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Archives: September 2016



#FabricFriday - Yumminess on a Roll!

Wow Wow Wow Just take a look at this Dressmaking Fabric...
This is a printed textured felted coat weight/dress fabric. That is the official description, I will just describe it as yumminess on a roll. My next photo shows a close up of this fabric, just look at that fantastic texture.
So what to make with this yummy fabric. My immediate thoughts are Mother of the Bride or Groom outfits. My following photos show a variety of Vogue Patterns that would look amazing made in this fabric.
First up is Vogue 9039 which is a beautifull lined jacket possibly for the more experienced sewer, however if it was for a wedding say next spring or summer you would have plenty of time to take your time and make a toille in order to get that perfect fit. The variation with a contrast in version B could be adapted for this fabric with say whatever you choose for a dress underneath. I think a linen or linen blend would be perfect, something plain to pick out one of the colours in the jacket fabric. I love the collar that isn't really a collar!
Next is Vogue 9095, this is a shorter slightly less fitted jacket, again fully lined and again a contrast could be used for a brilliant visual impact.
Next is a pattern from the Very Easy Vogue range no 9068. There are 3 very different versions all from the same basic pieces so plenty of choice. As you would imagine this jacket is not lined but if it is for a wedding next summer would you want it lined? For that special occasion (just in case your jacket flaps open) I would bind all my seams inside with bias binding, say a plain ivory for this fabric but if I was using a plain fabric I would use one of our fantastic range of patterned bias bindings. This look is created in many jackets that you see in the shops and is a lovely addition to an unlined jacket or coat. This part of your jacket must not be left till the end, it must be sewn in as you go along in order to acheive a professional look. The more experienced sewer could make their own lining if so desired.
For my last pattern I have chosen a Vogue 'Today's fit' by Sandra Betzina Pattern. I love how her patterns do not give you a dress size eg 14 or 18 etc., She works completely off your measurements. So if you are say a size 12 you cannot cut out a size 12 because there is no size 12 or any other size for that matter, you have to go off your measurements. As I have mentioned previously, dress sizes on patterns do not equate to dress sizes as we know them in the shops. An excellent example of this is when buying shop garments, we've all done it I'm sure and that is we take, in my case a size 12 into the changing room and it is too big or too small so off we go and get a size 10 or a size 14, does that ring a bell? So how can we trust a size 12 on a sewing pattern to be exactly as we want it to be. Therefore I cannot stress enough how important it is to go off your actual body measurements. So any pattern by Sandra Betzina is an excellent starting point (rant over haha). 
This pattern is again for the more experienced sewer, this time using piping to create a lovely effect on the front and on the pocket edges. so how about black piping for a quite dramatic look over a black dress or a pale ivory to give a soft and pretty very feminine look, only you can decide. 
And as my daughter Vicki says in an article in the next issue of Sewing World magazine this is the beauty of dressmaking...
"Once you experience the freedom of being able to take any sewing pattern, any fabric, add your own little twists and truley make something your own, I dont think you can ever go back."
Isn't that a lovely quote from her?
My next fabric is this Chenile Textured Stretch Woven Fabric which has a very unusual weave...
My next photo shows a close up of the fantasticness (I love my made up words haha) of this fabric.
It is described as "This stunning dressmaking fabric has a beautiful chenile type texture that is lovely and soft. This woven fabric has 4 percent spandex which gives the fabric some stretch down the length. We picture this fabric being made into dresses, skirts and jackets." And so again a fantastic choice of fabric for these wonderful choice of patterns chosen by yours truly haha. This would be stunning made up for the winter months to come. Because of the 4% spandex I would love a dress in this to wear with my black jacket. So fellow sewists only 2 fabrics shown this week from our fabulous new range of fabrics here at Minerva but I hope you will agree 2 amazing fabrics.
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx

#PatternoftheWeek - McCalls 7413

For #PatternoftheWeek  this week I have chosen McCalls 7413. This is a gorgeous flattering top which would look equally nice with leggings or tailored trousers.
For version C I love how there is a main (floral) fabric and I am immediately drawn to our scuba range. Take a look at this Scuba Fabric.
This has a sort of checked/striped background with an abstract floral design in the foreground, not dis-similar to the pattern. If you are not aware of it already, Scuba fabric has the most fantastic recovery when stretched and is a heavier fabric and therefore I feel it would make a perfect choice for this pattern, especially with Winter looming! Now what to put it with? Yes you've guessed, Scuba in Plain Colours, we have the most fantastic range of plain colours in the scuba range here at Minerva. Take a look at the Cerise Pink and Black from our regular Scuba Fabric Range.
Here's the cerise pink...
Now look at them altogether
I have to say in this instance the plain scuba's are a little softer and possibly a touch lighter in weight than the patterned scuba but I honestly don't think there will be a problem when sewn together and hey how well do they look! They are all at a fantastic price of £6.99 per metre.
For my second choice I just couldn't steal myself away from the Art Gallery Jersey Fabrics. Now this fabric is £19.99 per metre but the choice and quality of these amazing fabrics is second to none. So having spent ages thinking which should I choose for today, I have finally settled on this one called 'Untangled Ribbons'. This being a gorgeous striped jersey not dis-similar to version A.
Yet again here at Minerva we have the most amazing collection of Plain Jerseys from Art Gallery that will mix and match perfectly with any of the patterned jerseys. These are priced at £18.99 per metre and are hand-picked to blend perfectly with the patterned range. I think I would choose Strawberry Kiss (as below), perfect match and such a pretty name.
Last but not least I would choose something like this Patterned Jersey Fabric for version B.
This is a beautiful silky jersey that drapes beautifully and priced at just £6.99 per metre. Again this has lots of colours in it that you could choose for the contrast so where the Art Gallery fabrics are cotton and lycra, this fabric is polyester and lycra (very silky feel to it). Apart from the blue/pink, it comes in a gorgeous orange/multi as well. So search for polyester or viscose plain jerseys and I don't think you'll have any trouble finding a suitable match. You need look no further than our Silky Stretch Jersey which comes in 15 colours and the royal blue goes really well with this patterned jersey I've suggested! And even better is the price just £5.99 per metre. 
And so back to our fantastic pattern of the week offer which you can purchase this week at half price, it is designed by Nancy Zieman (see more Nancy Zieman Patterns here) and this particular pattern comes from a range that she has designed for those of us who love to sew but have limited sewing time (that rings a few bells doesn't it!). 
She gives fantastic hints and tips in her instructions and are usually aimed at saving time. One such tip is to extend the grainline on larger pieces with a pencil and a ruler so it is visible the entire length of the pattern piece. When the piece is say the whole front of the dress, you now have a grain line that goes from top to bottom. The patterns actual grainline will probably only be about 12" long and it is very easy to think you have got the grainline straight when in fact you haven't (and don't realise it). Just try this tip on whatever you are cutting out at the moment - a good idea is to pin your piece on the fabric, even using a ruler to measure that the ends of the grainline are equally the same distance from the edge. Then using your ruler extend this grainline to the top and bottom of the pattern piece, measure the ends now and in a lot of cases there will be some discrepancy. I could go on all day talking about Nancy's tips but I'll save some for future blog posts. 
Before I go, I just want to show you the lineart drawings from the pattern where you can clearly see the different variations.
Version A has a straight across bottom edge which lies a little lower at the back and is probably the easiest version. Version B has a fabulous shaped hem at the front and slightly higher at the back and straight across. My favourite has to be Version C, I love the 3/4 sleeves but the asymmetrical hemline on both the front and back has to be the winner for me!
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx 


#FabricFriday - Positive & Negative Fabrics

It's looking like the mono look is set to run and run, certainly it will run through another Winter season. Many fabrics are now coming through to us here at Minerva with a positive/negative feel to them. Just such a fabric is this Floral Fabric, one has a black background with a white floral design and teams beautifully with the white background with a black floral design. 
How lovely are they? and I must say how gorgeous the quality is. Now take a look at Simplicity 1431.
This shows how amazing these fabrics can look when placed together. Take a look at my next photo to see them altogether. 
On version C a black trim has been applied down the front seams and around the neck, my choice would be a covered piping in black which I think would make a fabulous accent on this pattern. 
This idea of positive/negative is arriving here thick and fast, numerous patterns in numerous colourways. For example the Blue Fabrics from another floral print collection we stock here at Minerva.
The next two Fabrics are up there with my favourites...
How about using red covered piping with this navy and white. 
I know I'm showing cottons again and Winter is nearly upon us (having said that it's gorgeous out there today) but just think how many people go away during our Winter months to some sunny climate. And even if we are not going away we can plan for next summer haha. 
Before I close for today I must mention our Tutu Making Kits.
These would make an ideal gift for your ballet enthusiastic daughter or granddaugter to 'have a go' and make one for herself. Or for yourself to make for them, it gives you a very easy way of making the tutu. Here I am showing you the pink/multi version but it also comes in lavender/pink which is equally lovely. The kit includes everything for the tutu skirt and the flower (the headband and bandeau top are the models own). Once you have mastered this technique which is very very easy you can then purchase net on its own along with the ribbons and elastic and create your own fantastic versions.
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx

#PatternoftheWeek - Colette Rooibos Dress

Another lovely day today as I sit here starting to write. It won't be long before we are talking Autumn then Winter! Although my brain isn't thinking jumpers, cardigans and fur lined boots yet, I must admit I keep taking a peep through our vast pattern range for the winter months here at Minerva and start drooling!! But just before all of that I thought maybe there's time for another summer dress. Apart from the fabulous patterns from Simplicity, New Look, Burda, Butterick, McCalls, KwikSew and Vogue we now have lots and lots of Indie patterns, too many to mention them all but here I will mention Colette Patterns. Now I haven't used these yet but I can only say they fly out, everybody seems to love them. I have to say, without any doubt, that the Colette Rooibos Dress is my favourite dress in the Colette range. And so I would like to offer this pattern to you at half price for 1 week only as our #patternoftheweek.
I just love how Colette patterns are packaged.What appears to be the pattern envelope is actually a book of instructions with the tissue pattern neatly held in a 'pocket' within the back page. 
The style of this particular pattern is just yummy. The dress has an inset at the waist which comes from just under the bustline and finishes above the waistline thus creating a high waist. I find this style very flattering for me and I do think it flatters most shapes and sizes. What is described as a straight skirt to me is more of a slight A-line and just look at those shaped pocket tops. By the way these pockets are easy peasy, they are sewn within the side front seam and side seam. I've mentioned this way of sewing a pocket on a previous blog post but I haven't seen them with this unusual top edge before. 
It is a clever idea that there are three little darts on each side to shape the bustline, just one dart can sometimes give a more pointed look whereas the three darts will give a more rounded natural look.
The only thing I'm not happy with is the side zip. I much prefer zips down the centre back, to me this gives a purely symmetrical look to the sides. Personally I always seem to have difficulty fastening side zips as well and so I usually alter this each time I come across a side zip. Quite often there can be a seam down the back so no alterations are necessary, it is just a case of changing the location of the zip. However sometimes the reason the zip is at the side is because the back is cut in one piece, or three pieces as in the case of this colette pattern. As we know these three pieces should be cut on the fold so all you need to do is add onto this fold edge 5/8" or 1.5cm. If you don't feel confident at freehand cutting this extra fabric then add some tissue pattern paper to these edges with sellotape, measure 5/8 and draw a line, this will then become your new cutting line. 
You will notice at the front neckline there is a tiny collar. This is formed from a facing which the pattern informs us is made from a contrasting fabric and pressed towards the front. Could this be a fault I ask with this patterns - the front of the pattern is just a line drawing and gives you no suggestions for ideas etc. The midriff inset could be made from a contrasting fabric which would then match the little turn back collar. Or how about reshaping the neckline as in my following photo. Cut a new piece out of tissue paper so then you still have your original. Remember to cut your facing and interfacing to the same shape.
Something worth mentioning is the sizes. Now I am a size 12 in shop bought clothes but when I look at the sizes on such as simplicity patterns, I measure much more than their size 12. Most of us realise that we cut out the size that mostly matches our own measurements. It usually means I cut out a size 16 and then go on to make up a lovely fit. On looking at this colette pattern I find that a size 12 is my measurements so I can confidently cut out a size 12. 
My last thoughts on the pattern are to use piping on the pocket edges and around the neckline. The instructions do suggest this as being an option and I feel that especially if using a patterned fabric it would outline the pocket edges beautifully. Why do all that work and then hide them within a patterned fabric!
And so this is an ideal opportunity to buy an Indie pattern for the first time or indeed just to add to your stash with our offer of half price.
Now to some fabrics. My first choice would be a Stretch Cotton Fabric. Because these are 'firm' fabrics I think they will add to the overall hang of this dress, remember the slight A-line. Because there are quite a few seams in this dress I would probably go for a smaller rather than a larger pattern and don't forget the contrast middle and collar, we have a fantastic range of plain stretch cottons that would blend perfectly. My first choice is this Gorgeous Fabric...
This would be perfect and there would be a good choice of plains to contrast. Or how about this one...
This comes in two gorgeous colourways and again it would be easy to match up for a contrast.
Last but not least how about this stretch needlecord fabric...
This would take you through Autumn or here's an idea, make it a touch bigger and wear a jumper underneath. Voila you have a pinafore.
For more ideas search Colette 1006 Rooibos on google. There are so many fantastic versions that sewists have made across the world, you are bound to feel inspired. I certainly did!
Until next time 'happy sewing' and thanks for reading.
Annette xx

#FabricFriday - Zig Zags!

Zig Zags. They seem to be everywhere, no more so than in our fantastic choice of fabrics here at Minerva. 
Take a look at this pattern. Simplicity 1618. The Sizes on this pattern go from XXS (4) to XXL (26) so a size for everybody.
I wanted to show you this pattern because of how it shows the trousers in a zigzag fabric. The main photo shows vertical zigzags and the drawing shows horizontal zigzags. I'm not 100% sure I like the top but hey I love the edging on the sleeves. I much prefer the top shown as version C. These are very popular at the moment and are known as cold shoulder tops. Absolutely brilliant if you want to show a bit of flesh but like me don't particularly like showing your arms!! 
Now would you believe I am yet again showing you some quilting fabrics but I feel I have to get across to you the versatility of these WOW factor designs. First up is the kennedy print from Camelot Fabrics. It is from the Iconic range. This particular design comes in 3 colours, a beautiful pink, a fabulous mix of colours but for my photo today I have chose col 3 which is navy on an ivory background. I just love the wavy effect of the chevrons.
The next photo shows Fabric 'pinstripe chevron' in colour 3. How good will that look made up in version D
Now see what I mean about the versatility of quilting fabrics! Look at my next photo and how this Gorgeous Fabric replicates version B and E off the pattern.
Bear in mind that you can more or less always find a fabric/design in quilting fabrics that replicates your pattern which I know many of us sewers like.
We all match up the patterns/designs on the seams etc wherever possible so why on this pattern envelope does it show the top, version B, with the front seam mis-matched even though the trouser front seam is matched! This is just a drawing, why show it like that!! Take a look at my next photo you will see what I mean.
So back to the fabric. Just a couple more to wet your appetite for this week. First up is Camelot Fabrics Mixology Herringbone in 2 gorgeous shades of grey and the following photo shows the design studio Herringbone Print Fabric in colour 3, how striking is this, my favourite colours altogether.
I've shown you this pattern purely to look at some chevrons. It is quite an easy pattern with elasticated waist. Why not make some more fitted trousers, maybe Simplicity 8056. These are a classic more tailored trouser from the Amazing Fit range and would lend itself beautifully to these wonderful cotton fabrics.
Thanks for reading
Annette xx
As Coco Chanel once said, Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.

#PatternOfTheWeek - Quick & Easy Trousers

The sewing pattern I am offering you as patternoftheweek is McCalls 7415.
A little unusual you might think, there's not much to this pattern you might even think, but there are two reasons why I am offering this particular pattern as your #patternoftheweek.
First - this pattern features the Palmer/Pletsch tissue fitting method. There are lots of books for sale on Amazon etc., which all feature this fitting method and the reviews seem pretty good. On the instructions there are 2 very good pages instructing you on the alterations to the pattern of these trousers with numerous quick tips and professional tips included further into the instructions.
Second - this pattern is a one piece pattern, yes I shall repeat that, a one piece pattern in that there are no side seams. The clever shaping is done from the waist darts.
Now I know that some of you are going to say there are 4 pieces shown, well yes there are but 2 of these are for the waist facings and pieces 1 and 4 are for two different styles! There is the wider palameno style trouser and the narrower more bootleg design. The pattern recommends either woven of jersey fabrics so I think if using jersey, the suggested invisible zip could actually be left out with maybe a little elastic added in under the waist facing. Another suggestion would be to add non-roll stretch elastic straight to the waist in either black or white.
My only problem with this method is if you are constantly trying to lose those extra few holiday pounds (as I am, trouble is I don't lose them, then each holiday I add a few more and now those few pounds equate to a stone and a half!!) mmmm so as I was saying if you added a waist band and threaded elastic through it you could then alter this to fit!! 
So now for some suggested fabrics, well near enough anything goes! I really love the aztec type pattern shown on version B. A couple to look at are this Jersey Fabric which as the following photo shows is a striking black and white design and this Jersey Fabric which is a much more subtle colourway of olive green and ivory.
For when I make these trousers for myself I'm looking at the following two fabrics.
The first is a fabulous Knitted Fabric in a zig zag design. Now I am looking at this fabric wondering would this be better made into a top or a cardigan because it is quite loosely knit and does have a 'wooly' feel to it. Possibly make them in version D, the narrower design and maybe even take them in a little more so they would look a little more like leggings, mmmm unsure now! 
Now this next Fabric is lovely,
Yes this is very me, this is a heavier jersey but not as heavy as some of our other ponte roma's so I would think very suitable for the coming winter months. Please let me know your thoughts on this pattern (I love your feedback) and especially if you have made them and used this tissue method of fitting.
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx