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Simplicity 2274 Holiday Bag Review by Samantha

As the Summer holiday season fast approaches, I had on my wish list to sew the perfect big holdall style bag for our Summer adventures. I had on my wish list a few key musts; It needed to be washable, family friendly, easy to store between trips, big enough to fit a lot of holiday gear in and not too girly so the boys would carry it too. You know how it is girls!

I had searched the high street for the perfect bag and everything was too floral or looked to grey and functional. Here are my five reasons why I stitched my new holiday bag and why you should create a bespoke bag to stand out from the crowd.

Number 1 - It’s a Huge Bag

I was delighted to find the finished size of this Simplicity Sewing Pattern (2274) is a whooping 50cm x 30cm x 30cm. I’ve managed to fit four 30 x 30cm cushions in to give you an idea of how big this fab bag is. Because it’s such a soft bag it folds down to store in the space of two woolly jumpers in my wardrobe.

Number 2 - You can make it with just 1.5m of Fabric

I choose a black and white cotton Gingham Fabric to give my bag a retro feel and lined to with a pastel pink lining fabric with a fuchsia pink top stitching. You will need to use a bag Batting Fabric to give your bag some stability and a professional finish. I found that stitching the three layers together with a lining, bag batting and gingham fabric needed a size 100 needle. I’m so pleased I made the bag with a lightweight dress fabric as once you have the three layers of your bag on a domestic sewing machine, it’s pretty thick for it to take. I really recommend a dress weight fabric even though it’s tempting to go for an oil cloth or a heavier fabric but this would be too thick for a domestic sewing machine to take. The picture on the packet looks like it is stitched with quilting weight fabric. Don’t be put off with the wavy quilter style stitching on the bag, I stitched straight lines and it was fine and gave the bag a modern finish.

Number 3 - It can be used as a Shoulder or Carry Bag

The carry handles are made using 3.5m of webbed Binding Tape which are wrapped around the bag and are securely stitched at the bottom of bag. I hadn’t used jute webbed binding tape before but after prewashing it and covering it in a matching fabric it gave my bag a lovely finish. Stitching through the two layers of covered tape on the base of the bag with my 100 needle was the bit I thought I was going to break a needle but hey, the needle just went straight though. I was really impressed! The bag can be used as a shoulder or a carry bag and love that!

Number 4 - It has extra pockets on the outside too!

The pattern has a really easy front pocket which you stitch on and secure with the handle detail plus a sneaky little pocket on one side. The pattern recommends a zip and a pleated pocket detail on the side but I wanted an open pocket to throw a guide book or my daughter’s sun hat in when we are on off on our travels. The two outside pockets are a really simple but great feature to add more storage to the design.

Number 5 - I love a Simplicity Pattern for Easy Instructions

I have to say, when I was looking for a bag pattern, I looked for Simplicity first. I haven’t stitched a commercial bag sewing pattern for years and wanted the challenge. I do love Simplicity Sewing Patterns, they go together really well and instructions are clear with diagrams to help you with the tricky bits such as adding the zip and attaching the front pocket. The pattern does go through various fabric layouts and has 2 pages of double paged instructions to help you.

The only addition I did was to finish the zip and the seams with bias binding. I found a pastel pink bias but you can browse the Trimming Section for one to match your fabrics.

I am delighted with this bag and would recommend it to anyone with a little sewing experience. Unlike a dress, it doesn’t need to be fitted and once you have cut the pieces out and clearly labelled each section (post-its are great!) it can be stitched in a few evenings. My next make is going to be a smaller version of this bag for a gym bag. What fabric should I choose?

I really loved the gingham fabric, it was really soft and would make up in a lovely vintage style gingham dress to match this bag.

Thank-you to Vicki and the Minerva team for gifting me the supplies for this project.

Samantha @ Create It Samantha

Also, find me here!

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#FabricFriday - 2 New Fabrics

Well I'm starting this blog with two heads on. No 1, I'm in pain, my silly old back is giving me some gyp but hey ho No 2 is my fabric head. I've spent a lot of time this week just looking through lots of our New Fabrics arriving daily here at Minerva. So delving through these fabrics does start to make my back a little better!! 
Where to start? I decided to randomly pick 2 fabrics out and talk about these. 
The first 'pick' is our Oriental Print Sateen Fabric. This is the most beautiful Japanese design, now I am normally not too keen on oriental designs but this is simply stunning. It is 100% polyester and very reasonably priced at £10.99 per mt. It is a fabulous weight and would make up really well. I'm thinking dresses and tops. Take a look at our website photo and then look at the close up photos showing you the amazing detail.
Am I tempting you? Personally I would avoid gathered skirts because this fabric is crying out to be seen, not hidden within folds or pleats. Just such a pattern would be Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8253 (incidentally simplicity are all on a half price at the moment!
This has just 3 main pattern pieces, the back, the front and the sleeve.
It is described as a Jiffy shift dress just as it was years ago when it first was printed. And yes it is like reading directions from years ago too. The neckline has a 'proper' facing, the zip has been inserted using the lapped method, there are elbow darts and hand stitched belt loops have been sewn on the side seams for a tie belt to slip through. Without doubt this is a true shift dress shape, very very straight, I must admit I love it, even more so because there is a choice of jersey fabrics such as ponte roma but also woven fabrics such as linen etc., For me this would make a brilliant 'stash' pattern. 
I suppose this section wouldn't be complete without an oriental inspired design. Simplicity Pattern 8244 is my choice, and again this is vintage reprint from the 1950's. I would imagine this fabric with a red piping. What do you think?
My next fabric choice is a soft Jersey Fabric, that will drape beautifully and again is priced at just £10.99 per mt. 
It is made from 95% Viscose and 5% Spandex so it has an excellent recovery. Keeping to Simplicity patterns this week because they are half price, how about Sewing Pattern no 1716 for this fabric...
Just look at all the different draped necklines. Take note of the sleeve variations too. It gives 2 lengths for a top and a tunic, add a few more inches and hey you've got a dress!
Thanks for reading and I hope I've given you some sewing inspiration for this weekend,
Annette xx
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Product Review: Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles by Wendy Stitch

Hi everyone,

It’s Wendy here from Wendy Stitch, here to test out a new knitting product for you.

Introducing the new Prym Ergonomics Knitting Needles – a redesigned knitting needle that will apparently help you knit faster and will feel better in your hands. Knitting big talk!

I have been knitting since I was about three years old, and as part of my job as a secondary school textiles teacher, I have taught literally hundreds of children how to knit. So I consider myself to be fairly experienced.

I opted to test two pairs of single pointed needles, in a size 4mm and an 8mm.

Straight from the box they do look different from your traditional knitting needle. They are made from a synthetic material and are really quite flexible, they have a curious little hook on the end and have a triangular body. Also the heads click together, which I imagine would be useful if, like me, you are prone to throwing your knitting in your bag only for several stitches to drop of the needles.

So how do they knit?

I must confess that I don’t particularly like any single pointed knitting needles. I am what is known as a ‘picker’ when it comes to knitting and favour double pointed needles (DPNs) or circular needles for most of my projects.

Here I am attempting two colour brioche knitting with the 4mm needles. Anyone who has ever tried two colour brioche knitting will know that you really need to use DPNs or circular needles for this. However, this was the project I was working on at the time so I thought I would stick with it and give it a try.

It meant I had to slide the stitches back and forth across the needles, which was a little time consuming, but I could still gauge from this an opinion of how the needles perform.

So, bearing in mind that I don’t actually like any single pointed needles, I have to say that I am equally not a fan of these needles. I found them to be too light, too long, and too bendy (particularly the thinner of the two sets). That said, I am very tempted to now try the Prym Ergonomic DPNs.

As this is hardly the basis of a solid review, I also asked my lovely mother to test the needles for me. I am the daughter of an extremely prolific life-long knitter – of both the hand and machine variety – who is now in her late 70s. My mum has very painful arthritis in her hands and now struggles to knit for any length of time because of the pain she experiences.

I got her to try both sets of needles and this is what she had to say:

“The size 4mm needles are very bendy. I feel like the needles have too much give. And I am not too sure about the bobble on the end. I think I might prefer it if it tapered to a point. However, they feel very comfortable in my hands and I’m not feeling any pain from the arthritis.

“I love the size 8mm. They feel great and I would definitely buy them. They feel a lot stronger than the 4mm needles. I do think I can knit faster with these than with regular needles. Again, I have no pain in my hands when knitting with these.”

So there we go. A knitter who does not really like to knit with any single pointed needles was not keen on these at all. A highly experienced knitter, who does like to knit with single pointed needles, absolutely loved them. So much so that she has kept the needles for herself and I doubt I will be getting them back anytime soon!

Oh, and just a side note - my cat, Daphne, also had fun ‘testing’ them!

Hope you enjoyed this honest review.

Thanks for reading,

Wendy from Wendy Stitch blog x

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Product Review: Clover Pompom Makers by Liz

Hi Everyone,

Today we have a review of the Clover Pompom Maker Tools for you from Liz who is a crochetaholic! You can find Liz on her blog over at Creative Corner. This is what she had to say....

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I have always wanted to make perfect beautiful little Pom Poms and the Clover Pom Pom Maker is the ideal tool for the job. I have found them so easy to use.

The sizes are so varied, I have two packs, the smallest is only 20mm and the biggest size 45mm. I couldn’t wait to give these a whirl, so many ideas to try but first I decided to start with the basic Pom Pom just to get to know how to use the Clover maker so I followed the photo instructions on the back of the pack which were straightforward.

I have just finished a Corner to Corner crochet Baby Lap Blanket and to complete it I decided to make four two tone Pom Poms for each of the corners. Baby’s love something to grasp and twiddle especially on comfort blankets, so these make a perfect addition to my project. Using the 45mm maker and wrapping one half in the lighter blue yarn and the other in the darker yarn, I trimmed them to neaten then and secured each one safely at each corner of the blanket. They look so cute and really put a nice finishing touch on my project.

So, what to try next, let’s give the smallest maker a whirl, again another recently completed project that was crying out for a little pretty finishing touch. The small maker was just perfect for these size 0-6mths baby booties. Again using two colours to compliment the colours of the Booties.

Feeling inspired and gathering a few bits and pieces I formulated an idea using the 45mm Pop Pom maker, an Old Fashioned Wooden Peg, some beautiful pink and green Yarn and my Crochet Hook.

Firstly, making two Pom Poms in the pink wool. The colour of this wool reminds of my pretty Fuchsia Plant in the garden. Flattening one side of each Pom Pom, I glued them on to the wooden peg using a mini hot melt glue gun, just in the centre until I had a nice extra big fluffy Pop Pom surrounding all of the peg.

Next I started to trim and cut back the yarn to represent the shape of the Fuchsia flower using a very sharp curved scissors. This took a little while, to get the right shape, leaving a dense area under the flower petals to show them off. Next I crocheted a few green leaves and used a darning needle to thread the yard down through the Pom Pom and secured them underneath, cutting away the green yarn inside the pink Pom Pom, so it couldn’t be seen. The leaves were positioned above the Fuchsia petals curving over nicely. Can you guess where I’m going with this make?

To finish I wrapped green yarn around the peg above the pink Pom Pom to suggest a bodice and crocheted some arms and a little hat using the green and pink yarn and attached those with hot melt glue. Finally, I used a large pink button and glue to hold and secure the peg in an upright position, and Voila! Introducing - ‘Little Miss Fuchsia’. How pretty is she! I can feel a ‘Little Miss Rose’ coming on next… the list is endless.

I took some scenic shots of her in the garden to show her off.

I was so happy with my two sets of Pom Pom Makers, that I just had to invest in in a few more sizes, I have so many ideas to try out with such a versatile product. For me Clover Pom Pom Makers are easy to use, they are sturdy and come in a great range of sizes. A must have for any crafting store cupboard.

Thanks for reading,

Liz / @lizjart1

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Product Review: Prym Ironing Sheet by Victoria

Hi, I’m Victoria from Lightning Bolt to the Soul, and I’m going to review the Prym Ironing Sheet that was very kindly sent to me by Minerva Crafts to review.

Recently I’ve taken to watching sewing shopping channels – dangerous when you’re on a budget – and one of the products that really got me interested was the ironing mat everyone seemed to be using. For me, ironing and pressing is the absolute worst when it comes to dressmaking. But, I thought, wouldn’t life be easier if I had a heat-proof mat I could use, rather than lugging the ironing board around the house, leaving it blocking up the hallway while I pretend I’m going to finish that hem in the near future...

So when the team at Minerva contacted me to say they were looking for reviewers for the Prym Ironing Sheet, I almost bit their hands off. A couple of days later it arrived – it’s way too bulky to fit though your letterbox, expect a trip to your parcel depot if you’re not in – and I can honestly say I’ve barely stopped using it since.

All brand new in its packaging.

I’m going start with the only negative, as it was one of the first things I noticed; there is a complete lack of instructions with this product. I know it’s an ironing mat, and how many instructions do you need, etc, etc, but actually, I’m boring and I like to read the instructions. I wanted to know if there were any surfaces you could or couldn’t use it on, maximum iron temperature, laundering instructions, but there was nothing. There’s a teeny tiny wash label attached to it, and that’s all you’re getting!

Apparently it’s non-washable – I wonder what I’ll do when I inevitably spill a mug of tea on it?

However. If that’s the only downside, then we’re doing OK. Better than OK, in fact; I absolutely love this product, and it really has changed the way I sew. On to the positives!

Sorry for the wrinkly picture, it presses beautifully but I can’t seem to iron the wrinkles out of the mat itself!!

The product itself measures 36¾” x  19¾” (93cm x 50cm) which is a really good size. It’s small enough to lay out on the floor and not be completely in the way, and it’s large enough to press long sections of fabric at once, like curved hems. It’s also wider than my ironing board which makes it easier to press skirt panels and wider pieces; there’s less shuffling around. I used my ironing board at the beginning of the project to iron my 3m length of fabric, and then used the ironing sheet thereafter for all the seams, hems and details, and it presses like a dream.

The mat allows you to press lovely sharp lines really easily.

The product is made from 100% cotton, according to the teeny label, and it has a squishy feel to it which I know is the heat-resistance, but which also makes pressing super easy. On the top of the mat there are grid markings and angles like there are on a cutting mat, which are reasonably useful. One thing I did use these for was lining up the edge of my fabric with the lines printed on the sheet; this meant I had really crisp, straight lines which really helped show off the detail of the finished dress.

I lined up straight edges to make sure I was pressing accurately and not distorting the nice straight lines I had cut... except I had distorted it a bit!

I don’t think I would rely on these gridlines to measure anything too accurately, as the squishy nature of the fabric means that the measurements warp a little bit. It’s perfectly fine for a guide – I used it to double check my 1.5cm seam allowance (it doesn’t have inches, sadly) for reassurance, but I wouldn’t rely on it if I was doing intricate quilting.

The lines are really useful but can get a little bit distorted.

I mostly use this product on the floor. I have my sewing machine on a little TV-dinner table in my lounge, so that I can cut out on the floor and sew sat in my armchair, trying not to take up the entire lounge. When I had my ironing board in the lounge as well I would hop from station to station shouting  “CAREFUL!” every time my husband walked in, and it was a bit of a pain. Now, when I’m done with my cutting mats, they go back under the couch and my ironing mat comes out (don’t worry, the iron is kept on the mantelpiece, not lying around on the floor) so I can just iron pieces bit by bit, and it doesn’t take over the entire room.

The product is clearly designed to go on tables (although, obviously, there are no instructions!); there is a little flap on the long edge that has a pincushion, three pockets, and a removable Velcro bag to stuff your spare threads in. This hangs down the side of the table, making them much easier to use. I, on the other hand, don’t have an easily accessible table large enough for the mat to go on (I’ve put it on my kitchen worktop for the sake of this picture), so I didn’t really use the pockets and Velcro bag as they just lay flat on the floor, although I did use the pincushion quite frequently. I’m sure they’d be useful for people using the product on a tabletop, but they didn’t really make much of an impression on me.

Please excuse the fridge; I don’t have another table big enough to rest it on!

Overall, I have to say I love this product. I really recommend it, and I’m considering buying another one for my static caravan, where space really is at a premium. It’s seriously handy, and it actually makes me want to sew more; I’m lazy, and the thought of trudging through to my utility room to get the ironing board and set it up can be enough to put me off a short sewing burst. Whipping out the ironing mat from behind the chair, on the other hand, makes setup so much easier, and before I know it I’m away, pressing seams and hems. This product is lightweight, portable and space-saving; ideal for those who don’t necessarily have a dedicated sewing space. I am really enjoying using this product and I would recommend it to other stitchers in a heartbeat.

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#PatternoftheWeek - McCalls 7332

Goodness me May already. So we can definitely start thinking summer and our summer wardrobe. However it can still be nippy out there so it is nice to have a new jacket (or two haha) to throw over our lovely summer makes! My pattern and fabric choices for you this week fits the bill perfectly I think.
This Sewing Pattern is number 7332 by McCalls. It can be made with or without a collar, sleeveless or full length sleeves. The jacket is lined but this could be left out if you prefer a lighter weight for spring. Take a look at my next photo. 
This is showing the diagonal seam in the front. You could actually put pockets within this seam. If any of you purchased McCalls Sewing Pattern 7469 (I mentioned it a few weeks ago) you can see from version B that the pockets on this dress are inserted in a very similar seam.
Looking at version D, I love how the bottom of the jacket and sleeves has been sewn in a leatherlook fabric. Take a look at our soft faux Leather Fabric...
Admittedly this is a little more expensive at £14.99 per mt than our basic Faux Leather but without doubt this fabric is amazing for dressmaking. It is very soft and supple and drapes beautifully. This light brown does look a little darker than what is used in the pattern but I think the top part of the jacket would still look lovely in a camel. My choice would be our Washable Wool Fabric (you know the one with no wool in it!!) in camel. This is priced at £10.99 per mt.
Version A would be fab in say a linen and whether you line it or not it would hang beautifully. Take a look at our Blades Linen Fabric which is quite a good weight at £14.99 per mt. This comes in an impressive 41 colours so you would easily find something to go with outfit. This photo below is of colour Magenta, which I think is beautiful, but with 41 colours there are so many other sto choose from...
We have the most gorgeous Scuba Fabric in our clearance fabrics. I think this would look fab in version B with no collar. Sometimes scuba can sew up a little bulky so the key is to have as little pieces as possible (think bodycon dresses).
This superb fabric is now reduced to just £7.99 per mt so strike while the iron is hot! 
Last but not least I am showing you a Jacquard Lining Fabric which I am suggesting for version C.
Now you may think I'm loosing it! But please be assured we sell lots and lots of these patterned linings for everything under the sun. That is not to say we don't sell them for what they were first intended which is lining jackets etc., but if you make this up with a black satin collar and lower sleeve you will have a stunning evening jacket. Nice and lightweight for that summer event you have in mind.
Dont forget, McCalls 7332 is our #PatternoftheWeek so you save 50% on it for this week only!
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx
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Animal Print Slash Stretch Jersey Dress Fabric Review by Simona

As you probably know by now, the lovely people at Minerva Crafts have a team of crafty people that help them test the products they sell on their impressive online shop, to make sure they are of a good quality and to give sewing inspiration. I am proud to be one among some really talented people chosen to be part of this team.

For the second product I was asked to test this Jersey Fabric called 'Animal Print Slash Stretch Jersey Dress Fabric', which is described as;

"This wonderful devore jersey fabric has a trendy leopard skin print design perfect for all ages! The fabric is contrasted from two layers which are attached together so you treat them as one fabric when sewing. The top layer features the animal print design which is attached to the plain base layer of fabric to give this burn out devore effect. Perfect for making tops, dresses, skirts and more."

It comes in four colour combinations: Blue & Black, Cream & Black, Grey &Black and Pink & Black. I chose to go with the Blue & Black combination.

As usual the lovely Minerva Crafts team did not disappoint, the fabric was beautifully packaged and sent over really fast (it could be because I live quite close to their head office and Royal Mail takes less time).

This is how it looks right after it is taken out of the package.

It has a very soft feel. I kept stroking it for a long while. Originally I believed the base layer is a solid. However I discovered it is a see through mesh. When I saw the fabric I wanted to make a dress, but because it is a bit to see through and the project I intended to make is not lined, I changed my plans and made the tunic version of it.

This is how it looks from the wrong side.

I started working with my fabric without washing it. However as suggested it is safer to pre-wash your fabric before starting your project, to avoid disappointment. I've made a loose fitting tunic so, even if it shrinks in the first wash, the tunic will still fit me. Yes I know it is a bit cheeky of me to do, but I think it will not shrink so I'm taking the risk.

I pined my pattern pieces to the fabric and used my scissors to cut the fabric. I expected the cutting process to be a bit cumbersome, as in the past when using 3D/ layered fabrics sometimes it was hard to cut through due to having to apply different pressure as the thickness of the fabric changes. It wasn't the case with this, although at times you could sense the change in thickness as you cut the fabric.

For this fabric I used super Stretch Machine Needles and attached my walking foot to help the fabric go through evenly. Testing stitches proved that my machine works better for this fabric using a small zig-zag, rather than the lightning stitch. I've tried to show this in the picture but, black thread on black does not show.

Once the seams were stitched together, I used my overlocker to finish them. But if you don't have on the fabric does not fray, so you can just leave them like that.

I used the same zig-zag stitch to hem my tunic. Just made it a bit wider than on the seams (this one shows off better as it's not all black on black).

I followed the same process for the facings of my tunic, topstitched the them in place.

I found the fabric easy to handle and by using the correct needle and the walking foot sewing it was a breeze. However, when sewing with it, I do advise you go slow, especially when doing the hems to avoid waves. The fabric feels so soft against the skin. It also looks pretty modern due to the print and cut outs. I'll be wearing my tunic with leggings or skinny jeans.

What would you make with this lovely Fabric? I have a little bit left over (due to me not making a dress as originally planned) which I plan using in making a top. I love this fabric so much.

If you get this fabric please share your makes, I'll love seeing what you make.

Hope you enjoyed reading this. Thank you so much for taking the time to do so.

Simona @ Sewing Adventures in the Attic 

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Hi! 

Im Polly from Jak and Gee Gee and I'm here today guest posting on the Minerva Crafts blog as I was offered the chance to test the Sleepover Bag Sewing Pattern from Machine Stars, who offer a range of sewing patterns aimed at children

My son’s aged 6 and 8 often ask to help on my sewing projects but it’s rare we find something they really want to make for themselves. On the odd occasion they ask to make something I spend a lot of time explaining pattern instructions as the language can be a little confusing.

As the boys have had some previous experience sewing I also invited a few of their friends over to help test the pattern, who have no sewing experience what so ever. To save time I pre-cut all the pieces the kids would need to make their bags and transferred the markings too (I did walk the kids through it once it was done though). I liked the fact that the pattern pieces all clearly had their cut and stitch lines marked. The text on the pattern pieces was clear too.

The instructions include a list of sewing terms, I got all the kids to read it before we started. They all found them fairly easy to understand which meant I didn’t have to explain too much as we made their bags. Overall we all felt the instructions were easy to read and follow, the text was clear and the language used wasn’t too “dumbed down”. The sketches included were simple, I liked the way they showed the correct way to pin the fabric for that particular step. The only little issue I had with the sketches was that they didn’t have a different colour or shading to indicate the right and wrong side of the fabric, instead it was written on each sketch.  I think the shading would have made it easier to differentiate between the two.

I have to be honest we did tweak the pattern slightly. The pattern gets you to top stitch the pocket pieces on all four sides before attaching them, we only top stitched the top, then attached the pockets as I felt it was a bit unnecessary to stitch the sides twice.

The pattern also tells you to attach the strap after topstitching the top of the bag. I didn’t like the idea of the unfinished strap ends showing inside the bag, so instead we folded the strap ends under the hem and attached it when we top stitched the top of the bag. 

The last change I made was to overlock the raw edges, rather than zig zag stitch, other than that we followed the pattern.

The kids all did a great job on their bags. I was surprised by the amount of care and concentration they put into them, I could tell they enjoyed making something of their own. 

I would definitely recommend both the Sleepover Bag pattern and the Machine Stars range for children. I think even if as an adult you weren’t confident sewing you would be able to follow the pattern and help a child to make a bag. If your child is used to a sewing machine they would easily be able to follow this pattern and make the bag themselves.

Thanks for reading,

Polly

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Product Review: Clover Pompom Makers by Michele

Hi Everyone,

Today we have another review of the Clover Pompom Maker Tools this time from Michele, who you can find over at Swiss Army Wife blog. This is what she had to say....

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Seriously, what’s not to like….

I received my pom-pom makers and having bought one in Canada years ago and lost it, I was keen to have another set to try out. With the number of baby hats that I have made recently, all needing a pom-pom to finish them off, I really was a bit sick of the old cardboard method. Cutting the circles and then destroying them to remove the pom-pom is a thing of the past – magic, I hear you say, absolutely!

The two sets I received are made up of the extra small sizes – 20mm and 25mm; and the small sizes – 35mm and 45mm; two per pack.

I whizzed up a few pom-poms in absolutely no time at all and now remember why I love this product so much.

Select the size you need, open the arms,

wind the yarn around each end (I don’t break the yarn but carry it from one side to the other and trim along with the cutting step),

return the arms to the center position again,

trim a length of yarn to tie off your pom-pom, snip through all the layers,

thread your tie around the center of the pom-pom, pull really tight, flip it over and tie the yarn on the other side to make sure it is really secure, knot it off,

open the arms out again, pull the two parts of the pom-pom maker apart – et voila!

You have a pom-pom….yes, it may not be the prettiest one yet, but after a little trim and fluff it will be.

That’s it in a nutshell….couldn’t be easier.

Even our beginners and grandchildren can make great pom-poms straight away. Hubby made his first one ever and in his own words…”Easy, Peasy, Lemon Squeezy”.

The ladies at our knitting group in Wigan – Good Yarn – all loved them as well.

As I said, what’s not to like about a gadget that makes something quicker and easier than you used to make them the old fashioned way.

There is no comparison between these and the cheap set we have at knitting group, the Clover pom-pom maker is SO much better. It is well made, easy to use and well worth spending your hard-won crafting budget on.

10/10

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Q&A with Corrine from What Corrine Did Next Blog

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

Hi I'm Corrine from What Corrine Did Next! I've been blogging for the last two and a half years. The easiest way for me to describe it is a mash up of Sewing Bee meets Bake Off (but then making and eating all those cakes, being able to make and adjust clothes is pretty helpful!) I started my website to encourage people to have a go at something new - you'll notice almost all of my recipes and makes are relatively simple (generally beginner or intermediate level)...this is deliberately for this purpose!

When did you start sewing and what inspired you to start? 

I started sewing in 2013. My friend and cousin were on the same dressmaking course and I wanted to get in on the action. They found they got very little from their course as they spent most of the session waiting for the tutor to come round, so we formed our own little sewing bee with my mum helping us when we got stuck. Mum gave me her machine when I properly started sewing. She bought it with the money my Gran left to her so it's a special machine for us both and I've christened it Annie after her (don't worry, I treated mum to a new Singer, she's still sewing lots of bags!)

What was your first project?

My first project was a disaster - I decided to make a blue shell top from craft cotton with an exposed red zip...my poor mum (who is a fabulous seamstress) was trying to teach me and had her head in her hands on lots of occasions, thinking I'd never pick it up. I gave up briefly then was seduced by an advent calendar panel to quilt, got the bug (and a bit of skill) and I've not looked back!

What do you love most about sewing?

The thrill of making something beautiful from scratch still makes me really happy...having someone ask where I bought it from makes me even happier! Seriously though, being able to make whatever pops into my head rather than trawling round endless shops and feeling frustrated I can't find what I wanted has been the biggest draw - I love designing my perfect wardrobe.

Do your friends or family craft along with you?

Yes, my mum, cousin and friend Lynsey are all keen sewists (my friend Lynsey makes the most beautiful childrenswear as Yellow Bug Designs - her Instagram feed is just the cutest and I'd kill to be as neat as her!)

Who do you make things for?

A mix - I love sewing my own wardrobe but nothing makes me happier than sewing for other people - handmade gifts are so much fun to make and give! Last Christmas I tried to make as many gifts as possible.

Do you have a favourite snack when crafting?

Cake - my Rocky Road Bites are the perfect accompaniment :)

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

Good Pair of Scissors (I love my Fiskars), Clover Quilting Clips (they're much easier than pins when you're securing jersey) and my little Embroidery Snips for when it all goes horribly wrong (I prefer them so much more than a seam ripper)

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

For me it's got to be Jersey Fabric. If I look at my RTW wardrobe I used to buy so many jersey items and I love me-made jersey items just as much. When I began sewing one of the first things I made for myself was a royal blue Ruby Dress in ponte roma - I've certainly not shied away from knit fabrics!

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

It can vary greatly - I like to cut out projects in batches so I'd say 4-5 on average but I like to know I always have something ready to start (as well as it being a huge timesaver).

Whats your favourite thing you have ever made?

It's got to be my advent calendar - it's not my most technical project by a long shot but it holds lots of great memories of learning to sew. 

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

At the moment I'm renovating a spare bedroom into my sewing studio so I've currently taken over the dining table with my back to the TV. You'll most likely find me listening to music while I sew, with Foo Fighters, Paramore, Evanescence and You Me At Six featuring heavily on my playlist.

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

I love Instagram - I'm not alone in saying this, so many of us would agree, the sewing community are a great support and source of inspiration. I could waste hours looking at what everyone else is making! It's perfect for seeking out a new pattern to make!

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

Think about your garment insides, making then as neat as the outside give a more professional finish. It will make you feel like you're winning at sewing - I used Hong Kong seams in my Morris Blazer and I love them every time I put my jacket on.

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Enjoy what you're doing and be yourself - there's nothing more engaging as a reader than getting to know who you're reading about so make it personal!

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

Haha, it's probably easier for me to answer that as someone around me when I sew...probably a "little bit sweary" (well it doesn't always work does it?!)

What are your crafting ambitions?

I'd love to move into delivering workshops and share my love of sewing with other people.

What would you say to anyone looking to start sewing?

Have a go, start simple and enjoy what you're doing, it's a great hobby to get into!

What is your favourite product on the Minerva Crafts website and what would you make with it?

A classic, but I love the range of Ponte Roma Fabric - from Morris Blazers to Cocos to pencil skirts, it's so versatile (and really warm in winter, you feel like you're wearing pyjamas!) it's a staple for me and Minerva Crafts have such a geat selection to choose from!

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