Review: Improv Sewing + Giveaway

Improv Sewing book cover

Improv Sewing: A Freeform Approach to Creative Techniques is a new book from Storey Publishing filled with “101 fast, fun and fearless projects” to sew and love. The sheer number of projects is enough to get excited over, but the variety of techniques (from upcycling to reverse applique) is a huge bonus.

Improv Sewing book table of contents

Authors Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut show off 101 sewing projects in the same style of those on their blog that are suited for beginners and intermediate sewists. The freestyle approach to sewing includes appliqued and stitched motifs, based on simple designs, several of which require no pattern pieces. Many also feature recycled and upcycled materials. Projects in the book include embellished dresses, tunics, scarves, skirts, accessories, pillows, curtains and more.

Improv Sewing ruffled dress

The “Ruffled Dressy Dress” is a cute and comfy dress pattern embellished with texture, but there are several variations on this concept, including a simple two-piece shift dress. With clothing for women, men and kids, the book offers a diverse variety of patterns.

Improv Sewing rainbow mobile

Feeling the need for some home decor? The “All-Weather Applique Mobile” pairs bright fabrics with whimsical shapes and machine embroidery, for a darling project that would suit a nursery or creative space.

Improv Sewing fused plastic wallet

The authors of Improv Sewing have a definite bent toward upcycling, and many of their projects show how to use free or inexpensive materials in a new way. This “Fused Plastic Wallet” has decorative stitching and is sized perfectly to slip your cash and a few credit cards inside.

Improv Sewing Reverse Applique Tee

This men’s reverse-applique tee is simple and stylish, with an organic design embellished on the lower front of the shirt. Kids and beginning sewists can learn this technique of reverse applique and hand-stitching to make clothing, accessories and home decor.

Free Projects

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

Reverse applique t-shirt

Reverse applique ottoman cover


Would you like to win a copy of Improv Sewing? Just leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. We’ll choose one random winner on Wednesday, July 4, 2012. Check out the rest of the Improv Sewing blog tour at:

June 29:
July 10:

Congrats to our giveaway winner, commenter #52 Fenna, who said: “Cool book! I like upcycling stuff–it’s a great way to re-use!”

Favor Boxes with Lifestyle Crafts

This month, Lifestyle Crafts is releasing their Bloom and Grow cutting dies collection just in time for summer! These dies are great for scrapbooking, crafting and decorating. They work in the Epic Six or any similar style of turn handle cutting machine. You can find more information on how the die cutting process works here.

I have bridal and baby showers coming up later this summer so I thought these dies would make perfect boxes for party favors. I’ve combined the dessert box with the flourish and scallop doilies from the Bloom and Grow Collection to make this great box.

I’m just showing one box in my demo above but you can combine 12 boxes to make a full cake like Kami Bigler did in these images below.








Below you can see the full Bloom and Grow collection. If you decide to purchase anything from this collection or Lifestyle Crafts, don’t forget to use our coupon code, CRAFTBUDS, for an additional 20% off!


Summer Crafts Linky Party!

Have you started crafting for summertime yet? Whether you are crafting with kids or creating for yourself, the sunshines brings out all kinds of fun possibilities for crafters.

We thought you might need some inspiration for summertime crafting, so we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite projects, and we’d like to invite you to link up your summer craft projects! We’ll close the linky party at the end of June.

11 Great Crafts to Make with Paper Plates, perfect for keeping the kids entertained on the cheap!

summer list jpg Ideas for summer fun from Ellison Lane Quilts, including laundry tub pirate ships and the classic lemonade stand. Don’t forget to link up to her Summer Sewing Contest!

We love these 10 Free Swimwear Sewing Patterns, including this T-Shirt Bikini made from upcycled materials.

Lacey Summer Shorts

Make some lacey summer shorts and 10 Summer Fun Beachwear Patterns for summertime lounging on the sand.

Summer Bag Patterns

Sew Sweetness

Sew yourself a big, summer tote like this beauty by Kim at My Go-Go Life, with inspiration from Sew Sweetness and Purse Palooza 2012! You can enter daily to win patterns and other fun giveaways all month long in June!

Also, keep an eye out for the “Shorts on the Line” Shorts Sew-Along, coming this July!


Now it’s your turn to link up! What have you been crafting for summer, or what do you want to make time to make? Link up any and all kids craft tutorials or summer crafting tutorials that adults would love. Let’s get this party started!

get the InLinkz code

12 Fabric Lines to Love in 2012

After a jaunt last weekend to Kansas City for Quilt Market, I’m excited for the release of several new fabric lines. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s might be coming to your local quilt shop soon, including some floral, whimsical and bold fabric designs for quilting and sewing.

Denyse Schmidt Fabric Swatches

Chicopee by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit. The tiny prints in muted colors blend well with her Hope Valley line or some of her recent prints for Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Heather Ross bags

Nursery Versery by Heather Ross for Kokka. Whimsical and perfect for carry-all bags and children’s clothing, these prints may make you okay with having a “mouse in the house.”

Art Gallery Fabrics

Lillybelle by Bari J. for Art Gallery Fabrics. You’ll be inspired to sew once you feel the silky texture of these quilting cottons in floral prints.

Cameo by Amy Butler for Rowan/Westminster (photo Crimson Tate). Journey back in time with muted greens, grays and blues in ornate and simple floral prints, suitable for quilting and wearables.

Out to Sea by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller (photo Crimson Tate). The nautical fabric mixes geographic flair with bubble gum pink for a fresh, modern look.

madrona road

Madrona Road by Violet Craft for Michael Miller (photo ImAGingerMonkey). These colors perfectly marry summer and fall, with berry tones and lemon yellows for a fresh and fragrant look.


Crabtastic by Maude Asbury for Blend Fabrics (photo ImAGingerMonkey). It’s out to sea for these cute crabs, with a darling text print to complement.

Field Study by Anna Maria Horner

Field Study by Anna Maria Horner for FreeSpirit. A nature-inspired complement to her previous line, Loulouthi. The deep, rich tones look right at home in wearables and accessories.

Mama Said Sew by Sweetwater

Mama Said Sew by Sweetwater for Moda. Monochromatic prints with text elements are a signature for Sweetwater. Roll out the picnic blanket and mix these prints with Reunion or Hometown for a twist.

Simply Color by V & Co.

Simply Color by V & Co. for Moda. Rainbow colors, everywhere! This line includes both prints and solids with an ombre effect (color increases in intensity across the pre-cuts).

Echino Booth

Echino 2012 for Seven Islands. You won’t want to miss the deer with glasses, plus fun mixers like polka dots and damask.

Robert Kaufman Booth

Kona Modern Quilts by Cynthia Frenette for Robert Kaufman. Have your fabric and quilt it, too. These funky brights are toned down by brown in this bedroom set.

There you have it! Which of these lines are you most looking forward to sewing with?

Giveaway Day!

It’s Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a $25 shop credit to Modern Fabric Studio!

Modern Fabric Studio

Open worldwide. We’ll choose one random winner on Friday, May 25, 2012. Good luck!

Out of 485 entries, we’ve chosen the winner, number 243, Lee! She said, “I love Modern Fabric Studio! thanks!” Congrats to Lee!

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day

Car Trash Bag / Reusable Lunch Bag

Car Trash Bag

I find that the car is never more cluttered than when filled with wrappers, empty drink bottles and waste from a summer road trip. I try to pick up all the trash I can when I can, but sometimes straw wrappers, bottle caps and food receipts literally take over.

Enter the car trash bag! The sturdy bag is built to carry odds and ends, so you can just fill it up and dump the contents when you stop to refuel. The trash bag is unlined  (see note below if you’d like to add a lining) with the interior covered in interfacing for durability. Simply toss the bag into the washing machine when it’s ready to be cleaned.


– 1/2 yard home decor weight fabric (shown here in Joel Dewberry Heirloom)

– 14″ cut of medium-weight fusible interfacing (like Pellon 808)

– Matching thread, iron, scissors, sewing machine and pins

Cut fabric and interfacing

From both fabric and interfacing, cut two pieces 14″ x 11″ and remove a square 2.25″ x 2.25″ from bottom two corners of each piece. Adhere interfacing to lining with iron.

Mark handles

From fabric, cut two pieces 11″ x 6″ for handle lining. Place one handle lining fabric on top of bag fabric, right sides facing. Use ruler to mark dots 2″ from top of bag at the 3.5″ and 7.5″ marks. Move ruler down to 3″ from top of bag and again mark dots at the 3.5″ and 7.5″ marks. Connect dots into a rectangle for bag handle.

Stitch and cut handles

Pin pieces together and stitch on top of line to create handle. Use scissors to snip almost into the corners and down the center line through all layers of fabric.

Flip handle fabric inside out

Now for the magic part. Push the handle lining fabric through the slot you just created and pull it through the other side. Press and pin handle lining flat against inside of tote. Secure with zig-zag stitch, and trim excess fabric away from handle lining (see below).

Attach handle to other side of bag.

Note: If you’d like to make a lining for the bag, cut lining fabric in the same dimensions as your outer fabric, follow the same instructions to make handles and sew the lining, then refer to Tote Bag Tutorial for instructions on inserting your lining. Line up handles of outer and lining fabric and hand-stitch together.

Pin bag front and back right sides together

Next, pin bag front and back right sides together, avoiding the corners or the top of the bag. Stitch 1/4″ from the edges along left and right sides of bag and bottom (center only, not corners yet).

Pinch together corners of bag

Pinch together the corners of your bag, so the seams on the bottom and sides of the bag line up. I like to iron my seams open.

Pin and stitch corners

Pin together the matching edges and stitch 1/4″ from edge. (You can see more photos of this method on our Tote Bag Tutorial).

Fold under rim and pin

Turn bag right side out and push out corners. To finish top edge, use pinking shears or zig zag stitch along top edge to prevent fraying. Then fold top edge down so it lines up with handle cutout without being visible from the outside. Pin fold in place along top edge of bag, and use zig zag or straight stitch to fix top fold in place.

Reusable Lunch Bag

And there you have it–just grab your bag and go! The car trash bag also doubles as a reusable lunch bag in a pinch. Or, fill it with summer essentials like a snack and sunscreen for trips to the park, beach or playground.

Reusable Lunch Bag

If you use this tutorial, we’d love to see your bag in the Craft Buds Flickr pool. This post is part of the Summer Sewing Contest, so check out the blog hop for more projects inspired by the season and enter your own June 10-17 at at Ellison Lane Quilts for a chance to win prizes!

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