Archives: November 2015
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 30th November 2015 by Annette
Posted in Free Patterns on Friday the 27th November 2015 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Guest Posts on Thursday the 26th November 2015 by Anne Hall
Hi there. I’m Anne Hall and I work at the Minerva Craft Centre in Darwen, Lancashire.
I have always been fascinated by anything to do with colour, so just looking at shelves full of coloured wool or fabric every day is a real treat.
Ever since I was a little girl I used to love colouring in, either drawing my own pictures or competing with my three sisters to see who could be the best one at keeping in the lines in our colouring books! It must have been genetic, as my mum was exactly the same, she always enjoyed the wonder of colour and how it could lift your spirits!
However, it wasn’t just colour. She also had a great love for all things creative, whether it was drawing, painting, gardening, knitting, crocheting, sewing, or decorating.
We were lucky that our mum did not have to work when we were little. As a result I, and my sisters, were encouraged to be creative from a very early age. This meant that we were given the “tools” to be able to pursue various hobbies and pastimes which we have enjoyed throughout our lives.
Before I was eight I could knit and sew, and I remember using my mum’s Singer treadle sewing machine to make clothes for my, and my sister’s, Sindy dolls. By the age of ten, my grandma had also taught me how to crochet.
So, when my mum bought her first wool shop when I was twelve, I was so excited to be able to choose some wool to start my first “grown up” project! I remember it was a mustard coloured sweater, and, if I made a good job of it, was promised more wool to go with it to make the matching skirt. Needless to say, from then on I was hooked!
When I was fourteen, mum took on a bigger shop. We now had even more choice – we were so lucky! I distinctly remember at the time, that ponchos had appeared on the scene - and I just had to have one. This time it was a crochet project and I made it in a gorgeous apple/lime green - I wore it for years, only giving it up when they went out of fashion. Surprising how things go in cycles, isn’t it - they’ve been very popular again recently.
Over the years I sewed for my children when they were little and knitted them many a cardi, jumper, hat, scarf, etc. For a period I actually designed my own knitwear and tapestry designs, selling them at various craft fairs. After that life changed a bit - my husband and I had our own business for 22 years, unfortunately not to do with yarn and fabric (but it did involve colour in a different way – it was an art shop!). Putting so much time into that meant I didn’t have much left for sewing, knitting or crocheting anymore!
So, when life moved on another big step and I came to work at Minerva, it was a kind of “coming home” for me. To see, and work with, all our beautiful yarns and fabric is a real pleasure. The yarns have moved on so much since my mum had her shops, and the choice of fabrics today is just mouthwatering!
I’ve already completed a number of my own projects, but I have now been asked if I would like to share some of my ideas and working methods with all you lovely people who enjoy our Minerva Blog. What I will be aiming to do is provide you with some food for thought over the coming months.
My “problem” has nearly always been, that whatever pattern or project I look at, I always seem to think “ Well, I like that idea, but what if I did this to it?” or “ I wonder if you did that with it, would it work?” or even being as drastic as taking an item in one medium and converting it into another, such as using the shape of a fabric garment and recreating it as a knitted or crocheted one. So, over the years, I have tended to take something as a starting point and then give it my own twist. Hopefully, by taking you step-by-step through various projects, and explaining how I have looked to alter, expand and enhance them with my own interpretations, you may be able to see how you can start to do something similar yourself!
I hope that through the coming months, I can help you to gain the confidence to look at some of your own projects in a new light. I look forward to bringing you my first post very soon,
Bye for now,
Posted in Free Patterns on Tuesday the 24th November 2015 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Special Offers on Monday the 23rd November 2015 by Crafty Crafter
Posted in Product Reviews on Friday the 20th November 2015 by Annette
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 19th November 2015 by Crafty Crafter
Bias Binding - the trimming that strikes fear into the hearts of many sewers! You see it in the notions of a sewing pattern and think "...I don't have to use this particular pattern...even though it's exactly what I'm looking for in every way". At least, that's what I used to think. I am now a total convert to the cause and dare I say I actually quite enjoy doing it! I jumped in at the deep end with bias binding as the first time I did it was for the legendary Walkaway Dress, featured in this years Great British Sewing Bee.
not too shabby if I do say so myself!
Now if you know this dress you know it has a fair amount of bias binding so what better way to get to grips with it. The single garment covers straight lines, curves, easing around neck lines, all the basic tricks needed for successful bias binding. So how exactly do you go about applying the binding? This, it seems, is a hotly debated topic in the sewing world. I of course went to Vicki for such advice and having learnt from Annette she of course told me the technique she uses to apply bias binding really neatly. Sewing along the fold to the front edge, folding over to encase the seam them hand stitching the rear creating an invisible join. Hand Stitching?! Who has time for that?! Surely you can machine it to create a top stitch? Thus the discussions in the office began. You can stitch your bias to the rear side of the edge of the fabric, then fold the bias over and stitch close to the edge to create a neat top stitch. NEAT top stitch. That's a lot of pressure. More trouble than it's worth? Possibly. I did my lazy method for my Walkway and and I'm happy with the results but boy am I glad the thread colour match is spot on!
My S.O's mum leant me an old sewing book that her Mum gave her and it's basically an A-Z of sewing and in it it showed this 'proper' technique for bias. When I went to apply bias to a top I was working on I read the instructions and to my surprise it instructed the 'lazy' topstitch method for applying the bias! IN A PATTERN! I referenced the book because I wanted to practice the method and decide for myself which I prefered, and to my surprise I really enjoyed the old way! (Vicki and Annette were very impressed, too, so win win haha).
I personally think it really depends what look you're going for. A contrasting top stitch thread on the bias could be a great stylistic choice. So I'll let you decide. Below we've put together tutorials for both methods of bias binding and shown the results of each. So let this be your one-stop bias applying guide!
Method One: Blind Stitch Bias
Method Two: Top Stitch Bias
Posted in Special Offers on Monday the 16th November 2015 by Crafty Crafter
Posted in New Products on Friday the 13th November 2015 by Crafty Crafter