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Archives: May 2017

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Product Review: Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles by Julia Hincks

I was rather intrigued by the design of the new Prym Ergonomics Knitting Needles. I’ve been knitting for over 20 years and have tried a lot of different brands and types of needles so I wondered if they really were a new invention. They come in an aesthetically pleasing box and as the information says, they are made from a ‘high-performance synthetic material,’ have hook tips, clickheads and are triangular in shape.

To give them a thorough testing I tried out three different sizes, 3mm, 5mm and 12mm.  

I had a few thoughts about the needles as I got them out of the box.  

1. Would they knit up to the same tension as my regular knitting needles, given their triangular shape?

2. Are the hook tips any good and do they really make it easier to pick up each stitch?  

3. Are they lightweight and more comfortable to knit with?  

4. How do the clickheads work, and will they stop my knitting from sliding off the ends?

I’m working on a yarn bombing project and have been tasked with knitting squares, so I thought I’d test out some simple knitted squares with my new fancy needles.  I cast on some stitches and began.  

In terms of the feel of the needles, in the smaller sizes, they’re lightweight and comfortable to use.  The triangular shape isn’t very noticeable when they’re in your hands and they feel almost the same as traditional round needles. However, as much as I love the feel of them, the largest size is a bit heavier than I’d like which could be a strain on my wrists over time. Also, in the smallest size they bend quite a lot when you’re knitting, which was initially a bit annoying and then I got used to it and the needles moulded around my hands, although they are now rather bent out of shape.  

One criticism of the 3mm needles is that there’s no needle size on them. Yes, I know what size they are and I could use a needle gauge, but usually the size is written on the ends. In comparison, the 5mm and 12mm needles have this written along their length for easy reference.  

One great thing about these knitting needles is that they are really quiet to use.  There’s not the usual click clacking as the needles come together while you’re knitting, in fact, they don’t really make any noise at all. I’ve heard stories of people being told to knit more quietly or choosing a certain type of knitting needle to lessen the noise, so these needles are perfect for anyone whose partner is driven crazy by the noise of their knitting!

I wouldn’t describe the tips as hooks, they’re certainly not shaped like crochet hooks or any other hook I’ve ever seen.  

I’d call them they bulbous ‘teet’ like tips but I guess that doesn’t have the same marketing appeal. However, they are rather good and do indeed make it easier to put the needle into each stitch and knit, especially in the larger sizes where it can often be difficult to insert the needle into each stitch with a traditional style knitting needle. I found them quite quick to use, owing to the tip shape and ease of control. The drop-shaped tips also stop the stitches from sliding back off the needle so another bonus! But for all their brilliance, sadly, whilst knitting away along a row using the 3mm needles, I managed to snap the end off the needle!  I wasn’t knitting particularly ferociously or tightly, or so I thought, but the tiny tip broke off.  

The tips of the 5mm and 12mm needles are much sturdier and I don’t think I’m going to be breaking those.

One of my favourite design features is the clickhead. The ends of the needles, next to the hook tips, are rounded before they become triangular and the clickheads click onto the round part. I’ve also found that once you’ve clicked the needles together, you can slide them together a bit further, to ensure a tight grip when you put your knitting to one side.

So, does the tension measure up?  To test these out fairly and scientifically, I made up a few squares on the 5mm Prym Ergonomic needles and a few squares using regular traditionally shaped 5mm needles. I’m impressed. They are all the same size!

My overall thoughts… I’ll not be using the 3mm needles again due to their bendiness but I’m really happy with the 5mm and 12mm needles. I’ll have to use the 12mm needles sparingly, due to their weight and my weak wrists but I’m sticking with the 5mm needles. They’re lightweight, quiet, comfortable, the tips allow for quicker knitting and best of all, I’m not going to lose any stitches when they’re clicked together in my bag. I'd really like to try the circular ones next.  

Thanks Prym – you really have reinvented the knitting needle!

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Product Review: Clover Pompom Makers by Susan

In the dim and distant past of my childhood I vaguely remember drawing round circular objects on old cardbord boxes, cutting them out, wrapping wool around them and being amazed as they turned into fluffy balls just like some kind of crafty magic! I also remember that it was a bit of a faff to do and that the cardboard didn't last very long before you needed start all over again and make a new template. So I was very excited that myself and my children got to test these Clover Pompom Makers.

It took a few practice pom poms to get the thickness and technique just right, but it was really easy to do. Open out the coloured plastic hoops, wrap the wool around both sides and close the hoops back into the circle

Cut around the middle

Tie everything off and ta da!!

There are four different sizes of pom poms that can be made from the two size packa I used (the small and the extra small):

We all spent a very happy Sunday afternoon creating different sizes and coloured pom poms. My daughter began building a pom pom empire with great plans to adorn bags, cushions, clothes and almost anything that would remain still for long enough! Even the boys were excited and enjoyed making them into necklaces (until they discovered that the pom pom makers made great alien space crafts – good to have a duel purpose I suppose!!).

We are lucky enough to live near the sea and on our seaside walks I often pick up small bits of drift wood but never know what to do with them once I get home. I had an idea to combine the driftwood with pom poms to make a wall hanging. I used varying sizes of pom pom in muted colours so that the hanging appeared as if the drift wood was the cloud and the pom poms the rain.

This is only a small hanging I think it would be easy to scale up, perhaps using several pieces of driftwood to make a mobile.

As Easter is drawing near my mind turned to Easter bonnet making (there is a parade at my youngest child’s school on the last day of term). I decided that a turning a cap into a pom pom chick seemed like a good idea and set about mass making yellow pom poms. I used the two largest sized makers and soon enough had a small mountain:

I glued the pom poms to the hat, added felt eyes and a beak – It turned out rather eye catching and the kids loved it!

I think we have really put the clover pom pom makers to the test and can confirm that they are easy to use even for younger children (with a little guidance), really really good fun for all ages, great for using up scraps of wool, and very sturdy – we must have made dozens and dozens and the makers are still going strong. Once made the pom poms can be used for a variety of fab crafty creations.

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Sunflower Summer Dress by Georgina

Hello, Im Georgina from Sew in the Garden. I'm very excited for you all to be reading my first Minerva Crafts post!

As soon as I saw this embroidered cut work boarder print Cotton Lawn Fabric I knew it would make the perfect summer dress. The Christine Haynes Emery Dress Sewing Pattern has been on my to sew list for a few months now and decided they would work well together.

The fabric is lovely and light but is quite see through. The boarder detail has a scalloped edge and flower shapes. It is along one selvedge edge and measures approximately 7 inches.

I love wearing bright colours and although I love cream dresses the colouring isn't for me and I would end up looking filthy by the end of the day. However I had a plan... Hello sunflower yellow Dylon Fabric Dye!

I haven't dyed fabric since I was a teenager when me and friend use to customise our clothes. I remember it being messy and the results were always slightly patchy but that was probably because we weren't allowed to use the washing machine and had to do it in a bucket! Now I own my own washing machine I can fill it with fabric dye as much as I like!

Dying complete and I was very impressed with the results. The dye has take really well to the fabric. Some of the stitching on the back hasn't taken but you can't see that anyway. There is a small area of stitching on one of the sleeves where the front stitching hasn't taken as well as the fabric but unless you are standing very close and staring at my arm I don't think you would notice.

As I've never made the Emery dress before so I was aiming for this to be wearable toile. I finally mastered the FBA and it has definitely changed my sewing life. There are still some adjustments I need to make to the dress, hence no full photographs of me wearing it but I will get it altered and worn this summer! Dying the fabric has made the fabric less see through but as I had enough fabric I have lined the bodice and made a shorter skirt lining so that you can still see the cut work boarder detail.

Instead of hemming the dress I very carefully, and I mean very carefully, cut along the scalloped detail in the boarder. This gives the dress and sleeves a pretty finishing detail. I did spend some time trimming all the loose fabric on the inside of the embroidered boarder as I didn't want them sticking through the cut work.

When sewing with this fabric I noticed that my pins kept catching. I would definitely recommend using finer pins and pinning within the seam allowance. To finish the seams I used French seams, I do love a French seam. I would normally use my overlocker but it wasn't threaded with the right colour and I was being too lazy to rethread!

I would definitely recommend this fabric for wearable toiles and it would make the perfect throw on dress when hanging out in the garden or on the beach. It's also great if you want to give fabric dying a try. 

Thanks for reading,

Georgina @ Sew in the Garden

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Vintage Floral Collette Laurel By Lara

Hi Everyone! This is Lara from Handmade by Liz and I’m so excited to be on the Minerva Crafts Blog for another guest post!

I have been eyeing the Laurel Sewing Pattern from Collette since I first started sewing and decided to finally take the plunge and give it a go! The top version really caught my eye as it is such a great “work week” basic. You could have it in a million colors and prints and always have something fun to wear to work. I found this really vintage feeling floral Poplin Fabric on the Minerva website and felt like it would be a perfect fit!

Having never sewn any of the Colette patterns before, I was a little bit nervous about the fit of the pattern block on me. I sewed up a quick toile version and it seemed to be a good fit and decided to dive straight into my fabric from Minerva. I chose to sew up the top version but added on the ruffle sleeve because I thought it would be a fun addition to this vintage look.

I made only one modification to the pattern and removed the center back seam of the top, but other than that, I sewed the pattern as is. I sewed the entire pattern with French Seams which is my favorite way to finish a garment.

My favorite part of the pattern is the finishing of the cuffs. The way Colette has you finish and assemble the cuffs is so beautiful and a clean finish.

The Laurel Pattern is nice because it comes with a couple different variations including a dress and a top version, the option for an underlining on the dress, and the option for patch pockets. I am always opting for patterns that have a variety of different views in order to be able to make the same pattern a couple different ways – once you find a pattern that fits, you should make multiples, right?

My favorite finishing on the neckline is always a bias binding so I was excited to see that this pattern was drafted for a bias binding. If a pattern has a facing, I usually substitute bias binding for it anyways! I used a pre-made bias tape in a fun design similar to this here. I also finished the hem with bias binding which is also my preferred method – no burning of fingers trying to turn the hem under!

When I made my toile, I used a lighter weight fabric and the stiffer fabric of the floral poplin made for a bit of a tighter fit. I still love it, but I think if I make another version in a poplin or stiffer, I might size up or decrease the seam allowance a bit. I also am dreaming of making a version in a drapey Rayon Fabric – I think it would be beautiful. I’ve got my eye on this Fabric too! I might also add an inch or inch and a half to the length as well in my next version.

I am really thrilled with the way this has turned out and so glad I decided to give the Laurel pattern a try!

I’d love to see your versions of the Laurel Pattern – make sure to reach out to me on Instagram or connect with me on my blog! Thanks for stopping by today!

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Product Review: Hard Patterned Felt Fabric by The Patchwork Fairy

Hi, it's Alison from The Patchwork Fairy again and today I've been reviewing some of the lovely Felt Fabric from Minerva Crafts. This time I'm using the Hard Felt which is a stiffer version of the soft felt I reviewed last week and more suited to holding its shape. 

I chose a beautifully sunny summery orange pack of hard felt and a mix of fresh spring greens for the softer type. You can see what I made with the soft greens in another post here

The first thing I thought about for this felt was how good it would be to make quick, simple little bowls to catch odds and ends when I'm sewing. I'm always putting pins in the arm of the chair or leaving the stitch ripper somewhere else just when I need it in my sewing room!  

The colours of the hard felts are really summery and bright - very cheerful and pleasant to have around. 

 

These A4 sized sheets are stiffer than the soft felt but not too stiff to make sewing difficult. I easily folded one whole piece in half, clipped it together and machined up both sides to make a small wide envelope shape. I sewed it up on the patterned sides as the seams don't fray and don't look untidy when using felt. 

You could use this as it is if you pinned it up somewhere, but I wanted something to sit upright by itself like a little basket and to be portable round the house, so I decided to give it some width by making 'a sugar bag bottom'. Usually this would be done on the wrong side of a bag you were making but with this felt I decided it would look fine to sew on the outside. I folded the side seams flat onto the bottom of the bag and using the lines on my cutting mat I measured each one and drew a line across the corners.  

After sewing this line on the machine I snipped of the triangular ends with my fluted pinking shears and then did the same to the top edge. If you google 'sugar bag bottom' you will find many more detailed tutorials on how to do this for bags. 

And that's it really - the bag now stands up by itself and is perfect for throwing little bits of sewing paraphernalia into while you're working. No more removing pins from one project then finding you've got none for the next project because they're all in another room. Just drop them in the bag and carry it with you. I decided to make this bag out of only one piece of felt so that the bright white reverse side would be the inside of my bag and make it very easy to see what's inside.  You could, of course, make this with two pieces of felt with the white sides together so that the inside would also be brightly coloured and patterned. 

I find mine especially useful standing on the sewing machine extension table so I can catch my clips and pins as I sew! 

After making the little bags I thought how pretty the orange colours would look as small table protectors and how perfect the sturdy felt would be for a flat, stable surface under a flower jug. I usually look for a coaster to put my flower jugs on but these are always raised slightly which means there's always a slight chance of tipping and spillage. I also enjoy having lit candles at night and the mats would suitable bases for these too. 

To make the mats I folded a sheet of felt in half, wrong sides together, and drew round a circle shape which was a little bigger than my flower jugs and candle ornament. I then machine sewed round the pencil line in matching thread to the felt. 

After sewing I cut out the circles about 1/4 inch from the sewing line using my fluted pinking shears 

The circles make simple mats to protect your table tops and add a burst of summer colour as well. If you use two different felt pieces instead of folding one in half you can make two-sided mats and change the pattern as you feel like it! 

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Embroidered Border New Look 6434 by Diane

Hi everyone,

I'm Diane and I blog over at Dream Cut Sew. It’s a lovely opportunity for me to be part of the product reviewing team for Minerva Crafts and today I’m reviewing this lightweight embroidered Cotton Lawn Fabric. I chose the silver grey colourway and I’m glad I did because light grey is a great neutral for me in Spring and Summer.

The pretty embroidered border runs down the selvedge edge on one side of the fabric only and with that in mind I asked for 1.8m so that I had enough of the border to play with. 

I pre-washed my fabric length because of it being 100% cotton and I used a short wash with a medium temperature setting of 35 degrees C. The fabric was a bit creased when it came out of the machine though it ironed nicely. I would recommend ironing whilst damp for best results. The weight is very fine and a little sheer so if you planned on making something like a breezy summer dress or skirt I think an added cotton lining would be advisable. With the deep border (approximately 8” deep) a floaty maxi skirt or a boho style dress or even a tunic would be lovely style ideas and the border could be used on the hems. Also what about a pretty dress with a full gathered skirt on a plain bodice for a little girl? This would be fabulous for beach cover ups too.

For my project I wanted to showcase the embroidered borders for bell shaped sleeve cuffs and a gathered bodice hem on a little Spring top. I used New Look Sewing Pattern number 6434 and did a little pattern hacking to it. I lengthened the sleeves and added the gathered border along the front body and on the sleeves. When you buy this fabric you really need to consider where you’ll want to use the border detail too and be sure to order enough length to cater for that. I knew I wanted sleeve frills and something along the front….1.8 was the perfect amount for me.

So, for my top, I wanted a bit more detail on it besides the borders and I decided that some decorative tucks were the way to go. 

I made eight tucks down the front and six on each sleeve. The advantage of the front tucks is that they provide a little more modesty so I don’t necessarily need to wear a camisole underneath, just a flesh toned bra would be fine. 

As I worked on it, the fabric stitched up like a breeze using a standard universal size 70 needle in my machine and it pressed well too. You can see how nicely the tucks lie in these pictures and I’ve also shown how I measured out for each one. I pressed a line 2cm from the stitching of each tuck and used the edge of my machine foot as my width guide along each fold line.

I made a really narrow stitched hem for the sleeve and body hems….for a while, I did ponder the idea of cutting close to the scalloped embroidered edges of the fabric in order to showcase the curves along the lower edge, but I decided against it in the end. I was a little worried that after a couple of washes there could be a bit of fraying, so I think If you want to try this for yourself it would be a good idea to practise on a scrap of fabric first and wash it a couple of times to see what happened. 

Finally I just used a simple bias binding for the neckline. You definitely need to think delicate and fine with necklines and hems when working with this cotton lawn. 

I’m really pleased with how my top turned out and the fabric feels soft on my skin, plus I think it’ll also be nice and cool to wear. I really hope you feel inspired to sew something yourself.

Thanks for reading,

Diane @ DreamCutSew

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Product Review: Clover Pompom Maker Tools by Emma

When I was a child, I made pom-poms using two circles of cardboard, and that's how I made them until recently. Having children who enjoy crafting, I've discovered how to make pom-poms with the inner part of a toilet roll, and even made dinky ones using a fork. I've never used a professional device, so was thrilled to be asked to review the Clover Pom-Pom Maker in the small and the extra small sizes.

The packaging is functional, and quite eye catching. 

There are some basic project ideas pictured, and a summary of the instructions on the back. 

It was easy enough to open the packet without damaging the product or instructions, but there is a staple securing the bottom of the plastic part, so if this is for a child, please be aware of this. If you are a klutzy adult, you may also wish to be aware of this. I'll admit to a minor cut. 

Each pack comes with two different sized makers. The small makers are 35mm and 45mm...

And the extra small makers are 20mm and 25mm. 

If you prefer your measurements imperial, the sizes are 1 3/8 inches, 1 5/8 inches, 3/4 inches, and 1 inch respectively. I was pleased to see that the individual makers are marked with their size, in metric, however, this is just an imprint in the plastic, so if the light isn't too good it's not easy to read. Luckily, each maker is a different colour, so this should also be of some assistance. 

The product is made of plastic, with a central metal pin. They are sturdy items, and are still functional even after being used as a brachiosaurus family by my four year old.

I found the instructions on the outer packaging a bit confusing, but the ones inside are much clearer. There were a couple of places I was unsure what to do, but went with a best guess, and this worked.

I was really impressed with how straightforward it was to use, and how quickly I produced a smart looking pom-pom. I'm not sure whether it is a quicker process, or just feels quicker, but this is the first time I've actually thought I could mass produce pom-poms. My daughters want to make a pom-pom rug, but lose interest after making a couple of pom-poms. Now, I can imagine them making the complete requirement in an afternoon.

The product is suitable for both left and right handed people, and the process is the same; no tweaking required. This gets a thumbs up from our family.

I gave the packaging and the makers to my nine year old, and asked her to follow the instructions without assistance. She didn't have any problems doing this, although did have the same queries that I had. This would be a nice gift for a tween crafter; the packaging is colourful and attractive without looking garish, and caught my daughter's interest. We've already got a list of future pom-pom creations; this cute Robin is just the start.

 

It's also been tested by the four year old.

He needed a bit of help to hold it, but loved winding the wool, and helping me cut it. He was thrilled with his finished pom-pom.

The process itself is quite straightforward. The maker is made of two pieces, both with two hinged arms. If not already connected, they should be joined together via the pin.

Open out both arms on one side, and wrap wool round it. I wasn't sure how to start off, so I did what I'd normally do making pom-poms, and wind over the loose bit. This works fine, as does holding the loose bit taut. Don't wrap too full; there should still be a bit of curve visible at the bottom, and the arms should close back fairly flush.

Snip the trailing wool, and repeat for the other side.

Once both sets of arms are covered and closed again, snip the pom-pom open one side at a time.

A small pair of scissors is useful here; you don't cut the whole pom-pom at once, but the gully for the smaller pom-poms is a bit too dainty for large scissors. Small household ones work well, but rounded safety scissors didn't do well, particularly with the extra small makers. Something to consider if children are doing this. I suspect safety scissors would work on larger sized makers; the extra small makers need a point to access and cut them.

Tie a piece of wool securely and tightly around the middle of the pom-pom, and then carefully open out the arms, one side at a time. Next, gently take the two sides apart, and remove the pom-pom. 

I found they needed a roll between palms to help shape them, but required little trimming, mostly just the start and end pieces of wool, and the middle tie. You can see for yourself with these before and after pictures. 

Wool can be used straight from the ball, which is a huge advantage over the traditional method. Double knit wool is recommended for these sizes, and it certainly provides better cover, and better pom-poms for these smaller sizes.

I've tried to give an indication of completed size of the pom-poms; this is the largest size...

This is the smallest size...

And these are the sizes next to each other. 

As you can see, they are very close to the sizes specified on the makers. I suspect if I was a bit more adept at trimming, they would be perfect. As they are, they are perfect for us.

The green background you can see in some of the photos is a tea towel. After the first few, I realised how far the snipped off wool spread if I wasn't paying attention. A tea towel on my knees helped keep the waste contained, and off my clothes, and therefore easier to tidy.

If you have a paper maker, the wool waste is an interesting addition to home made paper. I did say we like crafts!

Do I recommend this product?

Yes.

It's well made, suitable for left and right handers, easy enough for a tween to use, and produces plump, impressive looking pom-poms at consistent sizes. I will be getting the other sizes in the range, and I can see our family making lots of use of the set. Just don't mention Tribbles...

Thanks for reading,

Emma from Hot Tea on a Hot Day

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I have knitted with all different types of knitting needles, so I was intrigued to test the new Prym Ergonomics Knitting Needles from Minerva. Watching Prym’s marketing video, the three words they used to describe the needles were `light’, `flexible’ and `quiet’, with the following design features:

  • Hook tips

  • Clickheads

  • Triangle shape

I decided to go for the smallest (3.0mm) and the largest (12.0mm) needles available, both at the longer length of 35cm.

Starting with the larger size, I usually find knitting with this size rather awkward, but with the triangle shape of the needles, they slotted nicely in to the groove of my hands, adding extra comfort and ease of movement. The shape also improved the movement of the stitches.

The hook tips allowed easier entry, without splitting the yarn. I found on tighter stiches, e.g. YOsl, the tips tackled these fairly easily. The only problem I found was that the wider tip caused more pressure points on the finger I use to guide the needle through the stitches, in comparison to the point on normal needles.

After knitting for a while, they did feel very light for the size and I found my arms didn’t tire as much. The needles were also very quiet however, there wasn’t a great deal of flexibility. I’m not sure how beneficial that would be on needles of this size. I thought the clickheads worked well in keeping the needles and stiches in place when not in use, though they were hard to pull apart.

Next I tried the smallest needles and these performed completely differently to the larger ones.

Firstly, they were extremely light and flexible, with virtually no structure to create tension with as you knit. The flexibility feature on this size caused more problems with my knitting, as the needles kept bending quite substantially with every stitch worked.

The needles felt so flimsy that I found getting in to a flow quite hard. I don’t think needles of this size gain any benefit from being this flexible and light. Also the triangle shape didn’t provide any benefit to the flow of the stitches nor my hand comfort.

The result being that my hands got very hot using the needles and the tension of my knitting was affected by the constant bending, resulting in my work not being straight.

The idea of having straight knitting needles is to create a straight edge. You wouldn’t expect your straight needles to bend to such a degree!

The clickhead feature didn’t really work on this size as they kept unclipping. The only benefit was the hook tips as they too didn’t split the yarn and the rounder tip was a lot softer on my finger than normal needles of this size. These were also quiet.

Overall I would recommend the larger needles as giving added benefit over normal needles. Sadly I would not recommend the smaller size.   

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Meet My New Sewing Buddie by Samantha

I thought that I had all my sewing basics covered, a loyal sewing machine, great scissors and threads. Then I discovered the Prym Ironing Sheet Cover and it’s officially my NSB (my new sewing buddy). It doesn’t sound like the most glamorous piece of kit in your sewing box but this little beauty saves me time, keeps me organised and protects the table I sew on.

For the last six weeks I’ve been using it at home and out and about at my Crafternoon Tea workshops. I’m so pretty chuffed to have found this handy product. Here are the reasons it’s become a staple of my sewing bag.

You Don’t Need a Separate Ironing Area

I’m one of those sewers who always keeps the ironing board out whenever I’m dressmaking to iron facings on or press a collar. The ironing protector is brilliant for small quick flat ironing projects. It measures 50 x 92cm and even with your sewing machine up on the very organised printed sewing grid there is plenty of room around it for a quick press.

I would recommend giving it a really good steam press when you first get it out of the packaging to make sure it’s an even surface to sew on and then you are ready to go!

It Protects Your Sewing Space

The protector is thick enough to protect the table you are sewing on from scratches. I love sewing at the dining room table in the evenings but have to unfold a PVC protector and lay it on the table. The Prym protector folds out and I can just get on with the sewing. I use a lot of vintage sewing machines for my work and they tend to have rough wooden cases / bases. I am now confident that my table scratch free. It’s also a lovely soft surface to work on.

You Can Cut Small Projects Out On It

Clearing my sewing machine to one side I was happy to cut out projects on the mat. It has a handy measure at the top and down the side as well as grid markings and angles. Using my sewing scissors on the mat I found it was perfect for cutting out small projects without the need for an extra cutting mat.

It’s A Desk Tidy To

The mat comes with three sewing project pockets to tidy up your desk or keep THAT colour of thread in a safe place plus a nifty pin cushion and a project envelope. The project envelope was so handy, it was the perfect size for the pattern I was working on and is detachable too. I could keep all my pattern pieces in one place until I’d finished my sew. That saved me a lot of time having my pattern just there below my machine. My scissors did end up living in the front pocket like a little sewing pouch! I love that everything is just in front of me.

You Can Take It To Your Workshops

I can fold up my mat and pop it in a bag and off it goes with me to my next Crafternoon! As workshop season is fast approaching, this mat will be out and about with me this Summer. I’m also storing it in a shopper bag to protect it, it’s amazing how small it does go.

It’s Not Just For Sewing Crafts

I craft a lot with my little girl and I loved that again it was safe enough to iron her bead art on kitchen surface instead of getting the ironing board out. This meant we could make a lot more crafts in our little Crafternoons.

So after using my mat for six weeks, it’s now my New Sewing Buddy! It’s been out and about at workshops, I’ve used it to sew on at home and even on the (eek) dining room table. So it’s made me more productive with my stitching, no constant ironing board at my elbow and be able to cut out without the cutting board. At £34.99 it’s worth investing in, as it's a Prym product that means it will last for years!

For more information on my Crafternoon Tea Workshops and Parties visit www.crafternoonteahostess.co.uk

Samantha x

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Product Review: Soft Patterned Felt Fabric by The Patchwork Fairy

Hi, it's Alison from The Patchwork Fairy and today I've been reviewing some of the lovely Felt Fabric from Minerva Crafts. They sell two types of Patterned Felt packs, 'hard' felt and 'soft' felt. The hard felts are stiffer and more suited to holding a shape while the soft felts are well -  just that - soft!! 

I chose a beautifully sunny summery orange pack of hard felt and a mix of fresh spring greens for the softer type. You will be able to can see what I made with the orange hard felt in a blog post coming soon. 

I do like green as you might notice!

I decided to use some of the Soft Felt to make some pads for handling hot pans and the barbecue tools when are away in our caravan. It is good to have caravan-specific items which can be stored in there rather than having to remember to pack the kitchen ones each time. 

I like using felt because it doesn't fray and so it's easy to make things with the pretty pattern on both sides without the need to hide the seams. Normally you would have to sew right sides together, turn the other way out then sew the gap closed by hand. Not so with felt! Once you have cut two pieces for your top and bottom you simply lay one down with the wrong side uppermost, lay a same sized piece of heat resistant wadding on top and then place the other piece of felt on the top with the pattern uppermost.  

This felt sandwich can now be seen round the four edges to make a very pretty and easy to hold hand protecter for handling hot utensils. If you want to be able to hang up the pads a short piece of ribbon and folded in half lengthwise can be inserted between the layers and caught in place as you sew around the perimeter of the pad. 

Once I'd made myself a useful little stack of pads I decided to make something fun to keep my granddaughter amused. I wanted something portable which would occupy her for more than a minute if we were in a cafe or say visiting relatives without toys! She loves to arrange dollies in the pram  so I created a little bed set for a tiny bunny I have for her. 

First I made the bed base my simply folding over one full sheet of felt, inserting some soft flat wadding inside and sewing round the three open edges.  

Then for a pillow I cut two small squares of felt. 

I sewed three sides, stuffed some of the fluffy wadding in and sewed up the last side. This was all done by machine and with the right sides outermost as before. It does make projects really quick to complete when using felt like this.  

Now came the most fun - making a felt patchwork quilt! The soft felt pack from Minerva Crafts has beautiful patterns on each sheet and the colours range from dark forest green to lovely bright lime green. After cutting 9 small squares I enjoyed myself 'auditioning the fabric' to decide the final placement of the colours. 

The soft felt is easy to machine together to make a simple traditional quilt of patchwork squares.  With the quilt laid pattern side down on the table I placed some flat wadding on top then covered this with an uncut whole felt sheet for the backing. 

Although quite thick when pinned together it was still perfectly easy to machine quilt through the layers. I did a straightforward 'stitch In the ditch' - which is sewing along the existing seam lines to make the quilt effect. Finally I sewed round the whole quilt to enclose the wadding. To finish off I trimmed the top to match the backing with my fluted pinking shears to give the quilt a pretty edge. 

Granddaughter was delighted with the set and spent ages putting bunny to bed then getting him up, re-arranging all his bed clothes and putting him back to bed again. Happy child and happy granny got a few minutes for a cup of tea in peace! 

Bunny looks very comfy too! 

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