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Crocheted Adult Slippers by Emma

Hi everyone,
Its Emma here today guest posting on the Minerva Crafts blog.
I've only been crocheting for about 4 months so bare with me on this one! When I was asked to look at the Rico CanCan Yarn as something other than a scarf , I immediately thought that it would make a really cute little baby jumper. I've done a couple and I was sure this would be great. This shows my complete inexperience though, the yarn is really really thick and it soon became apparent that it would near on drown a little one! As I said, I haven't been crocheting very long and I don't know a lot about weights and thickness of yarn so I really got this one wrong. It was, however, really great to try something new, which wasn't ordinary yarn, it was a pleasure it work with. It felt really simple to use and projects come together so quickly! 
After playing around to see if I could make it work for a jumper for me and then immediately hating it, I looked in to other items you can make with thick yarn and came across a tutorial from Wooly Wonders Crochet on instagram, who I use a lot, for thick adult slippers so I went with that. This is what is so great about crochet, it's easy to unravel and begin again. The tutorial for slippers is really easy and great for thicker yarns like this. 
The Yarn itself is lovely, it's super soft and thick. I got a lovely emerald green and a green and purple tartan and they're really easy to work with. It needs a 8mm hook. I've never worked with a hook this big before - I thought it would find it really difficult or the project really heavy but it actually made things easier.
I had to order more wool as it was obvious there wasn't enough to make a jumper but since the swift change of plan has meant I had more than I needed so... I didn't make one pair of slippers, I made two. My very first venture in to the his and hers world of crafting! 
They have a little and very simple strap across them and I attached some fun buttons for my stash. I'm always attracted to big buttons like this and rarely use them so it was great to get a chance to use them! Mine are made using only green with cute little wooden horse buttons and my husbands have the tartan (green/purple) as a base and the green for round the sides. I finished his off with some, chunky, neutral, wooden buttons. He really likes them so I'm very pleased with this make. 
To do two pairs of adult slippers I need three balls of yarn but I didn't use it all. I adapted the tutorial quite a lot to make then bigger so I think this would be perfect for children too. 
A very satisfying and easy make in the end. Though a struggle for my fingers initally when I returned to my ordinary 4.5mm hook!! 
Thanks for reading,
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McCall's 6707 Tartan School Skirt by Angelica

First off - A big thank you to Minerva Crafts for the opportunity to write this guest posts for their blog and off course for providing the materials for this project....
Hi everyone! I'm Angelica, a 26-year old pharmaceutical science student from Copenhagen, Denmark, where I live with my boyfriend, my cat and my Pfaff. 
I have always LOVED the back-to-school season. I'm the annoying type of person who yearns to go back to school after just a few weeks of holiday, and even though 10 weeks of almost unlimited sewing time has been AWESOME, this year is no different. 
One of the most important things to get ready for the new school year, besides books and stationary, is off course a chic and stylish autumn-appropriate wardrobe. And what is more appropriate than tartan? Nothing, that is!
 This beautiful Tartan Suiting Fabric is just one of the many gorgeous plaids and tartans that Minerva carries in a variety of fibers and qualities. This one is called "Arbroath"and is 100% polyester. It feels very durable and doesn't easily wrinkle, while still being nice and soft to the touch. In summary: perfect for everyday wear!
 The skirt is the McCalls Sewing Pattern no 6706, a simple, pleated skirt with a number of length and contrast combinations, a real wardrobe builder. For my skirt, I choose to make view C, but without the hi-low hem. I did this by simply using piece #8 for both the front and back of the skirt. 
I changed a few things to make the skirt suit my taste, like adding a Lining Fabric for wearing the skirt with tights, changing the zipper to an invisible one out of personal preference and ditching the waistband pattern piece in order to use my favorite skirt sewing hack: Waistband Interfacing Tape.
This interfacing tape comes in a couple of widths, makes straight waistbands ridiculously easy to sew and gives perfect, sharp edges to the waistband. You just cut a piece of waistband interfacing tape to the length of the waistband pattern piece and use it directly as your new pattern piece, fusing it onto the wrong side of the fabric before sewing. 
I am personally fine working with both 1,0 cm and 1,5 cm seam allowances in the same seam, but if it bothers you, either add 0,5 cm to one long edge of the waistband piece while cutting out or trim the skirt waistband seam allowance down 0,5 cm.
I made a size 14 based on the finished measurements, but the skirt came out a bit too big. While that would normally irritate me, it is actually really great for wearing chunky knitted sweaters tucked into the skirt and for eating the big, traditional holiday dinners coming up. If I was to make this skirt for summer, I would size down to a 12 or perhaps a 10. 
All in all, I am very pleased with the skirt. I LOOOVE the burgundy color. The straight hem of the skirt pattern works perfectly with the tartan suiting, and the lining gives a lovely fullness without the bulk of a petticoat. I have already worn the skirt to school once, and I have a feeling it will be in heavy rotation this autumn and every autumn to come. 
Again, thank you to Minerva Craft for the materials. If you want, you can find more of me and my makes on my blog and on Instagram. Thank you so much for reading! 
Angelica
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Crochet Unicorn Hat Pattern by Tracey

Hello Minerva readers, I am Tracey from Hooks and Dragons and I make all sorts of crochet delights.

Two of my most popular items over the past year have been my rainbow unicorns and my novelty hats. So when I was given the opportunity to write a guest post for Minerva Crafts I decided to combine the two.

Crochet Unicorn Hat Pattern

This rather awesome hat is based on a very simple crochet beanie design and is perfect for a beginner. It is a little time-consuming making the mane, but the end result is well worth the effort.

The child pattern will fit children between 4 and 10. The adult pattern will fit teens/adults.

Materials.

There is a terrific range of Double Knit Yarn on the Minerva website. I  chose to use Hayfield Bonus DK Knitting Yarn because it is a great value acrylic yarn and comes in a huge variety of vibrant colours, perfect for making a rainbow. These are the shades I chose.

993 - Arran - (for the hat)

838 - Silver gray - (for the horn)

690 - Pillar Box Red

981 - Bright Orange

978 - Sunflower

699 - Lemongrass

994 - Denim

701 - Juniper

828 - Bright Purple

For the horn I used a Polyester Toy Filling which is available from Minerva craft in 250g and 450g bags. This stuffing is super soft, great to work with and complies with European regulations for fire safety.

Pattern For Unicorn Hat

Childs hat use a 4.5 mm hook.

Adults hat use a 5.5mm hook.

Sc = Single crochet (US style)2sc = 2 single crochet into same stitch.

Hat

(1)  Ch 4, join into ring. Make 6 sc into ring.

(3) *Sc next stitch, 2sc into next stitch* 6 times.

(4) *Sc in next 2 stitches , 2sc in next st* 6 times.

(5)*Sc in next 3 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times.

(6) *sc in next 4 stitches, 2sc in next stitch * 6 times.

(7) *sc in next 5 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times.

(8) *sc in next 6 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times.

(9) sc in each stitch.

(10) *sc in next 7 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times.

(11) sc in each stitch.

(12*sc in next 8 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times .

(13) sc in each stitch.

(14) *sc in next 9 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times

(15) *sc in next 10 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times

(16) sc in each stitch

(17) *sc in next 11 stitches, 2sc in next stitch* 6 times.  For childs hat skip row 18.

(18) *sc in next 12 stitches, 2sc into next stitch* 6 times.

For childs hat sc into each stitch for the next 14 rows.

For adults hat sc into each stitch for the next 18 rows.

Last row - slip stitch in each stitch. This row makes a tidy edge to the hat. Slip stitch into the next stitch to join the round. Sew in end.

Horn

(1)  Ch 4, join into ring. Make 4 sc into ring.

(2) *Sc next stitch, 2sc into next stitch* 2 times.

(3) sc in each stitch.

(4) *Sc next 3 stitches, 2sc into next stitch*  2 times.

(5-6) sc in each stitch.

(7) *Sc next 4 stitches, 2sc into next stitch*  2 times.

(8) sc in each stitch.

(9) *Sc next 5 stitches, 2sc into next stitch*  2 times.

(10) in each.

(11) *Sc next 6 stitches, 2sc into next stitch*  2 times.

(12-13) in each.

(14) *Sc next 7 stitches, 2sc into next stitch*  2 times.

(15-16)  sc in each stitch.

(17) *Sc next 8 stitchs, 2sc into next stitch*  2 times.

(18)   sc in each stitch. Stuff horn. Be careful not to over stuff it. Sew to the front of the hat 5 rows down from the top of the hat.

Ears

1)  Ch 4, join into ring. Make 6 sc into ring.

(2) sc in each stitch.

(3) *sc next stitch, sc into next stitch* 3 times.

(4) *sc in next 2 stitches , 2sc in next st* 3 times.

(5) sc in each stitch.

(6) sc into next 3 stitches, 2sc into next st* 3 times.

(7-10) sc into each

(11)* sc in next  3 stitches, 2 tog* 3 times.

(12) sc into each stitch

(13) *sc in next 2 stitch, 2 tog * 3 times.

(14) sc into each stitch.  Slip stitch to join the round.  Placing the hat flat with the horn in the centre, sew each ear along the edge of the hat.

The Hair

This is the point where you can get creative. I have made fairly short squiggles for the hair, but there are no hardened rules to how long or short they can be. Likewise I have spaced my squiggles out but more can be added for a fuller mane.

(1) chain 15.

(2) turn the chain over so you're working in the back loop of each chain. Starting with the 2nd loop from the hook sc into each loop, tie off.  Leave a long enough thread to sew the squiggle to the hat. I made 25 squiggles in each  colour.  Sew the squiggles onto the hat in rows. Make sure the red squiggles face forward and the remaining squiggles lie towards the back of the hat.

The end result is a hat that will make any child or adult stand out from the crowd.

Thanks for reading,

Tracey x

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Making Friendship Bracelets In Half The Time With My FBM

One of the things that I love about being is Mummy is crafting with my daughter. She’s now five and this Summer we wanted to make jewellery. Many of our projects are influenced by the craft vlogs we watch together and friendship bracelet making has been one we’ve seen again and again.

I was delighted to test My FMB (Friendship Bracelet Maker) for Minerva.

We loved it as it was quick to make, the project choices were huge, it was excellent value for money and we made something we could wear together.

This is our experience of opening our parcel and making our FBM’s together...

The box arrived from Minerva Crafts and the excitement from my girl was unreal!

The bright packaging was a major attraction together with the option to make so many bracelets with the threads inside!

The box has 13 different patterns for your friendship bracelet on the box. At this point my little one wanted to make them all! It does say the age is from 6+ but with parental support a reception child can easily choose the colours and make a start at wrapping the threads.

The box comes with the friendship making “machine” which has a great thread carry case attached to it’s base and an instruction booklet plus access to a really user friendly website (www.myfmb.com)

The braclet making part of the machine is so bright and colourful with a pink base plate, a yellow bracelet length marker with a purple butterfly to secure your threads. The threads are all stored in the underneath carry case which slides out. Here my daughter is working out for herself how the machine works.

We loved how the bright threads were all in stored in such an attractive way. We also found another leaflet on the basics of the machine.

The leaflet was so bright and colourful we had to get started!

My daughter adjusted the butterfly clip to the length of her bracelet and we choose our threads.

The next part needed a table top to sit at as my knee wasn’t the best as we wanted to make together.

Within 20 minutes we had made this much of our bracelet.

I was really impressed with the tension and the even knotting we had done. (Techy bit coming up..) Other methods of making friendship bracelets don’t have the tension on the threads like this little beauty of a machine does, you safety pin your threads to a cushion so there is no tension in the base of the threads. Therefore we could make faster even though it was a joint effort.

I have to say it got a little addictive and before long we had made a stack in pastel Summery colours.

To finish your bracelet, it’s easy! You need to release the threads on the bottom hooks and then tie these into a knot near to the braid and then snip off the rest. Tip: save these ends in your My FBM thread case and make pom poms!

And the hook which held your bracelet onto the braiding machine just hooks off.

I had to say this project has been the perfect Summer holiday craft and as the weather has turned into rain, we will do more. Since testing we have ventured onto adding beads and other knots.

I would say for a child to make these without any adult help they would need to be 8 or 9. We did these for about 25 minutes each session and made a bracelet.

I want to finish this post with this picture of us with our braided bracelets and yes she took it to sports club to show her friends.

It may look an expensive kit when you can pick up a kit in the supermarket (for a couple of pounds) but after making five bracelets we haven’t made a dint into the threads. Really excellent value for money.

Thanks for reading,

Samantha hosts craft parties and workshops as her business Crafternoon Tea Hostess www.crafternoonteahostess.co.uk and writes a craft blog at www.crafternoonteas.com - go check it out!

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Swirly Chiffon Skirt by Nicky

When I received this unusual edged Chiffon Fabric I was really torn as to whether it screamed 50’s or 70’s to me.

I thought about a simple 70’s shift or a long maxi but in the end decided that with the lovely weight that the boarder added it really needed to be used in volume so a full skirt was the answer.

The boarder on this chiffon is made of a number of rows of faux leather shapes that match the main fabric in colour, with a contrasting shade on the underside that peeked though when the fabric moved. It comes in six colours options and I chose this vibrant orange. It has a creamy golden colour reverse to the shapes so I decided to co-ordinate another fabric as the lining and waistband in this colour.

For the main body of the skirt I chose the New Look Sewing Pattern K6035. It’s a simple shaped skirt with a great panel that sits just below the natural waistline with a seam joining to the a-line skirt. This shape works perfectly for me as there isn’t a big difference between my waist and hip measurements so therefore gathers on the waist are unflattering. Adding gathers into the hip level seam-line gives me a much better silhouette.

The chiffon is 58” wide with the boarder running parallel to the selvage edge. To produce the panel ready to gather I measured the required length of skirt plus hem allowance then made a snip. Chiffon is best ripped to achieve a straight line so I then scarily tore the fabric from the snip along the full 3 meter length I had.

To finish the raw edges I turned a 0.5 cm edge, pressed, stitched as close to the fold as possible using a long stitch, trimmed, then turned a second time before stitching again.

The panel was then ready to gather along the long edge to add to underskirt. To gather evenly I used two parallel lines of long machine stitches then pulled up the back threads.

This lightweight fabric gathers well without to much bulk and the weight of the boarder gives a lovely swish as you move.

As the fabric was so wide I was left with another long length of plain chiffon after cutting out the skirt panel. 

This was perfect to make a matching scarf. I simply folded the piece over and stitched along the open edges. 

Leaving a small opening at end to turn out the right way. I then slip stitched this closed & pressed. Quick scarf that could also be worn as a matching belt for my swirly skirt!

I think this fabric could be equally beautiful around the home. What about some sheer curtains with that decorative edge at the bottom & on tiebacks!

Thanks for reading,

Nicky @ Sew and Snip

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Tropical Leaf Print Charlie Caftan by Emma

It will come as no surprise to anyone that reads my blog that I have immediately jumped on the new Closet Case Patterns release, the glorious Charlie Caftan Sewing Pattern. And what better fabric could there have been than this fantastically tropical leaf print Viscose Fabric kindly provided by Minerva Crafts!
The fabric comes in four different colour ways, including a rather striking lime green. This particular fabric is the ‘green’ version. For £2.99 a meter this fabric really is the business. The print is vibrant and the fabric so soft to handle and drapes beautifully as viscose does. Very impressive indeed. To top it off it is a massive 56” wide meaning a metre goes a long way!
I had put off making this dress for a couple of reasons – firstly I’d scared myself off with reading too many reviews about how tricky the centre panel was, and secondly, I wasn’t convinced the shape of the dress would be particularly flattering. But oh! The panel was fine and the dress so comfortable I want to wear it every day…Let’s look at that pesky panel. Firstly, View A required pleating – and I’m going to level with you here, I just bodged it a bit. There are pleats in this dress but not where the pattern indicated by any means. I just pleated where I could to form the little rectangle in the centre. Once the rectangle is in place, give it a stitch all the way around the perimeter to hold it in place and create an outline. I found this made it far easier to place the panel and see where all 4 corners were.
As you can see in the picture above the first side of the panel is attached right sides facing, along one edge. Its then flipped inside where the remaining three edges are sewn in.
See it doesn’t look so pretty now does it… Once you’re all sewn in, you have to give it all a press inward so all the raw edges face the centre.
Now this is where I started to relax a bit as it now looked something resembling a centre panel. The hard part was over! This is how it looks close up from the right side:
Now to hide those innards. This was a really satisfying steps as this piece is just handstitched on! Full control of where it lays. Simply fold the edges in and hand sew in place! After a final press, it all looks so neat and tidy. 
The centre panel was the single most time-consuming part of this entire project. Being a caftan there’s very little else to it after that is finished. The neckline is faced and the hems just folded over.
Just for a bit of fun and as it met with a project seal of approval – I added a little label ????
In true Closet Case Patterns style, this little number is cut very well – the neckline lies flat with just the right amount of skin on show, the dress skims the body being loose and comfortable without looking like a sack and the kimono sleeves drape beautifully – especially with this fabulous fabric! And let’s not forget...pockets!!!! Big, massive, deep pockets. You know you love a dress with a pocket.All in all, it took about a day to complete, including cutting the pdf, with a few tea breaks thrown in along the way and time to take a photo at the end. So, to wrap up, another winner from Closet Case Patterns and a massive winner from Minerva Crafts for this fabric! I would definitely buy more of this as the quality is phenomenal. Time to grab the sunnies and cocktail and head out in a Caftan! Oh wait… is that a rain cloud I see??
Thanks for reading,
Emma @ Crafty Clyde
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Why I Loved Using GOLD Cork Fabric ...plus make this Boho Clutch!

Are you looking to sew a fabric this Summer that I promise you haven’t sewn before? Yes, then you must read this post...

Let me introduce you to gold shimmer Cork Fabric and it’s pretty special. The fabric is made with natural cork on a fabric backing with a gold fleck that sparkles. Here’s why I love it...

It’s Soft To Handle

Because the backing is a fine gauge with a linen feel, this means that the fabric is soft and easy to cut, sew and make with. On this blog post, I am going to see how my sewing machine can take the fabric and make a one on trend clutch bag for your Summer holidays.

It Sews Up To Four Layers On Your Machine

The first thing I wanted to do was to see how my sewing machine would sew the fabric and how to iron it. I pinned the fabric with quilting pins and decided to make a simple tote bag as a test. I firstly pinned the fabric with quilting pins as dressmaking pins were too small to puncture the cork. I then stitched the inside of the fabric with a 100 Ball Point Needle and this was the outcome...

I then turned my bag the right way out and tried to press it. I used a pressing cloth on the bag and it pressed just like a heavy weight cotton. I was being to like my new found fabric a lot!

I then looked at how many thickness of cork fabric my sewing machine would handle (it’s only a domestic machine), I tested this on making the handles for the bag. I needed four thickness of cork fabric stitched together with a top stitching thread. I firstly pressed the handles as I couldn’t tack/baste them together to form the shape as it was too much for pins to puncture the four thickness of cork. The stitching was perfect and my feed dogs took the fabric normally. Plus the gold didn’t shed all over my machine, now that would have been a mess to clear up. Phew! A gold fabric that didn’t shed sparkle to clear up, a bonus!

You Can Glue It!

My oversized holiday bag was taking shape, so I stitched on the handles and top stitched the top of the bag. I’m going to admit that I am a picky seamstress and I wasn’t totally happy with the stitching of my handles to the bag due to working the fabric around the machine arm. The fabric has some drape but not enough to fold it get my sewing machine arm around the fabric. I decided to take the selvage of the fabric and stitch that over the handle bases at the sides to form a contrast. I’m really happy with this look.

You Can Hand Stitch It!

To finish off my handles I hand stitched with a tapestry needle to secure the threads. The needle stitched perfectly and gave a really tidy finish.

And here is my final oversize tote bag which it so comfy to wear and the gold just makes it so Summer 2017.

After I had tested the fabric out on my tote bag, I had only used half the fabric. I was hooked on making something else now I knew what my fabric and my machine could do! So I made a cute tassel clutch to add to my cork bag collection.

Here is my step by step tutorial to make yours in a Crafternoon...

Firstly cut out your fabric 50x 27cm

Iron it with a towel or pressing cloth to remove these fold lines.

Fold your clutch to the side you want, you may prefer a deeper pocket and smaller front fabric, it is up to you!

Take a dinner plate and trace a curve to the front of your bag. Cut out.

Your bag should look like this, then pin down the sides of the bag.

Sew along the side seams on the outside. I choose a black thread but choose any that sums up you!

Your bag is now ready to sew, you just need to finish the ends off with a tapestry needle.

Fold your bag in half and mark off where the middle is and mark with a soft pencil.

You are ready to make your tassel. Take a piece of cork fabric 50cm x 12cm and mark off every .75cm along the fabric or however wide you want your tassels to be.

Then cut your tassels to 1cm of the top of the fabric.

Cut off a piece of the selvedge of your fabric 6 x 2cm and stitch down the sides and across the bottom to form a loop.

Place the loop at the top far end of the tassel and you are ready to roll!. Run your UHU glue along the top of the tassel. Then roll your tassel along regularly to you reach the end.

Press your tassel at the top and then glue another piece of selvedge around the top to finish off your tassel.

Stitch your tassel to the bag in on the pencil mark.

I used a tapestry needle and stranded cotton used as the 6 strands to make it super thick!

Stitch over and over a few times around the tassel and secure on the inside of the bag.

And your bag is ready for you to enjoy Summer!

I have really enjoyed making these projects. I think the cork would also look amazing painted with Fabric Paints or cut into with a design. That maybe next weekend’s plan!

For more information on Samantha’s Crafternoon Teas visit my website @ Crafternoon Tea Hostess

Thanks for reading,

Samantha x

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Floral Print Mathilde by Corrine

Hi I'm Corrine from What Corrine Did Next. You may have seen Minerva Crafts' Q&A with me back in May. They've invited me back for a guest post on their Blogger Network and I'm really pleased to be collaborating with them again.
Vicki gave me free rein on what I wanted to make for this guest post on the Minerva Crafts blog and boy, was it tricky to pick one idea; once I started, the ideas were flowing. I kept coming back to an early Tilly & The Buttons Pattern, the Mathilde. If you've come across my reviews before, you'll know my makes are beginner to intermediate patterns as I love to encourage other people to take up sewing and the Mathilde is a lovely easy pattern to sew. But easy as it is, this gorgeous button back top is a classic, and would be a staple in everyone's wardrobes.
Initially I saw it in a White Broderie Anglaise Fabric however as I was looking through fabrics (I got a little bit distracted!) I stumbled across this beautiful white floral print Cotton Fabric, with dobble dimpling throughout. My worry with white fabric is how opaque it is when worn. I didn't want to line the top for fear of making it too warm to wear on hot summer days so this fabric was ideal as the vintage-feel rose print made the fabric feel more opaque than it actually was! (It's not see through by any stretch but I am super picky on being able to see my skin through fabrics.)
I love Tilly & The Buttons patterns as they are printed on beautiful thick white paper so you can trace out your favourites again and again! They are also geared up for beginner sewists so you'll notice Tilly tells you how the pieces fit together. I wish I'd started sewing with a Tilly pattern (although it would have spoilt me!) There's also a full instruction book with detailed instructions and top tips - much more helpful than some commercial patterns...you don't need to worry what something means and have to Google it!
I was a standard size 3 without any adjustments. As well as loving the quality of the paper patterns themself, Tilly & The Buttons patterns fit real people with proper proportions. 
The key to the initial stages of construction is to take your time with your pleats; getting them straight and neat pays dividends and makes the rest of the process so much easier. Also, remember to stitch them in place within the seam allowance so they stay in place when you're constructing - it'd be terrible if they twisted!
You'll see I made the small addition of adding insertion piping between the yoke and bodice pieces for a little extra detail. Because of this, I didn't use a French seam but overlocked the raw edge. If you decide to do the same, I'd recommend using your zipper foot and lining the piping up to the foot so you can sew next to the piping more easily. When you're sandwiching your insertion piping between your yoke and bodice, make sure the stitch line on your insertion piping (securing the cord into the bias tape) is whatever your seam allowance is (generally, and certainly in this case, 1.5cm).
Now, the facings...! I hate facings as sometimes they have a tendency to ride up and sneak out, even if you secure them in the side seams. My little trick is to use a little Wundaweb to secure them to the piece they are facing. This has worked a treat with this make! 
You'll notice I've not used buttons for the back of this top. I love using Snap Fastenings on items at the moment so I decided to use pink ones to pick out the colours in the flower print. It's so easy to attach them to your garment with the Special Pliers and it's an investment if you also make clothes for little ones like me...who wants to be trying to button up when you can quickly pop shut the garment?!
What do you think of the final top? I'm so happy with it and really enjoyed sewing with the beautiful cotton. As you can see, it looks fantastic paired with a pencil skirt and heels for the office as much as it looks gorgeous paired with skinny jeans for the weekend. It also looks great with a pair of shorts and flip flops for a gorgeous, sunny day but I'll spare you that look!
Thanks for reading,
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B6453 Review & How to Widen the Straps by Allie

Hello, I’m Allie from The Aspiring Seamstress and today I’ll be sharing my thoughts on my current favorite dress pattern, the B6453 from Patterns by Gertie. I’ll also show you how I widened my dress straps so that they hide my bra straps. Before I get started though, I’d like to thank Minerva Crafts for allowing me to write a guest post on their blog and for sending me some lovely materials for the dress.

So for those of you who don’t know, the B6453 Sewing Pattern is a pretty little sundress with the option for either a full or fitted skirt. It has a good mix of easy and challenging techniques, which to me makes it perfect for the beginner seamstress. I myself am a beginning seamstress and while some parts were hard, I did make it through alright. I learned how to do an FBA, sew princess seams, and put in a lapped zipper. The hardest parts for me were the princess seams, I still need some practice with those!

This will be my third B6453 dress. I’ve already made two others, both full skirted versions as well. I’m kind of in love with this pattern! I chose this pretty claret red Cotton Poplin Fabric for this version, as I wanted something a little more grown up than the other ones I’ve made (if you want to see those, check them out on my blog!).  I’m very happy with my fabric choice, it feels nice and the color is so gorgeous and rich!

I love pretty details so I chose the Heart Pull Zipper. The pattern calls for a 14” zip and the longest this one comes in is 12”, but that wasn’t a big deal. I just sewed the back skirt panels up a couple inches higher than usual. I can still get the dress on AND I have a pretty little heart dangling in the back.

I also added some waist ties because I love bows. I made some long rectangular tubes and sandwiched them in between the side front and back seam, making sure to keep them above the skirt and bodice seam. I also ironed on some interfacing so the bow would keep its shape and not droop.

This dress can be styled in the retro way as it’s meant to be…..

Or in a modern way.

I really love that because as much as I love vintage fashion,  I don’t always feel like wearing it. It’s nice that I can wear this dress both ways.

So, how did I widen my straps? Well, I’ll show you! You will need: measuring tape, a rectangular ruler(not needed but it does make things easier), scissors, and something to write your pattern onto(paper, pattern paper, muslin, etc.). Oh, and a writing tool of your choice of course!

I didn’t make my straps adjustable, by the way. I don’t need them to be adjustable and I’m not entirely attached to the look so made I them stationary.

We will need two measurements, how long we want our straps and how wide we want them to be. To get the strap length, try on your dress bodice(or dress muslin bodice) and measure from the back strap point to the front strap point. You might need some help with this! Add about ½” to the length measurement as seam allowance.

The width is a little trickier to get, you may have to experiment with it. I measured the width of my bra straps and added ¼” to get 1” wide straps, which worked ok for me. I was experimenting to see if I could go a little smaller this time(it works, but just barely). It may be different for you, depending on how wide your straps are.

Take your width measurement and multiply by two(since we’ll be folding them in half). Then add your seam allowance(mine was 5/8” but you can do whatever seam allowance you're comfortable with). Here’s a handy  graphic for you:

Next, use your measurements to draw a nice little rectangle onto your chosen pattern paper. It’ll look something like this.

Cut your new customized strap pattern out(you just made a pattern, yay!). Pin it to your dress strap fabric and cut away. Remember that you’ll need two straps, so fold your fabric in half before you pin. Or you can cut them out one at a time if you’d like, whatever floats your boat.

Alrighty now we’re going to fold each rectangle in half (right sides together!) and sew a straight stitch down the long sides so we end up with two tubes:

Turn those babies right side out. I just used my fingers to do this because my straps were wide enough, but you can also do the safety pin method. Or use one of those helpful strap turner contraptions.

Ok, now you’re going to attach the straps to your bodice. All you have to do is line up the end of your strap at the original pattern’s strap point. Sew close to the end of your strap and then just a little above that to make sure it stays on.

Now continue making your dress the usual way until you get to the facings. Not much is different here really, you’ll just be sewing with a smaller seam allowance at the sides of the straps.  Mark the top of the strap and where it begins/ends with pins. It’ll look like this:

Sew on your facing, and when you get to the straps sew where the pins were. Be careful not to sew the sides of the straps with the facing! Continue making your dress according to the pattern directions and ta-da!

Now you can wear your favorite bra with your B6453 dress! I hope my instructions were clear enough. If you have any questions just ask by leaving a comment here on the Minerva blog and I’ll be quick as I can to answer.

I really love my B6453 dresses, they get a lot of wear. I’m so glad I decided to make them! I learned so much from this pattern and I’m now very excited to make all sorts of pretty things to wear.

If you’re a beginner like me and you’re thinking of attempting the B6453 dress, go for it! You will not regret it. If you get stuck there are some nice ladies in the sew along group on Facebook who are happy to answer your questions, and Gertie wrote some very helpful posts on her blog about each of the dressmaking steps. The making process can be frustrating at times but I promise you it is worth it! You’ll have some very twirlable dresses in the end. Or some sassy fitted dresses, depending on what you choose.

Thank you for having me here!

Allie @ The Aspiring Seamstress

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Felt Duffel Bag by Diane

I have always loved sewing with Felt and there are several examples of crafting with this fabric over on my blog at www.margueritedesigns.blogspot.co.uk. I even wrote a dissertation on the history of the felt hatting industry in my hometown of Denton, Manchester. I was curious to see what I could do with the felt sheets stocked by Minerva in both soft and hard qualities.

You can buy these Soft Felt Fabrics and Hard Felt Fabrics in packs of 10 assorted sheets. Each pack comes in a variety of geometric designs that complement each other which helped me decide that I would like to use the sheets in a patchwork effect. I have recently begun bag making and thought I could create a patchwork duffel. The sheets are just the right size to attach to each other – 2 each for the front and back. I attached them with a decorative zigzag fell seam in the centre front and back.

I used the hard quality felt for the body of the bag to give it some shape. I needed to make a contrasting lower band and upper drawstring band on the bag and for this I used a shiny crepe backed Satin Fabric as a different texture to the fuzziness of the felt. Crepe backed satin is a very volatile and difficult fabric to manoeuvre and I wasn’t impressed with my attempt at sewing it to the felt neatly on the lower band.

I found some Grosgrain Ribbon and used this to hide the machined seam, sewing it on by hand. I was happy with this result although it delayed my progress.

I wanted to use the satin for the strap to tone in with the rest of the bag and I wrapped a length of the fabric around an inner core of canvas ribbon with the raw edges to the centre. I cut a zigzag patchwork band to run along the entire length of the middle of the strap to make a decorative effect and tie in with the rest of the bag. This made a nice co-ordinating feature with the centre front seam. The canvas ribbon helped to keep the satin stable and I was able to machine along the length with no trouble.

I also made a feature of the bag’s closing flap. I used a white and purple gingham for the outside and again white and purple on the inside in a star print. In a small quantity, it doesn’t look out of place with the black and purple of the rest of the bag. I used the soft felt for the outer surfaces and, to give it a bit of body, cut a piece out of the firm felt as an inner to give it shape.

The satin drawstring casing at the top of the bag was easier to construct than the lower band in that there was no seam on view – it was hidden inside. I used the soft felt as a backing to the casing and to give a bit of body. A cord was threaded through and out to the centre front where it can be tied and hidden by the closing flap.

Soft felt was also used as the base of the bag as it had some ‘give’ in it and was easier to sew to the main harder body but I also cut another base out of the harder felt to place inside the bag to make it firmer.

I have made this bag a couple of times before and loved it – it’s from a very old Vogue pattern that I have in my stash. On each occasion I’ve used different fabrics and been happy with the result. I am just as happy with this felt version. It’s turned out really well and I’m looking forward to using it on a weekend out somewhere.

Thanks for reading!

Diane @ Marguerite Designs 

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