Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

The Liberty book of home sewing

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

I know what you are thinking…. “what? another Liberty book review?”  Well,why not!  This is, after all, a beyond lovely book.  So if you have a few minutes spare, I invite you to stay with me and read this short review and also, see a bit more of the inside of this book, if you haven’t already bought it yet of course!

The Liberty book of home sewing

Pretty cover but prettier things inside


Like the overwhelming majority who already have this pretty book in their hands, I too must say that this is just such a beautiful book.  Quadrille, the Liberty team and every person that collaborated in the creation of this book managed to encapsulate the very essence of Liberty within it.

Rose corsage

If you have been to Liberty, the shop, you will probably agree with me that is full of beautiful things, some might not be to your taste but you cannot deny that many of the designs are amazing, beautiful textures, luxury smells, the place is full of so many shinny things.  But what are all those things?  Well, they are normal, everyday things, like slippers, bags, scarves, fabrics, buttons, plates, diaries; they are just beautifully designed, amazingly pretty and well, sometimes the price is a bit steep.

Book Covers

Well, The Liberty Book of Home Sewing is full of patterns for many “normal” things like shopping bags, a flower brooch, book covers, quilts, pincushions; however when they are made with very pretty and ultra traditional Liberty prints, they become something special, almost decadent.

Sugar-bag doorstop

The entire book itself screams Liberty, the quality of the paper and the lush photos just makes you forget that you probably already have more than one or two patterns for an apron, but the pinny in this book is the one that you need to have ;)

Frilly pinny with potholder

I have already marked two projects from this book that I will make myself, which will become very nice Christmas presents , I will keep you posted about these, and as always if you have made anything from this book already share it with us, we would love to see it!


The busy girl’s guide to sewing

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Do you love sewing and/or other crafts and you don’t find time to do anything?  Do you spend hours jumping from blog to blog reading what other people have made and you end up wondering how they manage to do all that and blog about it?  Well, you are not alone, I am the same.  So when I saw Carrie Maclennan’s new book, The busy girl’s guide to sewing, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

But then again, I have had this book for quite some time and I haven’t managed to write a review :S  what I have been doing is going through the pages and choosing projects and fabrics to make it.

I like the book for many reasons, it has a very fresh and realistic approach.  It even has a chapter on Making Time!  The answers are not difficult or out of this world, so it won’t ask you to leave your day job, or to avoid going out with your friends, all the opposite it suggest to make friends with similar creative ideas and get together and make something.  Not difficult eh?

Carrie has organized the projects by the time it takes to make them, so you will find pincushions and needle cases in the 30min chapter; Christmas decorations, aprons and phone covers, etc in the One hour or less chapter, and more elaborate cushions, a pouffe and even a skirt made out of a duvet cover in the Four hours or less chapter.

In between projects and chapters you will find a bit more of information about blogging, going shopping and meeting makers.  This book is a truly XXI century approach on sewing.

Now, one very clever thing that the author has done in this book is to break down projects in “chunks”.  What is that? Well, in her own words “the projects have been organized into manageable little blocks of sewing activity”.  You might not have 4hrs to make the embroidered bag, but you might have 30min spare every day and in a few days you will have a brand new bag sewn by you!  Once you get the hand of it, you will probably see every project in “chunks” and you will be able to make anything you want to, regardless of how busy your agenda is.


The busy girl’s guide to sewingby Carrie Maclennan is published by David and Charles.

Patchwork inspired projects by Cath Kidston

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Most of the time when I think of patchwork I think of new modern patterns or traditional simple patterns with contemporary fabrics.  I had almost forgotten that the roots of patchwork was not only to create an heirloom quilt, but to make the most out of fabrics in times long before mass production.  The new Cath Kidston book, Patch!, has reminded me that crafters from past times washed their fabrics before cutting them into little pieces, not to preshrink them, but to remove stains and odours, since the fabric they were about to sew together it was likely to be a shirt or an old dress.  So if you think that recycling and upcycling in a new trend, think again.

Patch! remains true to the brand and follows the same style than their previous books.  The photos are very warm and allow you to admire the beauty of vintage fabrics and the instructions seem quite straight forward, but don’t quote me on this one as I have not made anything from it yet.

There is a bit of everything in the book but there is a lot about bags and quite a few ideas for cushions and pillowcases.  You will also find things for the rest of the house, children, a dog bed, and a couple of applique project… after all applique is a close relative to patchwork.  Most of the projects are easy to make, there are no big complicated quilts, or anything that will take you ages to finish.

The beauty of this book is that it clearly shows how you can use old and new fabrics in the same project and nobodwil raise an eyebrow.  On the other hand, if you like making things exactly like the ones in the book with exactly the same fabrics, you are going to have a challenge to find the same designs.  To me, one of the great things is to make something and stamp my own style, so I wouldn’t have a problem making some of the cushions entirely with solids, or a mixture of linen in natural colour and bright cottons.

As in their previous books, it comes with a kit to get you starting in making a tote bag or a cushion cover, so there are no excuses of why not to get stitching.


Patch! Cath Kidston ® is published by Quadrille Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-184400-988-6

A girl’s world design by a lovely girl

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

I have got in my own hands a beautiful book, full of pretty pictures, girly projects, a pocket filled with every pattern on the book and in every size, and lots of colours that guarantee to make you smile.  I have a signed copy of Jennifer Paganelli’s Girl’s World.

The cover and presentation of the book says it all!

I admire Jennifer for many reasons, she is an incredible designer (something that I keep repeating to the Free Spirit UK distributor), but she is a nice to the core lady.  I follow her on Facebook and Twitter, not like a weird stalker, but as a true admirer of her work.  I can’t really put a finger on why I like it so much, maybe it is because it really shows that she and her team do everything they do with love and professionalism and that always shows.

Wouldn't be great these pillows in all sizes, from tiny small pincushions to big ones?

The book has been out for a few months already, in the UK since May if I am not mistaken, but it is not specific for summer, some of the dresses can easily be made with thicker fabrics, like the Mary’s Fancy Sash Dress.  But it is not all dresses, you can find accessories and great ideas for the home too, and not all are sewing projects, Jennifer has thrown in a lampshade and a very motivational badge, so you trully can create a girl’s world with this book.

This must be THE dress

Like every good book, it has a very sweet introduction by the author and a section to help you get started, a bit of guidance with sizing, what you will need to make your life easier, and a glossary of techniques that you will find useful not only in this book with any other sewing project.

A cheeky apron.

I already have on my list 2 projects that I want to make, an apron and a puppy, the best bit about this last one is the puppy’s name is George.  I just want to make one to call it George, since I am not allowed to have another dog, but that’s another blog post altogether.

George, my new dog.

The only down side of this book is that I am too big for the girly dresses, so I will keep sourcing patterns from Sis Boom (Jennifer’s company) until one sunny day my luck changes.

Even this brooches are adorable :)

- Lizzet xo

Girl’s World by Jennifer Paganelli is published by Chronicle Books (ISBN 978-9-8118-7444-1

Crafting Wonderland

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Have you ever wished you could fall down a rabbit hole like Alice did and find Wonderland?  I did, I wanted to live all that madness and meet all those surreal characters (saying that, without falling down a rabbit hole I have meet quite a few surreal characters over the years!).  Disappointingly after all these years of been living in Oxford I have found no sign of that rabbit hole! One thing life has taught me however, is that if you want something really bad, you have to go after it and make it happen yourself, and I couldn’t possibly think of anything better than to create my very own Wonderland.

As I flick through the pages of Everything Alice, Hannah Rad-Baldrey and Christine Leech’s new book, my smile becomes bigger and bigger, just like a Cheshire Cat smile.

This must be my favourite project in the book

Everything Alice, as you might have guessed, is inspired by the Book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carrol and inside it gives you all you need to get started creating your very on Wonderland, including wonderful things like patterns for for a white rabbit, mad hatter hats, invitation cushions, humpty dumpty doorstop; recipes for a Curious Teapot Cake, Duchess Macaroons, and Red Velvet Cupcakes that look so appetising you won’t be able to resist making them.

Oh yes! you will find embroidery projects too!

I can’t tell you how much I want to have an Alice in Wonderland  themed party make the Giant Rose Lights to decorate the garden.  But if you don’t want to take it to extremes, you could also have a little bit of Wonderland in your everyday life and make the very clever embroidery box or a very simple and practical bag to carry your books or lunch.

What better to amuse a little one than this mobile.

This mobile will amuse any child for hours

Alternatively you can do the same that I have done for a few weeks, and go through the pages and admiring the creativity of the two talented writers of this fun book.

You can't recreate Wonderland without having one of this hats!

Everything Alice, by Hannah Read-Baldrey & Christine Leech is published byt Quadrille Publishing (ISBN 978-1844009725)

A teacosy to add a touch of Wonderland to every day :)

A little touch of Wonderland to your everyday life

Sewing to reinvent and upcycle your clothes

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Marion Elliot’s new book Get the most from your clothes, published by David & Charles is certainly bang on trend.  If there is a person that  has not heard about ‘make do and mend’  or ‘upcycle’ has probably spent the last few years in a cave.

The aim of this book is to make you see your wardrobe or the charity shops in a different way.  It is full of ideas of how to give a second chance to those clothes that you haven’t worn for months, if not years.

It also has a few projects for children clothes and little charms, so if you want to get your children busy this summer without spending too much, they can learn a few things with this book and proudly wear the finished project.

To my taste, most of the projects look a bit homemade.  So if you are looking for a more professional finish the photos might not inspire that much.

This book however does have good advice on fitting garments, which is crucial if you want to upcycle your wardrobe or vintage garments.  The Perfect Prepping chapter is also very useful, it teaches you among other things on what to look for when buying used clothes and how to get more out of what you buy.

Have you thought of giving a second chance to something in your wardrobe?  Have you already turned a dress into a bag?  If you would like to win a copy of Get the most from your clothes and get a few more ideas of how to reinvent your wardrobe, share a few photos of something that you have made,whether upcycled or made from scrash, in Facebook or in our Flickr group.  I will announce the winner next 29th June, 2011.  Each photo is an entry, so the more you share, the more you increase your chance to win!

Good Luck!!!

This giveaway is open only to UK and Europe.

Get the most from your clothes by Marion Elliot is published by David & Charles.  ISBN 978-0-7153-3842-1

A guide to simple sewing

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

I think it was in a small shop in Portobello Road where I first saw a Lisa Stickley bag and I remember how my pupils dilated and I wanted so much to own every single bag that was on display.  Ever since then I have admired her style, and how she mixes simple lines with a contemporary take of vintage details.  Her book Made at Home, a guide to simple sewing, published by Quadrille last year, carries on this same style not only on the design of the book, which I love, but also on the projects that she shares with us.

I personally admire a designer that sticks to his/her style and in this case Made at Home has Lisa’s stamp all over it.  Even at the beginning of each pattern, there is an introduction by the designer that comes across so warm that almost encourages you to make it and makes you wonder why you have not done it before!

Although the projects might be a bit basic for the experienced sewer, they are so varied that you will definitely find something that you want to do, or always been wondering how to do, I even bet you will find in this book better instructions of how to do something that you have done before.

Another great thing about the clean design of each pattern is that whether you like to use natural linen, animal print or kawaii fabrics you are not going to be put off by the style of the projects.  All the opposite actually, you can see your favourite fabric working in either of the 30 projects in the book.  And as you get more comfortable with the pattern, you can start adding things to it, ruffles if that what you like, or maybe a border on different fabric; after all, like the title says it, this book it is a guide to simple sewing, you can make it as complicated as you want!

The patterns can be as basic and beginner’s friendly as the napkins and placemats

a bit more challenging like the piped cushion or outdoor cushion

or even a bit fun and inviting to get you out of your comfort zone like the roman blind or the pouffe (which by the way she suggests to use all those scraps of fabrics to stuff  the pouffe for a firm and weighty feel.  I told you she was a clever girl!).

I guess that the best way to describe this book is a blank canvas with very clear instructions on how to sew things at home.  At least to me, it does encourages me to go ahead and make something and put my own stamp, which is why I love so much about making my own things, don’t you think so?

Made at Home, a guide to simple sewing by Lisa Stickley is published by Quadrille Publishing, ISBN 978-184400-237-5

Stitch with Love — CLOSED –

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Have you seen a cushion or a bag or even a little kitchen towel that you almost felt in love with it as soon as you saw it?  I remember seeing a needle case made by the great-grandmother of one of my friends and wanting it to be mine so bad that I almost cursed my great-grandmother for not making one or at least not keeping it for the future generations (i.e. me, I would be even angrier if I knew there it one in the family and it is not mine!).  I find that these designs are incredibly simple, but is the tiny details that make them so pretty, like a little embroidered flower, or a hand-stitched ribbon, or sometimes is just the wear-and-tear that add that charm that no fabric or lace can provide.

But when David & Charles sent me Mandy Shaw’s latest book, Stitch with Love, I knew straight away that there was hope for me to own a needle case so cute that I will keep forever.  Stitch with Love is full of easy projects, all with pretty embroidery designs and all in that classic style and colours that will look good today and in years to come.

The projects are quite diverse, so you will find bags, cushions, aprons, journal covers, a sew tidy, Christmas decorations, gifts for new born babies, even gift tags!  I can picture myself receiving a present with this tag and ignoring the present but cherishing the tag for years (unless of course is that overlocker that I have wanted for years).

Another good thing about this book is that has instructions for both right and left handers.  I’m left-hander and it takes me forever to learn some crafts because I have to mirrow the instructions.  This time, I might have a good chance to learn without tears.  I am going to give a try to that needle roll using one of the linens that we have in shop, and regardless of how it looks when finished, I will keep it and handed down to future generations.

To pass on the love, I am giving away a copy of Stitch with Love to a lucky person.  To enter just leave a comment on this blog, and tell me if you have got something handmade by you or someone you love that you treasure and want to keep forever.  The winner will be picked next Monday 16th May, 2011 and announced in this blog.  The competition is open to all UK and European readers this time.

TStitch withLove is published by David & Charles (ISBN-13: 9780715338490)

Sewing Answers

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

A few weeks ago I received from publishers David & Charles a little book that made the somewhat bold claim on its cover “Solutions to every problem you’ll ever face.  Answers to every question you’ll ever ask”.  What was my reaction to this statement?  “I don’t need a book for that; I have Google and YouTube to answer all my questions”.  So because of my virtual ‘oracle’, I wrongly left this little book on the side to have a look at some other time (maybe when the internet connection was down).  I wish I hadn’t. Without having to log on, register for endless offers I don’t want, reset my firewall settings, do something with cookies (gone are the days they were something you ate them!), or virus scan, the Sewing Answer Book by Barbara Weiland Talbert is a wealth of information for both the gurus and beginners.

Look no further, the answers to your sewing questions are in this book.

You might say that the best way to learn to sew is to, well, sew and maybe one of the best ways to do that is to sign up for a sewing class or join a sewing club; and I agree.  But what happens when you are at home reading a pattern, or wondering what is the best interfacing to go for, or why you are doing wrong when machine-stitching a stretchy knit hem the fabric tunnels and ripples.  Well this book has those answers.

What I like the most of this little book is that it doesn’t only give you the definition of a term or lists the different types of fabrics, it also tells you why it is important to do something or why not to do it.  Do you want an example for that?  Let’s take something very simple, topstitching.  Many patterns tell you to topstitch a piece of a pattern.  I sometimes did it sometimes not, mainly because I didn’t know what the purpose of that was.  Now I know that it is to stabilize the edge of a fabric amongst other purposes, now that I know this I never fail to do it.

Do I recommend this book?  Absolutely yes.   Has it delivered what it states on its cover?  So far it has.  To test how good this book really is I have conjured up questions or and considered what would I need to do to if I ever wanted to this or that? and then looked in the The Sewing Answer Book and voilà the answer was there, prompting me to stop thinking about possible scenarios with my sewing machine and get sewing!

The Sewing Answer Book by Barbara Weiland Talbert is published by David & Charles ( ISBN-10 0715338390, ISBN-13 978-0715338391)

Style Stitches

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Amy Butler is a lady who needs little introduction, we all have seen her fantastic fabric designs, timeless patterns, books and now even wallpaper! For this post however I am only going to concentrate on her new book Style Stitches, mainly because if I don’t I could possibly break the Guinness World Record for the longest blog post ever (and if it doesn’t exist I would be setting a very high bench mark which would be difficult to beat).

I have used Amy Butler’s patterns before and her designs are simple and perfect lines that create beautiful things, and the instructions are easy and precise which means that you can make a garment or a bag with confidence. This book is not an exception and I fully recommend it.

It has a good variety of bags and purses, to suit most tastes and skills.  Most of them have variations, almost as if she had read our minds, so before you can finish saying  “I like the Cosmo Bag but short handles would be better” you will discover that there are instructions for that, or “If the Ruffled Handbag was larger I could carry all my gym stuff” yeap youv’e guessed it there are instructions on how to do that too, she has done all the adjustments so you don’t have to fiddle with the pattern and design.  How clever is that!

The bags vary from a simple tote (with a twist of course) to a pleated clutch, to the most fantastic Take Flight Handbag/Shoulder Bag.  This last one along with the Everything Wristlet have such a beautiful vintage look that they will make you feel like Grace Kelly.

The instructions in this book have not only been written to help you sew together a bag, but to efficiently use the material and your time like a pro.  When you look through the pages you get the impression that attention was paid to every single detail.  Not only on the designs and the instructions, but also on the diagrams, the spiral book format and photos, which by the way not only show the designs in the different alternatives, but in different fabrics to help us awaken our imagination on how to create a unique one of our own.

At times like this when sewing books are being released by the dozen, we have lots to choose from and we can be picky… but if you ask me, I would certainly pick this one as a ‘must have’ for your collection.

Amy Butler’s Style Stitches is published by Chronicle Books, £19.99 (ISBN 978-0-8118-6669-9)