Thursday, 19 June 2014

Mega Minerva Meet-up

If you look at any sewing blogs, you would have noticed a number of us talking about the big Minerva Crafts meet-up, which happened last weekend (14th of June).

And what a weekend it was! I'm still smiling and laughing to myself whenever I think back to all the great times I had in Darwen with all these beautiful, talented bloggers and the generous team at Minerva.

I set out at an uncivilized hour - 5.30 am!! - from chez Needles in order to get the train to Darwen, where Minerva is based, just an hour or so outside Manchester. Luckily, I had some company on the way - Clare Sew Dixie Lou, Crafty Ali Bobs, Emmy Oh Sew Vintage, and Sally Charity Shop Chic:

Emmy and Clare - are we there yet?
After a few hours travelling we arrived in beautiful Darwen. Since Minerva is spitting distance from the station, we jumped straight in. I knew that Minerva was one of the web's largest retailers, but the reality of it took me by surprise - it's a huge, crafty barn!

They really do have everything you'd need for sewing, knitting, embroidery, and most every other craft you can think of. I even saw some latch hook rug kits, which brought back memories of an unfinished one I started in the 80's. Throughout the day there were workshops; talks from By Hand London and Karen of Did You Make That? among others; prizes and demonstrations. (I managed to win a Terry's chocolate orange, which I'm saving for a special occasion). And there was time for just hanging-out with our fellow Minerva bloggers, as well as meeting those who had been following us and our projects on the bloggers network.

Emmy discovering the joy of covered buttons

The humongous warehouse next door

 Vicki and the rest of the Minerva team put on such a great event for us, but that wasn't all they had in store for us. All of this was a build up to the evening event, where we would be revealing our dresses which we'd been working on for the previous weeks. Enough of my rambling, I'll let the photos do the talking:

Just a small selection of the ladies who attended
Our venue for the evening - Ewood Park, home of Blackburn Rovers!

Pre-dinner drinks and mingling - still pretty civilised at this stage...
Sequin sisters - Vicki and Emmy

After dinner dancing! Non-stop great tunes courtesy of DJ Paul

As is the way when you have a number of Spoolettes in attendance, we managed to squeeze in pre-pre dinner drinks, where we had an opportunity to get a good look at each others creations:

Rehannon and Clare

Sally (just seen), Marie, and Ali
Emmy and Sally

Emmy and her gorgeous sequinned dress - the patience she must have had...

Kathryn in her 'Rachel' pose

Emmy, me, and Clare, also attempting some 'Rachel' poses

Me, Katie and Kathryn
(photos above courtesy of Emmie Oh Sew Vintage, What Katie Sews, and me)

What I love about these ladies and their outfits is that they all look absolutely brilliant and completely different. Everyone interpreted the idea of 'evening' in their own way, from jumpsuits to pencil skirts, florals to abstract, and a sprinkling of sequins. We even had a dress inspired by one worn by Cher in 'Mermaids'! (I'm looking at you Rehanon!)There was no real theme or one type of shape, unless you count looking fabulous as a theme.

Mine was inspired by the mambo scene in 'West Side Story', so that meant ruffles would be included. I also wanted some bare shoulders, but not strapless, so I used the Sewaholic Lonsdale as the top. I adapted my pencil skirt block into a wraparound, with a curved front edge at the front. This was all topped off with a curved skirt frill at the back, and an extra curved piece for the front. If this doesn't make sense, here are some photos to make it clearer:

I used the top from the pattern on the left, but with a pencil skirt. Then I added the frill from the skirt on the right. I also changed the bodice to a side zip. so the back wasn't disrupted with a seam. 

The skirt is a wraparound attached at the waistband - so 1 back piece and 2 overlapping front pieces. The front was edged with this spiral piece, which I drafted free-hand. This tight spiral meant that when it was added to the skirt it was super-frilly.

And because I'm super fussy about the insides of my projects, everything was lined, the skirts and frills were self-lined, ie a double layer sewn right sides together and turned inside out, and there was an extra piece of lining gathered under the skirt to give it some extra 'oomph'
And one final detail - I decided at the last minute to add some spiral boning to the side seams of the bodice, to make sure the top half of the dress stayed in place all night. I sewed little channels into the side seams and slid the bones in, then tacked them closed so they can be removed before washing the dress.

The dress was a joy to wear, mainly because the fabric was so comfortable - it was a cotton with a little stretch added, so it could fit closely to the body, but moved with you. Which was totally necessary, especially when dancing to 'Proud Mary' by Ike and Tina Turner - that was like an aerobic workout!

I had a great time hanging out with my fellow bloggers, and finally meeting Vicki and co. was a pleasure. It was such an inspiring experience that as soon as I arrived home I wanted to get sewing straight away. If you can visit Minerva, I urge you to go!

See you soon!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Minerva Bloggers Network - a Teaser...

You may have heard here and there about the big bloggers meet up being held by Minerva Crafts on June14th:

It goes without saying that as a member of the Blogger Network I'll be there! As well as attending the days festivities, the lovely people of Minerva will be hosting an evening event that all us bloggers will be making fancy outfits for. All will be revealed on the night, but here's a taster of what I'll be wearing-

The inspiration- West Side Story, mambo, the early 1960's:

West Side Story

The fabric - a black and turquoise splatter print cotton, with a tiny bit of stretch:

The pattern - A combination of these 2:

Plus some weird self-drafted shapes:

What could it be?

Here's a look at the muslin of the skirt:

And that's all you're getting! Look out for other members of the Blogger network giving little sneak previews - so exciting! We'll all be instagram-ing, tweeting, etc, on the big night, so look out for the posts. Even better, get yourself to Minerva and join in on the day!

See you soon!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Flora Goes Aquatic

When I saw the new By Hand London release, Flora, I really wanted to make the crossover version. I'm a bit big in the bust, so I made a muslin for the bodice. It didn't fit. I made adjustments. It still didn't fit. More adjustments - still wouldn't fit.

I gave up and made the other version.

Here it is - the aquatic Flora:

The square neckline was much less taxing, and surprisingly flattering on. If I made it again, I would probably do a small full bust adjustment - the waist is a little high at the front - but other that that I'm pretty pleased with the dress and how it fits.

And I especially love how it shows off the fabric. I used a cotton from the Ikea range of Trendig fabrics, which comes pre-cut in 5m chunks. I think it's 100% cotton, but there seems to be some natural stretch on the weft of the fabric. It's also narrower than recommended for the Flora dress - due to the wide skirt, 60"/150cm widths are ideal; this fabric is only 45"/112cm wide. I got round this by adding a seam to the center front. I also had to practice my pattern matching skillz, which you can see in full effect in these twirling photos:

Construction was pretty straight forward - I used french seams throughout, and lined the bodice with the same fabric as the outer. I hand picked the zip into the center back seam, and added this little detail:

- a little ribbon knotted into the zip pull so I can pull it up and down easier! Handy if there isn't a husband or boyfriend around to help you (that's what they're for, isn't it?)

As usual, despite the dress being relatively easy to make I went a bit over the top on the inside, and turned a quick project into a longer project. 

First, the hem - I decided to make a 2" hem to add weight, but because the hem is curved it won't lie flat. I ran a gathering stitch 3/8" from the edge, then gathered it up until it was flat against the body of the skirt:

Then I finished it with bias tape:

Next the skirt lining - the pattern doesn't call for it, but I always add one without fail. To keep the skirt 'puffed out' I added a gathered frill:

And that's everything! 

Welcome to my new home!...Actually, it's the Geffrye Museum of the Home, in Shoreditch, Set in a series of 18th century almshouses, you get to walk through a series of room settings from the 17th century to the modern day. It has a beautiful garden, a great shop and cafe, and it's FREE!!! Everyone should visit.

See you soon!