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  • It's confession time again here on the blog: I am a wool addict! I love wool more than I love knitting with wool and when I say wool I mean real wool - that lovely stuff that comes from sheep. My wool addiction has gotten so bad that my boyfriend remarked that "the amount of balls of wool coming into the house are not really proportional to the amount of knitted garments being produced". Well like yeah some of the balls just look nice hanging out in that large basket there!

     

    So with my years of wool addiction and knitting experience let me share with you some what I believe to be vital information about wool and how to go about choosing wool for your project.

    When we say wool it is somewhat of a misnomer so let's call it knitting yarn for now as most yarn isn't wool at all but man made fibres or a mix. There are some basic fibre types used to make knitting yarn – each of them have different properties and you might prefer one over the other for many reasons.

    Yarn types:

    Pure Wool: Made from sheep’s fleece and has pretty amazing properties – it is warm, breathable, and will absorb quite a lot of water so if you get caught in a downpour in your knitted sweater you might get heavier but you won’t get wet! Pure Wool does require some more care than other types and will most likely have to be hand washed with care and dried flat.

    Merino Wool: Made from merino breed sheep – all of the above properties hold true but merino wool is particularly fine and soft. This is probably my favourite type of yarn to use as it's lovely and soft to knit with and the result is a fabric that is warm yet breathable.

    Acrylic: Probably the most common fibre in the yarns we sell – it is a man made, synthetic fibre and while it offers some of the warmth of real wool it isn’t very breathable and can pill relatively easily. It is washable and usually hypo allergenic, most baby yarns are acrylic for this reason. It also takes dye very well so they usually come in great, bright, vivid colours.

    Cotton: Cotton is a natural fibre produced from cotton plants and is therefore very breathable and lovely against the skin. It’s not very warm and so is a lovely choice for spring /summer knits. You have to use the right pattern as cotton is quite heavy when knitted up and so can sag. Care wise - it can usually take a cool machine wash or hand wash and so is fairly easy care.

    Bamboo: Bamboo is a natural viscose like fibre sourced from the bamboo plant – it has lovely drape and sheen much like viscose and is breathable and usually washable on a gentle cycle. It is ideal for adults and children’s knits.

    Alpaca/cashmere: Types of wool but sourced from llamas and goats respectively, both have the same properties as pure wool but are softer and more insulating. Alpaca is particularly warm and has a very soft brush finish. They need a little care and attention and require gentle hand washing.

     

    Many of the wools we stock will have some combination of the above fibres which will usually give you a mix of the properties of each.  For example: Hayfield Super Chunky with wool is 80% acrylic and 20% wool meaning it’s robust and washable like regular acrylic and ha some of the warmth and loft of regular wool.

    I suppose the next thing to consider is the weight of the knitting yarn you're using -

    Yarn Weights:

    2/3 /4 ply – These are very fine yarns used mainly for crochet and lace knitting, most common in these is 4 ply in white as it is frequently used for Christening robes/blankets. Needle/Hook size 1.5 – 3.25mm.

    Double knit – Probably the most common weight, it is especially used for baby knitting as it makes for a fabric that isn’t too thick. Needle/Hook size 3.5 – 4.5 mm.

    Aran/Worsted – Aran wool is what’s used in those lovely scratchy jumpers, aran weight simply refers to the thickness of the wool – it is middle of the road thickness and is mostly used in adults garments but can also be used for kids knits. Needle/Hook size 3.5 – 4.5 mm.

    Chunky – Thicker than aran but we’re still in the realm of yarn that can be used in kids knits, but not babies. It knits up nice and quick but is still manageable so would be my recommended size for a beginner knitter. Needle/Hook size 5.5 – 6.5mm.

    Super Chunky – A really thick yarn ideally suited for accessories and adults garments – it makes a really thick, bulky fabric so isn’t really suitable for kids or baby knits. Needle/Hook size 10mm + depending on the yarn.

    So what does this all mean for you when choosing your yarn?

    Often as knitters we don't really pay attention to what we're using - we see something we fancy the look of and go ahead with our project. In my years in Hickeys I would look on aghast as experienced knitters, people who had been knitting for 20 + years picked up an aran weight acrylic to knit up a double knit cotton pattern. What does it matter and why would I care? It matters because, as you can see from the brief outline above; every fibre and weight behaves differently -knit with the wrong type and you get the wrong results. Knit using the wool suggested in the pattern as much as possible or at least find a good substitute - the same weight and fibre type/behaviour is important.

    I care because I love knitting and I want everyone to knit and be happy with their finished product!

    I'll give you a real life example; a wonderful lady used to come into the shop and buy yarn all the time. I was talking to her one day and she remarked how she'd been knitting a cardigan for herself for weeks and how now it was finished she hated the look of it and this is why she never knits for herself and she'll just go back to the baby knitting. I suggested she brings it and the pattern in so we could have a look and see if it could be altered to suit her better. In she comes with a beautiful cotton cardigan that I will admit looked rather long; to my dismay when she showed me the pattern it was for a pure wool aran weight yarn. "Ah now there's your problem - you used a cotton" "But it's aran weight". So after a lengthy conversation explaining how cotton is so much heavier/more drapey than wool that once she had the garment knitted up, even though she stopped at the right point, the cardigan kept growing. I mean once she put it on, the shoulders started hanging and the cardigan was nearly down to her knees. The only option was to rip it back and start again, so we went and picked a suitable pattern and I gave her a hand starting the ripping back process.... 4 weeks later that particular lady came sashaying into the store delighted to be modelling her new cotton cardigan.

    What's the moral of the story?

    • Choose carefully before you start your project. Let's face it knitting is a time consuming hobby, buy a yarn you love not only the look of but the feel of and you know you/your loved ones will be able to wear. I once bought a super chunky alpaca yarn to knit a sweater for myself - I have only ever worn this sweater once because it is far to warm and I am not a cold creature. I was a picture in my bright pink jumper with matching bright pink face!
    • Always use a suitable pattern for the wool you have chosen - see real life example above!
    • Buy the best you can afford. While there is always a place for a cheap and cheerful acrylic yarn - even I won't splash out on cashmere when knitting tea cosies - treat yourself/your loved ones to something you will really love and will last. As I have said repeatedly, knitting is time consuming, a labour of love if you will, so make sure you'll love the finished product by buying yarn you love.
    • If you're still unsure speak to an expert!

    In conclusion: My name is Laura and I am a Woolaholic!

    The Offending Jumper

  • Wool And The Gang 1

    "We've all done it, purchased low quality, cheap, fast fashion made in factories abroad and wondered 'how do they make it so cheap?' The reality is not good" - Wool And The Gang

    We at Hickeys are so delighted to be the first stockist for Wool And The Gang here in Ireland. This incredible and innovative company work hard to reduce impact on the environment. The yarn they produce with all their hard work is nothing short of amazing, with so many varieties available. Check out their Billie Jean Yarn for example- it's made from up-cycled denim remnants?!

    "We created Wool And The Gang out of a passion for incredible design that's produced in a sustainable way" - Wool And The Gang

    We've all been there, you buy something, wear it once and then it sits in your wardrobe for a while before you get rid of it. This brand are all about sustainability and ethically sourced materials. The idea that if you make something yourself, you're more than likely going to treasure it and keep it for longer- maybe even take care of it a little better. The high quality yarn that Wool And The Gang offer is soft, durable and long lasting- making it great for staple pieces in your wardrobe. They even have video tutorials over on their website, showing you great stitch patterns and techniques. I knit myself the Happy Days Beanie with the Crazy Sexy Wool in Bronzed Olive. It got such a reaction from people that I ended up taking requests for beanies in Hotpunk Pink and Tweed Grey.

    Haven't heard of them before? Well, I am delighted to provide you with a little introduction to some of the amazing yarns we are lucky enough to supply to you.

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    CRAZY SEXY WOOL

    Are you looking for a cosy yarn that will give you great results quickly? Look no further than Crazy Sexy Wool. It's great for beginner and experienced knitters alike. The wool is so chunky that mistakes (they happen to the best of us) are quickly noticed and easily fixed. The wool used to create this gorgeous yarn is considerably sourced from happy sheep in South America. Natural, renewable, biodegradable and an amazing array of colours to choose from- you will soon be in love.

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    FEELING GOOD YARN

    Sustainably produced in the Andean Highlands, supporting Peru's remote Alpaca growing communities, you will feel SO good working with this yarn. It is light weight, but holds warmth really well with its soft, fluffy finish. The patterns we have available in our Henry St store to pair with this Feeling Good Yarn will make you all the more eager to get creative.

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    Wool And The Gang 6BILLIE JEAN YARN

    Made using up-cycled pre-consumer denim waste, Billie Jean Yarn is produced without the use of chemicals or dyes- which saves 20,000 litres of water per kilogram of up-cycled material! It has a lovely drape and is perfect for summer knits as a light weight addition to your wardrobe. You can buy patterns for this specific yarn in our Henry St store.

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    Now that you’ve got the rundown- what are you waiting for? Go and treat yourself to a ball of yarn and make something you’ll be proud of!

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  • We are delighted to offer a range of FREE In-store Events & Craft Demonstrations in a selection of Hickeys Fabrics and Home Focus at Hickeys stores for Autumn/Winter 2018. (Please note, you do not need to register, and all are welcome!) If you have any questions or require further information, please contact us at hf-sales@homefocus.ie

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    Autumn / Winter Events

    Henry St

    Hickeys Fabrics, 5 Henry St, Dublin 1

    • Saturday 8th September - 10:30 - 12:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 29th September - 10:30 - 12:00 - Easy Sew 'Coat'
    • Saturday 6th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - Curtain & Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 13th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 20th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - Easy Sew 'Jersey Separates'
    • Saturday 27th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - Christmas Table Settings
    • Saturday 3rd November - 10:30 - 12:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 10th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Festive Fat Quarter Makes
    • Saturday 17th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Xmas Mini Makes
    • Saturday 24th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Easy Sew 'Wrap Dress'
    • Saturday 1st December - 10:30 - 12:00 - Xmas Mini Makes

    Carrickmines

    Home Focus, Unit 4, The Park, Carrickmines, Dublin 18

    • Saturday 29th September - 14:30 - 16:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 6th October - 14:30 - 16:00 - Curtain & Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 27th October - 14:30 - 16:00 - Curtain & Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 3rd November - 14:30 - 16:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 17th November - 14:30 - 16:00 - Xmas Mini Makes
    • Saturday 1st December - 14:30 - 16:00 - Xmas Mini Makes

    Tallaght

    Home Focus, Level 2, The Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24

    • Saturday 6th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 13th October - 14:30 - 16:00 - Curtain & Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 10th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 24th November - 14:30 - 16:00 - Xmas Mini Makes

    Blanchardstown

    Home Focus, Unit 406, Blanchardstown Retail Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

    • Saturday 8th September - 14:30 - 16:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 13th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - Curtain & Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 10th November - 14:30 - 16:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 24th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Xmas Mini Makes

    Northside

    Home Focus, No. 2 Northside Retail Park, Coolock Drive, Coolock, Dublin 5

    • Saturday 6th October - 14:30 - 16:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns

    Corbett Court

    Hickeys Fabrics, Corbett Court, Williamsgate Street, Galway

    • Saturday 8th September - 10:30 - 12:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 6th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - Curtain & Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 27th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - Christmas Table Settings
    • Saturday 3rd November - 10:30 - 12:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 10th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Xmas Mini Makes
    • Saturday 17th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Festive Fat Quarter Makes
    • Saturday 24th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Easy Sew 'Wrap Dress'

    Cruises Street

    Hickeys Fabrics, 33 Cruises Street, Limerick

    • Saturday 8th September - 10:30 - 12:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 6th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - Curtain & Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 27th October - 10:30 - 12:00 - Christmas Table Settings
    • Saturday 3rd November - 10:30 - 12:00 - How To Use A Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 10th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Xmas Mini Makes
    • Saturday 17th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Festive Fat Quarter Makes
    • Saturday 24th November - 10:30 - 12:00 - Easy Sew 'Wrap Dress'

  • festival-survival-tips Image sourced from Pinterest

    The sun is shining, the weather is sweet and it makes me want to move my dancing feet! Yes people festival season is upon us, the weather is good (for the moment) and I am not getting any younger.

    In the last few years doing the festivals has become less rough and ready for me - I am not a young wan anymore and I like some comforts at a festival. I don’t mean giving the festival organisers €1000 for the glamping experience - I’d rather go on holidays to spain for that thank you very much, but making your own little slice of home in your campsite.

    So as a somewhat seasoned festival goer here are my top tips and tricks on not only making your festival experience just a bit more pleasant but slightly more glamorous also!

    1: Invest in the basics

    • Get a good tent, with a porch in case it gets muddy that way you can leave your boots and clothes in the porch and your sleeping area will stay reasonably clean.
    • Treat yo self to an inflatable mattress - I am 33, with a dodgy back, I do not need to be sleeping on the ground  - this was the best investment in festival going I have ever made!

    2: Pack a picnic

    • You probably won’t care by day 2 - 3 but on day 1 it might be nice not to start eating the chips right away. I usually bring a cooler bag like the one pictured, pack it with some of those ice packs you can get. Frittata is a good option - either day 1 lunch/dinner or day 2 breakfast if you keep it cold enough and I always pack some fruit- apples and clementines nothing that’s going to go mushy. That being said I’ll never turn down a peanut butter and jam sambo! You could invest in a fancy ice cooler but I usually find a few large cooler bags packed with those ice packs does the job very well for the weekend and I find them easier to haul around.

    3: Pack utensils and glassware

    •  Let’s face it there will be prinks (pre drinks - gettit?) in the campsite but gone are my Dutch Gold days, there may be a fancy I.P.A but that’s about the only can you will find me drinking out of. There will be fizz and there will definitely be a gin and tonic and even if it’s plastic I’ll feel a little classier drinking out of these glasses.

    4: Pimp your tent!

    You have the basics but let’s get fancier on it - not only will this make you feel like a sophisticated member of society but this is also a big help when finding your tent at 3 or 4 am.

    • A few years ago I stitched some bunting and added them to some solar lights and strung them around my tent - just tie them to the poles and guide ropes. While they have survived several festivals they are now on their last legs - this year somebody has done the work for me and I will be buying this solar bunting.
    • Add fairy lights indoors - these bulb ones actually give off loads of light - I usually bring 2 sets, one set of festive fairy lights for the porch part and the likes of the bulb lights for the bedroom of the tent. There’s generally a guide pole that you can catch them onto - bring some ribbon/tape to help.
    • Stick some reflective tape or tie brightly coloured ribbon (both around your guide ropes) - we’ve all been there, some eijit trips over your guide ropes and brings half of your tent on top of you! I’m not saying there won’t still be some eijit but this will certainly minimise all chance of tripping - for yourself included.

    5: Don’t forget your wellies!

    I am never going to wear wellies in the real world but you may need them at the festival. I usually pick up a cheapo pair and stick in my orthotic insoles (told you I was old) but I will Customise. I have done all of these in the past and spent many a festival with that smug “Oh I just made them” glow when people asked me where I got my cool wellies. The glitter ones were my favourite as I had a matching gold bomber jacket and glittery cat mask - oh no there’s no pictures I swear!

    • You could cover the whole wellies in mod podge glue and coat them in glitter/ rhinestones, let them dry and coat in a couple more layers of mod podge
    • Break out the glue gun and add some rhinestones a la Shirley Bassey, who should be everyone's festival idol I feel!
    • Again break out the glue gun and add some cool trim or fringe to match your festival ensemble!

    Images Sourced from Pinterest

    So there you have it - life lessons from a seasoned pro. I know you might be reading this thinking that seems like a lot to haul around but I always fit it all onto one of those little trollies that they sell in those German supermarkets this time of the year. Take a little time setting yourself up and you will thank yourself all weekend! The items pictured above are available in most of our stores - find your nearest one here. Oh and don’t forget your sunscreen!

  • If like me, you’re so excited for PRIDE this weekend in Dublin but haven’t a clue what to wear, here are a few last-minute ideas to help you celebrate this amazing event! These projects are pretty low cost, colourful and easy to bring together.

    Pom Pom Headband:

    All you need is balls of wool in assorted colours, a pom pom maker (or cardboard), sharp scissors, a headband and a glue gun. Pom poms are so easy to make, you’ll find loads of tutorials on the best way of making a pom pom all over Pinterest. Or you can even have a look at my Pom Pom Twinkle Lights article which shows you how to use a pom pom maker.

    When you have made your pom poms, you pretty much just play around with them, see where you think they look good on the headband. You could make fun little pom pom ears, just wrap loads of colours together and you have a rainbow! Tie the pom poms down to the band to make sure you are happy with the placement and simply add a little hot glue to stop them from slipping and sliding. You could make lots of little pom poms and just have a colourful array all over the headband. Make pom poms of different sizes and try and layer them all over each other! Have fun with it, you could even add some glitter glue to the tips. The world is your oyster with a pom pom craft.

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    Other Ideas!

    Ribbon Cape:

    A colourful cascade of ribbon- what could be better?! Get yourself some elastic, a metre is plenty. You want to cut a piece to tie around 4 separate sections of your arm. Your wrist, forearm, mid upper arm and up around your armpit. Repeat for the other side. Don’t worry about it looking a little scruffy when you tie them, once it’s all finished you will look fab! Pop all your arm bands on for a minuet and thread through a long piece of ribbon so that it goes through one arm, across your shoulders and down the other arm. Tie or loop the ribbon around the bands as you go, to secure its location. Remove the bands and lay it out flat. Start knotting your various shades of ribbon strands to the long piece of ribbon attached to your bands. Keep going until it is full and gorgeous! This will likely take you an evening but my goodness will you look amazing at Pride Festival.

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    Image: Sourced From Pinterest

    Rainbow TuTu:

    A strong elastic or ribbon and lots of nylon net is all you will need for this. Wrap the elastic around your waist to get the size right. Cut your net into 3 inch strips and start knotting them onto your elastic. The best way to keep it easy is to fold your net in half lengthways making a loop, lay your elastic on top and then thread your net through the loop to create a knot around the elastic. Keep doing this with your colours and create a nice full skirt. Trim the uneven bits (unless you’ve gone for the fun layered look), tie the elastic at the waist and voila! A colourful addition to your Pride outfit, all the colours of the rainbow.

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    Image: Sourced From Etsy (Linked in Image)

  • How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 1
    Tools Needed

    • Headband
    • Bridal Trim
    • Diamante Appliqué
    • Flower Sprigs
    • Glue Gun / Glue Sticks
    • Scissors

    So, lets kick things off with our first look- a timeless classic!

    1920's Bride

    A classic era that never seems to go out of fashion. Inspired by the Great Gatsby, this piece is made up of a Marcasite style bridal trim and a diamond appliqué placed characteristically, just off centre.

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 2

     

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 3

    Starting at the top of the headband, place a layer of hot glue 1/3 of the way around the headband. Use the glue in stages as the it dries quickly.

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 4

    Place the trim directly on top of the glue and press down to spread the glue.
    For this look the trim should cover the whole of the headband from tip to tip.
    Position the appliqué to the side and glue directly on top of the trim, securing the ends, you don’t want the ends sticking out.

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 5

    CLASSIC BRIDE

    A simple one piece appliqué decoration is a wonderful alternative to a veil, that may seem a step too far for the pared-back bride. I’ve opted for a larger appliqué with no trim on an invisible headband.

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 6

    First, you need to prevent the appliqué from flopping around and catching on your new hairdo!
    To strengthen the piece, turn it over and cover the back in glue. Place a piece of white felt over the appliqué and press down firmly. White felt is the best colour to use, as it emphasizes the sparkle of the stones.

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 7

    This will stabilise the appliqué and eliminate the ‘floppy frill’ effect.
    Cut (carefully!) around the excess felt to reveal the shape of the appliqué.
    Glue the felted appliqué onto the headband just off centre, this is always a more flattering position as it nestles into the hair.

    BOHO BRIDE

    Getting married at sunset on the beach? Or, in a tent at the burning man festival? No! Well, this versatile headpiece will look equally as fabulous in a city centre hipster hotel or a sprawling country castle. Delicate flowers framed by an understated beaded trim help create this unique boho vibe.

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 8

    Start by separating the flower sprigs. I’ve used cream and green for this look.
    Leave approx 3 inches flower free at either end of the headband, the flowers should start and finish just above the ears.

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 9

    Glue each sprig separately onto the headband, alternating the colours.

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 10

    Trim the sprig ends off with a sharp scissors.

    How To Make A Bridal Headpiece 11

    Glue the trim directly over the flower stems to hide them, reaching from tip to tip of the headband.
    If the trim is wider than the headband as it tapers to the end, just fold the ends over each other and glue to the inside of the headband.

    I’ve used two different colours of classic cream and white for this bride look. You could make a matching version for your bridesmaids or flower girls by switching up the flower colours to match their dresses.

    So, get crafting and make that bespoke headpiece, a future heirloom that your daughters will be swooning over in 2045!

     

  • Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 1

    There is nothing worse than your favourite jeans aging on you. What was once a cool black denim, is now a washy grey. The dark indigo navy, is now more of a mid-blue. They still fit like a glove, but the shade just doesn’t pack a punch the way it did when you first put them on and felt like a god(ess). We have all been there, I too am a victim of washed out denim. You end up trying to stretch out the wears between washes, the thought of handing out another €60 to buy another pair is just too much to bear. Luckily, it is Dylon Machine Dye to the rescue! These nifty little pods are an upgrade from their original machine dye, where you would have added the salt separately. The new and improved version has all the hard work done for you. You literally just pop it into your machine! I have put together a really easy to follow tutorial, helping you get to know the Dylon Machine Dyes, so you can give your favourite jeans a new lease of life!

    Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 2

    Step One: Get your jeans out of the wardrobe and ready. To achieve optimum results your fabric needs to be damp. I popped the jeans in a sink full of water and then squeezed them out a bit so they weren’t soaking.

    Step Two: Pop your jeans in the drum of your washing machine. Make sure your machine is clean, no scummy bits around the edges as the dye will catch. I gave mine a good wipe down, getting rid of little bits of fluff and cleaning the rubber. Dylon Dye won’t cause any issues with your actual machine or washing experience, but a stained machine doesn’t look the nicest really, does it?

    Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 3

    Step Three: Carefully peel the packaging off the colour pod and place it in the drum on top of your clothing or fabric.

    Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 4

    Step Four: Pop on the wash, at either 30C - 40C. A full cycle is perfect, don’t cut it short.

    Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 5

    Step Five: Do another wash with the jeans in the machine, adding some detergent. This is to rinse the excess dye from the fabric, otherwise you might pull out a drippy black mess.

    Step Six: Dry as you normally would and love your life because you’ve got yourself some jazzy new jeans.

    Some tips!

    Ok, so the actual act of dying your jeans is pretty straightforward. There are however a few things you’ll have to be careful with. You’ll thank me later.

    * Please, PLEASE be careful opening the dye. Although Dylon have made it very easy to open, spillage on your floor/clothes/hands will likely stain. Hands will eventually return to their normal colour- floors will not. Use with caution.

    * The Dylon Colour Pods are best used on Cotton, Linen and Viscose. Fabrics that are mixed with synthetics, like a Polycotton blend, will colour but it will likely be a lighter shade. Pure synthetic fabrics like polyester will not catch the colour and you will likely ruin the garment in the process. My jeans are actually a mixed material - 64% Cotton, 32% Polyester, 4% Elastane and as you can see they coloured brilliantly, the more natural fibres the better.

    * If your garment is advised as ‘Dry Clean Only’, don’t try to dye it. Again, you’ll ruin the garment because it is not made to be put in a washing machine.

  • Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-1

    This week we have teamed up with the lovely Catherine from Dainty Dress Diaries, who has created a video over on Youtube, and written a blog post all about how you can create an envelope cushion. We are sharing the post here on our platform as we think it is something that any crafty person can do, no matter how experienced you are in sewing! If you are a fan of the Dainty Dress Diaries like we are here in Hickeys Fabrics- why not check out her Blog or Youtube Channel?

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    Today I have teamed up with the guys over at Hickeys to show you how to make an easy envelope cushion. Making an envelope cushion was my very first project when I was learning to sew. I did some evening sewing classes at my local school and I remember the excitement when my teacher Mary showed us how to make a cushion! I was a complete beginner and could barely thread my machine at the time so it really motivated me and inspired me to sew more when I completed my first project. Hands up who has a sewing machine collecting dust? From chatting to some of you ladies on Instagram I know you guys have sewing machines collecting dust, why not take them out of storage, dust them off, thread then up and have a go at making today's project.

     

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    What you will need:

    The first thing you will need to get is some nice fabric. I love picking fabrics and have a soft spot for florals. I used fabric today that would match my pink chair in my bedroom. I want to change up the cushions on this chair to give it a freshen up. That is the fun thing about sewing, if you want to change up your decor then get a metre or two of fabric and get crafty, you can save yourself money and get to have pieces in your home that others don't have. I am using fabric from Hickeys, I normally head to my local Hickeys in Blanchardstown for fabric but you can also shop online if you are not near a store. If you are a beginner then I recommend starting off with the cotton or poly cotton fabrics. These have very little stretch and are easy to work with when starting off. There is a wide range of fabrics available in store and online. When I was first learning to sew my favourite thing was heading into Hickeys to pick fabric for my next project. If you are like me and love your florals then you will be pleased to know that they have loads of stunning printed fabrics in stock at the moment.

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    • 1 metre of fabric (depending on how many cushions you want to make)
    • Fabric scissors
    • Pins
    • Thread in a matching colour to your fabric
    • Paper to make a template/pattern
    • Cushion pad in the size you want to make
    • A good iron

    When it comes to thread, I highly recommend using good quality thread and avoid the threads that come in sets. Keep the cheaper quality threads for hand sewing. When I was learning to sew, I had trouble with poor quality threads bunching up in my sewing machine and leaving me with poor stitches. Nowadays, I always use Guttermann threads in my machine and these are great quality. Home Focus at Hickeys stock the Guttermann threads in store and online so you can easily pick up a contrasting thread for your fabric.

    Make a template/Pattern

    I find it easier to make myself a template. In today's post, I made a 16x16 inch cushion and I also made a 18x18 inch cushion. If you make yourself a template then you can easily take it out whenever you want to make some cushions. It also makes it easier when you are making a few cushions at one time.

    Using my tape measure and some paper I measured out a template. You will have a front and a back template for this project. For the front of the cushion, you will need to make a 16x16 inch template. However you need to allow for a 1 inch seam allowance so you will need to measure out 17x17 inches on your paper. For the back template, you will need to measure out 17x14 inches.

    If you want to make a bigger or smaller cushion then just adjust your measurements. So, for example, my 18x18 in cushion I cut a 19x19 inch pattern. So, whatever the size of cushion you want to make, just adjust it and make sure to allow for your 1 inch seam allowance.

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    Cut your fabric

    Iron your fabric before cutting it, having crease free fabric will make it easier to cut out your template. Pin your template to your fabric. You will cut one piece for your front and then two pieces for the back. Your back has two pieces as they overlap giving the envelope shape to your cushion. Always take your time cutting out your fabric, cutting fabric is just as important as sewing your piece. You want to cut the fabric as straight as you can to make it easier for when you are sewing.

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    Using your fabric scissors cut out the three pieces of fabric that you will need to make your cushion. I highly recommend getting good fabric scissors as they will last years and you can get them sharpened too. The one I am using is the Fiskars Universal Purpose scissors. When cutting a lot of fabric your hand can get tired and sore, these scissors are easier to hold and gives good grip making it easier on your hand. Never, ever use your good fabric scissors to cut paper. You will ruin the blade of your scissors so always keep your fabric scissors for fabric only. When I started sewing I used cheaper tools and I ended up having to replace them over time, my best advice it to spend on good tools as they will stand the test of time and be more valuable to you in the long term.
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    Sew a hem on your back pieces

    You are now going to sew a 1 inch hem onto your two back pieces. These two pieces need a hem so the fabric won't fray on you. Using your iron, fold over half an inch and press. You can use your measuring tape as a guide. Once you have ironed your half  inch you are then going to fold it over again and press. Depending on the fabric you may need to secure it with some pins. Using your sewing machine you will then sew a straight stitch down the hem of your fabric. Start with a reverse stitch to secure your stitch and stop it coming loose. I have put together a Youtube video which I will link below if you want to have a look at how I did this.

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    Sew all your pieces together

    You are now going to sew all three of your pieces together and form your cushion. The most important thing here is to make sure you face the right sides of your fabric face together. I place my front piece down on the patterned side of the fabric facing me. I then lay a back piece of fabric to the front making sure the two patterned sides are facing each other. I then add the third piece and I pin the fabric together. I use a lot of pins to make sure the fabric stays in place when I am sewing, Place your pins facing outwards as this means you can sew on them.

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    Once your cushion is pinned together you can now sew it on your machine. Make sure to leave your 1 inch seam allowance. You can use the guide on the plate of your sewing machine as a guide. Make sure to start and end with a reverse stitch to stop your thread from unravelling. Sew all around the cushions. Once finished you can remove all of your pins. To make sure the corner goes into a nice neat point you can snip the corner of your cushion before you turn it right inside out.

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    My favourite part of the project is turning it from inside out to right side out, I get the crafters buzz when I see the project coming together. Once you turn your fabric over you can give it an iron to flatten the seams and finish it off. You can then add your cushion pad and have fun admiring and styling your new cushion.

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  • What-glue-is-the-glue-for-you-1

    Buying glue for a project may seem like a straightforward proposition but a glance at the glue section of our website will tell a different tale as there are so many to choose from. So which one to get?

    Our glues basically fall into 3 different categories:

    1. Craft Glue 

    These are great for use on paper, felt and some can be used on other non porous materials like ceramic. They are generally very useful for craft projects like scrap booking or card making but not generally good for use on fabrics, particularly if you want to wash the item after.

    Glues like the PVA and school are great for kids crafts as they’re non toxic and dry fairly quickly. Though they dry clear they are white from the bottle so little ones can easily see what they’re doing.

    There is also an amazing range of glues called Mod Podge which are available in store and can be used for all sorts of projects like decoupage, ceramics and even image transferring but that's a whole other blog for a whole other day!

    A really good basic craft glue to have on hand is Impex Multi Purpose as it’s a great multi tasker, sticking most objects and will even do fabrics like felt or ribbons, especially onto hard surfaces like card. This is generally just a good glue to have in any crafter's arsenal and I always have a bottle on the go!

    Get some cool papercraft ideas from our friends at DoCrafts, we have some of their range in selected stores if you're feeling inspired!

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    2. Fabric Glue 

    These are designed specifically for use on fabric which means they dry clear and don’t leave a residue on the fabric. It also means you can wash the item afterwards safe in the knowledge that the glue won’t dissolve! Check the instructions on the particular glue you choose as it may need the heat of an iron to set it. I must confess to a love of Fabri Tac, I have literally glued myself into Halloween costumes in this and survived the night, modesty intact!

    3. Embellishing glue

    These are glues you want when embellishing items with beads/ motifs. They dry clear and don’t leave a reside on fabric.

    Gemtac is pretty amazing stuff as it’s washable, dries quickly and doesn’t affect the clarity of your stones. This is the one favoured by most of our “blinging” customers, particularly those “Dance Moms” out there who have spent many a night painstakingly applying rhinestones to dance costumes.

    Here’s how they do it:

    • Get yourself a tweezers and a shallow dish like a saucer*
    • Pour a small amount of glue into the saucer and pick your gem up with the tweezers
    • Dip into the glue, taking care not to submerge the jewel and apply to your garment

    * Frequent embellishers may want to invest in a SILICONE MAT as it stops the glue drying out too quickly when you’re using it and also saves you using the good china!

    4. The Glue Gun

    So you've caught me - I  lied at the beginning of this blog - there's really 4 types of glue, but the glue gun is kind of all the types rolled into 1. Armed with this (pun intended), you will basically be ready for any craft action. The beauty of the glue gun is that it dries immediately, so whatever you want to stick will be secured quickly without you trying to hold it all together while it dries. It's great for cool projects like embellishing shoes and making fascinators.  So why would you bother with any of the others if this does everything you might wonder? Well it can have its disadvantages. For a start it can leave a residue if you're not careful with it and it can leave a bulky line underneath fabrics. My advice here is to keep your glue gun for gluing embellishments and fabrics onto solid surfaces and not to bother trying to glue fabric to fabric with it.

    Now that you're in the know, you can choose the right glue for your project from our range.

  • Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-1

    Felt Flowers are a fun and relatively easy craft to follow. Some flowers can be a little complicated, but I can assure you that the pretty roses used in this project are straightforward enough and the pay off is fantastic. Who knew felt could look so pretty? As we have been gifted with the rainy weather (April Showers, give us a break!), why not bring a little piece of Spring into your home?

    This would make a fantastic gift for a loved one, you could use their favourite colours to really make it personal. I added a few leaves to my wreath but really, they aren’t necessary. You can go all out and fill the whole hoop with flowers, using little and large roses, or you can go really minimal and rustic by not wrapping the hoop with embroidery thread. This craft will take you an afternoon, I personally opt for a mug of tea, dressing gown and a good film on in the background- the perfect rainy Saturday Craft!

    What you will need:

    Felt – 1 sheet of felt per rose, ideally. This will vary depending on if you want to vary the size of the roses.

    Glue Gun - with glue sticks because you don’t want to run out half way!

    Embroidery Hoop

    Needle

    Embroidery Thread (for wrapping the hoop) and separate thread to use for the flowers.

    Sharp Scissors

    Marker

    Circular Shape – To use as a stencil, Approx. 1.2-2” Diameter. I used a shot glass ?

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    Step One: Start by tracing around your stencil, as many circles as you can fit on the sheet.

    Step Two: Cut neatly around the circles, try to not have any marker on the felt circles, trim them a little as the pigment may ruin the finished piece.

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    Step Three: Cut each circle in half.

    Step Four: Separate your embroidery thread in half, so three threads in total. Thread your needle.

    Step Five: Take one half circle and create a stitch along the edge. Don’t worry about the stitch being perfect as we will be pulling it later.

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    Step Six: Once you get half way (about two stitches) across your half circle, take another piece of felt and lie it evenly behind the first and continue your stitching. Repeat this, so that after covering every half piece of felt, you add another half circle to create a chain of half circles.

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    Step Seven: Once you have run out of felt half circles, gently pull the thread at the edge. This will create a bunching up at the front of the chain. Move the felt along the thread to even out the bunching and keep pulling. This will create a lovely petal-like look to the felt.

    Step Eight: When you are happy with the bunching, tie a knot in the thread.

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    Step Nine: Turn on your glue gun and let it heat up. Take one side of your petal thread and in the middle of the first petal, dot a blob of glue from the gun. Gently fold the petal in on itself.

    Step Ten: Repeat this process, adding a little blob of glue and twisting the petals around each other. (As you progress to make more flowers, you will be able to vary how tight or lose you twist the petals over each other, creating different textures and looks for your flowers.)

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    Step Eleven: Once you have finished twisting your petals, you should be left with a beautiful rose flower. Add a circle of felt (I chose green because- nature) and glue it down, creating a base for your flower. Trim the edges so it doesn’t show when you are looking at the flower directly.

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    Step Twelve (Optional): Get your embroidery hoop and take some embroidery thread. Add a blob of glue to the top of your hoop and wrap tightly, covering the entire hoop. I used the equivalent of two spools of embroidery thread for this hoop size.

    Step Thirteen (Optional): Cut out felt in the shape of leaves and add them to the base of some of your flowers. This will just add a little splash of colour!

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    Step Fourteen: Lay your hoop out and take a look at where you would like to place your flowers. Add a little mark as a guide if it helps you. Add a blob of glue to the place on the hoop you would like to place a flower. Don’t add the glue to the base of the flower as it can be a bit messy and is easier to place the flower on a blob of glue, than cleaning glue off the table because you misplaced the flower.

    Leave it all to dry and voila!

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  •  

    I was always slightly puzzled by the groups of girls on hen parties in matching outfits I’d see roaming the streets of Temple Bar on a Saturday night. Not puzzled because there was a uniform - I realise that this is an easy way of identifying each other when three sheets to the wind. Puzzled because not only were they in the same uniform as the three other hen parties in Coppers that night but because nobody really looks like they’re wearing what they want.

    If you’re planning a hen for your bestie and don’t really want to spend €20 per person for an ill fitting T - shirt that says  “(insert name here)’s HEN” then maybe I could tempt you with an easy little craft project. Make your own individual “sequin pocket T - shirts”, these look pretty cool, you will all be coordinated without looking OTT and will be cheap as chips to make.  I’m pretty sure you could even rope your co - bridesmaids into helping with the right amount of prosecco!

    So this is the deal:

    Get yourself a load of white/black t - shirts, with a pocket, everyone knows their size in Penneys, so take a note and get shopping. That being said if one of your hens is plus size, they can supply their own top, this is why the basic t shirt is always a good option. Let’s face it everyone likes to look good on a night out and as a former size 22 I can remember the chill going down my spine when people would hand me an XL t shirt from a kiosk  for one of these things!! I really wish I had convinced someone to do this project sooner, I would have slightly less embarrassing photos in my past!

    We’re off to a good start; you have your T-shirts; now get yourself to a Home Focus or Hickeys and buy a tube of Gem Tac glue and some tubes of flat sequins in the bride's favourite colour. The glue might seem pricey at €11.95 but you’re definitely going to get all the T-shirts out of one bottle and it dries flexible and clear so you can be as messy as several glasses of prosecco gets you!

    You will need:

    • T-shirts, with a pocket*
    • 1 tube Gem Tac Glue
    • Flat sequins of your choice ( 1 tube will do approx 4 shirts)

    Now here’s where it gets really difficult:

    • Lay your T-shirt out flat

    • Use the nozzle to pipe 2-3 lines of the glue along the top of the pocket
    • Spread it down a little with the flat end of your tweezers
    • Use the tweezers to apply the sequins, laying them really close together, even overlapping them a little

    • Continue on in rows like this until the pocket is filled, it should only take 10 - 15 mins
    • When you get bored of precision application with the tweezers, use your fingers - it doesn’t matter too much if you get glue on top of the sequins as the Gem Tac is designed for this and so won’t dull the sequins or mark them

    • Let dry flat overnight
    Here's how it looks filled in and let to dry:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    *If you have a t-shirt with no pocket, get creative - either trace one on with tailors chalk or if you have an artist in the bunch get them to draw shapes, even a star or a heart on the T-shirts and then get blinging.

    So there you have it, a fairly fun, unique look for your Hen party night out, one that should keep everyone happy, and the cost down. I got this T shirt for €3 from you guessed it “Penneys hun” - in a style I like and there was about 20 other types in every style imaginable. The glue cost €11.95 and the tubes of sequins €3.95 so if I were to do 12 T-shirts they’d only work out at €5.30 each. I think for €5.30 and a couple of hours of bedazzling that’s a fairly good hen outfit. If you’re a stressed out bridesmaid who could use some craft therapy; take a visit to your nearest Hickeys or Home Focus at Hickeys store to get your blinging supplies. Then get yourself and your girls out dancing!!!

  • The-Ultimate-Beginners-Guide-to-SewingA Starter Kit…

    If you have clicked onto this post you are likely to be a novice or a beginner here in the world of sewing and dress making. If that is the case- welcome! Congratulations, you have taken the first step towards developing a skill you can use forever. Something I have learned from my mother is- as a beginner, do not dive in head first. Start small. Otherwise you will get frustrated and give up before you’ve even begun. Here is a list of things you’ll need to get started…

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    There are two pairs of scissors you will need in your kit. The first, shears or dressmaking scissors. They will make your future dress making projects a whole lot easier provided you choose the right pair. They don’t have to be an investment, but a great investment they will be! Both are designed to make the cutting of fabric a less laborious task, their handles allow for you to get a good grip and really control the cutting, and their sharp blades result in the fabric having a clean cut. You should choose them carefully, as you may find that some are very heavy whilst others too light. It’s personal preference. One thing you will hear time and time again from dress makers is do not, I repeat DO NOT use them to cut paper. Paper will blunt the blades, and therefore render them useless when it comes to the task of cutting fabric. Fabric only, people.

    A set of small embroidery scissors is the second pair you will think a handy tool to have, for the likes of cutting thread. A little less clunky and pretty reasonable value.

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    Thread can vary, and depending on the project you may need to select accordingly. A great starter addition to your kit would either be cotton or polyester (or both). Cotton is versatile and comes in different finishes, it can withstand a lot of heat from the iron and runs smoothly through fabrics, particularly natural fabrics. Polyester is great because it works well with all fabrics and has great longevity- it washes well and keeps its colour. An important thing to consider when buying thread, is to know your thread. You should test it before using it in a machine, as a dodgy thread could cause damage. Tip- when pulled tightly, thread should snap before you cut your fingers. If it doesn’t then consider your machine, if it gets caught will it snap the needle or cause even more damage?

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    Pins are a bit like hair grips, they will end up everywhere and you will always be grateful to have them at hand. Use them to hold your pattern to a fabric whilst you trace it, they are also handy when you are sewing as they can keep your fabric in place to help you sew evenly (especially as a beginner). There is a variety of pins available, and standard steel pins would be a good place to start. They may not look as decorative, but for sewing tasks they will be versatile and easy to use on most fabrics. An adorable pin cushion will brighten up your sewing area too!

    Hand sewing needles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they all have their uses. It can be daunting to know which one to choose, so be advised to go for a general pack. It has a few different lengths and types, so that you can find what suits you best dependent on the project at hand.

    Sharps Needle: When in doubt, choose a Sharps needle. Very sharp (as the name suggests) and used for all general sewing projects. A good one for beginners as it will be able to tackle most beginner projects such as your first attempt at free hand embroidery!

    Quilting Needle: Its has a short length which allows you to stitch faster than you may with a normal sized needle.

    Embroidery Needle: Similar to a Sharps, except with a longer eye which will make threading the thicker embroidery thread a little easier for you.

    Knitters or Ballpoint: Both are great for knit fabrics, the rounded edge goes around the yarn rather than breaking through it and potentially damaging your handiwork. Knitters are for hand sewing, closing the seams on your knitting projects, whereas Ballpoint is a machine needle, great for knit fabrics such as jersey.

    We have a great selection of pins and needles available online and in store.

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    Provided you are confident that dressmaking or sewing is something you really have an interest in, it’s time to invest in a machine. We here at Hickeys are big fans of the Brother machines. With a starter machine, the more basic the machine, the less chance you have of overcomplicating your projects. The Brother LS14S is affordable as far as machines go and it is a great starter machine. Easy to use, a nice size and it covers all the basics. It comes with a DVD to show you how to use your machine and they have a YouTube channel that will show you all of their top tips and tricks. With an LS14S, even if all you end up doing in your sewing career is turning up your trousers, it will be money well spent.

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    Now that you have committed to a machine, you are raring to go and create magic. This is great! But you need to practice first. You need to get to know your machine, which means sitting in front of it and trying out all the settings. Try every stitch, get used to working the reverse stitch button, find the speed that suits you on the pedal. You will be grateful that you took the time to practice, it will make creating your first garment a far less daunting task.

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    When cutting out a fabric, this tool could be your best friend. Trace around your pattern onto the fabric with tailor’s chalk and it will make your life a whole lot easier. You could get a little more technical by using a blunt tracing wheel and some carbon sheets but really it is not necessary when you are learning- leave it to the pro’s for now.

    Tailors chalk doesn’t have to be boring! Go for a lucky dip, you could get a red, yellow or blue Tailors Chalk – the excitement!

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    Even the best of the best dressmakers will make the occasional mistake. A stitch ripper will save you and your scissors the big task of ripping the stitches whilst also saving your fabric from damage so that you can try again!

    We have a nifty little seam ripper with a rounded edge, to save your fabric from any nicks whilst ripping your stitches.

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    It’s easy to run away with your imagination and picture yourself creating dramatic pieces or a complex outfit, and with practice you will be able to achieve that one day. However, for now start simple. Don’t go out and buy a really difficult pattern and a really stretchy material. You might struggle and find yourself frustrated and feeling less than confident about your skills. Practice, practice and then practice some more. You should spend a while getting to know your machine before you even commit to a pattern. When you feel ready, go with a Simplicity pattern. They are very easy to follow, have some great looks and hopefully you won’t feel overwhelmed with their guidance.

    If you are unsure of a pattern, pop into one of our stores! We have catalogues upon catalogues of patterns and styles to choose from. If you need help finding a fabric to suit your chosen pattern, our staff will be delighted to help you.

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    As the saying goes “Measure twice, cut once”, A measuring tape will save you on your mistakes (hopefully!). Soft and flexible, it will measure your curves accurately and easily. Most of them will come with both imperial and metric units, so that you can follow the sizes easily. A quick tip, make sure you replace your tape occasionally. This is as over the years, it can stretch a little when used often, your measurements may become inaccurate, even if you measure thrice!

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    So, you’ve collected all your bits & bobs, now you need somewhere to store it all! Sure, you could have it all stashed away in a drawer, but where’s the fun in that?! We have a great variety of little and large sewing baskets. Most sewing baskets will contain a removable compartment, acting as a little shelf for the smaller items in your kit. Sewing baskets also usually contain a small pin cushion for you to use while working away on your projects, as well as a little pocket often useful for the sharp embroidery scissors. Half the fun of a sewing basket is the choice in colours and patterns, so get choosing!

    To Conclude...

    At this point, you should be kitted out and raring to create. If so, fantastic news! Use #HickeysFabrics in your social media posts so we can check out all your creative crafty bits and bobs- we can’t wait to see them! If you need any further assistance in your crafting career, why not pop into your local Home Focus or Hickeys Fabrics store? Our lovely staff will be delighted to help you with any queries you may have. We also host a range of Free Craft Demonstrations, no sign up required, just come along and be immersed in the crafting world. Happy Crafting!

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