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Archives: December 2016

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#KnitPicksforEwe - Knitting for Emily!

This gorgeous little baby girl that I can proudly call my latest Grand-daughter has been modelling her new out-fit that I have recently knit. First I must apologise, I said it would be finished in one week. Oops it's about 6 weeks later!
First we had her Christening and guess what my daughter Alison couldn't find the shawl that I had crocheted when she was a baby. We could only find the Christening dress and bonnet. From Alison onwards all our baby's have used this shawl so I was quite gutted when it couldn't be found. I didn't think I had time to make another so instead with it being a Winter Christening I decided to make a little cape and thought it would look lovely made in white Tinsel yarn. I used King Cole Pattern No 3554 which is actually knit in Cuddles Chunky. The tension for the cuddly and the Tinsel Yarn and the needle size was exactly the same so there was no problem in using a different yarn.
I thought how pretty would it look with a hood instead of a collar so I knit the hood from King Cole Pattern No 3555.
The two patterns blended together perfectly for what I wanted and here is the result.
It looked so pretty and was admired quite a lot on the day. Here is yours truly and Emily wearing the 39 year old Christening dress. 
If you read my blog post here you will know the colour I chose to go with the 'bargain buy liberty pants' was blue, I loved how it 'picked' out the blue flower in the pants. I also loved the sort of rust colour flower in the pants and wanted to make a little jumper to go under the jacket. I wanted a very girly style pattern (because of the, what I feel, is an unusual colour for a girl) and chose King Cole 296. The edging on this little jumper is so pretty, now the instructions are given for both dk and 4 ply and because I'm not a lover of knitting in 4ply, but thought it would look so much daintier, my colleague Anne, here at Minerva Crafts, offered to knit it for Emily and it looks gorgeous doesn't it? The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly 4ply shade 458.
Even though the jacket has the lacy edging I still wanted to make sure it looked 'girly' so I used very pretty Buttons in the Shape of Flowers. As I said in my previous blog post I wanted to make a hat because I think too much wind gets to baby's ears with just a hood but there wasn't instructions for a hat in my pattern - king cole 3133. So I used king cole 4223 and adapted it. The first thing I did was to measure the bottom of the jacket (wavy, lacy edge) around Emily's head in order to work out how many pattern repeats I would need. From that I worked out how many stitches I needed to cast on and followed the size that was nearest to those stitches. Instead of the cable used on the pattern I used the same cable stitch as on the main part of the jacket. It all worked first time thank goodness, I didn't have to re-knit it at all. I finished it off by sewing on 5 of the white flower buttons at the base of each stocking stitch panel of the hat.I think Emily seems suited with her outfit!
Thanks for reading and may I wish each and everyone of you a very happy new year.
Annette xx

Sewing Gadgets & a Merry Christmas from us!

Here we are 2 days before Christmas Day and I have a million and one things to do! I bet you can relate to that too can't you? Then it's all over in a flash and then we have a lovely New Year to look forward to (well let's hope so). Here at Minerva there are tons and tons of lovely New Fabrics to see on our website, they are being loaded on as I speak. So if you are like me, you'll have a Xmas break then return to your sewing with a bang! So today I am not showing you any fabrics, I want to show you some very clever little gadgets that make our sewing lives easier!!
First up is our Sewing Bodkin by Clover...
This is called a 'clip n glide' bodkin. Basically it is for threading elastic. Now I have one of these that came out a couple of years ago which proved not too good in that it griped the elastic for so long and then when half way through the threading it would come loose and yes you had to start again so I was a little unsure about this one. However this is brill, there are two sets of 'teeth' that really grip on to the elastic, with a little lever that 'clamps' it and it doesn't seem to move even when really stretching the elastic.
Incidentally have you seen our Fold Over Elastic shown in the photo? This is an amazing product for binding necklines etc., especially on t-shirts. 
The following two photo's show the elastic as it comes and the following when it is folded and how easy it goes round a curve.
My next thoughts are leaning towards getting a Prym Ironing Ruler.
I haven't tried this yet but I have heard very good reports for such a simple item. It is, as suggested, a ruler but it helps enormously in measuring your hem and ensuring the hem is even all along. The instructions seem reasonably clear (as I said I haven't had a go yet) and it would appear that you insert the ruler under the hem and press as you go.
There are two pieces included, the smaller one is for sleeves or trouser hems and the larger one is for longer hems as in curtains but I think you would need this size for a dress hemline.
I will bring you an update when I've had a go.
Next up is something to make. I love this Pincushion Kit from Clover. It comes in Brown or Ivory. You just add your favourite piece of fabric and a little toy stuffing. Back in the day we would have used an old pair of tights cut up in tiny pieces, which would have given it loads of body so you could do that too. I think it would be lovely to make one of these with left-over fabric from an occasion make, in my case I still have some pieces of fabric from Vicki's wedding dress. So if I made it from this, each time I use it, it would remind me of that special day. 
Just think, left-overs from your baby's Christening dress or how about cutting a circle from baby's first babygro. Such lovely memories. 
Last but not least I'm thinking something for us knitters, crocheters and cross-stitchers. Take a look at our Clover Thread Cutter Pendant. This is an impressive thread cutter which can be hung around your neck as in a medallion or according to the instructions it can be attached to one end of a bobbin of thread. Not sure I fancy that idea, however it doesn't come with a chain so how about some nice ribbon or cord for which you could use some cord toggles on the ends. Overall a lovely treat for yourself and don't forget you can take these on a plane.
Before I go, may I take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for your custom here at Minerva (also for reading my blog posts) and on behalf of Phil, Vicki and myself may we wish you a  merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Annette xx

#FabricFriday - Fabrics for Cushions!

So Christmas comes but once a year, thank goodness with the cost of it! Seriously as I've probably mentioned a thousand times, I absolutely love this time of year. I seem to have passed on my love of it to all my children because they are as crackers as me about it. As are their children, the youngest being our latest addition, gorgeous little Emily. Incidentally my precious little Emily will (at long last) be modelling her new hooded jacket and hat early next week. I must show you her Christening photo showing the very pretty King Cole White Tinsel cape I made her. So watch this space!
I've bought a new Christmas tree this year, well half a tree actually. Yes that's right, it is like you have chopped a tree in half from top to bottom and it stands straight against the wall. The only thing I don't like is the stand, to say it's such a pretty tree, it's a rubbish stand. I've wanted to make a half tree skirt to hide all this but yes you've guessed I haven't had time. I happened to be looking on Pinterest this morning and saw a beautiful tree skirt which was made out of Long Pile Fur Fabric in white. Now I must admit until I saw this I was going to use some wadding and cut a semi-circle but now I want the white fur. It looks amazing. So, half a mt will surfice for my 'half' tree and I will let you know how I get on! 
I decided to talk about 'household' fabrics for #fabricfriday today, so even though I've digressed a little towards Christmas (again) my tree skirt is for the house. 
Quite a few of the fabrics we have here at Minerva are not dress making fabrics and because over the next few months we are having a few changes at home, I've decided to delve into what's available and see where I can save some money but more importantly have a few unique bits and bats around our home. One possibility I am looking at is some leather-look cushions. Our red Leathercloth Fabric goes would go perfectly in my conservatory and I quite fancy adding some applique in the brown leatherlook.
Our website description of this fabric is...
"This is our heaviest weight Leathercloth Fabric, also referred to as Leatherette, Vinyl and Faux Leather. Leathercloth is essentially fake leather. Instead of being made of animal skins, this fabric is made of other materials and receives numerous treatments so that it replicates the look of real leather and some of its common attributes. Many reasons exist why people want faux leather; it is cheaper than using real animal skins, it is easy to sew and work with, it comes in as a regular supply and the quality is consistent, others avoid leather for ethical reasons. This is a fire-retardant leather which makes it suitable for upholstery. It is also used widely for making clothing, accessories, covers, cushions, car interiors, etc."
Kwik Sew 4051 has just caught my eye. Cushion B is so pretty.
This I would make in brown leatherette with a red flower and use the dark green for the stem. In the centre of the flower I would sew on these Big Chunky Buttons. Very similar to the pattern. 
I also love the sunflower cushion, I would make the base cushion cover in good old Calico Fabric, probably heavyweight. We have some beautiful spotted fabrics in both our quilting and dressmaking range but the one that has the most choice of colour is our Michael Millar Ta Dot Poplin Quilting fabric, in-particular the mustard shade...
Then the same but in Moss Green for the leaves. The advantage of both these fabrics is you can purchase a fat quarter and therefore not have much waste.
Followed by a circle of brown Felt Fabric for the flower centre (this can be cut from a 9" square) and last but not least the stamens could be hand sewn on to the felt using French Knots or stitching on little seed beads in a mustard shade. An oddment of knitting yarn could be used for the stem but if you have nothing in green, use a thin strip of green felt and just stitch down the centre.
Before I go I must point out cushion A which is described as a bird with contrast feathers and a button eye. How fab would this look made totally in felt? For me it would have to be all in beiges and browns, possibly a hint of red in those feathers and then I could still put it in my conservatory.
Again thank you for reading,
Annette xx

More Christmas Gift Ideas!

Hello everyone, 
Just a few more gift ideas for Christmas presents to share with you today!
Presents for Crafters usually border on the expensive so it is nice to find some very useful and reasonably priced presents. Although I don't do much machine embroidery or quilting myself, I have heard some very good reports on my first choice today, which is Machine Quilting Gloves
They come in a medium shade of grey with the words SEW MATE embroidered across the back in pink. They have grips placed on each finger and thumb and are ideal for controlling your fabric especially during free-motion embroidery. They are made from 100% nylon but are very comfortable to wear and breathable next to your skin. These are priced at just £9.99 and are an ideal stocking filler.
For the dressmaker/quilter with a reasonable amount of space (next to their machine) I am loving this Pin Cushion from Prym. It stands 11" tall and is firmly padded in the shape of a Tailors Dummy. The little hooks at the top could be used to hang small items on. An ideal item would be safety pins, different sizes or colours on each prong, plus they don't hang down far so won't interfere with your straight pins. It is priced at £17.99 and is nicely presented in a clear box.
My next choice of gift is an amazing set of 3 Hessian Storage Bins. Here I am showing you the circular ones where the smallest stands 15" high and is 12" diameter. The largest stands 17" tall and is 16" diameter and the middle bin falls somewhere in the middle! These are priced at £47.99 for all 3, are very sturdy and could be used to stash a multitude of sins! There are other sizes and rectangular shaped hessian bins too, starting at £13.99.
Last but not least for today take a look at this Crafters Lamp. This really is an amazing lamp for any crafter and how fantastic would it be to open this as a surprise come Christmas morning! 
Apart from the fact that it is LED technology which produces more light with low heat and no bulb to replace, this top of the range lamp has four shades of light which are changed by the flick of a switch, Warm, Natural, Daylight or cool. My own lamp at home gives daylight only and I must admit I couldn't be without this superb flood of light when I am knitting or crocheting but how amazing would it be to have a choice of what type of light to have. To be fair when I'm not knitting, the only time I put my lamp on is when I'm reading and then I do find it rather bright so I feel a nice warm light would be perfect. So dearest family! (hint hint) ;)
I'm off now to hunt out some more last minute present ideas hehehe or should that be ho-ho-ho!!!
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx

Guest Post: The Fear

Hi Everyone!

It's Vicki here and today on the blog we have another very special guest post by the lovely Aimee from the fab creative blog Wrong Doll. If you didnt read Aimee's first guest post for us - Dungaree Dreams - go check it out! But for today we have a very special project to show you using our Viscose Jersey Fabric and Marcy Tilton's Sewing Pattern for Vogue, 8813.

I'll now pass the post over to Aimee, enjoy!!...

I'm an uneasy mix of risk averse with a strong streak of 'I'll do what I damn well like'. However, age has mellowed the thrill seeker in me and these days I'm much less likely to act out on a hedonistic endorphin fueled whim. Now I've worked out the ingredients for a relatively peaceful life, I'm in no rush to seek out unnecessary change or challenge. Nevertheless, sewing has unleashed a creativity in me that is willing to face the fear of the unknown. And I've discovered that hand in glove with the fear comes learning and no matter how painful the process, it's a prize worth stepping out of your comfort zone for.


I know I'm not alone in my fear of knits – social media is awash with comrades. It's also bursting with knowledge and countless instructional blogs -  I'm particularly thankful to top tips gleaned from Wendy Ward, Serger Pepper and make it HANDMADE. Ultimately I learn from doing and in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have set out on this journey of discovery, using the most beautiful threads I've clapped eyes on. I dropped on so lucky with this fabric in the Minerva Crafts sale – 3 metres of drapey viscose stretch Jersey Fabric loveliness for a mere £20.97. I'd long been considering the perfect pairing for Marcy Tilton Vogue 8813 and as soon as I saw it, the die was cast.


It was only in the afterglow that I realised I had embarked on a battle with my nemesis, without full consideration of the requisite skilling up. So I threw myself down a Google rabbit hole and drove myself to distraction, devouring wisdoms learned from the mistakes of those who've preceded me. Whilst a novice to knits, this is my third Marcy so I felt familiar with her style and followed the markings like a road map, unravelling its secrets. The pattern is marked easy and I would have to concur, as I was only hampered by my inexperience with the medium.


One thing I have learnt on my sewing journey so far, is that fine tools maketh good workwomanship, so I invested in a few – a pack of Hancock's cloth markers, ballpoint pins and ballpoint sewing needles.  I recently read a critique of a vegan gravy that dismissed it as 'tasting of nothing', after which the reviewer wondered if it was beacause they had omitted the nutritional yeast. Well of course it was – it's the key ingredient. I wasn't going to make the same mistake and painstakingly transferred all the pattern markings on to the fabric. I've learnt that those big circles and small circles are differentiated for a reason.  For a while I was feeling rather smug - the key ingredient for sewing with knits was learning a few simple techniques and adhering to them.


And then I came to the central panel and my undoing. I've never been a fan of gathering or anything too fiddly that requires patience and attention to detail. I like working with structured fabrics where you can make bold statements with ease – maximum effect with minimum effort. Marcy walks you through the gathers – advising zig zagging over perle cotton, securing at one end, gathering, setting with steam and stitching either side of the zig zags. I'm sure the fault lies with the user and not the method, as it's worked a treat for many more experienced than I. But after stitching, my gathers completely disintegrated and I had to abort mission.


That was only after sewing 6 rows of lightening bolt across the front of this delicate fabric and anyone who's tried to unpick this stitch will feel my pain. I was on the verge of a complete first world problems meltdown and would have cried – except this would have eaten into valuable sewing time. At this point I should have downed tools and returned another day with fresh eyes and enthusiasm. But I motored on and unpicked every single tiny stich, with the fabric remaining remarkably unscathed until the last section. I punctured it due to extreme tiredness and frustration and the damn almost burst, until I realised I had enough fabric left to re cut the panel if required and I steeled myself for a lock-in. I sewed two rows of basting stich on either side of each gathering line, pulled to size and zig zagged a couple of times over the middle to secure them in place. And then I did what I should have done a long time before and stepped away from the sewing table.


During some very necessary time out, I reflected on the ungathering and it's potential causes. I'm wondering if securing the gathers with lightening bolt stitch the first time around was erroneous – all that backwards and forwarding over such delicate fabric? I'd love to hear your advice on this one – what stitch would you have used? And whilst we're on the subject of lightening stitch, can you back stitch (I couldn't) or is that built into the stitch itself? So many questions … I also had the joys of material disappearing down the throat plate not once but three glorious times and couldn't work out why. However, towards the end of the project I discovered I'd been using Singer bobbins in my Janome, so that's a whole different fly to add to the ointment.


When I returned to the table, completion was relatively smooth. I raced to the finish utilising tips I'd picked up along the way; reducing tension on my sewing machine to a 3; using a stretch needle, periodically using the walking foot and increasing the lightening bolt stitch width to 2, for a neater top stitch. I also spent a little time tinkering with my overlocker and a differential feed of 1.75 eliminated any fabric stretch. What I am disappointed by is my insides – they fall quite short of my exacting standards and I won't be urging people to inspect them anytime soon. Except I probably will, as it's my wont to draw people's attention to my mistakes.


This project has underlined the need for some dedicated one-on-one serger time. I'm never quite sure where to place the fabric in terms of the cutting blade and my chaining off could do with refinement. Fortunately I won a Janome masterclass for my entry in the Love Sewing Sticher of the Year competition, so I'm determined to face another fear next year, book on a day course and work on this relationship.


Another fear I need to face head on is stabalising – when to, how to and what to use? I had a bash on the shoulder seams and sewed in some clear elastic. In hindsight, I probably should have serged this into the seam allowance but thankfully it hasn't resulted in any unwanted bulk. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has stabalised the neckline on this pattern and if so, what you used? It's cut on the bias and with all that handling is prone to waviness. I was wondering about using some knit interfacing but after the gathering fiasco I was overwhelmed with option paralysis and my spirit for adventure was spent.


Whilst I always intend to put the breaks on, I got to a point where the desire to see the finished product overtook the need to take it slow and steady. Now it's finished, I can take a step back and see it for what it is – a dress and not my complete life's work. The heartache is a dim memory, the insides really nowhere near as shabby as I thought and I'm feeling pretty triumphant. This is by far the prettiest, swishiest and most luxiourious feeling garment I've made to date. Have I vanquished my fear of sewing with knits? No. Would I sew with them again? A resounding yes. But not before I've perfected seam finishing and experimented further with stretch stitches on my machine.


A final word on the pattern – I absolutely adore it. It's deserving of multiple re-visits and for my second iteration I'll be using a more structured fabric but that's nothing to do with the fear – I just want to take those pockets to their absolute extremeties.

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#PatternOfTheWeek - Burda 7075

Hello everyone! Our Burda sale has recently ended but I have so wanted to offer this pattern to you as our #patternoftheweek that I've decided to offer it right away. So you have another week to buy this pattern at half price. The pattern is Burda 7075...
This is yet another pattern that apart from when it was new out, tends to sink into the "Oops I haven't noticed that one" pile. What drew me to the pattern in the first place was the spotted fabric used for the top C. Here at Minerva we have lots of spotted fabrics covering lots of different blends of fabrics but one of my definite favourites is this Stretch Cotton Fabric...
This is a beautiful stretch cotton ever so slightly off-white with beige, taupe and two shades of turquoise spots dotted all through. Stretch cotton would be perfect for this top and is priced at £11.99 mt. Unfortunately this fabric in both colours (the other is off-white with raspberry and taupe spots) is coming to an end so hence me showing you today - if you want some you will have to be quick! 
I have teamed this with Linen Look Suiting Fabric in stone for the skirt...
Although the skirt pattern is not lined, I possibly would line it if made in this fabric. This would be quite easy to do, just make a second skirt but in Lining Fabric, put wrong sides together and then treat as one skirt. The skirt waist facing would then be attached to both skirt and lining.
An opening would be left at both the top and bottom of the back seam, as in the skirt, when finished you would hand sew around the zip thus attaching the lining. It could even be left hanging loose if preferred.
 For the jacket this beautiful taupe Brocade Fabric is my choice and this is at an amazing price of £6.99 mt. 
Ok it is not as patterned as the one on the pattern but take a look at all 3 together. How amazing do they look.
And now for something completely different. How about knitting a jumper to go with the two taupe fabrics? One of my favourite yarns at the moment is King Cole Drifter. It is available in both chunky and double knit but for the purpose of this blog post I am talking DK. Shade 1367 works really well alongside these two fabrics and take a look at Pattern 4545.
This jumper is knit in an extremely wide rib pattern (we are talking up to 19 sts knit then 19 sts purl depending on which size you making) but my favourite part of this jumper pattern has to be the cowl neck. After picking up the stitches around the neck on 4mm needles and knitting 9 rows in garter stitch you then change to 6mm needles and continue in garter stitch (every row knit) till the collar measures 10 inch. You then cast off very loosely or my tip would be to cast off using a needle 1 or 2 sizes bigger, this way you get a very even but loose cast off. Just think how that lovely loose cowl would look hanging over the jacket neckline, more than anything because the jacket neckline has no collar to make the jumper 'bunch up'.
Same shade yarn, same taupe linen look fabric, possibly the trousers this time and this gorgeous short sleeve cardigan pattern no 4543.
Two things I love on a cardigan knitting pattern are knitted-in pockets (not patch pockets, incidentally I will be showing you how to knit-in pockets on a blog post quite soon using our Sirdar Wild yarn) and also the front band knit as one with the garment fronts. However there is something else on this pattern that appeals to me immensely and that is - a band of cable is knit to form the cuff of the sleeves and then you pick up stitches along one of the long edges to continue knitting the sleeve. As you will see from my next photo, drawing is not my forte but I hope it shows you how this sleeve is constructed.
If the multi fairisle type yarns are not for you then another popular yarn at the moment is King Cole Masham DK which is 100% wool and machine washable and also Masham Misty which as the name suggests has a 'misty' look to it but is handwash only. The Masham Misty shade 1277 is perfect with these taupe fabrics and because it is 100% wool it would add a great deal of warmth to this outfit. Check out the diagonal twisted rib on pattern no 4015...
These gorgeous Dill Buttons could be the right choice for this.
I just can't end without mentioning King Cole pattern 4013 again in Masham DK. 
At first glance this looks like any edge to edge cardigan but take a look at the edgings. The very edge is knit in garter stitch followed by a few rows of fishermans rib, this blend of stitches is followed through to the sleeve edgings and around the v-neckline and to finish it off the pockets look superb in this combination of stitches.
How nice would this cardigan look over the spotted top and taupe trousers. I must mention as with nearly all King Cole knitting patterns you get two for the price of one. 
The 'other' design on this is a fab fairisle knit and although the raspberry and ivory looks superb think how good my taupe would look with brown fairisle. For this you would be mixing both Masham and Masham Misty so remember it would then be handwash. 
Please let me know if you like the idea of including some knitting/crochet from time to time, it just adds another element don't you think?
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx

#FabricFriday - Fabric for Christmas Tops

The Ultimate in Sequined Fabric, this is my absolute favourite new fabric at the moment here at Minerva. 
It is simply stunning. The design name is 'Draughts' and yes I suppose that is the best way to describe it. The fabric is completely covered in sequins in groups of 4 black then 4 white sequins laid out in squares. There is quite a bit of stretch in the width of the fabric and even a little in the length of the fabric. But what to make with it you ask? My first thoughts go to a very fitted dress using the stretch in the fabric for the fit rather than darts. There are a good few of these designs but one example would be McCalls 7432 which could be made sleeveless or with sleeves.
Or if you want a 'bodycon' type fit take a look at McCalls 6886, this appears to be quite figure hugging.
We have a fantastic Stretch Lining Fabric which would be superb under this fabric if making a dress. It comes in 3 weights and starts at £4.99 mt. The main Fabric by the way is £23.99 per mt.
My favourite pattern to use would be New Look 6025, yes I'm off again with an easy peasy pattern!
The less seams and less fuss the better for sequined fabrics so although I wouldn't make version C with the gathered sleeves, I would most certainly make version D without the contrast band at the bottom. Or you could follow version B and create a slightly draped sleeve.
Think 'Charleston' for my next choice of Georgette Fabric. 'Bruges' fits the bill perfectly.
How many of us have considered making a charleston dress and then having considered all the work in sewing on layer after layer of fringing, have had second thoughts! Well take a look at this Charleston Fringe Effect Fabric. My first thoughts on this fabric were it would be hard to sew but if the fringing is carefully moved out of the way and any excess (the fringing that would be in the seam allowance) maybe trimmed off, I don't see a problem.
Each 'fringe' appears to measure around 1/8" so if 4 or 5 are trimmed off that would virtually equate to your 5/8" seam allowance! So again a very easy pattern should be used. If you don't fancy a dress, a kimono style top would look fab, Simplicity 1108, version D (the chevrons) would be ideal.
This is yet another fabric priced at £23.99 mt, not too much would be needed, remember though it is a one-way fabric because of how the fringe is sewn on. My advice would be to bind all the edges with bias-binding, preferably a satin one. Again ensuring the fringe pieces are placed out of the way.
Last but not least today is a beautiful Jersey Fabric named 'Portia'. Not sure why but hey ho it's a lovely fabric! It comes in 2 colourways. A cerise/royal blue combination and my favourite which is a combination of red and grey, both being on an off/white background. 
This next pattern choice has not been far from my mind recently. Simplicity 1198. I love the lace insert in version C.
The lace is inserted in the front shoulders then a panel is placed across the back at waist level then follows through on the front piece at the left side only. 
How pretty is that? The Lace Fabric I would choose is our floral stretch lace which has a perfect stretch and is £5.99 mt. Another to choose would be our Lace Jersey Fabric at just £3.99 mt but bear in mind this is one of our many clearance fabrics and once it is gone, it is definitely gone! If you don't like the idea of lace take a look at version E, the lob-sided drape of this is amazing. The following line-art photo shows it at it's best, take note of the sleeve variations.
If all else fails how about a pair of leggings. Simplicity 8212 would fit the bill.
Big flowery leggings seem to be 'in' at the mo so who are we to argue!
Again many thanks for reading.
Annette xx

Christmas Gift Ideas!

Here at Minerva we are now being asked what presents are there to buy for your crafty loved one or friend. Here are a few ideas to browse. 
My first choices all cost under £10.00, in fact you could buy two and still be under £10.00! This is a new range for us and I can only say how well they are being met by our lovely customers. 
It is a range called Vanessa Bee Designs and covers everything from mugs at just £5.99, coasters at £2.99, fridge magnets at £2.49 and a range of jotter/notepads from just £1.99. 
Just for a taster in the photo I am showing you a saving's bank with "Mum's Knitting Wool Fund" printed on it. I'm sure most of us would like to receive one of these, I know I would! Are you reading Vicki haha? Alongside this is a notepad, they all have amusing quotes printed on them. View the whole range here, there are designs suited for both knitters and crocheters.
If your budget would fit under £20.00 an unusual but perfect choice for the home sewer is the Gutermann shade card. This is priced at £16.99 and is definately a "how did I ever manage without this" gift for anyone who sews. 
Here at Minerva we do offer a 'matching thread' service on each fabric we sell, just tick the box! but what if the thread is for that lovely remnant of fabric, from your stash, that you got years ago and finally want to sew. You don't have a match and it has to be perfect.... so now hey no more problems!
Under £30.00 comes this very pretty 'Sewing House Kit' from Tilda. 
It has everything in the kit to make this case for you to then add scissors, pins etc., and is priced at £27.99. The sewing kit when finished stands 19cm tall, nearly 8" so is a pretty good size, it shouldn't get lost too easy. 
This year Prym have launched their Super Easy Sewing Kits. This one I am showing you today is actually a Kit to Make Children's Clothes so you get the pattern, fabric, the co-ordianated elastic which forms the waistband and even 'handmade' labels to make a skirt and a top, both in a woven fabric and also a boob tube in a stretchy jersey fabric. Anyone who wants to have a go at sewing and has a little one, this would make a fantastic gift. It comes in 5 colourways and is priced at £26.99
If your loved one is an embroiderer and your budget will stretch quite far!! Or indeed if you just want to treat yourself, how about this wonderful Box of DMC Embroidery Threads. 
You get 1 of ever colour in the DMC range of stranded embroidery thread and they come complete with this beautiful collectors box. If you were to buy 1 of each thread individually this would cost you over £550, but here you can buy the complete set for just £495 and you get the wooden box for free. This is definitely an investment, but what an amazing gift this would be to receive!
If your budget wont stretch that far we also offer a smaller version of the DMC Collectors Box where you get one of each of the best selling 150 shades of DMC thread and a wooden collectors box all for £135.
That all for today folk's, I'm off to find a few more gifts to tickle your fancy!!
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx

#PatternOfTheWeek - A Pattern for all Occasions

I have christened this blog-post 'A pattern for all occasions' because it feels exactly that. The pattern I am offering you for #patternoftheweek this week is Vogue 8948.
This pattern first came to my attention 2 years ago when Vicki and myself were planning all the outfits for her wedding. I adored (and still do adore) version C. I love the simplicity of the black versus the white and planned to make it in black and ivory (Vicki's colour theme) for the wedding. I did however change my mind (at the last minute) for another Vogue pattern which had a lot more intricate detail. I definitely made the right choice but I still absolutely love this very versatile pattern. In my opinion this dress was initially designed with formal occasions in mind because all the bodice is underlined as well as being lined. Thus creating quite a structured bodice down to the hips and beyond if making versions A, B and C. Personally I like to use a good quality and weight cotton for underlining and our cotton poplin fits the bill perfectly. In this style of formal dress underlining is very important and should not be forgot about. Each piece is attached to the main fabric piece by tacking (obviously these tacking stitches are removed at the end) and then each piece is treated as one piece throughout. The word 'underlining' frightens many of us sewists (it did me for many years), however once tried it doesn't frighten me anymore. I suppose it should be describes as time consuming though.
Although I would have made version C for the wedding, I have to say the circular skirt version is fab and yes it is a full circular skirt that is interfaced with netting. I'm a little unsure why netting? It's not as though the netting is gathered in order to help the flounce stick out, it is the same shape piece tacked to the wrong side of each skirt and treated as one piece from there on (as the interlining!).
So let us look at some fabrics suitable for this pattern. My first choice has to be our Brocade Fabric called Lucerne. This would be just perfect for Mother of the Bride and our web site description is as follows; 
"This beautiful quality brocade fabric has a wonderful embossed effect pattern on the surface that would be perfect for making formal wear such as dress and jacket for mother of the bride, or other special occasions. It has a one way stretch across the width of the fabric which will make this easier to achieve a fantastic fit and will be comfortable to wear. For a touch of class and sophistication this is the perfect fabric choice!" 
It comes in 4 fab shades and is £10.99 per mt.
Now I know you like a bargain, so here is one haha. Just look at this Woven Brocade Fabric from our clearance section. This is just gorgeous and I can't believe it is now only £2.99 per mt. It comes in 5 colours and our description is; 
"Beautiful quality woven brocade fabric from the 'Elegance' Collection. A medium weight fabric which is perfect for jackets, skirts, dresses and more! A designer fabric with a RRP of over £14.00 per metre. Clearance price at Minerva Crafts only whilst limited stocks last!" 
So grab a bargain while you can! 
Back up in price now to £11.99 per mt but how pretty is this Stretch Cotton Fabric. You know how much I love stretch cotton so let my next photo do the talking!
I must admit I would make version B (similar fabric) but it would look pretty good with the flounce. 
Now something for the summer months or a lovely sunshine holiday. This beautiful Cotton Poplin Fabric  features a small butterfly print. 
This colour in this fabric is one of my faves at the moment and it would look stunning in any of the variations of this pattern. 
This dress would look equally good in a Fabric That Drapes Well so how about this one? This is microfibre at it's best, fabulous drape and fabulous price just £5.99 mt...
Last but not least you remember the 'one I nearly did for the wedding, version C dress', well how about cutting the centre panel from this Spotty Fabric. This one is polyester at it's best, and our description is;
"This lovely polyester suiting has a good amount of stretch across the width. It is a medium weight with a smooth finish - ideal for making skirts, dresses, jackets and trousers. The multi-size spotty print will add an element of fun to your wardrobe."
At a fantastic £4.99 mt this is a superb buy. It could be teamed with our Plain Suiting Fabric for the side panels, which would balance out the weight. 
Hope I've given you a few ideas! If you decide to go for this pattern remember it is half price for this week only here at Minerva and please send us some pictures when you've made it up! I would love to see them!
Again thanks for reading,
Annette xx

#FabricFriday - Fabric for Wrap Over Dresses

I love Christmas but I think on the run up to this lovely family time of year, it's all we see and hear!! Trees, turkey, tinsel and that's just letter T haha. So I've looked at some fabrics to see us through the Winter months that have nothing to do with Christmas. Catherine, one of our lovely team here at the Minerva offices (yes you've probably spoke to her on the phone or via email) is making a dress for our staff party later in December. The pattern she chose is Burda Sewing Pattern 6730...
Now this is just one of those patterns that you tend to pass by. As I obviously have! My Daughter Vicki has decided she wants to make this style too. So from that it made me look at it too. Oh my goodness, you know how I like easy peasy patterns, well this has to be top of the list. It is a wrap over dress with two lengths and two sleeve lengths. There is a back and two fronts and yes that is it. This photo of the line-art shows this quite clearly.
The sleeves are cut in one with the back and fronts. So we are looking at two shoulder/top of sleeve seams and two under sleeve/side seams leaving a little gap in the left side seam for the tie to pass through.
The two front pieces have a little gather at the waistline front edge, two lengths of ribbon, yes ribbon, are sewn on to this gathered edge (for the ties).
The hem the sleeve edges, the bottom hem and down the fronts and back of neck. It is made from jersey fabric so if you are sewing with an overlocker just think how quick you could make this. Because the fronts and the back are one piece from shoulders to hem, a large pattern could easily be used. Hence my first choice is just that. Although I love my browns and beiges, peach is not my colour but how can you not like this stunning Jersey Fabric (you will see this fabric comes in a beautiful shade of mint green too).
And look at a close up of this fabric, take note of that detail!
My next choice of fabric comes from our stunning Spanish Fabric range. I've tried to show in my next photo the size of the pattern. The Fiskars scissors in the photo give you an idea of the scale.
This fabric is 100% Polyester and has an unusual ribbed effect when looking at it close-up. I think it adds to the wonderful drape of this fabric. My previous pattern choice is not suitable for this fabric because this fabric is not stretchy. However Vogue 8646 would be highly suitable.
This is from the vogue Very Easy range so although not as easy as previous pattern it is most certainly not hard. A massive bonus with this pattern is it is a Vogue custom fit which means it has A,B,C and D cup instructions.
It has a flared skirt so would drape wonderfully in this fabric.
One of our lovely customers here in the Minerva Craft Centre came in the shop today and asked to look at this burn-out Viscose Jersey Fabric
Now this is from our clearance range and is priced at just £3.99 per metre. My colleague Anne and myself have fallen in love with this fabric. She has bought some already and is intending making a little top to go under a cardigan she knit recently but then decided to make an edge to edge jacket/top to go over the top as an alternative as well! It is a burn-out fabric but is so lightweight it even could be classed as a little floaty. I immediately thought of Simplicity 1064.
This is such a pretty dress pattern to go with such a pretty fabric! Do you agree?
My last photo today shows a close up of the fabric, zoom in and take a look at that burn-out. And if you want it to look even more floaty why not add the frill down the front edge as shown in version D. 
Before I go for today does the next photo remind you of anything? It certainly does me - my sewing room!! Vicki shared this photo on instagram this week and I couldn't help but chuckle. 
Again thank you for reading.
Annette xx

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