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Product Reviews

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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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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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Product Review: Clover Pompom Makers by Maddie

Hi there!

Let me introduce myself, within the sewing community I go by the name Thimble Bee, but you can always call me Maddie. I run my own blog dedicated to all things sewing, but I am also a third year Psychology student, so finding time to fit in all the sewing I desire is hard (partly because all I ever want to do is sew).

Anyway, the product I am reviewing for you today is these lovely little Pompom Makers, now if you’re like me and love pompom’s, you’re probably going to want to get some of these. But, first things first, let me take you through my thoughts and feelings I had when I was using this product.

When Minerva Crafts sent these over to me, I opened the parcel straight away and started examining. I was somewhat disappointed by what I thought were the instructions on the back of the packet. They were brief, the pictures didn’t really correspond with the words and I felt like they missed out a few steps. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find full, detailed instructions on how to use this product when I opened up the cardboard on the back. 

What I really did like about this product, even before I used them, was their colours and the look, after all, it’s really all about the look. The colours in each pack match each other and I think they will be very cute if you had them out on display in your sewing space.

Then off I went, I pulled out my wool from my stash and started winding, making sure to follow all instructions on the packet. And, before I knew it I was surrounded by various size pompoms. The only thing I found a little tricky was cutting the wool towards the end of the process, particularly on the smaller pompom makers, as the wool is so tightly wound it’s somewhat difficult to get your scissors up in there. But I do understand that this is probably down to the nature of the process rather than the pompom makers themselves.

One other thing I did find a little annoying on the two smaller pompom makers (the purple and bright pink ones) was that the size isn’t clearly written on them, and after a day or two, I couldn’t remember which one was the bigger size and they are so close. But, after about 5 minutes of a weird type of staring contest with these makers they lost and I finally found the number indicating their size on one of the arms.

Overall, I really, really, enjoyed using this product, and I look forward to using them again. Most of the problems I identified were soon resolved either by taking them fully out of the packet or just by staring at them for a long time.

But now, it’s on to the fun part, the tutorial!

For this tutorial, you will need your pompom makers, wool, string of some kind and some kind of scissors (I found my little thread scissors were very helpful)

This tutorial is for a pompom garland.  I seriously love mine and I personally think it looks FAB.U.LOUS on my wall.  

This is a really simple tutorial, all you do is make the pompom up until the point you would tie round some more wool in order to keep it all together. Instead of using a small piece of thread, you use a long piece of the string, tie it round like you would normally but just don’t cut it.

Now, when you go on to make your next pompom instead of using another, different piece of thread like you would normally, you just move along your string a tad and use that. 

Now all you need to do is turn on your favourite T.V. programme and continue to make all the pompoms along this one piece of string until you're satisfied with the length.

Then you can have the pleasure of finding somewhere to hang it, stepping back, and admiring your work. 

 

I hope you enjoyed it, feel free to find me on wordpress or instagram.

Ciao for now, happy crafting! 

xx

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Product Review: Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles by Tina

Hello,

Im Tina from Simply in Stitches and I am here guest posting on the Minerva Crafts Blog today. Minerva Crafts kindly sent me the Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles to review - I requested to try the 4mm and 5mm in the 35cm length. They are also  available in a 40cm length in many sizes. On first impression they do look completely different from other needles on the market. I don't think I would have picked them up when shopping for needles. So I am really pleased  I had the opportunity to try them out. They come boxed so I think with an interesting yarn and a pattern they would make a lovely gift for a knitter who has everything. Crafters always like to try something new.

I have treated myself recently to the Stylecraft Knitting Pattern number 9357 and new Jeanie Knitting Yarn. I fell in love with the denim look jacket at the  Olympia knitting and stitching show where they had a sample made up. This is the project I wanted to start to see how these needles perform.

Prym say the needles have a hook tip but I think they are more rounded. When casting on my jacket I found the tips very effective at picking up and placing the stitches on to the needle. At first slight they look as if they would not be very easy to manage but I found them very easy to control. The needles feel very light and comfortable in the hand with the synthetic material. They feel so flexible that at first I thought they were weak but with use I realized that they are a lot stronger than they seem and I appreciated  the comfort the flexibility gave after knitting for several hours.

The Prym Ergonomics change from round to a triangular shape. This I only noticed to look at as they do not feel different in the hand. This shape is to help the stitches move more freely. I did notice the free movement of the stitches while I was knitting. Maybe this is why it is called a hook tip as it prevents dropped stitches because of the flow of the stitches.

At the other end of the needle are the click heads. These are to hold the needles together and prevent stitches coming off in your knitting bag. I loved this feature and used it every time I put away my knitting. Sometimes it took a few goes to line them up but it worked well and it was lovely to have a neat row of stitches when they came back out of the bag. 

I have a long suffering husband on the other end of the sofa trying to watch TV as I click away knitting. I'm always aware of this and try not to click the needles too much. These Prym needles are so quiet I can just relax and enjoy my knitting.

I am really enjoying these needles and will continue to finish my jacket with them. I will also be looking out for the Circular Knitting Needles in this range to arrive in stock at Minerva as I use circulars more than straight needles (however, you can pre-order them now). I am interested to try them as they have a steel cord that is said to prevent the spiraling effect that can be a problem.

Thank you for reading my review I hope you found it interesting and helpful.

Tina x

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Simplicity 2274 Holiday Bag Review by Samantha

As the Summer holiday season fast approaches, I had on my wish list to sew the perfect big holdall style bag for our Summer adventures. I had on my wish list a few key musts; It needed to be washable, family friendly, easy to store between trips, big enough to fit a lot of holiday gear in and not too girly so the boys would carry it too. You know how it is girls!

I had searched the high street for the perfect bag and everything was too floral or looked to grey and functional. Here are my five reasons why I stitched my new holiday bag and why you should create a bespoke bag to stand out from the crowd.

Number 1 - It’s a Huge Bag

I was delighted to find the finished size of this Simplicity Sewing Pattern (2274) is a whooping 50cm x 30cm x 30cm. I’ve managed to fit four 30 x 30cm cushions in to give you an idea of how big this fab bag is. Because it’s such a soft bag it folds down to store in the space of two woolly jumpers in my wardrobe.

Number 2 - You can make it with just 1.5m of Fabric

I choose a black and white cotton Gingham Fabric to give my bag a retro feel and lined to with a pastel pink lining fabric with a fuchsia pink top stitching. You will need to use a bag Batting Fabric to give your bag some stability and a professional finish. I found that stitching the three layers together with a lining, bag batting and gingham fabric needed a size 100 needle. I’m so pleased I made the bag with a lightweight dress fabric as once you have the three layers of your bag on a domestic sewing machine, it’s pretty thick for it to take. I really recommend a dress weight fabric even though it’s tempting to go for an oil cloth or a heavier fabric but this would be too thick for a domestic sewing machine to take. The picture on the packet looks like it is stitched with quilting weight fabric. Don’t be put off with the wavy quilter style stitching on the bag, I stitched straight lines and it was fine and gave the bag a modern finish.

Number 3 - It can be used as a Shoulder or Carry Bag

The carry handles are made using 3.5m of webbed Binding Tape which are wrapped around the bag and are securely stitched at the bottom of bag. I hadn’t used jute webbed binding tape before but after prewashing it and covering it in a matching fabric it gave my bag a lovely finish. Stitching through the two layers of covered tape on the base of the bag with my 100 needle was the bit I thought I was going to break a needle but hey, the needle just went straight though. I was really impressed! The bag can be used as a shoulder or a carry bag and love that!

Number 4 - It has extra pockets on the outside too!

The pattern has a really easy front pocket which you stitch on and secure with the handle detail plus a sneaky little pocket on one side. The pattern recommends a zip and a pleated pocket detail on the side but I wanted an open pocket to throw a guide book or my daughter’s sun hat in when we are on off on our travels. The two outside pockets are a really simple but great feature to add more storage to the design.

Number 5 - I love a Simplicity Pattern for Easy Instructions

I have to say, when I was looking for a bag pattern, I looked for Simplicity first. I haven’t stitched a commercial bag sewing pattern for years and wanted the challenge. I do love Simplicity Sewing Patterns, they go together really well and instructions are clear with diagrams to help you with the tricky bits such as adding the zip and attaching the front pocket. The pattern does go through various fabric layouts and has 2 pages of double paged instructions to help you.

The only addition I did was to finish the zip and the seams with bias binding. I found a pastel pink bias but you can browse the Trimming Section for one to match your fabrics.

I am delighted with this bag and would recommend it to anyone with a little sewing experience. Unlike a dress, it doesn’t need to be fitted and once you have cut the pieces out and clearly labelled each section (post-its are great!) it can be stitched in a few evenings. My next make is going to be a smaller version of this bag for a gym bag. What fabric should I choose?

I really loved the gingham fabric, it was really soft and would make up in a lovely vintage style gingham dress to match this bag.

Thank-you to Vicki and the Minerva team for gifting me the supplies for this project.

Samantha @ Create It Samantha

Also, find me here!

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#FabricFriday - 2 New Fabrics

Well I'm starting this blog with two heads on. No 1, I'm in pain, my silly old back is giving me some gyp but hey ho No 2 is my fabric head. I've spent a lot of time this week just looking through lots of our New Fabrics arriving daily here at Minerva. So delving through these fabrics does start to make my back a little better!! 
Where to start? I decided to randomly pick 2 fabrics out and talk about these. 
The first 'pick' is our Oriental Print Sateen Fabric. This is the most beautiful Japanese design, now I am normally not too keen on oriental designs but this is simply stunning. It is 100% polyester and very reasonably priced at £10.99 per mt. It is a fabulous weight and would make up really well. I'm thinking dresses and tops. Take a look at our website photo and then look at the close up photos showing you the amazing detail.
Am I tempting you? Personally I would avoid gathered skirts because this fabric is crying out to be seen, not hidden within folds or pleats. Just such a pattern would be Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8253 (incidentally simplicity are all on a half price at the moment!
This has just 3 main pattern pieces, the back, the front and the sleeve.
It is described as a Jiffy shift dress just as it was years ago when it first was printed. And yes it is like reading directions from years ago too. The neckline has a 'proper' facing, the zip has been inserted using the lapped method, there are elbow darts and hand stitched belt loops have been sewn on the side seams for a tie belt to slip through. Without doubt this is a true shift dress shape, very very straight, I must admit I love it, even more so because there is a choice of jersey fabrics such as ponte roma but also woven fabrics such as linen etc., For me this would make a brilliant 'stash' pattern. 
I suppose this section wouldn't be complete without an oriental inspired design. Simplicity Pattern 8244 is my choice, and again this is vintage reprint from the 1950's. I would imagine this fabric with a red piping. What do you think?
My next fabric choice is a soft Jersey Fabric, that will drape beautifully and again is priced at just £10.99 per mt. 
It is made from 95% Viscose and 5% Spandex so it has an excellent recovery. Keeping to Simplicity patterns this week because they are half price, how about Sewing Pattern no 1716 for this fabric...
Just look at all the different draped necklines. Take note of the sleeve variations too. It gives 2 lengths for a top and a tunic, add a few more inches and hey you've got a dress!
Thanks for reading and I hope I've given you some sewing inspiration for this weekend,
Annette xx
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Product Review: Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles by Wendy Stitch

Hi everyone,

It’s Wendy here from Wendy Stitch, here to test out a new knitting product for you.

Introducing the new Prym Ergonomics Knitting Needles – a redesigned knitting needle that will apparently help you knit faster and will feel better in your hands. Knitting big talk!

I have been knitting since I was about three years old, and as part of my job as a secondary school textiles teacher, I have taught literally hundreds of children how to knit. So I consider myself to be fairly experienced.

I opted to test two pairs of single pointed needles, in a size 4mm and an 8mm.

Straight from the box they do look different from your traditional knitting needle. They are made from a synthetic material and are really quite flexible, they have a curious little hook on the end and have a triangular body. Also the heads click together, which I imagine would be useful if, like me, you are prone to throwing your knitting in your bag only for several stitches to drop of the needles.

So how do they knit?

I must confess that I don’t particularly like any single pointed knitting needles. I am what is known as a ‘picker’ when it comes to knitting and favour double pointed needles (DPNs) or circular needles for most of my projects.

Here I am attempting two colour brioche knitting with the 4mm needles. Anyone who has ever tried two colour brioche knitting will know that you really need to use DPNs or circular needles for this. However, this was the project I was working on at the time so I thought I would stick with it and give it a try.

It meant I had to slide the stitches back and forth across the needles, which was a little time consuming, but I could still gauge from this an opinion of how the needles perform.

So, bearing in mind that I don’t actually like any single pointed needles, I have to say that I am equally not a fan of these needles. I found them to be too light, too long, and too bendy (particularly the thinner of the two sets). That said, I am very tempted to now try the Prym Ergonomic DPNs.

As this is hardly the basis of a solid review, I also asked my lovely mother to test the needles for me. I am the daughter of an extremely prolific life-long knitter – of both the hand and machine variety – who is now in her late 70s. My mum has very painful arthritis in her hands and now struggles to knit for any length of time because of the pain she experiences.

I got her to try both sets of needles and this is what she had to say:

“The size 4mm needles are very bendy. I feel like the needles have too much give. And I am not too sure about the bobble on the end. I think I might prefer it if it tapered to a point. However, they feel very comfortable in my hands and I’m not feeling any pain from the arthritis.

“I love the size 8mm. They feel great and I would definitely buy them. They feel a lot stronger than the 4mm needles. I do think I can knit faster with these than with regular needles. Again, I have no pain in my hands when knitting with these.”

So there we go. A knitter who does not really like to knit with any single pointed needles was not keen on these at all. A highly experienced knitter, who does like to knit with single pointed needles, absolutely loved them. So much so that she has kept the needles for herself and I doubt I will be getting them back anytime soon!

Oh, and just a side note - my cat, Daphne, also had fun ‘testing’ them!

Hope you enjoyed this honest review.

Thanks for reading,

Wendy from Wendy Stitch blog x

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