total of 2cm in width. I’m so glad I did this as it wouldn’t have fitted around the tummy otherwise. I didn’t adjust the skirt as it was already a full gathered piece.

The taffeta cut smoothly, I did struggle a little with fraying so tried not to handle the pieces too much.

‘warning’ you’ll be hearing me repeat this phase throughout the review “if only the seam allowance wasn’t so small” I’ll save your blushes and omit the naughty words I also cursed!

I have previously made barbie doll clothes and thought scaling up to an 18” doll would be a lot less fiddly, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! Both still have 6mm seam allowances, and probably obvious to others but not myself at this time, making doll clothes is like making adult clothes in miniature, all the steps, processes and techniques are still the same. The only saving grace is you can use Velcro to fasten instead of zips. I actually needed 7cm less Velcro than suggested.

I can’t resist a frill, so I loved this neckline frill on the dress, cut on the bias the taffeta didn’t fray or need edging.

I used cute pre-made Ribbon Bows with mini pearls from Minerva to decorate.

I used a seam roller on the fiddly small seams as it was much easier than burning my fingers on the iron! It wasn’t possible to just pin within the seam allowance (those pesky seams!), but the pin holes came out with gentle heat from the iron through a pressing cloth (my children’s muslin!)

The Taffeta had a great body and really added volume to the skirt, but with the petticoat netting it really transformed it into a ‘princess ballgown’

I struggled to add 2 rows of gathering stitches to the netting with the suggested seam allowance, so I increased the waist seams to 1cm.

I decided to make view E also, the cape and the bonnet. I made them using this gorgeous soft Tartan Fabric. I felt this complimented the red dress and added to the vintage pattern

The cape is beautiful, made in 5 panels with a collar and arm slits (I now want one in my size!). I tried my best to pattern match, but I was only 50% successful. Again, I really struggled with the seams, my ¼” foot did help, but the fabric frayed quickly, which wouldn’t have been too much of a problem in a larger seam. The seams also weren’t really large enough to overlock. I couldn’t follow the instructions and slipstitch the arm slits (again due to seam size and fraying) so I had to overstitch them together to secure to the lining.

The bonnet came together quickly and easily. Both the cape and the bonnet used red Satin Ribbon to secure them to the doll.

Betsie is very happy with Rose’s (the name of the doll) new outfit, the dress is her favourite by far. She is already requesting other versions! I only wish I has such a glamourous wardrobe.

Thanks for reading,

Charmaine @cham.west


Jeans Making

Jeans making and I have had an “on again, off again” relationship. I have more pairs of RTW (ready to wear) jeans than any one human requires! Therefore, I kept telling myself that I didn’t “need” to make jeans, I have enough jeans...I do not need another pair of jeans.

Are any of my jeans a perfect fit?


Do all of my jeans fit my current size (my size has gone up & down over the years due to pregnancies, stress, life!)?


Do I own a pair of high waisted jeans like the Dawn Jeans by Megan Neilson?


Did I see some amazing looking rigid Black Denim Fabric on the Minerva website?


Making jeans seemed like a really daunting task - with all those rivets and extra bits. However, I convinced myself (after a thorough Instagram search) that rivets were not required for jeans and I could make a pair without them!

Before making trousers or jeans, you MUST make a muslin! I know some people are very good and make a muslin/toile for everything they make. I’m not one of those people. I’m impatient and time poor! I know that a loose fitting elastic waist skirt is going to fit...and if it doesn’t I just pull that elastic tighter (or add a bit on!). However, trousers require a closer fit.

For the Dawn Jeans I cut my muslin out in a size 6. My measurements were for a size 4, however I always err on the side of caution. I don’t know what happened, but I couldn’t close the fly on the muslin! So I reduced the seam allowance and they were fine...snug but closed.

I made the Straight Style version (view B). As I’m 183cm tall I added 1.25 inches in the rise and 4 inches to the right leg length & 3 inches to the left leg (I have a leg length discrepancy!).

The instructions for making these jeans are fantastic, clear, well laid out and very easy to follow. I deviated from the original pattern and opted for a zip fly rather than the button fly (these instructions can be found on

I spent more time deciding on, and making samples, of the back pocket embroidery that I did on the main construction. Sad, but true! I’m lucky enough to have a sewing machine which also does embroidery. I’m also a hopeless monogram addict! I decided to go with my 1st name initial on the left pocket and my surname initial on the right pocket. I know it’s unconventional to have non-matching pockets, but I liked this look better than 2 pockets with my full monogram or 1 pocket monogrammed and the other left plain. The black embroidery thread on the black denim was hard to photogram and is even more discreet in real life. And honestly, who is going to look that hard at my back pockets?!!

My final jeans, in the gorgeous rigid denim, turned out a little looser than I anticipated. However, they are really comfortable with that high waistband and I will wear them. I know that the denim will relax further after a few wears, so I hope they don’t get too baggy! But hey, 90’s style baggy jeans coming back into fashion could be just around the corner!!

Now lets talk fabric!

I was really shocked to realize that this is the first time I have sewn with rigid denim. In more than 30 years (with some big breaks) of sewing, I have never sewn with rigid denim. I didn’t know what I was missing! You guys, this stuff is a dream to sew!!! It doesn’t stretch out of shape or slide when sewing, I can be lazy about pinning seams together and the denim didn’t mind at all!

When you press the rigid denim, it holds the press beautifully! Typically, when I press back pocket seam allowances I hand baste them to keep them in place...not with rigid held the pressing without pins or basting!

You must use a denim needle when sewing denim, it’s a nice sturdy fabric and may be a bit too much for a universal needle. Using good thread is required for every single sewing project, but especially for a sturdy fabric like rigid denim. You are not going to get strong, or well formed stitches if you use cheap thread (which should be reserved for hand basting, or not used at all!). I opted to not use a contrasting topstitch thread, or a topstitch thread at all. I did increase my stitch length to 3.5 for topstitching (and used the standard 2.5 on the seams). I used the same thread for my seams and topstitching and I am really pleased with the result. I wanted my jeans to look a little more “trouser-like” and to be honest, it also justified (in my mind!) my decision to omit the rivets!

Needless to say, I’m now a huge fan of rigid denim and cannot wait to sew with it again! Do not fear, it is surprisingly easy and fun to work with.

Happy Sewing!

Allison @ The Tall Mama


Spring Jacket!

I had been planning to make an Autumn Jacket for ages and bought Simplicity 1254 when it first came out.

When Minerva asked for someone to review this woven wool blend Coating Fabric I knew the Burnt Orange colour was just what I’d been looking for, very Autumnal. Yes I know I called this review Spring Jacket but work seriously got in the way of so it’s now spring before I’ve had chance to get it done, therefore I’ve decided it’s perfect for keeping the spring chills at bay instead!

The fabric is a wool and acrylic blend and a slightly lighter weight than I expected, I’d say between a medium and heavy weight, with a nice soft drape to it. It’s available in five other colours too. Being 60” wide I used under 3 metres of coating for the jacket version.

The raised texture of the weave gives an interesting effect to the plain design of the garment.

I used a medium weight woven interfacing to add body to the facings and collar and paired it with this beautiful coral coloured polyester Paisley Lining Fabric which helps the jacket slide on over a jumper easily.

I’ve never attempted to make a fully lined coat before but took my time and found the pattern straightforward. The coating fabric was a good weight to work with. It pressed well giving a sleek curve to the seams and sleeve-head without too much bulk.

The jacket closes with an open end zip and one snap on the overlap of the collar.

Wearing it on a a chilly but sunny day it was just right, keeping out the breeze but light enough to feel comfortable for a Sunday stroll.

The large collar makes it feel cozy but I’m not sure it works on me as a hood.

I’m sure I will get plenty of wear over a range of seasons and may have to make the longer version too.

Happy sewing :) 

Nicky @ sewandsnip


Sewing Activewear

Last year I decided to take up running; I have made lots of new friends and improved my fitness greatly through this new activity. However, I often lack the motivation to go out for a run, especially when its cold and dark outside. As the new year approached, my mind started to turn to New Years Resolutions. Like many of you, I’m sure, I started to think about how I could motivate myself to stay active.

I decided the best motivation to get out and run more would be to combine my new hobby (running) with an old favourite (sewing). Generally I make my own clothes, not only can I choose to make exactly what I want to make and wear, but getting a good fit really boosts my confidence. Surely the same must be true for activewear?

After browsing the Minerva website for a while, I discovered their fantastic range of activewear and so decided to try a few different fabrics so that I could tailor my first activewear top exactly to my needs.

Firstly, I chose some red All-Way Stretch Lycra Fabric for the body of the top. When you are running or doing pretty much any type of exercise it is so important to be able to move freely. Yet in many ready-to-wear active wear tops I have felt restricted. This super stretchy lycra gives me so freedom to move without restrictions. Also, it comes in an amazing choice of colours. In the shops activewear comes in a limited colour range (generally pink or black for women). I’m not a very girly girl and don’t really wear pink much and if I’m running at night I want to be visible to passing traffic so black is a bit of a no-go for me too. One word of warning about this fabric though – if you are ironing or pressing it be sure to use a cool iron as it does tend to melt a little bit!

The second fabric I chose was an Activewear Jersey knit in grey. This fabric is slightly thicker than the lycra and so was perfect for the sleeves – whilst running my core gets warm very quickly but I find my arms stay cold. Being able to tailor a garment to my specific needs is something I love about sewing so to be able to do the same for activewear is great. This fabric was lovely to sew with. For a jersey, I had none of the usual issues with curling edges. It lay perfectly flat making it really easy to create all the lovely design lines of this top (it’s the winter base layer from “Sew your own activewear” by Melissa Fehr in case you’re curious).

I also chose was some Airtex Fabric in black. Not only does this fabric look really cool but it keeps you cool too – it’s perfect for adding little details and for keeping the air flowing where you need it most! This fabric was much less stretchy than the others, so I would definitely limit it to small areas of your garment or areas that need less stretch. Also, due to the small holes everywhere be sure to use a higher density of stitches (shorter zig zag) to make sure it is secure.

Finally, for the thumb cuffs I chose some soft cotton jersey in black. I find my eyes water a lot when running, especially when its cold outside and the ends of my sleeves tend to get used to wipe my face so to be able to have a nice soft jersey here was great for that as well as keeping my hands nice and warm when out in the cold.

It was really refreshing to be able to have activewear in the colours I wanted and to be able to tailor the fabric choices to my needs. It immediately gave me a boost of confidence to go out for a run in my newly sewn activewear top – even if it was snowing!

Thanks you for reading,

Helen @ H's Handcrafts


McCall's 7800 Floral Crepe Dress

Hi Everyone, it’s Kris from Sew Notes back here on the Minerva Crafts blog. Today, I’m going to be sharing my experience sewing McCalls 7800 using Minerva Crafts floral crepe fabric.

This was my first time sewing with Crepe Fabric. I’ve sewn with bubble crepe before so I wasn’t too sure what to expect from a crepe fabric. Prior to receiving the fabric in the mail, I was wondering - would there be texture to it? Would it be slippery to handle? Those were some of the things I was wondering while I waited to receive my package.

To my surprise, the fabric was very smooth to touch. The best way that I can describe the feeling of this fabric is like butter. It was such a beautiful fabric to work with. It was not slippery at all and it fed through my machine very nice and smooth. Crepe is definitely a fabric I would love to work with again.

I choose to pair this fabric up with McCalls 7800 as I really love this pattern. McCalls 7800 is intended for both woven and knit fabrics. I’ve already made the knit version, so I was really excited to make a woven version. The pattern features different neckline and sleeve variations. I choose to make view C with view D sleeve length. I really love the neck-tie on view C.

The alterations that I did to the pattern was a small bust adjustment, using a tutorial by Aneka from Made To Sew. I find with most of the McCalls patterns, the small bust adjustment works well for me. Another alteration that I did was I eliminated the back center seam. I really love the print on this fabric that I wanted to keep the back one piece rather than having a seam down the center. All I did was, I took out the seam allowance from the pattern piece and cut the back on the fold. I needed to place the pattern pieces in a different cutting layout instead of what McCalls recommended. I was able to fit all the pattern pieces on the 2 meters of fabric in order to achieve the look I was going for. In my version, both the front and back pieces were cut on the fold.

This is a fun pattern, it can be dressed up or dressed down depending on your fabric and how you choose to style it. Wear it as a dress, or wear it as a tunic with leggings and boots. I can not recommend this pattern and the pairing with crepe fabric enough! It’s a match made for sure!

Thank you for taking the time to read about my experience sewing with crepe fabric for the first time! Thank you to Minera Crafts for the great opportunity!

Kris – aka Sew Notes


Swingy Raglan Sequin Sleeve Dress

Hello everyone, I’m Izzy from @topstitchrollhem, and I’m thrilled to be back on the Minerva Crafts blog today with my very favourite thing to sew – sequins!

I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to fabric and I absolutely couldn’t resist this Sequin Fabric. This gorgeous floral sequinned fabric has lots of sequins sewn onto a fine black mesh black with gentle one-way stretch. The sequins are all different sizes and sewn on to make these amazing 3D flowers and leaves that catch the light beautifully.

The fabric has a really luxurious weight and drape to it – needless to say, I was terrified of cutting it out and spent a long time thinking about the pattern placement. I did the usual sequin-cutting-out things like cutting on a single layer, using an old pair of shears and making sure my glasses were firmly in place. I would also recommend having the hoover handy as they get everywhere! I am always promising not to cut out more sequinned fabrics because of the mess they make but then I accidentally seem to acquire more for the stash…

It took me a long time to decide which pattern to use for this fabric. I have lots of sparkly dresses and wanted to make something a bit different and – having much experience of sequin grazes – also comfy! I settled on view C New Look 6469 which is a swingy, raglan-sleeved dress for knit fabrics. I went for the longer skirt length and the bracelet length sleeves. I love this silhouette (especially in winter, so cosy) and thought it would be a fun sparkly, swingy project. The skirt certainly has quite a lot of volume!

I used a Crepe Scuba Fabric for the front and back sections of the dress and also the neckband and cuffs. It’s a really nice quality, very drapey scuba which gives the shape of the skirt a good twirl-factor. The cuffs are not part of the pattern but I thought it would be a good, non-scratchy way of hemming the sleeves. To do this I used the neckband pattern piece to make sure the width would be the same for balance, then measured the length of the end of the sleeve and cut two cuff pieces.

Construction was pretty simple but took quite a long time as I bound the sequinned seams with the black mesh selvedge to avoid more sequin grazes. I did this by hand and it was lovely to slow down and take my time over the finishing – and admire the fabric as I went, of course. For the neckband and cuffs, I attached them just on the outside with right sides together by machine, topstitched (I wasn’t going to bring an iron near the lovely sequins!) then handstitched the inner side to the dress to avoid the seam allowances showing through the mesh of the sequinned fabric.

I really like how this raglan style reminds me of a more casual item of clothing like a cosy jumper, but then it has this sparkle and swing factor too which will make it lots of fun for dancing in. I also love how the sleeve style means that the sequins come all the way to the neckband.

I mean, just LOOK at those sleeves!

Aren’t the colours of the sequins just perfect?

I could go on and on about how lovely these sequins are, I can’t get enough of the way they catch the light. I’m really looking forward to wearing this dress – and to making more versions of this pattern, too. I’m even planning on a little project to use up the sequin scraps, I can’t bear to throw them away. In the meantime I will leave you with yet another twirly, sparkly photo.

Thanks so much for reading,

Izzy @topstitchrollhem


We Are Hiring! - Office Assistant

Job Description

This job is all about keeping our customers smiling by delivering the best customer service.

Your role will be to help our customers - typically a range of sewists and crafters from all corners of the globe - with inquiries, concerns and requests about our incredible range of products and wonderful service. You will be critical to that impossbily great service.

Who We're Looking For

- We are looking for someone to join us on a full time basis, providing support and helping us as we grow.

You will need to be-

- Charismatic and creative

- Proactive and enthusiastic

- Friendly, positive and organised

You will need to have-

- Top-knotch communication and interpersonal skills

- A can-do attitude

- A love and understanding of sewing and/ or craft

And be able to-

- See through every task

- Speak and write English fluently

Main Job Tasks and Responsibilities

- deal directly with customers by telephone and electronically (e.g. online chat and email)

- respond promptly to customer inquiries

- handle and resolve customer queries - and very rarely - complaints

- obtain and evaluate all relevant information to handle product inquiries

- provide pricing and delivery information

- keep records of any chat or email with customers and any actions taken

- communicate and coordinate with others in our team

- follow up on customer needs

- improve our customer service process so we can do more with less

Education and Experience

- knowledge of sewing or craft

- familiarity with the usual Office software

- experience in a customer-service role

Working Hours

Monday to Saturday, 9:00 to 17:00 (7.5hrs) alternating work on mid-week day and Saturday each week

Statutory sick pay

Holiday entitlement 28 days including bank holidays

Job Type: Full-time

Location: Based in our offices in Darwen, Lancashire (UK)

Get In Touch

If you are interested send us your CV and a covering letter to


Toaster Sweater in Atelier Brunette Dazzle French Terry

I’d been coveting the Atelier Brunette Range of Fabrics for a long time. I’d seen other peoples makes and loved the original fabric designs, and the final garments always looked so great. But I kept telling myself that I had to wait until I was a more competent sewist before I could justify cutting into such a high quality fabric. But why? Finally I told myself that I was worth it – and I have no regrets!

This French Terry Fabric is just gorgeous, it is sooo soft, especially the wrong side – couldn’t wait to get stuck into making it into something I could wear. I love the midnight blue colour and the gold speckles make it a little bit special without being too over the top.

When I saw this fabric I knew I wanted to make the Toaster Sweater from Sew House Seven. The sweater comes in 2 variations and I made version 1 – I really like the exaggerated funnel neck and cuffs on this version. I have made 2 versions of this before and know that I really like this design on me.

This is a really easy sweater to make, not many pieces to cut, and you can sew the whole thing on an overlocker (unless you want to add the optional topstitching). I made a size 4 and the only pattern adjustment I made was to shorten the sleeves by 1 inch. This size is actually quite a bit smaller than the pattern instructions would indicate for my measurements but I also checked the finished measurements and didn’t want the amount of ease built into the pattern. As someone who is on the short side I find that too much ease tends to swamp me. The fabric was very easy to work with and the Toaster sweater can easily be made in an afternoon – who doesn’t love a quick satisfying project to make?

It looks great with jeans and I have worn this pretty much every weekend since making it. The gold print washes really well and I haven’t noticed any fading.

Having stated earlier that I don’t like too much ease, I’m now going to contradict myself and say that I think that if I make this pattern again I might go up a size. This is a fairly snug fit, looks great as it is, and is great for going out. But I think I’d like a larger one for lounging on the sofa – I’m now on the hint for my next Toaster sweater fabric!

Anyway, I’m really pleased that I took the plunge and tried out some high quality fabric. It was definitely worth it, I can feel the difference when I wear this and have also received lots on compliments.





Practicing a Little Ingenuity

Every so often I spot a pattern with the potential ‘perfect’ factor. Perfect in that it not only fits my style but it appears a simple sew that will lend itself well to experimenting with patterned fabrics. I love my simple, colour blocked style yet working with motive fabrics, practicing a little ingenuity is a challenge I grasp with both hands.  

Pattern: Sew Over It -Thea Dress

The ‘Sew Over It Thea dress’ spoke to me. I literally couldn’t wait to sew it up. A jeans/jumper kind of gal, I’m always on the look out for a dress that’s both comfortable and casual for everyday.  I hope 2019 will be the year of the dress! Wearing more of them has always been a resolution I lose sight of. 

Fabric: John Kaldor -Portia Jersey knit

Composition -95% Polyester 5% Spandex

So with the perfect pattern at hand it was down to the fabric to complete the look. I chose the medium weight, Jersey Fabric as it had a beautiful drape. A trait the pattern suggested. I knew I wanted to go all out with the fabric design as the dress was such a blank canvas. With only 3 pattern pieces: front, back and sleeves, I felt this was my time to work a bold print. Needless to say the large, random florals caught my eye.

I pre-washed the fabric before sewing it up. The fabric cut well. I avoided using pins as drapey fabrics can shift out of position in the process. Instead I used clips to hold my pattern pieces in position which worked great. For stitching I used a ballpoint needle and a 1 x 1.5 zig zag stitch. 

The pattern called for ‘stay stitch tape’ around the neckline. The first instruction no less and I had none. In the past I’ve worked a line of stay stitch around such areas, just inside the seam allowance and just like those times, it worked just fine. 

The dress came together quickly with its minimal pattern pieces. I know I perceive large florals more of a mature look so I wanted to hit it with a touch of youthfulness by stitching an extra zig zag line of top stitch around the neckline. Plus an additional line of top stitching at the sleeve joins. I used a plain, white cotton as I love the look that the contrast gives. I have never understood the obsession with matching threads to fabrics. 

The fabric is soft to the touch and lives up to its drape. The floral print, I feel works perfectly. The background is a little see-through but as I consider it an Autumn/Winter dress, I will wear it with tights anyways.

The Thea dress pattern offers different length options. I cut out the short length as I knew I’d get more wear out of it. At a mere 5 foot 3 inches, I went ahead and took off another 10cm from the length. In hindsight I should have waited till the dress was finished and I’ll tell you why…

The main body piece is joined to the top of the sleeve. When you lift your arms the dress rises, instantly. It’s the style of the dress. It’s what I find makes it a simple, stylish sew. As its a winter look it’s not really an issue and I’ll remember not to do the YMCA whilst wearing it.

I’m thrilled how this dress turned out. The dress itself is so comfortable, I am already planning on making more. I feel like I can try all sorts… varying lengths, sleeve lengths, colour blocking… I’m not sure which I like more: with the belt or without? I love the fact I have the choice and both feel casual yet stylish at the same time. 

Thanks for reading,

Staying Active

Fabric technology keeps improving and it’s becoming easier to find affordable activewear fabrics to sew your own gear.

This black Swimwear / Activewear Fabric was my Christmas break sewing project. Black is a great basic starter as you can use a bit of colour as a design accent.

I’ve used Jalie Isabelle again to pair with this fabric. All the adjustments were made last year. The sleeveless top is one I traced off a RTW that was a good fit.

This is the rtw top I traced off for the black version I made.

As you can see, after I traced off the original pattern, I extended it to my lower hip measurement. After making a few test versions and lowering the armhole, I’ve now traced off a final version. The final version is dated and has the sewing details including the amount of fold over elastic required to finish the neckline and armholes.

What I wanted to find out was how this fabric handled in hot, humid weather.

I’ve used some grey knit fabric so you can see how this accent looks on the Isabelle leggings.

This fabric has good two-way stretch.

This fabric lots of good points:

1) It stays opaque when stretched. Some fabrics can become see-through when stretched and this fabric doesn’t let you down.

2) Sewing this on an overlocker was hassle-free. Sometimes stretch fabrics can ‘tunnel’ when sewn with a double row of stitching. This fabric stays flat.

3) The seams hold fast so this fabric can be used for ‘compression wear’. If you’ve bought ready to wear compression tights, you’ll know how expensive that can be. This fabric and Jalie’s Isabelle made these leggings feel very supportive.

I’m still trying to perfect that mid air jump photo. Why not have some fun and make your own gear to stay active.

Thanks for reading,

Maria @ Velosews

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