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Guest Post: Ready for a trip to Montmatre - the Fumeterre Skirt by Deer and Doe

Hello Everyone!

It's Alex here again and I am super excited to be writing my second guest post for the Minerva Crafts Blog!

In a few weeks, I will be travelling to the streets of Paris in 1899. This fictional trip to Montmatre is to attend the latest Secret Cinema event, a recreation of Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge! Having attended other Secret Cinema events in the past, I know that dressing up is all part of the fun. The only thing that could make it even more fun is sewing your own outfit. As with other events, I received an email with my character and costume details. I will be a journalist, and I need to wear a white shirt with red bow tie and top hat and a long red skirt. This is pretty tame compared to the other costumes I have seen! As I already had a white shirt, I decided that I would make the skirt, and what could be better for a fictional trip to Paris than a Sewing Pattern by Deer and Doe, who are actually based in Paris?

I chose to make the Fumeterre Skirt Pattern. This is a high-waisted maxi skirt, with a choice of button front or a fly front zipper.  I decided to go for Version B which has the fly front zipper. My fabric choice was a lovely lightweight linen blend in a vibrant red. I chose this particular Dressmaking Fabric because I was keen to wear the skirt again during the Summer, and this has a really summery feel which stops it feeling like a fancy dress item. I decided to cut the pattern a size up from my usual size based on my waist measurements, and I'm really glad I did because the fit is pretty snug. The sheer volume of fabric required for this skirt is quite overwhelming, and tracing off the pattern pieces and cutting out the fabric took a good couple of hours. The skirt is made up of triangular panels, with pockets added to two of the front panels. Piecing them all together was straightforward, but I had to lay al the pieces out so I didn't get confused and attach them together in the wrong order!  

Making the fly front zipper was a new technique for me, and I found the instructions confusing at first. I had to edgestitch the fly front from the wrong side of the fabric, rather than topstitching on the right side as I couldn't get it to lie flat. I used co-ordinating thread, so the finish was similar. If I decided to make this again with contrasting topstitching, I would baste in place first from the wrong side to avoid this problem. I really like this effect, and am pleased with how it turned out once I finally understood what I needed to do.

Attaching the waistband was straightforward. The pattern suggests inserting elastic into the back of the waistband, but I decided to skip this as it was a good fit already. The bottom of the skirt is finished with a facing rather than a turned-up hem. This is the first time I have finished a hem like this. In order to shorten the length, I knew I would need to cut off the excess, leaving the seam allowance in place. I was nervous about cutting it too short, so I asked my Mum (a very experienced seamstress!) to pin it up for me, so I would know that the length was right. It was 4.5cm too long, so I ironed it wrong sides together at 3cm so I had a clear cutting line to allow for the seam allowance.

My only slight niggle with the skirt is that the waistband wasn't sitting quite straight at the button fastening.  At my Mum's suggestion, I added a popper to hold it together at the top, and this solved the problem.

I'm really pleased with the final skirt - it works well for my Moulin Rouge costume, but the fabric choice makes it really wearable and I can definitely see me wearing this in the Summer.  If I was to make it again, I would choose a light denim chambray and I would take the time to use contrasting topstitching which would give a really professional finish.

Now I'm definitely ready for my trip to the Moulin Rouge - Au Revoir!

Thanks for reading,

Alex from Alex's Adventures in Fabric

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Guest Post: Circle Skirt Tutorial

Hello,

It's Sarah here from Alabama Sews and I am here today on the Minerva Crafts Blog to show you a tutorial on how to make your own circle skirt.

Circle skirts are one of my favourites to make and wear. They are super quick to sew and flatter every body shape. Plus they can easily be dressed up or down. For my nautical version I went casual with a self drafted ponte roma jersey top and trainers. 

Supplies:

·      Paper or card at least 30” square, depending on size of skirt.

·      Marker pen(s).

·      Long ruler.

·      2m of 60” wide Dressmaking Fabric. (More or less fabric may be needed depending on the size and length of your skirt).

·      1/4m of Lining Fabric.

·      1/4m of Interfacing that matches the weight of your fashion fabric.

·      9” Dress Zip or Invisible Zip to match fabric.

·      1” Button or skirt Hook and Bar

Measuring

1.     Measure your waist. This can be your natural waist, or the point at which you would like your skirt to sit. 

2.     We will use our waist size as the circumference of our circle. To be able to draft our skirt, we need to calculate the radius of this circle. 

The formula for this is Radius = Waist/2 Pi

Or if maths isn’t your forte you can use the handy table I prepared earlier!

3.     Using two long lines, draw a right angle. (Start an inch or two away from the corner of your paper as we will need this space later). From the corner, mark your radius length on each line. 

4.     From the corner of your right angle, starting at one side, measure out the distance of your radius and mark. Continue marking from one side to the other until you have a curve. 

5.     Join the marks to form a nice smooth curve. This is your waist seam. 

6.     Decide on the length you want your finished skirt to be. From your waist curve and starting at one side, mark your skirt length continuing all the way round to the other side. 

7.     Join your points to form a smooth curve. This is your skirt hem. 

8.     Along both sides and above the waist, add 5/8” seam lines. Add 1” seam line below the hem. 

9.     Label your pattern piece if you haven’t already done so. I like to mark my patterns with all the details I might need in the future. Like the size of the seam allowances, the size, side seams, centre front, centre back, grainlines and how many pieces of each I need to cut. I know from experience, it’s easy to forget! 

Waistband

Your waistband size will be your waist measurement plus 3.25”. (So if you measured your waist at 32”, your waistband will be 35.25”). 

1.     Draw a rectangle that measures your waistband size by 3.25” high.

2.     At each end of your waistband, mark lines 5/8” in to show your seam lines. 

3.     At one end, mark a line 1.5” in from your seam line and label it the centre back.

4.     Halfway between the centre back (CB) and the seam line on the other end, make a point and label it the centre front (CF). These marks are to help you later when attaching the waistband to the skirt. 

Pockets

*If you don’t want to add pockets, skip this part and move onto cutting your skirt.*

1.     Using a small piece of paper, draw around your hand. 

2.     Join the two ends of your pocket with a straight line.  Draw a 5/8” seam allowance around the pocket and a 3/8” seam allowance at the side seam. 

Cutting your skirt

1.     Using your skirt piece, fold under the seam allowance on the centre seam only. Place the centre seam on the fold of your fabric and cut 1 piece. 

2.     Unfold the centre seam allowance. Cut 2 from your fabric using this pattern piece. 

3.     Cut 1 waistband from your fabric, 1 from your lining and 1 from fusible interfacing. (You can use your outer fabric for the lining if desired). Iron your interfacing to your outer fabric waistband piece.

Sewing your skirt

*If you are not adding pockets, skip ahead to step 5. You can finish your seams at this point if desired.* 

1.     Mark a point 3 inches down from the waist on each side seam. Place a pocket piece on the side seam at this mark, right sides together (RST). 

2.     Sew the pocket to the side seam using a 3/8” seam. 

3.     Repeat for each pocket. 

4.     Fold pockets out and press.

5.     Place front and one back piece RST. Sew side seam using a 5/8” seam.  If you have added pockets, sew down the side seam until you reach the pocket, then sew around the pocket and continue back down the side seam to the skirt hem. 

6.     Repeat for the other side seam.

7.     Sew an invisible or lapped zipper in the centre back and finish the centre back seam. I chose a handpicked lapped zipper for my skirt.   

You can find an invisible zipper tutorial here and a lapped zipper tutorial here

8.     Place your outer waistband onto your skirt waist seam, right sides together, lining up the centre front and centre back markings. At the centre back, one end of your waistband should extend 5/8" past the back of your skirt and the other end should extend 2 5/8". 

9.     Sew your waistband to your skirt using a 5/8” seam, starting and stopping at the centre back of your skirt. Fold waistband out and press seams towards waistband. 

10.  Place your waistband lining on your waistband, right sides together. Using a 5/8” seam, sew the waistband and lining together along each side and along the top. 

11.  Trim seams, clip corners and turn waistband lining to inside. Press.

12.  Fold all seams to inside of waistband. Either sew the waistband lining down by hand or stitch in the ditch on the outside of your skirt.

13.  If you have opted for a hook and eye, sew these to the waistband and the overlap. 

If you have chosen a button closure, sew a buttonhole in the overlap of your waistband. Sew your button onto your waistband. 

14.  We’re nearly there but have one important step left before we finish the hem… hanging your skirt! Because circle skirts are cut on the bias of the fabric, they have a tendency to stretch. Hemming it now would mean you eventually end up with a wonky hem. If you want a nice even hem on your skirt, it is really important to let it hang for at least 24 hours. The longer the better! Either leave your skirt on a tailors dummy (if you have one) or on a hanger. 

15.  Once you’ve left your skirt to hang, the hem will need to be evened up. A little trick I use to get the hem nice and even is to lay my skirt out flat and lay my original pattern piece on top. The smooth hemline gives a guide to trim to.  

16.  Once you’ve trimmed any excess fabric, finish your hem in your preferred method. I usually opt for either a rolled hem or horsehair braid. For this version, I used 1” horsehair braid as it gives an extra bit of poof.

I hope you’ve enjoyed drafting and making your own circle skirt and I’d love to see all your creations!

Sarah x

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Guest Post: The Half Square Block Tutorial

Hi Everyone,

Im Bianca and I blog over at Sleepless in Bavaria. I am delighted to be making a guest appearance on the Minerva Crafts Blog today.

If you've been thinking about taking up quilting and have found the process of making different quilting blocks daunting and maybe even a little terrifying, look no further.

In this tutorial you will be taught how to make perfect half square blocks that in return can be turned into a number of different shapes to make your own finished project versatile and intricate.

To get the best results you'll need the following tools, which you might already have in your sewing arsenal and if not we've linked in the products from the site that you might consider ordering. You can of course use normal fabric scissors to cut the fabric, however the more accurate you cut and sew the blocks, the better the end results.

Making a Half Square Quilting Block

Minerva Crafts offers a fantastic range of quilting cottons and poplins, which have a great quality and are easy to use, especially for beginners. For this tutorial, I will be using plain Cotton Poplin Fabrics that come in lots of colours. I recommend washing and ironing your fabrics before cutting into them, as they might shrink a little bit the first time they are washed.

For this very simple block you'll need to cut your fabrics into 5" squares. The best way to do this is by using the markings on your cutting mat as pictured below. If you fold your fabric to almost the size of the cutting mat and then cut the squares using your ruler and rotary cutter, you'll have made quite a number of squares very quickly.

Place two 5" squares on top of each other with the right sides facing and pin in place. Use your ruler and marking pen and draw a diagonal line from one corner to the other. You will want to sew a straight line ¼ from the line on both sides of said line as seen below. (Pro tip: if you want to save time, you could first pin and mark all the squares you would like to use and then sew/chain stitch all the squares continuously) once you've stitched both lines, cut down the marked line turning the square into two triangles.

Press the triangles open making sure that the seam allowance is pressed onto the darker fabric, so it doesn't show through the lighter fabric.

You might also have noticed, that they all look a bit uneven or even jagged, but don't worry, we'll take care of that in a little bit. You'll want your finished block to be 4 ¼" , use your square ruler and match up the diagonal line on the ruler with the diagonal line on the block, making sure that the square will fit into the above mentioned dimensions. See how there's fabric protruding the side of the ruler? Use your rotary cuter and trim the excess fabric down (including the tails), do this with the other two sides of the square.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You now have 2 half square blocks. But first: make yourself a cuppa and have a biscuit, you deserve it!

Turning your Half Square Blocks into Sample Quilting Blocks

You'll be surprised to know, that you've already mastered the hardest part of the tutorial by making the half square blocks. You can now decide on what kind of pattern you'd like to make. Below you'll find a few examples of how to make different quilting blocks by using 4 half square blocks:

The Half Square:

The easiest block there is, just line up 4 half square blocks.

The Flying Geese:

Personally, my favorite block is the flying geese block, seen below it basically just two blocks put together that form a triangle.

The Windmill:

It looks like a rather complicated block, but all you have to do is make sure the half square blocks are places correctly as seen bellow and you're good to go.

The Parallelogram:

Just put 2 half square blocks together, on the right way around and one on its head and you'll have another difficult looking block put together.

Once you've decided on a block, lay out the half square blocks the way you'd like them too look and then always pin two blocks together making sure the right sides are facing each other.

Sew the blocks with a ¼" seam allowance and then press open. Repeat again to sew the top and bottom half of the block together.

The great thing about making different blocks in different colors, means that that a gazillion ways you could put the blocks together.

You could chose to just go with one block throughout the quilt and use different colors to make it more interesting to look at. Or you could use just one block and one color for a very modern quilt. It could look like something like this:

You could of course chose to use all the blocks and put the quilt together like a true sampler quilt, in which every block is different, it could like something like this:

At the end of the day, you are your own boss and can decide what you'd like your finished quilt to look like, there is no right or wrong and I am sure whatever you chose, it will be much loved and fantastic.

We'd love to see what you make with our simple quilting blocks so do tag us on IG with #minervacraftsquilts

Thanks for reading,

Bianca x

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Guest Post: Smart Fabrics From the Future!

Each era has its signature feature that it is identified or remembered by, and it seems that the iconic feature of our modern age is the infusion of technological innovations in all the components of life.

Earlier such advances were only seen in fields of science like medicine, engineering, astronomy etc. But today everything has been impacted by this, from fashion to fitness and beyond.

As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, one that is led by digitalization of everything, we see a blurring of lines between physical, digital and biological domains. AI, robotics, the Internet of things, autonomous gadgets, quantum computing, biotechnology, energy storage, and nanotechnology are changing the face of the world at an exponential rate.

The textile industry is also showing sign of changes and innovation with many new methods of manufacture and fresh fabrics being invented regularly. Some of these innovative examples are sure to leave you stunned.

Graphene+:

Graphene plus is a unique fabric produced by a company called Direct Plus which is being used in making sportswear items. This fabric is special because it acts as a filter between the wearer’s body and the environment around it. The thermally conductive properties of the material lets it disperse the body heat out in warm climates and evenly distributes it in cold surroundings.

G+ also facilitates top sporting performance due to its electrostatic and bacteriostatic qualities which reduce friction. Affordable, chemical free, natural and sustainably produced this fabric can be also used in commercial applications like tires, composite materials and making other smart textiles and environmental solutions.

Style 413:

This is an outdoor fabric that has been specially developed for protection against baby ticks, ticks and mosquitos while being breathable and offering ventilation. The fabric is also water repellent, fire resistant and fire retardant making it of great value to the tenting industry. The pure polyester thread is dyed with automotive dyes making it U.V resistant and hence slowing down degradation by the sun. The fabric made by Jason Mills is also being marketed to the bee industry to make protective clothing.

QMONOS: 

A very resilient and incredible natural fiber, spider silk is sometimes even more durable and elastic than any natural or synthetic fiber and is six times stronger than high-grade steel, per weight. Hence it’s no surprise that many tries have been made to create this material synthetically. Finally, QMONOS was created by a collaboration of the brand called The North Face which designed the Moon Parka, and a Japanese company Spiber, which created a brand new bio-engineered bacteria that looks and feels like spider silk.

Teijin Frontier's Polyester: 

This is a highly functional polyester material which has excellent water absorbency making it perfect for toweling. A soft textured material with a unique bulky but light feeling this material can be used for sportswear, functional underwear, and uniforms, as well as bedding and industrial products. The innovative material’s pile structure is durable and remains intact in its appearance, functionality, and comfort, even after countless washings.

The unique material offers 5 times greater water diffusion and moves the water rapidly from the human skin keeping it dry. It also boasts heat insulation that is three times higher than fleece because of its bulky fiber structure.

Adidas’ shoe yarn from ocean’s plastic waste: 

Showcased at UN’s Conference of the Parties in Paris, this shoe uses filaments and yarns which are refurbished and recycled from plastic ocean waste and recycled polyester. Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans, in creating new sustainable materials and innovations for their shoes. Keeping in account the global plastic pollution levels Adidas’ plan is to bring their industry to creating sustainable solutions with the hope of completely eradicating ocean pollution.

So if you are thinking of creating sports clothing based on the latest athleisure styling trend, or an unconventional shoe line, take cues from these innovators and their groundbreaking fabrics because they will be coming your way in the future!

Author Bio:

Carla Adams is an enthusiastic dreamer and a workaholic to achieve that. She is a blogger, writer, basketball player, technology and fashion freak. For all the updates follow her on Facebook

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Guest Post: Simplicity 1318 Kimono Jacket

Hello everyone, my name is Kathy and this is my very first guest post for the Minerva Crafts Blog. You can find me over at www.sewdainty.co.uk where I enjoy writing pattern reviews, tutorials and product reviews.  I do hope you will enjoy reading my thoughts on this Simplicity Sewing Pattern - 1318 Kimono Jacket. I just love it! Let me tell you all about it.

I have to say that I do love a kimono jacket. Whilst I own a couple of ready to wear jackets like this I still wanted more so instead of buying another I decided that I would make one myself. Now that we can allow ourselves to turn our thoughts to Spring it seemed like the perfect time to do this. This jacket will easily see you through Spring, Summer and Autumn.

I really wanted a floral print, as I am a sucker for anything floral. I also needed a lovely light/medium weight drapey fabric. This Viscose Fabric I chose from Minerva is a really pretty viscose crepe fabric and is the perfect weight for this project. I really craved a background colour of blue as I knew I would wear this with jeans, denim shorts and white or navy linen trousers. Blue would be perfect to accompany all of these.

You will need very little supplies for this project. Aside from your fabric, you will need a small amount of Fusible Interfacing. Matching thread of course (use Minerva's matching thread service!), and basic sewing supplies that you probably already have including fabric scissors or rotary cutter and mat, pins and a needle for some hand sewing.

Before starting any project it is important to pre-wash your fabric. Viscose can be a little prone to a small amount of shrinkage and I did find this. I like to trace my pattern pieces - I find my weight goes up and down so this ensures that the pattern can be used again whatever size I am in the future! To get an accurate copy it's important to iron your pattern pieces, tracing paper and fabric before cutting. All time consuming but very important.

It's also crucial to study your fabric to see if it is directional. I didn't think my fabric particularly was but I did seem to prefer it one way up than the other so was careful to place my pattern pieces in the right direction.

I chose to make view D, and enjoyed that there weren't too many pieces to cut out. The style of the jacket means of course that the sleeves are attached to the body already so no tricky setting in sleeves. No zips. No buttons or buttonholes. No darts. No gathering. Easy right? Yes!

The back of the jacket comes in 2 halves and is sewn together with a central seam which runs from top to bottom. I chose to use a French seam for this, because as the jacket isn't lined I wanted it to be as pretty inside as possible. This was the right choice. This long vertical seam is nearly invisible using this technique.

I also decided that I would use the walking foot on my machine. For those not familiar with a walking foot it is very useful for working with slippery (or bulky) projects as it feeds the fabric through the machine from the top as well as the bottom. It's not essential - you will do very well using a regular foot too, but I found that using this made stitching smoother.

Next are the underarm seams. Whilst I would have loved to have used French seams here too, I knew that such a curved seam wouldn't lie flat using this technique, so I used a regular seam neatened with my overlocker. This worked out great. 

Pressing your seams as you go along is always important but it is especially so with this fabric. It ensures the seam stitches are pressed into place and was particularly useful in the underarm seams to avoid them looking 'pulled' or tight where the curve of the seam is (despite clipping the seam). I found my homemade Tailor's Seam Roll really great to help me with this and the difference before and after pressing was incredible.

Finally (apart from hemming your sleeves), it is time to make up the band which runs around the entire edge of this jacket. This is made from several pieces, and can be a little confusing, so take your time with it and follow the instructions carefully. I chose the slowest speed setting on my machine when sewing this on as it is nearly all curved edges so you need to take your time to make sure you get a neat finish. I should mention that there is a great deal of snipping and trimming the seam allowances for the band to lay flat. Take care when snipping not to catch the fabric below! Then repeat this for the band facing, and finally the instructions call for you to press the edge of the band facing under and HAND sew all the way around to attach to the jacket!

I have to say I wasn't expecting there to be so much hand sewing. Surely there must be a way of machine stitching this? Stitch in the ditch maybe? However I soon realised the reason for this is the curved edges of the band. In order to attach these to the jacket neatly without puckering there is nothing for it but to hand stitch. I actually quite enjoyed doing this. I sew very little by hand and found the whole process quite relaxing and I think my hand sewing skills have now improved.

This jacket is quick to make and I couldn't be more pleased with it. I know I will wear it lots and lots, and I will definitely be making another one (or two)! It's so flattering and can really dress an outfit up without being too fussy. The length is perfect for me (I'm 5'2"), but there are longer and shorter length options available if you prefer a different look.

I do hope this may have inspired you to have a go at making it yourself. I will warn you that the fabric choice at Minerva is huge, there are so many fabrics to choose from and very reasonable prices too. Grab a cuppa - it could take some time!

It's been such fun writing this guest post for Minerva, I do hope to write more, but in the meantime happy sewing!

Kathy

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Guest Post: The Jersey Aberdeen Top

Hello there! I'm Katie from Scatterbrained Seamstress for a guest post over here at Minerva Crafts! I hope you're all having a great 2017 so far, and aren't too amazed that it's already March and where has the year gone?!

I made the Aberdeen top by Seamwork! When I signed up for Seamwork a few months ago, I knew I wanted this knit v-neck made as soon as possible! I loved the idea of a batwing tunic, and the detailing of the mini v-neck on the back of the shirt. My measurements matched the size XS, so I cut the smallest size. It fit perfectly without any alteration -- as my first Seamwork make (the Nantucket shorts) didn't fit as nicely as Aberdeen, it was great to have such a perfect fit.

The back features another deep v-neck. I decided to leave off the 3/4-length sleeves since spring is coming soon here at the states, and I've never really been much of a fan of 3/4-length sleeves.

The hemming on the sleeves looked so professional with this Twin Needle I used! The thread matched perfectly from Minerva, which was nice! All of the seams were done with a zig-zag stich. I also decided to not topstitch the neck facing, as I thought it made it look more professional.

The Jersey Fabric drapes so beautifully!

The top sewed up quickly, it about two and a half hours. Cutting out the fabric took a bit more time, as knit shifts so much and I wanted to make sure I cut out the pattern accurately. Using a knit needle definitely helped the process, but cutting with knits is still not very fun.

Sizing-

I cut an XS, even though my bust measurement was a tad larger, into the S range. I knew it would be a loose top and wanted it a bit tighter. The measurements were spot on, although the v-neck was a little too low for my liking, but thankfully not too low that I wouldn't wear it all the time. ;)

Instructions-

The instructions were clear most of the time, but even when they weren't it was easy to discern what they wanted me to do, since the top was so simple. I had some trouble with the v-neck, as it was a first for me, but there were completely different instructions in their magazine as to what to do, which I happily followed! It really did stay true to Seamwork's motto of "2 hour makes," which was both surprising and great!

Fabric-

The fabric worked much nicely with my machine than knits usually do. Usually, the edges get sucked up into the feed-dogs or the bobbin tangles. Thankfully, that didn't happen this time! I'm pinning it on these Stretch Sewing Machine Needles I used from Minerva - I've never thought of using one before. 

One of the only complaints I have is the hemming - with the twin needle a lot of tunneling occurred, which after some research I found could be prevented by changing the tension on the bobbin thread. Overall, an easy make that was made better with beautiful fabric that behaved well!

Thanks all for reading!

Kate x

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Guest Post: How to Start Selling Your Craft Creations Online

So you have begun to get to a stage where you are feeling confident about your creations, and want to take it to the next level. You can begin by selling to friends and family, but the best way to reach as many people as possible is to start selling online.

Setting up your own shop is much easier than ever before, as there are so many different trusted e-commerce platforms that you can use. Having said that, choosing the right one for your needs can be a bit of a minefield. If you are just starting out, then it is essential to research as many as possible, comparing their features, prices, and relevance for selling your products.

Before you commit, make sure you are aware of all of the costs involved: costs for listing your items; the transaction costs taken by the e-commerce platform; any costs associated with payment processing; advertising costs; domain costs; and any other additional fees that may apply. The costs will then need to be weighed up against potential reach; the community around your selected platform; when you get paid; whether you can track orders through the website; whether the platform offers analytics; and what else is on offer.

Cost Comparison

If you are selling your own arts and crafts, such as hand sewn toys, fashion, greetings cards, paintings, and jewellery, then one of the most well known destinations is Etsy. For those just starting out, Etsy can be ideal, as it allows you to set up your own store for free, and charges just 3.5% per transaction. A listing fee of $0.20 also applies every four months for each item. One thing that Etsy are not as clear about is their payment processing fee. You can offer your customers PayPal as a payment option, and just pay the PayPal transaction fees, but if you want to accept card payments in your own currency, you will need to select the Direct Checkout payment option from Etsy. This will absorb another 4% of the entire price of the sale, plus 20p. So in total, you can expect at least 7.5% plus around 30p to be deducted from your profits.

That said, if you sell through Ebay, your first 50 listings may be free, but you will be paying 10% of the value of the sale to Ebay, including transaction fees, so Etsy is still better value.

Depending on how much you are selling, it may be worthwhile setting up your own website, through a provider such as Wix.com, as you can get your first year for as low as £60.60 + VAT, and then you are only responsible for the transaction fees, which you can get with Stripe payments from just 1.4% plus 20p. To perform a rough calculation, if you sell more than 33 items at £30 each during that year, you will have made your money back by going through Wix. Of course, this assumes that you already have a market to sell your products to, as you will not have access to the local team support that is available through Etsy.

Audience and Reach

As mentioned above, the support network can be a crucial factor in the success of your online business. If you set up a website with Shopify or Wix, then you need to be aware that your website can easily just sit online without anyone ever coming by to visit. You need to be prepared to promote your website yourself, online and offline, as you will be on your own.

If you desire your own branding, and want a bespoke website, but need a support network to help you get going, then Etsy Pattern may be your best bet. This offering from Etsy allows you to create your own website for $15 per month (or around £12 at the time of writing). This is in addition to the 3.5% transaction fee and the Direct Checkout fee. However, the benefits are that you will still have access to all of the other features offered by Etsy, including local teams, events, and the whole Etsy community. With 26.1 active buyers using the Etsy platform, this is not to be taken lightly.

Comparing Platforms

A directory of the most commonly used platforms can be found on my LoveMyVouchers.co.uk blog, here. This will enable you to cross compare all of the different costs and features for these platforms. It may also be worth considering eBay if the auction style format is likely to work for you, and WooCommerce if you already have a Wordpress blog.

Author Bio

Linda Firth runs the Lifestyle blog at LoveMyVouchers.co.uk, where she provides advice and tips on how to save money and how to earn money by selling your own craft creations online.  

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Guest Post: Blog-Rigel Bomber Jacket by Easy Tiger Atelier

Hi Everyone,

Im Belinda and I blog over at Easy Tiger Atelier. I am delighted to be making a guest appearance on the Minerva Crafts Blog today.

Anyone who’s been keeping half an eye on the runways and the general fashion scene lately will notice a LOT of technical, tricky fabrics sneaking into some stunning designs. Fabrics such as neoprene, leather, fur and velvet are all making appearances. In fact I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to my love of velvet at the moment! :) As creative individuals who appreciate ‘me-made’ clothes, it can be challenging to integrate some of these up-to-the-minute looks into our handmade wardrobes. So how do you make tackling these more difficult fabrics easier? If you’d like some hints handling leather and velvet, keep reading…

I’ve also been in love with the designs from the NZ indie pattern house ‘Papercut’ for some time now, especially their ‘Rigel Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern’. 

It’s perfect for mixing and matching fabrics and experimenting with different fabric weights and properties – and an ideal introductory pattern if you want to explore the (sometimes overwhelming!) world of technical fabrics. There is a particularly fabulous variation with divine shoulder detailing! You can’t ask for a better pattern to help you bust that stash of ‘special’ fabrics you can’t bear to throw out.

I, however, made the original version with classic raglan sleeves. I played around though, sewing them from a gorgeous Faux Leather Fabric that is butter-soft and feels fabulous to wear! To throw back to the traditional feel of the bomber jacket - while at the same time bringing it into this season - I made the bodice from a grey tie-dye Velour Fabric. Velour is a closely related, sister fabric of velvet, and is sometimes called velveteen. It has slightly less height and texture than velvet, and often comes in a knit-style fabric that has a bit of stretch or give (but not always!). Both fabrics I used are available from Minerva Crafts, who has a HUGE selection of colours, so you’re sure to find one that you love! I think this particular combo not only pays homage to the origins of the bomber jacket style and tradition, but reflects what we all want from our wardrobes – comfortable, stylish items that can adapt to whatever your outfit of the day demands!

But...let’s get back to the logistics of how to wrangle some of these more challenging fabrics into an item you are proud and excited to wear! Well, here are some of my very practical hints, tips and tricks to make sewing leather and velvet easier. Firstly, let’s look at pinning and cutting…

How to Cut

It’s difficult to pin faux leather without leaving tell-tale pin-holes, so laying a traditional paper pattern and pinning it onto you fabric to cut is a trickier job that usual. You have basically two options:

  1. Pin only within the seam allowances of your pattern, so that those pesky pin-holes are eventually concealed within the seams of the garment, or,

  2. Use Pattern Weights only and forgo the pins altogether – this is my preferred method, but granted you need to be steady, have a large cutting table or surface, and use PLENTY of pattern weights to avoid things shifting around!

If you opt for the first method, be mindful that alterations and fitting – especially letting seams out – may play havoc with your plan to conceal your pin-holes. The best way to overcome this is to make a toile (essentially a trial version of the garment) out of a cheaper fabric first, where you can perfect your fit – then tackle the garment in the trickier (and more expensive!) fabric. This way you can focus on just managing the fabric without the stress of keeping an eye on the fit also!

When it comes to velvet and its close relative velour, there is one ‘golden rule’ to cutting – you MUST cut all pattern pieces with the pile running in the same direction. Not sure what I mean by ‘pile’? – that’s ok! :) Take your hand and rub it parallel to the selvedge, then rub it in the opposite direction. One direction feels rougher doesn’t it...while the other is smoother? That is known as the pile. So ensure all your pattern pieces are laid out so that pile runs either from head-to-toe, or vice versa. If you overlook this ‘rule’ you risk your garment ending up looking messy and poorly-constructed, as well as suffer from patchy colouration, as light will play differently on the fabric depending on the direction of the pile. Is there a ‘right way’ to position your pile? No, not really, it’s all about your personal choice. But be aware the fabric will generally look richer and darker in colour if the pile runs from toe-to-head, while it will look smoother, shinier and lighter in colour if you cut with the pile running from head-to-toe. Take a closer look at my bomber jacket and you’ll notice I cut with the pile running from head to toe, as I really wanted to play up the texture and shine of the fabric.

One last thing to be mindful of when cutting velour and/or velvet – it can be very messy! Because of the tiny fibres contained within the pile, cutting into it leaves behind fine (quite annoying) dust-like fluff. So avoid taking in a deep breath when cutting, unless you want a lung-full of velvet fibres! Having a vacuum cleaner or dustpan close by for a quick tidy when you’re done cutting, is also a good idea. Trust me, you’ll need it!

How to Sew

As with laying out and cutting, pin-holes are also a problematic bi-product of trying to sew faux leather; so let me introduce you to a brilliant idea – Binding Clips (pictured below)! These are real game-changers, and will help you secure your fabric without the need to penetrate the integrity of the fabric. They are quite inexpensive, but if you don’t have the ‘real deal’ you can improvise your own binding clips with stationary bull-dog clips or small craft pegs…basically anything that will clip and hold the fabric together for you.

If your leather is bulky it’s wise to double-check your machine needle before sewing. Thick, firm fabrics are going to require a specialist needle designed for leather – they are thicker and can cope with the density of the leather without buckling (and potentially causing significant damage to your machine’s race and bobbin casing) or breaking! Otherwise, if your fabric is softer and more supple like the one I used, a universal needle with a gauge around 80-90 is fine. However, just like pin-holes, the needle puncture marks from sewing a seam can make permanent holes. Take care to try and sew a seam once, and once only, as unpicking and re-sewing on leather can very quickly become a messy business!

A Teflon foot (pictured far left, below) may also be beneficial when sewing with leather fabrics - especially bulkier ones – which may otherwise stick or end up marked by the pressure from the machine foot and feed dogs. You may also want to reduce the presser foot pressure on your machine if you find it still marks your fabric…save those off-cuts and scraps to perfect this balance before commencing sewing on your final garment. This same principle applies to other technical fabrics, such as PVC, oilcloth and vinyl and some water-proof coated fabrics.

When sewing right sides together with velvet or thicker pile velour fabrics, they can tend to ‘walk’ away from each other. This can lead to some really messy, frustrating and inaccurate seams – not a good look! A couple of solutions to this issue are:

  1. Use a walking foot (pictured at the top of the photograph, below), which feeds both the upper and lower layers of fabric at exactly the same rate; combined with a slow to moderate sewing speed, this can (in most circumstances) overcome the fabric distorting; or alternatively you can,

  2. Hand tack a double row of basting stitches either side of your seam line, prior to machine sewing; the hand basting helps secure the fabric and minimises unwanted movement. HINT: use a high contrast thread colour for your hand basting stitches, it makes it much easier to remove later!

If passing the velour or velvet through the machine is causing the fabric to ‘stick’ (ie. bunch up intermittently and/or not feed through evenly), consider swapping from an ordinary zig-zag foot to the walking foot which I mentioned earlier. Alternatively, you may find a roller foot (pictured in the centre of the photograph, below) also helps overcome the friction, allowing the fabric to pass smoothly and consistently through the feed dogs. Investing in the right feet for sewing your fabric is essential if you want to get the best possible results for your garment: this is even more important when considering trickier, technical fabrics.

How to 'Press'

Actually, this heading is a little misleading – sorry - because you don’t really press velvet or leather, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. Without going into the finer details, passing a hot iron plate over leather, or a pile-type fabric like velour or velvet is a potential recipe for disaster and disappointment – so proceed with a lot of caution! The ‘take-home’ message when setting a seam and adding structure/finish to your garment, is to steam: steam is your friend! Hold the iron plate an inch or so above your fabric and just allow it to steam its little heart out. My iron has a function that allows me to give extra bursts of steam on demand – and I love using this! :) When the fabric is well-steamed and hot, press flat with your hand (use a pressing glove if you find it a bit too hot) or use a tailor’s clapper – or improvise with basically anything flat and with a bit of weight behind it. (I have been known to use the spine of a hard-cover textbook!) Hold this in place until cooled, and you’ll find the seam sets well. I used exactly this technique for creating the welt pockets of the bomber jacket, and as you can see they set really precisely and well.

If you find yourself in a position where you can’t avoid applying an iron to velvet or velour, such as needing to apply an iron-on interfacing, you can slightly bend the ‘no iron’ rule by placing a large scrap of the same fabric, right side up, on your ironing board first. Ironing over the top of the scrap fabric allows the two piles to interlock, rather than flatten out – because flattened velvet won’t please anyone! Also, consider if possible, using a sew-in interfacing to support your garment, and eliminate the need to iron at all.

However you chose to set your seams on your garment, or ‘press’ it into shape, be careful to treat the fabric with care and respect, and you won’t compromise the quality of the finish.

Call is pleather, fake leather, faux leather – whatever – it’s not the easiest of items to sew with, and neither are velvets and other piled fabrics. Yet these technical fabrics are flooding our fashion markets presenting a challenge for the home sewist who’s looking to invest in creating up-to-the-minute looks. Rather than having to learn through trial and error, or worse, waste expensive beautiful fabrics, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the tips and techniques outlined above. I hope they will help equip you with some practical advice for cutting, sewing and ‘pressing’ these trickier fabrics so you can create stunning bespoke garments: there’s no excuse to avoid those fabrics any longer! :)

Happy sewing…

Belinda from Easy Tiger Atelier.

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Guest Post: Shirt Cuff & Continuous Lap Tutorial

Hi everyone, it's Nicky from SewandSnip here on the Minerva Crafts Blog today!

In my last guest blog post for Minerva I shared how I made the short sleeve version of the men's shirt from Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8180. 

This is a great basic shirt and can also be made in a long sleeve version for men & boys. The only additional process in this is to make the opening with a continuous lap (the binding that finishes the sleeve opening) before attaching the sleeve, then adding a cuff once the underarm seam has been completed.

The continuous lap can be a little fiddly so it's worth practicing this on a remnant first if you haven't done one before, so this is what I am here to guide you through today.

After cutting the appropriate pieces transfer the pattern markings onto the fabric. I have used pencil here just to make it easily seen but normally I would use basting stitch & tailor tacks.

Stitch along the stitch line you marked, making one stitch across end at pivot point.

Cut between stitching being careful not to snip through stitch at point.

To prevent fraying at this point I add a small dot of Fabric Glue & leave to dry before moving on but test this on a scrap of your fabric first.

With your continuous lap piece fold in 6mm along unmarked edge.

Pin the right side of this lap piece to wrong side of slashed edge matching the stitching line & dots.

Sew along stitching line & press seam towards lap.

Fold lap over to just cover stitching, pin & stitch close to edge.

Turn front edge of lap to inside & baste in place.

Stitch top of of lap diagonally to keep in place.

Make soft pleats as marked & baste.

Insert sleeve & sew side seam.

Apply interfacing to cuff, turn 1.5cm to wrong side along unmarked edge. Trim this fold to 6mm.

With right sides together pin cuff to sleeve, matching dots & easing cuff to fit.

Press seam towards cuff.

Fold cuff with right sides together, stitch ends & trim.

Turn cuff out, press & secure.

Make button hole at marking & add button.

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Guest Post: How to Improve Your Sewing and Crafts Skills

While there are an endless number of hobbies people can enjoy to pass the time, more and more find themselves sewing, crafting, quilting, and scrapbooking. While each has its own unique set of skills and possibilities, most people who enjoy one usually enjoy all of them at various points along the way. Considered great ways to relieve stress and keep your mind sharp, there are nevertheless a variety of ways in which you can improve your skills in each of these areas. If you love your crafting time but want to get even better at your projects, here are some ways to ensure you'll improve your sewing and crafts skills.

Image credit: eventfinda.co.nz

Designing your Sewing and Crafts Room

If you want to truly enjoy your crafting time, designate a room in your home to be the sewing and crafting area. Not only will it allow you to have all of your materials and equipment handy, but it will also give you a quiet area where you can create beyond your wildest dreams. And to help you relax and be even more creative, let as much natural light as possible shine into your room. Modern glass wall partitions, along with interior sliding doors, will let plenty of light in while also giving your room a modern and comfortable feel. And when you create storage space for your sewing and crafting room, adding glass closet doors will allow you to easily see what materials you have available when you become inspired to start your next great outfit or quilt. And as an added benefit, having modern glass wall partitions and interior sliding doors will allow your family to see what you're doing without disturbing you, allowing you to enjoy your special time in peace and quiet. If its glass closet doors or interior sliding doors you need for your room, working with the Sliding Door Company can let you create a relaxing and beautiful room you'll use time after time.

Pre-Wash your Fabrics

If you've sewed many outfits, you've probably had one or two that fit well after their completion, but then got a bit tight after they were washed. In most of these situations, this happened because the fabric shrunk after being washed. To avoid this problem, it's best to pre-wash your fabrics prior to sewing. By doing so, any shrinkage in the fabric will have already happened before the outfit is put together, ensuring you'll have a perfect fit when it's tried on for the first time.

Image credit: indiesew.com

Become a Technical Quilter

If quilting is your passion, committing yourself to the technical aspects of the craft can pay off in many ways. For example, learn to work accurately by starting out slowly and increasing your speed as you become more familiar with the patchwork process. If you want to create the perfect quilt, you've got to ensure your units or blocks fit together perfectly. To accomplish this, cut accurately, stitch accurately, and press accurately. If you do, you'll find your skills rapidly improving, which will let you begin to tackle more challenging projects.

Practice Makes Perfect

When it comes to scrapbooking, many people like the fact that there is no right or wrong way to do your project. However, by practicing your techniques over and over, you'll discover you can take your scrapbooking skills to the next level. Since those who are passionate about this hobby consider themselves artists, try to develop a signature style that will set your scrapbooking apart from all others. Experiment with different layouts and techniques, including stamping, photo placement, sticker placement, and so forth. If you're looking for fresh ideas, gather a few scrapbooking books or magazines together and spend an afternoon glancing through them. More than likely, you'll find plenty of interesting titbits of information that will make you more eager than ever to give them a try in your next project.

Image credit: brainscape.com

Social Sewing and Crafting

While you can learn plenty on your own, attending crafting or sewing classes with others who enjoy these hobbies will often give you a new perspective. Along with making plenty of new friends, you'll have the chance to learn from others who have a bit more experience than you. After all, it's great to meet a fellow quilter who has a trick or two she learned from her grandmother, or a classmate who has the same skill level as yourself and teams up with you so both of you can learn together. If this sounds like a fun and exciting way to learn some new skills, try checking the class offerings at your local community college or adult education center, or see if any of the local craft stores you frequent are offering any upcoming classes. By doing so, you'll find yourself making new friends and learning plenty of new skills.

Author Bio:

Carol Combs has been in the fashion industry for over 10 years. A mother of one, latest vogue and fashion trends keep her living hale and hearty. She aims to impart herself knowledge and experience to refine the look of womenfolk to look better than ever. She is also contributor on The General Post.

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