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Archives: September 2017

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Tropical True Bias Southport Dress by Becca

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be offered some of this beautiful, tropical print Viscose Fabric to review for Minerva Crafts. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and was sent 3m of this turquoise shade.

I was really impressed with the fabric when it arrived; for the price point, I found it to be surprisingly high quality, with a medium weight and a nice, smooth drape. I prewashed it immediately and again was pleasantly surprised to see how well it washed. There was a little shrinkage but that is totally normal on this type of fabric and definitely no more than I expected to see.

At this point, I was about to cut myself out a lovely, flowing maxi dress for our holidays. However, that was when my daughters saw the fabric and also fell in love; such is the life of a sewing mummy! So I generously agreed to share the pretty fabric, and went off to find the perfect patterns.

Or, as it turned out, kind of one pattern for all.

I had already made myself a version of the True Bias “Southport” dress, destined to be a poolside cover up for our fortnight in Cyprus. I really like the style, it’s an easy sew and it has pockets, which are always a winner for me. I remembered that there is also a mini version of this pattern, showed a few images to the girls, whose approval it met with, downloaded and printed it out.

Sewing the dress for me only took a couple of hours, thanks to my switching out the buttons on the front for some Prym Love Snaps. I had a pack of these in a variety of blue and white shades, which fortuitously matched the shades in the viscose. I admit to nabbing my favourite turquoise ones for myself (I had, after all, already sacrificed my maxi dress!), and used matching pre-made bias binding to finish the neck and arm holes.

The viscose proved to be really easy to sew with. Despite having a really good drape, it wasn’t especially slippery and behaved well under the sewing machine needle. I overlocked every seam as I went, and would recommend doing so, as I think this stuff is likely to fray if not finished off well. My machine has an overlock stitch which would have worked just as well, but the overlocker is faster so I went with that.

By the time I was sewing up versions for the girls, I felt very familiar indeed with the style of dress and construction. The child’s version is even easier than the full sized one, given that it has no pockets and it also obviously doesn’t need bodice darts. For both versions, I chose to match the snaps and the pre-made bias, using navy on the larger version and white on the smaller.

All three dresses proved to be absolutely perfect on holiday and were thoroughly comfort tested in the heat; the Cypriot heatwave topped 37°C and the dresses remained cool and comfy, both by the poolside and going out for dinner.

Thanks Minerva, we all really enjoyed this fabric!

Becca @ Red W Sews

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Q&A with Schmetrice from What Sew Funny

Can you tell us a little about you and your blog?

Greetings, my name is Schmetrice. I am from Arkansas, USA. Family, Nature, Beauty and Fashion are the aspects of life I am most passionate about! I have always been a creative person, from writing stories, singing, playing music, bead weaving, sewing, making things from clay and vegan cooking. I was always encouraged by my parents to do what I am interested in. After moving into a new City I started my blog in 2012, it was originally called, “the bored housewife…”. Back then I was posting food pictures and articles about things we made during sewing guild meetings. One day, I got a special request from my oldest who was then 7 years old; he wanted a “sleep” buddy? I was like, what? Can you draw what you are talking about? So he did! What came next, became the blog’s new mascot and the site name changed to What Sew Funny. I still collect dolls, and now, have someone to play with them, the stories my daughter and I come up with are hilarious! The blog features doll videos, custom toy how-to tutorials, sewing and beading projects.

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

As far as I can remember, I started young making “mud pies”, building forts with sticks, and making various art pieces from play-doh. My granny and mother sewed everything from quilts to the clothes we wore. I often got in trouble for breaking/touching their sewing machines. I was inspired by watching them and wearing their latest creations. When I got older, I was given my very own real sewing machine (Singer). I also learned to crochet from my mother. The first project I made on my own was sewing a dress for my Barbie doll and a crochet shawl!

What is your favourite craft?

My favorite craft(s) would be sewing and bead weaving.

What do you love most about crafting?

I love the process of bringing an idea from 2-D to 3-D! Getting something new and original is great too, but the journey between A-Z is what I love.

Do your friends or family craft along with you?

It was my granny and mother before they transitioned, but now I share the love for crafting with my children.

Who do you make things for?

I make things mostly for myself. However, I happily oblige the younger family member’s special requests.

What made you decide to start to blog about crafting?

Where I am from, the Arts aren’t appreciated as much these days. For example, sewing and bead weaving are quickly becoming a lost skill. There are none among my peers that share an interest in them, so blogging helps me connect with others that do have a love and appreciation for the Arts.

Do you have a favourite snack when crafting?

My craft areas, are a no snacks zone. Tea/coffee are welcomed though!

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

  1. Tape Measure

  2. Seam Ripper

  3. Button Foot

What are your favourite fabrics too sew with? And why?

My favorite fabrics are wax fabrics, because of its durability and vibrant colors.

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

My favorite products are all of the Women Sewing Patterns. I would make a new closet of fashion!

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

I usually work one project at a time to give it all the attention and details it deserve. But one project can mean several mini projects like fabric accents, shoes and jewelry. “…yea, the world’s my runway…”

What’s your favourite thing you have ever made?

My favorite thing I have ever made would be our mascot, “Buddy”! From just a few pieces of scrap fabric to a useful item. When I was pregnant with our last child, it was the biggest I’ve ever gotten. I had back aches and swollen feet! It was useful for my back, propping my feet up and it stylishly fits every occasion where a travel pillow is needed.

What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)?

Yes, my current work in progress is a drafted dress pattern from my measurements. It was drawn to mimic the print on the dress. I call this new dress, “Umbrella” dress. The bodice and waistband is designed to stop at the belly button with box pleated skirt, double piped hem and bead embellishments to fabric print.

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

Yes, I watch other sewists, Netflix, talk shows or listen to a music playlist

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

Pinterest.

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

Craft hard, Craft often, Craft what you love!

Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?

Yes, Amazing Women’s World.

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Find your niche and never give up!

Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?

  1. What?

  2. Sew!

  3. Funny?!

What are your crafting ambitions?

My crafting ambition is to have an amazing closet full of fashion, my house to look like the inside of a museum and for my blog to witness it all!

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

Greetings, My name is Schmetrice…

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Rico CanCan Yarn Review by Michele

I have crocheted and knitted with all sorts of yarn in the past, but this time I was looking for something a bit different - and this Can Can Yarn is definitely different. Most people seem to make scarves with it, but I needed something out of the ordinary. When the yarn arrived, I couldn’t believe how gorgeously soft it was. It is also very substantial and weighty and would need a bigger crochet hook than I had in my set. I raided our knitting and crochet groups chest and found a size 9 hook which would do the trick. Now, what to make?

What about a bathroom rug? That would look lovely in this yarn and wonderful underfoot. So here it is…..

Well, here it was - I got this far and then thought – this isn’t really that out of the ordinary – apart from the size.

Then inspiration struck. I realized that the new grandson was to arrive imminently and he needed something. Out came the hook, unraveled the mat, rewound the yarn and started with just an image in my head and not much else.

I started just like the sole of a baby bootie and grew from there….

By the time it got to the top I needed to firm it up. This required a fiberglass rod – hence the gloves - not your usual crochet project! I wasn’t happy with the rod so this was removed and replaced with some hardboard pieces covered in a lovely flannel.

Any ideas what it is yet?

Edging around the top gave it a nice finish and then I was ready for the finishing touches.

It took a bit of getting used to crocheting with such thick yarn and hook, but in no time at all, this was finished and ready for the new family member.

This Yarn was a pleasure to work with and soft to the touch, which is so nice when crocheting. The finished result was a surprise for me as well as everyone else. They were amazed that anyone would crochet a baby bed/ Moses basket and I was impressed that it went together in just a few hours and with no idea of a pattern or the finished result.

The stitches came out nice and smoothly with no tension issues.

This was a real joy to make out of the CanCan Yarn and I know our new Grandson (nicknamed Thundercat) is going to have many good sleeps in his cosy crochet basket.

Of the 10 balls of 200g that I received from Minerva, I still had a ball and a bit leftover. Not being one to waste anything, something had to be made with it.

I know, a throwback to my past – the 1970s to be more precise. An era of slightly questionable home décor taste but definitely better fashion sense than the 1980s – in my humble opinion anyway ?

Now, if you were around in the 1970s and didn’t have one of these hanging somewhere in your house, I can only assume you were stranded on a desert island!

Yep, you guessed it – Macrame – the must make craft of that era. A pot plant hanger was the perfect thing to make with my leftovers.

With the help of some YouTube tutorials, it took me no time at all to get my fingers back into the old familiar stitches. Ta da! A pot plant holder fit for any retro/vintage space. I think it turned out rather well, and now I am really in the ‘in crowd’ because I believe macramé is making a comeback. So, whether you were around in the 1970s and loved macramé or this is your first experience of it, this yarn is definitely worth it to try out a new craft.

Thanks for reading,

Michele @ Swiss Army Wife

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Viscose Challis Pillowcase Dress by Polly

I recently received 3m of the Tropical Leaf Print, Viscose Challis Dress Fabric in lime green.  It’s available in a variety of colours but I chose the lime green as I liked the contrast between the bright green and dark background, I’m a sucker for a bright print.
First thing I did was wash the fabric at 40 degrees. Unless I’m making something really delicate I just chuck my handmade clothes in the wash with everything else so any fabric I buy has to cope with my normal wash cycle. I thought the viscose may fray quite a lot but after the wash it had only frayed slightly, I didn’t notice any major shrinking and the colour catcher I’d popped in with it came out pretty much as it went in, so a big thumbs up on the washing front. I was also really pleased with how soft it was, perfect for what I had in mind. I’d planned on making a simple pillowcase maxi dress, something quick to make and easy to wear for the warmer summer days.  I’m a minimum effort, maximum effect kinda girl.
Now I love the drape of viscose when wearing it, but I don’t always look forward to sewing with it. I’m sure you can agree that viscose can be a little slippery to work with and have a tendency to move around, thankfully with a little pinning my machine handled it no problem. Although the fabric cuts well with scissors I found that my rotary cutter was the best option, especially when cutting the belt and straps.
For my pillowcase dress I cut 2 rectangles for the body, a strip for the waist band and a thinner strip for the straps. That’s it. I used light grey thread to sew the dress as I find it blends well on a busy print. I also finished the edges with grey thread on my overlock, to prevent any future fraying. A super quick dress to whip up.
The softness of the fabric enabled me to create a heavily gathered neckline without making the rest of the dress seem too heavy. I made the straps from one long band which ties up at one shoulder. In hindsight I think I should have strengthened the straps and waist belt with some interfacing as it will be under extra stress from being tied so often but I’m sure they will last, just may need a quick press before I wear it. The belt is definitely a necessity for me, larger boobs and all that fabric just looked like I was wearing a maternity dress. The belt completely transformed it.
Overall I love how the dress turned out, the fabric feels lovely and light, with plenty of movement.  I’ve only managed to wear it once so far (thanks to this pathetic summer we are having) and I paired it up with some flat sandals to do the school run. Not exactly the most glamourous of outings but it was really comfy, I think it would work just as well in the evening with some heels and would be a great dress to take on holiday.  Fingers crossed the weather improves soon so I can wear it a lot more!
Thanks for reading!
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Pansies Using Variegated Embroidery Threads by Lucie

This past few weeks I have had the pleasure of trying out these amazing value Variegated Embroidery Thread packs. 72 skeins of embroidery thread for just £7.99!!! That works out at just 11p per skein!

Lovely bright colours.

But were they comparable to my usual DMC or Anchor threads at around 80p per skein? Considering the amazing value I was keen to find out.

I have been doing quite a lot of embroidery recently. I have some books of contemporary patterns I use a lot. I have copied many projects from these two books, Modern Folk Embroidery by Nancy Nicholson and this, Zakka Embroidery by Yumiko Higuchi.

I also use pinterest a lot. You’ll find my embroidery board here.

I didn’t want to show these variegated threads off using a standard cross stitch sampler as there are lots of examples of that around. I wanted to show instead how these threads were really useful in an embroidery needlepainting technique.

Needlepainting goes by several other names, including thread painting, long and short stitch shading, and silk shading. Needlepainting is a technique used for filling areas realistically and for “painting” images with needle and thread.

The stitch commonly used in needlepainting is long and short stitch and, if you are good at it, can achieve very fine, artistic detail. I thought I would have a go at some pansies.

Of late I have been freehand drawing designs onto linen. Of course, I practice first.

I like to use these Frixon pens which I bought at my local supermarket.

The Frixon pen marks disappear with heat (the iron) which is great if you make a mistake or don’t quite cover up the pen marks when you are stitching. I don’t find use wash away markers suitable as I don’t really want to get a framed piece wet after completing. Air erasable pens would not be suitable for this either. The marks would disappear long before I finished my stitching!

The great thing about the variegated threads is that you don’t have to keep changing threads to change colours. And because the thread colour changes gradually, you have all the shades of colour you need in one length of thread!

All this flower is just from one orange variegated skein. I concentrated on putting the lighter sections of the thread towards the centre of the flower. Using lots of different length stitches close together is the key behind getting a good finish to the flower.

I completed 3 pansies. The orange one is my favourite. I used solid colour thread for the centres.

I wanted to frame my piece for my embroidery wall and liked how it looked in the Embroidery Ring.

To do this, after ironing away my pen marks by ironing on the back and using a pressing cloth, I put the fabric back in the ring and tightened the screw really tight using a screw driver.

Next, I trimmed away the excess fabric and glued it to the inside of the ring used a Glue Gun.

For a neat finish I like to glue a circle of felt to the back. This is the Patterned Felt from Minerva.

Here is the finished product.

Hung in my downstairs loo with my others!

Where else would you get the time to admire them?

So, were they comparable to the DMC skeins?

I wouldn’t use them in the same project as they are slightly more matt than the DMC threads. Also they did have a tendency to wear after pulling them through the fabric multiple times and occasionally snap.

However, when you weigh up the supreme value I would definitely recommend them to someone who was just starting out in embroidery. This value pack or the Solid Colour Pack is a great way to build up a really good variety of colours at very little cost.

Thanks for reading,

Lucie @ Love, Lucie

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Product Review: Plain Stretch Denim Dress Fabric Emerald Green by Eleanor

This month, I chose a new challenge for my gust post on the Minerva Crafts Blog, a very stretchy emerald green Denim Fabric. Rather than opting for a jeans pattern, I decided to try it with the Avid Seamstress City Trousers Sewing Pattern, which I had made once before.
As my first pair was on the snug side, I chose to make some adjustments. However, I hadn’t accounted for just how much stretch this fabric has! It still feels resilient and is really lovely to sew, but has a lot of stretch on the cross grain and bias. It does ravel easily, so I’d recommend finishing the raw edges with an ovelocker, overcast stitch or perhaps a flat fell or mock fell seam.
I love the neat silhouette and elegant simplicity of this pattern, with curved pockets, a straight waistband (easy to alter!) and little split at the side seam/hem.
These are the adjustments I made to the original pattern:
·         Extra seam allowance on the outer leg seams and waistband. This allowed me to alter the fit across the seat and thighs in particular. Once I had tried the trousers on, I then took the sides in again and probably need to do so a little more to neaten the silhouette.
·         Increased width (not depth) of darts in back by 1cm. I’m quite straight at the sides and carry most of my curves at the rear! This is the first time that I’ve attempted such an adjustment and it has reduced gaping at the back waist very satisfactorily.
·         Exposed side zip in place of a concealed centre back zip. I created a zip shield to reduce scratchiness and added a button and buttonhole to stabilise the side opening. The zip shield is simply a rectangle of the same fabric, the same length as the zip, seamed at the top and edge finished at the lower edge, which is sewn behind the zip on one side. It avoids contact between a cold and potentially scratchy zip and the wearer’s skin.
Rather than fold in the waistband hem allowance on the inside, I overlocked and stitched ‘in the ditch’ from the outside, reducing bulk and making any further alterations easier to manage.
I have a little more of this fabric remaining, so will be making a skirt for my elder daughter, who loves all things green and comfortable!
Thanks for reading,
Eleanor @ nelnanandnora
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Vilene Multi-Bag Kit Product Review by Diane

I am into bag making at the moment so I was keen to try the 'Vilene Multi-Bag Kit' when I saw it offered for product testing from the people at Minerva Crafts. 
The packaging says 'multi-bag kit' and shows 3 different sizes on the cover photograph which does give the impression there is more than one item to make but there is just one.  It makes a medium sized handbag shaped bag which can be folded out flat into a kind of mat.
There is an instruction leaflet in multi languages – it’s a bit clunky to navigate - and a shopping list of items to buy to complete the bag.  The kit contains the different types of interfacing needed to make your project - you need your own fabric for the outer and lining and handles plus 2 buttons or some ribbon for closures and bias tape for finishing around the edges and decorating the handles.
There are three different qualities of interfacing - Thermolam, Decovil and Bondaweb included.  All are supplied in pre-cut sections.  Essentially, the kit is an advertising tool for the products made by Vilene. 
My bag is destined to be a travelling craft kit and I had this luggage label print in my stash which is ideal as it's on a relatively small scale and is multidirectional.  
This kind of print is wise as the sides of the bag fold upwards during construction and you wouldn’t want a print that appeared to be upside down. I chose a contrast plain swirl pattern for the lining which picks up the navy colour in the print and a purple bias bound edging, again to tone in with the print. Two orange buttons provide a contrast.
There's a lot of ironing involved - learning how to use all the different qualities of interfacing. That's what it's all about really. The pre-cut bag shapes are ironed to the bag outer and a layer of wadding sandwiched between this and the bag inner.
I pinned the whole together and ran round the edge on the machine to keep it all stable.
The two pre-cut handle shapes are ironed to the two strips of fabric which are then folded in on themselves.  A strip of bias binding is sewn down the centre of each to neaten. The handles are then positioned on each bag side.
The only other sewing involved, apart from some hand sewn finishing, is the attachment of bias binding around the whole edge of the main body shape and the fixing of two button loops – which you can make yourself from a scrap of the main body fabric - or some ribbon for fastening.
Bondaweb is first attached to the bias tape to give it more strength.  
Once the sewing of the binding is complete, the handles are then hand stitched upwards to finish.
Two buttons are finally attached in an opposite position to the button loops.
The end product is a pretty thing and I like the idea of using it as a mat for crafting, which I think someone else who tested this kit for Minerva suggested. The internal padding makes a great pincushion and needleholder. After some initial doubts about the kit, I’m glad I persevered and I'm sure it will be admired wherever I take it!
Thanks for reading,
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Chunky Padded Rib Coat by Simona

Hi everyone!

I am back with another review for a product I tested for the huge online store, MinervaCrafts. This time they kindly asked me to test a new fabric, their textured chunky padded ribbed Jersey Fabric.

This is how the fabric is described on the Minerva Crafts online store: 

‘This gorgeous padded knitted jersey dressmaking fabric has a chunky textured stripe rib. This fabric would be perfect for making into chunky sweater tops, cardigans, jackets, skirts and dresses’

It comes in three colours: back, grey and camel. As I had in mind to use some fabric I already had in my stash already to make my Yona Wrap Coat by Named Patterns (pattern range which Minerva Crafts sells also), I chose the back fabric to use in may coat. Because I used a different fabric for the pockets, collar and facings, I had some fabric left over I also made a modified Briar Sweater (by Megan Nielsen Patterns – pattern range available at Minerva also).

I imagined this coat with some contrasting fabric. I could not think of making a full garment out of it, the fabric is a tad too crazy for that so adding it as facing, collar, tie and pockets it just enough for me.

The fabric is easy to work with, though it can get messy as the textured ribbing falls apart when cutting parallel with the ribs. However it feels really soft and it does not fray when cut perpendicular with the ribs.

As this was a new to me fabric and I did not know how it will behave and that stitch will work best, I did some testing trying to decide which is best. I found that for me a small zig-zag or the lightening stitch work best.

I thought I might need to use the walking foot. However this was not necessary. I do suggest you go slow as speed will make the fabric stretch a little and create unwanted wavy seams.

To mark the fabric I cut notches and used a powder tracing wheel to mark my hems/fold lines. The fabric does not suit other methods other than this or thread tracing. If you need precision, it is best to take the time to fully trace your pattern markings onto the fabric.

To make my Briar sweater I used the overlocker mainly.

To finish off it was best to use a triple zig-zag stitch. I did go as slow as I could. This an area you definitely do not want waves.

I am quite happy with the resulting coat. This is because I experimented with the fabric. The pattern asks for wool or wool mix, and I used heavy ribbed jersey.

Oh... I totally forgot to tell you that for the lining used some cotton fabric already in my stash. I went for crazy! Just like me!

You probably noticed on the top I have a pocket. It’s the pocket I made using the Prym Blouse Templates which you can buy from the Minerva Crafts online store and which I reviewed for them here.

I love the soft feel of the ribbed fabric against the skin. It is also quite warm. I have the feeling that both my sweater and coat will get a lot of wear this autumn along with a lot of compliments on the coat!

We would love to hear and see how you have used this fabric in your projects. Please share your makes with us. Tag @minervacrafts on Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review and happy shopping!

Love Simona @ SewingAdventuresInTheAttick

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My Crepe Dress by Anna

Hi there, I’m Anna of Anna Jo Sews here with my second blog post for Minerva - the first was my version of Butterick B6217, and I’m now back with another retro inspired make. This time I went for the Colette Crepe Dress Pattern: a woven summer dress with a wrap closure, that unlike most wrap dresses, wraps at the back. 

I’ve had this pattern in my stash for a while now and was just waiting for the right fabric to make it up. I was over the moon when Minerva offered to send me this gorgeous floral viscose Crepe Fabric to sew it up, as it’s a fairly fabric intensive dress, requiring 3.5m of the main fabric, and another 1.5m to make the contrast waist ties. Thank you, Minerva - I don’t think I’d have been able to make this without your generosity!

The pics of the finished dress were all taken on our recent holiday in the South of France, with a view of the stunning medieval hilltop town of Saint-Paul de Vence. Well worth a trip if you’re ever on the Côte d’Azur.

Crepe is a pattern aimed at beginners because it’s actually very simple to sew, without having any fiddly closures to worry about. The neckline and grown-on sleeves are faced, and there are two different neckline options: round and sweetheart. Of course, I went for the sweetheart version, as I’m a complete and utter sucker for sweetheart necklines. I think the majority of my me-mades now feature this neckline - what can I say? When I find something I like, I stick with it! I also chose to make the contrast waist ties as I thought having a solid navy here would look good against the busy floral print.

While the lazy sewist in me initially contemplated just cutting into the fabric without going to the trouble of making a toile (hey, it’s a wrap dress - you can just tie it tighter or looser to adjust the fit!) in the end I’m glad the perfectionist sewist in me won out, as I ended up making a fair few alterations to the fit of the bodice. The toile was much too big all over, so I took it in by 1cm on each side seam (that’s 4cm off the overall width) and I changed the shape of the darts below the bust to give a more figure-hugging fit. I also decided the front neckline was too high for my liking, and I took it down by 2cm. It’s still high enough not to worry about any accidental cleavage flashing and I reckon I could have taken it a bit lower still - tart that I am - but it’s nice to have a dress in my wardrobe that’s a bit more modest than the rest of them ;-)

My final alteration was to take the curve of the shoulder in a little, as my toile was making me look like an American football player. I will now admit that this might have been a mistake, as my final fabric had much better drape than the bedsheet I made the toile out of, and I think I’ve now made the arms a little on the tight side. Not a problem when indulging in cocktails and general lounging about, but if I make any sudden arm lifting movements I can feel the stitches straining. Note to self: this dress is not one for running around after the kids or doing the housework in!

You can see the alterations I made to the front bodice in the next picture (new lines drawn in within the original bodice), and of course, those alterations changed the waistline, armholes and neckline so resulted in knock on changes to every single pattern piece except the ties and pockets. Gah! Sometimes I do like to make life difficult for myself.

Next up: cutting. I’m going to admit here that I’ve never worked with viscose crepe before. There was that one time early on in my sewing career when I made a dress lining out of silk crepe-de-chine and that was pretty easy to handle, though, so I figured I’d be all right with this stuff. The main Floral Fabric was very like that crepe-de-chine, having a light weight but a bit of body to it, while draping beautifully and having it a tiny bit of stretch. While it took a bit of care to keep the grainlines straight while cutting out, it was a seriously lovely fabric to sew. It behaves well under the machine and takes a good crease under the iron. I made absolutely no attempt to pattern match, by the way, and I don’t think that matters with an organic, irregular pattern like this one.

The plain crinkle Crepe Viscose Fabric was a very different beast, and I have to admit, I didn’t really know how to handle it. It crinkled right up when I pre-washed it, and became this heavily textured, really stretchy fabric. I wanted to preserve that look so I didn’t press it after washing, but I’ll admit now I probably should have, as all those crinkles made it a nightmare to cut out and sew! Luckily the ties are just two simple rectangles, so it wasn’t too big a deal. I do have some of this fabric left over - possibly enough for a tank top - so I’m thinking before I attempt to sew with it again I’m going to need to press it well. It does have a lovely texture to it, though, and I think it would be perfect for a lightweight woven top or swishy summer skirt. Minerva sell it in four different colours, and I have my eye on the red for a summer skirt, although I admit that might have to wait for next year now as it looks like the British summer is pretty much over. Boo!

The construction of this dress is pretty straightforward and the instructions are clear. The only thing that wasn’t mentioned that I thought should have been, was to staystitch not only the neckline and armholes, but the corrosponding facings too. I mostly stuck to the instructions while sewing up, but did add a bit of extra interfacing. With this shifty, lightweight crepe I thought it would be best to stabilise the neckline and armholes on the bodice as well as the facings, so I cut narrow strips of interfacing on the straight grain (I used this lovely Lightweight Woven Fusible Interfacing) and fused them along the stitching lines before staystitching. 

Interestingly, this wasn’t as successful as the staystitching at preventing the edges stretching out, as the facings were all interfaced, but they ended up stretching during construction. I dealt with it by sewing them on with the facing on the bottom, relying on the slight gathering action of the feed dogs to pull in the excess fabric. Worked a treat, but in future I will definitely be staystitching all my facings too.

The only bit of sewing that I found tricky was attaching the bodice to the skirt, as there was just so much fabric to deal with. I tacked the skirt seam allowances open at the top and stitched with the bodice side up, which made it a little easier to handle but I still had to take it really slowly. I also have to admit that I haven’t fully decided on how to treat the bottom hem, and so the dress in the pictures is finished with a simple overlock stitch in black. I’ve already shortened the hem by a good couple of inches, but I’m contemplating taking it up to above the knee and wanted to wear it first a few times first before making the final decision on length.

So, what about the finished dress? Honestly, I have mixed feelings about it. I love the fabric and the way it feels against my skin—cool and with a nice bit of give to it. I also really like the overall shape of the dress, that back neckline with its deep vee, the pockets, and the way those grown on cap sleeves cover up my shoulders. Perfect for the Mediterranean heatwave! The dress has the kind of vintage vibe I was after, and will be great for summer parties.

However, I wasn’t really after a party dress. What I wanted - no, needed - was a dress that I could wear every day, and this isn’t it. The wraps feel too restricting around my middle. Somehow, in all my excitement to make this I’d completely forgotten that there’s a reason I don’t have any wrap dresses in my wardrobe, and it’s because I decided years ago that I found them uncomfortable. Not only are they bulky and hot around my waist, but the tie can be really annoying when lounging back in chairs. I don’t really have the patience to wear uncomfortable clothing any more, and one of the joys of making your own is that you don’t have to!

I’m also conscious that I still haven’t quite perfected the bodice fit. It’s a little loose under the arms, although I have to admit, it looks pretty good in these pictures so maybe I’m being too much of a perfectionist. I also wanted this to be a good holiday dress, but with all the extra fabric with the back wrap and ties it takes up more than its fair share of suitcase room. And it creases too. And I hate ironing - especially when I’m on holiday!

So, I’m in two minds about this make. If I leave it in its current state I doubt it will get worn very often. I already have a wardrobe stuffed with pretty party dresses, and a tragic lack of occasions to trot them out. While the contrast ties look cute, I’m seriously considering going for a fairly drastic remodelling by removing them, cutting it down the centre back and inserting a zip. I reckon that would preserve the look of the dress, while making it much more comfy and easy to wear.

What do you think? Is it worth reworking a partially successful finished make until you have it just right for you, or do you always want to move onto the next project?

Anna-Jo x

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A Stunning Cloth – Coral Stretch Denim

I'm always having to alter trouser patterns to get a good fit. So I decided to make my own trouser block that would allow me to get commercial patterns to fit and also develop my own ideas. Satisfied with that, I made a pair of jeans from a pattern I had drafted to my own measurements. Even in a non stretch cotton they are so comfortable. When I got the chance to review this Stretch Denim Fabric for Minerva Crafts I knew exactly what I was going to make.

I chose a the coral coloured denim and when it arrived was rather stiff. As it was cotton I decided to wash it. It was much softer after washing, making it easier to handle. I'd also measured a 10cm test square and there was no measurable shrinkage. The Lycra content gives it stretch across the width of 20%. 10cm of fabric stretched to 12cm.

When I was ready to lay out the pattern I realised that the fabric was off grain. I knew the weft was straight because it had been ripped rather than cut. But when I bought the selvedges together the crosswise edges weren't level. The fabric has a slight vertical texture to it so it was important to get it straight or my trousers were going to twist.

 To straighten the cloth was a two person job! We started at one corner and worked our along the edges, both of us pulling really hard. Gradually we worked down both selvedges pulling along the bias to realign the threads so they were at right angles. It really did take a lot of tugging for it to work! However when folded all the edges lined up! After all that I found it really easy to cut.

 My pattern has a curved waistband that fits snugly to just below my waistline. The centre back is on the straight grain, which means the front is on the bias so I needed to stabilise it to stop the band from stretching. I decided to use a fusible woven interfacing cutting the front on the straight grain.

Because I was making jeans I was going to be doing a lot of topstitching, so I wanted to buy a heavier thread. I didn't want a big contrast in colour, but I couldn't buy a Gutterman topstitching thread that I was happy with. I decided to use two strands of standard machine thread for all the topstitching.

Considering it's quite a thick fabric it was really easy to work with and pressed really well. This was great for making double machined seams, the first line of stitching pressed flat and the edge rolled easily to do the second row of top stitching.

One tip when making trousers with side pockets is to cut the pocket bag so it extends just past the centre front. I used a non stretch cotton and the edge is held in place as you stitch the zip. This gives more support across the stomach and stops the pockets from gaping.

I am very satisfied with this make, really comfortable and the only creases are where I would expect on close fitting jeans. I'd recommend this cloth for adult and children's wear. It's ideal, not only for trousers, but dungaree dresses, straight or A line skirts, shift dresses, jackets and coats.

I already have a design in development to make a casual coat ready for the autumn!

Thanks for reading,

Di @ Sew It with Di

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