Archives: October 2017
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 31st October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I was intrigued by the Clover Trace n Create E-Tablet and Paper Tablets Keeper template as I've not used a plastic pattern before, and was thrilled to be asked to review it.
It's designed by Nancy Zieman, a renowned American crafter. It's been tried and tested, and there is plenty of information online about this product.
The packet contains two templates,
and instructions in English, French, Spanish, and German.
The smaller template is for the paper tablet keeper fastening tab.
The dimensions are in inches, and my only criticism is that I couldn't find on the product packaging what the seam allowance was. I used 1/4 inch, and that worked. I think!
I’m making a cover for my ‘paper tablet’, or notebook.
The pattern is designed for horizontally bound notebooks, and there are three size options.
The 2.0 template version has 5 sizes, to cater for newer tablets. My book measures up as small; for reference, an A4 size notebook would be a large.
When I originally looked at the pattern, I thought it would be a fat quarter make, but when I actually looked at the fabric guidelines, you do need a full fabric width, at least for the material you make the binding from. You could use fat quarters for the rest of it, certainly for the small keepers, and this is something I'm going to do, but for the first make of this, I'm using full width fabric from my stash.
The red fabric is a fat quarter.
I didn't find the multi pattern template confusing, but I did initially muddle up the simple either or instructions. I have since used a highlighter to differentiate the two, but the instructions are very clear, and I'm still not sure how I managed to cut the e-tablet lining instead of the notebook lining. Lucky I had plenty of fabric!
The template is a flexible plastic with markings for two keepers, each in three sizes. It's been well thought out, and it was very straightforward to mark out for my size keeper.
I used my big quilting ruler to join the marked points, and for a firm edge to cut against with the rotary cutter.
It recommends mid weight interfacing, and heavy weight stabilizer. I don't have either in my stash, but I do have light weight, and firm interfacing, both iron on. As I understand from the instructions, the stabilizer is left in the project, so my interfacing should be fine.
This is perhaps a good time to mention an optional extra, the pre-cut Tablet Keeper Shapers. If I was making an e-tablet case, I would definitely get these to add extra protection to the keeper, but I am satisfied with the sturdiness that the interfacing provided for the paper tablet keeper.
Do make sure to press when you apply the interfacing; don't iron, as it is more likely to create interfaced wrinkles.
I cut some extra pieces of light weight interfacing, about 2 inches square, to sit behind the magnetic snap fastener as reinforcement.
The snap prongs aren't sharp, so you’ll need to make tiny slits in the fabric for them. I press the snap firmly on the fabric where I want it to be, and it leaves dints where the prongs need to go.
Easiest way to cut these is with a seam ripper. Carefully! You only need a tiny cut.
Push the prongs through the incisions,
and on the reverse put the washer on them, then bend them flat.
I used a 14mm snap, which is about half an inch. This was a good size for the small keeper, and would probably suffice for the larger keepers too.
The tab fastener is the first part sewn together. I'm taking a bit of a risk with this bobbin!
Spoilers: it was worth the risk. Phew!
Once turned right side out, the tab is attached to the main part. It's worth taking the time to make sure this is lined up before stitching. My chalk pencils really struggled with this fabric, but there is a line at the two inch mark that I'm lining up with.
Once it's pinned in place, unsnap it, and sew it on.
Now the construction has begun! The two internal pieces should slightly overlap, and don't even try pins here; Wonder Clips are the tool for this job.
The instructions say to leave the top unsewn; this is to enable insertion of the plastic keeper shapers. I wasn't adding anything, so sewed all round.
Be very careful to keep the tab out of the way when sewing this part.
I didn't have the Create a Strap Notion that the instructions refer to, so just used light weight interfacing and folded sides to the middle. Next time I make one of these, I think I'll add some elastic to the spine as a pen holder.
As my spine and outer fabric are different colours, I used a navy bobbin, (the main fabric is actually navy), and red thread on my machine so that both stitchings blended into the fabric.
The binding is made from two 2.5 inch strips, so you could use jelly roll strips. I used the same fabric that I used for the inner. I changed threads again to white, to match the binding.
This is the front clipped, ready to stitch in the ditch to catch the back.
Doesn't look too bad does it? Still looks good stitched.
Binding is not one of my more competent skills, and I really demonstrate that here.
I clearly need more practice!
Look how great my notebook looks now.
This is it closed,
and this is the back.
It makes a cheap notebook look very smart. If I can master binding, this would make a great gift.
This is a great template, and I'll definitely use it again.
Thank you Minerva Crafts for asking me to review it.
And thanks for reading,
Emma @ Hot Tea on a Hot Day
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 29th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
- It’s easy enough to work with
- It feels good on
- It’s really warm!
- This light grey color is so nice
- It’s stretchy so you can make whatever you want with it and not need zippers or other closures.
Posted in Guest Posts on Saturday the 28th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello all! It’s Karen from Hyacinth Bloom again, here with another collaboration with the lovely people at Minerva Crafts. This time I was lucky enough to try out a Knitting Pattern by the popular designer Erika Knight.
I’ve always had a bit of a yearning to add some Erika Knight Designs to my knitting pattern collection. I really admire the simple but creative shapes of the garments she creates. They always seem to look so effortlessly casual and stylish on the pattern leaflet. The Capri Knitting Pattern which, after much dithering, I eventually chose, is a cropped length garment with short sleeves and a wide slash neck. It is knitted using two colours to create a bold stripe across both the body and sleeves. There were a couple of reasons why I decided on this pattern. Firstly, I have never actually knitted a tee before. In the past I’ve usually stuck to cardigans and jumpers full of wool for that all-important winter warmth. I quite liked, however, the idea of adding a thin layering piece to my autumn wardrobe. I had also seen a few stripy cotton knits on the high street and was inspired to have a go at making one myself.
I opted to knit my Capri tee in King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK Yarn (in the Navy and Denim colourways). The pattern calls for a Studio Linen Yarn, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted the challenge of using a rough fibre like linen (I have however since found out that this particular linen yarn is very soft, smooth and drapey, not rough at all like I was expecting). The cotton is also more budget friendly. The King Cole yarn gives roughly the same tension and stitch count as the linen would. It does, however, have a different texture and drape to what the original garment on the pattern leaflet shows. This was actually my first time using a cotton based yarn and I was really surprised by how soft and nice it was to work with. As I was knitting this in August (though admittedly an August in British summertime) it was much easier to knit without getting overly warm hands. The only slight irritation was the occasional fraying that seemed to occur halfway through a ball, but I will definitely be using a cotton yarn again in the future.
I knitted the smallest size and used two balls of each of my chosen colours (four balls in total). I used the 3.25mm and 3.75mm needles suggested in the pattern instructions. As there were so many stitches for the body of the garment I found it easiest to use a Circular Knitting Needle. (Circular needles also make it a much more travel friendly project). The instructions are not particularly extensive, mainly because the construction is so simple. There is, however, a handy diagrammatic illustration alongside the written instructions. This is a great make for a novice knitter, as apart from a few decreases this is primarily just stocking stitch worked back and forth across the needles. The only aspect making it slightly more complicated is the change in colour. This was actually my first attempt at knitting a garment using multiple colours. I opted to cut my yarn and tie in the next colour as if it were the start of a new ball. Perhaps this wasn’t the neatest or most efficient way of doing it, but it was certainly very straightforward. The stripes are wide enough that there were not too many tails to sew in at the end. It is worth noting that that the edges are not finished in any way, which will result in a natural curling up. (Sewing a Grosgrain Ribbon to the back of these edges might reduce the curling, if it bothers you that much). The only change I made to the construction process was to reduce the length of the sleeves. I had to do this because at the end I was playing a bit of yarn chicken, and desperately didn’t want to run out.
The end garment is pretty much exactly as I imagined it would be. (That doesn’t always happen)! I deliberately chose the colours so that they would fit in with other projects that I have been sewing up for autumn. The shape is perhaps a bit extreme, but I think it will look good layered over shirts and leggings. The construction was so easy it was really relaxing and enjoyable to knit on. The long rows of stocking stitch were mindless, but the colour change of the stripes added just a bit of interest. It was a perfect travel project as I knitted almost half of the garment whilst on various train journeys. This Capri tee has certainly made me want to knit even more of Erika Knight’s patterns. I can’t wait to cast on something new!
Thanks for reading,
Karen @ Hyacinth Bloom
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 26th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I’m really chuffed to be doing another product review for Minerva Crafts. They have very generously given me a few metres of this lovely Denim Dress Fabric to play with. Minerva do the fabrics in two colours – one is a soft pink, but I chose this vibrant emerald green as it was so different to any colours in my wardrobe right now and green is one of the Pantone colours of this year if I’m not mistaken.
You can see it’s a beautiful green, I’ve been calling it emerald but maybe jade is more accurate. It’s in the eye of the beholder, I guess.
It’s a relatively light weight stretch denim fabric with stretch in both directions and would be suitable for skirts and dresses as well as trousers or jeans. I washed it straight away as it is denim after all, it comes out soft but looks like it will need ironing, depending on your taste, as it does crease almost like a linen. Thinking of all things denim, I didn’t notice massive shrinkage but I wouldn’t risk not pre-washing. There was a bit of fraying but it’s not too bad, just trim the frayed tails after you dry it. When I washed it there was no colour running that I noticed but I would recommend pre-washing with detergent as the fabric has a kind of ‘chemical’ smell to it at first.
The timing of this review fell nicely with another project so I decided to use it for a denim dress I was drafting. As it holds its shape and it’s not slippery it is quite easy to manipulate and behaves well when cutting with minimal fraying.
I used regular all-purpose thread and a jeans needle and sewing it up was easy; it behaves like a typical denim, as I said before, there is a bit of fraying so you would be wise to finish the edges with zigzag stitch or an overlocker if you have one. It presses well and holds creases nicely too.
For embellishment I used a cobalt blue topstitching thread and a topstitching needle to decorate the dress and this seems to work very well with the fabric also.
Once made up, I wondered if the fabric would chafe on the skin at all but it has been fine, it is quite soft next to skin and comfortable to the touch.
I was really pleased with the finished dress and I was able to get that into my holiday wardrobe in time to leave on my summer camping trip.
In addition to the dress I also made a bolero style jacket with a contrasting blue denim collar facing. The two denims worked well as they were similar weights. The fabric holds its shape well so was good for a jacket as well as the dress.
Finally I also had enough fabric to cut out a pair of shorts from this fabric. Although I didn’t finish it in time for my trip I was still happy with how well this fabric hangs and how versatile it is.
I could imagine making many different items from this fabric including skirts, it would work equally well for a pencil skirt or one with pleats. You could also get some wicked skinny jeans or Capri style pants out of this too. I’ve even got my eye on a few crafty projects to use the scraps, if I can get my hands on one of the espadrille kits that Minerva Crafts also sells I can see a pair in this denim.
Here is my dress which I wore out for my birthday meal while on holiday in Brittany...
It’s a big thumbs up for this Fabric. Easy to handle and sew up and easy to wear also. Thanks to Minerva Crafts for the chance to do this review.
Elaine @ Diary of a Random Madam
I have a lovely frilly scarf, that was knitted for me as a gift, made from this type of unique Yarn but had never tried using it before myself. One 200g ball is enough to make a nice long scarf, or 2 short ones, and the ball band has the instructions for making one printed on the inside of it (albeit in very small writing!)
I thought I’d see what else I could make with it instead and chose this beautiful rich green colour from the range available.
Rico Can Can is 100% Acrylic & machine washable. It looks a bit like a ribbon when wound on the ball but when stretched out it looks more looks like a narrow net. I understood that to get a frilled effect you need to knit into the top edge and try not to twist the yarn at all so it produces the ruffles as you go.
Instead of casting on you need to pick up the stitches at the start. They need to be picked up along the top edge of the yarn with an approx 4cm space between. Then as you knit carry on leaving about the same amount of space between each stitch, although a small change in spacing will not spoil the effect it will just produce slightly different size ruffles!
I did find this process a bit fiddly to start with as I couldn’t wind the wool around my fingers as I normally would when knitting, but I soon got the hang of it and found the knitting happily grew very quickly.
If you are knitting a scarf only a knit stitch is used as this produces ruffles on both sides but I was picturing a frilly cushion cover or a throw to go on the arm chair so after the initial few rows I changed to stocking stitch; one row of knit stitches followed by a row of purl ones. This produced a piece of knitting that had a flat side and a frilled side where the frills are more closely layered together.
I used 8mm Knitting Needles and cast on 20 stitches which provided a knitted piece wide enough to fit an 18” cushion. The finished knitting is very stretchy so has a flexible shape. I used almost 2 balls of yarn for my cushion cover as I didn’t want to stretch it too much so I could keep the frills close together.
This is a great yarn for any frilly projects, it’s beautifully soft and I love my finished cushion cover. Now I’m imagining a large cosy blanket to go with it!
I really enjoying trying Can Can Yarn out and think the suggested scarf would be a great make for a beginner to try.
Nicky @ Sew and Snip
Posted in Projects on Sunday the 22nd October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hi everyone, I'm Aida from idaaidasewing and this is my first review on Minerva Crafts' blog.
I'm sure you all know this Sewing Pattern, I first noticed it in the Great British Sewing Bee years ago and ever since it seemed to me like everyone made this pattern at least once and I felt I had to give it a try, obviously I was very happy to be able to write a review for it here in the Minerva Crafts blog and off course I'm talking about the Walkaway Dress which is Butterick 4790!
This pattern comes in only 3 pieces, front, top back and circle skirt pattern which is cut twice, the construction is really simple as you just attach the two pieces of skirt together, attach the top back to the circle skirt , join the front and back pieces on the shoulders and that' s it. Off course there are darts, meters of bias binding to attach and hem to turn but despite all these it's a simple dress to make and even a beginner can manage, considering my first ever thing that I made which was a fitted woven dress with zipper and facings this is really a piece of cake.
The fabric I used is a polka dot chambray that I had for over a year in my stash, the pattern calls for 3.5 meters of 150cm wide fabric, what I had was 2.5 meters so I had to make a few changes to make it fit. Minerva have loads of beautiful Chambray Fabrics for you to choose from. First I shortened the circle skirt by 17 cm which was very useful as in this way I could cut the 2 pieces of the circle skirt (which are huge) in the cross grain, I also had to add a centre seam in the back of the top as it was impossible to cut that on the fold.
I read a lot of reviews about this pattern and there were two issues that were mentioned quite often and bothered me, first was the gaping in the armhole and second was the feeling of being exposed in the back as the front pieces that goes all the way to the back is left open like an apron.
One of the many versions of this dresses I saw was on Instagram and the lady that made it seemed to have added sleeves and there was no gaping on her dress, I was intrigued by the idea of adding sleeves and so I sent here a message asking her help on how to achieve the same result, it was very kind of her to send me detailed pictures and instructions on how she did it. In my version I did it differently but I did follow the most important part which was to draw how I would like the sleeve to lie directly on the fabric before cutting it and as one piece with the top (there is no seam) then cut the pattern including this so called sleeve.
About the open back of the inner skirt I just used the slash and spread method to make the skirt fuller so that I can add a seam and also a zipper, in this way I feel covered and not exposed wearing this dress and it is still easy to wear. Both changes I made are obvious in the picture that shows the front pattern piece on top of the cut fabric that includes the changes.
All in all I love how this dress looks on me the only thing that I'm not satisfied with is the uneven hem which I have to find the courage and remake, I did not hang the dress for a couple of days before hemming as it is suggested for circle skirts so I have to do the additional work now.
Thank you for reading!
Aida @ idaaidasewing
Posted in Guest Posts on Saturday the 21st October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello! It’s Allie from The Aspiring Seamstress again. Today I’ll be reviewing a fun cape pattern, the New Look Sewing Pattern no 6396.
I was inspired to make a red cape by a character I saw on a tv show. This particular character is a fashion designer who designs clothing out of her parent's basement. Most of the clothes she wears are very stylish, there are a lot of things I’ll be making because of her! On one episode she had this beautiful drapey red cape on, it was only on screen for maybe five minutes but I instantly fell in love with it.
If you're curious to look it up, the show is called Last Man Standing. The cape in question appears in season 6, episode 14 at around 12:40. I tried finding a picture of it on Google but I couldn’t!
I chose New Look 6396 for the military style closures and shoulder epaulets on view A. There are three other views on this pattern; two longer capes, one with a fur collar and pockets (B). The other has one simple closure near the neckline and is collarless (C). The last view is a sweet little capelet (D).
This pattern wasn’t too difficult. It doesn’t require any fitting really which makes it perfect for a beginner sewist. It’s a great pattern to tackle if you're looking to practice understitching and topstitching as well as learn how to install a lining.
The techniques used in the pattern weren’t challenging by themselves (for me at least), I think the hard part was working with a slippery Lining Fabric and thick fabric. The closures and epaulets were made by sewing two pieces of the main fabric together, in my case that fabric was wool (it got quite bulky when layered!) which made it tricky to maneuver under my sewing machine foot and difficult to get the points nice and crisp.
I did make it through though and I’m very happy with how my cape turned out. The Boiled Wool Fabric I used is perfect, it’s got great movement to it and the color is just so vibrant. I’ve been loving vibrant reds lately.
I made a couple changes to the cape design. I’m not really a fan of the collar so I just left it off. I contemplated figuring out a different style of collar to use but in the end, I decided to leave it plain.
The other change I made has to do with the front closures. The pattern instructions want you to make the closures stationary on the right side by sewing the Heart Buttons on through all the thicknesses. I didn’t like the idea of being stuck with the same tabs forever.
Perhaps I’d like to change the color of them in the future. What if it’s not too cold of a day and I want to wear the cape open? Will the closures look odd flapping about (they do a little bit)?
So instead of making them permanent, I just made buttonholes on both sides of the closures. It wasn’t that hard to do and now I have the freedom to change up my cape look whenever I want too.
One thing I wish I would’ve noticed before cutting my fabric is the unnecessary back seam. I’m not sure why you don’t just cut the back pieces on the fold of the fabric, instead of the front pieces. You do use the back seam in the lining to turn the cape right side out, but couldn't this have been done using a side seam instead? I think the back of the cape would’ve looked better without the seam, but I suppose it’s not a huge deal.
Overall I enjoyed sewing up the New Look 6396, it was only a little challenging for me and I’m pleasantly surprised that I can make a cape! I think it’s a great basic cape pattern to have, it has a good variety of options and can be tweaked to fit your personal style preferences.
Thanks for having me here again!
Allie @ The Aspiring Seamstress
Posted in Designer Spotlight on Friday the 20th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hi, I’m Alice and I have recently set up the indie children’s wear pattern label Sew Me Wear Me. It’s been a labour of love to get to this point, but I’m so excited to now get my designs out into the world. There are four digital sewing patterns currently available to buy through my Etsy shop. They’ve been designed using modern sewing construction techniques, but have touches of vintage detail. Easy to make, comfy to wear, but still feel like special handmade garments.
I learnt to sew as a child. My grandmother was a dressmaker, and my mum is a knitter and crafter, so making things was always part of family life growing up. After my second child was born I spent a week in hospital and watched The Great British Sewing Bee on an iPad. I felt totally inspired to learn some proper dressmaking skills. So, a few months later I sold all my maternity clothes on eBay and used the proceeds to buy a discounted sewing machine. I tried a few patterns and made a few wonky garments, learning loads along the way. There is something so completely absorbing about making something yourself. I was totally hooked.
For the last few years I have squeezed sewing into every spare moment I could. I took a few sewing classes, discovered indie patterns and the wonderful sewing community on Instagram. I started writing a blog (Alice’s Sewing Adventures) about my sewing adventures and joined the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. I really enjoyed making clothes for myself that fitted properly and starting making clothes for my children too. Frustrated by my failed attempts to sew a dress for my daughter, I had a go at drafting my own pattern. It worked brilliantly, and soon she had a wardrobe of Mummy-made dresses that she loved.
I have thoroughly enjoyed learning how to design sewing patterns. There’s something so satisfying about being able to create something 3D from a 2D paper design. I even love the geeky pattern-making maths! Having had a couple of my patterns published in Love Sewing magazine, I decided I wanted to have a go at digitizing my patterns and writing my own step-by-step instructions. I know how tricky it can be when you’re just starting out to follow a traditional sewing pattern, so I wanted to make mine really easy to get the hang of. It’s been a steep learning curve. With the help of a couple of online courses I have learnt to use Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and Muse to create my digital patterns, instructions and website. I’ve had some help from a couple of wonderful people on the graphic design, photos, support, cups of tea and general loveliness.
Coming up with a name was tricky. After lots of playing around with children’s literature themes, my hubby came up with Sew Me Wear Me (a take on the ‘Eat Me’, ‘Drink Me’ labels from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). I’d like my patterns to take the sewer and the wearer on new adventures. I really liked the name, it fitted with my blog name and it stuck. Making sure the patterns worked before putting them up for sale was very important, so I recruited a gang of willing and very helpful pattern testers to help me test out all the sizes and instructions. I got loads of useful feedback. Hopefully the patterns will be so much better for going through the testing process.
So, the website www.sewme-wearme.com is now open, with links through to my secure Etsy shop for instant downloads of the patterns. There are four patterns currently on sale: the Twinkle Twinkle Skirt and Pat-a-Cake Apron patterns are both beginner friendly; while the Flo Dress and Dreamland Pyjamas are more of an intermediate make. If you’re new to using digital patterns, they’re super easy. You simply download two PDFs: one is the pattern and the other is the instructions. The instructions take you through the whole process of printing the pattern pieces on A4 and sticking them together. You can even print just the sizes you need. All the patterns are between 18-30 sheets of A4. Much less than a full-sized adult pattern! There is also the option to request an A0 version for professional printing if you prefer. I am a big fan of Minerva Crafts Fabric, so each pattern includes links through to recommended materials from Minerva. It can be so overwhelming when you first start out to know where to start, I just wanted to make it that much easier for new sewists to get started.
I have so many ideas for new patterns and products! I am currently working on 3 new designs for release next year, and have plans for sewing kits and workshops too. I’d love to know what you think or if there are any particular patterns you’d love to see. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date with new releases and pattern testing opportunities, you can sign up to the mailing list or get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.
Happy sewing, Alice x
Posted in Projects on Thursday the 19th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
A beautiful simple bag, which is big enough for everything…
A metre of Gutermann Fabric
A metre of Michael Miller Painters Canvas Fabric
Prym Bag Straps in light grey (optional, as the straps can be handmade)
A metre of Matilda’s Own Premium Bag Batting
A meter of white Stabilizer/Interfacing
(N.B: A metre by the width of the fabric roll, additional fabric will be left over, and could be used to make another bag from this booklet of pattern 1387)
Start by cutting out all the pieces for Bag ‘A’, and iron on a low setting if needed. Prepare your pieces in order, as shown in the photo below, take note of the pieces that need to be cut on the fold of the fabric.
Below is a photo showing the choice I made for where I was going to position my fabrics, the painters canvas fabric is going to the main middle section.
Iron your Stabilizer to these pieces, as explained in the pattern, and mark the small dots with a fabric marker. Sew these together, matching up the dots.
Your bag should now look like this…
Press seams open.
If you are making your own straps, follow the pattern, if not cut two lengths from the bag strap, the same length at the pattern piece.
Attach the straps to the outside of the bag, and sew in place. Repeat this process for both sides of the bag.
For the ‘Patch’, cut out 8 of these from the painters canvas fabric, with right sides together, sew around the edge, using Fabric Glue, attach in place on the bag.
To make the internal pocket, iron the stabilizer onto the painters canvas fabric, then with right sides together, sew this piece to the Fenton House Blossom fabric, leaving a small gap to pull right side out. Trim the seams and corners, press.
Turn pocket right side out, and press the raw edge seam inside. Pin in place on the right side on the lining fabric. Sew along the three edges, making sure you include the side which has the unsewn edge.
Remember to reinforce the corners of the pocket, as shown in the photo below...
Baste the bag batting to the lining pieces of fabric, and sew together using the same process as before, for the outer fabric, only this time leave a 4” gap along the middle of one of the side seams. You should now have a piece that looks like this...
With right sides together, and making sure the top edges match up, sew ½” seam allowance along the top of the bag – joining the outer and lining of the bag together, turn bag right way out through the gap you left in one of the side seams. Press and Ta dah!
Thanks for reading,
Michelle @ Creative Blonde x