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Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginners Guide to Knitted Fabrics’

Hi Everyone, 
I hope you’re all well and your makes this month have been a success and more importantly, loads of fun. I’ve been working on lots of great dressmaking projects lately. And I’m so ready for the warmer spring days. I had so much fun making coats and jumpers last season, but can’t wait to make more t-shirts and dresses. I think, if you also live in England, you will probably agree with me.

Today I want to talk to you about Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginners Guide to Knitted Fabrics’. I was lucky enough to be one of the bloggers to review the book before its release date. I was so excited to be a part of it and as soon as I saw the book I was even happier. The patterns which are included are amazing - total wardrobe staples for anyone of any age. Timeless pieces of loungewear to make you confident with knitted fabrics and start off your handmade capsule wardrobe. (Already a great start right?).
So lets firstly talk about the information included. The book starts by giving you clear facts and tips about knitted fabrics, choosing the right ones for which project and what you should be looking for in a fabric. As someone who has used a lot of stretch fabrics before, I was surprised by the amount of information that I didn’t know. So I’ve definitely learnt a lot more about knitted fabric types from this book. Since expanding my knowledge on how stretch fabrics vary and their make-up, I’ve found sewing with them much, much easier. Don’t think this book is just for people who have never sewn with these ‘specialist’ fabrics, it’s now become my bible for all things knitted and stretch. 

The tips for cutting knitted fabrics were the best part for me. I always struggle with things like stripes and direction. But Wendy’s clear tips have definitely raised my confidence with cutting pattern pieces out. The top I’ve made from the book was only my third attempt at stripe matching. The first two tries worked out ok, but took me hours and a lot of hair pulling. Now I know how fabrics work, and the best way of cutting them without moving the fabric, it’s so much easier. 
I know, from a lot of the young students I teach, the fear of stretch fabrics is sometimes just in the sewing part and not being able to sew it flat like a basic cotton. Or on a normal sewing machine! Wendy’s book clearly sets out tensions, needle types and stitch options for different aspects of sewing. This is so important for those of you who struggle with your machine and sewing thin jerseys and things. We’ve all been there when our machine starts eating up our beautiful material. Her tables make it so clear; what fabrics you’re using, what the tension should be and which needle is best for sewing that particular material. Hurrah! 
The drawings and diagrams for all the instructions are very clear and all of them make complete sense. I have seen ‘drawn instructions’ be completely vague in other patterns. But luckily Wendy’s  are bold and informative - thank goodness! The steps are really easy to follow to, so you won’t get stuck on any part (that’s a promise). Wendy gives you a few finishing options too, so you can choose what you feel most confident doing. I don’t know if you can tell, but I really, really love this book!

The patterns in the book include the Peak T-shirt, Derwent Wide Leg Trousers, Winnats Tank, Monsal Lounge Pants, Kinder Cardigan and Longshaw Skirt. All of the patterns can be customised to suit your style, add pockets, lengthen to a dress, shorten for shorts; it’s so easy and versatile. Plus all can be tailored to suit either day or evening styles. It all depends on what fabric you choose. This was great for me as I now know I can use my favourite, most comfy patterns for going out clothes too. Comfort and style - Win win!

I chose to make a short, box version of the staple Peak T-shirt. I used this Black & White Stripe Textured Stretch Jersey Knit Dress Fabric. It’s a printed stripe and great value for money, so was perfect for combatting that stripe-matching fear I have. The thickness and regularity of the stripes on this fabric are also perfect for easy pattern matching too. 
I’m so pleased with the fit and shape of this top. I’m a huge fab of boxy cropped shapes at the moment, so this style and variation is perfect for me. I’ve worn it so much since I made it. It didn’t take long to make either so I cannot wait to make more!

The second item I made was a pair of Monsal Lounge Pants with contrasting cuffs, waistband and pocket seams. I absolutely LOVE these joggers. Honestly they’re so comfortable. I made the main joggers with this dark grey Polycotton Sweatshirting Dress Fabric which is super soft and cosy. Perfect for cooler evenings, lounging around the house. I used the Ponte Roma Stretch Jersey for the orange contrast pieces. I am definitely going to purchase this jersey in loads of colours. It’s a lovely weight, soft to the touch and I found it really easy to work with. I’ve had so many nice comments about these joggers, and a lot of my friends have now asked me to make some for them too! I better get shopping for more fabric! 

The whole book is totally inspiring without being overwhelming. You will be able to make EVERYTHING in the book. There’s so many hints and tips as you go along, making the whole process clear, simple and straightforward. I urge anyone who’s a little hesitant to work with knitted fabrics to purchase this book. It’ll get rid of your fears and make your confident with all things stretchy. 
Happy Handmade everyone! And good luck with your stretchy makes!
Sophia x 
@Jessalli_Handmade / jessalli.co.uk

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