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Archives: October 2014

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Black Poly Crepe Amalfi

Hi, I’m Rachel and this is my first blog post for Minerva! I was so excited to get a chance to try some of their beautiful fabric! I knew immediately when I saw this black medium weight Poly Crepe that it needed to be an Amalfi Dress by Hey June Handmade. This was a big project for me. I made more adjustments to this pattern than I have to anything else I’ve made. I think what is so great about sewing your own clothes is that you can make them exactly like you want!

[photo 2]

  The idea behind this “dress” was that I wanted a versatile black dress that didn’t make me (being 20 weeks pregnant) feel like a potato! Honestly though, finding maternity clothes that actually make you feel nice, for me at least, is always a struggle. The Amalfi Dress modifications  that I made should make it perfect for pregnancy, postpartum, and nursing! I love this fabric for the dress as well! It is nice to wear and doesn’t wrinkle like crazy (unlike a lot of my handmade wardrobe)!

[photo 3]

   I made quite a few modifications to this pattern. It is definitely more of a mashup between the Amalfi dress and the Lucerne Blouse from Hey June Handmade.  I knew I wanted to make this dress nursing friendly and adjust the waist band to accommodate the changes in my natural waist as my belly grew. My first thought was to raise the waist and add invisible zippers to the side seams for nursing access, but I haven’t tried the side zippers for nursing before. I was not sure how it would turn out. Then, I saw that Marie Fleurine, from sewmariefleurine.com, had made an Amalfi using the Lucerne Blouse to make it separate pieces! This seemed like the perfect solution. I did quite a few things differently than she did, but the premise was the same.

[photo 4]

The first change I made to the dress was swapping the sleeves. I used the bow sleeves from the Lucerne blouse, that I am obsessed with at the moment. This was a very easy switch because the pattern pieces are made to be interchangeable!

[photo 5-6]

I made quite a few other changes to the top to make it work as a shirt. I mainly used the bodice pieces from the Amalfi. I liked that it had darts, and she includes great instructions for a FBA (full bust adjustment). I did raise the neckline about an inch and a half, and did an one inch FBA. Then I laid the pattern pieces of the Lucerne bodice on top of the Amalfi pieces, matching them at the under arms, and trued up the side seams so I could use the curved hem from the Lucerne. 

[photo 7]

This mostly worked out really well. I did fail to account for the length that I would lose by sewing the darts on the front, so I just adjusted the back pieces so the side seems would match at the bottom. I also took the equivalent of the length I lost out of the back curved hem. I think that this actually worked out in my favor, because raising the side seams an extra couple of inches helps accommodate my growing belly. 

[photo 8]

For the skirt, I only made a few modifications: I took off the pockets because I didn’t want them to add bulk to my belly, and I added a waistband for the elastic. I had a little trouble figuring out the best way to make the casing for the elastic, but it worked out in the end and looks nice, from the outside at least!

[photo 9]

My sister, who generously took these pictures for me, and I had a fun time trying to get some photos in the rain. We ended up having an audience for part of it which was really funny. This “dress” will be such a staple in my wardrobe with the added bonus of being able to mix and match the pieces! Individually, they can be dressed up or down very easily! This would be perfect for any wardrobe, especially if you are going for more of a capsule wardrobe.

[photo 10]

Thanks again to Minerva Crafts for providing the fabric! I am so glad I have this new addition to my handmade wardrobe that is so versatile. I’m so happy with how this project turned out!

-Rachel

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BHL Pattern Testing - The Sabrina Dress!

Hello Everyone!

Its been a while! I hope you have had a great summer. I've been very lucky in having two holidays this summer. The first to Florida with one branch of the family and the second to Lanzarote with another branch of the family. What with holidays, hosting the Minerva Crafts Meet Up event back in June and launching our new website you can imagine I haven't had much time for blogging these past weeks.

Talking of our new and improved website, you may have noticed that the Minerva Crafts Blog (that you are reading now) has been designed now as a place for myself and my daughter Vicki to blog about our personal sewing projects, plus 101 other things to do with Minerva Crafts and the crafting world in general. And of course we fully intend to blog each month again for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network - our projects have been sorely lacking recently - must do better!

Part of the plan with the new-look for the blog is for Vicki and I to blog more often about our personal crafting projects - so we will be writing this blog together, with both of us contributing posts that we hope you will enjoy reading. We have some very special sewing coming up soon with Vicki getting married next year. Between us we are making Vicki's wedding dress, 5 bridesmaid dresses, my outfit as mother of the bride and various other things for the big day. So keep tuned on the blog for this!

Since we last spoke we now have our very own sewing/craft room at work! We absolutely love it! We are so lucky to do the job that we do. Having this room at work will allow us to bring you more projects to inspire you to get sewing, knitting and crafting. In the job we do we are constantly surrounded by products, people and ideas that inspire us. We hope to share some of that with you and hopefully inspire you too. We will show you a little guided tour of our new craft room in a future blog post - promise!

Another section to the newly-designed Minerva Crafts Blog is a category for ''. Now this only came about recently when the lovely girls at By Hand London got in touch and asked if either Vicki or myself would like to be pattern testers for their new PDF pattern 'The Sabrina Dress'. Well, I jumped at the chance! I havent used a BH pattern before. We've stocked them for a while now here at Minerva and I've been itching to give them a go ever since they landed. I know Vicki has too - in fact shes already got herself a copy of the Anna pattern.

Anyway, back to the Sabrina. It is a simple styled dress with princess seams. There are two variations. The first is a button up style with rouleau straps. I imagine this as a super sundress in a soft cotton fabric or linen. 

The second is a high neck, sleeveless dress with a centre back zipper. The possibilities with this pattern are endless. It could be your new 'little black dress' or it could be worked in a sumptuous sequin fabric, made longer and you would have a beautiful evening gown. Then with a little bit of alteration to the front and back piece you could make the button up front sundress into a zip up back sundress and the high neck zipped dress into a button or zip up front - so many options!

Here's the line drawings for the two styles;

I have chosen to make the high neck zip up back dress to start with. I have gone for this lovely ponte roma jersey fabric in plain black for the side panels and a black and grey floral patterned ponte roma for the front and back panels.

Like I said I haven't used a BHL pattern before so was very pleased to see their instructions are really very easy to follow. This was my time using a PDF download pattern too. I must say I do definitely prefer the speed of paper sewing patterns as opposed to PDF's, but it wouldn't stop me using one again if a PDF was my only option. I like the little comments they add on the BH patterns such as when joining the princess seams they state, "The curves of the dress front are trickier to ease, so take your time and use plenty of pins!" - so helpful for beginner-sewers.

Here are a few photos of the making process;

I particularly like the way they have described how to make the rouleau straps, although I havent made this style (yet!) I still read all the instructions when pattern testing.

On fitting my dress I realised I didn't actually need a zip as the pattern suggests because the fabric is stretchy enough to be able to get the dress on without one.

The only difference I made in cutting out the dress was to make it one inch (25mm) longer, I wanted the length to be on my knee, not above it. And so I did my usual stretch stitch hem. As I've mentioned in other posts in the past, I stitch the hem and then trim right up to the stitching and the hardest part of this is that it could be so easy to snip into the dress fabric.

I decided on using Applique Scissors this time which have quite funny-looking blades. 

They are described as a Duck Bill blade which keeps the lower layer of fabric away from the upper to allow close cutting in applique work. Why haven't I used these scissors before for my hems? They are amazing! I felt quite comfortable cutting very close along my hem and the result was brilliant.

Hope you like the finished dress. I wore it to go for a meal for my birthday. We had a lovely night and I think you always feel good when you're wearing a dress you've made.

Until next time,

Annette x

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Prima Cocoon Dress

Hi everyone,
If you picked up this months copy of Prima magazine you may have spotted that their free sewing pattern - the cocoon dress - has been made up using one of our gorgeous jersey fabrics.
The specific fabric used was the Roanne collection from John Kaldor - specifically the navy and turquoise colours. 
Did you pick up a copy of the pattern and get round to making it? Please share some pictures with us if you did :)
Bye for now,
Vicki
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Designer Spotlight of the Month

This months Designer Spotlight of the Week our customer projects section is Elizabeth, who has shared some fantastic projects with us so far! I particularly love these 'crochet covers for flowers' - arn't the colours amazing?! These would definitely brighten up my house!
I also love the assorted size buttons that have been added around them - such a simple touch that adds so much interest. Another of Elizabeth's projects I love is this fabulous felted owl lavender and lemongrass sachet. How cute is this! I would love to receive this as a gift - definitely an idea to make them for friends and families birthdays and Christmas gifts!
Thanks so much for sharing these projects with us Elizabeth and congratulations on being our first Designer Spotlight of the Month! Please share your craft projects with us and you could be featured in our next Designer Spotlight!
Bye for now,
Vicki

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