Hello friends! I’m happy to be here today to share an extra special project with you. I’ve fondly nicknamed it my Downton Abbey Dress! I was lucky enough to have the chance to make something out of one of Minerva’s many gorgeous special occasion fabrics. After pouring over the website for ages, I finally chose this incredible lace fabric. When it arrived, I was absolutely speechless.
It comes in either gold or silver, and the metallic thread is woven with black, so it’s kind of like a two-tone effect with black and gold. I will say, I don’t think the website photos do it justice. I thought it was pretty there, but when I saw it in person it was stunning.
This is easily the nicest, fanciest fabric I’ve ever worked with. I knew I had to make something special. As I was deciding on a pattern, I was a bit conflicted. My first instinct was to make something practical; maybe a skirt and top, so I could mix or match and dress them up or down, or a cocktail length dress that wouldn’t be too formal for church.
BUT then I decided to be entirely frivolous and make a full-length ultra glamorous gown, because WHY NOT? And because I never have before. I started sewing clothes only about five years ago, so I didn’t sew my wedding dress, and as a stay-at-home mom, I never really have the opportunity to get extra dressed up. I’ve always wanted to sew a formal gown though, and I felt like this glorious fabric deserved to be something special.
I decided on the Anna Dress pattern pretty quickly. I know it’s a tried and true pattern for many, but I’d never made it before and had been wanting an excuse to try it out. The silhouette is just so timeless and beautifully simple, and for such an elegant fabric I thought it would be a great fit.
After sewing up my muslin (I usually skip the muslin process, but for a fabric so precious and a pattern I’d never made, it was an absolute must to make a muslin.) and making a few fit adjustments, I was ready to cut into this beauty. I decided to line the lace in black to really make the gold and the lovely pattern stand out. I chose a really lightweight rayon because this fabric is quite heavy. It’s a midweight and in a full length gown, it’s pretty substantial.
I don’t have tons of experience sewing with lace, so I was a little bit nervous to sew this up, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it very easy to work with. It is non-stretch, and the heavier weight made it really easy to handle. My serger didn’t love it a few times, just because in places the lace is really tightly woven, but I only suffered one broken needle in the process, and all worked out in the end.
Because it was lace, and because it was a heavier fabric, I made a few changes to the finishing processes. I basted all my lace pieces to their rayon counterparts, and then treated the two pieces as one, so it was more like underlining than actually lining the dress.
I skipped the neckline facing for two reasons: 1. Because I detest neckline facings. I never finish a neckline that way. I know it’s the traditional method, but I just don’t like them. And 2. It would be uncomfortable against the skin and add bulk at the neckline. Normally I use a bias binding for my neckline finishings, but I didn’t think that would have worked here either. So instead, I serged the raw edge of the neckline and turned it over and hemmed it. I would NEVER finish a neckline like that normally, but it made for a really nice finish here.
I also cut the skirt panels so the finished edge of the lace was at the bottom, which was nice, because then I didn’t have to hem the skirt, which would have been tricky and not look quite as nice. The fabric drapes beautifully and is perfect for a full length skirt.
The only change I would have made is probably ordering an invisible zipper meant for bridal gowns. Those ones have bigger teeth and are more substantial, but I just used a normal one that I had on hand. So far it’s worked fine, but it does get stuck on the waist seam. I think maybe a more heavy duty one would help get over that bulky seam.
The dress turned out better than I even envisioned. I’m pretty proud of it, and I couldn’t stop grinning when I tried it on. The way the gold catches the light is so lovely, and I really love the large scale floral pattern. It made me wish I had been able to sew my own wedding dress.
Now I just wish I had somewhere I could wear it! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll have a swanky holiday party this year, or maybe I’ll buy tickets to the ballet. Or maybe I’ll just put it on one afternoon and pretend I’m having tea at Downton Abbey? Sounds like a plan. Sew yourselves up a matching one and I’ll see you there.
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 19th September 2019 by Vicki Ormerod
This year I’ve started running again after an 8 year break! It has been so good for my strength, energy levels, confidence and mental health after a tricky start to the year.
My sewing has, of course, followed along with this, and I’ve really enjoyed starting to sew more activewear.
When I saw this Airtex Knit Fabric, I thought it would be fun to try it out and see how it could be used. The holes were a little bigger than I expected, but that just added to the fun of the challenge!
I considered all sorts of options, including a carrier for a gym ball, but eventually decided on Simplicity 8338. It includes a variety of racer back tank tops/ vests that are loose fitting, fairly quick to make and very comfortable to wear. I chose to make view A, the simplest option, an A-line vest with racer back and bindings around the neckline and armholes.
The fabric behaved better than I expected and was easy both to cut and to sew. I cut the front and back panels from the airtex mesh and used a scrap of matching jersey (a sample kept from a project last year) to cut the bindings and a partial front lining for a little extra coverage:
The side and shoulder seams are overlocked together. For the binding, I experimented a little. First I joined each binding piece into a loop, overlocked one raw edge to each armhole and the neckline and pressed the binding to the underside of the fabric. Using my cover stitch machine and a two thread narrow stitch, I then topstitched the bindings in place.
Rather than trying to bind or turn and stitch the hem, I used a three thread narrow stitch on my overlocker to finish the raw edge (not that it would have frayed anyway, so it wasn’t strictly necessary).
Overall, I’m very happy with the result. The fabric was much easier to work with than I expected and it’s really good for wearing on warm days or for races. I tested it out in my first race a few weeks ago, and it was really comfortable and breezy!
Thanks for reading,
Eleanor @ nelnanandnora
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 25th August 2019 by Vicki Ormerod
Have you ever ordered something and then waited so impatiently that you bit your nails of? Well waiting for my latest parcel from Minerva Craft practically ruined my nails. :) I got a chance to review the Lady McElroy Viscose Knit Fabric in Turquoise and was thrilled for the opportunity. The fabric had all I wanted for a new dress: It was in bright, vibrant colours, the material was a viscose (yey!) and it was a knit. I was in the mood for a challenge and I haven’t tackled knits in a while.
I’ve made a few garments for my kids, beanies and t-shirts, from knits the last couple of years but before that, the last time I made something in jersey was probably 1998. So when reading this blogpost keep in mind that knits aren’t my strongest side.
And let me tell you, I have never worked in a material like this one. The fabric was beautiful, soft, slinky, bouncy, and had a good amount of stretch (two ways). When the fabric arrived I noticed how incredible soft it was but not before I'd finished drooling over the vibrant colours.
I’d decided to make 7429 from the McCall’s Pattern Company. I have seen some fantastic makes on Instagram from that pattern and I thought that the knot design in the front was a great feature and hoped the design would hug me in the right places.
The first problem occurred after washing, since I forgot to put softener in. Don’t do that! The subsequent problems with static electricity gave me some headaches in the beginning. Other than that the fabric behaved just as it should. No colour changes or shrinkage at all.
The fabric behaved like soft knits do, so I had to take some extra time laying it out for cutting. And I had to take a break from laying after the front pattern piece turned out like this:
Could I really pull this off?
I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the fabric was to pin and stitch. I only had one problem, where I had to get out my seam ripper, and that was when I tried to pin the fabric with about 6 cm between my pins. Yes, I told you I´m a rookie.
If you are a newbie to this kind of drapey knits, here are a few tips:
1. Pin, pin and then pin some more pins between your existing ones. If you do, the fabric will (almost) behave as a woven fabric.
2. Check your stitches on a piece of fabric before stitching into the real thing. (I know that you should always do this, but sometimes I just wing it on woven materials.) This is not a fabric you want to overuse your seam ripper on. I went for a little longer stitch than I usually use to get a nice finish. You don’t want curly seams!
3. The pattern instructs you to do the hemming in two steps. First baste and then stitch a normal stitch. I would recommend using a twin-needle instead. You get a nicer hem that stretches a little more.
4. The inside seams I put together with the narrowest zigzag stitch instead of a regular one as it gives you a little stretch. I then overlocked the raw edges approx. 5 mm from the zigzag seam. I´m not sure I really needed to do the zigzag stitch at all, but the instructions clearly stated that it should both be a normal stitch and an overlocked one (and being a knits rookie, I didn’t feel comfortable straying too far from the instructions).
5. The knotted part on the front of the dress was a little tricky, but not as much as I anticipated. I followed the pictures and instructions of the manual included in the pattern envelope and managed to pull it off without the use of my seam ripper.
This was a fantastic make for me, I really put myself out there and learned a lot in the process. I haven’t done anything like this before, pattern or fabric wise, and I really love the result.
I’ve used my new dress a lot already. As you can see in my pictures, I've tried styling it in different ways. I can truly recommend this fabric, it has fantastic qualities and just LOOK at it! :)
I would recommend that you have some experience in dressmaking before making this combo of fabric/pattern, but I think the drapey fabric really features the front of the dress nicely.
Thank you for reading!
Malin from ByGousheh
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 14th April 2019 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 4th April 2019 by Vicki Ormerod
I wanted to try a new tool for measuring my seams, hems and buttonholes, and noticed the Nancy Zieman Multi-Functional Sewing Tool. The idea that the gauge could be used to accurately measure curves, like a compass was interesting and I had the perfect project on my to-sew list to use it with.
The Origami shrug is a pattern-less-pattern meaning that you follow the instructions to measure accurately the dimensions of the shrug and sew it using the instructions, as in origami construction with paper.
The plus points of this tool: it’s incredibly sturdy and attractive for a tool! I’ve used cheaper, sometimes ugly gauges in metal or finer plastic, but this seems both indestructible and appealing. It would be incredibly useful for marking buttonholes, and the gauge’s yellow attachment holds a measurement well, in case you need to re-measure (as we sewists often do!).
It was very helpful for measuring the neckline curve and the freehand drawing of the pattern onto the fabric – and preparing my fabric to fold into the correct shapes to form the neckline and sleeves.
There was one negative point to this tool for me, all the markings are in inches, which may be due to the US origin of the design. I work pretty consistently in metric, I calculate measurements for seams and so on in my head as I work, and having to convert them to inches can be a bit frustrating. But I know many sewists who consistently use imperial measurements and would love this tool for that very reason.
If you are inspired to use the tool to sew a shrug, you can use jersey as well as fine fabrics such as crepe or silk.
Thanks for reading,
Emma @ She Loves to Make
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 15th March 2019 by Vicki Ormerod
Hi again everyone!
I’m Anita, from DIY with Manneken. I’m here once again to review a “new” Minerva product. It’s the Ratchet Compass Cutter from Olfa. A precision tool for cutting circles in thinner materials such as paper, film, arts and crafts. Cuts Precise circles from 1cm to 15cm in diameter and comes complete with 10 spare blades.
When I saw it at the Minerva Makers list I thought it would be an interesting product to try. At first I thought it was a compass to cut fabric, which would have been wonderful. (Let me know if a fabric compass does exist).
Once I received the compass I saw it was a paper and film cutter which is really practical for making circular patterns. When I make circular skirt patterns for example, I am never able to cut the circles properly with the scissors. It always looks like the circle is bit by some small fish or a bunny rabbit. With this compass cutter, circles are cut perfectly.
The compass cutter blister includes the following pieces:
10 Extra blades
A rubber pad to prevent pinholes
It’s designed for right handed and left handed uses. There is an integrated cm ruler, so you can measure the circle radius accurately. The blades is retractable so it remains protected and no one gets hurt.
To experiment with the compass cutter, I decided to make blocks for circular skirts with the different sizes I need.
I first tried the blade on pattern drafting paper. I placed my craft mat on the table to protect it, as the manufacturer recommends.
I placed my paper and calculated the radius of my circle. My waistline measures 61cm, so to find out the diameter of the circumference (which is my waistline), I applied the following formula:
CIRCUMFERENCE = Pi x Diameter
61 = Pi x Diameter
Diameter = 61 / Pi
Diameter = 19.4 cm / Radius = 9.7cm
I used the radius value as I the compass cutter has a 13 centimetre ruler. As you can see in the image, I place the pin at 9.7 centimetre mark and place the rubber pad underneath to prevent pinholes. This rubber pad is a util instrument.
I place the blade downwards, and just turned the compass the same way as you use a pencil compass. Move the compass slowly, and eventually the paper cuts.
It’s really useful for small circles. I could not cut the hem of the pattern, but I found another use. My girls love crafting, and we’re always making different paper crafts, so I decided to prepare circles of different diameters for them made of colour cardboard. I made circles they could use for eyes, bodies, faces, and loads of different cute figures you can imagine.
And that’s my experience with the compass cutter which I found really useful.
Here's a short video showing you how to use the compass cutter. It’s short, but very clear. I hope it comes in handy.
What would you use the compass cutter for?
Thanks for reading,
Anita @ DIY with Manneken
For this month’s review, I wanted to try something a little different. I wanted to review a product instead of fabric, so I went for the Mini Iron as it has been on my wish list for a very long time (well, ever since I started sewing).
I find that pressing is an important part of sewing my projects and where I share my sewing space with my dining room, space is very limited and there is no space for a proper ironing board. So I have had to have my little ironing board from ikea set up on our kitchen counter with my travel iron. Occasionally my large iron and ironing board will be set up in the other room if I have to press larger garments.
This mini iron comes with a two pin plug, so you will need to get the necessary adapter for if you are in the UK like me.
I have two other irons, my standard steam iron, which I love as it is cordless and my travel iron which I can take with me where ever I go. This one is even better for taking to quilt classes as it is much smaller, thinner, easier to hold and control.
This mini iron only has two settings, hi (230?C) and low (150?C). I find I was using the “hi” setting for most of my projects and that the iron just glided over the fabric and pressed the seams open with ease.
When making the bias binding, I could not believe how easy it was to hold the mini iron in one hand and the bias binder maker in the other hand. It was a little more difficult with the standard iron or my travel iron.
All in all, this is a nifty little gadget to have in your sewing room. Thank you Minerva for letting me try it out.
Thanks for reading, until next time, Happy sewing.
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 14th February 2019 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 3rd February 2019 by Vicki Ormerod
I love surprises. As a child I could be trusted with Christmas presents and as an adult I know where my birthday presents are hidden but I never go and peek at them.
Added into that my love of working with different materials and reviewing the Fabric Remnant Bags at Minerva ended up being just up my street.
For my mystery pack I got 3 smaller bags of fabric. Each of these bags was in a different colourway and each bag had different selection of fabrics in it. Each piece of fabric was roughly one metre long, so a perfect length for smaller projects like skirts and tops.
The white bag contained:
Plain white cotton – Useful for just about everything.
White eyelet cotton – this is destained to be a cami top of some sort.
Holly print cotton – this is a bit different as its Christmas themed, luckily I do tend to make a few decorations every christmas so I can see it coming in handy.
The blue bag contained:
Pale blue silky fabric – I’ll probably use this as a lining for a posh jacket.
Blue lining fabric – again this will probably end up ling something.
Cat and mouse jersey – I’d actually argue that this isn’t blue so doesn’t fit the theme of the bag however it is very cute. I’ve already used a small amount as slipper linings and I think the rest will be used to try my hand at making a baby grow maybe?
The black bag contained:
Wool suit fabric – this ended up being a skirt.
Black lace fabric – I LOVE this fabric and I used it to make a black lace top.
I decided to focus on the black bag because I wanted to see if I could make an outfit from one of the fabric bags.
Luckily the black bag contained all of the components I needed and I had the perfect pattern sat at home. I love the Newlook 6217 Pattern because it has everything you need in it to make a great capsule wardrobe. You could even extend the top pattern into a cute mini dress [wait let me just write that down in my “to make” notebook”].
Originally I wanted to make the cardigan from the lace however there wasn’t quite enough fabric so I opted for the top instead. It wasn’t too much of a hardship because both either a lace cardigan opr a lace top would have fit into my wardrobe really well.
I also decided to add a pleated ruffle to the bottom of the skirt. I’d seen something similar on pinterest so thought I’d give it a whirl. I do like it but I wish I’d thought to shorten the skirt slightly so it wasn’t so long.
The ruffle is just made up of two long rectangles which I sewed together into a circle and them pleated around the bottom of the skirt.
I did a lot of top stitching on the skirt because I love how the stitching sinks into the wool. It also helps to keep all of the seam allowances down and looking neat on the inside. For the hem I only turned it up once to avoid them looking bulky and I finished the waistband using bias binding.
The majority of the top is made on my overlocker. However if you don’t have any overlocker you could sew regular seams on a sewing machine and trim them neat or you could do a narrow french seam.
The back seam and hems were sewn on my regular machine. I tried to keep them as neat as possible so they wouldn’t be too glaring underneath the lace. The button is from my stash, I seem to own about four million odd buttons so tops like these are very useful for using them up.
All in all I really like them and I’ve ended up with a nice outfit for excellent value for money. I think bags like these are really useful for people who want to try sewing with lots of different types of fabric and learn new techniques.
Frankie @ Knits Wits Owls