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Seams Right Multipurpose Sewing Tool Review by Claire

Hello!
I received the nifty Seams Right Multipurpose Sewing Tool from Minerva Crafts just as I was preparing to sew the Sew Over It Clara Blouse in the gorgeous 'Busy Blossom' Lisa Comfort Fabric. This pattern has sharp corners on the hem of the blouse, cuffs to turn out neatly and a collar which requires smooth edges, the perfect make to test a product that helps you measure precisely. At first I wasn't sure how to use the Seams Right but I love a challenge and it didn’t take long to work it out.
Seams Right is a credit card sized aluminum measuring tool with a multitude of different measuring increments. Essential to a quilters tool kit I’m sure but equally handy when sewing clothes.
The Seams Right has various measurements, 1 inch, 3/4 inch, 5/8 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/4 inch protruding from the rectangle and various other measurements sunk in between the protrusions around the outside edge. The Seams Right also has a 1 inch long button hole gauge to accurately mark button holes onto garments. The down side for me is that many of the independent pattern makers I currently use, all use the metric system and the Seams Right is all in inches.
Here’s how I converted and used it: 
When my pattern asked me to iron the seam I had sewn open and continue the open edge with the same 1,5cm seam allowance I used the 5/8” corner to make sure my ironing was accurate.
I used the same corner when I ironed the hem up by 1,5cm.
Then I needed to top stitch around the hem of my blouse, 1cm away from the edge ensuring neat corners. I marked the pivot points onto my fabric using the 3/8” corner and I have to say I'm really pleased with how well this worked and how neat my corners turned out.
My blouse had button loops sewn into the back neckline and cuffs, I used the Seams Right to mark where to sew the buttons onto the shirt and cuffs.
The size and weight of the Seams Right fits comfortably in my hand and although it gets warm when ironing, it never got as hot as the iron or retained the heat. The aluminum is lightweight but sturdy, you can’t bend it. There is a warning on the packaging to keep it out of reach from children and the corners are rather sharp but I think most of us keep our sewing tools out of the reach of little hands.
I was very pleased with the accuracy that the Seams Right helped me attain, ironing straight edges and also pushing corners out on the collar and cuffs. I am sure I will use it with each new project I make and each time I’ll discover another way it can improve my precision.
Happy sewing,
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Wendy Ward Book Review by Louise

Having become more and more dependent on the stretchy garments in my wardrobe, I was keen to give Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics’ a go. The book contains six basic patterns, which are included at the back of the book, ready for you to trace. Wendy guides you through the sewing of these six patterns, and includes multiple options with each pattern on how to further customise your creation.

The first pattern, the Peak tshirt, is the pattern I used to make the dress shown on the front cover. There are different sleeve options and different length options, and instructions for adding eye-catching details to your tshirt (or dress) such as shirring, patchwork, cuffs and colour blocking. Each option is clearly explained with thorough instructions and clear diagrams, plus beautiful photos of the finished garments.

The second pattern is for the Derwent trousers - a wide-legged pair of comfortable trousers with three length options: long length, standard length or cropped. These look super easy to make - just two pattern pieces. You could probably whip them up in an hour!

Next up is the Winnat’s tank pattern - a scoop-neck vest that can be lengthened into a knee length or maxi length dress (or even a colour-blocked maxi dress). As a vest it looks like the perfect stash-buster as it only uses 1 yard of fabric (assuming your fabric is 60” wide, which most knit fabrics are). I’m pretty sure this will be next on my list to make!

The fourth pattern in the book is for the Monsal lounge pants - another versatile pattern that could be used for lounge pants, pyjama bottoms, workout pants or shorts. My favourite version of these is the full length pants with pockets and cuffs. I particularly like the sample shown in the book where the cuffs, waist band and pocket bands are sewn in a contrast fabric.

The Kinder cardigan is next - again in a range of lengths with a range of customisation options. Wendy says she had ‘been thinking about making the perfect cardigan loosely inspired by kimonos’, and I must admit that I definitely get a ‘dressing gown’ vibe from this pattern! Included in this section are instructions for how to add a patch pocket, which is obviously a good transferable skill. The peak tshirt/dress and Winnat’s tank/dress would both look good with a patch pocket added, I think.

The final pattern is, I think, quite divisive: you’ll either love it or hate it. The Longshaw skirt is ‘an unusual and bold design that creates a flattering, curvy silhouette’. Personally, I love it! I would definitely like to try it as a dress with the Winnat’s tank vest as the top, possibly in plain black.

As well as all the patterns and variations thereof, the book is packed with information about all the different types of knitted fabrics and how to handle them, plus the tools you will need to sew the garments, information on sizing and measuring, sewing machine tips and explanations on using and adjusting sewing patterns. There really is everything you would need to know before sewing, and a whole lot more!

So, now I’d like to show you the dress I made from the book. As I mentioned earlier, I used the Peak tshirt pattern to make a short sleeved, knee-length dress with an elasticated waist. This basically involved extending the length of the tshirt by 40cm, and sewing some elastic at the waistline. I did make it a little more complicated than it needed to be, however, as when choosing my fabric I decided I wanted to line it with something smooth so it would slip easily over tights without riding up. So, when I ordered the Jersey Fabric from Minerva, I also ordered the same amount of Stretch Lining Fabric. This meant that in effect I had to make two versions of the dress and then sew them together.

I made the main body of the dress (front, back and sleeves) in both the lining fabric and the main fabric. I then sewed the two together (right sides together) at the neckline before turning out the right way. Technically, I could have just topstitched here and not bothered with the neckband, as the raw edges were hidden away by this point. However, I still added the neck band for durability and because I like the look of it. After this, I hemmed the lining into the sleeves so that they would stay together, and hemmed the lining in with the bottom of the dress. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

I matched the stripes at the side seams of course, like the dutiful seamstress I am. This was made much easier by the way that I cut the fabric in the first place: I matched up the stripes before cutting and even pinned every other stripe into place to keep it from shifting. It was worth the time it took to do this, because not only was it easy to match up the stripes, but also the stripes are definitely as straight as the spirit level!

Overall I’m pretty happy with the finished garment - it’s bigger on top than I am used to, but that is the style and the way it is meant to be, and I think the skirt transforms it from a just a baggy tshirt to something a little more stylish. It’s certainly something that is easy to throw on and you can dress it up or down, plus because it’s quite a loose fit I don’t feel self conscious in it, which is good!

I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to review Wendy’s book for the book tour, and to Minerva for the lovely fabric!

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Swedish Tracing Paper Roll Review by Amy

Let me start off by saying, this will be the best haberdashery purchase you ever make! I haven’t felt this strongly about a product since I bought my new sewing machine. Do you feel like you are always buying repeat patterns? Do you like to keep your original pattern papers whole? This is the product for you. I am so glad I have this Swedish Tracing Paper in my collection because without a shadow of a doubt this makes tracing patterns so much easier.

In the past I have used baking paper as my tracing material of choice, it easy to buy and super cheap but if you’ve used it before you’ll understand the pain when it comes to sticking multiple sheets together, especially for long garments such as trouser legs. The sticky tape never sticks and you spend more time trying to find items heavy enough to place on top to stick it down. Well this tracing paper is a dream! It is 1m wide and 10m long so no need for sticking additional sheets on for the width. See the difference?

When it comes to sticking additional length on for adjustments for leg length or arm length the tape sticks to it strongly and makes like so simple.

It is lightweight and easy to use. I would call it material rather than paper because that’s what it feels like, extremely lightweight material. It is thin enough that you can easily see your pattern and essential notches through it but still strong enough for you to place pins through it and it not rip with ease.

One downside I did find is that certain pens actually bleed due to its porous texture. I ended up using pencils and good old fashioned biro pens to trace my patterns. Another thing I found was there were slight cuts in the paper/material which meant that it split in certain areas, but that may have just been my roll. It still worked extremely well it just meant I had to be slightly more careful with it when moving it around my tiny room.

Anyone who has those expensive patterns or who enjoys keeping their pattern papers intact this is the paper for you, this allows you to keep those patterns intact and you can use this to help make those tricky adjustments especially if you are multiple sizes like me. I have that lovable pear shape which usually means I have to adjust my patterns for a smaller top half and larger bottom half. This made that easier as I just adjusted the pattern straight onto the tracing paper. I actually made a mistake on one pattern and using a pencil I simply rubbed it out and started again. This paper was strong enough to handle my rubbings and still not break.

I am really pleased with this product and will be ordering it again once it runs out, but judging by the amount you receive and if you are careful and frugal it will last longer and have much more longevity than my old choice of baking paper. I’m planning on storing this carefully so that I can reuse it again. Without a doubt my new favourite item in my stash!  

Thanks for reading,

Amy

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A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knits Book Review by Georgina

Sew... I was super lucky to be given a copy of Wendy Wards new book, A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knits, and some lovely stripe Jersey Fabric and some Floral Jersey Fabric from Minerva Crafts so that I can properly review the book.Let's start with a bit about the book before I tell you what I made. At the beginning of the book there is so much information about sewing with all the different types of knit fabrics. Wendy covers all parts of sewing from picking the right fabric, the amount of stretch, how to prepare your fabric, stitches to use, the right hem for the right fabric and so so so much more. Each section covers the different fabric types so whether you are making something from the book or not it's the prefect reference guide to have on hand for all your knit projects. The book is clearly laid out with a mixture of diagrams and photographs. 
There are six patterns in the book, however each has various alterations you can make, all of which are described so it's really like you are getting 20 patterns. The format for each pattern is the same with lots of photos and a detailed description of the garment. Wendy then advises on the best fabrics to use and how to prepare your pattern pieces and cutting out the fabric. Throughout the instructions there are simple diagrams with each step. There also prompts throughout the referring you back to the beginning of the book to ensure you are using the correct stitch and hem as this will vary depending of what fabric you are using. I much prefer the prompts rather than repeating all the information for each pattern. Within the instructions it will tell you what step to go to if you are making one of the alterations. There are also handy tips to help you out. 
The pattern pieces are included but you will need to trace. I'm a tracer anyway so this doesn't bother me and I think most people expect to trace when buying a sewing book. The pattern pieces are colour coded so it's easier so see which ones you need. There is a key for each pattern size and a colour key for each pattern. 
Now let's talk about what I made. I decided to make the Kinder Cardigan as I don't have one in my wardrobe. I haven't done much knit sewing previously and have only make the Tilly and the Buttons Coco, I have made quite a few of these! I tend to go for a Ponte as I find it stable to work with so it doesn't give me the knit/stretch fear! The cardigan comes in three lengths and I decided on the middle one to begin with, yes I will be making more! I chose this stripy Ponte for the main cardigan and a contrasting floral pattern for the pockets. 
To give an accurate review I followed the instructions exactly and did everything Wendy suggests, even the basting! After cutting out the pieces and pattern matching my stripes. Stripes must always be matched. I tested out the recommended stitches on a scrape of fabric. I have both the stitches on my machine and decided on the stretch straight stitch, it looks like a really narrow lightening bolt shape, for the seams and the three step zig zag for the hems. Each step was easy to follow and the cardigan came together really quickly. The pocket construction was a new technique for me but it worked perfect first time. I was worried about adding the neckband and cuffs but again there were no issues with adding these.  I decided to do the stripe vertical for the neck band in contrast to the horizontal stripes on the main body. I also spent a few head scratching minutes on pattern matching the cuffs so now they look invisible!
I'm hoping when the weather finally decides it's Spring I can wear this instead of a coat! Next time I make this I will probably size down as the shoulders are a little big and I had to take in the sleeves by an inch. 
I really do love this book and have lots more makes planned. I have already made the Peak t-shirt dress with elasticated waist which you can see on my blog. So in summary this is a great book for both new sewers to knits and also for more experienced sewers as it containers some really great patterns. The fabric was also amazing to work with and Ponte is definitely a great fabric to start with if you haven't sewn with knits before. 
Thanks for reading,
Georgina @ Sew in the Garden
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Wendy Ward Book Review by Jo

I am lucky enough to part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network which has kept me in fine fabric and wonderful wool for a good few years. Sometimes I get the opportunity to try something new through them and an exciting email appeared asking for volunteers to join a book review collaboration with Wendy Ward. 

Her new book Sewing with Knitted Fabrics is a comprehensive encyclopaedic offering of useful knowledge on sewing with stretch jersey fabrics along with a capsule wardrobe of patterns. 

If you sew for yourself or your family you may find that making woven cotton dresses and skirts starts to become a little limiting after a while. I found this and once I had decided that I wanted to make most of my everyday clothes it became apparent that I needed to be able to sew jersey for T-shirts, tops, leggings, PJ's, loungewear and underwear.

The book contains paper patterns for tracing in the back. All of the patterns are interchangeable so the T-shirt pieces double up as a T-shirt dress, crop T-shirt, Long sleeved T-shirt and a natty patchwork detailed one. There is a creative element of building your own design each time which I really like.

Minerva asked me to try a pattern from the book and sent me a top quality piece of Art Gallery Cotton Jersey Fabric. I like a new learning challenge as you know so I went for a T-shirt with a shirring waist detail. I have not done this before so I referred to the section on winding a bobbin with shirring elastic and had a go on a practice piece first.

In order to mark the shirring sewing line, I cut the square outline out of the paper piece and then drew the grid on the fabric with a temporary pen. I drew it on the right side but I am showing you on the wrong side because it is easier to see.

Previously, I used trial and error, blogs and Youtube to learn to sew jersey but I wish I had had this book back then. The knowledge section of the book is really good. It is written for home sewers of a beginner level, however as a more experienced sewer, I still found it very stimulating but easy to understand.

The T-shirt was a triumph. It is worth mentioning that I made this entirely on my normal sewing machine without using my serger. The techniques in the book guide you to useful stitch selection, length and width choices which made sewing easy.

The fabric is a super quality - thick but with a nice stretch which made it easy to sew and beautiful to wear.

Next up I am going to make one of these dresses for my summer holiday suitcase with some Navy spot jersey from my pal Christina.

It is a good book for sewing stretch knowledge and I am so glad it is in my collection.

Thanks for reading,

Jo @ Three Stories High

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Named Ailakki Jumpsuit Sewing Pattern Review by Amy

Now I normally love a good challenge and usually take the skill levels on sewing patterns with a pinch of salt. The Named Ailakki Jumpsuit Pattern however is appropriately labelled. This had to be the trickiest sewing project I’ve ever done. From sewing trousers, to inserting zips to getting my head round the cross over front generally this isn’t a project you could do on low amounts of sleep or caffeine. I became best friends with my picker regularly.

That being said I thoroughly enjoyed it once I got into the swing of things. I used Minerva's textured Jersey Fabric (I know is says do not use stretch fabric but I just loved the feel of it) With good reason they suggest non stretch fabrics, it took a lot more effort to ensure that the fabric didn’t stretch, especially when using cotton for the lining which had no give in it what so ever!

The top of the jumpsuit is beautiful and I can’t wait to try it again in a different fabric and maybe even throw together a skirt instead of trouser bottoms. This pattern is so versatile that once you’ve got in your stash, there are really no limits to the garment you can create with it.

The hardest part of the top had to be the squared edge on the back, side panel. All seemed fine until it came to turning the top the right way round and that’s when I discovered that the angle and sewing was going to create a problem. It took several attempts to get that part right. I’d suggest marking the fabric with chalk before hand (lesson learnt for next time).

These bottoms were a breeze in comparison to the top half, they are beautifully tapered and super comfortable once you wear them. I have the added bonus of super long legs so I adjusted the pattern an inch at the hip level and a whole 5 inches at the knee level, both areas had pre-set markers for adjusting the length. The standard length is 29inch inside leg and with my super long legs that would have practically been ¾ pants! I was worried that it would look odd adding such a length to it but they really turned out lovely and just like the top half, I can see me using these bottoms with an alternate top half for a different look.

I did find that the waistband ran slightly shorter than the top half and it took a few attempts to get this to sit right. Then came the dreaded zip! Now I’m not a fan of zips in the first place and I had considered swapping the exposed zip for a concealed one. Thank goodness I didn’t because exposed zips are so much easier and this was tricky enough. I did find that the 13inch zip didn’t leave much wiggle room in terms of length and I wish I had bought a longer one just to allow for the stopper to be well covered by the fabric.

All in all this is one of the trickier patterns but I look forward to making it with different fabrics and using the pattern to make alternatives. Without a doubt I am so glad I have this in my stash and anyone looking to challenge their skills or looking for a comfortable evening jumpsuit this is your pattern…although if you don’t fancy your top half being accessible you may want to throw in a quick stitch to secure the cross over section.

Thanks for reading,

Amy

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Wendy Ward Book Review by Chloe

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped many sewist’s attention that Wendy Ward has released a New Sewing Book. Her hotly anticipated book A beginner’s guide to sewing with knitted fabric was released in January, and social media is full of amazing makes from her new book. You can’t fail to scroll through Instagram without seeing a fellow sewist’s latest make from the book, generally accompanied by a comment saying it won’t be the last time they make this pattern. Well having been sent a copy of the book to review, I’ll add my name to that list or people who love this book and will make lots of new clothes from it.

A beginner’s guide to sewing with knitted fabric is very typical of Wendy’s other books. The modern styling, the clean lines of the patterns, the advice throughout, the ability to customise a pattern and to use it in lots of different ways, this book has everything you’d expect from a Wendy Ward book. If you’ve got either of her previous books: a beginner’s guide to dressmaking or a beginners guide to making skirts, I’d add this book to your wish list as well.

The book has 6 different patterns in, and each one can be customised lots of different ways. There is a t-shirt, a tank top, a jacket, a skirt, lounge pants, and trousers. This meant that when it came to choosing what I wanted to make as part of this review I was spoilt for choice. Both pairs of trousers stood out as items I would make, and I particularly like the look of the Derwent wide leg trousers that look smart and suitable to go to the office in, but look so comfy they could actually be secret pyjamas. However I wanted to make a statement piece and use some of Minerva’s amazing printed Knit Fabrics and that meant I chose to make the Kinder cardigan.

The Kinder cardigan is a loose fitting jacket which can be made short (at the waist), mid-length (just below the hips) or long (reaching your knees). The 2 longer patterns also have humongous pockets. The fabric suggestions reckoned a whole variety of different types of knits which this pattern would work well with the Kinder cardigan, and I chose to use some leaf print Scuba Fabricfrom Minerva to make my jacket. I really like that Wendy writes about which fabrics she made all the photographed samples from, so you can see how a fabric alters the appearance of the finished item. I did worry that my scuba would be too stiff, but I really wanted a statement jacket which I could pair with jeans and a tank top and look like I had made an effort. After all this book is all about sewing with knits, and sewists know that most items made from knits are super comfy, easy to wear and can still look stylish.

The book itself is a treasure trove of advice for how to sew with knits. Sewing with knits seems to have had a bit of a reputation of being difficult and fiddly to sew with, a type of fabric which isn’t suitable for beginners and something which needs to be treated with caution. Wendy’s book holds your hand throughout. The book has a reference section at the front of the book, giving lots of tips and tricks for sewing with knits, the type of stitches to use, the way in which you should pre-treat the fabric, and how to best cut your fabric. I really liked that Wendy gives you several options to achieve the same finish, and also discusses some of the common issues and some support with how to overcome any problems. There isn’t an assumed knowledge of being a confident sewer, but I do think that even if you were a competent sewist you could still pick up some useful tips from the book. I really liked learning about all the different types of stitches that machines had that all related to sewing stretch fabrics. As a self-taught sewist, I often wonder whether I am using the correct method or stitch etc, and Wendy’s book really helped build my confidence.

Throughout construction of the Kinder cardigan there were clearly explained steps accompanied by hand drawn diagrams. Each step was in a manageable chunk and the jacket came together pretty quickly. The patterns seem to have only a few steps, but this is because for several steps another area of the book is referred to. For example when it comes to inserting the sleeve, another pattern earlier on in the book uses the same method so Wendy will give you the page number and the steps and ask you to follow that. I quite liked this as it meant that I used more of the book, recognised that some methods are common tasks which apply to a lot of knit patterns and it meant I didn’t feel daunted by pages and pages of instructions. My only minor quibble is that the Kinder cardigan pattern puts the information about how to construct the pockets (the first step) at the end of the pattern, I’m usually a dive straight in and follow the instructions kinda girl, but I did read through it all to begin with this time, if I hadn’t I would have missed the construction detail for sure and would have had to get acquainted with my seam ripper.

You might spot on my pattern that my pockets don’t look exactly as the pattern intended them to, they sit right on the hemline where really there should be a couple of inches of above the hemline. For some reason my collar band was a bit too short and so I decided that the easiest things would be to make the jacket 2 inches shorter and have the pockets sit on the hemline and then everything lines up. I went back and looked at the pattern piece again and I must have had an error with the tracing of a pattern piece. I’ve made this again in another Minerva scuba and this time it’s worked out as per the pattern.

I’m sure that this relaxed look jacket will work well in the summer, and will quickly become a much-loved make. Both my versions are being worn a lot in the office, and have only not been worn when they are in the wash. Having washed both several times I can testify that this is a great quality scuba that washes really well.

Overall I love Wendy’s new book and am sure that before too long my wardrobe will have several pieces from her A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabric book.

Thanks for reading,
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Shimmy and a Shake

As a product tester for Minerva, I am never 100% sure what I am going to get. Especially when you ask Vicki to “surprise me”.And surprise me she did. I received the most gorgeous dimensional border Chiffon Fabric in black with white polka dots. The photo does not do it justice at all.The movement in the fabric was amazing, the feel was very light and soft but I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite know where to start.

After much umming and ahhing I decided to use one of my favourite commercial patterns which is the New Look 6217. New Look 6217 is one of those New Look/Simplicity patterns that come with pretty much a whole outfit. There’s the top, a kimono, a skirt AND trousers. The top is a nice simple tee with extended sleeves and bias binding around the neckline.

Now the fabric suggestions do not lend themselves to the chiffon but I am never one to play by the rules, and decided that the dimensional border would look fab. Although the fabric is very lightweight and sheer, it was very easy to handle and ran through my overlocker like a dream. The top itself is a nice easy make and one that I recommend for (and use for teaching) beginners. The pattern only has 2 pieces that are cut on the fold, and the sewing instructions are easy to follow. No tricky techniques, just a few easy pieces to practice your skills and build your confidence.

Although not stated in the pattern itself you can forgo the keyhole opening and button at the back of the top just by, well, ignoring that bit. I left it off as the neckline is super wide so it serves very little actual purpose.

The top though simple has such a versatility that it can be used with most fabrics, although take care with jersey and ensure that you stay stitch around the neckline. I decided not to use the exposed bias binding on the neck line on this delicate fabric and opted for turning it to the inside instead. I also widened the neckline slightly.

The hems for the sleeves and bottom of the top are nice and simple, and for this top I chose a nice rolled hem so that there wasn’t too much bulk. The top took around 1 and a half hours to make (depending on your speed and how many chocolate biscuit breaks you need), and the finished product is fab. The versatility of the top and the amazing fabric means that it looks great dressed down with jeans for a simple yet chic daytime look but can be dressed up with the right accessories for a night out.

Thanks for reading,

Sam @ ohohsew

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Book Review: A Beginners Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics by Georgia

Hello everyone! I’m Georgia from "acornkiss" and I'm back on the Minerva Crafts blog, this time for a review of the New Book by Wendy Ward: “A Beginners Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics”. I was so excited when Minerva Crafts asked me to make this review. I consider myself as an intermediate sewist in general, but when it comes to knit fabrics I sometimes feel like a complete beginner. They are totally different from a woven fabric and need a special treatment, so if you don't know some tricks you can easily get frustrated... I usually do. Nevertheless, I love the softness and the comfort of clothes with knitted fabrics and for the last months I was trying to make some. I mostly used ponte romas that are on the easy side of knits and didn't meet much trouble, but I want to use more lightweight knits for the summer. So this book came in to my life just at the right moment. 
The book starts with an introduction and with a "how to use this book" guide bearing in mind absolute beginners. Right after that, Wendy recommends the patterns that are easier to start with, the types of knits that are best to use for your first projects and gives an overview of the book, pointing out where you should pay more attention.
It is divided into two main sections: the techniques part and the projects part. This structure comes in handy when you’re also working on other projects as you can easily access the needed information. In every topic you will find detailed data which is then summarized in a convenient table: everything you need to know in a glance!
 So, let’s begin with the techniques part. After a presentation of the tools you'll need and a "sizing & taking measurements” how-to, an analysis over knit fabrics and their characteristics follows. I found this extremely helpful: there are so many types of knit fabrics with different qualities and requirements when it comes to sewing that you can easily get confused.
Something else that I appreciated, is the guide to choosing the right seam. I do not own an overlocker (and I'm not sure if I will own one soon, it seems so tricky) but I don't want that stopping me from having nicely sewed knitted garments. It's so good to know that I can have a great finish, by only using my sewing machine and just picking the right seam!
I can go on and on about the knowledge that is provided in this book! Every little thing is included, like hems, finishing edges and different ways to apply elastics. I believe that it basically covers most (if not all) of the beginners needs.
In the second part of the book, you will find the instructions for six patterns and their variations (20 patterns in total). The instructions include: finding the right fabric, notions you'll need, how to place the pattern pieces on the fabric, putting it together and explanatory illustrations.
I like how the patterns and their variations cover a broad range of clothing. There are patterns for skirts, trousers, t-shirts, dresses and cardigans, which means that you can sew full outfits just with this one book.
The patterns are full-size and ready to copy and cut.
When Minerva Crafts sent me the book, I was asked to sew one of the book's patterns with one of their fabrics. It didn't take long for me to decide. From the first quick look at the patterns, the Kinder Cardigan stood out. It had this kimono look that I love and I was determined to make the full length version. 
Then I started browsing the Minerva Crafts online store to find a fabric that would look good for this pattern and my eyes stopped at this beautiful, vibrant, floral Ponte Roma Fabric which was kindly sent to me. 
The result absolutely amazed me! I think that this is my favorite garment I've sewn so far. When I wear it, I feel so happy. The colours alone can make my day. The fact that it is a ponte roma, makes it perfect for this pattern, as the cardigan is too long and needs a more stable knit fabric to hold the weight. It also feels great against the skin. 
To cut the fabric and sew it, I followed the instructions of the book which were pretty clear and I had no problems. The fabric was very easy to sew. It only stretches one way, which means that when you sew on the non-stretch direction it is almost as stable as a woven fabric. I would definitely recommend it to a knits beginner like me.  
The weather is still chilly and I can't wait for spring to come, so that I can wear my new cardi on my walks. 
I want to make more projects from the book. I think that my next ones will be the Peak t-shirt and the Monsal lounge pants.
Overall, I loved the book and already feel that I've learnt a lot. So many things that worried me about knit fabrics were made clear and I feel more confident to work on new projects. I no longer get anxious when I need to find the grainline or when I want to make the rolled edges to stop rolling. The tips that are included in the book saved me time from searching here and there for advice. I found solutions to problems I had with my previous projects and I'm happy I've learnt how to fix them.
I would like to thank Minerva Crafts once more, for giving me the opportunity to write a review for Wendy Ward's new book and sending me this gorgeous fabric.
Until next time,
Georgia, acornkiss
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Getting up to Speed: Wendy Ward

Instagram has been a way to find more about many people both in the sewing community and in other areas that I’m interested in. Wendy Ward is one sewing specialists I’ve seen on Instagram from time to time and her work is impressive.

Today I’m reviewing Wendy Ward’s latest book: A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics

Wendy Ward

Wendy Ward has worked as a designer in the fashion industry since 2000, for a range of companies from niche retailers to large chain stores. In 2007 Wendy started teaching dressmaking, pattern cutting and textiles for adults. She has a degree in Fashion Design, an MA in Design and is a fully qualified teacher.

In 2012 Wendy opened MIY Workshop in Brighton, UK and launched her own range of sewing patterns called MIY Collection. Wendy is a regular contributor to Love Sewing magazine and her established books are A Beginner's Guide to Making Skirts and The Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking. See what I mean by impressive? Great work Wendy.

Reviewing Wendy’s Book

Many of us who have blogged for Minerva Crafts are providing their reviews of Wendy’s Knitted Fabrics books and this is my take on this new sewing reference.

Wearing knit based clothes have been a staple for me at work, at the gym, at home and even for more formal occasions. The technology used to develop knit fabrics has given those of us who sew, the ability to turn out clothes for us and our families without taking up too much of our valuable time.

My knit fabric knowledge started a long time ago when Knit Wit was popular in Australia. Since then technology has given us lots of great knit fabric options and I continue to go back a learn how to use and make up knit fabrics from experts like Wendy.

What Did I Want to Learn?

Neckline finishes on knit fabrics are my weakness. 

As soon as I got this book I jumped to page 27 to review the information about neckline finishes. Edges are on page 29. Wendy has a one-page guide on page 31 that lists the type of fabric, the type of edge, does the edge need to stretch and the hemming / edge method to us. Brilliant!!! 

Now I’m set to sew perfect round neck finishes from here on in.

I also wanted to learn more about coverstitch finishes. Wendy focusses on learning to sew knits with a domestic machine so I put this learning aside for the future. Her book covers using the right needles for knit fabrics and the best stitches for knit sewing.

Wendy’s book offers 20 essential garments. I chose to make the peak tshirt and the trackpants. I know these pieces are fitted enough for my size and I’ll wear these pieces constantly.

What’s Included?

There are 6 basic patterns used to create 20 essential garments. The sewing instructions are are based on using domestic sewing machine. This ensures that if you’re a real beginner and only have a basic domestic sewing machine, you can still create knit fabric clothes without spending more money on an overlocker or on a coverstitch machine.

Sewing clothes for me has always been about creating clothes when I had no money to buy ready to wear clothes. Remnants are still at the heart of my sewing motivation.

I read through all the basic knit fabric information Wendy has provided and the table summaries she provides throughout this book build quickly help you build your knowledge of sewing with knits easily.

Resources

Let me explain.

This book as clear illustrations, handy guides, tips throughout each project and you don’t have to get caught up in fitting the patterns while you’re learning to sew with knit fabrics.

The styles Wendy has included allow you to develop your own collection that work either as a separate collection or with your existing makes.

I did a bit of planning using a sewing plan template but Wendy’s quick guides, her use of imperial and metric measurements, how she identifies the techniques you’ll need for each project and the varieties she’s included for each basic style make this a book I wish I had when I first started sewing with knit fabrics.

The pattern pieces are on three sheets at the back of the book. But on page 23, she has a guide of where each pattern piece is located on these pattern pages. Each pattern page has numbered too, so finding each piece is dead easy.

If you’re size conscious, the sizing is based on your measurement and not on a ‘class of size’.

So much info in just one book!

When you’re sewing on a budget, it’s great to find a huge array of Knit Fabrics from Minerva Crafts to start building your own collection using the information and patterns from Wendy Ward’s ‘Sewing with knitted fabrics’ book.

Before I received my copy of Wendy’s book, I decided to make casual pants and a top in black.

Wendy provides 20 garments and I was thrilled to find two patterns that were perfect for my projects on a budget. Wendy’s book provides all the sewing techniques you need to sew knit fabric on a home sewing machine. There’s no need to buy an overlocking machine or a coverstitch machine.

Peak T-Shirt:

The peak t-shirt pattern is a basic block pattern. Wendy has sampled this pattern 6 ways. I chose to make the short-sleeved t-shirt using a ruffled ribbon Jersey Knit Fabric.

The ruffle ribbon trim stretch jersey knit has evenly sewn ribbon so matching the ribbons at the side seams is easy to achieve. The base jersey is a poly/lycra, has great two-way stretch and feels smooth.

Sewing across the ruffle ribbon trim at the seams is easy to do and doesn’t interfere with the machine sewing.

I tested the t-shirt pattern and I chose the 88 – 92cm size.

I used tricot stay tape at the shoulder seams. I also used a Prym ballpoint needle (80/90).

Finding the pattern pieces within the book is easy as Wendy has a listing in the book to find the patterns quickly.

On the test version of this t-shirt, it was a great fit and I decided to sew a lower neckline.

I lowered it free-form but I should have traced off the neckline from Winnats Tank pattern as the neckbands are already designed to fit!

My neckline worked but was a bit too thick so I had to insert some elastic so the neckline sat against my body.

Wendy suggests pre-washing the fabric. I did that and there was no shrinkage and no fraying.

While I tried to keep the fabric on grain, the hem didn’t follow the ribbon. The easy solution was to unpick the bottom rows of ruffle ribbons so the hem looks balanced. The key benefit of doing this is the hem only has ribbon on the outside of the top and not internally.

Monsal Lounge Pants:

This pattern has a pockets version which I loved so that’s the version I made.

Wendy provides 3 versions from this pattern and I decided to use the pocket version with a waistband to use the ruffle ribbon trim stretch jersey knit as a neat contrast.

Since I made these pants I can tell you know I’ve been wearing these pants a lot!

I chose the 39 inch version and while I wanted to add the ankle cuff, I didn’t use the cuff on this version.

My track record for hems is shocking so this time I decided to simply make the pants as is and then ‘eye-ball’ the hem length. You know that you’ve let yourself down when you’re wearing pants in the winter and you get cold ankles. This time I know my ankles will be cosy.

The key adjustment I made on the pattern was a sway back adjustment on the centre back seam and I lowered the derriere curve.

The basic techniques for sewing the pants are sewing seams, hems, attaching waist elastic, using elastic in a waistband and folded band edging.

Textured knit fabrics draw me in every time and this Fabric was my only choice for the lounge pants.

Again I pre-washed the fabric and it didn’t shrink or fade. This fabric does keep its shape after a wash. I chose this medium weight knit for pants and that was a great choice.

I used a stretch ballpoint needle for the seams and the hems were finished using a Prym 2.5 twin stretch needle.

Winnats Tank:

While making the Winnats Tank wasn’t part of this post, I made the tank twice to check the neckline and fit of the tank for a beach dress.

Hand on heart, if you want to make a few beach coverups this Summer, Winnats Tank is fast to make and fits well.

As Wendy states, the basic techniques you need for the tank are sewing seams, hems and folded band edging.  

Wendy gives you the details, guides and tips to make clothes with knitted fabrics in her beginner’s guide book. I would buy this book for keen sewers who want to venture into sewing with knitted fabrics.

The guides in this book are all you need when you’re making those decisions about fabrics, threads, sewing techniques and options to make that give you clothes that look well-tailored.

Thanks for reading,

Maria @ How Good is That...Simply Sewing

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