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.

The Forgotten Seamstress’ Quilt!

Blogged under Good Books, Sew Simple by Tammy on Tuesday 29 April 2014 at 4:13 pm

My review copy probably isn’t even in the mail yet, but I wanted to share this with my readers now. I’m talking about a new book coming out call The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow, which according to the press release I was sent “unravels the intertwined stories of a modern-day London designer struggling to make ends meet, and a remarkable young seamstress employed by the royal household in the early 20th century who creates a patchwork quilt that is central to her life and the novel’s plot.”

When I went over to Amazon to pick up some links, I noticed that right now you can download the first 4 chapters for free! Just follow this link: The Forgotten Seamstress Free Preview (The First 4 Chapters).

And wait! There is more! You can also go to the author’s web site and download a free quilt pattern. The pattern is supposed to be based on the quilt that is featured in the novel. Cool!

So these are both reasons why I did not want to wait to give some 411 on this book. With my summer breaking coming up soon, I look forward to finding some time for some relaxing reading, and this looks promising.

Never Been Stitched Book Review

Blogged under Good Books, Sew Simple by Tammy on Thursday 10 April 2014 at 5:21 pm



Never Been Stitched: 45 No-Sew & Low-Sew Projects by Amanda Carestio is published by Lark and came out in February of 2014. Its publisher’s retail price if $17.95, and it is a 128 page paperback book that includes full-color photographs of the finished projects, some drawn illustrations to assist the how-to text, and templates in the back section of the book.

The subtitle says it has no-sew as well as low-sew projects, so this suggests very little sewing skill is needed to complete the projects in the book. Generally, I think that is true for most of the projects. If they do require sewing, you will be doing a lot of straight seeming. One project that I just can’t see as being “low sew” with the idea that the sewer would not have a very high skill level is the Teddy Bear Backpack. It’s adorable, but it requires a zipper to be sewn in, something a novice (I think) would find challenging. Otherwise, most of of the projects are very simple.

The projects are divided up into Wear, Decorate, Play, Carry, and Give. I would have to say the wearable projects were not to my personal taste, but if you are into refurbishing and pushing fashion boundaries, they may appeal to you. I think the Play and Carry projects have more going on to my liking. Though, in the Decorate section there is a cute project where you cover cardboard boxes with fabric, great idea! In fact, probably a lot of these project will get you thinking of other possibilities.

The list price is a lot more than the price available at Amazon, which at this point is running around $10 and even less for used copies. With that in mind, I would recommend this to anyone who likes working with fabric but whose sewing skills may not be that high and also to anyone who likes crafting with children. There are plenty of project in here they you could do together with a child around eight years of age and up.

The Funeral Dress: A Novel - Book Info

Blogged under Good Books, Sew Simple by Tammy on Sunday 1 September 2013 at 4:15 pm

The Funeral Dress: A Novel by Susan Gregg Gilmore stitches a story of a young unwed mother who works in the textile industry during the 1970s. Here is a description from the press information I was sent:

The Funeral Dress is a deeply touching Southern story filled with struggle and hope. Emmalee Bullard and her new baby are on their own. Or so she thinks, until Leona Lane, the older seamstress who sat by her side at the local shirt factory where both women worked as collar makers, insists Emmalee come and live with her.  Just as Emmalee prepares to escape her hardscrabble life in Red Chert holler, Leona dies tragically.  Grief-stricken, Emmalee decides she’ll make Leona’s burying dress, but there are plenty of people who don’t think the unmarried Emmalee should design a dress for a Christian woman - or care for a child on her own. But with every stitch, Emmalee struggles to do what is right for her daughter and to honor Leona the best way she can, finding unlikely support among an indomitable group of seamstresses and the town’s funeral director. In a moving tale exploring Southern spirit and camaraderie among working women, a young mother will compel a town to become a community.”

As a crafter and someone who used to sew a great deal at one time, I like novels like this that are able to weave narratives with history and crafting. You can find out more information about this book along with some Q&As with the author and even a recipe for hash brown casserole on the author’s press site. The Funeral Dress is published by Penguin Random House and comes out this September.

Flip Dolls and Other Toys - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books, Sew Simple by Tammy on Sunday 1 September 2013 at 5:34 am

Flip Dolls & Other Toys That Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab & Go by Laura Wilson is published by Lark Crafts and retails for $19.95 in the US and $21.95 in Canada. Amazon has it on sale ranging from $14 to $8 dollars US. It is a 144 page soft cover book that includes color photos of finished projects as well as how to flip some of the finished projects; drawn illustrations for stitching and constructing the projects; templates to create patterns for each project; and of course, step by step text as well.

I counted a total of 27 projects in this fun and whimsical book. The first chapter is called “Getting Started” and covers the materials you need as well as lots of information about techniques necessary for making the various projects. This section is 16 pages, so it covers a fairly large amount of information necessary to understand how some of the projects will work. For example, the author explains the basics of how to make a doll that flips inside out to produce a different doll.

Each project is rated on a difficulty level from easy to moderate to advanced, with most rated at moderate. For anyone who has some basic sewing skills, though, I think he/she could complete the moderate level of these projects with little difficulty. And, they are so cute! Seriously, toy lovers beware. You will want this book. It’s just fun and funny. Who can resist a super hero flip doll that is a mild mannered reporter but then flipped inside out turns into a super hero? Another project is the Cat-Fish Turnover Doll, rated easy, where one side is a cat and the other side is a goldfish. Or make a toy computer where you can slip a pad of paper in the center to function as the screen.

I love the fact that these are interactive toys with a sense of humor that children could actually play with, and they are hand-made, not some dang video game where children play with and become zombies as they stare at the screen.

Stitching for the Kitchen - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books, Sew Simple by Tammy on Saturday 31 August 2013 at 11:47 am

Publisher Sixth and Spring Books sent me a review copy of a new book out called Gooseberry Patch® Stitching for the Kitchen: 30 Easy Projects for the Heart of Your Home. It is written by the founders of Gooseberry Patch, Jo Ann and Vickie (no last names of either provided). This book mixes sewing and cooking with an emphasis on making items for the home. Many of the sewing projects are accompanied by a recipe. For example the Keeping Warm Casserole Carrier includes a recipe for Mom’s Lasagna. Another sewing project, the Warm and Sweet Mug Cozy with Pocket is followed by a recipe for Whipped Shortbread.

Other than the mix of sewing and cooking crafts, the other element of this book that appealed to me was the fact that most of the projects would be good for a beginner to attempt. I know of a few people who are learning to sew now, and they immediately came to mind when I was flipping through the pages. Even for those seasoned sewers, who doesn’t enjoy a fast project now and then? Plus, there are many great gift possibilities here. For example, you could make the Popover Pockets Divided Bread Basket and then fill it with Super Simple Parker House Rolls.

Along with the projects and recipes, the book includes a “What You Need to Know” section in the back of the book along with an attached envelope-style pocket with patterns in it. Sewing basics and even a little crochet and embroidery are covered in this last section.

The book is 144 pages and retails in the US for $22.95 and in Canada for $24. 95. Amazon selling is between $13 and $16 US dollars.

Scandinavian Stitch Craft - Book Review

Blogged under Good Books, Sew Simple by Tammy on Tuesday 4 June 2013 at 11:00 am



Scandinavian Stitch Craft: Unique Projects and Patterns for Inspired Embroidery by Karin Holmberg is published by Running Press (who sent me a copy to review). It just came out in May 2013, and it retails for $19 US and $22 CAN. Of course, as with most books, you can get a discount if you buy it through Amazon.com. The book is 128 pages long and has 39 projects, so it is packed with inspiration. In fact, in the author’s introduction, she specifically states that the purpose of the book is to inspire, but it is also possible to make each project exactly as shown in the book as well. The projects range from the basic to the very ornate. For example, if you want something that won’t take too long or if you are a beginner, the first two projects are embroidered linen T-towels. For those who prefer more of a challenge, the Hoodie: Dala Maiden will keep you busy, and it is gorgeous!

The idea of this book, though, is that you can add a little bit of ornamentation or a lot. You can cover an entire hoodie style jacket with flowers and leaves, or you can just add one or two flowers to it. The projects show more so how you can use the techniques to embroidery all kinds of things: t-shirts, underwear, pillows, bags, jackets, and so on. The stitch techniques originate from Scandinavia, and the author provides some historical information about how they developed.

The back part of the book includes information about the materials you need, which are pretty minimal. Then there are instructions that include illustrations and text for each of the different stitches used like running stitch and back stitch. Finally, there are patterns for all of the project, and there is even a pocket in the back that includes tracing paper so that you can transfer the patterns to it.

The projects in this book are all really beautiful. I don’t know if I am ready to embroider underwear any time soon, but items like a t-shirt or a hoodie embellished with a few flowers would make wonderful gifts or everyday items to keep and wear yourself. I only have one small issue with this book, and that has to do with the photographs. They are pretty, but in some cases I felt they were to “artsy” and did not show the full item well enough. I say some cases because not all of them are like that. The Blackwork Modern tablecloth has an art-type photo as well as one that shows the entire piece, but then right before that are two pillow projects that you don’t get to see one of the pillows in its entirety. Instead, it is viewed at an angle.

For anyone who enjoys needlework, this is a wonderful book, and at the Amazon.com price, I think it is well worth it. If you have never done any needlework, then pack some patience, but there are ideas for lots of small projects in here. Plus, you really only need a very small number of supplies to get started with a hobby like this, but it is not for those who require immediate gratification. Seasoned embroidery people will know that though.

Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses

Blogged under Good Books, My Crafty News, Sew Simple by Tammy on Sunday 5 May 2013 at 5:22 am



Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses is a new title from Sixth and Spring Books. It retails for $14.95 and has 25 patterns.

Here is a description from the press release I was sent: “Learn how to make a basic beautiful girl’s dress—without straining your schedule or your budget. Employing a little know-how and a lot of imagination, the designers at Sweet Seams Studio offer easy instructions for transforming a simple T-shirt into a stylish dress for a special little girl. Perfect for tomboys, fashionistas or anyone in-between—the 25 projects use playful quilting fabrics and clever embellishments to create outfits that are anything but ordinary.”

Free QuiltCon 2013 Lecture Series from Craftsy

Blogged under Sew Simple by Tammy on Monday 25 February 2013 at 6:06 pm

I saw this mentioned on Facebook from Craftsy.com and had to share:

“As QuiltCon’s media sponsor, Craftsy will bring you this FREE series of lectures recorded at the show, Feb. 21-24, 2013. A Craftsy production team will be on site to capture eight different lectures plus the awards ceremony recognizing the best work in QuiltCon’s juried modern quilt show. Speakers include Heather Jones, Angela Walters, David and Amy Butler,  Jacquie Gering and Mary Fons.”

You can read more about the lecture series recordings and sign up for free here.

How to Make Stuffed Animals, Book Review

Blogged under Good Books, Sew Simple by Tammy on Monday 15 October 2012 at 5:23 am

In early September, I talked a little about a new book called How to Make Stuffed Animals: Modern, Simple Patterns and Instructions for 18 Projects, but I had not gotten a chance yet to take a complete look at the book other than the free download, which I offered then and again have for you linked here.

Now that I have the book in my hands, I can give you a little bit more info about it. As the title says, it includes 18 projects, all of which are small, adorable animals. The first part of the book before the projects section has the basics concerning what you will need to get started as far as supplies and also important information about the techniques. If you already sew, other than maybe needing to purchase some stuffing (the author prefers carded wool, but I think poly-fill would also work), you more than likely have most of what you will need. Plus since all the animals are pretty small, you don’t need tons of fabric and can probably use up scraps. In fact, one design element I really like is how she uses a mix of fabrics, even prints, for many of her project.

The techniques covered in the beginning section discuss some of the basics of sewing you need to know such as how to cut out a pattern correctly and how to do simple stitches like back stitch. At first I worried that maybe she expected you to hand stitch all of these animals, but the author explains how to use edge stitching on a machine. The hand stitching is really just for extra details and attaching parts together from what I can tell.

The projects are all freaking adorable! Each project has step by step instructions and include some pretty detailed illustrations to go with the text. (Again, download the file linked above so you can see for yourself). Though the book is about making stuffed animals, some of the projects take this a step further and show different ways for using them such as attaching them to a mobile or turning them into a tree ornament. At the end of the book, all of the patterns are included and require that you photocopy them at 200% and then cut them out.

This book retails for $24.99 US; $16.99 UK; and $27.99 CAN. At the US price, that equates to $1.39 per pattern, which is pretty economical. As with any small toy type craft items, these look like that can be “fiddly” to make. Personally, I don’t mind that myself, but I know some crafters who can get exasperated with making and attaching small pieces together (like arms and legs), so if you are anti-fiddly, then this is not a book for you. None of these patterns look overly difficult for anyone with sewing experience. If you already sew and are looking for some ultra cute gift ideas, this book would something to consider. Someone totally new to sewing might struggle a little, but that is the nature of learning a new craft. At least with small projects like this, newbies would not need to invest a ton of money or time.

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