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Gretchen Hirsch 6556 in Scuba

About the Fabric

When I was asked whether would like to blog for Minerva Crafts I immediately jumped at the opportunity to try out this Scuba Fabric. I've never sewn with it and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. The fabric I chose is ivory colored with a bold gold repeated print on it. My boyfriend said (when I wraped the fabric around me, because let's face it, we all do) that I look like the Pope. My stepdauther mentioned something about the Queen and I just barked at them that they just had "no vision" (you know what I mean).

One panel (I don't know if this is the correct word in English; in German it would be called rapport) measures 65cm until the print starts repeating itself. Since 65cm is enough to make a decent length skirt without any repeats I knew I wanted to make a border print dress. The fabric does not curl while cutting, it's easy to wash and you can even iron it on a low temparature (not that you need to apart from the sewing bit). I got a full 3 metres but ended up using 2.3m. 

About the Pattern - B6556

When I hear border prints my mind goes straight to Gretchen Hirsch and her patterns which is why I finally had a good enough reason to by her Ultimate Dress Book. Somehow I feel drawn do square necklines therefore I wanted to alter one of the her bodices in the book to a square neckline with a simple facing. About the same time my lovely sister brought me my requested Buttrick patterns that I had ordered "from her" a while back (because of the shipping costs to Switzerland we ask each other what we need respectively to bulk order). And then it hit me. In there was the new Gertie pattern B6556 with a perfect square neckline and a borderprint skirt all ready for me.

On a side note: How distracted can you be that you forget which patterns you ordered a while back???! It tends to happen to me more frequently the last few months...

Switching from Wovens to Knits

Now the B6556 is designed for woven fabrics and I had a stretchy one to work with. This means that apart from making the usual adjustments (FBA and swayback) I had to take the stretch of the fabric into account when chosing the right size. I recently discovered a new method of finding the perfect fit, no matter the type of fabric I use. I do not want to go into great details here because it's all about the fabric. But generally knit garments that fit close to the body are designed with negative ease so the measurements of the finished garment are actually less that your measurements. How much in the negative is up to designer (or your preferences), however, because this fabric has a print on it I did not want it to stretch out too much or it might distort the pattern. Also, bear in mind that the Big Four pattern companies tend to add a lot of wearing ease. For this pattern - even though it is supposed to be close-fitting - the wearing ease is about 8cm! What, you say? Yes that was my reaction as well!

So, based on my high bust measurements (add the standard 2" B cupsize) I would be a size 16 finished bust with a full bust of 104cm which is 3cm smaller than my actual full bust. Side note: If I went with my full bust measurements the pattern would indicate for me to make a size 20 (can you imagine how the shoulder straps would constantly fall of!).

I added an FBA for the full amount of those 3cm (in hindsight I would not have needed to do this and just go with the negative ease of 3cm). This widened the waistline to 2cm (see picture) wich meant I now had a finished waist of 86cm which is just a few centimeters less than my actual waist (even here I adjusted for the zero ease measurements which again was not necessary).

I noticed on a few of my garments that sit at the waist that I have to do a swayback adjustment of about 2cm. On this pattern (I measured the pattern pieces after the FBA) I noticed that I needed to add these 2cm to the front that came out just a little short this time. I guess my upper body is just strangely curved, haha.

Also the pattern calls for a lining which - because it was aready a heavy scuba - I did not want. For that reasen I took the interfacing pieces and used the as facings for the neckline.

Lastly when making a woven pattern with a knit try to guess (measure) if you really need a zip. For this one you don't need it (yayyy!).

Construction of the B6556

The cutting process was very easy. Cutting scuba is amazing let me tell you: Nothing moves around, nothing curls - fantastic.

To check the fit I sewed the whole bodice up in a simple straight stitch and my walking foot on my Bernina (2.2 length). Straight stiches on a knit, are you insane? No, it actually worked fine. I think this is due to my scuba beeing a heavy double knit fabric so there are actually two pieces of fabric "interlocked" together. You can press it down by hand and while stretching it, the polythread presses down the layers of fabric also, which makes the seam slightly stretchy. No don't go stretching it like a crazy person ok? It's just for fitting purposes.

While fitting I noticed that the adjustments I made to the bust and waist area were not necessary and I had to widen the dart and take in the side seams. But you know what? I don't mind taking it in as long as the back and front necklines and the shoulders are on point. This 'fit as you go' approach is amazing. Anyway, I with these minor adjustments I was able to achieve a perfectly fitted bodice.

I made the skirt as instructed by the pattern (first I basted the pleats of course) and even added pockets. But alas, I only noticed that I attached it the wrong way around (you don't need a zipper remember) when the bodice was already attached to the skirt - so the pockets are facing backwards. As of now I have not turned it around because I do not plan on using the pockets, but you never know!

The facings are partly stitched down by the armseams and partly handsewn to the main fabric. I used to hate handsewing things but lately I noticed that I actually enjoy the finished result and it sort of became meditative.

The armholes I just turned under. Now I wish I had researched methods to do this differently or chosen a narrower hem because it slightly destroys the neat look I got from the dress overall.

I left the hem of the dress unfinished and neatened the edges. Usually I don't go for this unfinished look but the dress looked so lightweight with the unfinished seam I decided to leave it like this and I just love the look of it. You really don't notice it at all (but you would certainly notice a slightly bulky seam).

The scuba fabric holds the shape of the pleats very well, the look is EXACTELY as I imagined it. Because this is a heavy scuba the weight of the skirt part slightly stretches the bodices, so make sure your waistline is on point to start with or else it will be too low!

So, what do you think? There's really nothing papal about it :-D (even the boyfriend said it lookes beautiful, ha!)

Happy Sewing.

Nadine @ lifewithnaba

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Brushed Cotton Honeycomb Shirt Dress

Hello everyone, I am Kealy from Voice of a Creative. This is my first blog post for the Minerva Crafts blog.

I chose this beautiful Brushed Cotton Fabric with a paisley pattern. I loved the look of this fabric because it had a detailed paisley pattern but also a huge range of colours. I knew that I would be able to pair this fabric with so many accessories. The fabric is also super soft and would probably be good for pyjamas but I decided I would get more wear out of it if I made a dress.

I decided to make the Honeycomb shirt dress by CocoWawa Crafts as I had seen so many beautiful versions on Instagram and thought the fabric would really suit a looser fitting dress. After making my toile I decided to would make a hacked version of the Honeycomb dress because I felt this would suit me better. I chose the sleeveless version with the buttons.

The first change I made was to the neck line, normally this pattern features a cute mandarin collar but I changed this to a v neck instead. I made this change because I learnt from my toile that I found this style of collar quite uncomfortable on my neck so I needed to make it slightly lower so it felt more comfortable. When I was cutting out the pattern pieces for the bodice I cut properly around the middle bodice piece and then just cut it downwards from the shoulder seam in a slanted line to where the first button hole should go. I also cut about half an inch away from the shirt yoke neck piece. I finished the neck line with some unfolded bias binding as this helped to give more structure to the neck line and stop it from gaping.

The second change I made was to double the length of the ties so you could wear them a variety of ways. To do this I simply folded the fabric and then cut the tie pattern piece on the fold, then followed the instructions to sew it together. The ways you can wear the ties are to wrap them round and tie them at the back into a cute bow, or you can wrap them around twice and then to the front and tie in a bow. You could also just tie them in the front. This allows you to shape the dress around your waist and helps you mix up your look from day to day. I sewed the ties in the middle of the 2 front panels rather than at the sides.

The third change I made was to reduce the width of the skirt by cutting 1 inch off either side of both skirt pieces. I also changed the gathers to pleats to give a more structured look. I added a box pleat at the centre back and then matched the second pleat with the back darts. At the front I pleated the middle piece using the same method as the back but moving the pleats closer together here.

I also chose to leave off the buttons and instead sewed the front together panels together, in the future I would consider cutting this on the fold to eliminate this step. I kept the pockets in this dress though because who doesn’t love a good pocket.

The Honeycomb dress uses the burrito method to add the yoke, this was quite tricky at first but I finally got there with the help of the instructions and sew along video on the Cocowawa Crafts YouTube. It was great to learn this new skill and build up my knowledge of sewing techniques.

Overall I loved working with this fabric, it is soft and has great drape. It was easy to sew and is so versatile with its many colours. It works well for this pattern and I know I will get a lot of wear out of this dress during the summer. I like the finished garment and I am considering how I can hack the neck line on other patterns in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Kealy @ Voice of a Creative

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Stella Joggers

I must admit, I don’t really do loungewear. I’m either dressed up, or I’m in my pyjamas. My feeling is that if I’m going to get dressed then I’m going to really get dressed, and if I’m not going to get dressed then why on earth am I changing out of my pyjamas? Either way, loungewear felt like a bit of a missed opportunity to me.

But then I saw this gorgeous floral print Sweatshirting Fabric on the Minerva craft website, and it coincided with my copy of Tilly and the Buttons’s new book Stretch arriving and I knew that I just had to make myself a pair of the Stella jogging bottoms. It’s like the fabric was calling to me. This burgundy/ wine colour that forms the background of the digital print, is such a fantastic, rich hue and I think it makes the otherwise-girly floral print a bit more edgy, and therefore more wearable, for my wardrobe at least.

As well as being super-comfy, these joggers ended up being – dare I say it? – flattering and that is entirely due to the thickness of the fabric. It’s drapey without being see-through, sturdy and warm without being bulky and it was super easy to work with. I didn’t have any problems with it slipping or stretching and it didn’t even slide or curl when I laid it out to cut on the floor. As with any stretch fabric, I suggest using a ballpoint needle and a stretch stitch on all the seams, but if you’ve never tackled a knitted fabric before, I would wholeheartedly suggest using this one for your first project.

I needed to stock up on some extra haberdashery materials for these trousers, such as extra-wide elastic for the waistband (that’s what gives it that lovely supportive structure around the waist), a drawstring, and some stretch interfacing for the pocket bags, but all those things were relatively inexpensive and readily available on the Minerva site.

This was a really quick make. I cut it out and completed it in about four hours total. To be honest, the most laborious task was tracing off the pattern because, as with all Tilly and the Buttons patterns, the clarity of the instructions make complex techniques (like sewing a buttonhole in stretch fabric!) seem really easy.

Thanks a million Minerva, this may be my favourite make so far …

Sonny @sew_london

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Simplicity 8608 Ruffle Dress

Hi again from a sunny South Yorkshire!

As soon as I saw this Fabric I just had to have it and I had the perfect summer dress in mind in the Simplicity 8608! This is the second version of this dress that I have made now. The first was in a cotton voile fabric which was quite floaty in comparison to this cotton which is a fair bit more structured. That being said I absolutely love it and got so many compliments on it when I wore it to the local shopping centre!

I set about marking out the darts using this handy little chalk pen. I find this much easier to use than the triangle bits of chalk! Definitely worth the money! This fabric pressed really well even though I still used my trusty clapper on all the seams!

It is a fairly quick make even with all the ruffles! The first time I made it I have to admit I was a little daunted by the 13 pattern pieces and it spent quite a while sat on my sewing room floor with me just looking at it wishing I’d not started such a mammoth task! Of course I was being melodramatic as it really does come together quickly once you start sewing. I knew what was in store this time so as soon as the fabric had been pre-washed I set about cutting it out with the confidence I had lacked last time I made it.

So all pieces cut and ready for sewing I quickly cracked on! That was until I realised that when I got to the main ruffle which starts at the centre front and goes all the way round the curve and round the back of the skirt and back round to the front again was cut wrong! WTH!! I knew I didn’t have enough fabric to recut the ruffle (due to the fact these aren’t straight ruffles they are cut in circles!) Ok not to worry I thought perhaps I can still make this work. Fortunately it seemed that in my new found confidence (ho hum!) I had actually cut 2 pieces wrong. This now meant that the dress had to cross the opposite way to which the pattern suggested!! Well that’s ok I thought…until I started to wonder if it was the same policy with cross over dresses as it is with buttons and buttonholes. Is there a reason it crosses this way?? You know, like if a shirt buttons a certain way that’s because it’s a mans!!! Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

Anyway mine now crosses the opposite way to my other one and opposite to which the pattern says to cross. I absolutely don’t care though I love this dress and the pattern .

The pattern calls for a small hem but I am quite enjoying doing a rolled hem on my ruffles at the minute. Probably due to the fact that my new overlocker is an absolute dream to thread and no faffing with tension dials as it does it automatic. I also made sure to press and understitch the facings as this really does help to keep them sitting as they should do.

I recently got myself a gathering foot as the last time I made this dress I got right to the end of the ruffle and the bloomin gathering stitches came unfastened! Fortunately I made it work but I wasn’t risking that happening again. So off I go and attempt to work out the new foot! Well easier said than done I think as it gathers as it goes so you need to adjust the length of the frill before you start gathering it. I couldn’t figure how or where to gather the ruffles as the pattern pieces are circular so decided that until I’d figured how to use it properly (and the fact that I didn’t have enough spare fabric if it didn’t work out) I would revert back to the traditional method of lengthening my stitch to max and reducing my tension and then running 2 lines of stitching parallel to each other. This time though I wasn’t risking the gathering stitches coming undone so decided to break the sections into 3 so that should it come undone it wasn’t the whole lot needed re-doing and just that shorter section!. I definitely think the gathering foot will save time in future makes though once I’ve got it sussed as it allows you to attach the ruffles to the garment at the same time therefore saving time not having to ruffle, baste then attach. If any of you out there know the secret to adjusting the length of these circular ruffles, please let me know. I’d be forever grateful!

I decided this time to make belt loops and attach them one at each side seam in the hope it would stop the belt slipping around. I did this just by measuring the size of the loop I wanted and then following the same process as the make up of the belt so no raw edges on show! All that’s left to do now was finish it off properly by adding one of my garment labels. I think that’s just given it the finishing touch!

Hey presto another holiday make finished! I absolutely love this dress and can definitely see myself sat outside with a nice glass of red wearing it in the South of France! The cotton gives it a little more structure and I think the bright colours of the floral really set this dress off and make it a little more eye catching.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!

Bye for now

Lisa x

@lisalooby1234

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McCall’s M7542 Blouse with Fluted Sleeves

Hi everyone!

Welcome to my review of some beautiful Cotton Poplin Fabric in blush colour. Although it’s called blush I would personally describe it as more of a peach, apricot or even soft coral colour. I think of blush as a pale peachy pink but this is much bolder. In some of my photos the material looks quite pink but it is best represented in the first couple of shots.

I thought I would research on the internet the different types of cotton fabric and was amazed to find there are at least 32 different materials made with cotton! Cotton poplin can also sometimes be called cotton broadcloth. It is supposed to be a medium weight cotton with a tight weave that’s suitable for dresses and blouses for example. I was pleasantly surprised to find this one was really quite fine in texture and lovely and smooth - almost like a lawn – obviously great quality.

About a year ago I made myself the McCall’s M7542 blouse in view C with short fluted sleeves. I’ve wanted to make it again in a different view and thought this fine cotton fabric would lend itself well as it drapes nicely. It was a toss-up between the pleated sleeve and the long fluted ones and the fluted won through! 

This is a great pattern as it has 5 different sleeve options: tulip, long fluted, short fluted, gathered bell and pleated. 

The blouse has quite a high curved neckline with a small opening at the back, fastened with a hook and eye. There are no zips to worry about so it’s quite easy. The bodice comes in two different lengths to choose from - a cropped length roughly to the waist and a more normal length to about the hip. I chose the hip length.

So it’s a really versatile pattern and the plainness of the fabric I thought would show the sleeve shape off perfectly.

I don’t like my blouses too snug around the hips so I graded my pattern from a 10 at the bust out to a 14 at the hip. There is quite a lot of ease in the pattern and my actual body measurements would have put me in a 12 grading to a 14, but taking the ease into account I sized down. 

The only other alteration I made was to do a button and Rouleau loop fastening at the back of the neckline as I think that’s so much nicer than a boring old hook and eye!

The bodice is a simple construction with two bust darts, side seams and a centre back seam. The neckline is finished with an interfaced neck facing. I used a combination of sewing machine and my Overlocker but an Overlocker is not required.

The sleeves are not too tricky to make. They come in two parts - the normal sleeve part that you attach at the shoulder seam and a lower sleeve which creates the fluted part. This lower sleeve is a large circle of fabric with a hole set in the upper part of the circle which produces the flute which is longer at the back than at the front. This poplin is nice and wide so you can cut the circle out with plenty of room.

To finish off the hem of the fluted part, you sew a line of stitching 1.3 cm in from the raw edge. This gives you a firm line to fold the fabric back along. 

Once ironed you then trim off the excess fabric close to the line of stitching along the folded edge.

Finally you fold the hem up again along the raw edge where you cut the excess material away and stitch it in place. It sounds complicated but it’s very well described.

Attaching the fluted part to the lower edge of the sleeve is also quite straight forward. Again you stitch just in from the seam allowance from the raw edge around the inner hole. You then clip the seam allowance at regular intervals up to but not into the stitched line. It is then easy to fit the sleeve edge to the lower sleeve. It went in very smoothly with no puckers in sight!

The Rouleau loop for the back fastening was simple to achieve but you have to remember at what stage to sew it into the facing/centre back seam and at what distance from the neckline raw edges - taking into account the seam allowance.

I simply took a piece of fabric 1” wide. I folded it in half wrong sides together and pressed it. I then folded each long edge in again to the centre fold line and pressed the folds. Next I folded it in half (now 1/4” wide and machined along the open side. I then made a loop and stitched across the end of the loop to hold its triangular shape. 

Finally I calculated how much I needed so that there was 5/8” of both ends of the loop within the seam (I allowed more and trimmed afterwards) and enough protruding to fit over the button of my choice.

I pinned it between the facing and the centre back with enough allowance above it so it would sit perfectly once the facing seams had been sewn. I hope you will agree it makes a really nice feature.

I’m really pleased with the final results. I love the colour and feel of the cotton. I think it could be dressed up or down - worn with jeans or a really nice pair of more tailored trousers.

I also considered making a dress - perhaps the Lisette 6168 or a summer jacket. I so often choose a patterned fabric but it was nice to use something plain with a pattern with features that would show up nicely.

Thanks Minerva for the lovely fabric as always! 

Diana

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Viscose Challis Eve Dress

Hello, I’m Adelle, I am on a mission to create a handmade wardrobe which I’m writing about over on my blog. I’m excited to be here to review this floral Viscose Challis Fabric from Minerva Crafts.

The Fabric:

This beautiful lightweight dressmaking fabric is a light and floaty woven viscose chalis with large flowers and foliage across it. The flowers are approximately 10cm in size so it’s just a perfect bright summer fabric. I did worry that with the lightweight nature of the fabric it could be a little sheer, however it has great opaque nature whilst still being breathable. The quality of the print is also great and I feel that it wouldn’t fade over time.

The lightweight quality of the fabric makes it versatile for a summer make because it is breathable and light to wear. It presses well, which makes it a good option for a semi-fitted garment.

The Pattern:

A summer dress in my mind needs to be skimming and comfortable. A wrap dress is just the answer, especially to suit this beautiful weather that we’ve been having in the UK recently. The Sew Over It Eve Dress just seemed to suit this fabric perfectly, and could carry the large print well. The Eve dress has two versions, a more boho romantic look perfect for summer and another more sleek and elegant dress suitable as an everyday dress. I have chosen to sew version 1, with statement relaxed sleeve and a dipped hem. This version would look great as a wedding outfit too.

The Sew:

The Eve dress is only fitted at the waist with a tie and a gathered yoke for fitting at the bust so picking a size is simple by just using the pattern measurements.

I cut out a size 10 from 3m of fabric which was ample. The pattern recommends 3.2m but with past experience of Sew Over It, they do slightly over estimate their fabric requirements. The fabric is easy to handle despite it being lightweight. After reading other reviews of the Eve dress, I was aware of how easy it could be to stretch out the front wrap piece. You sew in stay tape to stabilise this piece but I have seen recommendations to use the fabric selvage as it has the same weight as the fabric that you are using. The back piece is made up of 2 pieces but in reflection I feel that I would change this to 1 piece, cutting it on a fold, which will help continue the pattern when the fabric has a large print this this viscose.

The Finished Dress:

Putting on the Eve dress for the first time I just wanted to dance and spin around the garden. It is super comfortable, but elegant and feminine. The ties are long, so I wrapped them around finishing at the front tying at the wrap over waist.

The gathers on the yoke give enough drape to fit over the bust, but with a larger bust I do wonder if further gathers may need to be added so that it wouldn’t pull up the waist.

The sleeves offer cover but without any restrictions and are very on trend to what I have seen on the high street. The notches only match up for the longer sleeved version so I had to just go with my gut to how they fitted.

The dipped hem it’s a great feature and would look wonderful when wearing heels. It would also accommodate a taller person without having to add any extra length to the dress. You could easily mix up the versions to create a straight hem from version 2 but with the short sleeves.

A wrap dress is just a perfect feature that will fit right into my summer wardrobe. I’ll be taking it on holiday to wear in the evening for dinner and drinks. If I receive any formal invitations in the future I will look to the Eve dress first.

Adelle x

@button_and_pip

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Embroidery Transfer Ideas

I’ve been into embroidery for some time now, but funnily enough I have never used transfers! I normally just free-hand my design onto fabric with my water soluble pen, but I had a project coming up that I’d agreed to create as a raffle prize for a friend’s Charity event, so I decided that I would opt for Embroidery Transfers to help with the design and accuracy of my work. My friend wanted me to create something that says “Sometimes, you’ve got to create your own sunshine”. So I started off using my normal technique of drawing free-hand onto my fabric.

I decided I’d use my new transfers for the word “sunshine” at the bottom.

Deciding on thread colours was probably the hardest part of this project (well, any project, am I right?).

I used a simple seed stitch to complete my lettering, and a combination of seed stitch and chain stitch to finish the sun. Once I was finished with the free-hand section, it was time to move on to the transfers!

I’d like to just take a moment to appreciate the instructions that came with the pack. They are SASSY, and I’m here for it! There aren’t many things in this world that I love more than instructions with sass. It makes for very entertaining reading!

The transfers come printed on one large piece of paper which you then cut out the pieces that you need.

Of course, the letters are all backwards, because when you press them down onto your fabric, they’ll be face-down, and therefore will print out the right way round. I decided to cut them all out, and to do a test run on a bit of scrap fabric!

And then I was ready to go!

I was so pleasantly surprised how clear the transfer came out. It was almost clearer printed on fabric than the transfer is itself! I was really happy with this so I went full steam ahead with my “Sunshine”. I had already decided on the positioning, so I picked out my required letters and placed them onto my fabric. I did struggle with this part slightly, because I found that in order to make sure the positioning was correct, I had to move all the other pieces out of the way and do one letter at a time, which meant that my positioning was all a bit of a gamble. Also, as there are two S’s and N’s in the word “Sunshine” I had to edge my bets with the gaps that I left to reuse the letters. What I probably should have done, is transfer the “sunshine” first, so that just in case I did something wrong, I wouldn’t have to start the project all over again (oh hindsight, you wonderful thing). Having said that, this process was still super simple, nothing went wrong, and I was really impressed with the way the lettering stamped on so clearly. I pressed on each letter with the iron for about 10 seconds, being careful not to move the iron or the transfer, mid-transfer. I started off a bit nervous, and gained confidence as I went along, which I think is perfectly reflected in my finished transferring!

See how my “sun” is quite faint, whereas the “shine” is quite clear? This is determined by how long you leave the iron on for. The longer the heat is applied, the clearer the design will be, though I wouldn’t recommend any longer than 10 seconds. I then washed my fabric to remove the blue water-soluble pen I had used earlier, but also to test how permanent the transfers actually are, and it’s fair to say they didn’t budge much at all!

It was time to finish the project! Time was running out, and on the morning of the day of the Charity Event I managed to finish the piece, once again using the speediest stitch I know - seed stitch (or speed stitch, if you will).

I finished the project with just an hour to spare, and in my rush, forgot to photograph the finished project. Once I was finished with the embroidery part, I trimmed the extra fabric from around the edges of the hoop, gathered and glued them all at the back, and backed the hoop with felt, with an added felt hoop, ready for wall hanging! (For more like this, check out my Instagram @jen.elz).

My friend Kath was really happy with the finished piece and the Charity Event went on to raise a wonderful amount of money for the MS Society Cymru. Overall, I’d definitely recommend trying these transfers for your embroidery, and other crafts! They really help with accuracy, but also make your life so much easier than trying to re-create a specific style of font free-hand. The transfers are also re-usable, so they make for excellent value for money. I know that the transfers also come in a variety of images and font styles, so I will definitely be coming back for more.  

Thanks for reading,

Jen @jen.elz

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Diablo Jersey Diamond Drape Dress

It’s just one of those things … you are more excited about putting some patterns together than you are about others and the Trish Newbery Diamond Drape Dress is one of those projects. So when I got the chance to try the eye catching bronze coloured slinky Diablo Jersey Fabric from Minerva Crafts they were the obvious match.

The word “slinky” describes this fabric perfectly. It has superb drape and although I expected it to curl when I cut it I was surprised that it didn’t which meant it was relatively easy to work with. It is a little sheer, which might make it more suitable for a top unless you plan to line your dress, but I already had my heart set on making the drape dress with it and I’m glad I did because the sheen of the jersey and the way it lies work together with a great pattern to produce an outfit with a real wow factor. 

I can wear this either with a slip underneath, to avoid flashing my underwear, or on holiday over a swimming costume when it doesn’t matter if people can see what you have on under it. My little girl, who is already intently following several sewing vloggers on You Tube, suggested I use the left overs to make some cycle style shorts to wear under the dress, instead of a slip, which might work well but I haven’t had chance to try this yet.

I made the majority of this dress on my overlocker, because I can, but you can use your regular sewing machine. This is a trickier jersey by nature of it’s weight and shininess so probably better saved until you have sewn a few garments in standard knit first but at the current discount price it’s worth having a play. You could try at making a cowl neck top, which would show off it’s best features, for example Burda 6695.

I have a pack of Dritz ball point pins which come in very handy for pinning jersey and are especially useful when you are dealing with something that could click or ladder. Keep in mind that they are still sharp … guess how I know!

If you haven’t heard of Trish Newbery check out her website to see her range. Her patterns are PDF only but you are rewarded for your printing and construction with You Tube sew a longs for most, if not all, of her designs and I call her the Queen of Notches as she includes plenty of reference notches to keep you on the right track. I should also point out that Trish’s prices are in New Zealand dollars so don’t be put off. Check the exchange rate before you buy but the patterns work out the same as we are used to paying else where for independent designs.

But back to the dress.

I made view 2. It has pockets but I’ve had to reduce the depth of mine as the fabric wasn’t quite wide enough to cut the full pattern piece out but I don’t think it has had a detrimental effect on the finished drape. To be honest I’m never going to put anything in the pockets because it will just pull the lines of the dress out of shape but their purpose is probably more sculptural than practical anyway so losing half an inch of depth isn’t a big deal.

What I will say is that this dress is completely out of my comfort zone. I would never have walked in to a shop and bought it but over the last year sewing my own clothes has made me brave. I suppose my age might have a little bit to do with it too but we will gloss over that one. Either way I love it and I’m already on the look out for more fabric to make a second one.

So take a look at the Slinky Diablo Stretch Jersey Knit, which is currently available in more than ten colours, but don’t forget that Minerva Crafts have a huge range of jersey and ponte roma so if this one doesn’t take your fancy there almost certainly will be something that does. 

Thanks for reading,

Sue @craftysue103

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Erika Knight Studio Linen and the Tranquil Shawl

I'm delighted to be back on the Minerva Crafts blog with a review of the Erika Knight Studio Linen Yarn and another crochet project. Crochet has become my new favourite craft for my morning and evening commute - #traincrochet is definitely a thing!

As I already made a tidal wave shawl earlier this year, I was going to go for something really simple for my next crochet project, such as a scarf or hat. Instead, I saw the Tranquil Shawl by Sarah Hazell, which was designed specifically for this yarn and I was completely seduced - I love the oversized casual style of this shawl and surely you can never have too many shawls?

The Studio Linen yarn is made up from 85% recycled linen and viscose fibres, combined with premium linen fibre. This mix of fibres results in a drapey and slightly slippery feel when crocheted into a fabric. I haven't yet washed my shawl but the Erika Knight website says that the yarn will soften with wear and washing - just like a linen shirt I guess!

I used three shades for this shawl - Bone - the light cream/beige colour, Mood - the lilac shade and Lacey - the darkest colour which is somewhere between brown and purple. All the colours in this range are gorgeous and I spent a long time agonising about the combination I wanted - I can see myself making this again in a completely different set of colours...

The Studio Linen yarn is lovely to work with - it doesn't split when crocheting and makes very neat distinct stitches, the feel is similar to cotton yarn, with very little elasticity compared to the softness and slight stretch of wool or acrylic.

I did find that the yarn loves to tangle around itself really easily if you don't wind it into a tight enough ball at the start - I spent several hours untangling knots of yarn before I worked this out! I also found that the cut ends start to unravel really quickly, so I have tried to weave in my ends as tightly as possible!

The Tranquil Shawl looks really lacy and delicate on the pattern cover, but the yarn is quite dense and so the finished shawl is actually quite substantial and has a real weight to it - however the breathability of the linen fibre means that it works as a light cover up for a summer evening as well as something to throw on over a cardigan as it gets colder. 
The pattern is made up of crochet shells made in individual strips which are joined together with slip stitch. Each shell is made up of five treble crochet stitches (uk treble) - so the actual crochet is really straightforward. 

You make the longest strip of shells first - 66 shells in total and once you have counted that strip you simply make one less shell in each following row until you get down to one shell! This means that the shawl is initially very slow to get started as each strip takes ages to complete but once you get past half way then you can zip along very quickly!

The pattern instructions are very brief and there are no detailed pictures - I didn't find a lot of completed examples online to look at and compare, so as a still inexperienced crochet-er I spent quite a while worrying about whether I was getting everything right.

The Tranquil shawl uses a lot of yarn - the pattern recommends 14 skeins of yarn - 8 of the main colour and 3 each of the contrast colours. At the end of this project I have most of the last skein of the main colour left over, one whole skein of the lighter contrast colours and about half a skein of the other, so depending on your gauge you might be able to get away with slightly less yarn than suggested.

When I finished the shawl I hadn't reached the measurements given in the pattern and I think I was crocheting slightly tighter than the suggested gauge, but after I blocked the shawl it is now pretty close to the finished size mentioned in the pattern.

As I started this shawl I thought that making 66 strips of shell crochet might drive me a bit crazy or that I would get bored, but actually I found the repetition incredibly soothing and really enjoyed the process of making this shawl - I would definitely make it again - if I could only decide on which colours to use next!

Thanks to Minerva for the opportunity to try this yarn - definitely recommend!

Louise @ notsewsimple

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Sienna Crepe Orsola Dress

I was so thrilled when Minerva Crafts sent me 3m of this navy Sienna Crepe Fabric. They have such a fantastic range of colours, but Navy is one of my favourites to wear. It’s one of those great colours that feel like a neutral and a statement all at once. The fabric was very soft and drapey, and even though it is 100% polyester, I was extremely pleased to discover it didn't have that plastic-y feel that lots of polyester fabric does. It took me a while to decide what I wanted to make out of it, and I spent a lot of time stroking and draping it and wrapping it around myself, waiting for inspiration to strike. Eventually, I ended up browsing The Fold Line’s recommended patterns for drapey-fabrics, and settled on the By Hand London Orsola dress.  

I’d seen a few Orsola dresses popping up on Instagram and various blogs, and though the versions I’d seen online had varied dramatically depending on the fabric chosen, the fact that it was knee-length, relatively high-necked and cuts a generally elegant silhouette, made me think that I’d get a lot of wear out of it. I thought it would be perfect for those times when I have evening work events and I’m looking to make a statement without showing too much skin. Having said that, I absolutely love the back detail on this dress, and it really was the perfect fabric to showcase that soft, petal shape wrap.

I won’t lie. I was also drawn to this pattern because of its lack of fastenings. It’s beautifully fitted but there is nary a buttonhole or zip in sight. Since I was product-testing I probably should have shown how it holds up to zipping and buttoning but…I chickened out. The fabric is strong, but it does fray rather a lot, and I wanted to save myself the heartache of ripping out a zip inserted into a slinky fabric.

A word to the wise, if you don’t have the patience for marking precise darts, this pattern is not for you. Orsola has SO MANY DARTS, and I had yet more darts to do because I chose to line the skirt as well as the bodice. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to line the bottom half, as another great thing about this fabric is its opacity. Considering its slinky drape, I would have sworn that I would have had to be wary of using it on my bottom half…for fear of revealing too much…but even when I held it up to the light it retained a reassuringly thick weave. 

A tip for working with this fabric, is spend a couple of quid on some sharp, thin needles. It will make the sewing experience a hell of a lot easier and much more fun. I recommend microflex needles, but make sure that if you do opt for sharps, that you are using a fine thread to get through the eye. If your thread is at all wooly, it’s likely that your thread will misbehave and unthread itself a fair few times…trust me, I made that mistake when I first started this project.

I love Minerva’s sienna crepe and would definitely make something with it again. I think that it would be perfect for any pattern that requires a woven fabric with lots of drape. The ogden cami, Fifi pyjamas, a woven wrap dress, the list goes on and on…

Thanks for reading,

Sonny @ sew_london

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