Have you ever liked a designers patterns a few times and before you knew it you had become a fan of theirs without realising it? To be honest I can’t remember where I first started seeing Wendy Ward’s designs but now I own 2 of her books and have just seen she has another one recently out.
A Beginner’s Guide To Making Skirts is the second book I purchased but the first book that I have made something from as it may have become apparent from my posts I am a bit of a skirt addict so no wonder I have been attracted to this book. The book contains 8 skirt patterns that can be modified to make 24 different skirts. The instructions go through how to make each basic pattern and then the ways you can modify it. There are a range of fabrics used in the various skirts including denim, jersey, cottons, rayons. The instructions are written with accompanying line drawings pointing out key areas to watch and helpful hints. For each of the skirts there are line drawings of the cutting layout on the fabric. There are also lots of beautiful photos of the finished items.
The only slightly confusing part in the book is the printed patterns. Each skirt comes in 10 different sizes and the books comes with pattern pieces for 7 of the skirts (no pattern for the circle skirt as you draft your own) So in theory that is like 70 different skirt pattern pieces all printed on a series 6 pages of paper pullouts. Each skirt is colour coded and all sizes are marked out the same for each pattern so you need to just keep an eye out that you are following the correct colour and size code for the skirt you wish to make. I trace out my patterns on to trace and toile which is fairly transparent but I would not try tracing this out under the normal overhead lighting I have above my craft table as it is a yellowish light instead I would wait until I had enough natural day light that surrounds my craft table so that I could see the pattern markings easier.
I have made one skirt from this book thus far with plans to make more. It is a great little book to have in your collection demonstrating how you can tweak a basic pattern multiple ways to create different looking items.
Over this past week I read The Dressmaker by Roaslie Ham so I can tick one thing off my To Craft list this month.
I started reading it when I first got the book a few years ago but from where my bookmark was placed it looks like I only read the first few chapters. I started reading it from the beginning again. I think the reason I put it down and never got back to it is that is slow to get in to. There are a lot of different characters and at times I did get a bit confused of who was who. Once the story line got going I found it to be ok, I read some each afternoon but could easily stop and do something and come back to it without needing to rush back to it. Some books I can’t put down or I have to read to the end of the chapter and struggle to put it down for the day, sadly not in this book. Some days I would read to the end of the chapters other days just to the end of the page. There was some moments in the book that I wasn’t expecting so it does have twists in the plot. I liked reading about the characters wearing all their different fabrics and I did try to imagine them in my head and I think that maybe what kept me interested in the book. The ending for me was a little bit unfinished, I could reason with most of the ending but one part made me think why?
My overall thoughts are it is an easy read. I think it would be a great book for a holiday where you can pick the book up at your leisure and read some casually. You have to get past the first few chapters which are a little slow but then it gets better and your mind gets lost in a world of fabric and fashion. It is worth the read if you haven’t seen the movie which is my next step. I thought I had brought the dvd but it turns out I hadn’t so I will be getting it this weekend to watch over Easter. From everyone’s thoughts on Instagram the movie is better than the book. Normally I always think that books are better than movies but I think this may be the exception to the rule as I think the clothing and fabrics need to come alive visually and you need the real life expressions in the characters to really understand them.
The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu has been on my wish list since almost its release in 2014. As I’m trying to reduce the excessive amount of craft books from my stash recently I borrowed a copy of the book from my local library, within 5 minutes of reading I knew I needed my own copy.
I’m not a complete novice bag maker I have made 2 messenger bag and numerous tote bags, zipper pouches but within in the first 8 pages alone of this book I had learnt so much. As the front cover suggests this book is full of useful techniques, tips and tricks. There are some great bag makers out there who have wonderful patterns and fantastic instructions / tutorials that go along with their patterns but sometimes they tell you to do a step but don’t tell you useful gadgets that will help you do the step. If your familiar with bag making sometimes you told to trim back the interfacing / stabilizer from the seam to reduce bulk but how do you do that if it has been fused to the fabric? This book explains how and shows you a tool to use. There was another little cutting tool that was mentioned in this book to cut inner points in corners, I wish I had known about this tool when cutting out the box corners on the make-up pouches it would’ve been handy.
There are 10 bags in this book that you can make. They start at a beginner level and increase in difficulty with each bag adding another layer of skills but all techniques used are covered in the book. To be honest I’m not sure how many of the bags I will make but I will use all the skills from them on other bag projects I’m doing but also sewing projects. The skills you pick up in this book can be used in any sewing project. Whether you’re a novice bag maker or advanced you will get something out of this book. I’m glad I now have it in my stash.
Rhonda Hetzel writes the successful Down To Earth blog and is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. I was lucky enough to do a workshop with her in 2013 and it was wonderful. Rhonda has just published her 3rd book The Simple Home which is a follow up to her book Down To Earth.
From the start once I opened this book I instantly liked the look of it. It just feels warm and comforting which may sound strange but some books just have that affect. The layout, the font, the images. You can see a lot of care and love has been put into this book. Rhonda has this amazing calming nature and it just comes through the pages in her book.
This book is broken up into chapters based on the months of the year but also to coincide with the seasons within Australia (At the end of the book she also suggests ways to follow this book if you were in the Northern Hemisphere which I thought was a lovely touch and shows how she is widely followed by readers from around the world) She suggests areas you could concentrate on each month that will help you living your more simplified life. This breaks it down into more manageable tasks and helps simple living going from a concept to practical things to do day to day. If you’re not new to simple living you might think yes but I know all this. I found it as a reminder to think ok I know this but how much am I actually doing. Thoughts don’t always turn into actions. If you have fallen out of your simple living ways (we all do at times) this book helps get you back on track and helps you focus on things you can do or change.
You could easily read this book without reading her first book. It is a standalone book with its own topics, information and recipes, however it does refer at times back to her first book Down To Earth. I think that actually works really well as it means she has put new material and topics in this book and isn’t just rehashing things she has covered in the past. Instead of publishing all the same recipes and patterns again she points you in the direction of where to locate them and offers new and different ones in this book. I’ve read other books by authors who have done multiple books and often it’s the same information in every book. Another thing I liked was Rhonda refers to modern technologies such as websites and apps to help you in your daily life. You wouldn’t except apps and simple living would go together in the one sentence but Rhonda is moving with the times and is moving the concept of simple living with modern times. We have to face it technology is part of our lives these days, there are plenty of ways it can waste our time but there are also ways in which it can save us time.
If I had to pick a favourite chapter in the book it would the chapter covering crafting as simple living – total surprise right 🙂 It just made me smile and think the gifts that I’m giving are from the heart. There are many areas of simple living and crafting is just one of them.
Oh and my favourite picture in the book is the rolling pin. I really want that rolling pin now, it is just a little bit awesome!
A while back I read “The Shop on Blossom Street” and was looking to read more in the craft fiction genre so when a friend sent me the book A Life In Stitches to read I thought super its craft fiction. I can read it at the bedside to pass the time. I was totally wrong this book is actually the memoir of Rachel Herron so who the heck is Rachel I was thinking? As I read the book I discovered this amazing writer and blogger who had a passion for knitting. She also happens to write craft fiction.
This book I found hard to put down. It made me laugh, it made me cry (really hard to wipe your nose when you’re wearing a hospital face mask) I’m not going to be the crazy craft person who claims to be able relate to everything about Rachel and what she wrote about but there were some parts that of the book I found myself nodding or thinking yep I know the feeling. I also had an even stronger urge to learn to knit socks and a jumper which is something I’d wanted to learn for a while but even more so reading the book.
I ordered 2 of Rachel’s craft fiction books. I loved her non fictional writing so I will see if I like her fiction. Until the postman arrives with my goodies I was motivated to download the second book in the Blossom Street series to my kindle.