Wool and the Gang Giveaway!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all well! Fellow knitters, I’m sure you feel me when I say that it’s tough to resist making “just one more” hat. I have tons of hats, have made tons of them for friends and family, and just generally love hats. So when Charlotte (who I’d met through By Hand London) asked if I wanted to try out a Wool and the Gang kit, I settled on a hat!

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

I decided to offer the hat to my sister, who’s a bit of an alpaca junkie, and because I was feeling a little mischievous, I demanded that she model it for the blog. I make things for family members pretty often, but seldom request photos because they’re busy, they’re far away, and I don’t want them to feel like gifts come with strings attached. But honestly, I get sick of seeing my own face in blog photos, plus Brenna was in town and in a sassy mood, so she agreed to model.πŸ™‚

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

As you can see, she clearly loves a camera pointed her direction!πŸ˜€

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

OK, so back to the hat! I chose the Jacques hat kit, which included the pattern, a seaming needle, one skein of Sugar Baby alpaca yarn, and a pair of knitting needles. The pattern booklet tells you how to knit the pattern, and then includes illustrated instructions for the long-tail cast-on as well as diagrams that illustrate the difference between rib stitch and stockinette. They also direct you to video tutorials on all these techniques, as well as adding a new ball of yarn, invisible seaming, and weaving in ends. It’s a really basic pattern, and you could probably find something similar for free, but it’s nice that all the information you need to make it can be found in the booklet (which is small enough to carry around in your bag, something I appreciate as I always have letter-size knitting patterns folded up in my purse where they always seem to get bent or torn).

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

I really liked the baby alpaca yarn. It’s super soft and squishy, but it didn’t shed like crazy like an alpaca yarn that I used in the past. I chose the colorway Shacklewell Grey, a two-tone yarn. I had my doubts that there was enough yarn provided to actually finish the hat, but I was proven wrong and had enough to do it without stressing out at the end. One different thing about it was that it was knitted flat on straight needles, with instructions to seam it at the end. I’ve never done a hat like this, but it’s probably easier for a beginner to master that than to sort out how to cast on and join in the round.

The kit retails for 19USD, which feels reasonable to me. I just checked, and I bought a kit from Brooklyn Tweed for the Rosebud hat as a gift for my sister four years ago, and it cost 25USD. Wait a minute… I’ve never seen that hat on her… did you not even knit it, Brenna? Naughty!

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

This is my first experience using a Wool and the Gang yarn or pattern, but I have fond memories of their old Soho store. I used to poke around in it when I was in the neighborhood, maybe ten years ago, and was really interested in knitting, but scared to try it myself. It’s fun to see how their business has changed since then! I was just checking out their website and saw that they’ve developed a yarn made from denim remnants that come from the jeans manufacturing process. What a great idea! The yarn is out of stock, but hopefully I’ll be able to grab some when it’s back so I can give you guys a full report!

OK, last but not least, I have a Jacques hat kit to give away to one lucky reader! Please leave a comment below if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway telling me your favorite colorway, and make sure to leave an email address if you can’t be contacted through your comment profile. I’ll close the giveaway next Saturday, June 25th, at noon EST. Good luck!!!

Book Report: Sewing Happiness!

Hi, guys! Hope you are having a lovely weekend! Today I’m pleased to introduce you to a really lovely book by a blogger that I’ve recently gotten to know and admire, Sanae Ishida. I took part in a super fun Secret Valentine’s Exchange hosted by Sanae and by Ute, a really sweet Instagram-based swap where I made a gift for Sanae and received one from Betsy. (I seriously lucked out… my gifts from Betsy were AMAZING). I did lots of snooping on Sanae’s feed to see what sort of gift she might like, and was really smitten with her clean, modern crafting aesthetic and her beautiful drawings. So when I was contacted by her publisher to take part in a blog tour for her book, I was pumped!

Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well (Amazon affiliate link here and Indiebound link here) is a book of sewing projects organized by season and mood- summer (health), fall (creativity), winter (relationships), and spring (letting go). I never would have thought of my life and seasons being organized around themes, but there’s something very resonant about this idea and I can definitely see these threads woven through my sewing output each season, for sure.

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

The projects are simple and straightforward, with no PDFs to download or patterns to trace. They are geared towards beginners, but there’s a fun twist on the projects that make them enjoyable for people who have been sewing longer. They’re frequently inspired by Japanese design and and traditional crafts- origami and sashiko influences are particularly pretty. I am really attracted to this aesthetic and loved the sample projects and photos in the book.

What I really love about the book, though, are Sanae’s essays about her journey from an unhealthy workaholic to a balanced, healthy woman. She writes beautifully about how sewing helped her regain confidence after losing her job, and how crafting, alongside exercise and diet changes, helped her feel much better both physically and emotionally. I often try to explain to others how much joy and health I receive from handmaking, but Sanae is much more eloquent on the topic than I am! So I think this would make a great and inspiring book for the people in our lives who are curious about why we devote so much time and attention to handcrafts. I think this could inspire them to join our cult community!

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

I decided to make a project from the book for this post, and chose to make the cross-back apron. Oddly enough, I actually need an apron for both my jobs (dealing with dusty old furniture and gross decades-old foam at one, wrestling fake fur/fleece/glue at the other) and recently dug through my apartment trying to find my old painting smock without any luck. So I was glad for an excuse to carve out some personal sewing time to whip one up!

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

I was offered fabric from Miss Matatabi for my project, and you’d better believe that I angsted for ages before finally choosing one! Her whole inventory is amazing, and I really struggled to narrow down my choices to just one. In the end, I picked this Kokka Echino linen/cotton canvas… it’s geometric, it’s got animals, AND it’s metallic? Yep! I’ll take it! (UK readers, I saw it pop up on the M is for Make IG feed the other day… here it is!).

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

The apron is a piece of cake to make, but it’s also really clever- the way the straps are attached make it simple to slip over your head, and it stays in place without any annoying ties, something that I’m cautious about since I work with power tools and dangly bits on your clothes aren’t a great idea. I was suspicious that the apron would shuffle around on my body while I worked, but it’s quite comfortable and I don’t notice it at all while I’m working.

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

There are dimensions given for three adult sizes, as well as four kids’ sizes (with a variation included to make the kids’ straps adjustable… smart!). I used the pocket size suggested for my size, but I split it into two pockets, which works well for holding my frequently-used tools. I took the time to match the pattern across the pocket, which always makes me smile. It’s one of those things that sets a homemade project apart from cheap RTW and I do it whenever I can.

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

The only thing I’m unhappy about with this apron is… I don’t want it to get dirty! It’s too cute to wear in the workshop!! I almost want to wear it as a dress! It makes me feel like I’m living my secret fantasy, being an art teacherπŸ™‚

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

Last but not least, I have good news! I have a copy of Sewing Happiness to give away to a reader in the US! To enter, please fill out the form here. Also, I have a Miss Matatabi gift card to give to another reader- international readers welcome! For a chance to win a $45 gift card, leave a comment below telling me your favorite fabric from Miss Matatabi (and make sure there’s a way to contact you, either through your commenting profile or in the comment itself). Contests are open until Saturday 4/30/16 at 12P EST. Good luck!!

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

Bonus pug spam.πŸ™‚

Marimekko + Xerea + giveaway!!!

Hi, guys! Happy Monday! Hope your day is off to a good start! OK, I am sooooo excited to show you this dress, so I’m just gonna dive right in!

Pauline Alice Xerea Dress + Marimekko | Ginger Makes

Erica from AlwaysMod.com contacted me a while back to see if I was interested in choosing a Marimekko print for a project*. Um, yes, please! I’m a huge fan of Scandinavian design in general and Marimekko in particular… the prints are just so vibrant and unique! I agonized over the choice for ages, but in the end I went with this gorgeous print, “Siirtolapuutarha”. It’s the Finnish word for “allotment”, which is a nice aside– it was inspired by urban gardens! I like that.πŸ™‚

As you can see, this is a really large-scale print! It’s probably intended to be used for things like curtains instead of clothing, hence the huge scale, but I’m not one to shy away from a big ol’ print! I almost chose something with a smaller scale, but I’m glad I didn’t- this one really makes a statement!

Pauline Alice Xerea Dress + Marimekko | Ginger Makes

For this ’60’s-esque print, a ’60’s-esque silhouette seemed like the right thing to do, so I decided to make another Pauline Alice Xerea dress. I’ve been wearing my first version so much that I was really eager to make another! I enjoy seeing the way that one pattern looks when it’s made up in different fabrics. Since this fabric is much heavier and crisper than the barkcloth I used before, it really holds the tent shape! I love it, actually, although I totally get that this look isn’t for everyone.

Pauline Alice Xerea Dress + Marimekko | Ginger Makes

I thought quite a bit about print placement for this dress. I didn’t want to break up the print too much, but I also wanted to feature all the different colors in the repeat. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, although, really, I think I would have been happy no matter how I used the print! It’s just so cheerful! I’m especially fond of the little eyeball-shaped bits by the pink flower… they’re so Muppet-y! Get this: Man Friend likes this dress! I know… it’s shocking! That’s a pretty big win, in my book!

Pauline Alice Xerea Dress + Marimekko | Ginger Makes

I *almost* managed to fit the entirety of this giant flower on the back… not quite!πŸ™‚ Let’s see, the only change I made in sewing up the dress from my first version was to do a 1/4″ narrow shoulder adjustment. It’s much more comfortable to wear now, although I think I could’ve taken out a smidge more. The dress was MUCH simpler and quicker to sew this go-round since I didn’t have any cutting mishaps like I did the first time!πŸ˜€

Pauline Alice Xerea Dress + Marimekko | Ginger Makes

OK, now for the fun part! A giveaway! AlwaysMod is giving away two yards of the fabric of your choice, yay! Unlike most of the giveaways I do on the blog, they’re dealing with all the logistics, so you can head over here to enter for a chance to win! The only catch is that you need to sign up for their newsletter, but you can unsubscribe whenever you want to so you’re not locked into a marriage with them or anything like that.πŸ™‚ They’ll pick a winner on or around August 25th. Good luck, everyone! In the meantime, here’s a YouTube video that I stumbled across that shows the printing process in the Marimekko factory in Helsinki- I found it totally fascinating! Anyone else have a sudden urge to do some screenprinting?!

*Fabric was given to me by AlwaysMod.com to review. I super love it. No affiliate links in the post.

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?Β  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.πŸ™‚

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!