Archive for September, 2010

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)

Autumn blues

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

The last few days I have really struggled to get out of bed and I have been wishing that in the afternoon I could just sit with a good book (maybe this one or the one that I am reviewing later this week -keep an eye for this one!) and a cup of hot chocolate.  I am really missing the sun and warm weather, which is so unusual for me at this time of the year.  I love autumn and early autumn usually puts a smile on my face.  It is not too cold, not too hot, you get the late harvest of the summer, and the early autumn harvest too, which means lots of baking and a house smelling of apple and blackberry cake. But already this September I am really missing the summer; maybe because it has been so good this year, so to help chase away my autumn blues I thought I would post some pictures here to remind me of my summer this year. Hopefully any of you feeling the same autumnal blues will enjoy them too.

A Woodstock cottage on a beautiful summer's day

Cycling in the countryside

Roses from my front garden

Juicy raspberries

Strawberry picking

Perfect cutlery for picnics

Very very wild chamomile in my garden

Eating dinner...and lunch and breakfast al fresco

Didn't go this summer but wouldn't mind a trip to the Caribbean!

Love,

Lizzet xx

Bag heaven

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I was very happy when I found out that Lisa Lam was writing a book, I am an avid reader of her blog and I just knew her book was going to be great!  When the publishers David & Charles asked me to review it I said “yes” before they finished the sentence; but I never thought how difficult it was going to be to review this book.  If you have already looked through the pages of The Bag Making Bible, you’re probably thinking that I am not making sense because it is such a cool book that it must be so easy to give it 5 stars.

It is true that the book is a wonderful compilation of all you need to know about how to make a bag, including what tools you do need, the techniques to master, the materials to use, everything.  So why it was so difficult for me to write a review?  Well, I have already read lots of reviews, spoken to people that already own the book including sewing tutors, who all say the book is fantastic, even Amy Butler has said wonders about it, that quite honestly I am struggling to find something new to say about it.

Perhaps if I tell you about my relationship with bags and the effect that The Bag Making Bible has had on me, you will get a bit of a different perspective of how good this book is.  I LOVE bags, this is not the typical girly thing about having lots of bags; I truly have this thing (you can call it an obsession) with bags.  Apart from the simple tote bag, I much prefer buying bags than making them (yeap I said it).  Don’t ask me why but I do. Or I did until I read Lisa’s book.

The BMB (as I call it, fingers getting tired) offers you endless possibilities of how to make your ideal bag.  It teaches you the skills to construct each part of a bag, plus it also has a few patterns that apply the techniques that are shown in clear, step-by-step instructions with useful images (not only those pretty and artistic photos that are not very helpful when you have a question midway through your project), and best of all there are tiny little tips throughout the book, a sort of post-it notes that the author has left to guide you on your way.

So my perfect bag is a real possibility, I can now modify bag patterns to make it 100% suitable for what I need and want.  Enough pockets to keep my stuff in place, but not too many that I spend hours looking for keys; a lining that is not too dark that camouflages my mobile phone; long enough handles that it can be used as a shoulder bag, but not so short that is just a handbag; nice edges to make it look professional, and well, the fabric that suits my mood!

The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam is published by David and Charles click here to buy it.

The Fabric Loft sale just got bigger!

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Just wanted to let you all know that we have added more fabrics to the sale section of our shop, why not drop by and who knows? maybe you can buy that fabric you have been wanting at a great price!

Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts and….

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Almost everybody that knows me will know that I am a huge fan of Martha Stewart, so when this book arrived a few days ago I knew I was on a good start.

If you are familiar with Martha Stewart’s books, The Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts follows the same great formula.  This book has been well thought out and all of the information is very well organised and structured; so well in fact that this might be one of the best sewing reference books that you will find.  For me, what makes a good reference book is not just the photos, but how easy you can find what you are looking for, this book has both, lots of cool pictures and easy to follow layout.

The book is aimed at both the newcomer and seasoned crafter alike, starting from explaining the different types of fabrics, and moving on to tips on setting up a sewing area, through to basic techniques, including hand sewing, appliqué, different types of embroidery (yes, it also includes sashiko too!), quilting, patchwork, dyeing fabric, and even printing.  It comes with a CD that includes all the patterns and templates needed for the projects in the book.  So there is no need for guessing shapes, sizes or risk of damaging the book trying to get a photocopy of a pattern!

The projects are many and varied and to be honest quite a few of them you will find on Martha Stewart’s website; but if you are a little bit like me, I much prefer having all of those instructions, tips and photos in a beautiful hard cover book.

The projects are very creative and inspiring.  Reading through the book over last few evenings I found myself saying several times in my most affirmative and almost imperative tone “yes, I am going to make this bag, after this patchwork cushion cover, and these felt book cover are just perfect Christmas presents, but first I must make this pincushion too, I need it for all this sewing (by this moment my tone has changed and I sound a bit more like I am reading a letter to Santa), and our bathroom towels would definitely look nicer if I add this little touch…OMG Japanese sashiko patterns, I have always wanted to learn…”

Of the long list of pretty things that I want to make from this book, I might only get around to making a few, but I know that time and time again I will look to this book for some inspiration and a bit of guidance too.

Well I close for now, I must get started with one of those pincushions.

Lizzet xx

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts is published by David and Charles click here to buy it.

Hexagons

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Just thought of showing you some of the hexagons that I have been making with my scraps.  Still a few hundred to do but I literally just take one at a time.

I see it. I like it. I make it.

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

I am seriously thinking about making those three statements my mantra, maybe having them in big letters in my studio, or maybe in my purse so everytime I am about to buy something that I can make myself I will put it back on the rack and head back home with a quick stop at the DIY store…. yes, DIY store.  No, I am not going to start  capentry or plumbing now, but I have just read Erica Domesek’s latest book, P.S. – I made this, and came across her blog and I have realised that to be fashionable we don’t need to spend lots on money on that clutch bag, neither do we need to have many sophisticated machines or tools to make a necklace or a striped t-shirt.  We just need a to be a bit creative, check what we’ve got in our wardrobe and a pair of scissors!

Her book might not be for everybody.  Her style is trendy and very very funky, but I love it!  And what I love most of all is that she is not afraid of turning a normal, basic, everyday bag into something that looks very similar to the ones you see in the latest fashion magazines.

Fashion and craft go hand in hand in this book

Whilst one or two of the ideas and projects in the book might be a bit too funky for me (let’s face it, you will never see me riding my Pashley bicycle in Oxford town centre with sparkly high heels!),  there are lots of things that I could easily modify to suit my own style.  My personal favourites are the ruffle tank (the ruffles are made with coffee filters!), a cowl neck vest that you can make in no time and a stud cuff.

Erica’s instructions in this book are presented as  ideas, guidelines, quick and easy directions to create something modern and inexpensive, do not expect to see exact measurements and patterns to follow.

Perhaps one of the most important things from this book and from Erica’s work as a whole, is her call to be creative, to think outside the box, and reuse things to make something unique and personal which still follows fashion and trends, and above all, to be proud to say “I made this!”.

P.S. – I made this… by Erica Domesek is published by Abrams, £11.99 (ISBN 978-0-8109-9603-8)