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Archives: April 2018

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Prym Fastener Kit for Eyelets & Snaps Review by Emma

When this amazing Prym Snap & Eyelet Kit arrived I couldn’t wait to try it out !

I had used a non branded cheap press studs similar to this in the past but the quality was poor and the press studs often didn’t line up correctly meaning rough metal was exposed but I knew I’d have no problems with Prym and I was correct, this kit is AMAZING I love it.

You can buy the pliers and eyelets and snaps separately but the great thing about the kit is you get a lovely box all labelled up with a place to put all the different attachments which is perfect for me as I’m trying to keep my sewing room neat so I can find things quickly for different projects. I tend to have lots of projects on the go.

You can also buy Prym jeans buttons and rivets to go in the pliers and other sizes of eyelets – just check when you are buying them they should let you know if they are compactable with the Vario pliers in details. Having installed jeans buttons with a hammer before I totally wish I’d know about these before !

First up I was excited to just try everything out so first up the eyelets;

Right Side

Wrong Side

Super neat !

Next up the Snaps;

The picture below is the part that often didn’t line up on cheaper pliers but I did a few of these and they all turned out perfect every time with the Prym pliers.

Next up Poppers – which are definitely my favourite they just look super professional & great if you don’t like sewing buttons;

There is also a heavy duty type popper but I didn’t have any projects for that at the moment so now I’d tested my abilities to use the pliers I jumped into some projects.

First up a padded bib for my friend’s little boy;

The case has everything together for you labels, so you just pick up the attachments for the snaps and the snap parts, as shown below;

Instructions are provided for everything in the box and Prym also have a great video on youtube here.

Make sure you pay attention so that the snap is the right way round and make with chalk etc so that both parts are lined up just like for buttons and button holes.

Ready to insert one side;

Snaps all in place looking great, there’s a little mark on the fabric as I pressed so hard just to make sure the snap was in. The mark/crease would come out with steam.

Really pleased with my Bib ! Next a project I’ve had in mind for ages and the popper is perfect for it.

I often buy make up palettes, and they often have a habit of opening themselves in my makeup bag so for a while I wanted to make a case. They often have mirrors so I thought a padded case would be perfect.

I used foam interfacing and quilted it as shown below;

Then once I was ready to insert the popper I marked the placement for both side of the popper with pen. Then punched a hole and checked that it was right against the other side’s placement.

Then I put both side of the poppers in – you really don’t need to press much at all just a firm squeeze of the pliers and the popper is inserted and it’s super strong. I do think that the poppers look so much more professional then buttons, they are much stronger and so quick too.

Handbag/makeup bag, ready no more powder going over ever thing !

I can’t wait to try out the jeans buttons and rivets now ! They rivet will be great for bag making as I often worry when I’m sewing straps on my bags that I’m making my sewing machine work too hard !

I really can’t recommend the pliers enough I love them !

Thanks for reading,

Emma @ Sandpiper Sewing

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Ponte Roma Marie Style Arc Jacket by Simona

Hello lovely readers!

I’m back on Minerva Crafts blog with a new product testing review. This month the lovely folk at Minerva Crafts asked me to test a sewing pattern from Style Arc Patterns (a new brand they are now selling on their huge online store). I was given the choice of what pattern to make and I chose to make the Marie Jacket Pattern.

This patters as described on Minerva Crafts site: ‘This up to the minute jacket sewing pattern with interesting design lines and off centre front zip which can be worn closed or left open allowing it to fall into a wonderful front drape. These are multi sized nested patterns printed on 60gsm paper. There are two size ranges available for each pattern. Seam allowances are included. Please note, Style Arc sewing patterns come with limited instructions and assume some sewing and pattern knowledge’

Suggested fabrics are: light Ponte, Merino knit or any soft knit that is stable enough to hold a zip. I wanted to make the zip version so I chose a Ponte Roma Fabric for my jacket.

I chose to make size 8 which is a size of my waist and hips. My bust measurement places me in size 10, but experience taught me that I need to go by my waist and hips measurements to chose a pattern and then consider doing a FBA (Full Bust Adjustment)- (for this pattern I did not do one because of the quite lose jacket and use of stretch fabric). The only adjustment I did was to shorten the sleeves length by 2.5 cm.

I got confused by the instructions as they have two seam allowances that keep changing throughout the construction 1cm or 0.6 cm (or 3/8 or ¼ inch). As a perfect fit was not an issue, I used 0.6 cm or ¼” on my overlocker. Also, I kinda got lost about step 4, which means I started doing my own thing and using my instinct on how to make it.

For the topstitching I used a long lightning stitch on my machine, but it looks like a straight stitch on the jacket and keeps the fabric in place.

From the instructions I understand that the zip is stitched on once the front pieces are already constructed. However, that felt wrong to me so I decided to insert it into the seam allowance. Took me some time as I had to pin in place, tack and then sew in place and finally top-stitch the seam down to give it a professional finish.

For the shoulder seams I used knit Bias Stay Tape to stabilize the seam before sewing it together.

For the hems I used the lightning bolt stitch on my machine.

The instructions are minimal, so Style Arc patterns are not recommended for those with no garment construction experience. The instructions mention sewing tutorials and extra help are on the Style Arc website. But I was disappointed to find anything that would at least help with the tricker parts of the construction. I did not want to start searching on the internet trying to find a tutorial. I felt that referring to sewing tutorials in the instructions is misleading.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like their patterns. But I feel that for an indie pattern designer their instructions are lacking. The only helpful thing in the instructions is the diagram that shows you how the pattern pieces go together in the finished garment. It might be that I am biased by the fact that I am a visual person so the more images/diagrams the better.

Even this jacket I will make it again, using the suede fabric I originally wanted to use for my first version. I did not use it because I was not able to find a matching colour zip, so opted for the safe black. On my second make I will skip the zip all together. And since I already made it once, I won’t have too much trouble making it again.

Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog post. And please do share your makes on Instagram/Twitter by tagging @MinervaCrafts or using the hashtag #MinervaMakes. I’d love to see what you create.

Simona

Sewing Adventures in the Attick

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A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics Book Review by Angela

This is a new Craft Book especially aimed at people who have not used knit fabrics before or who need some hints and tips. The book contains patterns for several knit garments ranging from UK size 8 through to UK size 26.
Wendy Ward has been a fashion designer to many top companies since the year 2000. In 2007 she started teaching dressmaking, pattern cutting and textiles. In 2012 she opened MIY Workshop in Brighton and launched her own range of sewing patterns named MIY Collection. Previous books include A Beginners guide to making Skirts and A beginner’s guide to dressmaking. Wendy contributes frequently to Love Sewing magazine.
I was very happy to be invited to review the book and to make up one of the designs. With 20 garments to chose from there was plenty of choice!
The first few pages of this lovely book are dedicated to discussing the fabrics and methods for making each garment and even if you end up not making any of the patterns (and I hope you do) the book is still a great resource and has a place in any sewing library.
I like the way in which each project is given various fabric choices for example the Lounge pants can be made as nightwear or sportswear depending on the fabric chosen. This gives extra value to each garment. I also like the very useful guide to tools and techniques which is very comprehensive and thoughtful. It even mentions my personal bug-bear of not using cheap sewing thread and why you shouldn’t!
The next pages are taken up with explaining how to take your measurements and how to choose the correct pattern size. This is where so many sewers fail; even before the fabric is cut out the garment is destined for the re-make pile. Why? It is because we just jump in and cut out our commercial dress size. How many times have you tried on a pair of trousers in various stores and found that you are a different size in each? I know this happens to me. So do take time to measure yourself each time you make a new garment because if you cut out the correct size to start with you are part way to a guaranteed success.
There is a great section explaining the different types of knitted fabrics and the best uses for them, and even washing instructions for each! This book really is a very comprehensive and easy to understand guide to purchasing the fabric for, sewing and caring for your knitted garment. Not only that the book takes it one step further and talks about choosing the correct machine needle, the most appropriate stitch, hemming and finishing your seams.There is nothing Wendy has left out!
I decided to make the mid length Kinder cardigan in a black heavy Ponte Roma Fabric. I also wanted to add some contrast panels and so I used a small piece of a monochrome Ponte Roma Stripe Fabric. Ponte Roma is the most perfect stretch fabric for anyone who has not sewn with this type of fabric before as it is easy to sew and is so forgiving.
Now I am not a fan of PDF patterns and I am not a fan of tracing off and piecing together patterns either. This book contains three double sided pattern sheets with all the designs printed onto them. There is no possible way to cut the patterns out directly from these sheets so you need to arm yourself with some dressmaker’s tracing paper, some sort of pattern weights, a pencil and a ruler. Each design is colour coded so that makes the task easier, and the sizes are clearly marked. I found that the longer pieces all needed joining at some point so do take care that you join them correctly. This was fairly time consuming, however at the end of the process I was in possession of a tissue pattern.
I wanted to add contrasting blocks to the right lower side and the left band so this meant that I had to make additional pattern pieces for the right front and the left front band, cutting out sections for my contrast  fabric and adding seam allowances to both the main fabric and contrast.
Cutting out was simple, but do remember that the fronts and band need to be cut single fold as each side is different.
I sewed with Mettler Serflock as it is a stretch thread and it meant that I could use a straight stitch without any danger of the thread snapping. I stitched the contrast fabric onto the front first, over-locking and top stitching the seam. For top stitching I used a twin needle as it gives a professional finish. Then I made the pockets and top stitched the upper edge with my twin needle too. Then I pinned and stitched my pockets in place. The sewing instructions are easy to understand and explain each step in great detail so I had no problems whatsoever in following them. The shoulder seams needed stabilising so that they do not stretch out of shape during wear. You can purchase iron on seam tape for this purpose but I used ordinary black seam tape and placed it beneath my stitches to stabilise the seam.
You will find it much easier to sew the sleeves in place once the shoulder seams have been sewn and the seam allowances neatened. So lay your garment flat right side up and match the sleeves to the centre and the edges and pin in place evenly. Do remember that  right sides need to be placed together. You will find that there are no notches to guide you, but the front and back sleeves are the same in this pattern so there is no right and left sleeve. Once you are happy that your sleeve is evenly pinned into place then carefully stitch and then neaten the seam allowance. Don’t forget to press each seam as you sew it, only do please use a good pressing cloth or you will scorch your fabric. Once the sleeves are in place and you are happy with them you my go ahead and stitch the side and sleeve seam in one operation. Match the underarm seam of course.
Make up the band, adding your contrast section if you are using one. Then fold it in half wrong sides together and press. Starting at the centre top and working downwards pin your band on without stretching it and stitch it in place. Overlock the seam allowance.
The next and final steps are to neaten the cardigan bottom and sleeve edge and pin them up to the desired length. I top stitched mine with a twin needle.
And that is my cardigan finished. Being made in a heavy Ponte Roma it will be useful as a light jacket in the spring. This cardigan will look and feel different according to which fabrics you choose so do look out for other posts from this book.
This book represents excellent value for money. The designs are very simple and are perfect for those new to sewing knits. I love this book mostly because it contains so much useful information which is presented in a logical straightforward fashion. Put quite simply, follow the instructions in the book and you simply cannot go wrong.
Thank you for the opportunity of being one of the first to make one of these fabulous and wearable designs.
Angela
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Matilda Shirtdress by Sarah

Last year, along with two lovely sewing buddies, I hosted an Instagram based sewing challenge to push myself and my fellow sewists to sew something a lot of us had expressed desire to sew but had seemingly been putting off; a shirtdress. It seemed the notion of constructing collars and sewing buttonholes gave quite a few us the heebie-jeebies! The response to the #sewtogetherforsummer 2017 challenge was overwhelming with over 400 shirtdresses lovingly completed - that’s a lot of stitchers upping their sewing game. And guess what we all discovered - constructing collars and sewing buttonholes isn’t that scary after all! (There are tutorials and handy tips for both over on my blog).
As part of the challenge, I sewed the iconic McCalls 6696 – twice – to perfect the fit as well as some of my newly acquired skills. However, just as the challenge was coming to an end one of our sponsors, Megan Nielsen Patterns, released the Matilda Shirtdress Sewing Pattern. It  was instant love on my part! Available as a beautifully packaged paper or PDF pattern, Matilda is described as a fairly relaxed fit ‘modern utility style dress’. It features princess seams and drop shoulders, pleated breast pockets, an A-line skirt with really roomy statement pockets, 13 buttonholes and a full collar with stand. 
The pattern offers lots of opportunity for customisation and scope to modify the design i.e. by omitting certain features, like the collar or pockets, or by changing up some of the details.  You could alter the overall look of the dress by simply using contrasting fabric in certain areas, like I did - the inner yoke, internally faced waistband, pocket flaps; even the button placket and sleeve bands could be finished this way. I thought that was a lot of potential in one pattern!
It immediately went in my sewing queue … and then stayed there for a while. 
However, when I was invited to do this project (err, yes please!) , I knew instantly this was the pattern I wanted to make. So I duly dusted it off and began to think about how to make the dress my own and to source the supplies I’d need. I knew I wanted the pattern’s utilitarian style lines to be a key feature of my dress and to emphasise them with topstitching. To my mind, this meant using a solid colour rather than a print fabric. That didn’t mean I wanted a plain boring fabric though! After some searching, I found this perfect Linen-Look Cotton Fabric from Minerva Crafts online; it’s a non-stretch woven with a fantastic slub texture that I felt added just the right amount of interest. It comes in an array of colourways but I opted for the ‘wine’; a deep rich Autumnal colour. It has a lovely ‘hand’ and doesn’t crease nearly as much as I expect a regular linen would. (I’ve also ‘panic bought’ more of the other colours because I knew instantly this was a fabric I’d want to use again and again!)  
To add yet more interest, and as a way of personalising further, I decided to use a contrast fabric in just two key areas; peaking out from the inner collar and from the under pocket flap. I found this beautifully soft Cotton Lawn Fabric in a vintage-style floral print, again in the ‘wine’ colourway. (Are we sensing a ‘vino theme’ here? Hey, a dress that hides inevitable wine spillages is definitely a good thing, right?!)
I also needed interfacing and buttons. I had plenty of black and white fusible woven interfacing in my ‘haberstashery’ but testing on scraps of the main fabric, I felt both weren’t quite right against my main fabric. The black was too dark and the white too stark - so I ordered some in a traditional natural colour and that worked out perfectly. As for the buttons, with my previous shirtdresses I’d opted to self-cover them but here, again keeping the utilitarian feel of the dress in mind, I chose these bronze domed military crest buttons. Stylistically, I felt they made more of a statement without being ‘loud’.
My supplies all sourced, I was ready to start! 
There are a total of 18 pattern pieces and I knew from the off, as is my standard practice, that I’d have to redraft some of the pieces to get the fit I wanted. Megan Nielsen states that the pattern is designed for a height of 5.9” and a B/C cup. It probably goes without saying that I’m shorter and bigger than this! My main focus then was ensuring that the princess seams of the bodice not only lined up with my apex but also had enough curve to accommodate my chest! Looking at the finished measurements of the pattern I decided against doing an all-out Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) as I only needed a little extra room. To my joy, I discovered that princess seams actually offer great scope for fit alterations as you can easily adjust their curves in a variety of relatively easy ways to ensure they follow your own body shape. I simply let out the seam over the bust. I’ve fallen in love with the use of princess seams for bodice shaping, they’re just so flattering!  
I also took the shoulder in by half an inch. I decided against removing any length from the bodice; although I’m relatively short I’m longer waisted. I traced my skirt pattern pieces to the shortest length available though! I made a quick toile of the bodice out of an old cotton bedsheet (I’m constantly buying them in charity shops for this purpose!) and, satisfied enough with that, I got stuck into my lovely wine cotton! 
The fabric behaved impeccably throughout and was a joy to cut, press and sew. Whilst this is not a quick make, by virtue of the amount of pieces and all the optional topstitching, it was immensely satisfying. Megan Nielsen’s instructions and illustrations were fantastically clear (and there is an online ‘sewalong’ available to accompany the instructions too!) which meant that there were no protracted periods of confused head scratching, making the whole process of assembling this dress a delight.
I love, for example, that the instructions remind you when to do the optional topstitching; give a very straightforward explanation of the construction of the collar and collar stand so that they go together smoothly and provide brilliantly clear instructions for sewing the yokes using the ‘burrito method’ so as to fully enclose their seams on the inside. I’d always shied away from this in the past, opting to hand stitch the finish instead and I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out this time!  I’ll refer to these instructions for every yoke I sew from now on. (I admit, I was so pleased with it I danced a jig around my sewing table holding the bodice aloft, Lion King style!) 
The only instruction I ignored was that for the button band placement given on the placket pattern piece, instead marking my own key points -  the waistband, the fullest part of my bust and the neckline. I then used my buttonhole gauge to work out even spacing for the placement of the remaining buttonholes. 
My buttonhole gauge is just one of a few key tools I used for this make. I confess to being something of a Gadget Queen (as anybody who follows me on Instagram will testify!) but the right tools really can make all the difference; I wouldn’t have been without my walking foot and edgestitching foot (for all the topstitching), hot hem presser and humble tailors’ chalk for this project. I always mark stitching lines with tailors’ chalk on areas where I really need accuracy; for example at the curves of collars and pocket bags; and fork pins make it so much easier to match up seams, err, seamlessly! Somewhat unbelievably I barely used my seamripper at all, except to rip open the buttonholes (using a pin to make sure I didn’t rip too far!) 
And I love the resultant dress! The style lines and topstitching give it a beautifully tailored feel whilst the fit is relaxed, feminine and flattering.  I just feel ‘put together’ and stylish in it which is great in a dress that is so easy and comfortable to wear. I’ll certainly be making it again! 
Thank you so much Minerva for sending me the fantastic supplies to make this dress and to you for reading! 
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Butterick 6318 Luxury Crepe Dress by Frankie

This Fabric makes me feel like an absolute queen! That’s right I said it this fabric is regal.

As soon as I opened the parcel and the Crepe Fabric slid out I was speechless, It feels luxurious and expensive which at £11.99 per metre it isn’t exactly breaking the bank. Even the six year old of the house announced that it was a “very pretty” fabric.

So lets get into the details, its got a beautiful drape. But its not sheer which means its good for trousers and dresses alike and you won’t need to line it. I chose the burgundy colour which is rich and deep and sort of reminds me of one of those really expensive bottles of red wine. The fabric is silky smooth to the touch and feels like lovely against the skin!

It is a however an absolute brute to photograph, but the picture on the website is a very accurate representation of the colour.

I decided this fabric would be perfect for a dress that needs a bit more of a drape so I chose to make Butterick Pattern 6318. I knew the drape would look great on the dolman sleeves and the fabric looks lovely gathered up so I knew it would be great for the skirt and the waist ties.

Cutting into the fabric was surprisingly easy. I was worried it might shift around but I weighted it and I didn’t move. I would suggest using Fine Dressmaking Pins though because I noticed that thicker ones could mark the fabric and just to be on the safe side it is worth just pinning within the seam allowance.

I also used a walking foot because it was worried that the fabric might shift whilst I was sewing. I do think it made it easier but I did only use a regular zipper foot when I inserted my zip and that was okay, so I’m not positive if you actually need one.

In the end I was really pleased with how the dress turned out. I did a lot of pressing to get seams flat [I used a medium heat iron but make sure to test on a scrap first!] It does take a bit of persuasion to press into shape because of the bounce of the fabric but it can be done with the help of some Pressing Tools!

Pattern wise it is a nice pattern. I’ve made a few changes to the pattern pieces for next time, like shortening the waist. A few things to note are that the ties are not lined they are just hemmed around the edge. I personally think they would look better lined and it might even be nice to add a contrast lining and I’d also lengthen them because I love the idea of being able to tie them in a huge bow and right now they are pretty short. Also the side seams of the bodice and the skirt don’t match up [It is meant to be like this but I can’t work out why]. Anyway the offset side seams give me a twitchy eye so I’ve made those the same size on my pattern pieces as well.

All in all I really really love the dress. The fabric hits the mark between casual and dressy so its perfect for day to day wear but it doesn’t look out of place if we decide to pop somewhere nice for lunch or if we have a parents evening to attend at school. The looser fit on the bodice also means that its really comfortable to wear all day and you can eat a big meal in it which we all know is very important!!!

Much Love

Frankie @ Knit Wits Owls

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Q&A with Lisa of Bobo Bun Craft Blog

Can you tell us a little bit about your blog?

My blog Bobo Bun has evolved since I started writing it in 2009. At first, I wrote about every aspect of my family life and how my creativity fitted within that. I started blogging before Instagram arrived and so this was the ideal place to connect with other creative people. Suddenly from all over the world I could have a conversation with people who enjoyed the same things as me, share stuff and have a good laugh into the bargain. I love writing and taking pictures so blogging brought these two together, plus it’s given me a wonderful place to hold so many memories. The only downside of blogging for me was and still is the difficulty to connect with a flowing conversation. My reply to a comment will only be seen if that person checks back. I used to blog a few times a week, but when my marriage ended a few years back I lost my creative mojo for a time, plus it was pretty difficult with our belongings in storage while we looked for a new home. Once my daughter’s and I were settled again I found my creativity came back in full force. Throughout this time I always used instagram, but was less frequent with my blog as I felt it needed a new direction. Now I blog about my dressmaking as I cover that and life stuff on instagram. On my blog I love being able to go into more detail about the process of making each garment, sharing which patterns and cloth I used and hopefully inspiring other people to try them out.

Can you show us a photo of your crafting space?

I used to dream of a room to myself to make in, but since my daughter’s and I have moved into a small terrace that’s not possible and to be honest I actually prefer sewing in the heart of the home. I cut out my cloth on the dining room table and I sew on a table underneath a long window so I have a lot of natural light. All of the bits and bobs I need are stored in cupboards and baskets. My treasured Sylko drawers are behind my sewing machine and this is where I keep my scissors, needles, seam ripper…everything I need immediately when I’m sewing basically. It all works perfectly for me, although a shelf for my books and a pinboard would just make it that much better.

When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start? What was your first project? What is your favourite craft?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn't doing something creative. My earliest memory is sitting on the floor when I was about five or six making an owl out of an old dress, stuffing it with my mum’s tights and glueing cake tins on for the eyes. I moved on to making clothes for my dolls who in my imaginary world went to boarding school after reading Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers and St Clare’s. Being creative is a strong urge in me just as it is in my daughter’s. I’ve always sewn and as the years have gone by I’ve just learnt more and more which I love, there’s always so much more to tackle and learn. I also knit, crochet, quilt, embroider, make bags and felt brooches (which I sell through my small business). I taught myself to crochet after quite a lot of initial swearing and my mum taught me to knit so I’d sit still while I was pregnant with my second daughter Millie. I enjoy lots of crafts in bursts, but my first love and my passion is dressmaking every single time. 

What do you love most about crafting?

The happiness it gives me. I truthfully can’t imagine a life where I wasn't coming up with ideas or making something new. My head is always buzzing with projects and ideas. I stopped looking in high street shops quite a while back as I rarely found just what I was looking for and as I am 6ft it never fitted properly anyway. Sewing means I can buy the cloth I want and either use a pattern, draft my own or pattern hack to get the exact outfit I want to be wearing. I love the individuality of it too as no one will be wearing exactly the same thing even if we have been initially inspired by the same pattern. It also means I can pretty much make anything we need, new curtains, clothes requested by my family and presents for everyone. 

Do your friends and family craft along with you?

I have a few creative friends and ones for who it is full-time job, but I much prefer chatting about it with them. When I’m sewing for me I like to sew alone and lose myself in the pleasure of it. I like talking too much so I’d get distracted. That said it’s absolutely the opposite when I’m teaching as I love being part of a groups sew then. My youngest daughter is studying GCSE Textiles and will be going on to do this as an A’level this year so I do help her with technical issues and look for ideas that might help her with her projects. In the summer I’ll be teaching her and a friend dressmaking to help them with their A’level as they both want a career in this or fashion. 

Who do you make things for?

It’s a mix. I take custom orders for frocks through my instagram page and I make a variety of vintage fabric bags and accessories to sell. I’ve built up such a lovely network of customers who I have known for many years through my blog that in reality I’m sending my products off to friends to enjoy which makes it even more special. I squeeze time in around family life and stay up ridiculously late to sew for myself. I did stay up until 3am to make sure I could surprise my man with a waistcoat for a family party later that day. I make clothes for all of my family as requests or surprises which they love to wear.

What made you decide to start blogging about your crafting?

I wrote my first blog post in January 2009. I followed the lovely Donna Flower who sells amazing vintage fabrics, she was so supportive and said do it, so I did. At that time, I was a stay at home mum, living in the Norfolk countryside after a career teaching in London. I was also selling my bags and accessories at markets under my small business name of Bobo Bun. I used my business name for my blog as I also do on Instagram so people could find me easily. The name comes from Bobo, the handknitted rabbit given to me by my nanny Daisy when I was one. She was my first crafty thing and is still loved to this day, she sums up all the joy and love of handmade things to me so was the inspiration for my name. I've also made my own versions of Bobo Bun bunnies wearing the outfits that Bobo wore before the moths attacked them. With blogging I wanted a way of connecting with other people interested in the same things as me. I had no idea at the time though what a marvellous world I was entering into. Several new opportunities came my way, I made new friends who are still in my life today and we natter away online, I am constantly inspired by the creativity out there which gives me confidence to pursue what I love. 

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

My mannequin named Foxy Lady has become an essential sewing friend. Being able to pin patterns on her and check the overall fit of a dress to see how it hangs has helped my sewing enormously. She was one of my best buys. After that it’s the seam ripper. That’s saved the day plenty of times.

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with and why?

My first love is vintage fabric, especially barkcloth which I swoon over. I love the one off nature of it, the quality of the cloth and the individual prints. Often I can only get a small amount so the cloth decides what it will become which is fun. That said, there is some amazing great quality contemporary cloth out there. I’ve got tons of pictures saved of cloth that I want to use in the future. It’s always the colours and design that inspire me. Sewing with cloth that isn’t good quality totally lets down the time spent creating something to my mind. At the moment I’m obsessed with jerseys and am constantly looking for great designs, I’ve seen quite a few on the Minerva Crafts site that I’ll be buying. My other new interest is pleather. I’ve just bought a couple of pieces to experiment with.

What is your favourite pattern you have ever followed?

Oh my word, choosing a favourite anything always makes me panic a bit because how do I say just one thing. I have so many patterns I love for different reasons. Narrowing it down a bit, I’d say Indie pattern designers are my favourite over the Big 4. My favourite pattern at the moment though and my current obsession is The Rita Blouse by Gretchen Hirst’s Charm Patterns. I have all her books and have used several of her patterns for Butterick too. I love to wear contemporary 1950’s style clothes that are fitted and ooze sass and fun. I’ve made several Rita Blouse’s as they need only a small amount of cloth, don't require an FBA for my FF’s, are really easy to make up and great to wear with everything. Recently, I pattern hacked the blouse into a fitted dress with a wiggle skirt. Next up will be one with a full skirt.

What is your favourite product on the Minerva Crafts website and what would you make with it?

I love the Atelier Brunette French Terry in black with gold spots. I’d make a Seamwork Astoria Jumper and maybe a looser fitting top to snuggle in when I find exactly the pattern I’m after.

How many projects do you have on the go at any one time?

Far too many. I have so many WIP’s that have been sitting in a bag for an age because I get excited about a new project. Currently, I’m making a dress for my youngest daughter, plus some birthday gifts, I’ve just started making my first pair of jeans, using Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans, then there is a dress I’m halfway through for myself and an absolute pile of cloth that I know exactly what it will become once I get round to cutting it. 

What’s your favourite thing you have ever made?

Pretty much I love everything I’ve made. There’s only a few things I make that afterwards I just think no, it just doesn't do it for me, but I’m glad of what I learnt while I made them. I'd say making the Wearing History Overalls was a favourite. It was a tricky pattern adapted from a vintage one. I made a toile in an old sheet first to get the fit right. I've worn them loads since, they're especially comfy to wear at our Lindy Hop dance class. Everyday summer frocks are another one of my absolute favourites with full skirts and a fitted bodice in a pretty floral fabric. Making shirts for my man is also on my list of favourite things. I absolutely love topstitching and the professional look it gives. Men’s shirts give you a lot of topstitching opportunities. 

Do you watch TV or listen to music while you craft?

Always. I’ve never been able to concentrate without background noise. It stops my head wandering off into other thoughts so I can stay focused. I sew either with the radio on or catch up on TV shows on my Macbook while I sew, not that I see much of what’s going on, I just tend to listen and look if something important happens. 

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

Inspiration comes to me from so many places. From watching films and period dramas where I see outfits that I’d like to copy, Instagram and blogs inspire me to find out about new to me patterns and being surrounded by fabric. Fabric always inspires me. 

Do you have a crafty tip you would like to share?

Don’t rush things or be tired when you’re making. I’ve made mistakes when I’ve forgotten to wash new cloth first and then it shrinks which makes it a bit tight to wear. If I’m tired I’ve cut pieces out the wrong way round or knitted and ripped the same row again and again because my tired brain read the instructions the wrong way round. My best tip though is to not be afraid to make a pattern your own and mix it up a bit. Change the skirt, bodice or sleeve if you don’t like that bit. You could add frills, piping lace to jazz it up too. Just let your creativity wander as the pattern is only a starting point really.

Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?

I follow quite a few blogs, but my favourite sewing blogs are The Crafty Pinup, Like Sew Amazing and Sew Dainty. I like the fun and passion they put into their sewing.

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

I would say write from your heart. Use your own voice and talk about what makes you tick, what you’re passionate about. Basically keep it real and then you’ll enjoy it and so will your readers. Good photos are really important too if you’re showing your makes. 

What are your crafting ambitions?

For quite a while now I’ve been taking on sewing commissions for lovely customers. I was approached recently to teach dressmaking and crochet classes at The Makeplace in Norwich. I’ve dreamt for a long time to be able to help people learn to sew and inspire them with how fabulous sewing is, especially when you get to wear your own creations. As a qualified teacher, I’ve taught academically as well as creative workshops in the past so this will bring together everything that I absolutely love to do. I’ll also be teaching workshops for my Happy Shopper Bags as well as other creative classes so it’s all hugely exciting. There’s a lot of planning going on behind the scenes at the moment, class dates will be available very soon though. I also want to start my own Vlog to share my passion for fabric and dressmaking. I do think it’s pretty fair to say I’m addicted to sewing, but that’s a good thing isn't it. My other ambition is to go to one of the short courses run by London School of Fashion so I can learn pattern drafting and couture techniques. 

What would you say to anyone looking to start a new craft?

Enjoy the whole process definitely and don’t beat yourself up if things go wrong. I’ve learnt so much from the mistakes I’ve made far more so then when it goes right. I think we tend to think too much about the end product rather than just enjoying every bit of crafting from choosing the cloth or yarn to working on our current project. Once you find the craft that is for you it can become a real passion that gives you 100% happy time.
Thanks for reading,
Lisa @ Bobo Bun
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A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knits Book Review by Sewing Su

I love sewing with Knitted Fabric, garments are usually easy to fit and nice and comfortable which are my top two requirements when choosing things to sew!

I hadn't made any of Wendy's patterns before and didn't have a knitted fabric sewing book so I was more than keen to get my hands on a copy and have a good excuse to spend some time sewing over the Christmas break.

Although I have sewn many jersey garments I actually know little about the fabrics and how best to sew them. I didn't realise how little I knew until I read this book! It has great information about the different types of knits there are and how to tell the difference between them. What size and type of needles to use for which type of fabric (I found this particularly useful as I really had no idea about the sizes and have to admit I didn't know the difference between a ballpoint needle and a stretch one or when to use them!). There are a few really helpful tables such as the one comparing the types of fabric and what to use them for.

At the beginning of the Book Wendy gives details of particular techniques that are important for example instructions on creating different types of waistband and gathering with elastic. These explain many of the techniques used in the book in a clear and concise way.

There are 6 basic patterns but they can all be adapted themselves or combined with other patterns in the book to create many different looks.

First the pattern is introduced, possible types of knitted fabrics you could use are discussed and how these may affect the final look of the garment. Wendy also tells you the type of fabric used for making the samples in the photographs (I found this particularly useful – it is great to be able to recreate a certain look that you like and I haven't seen this in any other sewing books I have read). All of the finished measurements are given as well as the fabric requirements and cutting layout. If there is a pattern piece that might be confusing/ difficult to deal with there is a helpful warning sign put onto the diagram with a corresponding explanation. The instructions are straight forward and the diagrams clear. As well as going through how to make the basic garment there are instructions on how to make changes/alterations such as turning the Longshaw skirt into a dress. There are little boxes throughout the instructions giving helpful tips.

I couldn't possibly decide on making just one of the items so I chose to make the Longshaw skirt and the Kinder cardigan.

I had seen a couple of Longshaw skirt instagram photos from pattern testers for the book and instantly fell in love with the pattern. I thought it would be a really complicated garment to produce as it looked so different – how wrong I was! I think it is probably been the quickest garment I have ever made and ooooooooh the pockets..........

It is made up of only two pattern pieces (yes just two!) I am a total sucker for a weird pattern shape and love to see how it all comes together.

I loved the idea of making this a statement piece by using a structured fabric such as ponte roma or scuba but due to my body shape I decided a drapey fabric would be more suitable. The fabric I chose to use was a medium weight Cotton Jersey Fabric from Minerva – fluid enough for the pattern but nice and stable so easy to sew with. I went for the grey colourway so that it could be mixed and matched with lots of different garments in my wardrobe.

The instructions were great making it a very easy sew. I love the finished garment it looks casual but with a smart twist and I can confirm that it is very comfortable!

Even though I now know how the pattern pieces come together I still love how unusual it is.

It hangs nicely and could be worn in lots of different ways.

And the pockets are just fabulous!!

Next up the Kinder cardigan! There are several versions – short, regular, and long, with short or long sleeves. It can be made in a heavier weight fabric such as ponte roma for a jacket like cardigan or in a softer knitted fabric. I made the regular length, long sleeved version. I went for one of Minerva's unusual Jersey Fabrics which looks knitted from one side but has a lovely fluffy brushed cotton look on the other side. I chose the black colourway so that it would go with everything, this does make photographing the details a little tricky.

The construction of the cardigan is slightly more involved than the Longshaw skirt but still very easy to make helped of course by the clear instructions and diagrams.

As well as going through the steps to make the garment Wendy also refers you to other pages in the book for special instructions such as taping the shoulder seams when using very heavy or very drapey fabric (or else the shoulder seams can stretch out of shape). Wendy suggests using iron on bias tape or cotton tape, I didn't have either of these but for once my hoarding came in useful as I had two pieces of clear elastic just long enough for the shoulder seams (I have also used scraps of ribbon before).

My finished garment is light to wear but warm and goes with absolutely everything! I have hardly taken it off since it was made (I should probably wash it now though!).

I can see it being a wardrobe staple.

For me 'bum coverage' is essential for most garments I make – as you can see the regular length cardigan has enough 'coverage'.

The pockets are roomy and incredibly useful – demonstrated by holding lots of gubbins during dog walks.

And of course the two can be worn together!

I will be making lots of other garments from this book - I can see a pair of Monsal lounge pants in my future as well as several Winnats tanks and a peak t-shirt dress for the summer.

Thanks for reading,

Su @ Butterflies and Lemondrops

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Cocktail Fabric Violet Blouse by Annie

As soon as I saw it I immediately fell in love with this Cocktail Hour Fabric. It’s retro colours and 1950s inspired design really called out to my vintage loving heart! This particular fabric is 100% cotton and composed of very fine threads so the fabric has a lovely drape, making it’s lightweight nature perfect for a spring or summer wardrobe piece.
Cotton Lawn is a material that I have not sewn with before but after this project I am now addicted to. There are definitely some more cotton lawn pieces coming to my wardrobe very soon.
When the fabric arrived from Minerva Crafts it was lovely and soft, and oh so floaty! I was concerned about how it would stand up to washing but I popped it in the machine on a 30 degree wash and it came out fine. It feels very smooth to iron, using a low temperature I ironed on the reverse of the fabric and during garment construction I used a pressing cloth. The fabric keeps it’s shape well and has the bonus of not succumbing to wrinkles easily. 
Due to it’s lightness I decided to stitch up a spring blouse using Colette’s Violet Blouse Pattern.
I love the vintage style of this blouse and thought it would be a great partner to the fabric’s 1950s style cocktails pattern. 
I used my sharpest of fabric scissors and achieved a cut with only slight fraying and noted any pattern markings on my fabric with a water soluble pencil as I didn’t want my ink pen to hold within the threads. Next time I’ll use my rotary cutter and pattern weights to achieve minimal fraying. I made sure to match my needle and thread to the lightness of the fabric to prevent any puckering during stitching and I ran a few test stitches first, checking my machine tension, especially when it came to the buttonholes. It was very easy to sew with but a top tip that I found useful was to use a piece of tear away stabiliser at each stitch starting point to prevent the fabric from being eaten by the machine. That’s something I tend to do with all lightweight fabrics. I then just trimmed that down rather than tearing it so that the stitching wouldn’t be disturbed.
The Violet blouse is billowy in nature and so this fabric suits patterns of that ilk due to having no stretch factor. The pattern calls for elasticated sleeves in the version that I stitched but I decided to just hem them as normal, having the sleeve finish just at the elbow. I think the looseness of the sleeves gives this blouse that artist’s smock vibe which suits me down to the ground! I’ve worn the blouse quite a few times now and I love that I can wear it tucked into jeans or trousers, or have it loose in a tunic style. Due to the cold weather at the moment I am layering it up but the lightweight nature of the fabric lends itself perfectly to the current mixed weather season.
This was a beautiful project from start to finish. I found it very enjoyable to sew using this cotton lawn and can’t wait to plan more cotton lawn projects!
Thanks for reading,
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Timeless Metallic Shirtdress by Sylvia

Every sewist knows how daunting it is to cut into really gorgeous fabric! When I received this beautiful fabric, I had to make sure it was just right so I decided to make one of my favourite things… a shirtdress!

Fabric Details – This is an elegant abstract peacock print poplin fabric with the most gorgeous gold metallic finish from Timeless Treasures Fabrics, generously provided by Minerva Crafts. It is 100% cotton, medium weight, and has no stretch. I prewashed it to allow for any shrinkage to occur and ironed it on the reverse side. It did not shrink significantly which is always great. This fabric was such a breeze to work with. The more I work with cotton poplin, the more I fall in love with it (remember the polka dot cotton poplin I blogged about a few months ago?)

*Unfortunately Minerva have now sold out of this exact print, but there are loads of other gorgeous ones to choose from in the Timeless Treasures Fabric Range.

Pattern – After deciding on a shirtdress, I now had the daunting task of choosing which pattern to use. I finally settled on Deer and Doe’s Bleuet Shirtdress with princess seams and I chose to go with the sleeveless version. I love making shirtdresses but this was my first time using this specific pattern and I am so happy with how it turned out. I loved the princess seams detail, which I have not had on any shirtdresses I have made in the past. I made a size 42 but had to take the waist in about 2 inches. Next time, I will sew it up in a smaller size. 

I used gold thread throughout the entire dress. I thought it would help bring out the princess seam detail but the fabric was too vibrant to get the effect I was looking for. I then finished it up with gorgeous yet simple gold buttons.

The fabric and pattern combination could not have been any more perfect. Since the pattern did not require any lining, this medium weight poplin worked great.

Styling – It can be tricky to style such a vibrant fabric but I saw this as an opportunity to bring out my dark green thrifted vintage jacket and my metallic gold shoes. It is almost like this fabric was made just for this moment. Have you ever felt that way?

Thank you Minerva Crafts for the wonderful fabric. Your fabrics are always so amazing!

Thanks for reading,

Sylvia @ The Ravel Out

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Wendy Ward Book Peak T-Shirt Scuba Dress by Helen

As a great admirer of Wendy Ward’s inimitable style I was so excited to hear about her new book focussing on sewing with knits. I was imagining stylish silhouettes that wouldn’t look out of place at the office despite being made from the comfiest knits. When the book arrived I was not disappointed; the projects that it contains are perfect – simple outlines that can be made to suit every style simply by changing the fabric choices. I simply couldn’t choose which to make first! A simple t-shirt for a stroll in the park, chic wide-leg trousers for work (Nobody would ever know I was wearing secret pyjamas!) or an elegant coatigan to throw over the lot and keep myself warm through the winter.

As I started to browse the extensive range of Knit Fabrics available on the Minerva crafts website I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy choice, they are all so lovely and I could imagine myself quickly getting carried away and planning a whole wardrobe! I eventually decided upon this gorgeous Scuba Fabric. It is a black base with beautiful cream flowers and I just knew it would make the perfect t-shirt dress for winter. As this book is written with knit newbies in mind I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to refresh my knit sewing skills and choose a simple project with an easy to sew fabric and scuba was the perfect choice – it doesn’t have too much stretch and glides easily through the machine.

I was eager to get started and the first step was tracing off the pattern. The pattern layout might seem a little daunting at first with all the patterns in the book spread over four sheets. However, each pattern is printed in a different colour so it is really easy to find what you are looking for and can easily trace it off without getting confused with the overlapping patterns. The lines for the different sizes are also really distinct making it simple to distinguish which line you are following.

The directions for each pattern are pretty simple to follow. I chose to do the dress length version of the Peak T-shirt and had no problems. Although if you are choosing one of the variations whch doesnt just follow the basic pattern it looks as though there would be more jumping between pages required. I really liked how all the basic instructions like choosing your machine settings and hems were at the front of the book, separate from the projects. This means the project pages aren’t too cluttered (the basic Peak t-shirt is spread across three pages) and once you have mastered these basics you can get on with your project without interruptions.

I also really love that there are loads of great tips and tricks included in this book, I picked up so many new ideas about which stitches to use with which fabrics, when different seam finishes are most appropriate and perhaps my favourite – stripe matching as I do love a good stipy knit! In fact I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to try this out, but maybe my next project will have to be a stripy one!

I am really pleased with how my make came out – the Peak t-shirt seems so versatile and in this heavy scuba fabric it makes the perfect winter dress to throw on over leggings. I chose to make the size down from that suggested as there is a lot of positive ease built in, but graded up a size at the hips to keep that loose fitting style. I will definitely be making more of these and can see this pattern becomng a wardrobe staple. 

Thanks for reading,

Helen @ H's Handcrafts

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