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 random.org. 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!

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 random.org! Good luck!

Giveaway: Vintage McCall’s Notebooks & Cards!

Hey hey hi hi! I’m here today with one last giveaway before the end of 2014! Sound good? Let’s do it!

Chronicle Books recently released these notebook and notecard sets featuring vintage McCall’s pattern covers. Fun, right?

So cute!

Wait, did I say cute? I meant DEAD SEXY. Who doesn’t love a man in plaid, particularly if he looks like he’s escaped from the set of Elf!

The notebooks are sold in three-packs, and the cards are a set of 16. You can also find them on the McCall’s website.

So, if you wanna be entered in the giveaway, fill out the Google form below! I’ll ship internationally (yay!) and will pick FIVE winners (double yay!) Let’s close the giveaway on Monday, December 22nd at noon EST so I’ll have time to get them packed up and in the mail before the holiday.

Also, I just realized I forgot to announce the winner of the Love at First Stitch giveaway! We had 166 entrants and the winner, #55 chosen by random.org, was Angela! Hope you love it, lady!

OK, I hope you guys have a wonderful week! I’ll be back soon with a really fun finished garment… talk to you then!

Book Report + Giveaway: Love at First Stitch!

Hi, guys! Hope all of you are well and that you had a great Thanksgiving weekend, if you celebrate!

Roost Books contacted me a while back to see if I would be interested in doing a review and giveaway to celebrate the U.S. launch of Tilly Walnes’ book, Love at First Stitch. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, since the book was so widely-reviewed in the sewing blog community around the U.K. launch. I wasn’t sure I had anything new to say about the book, or if there’s even a single person who reads my blog who hasn’t heard of the book before! But I decided to host a giveaway for one simple reason: it’s a great book and I’d love for one of you to get a free copy!

You see, I’d already ordered two copies of the book, before it was released in the States (I don’t even know if I should tell you this, but Book Depository ships books INTERNATIONALLY FOR FREE… how is this even possible?!?! Hide your wallets!!!). I ordered them for a couple of friends who are beginning sewers, so I flipped through the book before handing it off to them and was thoroughly impressed. There’s a wealth of information about dressmaking in there- far more info than I had at hand when I began sewing- and it’s organized in a way that makes it easy to build on your skills as you progress through the book.

I appreciate that Tilly takes the time to explain not just the what’s (use interfacing), but the how’s (apply it with your iron) and the why’s (it stiffens your fabric and is used to help things keep their shape, etc.). And there’s quite a bit of info that I would’ve really benefited from as a newbie, such as this section on understanding ease. I would’ve had much better results in my early sewing projects if I’d had this book!

Here are the patterns included in the book:

Obviously, everyone’s taste is different, and these styles aren’t for everyone, but I find them much more appealing than the patterns you usually see in books aimed at beginners (like the book I used as a beginner, Sew Everything Workshop… it was a good resource for a newbie, but I didn’t make a single pattern from the book because I didn’t like any of them).

While the reasons I’ve listed above why I like this book are all good, here’s why I REALLY like this book. I gave a copy to my friend Christine to help her learn more about sewing. We’d done one lesson together at my apartment and made a little tote bag in an afternoon, but she didn’t have any other experience sewing. So I was really excited when she texted me a photo of her modeling her own pair of freshly-made Margot pajamas pyjamas! She was so happy and proud that she immediately sewed up a shorts version with her leftover fabric! I was so glad that she was able to work through the pattern using Tilly’s instructions without difficulties or frustration! From here on out I’ll be keeping a copy handy for friends that want to learn how to sew. :)

I was also tickled to see a shout-out to my blog in the book… thanks, Tilly! I didn’t know that she’d done that, so I was really shocked when I flipped through the book and saw it! I do appreciate that she includes information on blogs, though- I know I’m not the only one who learned almost everything they know about sewing from blogs!

Alright, now it’s time for the giveaway! It’s open to US readers, and I will pick a winner using random.org. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, please fill out the Google form below before Monday, December 8th at 11:59P EST. Good luck!

Book Report + Giveaway: Fabric For Fashion… The Swatch Book!!!!!

Friends, I’m a fabric addict. So it should come as no surprise to you that I’m in love with this book! It’s the brand-new second edition of Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book! I had my eye on the first edition, but it’s been out of print for some time, so I was really excited to receive this from Laurence King.

The book is packed with information about different types of fibers, and it’s all very clear and well-organized. The book is divided into sections about animal fibers, plant fibers, and man-made fibers, and is subdivided into smaller groups within each section. It’s easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for.

But the stars of the show are the swatches! There are 125 swatches, an almost shocking amount! I’m not sure I could’ve named 25 different types of fabric, let alone 125, before picking up this book! But I really appreciate that they sampled so many variations of fabric because it’s the variations on similar fabrics that are really hard to tell apart, right? It’s really easy to tell cotton twill from silk charmeuse when they’re both in front of you, but can you tell the difference between silk habotai and silk crepe de chine? Cotton satin and cotton sateen? Lawn and organdie? You can with the help of this book!

I really appreciate that the book gives good information on which fabrics are more ecologically sustainable (hemp, ramie, and jute are three examples… none of which are easy to find in my neck of the woods!) and which ones need lots of processing. I also really like that the qualities and best uses for different fabrics are listed (so you can decide whether to use silk, viscose, acetate, or polyester satin for your garment, depending on whether you need your garment to resist wrinkles, be very colorfast, wash well, or mold to the body).

The swatches are, for the most part, undyed (read: beige). I was hoping for a rainbow of colors and prints, but the authors were probably right- you want to notice the qualities of the fabric, not the colors and prints! But dudes, I still love the swatches. I’m a touchy-feely person and when it comes to fabric, even more so! You can read pages and pages about a fabric’s qualities, but nothing is quite so telling as touching a swatch!

I really, really like this book and wish that everyone could grab a copy. However. The big drawback is the cost- $95 USD retail price (although you can preorder it from Amazon for $63). Yikes! I understand why it costs so much – it can’t be cheap to produce and assemble – but still, it’s expensive. Better put it in your letter to Santa and cross your fingers that you’re on the nice list, not the naughty one! Or request it for your local library- it’s a great resource!

Good news: I can give away a copy to a US reader (I’m sorry, international friends… I’ve got another giveaway coming up that you’ll be able to enter)! Please use the Google form below to enter. I’ll draw a winner on Sunday, November 9th.

One last item of business- I forgot to announce it earlier, but the winner of the Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress giveaway is Sarah Moum! Yay!

What have you guys been up to lately? Picked up any good sewing books lately?

Review + Giveaway: Fashionary Sketchbook + Tape Measure!

Hi, guys! I have a fun giveaway for you today, hooray!  Vikki from Fashionary contacted me to see if I would like to do a review and giveaway of the Fashionary Sketchbook, and you know I don’t like to turn down an opportunity to give away stuff on this blog!*  Vikki asked if I wanted to give away the classic women’s sketchbook, or the “Tiger Mania”. Um…

MEOW!

Please don’t laugh at my terrible sketches… or my stubby baby fingers… or my disgusting iron burn…

If you haven’t seen it before, the Fashionary Sketchbook is really cool. It was designed to make fashion sketching easier and quicker by printing the pages with faint outlines of models. You can trace/draw/paint over the outlines as you feel inspired! This is great for me- although I’ve always been into fine art, I’ve always been terrible at drawing, so this book helps my little sewing idea sketches look better. Also, I tend to doodle ideas on scraps of paper whenever inspiration strikes, but then I have weird loose papers stuffed into notebooks. This is a much more organized approach! I’ve been wanting to try one of these for a long time, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to test one!

The Fashionary also has a dictionary of fashion terms, tons of little drawings of different design details, and even a chart that tells you what the care symbols on RTW garment labels means! Those have always mystified me… so I choose to believe that they all say “Wash in one giant load on hot, dry everything together, and leave in the laundry basket for at least a week before folding”.

Vikki also sent me their tape measure to review. It’s a tape measure marked on one side with standard measurements for a woman’s size 38, and on the other for a men’s 48. It’s meant to aid you when you’re patternmaking or draping without a live model or a mannequin handy. This would be nice for a fashion student, but probably not very useful for most home sewers.  It’s interesting to look at, though, and might be fun for those of you who are into patternmaking.

I’m not really into sewing with a plan (well, I make plans, but they generally derail), but I’m enjoying jotting down garment ideas in my Fashionary. It feels more flexible than lists of garments, and it’s nice when you see something that you like and want to get it on paper before you forget it (I’m recently obsessed with a crisp striped shirt I saw on a chic elderly Manhattanite… it looked AWESOME and I wanted one just like it the moment I saw it).  So I’m looking forward to using this to collect my sewing ideas in one place.

I’m basically just typing in the word “crotch” here so I can disappoint a few perverts… or maybe hook them on the joy of sewing?

OK, if you wanna win your own TIGER MANIA (OMG, I LOVE IT!) Fashionary, let me know in a comment below! I’ll close the comments at noon EST on Friday 6/6 and pick a winner at random soon after. I’m happy to ship internationally, but I’ll probably send it the slowest/cheapest way. OK, do you use any kind of sketchbook? Do you like to plan your sewing in advance? How do you organize your ideas?

*NOTE: Actually, I do turn down giveaway offers. I love being able to give away free stuff to you guys, but I also want to make sure that they’re responsible products and things that my readers would be interested in (sometimes I get approached by sketchy RTW clothing companies or people with books that have nothing to do with garment sewing… that’s just not what we’re about over here).

Ginger Made: Nettie Bodysuit x2 + Giveaway!

Readers, I’ve gone down the bodysuit rabbit hole. In my defense, it’s not entirely my fault. When a favorite blogger/seamstress (Heather) makes a hot new pattern inspired by another favorite blogger/seamstress (Wanett), I’m basically hooked. Add to that the fact that everyone who’s made one looks super-duper mega-sexy, and, well, I couldn’t help myself.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

Just in case you haven’t seen the pattern yet, this here is the Nettie bodysuit.  For my first version, I chose the scoop neck/medium scoop back/short sleeves combo, and used a soft, stretchy cotton-lycra blend from Mood Fabrics NYC. This fabric was crazy easy to sew, and feels amazing on. I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern, but sewed up a straight size 8 and it totally works.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

Action shot!

I sewed this entirely on my sewing machine, using a narrow zigzag stitch (1.5mm wide x 2.5 mm long) for seams and a slightly wider zigzag (2.5mm wide x 2.5mm long) for topstitching. Yes, I have a serger, but sometimes serged seams feel kind of scratchy to me, and I definitely didn’t want something this close-fitted to be itchy. So if you want to try this but don’t have a serger, don’t be afraid! Dive right in!

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

I tried to use a scrap of silk as the crotch lining, but I just couldn’t get it ironed into a nice, clean rectangle, so I scrapped that and used some grosgrain ribbon that I had lying around that happened to be the right width. This is probably a little stiffer than desired, but it works and the snaps are concealed nicely.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

I never, never, NEVER wear anything this fitted (honestly, I just don’t wear fitted knits… negative ease WHAT?!), but I feel really comfortable in this.  When I slipped this on and added the skirt (it’s from American Apparel and I’d had it in my wardrobe for YEARS, but haven’t worn it much because I just don’t have anything that looks right with it) I suddenly felt so, so chic. I immediately thought of Sophia Loren and started swanning around like a crazy person, much to Man Friend’s chagrin. I don’t know why, but the scoop neck and back just make me feel so feminine and pretty, in a weird dress-up way (WHICH I’M TOTALLY FINE WITH).

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

So, I fell in love and immediately wanted another Nettie in my life.  This is where things went off the rails a bit.  I made a trek to Spandex House, lose my mind completely, and bought an armload of very questionable prints. I mean, I think I did pretty good considering that I didn’t come back with any jewel/bullet/glacier/pot leaf/French fries/guns AND roses/skeletons on surfboards prints when I had the option for all of those.  I stand by my choices and love them all, but I’ve officially entered Man Repellant territory.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

I chose my favorite print of the bunch (you can find it here if you’re desperate for the same print) to dive into and sewed up another version, this time swapping out the long sleeves for three-quarter length. This is a four-way stretch nylon-spandex blend, so it definitely feels less like normal clothes and more like weird sportswear (I keep rubbing my belly when I wear this because I feel like I’m petting a marine mammal or something).  It definitely feels tighter and less breathable.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

I sewed up this puppy on the regular sewing machine, making sure to use a stretch needle (rather than a ballpoint). I used a scrap of cotton in a coordinating color for the lining, which worked really well.  It was a super quick sew and again I didn’t need to make any adjustments.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

Something to think about when you’re sewing up something like a bodysuit is the stretch of the fabric. This is probably pretty obvious for most people, but if you’re new to sewing with knits, you may not realize how much fabric choice affects the fit.  I sewed both of these in the same size and modeled them on the same day, but the printed one feels much tighter than the other because of the varying amounts of stretch in the fabric. If you’re on the fence about if your fabric is stretchy enough, definitely refer to Heather’s post about fabric here. You don’t want to waste time sewing something you feel sausaged into!

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

One thing I’m not happy about with this bodysuit is the styling. I planned to wear this with my grey Moss mini skirt, but I forgot how low the skirt sits on my hips. It looked completely silly with it! I’m really not loving this with my tight jeans, but I’m not sure how else to wear it! Should I make a skirt similar to my AA skirt (worn with the blue bodysuit)? Or wear it with wide-leg jeans, definitely running the risk of looking SUPER 90’s? Sallie’s bodysuit/jeans pairing looks super sexy, but it’s just not working on me.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

A word of warning: as I alluded to before, this sort of garment elicits STRONG feelings from the menfolk in my life. I got the worst review ever from Man Friend:

“It’s a monstrous garment. It’s not your fault. No one should want to wear it… unless you’re about to ride the pommel horse in the 1996 Atlanta games”.

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

Monstrous? You meant fabulous, right?

Which, PSHAW, everyone knows that only dudes use the pommel horse, so, I mean, who’s obviously wrong here?  Of course, it’s no secret that Man Friend Criticism (MFC) just empowers me to go as far as I can in the direction of the loud, tacky, and generally ridiculous, so bring it on, mister!  #CLOTHESBEFOREBROS

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

In other news, today is my third blogiversary! I never thought three years ago when I wrote my first post that anyone would be interested in reading my blog, and I definitely didn’t know how passionate I would become about sewing! Thank you so much to everyone who reads my blog, to everyone who blogs, and to all of y’all who just generally make the internet a happier, sweeter, and more well-dressed place! You guys are the best!

Also, as I was typing this up today, I noticed that this will be my 200th post! Dang, I talk a lot! So, I think a giveaway’s in order, huh?  Leave a comment below if you’d like to win your own copy of the Nettie bodysuit! Because I’m nosy, tell me what fabric you would use for your Nettie!  I’ll choose a winner at random on Friday, so I’ll close the comments at 12PM EST on Friday 5/16. Yay!

So tell me- bodysuits, yay or nay? And wild prints- yes? No? Maybe? How would you style a bodysuit?

Nettie bodysuit | Ginger Makes

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