Book Review + Giveaway: Mend It Better

Mend it Better: Creative Patching, Darning, and Stitching by Kristin M. Roach is a new release from Storey Publishing that celebrates a well-worn piece of clothing and teaches the reader how to make it new again. In a society that flocks to the new and discards what is old, the advice in this book is simply refreshing.

Kristin got her start in mending pre-loved clothing for her blog Craft Leftovers. Although she wasn’t always in love with the craft of sewing, she learned from her grandmother to artfully wield a needle and thread.

Mend It Better book contents

The book covers techniques like patching, darning (fixing holes in knit fabric) and caring for clothing. You’ll also get a quick history lesson, to show you how sewing has progressed over the years – particularly mending clothes.

Mend It Better Buttons

Buttons, snaps and zippers are among the notions that Kristin breaks down in an approachable, meaningful way. Gorgeous photography of vintage notions throughout this book pairs perfectly with the author’s sage advice. You’ll learn how to confidently tackle a split seam, a sweater snag and a torn buttonhole without tossing the garment.

Mend It Better Repurposed Mending Bag

Project tutorials, such as The Repurposed Mending Bag, are paired with the techniques as they are discussed. The idea of having a dedicated bag for mending is not lost on me, and would save my husband’s buttonless shirts from an endless pile of to-dos on the floor.

Mend It Better Hemline

Kristin and 21 contributors show the reader how to make an old garment dance again. Have you ever tossed a skirt that no longer fits? This clever project shows how to let down a hem by adding a patchwork border. This clever detail completely “makes” the skirt in a way that makes it hard to imagine the garment without it.

Mend It Better Rickrack Skirt Updo

Another favorite project in the book is the Rickrack Skirt Updo, meant to cover up a random spattering of ink spots. There are plenty of “why didn’t I think of that?” moments in this book.

Mend it Better is a visual reference that you will love to have around to help guide your sewing efforts. Chances are that this book will teach you something new and you’ll be inspired to revisit your wardrobe and give that old ______ a second chance. And on a side note, this book is a padded hardcover – the only book of it’s kind that I’ve ever held – and it’s just fun to hold.


Would you like to win a copy this book? Storey Publishing is giving a copy to one lucky reader!

  1. Enter to win by leaving a comment about your must-have sewing notion or tool.
  2. For an extra entry, “Like” Storey Publishing on Facebook and leave a second comment.

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, and we’ll choose a winner on Monday 3/12. Good luck!

Pleated Boxes Pillow: Join Rows

Did you check out Lesson One: Cut and Arrange Squares? You are welcome to join us at any time throughout the sew along, and I promise . . . you can do it!

Maybe you’ll use up your scraps to make a pillow that matches your favorite quilt, or work from a friend’s favorite colors and print to make a handmade gift. The sky is the limit!

We’ve loved seeing some of your fabric choices and patchwork squares come to life this weekend in the Craft Buds Flickr group.

Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along: Your Squares

Photos: 1. Janelle 2. Javadiva1 3. Bayeaston 4. Cheraldine73


And because it’s Monday, and you’ve got the whole week ahead of you, let’s focus on a short lesson today. It’s time to join together those rows! Cutting and stitching these rows should take you about 15 to 20 minutes, so it’s totally doable.

Join Together Rows

1. From the 18” edge of your fabric, cut three 3”x18” strips. Here’s the cutting diagram again. You should have already removed the 12 small squares from one end, so now you’ll cut the three strips below.

Cutting Diagram


2. Alternate background fabric strips with pieced rows. You’ll notice that my strips are a little longer than my pieced rows, but yours should line up just right.

Pin pieced rows to fabric strips, with the fabric’s right sides together.

Stitch together the pinned edges using a 1/4″ seam allowance. When you get to a patchwork box, make sure it lines up with the previous patchwork box, as shown in the photo below.

3. When all rows have been joined, press your pillow front and trim edges if needed.

Your patchwork block will measure approximately 18”x18”. Those solid rows you just added will be embellished with beautiful pleats in our next lesson!

And it’s that simple! Please join us again on Friday for an easy tutorial on adding the pleating to your pillow front. I can’t wait to share this part with you.

Share your fabric choices, in-progress pillows and finished sew along photos in our Flickr group. If you haven’t already, you may download your free PDF pattern here.

Craft Buds Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along


Pleated Boxes Pillow: Cut and Arrange Squares

Welcome to the first day of the Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along! Whether you are joining right in or just lurking, we are happy to have you.

Let’s review the supplies you’ll need to make this pillow:

  • 8 assorted fabric strips, 2” wide and 12” long (or strips/scraps of various sizes)
  • ½ yard of solid background fabric
  • ½ yard of inexpensive muslin fabric, like an upcycled sheet
  • 8-10 oz. synthetic fiber fill (buy a small bag, and you can make two pillows)
  • Rotary cutter, acrylic ruler and cutting mat
  • Thread, sewing pins and iron

When finished, the filled pillow cover measures 17″ long x 12″ tall x 6″ wide, the perfect size for a chair or couch accent.

Pleated Boxes Pillows on Chair

Make Accent Squares

1. Gather eight strips of patterned fabric, each 2” wide and 12” long. (Note that you’ll only see me using 6 strips here, and I’ll explain more on that later.)

Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, stitch fabric strips together along the longest edge with right sides facing. Press and trim block to 12”x12”.

2. Cut pieced block into 3” rows, then 3” columns, so you have 16 pieced 3”x3” squares. Set aside.

Note: For this project, I’ve also cut four solid 3” squares as needed, since my original block only yielded 12 pieced squares. Instead of using my suggested fabric cuts, you may substitute with any number of strips 1” to 3” wide. It’s a fantastic way to use up scraps!

Whichever combination you use for your pillow, just make sure you end up with 16 blocks that measure 3″x3″.

Here are my 12 pieced blocks plus 4 solid blocks, for a total of 16 blocks. You can use all pieced blocks, all solid blocks, wonky pieced 3″ blocks… you get the idea. Don’t be afraid to make this pillow your own!

Background Squares – The Simple Way

Next, you are going to cut your background squares. We can do this in a simple way, or a more textured way, and I’ll explain both methods here. Here’s the simple way:

1. Along the 18” edge of your background fabric (scroll down for diagram), cut two 3”x18” strips. Cut each strip into 3” squares, for a total of 12 squares.

2. Here’s that cutting diagram. You are going to cut your squares out of two rows on the top of the diagram. As I mentioned before, you’ll cut the 18″ rows first, then cut each row into 3″ squares.

Variation – Pieced Background Squares

1. If you want your pillow to have a bit more texture to it, you can choose to piece your background squares. Like earlier with your patterned fabric, you’ll sew together several 1” to 3” strips of background fabric that are 12” long. For example, cut 8 strips of background fabric that are 2” wide and 12” long.

Cutting tips: To make sure you don’t use all of your background fabric early in the game, go ahead and cut out the rest of your background fabric now as listed in the diagram above (three 3″x18″ strips and two 14″x14″ squares), skipping the 3″ squares. You’ll have enough fabric left over to chop the rest into eight 2″x12″ strips. Or you may experiment with different sizes of strips from your scrap basket.

Stitch together strips along long edges with right sides facing. Press your block, and cut into sixteen 3” squares.

Here’s what it looks like when you use pieced instead of solid background squares. See the texture? Pretty!

Arrange Squares

1. Arrange accent squares and background squares in four rows. Start with an accent square, then a background square, alternating until there are 7 blocks in a row. Rearrange until you have a good balance of colors and pieced strips facing different ways. If you used any solid squares, place these on the outside edges, which will not be a focal point of the pillow.

See how I alternated the direction of my pieced blocks? Some face horizontal and some vertical. If you used pieced background blocks instead of the solid white, make sure to flip these every which way for a fun, textured look.

2. Chain stitch fabric right sides together to piece rows. Start with one patterned and one background square. Before cutting your thread, pull the fabric you’ve just sewn a few inches away from machine, away from you. Pick up the next two squares and continue to chain stitch together until only one square is left in that row. You’ll trim your threads later.

This is a photo of my chain-stitched blocks. The right sides of the fabric are facing. Below, you can see one of my stitched pairs opened up.

3. Join together pairs of stitched squares in the original order, until you’ve pieced an entire row of seven squares. Press. Repeat with other three rows.

A reminder here that we’ll use a 1/4″ seam allowance throughout this entire pillow. I stitched 1/4″ from the right edge of my fabric, lined up with the edge of my sewing machine foot.

Trim threads. Trim rows as needed. I hardly needed to trim my rows at all, but make sure you even up any edges that are very rough. Tiny imperfections won’t be visible in your finished pillow!

And that’s a wrap for today’s sew along lesson. You should now have cut out your squares and pieced them together into four rows of seven squares each.

On Monday, I’ll be back with some instructions on how to join together your rows. It’s a much quicker lesson than today’s. You can do it!

Don’t forget to share your fabric choices, in-progress pillows and finished sew along photos in our Flickr group. If you haven’t already, you may download your free PDF pattern here.

Craft Buds Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along

And we invited you to come back and link up your creations 3/16 through 3/23 for a chance to win prizes!

Google Friend Going Away: How to Follow Us!

If you haven’t heard the news yet, as of March 1 (tomorrow!), Google Friend Connect will be going away for any non-blogger blog. We’re a WordPress blog so tomorrow you’ll no longer be able to follow us through Google Friend Connect. The good news is that there’s a lot of great ways to follow Craft Buds.


Option 1: RSS Feed

Just click the RSS button to subscribe through your favorite reader. Lindsay and I both use Google Reader, the same one you use with Google Friend Connect. It’s the option below with the orange star next to it or you can choose your own favorite reader program. Once you click on the “Google” button, just select “Add to Google Reader” on the next screen.

Option 2: Twitter

When we publish a new post on Craft Buds we put a link on our Twitter page. Click the link or Twitter button to go to our Twitter page and click “Follow” in the upper right corner (you must be logged in first).

Option 3: Facebook

Just like Twitter, when we publish a new post on Craft Buds we put a link on our Facebook page. We also use Facebook to post links to giveaways or let you know about special events or sales! You can click the link or the Facebook button on our site to subscribe by hitting the “Like” button, or you can hit “Like” in the handy Facebook box on the upper left side of our website.


Option 4: E-mail

Subscribe to receive our posts in your e-mail. Just click the link or the E-mail button and enter your e-mail to subscribe.


Option 5: Flickr

Although you can’t use Flickr to stay updated with our blog posts, you can view photos of our projects and reader projects, or submit your own. Just click on the “Join This Group” option shown by the orange star below to be a part of the Craft Buds Flickr group.


Book Review: Make It Sew Modern

Make it Sew Modern book cover

Make It Sew Modern: Gather, Twist, Pleat, Texture (Martingale) is the new book from Vanessa Christenson of V and Co.

Vanessa has never been afraid to share her love of texture in sewing projects, as shown through her popular tutorials and patterns. The book teaches readers how to use basic cotton fabrics and transform them into cozy wearables and home decor.

Make it Sew Modern book contents

The book is organized by technique, with five to six projects in each of four sections: ruffles, twisting, gathering and pleats. The projects are straight out of a high-end home catalog, yet they can be achieved with simple techniques. Many can be sewn up in a couple hours or less!

Make it Sew Modern book pillow

The Throw Pillow with Frosting is a classic design incorporating ruffles that just goes to show how plain, white fabric can have so much depth when used in the right ways. So often, I’m drawn to fabric because of its print or color, but this book really shows a creative use of neutral fabrics in a way that’s fresh and vibrant.

Make it Sew Modern book - decorative balls

By twisting fabric, even non-sewing crafters can get in on the action.

Make it Sew Modern book - tote bag

Although many of the patterns are twists on the same idea (totes, pillows, flowers or scarves), Vanessa’s style is clean, fresh and inviting to any level of sewing artist.

Make it Sew Modern book - pleated edge quilt

I’m especially enamored with the Everyday Quilt and its clever pleated binding. The two-tone quilt is a rich and elegant taste of the unexpected. Couldn’t you just picture it showing up at Blue Ivy Carter’s doorstep?

Make it Sew Modern book - Vanessa Christenson

I’ve followed Vanessa’s popular blog for a while now, and this book is really a great snapshot of her creative energy. And better yet, she’s very real and down to earth, and talks a lot about balancing her creative business with her family. If you’d like to check out Vanessa’s book for yourself, it’s available on Amazon.

We’re also giving away a copy to one lucky winner in our sew along, which starts tomorrow. Check it out!

Pleated Boxes Pillow: Sew Along

Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along Large

Craft Buds is excited to announce our very first sew along! Introducing the Pleated Boxes Pillow, which comes with a free downloadable PDF pattern.

The sew along lasts just over three weeks. With an estimated 2.5 to 3 hours of total sewing time, you can whip up a cheery throw pillow to brighten up your living room, guest bed or any place that needs a little sunshine!


Very few supplies are needed to make this project, which is designed to use up your scraps. To sew along with us, you’ll need:

  • 8 assorted fabric strips, 2” wide and 12” long
  • ½ yard of solid background fabric
  • ½ yard of inexpensive muslin fabric, like an upcycled sheet
  • 8-10 oz. synthetic fiber fill
  • Rotary cutter, acrylic ruler and cutting mat
  • Thread, sewing pins and iron

When finished, the filled pillow cover measures 17″ long x 12″ tall x 6″ wide, the perfect size for a chair or couch accent.

The downloadable pattern will tell you all you need to know to make this pillow, and we’ll also guide you step-by-step throughout the sew along, with extra photos to help guide you along the way. Feel free to work at your own pace, and we’ll all meet back up to share our finished work at the end of the sew along. You can do it!



As a little incentive to get you sewing along, 5 random winners will each take home a prize for linking up their finished pillow to our Flickr group by March 23. If you don’t use Flickr, we’ll also post a linkup here on the blog March 16-23, so you can link up a photo of your finished pillow.

1 winner: A stack of Flea Market Fancy fat quarters from my pre-order!

(Will update with photo)

1 winner: Make it Sew Modern book by Vanessa Christenson
1 winner:
$20 store credit to Lindsay Sews on Etsy

Make it Sew Modern book cover Lindsay Sews on Etsy

1 winner: Glass Half Full PDF pattern
+ pattern of your choice from Create Hope Designs
1 winner: Aurifil Thread Sample Pack (5 spools total)

Glass Half Full - Quilt Pattern Aurifil Thread

March marks our one-year blogiversary, and we’d be so excited to have you join us for the sew along. Enjoy the free pattern, and we’ll see you back in about a week!

Grab a button!

Craft Buds Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along


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