Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 24th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
I love sewing with Knitted Fabric, garments are usually easy to fit and nice and comfortable which are my top two requirements when choosing things to sew!
I hadn't made any of Wendy's patterns before and didn't have a knitted fabric sewing book so I was more than keen to get my hands on a copy and have a good excuse to spend some time sewing over the Christmas break.
Although I have sewn many jersey garments I actually know little about the fabrics and how best to sew them. I didn't realise how little I knew until I read this book! It has great information about the different types of knits there are and how to tell the difference between them. What size and type of needles to use for which type of fabric (I found this particularly useful as I really had no idea about the sizes and have to admit I didn't know the difference between a ballpoint needle and a stretch one or when to use them!). There are a few really helpful tables such as the one comparing the types of fabric and what to use them for.
At the beginning of the Book Wendy gives details of particular techniques that are important for example instructions on creating different types of waistband and gathering with elastic. These explain many of the techniques used in the book in a clear and concise way.
There are 6 basic patterns but they can all be adapted themselves or combined with other patterns in the book to create many different looks.
First the pattern is introduced, possible types of knitted fabrics you could use are discussed and how these may affect the final look of the garment. Wendy also tells you the type of fabric used for making the samples in the photographs (I found this particularly useful – it is great to be able to recreate a certain look that you like and I haven't seen this in any other sewing books I have read). All of the finished measurements are given as well as the fabric requirements and cutting layout. If there is a pattern piece that might be confusing/ difficult to deal with there is a helpful warning sign put onto the diagram with a corresponding explanation. The instructions are straight forward and the diagrams clear. As well as going through how to make the basic garment there are instructions on how to make changes/alterations such as turning the Longshaw skirt into a dress. There are little boxes throughout the instructions giving helpful tips.
I couldn't possibly decide on making just one of the items so I chose to make the Longshaw skirt and the Kinder cardigan.
I had seen a couple of Longshaw skirt instagram photos from pattern testers for the book and instantly fell in love with the pattern. I thought it would be a really complicated garment to produce as it looked so different – how wrong I was! I think it is probably been the quickest garment I have ever made and ooooooooh the pockets..........
It is made up of only two pattern pieces (yes just two!) I am a total sucker for a weird pattern shape and love to see how it all comes together.
I loved the idea of making this a statement piece by using a structured fabric such as ponte roma or scuba but due to my body shape I decided a drapey fabric would be more suitable. The fabric I chose to use was a medium weight Cotton Jersey Fabric from Minerva – fluid enough for the pattern but nice and stable so easy to sew with. I went for the grey colourway so that it could be mixed and matched with lots of different garments in my wardrobe.
The instructions were great making it a very easy sew. I love the finished garment it looks casual but with a smart twist and I can confirm that it is very comfortable!
Even though I now know how the pattern pieces come together I still love how unusual it is.
It hangs nicely and could be worn in lots of different ways.
And the pockets are just fabulous!!
Next up the Kinder cardigan! There are several versions – short, regular, and long, with short or long sleeves. It can be made in a heavier weight fabric such as ponte roma for a jacket like cardigan or in a softer knitted fabric. I made the regular length, long sleeved version. I went for one of Minerva's unusual Jersey Fabrics which looks knitted from one side but has a lovely fluffy brushed cotton look on the other side. I chose the black colourway so that it would go with everything, this does make photographing the details a little tricky.
The construction of the cardigan is slightly more involved than the Longshaw skirt but still very easy to make helped of course by the clear instructions and diagrams.
As well as going through the steps to make the garment Wendy also refers you to other pages in the book for special instructions such as taping the shoulder seams when using very heavy or very drapey fabric (or else the shoulder seams can stretch out of shape). Wendy suggests using iron on bias tape or cotton tape, I didn't have either of these but for once my hoarding came in useful as I had two pieces of clear elastic just long enough for the shoulder seams (I have also used scraps of ribbon before).
My finished garment is light to wear but warm and goes with absolutely everything! I have hardly taken it off since it was made (I should probably wash it now though!).
I can see it being a wardrobe staple.
For me 'bum coverage' is essential for most garments I make – as you can see the regular length cardigan has enough 'coverage'.
The pockets are roomy and incredibly useful – demonstrated by holding lots of gubbins during dog walks.
And of course the two can be worn together!
I will be making lots of other garments from this book - I can see a pair of Monsal lounge pants in my future as well as several Winnats tanks and a peak t-shirt dress for the summer.
Thanks for reading,
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 21st April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
As a great admirer of Wendy Ward’s inimitable style I was so excited to hear about her new book focussing on sewing with knits. I was imagining stylish silhouettes that wouldn’t look out of place at the office despite being made from the comfiest knits. When the book arrived I was not disappointed; the projects that it contains are perfect – simple outlines that can be made to suit every style simply by changing the fabric choices. I simply couldn’t choose which to make first! A simple t-shirt for a stroll in the park, chic wide-leg trousers for work (Nobody would ever know I was wearing secret pyjamas!) or an elegant coatigan to throw over the lot and keep myself warm through the winter.
As I started to browse the extensive range of Knit Fabrics available on the Minerva crafts website I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy choice, they are all so lovely and I could imagine myself quickly getting carried away and planning a whole wardrobe! I eventually decided upon this gorgeous Scuba Fabric. It is a black base with beautiful cream flowers and I just knew it would make the perfect t-shirt dress for winter. As this book is written with knit newbies in mind I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to refresh my knit sewing skills and choose a simple project with an easy to sew fabric and scuba was the perfect choice – it doesn’t have too much stretch and glides easily through the machine.
I was eager to get started and the first step was tracing off the pattern. The pattern layout might seem a little daunting at first with all the patterns in the book spread over four sheets. However, each pattern is printed in a different colour so it is really easy to find what you are looking for and can easily trace it off without getting confused with the overlapping patterns. The lines for the different sizes are also really distinct making it simple to distinguish which line you are following.
The directions for each pattern are pretty simple to follow. I chose to do the dress length version of the Peak T-shirt and had no problems. Although if you are choosing one of the variations whch doesnt just follow the basic pattern it looks as though there would be more jumping between pages required. I really liked how all the basic instructions like choosing your machine settings and hems were at the front of the book, separate from the projects. This means the project pages aren’t too cluttered (the basic Peak t-shirt is spread across three pages) and once you have mastered these basics you can get on with your project without interruptions.
I also really love that there are loads of great tips and tricks included in this book, I picked up so many new ideas about which stitches to use with which fabrics, when different seam finishes are most appropriate and perhaps my favourite – stripe matching as I do love a good stipy knit! In fact I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to try this out, but maybe my next project will have to be a stripy one!
I am really pleased with how my make came out – the Peak t-shirt seems so versatile and in this heavy scuba fabric it makes the perfect winter dress to throw on over leggings. I chose to make the size down from that suggested as there is a lot of positive ease built in, but graded up a size at the hips to keep that loose fitting style. I will definitely be making more of these and can see this pattern becomng a wardrobe staple.
Thanks for reading,
Helen @ H's Handcrafts
Posted in Product Reviews on Wednesday the 18th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
A few months ago I was chosen to be part of the blog tour of Wendy Ward's new book 'A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knits'. This book came out in the beginning of the year and it sold out so quickly, that our blog tour got postponed until the second run of copies was printed. Amazing, right? There are so many talented bloggers involved and they all made some gorgeous versions of the patterns included in the book, so make sure you pay them a visit.
Before I show you what I made, I wanted to talk about the actual book. As it states it the title, it is a beginner's guide to sewing with knits and it contains so many useful information on this topic. If you read Wendy's bio in the back cover, you will understand why she is the ideal person to write this kind of book. She has years of experience in the fashion industry and she also teaches dressmaking, pattern cutting and textiles for adults since 2007. Wendy will take all your fears of sewing with knit fabrics away, helping you choose the right fabrics for each project, listing the tools you are going to need, explaining the best ways to finish your hems, to sew the seams and many many more. I will admit that there were a few things I was doing completely wrong and after I read this book I think it took my knit garments to a whole other level!
The best thing about this book though, is that it includes 5 sewing patterns. And they are for really basic, staple items in your wardrobe, which is something I really love. With their variations, you can actually make 20 essential garments! There is the Peak T-Shirt, the Derwent wide leg trousers, the Winnats tank, the Monsal lounge pants, the Kinder Cardigan and the Longshaw skirt.
I had sooo much trouble choosing only one of them to make for this blog tour. So I tried to be sensible and pick the one that I was going to get more wear out of. This was, without a doubt, the peak T-shirt. As spring has finally come, easy-to wear T-shirts are perfect for working from home and I desperately needed more in my wardrobe. To make this garment, Minerva Crafts very kindly provided us with a fabric of our choice. Choosing the fabric from their huge collection of jerseys was even harder that choosing the pattern from the book. I spent days searching for the ideal jersey for my T-shirt and the one that stole my heart was this Striped JerseyFabric. It is grey with white stripes and I knew it was going to be perfect for my T-shirt.
The first order of business was to trace off my pattern. In the back of the book there are three big sheets with full-size pattern pieces and each garment has a different color, which makes it easier to find. In the book, Wendy actually tells you which pattern pieces you need to trace for each version, which makes the whole process much easier. The pieces overlap and I'll be honest, I had some difficulty tracing them at first, but it wasn't too hard in the end. As each size has a different styled line, it makes it easier to identify what you need to trace. For my Peak T-shirt I only needed to trace 4 pieces, the front and back bodice, the neckband and the sleeve.
The instructions for the sewing part are extremely detailed and easy to follow. There are illustrations for each step, which are very easy to understand and the entire book is packed with little tips that will make a huge difference to your final garment. I made the entire top in less than 2 hours using my overlocker for sewing the seams and my sewing machine for hemming.
As for the sizing range, each pattern is available from a size 8 (UK) to a size 26 (UK). According to my measurements, I had to make a size 14. I am usually a size 10, so I think the sizes are pretty generous. The T-shirt fits like a glove, it is as loose as I like it to be, very comfortable to wear everyday. I especially like the high neckline, which is something I don't normally wear, but I actually really love in this T-shirt. It is perfect to throw over jeans or tuck into a skirt. The fabric was a joy to work with, it washed up beautifully and it didn't stretch out of shape.
Overall, I am very happy with my Peak T-shirt. I reckon I will make many more in plain colors to add in my wardrobe, as they are a very quick sew and fit great.
The book is a valuable addition to my sewing book collection and I'm sure I will be referring to it many times in the future. If you like to sew with knits, I definitely recommend it, as you will find it extremely helpful. And even if you are experienced and don't need any help with that, it is worth buying it just for the sewing patterns. They are very well drafted, staple pieces that you will enjoy having in your wardrobe. I know I am going to make at least a couple more, with the Derwent wide leg trousers being next on my list.
I hope you enjoyed my review. Make sure you visit the other blogs involved in this tour to see more patterns in action and read about their thoughts on this book.
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 17th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
I am so excited to share with you my experiences of Wendy Ward's latest book, A Beginner's Guide to Sewing With Knitted Fabrics.
It contains 20 modern, comfortable and stylish patterns which will provide you will a wardrobe of items you will really want to wear. It starts by giving the reader detailed information about the tools and equipment you will be using, how to take your own measurements and then perhaps most importantly information about different types of knitted fabric.
The cardigan starting looking like an actual cardigan really quickly which gave me the confidence to keep going. The fabric, which I prewashed to avoid any issues with shrinkage later on, was a pleasure to work with.
I absolutely love big pockets, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to the Kinder Cardigan.
I was most worried about the sleeves, as this seemed to be quite an advanced sewing technique, however, I was delighted that by following Wendy's simple informative diagrams it all came together really nicely.
I don't appear in front of the camera very often but a family trip to Ashdown Forest, specifically to the wooded area which inspired the Winnie the Pooh stories was a perfect excuse to take my new Kinder Cardigan for an outing.
The scenery was stunning and my new Kinder Cardigan was warm and cosy.
I will definitely be making more designs from Wendy Ward's new book. The step by step instructions made me feel confident to try new techniques, and I love the style of the clothes.
I can't wait to try the Peak T-shirt pattern. I always struggle to find T-shirts which are long enough because I am tall and have a long body and after three children no one wants to see my belly! By making my own I can make them as long as I like.
Thanks for reading,
Amy @ Amy Is Hooked
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 16th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
When I first saw the call for bloggers to join in the blog tour for the new Wendy Ward book I was unsure whether to apply. Would any of the patterns work for a pregnant body, I wondered? However, when I found out one of the patterns was for a cardigan I figured I’d be on safe ground. I’m of the firm belief that any cardigan can work over a bump. It’s just that some need to be left unbuttoned :-)
As luck would have it, the Kinder Cardigan turned out to be perfect for my needs: a roomy fit, no fastenings so it hangs open with plenty of room for the bump, and there’s a longline option which is something currently lacking in my wardrobe. After reading through the book I was raring to go—all I had to do was choose some fabric.
I browsed through the medium weight jersey fabrics on Minerva’s site looking for something a bit special that would make this cardigan something I could wear out in the evenings as well as during the day (versatility is key for maternity wear!), and found this wonderful sequinned textured Jersey Fabric. At the time of writing this post there is limited stock left in the black, but plenty in the other three colours (ivory, grey and mauve), all of which are really appealing too.
What I love about this fabric is the sequins are subtle, being small, quite widely spaced and the same colour as the fabric. This means the sparkle isn’t too DISCO for the school run, but it gives a luxurious shimmer under artificial light in the evenings. It also means that you can treat the fabric like any other medium weight sweater knit, rather than having to go to all the trauma of cutting out sequins from the seam allowance like you do with heavily sequinned fabrics. I didn’t bother removing any sequins before sewing and didn’t break a single needle. There are a few sequins that are in contact with my skin at the collar and cuffs, but they’re not remotely itchy so I’ve left them in place.
The patterns in Sewing with Knitted Fabrics are printed on sheets and need tracing out as the printing is on both sides and different pieces overlap. With the cardigan several pattern pieces were too large for the sheets, so had to be traced off two different sheets and joined together. I tend to always trace my patterns anyway, so this wasn’t a problem for me. The only thing I found a little confusing was that the cardigan pieces were printed on different sheets, but with each pattern having its own colour that made them easier to trace. It just took longer to find the pieces I needed than it would have if they’d all been together on one sheet.
When choosing a size I went with the middle size (96-101 cm) as the instructions said to go with your actual bust size, and mine was between that and the next size up. However, this turned out to be a mistake and I should have gone with my high bust measurement, putting me in the next size down (88-92cm). Perhaps it’s just me, but the oversized, boxy fit of the middle size just wasn’t doing me any favours. I thought I looked like a child dressing up in her parent’s clothes—not the look I was going for!
Luckily it was simple enough to take the cardigan in at the arm and side seams to approximate the next size down. I didn’t go to the trouble of redoing the armscye and shoulder seams, but I think I got away with it.
The instructions in the book are comprehensive and easy to follow, with plenty of diagrams. I did change the order of construction slightly by sewing the side seams before adding the neckband, so I could overlock along the bottom hem. This was essential with this particular loose-knit fabric as it frays and unravels.
I also used some Fusible Stretch Interfacing to line the pockets, which I fused on the cross grain to give the fabric more stability. As well as this I stitched some twill tape across the top fold of the pockets as I was worried about this knit stretching and bagging out. It doesn’t have the greatest recovery, and I know I tend to overstuff my pockets at times! My final pocket reinforcement was sewing small triangles at each side of the top—a technique I’ve used before for patch pockets.
I’m really happy with my finished cardigan, although I’ll admit it’s not the warmest fabric so it hasn’t yet had a huge amount of wear. I can see this changing once spring finally gets going, though. It’s the perfect basic layering piece that goes with most of my wardrobe, and that subtle sparkle makes it more fun than a plain black cardigan has any right to be.
As for the book as a whole, I’m really impressed. I’ve got several knit sewing books on my shelves now and have been sewing mainly knit fabrics for the last few years, but Wendy’s book definitely brings something new to the party and I found some really helpful tips in there.
What I particularly like about this book is the really comprehensive charts of knit fabric types, along with the best stitches and needles to use with them. I wish I’d had this information at my fingertips when I started out sewing knits as I’ve had to pick it up by trial and error.
I was puzzled that there’s no mention made of using clear elastic or stretch interfacing for stabilising purposes (regular interfacing is mentioned for solving problems hemming), as they’re something I use all the time when sewing knits. However, for the projects in this book they’re not necessary and perhaps Wendy left them out to keep things simple for knit beginners.
I will definitely be making more from Wendy’s book in the future, although not until after I’ve had the baby. The Derwent Wide Leg Trousers and the Monsal Lounge Pants look like the perfect secret pyjamas for wearing while looking after another littl’un, so I reckon those will be first, although I’m also tempted by the dress version of the Winnats Tank. Decisions, decisions… although not one I need to make for a few months. I’ll just get the whole giving birth thing out of the way first. And the sleepless nights. Heh, I’m not nervous about this impending life change at all…
Happy sewing, everyone!
All materials for this make were kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 15th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 14th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
The tag line of this Book is “Everything you need to know to make 20 essential garments” and Wendy has divided her book into two sections: Techniques and Projects. The first section is written in a chatty way which demystifies sewing with knit fabrics. The techniques covered among others include how to find the grain, identifying the right and wrong side of knitted fabric and much to my delight, a quick guide to choosing the right seam for your project. Even the sizing is easy to choose – Wendy has included finished garment measurements with the sizing guide table.
The pictures are bright and light. The layout is fun and uncluttered. I really appreciated that every picture in this book adds value in the sense that there aren’t pictures of random haberdashery stuff. There are plenty of close up photos and illustrations. The patterns were easy to trace out as the pattern sheets have different colours for each project. The projects in this book are all modern and wearable.
What did I make?
Let me preface by saying that choosing what to sew was very challenging as I would make every single garment in the book. Every. Single. One.
In the end it was the fabric that decided for me. While browsing the Minerva site for fabric I stumbled upon some hot pink Silk Jersey Fabric. Suddenly, it was decided that I would be making the Winnats tank and Longshaw skirt.
The skirt is an unusual and bold design that attracted me with its drapey silhouette. I chose a bright pink beautifully soft silk jersey which has a soft lustre. Having a fluid drape and buttery texture it was perfect for the Romanesque draped sides. Very simple to sew it took less than an hour to finish. It is made up of just 2 pattern pieces and a waist band. I used an overlocker on all the seams and hemmed with a zigzag stitch.
I made the tank in size 88cm without any alterations and the fit is exactly what I like on a tank! The instructions are well written – care has been taken to ensure that even the newest novice to sewing can tackle this. Another point that impressed me was the neckband and armholes; the band snaps perfectly flat against my body. I love that these 2 garments can be worn together to create the look of a dress and also separately.
Will I be sewing more from this book? Definitely! (I already have a Kinder cardigan cut out.)
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!
This book to me comes across as something that will be a classic in the cannon of sewing books. Not only because it covers essential techniques for working with an oft feared fabric but also for the stylish patterns that come with the book. A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics is a great sewing book and a welcome addition to any library.
Thanks for reading,
Hila @ Saturday Night Stitch
Book Review: Beginners Guide to Sewing Knitted Fabrics – Don’t Want Get Dressed but Have To? Then Make Something from this Book!
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 13th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 12th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 9th April 2018 by Vicki Ormerod