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#PatternOfTheWeek - New Look 6298

Would you like to make a dress that you could sew in a very short time, have a choice of neckline, a choice of sleeve length, a choice of hemline and the choice of fab easy patch pockets that partly sew into the side seam? Add to that made in jersey fabric, no zip, raglan sleeves and a very slight fitted shape which will hide those lumps and bumps left over from Christmas, well look no further than New Look Sewing Pattern 6298. 
At first glance it looks like an elongated jumper, especially version D where there is a separate band sewn round the bottom edge. This band is slightly smaller than the bottom edge, therefore when stitching, the band is stretched slightly to fit the bottom edge of the dress.
I have to say I do think this hemline is very flattering when one is a little apple shaped (guilty!), So if this does appeal to you then I have great pleasure in offering it to you as our #patternoftheweek with 50% off for this week only. Each design is for stretch knits only and do remember if you are unsure of whether there is enough stretch in the fabric just use the pick-a-knit rule as shown on the back of the pattern envelope. Basically this means a 4" piece needs to be able to stretch to 6" reasonably easily for this pattern to be successful. From 4" to 6" is the amount of stretch needed for most patterns, however always check.
Here at Minerva we have 100's of Jersey fabrics but as usual I have tried to replicate the look on the pattern. Yet again I have to mention my favourite range of Ponte Roma Fabric. This is such an amazing fabric, I love it to bits. This comes in an amazing 22 colours. My favourite at the moment is Marl Brown which would quite replicate version B.
Looking at version A the fabric that springs to mind is our Poly Lycra Jersey Fabric. At first glance you would think it was this fabric. This is a 96% polyester and 4% lycra fabric at £9.99 a mt. 
And remember if you are new to dressmaking, a busy pattern can 'hide' one or two little errors!
My next choice, our mambo Spandex Jersey Fabric, replicates version C. This fabric is made from Rayon and Spandex and is also £9.99 a mt. I know on the pattern envelope it is just a drawing but they have tried to show how good it would look if you take time to match the stripes on those pockets and also line up the stripes on the sleeves with the main body.
My last choice for today is a fabulous Boucle Fabric that comes in 3 fab colours - Teal, Purple and Dark Red. Although my choice would usually be the Teal, I keep looking at the red, so rich and warm looking...
This fabric is a combination of 85% Acrylic, 10% Polyester and 5% Wool. It does say to hand wash this fabric but I must say I would be tempted to wash a little piece of this fabric before cutting out just to see what happens. I am pretty sure hand washing is suggested because of the wool content but at just 5% wool I don't think it would shrink much. So if you cut a strip of fabric off, wash and dry it, see what happens. If you are happy with that then wash and dry the whole piece and off you go! Our website description below describes it well and at just £8.99 per mt I feel it is a good buy.

"This beautiful jersey knit fabric has a small amount of wool fibres which give it that soft and fuzzy textured appearance. The boucle texture is just gorgeous and helps give this fabric some weight, making it ideal for making slouchy cardigans and sweaters, skirts and dresses".

As always thanks so much for reading and happy sewing!

Annette xx


#FabricFriday - Denim!

We're talking Denim Fabric today but where to start. Some look upon denim as their favourite pair of jeans or the go-to garment when all else fails. Every fashion shop has rows upon rows of denim garments, both Winter and Summer. So I think we can safely say Denim is everywhere and certainly here to stay. 
The first time I made a garment in Denim was way way back in the late 70's. I made a pair of trousers/jeans. At the time I didn't think it possible to make a pair of 'proper' jeans. The only denim available was quite a heavy denim, certainly not the easiest fabric to work with but somehow I managed to make some brilliant back pockets! Strips of denim were plaited and placed behind a 'window' of denim. Very hard to describe but I can assure you they were my pride and joy and bear in mind I could only look at the jeans in the shop for ideas and remember that info till I got home, what I would have given for a phone/camera (obviously unheard of then) to take a quick pic! 
I look back at this now and smile because although I have still never made a pair of 'proper' jeans, many people have. Take a look at Winnie's blog post on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network and see what a fantastic pair of 'proper' jeans she made. Superb. Although there are some 'proper' jeans patterns in all the main stream patterns, my favourite at the moment is Closet Case Ginger Pattern. This Indie pattern looks exactly like a 'proper' pair of jeans and therefore encourages you into having a go.
Also, way back then, it was the 'in' thing to wear denim garments together as in a shirt or jacket along with your jeans. Over the years this changed to just a pair of jeans or just a jacket but never more than one piece worn together. They do say what goes round comes round because look at the fashion world now, it is again 'cool' to wear denim outfits alongside each other!
So all this leads me to now say "The world is now your oyster" if you fancy making a denim piece. The choice goes way beyond the heavy denims of old (although yes they are still available). This season we have so much choice ranging from different weights to spotted, striped, flowered just to name a few. But today I want to show you the absolute latest to arrive here at Minerva.
First is our gorgeous new Stretch Denim Fabric which comes in 3 colours light, medium and dark blue. This fabric has just that little bit of stretch, similar to a stretch cotton, that makes it a joy to sew. This fabric would easily adapt to a very feminine style such as Kwik Sew Sewing Pattern 4068. This style is so easy to wear and would look fab in the light blue. I love the 3 buttons down the front of the dress and I've chosen these Heart Shape Buttons in red. Wouldn't they look nice?
Taking the buttons a stage further, take a look at our range of Dress it Up Buttons. These are a fantastic range of colouful and varied shape buttons that covers so many subjects, far too many to mention. For here and now I chose 'April Showers' to show you. How pretty and unusual would these look down the front of a dress, there are 8 pieces in 4 colours, 2 of each. I chose 3 of the colours in my next photo but if they looked a little too much, 2 buttons in 1 colour would look brill.
Two shades of this fabric could be used together as in the following photo, using KwikSew Sewing Pattern 4133 and why not go for the ultimate shirt look and use Fashion Snaps down the front as suggested on this pattern. It makes a change from buttons and buttonholes.
Moving on to another denim, we now stock a 4oz Washed Denim Fabric which as you would imagine is fabulously lightweight and soft and would feel wonderful against your skin. It comes in 3 fab shades of blue.
Apart from obvious choices like shirts, dresses etc., this would be ideal where gathers are used. Take a look at the following photo and you can see a fine fabric would be needed for these dungarees, Kwik Sew 4138, because of the gathers. Fab price too, £8.99 per mt and 58" wide.
Last but certainly not least is our new Embossed Denim Fabric. This fabric with a bit of stretch and comes in one shade only but is a very rich blue which is slightly embossed and again at £8.99 per mt, 58" wide is a good buy.
As you can see from the photo this fabric would be perfect for these dungarees or take it a stage further and add some red Stretch Cotton Fabric as a contrast. Take a peek at the top right hand corner of the pattern, New Look Sewing Pattern 6446, see how they've used the red contrast.
Just to throw a spanner in the works take a look at all the gorgeous bias-bindngs that are available these days
I chose this print at random but how pretty does it look? This effect would look great either as a trim on a garment or something around the home and we have so many choices of Patterned Bias Bindings here at Minerva, they really are worth taking a look at and having a think about how you can incorporate them into your designs.
Yes my fellow sewists Denim has come a long way from when it was first introduced as a 'work' fabric in the 1800's. It was produced as a very strong, very tightly woven, very hard wearing and very durable fabric for work wear (usually dungarees) in America. Thank goodness it has come a way since would we cope without our jeans?!
Thanks for reading,
Annette xx

#KnitPicksforEwe - Sirdar Wild

Wild from Sirdar looks like the name suggests. For me it is the most exciting textured yarn I have seen in some time. Take a look at the colours they are simply stunning. 
I class myself as a compulsive knitter and I love knitting in mainly DK and Aran yarns, working in textured, cabled and lace stitches. However I do like something 'easy' on the go. This I class as my 'watching TV' knitting - which is watching TV and occasionally glancing down at the knitting. Wild fits the bill perfectly and on running my fingers along the length of the yarn I know this will be a dream to knit. It is worked on 8mm needles so although a little thicker than chunky it doesn't exactly fit in the super chunky category. The range of Knitting Patterns for this yarn is pretty good, they include ladies and childrens designs plus accessories and even some designs for the home not forgetting the cuddly Husky toy (which is mine and Vicki's favourite!) 
Two patterns really appealed to me, 7970 which is a longline cardigan, either round neck or V neck, coming in sizes 24 to 46 chest or 7968 which is a kimono style wrapover cardigan with a belt, again in the same brilliant size range...
I eventually decided on 7970 for 3 reasons. First, I really love the straight style of this and may knit it a little longer. Second I have some fab buttons in mind and third I fancy knitting the little snood. This takes just one ball and incidentally the pattern comes on the back of the ball band. I think this will give an alternative look to this cardi.
I had no hesitation in choosing the colour, 400 which is aptly named Chinchilla.
I am a size 12 so have decided to knit the 36/38 which actually measures 40". A lot of knitters take too much notice of the 'actual measurement' usually saying something like "that will be too big for me so I'll do a size less than that". My rule is - if you like the fit of the model's garment on the pattern cover then go off the chest/bust measurement. The excess is for ease of movement but if you want it to be very fitted then go off the actual measurements. Remember it is the garment on the pattern and how it fits that model that appealed to you in the first place!
So here is the start of my knitting...
I'll keep you updated and thanks for reading. 
Annette xx
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Guest Post: Tie & Pocket Hankie Tutorial by Nicky Broom

Perfect for a gift or simply to co-ordinate an outfit. Here is a quick make using Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8180.

Materials Needed

0.90m Cotton Lawn Fabric (Pre washed & pressed)

0.70m Lightweight Fusible Interfacing

Matching Sewing Thread

Cutting Out

With sewing getting the straight of grain correct is an important aspect as it allows a the garment to hang correctly. As I was using a woven fabric I used the tear method to find the thread going across the fabric.

To do this make a small cut through selvage edge, then grip both sides of fabric firmly & pull apart.


Iron the pattern pieces to ensure there are no wrinkles distorting the shape. The tie consists of two pieces. Lay these following the grainline & secure in place. I have used a mixture of pins & weights to prevent pattern moving.

Do the same with the 2 interfacing pattern pieces.


Use hand basting to transfer fold lines & markings to fabric.

Join the two sections together at centre, matching the dots, press seam open.

Apply interfacing, overlapping at centre, making sure that it is placed between the two fold lines you marked earlier.

Fold ends along foldlines (right sides together). Secure & stitch.

Trim seam & corner then turn out the right way. Press.

Now fold tie right sides together, matching notches, pin and stitch long edges together.

Turn tie right side out and press.

Hand basting can now be removed. As an added extra why not add a strip of ribbon to back to provide a tie stay for narrow end to be threaded through.

Pocket Hankie

For the matching pocket Hankie cut a square of fabric measuring 26cm.

To neaten edges turn a narrow fold to wrong side & stitch close to edge. 

Then trim close to stitch line. Repeat this on all 4 sides. 

Finally turn each edge over again, stitch and press. 

Now you have the perfect matching pair.

To read more from Nicky please head over to her blog SewandSnip!


#PatternOfTheWeek - Simplicity 8218

I have to confess, if you read my blog post last Monday for #patternoftheweek, I didn't send you any season's greeting's, oh dear. Actually twas a little cheat on my part, I wrote that blog post pre-Xmas. So here I am wishing you all a very Happy Sewing filled New Year! So for my first (proper) #patternoftheweek for 2017 I have chosen something warm and cosy especially as snow is predicted this weekend! The Sewing Pattern is Simplicity 8218 and consists of 4 designs for jackets in 3 different lengths, 2 of which have a shawl collar and and 2 a cross-over front with collar. 
Just look at version B and imagine it made up in this Gorgeous Fabric. This has to be the most luxurious fabric to feel and even the wrong side is lovely and soft and so versions A, B and C that are not lined would feel amazing made in this to wear next to your skin.
Our website description of this is; 
"This gorgeous sherpa fleece fabric is beautifully soft and is designed to have the look of lambs fleece.  The fabric has a thick, textured pile on one side and a knitted backing on the other. This sherpa is specifically a dressmaking fabric as it is soft and has a bit of drape and comes in a fabulous selection of colours. It is perfectly suited to making coats and jackets, but could also be used to make luxurious pet products, blankets, cushions and other soft furnishings for the home"
It mustn't be confused with ordinary Sherpa Fleece Fabric which although quite soft on the outside is definitely a little harsher on the wrong side. Our website description of this is; 
"Sherpa Fleece is a more heavy weight fleece fabric, originally designed to have the feel and softness of lambs fleece. The fabric has a thick, textured pile on one side and a knitted backing on the other. Sherpa fleece fabric is machine washable and has many uses, the most popular being pet products, blankets, cushions and outdoor clothing"   
My choice would be use the second one for pets and household items purely because of wear-ability and keep the luxurious one for yourself and at just £10.99 per metre it is just £1.00 more than the original sherpa fleece. Take a look at the 11 amazing colours as well. This teddy brown is another of my favourites...
At first glance of version B, it looks like a welt pocket and because of the nature of this fabric I wasn't too keen, but on looking at the instructions I find it is actually a patch pocket with the opening on a diagonal, take a look at the following photo's.
Easy Peasy!
My next choice of fabric would again be suitable for any of the designs but I have shown it again alongside version B. This gorgeous Fur Fabric which is a Metallic Finish Swirl Texture Luxury Fur is priced at £14.99 per mt.
This is one of those fabrics where a photo does not do it justice, I can only describe it as divine. Our website description may help... 
"This beautiful fur fabric is ever so soft, you have to feel it to believe it. The fur pile is a dark grey or black colour called platinum and it has a glossy metallic finish with a swirly texture. This results in a stunning looking fur which has an expensive look. We picture this fabric being made into jackets and coats, as well as soft furnishings for around the home including cushions and throws" 
Take a look at my next photo...
Isn't that something else? I'll start with the price. It is £38.99 per mt but if you make something like version D, it isn't going to cost a fortune because you don't need that much with it being 60" wide. The amount you do need varies from 0.80 of a mt to 1.30 mt depending what size you make and considering the sizes go from bust 30.5" to 46" I don't think that's too bad. 
I took note as well that with fur fabrics being recommended for this pattern all the pieces are cut the same way on the cutting layouts. That means you don't need to 'add' any amount. Note this version is lined so no tricky facing's to contend with! 
Our website description of this Luxury Fur is... 
"Treat yourself to a little luxury with this stunning faux fur fabric. This fabric is so soft to touch, within just a few seconds of handling it you can feel the quality is second to none. The colour of the fur pile is a blend of beige and grey shades. This blend of colour creates a stunning effect with movement as you see all the shades shining through. The back of the fabric is a plain woven. There is lots you could make with this fabric and simple styles will show it off the best. A coat or jacket would definitely be a head turner! Or you could make a gorgeous handbag. Or why not treat your home to some new cushions or throws and add the wow factor with this stunning fabric"
It does mention on the pattern that it is ideal for Ponte Roma Jersey Fabrics so instead of me mentioning my all time favourite (oh go on then it's our plain Ponte Roma that comes in 22 amazing colours, can't help myself) I thought how about something cheerful to brighten up these dark dismal days. So the following photo shows a very colouful heavy-ish Jersey Fabric, that would look ideal made up in version A or C.
Bear in mind that versions A and B have Dolman sleeves which are a loose sleeve cut in one piece with the body of a garment, thus, when working with a busy patterned fabric such as this, it shows the pattern at its best. I always feel the less pieces the better for a busy patterned fabric. Having said that, the sleeves on version C are easy peasy. Take a look.
So here I am at the end of my first 'official' blog post of 2017. I'm looking forward to sharing so much with you over the coming months, I can't wait!!
Thank you for reading,
Annette xx

#PatternOfTheWeek - Vogue 9231 Wrap Over Coat

Extremely hard this week to choose a pattern to offer you as our #patternoftheweek. Why you ask? Well we have had so many New Sewing Patterns arrive recently at Minerva. I looked no further than Vogue 9231 which is an impressive loose fitting wrap coat with a blanket stitch edging. 
This is a partially lined coat in 2 lengths with 2 collar variations and I just love the one oversized patch pocket. Blanket stitch is worked by hand around the finished pocket and then top-stitched on to the right front.
The instructions seem to run well with this pattern even the fitting isn't a crucial element because of the 'loose fit'. Versions A and B have a self fringe with the instructions being quite straightforward.
Our beautiful Duchess of Cambridge wears some wonderful outfits, don't you agree? And recently I just couldn't help but compare a fabulous suit she was wearing to some of our fabrics here at Minerva.
The photo was in Hello magazine back in October and version C of our #patternoftheweek made me think 'blue checks'.
So that leads me easily to my first choice of fabric for today and it is a fabulous blue Check Wool Fabric named Highland. This is just yummy and priced at £21.99. 
Take a peep at our website description, it sums up this adorable fabric in just one paragraph.
"The highland fabric range is one of our most luxurious fabrics. Made from a blend of polyester, wool, cotton and acrylic this fabric has the most fabulous fur-like texture which softens the bold-ness of the check design. It is so soft to the touch you will want to use this fabric everywhere. It is a good, heavy weight fabric that is perfect for making coats and jackets for winter. You could just about use this for a winter skirt or dress too, to keep you really warm over the cold months! The back of the fabric is a plain textured woven check - which is actually just as nice as the front, so you can choose which side you wish to use. This fabric comes in two classic colourways that will easily fit into your wardrobe for every day wear. The check measures approx 19cm x 17cm."
A more 'quiet' check and a little cheaper at £15.99 is our textured Coating Fabric called Deeside. This beautiful fabric is thick and heavy with a lovely soft and textured surface. The check design is bold and striking, yet at the same time softened slightly with its tweedy appearance. 
If blue ain't your colour how about this sumptuous brown check of our Italian Wool Fabric (this one is my favourite!)
This is an Italian 75% wool and is even cheaper at just £14.99 per mt. 
The 'checks' that are fashionable at the moment have a lovely soft edge to them, again note the similarity to the Duchess of Cambridge's.
If you are loving version B (nice and simple) don't forget our range - Washable Wool Fabric. This comes in 6 fantastic colours but for the purpose of this post I am showing you  the Camel shade...
Regular readers will know I've mentioned this fabric before, yes I do love this fabric and when I mention the price (£10.99 per mt) you will know one reason why!! Remember though there is actually no wool content, it just feels like wool but it is definitely washable!
My last choice for today is our multicoloured textured Chenille Tweed Fabric and yes that pretty much sums it up, except to add the 'texture' is like little tufts of multi colours which all lie one way so bear this in mind when purchasing this stunning fabric - you may need to get a bit extra to allow for laying your pattern pieces all in the same direction, like you would with a velvet pile fabric. My next photo shows the 'tufts' lying upwards and the last photo for today shows the 'tufts' lying downwards. 
Did I mention the amazing price - only £11.99 per amazing metre. This could be an 'add to the stash' moment haha!!
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx

#KnitPicksforEwe - Knitting for Emily!

This gorgeous little baby girl that I can proudly call my latest Grand-daughter has been modelling her new out-fit that I have recently knit. First I must apologise, I said it would be finished in one week. Oops it's about 6 weeks later!
First we had her Christening and guess what my daughter Alison couldn't find the shawl that I had crocheted when she was a baby. We could only find the Christening dress and bonnet. From Alison onwards all our baby's have used this shawl so I was quite gutted when it couldn't be found. I didn't think I had time to make another so instead with it being a Winter Christening I decided to make a little cape and thought it would look lovely made in white Tinsel yarn. I used King Cole Pattern No 3554 which is actually knit in Cuddles Chunky. The tension for the cuddly and the Tinsel Yarn and the needle size was exactly the same so there was no problem in using a different yarn.
I thought how pretty would it look with a hood instead of a collar so I knit the hood from King Cole Pattern No 3555.
The two patterns blended together perfectly for what I wanted and here is the result.
It looked so pretty and was admired quite a lot on the day. Here is yours truly and Emily wearing the 39 year old Christening dress. 
If you read my blog post here you will know the colour I chose to go with the 'bargain buy liberty pants' was blue, I loved how it 'picked' out the blue flower in the pants. I also loved the sort of rust colour flower in the pants and wanted to make a little jumper to go under the jacket. I wanted a very girly style pattern (because of the, what I feel, is an unusual colour for a girl) and chose King Cole 296. The edging on this little jumper is so pretty, now the instructions are given for both dk and 4 ply and because I'm not a lover of knitting in 4ply, but thought it would look so much daintier, my colleague Anne, here at Minerva Crafts, offered to knit it for Emily and it looks gorgeous doesn't it? The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly 4ply shade 458.
Even though the jacket has the lacy edging I still wanted to make sure it looked 'girly' so I used very pretty Buttons in the Shape of Flowers. As I said in my previous blog post I wanted to make a hat because I think too much wind gets to baby's ears with just a hood but there wasn't instructions for a hat in my pattern - king cole 3133. So I used king cole 4223 and adapted it. The first thing I did was to measure the bottom of the jacket (wavy, lacy edge) around Emily's head in order to work out how many pattern repeats I would need. From that I worked out how many stitches I needed to cast on and followed the size that was nearest to those stitches. Instead of the cable used on the pattern I used the same cable stitch as on the main part of the jacket. It all worked first time thank goodness, I didn't have to re-knit it at all. I finished it off by sewing on 5 of the white flower buttons at the base of each stocking stitch panel of the hat.I think Emily seems suited with her outfit!
Thanks for reading and may I wish each and everyone of you a very happy new year.
Annette xx

Sewing Gadgets & a Merry Christmas from us!

Here we are 2 days before Christmas Day and I have a million and one things to do! I bet you can relate to that too can't you? Then it's all over in a flash and then we have a lovely New Year to look forward to (well let's hope so). Here at Minerva there are tons and tons of lovely New Fabrics to see on our website, they are being loaded on as I speak. So if you are like me, you'll have a Xmas break then return to your sewing with a bang! So today I am not showing you any fabrics, I want to show you some very clever little gadgets that make our sewing lives easier!!
First up is our Sewing Bodkin by Clover...
This is called a 'clip n glide' bodkin. Basically it is for threading elastic. Now I have one of these that came out a couple of years ago which proved not too good in that it griped the elastic for so long and then when half way through the threading it would come loose and yes you had to start again so I was a little unsure about this one. However this is brill, there are two sets of 'teeth' that really grip on to the elastic, with a little lever that 'clamps' it and it doesn't seem to move even when really stretching the elastic.
Incidentally have you seen our Fold Over Elastic shown in the photo? This is an amazing product for binding necklines etc., especially on t-shirts. 
The following two photo's show the elastic as it comes and the following when it is folded and how easy it goes round a curve.
My next thoughts are leaning towards getting a Prym Ironing Ruler.
I haven't tried this yet but I have heard very good reports for such a simple item. It is, as suggested, a ruler but it helps enormously in measuring your hem and ensuring the hem is even all along. The instructions seem reasonably clear (as I said I haven't had a go yet) and it would appear that you insert the ruler under the hem and press as you go.
There are two pieces included, the smaller one is for sleeves or trouser hems and the larger one is for longer hems as in curtains but I think you would need this size for a dress hemline.
I will bring you an update when I've had a go.
Next up is something to make. I love this Pincushion Kit from Clover. It comes in Brown or Ivory. You just add your favourite piece of fabric and a little toy stuffing. Back in the day we would have used an old pair of tights cut up in tiny pieces, which would have given it loads of body so you could do that too. I think it would be lovely to make one of these with left-over fabric from an occasion make, in my case I still have some pieces of fabric from Vicki's wedding dress. So if I made it from this, each time I use it, it would remind me of that special day. 
Just think, left-overs from your baby's Christening dress or how about cutting a circle from baby's first babygro. Such lovely memories. 
Last but not least I'm thinking something for us knitters, crocheters and cross-stitchers. Take a look at our Clover Thread Cutter Pendant. This is an impressive thread cutter which can be hung around your neck as in a medallion or according to the instructions it can be attached to one end of a bobbin of thread. Not sure I fancy that idea, however it doesn't come with a chain so how about some nice ribbon or cord for which you could use some cord toggles on the ends. Overall a lovely treat for yourself and don't forget you can take these on a plane.
Before I go, may I take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for your custom here at Minerva (also for reading my blog posts) and on behalf of Phil, Vicki and myself may we wish you a  merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Annette xx

#FabricFriday - Fabrics for Cushions!

So Christmas comes but once a year, thank goodness with the cost of it! Seriously as I've probably mentioned a thousand times, I absolutely love this time of year. I seem to have passed on my love of it to all my children because they are as crackers as me about it. As are their children, the youngest being our latest addition, gorgeous little Emily. Incidentally my precious little Emily will (at long last) be modelling her new hooded jacket and hat early next week. I must show you her Christening photo showing the very pretty King Cole White Tinsel cape I made her. So watch this space!
I've bought a new Christmas tree this year, well half a tree actually. Yes that's right, it is like you have chopped a tree in half from top to bottom and it stands straight against the wall. The only thing I don't like is the stand, to say it's such a pretty tree, it's a rubbish stand. I've wanted to make a half tree skirt to hide all this but yes you've guessed I haven't had time. I happened to be looking on Pinterest this morning and saw a beautiful tree skirt which was made out of Long Pile Fur Fabric in white. Now I must admit until I saw this I was going to use some wadding and cut a semi-circle but now I want the white fur. It looks amazing. So, half a mt will surfice for my 'half' tree and I will let you know how I get on! 
I decided to talk about 'household' fabrics for #fabricfriday today, so even though I've digressed a little towards Christmas (again) my tree skirt is for the house. 
Quite a few of the fabrics we have here at Minerva are not dress making fabrics and because over the next few months we are having a few changes at home, I've decided to delve into what's available and see where I can save some money but more importantly have a few unique bits and bats around our home. One possibility I am looking at is some leather-look cushions. Our red Leathercloth Fabric goes would go perfectly in my conservatory and I quite fancy adding some applique in the brown leatherlook.
Our website description of this fabric is...
"This is our heaviest weight Leathercloth Fabric, also referred to as Leatherette, Vinyl and Faux Leather. Leathercloth is essentially fake leather. Instead of being made of animal skins, this fabric is made of other materials and receives numerous treatments so that it replicates the look of real leather and some of its common attributes. Many reasons exist why people want faux leather; it is cheaper than using real animal skins, it is easy to sew and work with, it comes in as a regular supply and the quality is consistent, others avoid leather for ethical reasons. This is a fire-retardant leather which makes it suitable for upholstery. It is also used widely for making clothing, accessories, covers, cushions, car interiors, etc."
Kwik Sew 4051 has just caught my eye. Cushion B is so pretty.
This I would make in brown leatherette with a red flower and use the dark green for the stem. In the centre of the flower I would sew on these Big Chunky Buttons. Very similar to the pattern. 
I also love the sunflower cushion, I would make the base cushion cover in good old Calico Fabric, probably heavyweight. We have some beautiful spotted fabrics in both our quilting and dressmaking range but the one that has the most choice of colour is our Michael Millar Ta Dot Poplin Quilting fabric, in-particular the mustard shade...
Then the same but in Moss Green for the leaves. The advantage of both these fabrics is you can purchase a fat quarter and therefore not have much waste.
Followed by a circle of brown Felt Fabric for the flower centre (this can be cut from a 9" square) and last but not least the stamens could be hand sewn on to the felt using French Knots or stitching on little seed beads in a mustard shade. An oddment of knitting yarn could be used for the stem but if you have nothing in green, use a thin strip of green felt and just stitch down the centre.
Before I go I must point out cushion A which is described as a bird with contrast feathers and a button eye. How fab would this look made totally in felt? For me it would have to be all in beiges and browns, possibly a hint of red in those feathers and then I could still put it in my conservatory.
Again thank you for reading,
Annette xx

More Christmas Gift Ideas!

Hello everyone, 
Just a few more gift ideas for Christmas presents to share with you today!
Presents for Crafters usually border on the expensive so it is nice to find some very useful and reasonably priced presents. Although I don't do much machine embroidery or quilting myself, I have heard some very good reports on my first choice today, which is Machine Quilting Gloves
They come in a medium shade of grey with the words SEW MATE embroidered across the back in pink. They have grips placed on each finger and thumb and are ideal for controlling your fabric especially during free-motion embroidery. They are made from 100% nylon but are very comfortable to wear and breathable next to your skin. These are priced at just £9.99 and are an ideal stocking filler.
For the dressmaker/quilter with a reasonable amount of space (next to their machine) I am loving this Pin Cushion from Prym. It stands 11" tall and is firmly padded in the shape of a Tailors Dummy. The little hooks at the top could be used to hang small items on. An ideal item would be safety pins, different sizes or colours on each prong, plus they don't hang down far so won't interfere with your straight pins. It is priced at £17.99 and is nicely presented in a clear box.
My next choice of gift is an amazing set of 3 Hessian Storage Bins. Here I am showing you the circular ones where the smallest stands 15" high and is 12" diameter. The largest stands 17" tall and is 16" diameter and the middle bin falls somewhere in the middle! These are priced at £47.99 for all 3, are very sturdy and could be used to stash a multitude of sins! There are other sizes and rectangular shaped hessian bins too, starting at £13.99.
Last but not least for today take a look at this Crafters Lamp. This really is an amazing lamp for any crafter and how fantastic would it be to open this as a surprise come Christmas morning! 
Apart from the fact that it is LED technology which produces more light with low heat and no bulb to replace, this top of the range lamp has four shades of light which are changed by the flick of a switch, Warm, Natural, Daylight or cool. My own lamp at home gives daylight only and I must admit I couldn't be without this superb flood of light when I am knitting or crocheting but how amazing would it be to have a choice of what type of light to have. To be fair when I'm not knitting, the only time I put my lamp on is when I'm reading and then I do find it rather bright so I feel a nice warm light would be perfect. So dearest family! (hint hint) ;)
I'm off now to hunt out some more last minute present ideas hehehe or should that be ho-ho-ho!!!
Thanks for reading.
Annette xx

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