Minerva projects – ta dah

From Melbourne Cup day to Australia Day, it’s the ‘silly season.’ So my kit includes the first piece of my new summer ensemble and a great party dress. Yes. I made 2 items this month.


First up – the Party dress:
In the lead up to December, there are always get togethers before Christmas. I chose Vogue 8827 as my party season dress – the dream dress I mentioned last week. My original Minerva Crafts fabric choice went fast so I checked with Vicki on my next print choice and she thought this would be a great combination. This dress kit includes the ribbon for the tie used in this pattern dress.

The reviews of Vogue 8827 indicated the dress is big. Voluminous. Oversized. And I’m short so, in short, I had to test it. After making the 6 size as a top I got a very good idea on how the collar size would drown me to gnome size. But as a top, it gave me a good idea that this style would work with modifications.

My pattern drafting tutor agreed on how the collar could be sized down. But I wanted to keep the folds because the collar gives it a bit of 80s style. Almost ‘Dynasty’ like.
Oh the fabric. It’s colour fast, irons nicely, holds its shape well and doesn’t show creases. A great poplin print and its 112cm wide. And its colour was true to the photo on the Minerva website. Minerva Crafts does a great job representing the true colours on their website and on their ebay store. I did the ‘happy dance’ when my fabric arrived. This is a great print and the colours are great for summer and for parties. 

The dress itself has a smaller collar. The collar pieces are wide and large. I cut the collar pieces right back and straightened the collar width, so it still has beautiful folds.I love those folds. As this is a cotton woven, there’s no interfacing needed in the collar. This fabric has the right balance to hold its shape but folds over beautifully.

I’ve tamed the back gathers with an inverted pleat at the back yolk. After wearing my dream dress out to dinner, I stitched the inverted pleat at the waist too, so that it stays put. The pattern has a ribbon tie on the inside of the dress. I’ve also added two snaps – one at the waist and the other above the knee so the dress doesn’t fly open when the wind picks up. Safety first!
Everyone loves this dress, and I’ve worn it a few times already. I love it too.Thank you Vicki for helping me make this simple dress a stylish party dress.
Caught buying a late night gelato…Mmmm. 

Summer work trousers:
Most of my work clothes are corporate grey, black and blue – safe but yawn. Summer in Sydney is vibrant so I chose a linen-look purple fabric from Minerva. Purple is my favourite colour.

When I wore this outfit to work, everyone noticed the difference and smiled or commented. And we had some very hot Summer days in Spring so I know this fabric is going to be great when Summer really heats up. The blouse was made earlier this year. The trousers are McCalls 5397.

This fabric washes well, holds its colour and irons nicely. I love this colour and want to keep it that way. It’s cotton although it’s a linen look weave and is 145cm wide. Love wide fabric!

The photo below should look slimmer because it is. I tapered in the side seams and inner seams by 1cm because the first pics looked baggy.

My usual trouser adjustments are: the front rise is shortened at the centre front by 3cm and tapered to 0 at the side seam; the back crotch is deepened; and the inside thigh is extended.
Confession: I did move the zip from the centre back to the centre front, added a fly front with shield, and added a waistband and belt loops. I used the easy fly zip tutorial on Threads online by Sandra Betzina, to relearn how to sew in a fly front zipper.
After inserting fly zippers at least 3 times during testing, I was able to insert this zipper in less than 30 minutes with no stress. That’s equal to one episode of ‘Friends’. This eyelet blouse was also made earlier this year.
If you’re feeling the heat of summer and want to brighten up your wardrobe, hop over to Minerva Crafts and grab a kit before the summer heat gets to you.  

Order a bit extra of the linen look fabric for an office jacket. That’s what I did. I’ll show you my jacket in December. I still wear a jacket in the office in summer, because the aircon in Sydney is always chilly.


Spotted fabric lives in my stash. A recent hunt in my stash made me realise there were spots here and there. Navy spots made their way onto my Chloe dress by Victory Patterns. These spots are small and the fabric is light weight. So good to wear in summer.

Well I found another navy spot fabric. I’m sure this was from Pitt Trading. The spots are larger and the fabric is more firmer and light weight. The solution – trousers for summer.

This spots below is my second test trousers for McCalls 5397.

I had to check the fit of this pattern and the fly front I added. The centre back zip wasn’t working for me. Not that it was uncomfortable. I’m not used to a centre back zip on trousers.

This fabric holds its own because it’s very firm and because it’s dark it won’t show creases.

So while the pattern shows slim-fitted trousers, they do have room in the leg, but the leg line is straight.

My ‘white shirt’ is Vogue 8815. The top feels a bit short but it looks ok in these photos so I’ll hang fire on adding an additional longer peplum.
November posts
I have a stack of post about everything that’s happened this month. I’ll get these posted once I have a chance to regroup. This has been an inspiring month in lots of ways!

Member in focus

How fun is it when you get featured on a website that you get a lot out of?

Pattern Review recently interviewed me for their Member in focus feature. Preparing for the interview was fun – hair, clothes, lighting then action.

All the anticipation of meeting Alexis built up and then the interview was over in a flash.

Here’s the interview…
How did you learn to sew?
“I learnt to sew at school with a great sewing teacher who kept in contact with me after I left school. I decided to keep sewing because my Grandmother was great at crotchet with cotton thread and Mum was an expert knitter so I became the daughter who sews. These days I still go to classes and learn sewing skills online so I haven’t stopped learning to sew.”

Please tell us a little about the pattern testing process. What aspects of the process do you enjoy the most?
“Each pattern testing project is similar but different. I’ve pattern tested for Lena Merrin, Amity and Nhi of Lolita patterns, Marie of Disparate Disciplines, Deepika of PR and Rachel of House of Pinheiro. I’m either provided with just the pattern to test with no instructions or I’ll get the pattern and instructions to test. I also proof the instructions as well. I do each project in my own time as I work full time with a company I love so pattern test for the enjoyment.
Your own project vs. pattern tested projects:
When you sew your own project, you are free to make adjustments to the fit and the style. When pattern testing, I make the project as provided. So while it’s tempting to change it, that’s not what the pattern maker/designer has asked me to do. This forces me to just ‘get on with the pattern’ and not judge it or change it.
When you buy a pattern you can chat about it and pass it onto others when you’re finished with it. When you agree to pattern test, the pattern remains the property of the pattern maker/designer. I can’t talk about it so no blogging during the testing stage. I also avoid going to group sewing sessions so I’m not forced to talk about what I’m doing. And there’s no way you can share the test pattern because it’s not mine to give.
I have also checked the English translation for Sacotin patterns. Vero of Sacotin bag patterns provides her patterns in French and in English. If you buy an English Sacotin pattern and there are spelling or the grammar isn’t right – blame me!
What I love the most is working on a new creation with inspiring designers and being part of their creative process.”

Pick your favorite pattern.
Vogue 1204 without a doubt. This was my most fashion-forward piece at the time. Shannon of Mushywear made these jeans a few years ago and they’re the perfect fit for skinny jeans.”

Which sewing book do you refer to most often?
“My very first new Simplicity sewing book I bought in the 80’s is my ‘go-to’ book for techniques. Then the Palmer Pletsch books on pants and jackets took me to the next level of sewing. Now I use Winifred Aldrich Metric pattern drafting and Enid Gilchrist Teenagers and small women for pattern drafting and design.”

What are your sewing goals for this year?
“This year my goal was to pattern testing to extend my sewing skills and that’s worked. The other real life sewing goal is to keep making clothes for Mum as her care needs increase. She has lots of care with her dementia and she always dressed well through her life so it’s my personal goal to keep her looking good. This means I listen to her carers and make clothes that Mum enjoys wearing but make it easy for her carers to look after her.”

What aspect of sewing do you find most challenging?
“Matching fabrics to pattern that work on me and is a bit edgy. Bound buttonholes and welt pocket are a challenge and I haven’t worked my way to making bras yet, but I will.”

What type of sewing machine do you currently have? What do you like/dislike about it?
“I’m a Janome girl. The MC 4000 is the main machine. The Jem Platinum 720 is my travel buddy and has travelled to Adelaide with me as carry-on luggage. Coverpro 1000CPX sits patiently for hems and bindings. The 2 overlockers (ebony and ivory) get used a lot. I have Mum’s table-top electric Singer machine and SIL’s non-computerized Bernina. Both of these machines are yet to be tested for leather sewing.”

What are you sewing right now?
“The new Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is a collection of amazing bloggers from across the world. Some are completely new to the world of craft and have amazing new ideas, whilst others have a lifetime of knowledge to share. Their enthusiasm for sewing, knitting and craft is so inspiring and lovely to be able to share in now I am joining the network in November! It works like this. Every month each blogger creates a ‘wish list’ from the products on the Minerva Crafts website and we have a unique kit designed around it for us. My first kit in November will be the ‘Maria’s Party Dress and Summer Work Trousers Kit’ and this will be going live on the Blogger Network on November 28th and on my blog, so please come and take a look! Each kit is available on Minerva Crafts in limited numbers via their website so you can sew along with me or follow what we’re all doing. I’m now testing every project I have planned so by the time you see my project, the fit should be ‘respectable’.”

What you love most about PatternReview?
“There’s lots to love about Pattern Review. Learning about sewing and pattern drafting and sharing with other PRers. Managing sewing contest for PR has been fun and I’ve learnt about different sewing aspects through these contests that I don’t normally. The Vintage contest made me love vintage patterns and styles. So much that I contacted Laura Nash at Sew Chic Patterns and I’ve since made Fifth Avenue and Beatrice. These are vintage styled dresses for today.”

Any other hobbies?
“Cycling – touring not racing. Travel. DH is now used to my meeting sewing bloggers when we travel.”

Resized Vogue 8827

This dress looks dreamy to me. After reading a stack of reviews about this dress, I had to test it, to see if this really was a dreamy dress.

The fabric used for the top below is an IKEA furnishing cotton fabric. It has a huge, jumbled print. This isn’t something that style gurus say petite or short women should wear. I’m short and I choose to wear this print. I consider this a different way to wear a ‘white shirt’.

This fabric is similar to what I’d like to use for this dress. I chose to make this into a top to check the fit above the waist. The pattern is fairly big so my hip width wasn’t going to influence the skirt part of this pattern.

My eldest niece took these pics and she’s done a great job.

This is the 6 size. The main tightness is in the sleeves and the shoulder line so the next version will be made using the 8 size. I’ve changed the gathers at the back yolk to an inverted pleat for more control. The usual roll shoulder adjustment was used.
What concerned me was the collar size so I trimmed it down for the dreamy dress – to come. The collar folds sit nicely on me and no interfacing was used or needed. I would used interfacing if I decide to make this in a softer fabric.

The neat thing is this top worked well with RTW shorts on a stinking hot Spring day (36c). Here are the technical bits about this top.

Holiday sewing contest

There’s a lot of challenges and contests that sewers can join throughout the year. Right now I’m currently managing the Holiday Sewing Contest for Pattern Review (PR). PR offers contests all year around.

Managing contests:
This is my fifth contest managing role and I choose to manage different contests to support other sewers take part and this increases my knowledge of how I can use what I know for different projects. It works both ways.

Everyone has their own style and take on how they tackle their projects so this gives myself and others the opportunity to ‘watch and learn’ or get motivated and sew along.

The first contest I managed was the Vintage contest and that was a steep learning curve but there were so many helpful PR members that gave the contestants a hand with dating their patterns, it was a great contest to learn from.

The rules
Here’s a link to the rules.
This is a really long contest – 6 weeks. You can choose to sew any holiday-themed item, not just the coming festive season.
Here’s a link to the discussion.
So while this doesn’t include cocktail dresses, which has it’s own contest coming up, you can choose any holiday. 

By the way, contest manager are volunteers.


Brasilia by House of Pinheiro

Rachel put out a dress test call for her free Brasilia dress pdf, due for launch at Christmas. Rachel is currently hosting a Dakota sewalong which has a great discount from Minerva Crafts, if you’re interested in joining Rachel.

I decided my Brasilia would be my make a garment a month piece. 

I checked the pattern dimension for my shape as it comes in 1 size only and I did a muslin in calico to check the dimensions.
The back view shows the results of the sway back adjustment. 
You can also see the top of the body was long so I took the fullness out – 3cm.

 The front bust darts were too long for me so I shortened them.

Again I took 3cm out of the top of the body at the front.
The armholes were then in the right spot. Not too high and not too low. 
And I opened the waist to hip at the side seams. I now have a great fitting woven pattern.
Brasilia is fitted and designed for stretch wovens. I used a stretch woven remnant from Pitt Trading (that stash still exists) to make my first version.
This all-over print is very forgiving and didn’t need to be matched. Well, how could you, really. When I first tried it on, it was big and baggy so I took out the seam allowance and it worked perfectly. 
And I managed to finish Brasilia in time for a quiet night out.
We went to Salt n Pepa at the State Theatre and we had a ball – sore feet and temporary deafness are a good indicator of a great night out.
The State Theatre is a heritage building and this theatre hosted hip hop really, really well. 
You can see the dress print hides the internal darts and side panel features. They do sit in the right spot for me.

I used binding for the neckline and armhole finishes. By the way, DH is taking part in Movember. You can sponsor him here.

Thank you Rachel for developing this dress. It was the perfect dress for a night of non-stop dancing.

Celebrating PR 12 years

Would you believe we held the Sydney English afternoon tea at the same time as the PR Day Little Black Dress Party in NYC?
Here’s the view of the chocolates on offer. Sydney turned on the warm sunny weather for us so we took the aircon option. 
Kristy and Beajay were the first arrivals in their just me-made afternoon tea outfits.  
From left to right: Kristy, Lena, Ryn, Sharon, Beajay, Renata, Janelle, Jenny, Wendy and moi. 
We paced ourselves with lots of sewing talk. The staff at Adora were great. 
The chocolate smash cake was a hit (sorry for the bad joke but you knew it was coming).
The cake contained lots of handmade chocolates.
Renata, Ryn and Kristy
Janelle and Wendy 
Gluten free high tea is not boring.
Janelle and Jenny 
Kristy and me.
We were very welcomed at the local fabric store too!
Many thanks for Deepika and the PR team for making Pattern Review a great resource for sewing. PR has so many sewing resources and people who have sewing knowledge and they are always willing to share their knowledge with anyone around the world. You can’t beat that!