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Hexagon Template Set Review

Greetings from southern Ontario. My name is Joanne and I am primarily a quilter. So when the opportunity to review the 9 Piece Hexagon Template Set was available I said “yes please”.

I could not have imagined what an amazing set this was and how many options it opens up to the quilter. First of all the packaging. There are 9 Hexagons in the set. The smallest is 1” across and the largest is 5” across. If your work area is anything like mine those very small hexagons would get lost in no time. The packaging takes that into account and is resealable so that all the templates can stay together.

The features of the individual hexagon templates have been well thought out with the quilter in mind. If you do English Paper Piecing each template is ¼” smaller that the size above it. This means you can trace template C on your paper and use template D for your fabric and you will have exactly a ¼” seam all the way around. And with all the various sizes from 1” to 5” you can make hexagons of many different sizes. I don’t tend to do English Paper Piecing (yet) but this set makes it so tempting. I have done a little but found all the cutting out a challenge. This set would help take care of that.

As a quilter I am considered a piecer and the second really great feature on these templates is that the ¼” in from the corner is cut through the template so you can mark that exact location with a pencil. I used a mechanical pencil and have both regular lead and a white one. The thin lead fits comfortably through the small hole and marks that sometimes elusive location. This is the spot you need to stitch to when you are making “Y” seams. Some individuals just avoid patterns with this feature because it is hard to get that spot just exactly right and if you don’t you either get a gap or a pucker on the good side of your work.

The templates are of high quality acrylic and using a rotary cutter with them is easy. I put my fabric on my rotating mat and placed the template on top and zip, zip, zip I had my fabric cut.

I stitched one set of three hexagons together after marking that elusive corner start and stop location. It was very easy to do. And with a wee press of the iron I had a finished “Y” seam that was smooth and flat without a gap.

I had not seen these particular items beforehand and was cautiously optimistic that they would be useful. I can say without a doubt this set exceeded all my expectations. It is neat, organized and clearly had someone behind its development that had asked all the right questions and found some good answers.

Thanks for reading,

Joanne @ quiltsbyjoanne

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Sublime Isla DK Yarn Review

Hello again! I’m excited to be back on the Minerva crafts blog with my review of Sublime Isla DK Yarn. This is one of my favourite yarns, it’s a lovely mix of 50% cotton and 50% bamboo which makes it super soft and silky. It’s machine washable at 40 degrees so is perfect for making garments.  I selected colour 625 (Ida) but it was a difficult choice as all 10 available colours are lovely, there’s a shade to suit everyone. The yarn is supplied as a hank so there is a bit of preparation required before you can start knitting or crocheting which can be a bit frustrating if, like me, you are keen to get started (but it’s worth the effort to form a useable ball, so you don’t end up in a tangled mess!)

My crochet projects so far have mostly been blankets, scarves, and amigurumi toys, so I set myself the challenge of making an item of clothing! I chose the Fan Stitch cardigan from the book “learn to crochet, love to crochet” by Anna Wilkinson as I loved the fan stitch design. This pattern is also available on ravelry.

Anna’s patterns are designed for people who are new to crochet. I would say this pattern is not suitable for an absolute crochet beginner as some of the terminology used is a bit confusing in places (initially I struggled to get the pattern right and found it easier to follow the diagram rather than the written pattern when starting off), but it would suit someone with some previous crochet experience. The cardigan is made in 5 pieces which makes it quite a portable project – I made quite a lot of my cardigan pieces on long car and train journeys!

The pattern is designed for use with an Aran weight yarn and a 6mm hook. I used the Sublime Isla DK yarn with a 5mm hook which meant the pattern worked up slightly smaller than the original. This wasn’t a problem for me as I didn’t want my cardigan to be too long, but it’s something to bear in mind if you are in between pattern sizes.

I modified the pattern slightly, making the sleeves longer by adding two more sets of pattern repeats before shaping the shoulders. You could also add more pattern repeats to the back and front pieces before shaping the armholes and neck, to make the cardigan longer. I decided to add the same stitch pattern used for the button band to the bottom of the cardigan, and I added a treble crochet band around the cuffs and at the top of the patch pockets, which I think really helps to finish off the cardigan.

Sublime Isla is a lovely yarn to crochet with as it’s so soft and smooth. The strands are quite loosely attached so sometimes it can be possible to snag a strand when making a stitch, but the yarn twists as you use it, making the strands hold together more firmly. Sublime Isla gives lovely stitch definition and the fan pattern of the cardigan really stands out using this yarn. I used 3 hanks of sublime Isla to make the small size of the fan stitch cardigan, with a little extra yarn required for my pattern modifications. 

I’m so pleased with my finished cardigan, it fits perfectly and I’m proud of myself for making my first crocheted garment! I will definitely be attempting some of the other patterns from Anna’s book. I would recommend trying sublime Isla for your next knitting or crochet project as it’s a delight to use.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope to be back again soon with my next product review!

Jemma (@buntingandbuttons)

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Baby Alpaca DK by King Cole Review

My name is Tina and I have been knitting for most of my life. I always enjoy knitting with different yarn so I was very excited to try some Alpaca yarn when it was offered for review by Minerva Crafts. The yarn is Baby Alpaca DK by King Cole. It is not a yarn intended to knit for babies . Baby Alpaca means it is cut from the finest alpaca giving the softest luxury fiber. Alpaca yarn is known for being warmer than wool while being light and very hard wearing.
The King Cole DK Baby Alpaca comes in 35 beautiful colours. There really is a colour to suit every one. From muted pinks and blues to vibrant lilac and blush. The yarn is in 50g and is supported with a full range of patterns . The yarn is suitable for sweaters and accessories.
It is recommended to use with a 4mm needle and is hand wash only. The Alpaca is so light that hand washing its not a problem. When I blocked the sweater it was quite quick to dry.
I chose to use the Cranberry colour . Which is a gorgeous red berry shade. I thought it would be perfect for winter parties or dinners out. The luxury of the yarn  gives a top a touch of glamour. 
I chose a Vintage 1950's look pattern by Susan Crawford called Blanch too. I thought the soft halo of the yarn would reflect the sweaters of the 1950's. The sweater is cropped with short sleeves and a low square neckline. 
The yarn is lovely and soft to knit with. It is not to slippy but glides from the needle. I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn. It did feel lighter than a DK but the fabric it made on 4mm needles was a nice even gauge. There is a lovely halo to the yarn but you can see a really good stitch definition. I would not recommend it for colour work or cables because it is so soft but the stitches looked clear. You can see this on the square neck detail. The halo gives the sweater a softer cosy look without loosing detail.
I am so pleased with the sweater. It is a lovely fit that looks fitted but has plenty of stretch for comfort. The Baby Alpaca is so soft on the skin and has a beautiful drape that skims the body. The colour is rich and compliments the luxury look of the yarn. 
I will be wearing this beautiful sweater from Autumn all the way through to spring. It will look great with jeans in the day or lovely with a skirt in the evening. The extra warmth from the Alpaca means that the sweater will still be lovely and cosy in winter. 
I would love to use this yarn again. I would use it for another sweater but I also think the accessories would be beautiful in this Baby Alpaca by King Cole.  I would make a gorgeous winter hat and cowl set. Maybe with little mitts. The Baby Alpaca would also be amazing for gifts. A hat, scarf or mitts in this soft luxury yarn would look gorgeous wrapped in tissue paper in a gift box. 
I hope this review has been interesting and useful to you. If you would like to see and hear more about the yarn I make videos every week on Youtube sharing my crafts. You can find me as Simply in stitches.
Best wishes
Tina x
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Studio Linen True Love Crochet Shawl

For those of you that saw my review of Erika Knight's BFL yarn last year you will already know that I am a bit of a fan, so I was very keen to try out this Linen Yarn from Minerva.

We should perhaps start with the boring technical bit. This yarn is Erika Knight's Studio Linen, it is a DK weight yarn made from 100% linen (85% recycled linen, 15% pure new linen). It comes in 50g skeins with 120m pre skein. Minerva Crafts stock 17 shades/ colour ways all of which are at the cooler end of the shade card and muted shades in solid colours. I chose to sample the Cirrus colour way.

Before starting this project I had never worked with linen before, I'd worked with quite a lot of cotton and have to confess that it is not my favourite so I was worried that my experience with linen was going to be equally problematic. Despite my misgivings/ worries I still wanted to try it out as I have an interest in sustainable fashion and as such the idea of having a wardrobe based primarily on linen and wool garments and accessories greatly appeals to me. In my fantasy sustainable wardrobe I am dressed like a Viking but you will be pleased to know that I chose a more modern style to test out the yarn with.

I'd heard from a number of sources that linen could be quite tough on your hands and wrists when knitting or crocheting and that it often benefited from being “worked” through the hands several times, just to soften it up, before starting a project. As this yarn comes in a skein working it through my hands at least once (as I hand wound it in to a ball) was always going to be a part of the process anyway.

What I found with the yarn though was that is was already extremely soft the to touch and incredibly flexible. It seemed to have drape even in its unworked state. It also had an incredible amount of lustre, almost as much as a silk yarn. I suspect that one of the reasons that is was such a soft yarn is that the majority of the linen in the yarn is recycled and that it was the processes involved in recycling that softened the fibres.

I'll come back to this recycling process later but for now let us move on to what it was actually like to work with the yarn. Linen yarns tend to lend themselves well to making short sleeve summer tops but I settled on an accessory. After an extensive Ravelry search I chose the True Love crochet shawl by Michele DuNaier. It is a paid for pattern but well worth it.

As well as feeling wonderfully soft the linen yarn glided through the fingers well whilst working with it with only to occasional snap to remind you that you were working with a plant based fibre. It was rather like coming across the odd tiny bit of veg matter in a hand spun yarn. I'll admit I was expecting a serious amount of hand fatigue whilst working with the yarn, 30 minutes of crochet in one sitting with a cotton yarn is my limit, but I was very pleasantly surprised that with the linen yarn. I didn't end up with any kind of hand cramping/ wrist ache at all and I could keep going for hours. In fact I often did at the expense of any other jobs I should have been doing/ meals I should have been cooking etc. Linen is never going to replace wool as my go to fibre for knitting or crochet but based on this yarn I would happily choose it over all other plant fibres.

As I finished the shawl during the middle of a heat wave I wasn't expecting to get much wear out of it yet but I was wrong. It seems that another benefit of linen is that is feels cool next to the skin even in temperatures heading up to the 30 degrees (which to my northern internal thermostat feels like sitting next to the oven with the door open). The yarn is quite heavy which adds to the wonderful drape of the fabric without any need for blocking, always a bonus in my opinion. What is does mean though is that if you do make a shawl with it you would be best advised to wear a shawl pin with it to stop it falling off it you move quickly/ lean over. The smooth fibre also means that unlike wool it doesn't grab on to itself so a shawl may slide out of position unless secured and may influence your choice of needle/ hook when working on a project.

I think by now you have probably gathered that I really rather like this yarn and would happily work with it again on any number of projects. I do however have 2 areas of concern with the yarn. The first is relatively minor and that is that the ends of the yarn are prone to untwisting themselves over time as you work a project. I would therefore suggest weaving in ends as you go rather than waiting until you finish a project to avoid any complications trying to thread the loose end through a tapestry needle.

The second concern I have is a slightly more significant one and relates to the chemicals involved in the recycling process for the recycled linen used in the yarn. In order to recycle linen chemicals are used to essentially dissolve the fibres in to a thick soup, this soup (with an added thickening/ stabilising agent) is then spun back in to long fibres/ yarn. This is also the process used for making viscose from bamboo fibres. Traditionally the chemicals used in this process aren't particularly kind to the environment nor the health of the workers in the factories where it is produced. As well as this the process uses a massive amount of water and can often included trace amounts of acrylic as a stabilising agent. I was worried I had found a yarn that was a dream to work with but that made my heart heavy from a sustainability viewpoint. Fear not though as a quick look at the Erika Knight website informed me that they actually use an environmentally friendly process for recycling the linen. So whilst the process is similar to viscose production it is kinder to planet and humans alike. The exact nature of the process wasn't elaborated upon on her website but as a guess I would suspect that it used a process similar to that involved in making lyocell where cellulose fibres are processed using a non-toxic spinning solution in a closed loop system. Taking this in to consideration I'm happy to accept the level of environmental impact involved with this yarn.

Overall I would whole heartedly recommend this yarn to anyone who will listen (and I probably will). Even if you have tried linen, or other plant fibres, before and not enjoyed them give this yarn a try I promise that you will be pleasantly surprised and end up with a knitted/ crocheted project that you will treasure.

Thanks for reading,

Nadine @ themanyknitsofnadine

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Monsal Lounge Pants

Have you checked out Wendy Ward's newest book, A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics, yet? This book is great for beginners and also advanced sewists. I've been sewing for a very long time and thought I knew a lot but I picked up so many new tips from reading this book. There are cheat sheets and diagrams - perfect for printing out and hanging in your sewing space. The book is easy to read and super helpful.  

 When I first got the book I read through it and kept going back and forth on which piece I wanted to make first. I was torn between the Longshaw Skirt and the Monsal Lounge Pants. I finally decided on the Monsal Lounge Pants because I found the cutest fabric on Earth: Panda Print Stretch Jersey Fabric. This stuff is amazing, it feels like the custom fabrics I buy all the time, but at a much more affordable price point. It's that Elastane that really makes the difference and who could pass up the pandas?!  

 The book itself shows you have to make 20 essential garments and includes printed patterns. They are patterns that you can build upon and make them your own. You do have to trace off the patterns which some people may not like, but I actually do this to all of my patterns, so no big deal. I'm team trace because that way I make my alterations on the tissue paper and don't ruin the original pattern.  

 My measurements were 31 waist and 40 hips, so I went with the size 36-30-39. I think the fit is correct and the pants are very comfortable. I added 1" to the length since I'm so tall (5'10") and I went with the cuff verison. I added 29" elastic for the waist but probably should have done 28" instead. I figure with all the wear they will be washed often and tighter elastic might be smart. I really love how they turned out, I'm basically just going to live in them forever.

 

I'm super in love with the pockets. I added the piping for a nice contrast and to match the waist and cuffs. The pockets are deep and aren't bulky. If you follow anything else I've made, I'm sort of insane about pockets and them needing to fit my huge cell phone and random kid toys.  

 Overall, great book, great pattern and I love my panda fabric. I look forward to making more of these joggers and more patterns from Wendy's book. If you know of someone with a birthday or you're wanting to give a sewist a gift - this book is it!

Thanks for reading,

Amy @ That's Sew Amy

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Clara by Drops Design in King Cole Smooth

I chose this King Cole Yarn called Smooth from Minerva and after the dull colours of winter, I chose a bright, vibrant colourway called Shrimp. This yarn is a Double Knit in 100g balls. It looks and feels like a soft cotton/acrylic mix, but is in fact 100% acrylic. There are 216 metres on each ball, less than a lot of acrylic yarns, but it does go a long way. The pattern I chose stated that 500g was needed for the size I knitted, but I decided to risk it with 400g of yarn, thinking that I would do short sleeves if I didn’t think there would be enough for the three-quarter sleeves in the pattern. As it was, I had plenty of yarn to do the pattern as it said, and I had about 20g left over.

The tension square is 22 sts x 28 rows to 10 cm on 4 mm needles, so this should be ok for most double knit patterns. It’s washable at 40° and can be tumble dried on a low setting, making this yarn ideal for babies and children. It knits up well, is very soft to the touch, and has good stitch definition.

I chose to knit myself a spring/summer top with three quarter sleeves. The pattern is Clara by Drops Design, free from Ravelry as a download, or the pattern book containing this design is no. 170, and costs £1 from Drops. King Cole have some lovely Knitting Patterns for this yarn, available from Minerva Crafts. Although I take a size 12/14, I knit the large size, as Drops patterns always knit up quite small, and it’s quite a fitted style, decreasing to the waist and then increasing up to the bust. 

The increase and decrease stitches are made at each side in a plain panel, which is a lot easier than trying to work them into the lace pattern It’s knitted on a circular needle from the bottom up. There are 6 rows of garter stitch at the bottom of the body and sleeves, so ideal for anyone who doesn’t like knitting ribs. The lace pattern is a graph, which is easy to follow, but could be written out for anyone who doesn’t like knitting from graphs. It’s suggested that the sleeves are knitted on DPNs, but I preferred to knit them on a small, 40 cm, circular needle. The yoke is knitted in a different, very simple lace pattern, decreasing every few rows up to the neck. It has a nice, low neckline for the summer, and there are 8 short rows to define the front and back neckline.

This yarn is available from Minerva Crafts in 20 different colourways, including black, white, pastels and brights. At £3.29 per 100g ball, it’s good value for money. My only small complaint is that there were a couple of knots in each ball, where the wool had been joined, but these were easy enough to undo and then continue as if starting a new ball. I am really pleased with my new top It fits well, feels soft and summery, and look good with jeans, shorts and skirts. I would recommend this yarn and will probably buy some to knit summer tops for my granddaughters. Many thanks to Minerva Crafts for the yarn.

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Wendy Ward Book Review by Di

I love making clothes from Knit Fabrics, they're so comfortable to wear and often really quick to make. Yet I hear so many people say they are afraid to sew with knits and advising others to avoid them. Consequently, when I got the chance to review A Beginner's Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics, the new book by Wendy Ward, I jumped at the chance. Especially when I discovered that all the techniques could be achieved using a standard machine. Teaching garment making is another passion and I want everyone to feel proud of what they make without feeling they have to invest large amounts of money on various machines.
First Impressions
This is a soft backed book with an uncluttered front cover, clear text and a picture of a t-shirt dress that isn't a highly posed fashion picture. The back cover has a simple outfit pictured in a rustic setting. The cover text emphasises the inclusion of full size patterns to make 20 garments in UK sizes 8 -26 and all you need to know to make them. Inside the back cover is a plastic envelope with the patterns in. On flicking through the book there are plenty of photos of the garments and what look like clear diagrams that are large enough to see the details.
About Wendy Ward
For me the credibility of the author is important and Wendy's experience in the fashion industry, especially in active wear is a positive one. In the Introduction she expresses opinions that jell well with my own, leaving me looking forward to what the book has to offer those venturing into sewing with knits, whatever their experience.
The Contents
The book is divided into 3 sections that you need to dip backwards and forwards into as you make the garments.
- Understanding and working with knitted fabrics
- The information needed to make each garment
- A glossary of knit fabrics and suppliers.
Plus the actual patterns in a plastic envelope.
Definitely read the How to Use This Book page. It explains which are the easiest projects and suggests which knitted fabrics are the easiest to use. Going on to say that you can adapt the basic 6 garments, joining them together to create a capsule wardrobe.
The Techniques section starts with a really good double page guide to tools and equipment that's useful to anyone relatively new to garment making. It does show a professional pattern weight that most people will never need, but also says you can use any weighty objects like tin cans and paperweights. Followed by:
Sizing and Taking Measurements - this is an essential read as the sizing and how to choose which size to make is unique to this book. What I really like is that it makes absolutely no reference to dress sizes, everything is based on your own measurements. It also explains which measurement you need to use for the different garments, beware this will probably mean using different sizes for different garments.
Know Your Knits - explains the basics of knitted fabric, identifying the right and wrongs sides, along with the straight grain and the selvedge. It includes really clear pictures to help with identifying single jersey, followed by a section on different types of knitted fabric and their uses. This really would have benefitted from more pictures. Understanding how much a fabric needs to stretch is so important, too little and a garment will be too tight and too much can be really unflattering and difficult to sew. It's really easy to work out how much a fabric stretches using a diagram, but this book uses a mathematical formula. Technically correct, but as a nation we are notoriously poor at maths.............. The phrase 'a picture paints a thousand words' came to mind. If you like to keep records of fabrics you use or to help you choose the right fabric there is a Fabric Shopping Checklist to copy
Preparing Knits For a Project - discusses prewashing and care of knit fabrics followed by how to find the grain line, including tubular knits.
Setting Up Your Machine & Machining Techniques
This section is 17 pages long and tells you everything you need to know to make the patterns as well as being a great reference for stitching knitted fabrics in the future. Starting with choosing the correct needle and pointing out that this isn't 'a science' and if one type of needle causes skipped stitches, then try a different type and "Hooray!" Wendy even says sometimes a regular needle is best! After the basics of setting up your machine it moves on to using the paper patterns, with a chart telling you the pieces you need for each garment, which sheet they are on, copying them, marking and lengthening.
There are 2 pages about different techniques for sewing seams which should be achievable using most types of sewing machine, including a chart for the best seam for different types of knitted fabric. Also tips for cutting and sewing stripes.
Finishing neck, armhole and waistline is where techniques differ from working with woven fabrics. These areas often need to stretch to get the garment on, but need to be stable during wear. This is where Wendy offers industrial techniques, often not found in commercial patterns. She explains how to add a folded band to neck and armholes, including another chart for the best ways to stitch the seam depending on the fabric and whether the seam needs to stretch.
There are 4 methods for attaching elastic to a waistline. I use these methods a lot, but I don't think I've ever seen them described for the home garment maker before. They provide a flat and professional finish and only one needs the elastic threading through a casing. There are three methods of attaching elastic directly to the garment that you will have seen, if like me you interrogate bought clothes! Supported throughout by high quality diagrams.
Finally this section shows a couple of ways to begin to add some personalisation to the garments and also gives tips for pressing.
The Garments
The majority of the book describes everything you need to know to make the 6 main garments and adapting them to make the 20 garments. In the end you will be able to adapt these patterns into many different garments, the only constraint being your imagination!
I'll discuss the details of this section as I make my dress. However the basic designs, that can all be made in different lengths, are:
- Crew neck t shirt with sleeve length variations
- Wide leg trouser
- Tank top
- Tapered lounge pants
- Cardigan
- Draped skirt
Glossary of Fibres and Fabrics
This is probably the main area of garment making that people constantly ask for advice about. The demise of bricks and mortar fabric shops mean many people have never discovered the joy of browsing a shop, touching the fabrics, getting a feel for the drape, crushing fabric to see if it springs
back or maintains the creases, generally creating their own knowledge bank! I so value the fact that I had to learn all of this for O & A level, especially understanding the properties and characteristics.
There are three pages of really useful information about the types of fibre used to make fabrics, these are not unique to knitted cloth. (I notice that certain technical spellings seem to have been geared towards the US market. Fiber/fibre, Selvedge/selvage)
More pictures would have been a really good way to help people identify fabrics. Often people come across fabrics in ready to wear, but have know idea what they're called when looking for fabric online to make their own clothes.
The final few pages include a list of US and UK suppliers, links to find more about Wendy Ward, an Index and finally ....... A Key to finding the correct sizes on the pattern sheets.
Making My Dress
I decided to make the Longshaw skirt with the Winnats Tank attached as a dress, it looks really comfortable and I'm hoping the draped sides to the skirt will be flattering over my hips and thighs, tapering to a narrow hem at about knee length.
Before starting the dress I decided to make up the tank in a remnant I already had. For this I did make it on the overlocker as I was just checking the fit, which was perfect and it took me about half an hour to make. I shall be making more of these, close fitting, but not tight, great for Pilates as the neck fits snugly and doesn't gape.
The instructions for each of the garments follow the same format:
Each garment starts with an introduction that describes the garment, how it can work with other garments in the book and importantly how using fabrics with different characteristics will affect the look.
There is a box that tells what techniques will be used, for the skirt these are
Seams
Hems
Using elastic in a waistband, which i wont be doing as I'm joining the top of the skirt to the tank.
You're referred back to P12 for how to measure yourself and choose the right size.
Finished Skirt Measurements, the chart uses your actual waist measurement and tells you the finished waist and hip widths as well as the length. Beware that the finished waist is actually smaller than your actual measurement as it's designed to stretch.
What fabric should I use?
Lists different fabrics and how they will affect the look of the finished garment.
Does my fabric need spandex (Elastane) ie Lycra - no
What percentage stretch does my fabric need? - the skirt needs 30% stretch so the waist will go over the hips.
My samples are made in the following fabrics -a brief explanation of the fabrics used in the pictures for the book.
Preparing your pattern pieces - refers you back to p 23-24
The patterns are printed on both sides of the pattern sheets.
Each garment is printed in different colours and the different sizes seemed quite clear. I thought the lines might be a bit fine to trace. I use spot and cross paper and I was pleasantly surprised how easily I could see the lines without having highlighted them first as it suggested doing in the instructions.
All the garments are simple shapes and easy to trace. Some, like the skirt are too big for the pattern sheet and need to be joined. Again these are clearly marked with grey dotted lines ...... However! The Longshaw skirt is printed in grey and there is one grey dotted line from a different pattern intersecting it. It took me a while to realise this line had nothing to do with the skirt.
Remember to transfer all the marks, grain lines, notches etc., however these are kept to a minimum.
Putting the patterns back in the plastic envelope should be easy, but the flap is sticky like the bags greeting cards come in. My advice is to turn the flap to the inside before it sticks to your precious patterns!
Fabric requirements - Clearly shows how much fabric you need for not just the skirt, but its variations when teamed with different tops.
Which Cutting Plan to Follow - there is only one cutting plan for the skirt (the pocket is optional), but some garments have a few cutting plans which are clearly numbered. As I’m quite small I was able to fold my 150cm wide fabric along the length, just wide enough for the skirt. This has left enough fabric down the other edge to cut the tank top from.
Throughout the book there are boxes of text on a contrasting background that gives important information, either tips or referencing the reader back to the techniques section.
My Fabric has a large all over design that I won’t be able to match, but the main flower will be at the same level on both sides of the skirt. The skirt has a centre front seam that isn’t on the straight grain of the fabric, therefore It’s very important to realise that if you have a fabric with a horizontal design it will be on the diagonal at both the front and back seams. I can’t see any warning about this, it would be really easy to end up with a mismatched front seam. As I'm small I was able to fold my fabric just wide enough for the skirt, leaving room for the tank to be cut next to it.
As Wendy suggests I made some seam samples on 2 layers of my fabric, shop/fabric/dress-fabrics/mv-m651-lilacteal-floral-print-stretch-jersey-knit-dress-fabric-multicoloured-per-metre the fabric has 30% stretch across the width and almost non down the length. I did the samples in both directions. Some stitches caused the fabric to stretch across the width.
The seams in the dress are almost all vertical and my straight stitch has sufficient give as they aren’t going to be put under any strain, but I've decided to use the lightning stitch (row 2 in the sample)..
Putting It Together
The seam allowance is 1cm. This is industry standard, but not normal for home dressmakers.
Make Sure You Read This - this refers you back to the techniques section for all the information you need for sewing seams and hems.
The instructions tell you to tack the seams and it’s really tempting to miss this stage, but it gives you a chance to try the garment on for fit before using a stitch that will be almost impossible to unpick if you need to make alterations later. Also, if you use an overlock stitch remember that it stitches to the left of the centre needle position. On stretchy fabric this probably won’t matter, but stitching just 4 seams will make the garment 1cm smaller if you line the edge of the fabric with the 1cm mark on your machine.
I found following the instructions really easy and I’m sure beginners will be making garments with ease. I have a thing about leaving fabric edges untreated, but that’s just me, the techniques all work and everyone gradually develops their favourite methods.
The Winnats Tank came together really quickly, the neck band is a perfect fit and lies really smoothly. I find when working with folded bands it can help to machine tack the edges together.
I chose to use a twin needle to topstitch the neck and armhole edges to the band allowances. I think it helps to give it a more professional finish, however the single stitch is fine. I like the twin needle as it gives a flat zig zag on the wrong side. I line up the seam with the join in my machine foot to keep the stitching in the right place.
The Longshaw skirt can be made with or without pockets inside the side drape. I made it up with the pockets and tried it on before joining to the tank top. The pockets do make the drape more prominent, so I decided to remove them. This was really easy to do and I’m happier with the softer look.
I’m not keen on elasticated, blouson waists, they don’t do me any favours! All along I’d wanted to see if I could stitch the two garments together to created an unbroken silhouette. I cut the tank about 4 inches below the waist and cut a larger size than I needed for the skirt, this made the waist measurement bigger so it wasn’t snug round my middle. The edges of the two garments were about the same length where they join. I machine tacked the tank to the skirt and tried it on to see what I thought about the shape and fit. The fit was perfect, the seam sat below my high hip, dropping the widest part of the skirt to below my full hip. I’m only short and the lowered seam makes for a longer, slimmer look.
I’m now trying to decide if I need to narrow the centre seams at the hem as dropping the waist has affected the drape. In the end I left them as they were. One change I made was to use a twin needle for a 2 inch deep hem as I always think it looks more professional and that I've made a conscious decision rather than just machining the hem. The neckline fits really well and the bands lie flat. The overall fit of the tank is so good that when I make it again I might try altering the neckline, it could be both lower or higher depending on what I want it for. It would even look good with a turtle or roll neck. The armhole is a snug fit at the underarm so there's no chance of my bra showing. The dress would work well in a lightweight single jersey that has better draping qualities than my fabric, but the skirt might be too see through!
The diagrams and pictures are very clear and really add to the understanding. However there are areas where pictures would have been a better way of presenting the information to less experienced garment makers and anyone with difficulty accessing text. Anyone new to choosing fabric or a technique needs the information presenting in different formats as everyone learns in different ways. All the garments I've made have been really quick to make.
I’m really impressed with the sizing of the garments, the system Wendy uses makes choosing the correct size really easy.
It's important to realise that the method of choosing which size to make does take advantage of stretch fabrics and moves right away from methods used by other pattern companies. This method works for these patterns and I love the fact that there is no reference to dress sizes, but the method won’t be transferable to other brands.
My overall opinions of the book are very positive and I’d recommend it to anyone new to working with knit fabrics. The information is a great quality and so obviously written by someone with significant experience both in garment construction and teaching.
Thanks for reading,
Di @ sew-it
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Winnats Tank Dress Hack

Just like sewing wovens, sewing knits can be a smooth experience or a complete disaster. In contrast to working with stable fabrics, with jersey it’s much easier to achieve a good fit thanks to forgiving qualities that it provides. Most of the problems can occur during the sewing process itself and that’s why Wendy Ward’s new book is a must-read for anyone who wants to sew stretchy garments.
Wendy Ward is known to be a sewing expert so any book which was written by her can be recommended to those who want to improve their sewing skills. I’m not a complete beginner when it comes to sewing knits, yet I still found lots of valuable advice. The book covers literally everything, from picking the right fabric to cutting it and sewing your garment. It goes into smallest possible details of preparing and prewashing your fabric, finding the right and wrong side, etc. And it’s not too much since all of those tiny pieces form a puzzle of a successful jersey project. For example, it has quite a lot of information on how to pick the right fabric and what are the differences between different knits. Not only that, it guides you through the process of choosing the right stitch for each one.
As for projects, the book contains 6 patterns with plenty of options to choose from. You can sew 20 different dresses, trousers, skirt and cardigans. The patterns overlap and are printed on both sides of the paper, but it’s very easy to spot the right piece thanks to the different colours of each project’s lines. 
Since the information in the book is valuable for literally anyone who wants to sew with knitted fabrics, the projects themselves are absolutely perfect for those of us who love a casual style. I can see myself sewing almost all of the projects (paired with some cute jersey prints) for lounging around the house, but I wanted to start with something that can be worn for other occasions as well. More specifically, I wanted a dress, but Peak one seemed to be too baggy for my taste and Longshaw wasn’t my style either. So I ended up choosing Winnats tank since it’s the most fitted one and pairing it with a simple gathered skirt.
It was a very easy hack. I picked the right size of the pattern based on my bust measurement which was absolutely true to my size. I also combined my pattern size with the smallest one by drawing a smooth line from bust to waist. This little trick allowed me to have a more fitted bodice. I stabilized the shoulder seams and neckline with some tape. It’s an important step that is so often underestimated. It prevents your seams from stretching and losing their shape. The sewing process was absolutely easy. I was a bit worried when I first tried it on with no facings - the neckline and armholes were gaping a lot. But it all took perfect shape as soon as the facings were installed, which required a lot of easing in! Since the top part of my dress wasn’t completely close fitting, I had to assemble it together with the skirt and then gather both layers with the cotton elastic. I must say that my elastic stretched out during sewing quite a lot, but it still does the job of making the dress sit at the waist.
The fabric I’ve chosen is a beautiful viscose and cotton blend single Jersey Fabric. It’s mainly viscose, which gives it a lovely drape and softness. I absolutely fell in love with the print so even though there was a lot to choose from in Minerva Crafts’ jersey section, I couldn’t resist this floral one. Viscose jersey is a bit trickier to work with comparing to cotton, but it’s absolutely possible to master this process with tips from Wendy’s book. For example, I used a basting method before attaching neck- and armbands. I must say I wasn’t 100% happy with how they look though and I had to do some unpicking and reattaching, but it must be due to the amount of stretch this fabric has. I also used a triple step zig zag stitch to hem my dress and it’s still difficult to believe that I never came across this genius tip before! I used to use regular zig-zag or stretch stitch for that before and both of them are nothing comparing to the smooth and flat effect a triple zig-zag stitch gives. 
Talking about how much I like the book and fabric, it’s not a surprise I loved the dress too. It’s a nice casual piece of wardrobe that’s very comfortable and soft, yet it still looks quite special thanks to the bright print. A dress like this can be worn during the hottest summer days, but an added jacket can transform it into a more versatile garment. I used to have a couple of similar RTW dresses and I was living in them during hot months. They were appropriate for work, grocery shopping, walking, plane and train travelling and so much more. My Winnats dress already proved to be such a versatile piece of wardrobe too. 
Since I absolutely loved working on my project from Wendy Ward’s book, I can easily see myself sewing some of the other projects. I definitely want to try Peak T-shirt as a loungewear piece for winter (possibly in some cute cat print cotton jersey) and Monsal trousers for the same purpose. 
Wendy Ward’s book is a great publication for anyone who wants to master their sewing skills. It was a pleasure for me to be a part of this blog tour and I can highly recommend “A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics” to seamstresses that love the unique comfort that only jersey garments can give.
Thanks for reading,
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The Peak T-Shirt from Wendy Ward’s New Book

I was very lucky to receive an early copy of A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics, Wendy Ward’s brilliant new book. There are lots of great patterns in this book, but I decided to make the Peak T-shirt in this beautiful Art Gallery Cotton Jersey Fabric.

The Book

Although I’ve had some experience of sewing with stretch fabrics before, I learnt so much from reading this book. Wendy’s experience and expertise really shines through, and having so much advice about sewing with knitted fabric in one place is brilliantly useful. I found the advice on needle type particularly useful, and she has demystified the difference between ballpoint and stretch needles for me! There is also some fantastically useful reference information on fabric and stitch types. Really everything you need to know about sewing with knitted fabrics in one place.

The Pattern

The Peak T-shirt pattern is a great basic top. It comes in long and short sleeved options, as well as a colour-blocked dress and even a shirred elastic option. It’s not a very fitted style, so just consider the final look when you’re deciding on sizes and customisation options.

Tips and Tricks

One of my favourite methods in this pattern is fitting the neckband. Using quarters makes so much sense, and an approach I’ll be using from now on! There was also some brilliant advice on sewing with a twin needle, which I’ve never tried before. Really pleased with how the hem turned out.

Customisation

To make this Peak T-shirt right for my body shape, I went for the long-sleeved version, but shortened the length by 5cm. I also combined two sizes as I’m wider on the hips than waist, and took the shoulders in by 1.5cm. I shortened the sleeve length to create three-quarter length sleeves. I’m toying with widening the neck slightly next time. Then I will have my perfect long-sleeved top to make in multiple fabrics!

Happy sewing,

Alice x

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Anchor Multi Colour Stranded Cotton Embroidery Thread Review

I was really thrilled to be asked recently by Minerva Crafts to review their new Anchor Multi Colour Stranded Cotton Embroidery Thread. I chose a few skeins to try in the colour 1349 which are different shades of blue and purple. But there are lots of other gorgeous colours to choose from. As this is multi coloured thread the colours change every couple of inches. Just like other embroidery thread there are 6 strands of cotton which separate really easily depending on how many strands you want to work with at a time. 

Before the embroidery thread arrived I had time to think about what I would like to make with it. I have worked with embroidery thread before but I had never tried the multi colour variety so this really appealed to me.  

Earlier this year I had purchased the Let’s Sew pattern by Ursula Michael. It’s a cross stitch pattern which is mainly back stitch so I knew it would work up quite quickly. I just fell in love with this pattern as soon as I saw it and thought it was a really clever design. I loved how all the sewing related words together made up a sewing machine. I have just looked on line and this pattern is still readily available on some UK and US websites if you would also like the pattern. I paid about £5 for a printed version and it arrived really quickly.  

I chose white 14 count aida fabric from Minerva to stitch my project. The fabric stitch count you choose is entirely personal preference. I’m at the age now where I need a magnifying glass if the stitch count is too small!  I also chose white fabric because I wanted to frame my finished project in a simple white frame. I thought this would really show off both the design and the multi colour embroidery thread I used to stitch it.  For a totally different look you could also use a darker coloured aida fabric with a lighter colour embroidery thread which would also look really nice.

I used a standard embroidery needle with a wooden ring embroidery hoop to stitch my project. Both of which Minerva sells. The pattern uses 2 strands of thread at a time which gives a lovely stitch definition. It’s been a while since I’ve done any proper cross stitch and I’d forgotten just how addictive it is! I worked on this off and on over a few weeks and before I knew it my project was finished. 

Before framing I gently hand washed the fabric and hung it out to dry. This is because being white and handled a lot whilst stitching, it can become a little discoloured from handling. Once it was dry I gently ironed the reverse side on a low heat setting. Then it was ready for framing. 

And here is my finished and framed project. I am really pleased with how well it turned out and I think this design really shows off the multi colour embroidery thread really well. I shall be hanging it up in my craft room. 

Thank you so much Minerva for letting me review this lovely embroidery thread and I am absolutely thrilled with my finished picture. 

Thanks for reading

Yvonne @ by-yvonne

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