Posted in Product Reviews on Wednesday the 18th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I was delighted to be asked to review the Hex N More Quilting Template, a Jaybird Quilts product.
I enjoy quilting, but I'm certainly no expert. I'm aware that there are a lot of people like me who are improving their skills, and I want to show that this is a great product for them too, as well as the more experienced stitchers.
I had a few projects in mind for this, but in the end I chose the stash busting one.
And yes, my stash does include a towel! I really know where my towel is…
This is a simple project, but is a chance to practice several skills: feel free to count stash busting as a skill by the way!
Ok, it's perhaps more of a scraps busting project, but quilt as you go coasters are a useful way to demonstrate how easy this product is to use.
The enclosed leaflet has cutting information, and some piecing ideas.
There are even tips on use for left handed quilters; this alone gets the product a thumbs up.
The cutting guidelines assume that you're using a strip of fabric of an appropriate height. Here is the product on a jelly roll strip.
These are usually 2.5 inches wide, and it was very easy to see how simple it would be to quickly produce a number of hexagons; 13 from a 40 inch strip.
I'm going to show how easy it is to use, even if the fabric isn't quite as regular. This review is not a showcase of my quilting skills, but a review of a product designed to facilitate exact cutting. I do plan to use it in quilting projects, but for now, I'm sharing a quick and complete project that uses the product.
The template is a sturdy piece of plastic, with markings for hexagons, half hexagons, jewels, and 60° triangles from 2 to 8 inches.
The measurements are in inches, and include 1/4 inch seam allowance, so for example, the 2 inch hexagon is marked as 2.5 inches.
I'm going to make three coasters; two for mugs, and a larger one for a teapot. The towel will be both wadding and backing as it is quite a thick towel, and I don't want too much bulk. Why towel for backing? It makes the coasters more absorbent, and they can always be used that way up to catch drips better if required. I am not implying at all that my family are messy drinkers by the way!
The quilt as you go method is perfect for these, and I was able to prepare a piece of quilted fabric quickly.
I cut some strips of similar widths; they don't have to be exactly the same, and some variation adds interest. My backing fabric is right side down, and I place a strip of fabric right side up at one end. A second piece of fabric is placed face down on the first piece, with cut ends matching. This is then sewn.
and place a third piece of fabric face down on top of the second, and sew.
Repeat until the backing fabric is covered. If you're unfamiliar with this technique, I hope that I've clarified it sufficiently, but if not, there are much better instructions out there, and they'll also all remind you to press as you go. Pressing really does improve the look of your project.
This is my quilted fabric for the large coaster.
The back shows the quilting lines.
If you're wondering, towel is quite easy to work with, although it does shed at the cut edges.
I'm using the largest hexagon, and have enough fabric to fussy cut.
It's a job for a rotary cutter, but if you didn't have one, you could draw round it to cut with scissors.
There are three sides to cut, and despite not having a regular sized strip of fabric, this was not at all difficult.
The template stayed firm whilst cutting, and turning for the second half was straightforward, and lined up without problem, leaving a perfect 8.5 inch hexagon.
For the mug coasters, I cut some narrower strips, and created another piece of quilted fabric as above.
A safety note here. My rotary cutter was open, ready to use. I reached past it for my phone to take a photograph, and just brushed it with a knuckle. Cue a quick dash away from the fabric! Please be more careful than me.
This is the completed fabric with the template after the first cut of the first coaster.
I'm using the 4.5 inch hexagon. Again, it was very easy to follow the markings, and easy to cut from an irregular piece of fabric.
For the smaller hexagons, there are two cuttable sides before a turn is needed, although I found it easier with this fabric to cut a side and then turn.
This is the coaster with three sides cut.
Just one side left to cut, but this was a simple and straightforward process from first to last cut.
These are the almost finished coasters; they just need finished edges.
Even the backs look tidy.
I used Wonder Clips rather than pins as the coasters are quite chunky.
I had a suitable piece of bias binding in my stash that was just long enough to do the three, but you could make your own binding to coordinate better.
I should tell you now that I'm not very good at binding, and these are the first corners I've covered that aren't 90°.
However, despite being obviously homemade, they are attractive, functional coasters, and are being well used by my family.
This is just the first project I've made with the Hex N More Ruler. It was easy to use, and each time I look at it I think of something else I could make. I've even thought of some paper craft uses too, although I'll draw round it and use paper scissors to cut out!
Thanks for reading,
Emma @ Hot Tea on a Hot Day
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 17th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Watermelons seemed to be everywhere this summer and I had visions of a watermelon dress. When I saw the colours of this Denim Fabric I knew exactly what I was going to make. I've made a few (three!) Cleo's already so knew this would be a quick and easy make.
The front and back sections are in the pink with the straps in green. I didn't have any matching pink for the top stitching but did find some silver in my stash so decided to give that a go. Admittedly it probably wasn't the best choice as I don't think my machine liked it but it looks fine and who doesn't love a bit of sparkle?
Now for the star attraction of the dress... the watermelon pocket! To make it more watermelon themed rather than just a pink dress with green straps I made the pocket look like a slice of watermelon.
Here's what I did -
- using the pocket template redraw with a curved base and cut out in pink
- make another template where the sides and base are 3cm bigger and cut out in green
- clip around the edge of the pink pocket piece and turn over 1.5cm
- sew onto the green pocket piece using your top stitching thread of choice
- overlock the top edge, turn under 1.5cm and top stitch
- using small buttons as the seeds decide on their placement and attach by hand or using the most amazing time saving sewing machine foot ever the "button sew on foot"
- clip the edges of the green pocket piece and turn under 1.5cm
- using the top stitching thread sew onto the front of the dress
- ta dah a slice of watermelon!
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 14th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I am back with another product testing review for Minerva Crafts, one of the largest online craft supplies shop in the UK.
This time the lovely team from Minerva Crafts asked me to test for them their semi-sheer polyester Dressmaking Fabric.
It comes in three colours: red, purple and turquoise. This can be quite a tricky fabric to work with because it is light and delicate. I chose the purple one for my project. Being a tricky fabric, I challenged myself with this one.
For this project I chose to make a blouse using McCall's Sewing Pattern 7094, the pattern I got in my pattern stash from a sewing magazine, but it is available to buy on Minerva Crafts' website too.
I made a combination of view A and B. For the sleeve tab and the collar I used black cotton that I already had in my stash. Although the fabric is a polyester and I did not think would shrink, to be on the safe side I over-locked the edges and then washed the fabric before starting on my top.
The only adjustments to my pattern were to shorten the sleeves by 5 cm . I had to go really slow and put a lot of pins as the fabric is so shifty, but I made it.
It is a good idea to use thread to mark your notches or other pattern markings. The only other method would be to cut notches, however this would not work for pocket placements or pleats. I tried using other methods on a piece of scrap fabric. I suggest you do the same to see what works best for you. I also suggest you tack your seams to make sure you are accurate.
Polyester does not press. It was a pain for me to set in the pleats that the pattern asks for. It is clear for me that for this pattern one should pick a fabric that can be pressed and any fold stay in the fabric. Otherwise the garment will look a bit messy, especially if pleats are a feature, not to mention that putting the pleats in will be harder. I could have made gathers instead, but I only came up with this idea when I was writing the blog post for this.
Because I was under time pressure, I chose to overlock my seams. However, I think French seams are better on this type of fabric.
Knowing the fabric was semi-see through and the necessity to use interfacing, I decided to used Black Cotton Fabric for the collar and sleeve tap. And I was happy, as working with cotton was easier. I am not happy with how the centre front pleat looks.
Because the fabric is so slippery, once I stitched the collar on I hand-stitched the facing. I was not sure I'd manage to get all the layers if I used the stitch in the ditch technique. The only visible stitching is on the wrong side.
I hand-stitched the hems in place as well, by turning the edge over twice.
As the fabric is way too light, a button sewn on it would not last, I decided to lower it and stitch it on the area where the tab was attached to.
Although there were times when I though this project might become an UFO the finished top looks OK and I do intend to wear it with or without a belt.
Some of my tips for working with polyester are:
pick a simple pattern with a lot of ease, such as kimonos
use French seams
go as slow as you need
tack your seams before sewing them, as the fabric is slippery
We would love to hear and see what you make if you use this fabric. Please share your makes with us. Tag @minervacrafts on Instagram and Twitter.
Like always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my review and happy shopping!
Posted in Events & Social on Friday the 13th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Guest Posts on Thursday the 12th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Usually I blog over at Hyacinth Bloom, but today I’m quite excited to share with you something that I recently made in collaboration with the wonderfully, generous people here at Minerva Crafts.
Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Patterns have a bit of a reputation for being beginner friendly yet stylish. Tilly’s patterns are also incredibly wearable, many poised to become those wardrobe basics that you need. I have to admit, however, that when the Marigold pattern was first released last year I wasn’t immediately wowed by it. The promotional photos just didn’t grab me and whisper sweetly: “buy me and add me to your already overflowing pattern collection”. Lately, however, I have been craving comfortable handmade clothes. I think I’ve reached the point where I have twice as many fancy frocks than I do occasions to wear them. (Don’t we all reach that point some time during our sewing career?) So, on this recent drive for practical everyday clothes, I revisited the Marigold Pattern. Second time around it seemed like it actually had a good deal of potential. The peg-shape of the trousers particularly appeared to have the right blend of comfort and style. Feeling brave I resolved that I would launch myself straight into the deep end and make the jumpsuit version. With thoughts of an autumnal capsule wardrobe on my mind, I decided that the jumpsuit would be perfect layered over stripy tops when the weather turns inevitably colder.
With this dream garment in mind I knew I wanted to make it in a dark coloured denim. Denim, after all, goes with everything, doesn’t it? The one main problem with this was, of course, the practicality of the fabric. The pattern states the need for a drapey woven fabric. Denim is far from drapey. However, rather miraculously, Minerva Crafts had the perfect solution to my quandary. Their 4oz washed Denim Fabric (which I got in the darkest colourway) was exactly what I hoped it would be. It was soft, drapey and lovely to handle. (In fact, it was so lovely I’ll overlook the fact that it frayed at even the sight of a pair of scissors).
Tilly’s patterns are a joy to work with. The pattern pieces themselves are sturdy, and clearly marked and labelled. The instructions are well-illustrated, each step comes with a handy picture showing you what it ought to look like. For those needing a bit more help the instruction booklet includes links to helpful webpages on the Tilly and the Buttons blog. All of this meant that the construction of the garment was pretty straightforward. None of the steps were particularly complicated to follow. My one deviation from the instructions was choosing not to understitch the various facings. Instead I opted to topstitch my pockets, straps and facings. I felt that this suited the denim jumpsuit I was creating, and my thread was so dark it hardly stood out anyway.
Okay confession time, I didn’t make a toile. I really, REALLY should have made a toile though. Looking through the instruction booklet I cut out a Size 3, based upon where my body measurements fitted into the various charts. I merrily sewed it all up, feeling pretty darn happy with how I navigated the sweetheart neckline and pocket openings. And then I went to try it on and…it didn’t fit me. (Here is a terribly embarrassing photo, which I can’t quite believe I’m putting on the internet, but shows the fit of the garment straight from the packet). Now I admit I hadn’t at this point put the elastic into the waistband. This would undoubtedly have made it look slightly less weird. But the major problem no amount of elastic could fix, was the crotch seam. It was miles away from where it needed to be. When I sat down I had this awful pouch of fabric that made it look like I had been eating far more cake than I actually had. After getting a bit annoyed and refusing to look at it for a few days, I eventually bit the bullet and made some alterations.
Now these are only the second pair of trousers I have ever made (the first were wide-legged culottes, so weren’t even trousers really). As such I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, but I read a few things about trouser fitting and said a few prayers, before I ripped apart every seam I had so carefully sewn a few days before. I played around with my pattern pieces and compared them to the other ‘trousers’ I had made. In the end I plumped for shortening the crotch by two inches, trimming a bit off the curve at the inner leg seam and hoping fervently for the best. (I shortened the crotch by folding the paper up along the lengthen/shorten lines on the pattern pieces. Remember that you also need to do this on the pocket pattern pieces).
I made a jumpsuit! I can’t quite believe my first attempt at fitting trousers actually worked. The fit is so much better now (as hopefully you can see!) It might still not be perfect, but it is about as perfect as I want it. They are loose enough to be comfy, but not in an overly baggy or unflattering sort of way. The choice of the denim has made this an extremely wearable garment, as it looks quite casual and goes with a variety of tops. I’m not 100% sure if the jumpsuit suits me, but I am definitely going to be reusing and hacking this pattern. There are definitely more versions of the Marigold trousers in my future. (In fact I have another pair cut out already). I really also want to put a skirt on to the Marigold bodice. Perhaps I could somehow merge the top of the Marigold jumpsuit with the bottom of the Cleo dungaree dress. (The Cleogold dress?!)
Thank you Minerva Crafts for this practical and comfortable addition to my handmade wardrobe, and thanks everybody for reading!
Karen @ Hyacinth Bloom
Posted in Guest Posts on Wednesday the 11th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 10th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 8th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
So today I’ve been having fun making fabric rosebuds with this cute little Sweetheart Rose Maker from Minerva Crafts!
I chose the smallest size in the set and it makes very delicate roses which are more like rosebuds. I think it would be wonderful to have a couple of these rose makers in different sizes and combine the finished items into a beautiful rose bouquet!
The packet contains the template and a winding clip to make the roses, you just need to choose the fabric, the thread and a needle. I’d recommend a long thin needle which would save time sewing it up as you could get several stitches on it in one go and sew a side at a time. There is a comprehensive instruction sheet, which at the first reading made me think I’d never manage to follow it and actually make something! However, once I began to read it and make up the flower at the same time it became much clearer!
It’s quite fiddly laying out the fabric onto the pattern templates and cutting round it if, like me, you choose slippy Organza Fabric and have arthritis!! But persevere because it’s worth it and it does get easier the more you make!
Once your fabric is on the template you create the rose by making a series of folds in the template, which takes up the fabric with it. You sew along the fabric in the direction of the folds until you have sewn it into a folded up pentagon shape. This is also quite fiddly and so Clover Wonder Clips come in very handy here to help hold things together. If you don’t have any I’d recommend buying them at the same time as the Sweetheart Rose Maker.
The Wonder Clips are also useful for holding small flimsy pieces of organza together when you’re layering up different colours or fabrics! Here I decided to layer two different shades of pink using organza and tulle.
My first rose came out not too bad to look at from the front, but the underneath and sides are rather messy. Again the Clover Wonder clips are good for holding the rose top together while you sew through the sides and middle to secure the shape.
I think using the same coloured thread as the fabric would help to keep the roses looking neater and give a more professional finish. I tried some green embroidered lacey trim from my stash and I think it made a very pretty flower, as did layering up different shades of cream, teal and lilac organza and tulle.
I definitely got neater with the later ones compared to the first pink one as you can see from the ‘warts and all’ back view!!
One way of concealing the underneath part is to use some other fabric, I used green tulle, and wrapped it around the rosebud to give the suggestion of foliage or to just make it into a posy.
These rosebuds make pretty decorations for garments, I think this pale pink one sits beautifully on this fairy dress. They would look equally attractive on the brim of a crocheted or knitted hat too.
Once I had a few made I sewed them onto a piece of linen by sewing one on in an upright position and then sewing each rose to the next with the thread running through the middles horizontally until I had a little stand of flowers. It just needed a couple of bits of tulle round the outside to finish it off and it made a very delicate table decoration. Imagine a linen table runner with posies sewn into it at intervals along the table - wouldn’t it be amazing as wedding decorations?
There are lots of uses for these roses: adding them as decoration to bags as well as clothes, combining with natural foliage to make seasonal wreaths, gathered into posies on christmas table linen. I also think they’d attach very well to the branches of a Christmas tree and would look stunning in colours to co-ordinate with your living room! It’s not too early to start preparing your handmade Christmas or your wedding!
Ali @ The Patchwork Fairy
Find me on etsy here.
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 7th October 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
As someone who spends most of their time complaining about the cold, inside and outside of the house, padded Jersey Fabric is my idea of heaven. Which is why I was so excited when it came up to be reviewed, I mean its a quilted jersey so I can wear it outside the house but I can also wear it inside the house because its casual enough! The jersey itself is a very stable fabric with almost no stretch, the padding effect is created by a layer of “fluff” being sandwiched between the jersey and the backing. This “fluff” I’m guessing is what makes it such a snugly fabric to work with, and I mean snug. After pre-washing this fabric I popped it into the tumble dryer and when it was finished and I’d pulled it out I came back to find the entire thing wrapped around my five year old. Yep my five year old son had cocooned himself in 3metres of grey jersey and that's where I got the idea to make a jacket of sorts! The pre washing was no issue by the way I popped it in a regular wash and there was no loss of dye or shrinking.
The pattern I decided on was an old one from prima magazine but any soft coat pattern would work well. It had enough style details to convince people it was a coat but was unstructured enough that I would feel like I was wearing a cardigan. Therefore making it a “Coatigan!”
Now the layers of batting do create a bit of a mess when it comes to cutting out because you are basically cutting across the quilting so some of the batting falls out. I was a bit worried about wearing the coat and the inside seams shedding [I had decided not to line it because I thought that might be a bit too toasty]. So I overlocked the edges of all of my pattern pieces before I started construction. Not only did this stop the edges fraying and loosing batting it also meant the inside of my finished coatigan looked really neat and tidy. It only took an extra half an hour but its definitely a step worth taking.
As the body of the jacket is made up of three pattern pieces the front/collar, the side and the back the straight line quilting gave me a chance for some fun cutting out! I decided to cut the front and back with the lines going vertically and cut the sides and the sleeves with the lines going horizontally. This ended up being my favourite detail of the coat and I’m already imagining how you could use this idea to add interest to a raglan jumper.
I also further emphasised the style lines by doing a lot of top stitching. Stitch wise because its such a stable knit I just used the regular straight stitch on my machine with regular thread. The stitches sunk into the fabric in a similar way to top stitching boiled wool. The only real issues I had with the actual sewing was that I needed to use my walking foot to keep everything feeding through evenly, I’m guessing that this is because of the thickness. And that I struggled with some of the top stitching and the hems again this was definitely because of the thickness. Due to this I only did a single turn on the hem, but luckily because of my overlocking it still looks neat.
I did struggle to get my belt loops on because of the thickness but with a bit of grunting and shoving I eventually got them on! I hand stitched my facings down and because of the thickness of the fabric there is no trace of them from the outside.
The jacket is beautifully warm and the Fabric hangs really nicely to say its so thick. The collar sits nicely and I really like that I can wear the jacket open or closed. I wish I had added pockets but I only end up overfilling them and spoiling the way it hangs anyway!
I used the grey colour because I knew the vertical and horizontal lines would show up best but I’m already dreaming of a snugly hoody made up in the black colourway!
I can’t to wear it once the weather gets colder!
Love, Frankie x