Sunday, December 30, 2007

Book Review: Simple Sewing, Lotta Jansdotter

I love this book. Can't help myself. Her patterns are a little wonky, and her descriptions are fairly scant. But, every makes sense and works. The projects could probably be managed by an intermediate seamstress without a pattern... but I like having a pattern. If I could get my hands on some of her fabric, even better.
I've already finished 3 of her projects and already am planning a few more.

Book Review: Martha Stewart’s indispensable handbook for creating a comfortable and beautiful home and caring for everything in it, Martha Stewart

I checked out “Martha’s indispensable handbook for creating a comfortable and beautiful home and caring for everything in it.” It is 744 pages long. Do you think she wrote it in prison? I nearly fell out of the chair I was sitting in when I came across a grid of data for mattress dimensions and “cot” is listed. Good for you Martha. Now, I’m returning this book because the only thing it’s good for in my household is a footstool. By: Martha Stewart.

Book Review: Bend-the-Rules Sewing, the essential guide to a whole new way to sew, Amy Karol

For the seasoned seamstress, you'll look through this book and literally say to yourself, "Is this book written for kids?" Even I -- with my limited experience -- felt I could find patterns that did it better, or figure out how to do the same project without a pattern. Perhaps this is because I come from a family of both very fine seamstresses who follow the pattern to a T and some who, well... bend the rules. I have a nice balance of appreciating both, I think. This bent a few too many rules for me. But it is the first book in which I got a clear description of how to make my own bias tape. And I will. I'm also considering 3 other projects from this book. But only if I can't find better patterns for them (a zippered pouch, a wallet, and a pleated handbag). By: Amy Karol.

Book Review: Amy Butler's In Stitches, Amy Butler

This book is getting rave reviews all over the blog sites. But, I found it to be a bit pedestrian for an intermediate seamstress. Her fabrics are to die for, but her patterns are overly explained. This said, I'll probably try to do at least 5 projects from her book. The rest are re-tard-ed. Case in point, fur lined Kitty Tunnel on pp 27. Puh-leez!

Book Review: Sewing 101, Creative Publishing

This one was fine. The materials and such are a bit dated in it (published in 2002). I will be doing one of the projects... when I get time. And I do think it's a good book for beginniners to check out ... shows simple techniques like sewing a seam, hand stitches, hems, etc. All things most of us learned in 4H (if we were so fortunate as to have a mother who let us take 4H from Sister Cousins). By: Creative Publishing.

Book Review: Simple Gifts to Stitch, Jocelyn Worrall

OK, this one was kinda cute. But for my liking, not polished enough. The projects looked a little too home-made. The baby projects, especially the baby bubble hat on pp 97 was darling, but my babies are just TOO big to be sewing newbie hats. I may, however, return to this book at a later date so that I can make the magic rain poncho featured on pp 105. It was cute and it was a true custom look as you take advantage of iron-on vinyl. Maybe if my brother and Claudia have a baby, and maybe if they still live in the pac-west I'll consider this as a gift. But otherwise, too dry around here to put a poncho to good use. By: Jocelyn Worrall.

Book Review: 101 Ways to use your first sewing machine, Elizabeth Dubicki

101 Ways to use your first sewing machine
The home decor projects were a bit too 90s and the clothing projects were not hard enough. By: Elizabeth Dubicki.

Book Review: Simple Sewing with a French Twist, Celine Dupuy

Oh boy, I loved the pictures. But when I really looked through the book and realized how the patterns were presented I promptly took it back to the library. Let's just say the French sometimes get a reputation for being lazy... this book and its patterns would be no exception. I'm in no way saying that the French are actually lazy. But this book sucks. It is by: Celine Dupuy.

Book Review: SEW U, Wendy Mullin and Eviana Hartman

This was a nice tutorial, but it was really about taking existing clothes and making them punky. I'm not really that kind of person and I don't really care about that stuff. So, I passed on it. But you may enjoy it. It had sound descriptions and instructions and a nice list of sewing notions every fashion diva should own. This book is by: Wendy Mullin (Author), Eviana Hartman (Author), Beci Orpin (Contributor).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Book Review: Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts, Joelle Hoverson

I love going to the library, or actually surfing the library Web site, and checking out craft and sewing books. I have 2-5 checked out at all time. Sometimes I photo copy patterns I want to try. But mostly I just poor over the delicious photographs of perfectly staged craft projects. My newest find...

Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson

Let's face it, not a lot of hard stuff in here. But the book's look is fabulous. I love the simple pictures and copious explanations. I'm going to try a little bit of everything from this book. Might even break down and buy one. It's no coincidence that this book's author is a partner at purlsoho... one of my favorite online shops for fabric and fibers.

Highly recommended for the budding crafter who likes to sew.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007


I don't just sew. I can whip up a perfect martini when asked/required/needed. And, here it is... 2 parts vodka, 1 part vermouth, 1 part olive brine, at least 3 olives.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tool Roll: Lotta Jansdotter Pattern, Laurie Smith Fabric

There's a book out there by Lotta Jansdotter that I really enjoyed reading. She's scandinavian and all her designs are really simple, really clean, and put graphic prints to work. She does design her own line of fabric, but I never find it in stores. I did sew her tool roll out of a Laurie Smith decorator fabric -- shown here -- called Laurie's Leaves.

I modified the pattern to use less twill tape -- I mean enough is a enough, even if your name is LOTTA -- and I turned the seams in (because I wasn't using tape) so I lost about 1/2 inch in size all the way around. But, I liked the result and think it holds tools of all sorts quite well.

Crazy for Eye Pillows

Zipped up a few more of the lavender filled eye pillows (Amy Butler pattern). I used more moda reproduction fabric. But I played around with the closure -- shown with a button home and with velcro. I like the buttonhole the best.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Harvest/Log Tote: Tested to 30 Pounds

Made this little tote for my grandparents -- they are one of the few families I know who actually have a WOOD burning fireplace. I suspect that everyone who helps them bring in their firewood will get more use out of it than they will... but it's for them anyway.

Put small boy inside to test its strength. He weighs 32.4 pounds. If you can carry more pounds of firewood than that, you don't need no stinking tote.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rock Star Stylist Apron with Zippered Pocket

I created this hot number for my stylist who complained that her aprons always catch hair in the pockets. That's gross! So, I designed a pocket with a zipper on the bottom. When it gets filled up, she can just unzip, dump out the unwanted, and zip it back up. Used a strange black vinyl that I found in the remnant bin and some fancy trim.
(The hammered brass clasp was from a notions grab bag at the local fabric store!)

Lavender Eye Pillow: Amy Butler Pattern, Moda Reproduction Fabric

I gave to my friend Odette -- who is under some serious stress -- a little relaxation in a bag. This is the itty, bitty eye pillow pattern from Amy Butler. The pattern is easy to follow and it takes about 1/2 yard of fabric total. I used plain pale pink broadcloth for the actual pillow and slip cover. Shown is the carrying case (with pillow inside) sewn from a moda reproduction fabric (some of my favorite). I also stitched a bit of silk flower to the front for fanciness.

PS -- shown wrapped, as well, because I love wrapping presents

Thursday, December 6, 2007

To Do List

I have a whiteboard in my sewing dungeon that I have made a list of projects that I would like to sew. Then on a shelf directly below it is a big 3-ring binder filled with sewing projects. Deciding the order of things usually has a lot to do with upcoming events likes birthdays, Christmas, and other fun seasonal things.

Tonight I finished one more! It's a Christmas gift -- and this person reads my blogs -- so I won't be posting a picture until after Dec. 25.

Then it was on to another project. I'm making the Amy Butler lavender eye pillow for another friend -- who I know does not read my blogs. As soon as I finish that one I'll post pictures. So far it takes very little fabric. I'm not using Amy Butler fabrics because they are very hard to find in stores in my area. I've got to take the plunge and just start ordering online. But I am using some of my hipper 40s reproduction prints.

May this holiday season bring many "dones" on your "to do" list.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Winter Research

My assignment in the winter four season quilt swap has arrived. On the surface, it appears i'll need to do quite a bit of research. I've already started and I think I have an idea. But will have to work out my own pattern and look for some dark, dreary, wintery fabric.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Chez Ferre -- Chef's Uniform

Fun little uniform. Sewn in preparation for a birthday with a cooking theme.

ps -- the chef's hat was the hardest thing I've ever sewn!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hospitality Bag, a.k.a. Wine Tote

Thou shall not show up empty handed.
We've been invited to a friend's house for Thanksgiving dinner. We have a food assignment, but I wanted to show the hostess how much we appreciated the hospitality. So, this little wine tote was born.
Officially it's a cluster. Seriously, I was trying to dream up the pattern and sew it at the same time. Bad, bad, bad idea. It has WAY to much interfacing in it. It actually crinkles, and it is pictured standing it up by itself.
But for a wine tote, all in all a fair effort (finished it in less than 2 hours. I carries two wine bottles -- the BIG ones -- and could probably carry about $100 worth of groceries.
Also, pineapples are a sign of hospitality. But wouldn't this be cuter as a festive marg mix bag?!?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How To Go Insane, A Tutorial

Start with a 74-cent vinyl tablecloth. Draw crude pattern for mini-sized apron and trace it 10 times on tablecloth. If you’re lazy, line up the bottom hem of each apron with the finished edge of the tablecloth – one less edge to finish for you.

Cut out all 10 aprons and prepare to sew them. Helps if everyone else in the house is sleeping. Nothing fancy, just fold over the vinyl (it’s a little like working with paper) and sew down on a ¼” seam. (ps – don’t finish the “arm holes”.) Don’t punch through the vinyl too much or you’ll just have a perforated piece of vinyl that rips easily along your exquisite seam.

Now for the bias tape. If you’re really smart you’ll miscalculate and cute and sew 1400 inches when you only need 700! Thank you very much Coach Seely, Coach Sarus, Coach Roberts, Coach Ricks (crappy math teachers – oh wait, that’s right they were COACHES). Cut your bias tape, run it through the bias tape maker (awesome invention), and iron.

Assemble all your favorite supplies, copious amounts of bias tape, finished-edge aprons, pins, measuring tape, and scissors. I used 70 inches of tape for each apron. So, measure the tape into 70 inch lengths and cut. Then pin to the aprons.

Now it’s time to sew. I made ½ inch bias tape so I had a pretty slim piece of tape going under the presser foot. To improve my margin of error, I shifted the needle over to the edge, rather than trying to line it up. Zip, zip, zip that tape through the machine and before you know it, you’ll have a little bitty apron.

A review of the measurements. The tape needed for the head space alone is about 20 inches of tape, plus about 6 inches across the top of the bib of apron (my kid’s head is 21 inches around… and so is mine). This makes for a fairly low hanging apron. But, if you thread the waist apron strings through it, it makes for a nifty little fit.

I drew my pattern. I started by measuring my little toddler from knees to nipples – if you will – and them measured him from elbow to elbow at the waist. Then I meandered a nice little curve from the widest point of the “elbow to elbow” measurement to a narrow little bib that was only about 6 inches across.

The estimated cost of these aprons was only about a quarter! That's 25 cents, folks. Canvas versions retail at places like Michaels and Hobby Lobby for $4.99.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Car Mat Blanket II

"Cars" movie (by Disney/Pixar) theme panel and fleece.

Blanket has a sewn in ribbon so that it can be rolled and tied.

Basic hand-stitched binding. No batting (the fleece was poofy and comfy enough).

Quilting follows the roads on the fleece / green side.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Garage Sale Quilt

I bought this pieced quilt top at a garage sale for $7. Then I took it home and quilted it, then sewed on the binding. I've still got to get a quilt label on it... but am struggling on what that should say.

ps -- there are very few things that I am very, very, very good at. But I have to say, sewing on a binding it in my top 3.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sono Occupata!

Birthday apron(s) is complete. Looks like two aprons; but it is one! That's right, I made it reversible.

The round pocket says, "Sono Occupata." Italian for, "I'm busy."

ps -- used scraps from fall Four Season's Quilt Swap

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Split Rail: June's Quilt

I think this is called a split rail pattern. But could be totally wrong.

moda reproduction fabrics

Meghan Said: ... Grandma's Legs...

This was a previous comment on the post with the pictures of the Grandkid quilt.

I love the golf tan on Grandma's legs

I laughed my bloomin' arse off when I read this because the legs in the photo are my husband's. Either his mother has really hairy legs, or he's got great gams.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Calling All Quilters

The Four Seasons Quilt Swap was so fun. I'm going to do it, again. I believe the organizer is looking for interested participants. So, if you're remotely interested... click on the big purple square on the right-hand side of my navigation bar. You can get all the details. Don't worry, the next swap isn't right on top of x-mas. She's giving everyone until January.

She even lets non-U.S. quilters join. So, you could get a quilt from another country... or from Texas... that's a whole OTHER country, right?

PS -- If I have sewn you a quilt (or something else) please send me digital pictures. I want to add them to this online, electronic seamstress' journal I'm making.