The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books, Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Wednesday 20 August 2014 at 5:11 pm



Like many women in America, I struggle with weight and, in general, my overall fitness level, so I was intrigued by the title of the new book The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet. It is written by the founders of the web site fitbottomedgirls.com, Jennipher Walters and Erin Whitehead, and published by Harmony Books. The copyright date is 2014, and it retails in the US for $17 and Canada for $20.

I am going to just admit that I may not be the intended audience for this book. It made me feel old! I say this because many of the suggestions are things my well over 40 body just cannot do any more. The book offers a number of ideas for very short workouts, which in theory I love the idea of that. The concept is that you can do a lot of small 10 minute workouts, and if you do enough of them throughout the day, they add up. Great! However, here is an example of why I say my body can’t do most of them. One of the “strength” mini-workouts they suggest has you hold hand weights on the ground as you do push ups while still holding the weights, and then you are supposed to pick up one of the weights while you are still in plank position. It tells you to do as many of these as you can in five minutes. I know I could not do one in five minutes. Now, maybe when I was 30 I could attempt this, but now? This is an extreme example, but for the most part, many of their suggested activities I found more intense than I could manage.

The other reasons this seems to me to speaker to a younger crowd is the constant motivation to be positive about your body and yourself that rings throughout the book. That, of course, is good. I know women can by hyper-critical of their bodies, especially younger women. I actually find that sad. I’m not perfect. I do need to lose weight and become generally more active and healthy, but I do not constantly beat myself up about it.

There are a lot of very positive reviews about this book, so it must be helping some women. I’m guessing it tends to help those who might, for really the first time, be trying to lose weight and exercise more regularly, and this book offers a lot of concrete ways to do that.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Doll Couture

Blogged under Good Books, Sew Simple by Tammy on Sunday 17 August 2014 at 11:14 am



Serious sewers will often have a stash of fabric scraps that are not large enough to make wearable items for themselves, but they hate to just toss them out. If you are not into quilting, then what do you do them? How about doll clothes! I received a press release about a new book on making doll clothes that seems like a good fit for fabric scrapers out there. Here are some details from the publisher:

“Running Press is proud to introduce Doll Couture: Handcrafted Fashions for 18-inch Dolls, a book that takes the unique fashions and DIY sensibilities of Hankie Couture to a new height. It showcases a striking array of original garments for the vastly popular 18-inch dolls (American Girl size). Everything from dresses to pants and shoes were meticulously crafted from vintage handkerchiefs, table cloths, tea towels, laces, embroidered linens, pillowcases, table runners, and more. The book showcases Marsha’s exquisite fashions and includes sewing instructions and 9 original patterns so you can recreate her designs. It will inspire you to unleash your imagination in transforming your own treasured heirlooms or colorful flea-market finds into one-of-a-kind ensembles.”

It retails for $22.00 US/$25.50 CAN. There is also a Kindle edition available.

Break the Rules Bead Embroidery - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Friday 8 August 2014 at 4:58 pm


Break the Rules Bead Embroidery: 22 Jewelry Projects Featuring Innovative Materials (Bead Inspirations) by Diane Hyde is a combination of projects that include bead embroidery, found objects, and mixed-media. It is published by Lark and come out in May 2014. It retails for $24.95 in the US and $26.95 in Canada.

Definitely the projects and techniques in this book will appeal to jewelry makers who have a certain type of fun and whimsical taste when it comes to making jewelry. You will find anything from a cuff bracelet that has baby chickens attached to it to heirloom-looking necklaces created with filigree components and photocopied photographs. All of the jewelry designs are dramatic and “out there” and not for the faint of heart. Reading through the list of tools and supplies needed for each project reminded me of reading through the list of ingredients in a gourmet recipe: there are a lot of them! And while some of them may be a little unique (like the little chickens), there are found objects that you may already have around your house that you can use like thimbles, scrabble tiles, and dice.

As I said, the projects are dramatic, not something you would wear if you don’t want to be seen. However, I could also see how some of these could easily be toned down a little for more day-to-day wearable pieces if you wanted to go in that direction. For example, the “Snap Out of It Necklace” incorporates tiny shells, crystals, and gold and natural colored seed beads. It is a beautiful piece and not as ornate as some of the other designs.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to make statement pieces that are fun and daring. You should also probably have a fair amount of jewelry experience; however, I will say that there are a large number of step by step color photographs for each project, which would be helpful for adventurous beginners.

1000 Beads - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Thursday 24 July 2014 at 2:24 pm

1000 Beads (500 Series) ($27.95 US; $30.95 CAN) is published by Lark with a publication date of April 2014, so it’s still fairly new. The juror who was responsible for creating this collection of hand-made beads is Kristina Logan. Like the other books in this series, this is a coffee table style type book that is designed to inspire and amaze. The focus of this book, of course, is beads, and who doesn’t love beads?

You name the material and you will more than likely find a bead made with it in this book. As I leisurely flipped through the pages, I noted a few favorites of mine, even though it was pretty hard to do. I am sure each time I look through this I will find more to enjoy. I was pleased to find a very cool bead by Cyndi Lavin, a transformed copper plumbing fixture adorned with bead embroidery. Marina Monica Medina also uses found objects, silk cocoons, and turns them into beads using silk thread, bronze wire, and ink calligraphy. Taking a different approach, Andrew Welch turned resin into what looks like pebbles, so instead of using found objects, he created beads that look like found objects. I thought that was clever.

Various beads throughout the pages are also arranged together when any type of method or material is similar. For example, Doris Hausler has paper beads made from book pages, and these photos are on a page spread with Niina Mahlberg’s beads that include newspaper. Other materials you will find in here that are part of these beautiful beads include wool, glass, metal, polymer clay, acrylic, bone, and lava. That is not a complete list by the way.

I can see this book appealing to a few different audiences. First, of course, there are the bead collectors out there who would love to have these in their hands, but having them in a book form is the next best thing. Then for bead makers, this is full of inspirations, as it would also be to inspiring bead makers.

Makery - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Sunday 20 July 2014 at 12:42 pm


Makery: Over 30 Projects for the Home, to Wear and to Give by Kate Smith is published by Octopus Books. It retails in the US for $19.99, in the UK for L14.99, and Canada for $21.99. The Makery is not just a book; it is also a place, a shop located in Bath that offers workshops, parties, and supplies all around the idea of making items for the home, to wear, and to give (as the subtitle of the book points out). The book offers a collection of projects that come from the folks who run this shop, and it is a combination of various crafts: sewing, knitting, crochet, decoupage, and more.

Many of the projects require some minor sewing skills. You would need a sewing machine, but most of them are pretty easy and require lots of straight stitching. For example, there is a drawstring bag, sun glass case, passport case. Basically, they include a lot of different ideas for using squares and rectangles to create different home decor and gift items. Pattern pullouts are provided in the back of the book.

There is a little yarn crafting in here, a few knitting projects like a coffee cup cozy and wrist warmers and one crocheted project. I took a good look at the crochet slippers. They look like they would be fairly easy and something you could make for yourself or give as gifts. However, I was not sure if the stitch references were in US or UK terms. In the US, our single crochet is called double crochet, and these say that you will do double crochet and even show how to do double crochet in the techniques section of the book, but when I look at the drawn illustrations in the project and finished pair, it sure looks like single crochet to me.

Other than sewing and yarn, there is an assortment of other crafting methods used. For example, there is a Shrinky Dink jewelry project (very cute); a project showing how to make decorative paper tags; and an adorable how-to on turning a small toy truck into a pin cushion.

Each project includes written instructions, a few drawn illustrations, a photo of the supplies used, and a photo of the finished piece. There is a techniques section in the back (7 pages) that covers things like knitting stitches, embroidery, and basic sewing methods. Measurements are provided in both metric and imperial (what we still use in the US).

I think this book would appeal to experienced crafters who are looking for easy projects to do as either quick gifts or to do with someone not as experienced, such as a tween or teenager. Those with limited sewing skills who want projects they could handle would like most of the simple sewing projects in here. There is a mix of cute, clever, and been-done as far as the projects. The pin cushion I mentioned already is an example of what I would call clever. The passport case and eye glass case have been-done, but for newbies, they are accessible projects. This has the crafter who likes to dabble in a little bit of everything in mind, so it might also be good for someone who wants to try a new craft.

Knitting Reimagined - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Thursday 3 July 2014 at 1:15 pm


Knitting Reimagined: An Innovative Approach to Structure and Shape with 25 Breathtaking Projects by well-known yarn crafter Nicky Epstein has a copyright date of 2014 and is published by Potter Craft. It’s a 176 page hard copy book that retails for $29.99 in the US and $35 in Canada (though, of course, it is deeply discounted on Amazon.com).

The author explains in the introduction of the book that her focus while creating the knitting designs was to come up with “chic, wearable, but uniquely atypical garments.” She wanted to show how you can use traditional stitches and techniques but play around with structure. If I’m understanding her goals as explained in the introduction, then I think she did this. However, I have to admit that when I first flipped through the book, I was not sure about the “wearable” part of this concept. I would not necessarily call the designs couture, but they are edgy.

I took a closer look at the designs, and my opinion changed a little. There were a few pieces that were not as wild as I had first thought. “Royal Lace Coat with Hood” is a beautiful coat type sweater with an arrow lace design positioned diagonally on the front, back, and sleeves. The hood is detachable. Another project that had a lot of versatility is “On the Block Topper.” It is a type of poncho that you can wear with the pointed parts in front or on the side, and there is a two page spread showing the same design just altered by using different yarn or different stitch patterns.

So, yes, there are a handful of projects that most anyone could wear, but then there are a number that I felt were over the top for the average taste (and figure too). The sweater on the cover is an example of this. Even some of the models, who I could tell were super tiny, didn’t look that great in some of the heavy sweaters in this book that are full of cables and similar details. That said, I think anyone with some knitting chops could probably take any of these projects and use them as a starting point but tone them down to make them more practical. For example, the “Buttons and Bows Manteau” is a sweater dress that has a lot of wavy texture going on from the waist down. However, from the waist up, it’s a nice and classic design, so you could stop before all the wavy part and create a cute cropped sweater.

Each project is given a skill level (beginner friendly; intermediate; advanced) and time rating (quick; weeks; months). There are also extensive graphs provided to show how to assemble each garment. The color photographs are a big bonus in this book because you get to see the entirety of each project with different views like straight on front views but also side views and detail shots

As a knitting beginner, even the beginning level patterns seem daunting to me, but I really feel like this is for more experienced knitters who have pretty much knitted everything twice and want a challenge and method for creating usual pieces that verge on couture.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Fabric Blooms - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Saturday 14 June 2014 at 10:30 am


Fabric Blooms: 42 Flowers to Make, Wear & Adorn Your Life ($17.95 US; $19.95 Canada) by Megan Hunt is published by Lark Books and includes a huge assortment of simple craft projects where you use various types of fabric to constructor flowers. Use the flowers together in a vase as a home decor item, or turn them into accessories such as lapel pins and headbands. One point of this book that really appeals to me is the fact that you do not need a large amount of supplies to complete most of the project. Some projects might even be made using scraps and leftovers such as bits of fabric from a previous sewing project and orphaned buttons.

Most of the projects are designed around a similar process where you use templates (provided in the back of the book) to cut out petal and leaf shapes. Then you assemble these as explained in the instructions to form the flowers. The flowers are kept together using simple techniques such as using floral tape and basic hand-stitching like back and running stitches.

The book is filled with ideas on how to use the flowers once they are completed. For example, you can attach them to bobby pins and create pretty hair accessories. Turn them into push pins for a pretty and functional bulletin board. Attach a pin back and add them to a coat lapel. Make a bunch and give them out as small party favors or thank you gifts.

Because you will need a decent pair of sharp scissors to cut out the flower pieces, I wouldn’t say that these projects are necessarily good for very young children to try; however, for children who are a little older, these would be nice projects to do together. Novice crafters will also find these projects very doable. For more advanced crafters, like I said before, this could be a nice way to use up leftover supplies.

Pretty Little Potholders - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books, Sew Simple by Tammy on Thursday 22 May 2014 at 1:56 pm



Pretty Little Potholders (Pretty Little Series) is a book from Lark’s “Pretty Little” series. It retails for $9.95 US and $10.95 Canadian and is 127 page soft cover that came out in 2013. Featuring hand-crafted potholders, this book includes 32 potholder projects that primarily focus on basic sewing techniques. Potholders can be both functional and practical gifts, and because they are not overly large, most of these projects look like they would work up pretty quickly. Plus, you need minimal sewing skills.

The supplies and techniques section suggest that you use a sewing machine, and I have to agree. Unless you have extremely good hand-stitching skills, you want to use a sewing machine as a way to save time but also to make sure you construct a finished product that will last. Save the hand-stitching, which is also covered in the techniques part, for ornamentation.

I liked the variety of design options provided in this fun book and think it would be a great gift idea (the actual book of course) for someone who has just started sewing. It allows for lots of sewing practice without taking on a huge project. Of course, the finished potholders would also make great gifts because anyone can use them.

For the price, which as usual, is always much less through Amazon, I think this is a nice addition to any sewer’s library.

Marcia DeCoster Presents - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Monday 19 May 2014 at 9:14 am


For the lover of all things beadwork related, Marcia DeCoster Presents: Interviews with 30 Beaders on Inspiration & Technique (Spotlight on Beading Series), a new title from Lark Books ($26.95 US; $29.95 Canada; copyright February 2014), is worth considering.This books is not a how-to project book or even a gallery style beadwork book. Instead, it brings you into the creative minds of thirty beadwork artists while showcasing their artistic talents. Some of the artists include Debi Keir-Nicholson, Edgar Lopez, Christina Vandervlist, and Cynthia Newcomer Daniel. Bead artists from around the world are included in this book, so you get a really wide range of perspectives on the craft.

The designs exhibited in the book are, for the most part, very intricate, and include a variety of bead weaving techniques. The artists show how innovative they can get by using common stitches with both common and unusual beads. If you are not attracted to bead woven jewelry, this would not be a good fit for you probably; however, for anyone who loves beadwork and especially has an appreciation for high-end bead weaving designs, you will enjoy viewing the beautiful jewelry shown within this text as well as reading what inspires and challenges each designer featured.

Made by Hand 10% Discount

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Thursday 15 May 2014 at 10:02 am



Black Dog Publishing is offering my readers a 10% discount on a new title called Made by Hand. This offer is good through June 15, 2014. Here are some details about the book from a press release the publisher sent me:

Made By Hand takes the reader through tailors, shoemakers, stationers, watchmakers, instrument makers, cosmeticists and more, profiling these makers with images of themselves, their workshops, products and techniques. By focusing on the choice these artisans have made to craft goods in an age where mass-produced, imported wares are cheaper and easier to produce, the book is a celebration of the return to the organic, the hand-made and the home-grown, at a time when owning carefully crafted products is considered environmentally friendly and economy boosting, and ultimately fashionable.

Each maker features with interviews probing their techniques, the surrounding tradition and their motivation for working by hand. This is accompanied by trivia, such as the celebrities they have produced for and some of the most rarified pieces they have ever made.

Prefaced by an introductory text about the ethos of hand making, and with the juxtaposition of traditional craft alongside contemporary hand making throughout, Made By Hand is framed as an address to hand craft as an environmentally friendly and economically healthy resurgence that is not only nostalgic, but also progressive and productive.

Email offers@blackdogonline.com before 15 June to claim your extra 10% discount

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