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Archives: May 2015



Prym Maxi Square - Product Review

You know when you start a project and it really doesn't go your way? Well, keep your eye on the Blogger Network for my recent one, it's a doozy! A good thing to come out of it, however, was my purchase of the Prym Knitting Loom Maxi Square which I got primarily to create a credible post worthy of the Minerva Blogger Network, and partially because I reeeeeeeeeeally wanted one and I wanted to cheer myself up! So as well as a blog post, I thought I'd do a little product review for you all! Double silver lining.

So, what is the Prym Maxi Square? 

Very basically it's a square of wood with holes strategically placed and doweling  rods put in the holes. So far so Ikea, but like many things I become obsessed with the beauty in it's simplicity. Through the simple act of winding yarn around the dowel you can create wonderful "granny squares" which you then crochet (and I imagine you can also knit) them together to make something dreamy! Now, don't fall into the trap of thinking all you can make with this thing is blankets. You can make so much more. The possibilities are pretty much endless, and I have a good few projects lined up for when my network post is wrapped up.

Point 1 - The Construction

As I said, the design of the loom is very simple, with three levels of holes to determine what size square you'd like to produce; 14 cm x 14 cm, 19,5 cm x 19,5 cm, or 25 cm x 25 cm.  This can be quite fiddly, but I wouldn't let that put you off too much. You do need basic crochet/knitting skills to join the squares together, but nothing complicated. If you're looking into venturing into those fields, this would be a good way to introduce yourself to it! Or you can just use it as a lazy way to do the bare minimum of those two crafts and still get a great result ;)

Point 2 - What You Use

The fun thing with the loom is you can use any yarn up to a Chunky weight, so you can go for a thick snuggly blanket for the colder months, or a delicate lacy shawl for the warmer times. When it comes to colours and such it's so easy to mix it up. You could create a crisp block white item, use different colours for your weave and weft, or really go to town with a variegated yarn and see what you get! It is also really easy to design your own pattern. All it it is a sequence of squares, so grab your pencil and paper and get doodling! I'm definitely going to be rocking some 8 bit geek chic in the future ;)

So easy to transfer these!

Point 3 - How You Use It

Relatively easy in that you're simply winding yarn in a particular formation, tying it in certain points then crocheting it all together. What I did find, however, is it's oddly fiddly because you're working directly from a ball of yarn, as you normally would, but winding takes a lot of yarn so you have to pull out large lengths at a time as opposed to just pulling little and often as you would with knitting or crocheting. This leads to minor complications such as getting yarn caught on other pegs or the yarn slipping from your hand and you having to re-wind the same part over again. So don't let the simplicity lure you into a false sense of security! You need to approach it with the same mind set as you would any other project. 

That being said, once you've got into the flow of it it's really fun and very handy as you can do it on your lap! Though I don't know if you could do it on the commute to work.

Point 4 - Surprisingly Versatile!

As I mentioned briefly earlier, the Prym Maxi square can be used for much more than just blankets. Prym feature a few in their online instruction leaflet (which expands further on the quick start guide you get with your loom) but the possibilities are open to your own imagination really.

Just a few combinations.


Cute cosy cowl; I love how this winding creates a flower int he centre of each square!


A great use of accent colours with the tying. Imagine this in a lace fine yarn!


And of course you can blankets. This is a great example of colour-winding combinations.

A great example of the different winding patterns! So cute.

So as you can see this really is a wonder product. For some (including myself) it may be an investment piece but I implore you to look into it! Prym products are worth every penny and are great value (and, as an insider, I can tell you that sometimes a Prym product is cheaper than a budget brand!) This bad boy is only a little over £20 so it's the perfect price to treat yourself! For that you get the board, enough pegs to create the loom and spares, and a darning needle. Great value, I think. You do need to pick up your own crochet hook to match the size of your yarn but you can pick these up for less than £2 each!


Price: 4/5 - great gift price

Value: 4/5 - includes almost everything you need, great instructions and online support

Ease: 3/5 - takes little practice, but does require practice

Overall: 4/5 - a fantastic product!

And once you've tried and loved this product you may want to pick up the rectangle version too...that's next on my 'wish list'.

Have you got your own Prym Maxi Loom already? If you have please share pictures of your wonderful creations with us. We love to see what you have been crafting!





Denim & Chambray Inspiration

From the greasiest workshops to the highest fashion houses, no fabric is so versatile, fashionable and humble as Denim! It's always the understated staple in everyone's wardrobe, so we though we'd shed a little light and give some inspiration on how to use this amazing fabric, and it's sister cloth Chambray.

Vicki was recently featured in Sew Magazine showcasing a few of our key Denim and Chambray Fabrics. The Deep Indigo we all know and love is still going strong, but you can now branch out with some fantastic colours and prints, my personal fave at the moment being our Plum Cotton/Lycra Coloured Stretch Denim, I need some jeans in this!

Or maybe a high-waisted pair with nautical style button down front in our Indigo Blue/Multi Vintage Style Floral for a vintage feel (now out of stock but we do have another colour-way here!)

Don't just take my word for it, though! The web is FILLED with denim based inspiration, and we've scouted out a few for you below;

Jennifer from Workroom Social has made this fantastic version of By Hand London's Elisalex Dress in a Cotton Chambray, complete with some simply divine seam binding.

I am in LOVE with the side panels


I can only aspire for my seams to look this neat!

Sticking with Chambray, Heather from Feather's Flight has gone for a lovely twist on a classic favorite. I'm sure nearly everybody currently has, or has had previously, a chambray shirt. What I really like about Heather's Shirt is she's gone for the over-sized style of McCalls 6512 (now discontinued, but New Look have a similar one here!) giving an old favourite a fresh new, and comfy, feel.


Loving the different ways you can wear it. I'd never think to tuck it in to trousers!

Carrying on with shirts, we can't leave the a guy's fit out of the equation. Meg of Cookin' & Craftin' did a great post for Imagine Gnats featuring a Men's Buttondown Shirt in a lovely red chambray.


Love, love, LOVE the top-stitching detail!  McCalls 6044 has a perfect pattern for this with 4 views to choose from. 

(Meg also did a lovely colour block tee. I can only imagine how comfy this is!)

Steering slightly away from shirts, our dear friend Karen from Did You Make That has made this adorable blouse in a spotty chambray that is simply divine! The sleeves are nothing short of dreamy.

See what I mean about the sleeves?! Divine. Karen also has some lovely advice and tips in her write up so I highly recommend reading it. The pattern Karen used is discontinued now, but McCalls have come to the rescue again with their 6035 pattern. With 3 views (two of which are simply perfect for this project) it's a great all rounder.

Kathryn of Yes, I Like That stayed slightly more traditional with her use of denim and made the Ultimate Trousers (that's the name of the pattern, apparently. As she said, a lot to live up to!)

A lovely classic style, no?

Also, the turn ups are the cutest!

Another great place to look for some denim-spiration is our very own Minerva Crafts Blogger Network! They do love their Denim and Chambray, and one thing they certainly know how to do it make Jeans! Making your own jeans has become increasingly popular of late, and I think it's a great project to get into as it really brings together all the little things you learn as a sewist. My favourite post from our Network is Jo's post (Three Stories High). She goes into some good detail about the finer points, and gives some great hints and tips on top-stitching that I've used myself!

How to stitch back pocket design - how did we not think of this?!

Also be sure to check out Sams Chambray DressKatie's Boyfriend JeansLucie's TopMaria's Baroque TrousersLaura's Over-Sized Pocket SkirtKathryn's ShirtLouise's Circle Skirt..and more!

So do we have you suitably inspired? I hope so, I am! On my travels around our website I've spotted quite a few key patterns that I think would work really well in Denim or Chambray. I've mentioned a few above, but here's the rest!

I'm always on the look out for a good value pattern, and Simplicity 2215 certainly is that. Featuring a button blouse, skirt and a button dress it really includes everything for a gorgeous  Chambray collection. I'm picturing our Striped Chambray Print as the ideal fabric match for this pattern!

Another shirt based pattern which would be fun is Simplicity 1460. I think the peplum and collar structure in view C would hold out quite well, don't you?

In a Pretty Pastel Chambray me thinks!

Burda 6931 has one of my favourite shirt features, a Grandad collar! Perfect is a simple pale blue!

Burda are leading the style pack once again with pattern 7018. Can you go wrong with a denim jacket? We think NOT!


Get on this with some 8oz Washed Denim, or maybe switch it up with some Grey Tie-Dye!


Now this next pattern, I'm very excited about, because I finally have it! I have been coveting this pattern since I started work at Minerva and never had the guts to go for it, but then the pattern sale came around and I knew it had to be mine. I present...Butterick 5682!

As you can see, it really has everything covered! What I'm quite giddy about is the Slim Leg Ankle Length view as I'm a bit on the short side so these will fit nicely.

Now don't forget your accessories! The problem with an iconic style like this is everyone knows what it looks like, so not only have you got to get the look right, if you want to get the most out of your garments you need to make it up with the right stuff, too. A good Top Stitch Thread and Jeans Needles are a must, (with a jeans thread and twin needle if you want to get super fancy :P). 

An optional (though clearly necessary) extra which is fresh to the Minerva catalogue is our selection of Chambray trimmings! Available in SEVEN colours, we have piping cord and bias binding which are crying out to be used (please support them in their dream to be made into beautiful garments!) Vicki and I discussed possible projects for this stuff at length, and being the genius she is came up with a stunning idea! I instantly thought of using a coloured chambray, but Vicki saw a white linen garment to pick out the weft of the chambray. Inspired or what?! I picked up Butterick 6008 in my sale binge buy (sale still on by the way but finishes tomorrow so be quick!) and I instantly saw Vicki's vision in this dress! Ivory linen, Coral Chambray Bias on the arm holes, neck line and down the button front and our Dill Round Matte Buttons in Coral. What do you think?

Now, my favourite find for this post is by far Louise's make on her blog Sew Sensational. I am in blog-love with this lady, she makes the cutest things for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network and has outdone herself with her Dotty Chambray Shirt!

Using Burda 6849, she shows off our Spot Print Chambray perfectly, and the Pearl Snap Button detailing is equally inspired and adorable!

Her post is a great read, particularly if you're looking to venture into shirt sewing in general.

Well I hope this write up has left you raring to go! I know I now have at least 3 more projects than I did before writing this, and I don't even mind one bit! Keep your eye on the Network, I may end up joining the blogger trend of jean making before long!

Keep on Crafting on!

Katie B xo


New Look 6022 by The Stylish Stitcher


Well the weather has taken a turn up north and it's blooming lovely! We're all looking at summer patterns and floral prints at Minerva HQ and Vicki stumbled across this LOVELY make from Catherine at The Stylish Stitcher

She's made up New Look 6022 and it's her first dress! 

How stunning is this in general?! Let alone for her first ever dress make. She picked a lovely vintage floral poplin. We have since sold out of this exact print but we have some gorgeous alternatives that are very similar.

Poplin is always recommended to new dressmakers like Catherine and I as it's "great to work with" and it really is! It's sturdy enough to give you something to hold onto which won't slip and slide, but light enough to make some really wearable items and is perfect for dresses, blouses, skirts and all sorts! As it's cotton you can get some AWESOME colours, prints, and patterns so you can really find something to suit you. I've been eyeing some up for the By Hand London Sophia Dress that's just arrived!

Catherine discusses a lot of interesting dressmaking pointers throughout her post. Firstly, her use of Dressmaking Paper to trace the pattern as opposed to cutting it out. This is generally a good habit to get into, particularly if you need to go between sizes to help fit the garment (e.g. if your bust is a 12 but your hips 14). Once you've done the alteration on your dressmaking paper, it's there ready for the next time you use it and you know it will fit like the custom piece it is.  It also means you get more bang for your buck with your patterns. Not only does it allow for size and shape changes, but you can share/swap them with your sewing buddies! My mum and I are both dressmakers, so we have a shared pattern stash (usually freebies from magazines) so we trace them so we can both use them. However what also sometimes happens is one of us buys a pattern and the other goes "Oo! Oo!" so out of guilt we trace so the other person can use it, too ;). Now I have to admit, more often than not I just cut the pattern straight. However, I've recently started making children's clothing for my S.O's niece and nephew and as we all know kids grow FAST and I don't want to be buying a fresh pattern every time they have a growth spurt so I now have taken to tracing patterns like the good little sewist we all should be. Catherine uses Burda Tissue Paper which is fantastic as it's the same as pattern paper to you can trace the lines clearly and it folds up nicely and neatly to fit in our already bursting pattern drawers. 

However, I now tend to sway towards the Hemline Paper as it's thicker and more resilient to my rhino like grace. It is a bit more difficult to trace the lines but once you've placed a light background beneath the pattern it's a breeze and easier (for me) to keep safe and tear free!

 Another thing she discusses is making up a muslin. One of our network ladies Maria from How Good Is That alters a lot of her patterns and frequently makes muslins to ensure a good fit. A great tip that Catherine and Maria discuss/do is make 'wearable' muslins. Pick up a cheap fabric that looks nice and do a test run. If it works straight away, Great! You've got yourself a lovely piece to wear and no alterations to make for your main item. If not, you tweak away with no worries as it isn't your main fabric . The only dress muslin I've made was my Elisalex Party Dress. I'd never worked with Taffeta before so I picked up one of our clearance taffeta fabrics and it came out so well I didn't make another! Thrifty and practical, what's not to love?!

The last thing Catherine has done is look to others for inspiration! She mentions our loveable Louise from Sew Sensational as she'd also made New Look 6022. Looking to others is the best way to learn. Here at Minerva HQ we're always discussing hints and tips. As well as sewing, Becki, Lisa and Anne are our resident knitters, Catherine is our jewellery making expert and card maker, I'm the crochet gal, and Vicki and Annette are practically perfect in every way and can do it all (not fair is it?) so even though we all dabble in various crafts we always turn to each other for tips and with this wonderful thing we call the internet, more and more crafters are becoming bloggers or setting up forums so it's easier than ever! A true community, which I love! 

What was really nice to see is Catherine went back to the pattern again and re-made is a few months ago here and it looks fab! This is using another of our poplin fabrics and we do still have some of this left in stock!


We always say it, but we really do love it when you share your makes with us, so post photos to us on Facebook or Twitter and be a show off or comment here on the blog to let us know what your currently working on!

Katie B xo


Indie Pattern Month

Hey guys!

I can't believe it's May already. Where has the year gone?! The countdown to June is always an exciting time for me as it's my birthday towards the end of the month, but this year brings added June Joy! Our friends over at The Monthly Stitch (TMS) are hosting a great online event by the way of Indie Pattern Month

Every June, TMS dedicate the whole month to celebrating Independent pattern companies and run a series of competitions throughout, each week being dedicated to a different topic. This year we're proud sponsors of the whole thing! It's such an exciting event and something I definitely want to be a part of. I've only sewn with 2 indie pattern companies (my Wedding Party dress with By Hand London and a Simple Sew skater dress) and it's such a refreshing experience. I know Winnie, one of our bloggers, is a big fan of the company Fehr Trade, and many other of our blogger's projects are from indie patterns and I always wondered what the hype was, but now I know. You can almost feel the blood, sweat and passion emanating from the paper! I highly recommend trying one out, even if you don't enter any on the competitions! Share you makes on facebook and twitter with the hashtags #themonthlystitch #TMSindiepatternmonth 

"What are the themes?!" I hear you cry. Well...

Week one is Dresses! Very simple. Any dress!

For an easy start why not go for an Easy pattern with Simple Sew's Batwing Dress. It's a lovely beginner's pattern, so you can get the feel of working with a new style of sewing pattern.

Perfect for light to medium weight knits, a great jersey is the way to go (we have some lovely jersey's starting at just £2.99 by the way ;D) Being such a simple pattern you can really let the fabric do the talking! ?I'm very tempted by this gorgeous Hawaiian Palm Tree Print!

Week 2 is Separates! Very much a "two birds one stone" kind of thing.

The fun thing with this one is that they don't have to be a complete outfit, they just need to be two garments that can be worn together such as a cardigan and a blouse. On my website travels this morning I found a stunning White & Black Spotty Stretch Suiting Dress Fabric that may have to become the By Hand London Victoria Blazer and Simple Sew's Classic Trouser.

Or why not go on an Eliza M binge and match their Pussy Galore Blouse with their Hop and Swing Pants?

Divine, no?

Week 3 is New to Me! Any garment you like, as long as you haven't worked with that company before, INCLUDING UFO's AND MUSLINS! Has to be a totally new experience.

There are so many great companies to choose from here. If you want some inspiration, check out the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network, the gang love an Indie Pattern! My favourite recent post being Louise at Sew Sensational's 'Tilly Francois' Dress


If I was to recommend from my experience I would always recommend By Hand London. Their designs are fresh, their approach to pattern instructions are even fresher and their pattern packs look GORGEOUS, (skillfully modeled by Vicki below!)

Now Week 4 is One Pattern, Two takes! This is a 'sit back and watch' theme in that this comp. is only for contributors to TM but this is certainly one to pay attention too. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the competitors will go with this one. Will they make the same thing in two different fabrics, or two different views?

Fehr Trades Surf to Summit Top is a good example. Different views to make, but also a good chance to mix up fabrics!

So as you can see The Monthly Stitch is definitely the place to be this June. Even if you're not partaking in the competition or any makes it's certainly going to be a great place to pick up some hints, tips, advice and inspiration for future projects! I'm inspired already (as if I need anything else to make this summer!)

If you make anything inspired by the indie pattern month get on facebook and twitter! Use the hashtags #themonthlystitch #TMSindiepatternmonth to stay in the loop and keep your eye on them to see everyone else's makes!

Keep Sewing!

Katie Betty xo


The Best of Butterick

"Another Sale?!" I hear you cry! Yes that's right, Butterick have just announced their patterns are now up to 50% off! How will our wage packets cope?! We were told the day after pay day. The day after pay day!! What was Vicki thinking? Needless to say I may be eating beans for lunch until next week BUT I will have fabulous patterns to show for it ;) Then again, with the price of these patterns I don't think I could over spend if I tried.....I must not try!

Here's my rundown/wish list for the Butterick Pattern sale!

I love a pattern that includes a good range, and Butterick 6121 is falling into that category for me. I'd been looking for a good handbag pattern of late and I spotted this the other day, because it bizarrely featured a backpack! Both are bags, admittedly, but not the same type or style so it was strange seeing the two together. I'm very much a modern lass so I like my handbags and shoes but I love a good rucksack so this pattern is bob on for me and an absolute STEAL at £1.59.

I'm generally always on the look out for a good bag pattern. I don't know why, I just am! Butterick 5741 (alas now out of stock but these Butterick Tote patterns are great alternatives!) is a lovely simple tote pattern, which seems to have been born to be made from a quilting cotton! I'm starting to get into my crocheting again, so need a good bag to carry my projects around on my travels and this tote seems to have it all! Front AND side pockets teamed with a 9" depth make it perfect for keeping yarn in (or anything really!). Yet another steal at £1.59 whilst on sale. 

I was only going to feature two bag patterns, but when I saw Butterick 6112 I had to tell you all about it! Three words - Exposed. Raw. Edges! I love incorporating stuff like this, not purely because of laziness, but because I love things with a slightly rough around the edges look. These hit that brief on the head, and with different sizes being included, you can really experiment with textures and double sided fabrics. I feel the larger bags lend themselves to our coat weight fabrics, and I can see the smaller ones in a satin backed fabric for a really unique occasions bag! We have a great selection of bag handles so you can really make the bag your own, and at just £3.99 you can really go to town!

Still working along the lines of a good value pattern, Butterick 5977 is a fantastic pattern which includes some good staples, and at £1.59 is unmissable. I have this pattern, and I can confirm that it truly deserves its title "See and Sew". I made up the trousers in a linen blend fabric and how the instructions are written really allow you to see how the garment is constructed and it made me fall in love with sewing my own clothing. I already have fabric to make the top and blazer for my summer collection! I'm a traveller at heart so the idea of capsule wardrobes really appeal to me. A few key pieces you can mix and match for any occasion! 

Another great "See and Sew" pattern is Butterick 6008, a well structured dress with a feature side button fastening. Dresses like this are what I affectionately term "Danger Dresses". A simple, well fitting piece of clothing that accentuates everything that's good about your body without showing too much, if anything at all! The kind of dress you wear on a night out and eyes follow you around the room because you're owning it and look drop dead gorgeous! Everyone needs a dress like that in their life, and at £1.59 this could be yours! Made up in a stretch cotton to give literal wiggle room, a pair of killer shoes and the night is yours.

Why not test the waters of vintage and use a a polka print? Naughty-cal! (naughty, nautical....get it?)

If you're already well into your vintage, Butterick has you covered with some amazing designs, my favourite being Butterick 6094. A Stunning 50's swing dress with a high neckline and a V-Cut back with button fold detailing. You know me, any excuse to experiment with prints or textures ;)

I also love how you can change it up with a pencil skirt view!

Such a great pattern and a great price at £3.99 while the sale lasts.

My next two vintage choices are very movie themed. The off shoulder view in Butterick 6129 optimises "Grease" for me. The full swing skirts of the dance, but the saucy off shoulder bodice of Rebel Sandy at the end.

Butterick 5708, with its BIG full skirt and cute bows completely screams Enchantment Under the Sea Dance from Back to the Future! Particularly as the stock image shows it in turquoise. I am in love with this film and now this dress! It will most definitely be making an appearance at my Enchantment Under the Sea party. I often wondered how I hadn't had it sooner, but now I know fate was making me wait for me to discover this pattern, made up in a duchess satin, naturally.

See? I'm right aren't I?! 

I love the scene when Marty took it a bit too far on stage. The only thing better than their faces are their dresses!

These movie inspired vintage patterns are just £3.99 at the moment, so get them now and arrive at a theme party in something just that little different than the standard "Pink Ladies" jacket or Jeans and Nikes!

Now we can't talk vintage Butterick without talking about the 1950's Walkaway Dress. Butterick 4790 is a reprint of one of the most popular patterns to date and the most popular in Butterick's history, to the point where they stopped production of all other patterns to solely print this and keep up with demand. History nearly repeated itself when it was featured in the Great British Sewing Bee and sales skyrocketed. Here at Minerva we needed to fly stock in directly from the U.S. to cover demand! It was pretty exciting (is that bad?).

I made this pattern up and I loved having a pattern where the key was it's simplicity. There's no corner cutting with this baby! During the sale it's just £6.39 so get it quick!

If you're wanting to give your tiny ones a little Walkaway style, Butterick 5019 is a great little pattern. Tying at the back instead of the front, you have the option to make up a full dress or a cute little tunic. Perfect for easy wash polycottons, and easy to swap when ice cream is inevitably spilt on it, it's a great go to pattern for young children and for just £3.75 it's great value too! (and yes that adorable hat in included in the pattern!)

Another great pattern for even tinier people is Butterick 5510. A lovely mix of a bit of everything, once again including a hat! (how cute is that tiny belt!!!!!). Again, a value love for me and at just £3.75 right now it's perfect! 

Every blogger I read of late seems to be tackling making their own jeans, quite a few as features for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. I have a love/hate relationship with the jean. I apparently shouldn't wear skinnies because I'm too short for them, but bootcuts and flares drag along the floor BECAUSE I'm short! I also have a weird shape, apparently, so all my jeans are either up by my belly button or right down on my hips. I can't win! A lot of people seem to have this issue, and if you're one of them then Butterick 5682 could be for you. Quite simply, it has them all! Every cut is featured, including a lovely trouser pattern. Make it your own with some lovely studs, or coloured denim! I spotted this a while ago and had almost forgotten about it until I spotted it in the sale. I was so giddy! Definitely in my shopping bag and the price makes it sweeter. Just £3.99.

My favourite pattern of the entire sale is Butterick 3031, featuring a delicate Camisole, Slip and Panties set. Who doesn't love having pretty little things to sleep in as a change from the oversized t-shirts? I got quite giddy about this pattern, too, as I know we have a great range of stretch lace trimmings I've been dying to try! Team with a lovely pastel jersey and you're on to a winner.

Get it now whilst it's £3.99! Your pyjama drawer will thank you.

On my search through the Butterick catalogue, I noticed that it is quite difficult to categorize them as a company. Simplicity are a star as far as their vintage reproductions go, Vogue is the "something special" brand, Burda are very much for the young market, so where do Butterick fit? They're 150 yrs old and going strong so they must be doing something right! Then during a conversation with Vicki and my office buddy Catherine we found it. Where Butterick fit is their fit! Simple lines, well fitting garments and very well priced. The reason they do so well is because they make up so well! I'm very much looking forward to working my way through my wish list!

All the best sewers!

Katie Betty  xo