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Vintage Floral Collette Laurel By Lara

Hi Everyone! This is Lara from Handmade by Liz and I’m so excited to be on the Minerva Crafts Blog for another guest post!

I have been eyeing the Laurel Sewing Pattern from Collette since I first started sewing and decided to finally take the plunge and give it a go! The top version really caught my eye as it is such a great “work week” basic. You could have it in a million colors and prints and always have something fun to wear to work. I found this really vintage feeling floral Poplin Fabric on the Minerva website and felt like it would be a perfect fit!

Having never sewn any of the Colette patterns before, I was a little bit nervous about the fit of the pattern block on me. I sewed up a quick toile version and it seemed to be a good fit and decided to dive straight into my fabric from Minerva. I chose to sew up the top version but added on the ruffle sleeve because I thought it would be a fun addition to this vintage look.

I made only one modification to the pattern and removed the center back seam of the top, but other than that, I sewed the pattern as is. I sewed the entire pattern with French Seams which is my favorite way to finish a garment.

My favorite part of the pattern is the finishing of the cuffs. The way Colette has you finish and assemble the cuffs is so beautiful and a clean finish.

The Laurel Pattern is nice because it comes with a couple different variations including a dress and a top version, the option for an underlining on the dress, and the option for patch pockets. I am always opting for patterns that have a variety of different views in order to be able to make the same pattern a couple different ways – once you find a pattern that fits, you should make multiples, right?

My favorite finishing on the neckline is always a bias binding so I was excited to see that this pattern was drafted for a bias binding. If a pattern has a facing, I usually substitute bias binding for it anyways! I used a pre-made bias tape in a fun design similar to this here. I also finished the hem with bias binding which is also my preferred method – no burning of fingers trying to turn the hem under!

When I made my toile, I used a lighter weight fabric and the stiffer fabric of the floral poplin made for a bit of a tighter fit. I still love it, but I think if I make another version in a poplin or stiffer, I might size up or decrease the seam allowance a bit. I also am dreaming of making a version in a drapey Rayon Fabric – I think it would be beautiful. I’ve got my eye on this Fabric too! I might also add an inch or inch and a half to the length as well in my next version.

I am really thrilled with the way this has turned out and so glad I decided to give the Laurel pattern a try!

I’d love to see your versions of the Laurel Pattern – make sure to reach out to me on Instagram or connect with me on my blog! Thanks for stopping by today!

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Product Review: Hard Patterned Felt Fabric by The Patchwork Fairy

Hi, it's Alison from The Patchwork Fairy again and today I've been reviewing some of the lovely Felt Fabric from Minerva Crafts. This time I'm using the Hard Felt which is a stiffer version of the soft felt I reviewed last week and more suited to holding its shape. 

I chose a beautifully sunny summery orange pack of hard felt and a mix of fresh spring greens for the softer type. You can see what I made with the soft greens in another post here

The first thing I thought about for this felt was how good it would be to make quick, simple little bowls to catch odds and ends when I'm sewing. I'm always putting pins in the arm of the chair or leaving the stitch ripper somewhere else just when I need it in my sewing room!  

The colours of the hard felts are really summery and bright - very cheerful and pleasant to have around. 

 

These A4 sized sheets are stiffer than the soft felt but not too stiff to make sewing difficult. I easily folded one whole piece in half, clipped it together and machined up both sides to make a small wide envelope shape. I sewed it up on the patterned sides as the seams don't fray and don't look untidy when using felt. 

You could use this as it is if you pinned it up somewhere, but I wanted something to sit upright by itself like a little basket and to be portable round the house, so I decided to give it some width by making 'a sugar bag bottom'. Usually this would be done on the wrong side of a bag you were making but with this felt I decided it would look fine to sew on the outside. I folded the side seams flat onto the bottom of the bag and using the lines on my cutting mat I measured each one and drew a line across the corners.  

After sewing this line on the machine I snipped of the triangular ends with my fluted pinking shears and then did the same to the top edge. If you google 'sugar bag bottom' you will find many more detailed tutorials on how to do this for bags. 

And that's it really - the bag now stands up by itself and is perfect for throwing little bits of sewing paraphernalia into while you're working. No more removing pins from one project then finding you've got none for the next project because they're all in another room. Just drop them in the bag and carry it with you. I decided to make this bag out of only one piece of felt so that the bright white reverse side would be the inside of my bag and make it very easy to see what's inside.  You could, of course, make this with two pieces of felt with the white sides together so that the inside would also be brightly coloured and patterned. 

I find mine especially useful standing on the sewing machine extension table so I can catch my clips and pins as I sew! 

After making the little bags I thought how pretty the orange colours would look as small table protectors and how perfect the sturdy felt would be for a flat, stable surface under a flower jug. I usually look for a coaster to put my flower jugs on but these are always raised slightly which means there's always a slight chance of tipping and spillage. I also enjoy having lit candles at night and the mats would suitable bases for these too. 

To make the mats I folded a sheet of felt in half, wrong sides together, and drew round a circle shape which was a little bigger than my flower jugs and candle ornament. I then machine sewed round the pencil line in matching thread to the felt. 

After sewing I cut out the circles about 1/4 inch from the sewing line using my fluted pinking shears 

The circles make simple mats to protect your table tops and add a burst of summer colour as well. If you use two different felt pieces instead of folding one in half you can make two-sided mats and change the pattern as you feel like it! 

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Embroidered Border New Look 6434 by Diane

Hi everyone,

I'm Diane and I blog over at Dream Cut Sew. It’s a lovely opportunity for me to be part of the product reviewing team for Minerva Crafts and today I’m reviewing this lightweight embroidered Cotton Lawn Fabric. I chose the silver grey colourway and I’m glad I did because light grey is a great neutral for me in Spring and Summer.

The pretty embroidered border runs down the selvedge edge on one side of the fabric only and with that in mind I asked for 1.8m so that I had enough of the border to play with. 

I pre-washed my fabric length because of it being 100% cotton and I used a short wash with a medium temperature setting of 35 degrees C. The fabric was a bit creased when it came out of the machine though it ironed nicely. I would recommend ironing whilst damp for best results. The weight is very fine and a little sheer so if you planned on making something like a breezy summer dress or skirt I think an added cotton lining would be advisable. With the deep border (approximately 8” deep) a floaty maxi skirt or a boho style dress or even a tunic would be lovely style ideas and the border could be used on the hems. Also what about a pretty dress with a full gathered skirt on a plain bodice for a little girl? This would be fabulous for beach cover ups too.

For my project I wanted to showcase the embroidered borders for bell shaped sleeve cuffs and a gathered bodice hem on a little Spring top. I used New Look Sewing Pattern number 6434 and did a little pattern hacking to it. I lengthened the sleeves and added the gathered border along the front body and on the sleeves. When you buy this fabric you really need to consider where you’ll want to use the border detail too and be sure to order enough length to cater for that. I knew I wanted sleeve frills and something along the front….1.8 was the perfect amount for me.

So, for my top, I wanted a bit more detail on it besides the borders and I decided that some decorative tucks were the way to go. 

I made eight tucks down the front and six on each sleeve. The advantage of the front tucks is that they provide a little more modesty so I don’t necessarily need to wear a camisole underneath, just a flesh toned bra would be fine. 

As I worked on it, the fabric stitched up like a breeze using a standard universal size 70 needle in my machine and it pressed well too. You can see how nicely the tucks lie in these pictures and I’ve also shown how I measured out for each one. I pressed a line 2cm from the stitching of each tuck and used the edge of my machine foot as my width guide along each fold line.

I made a really narrow stitched hem for the sleeve and body hems….for a while, I did ponder the idea of cutting close to the scalloped embroidered edges of the fabric in order to showcase the curves along the lower edge, but I decided against it in the end. I was a little worried that after a couple of washes there could be a bit of fraying, so I think If you want to try this for yourself it would be a good idea to practise on a scrap of fabric first and wash it a couple of times to see what happened. 

Finally I just used a simple bias binding for the neckline. You definitely need to think delicate and fine with necklines and hems when working with this cotton lawn. 

I’m really pleased with how my top turned out and the fabric feels soft on my skin, plus I think it’ll also be nice and cool to wear. I really hope you feel inspired to sew something yourself.

Thanks for reading,

Diane @ DreamCutSew

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Product Review: Clover Pompom Maker Tools by Emma

When I was a child, I made pom-poms using two circles of cardboard, and that's how I made them until recently. Having children who enjoy crafting, I've discovered how to make pom-poms with the inner part of a toilet roll, and even made dinky ones using a fork. I've never used a professional device, so was thrilled to be asked to review the Clover Pom-Pom Maker in the small and the extra small sizes.

The packaging is functional, and quite eye catching. 

There are some basic project ideas pictured, and a summary of the instructions on the back. 

It was easy enough to open the packet without damaging the product or instructions, but there is a staple securing the bottom of the plastic part, so if this is for a child, please be aware of this. If you are a klutzy adult, you may also wish to be aware of this. I'll admit to a minor cut. 

Each pack comes with two different sized makers. The small makers are 35mm and 45mm...

And the extra small makers are 20mm and 25mm. 

If you prefer your measurements imperial, the sizes are 1 3/8 inches, 1 5/8 inches, 3/4 inches, and 1 inch respectively. I was pleased to see that the individual makers are marked with their size, in metric, however, this is just an imprint in the plastic, so if the light isn't too good it's not easy to read. Luckily, each maker is a different colour, so this should also be of some assistance. 

The product is made of plastic, with a central metal pin. They are sturdy items, and are still functional even after being used as a brachiosaurus family by my four year old.

I found the instructions on the outer packaging a bit confusing, but the ones inside are much clearer. There were a couple of places I was unsure what to do, but went with a best guess, and this worked.

I was really impressed with how straightforward it was to use, and how quickly I produced a smart looking pom-pom. I'm not sure whether it is a quicker process, or just feels quicker, but this is the first time I've actually thought I could mass produce pom-poms. My daughters want to make a pom-pom rug, but lose interest after making a couple of pom-poms. Now, I can imagine them making the complete requirement in an afternoon.

The product is suitable for both left and right handed people, and the process is the same; no tweaking required. This gets a thumbs up from our family.

I gave the packaging and the makers to my nine year old, and asked her to follow the instructions without assistance. She didn't have any problems doing this, although did have the same queries that I had. This would be a nice gift for a tween crafter; the packaging is colourful and attractive without looking garish, and caught my daughter's interest. We've already got a list of future pom-pom creations; this cute Robin is just the start.

 

It's also been tested by the four year old.

He needed a bit of help to hold it, but loved winding the wool, and helping me cut it. He was thrilled with his finished pom-pom.

The process itself is quite straightforward. The maker is made of two pieces, both with two hinged arms. If not already connected, they should be joined together via the pin.

Open out both arms on one side, and wrap wool round it. I wasn't sure how to start off, so I did what I'd normally do making pom-poms, and wind over the loose bit. This works fine, as does holding the loose bit taut. Don't wrap too full; there should still be a bit of curve visible at the bottom, and the arms should close back fairly flush.

Snip the trailing wool, and repeat for the other side.

Once both sets of arms are covered and closed again, snip the pom-pom open one side at a time.

A small pair of scissors is useful here; you don't cut the whole pom-pom at once, but the gully for the smaller pom-poms is a bit too dainty for large scissors. Small household ones work well, but rounded safety scissors didn't do well, particularly with the extra small makers. Something to consider if children are doing this. I suspect safety scissors would work on larger sized makers; the extra small makers need a point to access and cut them.

Tie a piece of wool securely and tightly around the middle of the pom-pom, and then carefully open out the arms, one side at a time. Next, gently take the two sides apart, and remove the pom-pom. 

I found they needed a roll between palms to help shape them, but required little trimming, mostly just the start and end pieces of wool, and the middle tie. You can see for yourself with these before and after pictures. 

Wool can be used straight from the ball, which is a huge advantage over the traditional method. Double knit wool is recommended for these sizes, and it certainly provides better cover, and better pom-poms for these smaller sizes.

I've tried to give an indication of completed size of the pom-poms; this is the largest size...

This is the smallest size...

And these are the sizes next to each other. 

As you can see, they are very close to the sizes specified on the makers. I suspect if I was a bit more adept at trimming, they would be perfect. As they are, they are perfect for us.

The green background you can see in some of the photos is a tea towel. After the first few, I realised how far the snipped off wool spread if I wasn't paying attention. A tea towel on my knees helped keep the waste contained, and off my clothes, and therefore easier to tidy.

If you have a paper maker, the wool waste is an interesting addition to home made paper. I did say we like crafts!

Do I recommend this product?

Yes.

It's well made, suitable for left and right handers, easy enough for a tween to use, and produces plump, impressive looking pom-poms at consistent sizes. I will be getting the other sizes in the range, and I can see our family making lots of use of the set. Just don't mention Tribbles...

Thanks for reading,

Emma from Hot Tea on a Hot Day

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I have knitted with all different types of knitting needles, so I was intrigued to test the new Prym Ergonomics Knitting Needles from Minerva. Watching Prym’s marketing video, the three words they used to describe the needles were `light’, `flexible’ and `quiet’, with the following design features:

  • Hook tips

  • Clickheads

  • Triangle shape

I decided to go for the smallest (3.0mm) and the largest (12.0mm) needles available, both at the longer length of 35cm.

Starting with the larger size, I usually find knitting with this size rather awkward, but with the triangle shape of the needles, they slotted nicely in to the groove of my hands, adding extra comfort and ease of movement. The shape also improved the movement of the stitches.

The hook tips allowed easier entry, without splitting the yarn. I found on tighter stiches, e.g. YOsl, the tips tackled these fairly easily. The only problem I found was that the wider tip caused more pressure points on the finger I use to guide the needle through the stitches, in comparison to the point on normal needles.

After knitting for a while, they did feel very light for the size and I found my arms didn’t tire as much. The needles were also very quiet however, there wasn’t a great deal of flexibility. I’m not sure how beneficial that would be on needles of this size. I thought the clickheads worked well in keeping the needles and stiches in place when not in use, though they were hard to pull apart.

Next I tried the smallest needles and these performed completely differently to the larger ones.

Firstly, they were extremely light and flexible, with virtually no structure to create tension with as you knit. The flexibility feature on this size caused more problems with my knitting, as the needles kept bending quite substantially with every stitch worked.

The needles felt so flimsy that I found getting in to a flow quite hard. I don’t think needles of this size gain any benefit from being this flexible and light. Also the triangle shape didn’t provide any benefit to the flow of the stitches nor my hand comfort.

The result being that my hands got very hot using the needles and the tension of my knitting was affected by the constant bending, resulting in my work not being straight.

The idea of having straight knitting needles is to create a straight edge. You wouldn’t expect your straight needles to bend to such a degree!

The clickhead feature didn’t really work on this size as they kept unclipping. The only benefit was the hook tips as they too didn’t split the yarn and the rounder tip was a lot softer on my finger than normal needles of this size. These were also quiet.

Overall I would recommend the larger needles as giving added benefit over normal needles. Sadly I would not recommend the smaller size.   

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Meet My New Sewing Buddie by Samantha

I thought that I had all my sewing basics covered, a loyal sewing machine, great scissors and threads. Then I discovered the Prym Ironing Sheet Cover and it’s officially my NSB (my new sewing buddy). It doesn’t sound like the most glamorous piece of kit in your sewing box but this little beauty saves me time, keeps me organised and protects the table I sew on.

For the last six weeks I’ve been using it at home and out and about at my Crafternoon Tea workshops. I’m so pretty chuffed to have found this handy product. Here are the reasons it’s become a staple of my sewing bag.

You Don’t Need a Separate Ironing Area

I’m one of those sewers who always keeps the ironing board out whenever I’m dressmaking to iron facings on or press a collar. The ironing protector is brilliant for small quick flat ironing projects. It measures 50 x 92cm and even with your sewing machine up on the very organised printed sewing grid there is plenty of room around it for a quick press.

I would recommend giving it a really good steam press when you first get it out of the packaging to make sure it’s an even surface to sew on and then you are ready to go!

It Protects Your Sewing Space

The protector is thick enough to protect the table you are sewing on from scratches. I love sewing at the dining room table in the evenings but have to unfold a PVC protector and lay it on the table. The Prym protector folds out and I can just get on with the sewing. I use a lot of vintage sewing machines for my work and they tend to have rough wooden cases / bases. I am now confident that my table scratch free. It’s also a lovely soft surface to work on.

You Can Cut Small Projects Out On It

Clearing my sewing machine to one side I was happy to cut out projects on the mat. It has a handy measure at the top and down the side as well as grid markings and angles. Using my sewing scissors on the mat I found it was perfect for cutting out small projects without the need for an extra cutting mat.

It’s A Desk Tidy To

The mat comes with three sewing project pockets to tidy up your desk or keep THAT colour of thread in a safe place plus a nifty pin cushion and a project envelope. The project envelope was so handy, it was the perfect size for the pattern I was working on and is detachable too. I could keep all my pattern pieces in one place until I’d finished my sew. That saved me a lot of time having my pattern just there below my machine. My scissors did end up living in the front pocket like a little sewing pouch! I love that everything is just in front of me.

You Can Take It To Your Workshops

I can fold up my mat and pop it in a bag and off it goes with me to my next Crafternoon! As workshop season is fast approaching, this mat will be out and about with me this Summer. I’m also storing it in a shopper bag to protect it, it’s amazing how small it does go.

It’s Not Just For Sewing Crafts

I craft a lot with my little girl and I loved that again it was safe enough to iron her bead art on kitchen surface instead of getting the ironing board out. This meant we could make a lot more crafts in our little Crafternoons.

So after using my mat for six weeks, it’s now my New Sewing Buddy! It’s been out and about at workshops, I’ve used it to sew on at home and even on the (eek) dining room table. So it’s made me more productive with my stitching, no constant ironing board at my elbow and be able to cut out without the cutting board. At £34.99 it’s worth investing in, as it's a Prym product that means it will last for years!

For more information on my Crafternoon Tea Workshops and Parties visit www.crafternoonteahostess.co.uk

Samantha x

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Product Review: Soft Patterned Felt Fabric by The Patchwork Fairy

Hi, it's Alison from The Patchwork Fairy and today I've been reviewing some of the lovely Felt Fabric from Minerva Crafts. They sell two types of Patterned Felt packs, 'hard' felt and 'soft' felt. The hard felts are stiffer and more suited to holding a shape while the soft felts are well -  just that - soft!! 

I chose a beautifully sunny summery orange pack of hard felt and a mix of fresh spring greens for the softer type. You will be able to can see what I made with the orange hard felt in a blog post coming soon. 

I do like green as you might notice!

I decided to use some of the Soft Felt to make some pads for handling hot pans and the barbecue tools when are away in our caravan. It is good to have caravan-specific items which can be stored in there rather than having to remember to pack the kitchen ones each time. 

I like using felt because it doesn't fray and so it's easy to make things with the pretty pattern on both sides without the need to hide the seams. Normally you would have to sew right sides together, turn the other way out then sew the gap closed by hand. Not so with felt! Once you have cut two pieces for your top and bottom you simply lay one down with the wrong side uppermost, lay a same sized piece of heat resistant wadding on top and then place the other piece of felt on the top with the pattern uppermost.  

This felt sandwich can now be seen round the four edges to make a very pretty and easy to hold hand protecter for handling hot utensils. If you want to be able to hang up the pads a short piece of ribbon and folded in half lengthwise can be inserted between the layers and caught in place as you sew around the perimeter of the pad. 

Once I'd made myself a useful little stack of pads I decided to make something fun to keep my granddaughter amused. I wanted something portable which would occupy her for more than a minute if we were in a cafe or say visiting relatives without toys! She loves to arrange dollies in the pram  so I created a little bed set for a tiny bunny I have for her. 

First I made the bed base my simply folding over one full sheet of felt, inserting some soft flat wadding inside and sewing round the three open edges.  

Then for a pillow I cut two small squares of felt. 

I sewed three sides, stuffed some of the fluffy wadding in and sewed up the last side. This was all done by machine and with the right sides outermost as before. It does make projects really quick to complete when using felt like this.  

Now came the most fun - making a felt patchwork quilt! The soft felt pack from Minerva Crafts has beautiful patterns on each sheet and the colours range from dark forest green to lovely bright lime green. After cutting 9 small squares I enjoyed myself 'auditioning the fabric' to decide the final placement of the colours. 

The soft felt is easy to machine together to make a simple traditional quilt of patchwork squares.  With the quilt laid pattern side down on the table I placed some flat wadding on top then covered this with an uncut whole felt sheet for the backing. 

Although quite thick when pinned together it was still perfectly easy to machine quilt through the layers. I did a straightforward 'stitch In the ditch' - which is sewing along the existing seam lines to make the quilt effect. Finally I sewed round the whole quilt to enclose the wadding. To finish off I trimmed the top to match the backing with my fluted pinking shears to give the quilt a pretty edge. 

Granddaughter was delighted with the set and spent ages putting bunny to bed then getting him up, re-arranging all his bed clothes and putting him back to bed again. Happy child and happy granny got a few minutes for a cup of tea in peace! 

Bunny looks very comfy too! 

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Q&A with Sarah from WanderStitch

Can you tell us a little bit about you and your blog?

Hi everyone :) I’m Sarah, based in London. I’m a cyclist, dressmaker and dog mum and you can find my sewing blog over at www.wanderstitch.com where I talk about my adventures in creating things.

I am very much about ‘individualism’ – I love things that are different from the norm and challenge the status quo. My head is always in the clouds dreaming about my Next Big Thing – whether this is thinking of the perfect combination of pattern and fabric, or where I want to go next on holiday, or which country I would like to move to…

I named my blog ‘Wanderstitch’ because of this constant wanderlust I have. I imagine it to be what fabric and needles and thread dream of – wondering what item they will eventually be made into!

When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start? What was your first project?

My Mum was a tailoress, and although she never taught me to sew she bought me my first sewing machine when I was 16 (which I retired only last year!). She taught me to knit when I was small, and since then I have crafted pretty much all my life - you name it, I’ve tried it! Knitting, scrapbooking, card making, crochet, embroidery, cross stitch… I’ve done it all. It’s been so long I can’t even remember what my first project was, though I suspect that it was a knitted scarf as I’m always cold.

What is your favourite craft?

I would say that sewing is my favourite craft, but closely followed by knitting. These are the two crafts that have survived through my years of making and that I’m still actively spending time on. I think these have been the ones that I’ve kept up because I enjoy making something that is useful and functional - it appeals to my practical and resourceful side!

What do you love most about crafting?

I love being able to create something that has come from my imagination. I enjoy combining colours, patterns and notions together into something unique. Seeing something develop from an idea into a real thing is amazing. However it can be frustrating sometimes when you can’t find that perfect pattern or the exact materials you want to bring your vision to life - but this just means you have to spend more time looking at craft shops!

Do your friends or family craft along with you?

My husband has some crafting hobbies, and I’m teaching him to sew. He also takes the photographs of me for my blog!

Who do you make things for?

I make things for myself, and my husband. We both struggle with getting the right fit with ready-to-wear clothes so this way I can tailor things to our shapes. Being a girl that doesn’t wear florals, pastels or anything too ‘girly’, a lot of the clothes I see in stores just aren’t to my taste so by making my own I can choose the fabrics and the style and create something that’s more ‘me’.

What made you decide to start to blog about your crafting?

In all honesty, it was a colleague that nagged me for a good few months to start one after seeing all my creations! I’m glad she did though, I really enjoy it and there is such a wonderful, encouraging community out there. I’ve promised her that if I ever become famous, she can have whatever job she chooses at my company!

What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?

1. My button foot for my sewing machine – no more hand stitching! It saves me so much time when I make shirts.

2. My pressing clapper - I’ve only had it a little while and I wish I had bought one years ago. It really helps with making seams behave.

3. The third item, unfortunately, is my seam ripper!

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with and why?

I think Quilting Cottons Fabrics would be my favourite fabrics, because of the wide range of cool prints you can get! Cotton Lawn Fabric is a close second favourite, as it’s my go-to fabric for making shirts (which I make a LOT of). I don’t really make a lot of things out of jersey so that’s something I rarely buy. I tend to shy away from slippery fabrics but I have some ideas for silk summer tops so it looks like I will just have to bite the bullet and master them.

How many projects do you have on the go at one time?

I try and stick to one project and see it through from start to finish, however if I’m making something really complex and intensive like a coat I will usually have another project on the go just to break things up a little! Sometimes though if I have a lot of really cool prints in the project queue I just want to work with all of them at the same time…

Whats your favourite thing you have ever made?

My favourite make is my Marvel Comics dress which I made last year. I just love the fabric.

What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)? Do you have a photo?

My latest WIP is a Melilot blouse from Deer and Doe patterns, in a cat print viscose. This is one of the afore-mentioned slippery fabric projects I’ve been avoiding - it’s looking good so far, but let’s see how it turns out!

Do you watch TV or listen to music while you craft?

I listen to music, but I don’t watch TV as I would find it too distracting. I like to give my full attention to what I am sewing, otherwise seams would get sewn with the wrong sides together and zips would go in upside down.

What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start crafting?

I find inspiration everywhere, and it can strike me at the most random moments! I always wait until I’m completely sure about the combination of fabric and pattern before I start a project - I know that if I’m not totally sure, it’s best not to start it. Instead I will wait until I find the perfect partners. I go with my gut instinct - if I’m hesitating over something, I put it to one side and wait until I’m sure. I have a lovely shirt pattern that I really want to sew but I just haven’t found the right fabric yet - but I’ll keep waiting and looking because when I see the right one, I’ll know.

Do you have a crafty tip you would like to share?

Check out charity shops for things like lightweight scarves (that can be used for pocket linings) and garments with interesting buttons that can be re-used. It’s a nice way to give your item a unique look, plus you get brownie points for recycling!

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Take lots and lots of pictures of your work, including ones of all sides of the whole garment and closer ones of the finer details. If you were looking at the item in real life, you would home in on any interesting looking details, so make sure that you have clear close-up pictures of these for people to see. Don’t be afraid to discuss what went wrong or what you struggled with either - we are all learning and your experience might help someone else.

Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?

Alternative, loud, individual!

What are your crafting ambitions?

I would love to have my own range of patterns – I already have some ideas in my head, I just need to find the time to sketch them down, do some toiles, and then learn how to draft patterns… I think I’ve got enough ideas and projects to keep me going until I’m 100.

What would you say to anyone looking to start sewing?

I would say learn to look past the photos on the pattern envelopes. They are only one person’s idea of how that item could be made – instead look at the line drawings, these are your blank canvas for your own colours and styles. Don’t be afraid to try things out either - the patterns you buy are merely a guiding template for the construction. And absolutely do not be afraid of making mistakes, it WILL happen and it’s part of the learning curve – you’ll get better because of the mistakes you make!

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Product Review: Clover Pompom Makers by Maddie

Hi there!

Let me introduce myself, within the sewing community I go by the name Thimble Bee, but you can always call me Maddie. I run my own blog dedicated to all things sewing, but I am also a third year Psychology student, so finding time to fit in all the sewing I desire is hard (partly because all I ever want to do is sew).

Anyway, the product I am reviewing for you today is these lovely little Pompom Makers, now if you’re like me and love pompom’s, you’re probably going to want to get some of these. But, first things first, let me take you through my thoughts and feelings I had when I was using this product.

When Minerva Crafts sent these over to me, I opened the parcel straight away and started examining. I was somewhat disappointed by what I thought were the instructions on the back of the packet. They were brief, the pictures didn’t really correspond with the words and I felt like they missed out a few steps. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find full, detailed instructions on how to use this product when I opened up the cardboard on the back. 

What I really did like about this product, even before I used them, was their colours and the look, after all, it’s really all about the look. The colours in each pack match each other and I think they will be very cute if you had them out on display in your sewing space.

Then off I went, I pulled out my wool from my stash and started winding, making sure to follow all instructions on the packet. And, before I knew it I was surrounded by various size pompoms. The only thing I found a little tricky was cutting the wool towards the end of the process, particularly on the smaller pompom makers, as the wool is so tightly wound it’s somewhat difficult to get your scissors up in there. But I do understand that this is probably down to the nature of the process rather than the pompom makers themselves.

One other thing I did find a little annoying on the two smaller pompom makers (the purple and bright pink ones) was that the size isn’t clearly written on them, and after a day or two, I couldn’t remember which one was the bigger size and they are so close. But, after about 5 minutes of a weird type of staring contest with these makers they lost and I finally found the number indicating their size on one of the arms.

Overall, I really, really, enjoyed using this product, and I look forward to using them again. Most of the problems I identified were soon resolved either by taking them fully out of the packet or just by staring at them for a long time.

But now, it’s on to the fun part, the tutorial!

For this tutorial, you will need your pompom makers, wool, string of some kind and some kind of scissors (I found my little thread scissors were very helpful)

This tutorial is for a pompom garland.  I seriously love mine and I personally think it looks FAB.U.LOUS on my wall.  

This is a really simple tutorial, all you do is make the pompom up until the point you would tie round some more wool in order to keep it all together. Instead of using a small piece of thread, you use a long piece of the string, tie it round like you would normally but just don’t cut it.

Now, when you go on to make your next pompom instead of using another, different piece of thread like you would normally, you just move along your string a tad and use that. 

Now all you need to do is turn on your favourite T.V. programme and continue to make all the pompoms along this one piece of string until you're satisfied with the length.

Then you can have the pleasure of finding somewhere to hang it, stepping back, and admiring your work. 

 

I hope you enjoyed it, feel free to find me on wordpress or instagram.

Ciao for now, happy crafting! 

xx

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Product Review: Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles by Tina

Hello,

Im Tina from Simply in Stitches and I am here guest posting on the Minerva Crafts Blog today. Minerva Crafts kindly sent me the Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles to review - I requested to try the 4mm and 5mm in the 35cm length. They are also  available in a 40cm length in many sizes. On first impression they do look completely different from other needles on the market. I don't think I would have picked them up when shopping for needles. So I am really pleased  I had the opportunity to try them out. They come boxed so I think with an interesting yarn and a pattern they would make a lovely gift for a knitter who has everything. Crafters always like to try something new.

I have treated myself recently to the Stylecraft Knitting Pattern number 9357 and new Jeanie Knitting Yarn. I fell in love with the denim look jacket at the  Olympia knitting and stitching show where they had a sample made up. This is the project I wanted to start to see how these needles perform.

Prym say the needles have a hook tip but I think they are more rounded. When casting on my jacket I found the tips very effective at picking up and placing the stitches on to the needle. At first slight they look as if they would not be very easy to manage but I found them very easy to control. The needles feel very light and comfortable in the hand with the synthetic material. They feel so flexible that at first I thought they were weak but with use I realized that they are a lot stronger than they seem and I appreciated  the comfort the flexibility gave after knitting for several hours.

The Prym Ergonomics change from round to a triangular shape. This I only noticed to look at as they do not feel different in the hand. This shape is to help the stitches move more freely. I did notice the free movement of the stitches while I was knitting. Maybe this is why it is called a hook tip as it prevents dropped stitches because of the flow of the stitches.

At the other end of the needle are the click heads. These are to hold the needles together and prevent stitches coming off in your knitting bag. I loved this feature and used it every time I put away my knitting. Sometimes it took a few goes to line them up but it worked well and it was lovely to have a neat row of stitches when they came back out of the bag. 

I have a long suffering husband on the other end of the sofa trying to watch TV as I click away knitting. I'm always aware of this and try not to click the needles too much. These Prym needles are so quiet I can just relax and enjoy my knitting.

I am really enjoying these needles and will continue to finish my jacket with them. I will also be looking out for the Circular Knitting Needles in this range to arrive in stock at Minerva as I use circulars more than straight needles (however, you can pre-order them now). I am interested to try them as they have a steel cord that is said to prevent the spiraling effect that can be a problem.

Thank you for reading my review I hope you found it interesting and helpful.

Tina x

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