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Archives: November 2015

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#POW Pattern of the Week - Kwik Sew 4027 V Neck Jersey Tops

The pattern for this weeks Pattern of the Week offer is a very easy jersey top. It's Kwik Sew 4027.
It could be made in silky jerseys for evening wear or cotton jerseys for everyday wear. On looking through the instructions I find they are very easy and straight forward. When sewing a jersey top most patterns tend to tell us to apply some tape to the shoulder seams to stop them stretching but these instructions go a stage further. The pattern suggests to use a 1 inch wide piece of iron on interfacing and apply it following the cut edge of the back neck and shoulder piece. My thoughts on this are as follows;
Option 1 would be to use your pattern piece and cut round the neck and shoulders edge then take off the pattern piece and cut 1 inch in to the interfacing to the same shape. This would 'fit' and be ready to iron on and you wouldn't have to 'fiddle' to get it to fit round the neckline. This picture off the pattern instructions leads you to believe that this is what they have done;
Option 2 would be to use vilene iron on bias tape. It is always handy to have some of this tape in your stash both in black and white. Because this is a bias tape it curves round the neckline with ease and because it has a stitched line through the centre of it it will not stretch out of place.
As with many jersey patterns this one suggests to sew the shoulder seams and then insert the sleeve before sewing up the side seams, this makes for easy sewing.
My choice of fabrics for this pattern are endless but I have chosen 4 fabrics to share with you today.
This is a plain stretch jersey made up of 94% viscose and 6% spandex. The right side of this fabric shows a knit stitch and the wrong side shows a purl stitch. It is machine washable but I would suggest washing it before you cut it out then any shrinkages will occur then. If you have read my blog posts before you will know that I wash virtually everything before I cut it out. It is quite a silky fabric, drapes like a dream, at a very reasonable price and comes in lots of colours. Shown here in Fuchsia Pink;
This is a slightly heavier version of the above with even more stretch. It only comes in 4 colours but what fab colours they are. My favourite is the black as shown below;
This fabric is yummy yummy! It is described as natural, muted and subtle and thats exactly how I would describe it. Again it has plenty of stretch both ways so would be ideal for this top. I would wear a top made in this fabric with ivory jeans in the summer months or still find it easy to wear with darker shades of mushroom taupe or brown.
What can I say about this fabric. It has the WOW factor. It is a cotton and model fibre blend. It is described as having a beautiful artistic brush stroke design. It is quite stunning. This would look fab with black trousers or leggings and boots if you make the longer version.
As I said earlier there are endless jersey fabrics that we stock here at Minerva that are suitable for this design, why dont you have a browse and tell me your favourites.
Until next time fabric friends!
Annette x
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#FabricFriday - Dogtooth!

Hello again. How quick do the weeks roll by! 
This week I've chosen dogtooth for my theme for #FabricFriday.
Dogtooth or houndstooth check designs are available in lots of different types of fabric although it originated in the lowlands of Scotland as a woven wool cloth. It is characterized by broken checks or abstract pointed shapes and is most often in black and white or black and cream. It first appeared in the 18 hundreds and was used for workwear. By the 1930s it had become a fashionable fabric and seems to be reinvented every 20 to 30 years
My first choice of fabric is a very traditional fabric as photographed above. This fabric is 70% wool and 30% other fibres. This fabric would lend itself quite nicely to the following patterns; 
First on my list would be Vogue 9137
This is a basic coat pattern with design D being the easiest. If I was making this coat I would cut the side panels on the cross. This would look really effective and also would eliminate having to match the checks! I quite like the idea of design C having the lapel in black and to compliment this the side panels in black. 
High on my list of patterns would be McCalls 7014.
Garment A on this pattern speaks for itself with the pockets being cut on the cross. 
For more of a challenge Vogue 9099 comes to mind. This is a tailored garment with a lot of work in it but it has to be said that Claire Shaeffers instructions are brilliant. Incidently the fabric used on this pattern is sometimes refered to as puppytooth!
My second choice of fabric is this lovely medium to heavy weight jersey in black and ivory as shown above. 
A classic pattern that comes to mind is McCalls 7016
View D is the obvious choice and how about using Dill button 390156. Love these buttons!
Again like the coat pattern the lapel could be done in black. 
Jersey dogtooth check has been used really well in Burda 6847
They seem to have used a metal open ended zip. Now my choice would be a chunky plastic zip in black to go with a black collar. I do like my black contrasts dont I haha! 
My last two pattern suggestions for this jersey fabric are Simplicity 1072 and McCalls 7244. 
Both of these give a hint of what dogtooth would look like. The simplicity one is such a simple skirt I love it, dare I mention black again... yes I would wear it with a jumper of this colour! The McCalls is a fabulous dress with very few pieces. Years ago a near circular skirt would never have been made with a fabric that had an obvious horizontal design but hey anything goes these days and I do think it looks really good.
My last choice for #FabricFriday is from our quilting range. This is 100% cotton and comes in quite a few colours.
At first glance most people see the white shapes but on closer inspection you see the black scottie dogs. How cute is that? 
For this fabric I have chose Kwik Sew 4083
I think this fabric would really suit this and guess what - black panels. 
My second choice is McCalls 7014 again but this time design C. 
With all of the colours in this fabric you could choose a co-ordinating plain cotton for the side panels. You thought I was going to say black panels again then didn't you? 
Last but not least Ive just been looking at McCalls 6936 and thought yes a bag would be great. 
I think I would have to do a bigger bag with all the junk I carry round though. Most craft patterns for accessories around the home would suit this fabric.
Please let me know how you have used your dogtooth fabric!
Bye for now
Annette x
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Sirdar Noah's Ark Knit-Along Part 5 - Hatty & Hector Hippo!

MEASUREMENT To centre Back 12.5cm (5in) 
MATERIALS 
F071 Snuggly Baby Bamboo shades 158 (A), 148 (B), 170 (C) 1 50g ball each 
or shades 159 (A), 109 (B), 155 (C) 1 50g ball each 
1 Pair of 3¼mm (UK10 – USA3) Knitting Needles
ABBREVIATIONS 
Beg beginning, cm centimetres, mm millimetres, in inches, k knit, p purl, inc increase, rem remain, rep repeat, st(s) stitch(es), tbl through back of loop, tog together. M1 make 1 stitch - pick up loop between last and next stitch and work into the back of this loop. st-st (stocking stitch) 1st Row. Knit. 2nd Row. Purl. Rep last 2 rows.
BODY 
(Worked in 1 piece commencing from back end) Using A cast on 26 sts. 
Working in st-st (throughout) and stripe sequence of 4 rows A, 4 rows B and 4 rows C. 
Proceed as follows:- 
Next Row. Knit. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. (K2, m1) 5 times, k6, (m1, k2) 5 times. 36 sts. 
Next Row. Purl.
Next Row. Inc in 1st st, k16, m1, k2, m1, k15, inc in next st, k1. 40 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. Inc in 1st st, knit to last 2 sts, inc in next st, k1. 42 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K20, m1, k2, m1, k20. 44 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K4, (m1, k1) 4 times, k13, m1, k2, m1, k14, (m1, k1) 4 times, k3. 54 sts.
Next Row. Purl. 
Work 16 rows without shaping. 
Next Row. K24, k2tog, k2, k2togtbl, k24. 52 sts. 
Work 3 rows without shaping. 
Next Row. K4, (k2tog) 4 times, k11, k2togtbl, k2, k2tog, k11, (k2tog) 4 times, k4. 42 sts. 
Work 3 rows without shaping. 
Next Row. K18, k2togtbl, k2, k2tog, k18. 40 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, k2tog. 38 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K2tog, k14, k2togtbl, k2, k2tog, k14, k2tog. 34 sts. 
Next Row. P2tog, purl to last 2 sts, p2tog. 32 sts. 
Next Row. K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, k2tog. 30 sts. 
Next Row. P2tog, purl to last 2 sts, p2tog. 28 sts. 
Next Row. K2tog, k9, k2togtbl, k2, k2tog, k9, k2tog. 24 sts. 
Next Row. P2tog, purl to last 2 sts, p2tog. 22 sts. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 11 times. 11sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 5 times, k1. 6 sts. 
Break off yarn and thread through rem sts and fasten off.
MAKE UP 
Sew side edges of body together working towards the cast on edge and stuffing as you work along. Fold cast on edge in half and close.
HEAD 
Using B, working in st-st (throughout), cast on 16 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. Inc in every st to last st, k1. 31 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. K5, (m1, k1) 5 times, k12, (m1, k1) 5 times, k4. 41 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Work 12 rows in st-st. Break off B and join in A. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 20 times, k1. 21 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. Break off A and join in C. Work 6 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K2, (m1, k1) 6 times, k5, (k1, m1) 6 times, k2. 33 sts.
Work 6 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K1, (k2tog) 16 times. 17 sts. 
Next Row. P1, (p2tog) 8 times. 9 sts. 
Break off yarn and thread through rem sts and fasten off.
MAKE UP 
Sew side edges of head together working towards the cast on edge and stuffing as you work along. Place seam central to cast on sts and close.
LEGS (Make 4) 
Using C, cast on 18 sts. 
Beg with a knit row, work 4 rows in st-st. 
Break off C and join in B. 
Work 6 rows in st-st. 
Break off B and join in A. 
Work 4 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. * K3, m1, rep from * to last 3 sts, k3. 23 sts. 
Next Row. Knit. 
Next Row. K1, (k2tog) 11 times. 12 sts. 
Next Row. Purl. 
Next Row. (K2tog) 6 times. 6 sts. 
Break off yarn and thread through rem sts and fasten off.
EARS (Make 2) 
Using B cast on 7sts. 
Beg with a knit row, work 4 rows in st-st. 
Next Row. K2tog, k3tog, k2tog. 3 sts. 
Next Row. P3tog. 
Fasten off.
FINAL MAKE UP 
Sew head to gathered end of body placing head slightly to one side. 
Sew ears to top of head as illustrated. Using grey work French knot for eyes with a straight stitch to either side of the knot. Work 2 straight stitches for the nostrils as illustrated. Cut 8 lengths of A yarn 30cm, (11¾in) long to make a twisted cord tail. Make a knot at the end and cut straight. Fasten to top of cast on edge of Back. Cut 8 lengths of yarn 10cm, (4in) long and fasten together, sewing to centre of head to form tuft. Trim to allow 2cm, (¾in).
As always, please share your finished makes with us!
Bye for now,
Vicki x
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Introduction to our new Guest Blogger

Hi there. I’m Anne Hall and I work at the Minerva Craft Centre in Darwen, Lancashire.

I have always been fascinated by anything to do with colour, so just looking at shelves full of coloured wool or fabric every day is a real treat.

Ever since I was a little girl I used to love colouring in, either drawing my own pictures or competing with my three sisters to see who could be the best one at keeping in the lines in our colouring books! It must have been genetic, as my mum was exactly the same, she always enjoyed the wonder of colour and how it could lift your spirits!

However, it wasn’t just colour. She also had a great love for all things creative, whether it was drawing, painting, gardening, knitting, crocheting, sewing, or decorating.

We were lucky that our mum did not have to work when we were little. As a result I, and my sisters, were encouraged to be creative from a very early age. This meant that we were given the “tools” to be able to pursue various hobbies and pastimes which we have enjoyed throughout our lives.

Before I was eight I could knit and sew, and I remember using my mum’s Singer treadle sewing machine to make clothes for my, and my sister’s, Sindy dolls. By the age of ten, my grandma had also taught me how to crochet.

So, when my mum bought her first wool shop when I was twelve, I was so excited to be able to choose some wool to start my first “grown up” project! I remember it was a mustard coloured sweater, and, if I made a good job of it, was promised more wool to go with it to make the matching skirt. Needless to say, from then on I was hooked!

When I was fourteen, mum took on a bigger shop. We now had even more choice – we were so lucky! I distinctly remember at the time, that ponchos had appeared on the scene - and I just had to have one. This time it was a crochet project and I made it in a gorgeous apple/lime green - I wore it for years, only giving it up when they went out of fashion. Surprising how things go in cycles, isn’t it - they’ve been very popular again recently.

Over the years I sewed for my children when they were little and knitted them many a cardi, jumper, hat, scarf, etc. For a period I actually designed my own knitwear and tapestry designs, selling them at various craft fairs. After that life changed a bit - my husband and I had our own business for 22 years, unfortunately not to do with yarn and fabric (but it did involve colour in a different way – it was an art shop!). Putting so much time into that meant I didn’t have much left for sewing, knitting or crocheting anymore!

So, when life moved on another big step and I came to work at Minerva, it was a kind of “coming home” for me. To see, and work with, all our beautiful yarns and fabric is a real pleasure. The yarns have moved on so much since my mum had her shops, and the choice of fabrics today is just mouthwatering!

I’ve already completed a number of my own projects, but I have now been asked if I would like to share some of my ideas and working methods with all you lovely people who enjoy our Minerva Blog. What I will be aiming to do is provide you with some food for thought over the coming months.

My “problem” has nearly always been, that whatever pattern or project I look at, I always seem to think “ Well, I like that idea, but what if I did this to it?” or “ I wonder if you did that with it, would it work?” or even being as drastic as taking an item in one medium and converting it into another, such as using the shape of a fabric garment and recreating it as a knitted or crocheted one. So, over the years, I have tended to take something as a starting point and then give it my own twist. Hopefully, by taking you step-by-step through various projects, and explaining how I have looked to alter, expand and enhance them with my own interpretations, you may be able to see how you can start to do something similar yourself!

I hope that through the coming months, I can help you to gain the confidence to look at some of your own projects in a new light. I look forward to bringing you my first post very soon,

Bye for now,

Anne x

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Free Christmas Baubles Crochet Pattern from Sirdar

Hello,
If you love Christmas, you are going to love today's free crochet pattern. Sirdar have just released this free leaflet showing you how to make your own Christmas Baubles to decorate your tree this year.
The design is quite simple to make and very pretty. Sirdar have designed the pattern to be made in Sirdar Soukie Yarn, which is the perfect choice for Christmas because this yarn is decorated with sequins. Those sequins will really sparkle and catch the light on your tree.
As you can see from the picture below, Sirdar have made theirs up in a variety of colours and you can pick your own to tie in with your chosen colour theme this Christmas - will it be traditional or quirky? I also like the idea of making these baubles in one solid colour to create a bold statement on your tree.
You will need;
A 3.5mm crochet hook
1-4 colours of Sirdar Soukie Yarn (or an equivalent Double Knitting yarn)
An 80mm Polystyrene Ball for each bauble you make
20cm of Ribbon for each bauble you make (go as fancy as you like!)
Here's the pattern instructions;
If you decide to make any of these, please dont forget to share pictures of your makes with us on our social media pages!
Bye for now,
Vicki x
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Pattern of the Week McCalls 6449 - Slippers & Booties

Well we're slowly creeping towards full blown winter, so what better time to have a Slippers and Booties sewing pattern as our POW!!
A well rounded selection of the cosiest footwear for your poor chilly toes!
Starting low leg, these remind me of those nifty slippers you get when you go to a spa, so I can really see these in a towelling fabric
Specifically our Chunky Towelling.
Moving up to the ankle bootie, these are more shoe-based but with really fun contrasts I wouldn't go for the sensible fabric just yet! Maybe a funky Fleece fabric?
Movin' on up! Why not get animalistic with some Faux Fur Fabric? I'd be temped by our Animal Velboa Fabric for some Cruelty Free Cruella DeVille Chic!
This next Turnover pair are crying out for a contrast lining! Our Sherpa fleece is single sided so is purr-fect for lining these fold over booties.
Rising high above the rest we have these stunning high leg booties with great contrasts and toggle button detailing! Our Crendon Flat 'Tooth' Shape Toggles would be flush with the side of he boot (helping prevent any trips!) and teamed with some leather cording and a Faux Suede these will really stand out around the house!
So that's this week's POW! I feel like curling up under a blanket with Hot Chocolate already!
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Katie B x
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Fabric Friday - Back to Basics!

Hello!
I thought I would go back to basics this week for fabric Friday. We sometimes forget what a versatile fabric polycotton is. The colour range in plain colours is huge with 36 colours to choose from! 
 
It washes well and is superb for Children's garments. I think this is why school children's shirts and blouses are mostly made out of polycotton. 
Think of holidays! I know its winter but come January we'll start thinking about our holiday wardrobe. Little shift dresses, sarongs, bandanas, shorts and long trousers. Polycotton would be ideal for any of these and don't forget how little room they will take up in your case. Another ideal reason to sew in polycotton especially for children, is the cost. As we all know our children grow so fast!
Another huge range of polycottons is the gingham fabric range. Now two things immediatly come to mind when I think of gingham. No 1 Back to school again - school dresses. I wore them all through primary and secondary and must admit quite liked them. Wait for this though mine were in brown!!! These days they only seem to be worn in primary but don't they look smart. Again very easy to wash. No 2 is old english tea rooms with gingham tablecloths. They look so fresh and clean with white teapots, white cups and saucers, gleaming cutlery and a small vase of fresh flowers. What a lovely picture in my mind! Again very easy to wash. There are different sizes of gingham we stock at Minerva Crafts...1/8", 1/4" and 1" as follows...
I think gingham has become very popular for Christmas makes over the last few years. My lovely friend Helen has made lots and lots of gingham/xmas fabric bunting for us to sell to raise money for Macmillan nurse in our craft centre.
This does lead me on to Christmas polycotton fabrics I have put them to good use this year by making a couple of cushions and also a cover for one of the stand chairs in our shop. 
If you don't want to pay too much for your Christmas projects (it may be that you like new fresh ideas each year) then polycotton is for you. 
Last but not least polycotton is an ideal fabric to use for a toille. I used lots of it when making my daughter Vicki's wedding dress earlier this year. I did make quite a few toilles as you may remember from my blog posts!
Have a good think what you could make from polycotton, the list is endless. And as always, don't forget to share your makes with us :)
Until next time,
Annette x
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Bias Binding - The necessary evil!

Bias Binding - the trimming that strikes fear into the hearts of many sewers! You see it in the notions of a sewing pattern and think "...I don't have to use this particular pattern...even though it's exactly what I'm looking for in every way". At least, that's what I used to think. I am now a total convert to the cause and dare I say I actually quite enjoy doing it! I jumped in at the deep end with bias binding as the first time I did it was for the legendary Walkaway Dress, featured in this years Great British Sewing Bee.

not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Now if you know this dress you know it has a fair amount of bias binding so what better way to get to grips with it. The single garment covers straight lines, curves, easing around neck lines, all the basic  tricks needed for successful bias binding. So how exactly do you go about applying the binding? This, it seems, is a hotly debated topic in the sewing world. I of course went to Vicki for such advice and having learnt from Annette she of course told me the technique she uses to apply bias binding really neatly. Sewing along the fold to the front edge, folding over to encase the seam them hand stitching the rear creating an invisible join. Hand Stitching?! Who has time for that?! Surely you can machine it to create a top stitch? Thus the discussions in the office began. You can stitch your bias to the rear side of the edge of the fabric, then fold the bias over and stitch close to the edge to create a neat top stitch. NEAT top stitch. That's a lot of pressure. More trouble than it's worth? Possibly. I did my lazy method for my Walkway and and I'm happy with the results but boy am I glad the thread colour match is spot on! 

My S.O's mum leant me an old sewing book that her Mum gave her and it's basically an A-Z of sewing and in it it showed this 'proper' technique for bias. When I went to apply bias to a top I was working on I read the instructions and to my surprise it instructed the 'lazy' topstitch method for applying the bias! IN A PATTERN! I referenced the book because I wanted to practice the method and decide for myself which I prefered, and to my surprise I really enjoyed the old way! (Vicki and Annette were very impressed, too, so win win haha).

I personally think it really depends what look you're going for. A contrasting top stitch thread on the bias could be a great stylistic choice. So I'll let you decide. Below we've put together tutorials for both methods of bias binding and shown the results of each. So let this be your one-stop bias applying guide!

Method One: Blind Stitch Bias

Unfold your bias
Line up the edge of your bias with the edge of the fabric, right sides together. Pin in place.
Stitch along the fold - I personally stitch just to the side nearest the edge the bias, to allow me some literal wiggly room ha
Fold bias over to trap the edge of the fabric and align the other fold to cover the stitches. 
Sew the bias down using a slip stitch ensuring the stitch is under the bias so not to be seen from the other side
Press and et voila! 

Method Two: Top Stitch Bias

Unfold your bias
Line up the edge of your bias with the edge of the fabric, right side of bias to wrong side of fabric. Pin in place.
Stitch along the fold - again, I personally stitch just to the side nearest the edge the bias.
Fold bias over to trap the edge of the fabric and align the other fold to cover the stitches. Pin in place and Sew the bias down as close to the edge as possible - we recommend using a longer stitch for topstitching. I've recently seen Clover Wonder Clips used for this part to keep as flat as possible. They also act as another reference point when sewing!
Press and et voila! 
So whats your favourite way to apply bias binding. Have you a technique we haven't covered here?
Katie B x
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Pattern of the Week Butterick 4593 - Pleated & Ruffle Skirts

Hello Hello Hello!
this week's POW is for the tiny ones, Butterick 4593 - Pleated & Ruffle Skirts
A lovely little all rounder skirt pattern. Each view is a simple A-line skirt, which sits just above mid-knee, with a lined yoke. Options include pleats, ruffles, and buckles galore and with recommended fabrics of Velveteen, WoolensDenimTweed and Lightweight Corduroy you can really make this skirt pattern work for its money!
Our 8oz Washed Denim is a great fabric to work with, and wears well which is great for kidswear! The idea of teaming this with a dress net is just brilliant!
I do love the addition of the buckle, particularly a diamanté one! Who doesn't love that?
If you'd rather the fabric did all of the work, utilise the border on our  Sequinned Stretch Needlecord for easy peasy style!
Moving onto the ruffles...
A trio of gorgeous ruffles is perfect for this Patterned Knitted Wool Fabric, a colourful winter wear for walks in the park!
Moving to two ruffles, utilise a contrast binding with a Tweed Effect Polyester 
 
Again, letting the fabric do the work our Woven Tweed Suiting with Tulle Detail would create a lovely effect with the whirls of tulle!
As you can see this is a little stunner of a pattern. You can even team it with our Bi Stretch Suiting and use it for school uniforms! And at just £3.75, you don't need to be a smarty pants to work out the value of that!
Remember, we always want to see your makes!
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Katie B x
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Fabric Friday - The Line Up!

Hello!
It's Friday again so it's time for a spotlight on my favourite fabrics of the week. This week I'm shining a light on our Lining Fabric! Though not just any Anti Static or Habotai Lining, as lovely as they are. I'm looking at our "O My Days that's gorgeous!" Lining fabrics. Many people ignore the lining of a garment, as it's hardly seen, but I say to you what could be better than a flash of something GORGEOUS when you take your jacket off, or a cheek peaky of colour when you're whirled around in your circle skirt?!
I'm going to start with...
How. Elegant. Is. This! I love the Silver against the deep Pewter, an the Circles and Clusters are so detailed. The perfect finishing touch to any garment. You'd almost want to wear it inside out!
Next, a lovely autumnal duo of Patterned Lining Fabric.
Available in two lovely natural shades, I was cooing over the Brown for a Linen Suit I was planning for my nephew. As for the Olive Green, I can see this lining anything in Tweed! Can you spot the subtle branding in the weave? A cheeky touch of luxury for yourself, how divine!
Speaking of luxury..
Our Paisley Weave Jacquard Lining Fabric is something I am forever waiting for an excuse to use. Available in seven stunning colours, the paisley weave on this is just so detailed and truly beautiful. We often see this used for Wedding Waistcoats, and it is easy to see why! A subtle class.
Last, but certainly by no means least, our Patterned Jacquard Lining Fabric in Red will light a fire under any garment!
Similar to the Paisley Pattern Lining, this fabric has more of  contrast to the light picks up the red patterned detail and almost smoulders with passion. Can a fabric be passionate?
I've got 3 projects in the pipeline that all call for lining. Hopefully by the New Year I'll be an expert in working with lining and can dive into this luscious collection head first!  
Have you ever used any fun lining fabrics?
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Katie B x

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