Top 5 Holiday Sewing Books

The Holidays are fast approaching, and here are some really great books to help you with brand new projects for the holiday season.

Click on the images of your favorite books below to get your amazon kindle copies now!

11 Sewing Room Ideas: How to Organize Your Room

You’re craft room or sewing room is in complete disarray. Where are the needles? Where’s your favorite thread? Scissors are nowhere to be found, and you can’t seem to find your bias tape. Everything is all over the place, like a bomb went off or a three-year-old came in and threw a tantrum. It’s time to get organized, my friend. And it’s as easy as downloading this free eBook, 11 Sewing Room Ideas: How to Organize Your Room. You’ll find amazing and creative tips and tricks to take your room from dab to fab in no time at all.

Mending Matters: Stitch, Patch, and Repair Your Favorite Denim & More

Mending Matters explores sewing on two levels: First, it includes more than 20 hands-on projects that showcase current trends in visible mending that are edgy, modern, and bold—but draw on traditional stitching. It does all this through just four very simple mending techniques: exterior patches, interior patches, slow stitches, darning, and weaving. In addition, the book addresses the way mending leads to a more mindful relationship to fashion and to overall well-being. In essays that accompany each how-to chapter, Katrina Rodabaugh explores mending as a metaphor for appreciating our own naturally flawed selves, and she examines the ways in which mending teaches us new skills, self-reliance, and confidence, all gained from making things with our own hands.

Sew Your Own Felt Advent Calendar: with 24 mini felt toys to make for Christmas

Advent calendars take pride of place in homes all over the world in the run up to Christmas. This year, why not add a personal touch to your Christmas countdown by making your own felt calendar, filled with an array of festive felt figures to delight the whole family? Felt is soft, tactile and very easy to use, and sewers of all abilities will enjoy creating this fabulous festive decoration. 

Best-selling author Sachiyo Ishii starts by showing you how to make the basic calendar, and then provides easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions and templates for 24 tiny felt toys to place in the pockets. These cute little Christmas-themed projects are quick to make using just a few pieces of felt, stuffing, thread and ribbons, and make perfect little gifts for children and adults alike.

Mini Felt Christmas: 30 decorations to sew for the festive season

Making your own decorations in the run-up to Christmas has never been more popular! In this delightful book, well-known crafter Sachiyo Ishii shows you how to make fabulously cute and quirky felt ornaments to adorn your home during the festive season. Ready-made felt is easy to come by and a joy to work with, and with 30 easy-to-make projects to choose from, the most difficult part will be deciding which to make! Choose from a host of tree decorations, from traditional baubles to fun penguins and a snowman; as well as larger projects that include Santa Claus complete with sleigh and reindeer; a yule log with little mini bakers; a stunning gingerbread house that looks good enough to eat; a felt holly wreath; and the complete Christmas Story. All the techniques and stitches you need are explained carefully through clear, step-by-step photographs at the beginning of the book, and all the templates are provided at the back. This wonderful book is a feast of ideas and inspiration for a creative Christmas.

Sew you!: Sew your own style

To celebrate the first year of Sew You! Magazine, I have combined its first year’s worth of issues into one book.

Over two hundred pages packed full of all things sewing, including the instructions for 12 FREE sewing patterns! Get this collectors edition today!

Potato prints

Re-experience a childhood favorite craft with surprisingly effective results.

A simple activity, great to do with young children at home, this even held my 3 year old’s attention and she loves the cushions we created together for her bedroom.

With some planning a simple repeated geometric shape can create a beautiful pattern.

What you’ll need…

  • Potatoes. (Mine were going green)
  • Fabric paints
  • Fabric, I used an old tablecloth that I dyed before painting
  • A small, sharp vegetable knife
  • Polystyrene trays
  • A paintbrush, or foam paint roller.

What cloth to use…

  • A natural fiber non stretch fabric is going to be the easiest to print on, and can withstand the hot iron needed to set the paint.
  • You can do this on t-shirts – just slip over over a board covered in newspaper before beginning

Cutting shapes and planning a design

  • Choose paint colors that contrast with your base cloth, I went with black and white.
  • Remember, the paint is going to allow some of the base cloth color to show through so if you try to print yellow over navy for example, you’ll have a greenish result- still lovely, just keep it in mind.
  • Obviously, please don’t give knives to children, the cutting is an adults job
  • Once your shapes are cut, pat the excess potato juice off.
  • Work within a couple of hours of cutting your shapes or the potatoes dry out and get spongy.
  • Don’t try to cut anything too intricate, tiny shapes just get crushed when pressing on to the fabric
  • Use straight lined shapes, cutting curves are somewhat tricky
  • You can create different designs by using the same shape repeated in different ways. You could randomly dot the same shape all over or radiate it out from a central point, Or stick to a careful grid pattern.
  • Do a few practice prints on newspaper before working on your actual fabric.

Prep your workspace

  • Cover your workspace with newspaper, I did this with a toddler and it got really messy.
  • Use your paintbrush to spread paint onto the shapes, or use your roller to spread paint on you’d polystyrene trays and use this as an “ink pad” for your potatoes.
  • Practice a few prints, after testing mine out I ended up thinning the paint down with water a bit, that’s just what worked for me, you’ll find what works for you.

Once you are done creating your textile design, leave the cloth to dry completely. Once it’s absolutely dry, iron the print on the hottest setting your cloth can withstand to set the paint. I recommend using an old offcut as a press cloth just to make sure you don’t get paint on your iron, and you’re done.

Don’t get frustrated by mistakes, you will make them,nobody ever said pototoes were precise.Sometimes the paint will splotch, or maybe you’ll smear it accidentally, or only print half the shape. It’s all part of the beauty of the end result, you are not a machine and you are creating a unique handmade item.

I used this technique to make cushions, but you could easily use it on clothing, furniture or hand crafted gifts.

Halloween Fabric Candy Bowl

Create a spooktacular impression with these…

What you need:

Fabric of your choosing, thick woven. I chose a thick woven cotton that has been sitting in my fabric stash for quite some time now.

Fabric Stabilizer – I highly recommend Terial Magic for projects like this. This fabric stabilizer makes fabrics “paper like” and so much easier to work with.

.

Fabric Paint, or even these fun iron on transfer pens, to transfer your designs to your fabrics.

Watch the video at the end at this post to see how these work, then click on the image to get your pens!

Download this pdf of the sewing pattern:

Start by pressing your fabric and treating it with your fabric stabilizer. This will make it more sturdy and easier to work with. Once your fabric is ready, cut out your fabric and lining sections.

On the outer fabric sections, paint your Halloween inspired faces – you can create your own or download the below stencils that we have created for you. Leave to dry.

While your faces dry, you can start sewing together your lining sections.

Step 1:

Start by folding the fabric inwards along the top fold line and pressing flat. You can baste the seam flat to keep it in place, (this will be along the top 3 sides of the octagon shape).

Step 2:

Sew together the two side sections of the octagon, to the panel next to it. Once you have sewn the four panels together, you will start to see that it is starting to take a bowl shape, but with a small hole in its bottom.

Step 3:

Press all sides inwards on your square pattern piece. Press them inwards by 1.5cm (5/8in). Baste into place.

Step 4:

Place the fabric square with it’s wrong side on the right side of the fabric for the lining, over the hole in your bowls bottom. Pin into place to secure it and make sure that you are happy with its positioning. Then stitch into place, you can use a zigzag or a decorative stitch to finish it of.

Once the fabric paint has dried on your main fabric sections, sew them together in the same way they you have sewn the lining sections together in steps 1 to 4.

Step 5:

With wrong sides of fabric facing, insert the sewn lining into the main fabric section. Line up along the top ends and pin securely together. Then as close as possible (at least 5mm or 1/8in) from the edge, stitch the lining and main fabric sections together… your bowl is now ready to use.

Your Fabric Candy bowl is now ready too use!

.

.

.

.

Burn tests

Why would you set fire to your fabric?

You may have heard mention that a burn test will help to determine your fabric composition, but you’re not sure what you’re looking for when you burn your swatches.

Believe it or not, the flame, smoke and ash from burning a piece of fabric can tell you a lot about what it’s made of.

You’ll need to use your judgment and go by a few other cues as well, such as creasing, drape and handle of the fabric, but doing a little burn test can help you to determine what your fabric is made of if you still aren’t sure.

Burn tests are never going to be 100% accurate; so many fabrics are a blend of 2, 3 or more fibers. But it is going to give you an idea, and you can easily tell from a burn test if your fabric is a pure natural fiber or a synthetic.

Items you’ll need.

  • A small piece cut off of your fabric approximately 1”x 1”, do not try to burn the edge of a large piece of cloth.
  •   A pair of tweezers to hold the fabric
  •   A fire resistant container- such as a foil pie dish or a ceramic/glass plate
  •   A candle and matches or a lighter
  •   Water, in case you need to extinguish the fire.

What to do.

  • Set up everything in a well-ventilated area outside. Some fabric can produce hazardous smoke. You also don’t want to do this near a smoke alarm.
  •   Light your candle and set fire to the piece of fabric, holding it with tweezers so you don’t burn yourself.
  •   Drop it into your container and observe how it burns, take notice of how it smells.
  •   Allow the piece to extinguish itself, let it cool down and then examine the ash
  •   Crumble the ash with your fingers and observe how it crumbles and how it disintegrates.

Here’s a short video of us having fun, setting fire to some fabrics:

Here’s a brief breakdown of the most common fabrics, and how they will respond when burned:

Cotton           

  • Natural cellulose fiber
  • Burns readily, with a glowing edge, then chars
  • Smells like burning paper
  • Soft, powdery grey ash

Hemp, Linen

  • Natural cellulose fiber
  • Burns readily, then chars
  • Smells like burning grass
  • Soft, powdery grey ash

Silk

  • Natural protein fiber
  • Self extinguishing
  • Odour of burning hair or feathers
  • Forms a soft black bead that is easy to crush, it crumbles

Wool, mohair, cashmere.

  • Natural protein fiber
  • Self extinguishing
  • Smells like burning hair or feathers
  • Dark irregular ash

Viscose

  • Man-made cellulose fiber
  • Burns readily, then chars
  • Smells like burning paper
  • Soft, powdery grey ash

Acetate or triacetate

  • Man-made protein fiber
  • Burns and melts
  • Odour of vinegar
  • Hard black ash

Acrylic

  • Synthetic
  • Burns readily and melts
  • Odour of burning meat or turmeric
  • Black, irregular ash

Nylon

  • Synthetic
  • Burns briefly and melts
  • Self extinguishing
  • Smells like celery
  • Hard grey bead that doesn’t crumble

Polyester, Modacrylic and other synthetics

  • Acrid, sharp odours or smell of sweet chemicals
  • Self extinguishing  
  • Melt to a hard black bead

Polycotton

  • Feels like cotton and have a similar creasing but melts rather than burns.
  • Ash forms a hard bead that doesn’t crumble

Eco-Bricks

What are they, and why should you care…

We strive our best to be a low impact, zero waste brand. We are also very aware of the harmful impact the textile industry has on the environment. Every year tonnes (literally, tonnes) of fabric and textile scraps find their way into our landfills and oceans.

tonnes of textile waste finds its way into our landfills every year

Every sewist that joins our team is given bottles to place synthetic fabric and thread scraps into.

They are also encouraged to add other non-recyclable plastics and disposable gloves and masks that would otherwise end up hurting mother earth.

These ecobricks are then donated to our selected animal charities, where they are used to build habitats for injured, neglected and homeless animals.

WHAT IS AN ECOBRICK?

An ecobrick is a plastic bottle packed with used plastics and non-recyclables. They serve as reusable building blocks. Ecobricks can be used to produce various items, including furniture, garden walls and other structures.

HOW DO YOU MAKE AN ECOBRICK?

  1. Collect your clean and dry household waste. We recommend only waste that you cannot recycle (like dog food bags), but you can EcoBrick anything non-biodegradable and dry.
  2. Twist your waste and insert it into a plastic bottle. Compress it as tightly as you can with a stick.
  3. Keep doing this until your bottle is as full as possible – make sure your bottle is unsquishable (hard).
  4. Think your EcoBrick is done? If you can squeeze it by more than 10% with one hand you should add more waste.
  5. No longer squishable? It’s done!

We are based in South Africa, and donate to a number of charities who collect these ecobricks, there are also ecobrick drop off bins at all major Pick ‘n Pay Hyper stores. If you are from another region of the world, and now of a group or charity who collects these, please leave their details in the comments below.

Here are some videos to help you to discover more about ecobricks and building with them

Against the grain

A practical guide to cutting on the bias

When Madeleine Vionnet first cut garments on the bias, nobody had ever before seen garments that draped with such elegant fluidity.

The sleek silhouette defined the evening wear of the 1930s, and was revived in John Gallianos’ slinky slip of the 1990s.

It’s a sort of sorcery, garments with minimal darts and panels that slip over the form of the body and mould to its shape. Beautiful cowls and drapes become possible.

With Bias cutting you can achieve really high end results, and make some garments you can be proud of.

What is the bias anyway?

Simply stated, the true bias grain of a woven textile is a 45 degree angle from the selvedge (straight grain), the key word here being woven.

Many fabrics used in fashion are not woven textiles, with a warp and a weft grain, and therefore don’t actually have a true bias, and are not suited for garments cut on the bias.

These fabrics are:

  • Stretch fabrics are usually knitted
  • Lace and mesh have a net construction.
  • Felt is constructed by matting the fibres of wool
  • Coated cloth is often stiffened to the point where the cloth no longer behaves like a woven.

Bias Cutting.

Many fashion students and even professional dressmakers make the mistake of trying to cut an inappropriate piece of cloth on the bias, which is unnecessary and can be really wasteful.

It can also drape unevenly or bubble if there is more stretch in one direction of the cloth than the other, or if certain elements of a textile are more dense.

Not all fabrics necessary require being cut on the bias for a better drape, for example, cutting fine Chantilly at a 45 degree angle is not necessarily going to create more drape in the garment.

That is not to say that there is no reason ever to do it, you may want to experiment with the directions of a striped, printed or ribbed design, or accommodate a motif, but generally, a woven cloth is the way to go when cutting on the cross. When in doubt, drape the fabric in front of a mirror or on a mannequin and look at the way it falls when draped on the cross, you may find that that your cloth is actually better cut straight.

If you understand how cutting on bias creates the characteristic soft stretch and drape of a bias cut garment, it helps you decide which fabrics are suitable.

A close up view of a woven fabric reveals tiny squares created by the fibers of the weft and the warp, a fairly stable structure when hung along the straight grain. But turn that same cloth by 45% and you have tiny diamonds, and they can collapse, creating a cloth that stretches and clings.

The downsides to cutting on the bias:

  • Cutting on the bias uses more fabric and creates more waste, the seams are more difficult to stitch, they have a tendency to wobble. But once you get the hang of it the results can be really beautiful.
  • Bias cut garments do tend to be somewhat unforgiving and show every lump and bump as they sit more softly against the body, That’s one reason my bias cut garments are always lined, and why I often recommend a high quality foundation garment like spanx for bridal or occasion wear.

Tips and tricks

Make sure you follow these tips for the best bias cut garments:

  • It really is necessary to cut at a precise 45 degree angle, otherwise you will get an uneven drape, roping and bubbling, those bias cut straps just wont fold smoothly and your seams wont lie flat. Trust me, guessing the 45 degree angle is almost impossible. Get your measuring tape out and make absolutely sure.
  • You need to cut your cloth open, not on the fold, and preferably copy any pattern pieces that require a left and a right side so that you can lay the whole garment out on your fabric.
  • That big piece of fabric is tricky to cut on a small table, but don’t let any of the cloth hang off the edges, it’s going to pull everything while you’re cutting, rather fold the excess cloth up carefully.
  • Use a pattern that has been specifically designed to be cut on the bias. It will probably be a little bigger than a regular pattern to allow for the cling of the cut.
  • Bias cut patterns may also include a larger seam allowance. A bigger seam allowance helps the way a bias cut seam lies, as well as giving you a little more to work with, when stitching or altering.
  • When stitching on the bias, don’t get too hung up on matching your seams together exactly, yes, match your seams, but not if it makes the fabric pull to do so.
  • I will often hang up bias cut pieces to “drop out” for a few days before I actually stitch them together, especially for silks and satin which tend to drop a lot. I also hang the garment for a few days to allow the hem to drop before cutting it straight and then stitching it. You will get a feel for it.

This is a process that really requires special attention detail, but if you can master it, you can truly create the most beautiful garments that will leave you standing out from the rest of the crowd

The Quilting Cowboy

Quilting just got better looking! When Dale Allen-Rowse made his first quilt, for his niece, in 1999, I’m sure he never imagined that he would become the good looking cowboy of quilting!

Making quilts is an expression of love.It’s how I bring a little more comfort into the world.– Dale Allen-Rowse

But that’s exactly what has happened, and his fresh and fun approach to the craft is creating excitement and drawing in new quilters too.

His quilting designs are fun and colorful, and we absolutely adore his videos on YouTube as he makes quilting accessible, and very easy to understand. To make things even better, his quilting kits are now available through quiltybox.com

These kits help you to re-create his beautiful designs with ease. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THEM NOW)

A little more about the Quilting Cowboy: Dale Allen-Rowse has been quilting since the birth of his niece in 1999, when he first taught himself how to make baby quilts on a tour bus for a ballet company.

Ever since then, Dale has been sewing up a storm. Taking classes where available, learning on his own, and finally launching the Quilting Cowboy online in 2005, to share his insights with a larger audience.

In 2009, Dale enrolled in college for Graphic Design to better his color theory, graphic design and computer skills.

What he learned really help to launch his creativity and enabled him to put new skills to use in his work.

Dale’s quilts have appeared in the Ontario Museum of History and Art, the current issue of Las Vegas Night beat – where he is the featured cover story – several quilt shows around Southern California and most recently, he was asked to submit his work to be considered as set design for the NBC TV Show “Making It” starring Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.

Visit quiltybox.com now to get started with his quilt designs and add some color and fun to your home.

What is Quilty Box about? It is a really easy way to get great quilting supplies delivered to your front door every month, check it out and sign up today!

What the Quilt…

Every now and then something new comes along that really ignites my excitement for sewing… this is one of those things. Life just got easier… and quilting has become more exciting!

I haven’t made many quilts, but the few that I have made, well… the most dreary and worst part of it all is having to cut out hundreds and hundreds of little shapes. Eventually my fingers are raw from cutting continuously with scissors, and I feel like I JUST CAN’T anymore… then these nifty new fabric cutters came along.

I will be very honest with you… I got really excited, like “high school girl” excited… and now I am planning a whole pile of new quilting projects. I absolutely LOVE these machines, and accuquilt has a whole array of different machines to help you, according to your size of projects, and how often you will be using the machines. CLICK HERE to view the full range now.

I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend these for every quilting fan – or even if you are just looking for a great excuse to use up all your fabric scraps. Save time, and have some fun with a brand new fabric cutting machine.

Oh and yes… remember to follow us on Instagram, where we will definitely be sharing our upcoming quilting projects with you… we will also be including a few free tutorials too as we have fun with our new sewing room addition.

Fabric Clearance Sale

Pineapple Fabrics is having a HUGE clearance sale (CLICK HERE to see it now)… we want to share our top 5 favorite fabrics ON SALE NOW!

The unique fabrics sold by unique artists on this site is why we just love shopping here, and here are a few of our favorites…

Tainted Love, metallic gold skull fabric by Andover. Yes! We can be rebels in style, what more can you ask for.

We’re all secretly nerds here… which is why we LOVE the Star Wars inspired fabric panels by Camelot Fabrics, and this one of Han Solo is our absolute favorite… I can just imagine the quilting possibilities with this… perhaps a Han Solo lap blanket?!

Still The Night by Hoffman Fabrics – this magical design has us completely memorized. It’s magical appearance has us dreaming of the all the possibilities of things to create… don’t you agree? This is possibly one of those beautifully dangerous designs where you buy it to add to your already existing stash, just because it’s so pretty… after all isn’t buying fabric a completely different hobby to actually sewing with it?

The Harvest Panel by Timeless Treasure – just what you need for Thanksgiving and Fall crafts. It will make a very effective statement piece – I can just imagine it being used for runners, table settings and throw pillows.

The delicate detail in this water color painted Elf Toss design by Springs Creative, will really bring magic to your Festive season creations.

We Hope you enjoyed these fabrics we shared with you today, remember they are on clearance sale, so stock is limited. This is just a small handful available CLICK HERE to view the full clearance range available today.

Holiday Themed Drawstring Bags

This is a quick guide on how to print your own iron on stickers at home to apply to themed bags. This idea is really great for Christmas themed gift bags or Halloween themed Trick or Treat bags.


You will need:

Step 1:

First I cut out a really thick iron-on interfacing to the size of A4 / letter sized sheets (use a standard sheet of paper for your printer as a pattern piece to trace them from), and placed them in the feeder tray of my ink jet printer, making sure the glue was on the opposite side to be printed.

Step 2:
I got some awesome pictures off the internet and printed them (as I would paper), though you can print any image you like, even photographs of friends and family – or your favourite cat.

View some really great graphics and clipart available from MarranArt by CLICKING HERE – her fun graphic art is perfect for prints and this type of crafting

Step 3:
I cut out the images and ironed them onto the main fabric of the bags. The best time to do this is after cutting out the pattern pieces, but before sewing it all together.

Step 4:
Finish putting your drawstring bags together, according to the pattern and instructions for the Drawstring Bag

Step 5:

Share your awesomeness and your new bags with friends and family.

HAPPY SEWING!