Archives: July 2018
In the technology dominated days we are living, learning can come from all sorts of sources. Larger one, being the unlimited space of Internet. But in my opinion, nothing beats a beautifully illustrated book that stays with you for years to come.
Nowdays, they are hundreds of sewing books out there about pretty much anything you ever dreamt of learning. I’ve come across many of them myself, but only a few stood up. One of them was definitely the Wendy Ward’s “A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics”. I would consider myself an intermediate sewer by now, so I was curious to see what this book had to offer to me. And let me tell you, it had a LOT to offer.
This book covers everything you ever wanted to learn about knitted fabric. I could say it is a knitted fabrics mini encyclopedia. It is divided to two sections: Techniques and Projects. The first sections shows you everything you need to know from Tools and Equipment and Taking Your Measurements, to Identifying Knitted Fabrics and Different Finishing Techniques. The book shows you, that you don’t necessarily need a serger or overlocker to sew with knitted fabrics, you simply have to know how to use your regular sewing machine to achieve beautiful finishes, and this book teaches you exactly that. It also offers information you don’t often find in other sewing books, like washing your knitted fabric, how to tell the front from the back and even how to set up your machine.
Next, it runs you through a series of projects starting from the easiest ones for the absolute beginner and building yourself up to more complex finishes and projects. I loved the amazing layout of this book, that takes away the intimidation of knitted fabrics that a lot of novice sewers face.
The book includes six patterns that you can alter to achieve up to 20 different garments. The patterns come enclosed with the book in full size, printed in A3 paper which makes everything much more manageable. You do need to trace the patterns, but the color coding used in the book makes everything incredible easy to see. I know some people find this annoying, but I really don’t mind. I find the tracing process to be cleansing, something like the meditation before yoga, it gives the tone for my sewing.
The book covers sizes UK 8 to 26(Bust sizes : 80cm to 121cm(31 ½ in. to 47 ¾ in.) and is based on a standard height of 170cm(5ft 6in.). I really liked that both an imperial and metric measurement system are used throughout the whole book.
For my first project, I decided to go with the Winnats Tank and modified it to a short dress. Firstly, I started by tracing the pattern pieces for the Winnats Tank and then I followed the given instructions for altering the tank to a short dress. It is a really easy alteration to make, you just trace the pattern pieces on the fabric and add your desired length.
I decided to lengthen mine by 26cm, achieving a 85cm total length from shoulder to hem, since I found that the given length was a little much for what I wanted my dress to be.
For this, I used a grey single Jersey Fabric and because I made my dress shorter than what the book syggested, I only needed 1meter. So this one could be an excellent scrap buster project!
I cut a bust size 92cm and I’m really satisfied with the fit of the dress. It’s fitted around the bust, without being too fitted around the belly and hip area.
The instructions on the book are so well written and illustrated. The book walks you through step by step with well explained instructions and diagrams, so there is no chance you find yourself stuck in the middle of the project. Cross references direct you to different page numbers, making it really quick to refer to the relevant section.
The neckline and armhole of the dress are finished with a Folded Band Edging, making the dress look really well finished and taking away that homemade look that knits can have if not handled with the right techniques. I chose to not topstitch the band to the body, because I felt my bindings didn’t need it and I didn’t want the dress to look too sporty.
I used my serger for this dress, but you can totally sew any project from this book without one. There are references to how to do that throughout the whole book.
For the hem I used my twin needle, which I feel always gives a really professional look to knits. I would suggest buying one when you feel ready to add more inventory to your sewing kit, but you can definitely achieve a beautiful finish without one as well.
Overall this is a really special book, I’m sure I will keep coming back too. It’s the perfect book to reference whenever you are facing a knitted fabric dilemma and I’m sure I’ll be making many more projects from this in the future. Thank you Minerva Crafts and CICO Books for giving me the wonderful opportunity to review this book.
Mady @ The Wardrobe Project
Gutermann sewing threads were recommended to me by my Gran back in the 80s when I started to sew and I still stitch with them today. When I saw that they have bought out this gorgeous boho style printed Cotton Fabric I knew this was my Summer 2018 floaty top fabric!
In this post, I am making a self drafted top for me and one for my daughter, one fully gathered (to fit my growing bump!) and one slightly gathered. The top has two different sleeve options so you can add as much frill as you want!
Let’s talk about this fabric! It’s so soft and floaty but stitched with no pulls using a 80 standard needle. I prewashed it at 30 degrees before I started the project to allow for any shrinkage. I used just under 2 metres to complete both projects. I would use this fabric again for quilting, crafting as well as dressmaking. The pattern with it’s soft tonal changes made my makes looks great with denim and with contrast florals. The pattern repeat also wasn’t too big so that you can pattern match easy.
I made both tops in less than two evenings with a little bit of maths, a tape measure and some tailors chalk to mark out the pattern. Here are my 4 easy stages to a floaty soft Summer top.
3m x 1cm White Elastic
2 x Ring O’ Roses Gutermann Fabric
First some maths…
You will need three measurements…
Measure around your body under your arms where you want the gypsy top to sit and add 5cm for seam allowances. e.g. 90+5 =95cm
Double Measurement A for your ruffle and top measurement. e.g. 95cm x 2 = 190cm
Measure your length from your breast bone to your hips and add 15cm for seam allowances and turnings to carry the elastic. e.g. 66cm
Step 1 Measuring out your top
Measure a rectangle using Measurement B across (190cm) and Measurement C down (66cm). Using tailors chalk mark and cut to make a rectangle. This is your ungathered top.
Step 2 Making A Strapless Gathered Top
Stitch the fabric together shortest edges together to form your top and press the seam open.
Then we need to make the channel for our elastic. Press in the raw edge .5mm, then press a 2cm channel to take my 1cm elastic. Stitch leaving an opening for the elastic.
Thread your elastic through the channel at the top of your gypsy top.
Try on your top and pull the gathering so your top sits comfortable. Stitch your elastic in place on the sewing machine to secure and hand sew the channel closed.
You have made a strapless tops, now to add the straps and frills!
Step 3 Making & Adding Straps
Measure out two pieces of fabric 45cm x 5cm. These are both your straps. Stitch wrong sides together and turn. The easiest way I’ve found to turn straps (unless you have a lovely gadget) is to stitch a length of thread to the right side and thread the needle through the tube. Start to pull and the thread will pull through!
Press and you are ready to stitch.
I stitched my straps 10cm from the middle underarm. I pinned and tried on before I stitched.
Then I stitched my straps on creating a box shape to make sure they were stitched secure. The frill will cover this stitching.
Step 4 Adding The Frill
Oh the frill! Taking Measurement B, I cut out my fabric. My length of fabric wasn’t long enough so I had to piece the fabric and press the seam and zig zag to stop fraying. I then created the same channel as for my top to thread the elastic through. I turned in the seam twice at the bottom to create a 5mm hem. Then I stitched my frill together at the sides, leaving channel open both sides to thread through my elastic. Then I pressed and zig zagged the seam.
I threaded my elastic through the channel and then tried on my ruffle over my top so that it had enough ruffle and room so I could raise my arms in line with my shouders.
I then pinned my ruffle to the top and hand stitched it in place. Checking the hemline, I turned and press the edge and created a 5mm hem I stitched on the sewing machine.
So Okay… this is super floaty! So I made a less floaty version for Miss Crafternoon…
To make your frilly top not as floaty / maternity you can take Measurement A and times by a half. e.g. 90 x 0.5 = 135cm instead of 190cm in the first version.
I also stitched the two pieces of fabric to the straps instead of adding a frill. I personally preferred the straps on the shoulder but I lost that one and she wanted them off the shoulder!
I did this by measuring the shoulder and cutting 2 pieces 10cm longer than the shoulder straps to add in a small pleat 5 cm from the edge. I then added a 5mm hem by turning in twice and pressing and sewing to the shoulder strap.
I am so pleased with how this beautiful fabric translates into a floaty top and it was so easy with a little maths to create. Plus who loves a bit of Mother and Daughter matchy-matchy dressing!
With the current heat we’re facing at right now, I’m in desperate need of any clothing that’s cool, floaty and unrestrictive. But over the last few months I’ve been faced with something that’s made dressing myself a little more difficult…
My husband and I have had some wonderful news and I’m just over 3 weeks pregnant! While I’m absolutely over the moon, it has restricted my wardrobe slightly. Coupled with the heat, I’ve been planning a few maternity makes, that will keep me cool, and give me something slightly more stylish to wear than old PJ shorts and vests!
With that in mind, I was looking for a dress pattern that would be easy to wear, versatile, and allow for a growing bump. I didn’t want anything clingy, or complicated, just something I could throw on and wear anywhere.
Elasticated waists, jersey fabrics and wrap shapes sprung to mind, and I fount a pattern that with a little customisation would do the job - the New Look Knit Jumpsuit and Dress Pattern 6554. For fabric, I needed a lightweight jersey, but not something that was T-shirt weight, or too sheer. Luckily this John Kaldor Jersey Fabric was perfect for this project.
The fabric is a dream to work with - it’s incredibly soft, drapey, with a good amount of stretch to allow for my expanding waistline. The colour I chose was a gunmetal grey, which I thought would make the dress versatile enough to wear to work, as well as to a special occasion. I really can’t explain how luxurious the fabric feels - it’s so nice to wear, but it’s also pretty well-behaved to sew with.
A word of advice about the pattern… As I wanted it to be a roomier fit, I went with the size that best fit my largest measurements, however, it came up absolutely huge! If you want to make this yourself, I’d controversially ignore the measurement chart and go with your regular size that you’d buy if you were on the high street. After taking the dress in quite a lot, I managed to make it look less oversized, I suppose any additional fabric will help as I get bigger.
I did like the overall shape of the dress, as the pockets and wrap front add a little interest. To make the dress a little more maternity friendly, I moved the waistline up, so that it can go over the bump, and left a little extra elastic in the waist, so that I can adjust it if I need to. Other than that, the only other change I made was to take a few inches off the hem (a very normal alteration when you’re 5 foot 2!) and tack the wrap bodice in place so it wouldn’t flap open.
I used a zigzag stitch on any of the seams that would be on show, such as the sleeve hems and the top of the bodice, which is reinforced with bias binding. The fabric was great to work with here, and didn’t pucker or stretch out. On all the straight seams I used my overlocker, which is the way I normally like to sew knits.
Overall I’m so pleased with the result. Right now, I’m cinching in the waist a little to add a bit more definition, but when I get bigger, the elastic and the jersey will stretch with me. I’d definitely use this fabric again, maybe to make a few Agnes tops from Tilly and the Buttons.
To find out a bit more about me and my makes, you can catch me on instagram as @laurenmallalieu
Posted in Projects on Monday the 30th July 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
I was really thrilled to be asked recently by Minerva Crafts to review their Prestige Crepe Fabric. I chose the colour mink which is a lovely neutral shade. Before the fabric arrived I had time to think about what I would like to make with it. I decided that I would like to make a sleeveless dress with a fitted bodice and a full skirt which would show off the fabric beautifully. When the fabric arrived I was really impressed with the feel and drape of it. Also a big bonus with using crepe for dressmaking is that it doesn’t crease!
The pattern I chose was Simplicity 2247 and I decided to make view C which is the sleeveless dress version. I cut out a straight size 12 from the pattern with a B cup bust size. When tracing out the pattern pieces I did make a couple of simple alterations to the pattern. Firstly, I added 3 inches to the length of each skirt pattern piece because I am quite tall and I prefer my hemline to fall just below the knee. I also had to move the empire seam by 1 inch for it to sit in the correct positon below my bust. This was a very easy alteration. After tracing out the 7 bodice pattern pieces and 7 skirt pattern pieces and before I cut out my fabric; I then matched up each bodice piece with each skirt piece. I then cut an inch off the top of each skirt pattern piece and attached it to the bottom of each bodice pattern piece. I then cut out my fabric. This meant my seams would all still match up and I had shifted the empire seam down an inch to its correct position for my body shape.
The pattern includes facings for the armholes and neckline but I decided to line my bodice instead so there was no need for the facings. This meant I made a 2nd bodice in my lining fabric and I just used a plain piece of cotton lawn from my stash. I followed an online tutorial on how to line a dress and I left the skirt unlined. The seam allowance on most of the pattern is the standard 1.5cm which is what I used. The only exception was the side seams which give a generous 1-inch seam allowance but I sewed mine 1.5cm to provide that little bit of extra ease. I also reduced the 1.5cm seam allowance for the armholes to 1cm for more ease and comfort. For the hem of the skirt I wanted a narrow and neat machine stitched hem. First I folded and pressed ½ inch of fabric at the hem. Then I stitched all the way around the hem close to the fold. Then I trimmed all the excess fabric close to the stitching. Finally, I folded back the hem and stitched closely to the edge. I was really pleased with how my hem turned out.
And here is my finished dress. I am really pleased with how well it turned out and the fit is really good. However, I did make this dress in April so please excuse my winter white skin! I think this dress will look lovely worn during the summer when there is more contrast when my skin has a bit more colour!
Thank you so much Minerva for letting me review this lovely fabric. I am thrilled with my new dress and I’m sure that I will be making more.
Thanks for reading,
Yvonne @ by-yvonne.co.uk
My name is Jen and this is my first time writing up about anything I have made except for the odd few bits on Instagram. When Minerva offered me this Prada Crepe Fabric to try I replied immediately and asked for 2.5 metres with absolutely no idea of what I would make with it.
The fabric is absolutely lovely, the colour is vibrant and it drapes beautifully. I pre washed the fabric on a delicate wash and air dried it (I have a habit of shrinking things in the tumble dryer). This method did not appear to affect the material noticeably.
I then changed my mind several times on what I would make, another bad habit of mine, hence my fabric stash still awaiting decisions. Eventually with my leanings towards vintage style and the fact that I associate crepe with vintage clothing, I decided on the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress with a modification of only having buttons on the top half. My buttonholes aren’t brilliant at the moment, a service needed I think.
I must have drafted this wrong because it came out huge and looked awful.
So my dress sat unfinished on my lovely assistant Charlene for quite some time giving me the evil eye every time I passed it! Ordinarily this is the point where I would have hidden it in the cupboard, promising to do something at a future time, but the fact that I was testing the fabric forced me to continue.
After playing around with these different ideas above, I decided to make it into a jacket and skirt and draft a peplum, something which I have never done before, so I removed the skirt and ordered another metre.
Finally, after much playing around, adding some covered buttons and a hand made belt which is a whole other story of its own and still not quite right, I came up with the finished outfit. I am reasonably happy with the result although not quite sure what occasion it suits.
I would totally recommend this fabric. I used the matt side but the shiny reverse is equally lovely and adds to the look and feel of the inside of the jacket. I would advise using silk pins to protect the fabric from any pulls.
I will definitely be back for more of this gorgeous Fabric in the future, hopefully I will be more decisive about what I am going to make with it next time. Am thinking maybe the Sew Over It 1940’s wrap dress or By Hand London Alix dress. Can’t decide! ;)
Thanks for reading,
If like me you have always wondered whether this Art Gallery Jersey was worth the huge price tag, wonder no more, in this case you get what you pay for.
I actually did a little excited dance when the postman delivered the parcel, as if my neighbours don't have to cope with enough.
It is 95% cotton 5%spandex but it is possible that it has a bit of unicorn hair in because it is so incredibly soft (and that would justify the price tag right?!). It has great stretch in both directions, with really good recovery, it feels very good against the skin.
And the choice of prints! I mean how do you even choose? It's really good to know that whichever you do choose it will behave in the same way, so no stretchy surprises to have you adjusting patterns on the fly.
I prewashed on 40 and couldn't see any shrinkage or fade. Like most knits it doesn’t fray.
This stuff has excellent manners, it lay very still to be cut and went through the machine beautifully. It has a definite curl to the right side, which I think you get with most knits. The curl helped when getting the hem band on as it sort of hemmed itself!
I ummed and ahhhed between this Papercut Patterns Coppelia Cardigan and the Nettie Bodysuit, but went with this in the end because the print just seemed to keep saying it wanted to be a wrap top. I actually think this fabric would make the most luxurious comfy sleep wear if you were feeling flashy! I have seen some lovely body con t shirt dresses made out of this which would be gorgeous for holidays.
I just whipped this little cardigan together with the over locker, I just kept black threads in because frankly I was in a rush to wear it. There is a bit of topstitching to do on the hem band, which I just did with a single ball point needle and straight stitch on my sewing machine, time will tell if the stitching pops! I hand basted it first to give myself a fighting chance of getting a straightish line.
It took maybe 3 hours including cutting out, I cut a small (how flattering is the papercut sizing?! I am a ready to wear size 12/14) and used just 1.5m of fabric.
I am so pleased with it, it is going to be worn endlessly, and in fact the only negative thing is it has made me want to sew some high waisted skinny jeans to go with it.
Next time I might add a bit of length as it is rather cropped and I am 5'10 so I do usually add 3cm to body length.
I'm waiting for payday to buy myself a few more meters of this beautiful fabric! If you are brave enough to follow my Instagram @kirstsg you will probably be inundated with different versions of this top and maybe some super flash PJs.
Thanks for reading x
Have you checked out Wendy Ward's newest book, A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics, yet? This book is great for beginners and also advanced sewists. I've been sewing for a very long time and thought I knew a lot but I picked up so many new tips from reading this book. There are cheat sheets and diagrams - perfect for printing out and hanging in your sewing space. The book is easy to read and super helpful.
When I first got the book I read through it and kept going back and forth on which piece I wanted to make first. I was torn between the Longshaw Skirt and the Monsal Lounge Pants. I finally decided on the Monsal Lounge Pants because I found the cutest fabric on Earth: Panda Print Stretch Jersey Fabric. This stuff is amazing, it feels like the custom fabrics I buy all the time, but at a much more affordable price point. It's that Elastane that really makes the difference and who could pass up the pandas?!
The book itself shows you have to make 20 essential garments and includes printed patterns. They are patterns that you can build upon and make them your own. You do have to trace off the patterns which some people may not like, but I actually do this to all of my patterns, so no big deal. I'm team trace because that way I make my alterations on the tissue paper and don't ruin the original pattern.
My measurements were 31 waist and 40 hips, so I went with the size 36-30-39. I think the fit is correct and the pants are very comfortable. I added 1" to the length since I'm so tall (5'10") and I went with the cuff verison. I added 29" elastic for the waist but probably should have done 28" instead. I figure with all the wear they will be washed often and tighter elastic might be smart. I really love how they turned out, I'm basically just going to live in them forever.
I'm super in love with the pockets. I added the piping for a nice contrast and to match the waist and cuffs. The pockets are deep and aren't bulky. If you follow anything else I've made, I'm sort of insane about pockets and them needing to fit my huge cell phone and random kid toys.
Overall, great book, great pattern and I love my panda fabric. I look forward to making more of these joggers and more patterns from Wendy's book. If you know of someone with a birthday or you're wanting to give a sewist a gift - this book is it!
Thanks for reading,
Amy @ That's Sew Amy
Studio Linen Yarn by Erika Night is a beautiful blend of premium and recycled linen and a delightful yarn to work with. I was very pleased with my colour choice Kanoko 408, which is a lovely shade of blue and Mood 415 a dusky pink. They complement each other perfectly.
The Yarn is supplied in hanks, so my first job is to change them to manageable balls to be able to crochet my chosen project. I use some tools that were gifted to me and are perfect for the job, a swift (the turning umbrella looking thing) and a yarn winder to make centre pull yarn balls, really easy to do and I believe Minerva sell those too. So much faster than winding by hand for sure and so much neater too.
Ta-Da! here is one of my perfectly wound centre pull balls of yarn!
Having spotted a lovely bolero top pattern a little while back on Etsy which would be perfect for this yarn and a perfect project for a festival I had coming up in a few weeks. The pattern is called the Adora Top and the pattern is available in the Etsy shop -TheEasyDesign.
First steps were the do a gauge swatch to establish the right size to make as I am not using the same yarn as used in the pattern and I would recommend everyone to take the time to do this step.
The pattern commences at the bottom with the tie belt and waist sections and it is made up all in one. The pink yarn looks lovely with the open shells , it has a slight sheen to it and glides beautifully through the hands and works up very easily with my crochet hook.
The pattern continues working from bottom up and splits where the armholes are to work them separately. This really did work up so quickly. I used a size 4.5mm hook, the yarn ball band recommends 3.75-4mm hook but in this project, I wanted a lovely drape and flexible feel to the finished project and that size hook worked a treat.
These last two images are taken in artificial light so look a bit brighter than the yarn actually is. You can see I have decided to add the pink for the shoulder areas which compliments the design and adds even more femininity to the garment.
Making a few tweaks to the design, I omitted the sleeves and added a few rows of shell stitches along the front sections of the top. It feels so comfortable to wear, warm but because its linen doesn’t make it too warm, which was just as well. The weekend of the festival turned out to be a scorcher! Here you can see me modeling my top in beautiful sunshine and the slight sheen to the yarn.
Something that always annoys my when we go to these festivals is having to carry a bag, usually only for my phone, so with the yarn left over I made a little phone carry bag.
No pattern for this one, it was straight out of my head, perhaps I should write it up. Made simply with Half Treble stitches and a little flower and loop to close. I wore it all weekend and was perfect for my phone and a few essentials.
Please excuse the dusty legs in this photo of my festival phone bag, I had a few miles on that dusty field and quite a lot of dancing too! These two items will always packed in my festival bag from now on.
Should you buy this yarn for your projects? Well my initial thought was it was quite pricy but with 131yds in each hank, it goes a long way it is also a delight to work with and is obviously a quality yarn. I was really pleased with the way it feels to wear as a garment, so I would say, definitely yes!
Let me know your thoughts and if you’d like, feel free to pop on over and say hi on Instagram or my blog. Thank you to Minerva Crafts for allowing me to review this lovely yarn.