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A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics Book Review by Emma

When you consider how many items of clothing these days are made from Knitted Fabrics, it makes sense for the home stitcher to include this fabric in their repertoire; but how many of us actually do?

I was delighted to have the opportunity to review A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics by Wendy Ward, and to additionally review some knitted fabric from the extensive range at Minerva Crafts. 

I’m a novice dressmaker, and most confident with cotton, but the other reviewers are much more experienced, and I hope you read their reviews too, and admire their makes, because this book has some lovely designs that look even better in the hands of talented stitchers.

The book is paperback, and comes complete with enclosed full size patterns; this is already a book for people who want to get sewing. I’ve been able to carefully open the plastic wrapper storing the patterns, and after I traced the pattern pieces I want, folded them back up in to the wrapper and reseal it.

The patterns are on three sheets of A3 paper, and are double sided.

All the sizes listed are included; no need to scale up or down. You do need to trace the patterns, and for some pieces you will need to stick them together. I understand why people might find this annoying, but I can also see the need for a compromise with production costs to make this attractively affordable. I much prefer this to having to print off and construct PDF patterns. 

Another feature of the book I like is the dust flaps. I’ve used them as bookmarks, but I’ve also stored my notes tucked inside the front. It’s not ring bound, but opens out well enough to be able to follow, and the flaps save your place if it closes.

Although the cover mentions 20 different garments, there are six main outfits, with details of how to alter them. 

The sizes cover UK sizes 8 to 26, which is a good range, and are given as measurements in the book too. It’s based on a height of 5ft 6in or 170cm.

I like all of the patterns in the book, and my teenage daughter has already been through the book telling what she’d like me to make for her, so that’s two generations who found designs they’d wear. 

There’s lots of information at the front that I found really useful. It wasn’t just the standard basics that many books offer, but gave information on washing, (I’ve been drying t-shirts wrong for years!), types of fabric, and even how to tell the front from the back. The fabric I chose was very similar both sides, so this was really helpful.

I found I kept dipping back into the information section, which isn’t something I normally do.

I decided to make the Kinder Cardigan for my first make.

This was something I could make without adjusting for my height, (I’m 5ft), and something I’d wear a lot. That was an easy decision to make. Fabric on the other hand...

I eventually chose a Ponte Roma Fabric in a denim blue colour. Ponte Roma has a lovely drape, and will give a bit more structure without looking rigid or bulky. 

The Kinder Cardigan has several permutations. Long sleeves, short sleeves, short, medium, long length, pockets. There are also optional contrast panels. The combination I chose to make was pockets; medium length; long sleeves. Pockets for me are a necessity!

When the book first arrived I had some light knit fabric in my stash, and I made the cardigan in the 106-111cm size, based on my bust measurement. For my first make, I’m thrilled with it, and it’s a lovely, cosy, cute, and slouchy cardigan. However, when it came to my Minerva Make, after much dithering and discussion, I decided to make the cardigan a size down to fit my back better. The finished cardigan size for 106-111cm is given as 128cm, and for 96-101cm the finished size is 118cm, so I was confident there would still be sufficient front coverage!

The fabric is gorgeous. It’s soft and washes well, and is lovely to work with. It’s a wonderful colour, with little shade variations, just like denim has. 

I have an overlocker, and chose to use this for many of the seams. This is the first time I’ve used my machine, so it was a learning experience there too. I didn’t have the courage to change the thread colour, but will do for my next cardigan. Er, next make obviously; I’m not really obsessed with this cardie!

The book is aimed at a beginner, who is much less likely to own an overlocker; (mine is a recent investment); and the instructions are aimed at those using a sewing machine. I’m very much a novice, but was easily able to follow the process using sewing machine and overlocker.

The instructions are straightforward and easy to follow, and there are plenty of diagrams and colour photographs throughout. I didn’t get stuck or need to query any part of the instructions.

I used a stretch needle, and stretch twin needle in my sewing machine, and used a walking foot. All these are firsts for my machine. The walking foot limited the stitches I could use, but really made a difference over some of the bulkier seams. It was quite annoying to fit, but I’m glad I persevered because it enabled smooth sewing.

I hand basted the seams in a contrasting colour; this is worth doing, particularly if you are using an overlocker, so there’s no worries about pins getting caught up, and a contrasting colour makes it easy to spot for removal.

Cross references are clearly directed, with descriptions and page numbers, making it quick to refer to the relevant section.

When I first read through, I was quite wary of the sleeve; it looked complicated, 

but when I came to make it, it was very simple, and my effort not only looked like the diagram, but came out as a very smart looking sleeve.

One of the last little touches is to top stitch the cuffs and neck band. 

This not only makes the cardigan look smart, it secures down the seam.

I’m really proud of this make; there’s a few little wobbles that identify it as homemade not handmade, but not many. It fits well, and looks smart, and is really comfortable to wear. I love the pockets; they’re functional and roomy, and I can’t envisage making this cardigan without them. I’m so pleased that Wendy has included pockets in three of the four designs that could have them!

It’s a book I’m going to return to, and make other garments. I’m no longer averse to knitted fabrics, and look forward to future stretchy makes. Thank you Minerva Crafts and CICO Books for this wonderful review opportunity.

Emma @ hotteaonahotday

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