Archives: March 2017
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 31st March 2017 by Annette
Posted in Guest Posts on Wednesday the 29th March 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Im Bianca and I blog over at Sleepless in Bavaria. I am delighted to be making a guest appearance on the Minerva Crafts Blog today.
If you've been thinking about taking up quilting and have found the process of making different quilting blocks daunting and maybe even a little terrifying, look no further.
In this tutorial you will be taught how to make perfect half square blocks that in return can be turned into a number of different shapes to make your own finished project versatile and intricate.
To get the best results you'll need the following tools, which you might already have in your sewing arsenal and if not we've linked in the products from the site that you might consider ordering. You can of course use normal fabric scissors to cut the fabric, however the more accurate you cut and sew the blocks, the better the end results.
Minerva Crafts offers a fantastic range of quilting cottons and poplins, which have a great quality and are easy to use, especially for beginners. For this tutorial, I will be using plain Cotton Poplin Fabrics that come in lots of colours. I recommend washing and ironing your fabrics before cutting into them, as they might shrink a little bit the first time they are washed.
For this very simple block you'll need to cut your fabrics into 5" squares. The best way to do this is by using the markings on your cutting mat as pictured below. If you fold your fabric to almost the size of the cutting mat and then cut the squares using your ruler and rotary cutter, you'll have made quite a number of squares very quickly.
Place two 5" squares on top of each other with the right sides facing and pin in place. Use your ruler and marking pen and draw a diagonal line from one corner to the other. You will want to sew a straight line ¼ from the line on both sides of said line as seen below. (Pro tip: if you want to save time, you could first pin and mark all the squares you would like to use and then sew/chain stitch all the squares continuously) once you've stitched both lines, cut down the marked line turning the square into two triangles.
Press the triangles open making sure that the seam allowance is pressed onto the darker fabric, so it doesn't show through the lighter fabric.
You might also have noticed, that they all look a bit uneven or even jagged, but don't worry, we'll take care of that in a little bit. You'll want your finished block to be 4 ¼" , use your square ruler and match up the diagonal line on the ruler with the diagonal line on the block, making sure that the square will fit into the above mentioned dimensions. See how there's fabric protruding the side of the ruler? Use your rotary cuter and trim the excess fabric down (including the tails), do this with the other two sides of the square.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! You now have 2 half square blocks. But first: make yourself a cuppa and have a biscuit, you deserve it!
Turning your Half Square Blocks into Sample Quilting Blocks
You'll be surprised to know, that you've already mastered the hardest part of the tutorial by making the half square blocks. You can now decide on what kind of pattern you'd like to make. Below you'll find a few examples of how to make different quilting blocks by using 4 half square blocks:
The Half Square:
The easiest block there is, just line up 4 half square blocks.
The Flying Geese:
Personally, my favorite block is the flying geese block, seen below it basically just two blocks put together that form a triangle.
It looks like a rather complicated block, but all you have to do is make sure the half square blocks are places correctly as seen bellow and you're good to go.
Just put 2 half square blocks together, on the right way around and one on its head and you'll have another difficult looking block put together.
Once you've decided on a block, lay out the half square blocks the way you'd like them too look and then always pin two blocks together making sure the right sides are facing each other.
Sew the blocks with a ¼" seam allowance and then press open. Repeat again to sew the top and bottom half of the block together.
The great thing about making different blocks in different colors, means that that a gazillion ways you could put the blocks together.
You could chose to just go with one block throughout the quilt and use different colors to make it more interesting to look at. Or you could use just one block and one color for a very modern quilt. It could look like something like this:
You could of course chose to use all the blocks and put the quilt together like a true sampler quilt, in which every block is different, it could like something like this:
At the end of the day, you are your own boss and can decide what you'd like your finished quilt to look like, there is no right or wrong and I am sure whatever you chose, it will be much loved and fantastic.
We'd love to see what you make with our simple quilting blocks so do tag us on IG with #minervacraftsquilts
Thanks for reading,
Posted in Guest Posts on Tuesday the 28th March 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Each era has its signature feature that it is identified or remembered by, and it seems that the iconic feature of our modern age is the infusion of technological innovations in all the components of life.
Earlier such advances were only seen in fields of science like medicine, engineering, astronomy etc. But today everything has been impacted by this, from fashion to fitness and beyond.
As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, one that is led by digitalization of everything, we see a blurring of lines between physical, digital and biological domains. AI, robotics, the Internet of things, autonomous gadgets, quantum computing, biotechnology, energy storage, and nanotechnology are changing the face of the world at an exponential rate.
The textile industry is also showing sign of changes and innovation with many new methods of manufacture and fresh fabrics being invented regularly. Some of these innovative examples are sure to leave you stunned.
Graphene plus is a unique fabric produced by a company called Direct Plus which is being used in making sportswear items. This fabric is special because it acts as a filter between the wearer’s body and the environment around it. The thermally conductive properties of the material lets it disperse the body heat out in warm climates and evenly distributes it in cold surroundings.
G+ also facilitates top sporting performance due to its electrostatic and bacteriostatic qualities which reduce friction. Affordable, chemical free, natural and sustainably produced this fabric can be also used in commercial applications like tires, composite materials and making other smart textiles and environmental solutions.
This is an outdoor fabric that has been specially developed for protection against baby ticks, ticks and mosquitos while being breathable and offering ventilation. The fabric is also water repellent, fire resistant and fire retardant making it of great value to the tenting industry. The pure polyester thread is dyed with automotive dyes making it U.V resistant and hence slowing down degradation by the sun. The fabric made by Jason Mills is also being marketed to the bee industry to make protective clothing.
A very resilient and incredible natural fiber, spider silk is sometimes even more durable and elastic than any natural or synthetic fiber and is six times stronger than high-grade steel, per weight. Hence it’s no surprise that many tries have been made to create this material synthetically. Finally, QMONOS was created by a collaboration of the brand called The North Face which designed the Moon Parka, and a Japanese company Spiber, which created a brand new bio-engineered bacteria that looks and feels like spider silk.
This is a highly functional polyester material which has excellent water absorbency making it perfect for toweling. A soft textured material with a unique bulky but light feeling this material can be used for sportswear, functional underwear, and uniforms, as well as bedding and industrial products. The innovative material’s pile structure is durable and remains intact in its appearance, functionality, and comfort, even after countless washings.
The unique material offers 5 times greater water diffusion and moves the water rapidly from the human skin keeping it dry. It also boasts heat insulation that is three times higher than fleece because of its bulky fiber structure.
Adidas’ shoe yarn from ocean’s plastic waste:
Showcased at UN’s Conference of the Parties in Paris, this shoe uses filaments and yarns which are refurbished and recycled from plastic ocean waste and recycled polyester. Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans, in creating new sustainable materials and innovations for their shoes. Keeping in account the global plastic pollution levels Adidas’ plan is to bring their industry to creating sustainable solutions with the hope of completely eradicating ocean pollution.
So if you are thinking of creating sports clothing based on the latest athleisure styling trend, or an unconventional shoe line, take cues from these innovators and their groundbreaking fabrics because they will be coming your way in the future!
Carla Adams is an enthusiastic dreamer and a workaholic to achieve that. She is a blogger, writer, basketball player, technology and fashion freak. For all the updates follow her on Facebook.
Posted in Guest Posts on Saturday the 18th March 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello everyone, my name is Kathy and this is my very first guest post for the Minerva Crafts Blog. You can find me over at www.sewdainty.co.uk where I enjoy writing pattern reviews, tutorials and product reviews. I do hope you will enjoy reading my thoughts on this Simplicity Sewing Pattern - 1318 Kimono Jacket. I just love it! Let me tell you all about it.
I have to say that I do love a kimono jacket. Whilst I own a couple of ready to wear jackets like this I still wanted more so instead of buying another I decided that I would make one myself. Now that we can allow ourselves to turn our thoughts to Spring it seemed like the perfect time to do this. This jacket will easily see you through Spring, Summer and Autumn.
I really wanted a floral print, as I am a sucker for anything floral. I also needed a lovely light/medium weight drapey fabric. This Viscose Fabric I chose from Minerva is a really pretty viscose crepe fabric and is the perfect weight for this project. I really craved a background colour of blue as I knew I would wear this with jeans, denim shorts and white or navy linen trousers. Blue would be perfect to accompany all of these.
You will need very little supplies for this project. Aside from your fabric, you will need a small amount of Fusible Interfacing. Matching thread of course (use Minerva's matching thread service!), and basic sewing supplies that you probably already have including fabric scissors or rotary cutter and mat, pins and a needle for some hand sewing.
Before starting any project it is important to pre-wash your fabric. Viscose can be a little prone to a small amount of shrinkage and I did find this. I like to trace my pattern pieces - I find my weight goes up and down so this ensures that the pattern can be used again whatever size I am in the future! To get an accurate copy it's important to iron your pattern pieces, tracing paper and fabric before cutting. All time consuming but very important.
It's also crucial to study your fabric to see if it is directional. I didn't think my fabric particularly was but I did seem to prefer it one way up than the other so was careful to place my pattern pieces in the right direction.
I chose to make view D, and enjoyed that there weren't too many pieces to cut out. The style of the jacket means of course that the sleeves are attached to the body already so no tricky setting in sleeves. No zips. No buttons or buttonholes. No darts. No gathering. Easy right? Yes!
The back of the jacket comes in 2 halves and is sewn together with a central seam which runs from top to bottom. I chose to use a French seam for this, because as the jacket isn't lined I wanted it to be as pretty inside as possible. This was the right choice. This long vertical seam is nearly invisible using this technique.
I also decided that I would use the walking foot on my machine. For those not familiar with a walking foot it is very useful for working with slippery (or bulky) projects as it feeds the fabric through the machine from the top as well as the bottom. It's not essential - you will do very well using a regular foot too, but I found that using this made stitching smoother.
Next are the underarm seams. Whilst I would have loved to have used French seams here too, I knew that such a curved seam wouldn't lie flat using this technique, so I used a regular seam neatened with my overlocker. This worked out great.
Pressing your seams as you go along is always important but it is especially so with this fabric. It ensures the seam stitches are pressed into place and was particularly useful in the underarm seams to avoid them looking 'pulled' or tight where the curve of the seam is (despite clipping the seam). I found my homemade Tailor's Seam Roll really great to help me with this and the difference before and after pressing was incredible.
Finally (apart from hemming your sleeves), it is time to make up the band which runs around the entire edge of this jacket. This is made from several pieces, and can be a little confusing, so take your time with it and follow the instructions carefully. I chose the slowest speed setting on my machine when sewing this on as it is nearly all curved edges so you need to take your time to make sure you get a neat finish. I should mention that there is a great deal of snipping and trimming the seam allowances for the band to lay flat. Take care when snipping not to catch the fabric below! Then repeat this for the band facing, and finally the instructions call for you to press the edge of the band facing under and HAND sew all the way around to attach to the jacket!
I have to say I wasn't expecting there to be so much hand sewing. Surely there must be a way of machine stitching this? Stitch in the ditch maybe? However I soon realised the reason for this is the curved edges of the band. In order to attach these to the jacket neatly without puckering there is nothing for it but to hand stitch. I actually quite enjoyed doing this. I sew very little by hand and found the whole process quite relaxing and I think my hand sewing skills have now improved.
This jacket is quick to make and I couldn't be more pleased with it. I know I will wear it lots and lots, and I will definitely be making another one (or two)! It's so flattering and can really dress an outfit up without being too fussy. The length is perfect for me (I'm 5'2"), but there are longer and shorter length options available if you prefer a different look.
I do hope this may have inspired you to have a go at making it yourself. I will warn you that the fabric choice at Minerva is huge, there are so many fabrics to choose from and very reasonable prices too. Grab a cuppa - it could take some time!
It's been such fun writing this guest post for Minerva, I do hope to write more, but in the meantime happy sewing!
Posted in Guest Posts on Wednesday the 15th March 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello there! I'm Katie from Scatterbrained Seamstress for a guest post over here at Minerva Crafts! I hope you're all having a great 2017 so far, and aren't too amazed that it's already March and where has the year gone?!
I made the Aberdeen top by Seamwork! When I signed up for Seamwork a few months ago, I knew I wanted this knit v-neck made as soon as possible! I loved the idea of a batwing tunic, and the detailing of the mini v-neck on the back of the shirt. My measurements matched the size XS, so I cut the smallest size. It fit perfectly without any alteration -- as my first Seamwork make (the Nantucket shorts) didn't fit as nicely as Aberdeen, it was great to have such a perfect fit.
The back features another deep v-neck. I decided to leave off the 3/4-length sleeves since spring is coming soon here at the states, and I've never really been much of a fan of 3/4-length sleeves.
The hemming on the sleeves looked so professional with this Twin Needle I used! The thread matched perfectly from Minerva, which was nice! All of the seams were done with a zig-zag stich. I also decided to not topstitch the neck facing, as I thought it made it look more professional.
The Jersey Fabric drapes so beautifully!
The top sewed up quickly, it about two and a half hours. Cutting out the fabric took a bit more time, as knit shifts so much and I wanted to make sure I cut out the pattern accurately. Using a knit needle definitely helped the process, but cutting with knits is still not very fun.
I cut an XS, even though my bust measurement was a tad larger, into the S range. I knew it would be a loose top and wanted it a bit tighter. The measurements were spot on, although the v-neck was a little too low for my liking, but thankfully not too low that I wouldn't wear it all the time. ;)
The instructions were clear most of the time, but even when they weren't it was easy to discern what they wanted me to do, since the top was so simple. I had some trouble with the v-neck, as it was a first for me, but there were completely different instructions in their magazine as to what to do, which I happily followed! It really did stay true to Seamwork's motto of "2 hour makes," which was both surprising and great!
The fabric worked much nicely with my machine than knits usually do. Usually, the edges get sucked up into the feed-dogs or the bobbin tangles. Thankfully, that didn't happen this time! I'm pinning it on these Stretch Sewing Machine Needles I used from Minerva - I've never thought of using one before.
One of the only complaints I have is the hemming - with the twin needle a lot of tunneling occurred, which after some research I found could be prevented by changing the tension on the bobbin thread. Overall, an easy make that was made better with beautiful fabric that behaved well!
Thanks all for reading!
Posted in Guest Posts on Tuesday the 14th March 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
So you have begun to get to a stage where you are feeling confident about your creations, and want to take it to the next level. You can begin by selling to friends and family, but the best way to reach as many people as possible is to start selling online.
Setting up your own shop is much easier than ever before, as there are so many different trusted e-commerce platforms that you can use. Having said that, choosing the right one for your needs can be a bit of a minefield. If you are just starting out, then it is essential to research as many as possible, comparing their features, prices, and relevance for selling your products.
Before you commit, make sure you are aware of all of the costs involved: costs for listing your items; the transaction costs taken by the e-commerce platform; any costs associated with payment processing; advertising costs; domain costs; and any other additional fees that may apply. The costs will then need to be weighed up against potential reach; the community around your selected platform; when you get paid; whether you can track orders through the website; whether the platform offers analytics; and what else is on offer.
If you are selling your own arts and crafts, such as hand sewn toys, fashion, greetings cards, paintings, and jewellery, then one of the most well known destinations is Etsy. For those just starting out, Etsy can be ideal, as it allows you to set up your own store for free, and charges just 3.5% per transaction. A listing fee of $0.20 also applies every four months for each item. One thing that Etsy are not as clear about is their payment processing fee. You can offer your customers PayPal as a payment option, and just pay the PayPal transaction fees, but if you want to accept card payments in your own currency, you will need to select the Direct Checkout payment option from Etsy. This will absorb another 4% of the entire price of the sale, plus 20p. So in total, you can expect at least 7.5% plus around 30p to be deducted from your profits.
That said, if you sell through Ebay, your first 50 listings may be free, but you will be paying 10% of the value of the sale to Ebay, including transaction fees, so Etsy is still better value.
Depending on how much you are selling, it may be worthwhile setting up your own website, through a provider such as Wix.com, as you can get your first year for as low as £60.60 + VAT, and then you are only responsible for the transaction fees, which you can get with Stripe payments from just 1.4% plus 20p. To perform a rough calculation, if you sell more than 33 items at £30 each during that year, you will have made your money back by going through Wix. Of course, this assumes that you already have a market to sell your products to, as you will not have access to the local team support that is available through Etsy.
Audience and Reach
As mentioned above, the support network can be a crucial factor in the success of your online business. If you set up a website with Shopify or Wix, then you need to be aware that your website can easily just sit online without anyone ever coming by to visit. You need to be prepared to promote your website yourself, online and offline, as you will be on your own.
If you desire your own branding, and want a bespoke website, but need a support network to help you get going, then Etsy Pattern may be your best bet. This offering from Etsy allows you to create your own website for $15 per month (or around £12 at the time of writing). This is in addition to the 3.5% transaction fee and the Direct Checkout fee. However, the benefits are that you will still have access to all of the other features offered by Etsy, including local teams, events, and the whole Etsy community. With 26.1 active buyers using the Etsy platform, this is not to be taken lightly.
A directory of the most commonly used platforms can be found on my LoveMyVouchers.co.uk blog, here. This will enable you to cross compare all of the different costs and features for these platforms. It may also be worth considering eBay if the auction style format is likely to work for you, and WooCommerce if you already have a Wordpress blog.
Linda Firth runs the Lifestyle blog at LoveMyVouchers.co.uk, where she provides advice and tips on how to save money and how to earn money by selling your own craft creations online.
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 13th March 2017 by Annette
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 10th March 2017 by Annette