Mary

Book Review: Sew Serendipity Bags

Yesterday we were lucky enough to interview pattern designer and author Kay Whitt (and there’s a giveaway of the book at the end of the interview!). Her first book was Sew Serendipity: Fresh and Pretty Designs to Make and Wear and she just recently released Sew Serendipity Bags. I had the pleasure of receiving a copy to review and make a project from!

The layout of the book is nicely divided up into skill level so you can choose between Simple, Intermediate, and Challenging. It was fun to look through all the projects but I appreciated knowing what I was getting into based on the skill level rating. The book is spiral bound so it easily lays flat and has a nice sturdy envelope of full size pattern pieces in the back. There is a wide variety of patterns and styles so you may not love everything in the book but you’ll definitely find some favorites. Projects include a lunch bucket bag, cross-body purses, duffel bag, ruffle hobo bag, backpack, diaper bag, laptop messenger bag and many more.

The introduction of the book includes techniques  on sewing, working with hardware, and working with stabilizers so you’ll have all the knowledge you need as you make the patterns. There are a total of 12 patterns. Many of the patterns offer different size options.

Once you choose a pattern, the instructions clearly tell you what fabric you’ll need along with any other materials (marking pencil, safety pin, etc.). There’s also a handy list for each pattern telling you the finished dimensions of the bag. Each pattern shows you Kay’s initial hand drawn sketch on the first page. Then in the following pages there are hand drawn illustrations for many of the steps. For example, the Green Grocery Bag (you can see my version below) has a total of 22 illustrations.

 

My Project

I chose to make the Green Grocery Bag in small. I liked that even though it was in the “simple” category it had some nice details. The bottom of the bag is finished with a French seam and is completely lined (including the pocket) so the final product looks great and is durable. The bag can be folded up into the pocket for easy storage and has a loop to put around your wrist. The sides of the bag have pleats so it’s nice and roomy.

I found the many illustrations extremely helpful so I always had a visual reference as I was making the bag. The instructions are very detailed. I did have to re-read each step of the instructions a few times to make sure I completely understood what to do next. All in all, I think my bag turned out well and I look forward to using it! (And if you’re wondering, the exterior floral fabric is from a vintage sheet and although you can’t see it, the interior is a green fabric with white polka dots.)

 

Free Pattern

Want to check out more of the book AND get a free pattern? Head on over to Sew Mama Sew where they’re offering PDF pattern and instructions for the Lunch Bucket Bag!

Free Patterns from Books: Knitting & Crochet + Winner

Today is our last day of free patterns from books and your last day to link up your projects to win some great prizes! In the past weeks, we’ve featured patterns for the homebags, kid’s toys and softies, and jewelry.


From Knitting in the Sun (Wiley): Knit Sunhat

Windansea Hat from Wiley

 

From Knitting it Old School (Wiley): Ahoy Sailor, Sweater

Ahoy, Sailor sweater from Wiley

 

From Knit, Wrap, Repeat (Lark): Snugg Neck Warmer

 

From Teach Yourself Visually Crochet (Wiley): Magnificent Shawl

Magnificent Shawl from Wiley

 

From Interweave Press: Assorted free crochet projects

 

And the winner of Modern Mix chosen by random.org was #23, Jenelle, who said, “I think that waiting to see how the book pitch went would be the hardest part for me too. It’s amazing that just by writing your blog, you were already taking the first step towards being published. Congrats and thanks for the interview!” Congrats Jenelle and I’ve sent you an e-mail!

 

Free Patterns from Books: Jewelry + Winner

In our fourth week of free patterns from books we’re looking at jewelry tutorials. If you missed the past weeks in this series, we’ve also highlighted patterns for the home, bags, and kid’s toys and softies!

 

From New Dimensions in Bead & Wire Jewelry (North Light): Magnoliophhyta Earrings and Dragonmoon Choker

 

From Modern Expressions: Creating Fabulous and Fashionable Jewelry: Parquet Earrings

 

From Wired Beautiful (North Light): Double Loop Earrings

 

From Handcrafted Wire Findings (Interweave): Make Your Own Kidney Ear Wires

 

From Interweave Press: Assorted free beading projects

 

As we’ve mentioned before, you can use any of these patterns to participate in the Craft Book Month linky party through the end of September! And, our winner of the book Mixed and Stitched (review found here) is commenter #21, Jil (I’ve sent you an e-mail with more information Jil!).

 

Free Patterns from Books: Kids’ Toys + Winner

We’re in our third week of free patterns from books after looking at patterns for the home, and patterns for bags. Up this week are kid’s toys and softies!

From Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose Scarves (Lark): Hoppy the Bunny

 

From Sockology (Stash): Be Free, Piggy Softies

 

From Make Stuff Together (Wiley): Appreciation Banner

 

From Girls World (Chronicle): Glitter Badges and Chloe Paper Doll Bag

From Socks Appeal (Stash): Striped Owl Softie

 

As we’ve mentioned before, you can use one of these patterns to participate in the Craft Book Month linky party through the end of September! And, our winner of the book Sewing for Boys by Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage from Wiley is Cat, #30 chosen by random.org, who said, “I am getting ready to have a little boy in 6 weeks . . . would love to get to play with this book! Plus the authors are going to be teaching in Portland soon.  One more reason to move to Portland!” Congratulations Cat on your win and your little guy! I’ve sent you an e-mail.

And don’t forget, you still have until Monday to enter the giveaway for the book Sewing with Oilcloth!

Book Review: Sewing for Boys

Earlier this week we interviewed Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage, the authors of the book Sewing for Boys (Wiley). Today I’m sharing my review of their book! I’ve been excited about this book since the moment I first heard about it months ago. As the mom of a little boy, I find lots of patterns for cute little dresses and tops for girls but not nearly as much for boys. This book is full of great clothing patterns with fun extra details that get you excited about sewing boy clothes.

I love the way this book is designed. It’s spiral bound so it lays flat, the patterns are in a nice sturdy envelope inside the front cover, and there are great illustrations and photos. One of my favorite parts about the book layout is that there are photos of every project in the front of the book. It’s so easy to browse through all the patterns this way. There are even more photos throughout the book so you get a really good feel for what your final product will look like. Each pattern sheet in the envelope is numbered so you can easily find the pattern sheet you are looking for. Also, each project is rated with a difficulty level. All those little well thought out details in the layout alone made this book enjoyable.

There are six total chapters including a chapter of clothing for each of the four seasons. There’s also a chapter for on the go items including a playmat and toy bag. And lastly is a chapter for items that repurpose your scraps or old clothing items into new things like a patchwork blanket. There are 24 projects total. Sizes available vary by project, but overall they go from 0-6 months to 7.

As for the patterns, there’s a great variety of clothing for inside and outside for all seasons. Every item includes extra details that make your project look like it was done by a professional. The directions are easy to follow and there are diagrams to help you out along the way. If you need any extra help, there’s a glossary in the back that will assist you with sewing terms and techniques.

My Project

It was a tough choice deciding what pattern to make for this review because they are all great! Some of my favorites were the ralglan T-shirt, the Luka hoodie and the reversible “two-in-one” jacket. In the end I chose to make the Easy Linen Shirt. First I traced the pattern onto sheets of paper then I picked out my fabric. Rather than purchasing new fabric, I cut my pieces of a gray knit shirt of my husband’s that he never wears and re-used the existing hem on the bottom of the shirt for the hem of this new shirt. I had a scrap of dark gray knit that I used inside the collar.

The instructions were easy to follow and I didn’t need to use my seam ripper even once on this project (amazing)! As I’ve mentioned, there are extra details in each pattern that makes your clothing look professsional. This pattern was no exception with topstitching around the arms and shoulders and extra tips on how to finish the seams to make them extra comfortable and durable. The fit was perfect for my son (I purposely made it a little large) and this’ll be a great shirt to easily pull off and on during fall weather, and to wear layered in the winter.

Want to win a copy?

Head over to our interview with the Sewing for Boys authors, Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage. Just leave a comment on that post for your chance to win! This giveaway is now closed.

 

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Sewing Apps for iPhone and Android

While we’re focusing most of this month on printed craft books, we wanted to highlight some digital applications for iPhone or Android smartphones that can assist you as you’re purchasing and cutting fabric for all those great patterns!

Android or iPhone

Jo-Ann Fabrics (Free for Android or iPhone): Browse products, check out customer reviews, find a store and best of all, save your coupons! You can load coupons and show them to the cashier for a discount rather than using a printed coupon.

Quilting Calculators (Free for Android or iPhone): From Robert Kaufmann Fabrics and Quilter’s Paradise is this great collection of eight free calculators.1. Fabric Measurement Conversion, convert between decimals and fractions. 2. Backing and Batting Calculator, calculate how much yardage is needed for the backing and batting of a quilt. 3. Piece Count Calculator, shows the number of fabric pieces that can be cut from a large piece. 4. Pieces to Yardage Area Calculator, fabric needed to cut a set amount of a certain size piece 5. Binding Calculator, calculated fabric needed based on quilt dimensions and binding strip width. 6. Border Calculator, shows the amount of fabric needed to create borders. 7. Square in a Square Calculator, calculates dimensions of a square within a square block. 8. Set-in and Corner Triangle Calculator, calculates square size needed to create unfinished triangles.

iPhone only

Fabric Stash ($4.99): When you’re out shopping do you have trouble remembering what’s at home in your stash? Use this app to snap photos of your fabric along with any notes you may want to include such as measurements, where you bought it, price and more. You can view your stash according to color, style, manufacturer or project.

Pattern Pal ($4.99): Use this app to keep your patterns organized with name, brand, number, notes and photos. You can also track the fabric and notions needed for each pattern.

Quick and Easy Quilt Block Tool ($3.99): Browse 102 quilt block patterns and view cutting instructions and yardage requirements for each block in five sizes.

Quilt Index ($0.99): Browse through thousands of historical and contemporary quilt photos. You can also view the quiltmaker and quilt pattern names, dates and more. 

Yardage Calc ($2.99): Convert between yards and meters or calculate how much fabric you’ll need when buying a different width than whatis specified on the package.

Android only

Quilt Binding Calculator ($0.99): Calculate the length and width of fabric needed for single or double-fold straight grain binding.

Note: To download the apps, go to the Android Market or the iPhone App Store depending on the type of phone you have, search for the app and download it directly on to your phone. If you have any favorite sewing apps that we’ve missed, let us know in the comments!



Book Review: Growing Up Sew Liberated

Growing Up Sew Liberated (Interweave) by Meg McElwee is full of fun and functional items you can make for any boy or girl in your life. It’s a great mix of clothing staples for infants and toddlers, playthings for all ages, and useful everyday pieces.

The book is nicely divided up into five chapters that each focus on a different part of the day: Greeting the Morning, Bread Sharing + Homemaking, Inside Play, Outside Play, and Good Night, Sleep Tight. The back of the book includes a helpful section on sewing tools, techniques, terms and stitches. In all, the book includes patterns for 9 clothing items, 13 play items/clothes and includes an envelope with full size pattern pieces.

Chapters one (daytime) and five (nighttime) include clothing items for newborns to size 5. The actual sizes included for each individual clothing item varies depending on the type of clothing and what stage in life your child would wear it (ie. the baby sleep sack is only available in 0-6 month size). The clothing patterns are all gender neutral with classic shapes. Chapter two is about items used around the house including a ring sling, bib, and embroidered placemat. Chapters three and four focus on inside and outside play with patterns for a variety of creative play items. A few of the items include a cat blankie for babies, a doll for younger kids, and a messenger bag for older kids.

Overall this book has a nice variety of gender neutral clothes and projects. It’s just slightly more biased towards girls with three of the patterns being for a doll, doll clothes and doll backpack and most of the models are girls. That certainly didn’t keep me from enjoying the book though. The instructions are well written and easy to follow and the diagrams are simple and easy to understand. The overall layout is well organized with a nice balance of color and white space with beautiful photographs throughout.

My Project

I initially thought about making the hooded play cape or art satchel, but then I realized my son had suddenly outgrown all the new pajamas we had just bought! So I decided to make a long sleeved envelope tee and sleeping johns. There are patterns printed on both sides of the pattern paper in the back of the book so you have to trace out the patterns you want to use. The envelope tee pattern only goes up to 18-24 months and I needed a 2T. The pattern was simple enough to make larger for my son and it was easy to trace out the patterns on sheets of computer paper I taped together.

After cutting out all my pieces I got started sewing everything together. I was a bit intimidated to sew this small pair pajamas out of knit fabrics but the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. There’s even tips for sewing knit fabric in the back of the book! I appreciated that you don’t have to use a serger and the instructions tell you what stitch to use where. In not too much time, I had a cute pair of pjs that fit my son perfectly! The neck may look a bit too big in the photo but that’s because my son tried to tear off the shirt because it was 90 degrees out when I took the photos :).

 

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Free Patterns from Books: Bags + Winner

After looking at free patterns for the home last week, this week we’re highlighting a variety of patterns for bags, purses and totes.

 

From Amy Butler’s Style Stitches (Chronicle): Blossom Bag

 

From Sewing with Oilcloth (Wiley): Farmer’s Market Tote

 

From Bags, Pillows & Pincushions (Wiley): Quilted Market Bag

 

From For the Love of Hand Stitching (Stash): Daisy Makeup Bag

 

From Interweave Press: 22 Assorted free sewing projects

And just a reminder, you can use one of these patterns to participate in the Craft Book Month linky party through the end of September! And, our winner of the book  I Am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs to Sew by Sato Watanabe from Interweave is #31, R Carter, who said, “6 months to a year is less than I thought it would take! once I actually have something to share with the world that is..” Congratulations R Carter (I’ve sent you an e-mail with more information)!

Free Patterns from Books: Home

Some publishers release a free pattern (or two) from a craft book to celebrate a new release. In honor of Craft Book Month, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite patterns that you can download for free online and we’ll feature a different category each week. You can even use one of these patterns to participate in the Craft Book Month linky party through the end of September. Now on to this week’s projects for the home!

 

From Sewing with Oilcloth (Wiley): Chalk Cloth Table Runner

 

From Applique Class (Wiley): Petal Pushers Table Runner

 

From Stash Happy Patchwork (Lark): Bento Box

 

From 100 Pretty Little Projects (Lark): Scorchin’ Potholder
and Spot On Pillow

 

From Scrappy Quilts (Wiley): Sun-Drenched Strips Quilt

 

 

Free Pattern Features: Totes + Winner

One of my first tutorials was for a tote. They’re incredibly useful in so many everyday activities! They also make great gifts and can be used in place of a disposable gift bag. And, some of the simpler patterns are great for a beginner. Here are some of my favorites but there are tons of tote tutorials out there!

Just like it’s name implies, The Market Tote from Bijou Lovely is a sturdy bag great for groceries or the farmer’s market.

Market Tote at Bijou Lovely

Market Tote at Bijou Lovely

 

The Knot Tote at Me Sew Crazy is a fast and cute project to whip up.

Knot Tote at Me Sew Crazy

Knot Tote at Me Sew Crazy

 

This Mini Market Tote from Chubby Hobby has some nice extra details on the handle and in the bottom corners.

The Market Tote at Chubby Hobby

The Market Tote at Chubby Hobby

 

Gardening season may be wrapping up this year, but get started on this great Garden Tote featured on Sew Mama Sew for next year!

Quilted Garden Tote at Sew Mama Sew

Quilted Garden Tote at Sew Mama Sew

 

And at think liz. is this Diana Hobo with pretty pleat details.

Diana Tote at think liz.

Diana Tote at think liz.

 

And lastly, our winner of the $25 Crafty Girls Workshop giveaway chosen by random.org is the lucky Ariane! Ariane, I’ve sent you an e-mail with more information.

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