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Question and Answer with Winnie of Scruffy Badger

Meet Winnie from Scruffy Badger...
When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start?
I have always been a crafter - it would be hard not to with a Mum like mine, who turned her hand to everything from dressmaking, breadmaking, knitting, tapestry and go-kart making. She used to have a 'make it cupboard' under the stairs where she would store powder paints, egg boxes, washing up liquid bottles, clay, loo rolls....I am a classic child of Blue Peter too, and remember the Cindy hairdressers I made following their instructions using yoghurt pots, cereal packets and of course sticky back plastic. That pre-dated the legend that was Anthea Turner's Tracy Island too ....
What is your favourite craft?
Sewing by far.
What was your first sewing project?
I can't remember that far back, but I do remember that the first outfit I made myself with a sewing machine was a circle skirt and matching top from a proper commercial pattern when I was about 10.
What do you love most about sewing?
I love that I can turn inspiration into reality through the power of needle and thread (& awesome fabric!)
What made you decide to start blog about your sewing and crafting?
I started blogging as a way to record what I was making now that I had more time on my hands with the growing up of my children.  I was picking sewing back up again and had been so inspired and excited when I discovered blogs, that being a blogger was an added element of excitement to my own making.  
How are you liking being part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network?
I love being part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network - it's a friendly little inspiring community with every reason to talk sewing and crafting, and with the opportunity to try out some of the vast range from Minerva's store - what a plum! And last summer, visiting Minerva's store and meeting Vicki and her family after so many emails was so nice, but I was also thrilled to meet some of Minerva's regular customers too, which was humbling. Of course, the whole thing felt like a party with so many other bloggers there too. 
What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?
My Sewing machine and my overlocker - I love them both and could not sew without my sewing machine, but equally, love my overlocker so much, sewing without it would be miserable!
And the third thing?  Hmmm.  That could possibly be a cleverly shaped unpicker that i have with a brilliant pointy end that is great for turning corners ...
What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?
Knits every day hands down.  I love sewing knits because I love the way the fabric behaves & the kinds of garments you can make from them in a relatively short space of time.  And generally you can make things that look pretty smart, or at least 'neat' whilst feeling super comfy & then they are also generally easy to care for - if I can avoid ironing I do.  And of course, knits=overlocker=happy badger.
What are your favourite yarns to knit and crochet with any why?
I'm not a super experienced yarn user, but I do like Rowan yarns, having made both a cardigan out of the Rowan tweed which was lovely - nubbly texture and gorgeous depth of colour. I also used some that had a merino element in the most fabulous colours to make a shawlette...
What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start sewing and crafting?My inspiration comes from all over and at all times.  I love using Pinterest to keep track of what I see online, on other sewing blogs, on Pinterest itself, or general out & about curiosity.  But if I wanted to be inspired I would look back in time to the 50s and 60s ....books, magazines, photos and films....
Are there any other crafts that you enjoy doing other than Sewing?
I am trying to knit....and really enjoyed knitting a scarf for my Dad for Christmas in a herringbone stitch (simple & satisfying!)
Are there any other crafts you would love to learn?
Stained glass - it's all about the colour for me :-)
As you have inspired many others in the past to start sewing and crafting through your blog and Social Networking sites, what would you say to other potential sewers who may want to give it a try?
I would strongly urge anyone interested in sewing to give it a go.  There are all sorts of different ways to learn, with inspiration and support everywhere.  Most sewing / fabric shops / craft shops offer great beginners' workshops that you could try to see if sewing is for you, when your initial outlay is the cost of the workshop and maybe a few materials.  If you get bitten by the bug, there are so many great books, websites and classes to help you progress, but don't forget  that most sewing patterns tell you what level of skill is needed and there is a wealth of sewing patterns aimed to help you learn, you want to take it one project at a time.
Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?
Colourful, happy, hooked
Here are just some of Winnie's makes and see all Winnie's posts from the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network;

Giveaway with the Sewing Directory

We have teamed up with Fiona from the Sewing Directory to bring you a fantastic giveaway this Christmas! One lucky winner will receive this whopping selection of quilting supplies and fabric, worth over £250!

The prize includes all of this:

OLFA 12" x 18" (30cm x 40cm) Cutting Mat

OLFA 45mm Rotary Cutter

OLFA 6" Quilting Template Ruler

Annie's Attic Jelly Roll Quilts Book

Annie's Attic Learn to make a Foundation-Pieces Quilt Book

McCalls Home Decoration Patchwork Quilt pattern for a quilt and cushions

Sew Easy Tonal Estimator Tool - Colour and Tone Guide

Clover pack of Wonder Clips

Sew Easy Template Marking Pencil

Sew Easy Quilters Glass Head Pins

Hemline Quilting Needles Size 9

Clover Quilting Needles Size 10

Clover Finger Presser

Clover Mesh Layout Transfer Canvas Sheet

Elbesee 8" Wooden Quilting Hoop

Over 4 metres of Timeless Treasures Quilting Fabric in assorted designs and colours

Timeless Treasure Tonga Treats pack of 40 10" squares of fabric - in bright 'Lollipop Colours'

Timeless Treasure Tonga Treats pack of 40 10" squares of fabric - in soft muted 'Meringue Colours'

So to enter all you need to do is visit the Minerva Craft’s Blogger Network which is full of ideas and inspiration from top bloggers and have a look at the posts. Then head to the Sewing Directory website and fill in the competition entry form telling Fiona which of the posts is your favourite.

All entries must be received by 6pm on Tuesday the 13th January 2015. For full terms and conditions please visit the Sewing Directory website.
Bye for now,
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A while back now in October I saw a tweet about an idea Lisa from StitchedupfromtheStart had for Christmas. A Sewing Santa! The idea was for people in the sewing blogging world to sign up and then we would all be sent a giftee (chosen completely at random) from all those who signed up to take part.
Lisa's idea came from reading this post from Sylkotwist, and seeing all the wonderful haberdashery she was given for birthday gifts this year. It made her wonder if anyone in her life would buy her anything for her sewing hobby. And the answer was no. I think this is true of lots of people really. My family is different as my mum and eldest sister both sew, but I know lots of our customers who come to Minerva and they don't have anybody (friends or family) who share in their sewing hobby, so they certainly never know what to buy them. And more importantly they wouldn't be able to choose a gift specific to their tastes or sewing styles. 
So, all this got Lisa thinking and she came up with the #SewingSanta idea. It's the sewing bloggers’ answer to Secret Santa…except not necessarily secret as we can all thank each other for our gifts once we have opened them after Christmas. I love the idea of choosing a sewing gift for somebody that is really tailored to what they love. And of course, Im so intrigued and looking forward to the gift that someone buys for me. 
So I contacted Lisa straight away in November. When I first emailed Lisa I checked it was ok for me to take part (coming from a company that sells all these products), but Lisa was thrilled for me to take part thank fully and funnily enough is just around the corner from us - small world isn't it! I received an email a few weeks later with the details of the person I was buying for. I spent a good few evenings reading through this ladies blog ( I will reveal after Christmas who I was buying for). I had never come across her blog before, so it was really nice for me to look through all the different garments she had made in the past and see what type of fabrics she likes to sew with. After much deliberation I think I have chosen something she will love. But something she will be able to use and wear. It was really hard to narrow it down. In the end I think I could have spent 10 times my £10 budget, but choosing the best present for just £10 was all part of the fun and the challenge. I sent off my gift in time for the Christmas post, so hopefully my giftee has received her present by now. 
These are links to the people that have taken part this year;
This morning I have received my gift in the post. I have four individually wrapped parcels! Four! On the little tag attached there was a lovely little note and it revealed my giftee was Megan. I'm guessing its Megan from PigeonWishes. Thank you so much for my gifts Megan, I'm going to save opening them for Christmas Day...if I can resist temptation!!

Thanks to everyone who took part this year, I hope even more people take part in #sewingsanta 2015!

Buy for now and Happy Christmas everyone,



Little Girls Icicle and Christmas Dress

Oh my goodness...have you seen this months issue of Love Sewing magazine??
A little while ago Helen (the lovely editor of Love Sewing magazine) contacted me about an idea for a project. It sounded fantastic! Helen wanted to create a little girls party dress along an icicle theme and a traditional Christmas theme. I loved dressing up as a girl. I didn't need any excuse to wear a party dress or something fancy, whatever the occasion! So this idea really appealed as here must be lots of girls this Christmas who would love to dress up in either of these dresses - I imagine the icicle dress will be the most popular thanks to Disney's Frozen.
So we sent off the fabrics needed to make these two beautiful dresses and the hugely talented team at Love Sewing magazine got to work on creating these dresses. I love them. They have kept them simple enough to make, so you don't need masses of sewing experience to put either of these together, but the little touches make these dresses extra special. I think simply the choice of fabrics make the icicle dress adorable. Who wouldn't love to dress up in this satin-sequin-chiffon dress-come-cape as a little girl and pretend to be a princess for the day? I also love the white fur edging used on the traditionally theme Christmas dress.
Anyway, enough talking, here's the pictures of what they've created...
And here's the project shown in the magazine (pg 46);
If you would like to have a go at making either of these dresses, first grab yourself a copy of Love Sewing and here's the materials list you will need;
Icicle Dress
Liquid Satin Fabric in Turquoise
Sequins Fabric in Turquoise
Cationic Chiffon in Turquoise
Christmas Dress
Pale Gold Gloss Finish Satin Fabric
Holly Print Christmas Satin Fabric
This project has made me feel all Christmassy - it's definitely that time of year! :)
Bye for now,

BHL Pattern Testing - The Sabrina Dress!

Hello Everyone!

Its been a while! I hope you have had a great summer. I've been very lucky in having two holidays this summer. The first to Florida with one branch of the family and the second to Lanzarote with another branch of the family. What with holidays, hosting the Minerva Crafts Meet Up event back in June and launching our new website you can imagine I haven't had much time for blogging these past weeks.

Talking of our new and improved website, you may have noticed that the Minerva Crafts Blog (that you are reading now) has been designed now as a place for myself and my daughter Vicki to blog about our personal sewing projects, plus 101 other things to do with Minerva Crafts and the crafting world in general. And of course we fully intend to blog each month again for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network - our projects have been sorely lacking recently - must do better!

Part of the plan with the new-look for the blog is for Vicki and I to blog more often about our personal crafting projects - so we will be writing this blog together, with both of us contributing posts that we hope you will enjoy reading. We have some very special sewing coming up soon with Vicki getting married next year. Between us we are making Vicki's wedding dress, 5 bridesmaid dresses, my outfit as mother of the bride and various other things for the big day. So keep tuned on the blog for this!

Since we last spoke we now have our very own sewing/craft room at work! We absolutely love it! We are so lucky to do the job that we do. Having this room at work will allow us to bring you more projects to inspire you to get sewing, knitting and crafting. In the job we do we are constantly surrounded by products, people and ideas that inspire us. We hope to share some of that with you and hopefully inspire you too. We will show you a little guided tour of our new craft room in a future blog post - promise!

Another section to the newly-designed Minerva Crafts Blog is a category for ''. Now this only came about recently when the lovely girls at By Hand London got in touch and asked if either Vicki or myself would like to be pattern testers for their new PDF pattern 'The Sabrina Dress'. Well, I jumped at the chance! I havent used a BH pattern before. We've stocked them for a while now here at Minerva and I've been itching to give them a go ever since they landed. I know Vicki has too - in fact shes already got herself a copy of the Anna pattern.

Anyway, back to the Sabrina. It is a simple styled dress with princess seams. There are two variations. The first is a button up style with rouleau straps. I imagine this as a super sundress in a soft cotton fabric or linen. 

The second is a high neck, sleeveless dress with a centre back zipper. The possibilities with this pattern are endless. It could be your new 'little black dress' or it could be worked in a sumptuous sequin fabric, made longer and you would have a beautiful evening gown. Then with a little bit of alteration to the front and back piece you could make the button up front sundress into a zip up back sundress and the high neck zipped dress into a button or zip up front - so many options!

Here's the line drawings for the two styles;

I have chosen to make the high neck zip up back dress to start with. I have gone for this lovely ponte roma jersey fabric in plain black for the side panels and a black and grey floral patterned ponte roma for the front and back panels.

Like I said I haven't used a BHL pattern before so was very pleased to see their instructions are really very easy to follow. This was my time using a PDF download pattern too. I must say I do definitely prefer the speed of paper sewing patterns as opposed to PDF's, but it wouldn't stop me using one again if a PDF was my only option. I like the little comments they add on the BH patterns such as when joining the princess seams they state, "The curves of the dress front are trickier to ease, so take your time and use plenty of pins!" - so helpful for beginner-sewers.

Here are a few photos of the making process;

I particularly like the way they have described how to make the rouleau straps, although I havent made this style (yet!) I still read all the instructions when pattern testing.

On fitting my dress I realised I didn't actually need a zip as the pattern suggests because the fabric is stretchy enough to be able to get the dress on without one.

The only difference I made in cutting out the dress was to make it one inch (25mm) longer, I wanted the length to be on my knee, not above it. And so I did my usual stretch stitch hem. As I've mentioned in other posts in the past, I stitch the hem and then trim right up to the stitching and the hardest part of this is that it could be so easy to snip into the dress fabric.

I decided on using Applique Scissors this time which have quite funny-looking blades. 

They are described as a Duck Bill blade which keeps the lower layer of fabric away from the upper to allow close cutting in applique work. Why haven't I used these scissors before for my hems? They are amazing! I felt quite comfortable cutting very close along my hem and the result was brilliant.

Hope you like the finished dress. I wore it to go for a meal for my birthday. We had a lovely night and I think you always feel good when you're wearing a dress you've made.

Until next time,

Annette x


Designer Spotlight of the Month

This months Designer Spotlight of the Week our customer projects section is Elizabeth, who has shared some fantastic projects with us so far! I particularly love these 'crochet covers for flowers' - arn't the colours amazing?! These would definitely brighten up my house!
I also love the assorted size buttons that have been added around them - such a simple touch that adds so much interest. Another of Elizabeth's projects I love is this fabulous felted owl lavender and lemongrass sachet. How cute is this! I would love to receive this as a gift - definitely an idea to make them for friends and families birthdays and Christmas gifts!
Thanks so much for sharing these projects with us Elizabeth and congratulations on being our first Designer Spotlight of the Month! Please share your craft projects with us and you could be featured in our next Designer Spotlight!
Bye for now,

Prima Cocoon Dress

Hi everyone,
If you picked up this months copy of Prima magazine you may have spotted that their free sewing pattern - the cocoon dress - has been made up using one of our gorgeous jersey fabrics.
The specific fabric used was the Roanne collection from John Kaldor - specifically the navy and turquoise colours. 
Did you pick up a copy of the pattern and get round to making it? Please share some pictures with us if you did :)
Bye for now,

Prima Magazine - Red Wool Jersey Dress

Hi Everyone!
In this months Prima magazine you can see our beautiful wool blend jersey has been made up with their free sewing pattern!
They chose to use the John Kaldor Isabella collection in this gorgeous red colour. Its a lovely soft shade of red with a slight textured/marl look to it. Really pretty.
You can this lovely wrap dress sewing pattern free with this months issue of Prima so why not give this look a try? If your not a red person we have 6 other colours available in this same fabric too.
Please send us some pictures to see your finished dresses if you decide to give this a go :)
Bye for now,

Make your own Elsa Winter Princess Dress

Minerva Crafts have teamed up with Sew Magazine to bring you this enchanting Winter Princess Dress project! This enchanting outfit is sure to set your little girl's imagination alive, with its sequinned bodice and layered tulle skirt. Its super easy to stitch too, so can be whipped up for an impromptu fancy dress party or dress-up session! The top is an embellished plain white vest and the skirt features a simple gathered waistband. She'll feel like a true princess!
Here are all the materials you will need (plus a plain white t-shirt and a copy of Sew Magazine!);
Bye for now,

Round up of the Minerva Crafts Meet Up Event - 14th June 2014

Thank you to everybody who attended the Minerva Crafts Meet-Up! It was a fun packed day filled with activities for every type of crafter! Almost 400 people came on the day - it was fantastic to have such a great turn out! Thank you to everyone who came.

We held 3 Workshops, 4 Demonstrations, a Guest Speaker, a Presentation, a Craft Quiz, a Competition, a Prize Draw and a Golden Ticket Treasure Hunt.

The demonstrators where working tirelessly all day showing various techniques to attendees of the event;

Sue demonstrated Bag Making Techniques.

Hayley demonstrated the range of proggy craft kits and tools.

Denise demonstrated Sew Easy patchwork and quilting templates.

Claire demonstrated the fabulous new range of Eliza M and Sew Simple sewing patterns.

At 9.30am we held a Crochet Workshop and everyone who took part learnt how to make a Shopping Bag.

Next Vicki made her introduction to the day explaining all the activities we had planned

Put Video in here

Then Karen Ball of didyoumakethat made a fantastic speech about the perfect sewist and took questions from all who attended.

Claire Louise then taught us how to make a Cover Button Necklace!

Next up we held a Crafty Quiz...

The results where marked on the day, please see the winners of the quiz below

1st Place - Alison Chapman

Joint 2nd and 3rd Place - Debbie Smith and Jacqui Smith

There was also a day in the life presentation by the girls at By Hand London

At 3.00pm we held a felting workshop where everyone made a Felted Christmas Bauble

We also held a competition where each entrant stuck a VOTE FOR ME sticker on their garment and you then voted for your favourite and runner up by sticking a yellow star or a pink star sticker on the garment. Here are some pictures of some of the entrants...

At the end of the day the results for the competition where counted and the winners where as follows...

1st Place - Cindy Mellor

2nd Place - Pheobe

3rd Place - Louise Zborowski

4th Place - Samantha Gill

5th Place - Gina Pau

6th Place - Jacob

The prize draw was drawn by our lovely helper Pheobe, and the winner of this £600 prize was Miss Lorna Figures who traveled all the way from Edinburgh to be with us on the day!

And of course all the lovely ladies from the Minerva Craft-Daft Group helped with all the free refreshments - a huge thank you to them.

Thank you to everybody who took part in the Competition and who attended the Minerva Crafts Meet-Up, it was absolutely fantastic to see such a huge turn out of lovely ladies, gents and children.

The evening dinner party for the Minerva Crafts Bloggers allowed us to see all their amazing creations - what do you think to these gorgeous dresses! More details of each dress will be revealed on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network over the next couple of weeks so keep tuned!

It was such a fantastic day and evening - one that I will never forget! 

Thank you so much to everyone who came along and to all of our helpers on the day!

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