Quick Quilting Tips: Pinning Alternatives

Welcome to readers of Amy Smart’s Fabulously Fast Quilts blog hop! I’m happy to visit today to share my favorite quick quilting tip, along with the other bloggers on the tour.…

Summer Skirts with Simplicity 2606

  Over a year ago, a friend proposed a trade. Jayne would take photos of our family and newborn son and I’d make her a couple skirts. Over a year…

Sew Easy Burp Cloth Tutorial

The other evening, I was trying to pull double duty. I held the baby on one hip while tossing some vegetables in the skillet. My husband walked in the kitchen…

Quick Quilting Tips: Pinning Alternatives

Welcome to readers of Amy Smart’s Fabulously Fast Quilts blog hop! I’m happy to visit today to share my favorite quick quilting tip, along with the other bloggers on the tour.…

Author Q&A: Sewing for Boys + Giveaway

Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage design children’s clothing for their company Patterns by Figgy’s and just released their first book, Sewing for Boys (Wiley). Today we’re excited to learn a little bit more about how these ladies decided to collaborate on a creative business and later a book. Shelly and Karen are living proof that dedication to your craft can lead to a very successful career in design.

I read on your website that you two met on Flickr and live across the country from each other. How did you decide to go into business together?

{S} We found one another in a group that shares a mutual love for fabric and design. Karen posted a photograph of a beautiful handmade pinafore, so I made a comment about how terrific I found her work and designs. That sparked a conversation, which then blossomed into friendship. As our friendship grew, we found that we had the same goals and aspirations, most importantly, the desire to write a beautiful book focused solely on BOYS. It was the desire to write this book together that sparked all the other collaboration we’ve done.

The Henry Shirt test

"The Henry Shirt" (Flickr / Shelly Figueroa)

I love the clean lines of your children’s clothing designs and the cute details. How you find inspiration for new patterns?

{K} We look to the past, because we both gravitate toward utility that is beautiful. We love the simple styles of the past, but we try to modernize them in a way that becomes a new classic. Of course, comfort is paramount, and because we focus on how a kid will feel in our clothes, we try to include details that are important to kids, like pockets and comfortable seams. Our aim is to always make a kid’s favorite garment.

{S} I am a lover of simple-to-sew projects and garments and I don’t like to make things more than once or twice, so it’s very important to me as a mother (because our time is precious) to make sure the designs have cute details and modern touches but won’t take all day to create.

Sewing For Boys book Do you have a favorite project in the new book?

{K} It’s so hard to choose! I love “Let’s Go Fishing Hat” for its simplicity and utility, but my very favorite is “The Henry Shirt.” I love to mix and match fabrics, and I love how this shirt can work through all the seasons. Its relaxed fit is a big bonus for fidgety little guys.

{S} Since Karen picked two, I will too. I love the “Kickin’ Back Sweats” because they are super quick to make and the fit is all about comfort but there are also a lot of options offered. They are designed so you don’t have to just choose knit fabric but also woven, you can use the pattern to make surf pants or shorts, optional faux fly and pockets are also offered. I also love the “Easy Linen Shirt” because once again it’s a quick sew but is still super stylish and laid back. The West Coast girl is coming out of me with these two.

How did your relationship with Wiley begin?

We engaged Stefanie Von Borstel from Full Circle Literary to represent us and our idea. Her enthusiasm and direction helped us clarify our vision which she then took to publishers to find a good fit. She brought us several offers to publish our book, including one from Wiley. We love the work they do, and some of our favorite designers have written books with Wiley, so we chose to accept their offer.

How would you compare the process of publishing your individual patterns with writing a sewing book? Any challenges or surprises you weren’t expecting?

The main difference was the ultra-tight schedule, really. When I think about it, it blows me away that we were able to put together 24 projects, patterns, illustrations and instructions in 12 weeks, whereas usually we give ourselves 3 months to put together a line of 3 patterns. There were A LOT of long nights. We were pleasantly surprised and can honestly say that the entire book was exactly how we pictured, and unfortunately not all authors get to say that. The entire team was a pleasure to work with at Wiley and they really listened to what our vision for this book was.

Sewing for Boys project

What’s next for you ladies?

During the Spring Quilt Market in Utah, we were able to meet a lot of the fabric shop owners that currently carry Patterns by Figgy’s patterns, and we also met a lot of fabric reps who asked if we would like to preview upcoming fabrics. This gave us the idea that it was time to offer “trunk shows” so that the shops will have a way to showcase not only the patterns but new fabrics. We love having that personal relationship with the fabric shops.

During the next few months we’ll be taking some time promoting and enjoying the fun part of publishing a book. We’re also teaching classes in our local areas (Portland and Detroit), and crafting as much as possible!

Giveaway!

Wiley Publishing is giving away a copy of Sewing for Boys to one lucky Craft Buds reader! If you’d like to win, leave one comment on this post telling us something you’ve learned about the authors or the book publishing process. This giveaway is now closed.

We’ll be back on Wednesday with a sneak peek of the book  Read the book review here and we’ll announce the winner of this book on Friday morning. For more chances to win, follow the rest of the blog tour:

September 5 Made by Rae
September 6 Sew, Mama, Sew
September 7 The Southern Institute & Film in the Fridge
September 8 Elsie Marley
September 9 Noodlehead & Oh, Fransson!
September 10 I Heart Linen
September 11 Anna Maria Horner
September 12 Craft Buds, Pink Chalk Fabric, Prudent Baby, Sew Much Ado
September 13 Very Purple Person, Quilt Story & Sew Sara
September 14 The Long Thread
September 15 Susan Beal
September 16 True Up
September 17 All Buttoned Up & Bolt Fabric Boutique
September 18 MADE & Wiley Craft

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)!

Book Review: Sew Wild + Giveaway

I recently got the chance to review another new release from from Interweave. Sew Wild is a craft book that gives center stage to the instruction of new techniques, giving the reader full permission to ignore the rules of traditional sewing or fiber crafting.

Sew Wild book

Author Alisa Burke dedicates the first two-thirds of the book to teaching creative processes like woodblock printing, fusing plastic, masking, stenciling and freewrititing on fabric. She shares a screenprinting technique using materials that are easy to come by: embroidery hoops.

Embroidery Hoop Printing

Although I’m not personally drawn to the style of Alisa’s Graffiti Quilting, I’m enthralled with her process. Being a quilter, I typically hide my top-stitching by using a matching thread, but Alisa’s bold designs are truly embellished by her wide range of free-motion stitches.

Fabric Graffiti

Projects like the Flower Garden Fabric Wreath also take a normally hidden material, like thread, and make it the star, with Alisa’s bold use of contrasting thread. A scarf, a pillow, and a bucket hat are among the books other projects, and although the items are nothing new to a craft book, Alisa’s artistic process means these projects are like nothing you’ve seen elsewhere.

Flower Garden Fabric Wreath

If you like clean lines and precise cuts, the projects in this book will probably not appeal to you, although the techniques like printing on fabric are described in full detail and are really quite remarkable!

If you’re willing to give free motion stitching a place in your next sewing project, Sew Wild offers lots of new ideas and even comes with a bonus DVD showing two extra projects and more visual instruction for the techniques discussed in the book.

My Project

I decided to give Alisa’s techniques a whirl, and here’s what I came up with. I fused together some Target plastic bags and used scrap pieces of fabric to make this mixed media clutch. Once the plastic bags were fused, I was able to sew with it just like I would with fabric.

Mixed Media Clutch

I didn’t worry about trimming pieces to any certain size, and used a quilt-as-you-go technique to sew each fabric square to my base fabric, a thick felt (which makes up the interfacing of the clutch). Overall, this method of sewing was very enjoyable and gave me a project that was totally out of my comfort zone.

Mixed Media Clutch back

Here’s the back side of the clutch. Mixed media projects give a totally different look than my normal sewing, and allow the artist to break the rules and let loose. Do you incorporate any mixed media techniques into your projects?

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Have you entered yesterday’s giveaway for the I Am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs to Sew from Interweave Books? You can still enter here through Friday!  This giveaway is now closed.

I Am Cute Dresses book giveaway

Craft Book Proposal: How to Get an Editor’s Attention

Allison Korleski Please say hello to Allison Korleski, Acquisitions Editor for Interweave Books! Allison is here with some very helpful information for aspiring craft book authors about how the process works. We are so excited to have her insight today as part of Craft Book Month at Craft Buds.

Welcome Allison! Can you tell us a little bit about your job as an acquisitions editor?

I started a little over a year ago. Before that I had been a buyer for a book store for many years, including craft and DIY books. I knew Interweave, and found what they were doing in terms of direct marketing and on-line and eMedia development to be really forward-thinking. (Speaking of which…we just started a new site called FlockShop.com, which offers limited-time deals on a variety of craft products—one item at a time.)

I work out of my apartment in NJ. On top of learning a new job, just getting used to working alone at home was a BIG adjustment. Setting up my home office definitely gave me a new-found appreciation of the IT department. I go visit Interweave’s main offices several times a year—usually for a week or 2 at a time. While there are things I love about working at home, I miss the camaraderie and osmosis of ideas one gets in an office environment, so this lets me have a good balance. The book department has around 14 people in it—that’s editorial, sales, production, and art. I wish I could effectively summarize what an amazing bunch of people they are. Finally, one of our book editors lives in NYC, so we try to get together at least once a month. Our goal is to establish an informal “Interweave East”!

Interweave Books What does your day-to-day work look like?

Day-to-day can vary. I’m generally juggling many proposals at any one time, all in various stages of development. I work with the authors, help focus and develop their ideas, create an outline for the book to give it shape, discuss the types of projects to be included, materials used, and skill levels to be covered. I also spend a lot of time researching designers, trying to get a feel for their style and approach, and an understanding of what sets them apart and makes them special. I troll blogs and websites, look at what is coming out from other publishers, look at trade and craft shows to see what people are teaching, and what trends are evolving. I travel to several shows a year—Quilt Market, TNNA, Beadfest, Tucson bead show, assorted fiber and knitting shows. I also attend the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany; Interweave works with several publishers in the UK, Europe, and Japan. I also spend a lot of time looking at magazines and craft books, and talk to people at my local yarn and bead stores to see what they are interested in. The research never stops. The one downside is that I wish I had more time for my own knitting!

Weekend Hats book

I’m more or less the gateway to publishing with Interweave, and I take that very seriously. I have a dual responsibility: to be the “face” of interweave, represent my company, find wonderful talent, and make sure that we continue to produce great books for our audience. At the same time, I also have to be an advocate for the authors I work with—to clearly represent their ideas and vision for their book, and make sure that gets translated into the final product. I really believe in every author and project I bring to our editorial group—there’s usually some sort of mind-meld that goes on—so I advocate for them as strongly as possible. All books need to get approved by our editorial group, which is made up of editors, sales and marketing, the editorial directors of our magazines, and others. I have to make a case for each and every book I present; I’m in the hot-seat every meeting, so I need to work with each author to make their presentation rock-solid from the beginning.

I spend much of my time talking with authors, going over what they’ve sent me, discussing projects, evaluating strengths and weaknesses, and discussing the next step. Sometimes we have a breakthrough and decide to change direction completely! At the same time I’m working with our art and production departments, assessing costs for each book, and keeping the author’s vision in mind while I assess what her book will need. I also handle all contract negotiations once we approve any book idea.

Crafters Guide to Taking Great Photos

When considering a new craft book proposal or query, what catches your eye?

Originality, technical skill, and doing their homework. New, innovative ideas or beautiful work will always catch my eye, but a well-crafted proposal will keep my attention. Most publishers post proposal guidelines on their websites, and potential authors should really check those first. Look at what other books a publisher has done, and make sure that your general topic fits with their publishing program. If you are a quilter, you don’t want to approach a publisher who specializes in jewelry. Interweave doesn’t publish books on paper craft, so a card-making proposal isn’t right for us, though it could be perfect for someone else. And even if your children’s picture book has knitting in it, understand that craft publishers may be reluctant to take on such a project.

Understand what you need to do: If you have an book idea but are not sure where to start, a query letter is fine. This is simply a brief email asking if we have any interest in x, along with a sentence or 2 about your background. If you want to do a book on lace knitting, but it happens that we are already working on two or three, it can save you much time and effort to know our interest up front.

Fresh Quilting book

When it comes to sending a formal proposal, we don’t want a complete manuscript, but we do need an outline and summary of your ideas, accompanying images of projects, and a brief writing sample to get a sense of your voice. This doesn’t have to be intimidating—a few paragraphs explaining your book and why you want to write is generally fine. Take the time to research competing books, and be able to articulate how yours is different. Be as specific as possible: a vague proposal of “15 cute knitting projects” with no further details won’t get very far. SEND IMAGES, but please do not send actual projects unless the publisher asks for them. Not everyone works in a company office, and it’s far too easy for projects to get lost or misdirected. Let us know about yourself: your experience, any classes you teach, designs you publish, blogs or websites. And email is by far the best way to send in your proposal!

Be courteous and professional. If you think current books on a topic are lacking information or don’t cover something yours does, that’s a perfectly fair argument you can make. Simply saying other books are boring or ugly is not. Your presentation speaks as much about you as your proposal does. Proof-read for spelling errors, and make sure you are clearly stating your ideas. And I have to be honest, a proposal that begins with “Hiya!” or “Hey, craft lady’” doesn’t strike the best opening note.

Show us your best: when I look at images of your work, I’m looking at both aesthetics and technique. Your projects may be adorable or beautiful, but sloppy or poorly finished work rings an alarm bell. Make sure seams are straight, edges finished, wirework smooth, loose ends woven in, and everything is as polished as you can make it. This is your baby—you want to show it to its best advantage.

A proposal is like an audition, and the author should put as much effort into it as they would into their work.

Spin Art book

After a book proposal has been accepted, what is the typical timeline for publishing a craft book (including writing deadlines, photo shoots, publicity, printing, etc.)?

It can vary. I typically assume the author will need 6 months to a year to complete the manuscript and projects, depending on what she has going on in her life, and make sure to discuss that with her. Once we have the manuscript and projects, it takes another year for us to create the book. We photograph everything ourselves, create illustrations and charts, tech-edit, film any accompanying DVDs, etc. Our marketing and publicity departments get into high gear a bit closer to the book’s publication date, and run full-throttle. A typical list of promotional efforts (blogs, interviews, print ads, Facebook, YouTube, and twitter, email campaigns) can run for more than 2 pages!

What books are you most excited to see in stores this fall? Can you tell me a little about how they came to be?

Oh—we have several! (Unfortunately, I was not at Interweave when these were acquired. Next season.) Mathew Gnagy’s Knitting off the Axis comes to mind, as does Connie Chang Chinchio’s Textured Stitches. Personally, I’m a sucker for interesting construction, which Mathew’s book has in spades. Everything is knit sideways or on the diagonal, and he really gets one thinking about the architecture of knitting. As for Connie, I’ve been a fan of hers for years, regularly picking out her projects in books and magazines. She has such a knack for creating knits one wants not only to knit but to wear (and wear and wear) afterward.

Textured Stitches

Jacey Bogg’s Spin Art blows my mind—the yarns she creates are works of art in themselves, and there seems to be a growing appreciates of yarn for yarn’s sake. Along simpler lines, Weekend Hats is a great collection of hats for every knitter—simple to complex, for both men and women, and perfect quick projects for giving and keeping.

Finally, we have The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos. It’s a non-tech-y guide specifically for the crafter/DIY audience: all those bloggers and people on Etsy who do great work, but need a little help showcasing it to their best ability. It shows how to get slick, professional-looking photos without a studio or professional equipment, and troubleshoots things like making your own lightbox, avoiding camera shake without needing a tripod, and how to highlight project details. It’s divided into sections on specific craft areas (jewelry, fabric, furniture, etc.) to offer advice particular to each.

Are you a crafter yourself? How do you spend your free time when you’re not hard at work publishing craft titles?

I’m quite an enthusiastic knitter, I do basic bead and wirework and have experimented at metalwork. (the resultant pieces were never worn, nor should they have been.) I’m a lousy enough sewist to really appreciate the talent of others, and I learned how to spin last year. Crochet is still on list—I can do some basic stitches, but do not consider myself a true crocheter yet.

I Am Cute Dresses

Giveaway!

Interweave is giving one lucky winner a copy of the new book, I Am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs to Sew by Sato Watanabe. To enter, leave a comment telling us something you’ve learned about book publishing, or a question you have for Allison. We’ll choose a winner on Friday, September 9.

Update: The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to R Carter!

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Win It: Girl’s World by Jennifer Paganelli

We’ve added a new giveaway for the Craft Book Month linky party. It’s a copy of the Girl’s World book by Jennifer Paganelli, courtesy of Sis Boom!

We absolutely loved this book, and you can read our full review of it as well as a fun Q&A with author Jennifer Paganelli.

Girl's World Book

If you like sewing for girls, this book is a must-have. And you can win a copy just by linking up your craft book project this month. Enter here!

Rebecca Dress by Sis Boom

(Also check out Sis Boom’s new patterns, the Rebecca Dress and the Shannon Dress!)

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