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Papercut Patterns Sigma Dress

Hi everyone, it's Kathy here again from www.sewdainty.co.uk and I am delighted to be writing another guest post for the Minerva Crafts Blog.

A few weeks ago I noticed that Minerva Crafts were now stockists for Papercut Patterns. This is great news as it means you can get your hands on their lovely patterns without waiting for them to be shipped over from New Zealand which is where they are based. The pattern I chose is the Sigma Dress Sewing Pattern.

The pattern packaging is just beautiful, it feels like you are opening a gift. Inside are the instructions and pattern pieces to make the dress (and a skirt), and are printed on great quality thick brown paper. 

Papercut patterns choose to use 100% recycled and recyclable products wherever possible. The pattern is also multi-sized and has a great range of sizes from XXS - XL.

My fabric choice is a pretty soft lightweight Cotton Chambray Fabric. It was perfect. I knew I wanted a light to medium weight cotton and this chambray has just the right amount of weight to give the gathers at the waist the correct amount of structure.

Cutting out the pattern was easy and straightforward, thanks to a nice clear cutting layout. Although the fabric isn't particularly directional, I did find that when I looked at it I did have a preference to which way I wanted it to lay, so was careful to make sure the pattern pieces where all the correct way up. This did mean moving some of the pieces so that they weren't placed 'upside down' but it was easy to do and didn't seem to use up any extra fabric. I should say that this dress comes up quite short so I also chose to add 8cm in length to the dress skirts, as I am quite small (5'2"), and this was perfect for me.

I love the design of this dress. The sweet little gathers at either side below the waist seam are so pretty and flattering, and lovely and simple to sew. It also has pockets, and we all love pockets in a dress don't we?

The only challenges this dress has in terms of skills needed are darts, gathers and zip insertion. So perhaps not suitable for a total beginner, but for someone that has a little bit of previous sewing experience. Papercut patterns rate their patterns in 3 bands of difficulty, and this sits in their middle band described as a 'skilled' project.

The dress fastening is a 60cm Invisible Zip. I love the look that an invisible zip gives but I see no reason that you couldn't use a more chunky zip if you prefer that finish.

I chose to make the short sleeved version, but there is the option to make a long sleeved dress if that is your preference. As mentioned there is the option to make just the skirt too! How great!

I am absolutely thrilled with how the dress has turned out. It is fairly simple to sew, true to size, and I know that I will make many more of these dresses - I am already planning my next one!  I certainly think it is a dress that could look quite different in a plain fabric - maybe this could give you a more formal look. 

I also added a name label when attaching the neck facing, I don't always remember to do this when I get carried away with my sewing!

So there you have it. A super little dress pattern which I am totally in love with. I do hope that you have enjoyed this review and might be inspired to give it a go yourself.

Happy sewing! 

Kathy 

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Product Review: Prym Ironing Sheet by Simona

Hi Everyone,

We have had some fab new Haberdashery products from Prym in stock recently so we decided to send some off to our Minerva product reviewers to see what they thought! We sent the Prym Ironing Sheet to Simona from Sewing Adventures in the Attic blog for her to test and here is what she had to say....

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About a month ago or so, the lovely people at Minerva Crafts have put a call out for crafty people that could help them test the products they want to sell on their impressive online shop. I thought this is a fun opportunity to test some products and looks at things from the point of view of the user and share this with others, so signed up for it.

I was asked to test the Prym Ironing Sheet for Quitling and Sewing which is described as a 'Multifunctional ironing underlay, with printed cm grid and angle markings as well as sorting loops and pockets, pin cushion and removable fabric bag. The perfect accessory for any crafter, quilter or dressmaker!'

This came right on time as I was thinking of ways I could avoid using my ironing board. It comes well packaged and it's light weight, although it looks a bit bulky in the package.

When you take out of the pack, it has creases from being packed. However once you start using it the creases come out and it lays flat on your table or the flat surface you want to use it on.

If you know you will be using a lot of steam, I suggest you use it on a surface that it is not affected by steam. This is because the steam travels through and can wet your table. I suggest you not to use it directly on a surface that is not suitable. To sort this issue one could use another layer of cotton or a tablecloth that could absorb the steam.

It is made of 3 layers one of calico, one of padding and one of heat reflective material all overlocked together . It has one removable fabric bag, 3 pockets big enough to keep all sort of haberdashery and a pincushion. All very useful.

I prefer to use the removable bag to keep my labels. However it is big enough to use for small pieces of fabric or threads you cut off while working, to keep the area tidy and off the floor.

The top layer has printed on it a grid that can be used to check small measurements and you do not fancy taking out your tape measure. It also has angles of 30, 45 and 60 degrees marked on it as well.

The pockets are quite big and I tend to keep spare needles, scissors, threads, my marking pen, zips or other supplies needed for the current project so I can have access to them quicker.

Just to warn you, that if you use the pockets you will then need to use your sewing machine and iron to anchor it to your table. Otherwise the weight will pull it off the table. This means you lose working space because of the machine. I would have loved to keep my items in the pockets permanently. I think a wider sheet with maybe pockets on both long sides would have solved this issue. The problem is solved if you skip on using the pockets and only make use of the pin cushion and use the ironing sheet only for pressing seams.

I tend to use mine all on the table, so I can only add a few items I need for the project I am currently working on which are not too bulky.

Because of its size (50cmx92cm) it is also suitable to be taken out of the house, where it would not be easy to take an ironing board (such as a sewing club in a Community Centre). I only need a Prym Mini Iron now to go with it.

Although I'd make some changes to make it perfect for me, I think it is a pretty nifty product, that could help those struggling with space and can't keep the ironing board up all the time, especially as sometimes you don't need a lot of space to press your seams.

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Q&A with Lara from Handmade by Lara Liz

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

I am so excited to be here today on the Minerva Crafts blog chatting a little bit about my love of sewing and about my blog! My name is Lara and I’m a blogger from Arlington, VA USA – just outside Washington, DC. I started my blog Handmade by Lara Liz as a way to document my makes and connect even further with the incredible network of sewists! I blog about my makes, sewing plans, favorite sewing notions and tools and patterns and fabric that I love.

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

I am rather new to the crafting world. When I was in elementary school and middle school, I was the student that avoided art class at all cost! Much to my surprise, after I got married in 2015, I decided to take up knitting and fell in love with it immediately. After taking a learn to knit course where I knit a scarf that I never even finished, I started knitting shawls, hats, blankets and sweaters.

As a financial statement auditor during the day, I find myself spending the majority of my work day working on the computer and was so desperately searching for something different to do in the evenings and weekends when I’m not working! Knitting fit the bill 100%.

After knitting for 6 months, I decided to give sewing a whirl. While I never ever thought I would be sewing garments, I took a sewing lesson at a local sewing shop and have been sewing garments ever since!

What is your favourite craft?

It’s hard for me to choose between knitting and sewing as they really are so different in my mind. Knitting for me is the ultimate relaxing activity – a good thing for me to do to wind down at the end of the long day. Sewing on the other hand is a way for me to replace so many of my ready to wear clothes in my closet with clothes that I love and feel SO proud of! I do think sewing is my favorite by a smidge though as I don't tend to wear my hand knits, but I wear all of my handmade sewn clothes.

What do you love most about crafting?

As someone who wasn't a huge crafter until recently, I love the way it provides a nice distraction from the other busy parts of our lives. Prior to picking up knitting and subsequently sewing, I would come home at night from work, watch Netflix and spend time on my phone and computer. Once I started knitting and sewing, I feel so much more productive during the week and on the weekends when I'm not working and I have some really amazing clothes to show off when I head back to work on Monday!

Do your friends or family craft along with you?

While I don't have any family that crafts along with me, I've been so fortunate to meet (or connect with via blogs and instagram) so many amazing sewists. I sew often at my local sewing shop, where I've met some amazing women to share my craft with!

Who do you make things for?

I unfortunately (or fortunately for me!) am a selfish sewist. I've made some accessories for other people, but I mainly sew for me!

What 3 sewing tools could you not live without?

This is a tough one – I'm a notions kind of girl! But if I had to pick three essentials, I would say:

1. Seam Ripper – I mean, I can pretend that I don't make tons of mistakes but that would be a big lie! The seam ripper and I are best friends. I've tried a bunch of different types of seam rippers, but always go back to the tried and true like this one here!

2.       Wonder Clips – I use pins of the majority of my woven garments while sewing, but tend to use wonder clips when sewing up knits. They help keep the fabric stable as I run it through the overlocker.

3.       Rotary Cutter – I cut almost all my fabric using a rotary cutter. My favorite one is this Olfa Deluxe Safety Rotary Cutter. If I didn't have it, I wouldn't be able to cut into my fabric!

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

Rayon Fabrics and Knit Fabrics hands down! I love rayons as the drapiness on it makes it look so much like many of the ready to wear items in my closet. Knits are so quick and satisfying – plus, they are so comfortable.

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

I tend to sew indie patterns so I picked some patterns + fabric combinations that are right up my alley from the Minerva Crafts website – who knows, you might see one of these combinations on me soon!

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top and Dress + Diamond Quilted Stretch Jersey

Colette Laurel Top and Dress + Pastel Floral Pink Poplin or Vintage Style Pastel Floral  Poplin in Ivory

Pauline Alice Aldaia Dress + Bright Pink Ponte Roma

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

I am a serial monogamous sewist – so usually just one at a time!

Whats your favourite thing you have ever made?

Hands down, my Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns (see pattern here). If you're interested in sewing up a pair of jeans, I highly recommend this as a great first jean pattern! I've made three pairs and there will be many more in my future – I'm dreaming up some colored and white jeans for this summer!

Some of my other favorite include by Chloe Coat from Sew Over It, my Bonn Shirt from Itch to Stitch and my Heather Dress from Sew Over It.

 

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

I don't tend to watch TV or listen to music but I listen to audio books. I use audible on my phone and a wireless speaker that I can hear over the sewing machine. Some of my favorites books I've listened to recently are What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

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

Instagram is an endless source of inspiration for me!

Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?

I follow lots of other blogs and bloggers on Instagram. Check out my Bloglovin' page to see all the blogs I follow!

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Product Review: Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles by Diane

I was delighted to find out a few weeks ago that I had been selected to be a Product Tester for Minerva - they have the biggest selection of fabric, knitting, haberdashery and crafts products in the UK. Have a look at the products on their website for all kinds of crafting goodies. 
To start with, I've received two sets of Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles.  I first came across the term ergonomic in my Open University days as being a description for something that can be used safely and easily with optimum productivity and where form follows function.  It’s something I wouldn’t normally associate with knitting needles…. surely a knitting needle is a knitting needle and that's it?  I was intrigued to find out what could be different, especially as a left hander – would I be able to cope with them? 
The needles arrived in boxes with window fronts. I could see why when I handled them - they are very lightweight and need some kind of support around them for a point of sale area.
My current knitting project is the Central Park Hoodie by Heather Lodinsky.  It can be found all over the web and was first was printed in the Autumn edition of the 2006 Knitscene magazine. 
The yarn I'm using was bought for me as a birthday present and I am just commencing knitting again after all the busy events of last year!  Hopefully, I should be finished in time for autumn and winter this time round.  I have already had to undo the project once as the size I chose was coming up too small – I am using Lion Brand Wool Ease in Denim Twist, a wool and acrylic blend in a lovely mottled denim effect which knits up beautifully but is not the recommended 100% wool yarn for the pattern which would have knitted up bulkier.  Anyway, I've now finished the back, which gives you an idea of the cabling detail.  This was knitted on regular needles...
I have since started a sleeve using my 4mm Prym needles.
I have 4mm and 3mm needles to try and this rib was done on the 4mm.  The texture and tension of my knitting is the same as when using a regular needle.
You can see this by comparing with the rib of the finished back piece.
Needles are light alabaster coloured – good for knitting while watching tv in minimal light and when used in conjunction with dark coloured yarns such as this one.  They are also flexible and bendy – if you like that from a needle – therefore commuter friendly if you like to knit while you travel like me.  The larger size has the needle size printed on the body which is handy for identification.  They are triangular shaped which makes them comfortable to hold and use and I had no trouble with the needles in conjunction with my left handedness!  The Prym website explains that the triangle shape helps the stitches to glide easily.  
The needles have a drop shaped tip too which, as Prym explain, has been done to help with picking up and guiding of yarn.
The grooved bobble end allows for clicking the other needle into place when not in use.
They are made from a high performance synthetic material which doesn’t get sticky in use from your hands.
This is me using the needles at our work craft club which meets each Wednesday lunchtime.  We try out any kind of crafting as an oasis from the work environment.  I find knitting or patchwork to be the most portable.
I love, love how the needles click together when not in use to stop stitches falling off.
However ... take note and make sure your work is well hidden in your bag when travelling.  The needles are so lightweight that one of them made the journey on its own to Kings Cross, as it must have pinged off and then out of my bag when I gathered up my things to alight at Cambridge. I looked everywhere for it and came to the conclusion that the train was the only place where I could have lost it ...
Everything has been thought of with this product. Priced at £5.99 per pair, that is quite reasonable and I liked using them, though given the light nature of these needles I think I would like to try out yarns such as laceweight with them. Overall, an enjoyable experience for my first outing as a Product Tester!
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Product Review: Villa Rosa Patterns by Nicky

Last month I was sent a couple of the Villa Rosa Quilting Patterns to try out. These are handy postcard sized patterns, printed on card with a nice high gloss picture on the front & instructions on the back, for quilt designs and accessories.

I haven't done much quilting so it was interesting to look at the good company Quilt Pattern for an idea of a new block to try. The pattern clearly lists the fabric required and how it should be cut. This is explained by means of a description, measurements & a diagram.

It then explained how to sew the strips together to produce the blocks, the need to trim to the required size and how they should be assembled to get the final effect, as shown in photo.

I would suggest the pattern is aimed at someone like me that had already been introduced to some basic quilting techniques as it does not state details such as seam allowance for stitching the strips or blocks together or how to quilt or bind the finished piece.

The second pattern I tested was for a Seven-Pocket Work Apron Sewing Pattern

Again the pattern states a list of fabric requirements and the sizes of all the pieces to be cut. All pattern pieces needed for this make are rectangular so easily draw out from the measurements given.

Clear instructions describe how each pocket is constructed with a diagram showing all placements, then the instructions follow on to cover the assembly of the main apron body, the backing, waistband & ties.

This would be a great pattern for a beginner as there are no fiddle curves or fitting issues. The finished apron is a great practical make and would make a great gift.

Having used these two patterns I have found the Villa Rosa patterns to be informative and inspiring, which is fantastic at such a reasonable price per pattern. It's a great idea to have them in the format of postcards as this means they are easy to store, have to hand while perusing Minerva’s Beautiful Fabrics, or to carry around in your handbag just in case you spot some fabric when your out and about!  

Thanks for reading,

Nicky @ Sew and Snip

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Guest Post: Circle Skirt Tutorial

Hello,

It's Sarah here from Alabama Sews and I am here today on the Minerva Crafts Blog to show you a tutorial on how to make your own circle skirt.

Circle skirts are one of my favourites to make and wear. They are super quick to sew and flatter every body shape. Plus they can easily be dressed up or down. For my nautical version I went casual with a self drafted ponte roma jersey top and trainers. 

Supplies:

·      Paper or card at least 30” square, depending on size of skirt.

·      Marker pen(s).

·      Long ruler.

·      2m of 60” wide Dressmaking Fabric. (More or less fabric may be needed depending on the size and length of your skirt).

·      1/4m of Lining Fabric.

·      1/4m of Interfacing that matches the weight of your fashion fabric.

·      9” Dress Zip or Invisible Zip to match fabric.

·      1” Button or skirt Hook and Bar

Measuring

1.     Measure your waist. This can be your natural waist, or the point at which you would like your skirt to sit. 

2.     We will use our waist size as the circumference of our circle. To be able to draft our skirt, we need to calculate the radius of this circle. 

The formula for this is Radius = Waist/2 Pi

Or if maths isn’t your forte you can use the handy table I prepared earlier!

3.     Using two long lines, draw a right angle. (Start an inch or two away from the corner of your paper as we will need this space later). From the corner, mark your radius length on each line. 

4.     From the corner of your right angle, starting at one side, measure out the distance of your radius and mark. Continue marking from one side to the other until you have a curve. 

5.     Join the marks to form a nice smooth curve. This is your waist seam. 

6.     Decide on the length you want your finished skirt to be. From your waist curve and starting at one side, mark your skirt length continuing all the way round to the other side. 

7.     Join your points to form a smooth curve. This is your skirt hem. 

8.     Along both sides and above the waist, add 5/8” seam lines. Add 1” seam line below the hem. 

9.     Label your pattern piece if you haven’t already done so. I like to mark my patterns with all the details I might need in the future. Like the size of the seam allowances, the size, side seams, centre front, centre back, grainlines and how many pieces of each I need to cut. I know from experience, it’s easy to forget! 

Waistband

Your waistband size will be your waist measurement plus 3.25”. (So if you measured your waist at 32”, your waistband will be 35.25”). 

1.     Draw a rectangle that measures your waistband size by 3.25” high.

2.     At each end of your waistband, mark lines 5/8” in to show your seam lines. 

3.     At one end, mark a line 1.5” in from your seam line and label it the centre back.

4.     Halfway between the centre back (CB) and the seam line on the other end, make a point and label it the centre front (CF). These marks are to help you later when attaching the waistband to the skirt. 

Pockets

*If you don’t want to add pockets, skip this part and move onto cutting your skirt.*

1.     Using a small piece of paper, draw around your hand. 

2.     Join the two ends of your pocket with a straight line.  Draw a 5/8” seam allowance around the pocket and a 3/8” seam allowance at the side seam. 

Cutting your skirt

1.     Using your skirt piece, fold under the seam allowance on the centre seam only. Place the centre seam on the fold of your fabric and cut 1 piece. 

2.     Unfold the centre seam allowance. Cut 2 from your fabric using this pattern piece. 

3.     Cut 1 waistband from your fabric, 1 from your lining and 1 from fusible interfacing. (You can use your outer fabric for the lining if desired). Iron your interfacing to your outer fabric waistband piece.

Sewing your skirt

*If you are not adding pockets, skip ahead to step 5. You can finish your seams at this point if desired.* 

1.     Mark a point 3 inches down from the waist on each side seam. Place a pocket piece on the side seam at this mark, right sides together (RST). 

2.     Sew the pocket to the side seam using a 3/8” seam. 

3.     Repeat for each pocket. 

4.     Fold pockets out and press.

5.     Place front and one back piece RST. Sew side seam using a 5/8” seam.  If you have added pockets, sew down the side seam until you reach the pocket, then sew around the pocket and continue back down the side seam to the skirt hem. 

6.     Repeat for the other side seam.

7.     Sew an invisible or lapped zipper in the centre back and finish the centre back seam. I chose a handpicked lapped zipper for my skirt.   

You can find an invisible zipper tutorial here and a lapped zipper tutorial here

8.     Place your outer waistband onto your skirt waist seam, right sides together, lining up the centre front and centre back markings. At the centre back, one end of your waistband should extend 5/8" past the back of your skirt and the other end should extend 2 5/8". 

9.     Sew your waistband to your skirt using a 5/8” seam, starting and stopping at the centre back of your skirt. Fold waistband out and press seams towards waistband. 

10.  Place your waistband lining on your waistband, right sides together. Using a 5/8” seam, sew the waistband and lining together along each side and along the top. 

11.  Trim seams, clip corners and turn waistband lining to inside. Press.

12.  Fold all seams to inside of waistband. Either sew the waistband lining down by hand or stitch in the ditch on the outside of your skirt.

13.  If you have opted for a hook and eye, sew these to the waistband and the overlap. 

If you have chosen a button closure, sew a buttonhole in the overlap of your waistband. Sew your button onto your waistband. 

14.  We’re nearly there but have one important step left before we finish the hem… hanging your skirt! Because circle skirts are cut on the bias of the fabric, they have a tendency to stretch. Hemming it now would mean you eventually end up with a wonky hem. If you want a nice even hem on your skirt, it is really important to let it hang for at least 24 hours. The longer the better! Either leave your skirt on a tailors dummy (if you have one) or on a hanger. 

15.  Once you’ve left your skirt to hang, the hem will need to be evened up. A little trick I use to get the hem nice and even is to lay my skirt out flat and lay my original pattern piece on top. The smooth hemline gives a guide to trim to.  

16.  Once you’ve trimmed any excess fabric, finish your hem in your preferred method. I usually opt for either a rolled hem or horsehair braid. For this version, I used 1” horsehair braid as it gives an extra bit of poof.

I hope you’ve enjoyed drafting and making your own circle skirt and I’d love to see all your creations!

Sarah x

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Product Review: Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles by Harriet

Hi Everyone,

We are introducing a new element to the Minerva Crafts Blog this year. The idea is to have a team of creative, talented bloggers from around the world to give honest reviews about specific products we sell. The idea came about as there is so often times when we stock a new product and although most of us here at Minerva HQ sew and knit, we never have the time to test everything because we stock so many products. Therefore we set about to look for enthusiastic and creative people to help us. The response we had to this was unbelieveable and we now have a fantastic team of creatives to try out new products for us and give you their honest opinions here on the blog.

We were really interested in setting up a product review scheme for a few reasons - firstly so we can have quality control checks on many of our products. Secondly so we can put this review up on our blog so you can see honest and detailed reviews about products they may be interested in purchasing. And thirdly because we like to see what different people can do with the same product, to really showcase the versatility of a product and to show our customers just what you can do with it! And so I am delighted to welcome you to our first product review of our brand new Knitting Needles that have just arrived in the UK and the wonderful Harriet from Hobbling Handmades blog is here to share her experience with you...

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Being both an avid knitter and someone with a joint condition, I jumped on the chance to try these Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles to review (even though I replied a little bit late to the email – thankfully Vicki was kind enough to let me try them anyway).

Usually when I knit, I find that it causes pain in my wrists and fingers, so I was very excited to try these needles that have been 'designed for human hands' (a quote from the Prym website). Here are some of the features that make up the single-pointed, straight needles that I tried:

  • They are made of a 'high performance synthetic material

  • Have hook tips (rather than a straight point at the end of the needle)

  • Rather than being a cylinder, the needles have a triangular shape

  • The bobbly ends of the needles have grooves so that they can be clicked together

  • 35cm length in sizes 3.0 – 10.0

  • 40cm length in sizes 3.0 – 12.0

Obviously, I'm going to be reviewing this as someone that has a joint condition – I'm not sure whether these needles were specifically made with people that have illnesses such as mine in mind or whether they're just for normal people – obviously that does make a little bit of a difference, but there are other bloggers that will be reviewing these needles for Minerva too, so do see what they say too!

So – onto the needles! For some reference, I tried out these sizes:

  • 10mm in 35cm length

  • 4.0mm in 40cm length

The material:

I did find that the material that the needles are made of to be really nice, as the stitches slid across them beautifully and they aren't cold to the touch at all – even on a chilly day! It's never welcoming when you pick up your lovely, cosy-looking knitting and are greeted with super cold metal needles, right?

The hook tips:

These tips definitely have been thought about! I found that they were much easier to use, and didn't split the yarn at all. I didn't try it myself, but I also imagine that this feature will really help when you're doing something fiddly like knitting three together or passing a slipped stitch!

The triangular shape:

This feature works well together with the synthetic material I think, and really helps the stitches to slip along the needles. I also found that the shape of of the needles made them much easier to hold, as I could rest the heel of my hand on one of the sides as I knit! If you're someone that uses a row counter that slips onto your needle though, it might be worth bearing in mind that this shape will make it a bit trickier to get that on.

The grooved ends:

I did like these for keeping the needles together, but I must say I didn't use this feature an awful lot. With the bigger size, (10mm) it took a bit of force to prize them apart and then click them back together, while with the smaller size they wouldn't click together at all without a lot of attempts. Maybe there's a knack to those ones! 

The range of sizes and lengths:

I think that the options that Prym offer in regards to the range of sizes and two different lengths is pretty impressive! I tried a 10mm needles in 35cm (the largest size on the shorter needles) and really loved everything about the length. The 35cm meant that the needles were long enough to fit a large number of stitches, but not so long that the ends of the needles were flying about as I tried to knit!

I also tried the longer length, which I didn't love so much unfortunately! I found them to be too long – they were hitting things around me as I used them, and worst of all, they bent!

I'm almost certain that the bending is down to the length rather than the strength of the material, and that this small size wouldn't bend much, if at all, if it was on the 35cm needles instead of 40cm. These longer needles would definitely work better with a thicker size bending-wise, but I think you might still find that they wave around a bit too much as you knit – something that I found to be very tiring for my wrists! So my advice would be: if you have a joint condition that affects your ability to knit, definitely go for the shorter length, especially if you're using a smaller circumference!

All in all, I found these needles made it much easier to knit, and I was able to carry on for longer with far less discomfort! Going back to normal needles afterwards felt very strange (and must less comfortable) so I would most definitely recommend them to anyone that has trouble knitting for long periods of time, or has a joint condition. Maybe go for the shorter length though!

Happy knitting!

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#patternoftheweek - Sew Different

As you may be aware, here at Minerva we have a vast array of Indie Sewing Patterns including Collette, Tilly and the Buttons, in fact too many to mention. And not forgetting all the 7 mainstream patterns. You can imagine how hard it is looking through all these thousands of patterns to choose just one to offer you as our #patternoftheweek. Haha only kidding... I'm in my element. 
So this week I thought we would have a change and offer you one of the independent patterns as our #patternoftheweek. The company is 'Sew Different' and the pattern is their 'Colour Block Dress'.
Their description of this pattern says it all... 
"The Colour Block Dress is a 60's inspired number with a modern twist. This loose fitting A-line dress finishes just above the knee. Mix and match your shades and fabrics for full colour blocking effect. The strong diagonals, drawing the eye down, are flattering for all figure types. No zip required."
My only issue is with the recommended fabrics. 
As you can see from the above photo a few fabrics are mentioned including scuba which is a stretch fabric then underneath it says not suitable for stretch fabrics? Again I can't understand why it's not suitable for linen. Possibly because they are likening it to cheesecloth but there are many different weights of linens and I would think most would be suitable.
I love the construction of this dress, take a look at the following photo.
As with most dressmaking projects it would be an advantage to sew a toille first but lets face it you could just use up any old scraps which leads me to say "think scrapbag" for the actual dress. Some of these pieces are quite small so you could rumage through your fabric stash and use this as an opportunity to use up all those smaller pieces you have left over from other projects. 
Overall the instructions seem very clear and I'd be more than happy to make this dress.
Regarding fabric, you can see from the line art on the front of the pattern, as previously mentioned, that there are a few small pieces. I would seriously consider using some fat quarters. This way you would have less waste and a very varied choice and therefore 'build' on to these fat quarters. If this choice is taken my advise would be stick to cottons of a similar weight. However these days anything goes and you may have noticed many dresses,tops etc., are made up from various weights of fabrics. Take Joe Browns design range for example, definitely anything goes and most of the time looks brilliant.  
And so for now tara, happy sewing and thanks for reading.
Annette xx
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#FabricFriday - New Fabrics for April

Another Friday, another opportunity to show you some of our fab fabrics here at Minerva. The following fabrics are all new for this season and if not already in stock are certainly imminent. First today is this beautiful 'owl' Fabric, it is 56" wide and is made from 65% cotton - 35% polyester.
The following photo shows the close-up of the owl, how cute is that.
Our website description is...
"This beautiful quality fabric is a cotton and polyester canvas that is surprisingly soft and supple. The weight of this fabric makes it ideal for making jackets, trousers, skirts and dresses with structure. We also think this fabric would make fab cushions and bags".
I'm actually thinking cushions with this fabric. It would look perfect in my conservatory but I would have to add an accent of red. If nothing else springs to mind then a red piping inserted round the edge would look fab, don't you think? If this fabric is a little busy for you then check out our new Bird Fabric...
Birds again but this time with more of a plain background and look at the detail in one of the birds.
Both fabrics are the same colour and the same base fabric, both priced at £8.99 per mt.
This next fabric is just brill, a little retro I feel. I'm thinking 60's are you? This Cotton Fabric certainly fits the bill.
It comes in 3 fab shades but I must admit the cream background is my favourite (yes I know creams, beige's and browns are always my favourite haha...but hey there is a hint of other colours in there!) 
Take a look at Simplicity Sewing Pattern 3833, it is a direct copy of an original 60's pattern and dont you think this fabric would just be amazing for it?
We're talking a little more pricewise, £11.99 per mt but you are getting 55% linen with 45% viscose. It hangs beautifully and how about combining this with our Blades Linen Fabric in colour Aurora Burnt Orange (very 'in' this season). 
"Warning" if combining these two fabrics you MUST WASH FIRST. They are different in their content, linen and viscose as opposed to linen and cotton but once washed and dried they will sew well together. 
It's very hard trying to find just 3 or 4 fabrics to show you each Friday out of the thousands here at Minerva, good job I get to do it each week!
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx
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Guest Post: The Half Square Block Tutorial

Hi Everyone,

Im Bianca and I blog over at Sleepless in Bavaria. I am delighted to be making a guest appearance on the Minerva Crafts Blog today.

If you've been thinking about taking up quilting and have found the process of making different quilting blocks daunting and maybe even a little terrifying, look no further.

In this tutorial you will be taught how to make perfect half square blocks that in return can be turned into a number of different shapes to make your own finished project versatile and intricate.

To get the best results you'll need the following tools, which you might already have in your sewing arsenal and if not we've linked in the products from the site that you might consider ordering. You can of course use normal fabric scissors to cut the fabric, however the more accurate you cut and sew the blocks, the better the end results.

Making a Half Square Quilting Block

Minerva Crafts offers a fantastic range of quilting cottons and poplins, which have a great quality and are easy to use, especially for beginners. For this tutorial, I will be using plain Cotton Poplin Fabrics that come in lots of colours. I recommend washing and ironing your fabrics before cutting into them, as they might shrink a little bit the first time they are washed.

For this very simple block you'll need to cut your fabrics into 5" squares. The best way to do this is by using the markings on your cutting mat as pictured below. If you fold your fabric to almost the size of the cutting mat and then cut the squares using your ruler and rotary cutter, you'll have made quite a number of squares very quickly.

Place two 5" squares on top of each other with the right sides facing and pin in place. Use your ruler and marking pen and draw a diagonal line from one corner to the other. You will want to sew a straight line ¼ from the line on both sides of said line as seen below. (Pro tip: if you want to save time, you could first pin and mark all the squares you would like to use and then sew/chain stitch all the squares continuously) once you've stitched both lines, cut down the marked line turning the square into two triangles.

Press the triangles open making sure that the seam allowance is pressed onto the darker fabric, so it doesn't show through the lighter fabric.

You might also have noticed, that they all look a bit uneven or even jagged, but don't worry, we'll take care of that in a little bit. You'll want your finished block to be 4 ¼" , use your square ruler and match up the diagonal line on the ruler with the diagonal line on the block, making sure that the square will fit into the above mentioned dimensions. See how there's fabric protruding the side of the ruler? Use your rotary cuter and trim the excess fabric down (including the tails), do this with the other two sides of the square.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You now have 2 half square blocks. But first: make yourself a cuppa and have a biscuit, you deserve it!

Turning your Half Square Blocks into Sample Quilting Blocks

You'll be surprised to know, that you've already mastered the hardest part of the tutorial by making the half square blocks. You can now decide on what kind of pattern you'd like to make. Below you'll find a few examples of how to make different quilting blocks by using 4 half square blocks:

The Half Square:

The easiest block there is, just line up 4 half square blocks.

The Flying Geese:

Personally, my favorite block is the flying geese block, seen below it basically just two blocks put together that form a triangle.

The Windmill:

It looks like a rather complicated block, but all you have to do is make sure the half square blocks are places correctly as seen bellow and you're good to go.

The Parallelogram:

Just put 2 half square blocks together, on the right way around and one on its head and you'll have another difficult looking block put together.

Once you've decided on a block, lay out the half square blocks the way you'd like them too look and then always pin two blocks together making sure the right sides are facing each other.

Sew the blocks with a ¼" seam allowance and then press open. Repeat again to sew the top and bottom half of the block together.

The great thing about making different blocks in different colors, means that that a gazillion ways you could put the blocks together.

You could chose to just go with one block throughout the quilt and use different colors to make it more interesting to look at. Or you could use just one block and one color for a very modern quilt. It could look like something like this:

You could of course chose to use all the blocks and put the quilt together like a true sampler quilt, in which every block is different, it could like something like this:

At the end of the day, you are your own boss and can decide what you'd like your finished quilt to look like, there is no right or wrong and I am sure whatever you chose, it will be much loved and fantastic.

We'd love to see what you make with our simple quilting blocks so do tag us on IG with #minervacraftsquilts

Thanks for reading,

Bianca x

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