Archives: April 2020
Posted in Projects on Monday the 27th April 2020 by Vicki Ormerod
For this month, I thought I would challenge myself and venture into the world of menswear. More specifically, Nigerian menswear. My husband and I are both first generation Nigerian-Americans and if you know anything about the Nigerian community you will know that we like to throw a lot of events. Nigerians love to dress up especially in our traditional attire so it’s imperative that I add some new traditional pieces for my husband and I.
There are various types of traditional garments that Nigerian men wear but one commonly seen worn by all ages is the senator. After doing some research I discovered the senator style earned its name from a former Nigerian Senator Ayim Pius Ayim who was first (or one of the first) spotted with this style of dress. The senator consists of a top and trousers. The top is typically longer than the normal length of a men’s dress shirt (past the hips and sometimes down to the knees) and with sleeves that can either be long with shirt cuffs or short around the bicep. The trousers are designed to be regular suit pants. Suiting fabrics are a standard to make senators although ankara (African textile) and other lightweight fabrics can be used.
I like to think that senators are the Nigerian version of a suit for men because there are quite a few features that are similar between the senator and a suit from the fabric, the minimalistic design, pants and structure. Not to mention, a lot of Nigerian politicians (and many politicians in West Africa) wear senators for special and important occasions that one would commonly where a suit. I’ve always wanted to make my husband one so I was excited for this project despite my nerves. When I saw this Lady McElroy Soft Touch Suiting Fabric in conker brown, I thought it would be a great neutral color that my husband could wear often whether as a set or separates with other pieces in his closet. It’s color and weight is great for fall as it can warm you up a bit when worn.
For the top, I created a bodice sloper for my husband and used that to cut out the front and back pieces on the fold for the top. I added seam allowance to the neckline of the sloper. I had to learn the hard way that if I didn’t add that neckline seam allowance, the neckline would be too low once the facings were sewn. When it comes to senator tops, the neckline needs to be snug around the base of the neck, otherwise it can make the top look a bit feminine for the neckline to be any further from the neck. I also created a faux back yoke that I traced off of the back bodice piece as this is another known feature of a senator. I sandwiched some bias tape in between the yoke piece and the back piece.
Senators normally have plackets down the center front as an opening to get the head into the top but a new modern feature I’ve seen in the past years is to add an invisible zipper on the shoulder so I did just that. I feel that the invisible zipper on the shoulder simplifies the front of the top, furthering its minimalism which I like. Chest pockets are also common in senators so I opted for a welt (a patch pocket is another option). This was my first time making a welt pocket so it is not as crisp as I would have liked but I am pleased with my first try. I added black bias tape to the bottom of my welt as a design element to pair well with the back. I also created a pocket square that I boarded with black bias tape to add a little more pop to the top when it’s inserted into the welt pocket. Lastly, I added a side vent on the side seams of the top which allows ease of movement at the hips and sewed a 1 inch hem on the bottom. I made this top to be slim fit as this is how my husband likes to where his clothes and a more modern way to wear senators.
For the trousers, I used Burda 6933 pants pattern. I’ve had this pattern for a while but this was my first time making men’s trousers and using a Burda pattern. So I have to be honest on this part and mention that I panicked before attempting these pants. My husband actual said I should just make pants for myself out of it if that was more comfortable for me and I agreed so I began cutting out pieces for that. Then after basting the pants together and trying them on I didn’t feel like it suited me and then I felt like I was chickening out on my original idea to make a top and bottom senator outfit so I took the pants apart and salvaged it to make my husband’s trousers.
My men’s pants pattern went up to a size 44 but after measuring my husband I needed to grade up three sizes to a size 50. I actually could have graded to a 48 because the finished pants ran a little loose on him. I searched YouTube to find a tutorial on how to grade up patterns and found this video that was super helpful. Thankfully my graded out front piece could fit on two of the pant legs that would have been pants for me and I had just enough untouched fabric to cut out my graded out back piece. The directions for the pattern were okay but the instructions on how to create the back welt pockets were a bit confusing. I would highly suggest taking some scraps and testing it out first before attempting this on your fashion fabric. I made a mistake of not reading the instructions a few times and my pockets were jacked up but I later saved them after some troubleshooting.
I took the waist in at the side seams and the darts about 2 inches altogether and tapered the legs an inch. Did a blind hem on the pants legs, gave both the top and the trousers a press, and this senator outfit was complete.
This entire outfit came out so well and my confidence in menswear is through the roof. I am very happy that I didn’t chicken out of making the pants after all because the two pieces look good when worn together and I really needed this experience. My husband loves it and said he would wear these pants to work and honestly that has been a goal of mine. I wanted to learn to sew so that I could not only make myself cool pieces but some nice work pieces for my husband that he would be proud to wear. Before I go, I would like to share a few things I hope to improve on in my future senator or menswear makes:
· Take time to perfect the sloper. I made one but being in a rush to create this look, I didn’t tweak it in areas that would have improved the fit.
· Reduce the sleeve cap. For the sleeves I used the McCalls M6044 sleeve pattern to save time but I need to create a sleeve that better fits my sloper. There was definitely a little excess in the sleeve cap.
· Add a hem facing. The hem was my least favorite part because I feel like a hem facing would have been a much better finish rather than a regular hem. Plus I could use a different color that could nicely peak through when worn.
This was quite a lengthy post but I thank you all for reading up to this point. This outfit took longer than I had anticipated but I am relieved to see it done and look pretty nice too.
You can keep with me and all my latest makes over on Instagram at @createandpray. If you were inspired by this look, tag me so that I can show you all the love. Until next time loves, happy sewing!
Hi, Vicky here, you can find me at vickymyerscreations.co.uk where I share many craft related tutorials, plus refashions and sewing projects.
Initially planning a light weight cardigan, once this Sweater Knit Fabric arrived I had a change of heart. I spotted the Kielo Pattern on line and fell for the unusual shape and design of the dress. I used the PDF version, if you have not a bought a print at home PDF pattern before I love how many designs there are. You print only the size of pattern you need (you can learn how to tape up a PDF pattern here).
I strongly suggest washing your fabric before you start as it could shrink during the first wash and you would be so disappointed. This fabric is made with polyester and elastane, but it almost feels like cotton, super breathable, described as a medium weight it was a little lighter than anticipated but is perfect for this dress. It’s a delight to sew, and hardly creases, a perfect combination.
The pattern has good clear instructions which I advise you to read through before starting. I love how the pattern makes no assumptions about your sewing knowledge, teaching you how to finish edges, transfer marks from the pattern to the fabric, start and stop seams amongst others, basics which are not always covered in a pattern.
The neckline and armholes are finished with stretch bias binding, this was my first time at using stretch bias binding, thankfully this was far easier than I anticipated. The dress looks a far more complicated sew than it is, four darts, four seams and the edges – the website has a free add on for long sleeves, perfect for winter months.
Before you start take the time to check the tension on either your overlocker or sewing machine overlocker stitch to ensure your seams lie beautifully flat when pressed. As I picked the project up and down I made a silly error, practising my seam tension on one of the pattern pieces… thankfully with a bit of patience I was able to unpick my practice seams!
I made a few errors as I went but I think the next time I sew it up it will be a 2-3 hr sew. It really does pay off to read instructions properly before you start!!
I love how the dress flows beautifully. At 6” tall I am delighted with the length of the dress, no pattern adjustments required. One of the aspects of sewing I love, which I am sure you relate to, is sewing items that fit you. This dress is perfect for a day trip out but also elegant enough for evening wear, I love how slimming it is. I prefer the design when wrapped around the front and tied at the back.
Will I make this dress again? My Mum and daughter have both put in a request for one so that is a resounding yes!!
I’ve always been a fan of natural fabrics, but since having a baby, I’ve grown even more fond of Double Gauze Fabrics. It’s light, airy, soft and breathable – what dreamy qualities! Such qualities can’t stay a secret forever -- double gauze is gaining popularity in recent years, and more and more designers are bringing out their own collections of this beautiful fabric.
I was so excited to get my sticky fingers on this stunning Double Gauze by Rico Designs. I knew instantly what to make – a relaxed fit, boxy, cropped top is in order, and what better pattern to use than the Butterick B6182 by Lisette?
I had a head start making this top, as this is my second time using this pattern. I made the dress version in an eyelet linen in an off white colour when I was pregnant, thanks to its roomy fit. It worked well; in fact, my bump fitted in that dress almost all the way till full term. My husband did joke that it looked like a hospital gown, so it was a real shame that I was not wearing it when I went into labour.
I never got round to blogging about that dress, but it has come in handy in helping me determine the length of the top this time. I wanted it to be cropped, but had read reviews that the top version comes up extra short. After a bit of measuring and pinning, I decided to add 2 inches to the cut lines for the top. For your reference, I’m only 5 foot 3, and I think the finished length is just right.
I made self fabric bias binding for the neckline, as none of the tapes that I have in my stash were right for this. Some clashed, and others were not narrow or soft enough. This was probably the trickiest part of this project, as the double layers were not always pulling through the bias tape maker together. If I were to make them again, I would probably cut the tape a little wider than usual, to help with this. It was perfectly manageable, though, with a little extra care.
One of my favourite features of this pattern is the interesting dart placement at the bodice front. I'd go as far as saying that it is unique! I love it even more that all the lines neatly line up together :D
... and here, at the sleeve bands. This was a little harder because I did French seams all around. French seams really are my preferred method of seam finishes for lightweight fabrics that fray easily, and double gauze definitely fits nicely on that list. Never done French seams before? Here’s my favourite tutorial on this great technique.
You probably know by now my obsessions with garments that look great both inside and out!
Here’s a sneaky peek of the inside of this garment. Must resist the urge to wear it inside out!
Finally, let me leave you with a close up picture of the fabric. It is even more stunning in real life – the leaves are a metallic silver. And look at the intricate double layers.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, Alice from Queen of Darts
Hello Minerva Crafters, it’s Marlies from madebyLIESL back again today to share this little green dress covered in daisies.
You gotta just love this fabric. It is a medium weight Cotton Jersey Fabric, available in this green and also in coral, grey, turquoise and yellow. I had a difficult time choosing which colour and obviously eventually went for the green one.
When I picked this fabric, a vintage dress with a low neckline popped into my head. Receiving the fabric I chose otherwise. Often I decide what to make in front of the mirror holding the fabric in different ways. Draping it like it is the dress. Then I discovered that the fabric should be closer to my face. Turns out this green was the perfect choice for my skin tone.
The dress I made was already in my pattern stash. A fitted princess seamed dress with cap sleeves. On top of the skirt is a longer semi-peplum. Searching through the Minervacrafts website I found a pattern which easily can be turned into the dress I’ve made. Namely New Look 6094.
As the basic dress you can use the fitted dress. If you want to recreate the semi-peplum, you could use the flared/pleated skirt for it. Just cut an asymmetrical line in the paper pattern of the front skirt and cut it a bit narrower at the shorter side. Attach the semi-peplum in the waistline and one longest side seam. I’ve mistakenly reversed my pattern piece before cutting the fabric. So my longer seam is on the left side instead of the right side as stated in the instruction of the pattern I’ve used. Ah well, it doesn’t really matter.
When putting the dress together I used a stretch needle and a stretch stitch. I’ve serged the seams which wasn’t really necessary, because the fabric doesn’t fray. I just like the finished look. The fabric has a medium weight so it is flattering (doesn’t show any lumps or bumps) and is also easy to iron.
I finished the hemlines with a stretch twin-needle. Just perfect. I even made a little belt out of this fabric. Turns out the dress didn’t really needed a belt. So I probably will wear this belt as an accessory in another outfit.
Before shooting the photo’s for this blog I found many daisies walking the dog. So I had to bring them as an accessory. I even tried to make a chain of it like I did when I was young.
I love the outcome of the dress! It’s super cute and so comfortable.
Do you want to see what more I’m up to? Check my Instagram or one of my other blogs.
Thanks for reading.
Posted in Projects on Thursday the 23rd April 2020 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello again, I’m Izzy and I’m on Instagram @topstitchrollhem
This time I’m delighted to be bringing you a review of a lovely, bright red Gabardine Fabric.
I’ve really started widening my colour comfort zone in my fabric choices this year – it used to be a combination of black, khaki and blue all the time – so the opportunity to sew with this gorgeous red fabric was really exciting. I find it can be difficult to interpret reds on screen, and I would say this one is a bright but cool lipstick red that tones slightly towards blue, rather than a deep or orange-y red. Perfect for pairing with pinks and blues, exciting!
The gabardine has a lovely twill weave which is really subtle but catches the light nicely. It’s a medium-weight fabric with a soft hand, a bit of stretch and good recovery. It’s not sheer at all and it’s a perfect bottom-weight material, though I can imagine it working really nicely as a fitted dress as well. It took me a while to decide how best to put the fabric’s attributes to use and eventually I decided on a wrap skirt.
I used the skirt portion of Vogue 8784 (view B) for this skirt. I like how secure the wrap is (always a worry otherwise!) and how the shaping at the front is formed with diagonal pleats, which is a bit different from other wrap skirts I’ve seen. I decided to shape the outer front skirt panel into a curve for a point of difference, which I’m sure I’m supposed to have measured and marked carefully but which I actually just used a big serving platter to trace around and curved the corner using that!
Once all the difficult decision-making bits had been done, the skirt came together really easily. The fabric does fray a little so I overlocked all the raw edges with my favourite rainbow overlocking thread, as well and overlocking the hem before turning it in for my favourite cheating narrow hem finish.
For the waistband, I considered using the main fabric but in the end went with some leopard print grosgrain ribbon which I attached from the top side using a zig zag stitch, as I wanted to preserve the full width of the ribbon as the waistband. It closes with two sets of hook-and-bars and feels very secure – and not a zip in sight, hurrah!
I’m really pleased with the fit of this skirt and how well the fabric shows off the pleats at the front. Also thrilled to have a skirt that is appropriate for work in such a fun colour! I’m really looking forward to wearing it and I’m hoping it will work in all seasons to bring a bit of sunshine into my days.
I’ve already got more plans for sewing with gabardine (I can imagine the Closet Case Patterns Pietra Pants working wonderfully well!) and hope to see some other people creating exciting things with it soon, too.
Thanks very much for reading!
Hi! It’s Mari from @sewsincerely_Mars on Instagram and SewSincerelyMars.com and I am excited to collaborate again with Minerva for this blog post!
Vintage patterns can be expensive because they're often out of print and have become obsolete which makes it much more desirable. I love for vintage patterns, especially the styles from the 1940’s. This era did wonders in blending masculine and feminine details, which allows one to wear separate pieces while complementing both qualities. Simplicity 8736 was the perfect pattern to honor this era.
Pattern: For this blog post I chose Simplicity 8736 . I wanted more blouses in my wardrobe and this exquisite pattern was perfect. This pattern is fitted with darts on the back and pleats in the front around the bottom. The front of the blouse, around the shoulder seam, there’s soft gathering. View A and D have a Peter Pan collar with a lace option and another option to make the sleeves short or capped. View B and C have a high round neckline with full long sleeves. A feature these views have that is absolutely breath taking is the buttons on the back. This pattern turned out to be a button back blouse.
The Fabric: I chose the fabric prior to picking the pattern. The floral pattern to this fabric resembles watercolor which enticed me the most. There was no need for other color choices for this certain fabric. I used a Slinky Satin Fabric provided by Minerva. This fabric is comprised of satin and 100% polyester. Also, it is light weight and sheer with no stretch.
Tips: Since this was my first time working with satin, I learned not to use a hot iron without an ironing cloth. Please have this handy! Also, this fabric does not handle steam. While working with this fabric a microtex needle was used and it sewed wonderful; I eased up the tension dial on my sewing machine. When there’s too much tension it can cause puckers around the seam. I recommend using a scrap of fabric to check that first. My last tip is to invest in extra-long satin pins as this is essential when pinning light weight fabric such as this one. Its longer with a tapered point, which won’t snag when pinning.
Conclusion: The pattern and fabric were a match made in sewing heaven. I can see this fabric used in various ways such as flowy skirt, a dress, and an array of blouse options. This fabric becomes the focal point of any outfit and I highly recommend it. I want to thank Minerva for allowing me to share my experience with their audience and providing me with the opportunity to grow as a sewist and blogger.
Till Next Time,
Posted in Projects on Saturday the 18th April 2020 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello! My name is Aimee – the Sewing Scientist. Today I want to show you this amazing Lady McElroy Ponte Roma Fabric in azure blue. I initially wanted to make a maxi dress with this gorgeous ponte fabric. After I received this fabric, I already had another idea. I had seen hundreds of posts on social media of the Ellie & Mac South Shore Romper.
I’ve never been compelled to make a romper. The idea of undressing to use the restroom turned me off. But I was in love with how every woman looked amazing in their south shore romper. Since my measurements make me a pear shape and due to a medical condition my belly tends to protrude a bit. I often can look pregnant and try to avoid any styles that might accentuate the issue. Before I cut into this gorgeous azure blue ponte I made a toile (muslin) of the south shore romper with a cheap knit from my stash. I tried it on, loved it on me and even got my husband’s approval. But, I wasn’t quite convinced and put my toile to the real test and wore it to work. I received so many compliments. Now, I was finally brave enough to make the south shore romper in my “good” fabric.
First off let me tell you a bit about this fabric. The Azure Blue color is just amazing! It’s a gorgeous blue shade that borders on a purple tone. This fabric is a nice heavy weight. It would be perfect for pants, dresses, or jackets for fall & winter. It is a poly/rayon/spandex blend and I did experience some shrinkage when I washed in length and width. The width is 58” and I think I lost about 3” in width after washing and drying. I lost about the same in the length. This is a ponte knit and it has great 4 way stretch. Most nice ponte knits I come across only have 2 way stretch. That makes this ponte much more versatile than most.
I did make a few changes to the south shore romper. I am short! I am 5’ tall to be exact. I had to remove 2” from the length of the bodice so that it would end at my natural waist. I then measured my crotch from my natural waist in front to my natural waist in the back. I found that I needed to add 1” to the front and back rises to ensure I had enough room to prevent the crotch seam to ride up uncomfortably. I also shortened the legs by 2”. As you can see – I could use about another inch removed from the leg length. I am wearing 2.5” heels in these photos and the legs sweep the ground.
Since I did initially want to make a maxi dress, I decided to make the legs fuller to create a more dress like appearance. To do this, I added 4” to the width of each leg piece. I also decided that I really needed an elasticized waistband on my romper. I added ¼” elastic to the waist of my toile and didn’t feel like it was quite enough. With the extra volume in the legs I knew with all the gathers that I would really need bigger elastic. I added a 1.5” wide strip of the ponte to my bodice as a waistband and added 1.5” wide elastic as well. I serged these on together with my knife turned off. After I gathered the legs, I used my sewing machine to baste them onto the waistband I created sewing through both the ponte and the elastic. I went over it twice trying to make sure that the gathers were sewn down nice and flat. I then serged over the seam allowance with my knife off.
I am so thrilled with my south shore romper. I really feel like any woman can look amazing in it. Just be mindful of your measurements and make any adjustments necessary. Always make a toile! Check the fit for any additional adjustments. Then grab some amazing fabric and be ready to look amazing. I can’t wait to make another south shore romper. The Lady McElroy ponte comes in a few other colors and I might have to try another.