Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified

Friend, awesome stitcher, and amazing mom, Sabra of Sew a Straight Line has written today's book review of Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified by Cal Patch.  Like me, she asks for craft and sewing books for Christmas. Unlike me, she has actually made something from hers!

Head on over to her blog to read the full review. I've been eyeing this one up for a long time. And while I know how to make clothes from a muslin, I don't actually have a muslin and base pattern of my current body. It seems like this book might be the way to go. That shirt looks fabulous!

Thanks, Sabra! You rock.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Review: Scandinavian Stitches

I have been "friends" with Kajsa Wikman online for a long time now and have been following the Syko blog since 2006 when I started my own Etsy shop. I love that I have gotten to know a lot of amazing people through Etsy and flickr, so I was really looking forward to this craft book. Scandinavian Stitches leaves little to be desired.  It's organized by season which allows for a lovely spread separating each section of projects. It's nice to have a little bit of breathing room.

Like most craft books, it's got useful information at the beginning. The patterns are hand-drawn and right after each tutorial so you don't have to go hunting them down in the back of the book. There is a lot of variety in the types of projects too, from her signature mix of applique quilting which has come to be known as Interactive Piecing to some useful 3-dimensional items.

It's hard to comment on what level this book is intended to reach. I think the projects are simple enough for most beginners but I also feel that to make anything look as good as she does, it takes a lot of practice. It's not easy to make things look so effortless!

If you have time, check out Kajsa's Etsy shop and Spoonflower designs. Her work is just lovely and maybe one day, I'll be able to actually buy one of her Tomte stuffies!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Make Your Own Toys Video

Sue Havens, the author of Make Your Own Toys emailed me today thanking me for writing the review. That was a nice surprise. She sent along this video that is super cute. I like how the little guy looks amazing but she wasn't fussy about how she cut or sewed those strips together in making the pieced fabric. She just goes for it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: Make Your Own Toys

Sue Havens has written a little gem of a book with Make Your Own Toys. It begins with a short primer on toymaking basics including a list of terms and hand-drawn illustrations. I'd probably learn something if I bothered to read it. I always skip those sections in craft books but then end up needing to go back to them to figure out what the heck I'm missing.

The patterns are hand drawn and on the last few pages of the book. Each has instructions on how much to enlarge so you will need a photocopier. I do like this aspect of books because when it comes to plush and other projects, you can make them whatever size you want as long as you enlarge consistently.

Overall, there isn't a lot of variety in the projects. There are a couple of different ways to construct the plush and a few different shapes. But wow, there's some eye candy. As you can see from the cover, she uses amazing fabrics and combines prints and textures effortlessly. It's great fodder for inspiration. I just want to run out to the thrift store and fill up a bag on $3 day. This book makes you want to cut up the sweater you're wearing these guys are so cute.

I think this book will work well for all levels of crafters. If you have kids, you could totally help them make most of the little guys. If you're experienced, you could whip most of these up rather quickly. The instructions are well written and I enjoy following the illustrations.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: Carefree Clothes for Girls

Trumpeter Books has been releasing a series of amazing Japanese craft books translated into English. I enjoyed working with Linen, Wool, Cotton by Akiko Mano so I thought I'd give Carefree Clothes for Girls by Junko Okawa a try. The patterns are printed in the usual Japanese style, all piled in top of each other on one big sheet folded up in the back of the book. They are printed in two colors so it is a tad bit easier than you would expect. You either need to photocopy the patterns you want or tape the sheet to a window and trace onto other paper. I have not had any success using a tracing wheel and transfer paper as these big sheets always seem to shift around on me.

The photographs are fun and gorgeous and the illustrations in the directions leave nothing to the imagination. I found a wide range of skill levels to the projects as well. If you can't do the more complicated or time-consuming bits of construction, there are still a few cute pieces to make. I do have to add that some of these garments are a bit odd -- so coming from me,  you should probably take a look at this in a bookstore before you buy it unless you want to take a risk. You know my style is a bit out there. Some of these outfits have the kids looking like ruffians from a Charles Dickens novel. You just need to use your imagination if you like a more polished look. That's what's awesome about sewing your own stuff -- you can do whatever you want with a pattern -- or just use it for inspiration. There is certainly a lot of that to be found.

Do remember that these clothes are for girls -- not toddlers. The patterns are for sizes 4 - 7. I'd also recommend that you look at the measurements before cutting. Inches are provided for all of the patterns where fit may be an issue (you really should do that for any pattern). Luckily, my child is massive so when this deep freeze passes, I'm going to be making my little one a couple of pieces from this book.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: Embroidery for Little Miss Crafty

Helen Dardik has added some of her super cute designs to very simple projects for beginners in Embroidery for Little Miss Crafty. The book begins with a primer of basic embroidery stitches and a list of tools. The patterns are simple line drawings in the back of the book for you to reduce or enlarge as needed.

I don't think I'll ever make any of these and I'm not sure why I even bought the book. I must have read a misleading review. It's really targeted to crafty girls or teens; it's a little too old for my toddler and a little young for my tastes. But the illustrations, as you should expect, are delightful. I will definitely be stitching up some of these little designs. I especially love the cloud and the sweet little flower.

In summary, if you have a kid who's just getting into sewing, this would make an excellent gift or just something fun to pick up for the two of you to share. It's really well priced. I'll be holding on to mine for a few years.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A week (or so) of crafty book reviews

Giveaway is now closed. Thanks!

I love craft books. There is nothing like getting your hands on a book and flipping through it and reading in bed or the bathtub and taking notes and marking pages and all that good stuff. I just like the inspiration. So I'm doing a short series of book reviews over the next few days -- complete with a giveaway. As you know, CSN stores carries everything from the play dollhouse furniture that I reviewed previously to leather messenger bags that you can carry all your crafty books around in. They are giving away a $55 promotional code to one reader. I had a really good experience with this company before so I'm excited to be working with them again.

Leave a comment on this post to enter. When the book reviews are finished, I'll close the comments on this post and announce a winner. Make sure you include your email address in your comment if your profile doesn't link to it.

The image above is a spread I did in a collaborative art journal a few years ago. It was inspired by one of my favorite poems of all time, I Am Waiting by Ferlinghetti. The little accordion folds back down and is held with that little spiral clip.

EDIT: CSN stores does not appear to carry craft books. Sorry for any confusion! Buy a non-leather messenger bag to put your books in. They do have tons of children's books and just about anything else you could want. PROJECT: project does not encourage the wearing of leather as we are a vegetarian blog. Thanks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Some books

It's been pretty quiet around here. Unfortunately, it's going to stay that way for a few more days. Next week will start a short series of crafty book reviews. If you have a new(ish) book that you would like to review, I'd love some guest posts. Just send me an email or leave a comment.

Don't forget about the BOGO sale in my shop. I was just joking about the "tell me how much you love me" thing. Just put BOGO or something in the box if expressing your feelings like that makes you uncomfortable.

In other news, I went batshit crazy on eBay today and bid on something ridiculous. (Sorry, Sandi, I couldn't resist. You were right. I was wrong and now I have buyers remorse). I'm going to have to make up for that somehow so I'm going to be spending extra time this week listing some de-stash up on Etsy and eBay. Anybody need any handblown Hermey ornaments or Pillsbury Doughboy stuff?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


As in, buy one, get one free.

I have recently cleaned up my Etsy shop: taken inventory, did some organizing, edited old listings, etc. So here you have it. I rarely have a sale and I generally feel uncomfortable promoting anything I make or do but I have a lot of ideas and I want to make room for them so here it is.

I'm not going to advertise this on Etsy, just here and on flickr. And maybe once or twice on Facebook.

So just pick out what you want and put it in your cart and checkout. There will be a box that says, "Message to Seller" or something like that. Tell me how much you love me and I will send you a paypal invoice for the right amount. Shipping will max out at $5. Everything goes, nothing is excluded. If something you want has just sold and it didn't say, "LAST ONE," shoot me an email and I'll see if I have more.

Feel free to send this on to your friends. Thanks.