My first Minerva Craft Blogger post!

Cosy Cabled Knitted Cowl for Minerva Blogger Network

Blog posts–they’re like buses, aren’t they? I make you wait ages and then you get two blog posts in two days–and probably one a day for the next few days too 🙂

Anyway, today is my debut as part of the Minerva Craft Blogger Network. I’ve done a few projects for the regular Minerva blog over the summer, but I was thrilled to be asked to join the blogger network proper. That means that every month I’m given a budget to shop with on the Minerva site, and I’ll share my makes there on the 28th.

My first make is a knitted cowl, bizarrely enough. I don’t do much knitting, but I do enjoy it and I want to get better, so I figure the only way to do so is to stretch myself and try new things. This was my first go at cables, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out 😀

Check out the full post over on the blog, and here are links to the products I used, should you be interested in grabbing them yourself:

Erika Knight Maxi Wool in Geranium (2 hanks for £7.59 each)

Knit Pro Basix Birch Circular Needle (£5.99)

Clover Cable Needles (£3.19)

Stylecraft Ladies Scarves and Cowls pattern (£2.99)

(all affiliate links)

Now, I know some people are suspicious when bloggers use affiliate links and review products they got for free, and I used to be one of them. However, since Minerva are a company I was buying from before I ever got any freebies, I’m very happy to have this arrangement with them, and it allows me to make things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to make. I will always give my honest opinion in reviews and point out the pros and cons, should there be any. I find other bloggers reviews helpful, so I’m happy to be able to spread the word about books, patterns, fabrics and the like.

Affiliate links are something I’ve started doing this last year and so far I haven’t made much from them. Basically, if you click through on an affiliate link and make a purchase I will make a very small referral bonus, at no charge to you. I started putting affiliate links up because I was spending lots of time writing blog posts, but had hardly any money to buy fabric and patterns. I figured that if the blogging could in any way help support my sewing hobby then that would be great. Perhaps at some point in the future my affiliate links will start bringing in a bit of money, and as they’re quick to set up I’ll keep going with them for the time being. If you don’t like them, you can always find the products I’ve linked with a quick Google search. I’ll happily provide a non-affiliate link for you in the comments if you’re having trouble finding anything. Just let me know 🙂

Right, that’s all for now. If you have any thoughts on bloggers using affiliate links and reviewing freebies, then please do share. I’m always really interested to discuss this sort of thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the first of my #SewingTop5 posts. Until then, happy sewing!

The Party Animal Dress – a maternity Agnes dress pattern review

Party Animal maternity bodycon Agnes Dress Tilly and the Buttons

Hi everyone! I’m here to provide a little distraction from post-Christmas mayhem (or whatever it is you choose to celebrate at this time of year) with my first proper bit of maternity sewing on the blog: a party dress made with the new maternity version of the very popular Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top/dress.

Believe it or not, this is my very first maternity dress make. I was into dressmaking when I fell pregnant with Gabriel, but because of my inexperience with and general fear of sewing knit fabrics, I thought most maternity sewing patterns looked too much like hard work. Since having Gabriel, however (3 years ago this week–doesn’t time fly?!) I’ve truly embraced sewing with knits and now prefer sewing them to wovens. Continue reading “The Party Animal Dress – a maternity Agnes dress pattern review”

The Winter Cords: Ottobre Ever Grey Boys Corduroy Pants sewing pattern review

Ottobre corduroy Ever Grey boys trousers, issue 4/2011

I don’t make much for my kids, I’ve got to admit. I used to crochet and knit for Daisy when she was a toddler, but I now find so little time for crafting that I’m pretty selfish with the little bits of time I do get. However, every now and again one of the kids needs and/or wants something that I either can’t track down to buy, or can’t afford when I do. This is one of those occasions.

I’ve had these cords on my sewing list since Gabriel was born as they caught my eye when looking through this old Ottobre magazine (one of only two that I own), but a well-timed gift of some roomy, lined corduroy trousers from my mum two years back meant I didn’t end up making them. I figured I had better make them this year as Gabriel is now at the maximum size they go up to, and after two years in the last pair he’d finally grown out of them! The pattern is for unlined trousers, but after the success of those lined cords I hunted around for a tutorial to add a snuggly jersey lining, and found this really helpful one.

The materials are all from my stash, and are leftover from old projects. The needlecord is beautifully soft but quite thin, so the thick interlock lining is really needed for a pair of winter-ready trousers. Plus I’ve discovered the lining has the added bonus of completely absorbing any little “accidents” Gabriel has. Okay, so they’ll still need changing, but at least everything is contained and I won’t need to clean the carpets. In unrelated news, we will be replacing our pale carpet with wooden flooring at some point in 2018! Continue reading “The Winter Cords: Ottobre Ever Grey Boys Corduroy Pants sewing pattern review”

The Purple Ponte Pockets Cardigan

Yesterday I had my final post on the Minerva Crafts Blog go live, and you can find my gorgeous purple Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan full write up over there. And if you recognise this cardigan pattern it’s because I’ve made it before, meaning it’s a true TNT pattern for me now. Yay for TNTs!

Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan in purple ponte

But why is it my “final” post, especially when I’ve been enjoying making my Minerva Crafts projects so much? (see my previous Minerva makes in the gallery below)

[envira-gallery id=”7751″]

Well, that’s because I’ve now got a spot on the Minerva Blogger Network, which means I’ll be making a brand new project for them every month! My first post will go live at the end of December and be warned, for once it’s a knitting one rather than a dressmaking one! But there’s a good reason for that, which I’ll go into in my special announcement post later this week.

Anyway, I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the Minerva Blogger Network along with all those other talented sewists and crafters, and I look forward to sharing lots of makes with you over there. Mostly dressmaking, but with the occasional other textile craft thrown in for good measure. I’m pretty wide-ranging in my crafting habits, after all!

Now here’s the rest of the cardie deets that I didn’t fit into the main Minerva post, should you be interested in super-nerdy stuff like timings and pricings 🙂

Time taken to sew cardigan: 1 hour 51 minutes — slightly longer than last time, but who’s counting? Oh yeah, it’s me, isn’t it? #facepalm

(time taken is the time to sew, which will include pinning, stitching, pressing, etc, but doesn’t include time spent planning, tracing patterns, cutting out fabric, setting up the sewing machine, puzzling out instructions, trying things on, etc. So in other words, it’s not actually the total time I’ve spent making something, but it’s a rough guide at any rate. Just don’t come complaining if it takes you longer to make something!)

Costing:

Pattern: £5.52/£11.99

Based on me buying it for £11.04 originally, and then using it twice. If I’d paid for the Drop Pocket Cardigan from Minerva, it would have been £11.99

Fabric: £0.00/£29.98

£14.99 per metre. Used just under 2m of this gorgeous, top quality Ponte Roma.

Notions: £0.00

All thread from stash.

Total cost: £5.52 to me

Or £41.97 if you purchased all the supplies from Minerva. I realise that’s not exactly cheap, but the pattern is a good’un with a huge range of sizes so should definitely get used again, and obviously you can pick up 2m of a suitable fabric much cheaper than this. However, I can wholeheartedly recommend the ponte I used as it’s by far and away the best quality ponte I’ve sewn with, and I’ll definitely be using it again in the future!

Would you give the Drop Pocket Cardigan a go? Or do you have a favourite go-to cardie pattern already? Do share!

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

Alabama Chanin Corset Top

I first found out about Natalie Chanin and her Alabama Chanin clothing line a couple of years ago, and I was instantly intrigued. I’d seen another sewing blogger make one of the corset tops and I loved it. For those unfamiliar with Alabama Chanin garments, they are completely hand stitched out of natural jersey fabrics, and often heavily embellished with beads or their trademark cutaway applique/embroidery. It gives a bit of a bohemian, rustic look, but with more contemporary style lines. And for those who love the look but can’t afford the hefty price tag (embellished dresses retail for almost $6000!), Natalie Chanin has published books of her most popular patterns, along with all the instructions to be successful making them.

Alabama Chanin corset top embroidered

Hand-sewing a jersey garment: the very idea blew my mind. I love sewing knits on my overlocker–so speedy–but I also liked the idea of having a portable project that was garment sewing rather than knitting or crochet. And I’ve always been good at embroidery so I figured I’d probably enjoy sewing a garment together with pretty but functional hand stitches.

I added Natalie Chanin’s Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns to my Amazon wishlist but didn’t think much more about it, and then out of the blue (well, okay, for my birthday) my sister bought it for me. And so I got large format prints done of my favourite patterns, then waited well over a year to actually get started on one. Not sure what took me so long to take the plunge. Maybe it was the idea of all that handsewing! Continue reading “Alabama Chanin Corset Top”

The Autumnal Cleo Dress

It had been a few months since I made my last Cleo dress, and considering how much wear I’ve been getting out of that and my first needlecord version, I figured it was high time I made myself another! Yes, finally I have a TNT pattern for a dress. Yay!

In a Nutshell:

A cute little dress that will be perfect for wearing over tights this autumn and winter. And let’s face it, this is England so I’ll probably be wearing tights well into the spring too! Continue reading “The Autumnal Cleo Dress”

The “Should have left it White” Blouse

So, this is another of my Patterns by Gertie retro inspired makes, and probably the last summer thing you’ll see around here for a while. Ah summer, I miss you! I sewed this blouse up at the end of August/beginning of September, so I haven’t actually been able to wear it other than for the shoot as it’s been a pretty cold autumn so far.

I have to admit, originally I only intended this blouse as a toile, because after looking at online reviews I realised it would probably be too short for my liking. Why not lengthen it, you ask? Well, the pattern pieces have no markings to do this, and they are some of the craziest shaped pattern pieces I’ve seen so I didn’t feel confident making any alterations until I’d had a go at sewing it together.

And then I made it, and it turned out better than I thought, and I should have left it how it was but like an idiot, I thought I could improve things with a purple dye bath…

In a Nutshell:

Could have been a cute, if exceedingly cropped, summer blouse if I hadn’t tried to be all clever. Now it’s just an unloved toile. Sigh. Continue reading “The “Should have left it White” Blouse”

The Nice Dress

Colette Crepe Dress in viscose

It’s been a busy weekend what with the Great British Sewing Bee show up in London, so I’m a little late sharing my most recent make for the Minerva Crafts blog: my version of the Colette Patterns Crepe Dress. Head on over to their blog for a blast of summer, to read all the deets, and to find out what I’d do differently next time. Looking at those photos makes me long to be back in the South of France!

Oh, and by the way, that’s Nice dress as in the city, not nice as in… well, you know. It is nice, but that just seems like damning it with faint praise, and my English teacher told me never to use that adjective if I could possibly help it 😛

Continue reading “The Nice Dress”

The Rockabilly Pirate Top

As promised, here’s the link to my latest make for the Minerva Crafts Blog, which I’m calling my Rockabilly Pirate Top, for obvious reasons! You can find my full write up of Simplicity 8342 here. It’s such a cute jersey top, and perfect for anyone with a little experience with knit fabrics who’s looking for a slightly more challenging make than a simple t-shirt. I’d love it if you could pop on over to the blog and let me know what you think, and whether you’d make one of these yourselves 🙂

Continue reading “The Rockabilly Pirate Top”

The Denim Pedal Pushers

Pedal Pushers - Gertie Sews Vintage Casual 2

This year I was determined to get myself a pair of trousers that fit me properly. Now, I don’t know if my experience of buying trousers is typical, but I’ve never had much luck finding anything that was comfortable, let alone that fit well. It made me decide I was a die-hard skirt wearer, as they were so much more comfortable. Not as great for going on zip wires and climbing trees, admittedly, but hey, I liked skirts and didn’t want to wear that typical mum uniform of jeans and a tee.

But I love zip wires and the lure of making my own jeans began to grow. I was all set to leap in and make a pair of Ginger jeans, and then late last year I managed to find myself a pair of RTW skinny jeans that were reasonably comfortable and a pretty good fit. You’ll find me wearing them in heaps of blog pics here, but most recently the ones for my Baby Leopard Kimono  (they’re the high waisted Red Herring Carly jeans, should you be interested).

So, the idea of making my own jeans took a bit of a back seat after that. Okay, so there were things about the Carly jeans that weren’t ideal (like the quality of the fabric and stitching), but they were still way better than anything I could imagine making myself at the time.

But I still wanted to tackle trouser fitting. I had a go at it years ago when I was a good few dress sizes larger, and I managed to make myself a pair of needlecord trousers that were really comfy, but that I never wore out of the house due to an unfortunate lapse in attention when cutting the corduroy. There’s a reason they tell you to cut it with the nap all in one direction, and this became blindingly apparent when I looked down at my trousers–the front was about five shades lighter than the back! I never did make another pair of trousers with that block.

I definitely have Tasha from By Gum By Golly to thank for inspiring me to get going with my trouser fitting mission. Her Cigarette Pants are things of beauty, perfectly fitted to her body and she has detailed her many pattern adjustments at length in a series of blog posts. I began to see that it wasn’t necessary to get things perfect first time, and that it was possible to make a pattern time and again, gradually refining the fit.

This summer I decided to try again, using the Cigarette Pants pattern from my latest sewing bible: Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. Read on for more of my fitting escapades…

In a Nutshell:

Continue reading “The Denim Pedal Pushers”

The Baby Leopard Kimono

This is one of those rare occasions when I seem to have jumped on a trend bandwagon (last seen with the Cleo dress). Kimonos are everywhere this summer, and I’ve been growing increasingly annoyed with my selection of summer cardies. In the past I’ve always gone for bolero styles, often with a tie front, but they don’t necessarily look right with the clothes I’ve been wearing this year. Or maybe I was just bored with them. Anyway, I’ve been hankering over something loose and flowing to go over my close-fitting clothing. Hence the kimono. And you know what, I reckon it’s exactly what I was after! Read on for more…

In a Nutshell:

A versatile summer layering cardie, which can also be used as a beach cover-up. That was the idea, at any rate. And it’s kind-of animal print. Abstract animal print, at any rate. I’m calling it that, anyway. It’s my kimono so I can name it whatever I like 😛

Pattern:

This is a self-drafted kimono, following the instructions in Portia’s excellent tutorial. Those who’ve followed this blog for a while might remember I made one of these last year, using a striped hacci knit. I do still wear that one but I’m always wishing for a bit more width at the front to wrap it around me, so for my second version I widened the body piece by 2″ at the back and 1″ on each front piece. This extra 4″ in width allows me to wrap the kimono fully at the waist, which in my mind is a must for a beach cover-up! Continue reading “The Baby Leopard Kimono”

The Little Jenny Wren dress

My wardrobe was in serious need of a really lightweight sleeveless knit dress for the summer (and autumn/spring when teamed up with cardie and leggings), so this project jumped all queues and demanded in no uncertain terms that I MAKE IT NOW!!! And you know what? I wish I’d made it earlier in the year to get even more use out of it. What a perfect dress!

 

NB: the title comes from the extra verse to Sing a Song of Sixpence which I found in a nursery rhyme book for my daughter, which goes like this:

She made such a commotion that Little Jenny Wren

Flew down into the garden and put it back again.

I’m not sure if this is a modern addition because someone feared small children would be traumatised by the idea of the maid having no nose (I never was!), but I thought of it while making this dress as I was effectively giving myself back a favourite dress that’s now too big. So yeah, Little Jenny Wren put it back for me. Although it’s not a nose. It’s a dress. Because having a nose in my wardrobe would just be weird 😛

In a Nutshell:

A retro-looking, super comfy and practical summer dress with pockets. What more could a girl ask for?! Continue reading “The Little Jenny Wren dress”

The Flintstones Bikini

So it’s come to this. Me, sharing pictures of myself in a bikini online. A leopard print one at that! But you know what? I’m more proud of this make than any other so far, despite it still needing a few tweaks. Read on for more about my first (but definitely not my last) plunge into swimwear sewing…

In a Nutshell:

A retro-style, halter neck, high waisted bikini. In leopard print pulled from the stash. What’s not to like?! I should just stick a bone through my hair and go full on cavewoman glam 😛

No, honestly, I did save a chicken bone for precisely that purpose, then forgot to use it in the photoshoot! Continue reading “The Flintstones Bikini”

The Barcode Skirt

This is one of those projects that was so simple to sew it hardly seems to warrant a blog post of its own, but hey, it’s my blog and if I want to blog the super-easy makes as well as the complicated ones, I absolutely can. And I seriously love this skirt, so there’s that 😛

Also, I’ve been meaning to blog every week and clearly that didn’t happen last week. I’m not going to apologise because I don’t believe in feeling guilt for no good reason, but I felt like I owe an explanation. Life has been busy and time got away from me, plus I’ve been sewing rather than writing about it–oh, the pressure of an impending holiday deadline! You’ll get two blog posts from me this week, though, as I’ve got one scheduled to go live on the Sewcialists blog tomorrow. I’ll post a link here when it does 🙂

Anyway, on with the sewing stuff…

Striped Gertie Skirtie 4

 

In a Nutshell:

A knit pencil skirt that fills a gap in my wardrobe I didn’t even realise was there! Continue reading “The Barcode Skirt”

The “Who Likes Short Shorts?” Shorts

Okay, you know the weather must be hotting up in England if I’ve made a pair of shorts. I mean, I haven’t even owned a pair of shorts for…. I don’t know, a decade? Before kids, I’m pretty sure of that. Anyway, it would appear I still have legs 😛

The location shots are at our local river, where it widens into a lovely paddling spot in the woods. It was Andy’s idea to take them there. Thanks, Andy!

Short shorts 10
Gabriel was seriously unimpressed by getting his feet wet at first, but it didn’t take long for him to join in!

In a Nutshell:

A great, vintage-inspired shorts pattern with quality details, but the fit needs a little more work.
Continue reading “The “Who Likes Short Shorts?” Shorts”

The Vintage Flowers Blouse

Hey everyone, I’m absolutely thrilled to finally be able to share this project with you, as today is my first post over on the Minerva Craft Blog!

B6217 Gertie blouse #7

It’s the B6217 Vintage Style Blouse by Gertie, and anyone following this blog knows I’m a Gertie fangirl, so this was bound to be a winner. I made it up in a gorgeous cotton voile kindly supplied by Minerva. Unfortunately, the colourway I used is currently out of stock, but there are two other colourways, both of which would make gorgeous summer clothing. Continue reading “The Vintage Flowers Blouse”