Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 14th February 2019 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 3rd February 2019 by Vicki Ormerod
I love surprises. As a child I could be trusted with Christmas presents and as an adult I know where my birthday presents are hidden but I never go and peek at them.
Added into that my love of working with different materials and reviewing the Fabric Remnant Bags at Minerva ended up being just up my street.
For my mystery pack I got 3 smaller bags of fabric. Each of these bags was in a different colourway and each bag had different selection of fabrics in it. Each piece of fabric was roughly one metre long, so a perfect length for smaller projects like skirts and tops.
The white bag contained:
Plain white cotton – Useful for just about everything.
White eyelet cotton – this is destained to be a cami top of some sort.
Holly print cotton – this is a bit different as its Christmas themed, luckily I do tend to make a few decorations every christmas so I can see it coming in handy.
The blue bag contained:
Pale blue silky fabric – I’ll probably use this as a lining for a posh jacket.
Blue lining fabric – again this will probably end up ling something.
Cat and mouse jersey – I’d actually argue that this isn’t blue so doesn’t fit the theme of the bag however it is very cute. I’ve already used a small amount as slipper linings and I think the rest will be used to try my hand at making a baby grow maybe?
The black bag contained:
Wool suit fabric – this ended up being a skirt.
Black lace fabric – I LOVE this fabric and I used it to make a black lace top.
I decided to focus on the black bag because I wanted to see if I could make an outfit from one of the fabric bags.
Luckily the black bag contained all of the components I needed and I had the perfect pattern sat at home. I love the Newlook 6217 Pattern because it has everything you need in it to make a great capsule wardrobe. You could even extend the top pattern into a cute mini dress [wait let me just write that down in my “to make” notebook”].
Originally I wanted to make the cardigan from the lace however there wasn’t quite enough fabric so I opted for the top instead. It wasn’t too much of a hardship because both either a lace cardigan opr a lace top would have fit into my wardrobe really well.
I also decided to add a pleated ruffle to the bottom of the skirt. I’d seen something similar on pinterest so thought I’d give it a whirl. I do like it but I wish I’d thought to shorten the skirt slightly so it wasn’t so long.
The ruffle is just made up of two long rectangles which I sewed together into a circle and them pleated around the bottom of the skirt.
I did a lot of top stitching on the skirt because I love how the stitching sinks into the wool. It also helps to keep all of the seam allowances down and looking neat on the inside. For the hem I only turned it up once to avoid them looking bulky and I finished the waistband using bias binding.
The majority of the top is made on my overlocker. However if you don’t have any overlocker you could sew regular seams on a sewing machine and trim them neat or you could do a narrow french seam.
The back seam and hems were sewn on my regular machine. I tried to keep them as neat as possible so they wouldn’t be too glaring underneath the lace. The button is from my stash, I seem to own about four million odd buttons so tops like these are very useful for using them up.
All in all I really like them and I’ve ended up with a nice outfit for excellent value for money. I think bags like these are really useful for people who want to try sewing with lots of different types of fabric and learn new techniques.
Frankie @ Knits Wits Owls
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 17th December 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 16th December 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 2nd December 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Wow what a treat. That was my first impression upon receiving this beautiful book for the first time. It is one of those books that just feel wonderful to hold – it has a reassuring weight to it and lots of details that show the love that went into its creation. Am I the only one who feels like this when she gets a beautiful book? I hope not or you’re all missing out! Let us now go into a quick description of this book created by the wonderful Merchant & Mills, a lovely company based in East Sussex and you can find all of their haberdashery and patterns at Minerva. The Merchant and Mills Workbook itself is crafted in a quality brown card cover, which includes an envelope in the front cover containing all the pattern pieces on paper so they are not flimsy. The pages are matte and are the perfect weight and texture for stroking and lazily flicking through. In my head I sit in my dappled sunlit living room sipping black rose tea as I curl up to be immersed in this little world on my lap. Reality is harsher as I fight to keep my cold tea from being stolen by my youngest whilst yelling at my oldest to give me just a few minutes peace! Don’t believe everything you see on Instagram folks…
Back to the book! It claims to not be for beginner sewers and I agree. The instructions are plenty adequate and good but if you don’t understand certain terms or descriptions, i.e. which part of your deconstructed pieces is the facing then it can get confusing despite the illustrations. Once you get it though, the illustrations are great, the instructions are straight forward and so obvious it leaves you dumbfounded as to how you didn’t understand it to begin with. I can only emphasise that it is important to read the instructions very carefully and not add things from your head to it, say like adding sew in place when it actually only tells you to pin in place. What did help was reading a few steps ahead so I had an overview of what I needed to do.
I attempted the Bantam vest and Strider shorts – so one of the most basic followed by the most advanced patterns in the book. I will share with you my Bantam and notes of construction of the Striders, but unfortunately no photos. My venture into tailored punky yellow plaid shorts was a failure as I stood forlornly in front my mirror, remarking to myself that they look like a complex version of pyjamas in the style of Muhammad Ali’s prized shorts. Except on me they made me feel more like Humpty Dumpty rather than an award winning boxer. Not all was bad though, I learned how to sew in a zippered fly and with the right heavier weight PLAIN fabric next time I intend to make a pair of trousers for the cooler months - maybe in dark denim to take it back down to casual.
Bringing us back to the Bantam vest, I made mine in orange linen from my stash. It was a lovely sew and the instructions were so easy to follow. The only thing I would add is that before step 11, you need to measure you bias tape around the armhole and neckline because the pattern piece appears to be one length for all sizes so I had to cut quite a lot of excess off. Despite the Vest’s simplicity or maybe because of its simplicity the quality of the construction really shone through. The bias bound neck and armholes and French seams looked amazingly professional and is a delight to wear. I wore mine a lot during the hot summer days revelling in the coolness and breathability of linen. In terms of undergarments (an important issue for some!), due to the racer back it is quite hard to wear a standard bra underneath without the straps showing oddly, but felt a bit too breezy to go without. Next time I will pull out my Madeleine for Simplicity pattern out to make a racer back bralette to go with it. Bring on the summer!
For the Strider shorts, the instructions on the pattern pieces refer to page 137 of the book where it teaches you to some basic drafting so that the shorts can be hemmed without loosing width. It would have been useful to state on the pattern pieces where this extra bit of information was since I spent ages looking for it in all the wrong places. Once again, with this book it is very important to read all the instructions before starting.
Another thing I found confusing was that the pattern pieces labelled as facings were not the only facings in the instructions so I spent many a minutes scratching my head and trying to make see the pieces in the diagrams which just confused me more. The facings referred to in the books ended up referring not to the pieces but the places with facings on the main trousers. Another thing I love about matte pages though is that they invite you to scribble and draw in them all the more. After a moment of hesitation I gleefully drew in arrows and labels to avoid confusion next time and thus marked my book as mine.
I love my Merchant & Mills Workbook and I want to make everything inside it. From this advanced beginner’s point of view, everything in the book is highly doable and you will be left with a wardrobe of classy garments from a couple of tops, a bias cut dress, a very posh looking cardigan/”coatigan”, tailored trousers to a laid back drawstring skirt with grommets. I love how woven fabric is celebrated in this book and highly impressed that a woven top was designed that looks great on, doesn’t gape, but has no openings. I am a woven girl at heart so I try to find woven versions in everything including t-shirts. The bias cut top in this book even covers that! If you’re like me and love the world of sturdy woven over stretchy knits, then this book is definitely for you.
Thank you for reading! Follow me @MadameShannanigans on Instagram.
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 1st December 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
This particular bear is 35cm high and the fibres are 100% acrylic. The pack indicates that the product is not suitable for children under 3 years as there are small parts for assembling the eyes. To be fair if that’s the only reason that making a bear from scratch can’t be done by a 3-year old I‘d be pretty impressed.
Let’s unpack this hairy beast.
The bear comprises of 16 fuzzy pieces, 4 pieces of felt whose purpose is yet to be revealed and 7 facial components.
As you can see from this picture it does look like something pretty sinister kicked off down at teddy bear’s picnic and CSI: 100 Acre Woods is about to rock up and conduct an investigation.
The great thing about this is that you can sew it on the machine or easily stitch it with needle and thread, by your own ‘bear’ hands. I made this on the sewing machine but to be honest there were times where hand-stitching would have given better control, especially with so much fuzz flying around and the kit’s tiny 5mm seam allowance. I tacked where it said to – they were pretty serious about that.
The ears came together really quickly, and after that, the head started to take shape after a bit of read and re-read of the instructions. I think with a bear and all these weird pieces there’s no frame of reference so it's tricky to see if you’re on the right lines and not sewing a leg to a head bit etc. With a dress at least, you can see if its ‘about right’. I was flying blind here people. The instructions and diagram of the pieces are however very clear and give good guidance. I would also give these instructions 10/10 for hilarity factor as it references such classics as ‘the furry head gusset’ which for some reason I could only read in the voice of Joe Lycett. (Side note: Yay to the sewing bee coming back!)
Tip for sewing the head together – keep the fur tucked inside, right sides together, otherwise when you turn it out and the fur catches in the seam allowance, your bear looks like he’s got a bit of a toupée centre part going on.
At this point, I did wonder if I’d made a possum or other such small rodent until it was time to attach the eyes. The instructions say to sew around the eye hole to reinforce it. I did not. I could barely see the eyehole due to all the fur let along jet that under the machine so just gave that a miss. The eyes take some force to pop into place securely so don’t be afraid to go for it.
This is the only time I ever want to see what the insides of a bear's head look like.
The arms and legs were relatively straightforward if a little fiddly. All was going fairly smoothly UNTIL I turned the arm out, it got stuck on a thread and this happened. Not sure Minicraft has made this themselves… I think they need to revise that age limit. Absolute panda-monium.
Now lets paws for a second…. The rest of the body construction is great, it whips up like a little pimp jacket!
Looking good so far but we’re not out of the woods yet…. (and we all know what happens there). The legs are attached to the body and the whole thing gets turned inside out so you can attach the bear’s bum. Weird but true.
The head goes on quite easily as at this point its just a straight seam to attach the head to body, as the back remains open for stuffing.
Now fill that bear up! I used some multi-purpose washable Polyester Filling which is certified safe for toy stuffing.
Meet Terri. Here he is channelling his inner Yogi.
I thoroughly enjoyed making Terri, it was a lot of fun, especially as it's not something I usually sew. This kit would make a wonderful gift – a toy presented ready-made for a kid or even the kit itself for those a little older, so they can enjoy the process of making and keeping their own woodland friend.
Just watch where you put those pic-a-nic baskets….
Posted in Product Reviews on Thursday the 29th November 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello everyone. For today’s blog I will be telling you all about this amazing little Create-a-Pincushion Kit by Clover.
The idea of this is you can very easily make a customisable pincushion using whatever print fabric you want. As you can see here, I used a cross stitch embroidery as my choice of fabric, however I do like the idea of changing the fabric to coordinate with your project, or with the changing seasons. Sometimes you just can’t find sewing accessories in your favourite colours.
The kit is available in either brown or white and comes in at around £10. The package contains the plastic inner container and cover for the main structure of your pincushion, and the silicone ring that will eventually hold your choice of fabric in place. It also comes with instructions in four different languages – English, French, Spanish and German – with step by step photo instructions. You will need to supply the fabric, stuffing and scissors.
So the first step is to select your fabric. This needs to be 5 1/2 inches square. If there is a particular part of the fabric you like, make sure this is in the centre, as you will only see the centre 3 inches of fabric when it is complete. For my pincushion I selected a cross stitch design that would produce a 3 x 3 inch embroidery. Once you have your fabric you need to grab 5g of stuffing, or a big handful like I did, and ‘loft’ it by pulling it apart to reduce the chances of getting a lumpy pincushion.
Next you need to grab the inner container, the silicone ring and your fabric. Shape the stuffing into a ball in your hands then squash it into the container. This is the tricky part. Whilst holding the stuffing in with one hand, you need to place your fabric centrally over the inner container and whip your hand out from underneath, using the fabric to hold the stuffing down. Put the silicone ring on top and push it down so it stretches over the sides. You should have a little squashy fabric dome. At this stage you can readjust the position of the fabric if you need to, to centralise a design for example. It recommends evening out the creases in the fabric below the ring so there are no really bulky bits.
Next you need to cut the excess fabric off. I cut it to the level of the bottom of the container so the fabric won’t stick out the bottom when finished. Next, simply push the cover over the top, the silicone ring will hold this on, and TA-DA your gorgeous, customised pincushion!
This took me minutes to put together, and was pretty easy. I was worried the cover would be lose, as it is when the kit arrives, but it is tightly secured on there with the addition of the fabric. Saying that, it is easily removed by holding the sides and pushing down the cushion in the middle, for when your pincushion needs a revamp. I can see me keeping this pincushion forever as I can keep changing its look, and the casing is really good quality. Do not hesitate to give this product a try.
Until next time, you can catch me on Instagram and YouTube as Stitching_Joanne
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 26th November 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
I remember doing cross stitch when I was younger, I used to get a kit for Christmas and make it up for one of my grandmothers for the following year. When I saw these 1st Cross Stitch Kits I was really intrigued. The colours are so bright and cheerful and the designs are simple, but interesting enough to keep a beginner busy.
I chose the multicoloured heart design Cross Stitch Kit and asked a friend’s daughter if she would like to have a go at it. She had never done a cross stitch kit before, but had done a sort of stitch sampler at school so knew some of the basics.
In the kit there is everything you need to make the design and present it in a cardboard frame. It includes the fabric, threads, needle, stitch design, instructions and card board mount.
My friend’s daughter is 9 and a quick learner, I started her off, showed her how to change colour and secure the ends and she went home to complete it. She struggled slightly placing the flowers within the blue section of the heart, and admitted she had to undo a few stitches, but it’s perfect now.
She really enjoyed doing the kit and I actually felt very proud of her for completing it so neatly. I think the kit would be perfect for someone of a similar age who has good concentration skills. It would work equally well for an adult who is new to cross stitch or embroidery. The thread is a lovely quality, nice and thick and smooth, so the finished pattern looks full of colour.
Another good aspect of the kit is how compact it is. It comes in a resealable plastic bag so it can all be kept together. It’s a really slim pack so easy to post as a present for someone who lives further away. I’m always on the lookout for decent presents that don’t cost a fortune to post!
Overall this is a cute kit and a great starter set for anyone wanting to have a go at cross stitch.
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 19th November 2018 by Vicki Ormerod