Posted in Q&A's on Tuesday the 26th December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Can you tell us a little bit about you and your blog?
Hi, I’m Eleanor, from nelnanandnora. I’m married and have two daughters and we live on the edge of Leeds, UK. Crochet and sewing are my great crafting loves and are the main focus of my blog, along with occasional travel, events and other creative adventures.
Can you show us a photo of your crafting space?
I’m fortunate to have half of a room at the side of our house, which is shared with my husband’s Lego, guitars, books and other random household storage. On sunny days I sew at the dining table where the light and view are much better.
When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start? What was your first project? What is your favourite craft?
I started making things when I was very young, thanks to my Mum and Grandma. The first project that I remember clearly was a plaster of Paris decoration that we made at nursery. I was given my first sewing box when I was 6 or 7 years old and loved playing with my Grandma’s fabric scraps and buttons. It was at and after university that my great love of dressmaking really started to develop. Living in Belgium for a few years challenged both my language and sewing skills as I discovered Burda Style and Knip Mode magazines. Crochet followed more recently and took over for a while as it felt more manageable when my girls were younger, but sewing is definitely my favourite.
What do you love most about crafting?
I love being able to take a flat piece of fabric or ball of yarn and create something unique. It fulfils a deep-seated desire to make life more beautiful and helps keep me calm and focused (most of the time!).
Do your friends or family craft along with you?
My daughters (aged 7 and 10) are both creative, and although they generally prefer to draw and make models, the elder one has tried some crochet and really enjoys sewing. She determined the placement of each flower motif on this dress and helped to sew them in place. They both love choosing fabrics and patterns so that they have unique garments and accessories (including a completely ridiculous flamingo hat!) I have a growing network of creative friends, which is wonderful after sewing alone for many years. I don’t craft so often now with my husband - he prefers Lego and jigsaw puzzles - although we did make our wedding invitations together.
Who do you make things for?
Most of my creations are for me, my girls or other family members. Sometimes I take on commissions, which have varied widely from cuddly chickens to a flat cap and waistcoat for a 5 year old. Our next family project will be making decorations to sell at a school Christmas fair, to raise funds for the PTA.
What made you decide to start to blog about your crafting?
I’d been crocheting for a year or so when I started blogging. It seemed like a natural progression to share what I was learning and to start writing patterns and tutorials. My rediscovered love for sewing - which had lain dormant for a few years when the girls were little – has taken over my blog somewhat during the last year or so. It’s been a while since I wrote a crochet pattern but the shell stitch hat has remained popular.
Do you have a favourite snack when crafting?
Biscuits, toast or cheese (or quite often all three).
What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?
A needle, thread and fabric. With those three, anything is possible.
What are your favourite fabrics to sew with and why?
I love silk, cotton, linen and wool. Much as synthetics are practical, they just don’t feel the same.
What is your favourite pattern you have ever followed?
This is a tough one! The Clare Coat by Closet Case Patterns is probably the one that has challenged me most. Unfortunately I made a poor fabric choice so I’ll be making another for this winter.
What is your favourite product on the Minerva Crafts website and what would you make with it?
Boiled Wool Coating is one of my favourite fabrics. It is practical and warm but feels luxurious and a little quirky at the same time. Perfect! I’d make a cocoon coat with the Sapporo Papercut Pattern or simple raw edge jacket.
How many projects do you have on the go at one time?
Hmmm, quite a few! I’d say two or three current ones that can be finished relatively quickly and a slow one that could run for a few weeks or months. I always have a few planned in advance, but sometimes they’re overtaken by new ideas that won’t go away.
Whats your favourite thing you have ever made?
I’d have to say my friends’ wedding dresses, one in 2001 from a Prima magazine pattern and one in 2005 using the Vogue Sewing Pattern no 2788, a classic that is still in print. It was almost a magical process and such a privilege to make them.
What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)? Do you have a photo?
I’m crocheting a blanket for my Mum (the Hydrangea blanket by Lucy of Attic24), sewing a sweatshirt for my husband and will soon be starting a Sew Over It Chloe Coat, ready for the winter.
Do you watch TV or listen to music while you craft?
I listen to podcasts or have YouTube - almost always sewing vlogs - on in the background for crafty inspiration, or if I need to concentrate more, then I’ll have some music playing, mostly Corinne Bailey Rae or Pink Martini. I’ve been following the French version of the Sewing Bee (Cousu Main), which is great for both my sewing and my rusty language skills!
What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start crafting?
I often go for a wander round local craft and fabric shops – we’re very fortunate to have a good selection around Leeds and Bradford – or explore Instagram, Ravelry, The Fold Line or Pinterest.
Do you have a crafty tip you would like to share?
Don’t hurry! That seems to be when most things go wrong (especially with late night crafting).
Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?
I tend to pick up blog posts via Instagram and Facebook if the content appeals to me; Attic24, Saturday Night Stitch, Handmade by Chris, RedWSews, The Yorkshire Sewist, The Magnificent Thread and Thimberlina are among my favourites. I feel more connected with bloggers who I’ve met and most of these lovely creative women are based close to here.
Do you have any advice for new bloggers?
I still feel a bit clueless after 3 years! Finding your voice can tak time. The blogs that I appreciate the most are the honest ones, telling their stories with all the ups and downs of creative life.
Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?
Quirky, inquisitive, persistent.
What are your crafting ambitions?
I’d like to find ways to support and encourage others as I develop my own skills.
Have you a favourite tip or trick to share with our readers?
Wonder Clips are amazing! I find them so handy for working with knits, zips and bulky fabrics, or anything that is difficult to pin.
What would you say to anyone looking to start a new craft?
Take it slowly at first, be kind to yourself and keep it playful!
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 25th December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello! I’m Sally from The Yorkshire Sewist and I'm reviewing the Prym Espadrille ‘Classic’ instruction DVD and Sewing Pattern.
Now I have never made my own shoes before, I didn’t even know where to start but with the help of this DVD this project was fairly easy, so I’d definitely pop it on your ever growing to do list! Espadrilles are usually associated with a summer wardrobe but I thought I would get ahead of the game for a change and make a start on my spring/summer wardrobe!
The DVD comes in a packet with a paper pattern, which covers UK and EU sizes from a child size 8.5 to adult size 10.5. You could make some lovely gifts for all the family! There are three choices of style of espadrille that you can make. As you have the basic shapes you can quite easily adapt the pattern and create whatever style you like. The soles which are sold separately come with a paper pattern but the one included with this DVD is much better and gives more options of style in my opinion.
Upon inserting the DVD into my Laptop, The DVD opens with a screen showing three options for which pair of espadrilles you wish to make; a peep toe style, classic option and an open toe sandal. I decided to make the Classic option but in my honest opinion, I felt after watching it in full before I made a start that it didn’t give the shoe a nice clean finish. So I decided to make them as neat as possible where I will show you how.
First of all, you need to gather your supplies!!
Here's what I used:
Size 4 of the Espadrille Shoe Soles
Fat Quarter of Outer Fabric (Huge selection of the Minerva website)
Fat Quarter of Lining Fabric or the Prym Espadrille Lining Fabric
1 x Strong Needle that will pass through the fabric and the espadrille sole, your upper fabric and your Lining Fabric.
When it came to the innersole of my shoe I’d thought I would add some of the fabric I used for the shoe itself as I felt that the inside could be a bit scratchy after a while, I’m all about comfort! All I did was trace round the soles and deducted 1cm from all around and then cut out the template. I then placed the template and then pin in place and cut out for each sole and the used fabric glue to secure to the sole. I left the soles to dry overnight to be on the safe side.
So with the pattern pieces given, I added a 1cm seam allowance to allow sewing the outer and inner together and when it comes to cutting out your fabrics make sure to align the pattern pieces with the grain of the fabric too.
I sewn them together using a 1cm seam allowance, just remember to leave about a 5cm gap for turning them out and then top stitched for decorative effect.
Now to pin the heel in place first, just remember to angle your pins or your hand will end up like a pin cushion! With your thread doubled, you then stitch the fabric to the sole using a blanket stitch and then repeat for the front piece. This part is definitely the most time consuming! I am self confessed hater of hand stitching and it took me a lot longer than expected but I was social sewing in the living room rather than having my back to everyone I was sat on the sofa! You may find that you run out of thread whilst stitching around your sole but just remember to have your knots on the inside.
To finish the side, all you do is try them on and pinning the sides to the toe fabric for a nice snug fit and stitch in place.
It’s a nice kit if you are totally new to sewing as it gives you the material list and guides you through process of making them. The DVD is great at showing you the techniques to make them as sometimes it is hard to visualise instructions and you can stop/start at anytime.
Here are the final results! A funky pair of watermelon and kiwi espadrilles all ready for the nicer weather to return but truth be told I’m already wearing round the house!
Thanks for reading,
Sal @ The Yorkshire Sewist
I would like to share with you this super comfy long sleeved T-shirt that I made from Art Gallery Fabrics Stretch Jersey. The design is tiny dancer in midnight and was kindly sent to me by Minerva Crafts. The pattern is my own design that I have made up previously but I have just tweaked it a little since the last time I made it.
Originally I got the basic shape and size by cutting around one of my existing T-shirts, I then simply lengthened the hem and the sleeves to achieve the style I wanted. I also like to change the necklines so there is a bit of variation there and on this particular version I have added a cuff to the sleeve.
The pattern has been traced onto baking paper as I do not own any specialist pattern paper but that might be something I try to use in future. I find it is a bit more durable than tissue paper and anyone who owns patterns will know how delicate they can be. Added to the pieces are a few notes for me, anything I may need reminding of in future and what worked well.
This particular fabric was wonderful to work with, it sewed up beautifully. While it has a good amount of stretch, it isn’t springy as some stretch fabrics can be and it behaved well under the presser foot. This made it quite a relaxing make which was good because we all have those days where things don’t go quite right but this wasn’t one of them.
To change the style of this T-shirt from the previous one I chose to add a half placket and just one button at the neckline with a loop made from bias binding. I feel this just gives it a bit of detail here but not too much, as the fabric is patterned I didn’t want it too fussy.
As mentioned above the long sleeves have a cuff, I wanted this to be the style you would find on a sweatshirt but for the top to remain a little more dressy. This was created by just cutting two rectangles, measuring them at my wrist, folding in half then stitching to create the cuff. The effect is neat at the wrist and will also keep out the cold.
A final detail is the hem, as this is a longer line style I feel it will be mainly worn on the outside so I chose a curved hem and finished it with a zig zag stitch which gave a nice flat finish. This would not have been required had I used my overlocker however I chose not to use it on this occasion. I know many people will not sew stretch or knit fabrics without theirs but I found this fabric to be easy to work with. I like to give my overlocker a rest on occasion as it saves on my blades and on cotton.
In all I am really delighted with the way this T-shirt has turned out, it is so soft. It will definitely be getting lots of wear over the coming months and I look forward to making more. Thanks again to Minerva Crafts for providing me with this lovely fabric to try out.
And thanks for reading,
Dianne @ Sewing Green Lady
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