Book Review: Homes Sewn

Blogged under Good Books,Sew Simple by Tammy on Monday 15 August 2016 at 9:09 am

Home Sewn: Projects and Inspiration for Every Room by Cassandra Ellis is published by Potter and retails for $24.99 US and $32.99 Canadian. Surprisingly, it is a hard cover book. The 159 page book is full of beautiful color photographs, most showing the finished pieces in a “staged” situation and a few showing some “how-to” elements.

As with many books I review, some of the print is too light for my poor old eyes, but oddly enough, some of the print in this book is dark and some light. For example, the Cotton Block-Print Pillowcases project has dark (I say dark but I mean more normal colored) text for the introduction. Then the print lightens up for the list of materials.Then it gets dark again for the step-by-step information. It seem like a small item to think about, but if you really want to read and use a book, this print design of the book I find to be irritating.

Most of the projects look simply enough as far as sewing skills. There are a variety of projects that require basically sewing a straight line, so that is nice to see. That said, I would still warn totally new sewers to be prepared to be challenged somewhat because the instructions are not as broken down as they could be. For experienced sewers, that should not be a problem though. Plus, there are some projects that require very little sewing. The Linen Bulletin Board, for example, only requires you to cut, staple, and glue fabric to a board.

If you have a small amount of sewing experience and enjoy the shabby – chic look, then you will find some very simple, fun, and useful items to make for your home in this book. There is a lot of use of cotton, linen, and canvas fabrics. If you want to work with fabric and try some projects like the bulletin board I mentioned and a few others that don’t really require stitching or require just hemming around the ends of something  (a lamp shade and canvas table cloth), then you will find these here too. I could also see some nice gift ideas to consider making such as tea towels and storage containers.

It is a very pretty book, too, one that I could see me sitting down and just enjoy flipping through the pages now and then while I sip some tea.

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

Book Review: I Draw on Cats

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Sunday 3 July 2016 at 9:25 am

I Draw on Cats: A Connect-the-Dots Activity Book is published by Potter Style, and the author/photographer is A.R. Coffelt. The book retails for $9.99 in the US and $12.99 in Canada is called an activity book because it is meant for the reader (user) to write inside of the book.

The concept sounds a little crazy, and it is, but I think it is pretty fun too. It’s 48 pages long and is full of color photographs of cats. The photos have drawings superimposed on top of them, and then there are connect the dots that are numbered so that you can also draw on top of the photo and finish off the final image.

I have to admit that my old eyes have a little trouble reading the numbers on some of the photographs, but I see this more as a book for a child to play with. I think it would be especially appealing for anyone who is homeschooling and working on the idea of numbers and patterns. This would help with learning numbers and also have a layer of hand-eye coordination and tactile learning involved as well.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Monday 20 June 2016 at 8:50 am

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is one of the books I received for review as part of Crown Publishing’s Blogging for Books program. Bloggers agree to post reviews of books they select through the program in return for a free copy of the book. This, of course, can be kind of fun sometimes if you really like the book, or it can be awkward when you don’t like that book. That is my story with The Little Paris Bookshop. I really, really want to like this book, but I’m just not getting into it like I thought I would.

The premise of the book sounded really promising to me. The protagonist operates a book store in Paris. Not only is it in Paris, France, but the shop is inside a boat floating on the Seine. That was enough to get me interested, but it got better. The proprietor of the shop, Monsieur Perdu,  prescribes books to patrons as if he is dispensing medication. He feels their emotional stress and knows the perfect story to help them out.

It sounds enchanting! However, I kept putting it down. First of all, I actually didn’t really like Perdu. He seems pathetic and overly dramatic to the point I couldn’t really buy into his character. That was really enough to put me off because I have a thing about characters in novels. If I don’t at least like them, I have to care about them enough to keep reading. I finally stopped around page 80 of this 390 page book. When I was in graduate school, I had to force myself to read a lot of work I did not like, and at my age, I now feel life is too short to read a book you don’t want to read when you don’t have to read it.

I did go surf around for other reviews of this book because I was curious if I was just off the mark on this book since it sounded so promising, and most seem to have a similar reaction to mine. Though, a few say that you need to push through to some place in the book where the protagonist and other characters take off on a trip and sail on the book shop/boat.

So, the book is still on my shelf with the bookmark placed in the spot I left off, and maybe, I will pick it up again some day. But, I am making no promises.

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

Book Review: Crocheted Abode A La Mode

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Monday 9 May 2016 at 10:17 am

Twinkie Chan’s Crocheted Abode a la Mode: 20 Yummy Crochet Projects for Your Home is published by Quarto Knows, and the designer and author for this book is Twinkie Chan. It retails for $21.99 in the US; L12.99 in the UK; and $25.99 in Canada and came out in 2016. I’ve provided the Amazon link in an image below for those interested in a discounted price.



The 20 projects are organized by areas of the home, such as the kitchen, bedroom, and so on. As you can image by the title and the hilarious crocheted banana split shown on the book’s cover, the projects are all funny and whimsical. If you don’t have a sense of humor, then this book won’t be for you. However, while crochet tends to have a sort of weird kitschy reputation sometimes, and not in a good way, I didn’t get that feeling with this book. There is such a thing as kitschy-cute and then there is kitschy-weird, and this book definitely is more in the “cute” category.

There are a lot of really large projects in this book, which may be a little bit large for some people to take on, but at the same time, there are small projects as well. For example, there is the Strawberry Shortcake Stand-Mixer Cover, full of details from the strawberries and whipped cream at the top to even sprinkles, but then there are also more manageable Grocery Fridge Magnets, Little Cherry Zipper Pulls, and Carnival Pen Cozies. So you can go big or go small.

I could imagine some of these are really unique gifts for that person who has everything or also a fun way to decorate a bedroom or small apartment. I just could not help but smile as I read through the book.

Note: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher, but my opinions are my own.

Book Review: Quick and Easy Stitched Jewelry

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Wednesday 4 May 2016 at 9:57 am

Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry: 20+ Projects to Make by Cathy Jakicic is published by Kalmback Books (2016) and retails for US $21.99 and CAN $22.99. It is a softcover book with a little over 100 pages to it and lots of color photos as well as some diagrams.

When most jewelry makers think of bead weaving, the idea of very tedious and time-consuming projects often come to mind. Of course, making large-scale bead weaving projects can give you hours of enjoyment as the maker of the jewelry piece; however, for those who want to make jewelry a little faster, it can be a turn off. This is especially true if you want to sell your finished jewelry designs since the time you put into a piece can be difficult, if not impossible, to get paid for when pricing your work. These are all issues that Cathy Jakicic considered while designing jewelry projects for this book. You can scale them up, and she shows you how to do this, but you can also construct a lot of simple to make jewelry items as well. Simple most often means less time when it comes to beadweaving.

Besides the time issue, another solution that the author has provided is the fact that she clearly states in the introduction that she will allow jewelry makers to resell items they construct with her design instructions. This tends to be a hot issue with some people claiming it is okay to do this anyway since they made the piece and others saying that they should get permission from the designer before doing this. Either way you want to look at this dilemma, though, it is always polite to ask (IMHO), and Jakicic tells you up front that she is giving you permission. How cool is that?!

As far as the 20 plus projects go, the idea of “plus” comes because she may show one design but then also spins off variations. For example, on page 74, she shows an Ombre Reef necklace, that is fairly complex and includes lots of branch fringe. However, her tones down spin includes branch fringe earrings and another necklace with less fringe on it.

I often had issues like this when I used to participate in arts and crafts shows. I enjoyed beadweaving but found the time input would not translate well into profits. While I was able to come up with a few seed bead type designs myself back then, they were pretty limiting. The projects in this book really answer that issue of time versus profit, and even if you don’t plan on selling your work, it is nice to spend less time on the “making” of a piece and more then the “wearing” of it.

Note: As with most books and crafting products reviewed on this blog, this book was provided as a review copy by the publisher.

Book Review: How to Create Your Own Jewelry Line

Blogged under Crafty Biz,Good Books by Tammy on Tuesday 19 April 2016 at 6:58 am


How to Create Your Own Jewelry Line: Design – Production – Finance – Marketing & More by Emilie Shaprio is published by Lark with a copyright date of 2016. It’s a hardback 178 text that, as the author explains, is pretty much everything Shaprio knows about the jewelry industry and how jewelry designers can not only create their own line of jewelry but go on to sell it. Obviously, this means there is a lot of information in this book, so it is not a casual read. I found myself hopping around to different parts and using it more of a reference guide. However, those with no jewelry business knowledge could start at the beginning where basics are covered such as taxes and how to set up a jewelry business and move on as each of the many areas required for this are covered in detail.

Because of the title, I thought this book would focus only on creating a jewelry line, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that much more is covered. In fact, the subtitle is “Design/Production/Finance/Marking and More,” and all of these subject areas are included in the book. It can be a little overwhelming, but again, I see this more as a reference book to go to when needed versus a step by step manual. It takes awhile to get to the actual idea of creating a “marketable collection,” which does not show up until page 41.

If this book’s purpose is to describe every single item you need to know for a successful jewelry business, then the only area I felt was a little weak is the part concerning social media. It seems to gloss over this, but there are books written about social media and business, thus this is understandable.

Clearly, Emilie Shapiro has a wealth of information, and in an industry that sometimes can be a little tight with information, it is refreshing to see a successful designer and business person like her step forward and share.

Video: Book Review: Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters

Blogged under Good Books,Sew Simple by Tammy on Saturday 23 January 2016 at 10:21 am




Coloring Ocean Mandalas

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Thursday 17 December 2015 at 12:51 pm

Ulysses Press sent me a review copy of Coloring Ocean Mandalas: 30 Hand-Drawn Designs for Mindful Relaxation, a followup to Coloring Dream Mandalas also by the same author, Wendy Piersall. Like the previous publication this also retails for $10 US ($11.95 CAN). Along with her very popular series of adult coloring books, Piersall has also started a YouTube channel where she shows her own processes for coloring, and she invites her fellow coloring enthusiasts to share their colored pages with her through various social media such as Instagram.



This latest book in her series has 30 pages to color, all with beautiful images from the sea like mermaids, whales, and shells. Each coloring page in the book is one sided so that you don’t have to worry about colors bleeding through. Some include inspirational nautical themed sayings as well.

Below is one of her videos where Piersall shows how she likes to color her hand-drawn designs.



Video: Yarn Craft Book Review: 101 Socks

Blogged under Crafty Videos,crochet and knitting,Good Books by Tammy on Sunday 29 November 2015 at 10:13 am


Video: Crochet Edge Book Review

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Good Books by Tammy on Sunday 15 November 2015 at 5:45 am



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