Hi everyone, I’m Helen of JustSewHelen & I’m thrilled to be sharing my first post as a new member of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. 

Minerva stock many amazing products and for my first project I chose a pattern for a simple top and some lovely paisley cotton Chambray Fabric with matching Bias Tape.  When ordering fabric, the website gives the easy option of also ordering perfectly colour matched Gutermann Thread.

Recently, I’ve made couple of lovely dresses, including some using fabric from Minerva, but I am more of a jeans & t shirt kind of lady and thought this chambray fabric was sufficiently girly to smarten up my denim.  I love the pattern on the fabric and having Recently Made A Dress with a beautiful pleated neckline I chose a top in a similar style, New Look 6344

I decided on sleeveless style B with the added bonus of only needing 1 metre of fabric. The pattern itself couldn’t be simpler with just two pattern pieces. The material was great to cut and mark for the neck pleats. 

My mom taught me to use Taylor’s tacks to mark fabric pieces, however, on this occasion I just used the pins themselves & marked the fabric with Tailor’s chalk.  I recently came across a lovely set of hardly used chalks in my mom’s old sewing box that I have inherited.

The pattern calls for a short piece of elastic for the neck fastening and a small button.  I really love self-covered buttons to match a garment and used some 11 mm Hemline Self-Cover Buttons that I have in my stock.  They can be fiddly the first couple of times but are a really simple way to add a special detail to a garment.  Care needs to be taken to use the guide supplied to avoid the fabric covering the shank and, in turn, preventing the plastic ‘washer’ from securing the fabric.  On this occasion there were a couple of small threads visible from a frayed edge on the rear of the button. To secure the threads I trimmed them as short as I could and applied a very small amount of fabric glue with a cocktail stick.  The glue dries clear and is not visible on the finished button. 

I only had some thin blue shearing elastic & a single strand was too thin to use as a button loop. Consequently, I plaited 3 strands together to make a thicker piece before sewing within the seam allowance on the back neck.

The neck & armholes are finished with bias binding & I prefer to make binding from the same main fabric, but this requires a long piece to be cut on the bias, approximately 2.5 cm wide and about 2 metres long. Making the top from 1 metre of fabric does not leave enough material for this and I chose some ready-made single fold bias binding in the same colour.  There are number of ways to attach bias binding and I used my preferred method rather than the method the pattern describes.  I ironed the binding flat and then folded in half along its full length before ironing again.  Attaching is by aligning the raw edges on the right side then stitching, trimming and folding the binding over the raw edge to the inside, finishing with top stitching.

If you look carefully the picture also shows my deliberate mistake of pinning the binding on the WRONG side of the fabric – fortunately I noticed before stitching and re attached on the RIGHT side of the fabric.

Made by Rae has 3 great tutorials for attaching bias binding – traditionaltopstitch & French methods.

Once the binding is complete, the shoulder and side seams can be finished, and the garment hemmed.  I neatened the seams by pressing open & stitching a small hem on each side of the seam.

The fabric choice is perfect and I love the pattern, however, I was disappointed with the fit of the top – through no fault of the pattern, nor the fabric, it was just not quite the right style for me & felt a bit ‘boxy’.  I made adjustments by taking in the side & back seams and shaping at the waist & also adding under bust front darts towards the waist. 

Similarly, I found the fit across the shoulders too wide and with the button and tape in place I couldn’t easily adjust this seam. The neck was wide enough that I didn’t need the opening to get the top on and off, so I decided to remove the button & sew up the back neck seam. In hindsight, I should have fitted the top better before completing the fastening as I have had problems in the past with the fit across my lower neck/upper back – an obvious reason to create a toile!

I love the finished top – feminine enough and looks good with my jeans.

Thanks to Minerva for the beautiful fabric & to everyone for reading.  I’m already looking forward to my next project.