Author Talk: “Improv Sewing” + Giveaway!

Today, we are thrilled to have special guests Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut, authors of Improv Sewing: A Freeform Approach to Creative Techniques! Read on for an informative Q&A on what it takes to write a craft book, and leave a comment to win a copy of their book.

Can you tell me how you met and started blogging together?

We met at Family Fun Magazine where Debra is an editor and I am a freelance crafter and stylist. We collaborated on many features and knew we worked well together. Our blog came about after we started writing Improv Sewing – an idea initiated by Debra who likes to tell how she would often see me coming in with boxes of crafts wearing something I had stitched. Debra thought she might not be the only one who would want to learn how to make clothes for themselves so asked if I would like to pitch a sewing book with her. Well, yes ma’am, I did. Improv Diary is our shared space for talking about creativity and making lovely things, as well as a few other random ideas.

With a background in creative publishing, it seems a natural fit that you would work together to write a book. How did you go about the process of pitching the book proposal to a publisher (or did it work the other way around)? Can you describe that process?

Yes, you are right, it was a natural fit. After we agreed that we wanted to pitch a sewing book, I stitched up a dozen or so things, Debra wrote a fantastic introduction and then laid out the photographed projects in such a nice way, it appeared we already had a book completed. After one false start with a publisher in New York we pitched the book to Storey Publishing. They are small but have had some great success in sewing books so we knew they would understand what we were trying to achieve. Furthermore, they are all about creative self-reliance and our concept fit right in with that. We were so fortunate to have a very quick response from them – waiting can be a killer – and they wanted it! They wanted it but wondered if we would be interested in increasing the size and breadth of the book from 30 clothing projects to 101 sewing projects that would span garment making to quick gifts. Despite that large number, we didn’t really hesitate – more projects definitely meant more work, but it also meant more fun.

Once the book deal was official, how did you divvy up the work of writing the book? With 101 projects, this surely took a great deal of time. What do you recall about those days of making the actual book projects?

Divvying up the work was a natural process – something that was obvious as we entered into the project’s first stages. We brainstormed a big list to get started with – obviously my clothing designs and other fun things I had designed over the years – and then we went to our respective corners for a while. I went to my studio where I designed, developed, stitched, and photographed and Debra started writing the core message of the book and introductions to the individual projects. As I finished developing things, I would send notes and images to Debra so she could write the instructions. In the early days, Debra was just learning to sew, which was perfect. I had to be thoughtful about the steps and process and if I was unclear or something didn’t make sense, she would catch it right away and ask all the right clarifying questions. Sometimes I had to re-develop something and sometimes I just need to explain the steps more clearly. As our deadline creeped closer, we began to meet more regularly to go over the directions, sew together, and draw up rough art to give to our illustrator. Those days feel like a while ago and I mostly remember sewing for very long stretches of time. I can safely say that Debra most likely remembers many late nights writing. Of course we wanted to projects to stand out and inspire people, but we also wanted the book to be a good read – I think we were successful.

Fast forward to the day you received a copy of the finished book in your hands. Can you describe your reaction, and any reflections on the process?

I will never forget the day that the guy delivered my ONE copy of the book (we’d have to wait a whole month before we’d see any more). It was wrapped in brown paper with a lovely piece of natural paper twine and a very kind note from our fantastic editor. My family gathered around and we looked at it and I had so many emotions and thoughts I couldn’t pin any one down. It had taken so much work and time to get to that place and then the book was in my hand – and it looked so beautiful to me!

What’s next for you both?

We have some ideas for another book that we have been tossing around, but for now, we have a lot of work to do to get the word out about this book and think we should dedicate our free time to doing just that.

Improv Sewing book cover

Free Projects

Storey Publishing was gracious to share two free projects from the book, including the:

Reverse applique t-shirt

Online Quilting Class

Reverse applique ottoman cover



Storey is giving away a copy of Improv Sewing to one lucky Craft Buds reader. To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post about something you’ve learned from this Q&A. Giveaway limited to North America. We’ll choose one random winner a week from today’s post!

Congrats to commenter #30, Samantha!

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  62 comments for “Author Talk: “Improv Sewing” + Giveaway!

  1. Marcia Kosturock
    September 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    It was good that they were able to divvy up the work to get things done. I’m really just thinking WOW 101 creative new ideas, that is simply amazing!! I can’t think of even one new creative idea so these people must be really awesome! I can’t wait to see what is inside this book!

  2. Rachel S.
    September 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Debra was just learning how to sew – when the two were developing the book – which was helpful. Looks like a great book! Thanks for the chance to win!

  3. Della
    September 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    The fact that the authors spent so much time sewing and late nights writing indicates the quality of work that went into producing this book. With just that reason alone, I hope to win a copy!

  4. Debbie H
    September 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I learned about how they submitted the book idea to the publisher. Thanks!

  5. Deb H.
    September 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I learned that there is never ending diversity and creative talent in the sewing world! New ideas all the time.

  6. September 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I learned that there is a great new book out that I want to add to my library!!! 😀

  7. September 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I love learning about how their blog came to be. :) Great looking book too! Thanks for the chance!

  8. September 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I think it’s interesting to hear about the different aspects of the book formation — writing versus sewing!

  9. Renee G
    September 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I learned that this started at a book with only 30 projects in it — that your publisher convinced you to expand to 101 projects.
    Sounds like a fun book to put together, and even more fun to explore for ideas.

  10. September 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I think it is great that they met at work and decided it would be fun to write a book together.

  11. Mimi
    September 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I found it interesting how they each naturally chose what tasks suited them in the making of what looks to be an amazing book! They worked hard, enjoyed the process and realized a good team effort to produce a quality product! Bravo!

  12. carolyn brabant
    September 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    more awesomeness!!

  13. September 25, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    What a thrill it must be to finally hold a finished copy in hand! Can’t wait to see a copy myself.

  14. Amy B.
    September 25, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    It’s great that Debra was new to sewing so they could test the patterns out! I would love to see these projects!

  15. September 26, 2012 at 12:05 am

    I learned how they worked as a team and used each others strengths to work together. It seems like a great book

  16. Beth T.
    September 26, 2012 at 6:29 am

    I really enjoyed hearing about the process of pitching a book, creating a book, and all the sewing/writing/photographing that go into it. What surprised me most, I think, is the fact that a single copy was delivered to begin with. What a treasure that must have been.

    Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to tuck this away for my dear friend Shelly.

  17. Kathy H
    September 26, 2012 at 6:31 am

    What I learned about this post is that these two creative ladies started with 30 projects from the book and rose to the challenge of producing 101! What a remarkable feat!! It looks wonderful!! Be especially blessed, Kathy

  18. September 26, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Wow, looks like a great book with some fun projects of ALL kinds! Thanks to craft buds for always bringing us these great interviews. I learned what this book and projects are about and a little more about the book writing process. :0)

  19. CarolC
    September 26, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I would love a copy of this book. How lucky for them that they found a publisher on the second try. The book was meant to be. Thanks for the chance at winning one.

  20. September 26, 2012 at 7:41 am

    I love this book! I have checked it out of the library so many times the librarian said that I was close to my limit of 10 times (that would be 10 times 3 weeks each)! But that is okay, my daughter has a library card, too!!!

    I would so adore a copy of this book. It is such a refreshing reminder of what is possible when we turn on our creative minds!

    Thank you … great article!

  21. September 26, 2012 at 8:09 am

    It takes lots of work to publish a book! They did great with the divying up of the tasks, though. That takes great teamwork. I can’t wait to see if my library has a copy I can borrow!

  22. September 26, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Great article…so fun to “meet” the authors this way. I learned that they tried to not only inspire readers with the projects, but to make it a good read as well. Many crafting authors miss that and this looks like it will be an awesome book because of their dedication to making it a fun book to read!

  23. Lori Smanski
    September 26, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I like how they started out with one not knowing how to sew so she could ask the questions if something was unclear to her and it could be changed. This was a fun interview. It sounds like a fun book.

  24. Debbie Bernard
    September 26, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Sounds like a great sewing book with alot of creativity added to it. A sewing book for beginners to advanced with fresh new ideas. Can’t wait to get it. Thanks

  25. September 26, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Loved reading about the process of the book including the publisher asking for 101 projects. Wow! Thanks for the giveaway.

  26. Jessie H
    September 26, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Learning to sew while writing the book seems like it would give an interesting perspective to the instructions. I can’t wait to read this and try the projects!

  27. Kathy Davis
    September 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I learned that the authors Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut met while working at my favorite magazine, Family Fun Magazune.

  28. Margaret R
    September 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

    It sounds like an amazing book. I am always impressed when you find two people who are so different but both add so much to the process. I find it interesting that Deb was a new sewer when they started the book. It would make you think more about how you wrote and presented each project.

  29. Cheryl Gunderson
    September 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

    This looks like a great book to have in my library. I enjoyed reading about the collaborative process, and how two different talents can combine to produce something truly wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing the free projects, too. I wish you every success.

  30. September 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

    This book looks awesome, and what a great interview!

  31. Julie Robertson
    September 26, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I love the mention of writing for new sewers. This is so important to remember while we work to pass on our knowledge of sewing to other generations to learn and love the art.

  32. Viv
    September 26, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I learned that its okay to we the way I do. I like to just “wing-it” most of the time. I also learned that I have a new book to add to my list of wants/needs. Thank for the chance to win this one.

  33. Ann
    September 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    So interesting that Debra was learning to sew while work on the book progressed! I can’t wait to see how that learning processed is reflected in the structure and instructions.

  34. Kaitlin M
    September 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I learned about the process of publishing a craft book

  35. Andrea
    September 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing! It’s neat to know that Debra was just learning to sew when writing for the book.

    I like that your reverse applique example is something that a man would wear!

  36. kimberlee
    September 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I got goosebumps reading Nicole describe when she received her one copy!
    I love how Debra was a beginner at sewing when they started the book and that helped Nicole in writing the instructions. Brilliant!

  37. September 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    What an interesting interview – love hearing about their process from pitching the book to creating it. Thanks for sharing and thanks for a fun giveaway!

  38. September 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    love to have that book. i could learn a lot. was very interested in reading about their process of doing it. thanks

  39. Ella
    September 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I’ve never seen Storey Publishing books before…but now i have a new craft publisher to watch! Great book!

  40. Kathrynn
    September 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I love hearing about how they went about publishing the book. I would love to win this book, thanks for the chance.

  41. Nicole G
    September 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    It seems like it would be hard to work with just anyone. You have to find that one person that you click with. (Hopefully there’s more than one!) I would love to win this book. Thx for the chance – as always, great giveaway!

  42. September 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    101 ways to do anything is hard. I would be very interested to see what new ideas they have come up with. Sounds like the have a great working relationship. Love to win!

  43. Tracie
    September 27, 2012 at 3:53 am

    In reading this I learned about a great new blog, Improv Diary. Thanks for sharing!

  44. September 27, 2012 at 11:44 am

    101 is a big number! Can’t believe you ladies did it. I am glad you never gave up :)

  45. Janis S
    September 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    It is interesting to find out how collaborative projects come together.

  46. Jeannie D
    September 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I learned that sometimes it’s better to find like-minded people to help you launch a project. Bigger (and more famous) is not always better! Congratulations, Ladies…looks like a great book!

  47. sangeetha
    September 27, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Cool to see how they leveraged each other to produce a book that clearly is inspiring

  48. SoSewSteff
    September 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I am glad to see that there are so many projects in the book> that makes it a real bargain, regardless of the price of the book.

    You are really offering your readers a great value having created a book which we can use for many years to come!

  49. September 28, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    This book was quite the DIY endeavor! Nicole designed and sewed everything and Debra wrote the copy. A great collaboration.

  50. September 29, 2012 at 10:47 am

    How exciting to finally receive a copy of the finished book after all the effort spent getting to that point! Congratulations!

  51. September 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I am impressed that a false start did not leave them wrapping it in, but movoing on and finding the right publisher and triple-ing the project. Wow, congrats and thank you!

  52. September 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I enjoyed reading this session if authir talk. It was interesting to learn how natural they both fell into the work, and how it was divided. 101 projects is a lot of work, thank you for sharing your ideas an experiences!

  53. September 30, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I’m so impressed with your young minds. I would have never thought to even begin undertaking the enormous project of this book. Good work, you inspire me and I’ve been sewing for 42 years.

  54. Lee
    October 1, 2012 at 7:19 am

    How amazing – to reach 101 projects! Tons of work and interesting for some insight on how it was done! Looks like a wonderful book! thanks!

  55. October 1, 2012 at 8:43 am

    i learned the book has 101 projects – that’s a lot for one book!

  56. October 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I learned about how they divided the work. 101 projects is a lot!

  57. October 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I loved hearing how they received only one copy originally, I would have never thought that!

  58. October 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I learnt how two people can collaborate on a common endeavour.

  59. Jo
    October 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I learnt that there is so much I have not yet tried in the sewing!

  60. October 1, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    I learned that the co-authors have a process to divide the different duties in the book writing process.

  61. Evelyn
    October 2, 2012 at 8:16 am

    How interesting it was to learn the process of creating a book. I’m glad they succeeded in finding a publisher. Can’t wait to explore this book.

  62. Lulu
    October 4, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Hey all, if you didn’t win this book, it’s on Amazon for a little over ten bucks, which is a really good deal since it’s 101 projects. Seriously, this book has SO many ideas in it…it’s going to keep me going for a while! I really recommend it as a great value.

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