Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 23rd December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I was excited to see Erika Knight’s British Blue Wool on the list of options for review this month from Minerva Crafts. Wool - especially Brtitish wool - is my favourite fibre for crochet. It’s renewable, versatile, warm and incredibly varied.
Almost all of my Mum’s family were all involved in the wool trade in some way, whether in trading or manufacturing, in the area around Bradford. Our town is still home to two mills, one of which is the home of the Erika Knight brand, so this yarn is perfect for me.
The colour range is beautiful and has quirky, amusing names (this one is ‘Steve’; others include ‘Iced Gem’ and ‘Mouse’). Although it splits a little from time to time, it is lovely to work with, gives excellent stitch definition and has some natural elasticity. I would happily wear it against my skin and could imagine using it for a variety of projects, even for babies and children. It is also machine washable, which is a huge bonus!
Immediately, I knew what I wanted to make. Crochet cables were on my mind because of a workshop that I taught at Yarndale in September, so I adapted the hat pattern that I used for teaching to make a cowl. Both patterns will soon be appearing on my blog, once I’ve taken some detailed step by step photos to explain the basics of crochet cables.
This yarn seems to suit the textured pattern really well as the stitch definition helps the cables and ribbing to stand out and creates a warm, resilient fabric, with good stretch and recovery. The texture is created by using post stitches – working around the stem or post of a stitch rather than into the loops at the top – which are alternated to create the ribbing and crossed to form cables.
If I could knit more than a teddy’s scarf, I’d certainly be making these adorable lovebirds. Somewhere in my stash of yarn, I have a couple more balls of this yarn in a pale yellow, so it’s time to find it and make something lovely.
Thanks for reading,
Eleanor @ nelnanandnora
Posted in Competitions and Giveaways on Saturday the 23rd December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 22nd December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
To read, look at or to craft by books have always been a great source of information and inspiration to me. When I was offered the chance to review the Tilda Toy Box Book I was over the moon. It also gave me a chance to get ahead for Christmas. My tiniest of nieces loves dressing up so I thought a dressing up doll would be the perfect gift. It would also help use up some of those fabric bits I’ve not got round to throwing out either. Please tell me I’m not the only one who saves bits.
It’s a beautiful book. Nice to hold, is that a weird thing to say, and full of ideas to make for your small people and one or two you could use for yourself.
It’s set out quite nicely, Tone goes through how to use the patterns and her ideas with the doll being the first make. Now, I'm not a lover of dolls but I love the shape of this doll. It’s not your average rag doll shape or the long thin dolls that Tilda dolls are normally associated with. She has a lovely friendly toddler shape. I can’t describe it any other way, it just seemed right. Also the way in which the hair was painted on reminded me of my little niece.
The patterns are all in the back of the book in nice clear template form to trace or photocopy off. I traced as none of them were very big and so didn’t take that long to draw out. I found this was also perfect for using up smaller pieces of pattern paper left from grown up size projects.
Once I traced off the main doll parts I set them out on some fabric. I used some cream curtain lining. It wasn’t good enough for curtains as it’d been sitting about for sometime but it was perfect for this little doll. A word of warning, read the instructions before you cut anything out. I say this out of experience because I was cutting out happily when I considered the size of the arms and legs…There was no seam allowance on the pattern. Tone recommends using a ¼” or 6mm seam. It’s in the notes of the book. Lesson learned, and she was re-cut with seam allowances. Well, the legs and arms were. I guessed the head and body could take it due to their shape.
It’s all quite easy to put together but I wouldn’t recommend this to a beginner. It’s fiddly and unless you have a vague idea how things might go together it could be confusing. I put all of the pieces together and trimmed to make it easier to turn. I use pinking shears for trimming curves. It saves snipping by automatically creating the perfect turning shape.
The legs and arms were tricky to turn but if you have a Loop Turner it can be done without too much fuss. I stuffed with a standard Toy Stuffing and on the books recommendation used a stick for the arms and legs. Chop sticks have their alternate uses. Health and safety warning! Don’t use a kebab stick as you’ll end up stabbing yourself or at the very least go through your fabric. The legs are then machined onto the body.
The doll is generally put together by hand stitching the parts together so, you need to use quite small and secure stiches. Hopefully this will be a much loved, much played with toy so you don’t want an arm to fall off or heaven forbid the head. Some people just stitch small and on this occasion, it can be a good thing. Once stuffed the head is easiest attached by pinning in place to make sure it stays on straight. Be careful not to leave too much neck a this can lead to a wobbly head.
The instructions for the painted hair were very effective, I drew an outline with a dissolvable pen to find the right line and then painted with textile paint. Warning! Try not to get the brush too wet as the paint may bleed into the fabric. I found a textile pen a good tool to get a nice crisp edge to the hair line.
I used the nobble of a pin to mark the eyes which didn’t come out as crisp as I’d have liked so I added eye lashes to hide the smudge.
The clothes were easy enough to put together, though super fiddly due to their size. I have new found respect for those people that make clothes for Barbie. I found the instructions quite easy to follow but if I’m honest I just took a quick look to make sure I was putting the right bits together and in the right place. I’m not a beginner so I don’t feel I can comment on the ease of instructions, but some are a little scarce.
I have to say I’ve had fun building a wardrobe, she now has a pile of scraps coordinated waiting to be made up. It’s for my niece, honest.
As I looked through the book I kept landing on the whale. He’s such a lovely shape. I’m hoping my nephew will enjoy him.
I’ve used a jersey for the top pieces to make him even more squishy. There is a whole section on a sea/pirate theme room. You can even make a pirate doll! Tempting. I’d bought a couple of lovely scraps form a local shop which at the time had no idea what I’d be doing with them. With a little blue added they were just the right size to have a go at the sardines.
Because you put the fabrics together first I found these quick to put together. I managed three out of my scraps by dovetailing the middle of the leftovers. No Idea what I’m going to do with them. It’s been suggested they’d work for a mobile, they are just the right size. You could make a few other sea creatures to add to them. I’m sure the small people will work something out.
Overall, I liked the set out of the book. There’s plenty of scope for putting your own mark on the basic models. Although it uses the Tilda range of fabrics, if you use a similar type of fabric it should still work. It has a good range of projects with a few simple ones and some that will encourage you to play with basic patchwork. If you’re a keen stitcher or crafter then I think you’d find something in this book. All you have to do then is carve out the time. It’s a book that will look nice on both the book shelf and craft table but be warned, if your small people or friends with smalls look through it you could find multiple pages marked for future projects as hints.
Thanks for reading,
Posted in Projects on Thursday the 21st December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Guest Posts on Wednesday the 20th December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
A couple of weeks ago I was offered the chance to review a stunning and unusual Fabric by Minerva Crafts. The fabric in question is the punched slinky satin dress fabric, and comes in a range of colours. As soon as I laid my eyes on the Burnt Orange version, I knew this fabric was for me! I snapped up 4m of it, with a plan forming in my head of what I would create.
After spotting a rusty orange coloured maxi waterfall jacket on Pinterest recently, I knew that this was the direction I wanted to go in. The jacket in question was worn to London Fashion Week, and styled with a very 70’s vibe. Dark blue flared jeans, a shirt, and this amazing orange jacket that I just couldn’t stop thinking about. Luckily, I even had a vintage 70’s pattern for a jacket that I thought would work. Fate!
My parcel arrived within days and as soon as I opened the package and saw the contents I was smitten. The colour of this fabric is delicious. The fabric itself, despite being an absolute steal at only £1.99 per metre, is such a great quality and looks very similar to silk – not the poor quality satins you often see at this price point.
This isn’t your regular satin. The fabric has been ‘punched’ all over, creating a very unusual perforated look. With the circular pieces of fabric still attached, it gives it lots of depth and texture, and really catches the light. This satin makes me think of high fashion fabrics, and something you would see swooshing down the catwalk. The burnt orange colour is really on-trend right now too, which only added to my love affair with this burnt orange beauty.
The pattern I chose is a very simple on with only 2 pattern pieces that I used. The jacket main, and the sleeves. This was handy as the holes in the fabric could be problematic when sewing, and so sewing as few seams as possible would be best. This jacket has only a back seam, and the shoulder and arm seams.
I used a very sharp needle and made sure I sewed very slowly and carefully. The fabric stitched together really well without the need of a walking foot which in my experience, is usually needed when sewing with something quite thin and slippery. I decided not to face or hem the edges of the fabric, I really liked the raw edge once cut. I simply added a little Fray Stop to the edges which did the trick nicely. Therefore, with such a simple pattern, and no hemming or facings in sight, this turned into an incredibly quick and simple project.
I haven’t made anything quite like this before, and it was my first foray into taking inspiration from current trends and putting my own spin on it. I am over the moon with the results. It’s really easy to wear and style, and the fabric hangs and drapes so nicely! I used 3m in total in the end, which takes the cost of the jacket to a shocking £5.97!
I styled my jacket with a pair of denim ninni culottes, a ruffled white shirt and some mustard platform heels. I wanted to do my own take on the original 70’s inspired outfit that gave me the initial idea for this jacket and I’m so in love with it. It swooshes and sways as you walk, and the shadows and textures created by the punched holes in the fabric give it such a high-end feel. A big tick in my box! This is the sort of jacket you can throw on over anything and instantly feel amazing. Plus, the colour is so rich and gorgeous – perfect for this time of year!
Thanks for reading,
Carly @ Lucky Sew and Sew
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 19th December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Monday the 18th December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
When I was little my Granny introduced me to rag rugging which she did as a little girl Post War. They made rugs out of every scrap of fabric which were bright and colourful and embracing the make Do & Mend philosophy of the day.
My project today is inspired by Granny’s 1940’s rugs and shows how far just half a metre of fabric can go to make a show stopping Christmas wreath. Once you get the bug, you’ll want to make one for your friends, neighbours...go on...one for every house in the street!
Here’s how I made mine in less than two hours.
Firstly choose your Christmas Fabric, I selected this gorgeous bottle green with white text Fabric because the dark background will stand out on most door colours and the white text means it can compliment it with a white organza fabric. It is also has polyester fibre in it which creates a stiffer fabric which we need for this project.
To start with I cut out 15 strips of my lovely fabric in 5 x 15cm strips. I used a 25cm Florist Copper Ring and tied the 15 strips equally around the base to make the start of my wreath.
I found it easier to work with your wreath as a whole circle and not just one corner as it’s hard to recreate the same style in equal areas. It also makes it quicker.
If you are adding a bow, I suggest get the widest and most shinest Crafting Ribbon you can find! I used one metre. I love a matching colour to keep the look traditional. Attach the bow with a few big stitches and a strong thread to the florist wire wreath. I tied a double bow to create a big shape but the style and size of the bow is up to you. Once you have your bow stitched on you can start to create the extra strips to rag rug with your remaining fabric.
I then cut various different length strips from my fabric to fill in the gaps between the rag rugs I had already created. This bit is up to you! I have seen people make lots of small strips or large deep strips and even double bows.
Start to add your strips onto your florist wire wreath and it will start to thicken up and give that vintage inspired wreath feel. I love this bit as the project really starts to take shape.
Once I had tied all my strips on I used 30cm of white organza fabric cut into 5 x 15cm strips to add a little depth to my creation.
And you are finished!
The beauty of rag rugging is that it’s so socialable. You can chat and make and within two hours it’s all finished and ready to hang.
Samantha has been teaching wreath making Crafternoons in the East Midlands since 2013 and has had a love of wreath making for 8 years. Look out for her festive workshops and 2018 hen parties at www.crafternoonteahostess.co.uk
Posted in Projects on Sunday the 17th December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
I was delighted to be asked to review the Kleiber Christmas Penguin Decoration Craft Felt Sewing Kit. It should really say ‘penguins’ as there are three in the pack, each different.
There are some other similar sized decorations in the range, and they all coordinate, so this is a simple way to expand your collection of handmade decorations.
It is a complete kit, containing all the felt pieces, the yarn, the stuffing, instructions, a plastic needle, and bobbles for the tiny hats.
The felt is prepunched for the needle holes, and as each penguin is different, each of the front pieces are pierced differently.
It was quite straightforward to work out which was which, but I still collated all the pieces for each penguin and kept them separate. If it looks as though you have pieces missing, check that they are not stuck together. I had three feet instead of six, but one of the feet was quite chunky, and it was indeed the missing feet as one bundle.
Three stitches are used to construct the penguins; back stitch, stocking stitch, and a knot stitch. I only know how to make a French knot, so when I refer to knot stitch, this is the one I’ve used. There are simple diagrams on the instructions that illustrate how to do the stitches, but there are better tutorials online if you need them.
You will need scissors or snips to cut thread, and it suggests a needle too. I sewed the majority with the plastic needle, and it was just right for most of it, but when it came to the knots, I used a sharp needle to puncture the felt next to the prepunched hole. I’m not sure how to do a French knot returning into the same hole, so instead I sewed them the way I’m comfortable sewing them.
The instructions are in German, English, French, and Italian, and are a mix of words and pictures. They are basic, but easy to follow, and sufficiently informative. I think a tween who could already sew would be able to make this, although I didn’t get the impression that it was a child’s kit.
The first penguin I made was the one with the scarf, because it looked the simplest. There are four steps to each penguin front, and they all start with sewing the white piece onto the front black piece. This is attached with back stitch.
The next step was to attach the hat and the scarf.
Then the beak and the feet. I would have found it helpful to have looked at a large picture of a completed penguin; you can see that I only made two stitches to hold the beak on; it should have been four. Two of the stitch holes are just hidden by the beak, and I didn’t twig that I should use them until I was onto the second penguin. It still looks good though.
The feet are attached by a knot. There is one stitch hole given. I’ve only ever made French knots by going up through the fabric, and down into the fabric, close to, but not into, the first hole. I changed to a sharp needle, and sewed the way I’m used to. After the first one, I used the pre-existing hole to go down into, because it gave a better effect. I wound round four times to make a more chunky knot. If you didn't want to use this stitch, you could secure the feet with a simple stitch.
The eyes are also a knot, in black thread. Again, you could vary the stitch, or add a small bead, if you didn’t want to use this stitch.
Stage one of penguin one is now complete. It already looks cute. You could easily use it as an appliqué if you preferred. Instant Christmas jumper!
I sewed the white piece and hat onto the black for both remaining penguins, and then continued with the wreath penguin.
The beak and feet are the next stage. I’ve tried to photograph myself making a French knot; the needle comes up through the fabric, and the hand not holding the needle holds the thread a few centimetres above the fabric.
Hold the needle horizontally in front of the thread, and keep it steady. With the yarn hand, wrap the thread once or twice around the needle.
I wanted a more chunky knot, so I wrapped round four times here. Put the needle back into the fabric very close to the hole where it came out, but not all the way through yet.
Pull the thread to tighten, and then push the needle all the way through. Et voila!
The wreath is held on by knot stitches, but you could use beads or maybe sequins here instead, and it would look very effective.
The bow is next. This tucks under the beak slightly, and goes over the top of the wreath.
Last to be sewn are the eyes, and there’s another penguin front complete.
I’m not sure how to describe the last penguin. Lights and baubles? That’s how I’ll refer to them here, although that may not be what they are.
This has lots of knots, so if you don’t want to use a knot stitch, I think beads would work best here.
I didn’t have enough red thread left, but luckily I had a very similar colour in my embroidery thread stash.
The string around the neck is the next step, and I had a good look at a picture first to make sure I knew how this was to be sewn.
The beak and feet, and the two red baubles are next. I added some yellow French knots on the string at this point, so I could finish with the yellow thread.
The green baubles are next. The outer one has a hole on the black outer, so it ends up looking quite jaunty.
Add knots to the string in each colour thread. Then add the eyes. That’s a third penguin front complete.
The stuffing comes vacuum packed.
This is quite fun to open, and expands to provide sufficient stuffing for three penguins, to give them a good depth.
The hanging loop is a short length of the black yarn, but you could substitute ribbon here.
The hanging loop needs to be attached securely. I stitched it to the inside of the back pieces first.
The front and back are attached by stocking stitch. Where the arm was, I did a simple stitch as stocking stitch wouldn’t work as well here.
Sew about two thirds round, and then stuff.
Push the stuffing down away from the seam, and finish sewing all the way round. If needed, squish the stuffing to even it out, and there is a lovely decoration, ready to hang.
There are three tiny pom-poms enclosed to become hat bobbles. I glued these on as per the instructions, and so far they’ve held. Although the felt is firmish, I don’t think the hat would support the weight of a bell, if you were thinking of a musical customisation.
I’m really pleased with how these have turned out. They are colourful and festive, and are a cheerful little decoration that I’m proud to have made. They’re on my notice board at the moment because I want people to see them, but they’ll look lovely wherever they end up.
They didn’t take long to make. I sat in front of the television, or sat and chatted, and at this very relaxed pace, I had them fully completed over a weekend. These kits are quick festive makes, and with three decorations in each pack, good value for money too.
Thank you Minerva Crafts for this opportunity, and thank you for reading.
Sew, sew, sew, Merry Stitchmas!
Emma @ Hot Tea on a Hot Day
Posted in Company News on Sunday the 17th December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Saturday the 16th December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod