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Archives: December 2017

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Punched Satin Kimono Dress by Frankie

Distressed clothing is a huge trend for this season. But I'm not a huge fan of the whole tatty look.

This punched Satin Fabric is a perfect solution to my problem. 1. It's satin so it's not some grungy looking thing, its got a certain amount of vavavoom and 2. the punched holes are deliberate enough that it doesn’t just look like your clothes are falling apart.

It comes in 7 different colours but I chose black because it makes the most sense with my current wardrobe.

And when it turns up it certainly is a spectacle to behold!! From what I can tell each circle has been cut by some sort of heat/laser? So they don’t fray but that doesn’t mean the fabric doesn’t create some challenges.

For one, due to the fact each circle is left attached by a small amount, you need to make sure that you cut everything out the right way otherwise you could have some circles flapping open whilst others are closed. Should you choose to have the join at the top the circles will lay flat offering more coverage [I did this and I’m wearing my kimono with a nude slip so I don’t look like a streaker instead you just show a small amount of skin or something that looks like skin.] But should you cut everything out with the join at the bottom all of your circles will fall open and you’ll have a sort of transparent polka dot effect.

It's also worth making sure everything is lying perfectly flat when cutting out and I would definitely recommend using a rotary cutter and matt so you don’t shift the circles as you are cutting out.

The nature of the fabric also makes it a bit tricky to sew. Not only does it have the general shiftiness of satin it also has the added fun of there being actual holes in the fabric. I found the best way to combat this was to use a really simple pattern with clean lines. I opted for the kimono dress by simple sew patterns. It has a kimono sleeve so you don’t need to set anything in and the whole thing is very easy to sew in fact the whole pattern only has two seams not including hemming. I also think a simple skirt, cardigan or t shirt would work really well.

Bear in mind though that anything with too many design details such a pleats and darts are likely to show on the right side and that interfacing will definitely be visable. However you could always line whatever you are making if you want to keep things super neat or aren’t keen on showing lots of skin.

Construction wise I used my overlocker because it creates a chain of stitches which is useful for filling the gap in between circles. However if you don’t have an overlocker you could try stitching it on your regular machine and then using bias binding to give you a neat finish on the inside and to make sure you’ve definitely caught everything that needs to be caught.

I also gave it a really small hem around the front edges, however I’m not sure this neatens it up too much and I think its weighing it down. If I were to do it again I’d either leave it as a raw edge or use bias binding around the edges. In fact a coloured bias binding with a coloured slip underneath could look really cool!

The odd thing is, as much as a I cursed it when I was making it and that I was sure it was going to be a bit of a bust, I kind of love it! The texture makes it a really interesting cardigan if I wear it with a vest top and jeans and wearing it with a nude slip actually makes a simple dress quite sexy. In fact the only real issue I’ve found when I’m wearing it is that it catches on doorhandles as I'm walking past but that's probably just me walking to close to the door! Plus when I’m wearing this I basically feel like Stevie Nicks and feeling like Stevie Nicks is never a bad thing!!!

Much Love

Frankie

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Jersey Loungewear by Carly

I'm glad to be back again testing another amazing Dressmaking Fabric from Minerva Crafts. I usually blog over at Lucky Sew and Sew and it's nice to take a little adventure every now and then!

I was sent a few metres of the Morgan Crepe Jersey Fabric in the tan brown colourway to use and as soon as I opened the package and felt this fabric, a plan formulated almost instantly! This fabric is the most amazing quality - a medium weight jersey with a good drape, a sturdy stretch and a lovely soft feel to it. You really must see it to believe it - especially as it's on sale for only £2.99 a metre! This is one of the nicest quality jersey fabrics that I've ever come across, and I couldn't wait to use it.

The colour of this fabric is what initially gave me the idea of how to use it. It's a beautifully saturated tan colour, almost toffee-like and nice and rich. It makes me feel warm and cosy just looking at it. One area that my me-made wardrobe is lacking in is loungewear. You know, clothes that are not pyjamas, but not going-out clothes either...that inbetween area. The clothes you wear on a cosy Sunday spent at home reading books and eating cake with a hot chocolate (or sewing away all day - who am I kidding?!). Loungewear needs to be comfortable, warm, practical and also a bit more put together than a pair of old pyjamas would.

I wanted to make a comfy pair of pants and a simple cardy or lightweight jacket. I instantly thought of the Ninni culottes by Named patterns for the pants. They're super comfortable and loose but there's always something that feels put-together about a nice pair of culottes. For the jacket I stumbled across the Besharl Jacket by Style Arc. A simple cocoon shaped jacket, with pockets and a nice shawl collar. I love the cocoon shape as it makes you feel instantly snuggly, and the shawl collar would give an added bit of warmth on colder days.

I cut the pants and jacket out of 3 metres of fabric. I altered the culottes by taking a few inches off the rise so that they sat on my hips and not my waist. Both the jacket and the culottes were very simple and straight forward sews, only helped by the fact that this fabric sews like a dream! Most of the jacket can be constructed using only an overlocker, and so I didn't have to finish the seams, however this fabric is so versatile that you wouldn't need to finish the edges as it doesn't fray. This would make it a great fabric for a beginner to use as you wouldn't need to worry about seam finishing, or whether you have an overlocker or not.

I am really pleased with my new loungewear! It's comfortable, hardwearing, and I love how it looks and feels. The fabric is the real star of the show, it was a dream to work with and a it's a delight to wear. The colour is easy to wear too. I styled it with a simple cream t-shirt but it would compliment most colours nicely which is a massive bonus. Now I need to plan more lounge-days so I can snuggle up at home in my new outfit!

Thanks for reading,

Carly @ Lucky Sew and Sew

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Paparounes Spices Sointu Kimono Tee by Jo

Well hello there! It’s Jo from The Unfinished Seamstress again. I enjoyed writing my recent guest posts for Minerva Crafts so much that we’ve teamed up again! This time, no challenge in mind other than to simply make myself something lovely, and I have three words for you: Art Gallery Knits. Honestly, how good is this fabric? I knew it was high-quality, but I don’t sew knits as much as I’d like to, so I’d never given it a try. I knew the prints were gorgeous, and I just couldn’t get this Paparounes Spices out of my head. The colour palette is right up my street, I love pink and orange together, and I love a large scale painterly floral. I had to have a little of this colour in my life before the grey of winter truly descended! 
The pattern is the Sointu Kimono Tee by Named, which I’ve sewn three times before and was confident that I would like, but this time I decided to lengthen it by about 6 inches so I could wear it either with tights as a short dress, or over jeans like a long tunic. Maximum versatility! I wanted something very comfortable, very weekday, but I like that the shape is a little different - a little more special than an average t-shirt shape. I’m also generally wary of jersey knit dresses because of their tendency to cling to every lump and bump, so a loose fit is key for me. I made it with winter in mind (black boots, sweaters, punchy lip colour), but I also think in the summer it would be cute over thrashed pegged-up jeans. It’s an easy sew, and it comes together really fast. No sleeves to set, no neckband. The only thing that I find tricky about it is twin-needle hemming, but that’s my issue as a seamstress. I actually got a pretty decent finish on this one; in spite of the fact that I dislike the technique, it looks pretty good!
But let’s talk about the fabric: seriously, it’s so gorgeous. Great stretch, great recovery, super soft and strong - it’s just lovely. It feels very (VERY) luxurious as a top for myself, but I think it would also make beautiful baby and kids clothes, or underwear, (which also have the advantage of tiny yardage requirements). Or pyjamas! I would love to make a little summer pyjama set in another colourful print, like these delicious Yuma Lemons. I’ve washed the fabric a few times already and it’s holding up wonderfully. I’m really, really happy with it. 
Styling-wise, I know that so much of this print is possibly a little loud for some people, but I feel like a good punch of colour, especially in the winter, does me good. I’ve been wearing it with my bright orange coat and feeling like a ray of sunshine in a dark world. A good print’ll do that to you.
Thanks for reading,
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Prada Crepe Sienna Dress by Ali

Thanks to Minerva for asking me to review this Dressmaking Fabric. I chose the dusky pink colourway but I think it’s more lilac or mauve than dusky pink.

The fabric is glorious. Very fluid and has a good weight, a brilliant drape and doesn’t crease. There is a good range of colours and I think it would be brilliant made into wide palazzo pants, maxi dresses, circle skirts and dresses. I’m also now thinking it would make a very luxurious lining fabric for a winter coat.

The two sides of the fabric are very different and can be used in different ways. I chose to use the satin side for the bodice and the crepe side for the skirt. By lining the bodice, the satin side of the fabric is also next to my skin which cuts out the necessity to wear a petticoat!

I overlocked all raw edges for neatness.

I made the Sienna Dress by Simple Sews Patterns. This is one of my favourite patterns for a sleeveless dress. Because the fabric has a little bit of stretch, the fit is really great but it means it’s really important to staystitch the neckline. I omit the centre front bodice seam and this creates a slightly different shape to the neck. I use my walking foot and a blue tipped needle but the fabric as very easy to sew with, nice and stable.

I like the contrast of the satin bodice and the crepe half circle skirt and I think it would look fabulous in black for an evening dress.

There is an invisible zip in the back. I wasn’t able to get a really good press on the back and using steam just seemed to make it more bumpy. Like all fabrics of this type, it catches easily so be careful of sharp rough fingernails and hands, or pins that aren’t sharp enough!

The insides of the dress feel really slinky and luxurious next to my skin and I’m hoping to wear this dress to a wedding reception very soon. I’m making a cropped cardigan to wear with it.

Pockets – the sign of a good dress pattern

I recommend this Fabric – I definitely would like some in black to make an LBD for Christmas. Don’t expect dusky pink to be pink though – it’s a cross between pink and purple as you will see in my photos.

Happy sewing!

Ali x

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The Party Orla by Georgina

With the Christmas/New Year party season here I wanted to get party dress sewing ASAP rather than leaving it to the last minute/night before! I have four Christmas parties this year and have decided to make two dresses.

When I saw this amazing peacock coloured Fabric with gold highlights I knew it would make an amazing Christmas dress. I love anything colourful and patterned and with the added sparkle this fabric is totally me. As you may know by now if you follow me on Instagram the French Navy Orla dress is my favourite. It fits me perfectly and is so hackable. I decided to use this fabric to make my first Christmas dress of the year. 

I always make sure that when I get new fabric that it goes straight into the washing machine, after I've inspected how amazing it is of course. That way it's ready for sewing as soon as I have time and I'm not waiting around watching fabric dry! The fabric washed really well and irons super smooth.

Other than the fitting alterations which I have already made to my copy of the Orla pattern the only other alteration I made to this version is that I made the skirt fuller. I'm a pattern tracer rather than a cutter but when it comes to gathered skirts I don't see the point as it's just a rectangle piece. This is how I made the skirt: 

  • Cut two widths of the fabric, which is approx 110cm, at the skirt length you want - remember to add seam allowances.
  • Leave one piece as it is and cut the other piece in two, this will be the back piece. 
  • Gather all three pieces. To do this increase the tension to the highest setting, I have a brother machine so changed it from 4 to 9, and increase the stitch length to the maximum. Within the seam allowance stitch. It will automatically gather as you sew. I find this method makes even gathers.
  • Remember to change your settings back.
  • Carry on as normal sewing the back pieces to the front along the side seams. Then attaching the bodice to the skirt. 

The Orla dress requires an invisible zips however as this is a party dress I decided to add an exposed Lace Zip. It just so happened that I had a matching purple one in my stash. 

I couldn't decide whether to add a pom pom trim but was struggling to find gold pom poms so instead I will add some sparkly gold accessories to bring out the gold flecks. 

Although this is a dress for the Christmas party seasons I think that the colours in this Cotton Fabric are suitable for anytime of the year and it would be perfect for a spring wedding or a summer BBQ. 

Thanks for reading,

Georgina @ Sew in the Garden

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Q&A with Eleanor from nelnanandnora

Can you tell us a little bit about you and your blog?

Hi, I’m Eleanor, from nelnanandnora. I’m married and have two daughters and we live on the edge of Leeds, UK. Crochet and sewing are my great crafting loves and are the main focus of my blog, along with occasional travel, events and other creative adventures.

Can you show us a photo of your crafting space?

I’m fortunate to have half of a room at the side of our house, which is shared with my husband’s Lego, guitars, books and other random household storage. On sunny days I sew at the dining table where the light and view are much better.

When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start? What was your first project? What is your favourite craft?

I started making things when I was very young, thanks to my Mum and Grandma. The first project that I remember clearly was a plaster of Paris decoration that we made at nursery. I was given my first sewing box when I was 6 or 7 years old and loved playing with my Grandma’s fabric scraps and buttons. It was at and after university that my great love of dressmaking really started to develop. Living in Belgium for a few years challenged both my language and sewing skills as I discovered Burda Style and Knip Mode magazines. Crochet followed more recently and took over for a while as it felt more manageable when my girls were younger, but sewing is definitely my favourite.

What do you love most about crafting?

I love being able to take a flat piece of fabric or ball of yarn and create something unique. It fulfils a deep-seated desire to make life more beautiful and helps keep me calm and focused (most of the time!).

Do your friends or family craft along with you?

My daughters (aged 7 and 10) are both creative, and although they generally prefer to draw and make models, the elder one has tried some crochet and really enjoys sewing. She determined the placement of each flower motif on this dress and helped to sew them in place. They both love choosing fabrics and patterns so that they have unique garments and accessories (including a completely ridiculous flamingo hat!) I have a growing network of creative friends, which is wonderful after sewing alone for many years. I don’t craft so often now with my husband - he prefers Lego and jigsaw puzzles - although we did make our wedding invitations together.

Who do you make things for?

Most of my creations are for me, my girls or other family members. Sometimes I take on commissions, which have varied widely from cuddly chickens to a flat cap and waistcoat for a 5 year old. Our next family project will be making decorations to sell at a school Christmas fair, to raise funds for the PTA.

What made you decide to start to blog about your crafting?

I’d been crocheting for a year or so when I started blogging. It seemed like a natural progression to share what I was learning and to start writing patterns and tutorials. My rediscovered love for sewing - which had lain dormant for a few years when the girls were little – has taken over my blog somewhat during the last year or so. It’s been a while since I wrote a crochet pattern but the shell stitch hat has remained popular.

Do you have a favourite snack when crafting?

Biscuits, toast or cheese (or quite often all three).

What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?

A needle, thread and fabric. With those three, anything is possible.

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with and why?

I love silk, cotton, linen and wool. Much as synthetics are practical, they just don’t feel the same.

What is your favourite pattern you have ever followed?

This is a tough one! The Clare Coat by Closet Case Patterns is probably the one that has challenged me most. Unfortunately I made a poor fabric choice so I’ll be making another for this winter.

What is your favourite product on the Minerva Crafts website and what would you make with it?

Boiled Wool Coating is one of my favourite fabrics. It is practical and warm but feels luxurious and a little quirky at the same time. Perfect! I’d make a cocoon coat with the Sapporo Papercut Pattern or simple raw edge jacket.

How many projects do you have on the go at one time? 

Hmmm, quite a few! I’d say two or three current ones that can be finished relatively quickly and a slow one that could run for a few weeks or months. I always have a few planned in advance, but sometimes they’re overtaken by new ideas that won’t go away.

Whats your favourite thing you have ever made? 

I’d have to say my friends’ wedding dresses, one in 2001 from a Prima magazine pattern and one in 2005 using the Vogue Sewing Pattern no 2788, a classic that is still in print. It was almost a magical process and such a privilege to make them.

What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)? Do you have a photo?

I’m crocheting a blanket for my Mum (the Hydrangea blanket by Lucy of Attic24), sewing a sweatshirt for my husband and will soon be starting a Sew Over It Chloe Coat, ready for the winter.

Do you watch TV or listen to music while you craft?

I listen to podcasts or have YouTube - almost always sewing vlogs - on in the background for crafty inspiration, or if I need to concentrate more, then I’ll have some music playing, mostly Corinne Bailey Rae or Pink Martini. I’ve been following the French version of the Sewing Bee (Cousu Main), which is great for both my sewing and my rusty language skills!

What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start crafting?

I often go for a wander round local craft and fabric shops – we’re very fortunate to have a good selection around Leeds and Bradford – or explore Instagram, Ravelry, The Fold Line or Pinterest.

Do you have a crafty tip you would like to share?

Don’t hurry! That seems to be when most things go wrong (especially with late night crafting).

Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?

I tend to pick up blog posts via Instagram and Facebook if the content appeals to me; Attic24Saturday Night StitchHandmade by ChrisRedWSewsThe Yorkshire SewistThe Magnificent Thread and Thimberlina are among my favourites. I feel more connected with bloggers who I’ve met and most of these lovely creative women are based close to here.

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

I still feel a bit clueless after 3 years! Finding your voice can tak time. The blogs that I appreciate the most are the honest ones, telling their stories with all the ups and downs of creative life.

Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?

Quirky, inquisitive, persistent.

What are your crafting ambitions?

I’d like to find ways to support and encourage others as I develop my own skills.

Have you a favourite tip or trick to share with our readers?

Wonder Clips are amazing! I find them so handy for working with knits, zips and bulky fabrics, or anything that is difficult to pin.

What would you say to anyone looking to start a new craft?

Take it slowly at first, be kind to yourself and keep it playful!

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Prym Espadrille ‘Classic’ Pattern Review by Sally

Hello! I’m Sally from The Yorkshire Sewist and I'm reviewing the Prym Espadrille ‘Classic’ instruction DVD and Sewing Pattern

Now I have never made my own shoes before, I didn’t even know where to start but with the help of this DVD this project was fairly easy, so I’d definitely pop it on your ever growing to do list! Espadrilles are usually associated with a summer wardrobe but I thought I would get ahead of the game for a change and make a start on my spring/summer wardrobe!

The DVD comes in a packet with a paper pattern, which covers UK and EU sizes from a child size 8.5 to adult size 10.5. You could make some lovely gifts for all the family! There are three choices of style of espadrille that you can make.  As you have the basic shapes you can quite easily adapt the pattern and create whatever style you like. The soles which are sold separately come with a paper pattern but the one included with this DVD is much better and gives more options of style in my opinion. 

Upon inserting the DVD into my Laptop, The DVD opens with a screen showing three options for which pair of espadrilles you wish to make; a peep toe style, classic option and an open toe sandal. I decided to make the Classic option but in my honest opinion, I felt after watching it in full before I made a start that it didn’t give the shoe a nice clean finish. So I decided to make them as neat as possible where I will show you how.

First of all, you need to gather your supplies!!

Here's what I used:

Size 4 of the Espadrille Shoe Soles

Fat Quarter of Outer Fabric (Huge selection of the Minerva website)

Fat Quarter of Lining Fabric or the Prym Espadrille Lining Fabric

Guterman Top Stitch Thread as this gives a neater finish in my opinion or alternatively you can use Espadrille Yarn as shown in the DVD.

1 x Strong Needle that will pass through the fabric and the espadrille sole, your upper fabric and your Lining Fabric.

General Supplies:

Tailors Chalk

Pins

Scissors

The Trusty Measuring Tape

When it came to the innersole of my shoe I’d thought I would add some of the fabric I used for the shoe itself as I felt that the inside could be a bit scratchy after a while, I’m all about comfort! All I did was trace round the soles and deducted 1cm from all around and then cut out the template. I then placed the template and then pin in place and cut out for each sole and the used fabric glue to secure to the sole. I left the soles to dry overnight to be on the safe side. 

So with the pattern pieces given, I added a 1cm seam allowance to allow sewing the outer and inner together and when it comes to cutting out your fabrics make sure to align the pattern pieces with the grain of the fabric too. 

I sewn them together using a 1cm seam allowance, just remember to leave about a 5cm gap for turning them out and then top stitched for decorative effect. 

Now to pin the heel in place first, just remember to angle your pins or your hand will end up like a pin cushion! With your thread doubled, you then stitch the fabric to the sole using a blanket stitch and then repeat for the front piece. This part is definitely the most time consuming! I am self confessed hater of hand stitching and it took me a lot longer than expected but I was social sewing in the living room rather than having my back to everyone I was sat on the sofa! You may find that you run out of thread whilst stitching around your sole but just remember to have your knots on the inside. 

To finish the side, all you do is try them on and pinning the sides to the toe fabric for a nice snug fit and stitch in place. 

It’s a nice kit if you are totally new to sewing as it gives you the material list and guides you through process of making them. The DVD is great at showing you the techniques to make them as sometimes it is hard to visualise instructions and you can stop/start at anytime.

Here are the final results! A funky pair of watermelon and kiwi espadrilles all ready for the nicer weather to return but truth be told I’m already wearing round the house!

Thanks for reading,

Sal @ The Yorkshire Sewist

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Tiny Dancer T-Shirt by Dianne

I would like to share with you this super comfy long sleeved T-shirt that I made from Art Gallery Fabrics Stretch Jersey. The design is tiny dancer in midnight and was kindly sent to me by Minerva Crafts. The pattern is my own design that I have made up previously but I have just tweaked it a little since the last time I made it.

Originally I got the basic shape and size by cutting around one of my existing T-shirts, I then simply lengthened the hem and the sleeves to achieve the style I wanted. I also like to change the necklines so there is a bit of variation there and on this particular version I have added a cuff to the sleeve.

The pattern has been traced onto baking paper as I do not own any specialist pattern paper but that might be something I try to use in future. I find it is a bit more durable than tissue paper and anyone who owns patterns will know how delicate they can be. Added to the pieces are a few notes for me, anything I may need reminding of in future and what worked well.

This particular fabric was wonderful to work with, it sewed up beautifully. While it has a good amount of stretch, it isn’t springy as some stretch fabrics can be and it behaved well under the presser foot. This made it quite a relaxing make which was good because we all have those days where things don’t go quite right but this wasn’t one of them.

To change the style of this T-shirt from the previous one I chose to add a half placket and just one button at the neckline with a loop made from bias binding. I feel this just gives it a bit of detail here but not too much, as the fabric is patterned I didn’t want it too fussy.

As mentioned above the long sleeves have a cuff, I wanted this to be the style you would find on a sweatshirt but for the top to remain a little more dressy. This was created by just cutting two rectangles, measuring them at my wrist, folding in half then stitching to create the cuff. The effect is neat at the wrist and will also keep out the cold.

A final detail is the hem, as this is a longer line style I feel it will be mainly worn on the outside so I chose a curved hem and finished it with a zig zag stitch which gave a nice flat finish. This would not have been required had I used my overlocker however I chose not to use it on this occasion. I know many people will not sew stretch or knit fabrics without theirs but I found this fabric to be easy to work with. I like to give my overlocker a rest on occasion as it saves on my blades and on cotton.

In all I am really delighted with the way this T-shirt has turned out, it is so soft. It will definitely be getting lots of wear over the coming months and I look forward to making more. Thanks again to Minerva Crafts for providing me with this lovely fabric to try out.

And thanks for reading,

Dianne @ Sewing Green Lady

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Erika Knight British Blue Wool Yarn Review by Eleanor

I was excited to see Erika Knight’s British Blue Wool on the list of options for review this month from Minerva Crafts. Wool - especially Brtitish wool - is my favourite fibre for crochet. It’s renewable, versatile, warm and incredibly varied. 

Almost all of my Mum’s family were all involved in the wool trade in some way, whether in trading or manufacturing, in the area around Bradford. Our town is still home to two mills, one of which is the home of the Erika Knight brand, so this yarn is perfect for me.

The colour range is beautiful and has quirky, amusing names (this one is ‘Steve’; others include ‘Iced Gem’ and ‘Mouse’). Although it splits a little from time to time, it is lovely to work with, gives excellent stitch definition and has some natural elasticity. I would happily wear it against my skin and could imagine using it for a variety of projects, even for babies and children. It is also machine washable, which is a huge bonus!

Immediately, I knew what I wanted to make. Crochet cables were on my mind because of a workshop that I taught at Yarndale in September, so I adapted the hat pattern that I used for teaching to make a cowl. Both patterns will soon be appearing on my blog, once I’ve taken some detailed step by step photos to explain the basics of crochet cables.

This yarn seems to suit the textured pattern really well as the stitch definition helps the cables and ribbing to stand out and creates a warm, resilient fabric, with good stretch and recovery. The texture is created by using post stitches – working around the stem or post of a stitch rather than into the loops at the top – which are alternated to create the ribbing and crossed to form cables.

If I could knit more than a teddy’s scarf, I’d certainly be making these adorable lovebirds. Somewhere in my stash of yarn, I have a couple more balls of this yarn in a pale yellow, so it’s time to find it and make something lovely.

Thanks for reading,

Eleanor @ nelnanandnora

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Tilda Toy Box Craft Book Review by Pippa

To read, look at or to craft by books have always been a great source of information and inspiration to me. When I was offered the chance to review the Tilda Toy Box Book I was over the moon. It also gave me a chance to get ahead for Christmas. My tiniest of nieces loves dressing up so I thought a dressing up doll would be the perfect gift. It would also help use up some of those fabric bits I’ve not got round to throwing out either. Please tell me I’m not the only one who saves bits.

It’s a beautiful book. Nice to hold, is that a weird thing to say, and full of ideas to make for your small people and one or two you could use for yourself. 

It’s set out quite nicely, Tone goes through how to use the patterns and her ideas with the doll being the first make. Now, I'm not a lover of dolls but I love the shape of this doll. It’s not your average rag doll shape or the long thin dolls that Tilda dolls are normally associated with. She has a lovely friendly toddler shape. I can’t describe it any other way, it just seemed right. Also the way in which the hair was painted on reminded me of my little niece.

The patterns are all in the back of the book in nice clear template form to trace or photocopy off.  I traced as none of them were very big and so didn’t take that long to draw out. I found this was also perfect for using up smaller pieces of pattern paper left from grown up size projects. 

Once I traced off the main doll parts I set them out on some fabric. I used some cream curtain lining. It wasn’t good enough for curtains as it’d been sitting about for sometime but it was perfect for this little doll. A word of warning, read the instructions before you cut anything out. I say this out of experience because I was cutting out happily when I considered the size of the arms and legs…There was no seam allowance on the pattern. Tone recommends using a ¼” or 6mm seam. It’s in the notes of the book. Lesson learned, and she was re-cut with seam allowances. Well, the legs and arms were. I guessed the head and body could take it due to their shape.

It’s all quite easy to put together but I wouldn’t recommend this to a beginner. It’s fiddly and unless you have a vague idea how things might go together it could be confusing. I put all of the pieces together and trimmed to make it easier to turn. I use pinking shears for trimming curves. It saves snipping by automatically creating the perfect turning shape. 

The legs and arms were tricky to turn but if you have a Loop Turner it can be done without too much fuss. I stuffed with a standard Toy Stuffing and on the books recommendation used a stick for the arms and legs. Chop sticks have their alternate uses.  Health and safety warning! Don’t use a kebab stick as you’ll end up stabbing yourself or at the very least go through your fabric. The legs are then machined onto the body.

The doll is generally put together by hand stitching the parts together so, you need to use quite small and secure stiches. Hopefully this will be a much loved, much played with toy so you don’t want an arm to fall off or heaven forbid the head. Some people just stitch small and on this occasion, it can be a good thing. Once stuffed the head is easiest attached by pinning in place to make sure it stays on straight. Be careful not to leave too much neck a this can lead to a wobbly head. 

The instructions for the painted hair were very effective, I drew an outline with a dissolvable pen to find the right line and then painted with textile paint. Warning! Try not to get the brush too wet as the paint may bleed into the fabric. I found a textile pen a good tool to get a nice crisp edge to the hair line.

I used the nobble of a pin to mark the eyes which didn’t come out as crisp as I’d have liked so I added eye lashes to hide the smudge. 

The clothes were easy enough to put together, though super fiddly due to their size. I have new found respect for those people that make clothes for Barbie. I found the instructions quite easy to follow but if I’m honest I just took a quick look to make sure I was putting the right bits together and in the right place. I’m not a beginner so I don’t feel I can comment on the ease of instructions, but some are a little scarce.

I have to say I’ve had fun building a wardrobe, she now has a pile of scraps coordinated waiting to be made up. It’s for my niece, honest. 

As I looked through the book I kept landing on the whale. He’s such a lovely shape. I’m hoping my nephew will enjoy him. 

I’ve used a jersey for the top pieces to make him even more squishy. There is a whole section on a sea/pirate theme room. You can even make a pirate doll! Tempting. I’d bought a couple of lovely scraps form a local shop which at the time had no idea what I’d be doing with them. With a little blue added they were just the right size to have a go at the sardines. 

Because you put the fabrics together first I found these quick to put together. I managed three out of my scraps by dovetailing the middle of the leftovers.  No Idea what I’m going to do with them. It’s been suggested they’d work for a mobile, they are just the right size.  You could make a few other sea creatures to add to them. I’m sure the small people will work something out.

 

Overall, I liked the set out of the book. There’s plenty of scope for putting your own mark on the basic models. Although it uses the Tilda range of fabrics, if you use a similar type of fabric it should still work. It has a good range of projects with a few simple ones and some that will encourage you to play with basic patchwork. If you’re a keen stitcher or crafter then I think you’d find something in this book. All you have to do then is carve out the time. It’s a book that will look nice on both the book shelf and craft table but be warned, if your small people or friends with smalls look through it you could find multiple pages marked for future projects as hints.

Thanks for reading,

Pippa x

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