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The Jenna Cardigan by Angelica

For a long time, I've dreamt of having a closet full of pretty little 50s dresses with matching petticoats, cropped cardigans, belt etc, and while lots of dresses and petticoats have come into my wardrobe, I have failed to find just the right cropped cardi.
It was not because cardigans were hard to come by, but I had a very specific cardigan in mind. It had to be fitted and cropped to waist length, with a wide waistband to really cinch me in. It had to have long, 3/4 or elbow length sleeves and lastly, I wanted it in EVERY color.
Enter: the Jenna Cardigan by Muse Patterns.
Counting the entire expansion bundle, this pattern offers 2 lengths, 2 bodice variations, 3 necklines and 11 different types and lengths of sleeves, giving you a total of 132 different cardigan combinations to choose from.
For my dream cardigan, I used the waist length bodice with the shoulder yoke, V-neckline, and the original 3/4 length sleeve. I went down a size in the hope of getting a more fitted cardi and thus made a straight size 36.
For the fabric, I was lucky enough to get 2 m of the premium quality cotton spandex stretch Jersey Fabric in a gorgeous navy blue to play with, and it was an absolute joy to sew up. It is a bit heavier than a regular jersey. It was very stable and has great recovery, perfect for my dream cardigan.
I also got some ButtonsSewing Thread and Iron On Interfacing for the project. I love how the buttons have some interest to them in the form of a subtle marl in the color but are plain enough not to be too distracting.
I sewed everything on my overlocker except the bodice-to-yoke-seam which is gathered. I sewed those seams on my regular machine and then overlocked it to finish the seam allowance. I only topstitched the button band, as I have seen a few versions online where the topstitching has stretched the seams out, and I kind of liked the clean look without the topstitching.
I did have to play around with the differential feed on the overlocker a bit. 2 layers of non-interfaced fabric needed a differential feed of almost 2 to lay flat, but it shifted the layers a bit at the start and end of each seam. Also, the interfaced part of the button band needed a differential feed of "Normal"/0. 
To combat this, I had the dial set on "Normal" at the beginning and end of each seam and for the button parts of the button band, and set on "2" for the rest of each seam. This way, all seams matched up and were perfectly flat. 
I tried the cardi on after sewing the hem band on to check the length and ended up shortening it by 2 cm. I did this by running the body-to-hem-band seam through the overlocker once more, trimming 1 cm off all layers. I also shortened each end of the neckband and one end of the neckband interfacing by 2 cm to make them fit with the shortened body of the cardi. 
However, this was before attaching the button band, and by the time the cardi was sewn up, it was noticably too large on me (see photo below). Cue major sad face. 
Luckily, I had plenty of leftover fabric to make another. The size 36 had only used about 90 cm of fabric, despite the official requirement of 1,5 meters.
For my second go, I sized down to a 34 bust - 32 waist based on the finished measurement chart. My natural waist measures about 74-75 cm, giving me 2-3 cm of negative ease. I also made the length adjustment on this version by narrowing the waistband by 2 cm and the bodice by 1. 
I think I could have gone down to a straight size 32, but oh well. The size 34/32 only took 85cm of fabric. 
A few other reviewers have found the Jenna Cardi to have very wide sleeves, and I will agree with them. For now, I have focused on getting the bodice rigth, but next time I will either make the sleeves and sleeve cuffs narrower or try the narrow sleeve from the expansion pack and add a simple cuff to it. 
A am SO much happier with my second version! The waist fits me exactly as I had envisioned it and the length is perfect. I LOVE the shoulder yoke detail, although there is still a smidge too much room under the arms and bust. 
I love that the final cardi takes less than a metre of fabric. Having found the perfect fabric for it in the Premium Jersey, I will have to order at least a few more colors to sew myself a rainbow of cardis. How lovely would it be in emerald green, bright red or soft pink? 
And while I'm at it, I might add some vintage-y patches on the yokes. I have seen it alot in the vintage shops and on the high street lately and love the trend. I love the idea of adding Initial PatchesFlower Patches or Bird Patches for some vintage flair.
On a leaving note, I'd like to thank Minerva Craft for the materials needed for this project. If you'd like to read more about the dress I'm wearing with the cardigan or any of my other makes, you can find it on my blog or on my instagram
Thanks for reading,
Angelica
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A Stripy Capri Tee from Erika Knight by Karen

Hello all! It’s Karen from Hyacinth Bloom again, here with another collaboration with the lovely people at Minerva Crafts. This time I was lucky enough to try out a Knitting Pattern by the popular designer Erika Knight.

The Pattern

I’ve always had a bit of a yearning to add some Erika Knight Designs to my knitting pattern collection. I really admire the simple but creative shapes of the garments she creates. They always seem to look so effortlessly casual and stylish on the pattern leaflet. The Capri Knitting Pattern which, after much dithering, I eventually chose, is a cropped length garment with short sleeves and a wide slash neck. It is knitted using two colours to create a bold stripe across both the body and sleeves. There were a couple of reasons why I decided on this pattern. Firstly, I have never actually knitted a tee before. In the past I’ve usually stuck to cardigans and jumpers full of wool for that all-important winter warmth. I quite liked, however, the idea of adding a thin layering piece to my autumn wardrobe. I had also seen a few stripy cotton knits on the high street and was inspired to have a go at making one myself.

The Yarn

I opted to knit my Capri tee in King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK Yarn (in the Navy and Denim colourways). The pattern calls for a Studio Linen Yarn, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted the challenge of using a rough fibre like linen (I have however since found out that this particular linen yarn is very soft, smooth and drapey, not rough at all like I was expecting). The cotton is also more budget friendly. The King Cole yarn gives roughly the same tension and stitch count as the linen would. It does, however, have a different texture and drape to what the original garment on the pattern leaflet shows. This was actually my first time using a cotton based yarn and I was really surprised by how soft and nice it was to work with. As I was knitting this in August (though admittedly an August in British summertime) it was much easier to knit without getting overly warm hands. The only slight irritation was the occasional fraying that seemed to occur halfway through a ball, but I will definitely be using a cotton yarn again in the future.

The Construction

I knitted the smallest size and used two balls of each of my chosen colours (four balls in total). I used the 3.25mm and 3.75mm needles suggested in the pattern instructions. As there were so many stitches for the body of the garment I found it easiest to use a Circular Knitting Needle. (Circular needles also make it a much more travel friendly project). The instructions are not particularly extensive, mainly because the construction is so simple. There is, however, a handy diagrammatic illustration alongside the written instructions. This is a great make for a novice knitter, as apart from a few decreases this is primarily just stocking stitch worked back and forth across the needles. The only aspect making it slightly more complicated is the change in colour. This was actually my first attempt at knitting a garment using multiple colours. I opted to cut my yarn and tie in the next colour as if it were the start of a new ball. Perhaps this wasn’t the neatest or most efficient way of doing it, but it was certainly very straightforward. The stripes are wide enough that there were not too many tails to sew in at the end. It is worth noting that that the edges are not finished in any way, which will result in a natural curling up. (Sewing a Grosgrain Ribbon to the back of these edges might reduce the curling, if it bothers you that much). The only change I made to the construction process was to reduce the length of the sleeves. I had to do this because at the end I was playing a bit of yarn chicken, and desperately didn’t want to run out.

The Result

The end garment is pretty much exactly as I imagined it would be. (That doesn’t always happen)! I deliberately chose the colours so that they would fit in with other projects that I have been sewing up for autumn. The shape is perhaps a bit extreme, but I think it will look good layered over shirts and leggings. The construction was so easy it was really relaxing and enjoyable to knit on. The long rows of stocking stitch were mindless, but the colour change of the stripes added just a bit of interest. It was a perfect travel project as I knitted almost half of the garment whilst on various train journeys. This Capri tee has certainly made me want to knit even more of Erika Knight’s patterns. I can’t wait to cast on something new!

Thanks for reading,

Karen @ Hyacinth Bloom

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New Look 6396 Pattern Review by Allie

Hello! It’s Allie from The Aspiring Seamstress again. Today I’ll be reviewing a fun cape pattern, the New Look Sewing Pattern no 6396.

I was inspired to make a red cape by a character I saw on a tv show. This particular character is a fashion designer who designs clothing out of her parent's basement. Most of the clothes she wears are very stylish, there are a lot of things I’ll be making because of her! On one episode she had this beautiful drapey red cape on, it was only on screen for maybe five minutes but I instantly fell in love with it.

If you're curious to look it up, the show is called Last Man Standing. The cape in question appears in season 6, episode 14 at around 12:40. I tried finding a picture of it on Google but I couldn’t!

I chose New Look 6396 for the military style closures and shoulder epaulets on view A. There are three other views on this pattern; two longer capes, one with a fur collar and pockets (B). The other has one simple closure near the neckline and is collarless (C). The last view is a sweet little capelet (D).

This pattern wasn’t too difficult. It doesn’t require any fitting really which makes it perfect for a beginner sewist. It’s a great pattern to tackle if you're looking to practice understitching and topstitching as well as learn how to install a lining.

The techniques used in the pattern weren’t challenging by themselves (for me at least), I think the hard part was working with a slippery Lining Fabric and thick fabric. The closures and epaulets were made by sewing two pieces of the main fabric together, in my case that fabric was wool (it got quite bulky when layered!) which made it tricky to maneuver under my sewing machine foot and difficult to get the points nice and crisp.

I did make it through though and I’m very happy with how my cape turned out. The Boiled Wool Fabric I used is perfect, it’s got great movement to it and the color is just so vibrant. I’ve been loving vibrant reds lately.

I made a couple changes to the cape design. I’m not really a fan of the collar so I just left it off. I contemplated figuring out a different style of collar to use but in the end, I decided to leave it plain.

The other change I made has to do with the front closures. The pattern instructions want you to make the closures stationary on the right side by sewing the Heart Buttons on through all the thicknesses. I didn’t like the idea of being stuck with the same tabs forever.

Perhaps I’d like to change the color of them in the future. What if it’s not too cold of a day and I want to wear the cape open? Will the closures look odd flapping about (they do a little bit)?

So instead of making them permanent, I just made buttonholes on both sides of the closures. It wasn’t that hard to do and now I have the freedom to change up my cape look whenever I want too.

One thing I wish I would’ve noticed before cutting my fabric is the unnecessary back seam. I’m not sure why you don’t just cut the back pieces on the fold of the fabric, instead of the front pieces. You do use the back seam in the lining to turn the cape right side out, but couldn't this have been done using a side seam instead? I think the back of the cape would’ve looked better without the seam, but I suppose it’s not a huge deal.

Overall I enjoyed sewing up the New Look 6396, it was only a little challenging for me and I’m pleasantly surprised that I can make a cape! I think it’s a great basic cape pattern to have, it has a good variety of options and can be tweaked to fit your personal style preferences.

Thanks for having me here again!

Allie @ The Aspiring Seamstress

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A Denim Marigold Jumpsuit from Tilly and the Buttons

Hello all! 

Usually I blog over at Hyacinth Bloom, but today I’m quite excited to share with you something that I recently made in collaboration with the wonderfully, generous people here at Minerva Crafts.

The Pattern

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Patterns have a bit of a reputation for being beginner friendly yet stylish. Tilly’s patterns are also incredibly wearable, many poised to become those wardrobe basics that you need. I have to admit, however, that when the Marigold pattern was first released last year I wasn’t immediately wowed by it. The promotional photos just didn’t grab me and whisper sweetly: “buy me and add me to your already overflowing pattern collection”. Lately, however, I have been craving comfortable handmade clothes. I think I’ve reached the point where I have twice as many fancy frocks than I do occasions to wear them. (Don’t we all reach that point some time during our sewing career?) So, on this recent drive for practical everyday clothes, I revisited the Marigold Pattern. Second time around it seemed like it actually had a good deal of potential. The peg-shape of the trousers particularly appeared to have the right blend of comfort and style. Feeling brave I resolved that I would launch myself straight into the deep end and make the jumpsuit version. With thoughts of an autumnal capsule wardrobe on my mind, I decided that the jumpsuit would be perfect layered over stripy tops when the weather turns inevitably colder.

The Fabric

With this dream garment in mind I knew I wanted to make it in a dark coloured denim. Denim, after all, goes with everything, doesn’t it? The one main problem with this was, of course, the practicality of the fabric. The pattern states the need for a drapey woven fabric. Denim is far from drapey. However, rather miraculously, Minerva Crafts had the perfect solution to my quandary. Their 4oz washed Denim Fabric (which I got in the darkest colourway) was exactly what I hoped it would be. It was soft, drapey and lovely to handle. (In fact, it was so lovely I’ll overlook the fact that it frayed at even the sight of a pair of scissors).

The Construction

Tilly’s patterns are a joy to work with. The pattern pieces themselves are sturdy, and clearly marked and labelled. The instructions are well-illustrated, each step comes with a handy picture showing you what it ought to look like. For those needing a bit more help the instruction booklet includes links to helpful webpages on the Tilly and the Buttons blog. All of this meant that the construction of the garment was pretty straightforward. None of the steps were particularly complicated to follow. My one deviation from the instructions was choosing not to understitch the various facings. Instead I opted to topstitch my pockets, straps and facings. I felt that this suited the denim jumpsuit I was creating, and my thread was so dark it hardly stood out anyway.

The Fit

Okay confession time, I didn’t make a toile. I really, REALLY should have made a toile though. Looking through the instruction booklet I cut out a Size 3, based upon where my body measurements fitted into the various charts. I merrily sewed it all up, feeling pretty darn happy with how I navigated the sweetheart neckline and pocket openings. And then I went to try it on and…it didn’t fit me. (Here is a terribly embarrassing photo, which I can’t quite believe I’m putting on the internet, but shows the fit of the garment straight from the packet). Now I admit I hadn’t at this point put the elastic into the waistband. This would undoubtedly have made it look slightly less weird. But the major problem no amount of elastic could fix, was the crotch seam. It was miles away from where it needed to be. When I sat down I had this awful pouch of fabric that made it look like I had been eating far more cake than I actually had. After getting a bit annoyed and refusing to look at it for a few days, I eventually bit the bullet and made some alterations.

Now these are only the second pair of trousers I have ever made (the first were wide-legged culottes, so weren’t even trousers really). As such I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, but I read a few things about trouser fitting and said a few prayers, before I ripped apart every seam I had so carefully sewn a few days before. I played around with my pattern pieces and compared them to the other ‘trousers’ I had made. In the end I plumped for shortening the crotch by two inches, trimming a bit off the curve at the inner leg seam and hoping fervently for the best. (I shortened the crotch by folding the paper up along the lengthen/shorten lines on the pattern pieces. Remember that you also need to do this on the pocket pattern pieces).

The Result

I made a jumpsuit! I can’t quite believe my first attempt at fitting trousers actually worked. The fit is so much better now (as hopefully you can see!) It might still not be perfect, but it is about as perfect as I want it. They are loose enough to be comfy, but not in an overly baggy or unflattering sort of way. The choice of the denim has made this an extremely wearable garment, as it looks quite casual and goes with a variety of tops. I’m not 100% sure if the jumpsuit suits me, but I am definitely going to be reusing and hacking this pattern. There are definitely more versions of the Marigold trousers in my future. (In fact I have another pair cut out already). I really also want to put a skirt on to the Marigold bodice. Perhaps I could somehow merge the top of the Marigold jumpsuit with the bottom of the Cleo dungaree dress. (The Cleogold dress?!)

Thank you Minerva Crafts for this practical and comfortable addition to my handmade wardrobe, and thanks everybody for reading!

Karen @ Hyacinth Bloom

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Viscose Marigold & Orla by Georgina

Sew... this tropical leaf print Viscose Fabric is amazing! I've never sewn with viscose before, I'll admit I was a bit scared of using something so slippery, but it all went perfectly. I was even more impressed that I was able to get a dress and pair of trousers out of 3 meters.
The fabric is super soft and has a lovely drape. 
I've had my eye on Tilly and the Buttons Marigold Trousers Pattern for a while now but wasn't too sure that they would suit me. However, after wearing a very similar pair which were ready to wear I knew I had to make some. 
As with all of Tilly's patterns the instructions are super easy to follow with lots of pictures to help. This fabric is perfect for trousers as its like wearing outdoor pyjamas! The are so comfy and they have pockets. Everyone needs a pair or two in their wardrobe. 
If you are on Instagram you probably saw that French Navy released the Orla dress as a free pattern. With a fabric recommendation of "softly draping like viscose" I knew this would look great in this tropical print. 
So that I could squeeze the dress and trousers out of the fabric I didn't make the skirt as gathered as the pattern suggested. However the lovely drape makes the skirt appear fuller so for me it wasn't an issue. 
I've worn this dress a few times now and have had so many lovely compliments. 
As a newbie viscose sewer I thought I would share some helpful tips with you;
 - Wash and iron your fabric before sewing.
 - When laying out the fabric don't let the excess fabric hang over the edge of the table as it will stretch out of shape meaning wonky pattern pieces. 
 - Rather than pinning the pattern pieces to the fabric use weights to keep it nice and flat. 
 - Cut the fabric using a rotary cutter.
 - I used more pins than I would normally to pin pieces together when sewing to avoid and stretching.
The raw edges are more prone to fraying so French seams are great for a neat finish. I wasn't too sure how the fabric would work going through the the overlocker but I tried it out a small scrap and it was fine so I overlocked the trousers seams as I couldn't get my head around a French crotch seam!
If you have never sewn with viscose then I would definitely recommend this Dress Fabric as not only is it very reasonably priced it is also lovely to work with. With just a few meters you can definitely make your first viscose dress. Tillys Bettine Dress Pattern would be a great one to start with. 
Happy viscose sewing!
Georgina @ Sew in the Garden
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Spot On

Hello everybody!

I always look forward to working with new types of Fabrics so when I spotted the this Penny Spot Cotton Poplin Fabric, I knew I had to make something with it for two main reasons:

1) I love polka dots (I mean, who doesn’t?)

2) Black and white is one of my favorite color combinations of all time. It makes up a good chunk of my closet.

So clearly, this was a match made in heaven. I am grateful Minerva gave me the opportunity to try this fabric.

When I received the fabric I fell in love instantly. It was so soft and smooth to the touch and different from a typical polka dot fabric due to the bigger sized polka dots. It took me a while to decide what I wanted to make with this beautiful fabric. There were so many options to choose from. Once I pre-washed, it shrunk a little as expected and I had to give it a good press to get the wrinkles out.

I chose to make a fit and flare dress with a unique bodice using Burda 7232. I’ve had the pattern in my stash for over a year so it was definitely time to put it to work and I’m glad I did.

My new dress will be part of my fall wardrobe, as it looks great paired with long sleeves top. Due to the neckline and back bodice of the dress, it is tricky to find the right undergarment to pair it with so the layered look will be my go to style for the fall. I would love to hear if anyone has any suggestions for that.

The medium weight of this cotton poplin provided just the right stability needed for the unique bodice back and at the same time, it was perfect for the circle skirt section of the dress. I lined the bodice with a simple black cotton fabric, added a strip of interfacing to the section where the button has been stitched, and did not have to manipulate it at all to get it to behave. Of course, I added pockets to my dress.

I paired the final look with my bright orange sandals to make it pop even more and got so many compliments on my way to take some pictures of the dress. This was my first time using cotton poplin and I am glad I did. It will not be the last time.

Overall, it was a very easy Dressmaking Fabric to work with and seems versatile enough for almost all kinds of projects. I am planning to make a shirt with the scraps I have left or a baby quilt for a friend’s daughter if I don’t have enough left for myself. I think this cotton poplin would be great for beginner sewers and projects as well due to the ease of use. I hope you love my project as much as I do.

Sylvia @ The Ravel Out

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My Crepe Dress by Anna

Hi there, I’m Anna of Anna Jo Sews here with my second blog post for Minerva - the first was my version of Butterick B6217, and I’m now back with another retro inspired make. This time I went for the Colette Crepe Dress Pattern: a woven summer dress with a wrap closure, that unlike most wrap dresses, wraps at the back. 

I’ve had this pattern in my stash for a while now and was just waiting for the right fabric to make it up. I was over the moon when Minerva offered to send me this gorgeous floral viscose Crepe Fabric to sew it up, as it’s a fairly fabric intensive dress, requiring 3.5m of the main fabric, and another 1.5m to make the contrast waist ties. Thank you, Minerva - I don’t think I’d have been able to make this without your generosity!

The pics of the finished dress were all taken on our recent holiday in the South of France, with a view of the stunning medieval hilltop town of Saint-Paul de Vence. Well worth a trip if you’re ever on the Côte d’Azur.

Crepe is a pattern aimed at beginners because it’s actually very simple to sew, without having any fiddly closures to worry about. The neckline and grown-on sleeves are faced, and there are two different neckline options: round and sweetheart. Of course, I went for the sweetheart version, as I’m a complete and utter sucker for sweetheart necklines. I think the majority of my me-mades now feature this neckline - what can I say? When I find something I like, I stick with it! I also chose to make the contrast waist ties as I thought having a solid navy here would look good against the busy floral print.

While the lazy sewist in me initially contemplated just cutting into the fabric without going to the trouble of making a toile (hey, it’s a wrap dress - you can just tie it tighter or looser to adjust the fit!) in the end I’m glad the perfectionist sewist in me won out, as I ended up making a fair few alterations to the fit of the bodice. The toile was much too big all over, so I took it in by 1cm on each side seam (that’s 4cm off the overall width) and I changed the shape of the darts below the bust to give a more figure-hugging fit. I also decided the front neckline was too high for my liking, and I took it down by 2cm. It’s still high enough not to worry about any accidental cleavage flashing and I reckon I could have taken it a bit lower still - tart that I am - but it’s nice to have a dress in my wardrobe that’s a bit more modest than the rest of them ;-)

My final alteration was to take the curve of the shoulder in a little, as my toile was making me look like an American football player. I will now admit that this might have been a mistake, as my final fabric had much better drape than the bedsheet I made the toile out of, and I think I’ve now made the arms a little on the tight side. Not a problem when indulging in cocktails and general lounging about, but if I make any sudden arm lifting movements I can feel the stitches straining. Note to self: this dress is not one for running around after the kids or doing the housework in!

You can see the alterations I made to the front bodice in the next picture (new lines drawn in within the original bodice), and of course, those alterations changed the waistline, armholes and neckline so resulted in knock on changes to every single pattern piece except the ties and pockets. Gah! Sometimes I do like to make life difficult for myself.

Next up: cutting. I’m going to admit here that I’ve never worked with viscose crepe before. There was that one time early on in my sewing career when I made a dress lining out of silk crepe-de-chine and that was pretty easy to handle, though, so I figured I’d be all right with this stuff. The main Floral Fabric was very like that crepe-de-chine, having a light weight but a bit of body to it, while draping beautifully and having it a tiny bit of stretch. While it took a bit of care to keep the grainlines straight while cutting out, it was a seriously lovely fabric to sew. It behaves well under the machine and takes a good crease under the iron. I made absolutely no attempt to pattern match, by the way, and I don’t think that matters with an organic, irregular pattern like this one.

The plain crinkle Crepe Viscose Fabric was a very different beast, and I have to admit, I didn’t really know how to handle it. It crinkled right up when I pre-washed it, and became this heavily textured, really stretchy fabric. I wanted to preserve that look so I didn’t press it after washing, but I’ll admit now I probably should have, as all those crinkles made it a nightmare to cut out and sew! Luckily the ties are just two simple rectangles, so it wasn’t too big a deal. I do have some of this fabric left over - possibly enough for a tank top - so I’m thinking before I attempt to sew with it again I’m going to need to press it well. It does have a lovely texture to it, though, and I think it would be perfect for a lightweight woven top or swishy summer skirt. Minerva sell it in four different colours, and I have my eye on the red for a summer skirt, although I admit that might have to wait for next year now as it looks like the British summer is pretty much over. Boo!

The construction of this dress is pretty straightforward and the instructions are clear. The only thing that wasn’t mentioned that I thought should have been, was to staystitch not only the neckline and armholes, but the corrosponding facings too. I mostly stuck to the instructions while sewing up, but did add a bit of extra interfacing. With this shifty, lightweight crepe I thought it would be best to stabilise the neckline and armholes on the bodice as well as the facings, so I cut narrow strips of interfacing on the straight grain (I used this lovely Lightweight Woven Fusible Interfacing) and fused them along the stitching lines before staystitching. 

Interestingly, this wasn’t as successful as the staystitching at preventing the edges stretching out, as the facings were all interfaced, but they ended up stretching during construction. I dealt with it by sewing them on with the facing on the bottom, relying on the slight gathering action of the feed dogs to pull in the excess fabric. Worked a treat, but in future I will definitely be staystitching all my facings too.

The only bit of sewing that I found tricky was attaching the bodice to the skirt, as there was just so much fabric to deal with. I tacked the skirt seam allowances open at the top and stitched with the bodice side up, which made it a little easier to handle but I still had to take it really slowly. I also have to admit that I haven’t fully decided on how to treat the bottom hem, and so the dress in the pictures is finished with a simple overlock stitch in black. I’ve already shortened the hem by a good couple of inches, but I’m contemplating taking it up to above the knee and wanted to wear it first a few times first before making the final decision on length.

So, what about the finished dress? Honestly, I have mixed feelings about it. I love the fabric and the way it feels against my skin—cool and with a nice bit of give to it. I also really like the overall shape of the dress, that back neckline with its deep vee, the pockets, and the way those grown on cap sleeves cover up my shoulders. Perfect for the Mediterranean heatwave! The dress has the kind of vintage vibe I was after, and will be great for summer parties.

However, I wasn’t really after a party dress. What I wanted - no, needed - was a dress that I could wear every day, and this isn’t it. The wraps feel too restricting around my middle. Somehow, in all my excitement to make this I’d completely forgotten that there’s a reason I don’t have any wrap dresses in my wardrobe, and it’s because I decided years ago that I found them uncomfortable. Not only are they bulky and hot around my waist, but the tie can be really annoying when lounging back in chairs. I don’t really have the patience to wear uncomfortable clothing any more, and one of the joys of making your own is that you don’t have to!

I’m also conscious that I still haven’t quite perfected the bodice fit. It’s a little loose under the arms, although I have to admit, it looks pretty good in these pictures so maybe I’m being too much of a perfectionist. I also wanted this to be a good holiday dress, but with all the extra fabric with the back wrap and ties it takes up more than its fair share of suitcase room. And it creases too. And I hate ironing - especially when I’m on holiday!

So, I’m in two minds about this make. If I leave it in its current state I doubt it will get worn very often. I already have a wardrobe stuffed with pretty party dresses, and a tragic lack of occasions to trot them out. While the contrast ties look cute, I’m seriously considering going for a fairly drastic remodelling by removing them, cutting it down the centre back and inserting a zip. I reckon that would preserve the look of the dress, while making it much more comfy and easy to wear.

What do you think? Is it worth reworking a partially successful finished make until you have it just right for you, or do you always want to move onto the next project?

Anna-Jo x

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The Rockabilly Pirate Top

Hi there, I’m Anna of annajosews here with my third blog post for Minerva—and if you’ve been following my other makes (here and here) you won’t be surprised to see this is another retro-inspired make! What can I say? I’m all about those Rockabilly vibes these days. I should just get me a flaming hot rod tattoo and be done with it!

Anyway, as I’m on a quest for cute clothes that are a little bit bombshell, but not so much that they aren’t appropriate for taking a toddler to playgroups, one of the recent Simplicity patterns instantly caught my eye. 

Simplicity Pattern 8342 is a bumper pattern pack that features a Rockabilly style knit top, pedal pushers and a pencil skirt with an amazing ruffle detail. Honestly, I could see myself wearing all the garments, but it was the top that hooked me in first. Apparently I really can’t say no to sweetheart necklines, cap sleeves and bust ties!

I figured as this was a knit top it should be practical for everyday wear, and it didn’t look too revealing (bearing in mind I’m quite happy with skintight clothes and plunging necklines—your mileage may vary). There are two versions, and much as I love the halter neck I thought the cap sleeves would be good for protecting my shoulders from the sun, and more practical to wear with a bra. You can see the cute retro stylings on the pattern cover models in the picture below—and I’ve got to say, kudos to Simplicity for showing two models of very different sizes on the one envelope—I wish more pattern companies would do this as I think it helps out everyone to see how the same pattern can fit different sized bodies.

And check out the fabric! I have to admit, I thought my first venture into nautical inspired prints would be more subtle—a ditsy anchor print, perhaps—but I fell in love with this Spanish nautical print Jersey Fabric on the Minerva website. While I was a little apprehensive about the pattern scale, I figured this top could take it. And I reckon I was right—what do you think?!

The jersey is a lovely quality—a true medium weight cotton lycra with good 4-way stretch and excellent recovery. The white base will show through the navy if it’s pulled really tight so it might not be suitable for something with a lot of negative ease like leggings, but for this top it’s just perfect. Cutting through it was easy with my rotary cutter and the fabric behaved nicely without too much rolling at the edges. Cutting did take me AGES, however, as I had to think really carefully about pattern placement and matching. Any inconsistencies would have been really obvious in a print with that much contrast in such a large scale. I ended up tracing out the front bodice pattern piece flat rather than on the fold which helped keep everything lined up. I’m pleased with my cutting decisions and glad I took the time to plan it all out. And it meant I didn’t end up with ships wheel nipples, which is always a good thing ;-)

For reference, my measurements put me at a size 14 for the bust, a 16 for the waist, and between 14 and 16 for the hips. Rather than grade between sizes I decided to go for a straight size 14, reasoning that the stretchiness should help it to fit. And besides, Big 4 patterns tend to be sized generously, so I figured I’d be likely to need to take the pattern in, anyway. I did measure the pattern pieces at the waist and figured the size 14 would have zero ease on me there, which seemed fine to me with this kind of style.

This version of the top uses a little more fabric than the halterneck, but can still be made out of just 1m of fabric (for the sizes 14 and below—larger sizes need a little more but it’s still very economical), so it could be an excellent stashbuster for those of us with too much fabric hidden around the house. Come on, I know I’m not the only one who does this!

Making the pattern up was a little bit more challenging than sewing a t-shirt, but that just made it more fun! It’s not a particularly difficult one to sew up and it could definitely be tackled by an adventurous beginner. The only bit that confused my poor little brain was the unusual and clever technique for sewing the sleeve where you end up with all raw edges completely enclosed. I couldn’t visualise how it worked from just looking at the instructions, but The Crafty Pinup has an excellent YouTube tutorial for sewing this top. I watched this through once, figured out the steps were straightforward if unfamiliar, and then sewed it up from the pattern instructions.

The back is held tight at the top using elastic in a casing, and I went for the 19mm Woven Elastic. The pattern specifies 13mm elastic, but as I tend to prefer wider elastic (more comfortable!) I went for this and made the casing was wide enough by simply overlocking and stitching down the casing, rather than turning under the edge before stitching. I cut the length of elastic specified for a size 14 but ended up reducing it by a whopping 3cm after basting the side seams and trying the top on for fit. Definitely a sign that I could have gone for the next size down in the bust!

The only other supply I used for this top was some H609 Vilene Fusible Knit Interfacing for the straps. The instructions do specify hem tape as well, but I decided not to go for that as the jersey behaved itself so nicely, and simply zigzagged my hem. Oh, and I used a 90 jersey needle for this one. I’m sure I could have got away with an 80, but as there are a few places where you have lots of layers to stitch through I’m glad I went with the thicker needle.

At just two and a half hours to stitch up I’d say this was a pretty fast make, although obviously a bit more involved than some knit tops (like I said, that’s a good thing in my book!). A couple of tips should you be thinking about tackling this top yourself: stitching the upper bodice together over the strap is much easier if you sew with the tacking side on top. It’s also well worth basting this seam first through all layers at the strap as it makes it so much easier to handle under the machine. I’d also baste the tops of the side seams to make sure you get them lined up perfectly at the underarm. I did this by hand and it worked a treat (after my first, abysmal attempt at sewing it without and a few minutes spent cursing as I unpicked all those annoying overlocker stitches).

So, what’s my take on the finished top?

Can you tell from the pics that I love it! It’s exactly what I was after to go with jeans or a skirt and it makes me feel like a Rockabilly Pirate with all those anchors on display. My little boy loves it too, but then again, he’s a sucker for anything pirate-themed. Prising him out of his pirate PJs is almost impossible some days, and I have been known to take him out of the house in them (Shhh! Don’t tell!), so he’s definitely getting something made out of the offcuts. There isn’t enough for a whole t-shirt, but I’m sure with some colourblocking I can make him something cute. Then we can be matching pirates! Arrgh, matey!

Before I finished this top I was a little concerned that there might be a large hole under the knot, but it’s pretty tiny on me. I’m guessing larger cup sizes might find it’s pulled a little wider. So yes, you do end up flashing the tiniest bit of bra here, but with the tie pulled down it’s barely noticeable. Still, not a top to make if the idea of random people knowing the colour of your bra gives you the heebie jeebies. Just sayin’.

My only problem with the finished top is the straps. They keep falling off my shoulders. Sizing down in the bust area would help, but what I really need to do is shorten the straps. However, you can only adjust the length at the back and if I shorten these any more they knock the cap sleeve too far back on my shoulder and it looks silly in profile. Next time I will definitely cut a much smaller sleeve, and will experiment with the best size for me. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is necessarily a problem with the pattern as drafted. I’m used to having to make narrow shoulder adjustments, so I think it’s down to my body shape. I could pick apart my straps and redo the sleeves, but since I’m a bit lazy busy, I’ll probably settle to adding some bra strap carriers (or these ready made Strap Retainers) and call it a day. Or just wearing a close fitting cardigan over it. That works too, and let’s face it, I’m not sure how much more bare arms weather we’ll be getting this year. I’m still hoping for an Indian summer, though. Let’s all cross our fingers for that!

So, next time I make this top I’m going to grade down to a 12 at the bust, and an 8 or 10 for the sleeves. Although I reckon my next one is going to be the halter neck as that’s seriously cute and summery… Or perhaps the next time I make from this pattern I’ll go for the skirt (I’m drawn to that hemline, which is weird as I’m not normally a ruffle girl) or maybe even those skintight pedal pushers… Which would you sew first?

Anna-Jo x

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All supplies for this make were kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!

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The Kielo Wrap Dress by Wanderstitch

Well hello again, dear readers! Sarah from Wanderstitch here, super excited to be back on the Minerva Crafts blog sharing with you my Kielo Wrap Dress by Named Patterns.
I've been a long-time admirer of all the patterns on the Named website, but never actually got round to making any of their designs. As summer slowly bloomed in the UK I kept seeing beautiful versions of their Kielo dress popping up all over social media and decided it was finally time to make my own. I hadn't seen many patterned versions, they all tended to be plain - but you know I can't resist a good crazy print!
You can use a wide range of fabrics for this dress, but the key point is that it must have some stretch to it - 20% to 60% is recommended on the Named website. You could use a lightweight stretch chiffon or crepe (though you may have to think about a lining!) or any jersey that takes your fancy. A word of warning - the yardage stated on the pattern envelope is for uni-directional fabric designs as they instruct you to cut one piece the 'right' way up and then one piece 'upside down'. So if you have a fabric like mine, which has a clear 'this way up' vibe, you'll need to buy extra. One more metre over and above what's stated should do it, or two metres if you've got a large scale pattern that you want to match up.
When I saw this elephant print jersey on the Minerva Crafts site, in those gorgeous bright warm colours, I knew it was destined to become my Kielo. (Unfortunately Minerva have now sold out of this fabric, but there are loads of other gorgeous Jersey Fabrics to choose from on their site). It makes me think of lazing on a Thai beach, sun shining, lush green trees all around. Refreshing coconut drink in hand.
Sadly I don't live anywhere near a Thai beach for a photo shoot, so you'll have to use your imagination with this London park instead!
The Kielo is a full length, sleeveless wrap dress with waist ties that you can fasten in a couple of different ways. The waist tie is what drew me to this dress - I need some sort of definition around the middle or I end up looking like I'm wearing a bin liner. You can fasten it either at the front or at the back depending on your preference - It's photographed on the pattern envelope tied at the front but I actually quite like it tied at the back as I feel that it's not so much bulk on my stomach that way!
Named package their patterns in an über-stylish sturdy cardboard envelope, and the pattern itself is printed on white paper as opposed to tissue paper. Seam allowances are included (yay!). Due to the size of the body pieces, you have to trace two separate parts to get the one complete piece which you can then cut out, but this is no biggie. Cutting the front piece on the fold is a little bit tricky so I would recommend tracing a complete front piece (rather than one that is to be placed on the fold) to make it easier to see what you're doing and check that the fabric is where you want it to be. With this fabric, getting it straight was really important as it would be glaringly obvious if the coloured bands were wonky!
The construction of the dress is pretty simple as there are only three elements - the front (one complete piece with bust darts), the back (two pieces, one dart on each joined with a seam at centre back) and two straps. The straps require interfacing for extra support. I don't usually work with jersey so I didn't have any of the recommended knit interfacing to hand, instead I used regular woven interfacing (no stretch). I figured that I probably didn't want the straps to be able to stretch anyway or I'd be wrapping them around me a hundred times just to stop them from flapping about behind - check out the size of the dress when it's unwrapped!
To keep the edges nice and neat on the inside, I overlocked them. Though you could totally use a zig-zag stitch if you don't have access to an overlocker. To hem the dress, I used a normal straight stitch as I don't have a coverstitch machine - because there's a vent at the centre back of the dress the hem isn't under too much strain when walking so I'm not worried that the stitching will break. Working with jersey needn't be as scary as you think it will be - you can get along just fine with only your sewing machine, you don't have to have the other machines. If you've never tried working with it before, this would be a nice easy project to start out with as the fit is very forgiving!
My only special recommendation would be a Ballpoint Needle (also called a jersey needle) which has a slightly rounded tip to allow the needle to slip past the fibres of the fabric rather than piercing through them as a super sharp needle would do.
The dress is unlined, and there are no facings (bear this in mind when choosing your fabric!). If you wish you can use Knit Bias Tape to finish the armholes and neck opening (instructions are provided) but I didn't have any of this to hand. I guess I could have potentially made my own, but instead followed their alternative method of turning under the seam allowance twice and then stitching in place. This is the same method as used for the hem of the dress and worked out pretty fine.
I'm really pleased with how this has turned out, and I think the design has massive potential - you could achieve a classy look with a sheer fabric over a slip dress, or add some sleeves and make a winter version from a thicker jersey (which I am totally planning on doing). There is a free PDF template on the Named website for sleeves that you can download, so you don't even have to draft your own!
There will definitely be more of these dresses in my life. I don't usually get excited about fitted jersey dresses because they cling to my stomach, but this one has just the right amount of detail around the middle to not make me feel self-conscious. This dress is a game-changer for me!
As a parting gift, I'll leave you with the obligatory sugar-glider shot :)
Thanks for reading,
Sarah @ Wanderstitch
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Pauline Alice’s Aldaia Dress by Lara

Hi Everyone! This is Lara from Handmade by Lara Liz and I’m so excited to be back on the Minerva Crafts Blog for another guest post!
As an indie pattern designer addict, I am always looking for new indie pattern designers to try. When I was browsing the Minerva Crafts Website, Pauline Alice’s Aldaia’s Dress jumped right out at me. So much so that I wanted to make the exact version on the pattern envelope! The pattern sample is Version C in a bright pink. It is just so beautiful, I couldn’t get it out of my mind!
I was browsing the Minerva Crafts website for the perfect Jersey Fabric. The pattern recommends medium weight knit fabrics with 20-30% stretch. I wanted to give Minerva's Plain Ponte Roma Fabric a go – it comes in SO many colors. I figured it would be a good basic to have as an option for all your knit dresses needs!
I had never sewn a Pauline Alice pattern before, but ended up settling on making the size 38 which was the closest to my measurements.
What I liked about this pattern is that while I was dead set on making View C there three very different views included in the pattern. View A is a v neck dress with elbow length sleeves with bands and a short paneled skirt. View B is a wrap style bodice that is sleeveless with a below the knee pencil skirt. View C, which I chose, was a jewel neckline finished with a facing, short sleeves and a 6-gore skirt.  You could make three very different dresses with each of these views which makes the pattern so worth it!
Because each version was so different, I really liked that the instructions were specific to each version. Sometimes it’s hard to follow when instructions have steps that are a specific view only mixed all together. The Aldaia dress had 3 sets of instructions, one for each version.
When I traced the pattern, I thought it would be a complex sewing project. It has a lot of different pieces and small steps that all add up to a beautiful dress. I was pleasantly surprised that the dress actually came together SO quickly. Before I blinked, I had a full bodice and then I was attaching the bodice to the skirt, adding sleeves and ta-da! All done!
The fabric was a perfect fit for the dress. It was such an easy fabric to work with and was the perfect stretch and weight for the pattern. I sewed the entire dress on my sewing machine and finished my edges with my overlocker to make it more finished on the inside. I hand tacked the facing and sleeve facings down and left the skirt un-hemmed. I don’t have a coverstitch machine and felt that a double needle would make the dress look more casual.
The pink of this fabric makes it the perfect girly work or weekend even attire! I am planning to wear it to a bridal shower and think it will be a perfect thing to wear! I would highly recommend this Fabric – and it comes in so many colors, the opportunities are really endless!
I am really thrilled with the way this has turned out and so glad I decided to give the Aldaia Sewing Pattern a try!
I’d love to see your versions of the Aldaia Pattern – make sure to reach out to me on Instagram or connect with me on my blog! Thanks for stopping by today!

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