Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sewing Happiness Winter Tour - and double giveaway!

Every now and then a crafty, internet event comes along that I am really happy to take part in.

A long time ago I was asked (or possibly I begged, let's not split hairs) to help pattern test for Sanae Ishida's upcoming book - Sewing Happiness

I'm not going to kid myself that I'm "introducing" Sanae to anyone. You already know who she is. You may have already seen her books, or followed the American launch for Sewing Happiness, or maybe you're a Secret Valentine Exchange devotee. In short, if you read my blog and don't know Sanae, you simply haven't been paying attention!

But here I am, and I'm super excited to take you inside the book, oh, and to give you the chance to win a copy for yourself!

Sewing Happiness is unique among craft books that I've seen to date, in that it is as much a biographical tale as it is an instructional sewing pattern book. In the same way that really good travel writers can tell a great story at the same time as making you desirous of travelling to wherever it was they found themselves, Sanae gives us the tale of how she arrived in sewing-land and makes us want to join her there.

Ok, so how she got there wasn't entirely pretty, but that's often the case with travel writing too, and I found her story to be very honest and quite gripping. I read the story parts of the book in one evening, curled up on the couch and the feeling was very much that of having a companion there, telling you their story.

What are these little cushions? This was my pattern test for Sanae, back when the book was in its infancy. They are little tooth fairy pillows, and my brief was to sew one and check the instructions for the others. Of course, as soon as I saw the patterns I couldn't decide which to make, so I made the four of them.

One of the over-riding tenets of Sanae's book is that things you make don't have to be perfect; so when her wolf looked a little like a fox, and quite a bit like a dog, it didn't get redesigned, it got renamed! The Dwox (dog/wolf/fox) tooth fairy pillow is my son's favourite, and kids totally get that kind of logic!

Of course I had to test them for an international audience, so out came the left-over-foreign-currency money bag:

The Australian 50cent coin was the only one that didn't fit, so with my brief note to Sanae that tightarse Aussie parents might be disappointed, my pattern test was complete and I eagerly awaited the book's completion...

The book is divided into four seasons (my tooth pillows are from the Summer chapter), and while the story shifts focus with the seasons so do the projects. I suspected I would enjoy reading Sanae's story, but I'll confess I was unsure about just how much I would use the patterns in the book. We've all been there, right? Thumbed a book, decided there's one or two projects of interest, but we could probably make them without guidance anyway, then put it back on the shelf...

Fast forward a year and Christmas was fast approaching. I had my new copy of the final book (and a spare for you! - hang in there) and I thought Sewing Happiness might give me some inspiration for making gifts.

As if to prove to myself that sometimes the seemingly simple project is exactly the one that you do want a pattern for I chose to make the Triangle Eco Bag (also a Summer project).

This is a delightful tote bag that's perfect for taking to the market. It's infinitely more stylish than those green supermarket branded things I carry and I think I need to make one for myself now! This was a gift for P's teacher - the first of the teachers to declare their love of purple which sent me scurrying to the fabric shop to fill a purple coloured hole in my stash.

The bag is cleverly folded and sewn from a rectangle. The maths is all laid out to give you the correct dimensions before adding seam allowances. That meant my fabric, which was slightly too narrow for the proposed bag size, could be easily measured and cut to produce a bag about 90% of the intended size.

The absence of a pattern sheet and strict rules works well here. Whatever your fabric allowance, it's easy to measure up the right rectangle to fold the bag and have it come together perfectly. My fabric had a horrid, plastick-y backing and so I simply sewed a lining face to face with the outer fabric, turned the rectangle through a small hole, then continued as per the instructions. The hemming allowance was already included so I didn't need to make any changes to my fabric dimensions in order to have my Eco bag lined.

Here it is next to the Genoa Tote:

While it's a simple concept, the bag really is lovely and P and I were both delighted with the gift.

A few other projects in  Sewing Happiness were starting to catch my eye, but I knew that my daughter would adore a felt flower crown...

I found the perfect little flower centre thingies at L'Uccello where I also bought a couple more squares of nice, wool felt. In the floral crown instructions (Fall chapter), Sanae says that the feel of wool felt is so lovely that the synthetic stuff is just never worth troubling with, and I completely agree.

This one is a hand sewing and glueing type of project. The examples in the book are stunning, but every floral crown will be different. The colours can be bright or subtle, the flowers sparse or thickly clustered. The pattern gives the petal and leaf shapes and then instructions on how to create the flowers and the twisted wire headband. The exact design is left entirely up to you, but the images are wonderful inspiration and could be copied if you want the perfectly tasteful versions shown.

I wish I'd taken a photo that showed the back of the crown as it's bare of flowers and I covered the wires in some leftover, metallic grey bias binding from my Koos jacket. It gives it a fabulous magic-twig appearance!

While I could recommend Sewing Happiness just as a pleasant tale to read, I can also put my hand on my heart and say that it is a really good craft book too. All of the projects would be achievable by people with some sewing experience, and most of them by people with absolutely none. But more importantly, the cynical page thumbing type (me, and maybe you?) will also find plenty of projects to make, to gift and to cherish.

Ok, So here's the thanks for your blogpost reading persistence, and a chance to win not just a signed copy of Sewing Happiness, but also a 45 Euro gift card from 1000Stoff  (seriously great fabric!)

Sewing Happiness - 2017 Winter Tour Giveaway

Enter to win using the Gleam widget above, and then check out all the other blog tour participants listed at the bottom of this post, as there will be multiple giveaways running throughout the Winter Tour.
...As you read that sentence, I'm off on vacation for the end of summer school holidays. I probably have a beer in one hand, sausage in bread in the other (it is Australia Day after all, barbecues are compulsory today) and my feet in the river. It's definitely not winter here. Sanae was going to call it her World Tour, but predictably, humility won over and she renamed it. I'm claiming it back for her. It's a World Blog Tour alright!

And because today is Australia Day I have a second giveaway of a copy of Sewing Happiness which will be posted from my place to a lucky Aus/NZ resident. If you're resident in this little bottom half of the world then you can enter both the international giveaway above and this next one as well.

Sewing Happiness - Downunder Bonus Giveaway

I've been very flattered to be in such great sewing company and I strongly encourage you to check out all the other Sewing Happiness tour participants.
January 23 - Ute + Lara
January 24 - An of StraightGrain // Instagram
January 25 - Trine of Groovy Baby and Mama  // Instagram
January 26 - Shelley of Bartacks and Singletrack // Instagram
January 30 - Annika of Näh Connection // Instagram
January 31 - Olu of Needle and Ted // Instagram
February 1 - Emi of Just Add Fabric // Instagram
February 2 - Eva of With Love - by Eva // Instagram
Thanks to Sanae for involving me in her book right from the beginning, it's a real gem, and to both Sanae and Lara (of 1000Stoff) for their generosity in making these great giveaways available. Good luck everyone!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Christmas craftiness

Leading up to Christmas I kicked up a gear and started making things as gifts. Mostly because I find it easier, and far more pleasant, to make gifts in the evening than to devote my few free daylight hours to trawling shopping malls looking for gifts! Yep, selfish Christmas crafting is totally my bag!

Speaking of bag(s), let's start with one...

Following Blogless Anna's inspirational lead, I made a Genoa tote bag as a teacher gift. It was the gift that kept on giving, as Anna gifted me the strap and rivet set, then I bought the pattern, then gifted the bag to A's teacher. In turn she has given us the wonderful gift of a year in which my little girl has delighted in starting school. She absolutely adores her teacher.

tooling around with my backdrops and not quite getting that floor/wall line convincing :)
A's teacher had been absent from school for a few weeks towards the end of the year and the kids were desperately hoping she'd come back for the last week. As was I, as I needed to know her favourite colour.

Turns out it's purple. Now that's not a colour that I ever have in my fabric stash, but as it happened I'd bought some purple fabric for P's teacher gift as that was her favourite colour. Luckily there was just enough left over for a Genoa tote!

 The outer fabric is a synthetic something or other that has a sort of plastic backing. I suspect it will be semi-waterproof and perfect for a tote bag. The lining fabric is a poly something or other. Both came from Super Cheap Fabrics on Sydney Rd, and the two bags were made from about $6 worth of fabric - just don't tell the teachers that. :)

I underlined the outer fabric of the bag with some of the stiff, sew in interfacing that feels like a sort of paper-felt. It gives this tote bag just enough structure (it can almost stand up on it's own) but isn't rigid or prickly at the seams like a horsehair interfacing. Thinking I had a big collection of "purse" length zippers I didn't buy one. Turns out this aqua one was the only one in the stash, but I like the happy accident of a pop of colour.

I love the key fob, and using the rivets and setting tool that Anna supplied was a breeze. Nothing like the frustrating, bound to fail, crappy rivets I've tried previously.

The pattern (realised through Pattern Fantastique) is a delight and I'm sure it will get plenty of use. I'll have to try and keep notes on who gets gifted one for fear of repeating myself!

I'll show you the other teacher gift bag next week, but now, another Pattern Fantastique gift. I made my mother in law the Lucent Visor. Here's me trying to model it:

Again, I bought the Lucent Visor Kit along with the pattern so that i would have all the correct notions. The main thing to source is the milliners plastic wire and little ferrules. I'm sure I'll find them easily enough when I have time, but buying the kit was a great time saver. The good stiff interfacing was also included in the kit.

All I had to supply was the fabric, and I'll confess it was all from the stash. The one seam that could end up being seen is on the inside where the brim meets the front hat, and my overlocker was really struggling with both the curve and the thickness. So I used some self adhesive cotton tape from Daiso to bind the seam allowance.

This was my first attempt at the pattern, and I suspect my next one will be neater. But, my mother in law loved it, and to prove that it is much more her thing than mine, here she is in her natural habitat (a chair on a balcony overlooking the beach) modelling it perfectly!

Then, quickly, before we headed out to the country I sewed a pair of pyjamas for my nephew. When I saw the fabric in Spotlight I knew I had to do it - they're heading up to Queensland to live by the beach for a while and I thought a knowledge of what might eat them in the water was essential! Hence, shark pyjamas:

He's about six months older than A, so i went up a size from the shorty pyjamas I made her recently. These turned out a bit big (he's almost exactly A's size) but they'll fit him for this Australian summer, and again through the European summer when they go home.

Leaving a big mess of fabrics piled up and cotton reels on the shelves, we headed out to the country for Christmas.

We got there about 4 days before my brother, sister in law and nephew, and so I made my sister in laws gift while we were there. Second Christmas is the one that atheists get to have when not everyone is around for the first one, and there's still food to eat and fun to be had. I don't know that it's really her thing at all, but she was very polite about it, wore it, and it really did suit her. Anyway, I enjoyed making it and that's what Selfish Christmas Crafting is all about. Right?

Oh, and if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that I also made a mini macrame wall hanging for Rodger. :)

He pitched his tent in the garden as the "inn" was full and joined us for our second Christmas. I thought a little macrame wall hanging might make his tent more homely, but he seemed genuinely delighted with my "joke" gift and I suspect it might get a hanging in the real house. What a sweetheart!

A couple more things were made as gifts, but they came from a very beautiful book that I'm going to share with you next week. Stay tuned as there will be a copy to give away. 'Til then.

Genoa tote:
Pattern: Genoa Tote by BloglessAnna
Size: Medium
Fabric:  Cheap stuff from SuperCheap Fabrics
Notions: Interfacing and zipper (stash). Genoa tote kit - clips, leather straps and rivets from BloglessAnna

Lucent Visor:
Pattern: Lucent Visor by Pattern Fantastique
Size: Medium brim width
Fabric: Spotty cotton and aqua quilting cotton from stash (via Spotlight)
Notions: Lucent Visor kit

Patterns: Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt and Oliver + S Playtime Leggings
Size: Size 6
Modifications: Shortened leggings and cuffs as per my cuff tutorial on the Oliver + S blog
Fabric: Spotlight printed cotton/elastane knit. Grey ribbing from stash

Macrame necklace:
Pattern: Bohemian Macrame book
Notions: All from Feeling Inspired

Saturday, 7 January 2017

2016 review and tidying up

Hi. Happy new year!

Today I posted off the Building Block Dress Book to Stephanie, the giveaway winner, and I'm excited to say that I've got another beautiful book to giveaway later this month. Meanwhile I've been tidying up both physically and metaphorically.

Every new year I like to make a mosaic (or five!) of the things I've sewn the previous year. First up is all the kid's stuff using only Oliver + S patterns.

And then this year, the number of things I made with "other" patterns took over and exceeded the Oliver + S count. Although that wouldn't be the case if I was to take out the Liesl & Co and Lisette for Butterick patterns, so it's pretty clear were my pattern inspiration comes from. Cheers Liesl!

There are quite a few unblogged items in both of those pictures that were completed in the mad December sewing frenzy that always precedes Christmas. I'll catch up soon.

Meanwhile I did some sorting out of my Oliver + S pattern stash, and my many, many traced off patterns.

I trace my patterns onto the cheap lightweight "trace and toile" interfacing from Spotlight. Then put them in a clear plastic pocket, label them and store them in folders. All the Oliver + S folders got a tidy up, were sorted alpahabetically and were labelled. Just try asking me to find you a size 3 tracing of a Sailboat Skirt and watch how fast I am!

I realise it will only last as long as I can use the less used patterns more, and the often used patterns less. Otherwise I'm going to get some very full folders!

But what is much more useful, and I thought might be of use to anyone else with an enormous Oliver + S paper pattern collection are these dividers I made:

They're designed to be printed on A5 card stock and are set up for those of us who keep our Oliver + S paper patterns on a bookshelf. Every paper pattern is included and the full files are available on my google drive site. Click here and help yourself!

What are my plans for this year? Well of course my kids do insist on growing, so there will still be plenty of kid's sewing. Naturally, heaps of that will be Oliver + S.

For me? I've thoroughly enjoyed my forays into challenging Vogue designer patterns (one, two and three) and I have a few more I want to try. I still have some fabulous coat and dress patterns I want to make for the first time. But right now, this hot weather is making me want to bust out another Butterick B6182 dress. Flipper has still never received the long awaited for perfect-custom-cargo-shorts and I'm excited to get back to the Lazo pants now that they're released.

But right now, the machines need to go off for a service. I'll catch up on blogging and plan for my Secret Valentine Exchange. Have you signed up?