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Crochet Sandal Espadrilles by Mady

Hi everyone!

It’s summer and of course it’s all about summer clothes, accessories and SHOES! But, who knew that making shoes is actually easy? Making my own espadrilles was on my mind for a long time now, so when I got the chance to test Prym's Espadrilles Soles from Minerva Crafts I was beyond happy! I thought a lot about what kind of espadrilles I would like to make with these soles and had a good internet search about them. I also found a little bit about their history: espadrilles begun as a peasant footwear and then become the urban workers footwear before becoming such a popular modern footwear over the spring and summer months for both women and men.

The design possibilities are endless and after my research I came to the conclusion that I wanted mine to be some kind of crocheted sandals. 

Searching for different types of espadrille sandals, I came across this video and I decided to loosely follow the instructions for my version. So, with step one (deciding the design) done, I was off to step two (the yarn!). 

When I discovered Katia's Tahiti yarn I knew I found the perfect yarn for this project. Tahiti is a 100% combed and mercerized cotton yarn with a really great color selection. I went with colorways 7 (beige) and 8 (light beige).

I used a 5.5mm crochet hook and made the whole design holding together one strand of each yarn for a more bulky look and sturdy design. It was a really quick, easy and satisfying project!

When I finished crocheting the sandal design for both shoes, I used a burlap yarn and a heavy duty needle to attach the crocheted pieces to the Prym espadrille soles. For this I used a blanket stitch - a very common stitch in espadrilles - which creates a really sturdy and good looking join.

Next I made the ties of the shoes by chaining many stitches holding together one strand of each yarn until I had a long strip I could wrap loosely around my ankle and I thread them through the crocheted pieces.

I'm so in love with my new, unique espadrille sandals! I would totally recommend Creating Your Own Espadrilles with Prym’s soles. It is so much fun and such a worthy outcome!

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Summer Fabric Bundle Review by Emma

For my latest review for Minerva I opted to try to Summer Fabric Bundle. I was a bit cautious as obviously you don't know what you are going to get. However, I wasn't disappointed. I have worked with bundles before but they are usually much smaller pieces that can be used for crafts, make up bags etc. This bundle came with two 1 metre pieces and another piece which was 3 metres long so a definite bargain straight away.

I set about thinking immediately, I thought I'd find it difficult to be creative with fabric I hadn't chosen but I felt inspired. I had just made a successful version of Mccalls Pattern 6927 so I decided to make another summery version using the white floral piece. 

I wanted to do version D which has a long length and a curved back hem line and realised I wouldn't have enough, I can rarely make a top in my size with a metre. Anyway, I thought I could maybe use two different fabrics and I improvised. I went looking through my stash for a fabric that matched and then had a light bulb moment as I looked up the green cotton that had come with it. Bingo. So I cut the beginnings of the top bodice, stopping just before the bust darts and cut the remaining front in the green. I cut the sleeves out of the floral too as I didn't want to clash too much! I think it was a good choice, the green contrasts but ties in with the green in the flowers. 

I love making this top too, it has lots of variations and a great fit. I used bias binding all around instead of facing, especially on the curved hem as I find it can make it easier. I was really pleased to have such a wearable, bright top out of the two smaller pieces.

What's more, I had enough green left over to make some super cute little baby trousers for a friend who is having a baby. This was an absolute bonus for me. They were really simple but I think simple is good for babies. It also meant I could whip them up alongside sewing my top! I am thinking of embroidering some little flowers along the hem if it's a girl though! 

On to the last piece; it was a see-through chiffon number. I always class purple colours like this at autumnal so I didn't feel it was too summery but it is a light fabric at least. I decided to make the Cotton and Chalk Olivia Dress again as I thought I would then be able to wear it over a black slip.

The pattern needs 3 metres and there was plenty and even enough to add the optional ruffles. I don't have a lot of experience with this kind of material so it was great to try it out in such an inexpensive way. I have other chiffons which I have bought and love but I haven't braved sewing up yet because of my inexperience with them so it was great to practice on this. It didn't go badly at all, the whole dress needed French seams, which means that it wasn't as quick as a project as I would like but I like to make sure that things will last. 

I still wasn't sure throughout the making process if the colours were a bit drab for my liking but once it was done I really liked it and I will be wearing it through summer and autumn.

My advice for this product: relish the unexpected nature of it and allow it to let you think outside your comfort zone and test your creativity! If you're new to sewing like me then take the opportunity to try different fabrics in a way that doesn't leave you feeling you've thrown your money away!

Thanks for reading,

Emma @ Emma and her Machine

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The Papercut Patterns Yoyo Dress by Lauren

Hi, Lauren here, let’s get the introductions over and done with… Short story: I like sewing and making things and I write about said things over on my blog, craftworksblog.com.

Did you know Minerva Crafts do Indie Sewing Patterns? This is probably news to no one but me, but yes, they do indeed do indie patterns, including Papercut Patterns. This kind of made my day when I found out, which may sound sad to most people, but I’m guessing that if you’re reading this post on Minerva Crafts’ blog, you will probably understand what I mean. 

There are a few Papercut Patterns that have been on my list a while, but as I am in desperate need of summery-type dresses and due to the fact that prior to writing this I had a big holiday coming up,  (my honeymoon actually) I decided to try out the Yoyo Dress Pattern

There have been a lot of Yoyo dresses milling around the blog/Instagram world, some of them on the smarter side, some of them more casual. I wanted to make one that would look fairly dressed-up when worn on holiday with heels and stuff, but could also look more casual with a shirt under at work. I also wanted it to be fairly lightweight, as I’d be wearing it in Florida which turned out to be pretty warm at this time of year (who knew?) - that’s why I ended up picking the fabric I did.

The Fabric

After studying the denim/chambray section of the Minerva Crafts website for quite a long time (there’s a lot to chose from!) I decided on this pastel Cotton Chambray Fabric and to really venture out of my comfort zone, (NOT) I went for the pastel pink option - as if I don’t have enough of that colour already. I didn’t really know how thick or heavy it would be, as I didn’t order a swatch, so I was a little worried when it arrived…

 

…It looked rather sheer, and as the pattern isn’t lined I was worried I’d end up showing a little more than I really wanted to. However, I was worried unjustly, as it covers my decency and doesn’t expose anything I’d rather stayed hidden, which is definitely something you want in a garment right?

I was expecting it to look a little more denim-y for some reason, but it has more of a cotton look and feel, which made it really nice to sew with, and made construction a hell of a lot easier. It does crease though, which would be fine if I wasn’t so crap at ironing. (You can probably tell from my pictures that the ironing part of the construction process was a bit of a hash job.) 

The Construction

This is the first Papercut Patterns pattern I’ve made, so I didn’t know what to expect. First impressions - the pattern and envelope packet is so cute! I loved the recycled paper and the illustrations are lovely; also, the envelope is bigger than the norm, which makes it a load easier to fold it back up after you’ve finished. 

The pattern was pretty easy to fit together, everything in the instructions was fairly self explanatory. I was most nervous about inserting the open ended zip down the front of the dress, as:

 

I haven’t inserted an open ended zip before

I knew if it wasn’t even both sides, it would throw the whole garment out of whack 

I thought the zip itself might be too heavy and pull the front of the dress down

 

It turned out that the zip was one of the simplest parts of the garment. I made sure I hand-tacked it in place after pinning so it was less likely to move about, and measured from the bottom of the bodice up on both sides. 

 

The facings went together really well too, except while I was finishing the edges of the underarm facing with my new overlocker, I had a little accident…. I ended up chopping a chunk out of it and had to do some damage control, which left me with a funny-looking right underarm. Ah well, at least no one can see the issue there.

Two features I loved about this pattern is inverted diagonal at the bottom of the hem where the zip ends, and the V at the back of the neck. These kind of details make it look a bit more contemporary. 

The Fit

I cut a size small, as it corresponded closest with my measurements. This felt great as I rarely find myself cutting out a small - nice little confidence booster there! However, this didn’t go exactly as expected. 

It sewed up a lot bigger than expected which threw off some of the measurements on the dress for me. The dress fit well at the waist, but the shoulders sure didn’t fit. I took some of the fabric out at the shoulder seam, but they’re still a little big for me, as is the hip area. 

I haven’t yet taken the side seams of the skirt in, as I thought I’d wear it a couple of times first and see how it feels. It’s really comfy, while still holding me in in the right places, so I think I might just keep it how it is for now. 

 

Overall I think this is a dress I’m going to get a lot of use out of. I like it on it’s own, but I can also imagine wearing it with a shirt or a stripy top, with tights and boots in the winter. If I were to make it again though, the shoulders are definitely something I’d look at - as it’s the only thing that slightly gets on my nerves when I have the dress on. Besides that tiny aspect, I’m really happy with it, and see a dressier version in black. 

 

If you fancy checking out some of the other things I’ve made - mainly in pale pink - head to www.craftworksblog.com

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Embroidered Border Vogue 9242 by Ali @ Thimberlina

Hi! My name’s Ali (also known as Thimbers by my sewing pals!) and I’m a new reviewer here at Minerva.  I blog at Thimberlina and I love all sorts of craftiness but my true love is dress making. I mainly sew for myself and occasionally loved ones who appreciate the time and effort that goes into to handmade garments and gifts.

The first thing I do when a new Fabric arrives is to wash it straight away, even if I don’t plan to use it immediately. So when this super soft lightweight Cotton Lawn Fabric dropped onto my door mat I took a quick photo and popped it straight in the washing machine. Luckily it was a lovely sunny day and it dried in no time on the airer in the garden.  As you can see from the photo it’s the creamy pinky blush colour that is everywhere at the minute.

Choosing what to make with this fabric was easy as I’d recently bought Vogue Sewing Pattern 9242 a very on trend off the shoulder top with wide sleeves and a floaty bodice which would show the border off perfectly.   

I needed more fabric than what was suggested on the packet as I could only use one side of the selvedge and I wanted the border on the bottom and also on the sleeves. In order to work out how much I needed I opened up the pieces and measured each one individually. The total worked out at 310 cm. I forgot to include the bias piece needed for the casing but luckily Vicki had sent me 3.5m so I just had enough. 

If you’re thinking of using this fabric and showing off the border too you need to adjust the pattern slightly.  It’s fairly simple so don’t let it put you off!  Here’s how I did it.

Lay out the pattern pieces.  As you can see from my bodice back and front the lower edge is curved. You need to square this off so it’s straight like the border edge of the fabric.

To straighten the bottom just fold the pattern piece. I also wanted to shorted the top slightly as I wanted it to sit above my hips not on them. Remember that you won’t need the hem allowance, and the length can’t be adjusted afterwards so measure carefully or tissue fit the pattern so you’re happy with the length.

I did the same with the sleeve pieces and removed the curve by folding the pattern piece.  

Once I had all my pieces ready I pressed my fabric and had a trial run trimming back to the scalloped edge using my Applique Scissors. The trick is to get close without snipping the threads, so take it slowly as unless you want to order more fabric you won’t get a second chance!

I thought once it came to making up the top that the side seams might be slightly disjointed as I couldn’t match up the scalloped edges exactly.  

I was very lucky and just manipulated the seam allowances ever so slightly to match the bottom edge of stitching.

I opened up the seam, and all looked ok, so then was able to overlock the raw edge.

And then trim away the fabric to the scalloped edge. This was quite exciting and a little bit daunting. I placed the garment on a flat surface and took it really slow. I timed myself and it took less than 10 minutes to trim away all the lower edge which is probably faster than hemming it! I added Fray Check to the bottom of the seams so the stitching and overlocking won’t unravel.

Other than adjusting the pattern to accommodate the fancy edge I followed the pattern as per instructions. The fabric was a dream to sew and didn’t need pressing at all except for the shoulder straps. This is a first for me as usually I have my clapper to hand for every pressed seam and never cut corners. But this fabric just never held a crease, and the softness of it would have been lost if I’d have pressed the living daylights out of it! 

And here’s the top finished, after it had been packed in a suitcase, worn on a night out and then flung over the chair.  It still hadn’t been pressed since it was dried on the day of washing!  

So this Dressmaking Fabric would be perfect for your summer tops and dresses, or a little girls summer dress. Or even PJs. And at only £2.99 a metre ordering extra so you can show off the border it's not going to break the bank!  

This top is one of the most admired garments I've made in ages, and lots of my friends want one too!  I received so many compliments when I wore it for mini photo shoot on a recent girlie golfing trip to Portugal - and here I am wearing it on a hot and balmy evening, but feeling ever so cool!

Cheers!

Thanks Vicki for giving me the opportunity to review this gorgeous summery fabric.  Now all I have to do is decide what I’ll do with the long narrow piece I have left. 

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Prym Espadrille Classic Instruction DVD & Sewing Pattern Review by Julia

Hi I’m Julia from juliahincks.com and I've been reviewing the Prym Espadrille ‘classic’ instruction DVD and Sewing Pattern
I’m seriously excited that I can make my own bespoke shoes!  I have big feet (size 8) and often find that I can’t get the shoes I want in shops.  It’s also not easy to get nice looking flat-heeled shoes so this is a perfect project for me.
The DVD comes in a packet with a paper pattern. There are three choices of style of espadrille that you can make.  As you have the basic shapes you can quite easily adapt the pattern and create whatever style you like. The soles also come with a paper pattern but the one included with the DVD is much better and gives more options of style.
The sizing for the pattern is shown in UK and EU sizes and covers a wide range from a child size 8.5 to adult size 10.5 so I’m pretty sure that would cover most shoe sizes.  The reverse of the packaging gives small images and product numbers for all the Prym products that you will need to make the shoes shown on the front.  In order to review the video I thought I’d make some espadrilles as I watched it. 
There’s a long list of items required for this project but depending on the style you choose, you won’t need them all:
(Prices from Minerva Crafts);
Espadrille Soles £9.99
Espadrille Base Fabric – comes in a range of colours £4.59
- 40x55cm piece of Fabric for the toe section –  you could use any fabric for this as you’ll be reinforcing it with interfacing.
Textile Glue - £3.89
Assorted Darning Needles £1.59 for a pack of 6
Prym Creative Interfacing £6.99 (this is double sided so I’d call it bondaweb, rather than interfacing)
- 20mm Bias Binding 69p per metre
I wasn’t entirely sure what the last two items were but this became apparent after watching the video, in fact I had to search for the codes for many of the other items as I didn’t know what they were.  It would be much easier if each item was listed with what it is, rather than just an image and a code.  Thankfully everything is stocked by Minerva Crafts so they were all relatively easy to find online and in my search I found some Heel Sections which I chose to buy too, instead of using the heel pattern provided. 
I’m always looking to save money so thought I’d avoid buying the non-essentials.  I definitely needed the soles and thought I should probably purchase the base fabric as I wasn’t sure what that was.
I didn’t buy the dressmaker’s carbon paper as I could trace the pattern instead.  I also didn't bother buying the interfacing and used the base fabric instead.  There are other things on the list that you may already have in the cupboard such as darning needles or glue so although it looks like a rather expensive project based on the list of items above, it doesn’t need to be. 
The DVD opens with easy listening music and a screen showing three options for which pair of espadrilles you wish to make; a peep toe style, closed toe option and an open toe sandal. 
I chose the last option, the open toe sandal but I had a few ideas about how I wanted to change it to create something more my style.
I was expecting someone to start talking but the entire video is done visually which actually works really well and saves you becoming irritated by the presenter.  The music does become a bit annoying after a time but this can be muted, since there are no verbal instructions you can simply watch the screen and follow the steps of construction.
The video is really clear and easy to follow.  I measured my foot as I was shown to and selected the size required.  I traced off my pattern (they suggest carbon paper) and cut out my pattern pieces.  I attached my fabric to the base of the sole using the glue and left this to dry.  The video doesn’t suggest drying time but I wanted to make sure that stage was set before I began sewing the heel and toe sections in place.
I left the soles to dry overnight and prepared the other parts.  I swapped the heel pattern piece for the heel sections and after inspecting a pair of espadrilles in my cupboard, decided to add buttonholes to the heel section so I could thread my cord through this for lacing.  I reinforced the front shoe fabric with the base fabric and hemmed the edges. 
I pinned the heel section in place ready for the hand stitching and then watched the video for further instruction to see how to anchor the thread and to watch their technique on the blanket stitch. 
Each step is really clear and easy to follow, from tying the knot, where to start stitching, how to create the stitches and how to finish off. 
The actual hand stitching is quite difficult as you’re going through such a thick layer.  Someone suggested to me, having made their own espadrilles, that a pair of gardening gloves would help with this stage but I took it slowly and it wasn’t anywhere near as painful or difficult as I thought.
I put in a few more securing stitches than the video suggested to make sure they’re not going to come undone but other than that I can’t really fault it.  It’s a really clear video to follow.
As others have said, they do come up a bit big and so I think I’m going to try a size smaller next time.  I’m really happy with how they’ve turned out and can’t wait to make some more!!
Thanks for reading,
Julia @ Julia Hincks
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Embroider a Tortoise with Emma from Crafty Clyde

I had only just been 5 minutes fresh out of my first ever embroidery workshop when the opportunity to test some new Embroidery Threads from Minerva arose! Excited at the prospect of all those colourful threads to try I was so grateful to get chosen to test them out….

Sure enough an exciting surprise arrived in the post in the form of these beautiful threads. These are the Duchess Embroidery Silks Thread Floss. I opted for the variegated threads, which beautifully transition from white, through pastel shades and onto bright hues of each colour on each individual thread.

It makes for a very beautiful effect, even just looking at the box. In this box there is an incredible amount of thread! 12 different colours, comprising of 6 ‘skeins’ each (which I had to google to find out means ‘length of coiled thread’ i.e. a bundle) giving a grand total of 72 lots of thread! That’s 576 meters of deliciously colourful thread…. That’s a whole lot of sewing to be done.

Now what to make……. The possibilities were really endless especially as the variegation in thread colour could be used to wonderful effect. Of course, there could only be one choice really. A tortoise. This will come as no surprise to anyone that’s ever seen my blog. How predictable, but how fun to make!

Now please be reminded at this point that I’ve only ever tried embroidery once and really have no idea what I’m doing – but it’s fun to play right? I gathered up some supplies including a bit of black Cotton Twill Fabric (I figured any design would stand out better on a black background with these wonderful colours), an Embroidery Hoop, some Hand Embroidery Needles and a Chalk Pen.

Not being particularly blessed with drawing skills either I sketched a very rough tortoise design onto the twill as a guide for where to start stitching. I wanted a fun geometric design that would show off all the different colours and a tortoises’ scutes lend themselves to this very well.

Each piece of thread consists of 6 strands which you can gently pull apart from each other. I started off by using 3 strands of thread in my needle to create the outline of my tortoise and give it some structure to colour in later. You can see in this next picture how lovely the colours merge together in the variegation.

Now there is no discernible skill or technique used here, I just went for it so that I had a green outline of a tortoise. It worked – so for anyone thinking of embellishing clothes, accessories or just giving it a try – go for it!

The thread was easy to use, and was actually fairly easy to thread through the needle despte being in separate strands. It was smooth and didn’t knot or tangle which was a pleasant surprise.

The jade, lilac and coral colours were done with 3 strands of thread and that gave a rather nice fading effect. I then tried stitching with all 6 strands in the needle, which also worked but was a little tougher to get through the fabric. The blue and orange scutes were noteably those sewn with the entire 6 strand thread. It gave a nice thick textured effect but the variegation was not as noticeable as it used less thread to fill the space and sometimes missed the colour change. The least variegated colour was yellow, which did just look yellow throughout but there is a very slight variation from lemon yellow to bright yellow present if looking hard enough for it!

All in all a great experience to use these Duchess threads and try something new. They are certainly value for money and the colour and quality outstanding in my opinion. 

Thanks for reading,

Emma @ Crafty Clyde

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Ondee & Chataigne Outfit by Sophie

Hi, again! Sophie from www.sopbac.com back again with a new guest post for you all to enjoy. This time I have tried Minerva Crafts striped ponte Knit Fabric and the Gaberchino Fabric. I also got the matching color thread (color 701 and 387) from Gutermann for both the fabrics.

Minerva crafts has recently started stocking the French indie pattern company Deer and Doe, and me being a huge Deer and Doe fan wanted to make something of theirs. For this review I choose to do a double feature, making an Ondeé Long Sleeved Sweater and the Chataigne High Waisted Shorts with cuffed hem. There is finally beginning to be spring here in Norway, so this was perfect to make shorts. Even though it’s still to cold to go without tights.

What I love about the Deer and Doe patterns that they are very straight forward. It’s easy to follow so you rarely make mistakes. Their design is very modern and timeless in my opinion, clean looks that could be dressed up or down.

I started with the Chataigne shorts, because they would take longer time to make than the Ondeé sweater. I originally wanted a burgundy red fabric and make the scalloped hem version of the pattern, but when I didn’t find the right kind of red I stumbled across the Gaberchino Fabrics. I was looking for gabardine fabric because it was listed under suggested fabrics to use for the shorts when I noticed gaberchino - What’s that? I clicked on the link and what do you know. Minerva Crafts described them as a twill weave and non stretch that has a weight between garbardine and chinos. I had to try them, so I went for the safe navy color fabrics.

I have never worked with garbardine before, but I have with twill and I can say they are similar in some ways. For the shorts it was amazing to work with. Clean corners and pointy mock pockets. The fabric was great for making shorts, and I believe it will be suited for anything that suggests twill as a suitable fabric.

I adjusted a bit on the pattern to fit my bottom more. I did a full butt adjustment giving me more room, and a sway back adjustment. For my next shorts I would probably shorten the back waistband more and add more to the front crotch seam. But(t) I know my bottom is tricky to work with and that’s the reason I rarely wear shorts or pants at all.

Over to the next item. I have made the Ondeé sweater before, for me and my mother. Earlier I’ve made the short sleeved version with a collar for myself, so I wanted the other version this time. I choose the striped grey and white ponte knit to work with. I decided that this was going to be my first time trying to pattern match the seams, and for my first project I wanted something a little easier. I read somewhere that the bigger the stripes the easier it gets. I would say that this was an success.

I cut the front and back bodice on the fold after making sure that the stripes underneath was perfectly aligned. For the sleeves I tried matching up the edges. I don’t believe I have ever used that much pins in one garment before, so that’s a first!

I love this look, and I do believe it will be my go to outfit for the summer months. It’s easy to make and easy to put on. After cutting out the pattern pieces it took me about a day to make both garments. That’s something! So I would really recommend this. Both the fabrics was great to work with and easy to fit. I hope you liked my review, and I’ll be seeing you until next time!

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Vintage Style Cotton Voile Blouse by Anna

Hi there, I’m Anna of Anna Jo Sews here with my very first blog post for Minerva. I’m so excited to be here! I’ve been sewing all my life but only making clothes for the last six or seven years, and only making everyday, WEARABLE clothes for the last three of those. Before that it was all party dresses and corsets - pretty, but not exactly practical for a mum of a kid with special needs and a new baby on the way. That’s when I started sewing Knit Fabrics and the rest, as they say, is history. Albeit recent history…

Anyway, that baby is now two and half and I have a wee bit of time back on my hands, so when the chance came up to make a project for the Minerva Crafts blog I leapt at it. And rather than go for a simple, knit fabric project I wanted to make something a bit more special. 

That’s when I remembered the 6217 Butterick Blouse Sewing Pattern I’ve been meaning to make for years. It’s one of the Butterick Patterns by Gertie range, and it’s a retro style summer blouse with a sweetheart neckline, various sleeve options, and optional bias ties at the bust. I’ve been a Gretchen Hirsch fangirl for years - hers was the very first sewing blog I ever followed - but I’m amazed to say this is the very first of her Butterick patterns I’ve ever sewn. I’m not sure what’s taken me so long as this is the perfect summer top!

First up, I must mention the pattern sizing. My measurements (bust 36”, waist 29”, hips 40”) put me in the 14-16 size range, but I’ve sewn Big Four patterns before and learnt the hard way about the massive amounts of ease they include. I checked the final garment measurements on the Butterick site (look under the yardage tab), I realised that would give me a top with 42” at the bust and 47.5” at the lower edge. I’m pretty sure Gertie’s envelope cover version doesn’t have that much ease! Rather than end up swimming in fabric I took a gamble and went for a straight size 12, which was the size I always used to go with in Butterick patterns. 

I made a toile version using some thin cotton lawn, and discovered it fit amazingly well - a flattering fit but not too tight. The only alterations I ended up making were to solve a bit of gaping at the back neckline by taking two centimetres out of the centre back at the neck, tapering down to nothing by the top of the darts (this was an easy alteration to make as there’s a centre back seam), and to lower the armscyes by an inch as they felt a little high for my tastes. I’m sure they’d have been fine comfort-wise, but for a summer top I prefer a little more air circulation under my arms. Unfortunately this fairly simple alteration meant I had to make small changes to almost every single pattern piece, so it’s a good thing I like a bit of drafting.

When it came to shopping for fabric I initially looked for polka dot patterns, but I kept returning to the pattern envelope pic of Gertie modelling a gorgeous floral version. I knew I wanted to sew that view with the tulip sleeves and bust ties, so I widened my search to include floral patterns (I love that the Minerva site lets you search by pattern type!) and that’s when I came across this beautiful Vintage Floral Cotton Voile Fabric. It comes in three colourways and the white background would be an almost perfect match for the version on the pattern envelope. However, I knew the black background would be a better fit in my wardrobe, so that was what I ordered.

I was a little nervous about ordering voile as I’d never sewn with it before. How see-through was it likely to be, I wondered? Was I going to end up with something like chiffon and need to line it all? I needn’t have worried, however. While this fabric might become transparent when held up to the light (skirts and dresses would need lining), it’s definitely opaque enough for a top. I even modelled for these pics in a black bra, so if it were at all see through you’d know about it! By the way, should you be interested in ordering this fabric: the background isn’t a true black—more of a deep charcoal. I think that makes it more versatile, but it’s definitely worth mentioning in case you’re expecting BLACK black.

To go with the delicate voile I chose a Lightweight Woven Interfacing. This was my first time using a woven interfacing and I’m a total convert now! Despite being an iron-on type there’s none of that horrible stiffness you can get with the non-woven kinds of interfacing, and it doesn’t change the handle of the fabric at all. Definitely worth giving a try if, like me, you’ve been getting frustrated with your interfacing.

And let me tell you, if you’ve never sewn cotton voile before, you’re in for a treat! It’s thin and easy to handle, meaning it presses like a dream and doesn’t need too much pinning as it won’t slip around. This is about the easiest fabric I’ve ever sewn darts in, which is good as there are a whopping eight in this pattern! The downsides of voile’s open but fine weave are a tendency to both fray and show needle marks. However, I experimented with machine needles and ended up going with a Microtex 60, which didn’t leave visible holes. 

To get around the fraying I used my overlocker to finish the edges of the facings and pinked the seam allowances enclosed by the facings. For the seams and hems I also deviated a little from the pattern instructions, using French seams and my favourite (but time consuming) narrow hem technique.

All those French seams took me a long time to sew and next time around I make this blouse I might well seam it with the overlocker, but I enjoyed the process and the well-behaved voile made them much easier than I anticipated. I even used French seams to set in the sleeves, which is something I’ve never attempted before. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re already confident with setting in sleeves, but with this lightweight fabric it worked like a dream. I’ll definitely be trying this again!

The pattern instructions are typical of Big Four patterns: sufficient and well-illustrated but not necessarily beginner-friendly. This is rated easy and I’d say anyone who’s sewn a seam before could handle it, although they might have to look up more detailed instructions for darts and setting in sleeves. My one criticism is that the instructions don’t tell you to staystitch the armscye or sleeve edge. Do it! I staystitched the armscye but not the corresponding sleeve edge for some reason, and when it came time to fit the sleeve it had grown by a couple of centimetres! This wasn’t too much of a problem as I simply used a couple of lines of basting stitches to gather the sleeve head until it fit, but I can see it being a major stumbling block to someone who wasn’t used to setting in sleeves. My finished sleeve does have more volume at the top than the one on the pattern envelope, but I actually rather like this and might do the same - intentionally this time! - next time I make this version of the pattern.

The tulip sleeve is an unusual pattern feature but was really simple to sew, so long as you carefully label your four pattern pieces (right front, left front, etc) as they all look very similar. I found this out the hard way on my toile where I sewed them the wrong way round. I like the way the finished sleeve gives some shoulder coverage but without covering up too much of my upper arm. Good for showing off tattoos if you have them!

I finished my blouse off with seven Shell Buttons, as I’m of the firm belief that mother of pearl goes with EVERYTHING, and is an especially safe choice when choosing buttons online. These buttons come in a number of colours and sizes, and I went with the 15mm dark grey option. I love the way they look with this fabric and don’t think I could have picked a better match! Also worth mentioning: the buttonholes are spaced perfectly and there’s no gaping at the bust.

So, what about the finished blouse? Is it really as comfy as a knit top? OH MY GOD, yes it is!!! This lightweight fabric with a just-loose-enough fit is absolutely perfect for the heat, and I’ve already worn it a couple of times in the four days since I finished sewing. While making it I was a little worried it would end up being too pretty-pretty for my tastes, but I’m relieved to say those worries were unfounded. Yes, the shape and fabric are feminine, but the fact it’s a dark floral and the lack of any frills give it enough of an edge for me. I love the way it looks more casual with skinny jeans or a denim skirt, but I’m also planning to dress it up sometimes with a black pencil skirt for a vintage-inspired evening look. The back, in particular, is beautifully shaped and surprisingly sexy considering it gives full coverage there.

I also love the bust tie, which was one of the details that first attracted me to the pattern, but was also one I had wibbles about while sewing. The bow on the toile didn’t sit nicely, but the voile has enough drape to let me manhandle the ends of the ties so they hang down and look symmetrical. Nice one! I find it’s best not to cinch the tie in tightly as it then pulls the armholes round too much, but a slightly looser fit here is perfect in the heat.

I’ll definitely be making this pattern again - I can see it being one I return to every summer. Next up I’m going to make view C (sleeveless without the bust ties), so now I’m on the lookout for the perfect dotted swiss or double gauze fabric. Better get browsing Minerva’s selection!

Anyone else tried this pattern, or perhaps inspired to have a go sewing with cotton voile? Do share your thoughts - I love chatting sewing!

Anna-Jo x

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How to Cast on your Knitting Projects by Helen

How often do you find yourself about to knit a pattern and it calls for a particular type of cast on – but you don’t know that so you instead you just stick to your tried and true method? Well in fact there are merits to different types of cast on; some provide a stable edge that doesn’t curl, others allow lots of stretch, whilst some are better for ribbing or they can even be decorative.

The long tail cast on is a strong and stable cast on with little curling whilst providing a decent amount of stretch making it great for hats, sleeves and cuffs.

  1. To begin your long tail cast on you need to start with a long tail. I usually take about 1.5 cm for each stitch – but if in doubt always leave more!

  1. Tie a slip knot in the yarn. To do this wrap the yarn twice around your index finger on your left hand from left to right.

  1. Take the left-most loop and lift it over the loop on the right, leaving it on your finger.

  1. Next take the other loop and lift it over again – this time dropping it off your finger.

  1. Put the loop that was left on your finger onto your knitting needle and tighten.

Now comes the fun part!

  1. Hold the needle in your right hand with the tip pointing left. Take both pieces of yarn in your left hand with your palm facing down and hold the tail end over your thumb and the ball end over your index finger.

  1. Now you need to twist your left hand anti-clockwise so that your palm is facing up. The tail end of the yarn will still be wrapped around your thumb and the ball end of the yarn around your index finger.

  1. Take your needle and hook the tip of it, from front to back, under the length of yarn coming in front of your thumb

  1. Next hook the needle, from back to front, under the length of yarn in front of your index finger.

  1. Bring that second loop of yarn (from your index finger) under the first loop (on your thumb).

  2. Dropping the yarn off your thumb and finger tighten the stitch you have just made on the needle.

  1. Repeat steps 6-11 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed this mini tutorial! Also, see my review on the new Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles!
Helen @ HSHandCrafts
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Galaxy Fabric Espadrilles by Emma

Make a pair of shoes in an afternoon, from one fat quarter? If you consider espadrilles to be shoes, then that is almost exactly what I did. 

 

I was thrilled to be asked to review the Prym Espadrille Soles for Minerva Crafts. I've always fancied a pair of bespoke shoes, and this is a very affordable way of having some unique footwear.

 

The packaging contains a pair of soles, and tucked in the upper card fold is the pattern for standard espadrilles. The size of the soles is on the back of the packaging, in European notation. I'm a size 3, which is usually a 36, and yes, I know that's small for an adult, and yes, I do have problems finding shoes to fit. I was delighted therefore, to find that Prym cater for pixie feet too. 

 

However, the pattern describes 36 as an English 3 1/2, and sadly I'd agree with that. Please bear that in mind if you are selecting soles for yourself. I'm not deterred though. I loved making these, and I'll make more, for my normal footed family, and I'll work out a way to make them to fit me. 

The soles are coiled rope, with a rubber base. I was surprised and pleased to see that the base has quite good grips on it. 

 

You don't need much fabric to make the outer, and you could quite easily make an outfit with matching shoes. I used one fat quarter for both outer and lining to demonstrate that it could be done, but obviously you could use as many as you like!

 

The pattern DOES NOT include seam allowances. This gives you the flexibility to chose your own seam allowances, but do remember to add it! 

 

I traced the pattern, and added markings. You'll need two fronts and two soles (sides) for the outer fabric, and the same for the lining fabric. The front piece isn't symmetrical, and one of the front pieces for both fabrics needs to have the pattern reversed before cutting out. It's worth marking on the right side of the fabric which is the inner side, and which is the outer. It is possible to work out which is which, but I found this much quicker.

 

The Fabric I used is called 'Galaxy' and is a quilting weight, so I added lightweight interfacing to the outer pieces, to add a little extra stability. I left the seam margin without interfacing, to help reduce bulk in the seams.

 

If you're wondering, I did fussy cut the outer front pieces; a fat quarter was ample room. The pattern on the sheet I had goes up to 42, a U.K. size 8, and this would also fit inner and outer pieces on one fat quarter; maybe not if you fussy cut though!

 

The soles don't come with instructions, but instead direct one to the Prym website, where there is a PDF of clear instructions with photographs of the stages.

 

I chose to machine sew the parts that I could. This is very straightforward, and they turned easily. I sewed up the gap by hand, not my best work, but I don't think it's too obvious now the shoes are finished. These are the pieces sewn and pressed; I've put a pin in the outer side, but this isn't something you'd need to do if the lining was different to the outer. Don't they look good?

 

The next step is to pin the pieces to the sole. Start with the sole piece, then add the front.

I couldn't resist trying them on. I was able to walk in them, carefully, and although they are too big for me, I love them already. The material was bought for quilting, but I think it looks much better as shoes.

 

Pinning carefully is important at this stage, even if you can resist trying them on. The pieces have to be hand sewn onto the sole, and it is worth taking the time to angle the pins into the shoe so they don't catch you. The instructions advise to remove the front again, but I just removed the pins near the sole piece, and left the front mostly pinned in place.

 

Prym make an Espadrille Thread, but I used Embroidery Thread, as I had this already, and in quite a close colour match. I didn't separate the threads.

 

I have this useful set of Sewing Needles in my tool kit, and used the carpets/heavy work needle. It has a large eye, and is a sturdy needle with a sharp point. 

The fabric is sewn to the sole using blanket stitch. I found it a bit difficult to sew the front bit where it overlapped the back. I'm quite a slow hand stitcher, and this bit was done in front of the television, so the ‘afternoon make’ stretched into evening too. 

 

Once both parts are attached, you can slightly alter the fit by how far the front overlaps the back. It doesn't reduce it half a size though! Use back stitch for the side seam. I wondered about continuing the back stitch all the way across the front, as it looked quite decorative, and I might try this on another pair.

 

Don't they look cute peeping out under my jeans! 

They do slip off when I walk, but I’ve folded the back down, and wear them like that. I might try some elastic in the back, as this was loose even when I padded them out to make them my size.

 

Do I recommend them? Yes. They were fun to make, and I have plans to make some for other people, and for myself. There are other Espadrille Patterns for different shoes styles too that I'd like to try too. I’ve been asked for some with Christmas fabric outer, and fleece or plush lining; don't they sound comfortable?

Thanks for reading,

Emma @ Hot Tea on a Hot Day

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