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In today’s post I will be reviewing; Threads;Teach Yourself to sew Season 1

Threads; Teach Yourself to Sew, Season 1

Threads; Teach Yourself to Sew, Season 1

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Threads/ Taunton Press
  • Item number: 978-1-60085-370-8
  • RRP at time of writing: $24.99  (from Taunton press) Around £13 on Amazon UK but price varies
  • Run Time: 150 minutes

Reason For Buying

I have sewing books but being dyslexic I am a very visual learner, I found Threads online magazine and website thanks to a sewing forum and when I saw this series it looked brilliant. The postage to buy them individually from their own site was very high but I found them on Amazon UK. More about that later in the article.

I wanted to learn basic sewing skills and to help learn techniques that will help me make my own clothes. I tell you all this as often reviews are based on how well a product lives up to the expectations of the person buying it.

Contents

The DVD covers the following topics

  • Equipment
  • Notions
  • Patterns
  • Stitches
  • Fabric
  • Seams
  • Darts
  • Edges
  • Hems
  • Bias Binding
  • Zippers
  • Buttons
  • Buttonholes
  • Snaps and Hooks
  • Sleeves
  • Pressing

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Clear easy to understand presentation, no background music to distract you
  • Does what it says on the tin.! No frills, no overkill but superb instruction that you will refer to time and again
  • There are some projects along the way, weren’t exactly to my taste but they did demonstrate techniques and processes which was still helpful.
  • A great help to anyone wanting to try dressmaking and bewildered by all the products they see on the shelves of sewing departments.
  • Find out what items you need to get started, and what things you might want to put on a wish list for later in your sewing career.
  • A very inspiring, empowering DVD, after watching this, I felt I could give dressmaking a go.

Cons

I don’t have any

Build Quality

Good, sound is clear, lighting is fine, some camera work moves a bit quick but not so often as to be an issue. No background music makes it easy to hear what the presenter is saying. There is a full menu system so although the DVD works find to play all the way through, you can also go directly to a chapter when you want to review a particular technique.

Value for Money

Excellent. Covers a lot and is a good investment.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes and highly recommend this title and the series to anyone learning to sew without access to other classes or sewing buddies.

Summing up

This series is superb, I have loved every minute of this DVD and have since acquired  Season 2 and 3 as well, but I will review those separately.

Being a visual learner it was so much easier to have techniques demonstrated as they were explained. I have books on sewing and will get more use of them now after seeing the concepts demonstrated. If you can’t get to a sewing/dressmaking class in person, this is the next best thing, with the advantage you can watch it as many times as you like. It is also ideal if your internet connection isn’t up to online classes! A superb series and I highly recommend it to everyone wanting to make their own clothes.

Compatibility in the UK

At first I was put off from buying this DVD from Amazon UK, as they are currently listed on there as Region 1, which I cannot play in the UK. On further investigation, the publishers Taunton list the DVD as Region 0 and playable in all regions.

I took a chance and ordered it from Amazon UK and it  has worked perfectly on our TV/DVD set up. Our set up will play NTSC as well as PAL format DVDs so do bear that one in mind and check your machines before you order if you are based in the UK.

Links

Here’s where you can find the DVD Learn to Sew Season 1.

Have you tried this Teach Yourself to Sew series? What did you think of it? Has it inspired you to sew more and try more adventurous projects? Do leave me a comment and let me know how you get on.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Seth Apter’s Easy Mixed Media Surface Techniques, DVD.

Seth Apter DVD: Easy Mixed Media; Surface Techniques

Seth Apter DVD: Easy Mixed Media; Surface Techniques

Product Details

  • Title: Easy Mixed Media; Surface Techniques by Seth Apter
  • Manufacturer/Brand; North Light DVD
  • Item number: ISBN 13: 978-1-4403-2421-5 of ISBN 10: 1-4403-2421-2
  • RRP at time of writing: $24.99

Reason For Buying

Having read Seth’s blog; ‘The Altered Page’ for several years now, I already liked his style of art. A trip to America to take a class with him is beyond my budget so when I heard he had DVD’s out, I jumped at the chance when I saw one of them on Amazon. Please note if you are in Europe that this DVD is in NTSC format not the European standard PAL.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • The DVD is like taking a one to one class with Seth and ideal if you can’t get to America
  • 71 minutes run time
  • Excellent menu system if you wish to go back to a particular technique easily
  • Very watchable all the way through but you can watch individual sections if you want to review a specific technique
  • Ideal if you are new to mixed media, the techniques show are very achievable with only a few materials and products
  • Add dimension with the simplest of tools that you are likely to have around the home

Cons

Personally I haven’t got any, I saw some reviews on Amazon saying it was a bit basic but the clue is in the title ‘Easy Mixed Media’.  This is a great DVD for picking up new ideas and ideal for newbies too.

Build Quality

Excellent, easy to navigate to individual sections if you wish too and very watchable beginning to end.

Value for Money

Excellent, like taking a one to one workshop with Seth.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I love Seth’s artistic style and his tutorial style is encouraging, empowering and reassuring, which is great for those who would like to create more but are bewildered by the wealth of mixed media materials out there.

Summing up

Love this DVD, I learnt a lot of new techniques, and had lots of ideas for adapting them to  my own style rather than the sort of tutorial where you can only create the project as shown. This to me is the mark of a good tutor. Nice job Seth, and since streaming video seems to be beyond my current internet connection this DVD was ideal for me.

If you are in Europe, bear in mind this DVD is in NTSC format not PAL, that European countries use. The DVD is a region 0 disc though, so you need to check what your own DVD player will handle.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Fiskars Patchwork Quilting Ruler 15 x 60 cm.

Fiskars Patchwork ruler 15 x 60 cm

Fiskars Patchwork ruler 15 x 60 cm

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Fiskars
  • Item number:
  • RRP at time of writing: Under £17 delivered

Quote from Amazon

  • MARKED IN CMS ONLY .Transparent Ruler ideal for cutting
  • shapes square triangle rectangle and strips etc. for quilting and patchwork
  • highlighted 1cm seam allowance
  • angles clearly marked 30 45 and 60 degrees
  • includes non slip pads ,

Reason For Buying

Recently I have started sewing, well dressmaking with a sewing machine (haven’t the dexterity for hand sewing!!!!). I had a look at commercial patterns and not only were they confusing but also the same problem about being in-between sizes happened with patterns. If I was going to have to learn how to and re draw every pattern I chose, I decided it would be easier to just draft my own from scratch.

After joining a sewing forum and getting tips on what books were best to learn the topic I was also advised to get a LONG ruler, a 15 x 60 cm one. I already have a large square Fiskars ruler and having been happy with it, decided to try their longer version too.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Lines are printed in black making them clear and easy to read
  • Several options for numbering; one side includes a 1cm seam allowance the other doesn’t. Make sure you are reading the side of the ruler you mean too or your sizing may be off
  • Numbers are clear but surrounded by a coloured dot
  • There is a cut away area on the ruler which means you can hang it up to store if you wish too.
  • There are non slip feet stickers included in the pack, its nice you have the option to choose weather or not you want them on the ruler.
  • Seam allowance area is highlighted so you can quickly see which area of the ruler you are on
  • If you wish to cut at an angle these are marked on the ruler at 30, 45 and 60 degrees
  • cms have solid line and half centimeters are marked on the rulers with a broken line.
Fiskars ruler 15 x 60 cm

Fiskars ruler 15 x 60 cm

Cons

  • Be a bit careful if you are using the ruler to help you alter patterns or drafting with the ruler, the cut out to allow hanging can snag on pins or your paper as you move the ruler around. Its FINE you just need to be aware of the fact and lift the ruler rather than slide it if you are near papers edge or near pins.

Build Quality

Superb, a very sturdy plastic. Numbers and lines printed clearly and easy to read.

Fiskars ruler 15 x 60 cm

Fiskars ruler 15 x 60 cm

Value for Money

Excellent, not cheap, cheap but well worth the asking price for the build quality.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, highly recommend it to all

Summing up

These Fiskar rulers are excellent, I love my 30 x 30 cm square one and it works well in combination with this 15 x 60 cm one. So far I’m using them for pattern drafting, but after watching a few quilting shows I could be tempted into trying quilting at a later date.

There are a lot of different rulers on the market for this purpose, some are metric some imperial so you will have plenty of options to choose from. Like buying a car, we all have different reasons for buying one and our needs will vary. Try to see a few different brands in person if possible or at least on close up photos. I used You Tube to see if anyone was posting reviews or tutorials using these kinds of rulers to get a closer look at them. Bear in mind also that different countries may also have different branding colours/options so not all will be available in every country.

Links

Here are a couple of useful links for more information about these rulers, first from the makers at Fiskars and also where to buy them on Amazon UK

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Learn to Crochet with Wendy Poole; The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Crochet.

Learn To Crochet with Wendy Poole DVD

Learn To Crochet with Wendy Poole DVD

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Wendy Poole
  • RRP at time of writing: £15 directly from Wendy Poole including P&P
  • Run Time: 1 hr 47 minutes
  • Picture 16:9
  • Format: DVD – 5
  • Standard PAL
  • Region: All

Reason For Buying

This year I set myself the crafty new Years resolution to learn to crochet. I bought a book, and I couldn’t follow it. Being dyslexic I am a visual learner and although there are lots of tutorials on You Tube everyone has different styles and you get confused. Heard about Wendy’s DVD on Create and Craft back in January but didn’t buy it at the time as I had just got a DVD with Knit and Stitch magazine and didn’t think I needed it. After months of still not progressing I bought the DVD and here’s how I got on.

Contains

Quote from the back of the DVD

‘Learn to Crochet with Wendy Poole’ will take you step by step through everything you need to know from the very beginning.

We start with basic introduction to the art of Crochet. You then follow the 3 basic lessons based on Wendy’s own classes.

Thee is also a BAsic Stitch directory, with UK stitch terms and USA equivilents.

The Tips and Techniques section teaches you everything you need to make your projects, including increasing and decreasing, crocheting pieces together and joining colours.

Finally there are 5 different project ideas to follow that can be made without using a pattern.

Pros/Cons

  • Well described techniques
  • Learn by making things
  • Stitch directory in UK and USA terms
  • Lots of techniques for finishing and joining up crochet pieces
  • Selection of nice projects

Cons

Just one

  • Choosing a hook. I was hoping for more info in this section. This was little more than; here are the types of hook available, rather than which was better for which type of yarn etc. Also at this point the camera was looking more at Wendy than the hooks, so you didn’t get the best view of the hooks either.

It was the only downside, the rest of the DVD more than made up for this.

Build Quality

Excellent. A few places editing cut off words, a little over bright in places but well focused and good sound levels. Although there is some music in the background which I usually hate, it was VERY low and not obtrusive.

Excellent menu system to quickly get to the section you are after.

Value for Money

Excellent.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally and recommend it to anyone who wants to crochet but is a visual learner.

Summing up

This is a fantastic DVD. I have been skeptical of books and DVD’s claiming to be ‘The Ultimate.’ anything, as they often disappoint. NOT the case with this DVD, it truly does what it sets out to do. Takes you by the hand and shows you with demos how to create flowers, granny squares, stitches and so on.

When Wendy was on Create and Craft she said of this DVD that after watching it she wanted to leave people not just able to create the one project but have the skills to make whatever they wanted to in crochet. After watching it, I have a lot of practice to do to perfect my new skills but now I can go and find projects I want to make and refer back to this for key elements of the design.

I love the way that rather than starting out with stitch after stitch as other books and so on do (which is a good plan but boring), with this you start by making a little flower, so straight away you have created something lovely. This is a real confidence builder and after watching it through a few times you can crochet along with Wendy and create along with her. This is a great way to bed in new skills as you link them to an actual project, which really helps.

This is an excellent DVD, if you have always wanted to crochet, I highly recommend it. If you have been looking at all the lovely crochet projects in magazines and around the internet thinking ‘I want to do that’, then this is the DVD for you. Now I’ve seen this, I’ve gone back to the ‘how too’ book I bought and can better understand what it means.

Especially delighted as since I was little, I’ve always wanted to make a granny square. I was given a dolly blanket by someone in the family and always wanted to make one for myself. Didn’t have the patience then, not sure I’ve got the dexterity now, but if I only do a little at a time and with plenty of rest in between, perhaps I’ll be able to make a little mat for my laptop to sit on, or a cover for my Kindle.

I am looking at making  little flowers and snowflakes, just hope my RSI will settle and let me do this at least occasionally, in good weather.

Thank you Wendy for an excellent DVD. Here is my Granny square.

Granny Square created after watching Wendy Poole's DVD

Granny Square created after watching Wendy Poole’s DVD

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Tulip Etimo Crochet hook

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Tulip; Etimo
  • Item number:
  • RRP at time of writing: Price varies depending where you get them I paid £7.95 on Ebay

Reason For Buying

I have dexterity problems caused by RSI, wanted to try crochet and needed something with a thicker handle as my grip isn’t very good.

Pros/Cons

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook in my hand

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook

Pros

  • Soft Handle
  • Thicker handle which is great for smaller diameter hooks
  • Warm in the hand
  • The rubberised surface gives you better control of the hook
  • Metal hook means it glides effortlessly through yarns
  • Handle dimensions seem to be the same across the size ranges, although the very fine lace hooks have blue handles and look a little different in size.

Cons

  • The handles are a little on the short side for me, as I use the knife style grip. Shouldn’t be a problem if you use the pencil grip.
Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook showing the flatter section on the handle

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook, showing the flatter section of the handle

Build Quality

Excellent, the material used on the hook are and handle are fantastic. Both are comfortable to use and work well with a variety of yarns.

Value for Money

My hook came from a seller on Ebay, at just under £8 it was expensive but the build quality makes them very good. I also saw these on Amazon at just under £13, even if they had been perfect for me, unless I only wanted one or two hooks that would have been more than I’d have wanted to spend. That said the quality is fantastic and if this is your main hobby its worth the investment in top quality.

Would I buy it Again?

At this stage no. But that is only because it didn’t solve the dexterity issue I had. If this had been the right shape for me then I would have gone for these in a heartbeat.

Side view of Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook. Close up

Side view of Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook. Close up

Summing up

These hooks are fantastic and well worth all the positive hype they get. If my hands had worked or managed crochet then these would have been the hooks for me. The are available singly or in sets, the sets I have seen even include storage bags for the hooks and if you have a loved one who is into crochet they would make a wonderful gift.

If you are a fan of very fine crochet but find the hooks hard to hold there are also some blue handled hooks in the range that go down to much smaller sizes.

The reason I’m not buying more of these is because my RSI kicked off and complained loudly when I tried crochet, so I think it will be something I may not be able to do. Also the length of this hook, when I was holding it with the knife style grip I use hit just between the knuckles on the inside of my palm between my little and next finger. This caused me a problem as last year I managed to almost dislocate these bones so they are quite tender to pressure. I have Hyper-flexion, which means my tendons flex further than they should, this leaves me prone to RSI type injuries like this, so for me this hook was a bit short.

If gripping itself doesn’t cause you pain and your issue is more about having enough handle to get hold of then give these a try. The grippy material on the handle makes a big difference to this and makes them easy to hold. The material is also warm in the hand, so if you find metal makes your hands lock up because it’s so cold, but bamboo or plastic hooks create too much drag on yarn, then again give these a try. These are the best of both worlds with the warm handles but metal hook for better glide through a variety of yarns.

Links

Here is a link to the maker’s website, so you can find out more about these hooks, their size ranges and other options in the range.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

'Sheena's brushes' aka Royal Langnickel: Crafters's Choice.

‘Sheena’s brushes’ aka Royal Langnickel: Crafters’s Choice.

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Royal Langnickel; Crafters Choice. Otherwise know as Sheena’s Paint Fusion brushes
  • Item number:
  • RRP at time of writing: £10
  • Set contains: 5 x White Nylon Brushes:
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Wash – 3/4″
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Wash – 1/2″
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Shader Size 8
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Round Size 6
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Round Size 3

Reason For Buying

These were demo’ed by Sheena Douglass on Create & Craft, for use with Sheena’s Paint Fusion (one stroke) painting stamps. My best friend gave me a set of these last birthday, I had bought several of Sheena’s stamp sheets and just started with acrylic paint for the first time. I have limited dexterity and these appealed to me for the cushion grip area on the handle.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Superb quality
  • Grippy sections on the handles. Great if you hands don’t work so well
  • Easy to clean
  • Great set of sizes
  • Perfect for acrylic paints
  • Springy without being scratchy, soft without being too delicate
  • Very comfortable to use
  • Match with Sheena’s one stroke stamp sheets if you are getting into that.

Cons

  • Haven’t got any. It would be nice to see a long-handled version of these too.

Build Quality

Excellent

Value for Money

Excellent

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I use these a lot and they work really well

Summing up

At first glance and with the name ‘Crafter’s Choice’ I can see some artists walking past these as being cheap and cheerful brushes. It would be their loss. These brushes are superb quality for all round crafting and painting and have performed really well. The balance outperforms Daler Rowney System 3 brushes by a mile!

The sizes in the set are ideal for most projects, don’t be an art snob and miss out. Check these out, if you are bewildered by what brushes to buy and get these. Add any extras you need to AFTER you try them, unless you are painting REALLY big, these cover most projects.

Links

Available from

A great set of brushes, try them, you won’t regret it, they are fab.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Knit Picks: Options; Sunstruck Wood. Interchangeable circular knitting needles

Knit Picks: Sunstruck; Options. Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

Knit Picks: Sunstruck; Options. Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Knit Picks: Options; Sunstruck wood
  • Item number: 90613
  • RRP at time of writing: $84.99

Contents

  • Needles: These are the sizes in US measurements and mm rather than the old UK sizing but there are lots of charts that will convert the numbers for you ;)
  • UK: 3.50, 3.75, 4.00, 5.00, 5.50, 6.00, 6.50, 8.00
  • US: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, 11
  • Cables: 2 each of the following sizes; 24″ (60 cm), 32″ (80 cm)
  • End Caps: 8.
  • Cable keys: 2

The case they come in can be used to store the needles and has a separate pocket style case, for the cables and end caps. This smaller case will easily fit inside the main one and there are plenty of extra pockets in the walls of the case, to add extra needles as you collect them over time.

Knit Picks: Sunstruck; Options. Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

Knit Picks: Sunstruck; Options. Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

Reason For Buying

I find metal needles too cold and because of RSI issues this makes my hands lock up. Plastic needles gave too much drag with the yarn, so the search began for wooden needles. I have enjoyed knitting with light coloured birch wood needles (straight ones) in the past  but REALLY wanted to get an interchangeable set of cirular needles.

Circulars were a good plan because the weight of the project is in your lap, rather than on the needles but all the ones available in the UK were bright swirling colours (Harmonies/Symfonies depending on the branding). These too were unsuitable because of vision issues, which makes bright colours strobe like optical illusions.

I continued my search and found these Options in Sunstruck wood, on the Knit Picks website and fell in love with them.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Birch wood
  • Light coloured, no more optical illusions from multi-coloured laminates
  • Smooth finish to wood and metal joints
  • The metal connectors between needle and cable are super smooth and because they are in constant contact with your hand, warm up and have given me none of the chilling factor that I get from metal needles.
  • Versatility. Wide range of sizes to cover many yarn types. You can also get cable connectors seperatly that will join more than one cable to another, to add even more length options, if you need to.
  • End caps, so you can take the needles off when you travel or to store a project.
  • The needles are small in size which makes them easy to store.
  • Very light and comfortable to use

Cons

At the time of writing I have found no suppliers or importers are bringing them into the UK :(  Knit Picks only deliver to USA and Canada. It was only because someone I knew was going on a trip to the USA that I was able to get these. {You know who you are and that I am eternally grateful}.

Build Quality

Fantastic. The needles are superbly finished, totally smooth wood. They feel silky in the hand without having a high gloss finish that could be distracting. To describe the colouring, I’d call them standard birch colour with visible but not raised ginger in the grain.

Value for Money

Excellent. If you are lucky and live in the places they are delivered to, you have the option of buying individual needles so you can try them out to see if you like them before you get the whole set. That option also means that should you suffer any breakages you could get extra ones. I love the full set as all the sizes are so useful, now I can choose whatever yarn I fancy rather than having to remember which needles I have and only buy yarn that I could use with those.

Would I buy it Again?

YES YES YES. I desperately want to get another set as I’ve got on so well with these. I haven’t got the hang of magic loop and prefer to use the two circulars method for smaller projects.

Summing up

I know I was in love with my Brittany needles and if you want a comparison for coloring and smoothness these would be very similar. I ADORE these Options in the Sunstruck wood, because of the type of dyslexia that I have the highly coloured woods of Symfonies/Harmonies were never going to work for me. Also because there is such low light here in the winter or if you knit in the evening, the lighter coloured wood is so much easier to see to knit with.

Each needles is 4.5″ in length and the sizing listed on the cable is the final length with the needles attached to the cable.

These needles have been pure joy to knit with, so far I have used them with acrylic yarn and half acrylic / half wool both of which have been wonderful with no negatives. Fantastic with cotton which is another favorite  material.

An important point also, is that although they are intended for circular knitting because of the cable styles, there is no reason why you can’t do regular straight knitting on them. Instead of joining the work in the round, when you get to the end of the row, pass the needle to the other hand just as you would with straight pins and continue knitting. If you wanted to, because you have two of each of the cables you could attach one cable to the needle and add a cap to the other end of the cable if you still want to preserve totally separate needles for each hand.

Knit Picks: Options Sunstruck Wood.

Knit Picks: Options Sunstruck Wood. Needle attached to cable & end-cap

Links

Please, please Knit Picks send these to UK importers. UK importers of Knit Picks, please bring these to the UK – they are amazing. I ain’t too proud to beg ;)

Horray! Found a supplier that will ship to the UK. Check out Happy Knits from Portland OR

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

PS: Another option for lighter coloured needles that are available as fixed circulars are Knit Pro Basix. These are also pale in colour but so far they have only been available as fixed length circulars not interchangeable needles.

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