Book Report + Giveaway: The Practical Guide to Patchwork!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all well! Today I’d like to share a book I picked up recently and really enjoyed… but don’t hate me… it’s a quilting book!

I know.

Guys, I can’t help it! I’m kind of getting into quilting! It’s scary. And weird. But the thing is, planning a quilt project is just so fun! There are so many cool fabrics to choose from, and thinking about all the different shapes and combinations has literally kept me awake at nights lately. I know. It’s crazy.

ANYWAY. After fumbling through Hazel the Hedgehog, I decided that I should probably learn a little bit about the right way to quilt before jumping into my next project! I picked up The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman, the designer of the Hazel the Hedgehog quilt pattern. I really love this book! In my opinion, it’s an ideal book for anyone who wants to dip their toe into modern quilting.

The book starts out with the basics of quilting and answered lots of questions I had, like, what’s a fat quarter? Or, should you pre-wash your fabric?  It lays a good foundation without a lot of boring stuff like “these are scissors”. Elizabeth covers cutting, piecing, quilting (by machine only, but she recommends another resource if you’re interested in hand quilting), and binding.

There are twelve quilt patterns included in the book, and they’re all pretty fun. I like that she also includes an idea for your backing with each pattern… it’s cool that you can experiment on both sides of your quilt!

Something I really like about the book is that Elizabeth gives different ideas for changing up each of the patterns. It’s pretty easy for me to think about a garment pattern and imagine many possibilities for it, but I haven’t developed that eye yet for quilting, so it’s nice to see the potential variations for all these quilt patterns.

The book focuses on modern quilting, which is super interesting. I have mentioned before that my mom quilted lots when I was a kid, but she is a hand quilter who is mainly interested in traditional patterns, so I haven’t really seen these kinds of quilts before. I love the looks of old-fashioned quilt patterns like the drunkard’s path or double wedding ring, but I also really like these bold modern designs.

Isn’t it fun to think about how you can make these styles your own? I would love to play with blocks of bright color for my own Kitchen Windows quilt.

Planetarium just looks super fun to sew! I wanna try it!

Little Leaves teaches you how to applique, which seems pretty free-form and loosey-goosey… what’s not to like about that?

I would like to own a quilt made from this pattern but I would not like to cut, piece, or quilt it. Too many pieces!

But look at these fun variations on the Superstar! I really like the colors she’s got here in the flying geese variation- wouldn’t they look cool in a quilt???

I really like Birdbath! I think it would be fun in hot pinks and greys, maybe. Ooh- and zebra print, just to be wild!

This crazy windmill block looks really cool! I bet there’s a way to create a 3D effect in a monochromatic color scheme… wouldn’t that be awesome?

Alright, guys, I love this book so much that I’d like to give away a copy to one of you! I’ll ship it anywhere in the world (since I’ve found out that Book Depository offers free worldwide shipping, it’s much more affordable for me to do that, yay!!), so if you’re interested, please fill out the Google form below before Monday, April 20th at 11:59PM EST! I’ll draw a winner using Yay!

Now tell me- which one of these patterns is your favorite??? Do you have a favorite traditional quilt pattern? Any of you convinced to start quilting??? Do tell!

Ondawa Sweater!

Hi, guys! Hope your weeks are all off to a great start! And I hope you had wonderful Easter and/or Passover celebrations, if you celebrate!

Michele Wang Ondawa | Ginger Makes

Today I’m ushering in spring with, well, a sweater! OK, OK, so this isn’t really spring apparel, but I should still be able to wear this for a few weeks before the summer heat sets in. :)

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

The pattern I used is Ondawa by Michele Wang. I’m a huge fan of her designs– they’re complex, unique, and absolutely beautiful. Obviously, Ondawa is no exception! I love cables, all cables, but these are extraordinarily pretty!

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

The construction of this sweater is a bit unusual. The front and back are knitted as flat panels and are identical. Once you’ve knit the first panel, the second goes by in a flash because you’ve already got the stitch patterns memorized! The sleeves are also knitted flat and set in after the sides are seamed up. The front and back are seamed at the shoulders so you can decide how wide you want the boatneck to be, which is nice. Now that I’ve worn this a bit, I think I may bring in the neckline a touch more… it’s cool that I can easily do that!

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

The pattern is fun to knit and kept me interested without being too complicated. I got confused a few times with the direction of the smaller cables and had to rip them back, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I also made a silly math mistake and knit an extra 12 rows on the first panel, so I repeated that on the second. As a result, the sweater is a few inches longer than the pattern intended, but I actually prefer it to be a bit longer (I just didn’t intentionally lengthen it because I was worried about running out of yarn). So I’m really happy with the finished length! I knit the second smallest size, which should have given me about 13″ of ease, in case that’s helpful to anyone.

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

I tried a new yarn for this, O-Wool Balance in graphite. It’s a 50/50 blend of organic cotton and merino, which makes for a really soft and wearable yarn. I love 100% wool yarns, but I’m hoping that the cotton content will make the sweater a bit cooler for spring and fall so I can wear it to death! I really like this yarn and will definitely use it again. I’m so happy to use a brand that carefully sources its fibers so you can be sure that it’s cruelty-free. The price point is higher than what I usually pay for yarn, but it’s worth it (to me) for an organic, animal-friendly yarn that’s produced here on the east coast.

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

Now, the sweater is really boxy, so it may not be the most attractive garment I’ve ever worn, but I really like it and feel quite cozy in it. I’m not in love with the back view (the fabric sort of flaps out a bit, like a built-in cape!) but I don’t have to see myself from the back, so that’s fine! Overall I’m seriously into this sweater and am so pleased that I was able to finish it up in time to get some wear out of it! Now tell me, are you knitting anything right now? Are you into fitted sweaters, or are you a “wearable blanket” gal like me???

Ginger Made: Coco Jacket!

Hi, guys! I hope your week is off to a great start! One of my favorite things about sewing clothes is that you can find unique ways to make a style your own. For example, you can take the edgy, menswear-inspired moto jacket, but make it up in pastel lace,  and you’ve created a unique look that really shows off your personal style! Personally, I’m a really casual dresser, but I’m always looking for ways to dress up my everyday wardrobe a bit without looking too dressed up. So, I tried the classic Chanel-inspired silhouette, but in a casual (and extremely washable!) fabric that screams “me”!

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

I knew right away that I wanted to use a plaid flannel cotton for my take on this look, and what better way to go than a classic buffalo plaid in red and black? So for my Mood Sewing Network project* this month, I used this flannel that I bought with my allowance a while ago and then didn’t end up using. I’m so glad I saved it for this project! My original plan was to quilt the flannel with a layer of cotton batting- wouldn’t that have looked cool?? But after further reflection, I started to think that the jacket might be too warm with the added layer (since it’s a cropped jacket with three-quarter length sleeves, I won’t be wearing it on very cold days). But I wanted it to have a bit more body, so I fused all the pieces to ProSheer Elegance Light, except for the facings (I used a medium-weight weft interfacing for them). I like the effect of this- it’s not as drapey and baggy as flannel is on its own, but it’s not stiff, either.

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

Now, there are quite a few patterns you can use to make a little French jacket like this, but I chose the Coco jacket by Schnittchen. Silke from Schnittchen kindly sent it for me to try out after I found her company during my autumn coat obsession. As a fairly rectangular person, a really boxy jacket can look pretty terrible on me, so I decided to use this pattern over a few similar styles because because it includes front darts and there’s a fair amount of shaping in the center back and side seams. Plus, I like the rounded corners at the center front- I feel like they help to keep things from looking too boxy, too. I really enjoyed putting together this pattern, and found that this two-piece sleeve gave me the nicest-fitting sleeves I’ve ever had in a blazer! Just for reference, I made a size 36 and didn’t make any alterations. This was my first time using a Schnittchen pattern and while the instructions don’t include drawings, I didn’t need them (and there is a step-by-step photo tutorial on her blog if you need it). Also, I just noticed that her PDFs are only 5 euros, (about 5 USD these days!), what?! I’m pretty sure I’ll give into temptation soon and order the Tina jacket & vest pattern! I’m thinking it will make for a very fancy sweatshirt! [Sidenote: have you seen Kelli’s version of this jacket? I’m hoping that I bump into her in a dark alley so I can just grab it and run!]

Schnittchen Tina vest

One thing I noticed is that for the sleeves to go in nicely, the sleeve seam and the side seam don’t line up- they line up with notches instead. One nice thing about this pattern is that the notches are numbered so you know exactly where they’re supposed to match up! Clever! Also, a tip if you make this pattern: when I go around curved edges like the center front, in addition to shortening my stitch length, I also sew one side with the facing up and one side with the jacket front up. This way you’re stitching the exact same curve in the same direction on each front (from top to bottom in my case, but you could also sew bottom to top). If you’re a very accurate stitcher, you probably don’t need to do this, but in my experience, my curves are much more symmetrical when I do this!

OK, let’s talk about the elephant in the room… the PLAID elephant. GUYS. I totally failed to match the plaid at the side seams. Here’s the thing- I always use this technique to match the front, back, and sleeve pieces at a spot 2″ below the armscye, BUT, I completely forgot to factor in the dart! As a result, everything matches… between the armpit and the dart! Ack! I spent ages matching this and it doesn’t look I even tried! I didn’t have enough fabric to re-cut the front pieces, so I decided to just live with it and really, it’s not the end of the world… as long as I don’t think about it too much because HOLY COW SO ANNOYING!

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

I lined the jacket with a Mood fabric I’ve had in my stash for a very long time. Now, I love me an animal print, so when I needed to buy some black lining, naturally I grabbed the black-on-black animal print! There is a bit of disagreement in my home regarding the exact animal we’re dealing with- the fella feels that it’s python print, while I’m CONVINCED that it’s a small-scale giraffe print because EWWWWWWW PYTHONS NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Obviously it’s a small-scale giraffe print. Wait, that makes me want to see a small-scale giraffe!!! Scientists, get on that! Remember the miniature elephants in Jurassic Park? I’m still waiting for that to happen!

Oops, I’ve been sidetracked by tiny giraffes! ANYWAY, I’m really happy with this little jacket and am glad to have a little more tomboy chic in my wardrobe. I’d like to make another version in something fun and textured, like jacquard or a chunky wool knit! This is the PERFECT style to use up special pieces from your stash- it doesn’t take very much fabric, and will look really different depending on your fabric choice. I’m already planning a few more! Now, tell me, do you like to sew classic shapes in untraditional fabrics? What’s the most fun you’ve had mixing up a look? Jackie O sheath dress in vinyl? Classic trousers in quilted nylon? Peacoat in neon boucle? Do tell!

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

PS- I’m wearing my Coco jacket with my new favorite t-shirt, the Megan Nielsen Maker tee! I’m so pleased to support this awesome collaboration between Megan and Freeset– read more about it here! I’m not even kidding when I say that when I wear this tee, I basically beg people to let me tell them about it! Fashion with a heart is so dear to me, so THANK YOU for for this opportunity to support women in need, Megan!

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. :)

Finished: Ladies’ Tailoring I (TL 111)!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all having a great week! I’ve been meaning to write about last semester’s class for ages, but kept forgetting! Now that I’m nearly halfway through Ladies’ Tailoring II, I definitely need to tell you guys about Ladies’ Tailoring I!

Ladies’ Tailoring I is the first course in a four-semester credit certificate program at FIT. You don’t have to be enrolled in the certificate program to take it, and you don’t even have to take it for a grade, so don’t let that stop you from taking it! :) My class was a mix of hobby sewers, garment industry professionals, and full-time students, so there was a wide variety of skill and experience levels present.  The professor assumed we had some sewing knowledge, but we didn’t need to have previous experience with industrial sewing machines as she taught us how to thread and operate them. So if you’ve been wanting to take a class at FIT but are nervous about using an industrial, this class was a great way to get comfortable with them!

The class is focused on developing basic tailoring skills for cutting, sewing, and finishing, as well as choosing traditional materials and notions. While we used a sewing machine for construction, most of our time was spent on hand basting and sewing. While my day-to-day sewing isn’t very careful or slow, I’ve definitely found myself developing better sewing habits since I took the class- it really pays off to, say, always mark the wrong side of your pieces, or baste in zippers before stitching them. Taking time to save time, if you will!

The class is structured so that the professor demonstrates a technique, you try it out on a sample, and then you apply it to your garment. In this class, we handed in weekly samples- they accounted for a small percentage of our final grade, but more importantly, we got feedback on our technique before moving on to the final garment. It’s so much better to make mistakes on a sample rather than a garment! The final projects, two skirts, were due on the last class, so we were able to work on them throughout the semester.

In this class, the professor provided patterns for the projects (they were both simple straight skirts, one lined and one unlined), but she allowed us a bit of flexibility with the patterns so you could incorporate different elements in the skirts, as long as you included the required bits at some point (for example, you had to turn in at least one double welt pocket, but you could choose which skirt to put it on). I was happy that I was able to use odds and ends from my stash for every sample and project in this class- woohoo!

Some of the techniques we covered were: centered and lapped zippers, hong kong piping, hand overcasting, lining, applying sew-in interfacing, bar tacks and other decorative hand stitches, side seam pockets, welt pockets, 1/4 top pockets, and hand-worked buttonholes. So, nothing terribly revolutionary if you’ve been sewing for a while, but my skills definitely improved in all these areas and I found that the pocket techniques gave much nicer results than any I’ve sewn using home sewing patterns. But, like all things tailoring, they require many steps and many pattern pieces! But a faced, French seamed pocket is about a million times nicer than my usual “ehhh, just cut out a pair of pocket bags and jam them into the side seams” approach!

Bar tack in action!

Overall, I really enjoyed this class. I’m not always a fan of sewing slowly and carefully, but I really have noticed better results in my home sewing after taking this class. Of course, every class experience varies based on the instructor, but mine was kind and patient, and you could come to her with any questions and get a clear answer. And the format she preferred, doing a demonstration and then allowing us to try it right away, made it easier to learn and remember techniques, unlike my patternmaking class where we often had a lecture that lasted the length of the entire class. Like my patternmaking final project, I’ll never actually wear these garments (straight skirts don’t suit my lifestyle or taste), but they’re headed off to Dress for Success, so hopefully they’ll have a happy ending there!

Alright, friends, what are your thought on tailoring? Sound fun? Tedious? Both? Have you taken any tailoring classes, or would you, if you could?

Wool + Pleather Linden Minidress!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all well and sewing up a storm! OK, question: do you have seasonal color palettes? I know I do! Sometimes I feel like my closet is split between two different people- winter me and summer me! In warm weather, I’m all about bright colors and fun prints, but in the winter, I wear much more subdued colors, like heathered browns, navy, or, my very favorite, greys. My cold weather clothing drawer is almost entirely grey! The unexpected benefit of this is that I have a really, really easy time getting dressed in the winter- my separates all mix and match, and for once in my life, even my boots, tights, hat, and scarf get along with the rest of what I’m wearing, yay!

Grainline Studio Linden Minidress | Ginger Makes

So, for February’s Mood Sewing Network project*, I decided to give one last hurrah to Lady Grey and choose this delicious wool blend sweater knit. Guys. It’s SO thick and warm, but it’s amazingly lightweight. It’s a nice firm knit, so I don’t have to worry about it being too sheer or bagging out, but the wrong side has tons of loft so it’s really incredibly comfortable in cold weather. I planned to look for a bit of pleather in black for a bit of contrast, but I found this beautiful grey Rag & Bone pleather in the vinyl section on the third floor and couldn’t resist it. I really like that the contrast comes from the textures rather than color- it’s subtle, but fun.

Grainline Studio Linden Minidress | Ginger Makes

The pattern I used is the Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt. This is actually the fourth Linden I’ve made this month, but I haven’t blogged any of the others. I made one for my #LindenSwap partner, another for my bestie, then one for me. So, this pattern was on my mind and I decided to just go for it. In Grainline sizing, my hips are two sizes smaller than my bust, so I just chose the size based on my bust measurement and dropped the hem by 9″ to give me this minidress length. The extra size through the hips gives me plenty of ease to move and sit. I used the hem band piece unaltered, since I didn’t add any additional width, but I shortened the sleeves by 4.5″ and adjusted the cuffs accordingly to give me a three-quarter-length sleeve. If I’d thought this through a bit more, I would have planned for the sleeves to finish at this length without a cuff… the cuff seam allowance is a bit bulky. I thought about cutting off the cuffs and turning under a hem, but I don’t really want to lose the sleeve length, at least not while it’s this cold! Lori suggested using the pleather for the cuffs with a v-notch detail, which could be really cute and would give me more ease (since the pleather doesn’t have any stretch, which you usually want in a cuff).

Grainline Studio Linden Minidress | Ginger Makes

For the pleather details, I cut two pieces 2″ by 24″ (a little longer than my sleeve length) and lightly pressed the long edges under by 3/8″. I tested this first on scraps, but I was able to use a warm, dry iron on the wrong side without any damage to the pleather. Then, I centered the strips over the shoulder notch and the midpoint of the wrist on the flat sleeve pieces and taped them in place with light masking tape. If I’d had a fabric glue stick, I would have used that instead, but I didn’t, so I was stuck with tape. I edgestitched the pleather in place, sewing in the same direction (i.e. top to bottom) for each side to help prevent pulling and puckering. I was a bit nervous about sewing pleather to a knit, so I did a few tests before I sewed on the actual sleeves. I had success using an 80/12 universal needle and holding the fabric in place firmly in front of and behind the presser foot so it wouldn’t stretch out of shape or drag. Then I trimmed off the excess pleather and inserted the sleeves like usual. Ta-da!

Ahhhhh… look at that soothing grey-on-grey action. It’s so comforting! It makes me want to get back into my winter cocoon and stay there til spring! Now, do you have a seasonal color palette, or am I just a crazy person? Do tell!

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. :)

Crazy Dog Lady Sewing Challenge!!!

Um, obviously, the second I heard about the Crazy Dog Lady Sewing Challenge, I knew I had to join in! Cause… OBVIOUSLY. Really, I’m always looking for an excuse to fly my freak crazy dog lady flag! I love love love dogs, and love sewing, and any chance to combine the two is bound to be PURE MAGIC. OK, about the challenge… it’s hosted by Tanya, Carlee, and Sophie-Lee, and really, all there is to it is to sew something dog-themed, dog-related, or for your dog before March 15th. Easy! So, fellow freaks dog ladies, there’s plenty of time for you to play along! Get stitchin’! I already had the perfect fabric in my stash, this horror show digital print from Spandex House (they have a super weird website that’s really hard to search, but there’s a very similar dog print spandex here). I’ve had this fabric for a while and was super happy to have a nudge to sew it up! [Sidebar: Spandex House is the PERFECT place to go to when you’re looking in your closet and realize you don’t have any stretchy clothes featuring French fries/clownfish/bananas/guns AND roses… you can find all those prints there, as well as many more that no one would EVER want.] I mean, theoretically, it’s possible to love something without feeling the need to plaster it on your body, but I mean, if you CAN plaster the thing you love all over your body, it would be WRONG not to! So I figured leggings would use as much of the print as possible. I used the Megan Nielsen Virginia leggings pattern… I’ve made it twice before and it’s a piece of cake to sew up. I keep forgetting that I need to go up a size, but next time I really will. They fit just fine, but when I put them on, I hear the terrifying sound of stitches popping. But realistically, even if I split the crotch of these babies midday, that still probably won’t be as embarrassing as the fact that I’ll be a 32-year-old in puppy print leggings (ESPECIALLY if I use the leftover scraps to sew a matching running top… can’t wait to terrify the neighborhood!)! I’m already pretty sure these two don’t want to be seen with me: Moms are sooooooooo embarrassing, am I right? OK, friends, will you be getting your Crazy Dog Lady on? Any pug-related projects in the pipeline? Do tell!!

Book Report + Giveaway: Girly Style Wardrobe

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all staying warm if you’re in the northeast and enjoying a lovely holiday weekend if you’re in the States!

Today, I’m sharing a review of “Girly Style Wardrobe” by Yoshiko Tsukiori. Laurence King Publishing asked if I would like a review copy of this book, and even though I don’t have kids, I wanted to check out the book because I was interested to see Tsukiori’s aesthetic applied to children’s clothing (she’s written a couple of popular women’s pattern books). I really like the flowy, fun dresses that Tsukiori designs, but feel like I would look like a little kid in them. So, unsurprisingly, her designs are really nice for kids! This is a new English translation of a book that was published in Japan in 2007, so if the cover looks familiar, you may have seen the Japanese edition somewhere!

OK, so there are 28 patterns in the book, including tops, tunics, dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, a bolero, a smock, a little parka (my favorite!), a slip, a cap, and a purse. A couple of the “patterns” use the same block, but say, shorten the length (dress to tunic) or swap out long sleeves for short, but I think I counted 24 different designs (don’t hold me to that! I’m lousy at keeping track of things!). Like other Japanese pattern books, the patterns need to be traced and the seam allowance needs to be added. The sizing is based on height and fits approximately ages 3 to 10. There are a couple of patterns that you need to draw pieces for, like a tiered skirt that’s made entirely of rectangles.

Construction of these garments seems pretty straightforward. There’s nothing very complicated, but at the same time, the styles aren’t so simple that they’re boring. They include lots of pretty details like lace, gathers, pleats, and pintucks, and are styled in soft florals and pastels (I mean, the book is called “Girly Style Wardrobe”, so it makes sense that it would be a pretty feminine aesthetic). But I think it would be fun to sew these up in mod prints and bold colors.

With the huge caveat that I’m not a parent, this seems like a good investment if you sew for kids. There’s a wide range of styles, and at a retail price of 20USD, they’re a good value (you can even get it for $15 at The Book Depository or Amazon). There are even a few patterns that would totally work for boys, too, so if the little girl in your life has a brother, you could get a little more bang for your buck!

Like you usually see in these books, the instructions are fairly minimal, but there are lots of helpful diagrams. I really like sewing with visual aids like this… it’s easy to figure out how everything goes together, and I feel like I learn a lot just looking at the diagrams!

OK, as usual, I can give away a free copy to a U.S. reader! If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, please fill out the Google form below before Monday, February 23rd at 11:59PM EST and I’ll pick a winner using! Good luck!


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