Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pretty Things Thursday: Lisette Pattern Envelopes

Last month, Liesl Gibson, owner of the adorable and classy Oliver + S children’s clothing patterns, made many women’s dreams come true when she launched Lisette, a collection of patterns for us ladies.  I have always loved Oliver + S designs, but without a little person in my life I had absolutely no use for them other than to look at them and smile.  With the creation of Lisette, women now have access to the same clean and modern design that the Oliver + S patterns provide for children.

For some reason when I find something that I absolutely love I feel compelled to snatch it up right away.  I’m convinced that if I wait on it and see if it goes on sale in a few weeks that when I’m ready to finally purchase said item it will be unavailable.  Looking back, I know that it would have been insane for all of the Lisette patterns to be sold out immediately after launching, but all I could think of was the thousands of mothers of stylish children, regularly decked out in Oliver + S outfits of course, swarming stores, and leaving no patterns for the rest of us.  Completely illogical and insane?  Yes.  Still, that scenario was running through my mind, and I felt compelled to order one copy each of Passport, Market, and Traveler without hesitation.  I would have ordered all four, but I don’t think any of the options in Portfolio would look even remotely good on me—I can’t wear capris because of my sturdy ankles and I need more structure in a dress/shirt than a tunic can provide.

A couple of days later, this adorable package arrived in my mailbox.  The envelope art is so fresh and I love how they included styling suggestions for you as well.  I’m ready to whip up every one of these things!

I decided that I will make the Traveler dress in View C first.  Since I have a few projects in the works, I will only be starting on this once I finish my Crepe dress.  If I end up finishing my Roundabout Jacket before the end of my sewing class, I’m going to get started on the Passport jacket.  I have a couple of meetings that I should wear jackets to in the beginning of June (can you believe that I own exactly one suit jacket and it’s fall/winter weight?), so here’s hoping that all goes well and I can make two before then!  It would be even better if I can whip up two dresses or skirt/blouse combos to wear underneath!

What is better than a new line of awesome patterns?  When the designer also releases a collection of fabric to go with it!  Enter the Lisette fabric collection at Joann.  I allowed myself to purchase the fabric for my Traveler dress ahead of time because I had a 50% off coupon.  Since I’m still new at garment sewing, I have trouble deciding which fabric weight is appropriate for which dress.  Being able to pick from a line of fabrics that were selected with the accompanying patterns in mind eased my worries that I’d end up with another heap of fabric that I don’t know what to do with.  Or worse, go through the hassle of making a garment only to find out that it doesn’t hang properly, rendering it useless.  Unfortunately, I have had both happen to me.

For my Traveler dress, I went with the bright and lovely Blue Lisette Lawn.  I got a similar dress from Target a few years ago in cream with brown polka dots.  I’m hoping that the Traveler dress ends up fitting as perfectly as the Target dress.  I’ve been trying to find something similar for years, and now I have access to make as many as I want!  Hurrah!

Image from

Tri-State Area friends: Still solidifying your weekend plans?  Check back tomorrow for details on a fun exhibit going on just across the Trenton Makes bridge!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wonderful World of Color Craft Books

Up until now, I think I've kept my addiction to craft books pretty well hidden.  It all ends today!  Yesterday you got a tour of the craft books of yesteryear.  Today, you get to revel in the goodness that is the modern craft book.  Or, in the case of Amy Sedaris, the post-modern craft book.

This small selection of my craft library has been acquired over the past few months.  I'm happy that craft books have taken a large turn for the better over the past 20 years in that they typically not only include color, but tons and tons of pictures.  Who wants a craft book without pictures?  I'm fairly certain that the sewing ladies of the 50s, 60s, and 70s did not appreciate having to imagine on their own what certain processes looked like.  The books below are packed full of lovely and helpful pictures.

Diane Gaudynski's Guide to Machine Quilting has been mentioned on a few of the quilting blogs that I follow as THE go-to source to teach yourself how to machine quilt.  I'm super impressed with the work that long arm quilters can do if you send your quilts out to be quilted, but I'd really like to be able to at least do basic free motion quilting well on my own.  This book is my key to success.

Gaudynski goes over a bunch of different methods and designs that you can use to quilt.  Aren't these awesome?  And they're completely free hand.

What I'm most excited for are the quilting exercises that she provides, like the one below.  I'm going to start giving myself quilting homework and practice on scraps.  I'll keep you updated on how I am progressing!

I can only hope that one day I can quilt as beautifully as this.  All of that texture is done with quilting!  Amazing!

I believe I've mentioned before about my problem with websites that give you free shipping if you order so many dollars worth of merchandise.  The problem comes into play because I always need to order at least that much so shipping is free.  I'm talking to you, Amazon and  This book was a major splurge to say the very least. 

That being said, it is an invaluable reference book.  Being new to sewing, I sometimes don't know what a certain type of fabric is, which is troublesome when trying to figure out what fabric to use for a certain pattern.  Now, thanks to Classic and Modern Fabric, I will never be left wondering!  It lists, describes, and shows an example of pretty much every type of fabric known to man.

Surprisingly, the styling of the book isn't downright beautiful.  Sure, they show pretty fabrics, but the layout is pretty mundane.  Don't you agree that it's kind of snooze-y?

Sometimes when I'm in need of a giggle or a good hard laugh, I crack open Simple Times to any random page, and I'm good to go.  Since finding I Like You in the Bargain Books section of Barnes & Noble a couple of years ago, I have been a big fan of Amy Sedaris, so much so, that I received not one, but two copies of Simple Times for Christmas.  My friends and family know me so well!  Simple Times is as equally hilarious and silly as I Like You.

Not a single inch of the pages in this book is wasted, including the back of the dust jacket and inside front cover.  If you don't find this hilarious, I suggest you keep on scrolling until you get to the safe land of City Quilts.

And then there's this little surprise etched into the front cover.  Man this is good styling!

I think I am beginning to be obsessed with the spaces that artists create in.  The Blue Gardenia runs a series called Sewing Spaces, which features different bloggers and their sewing spaces.  Whenever I see a new Sewing Spaces pop up in my Google Reader, I get super excited to take a peak into another sewists' creative world.  It was no surprise that I spent awhile staring at these pages when I first got the book.  I'm also starting to think that everyone has a card catalog in their house but me.  If you're looking to give one up, let me know!

No crafter should approach any project without doing the proper stretches first.  You don't want to get injured!  But if you do, don't worry; Ms. Sedaris provides information on healing your wounds.

For real though, there are actual crafts packed throughout this entire book. 

My favorite are these milk carton structures.  You could whip these up pretty quickly too!  I would be worried that we'd burn the house down though by placing paper over electric candles.  I'll have to think up a fire-safe alternative.

Quite on the opposite side of the craft book spectrum is Cherri House's new book, City Quilts.

I picked this up mainly because of the extensive color theory sections and because it deals with using only solids in quilts.  There are some gorgeous quilts in this book!  Here are a few of my favorites.

Below is City Green.  Isn't it amazing how illuminating the white blocks are?  They provide a nice balance to the darker greens, browns, and blues.

City Lights was inspired by bright office building windows against the dark of the morning.  I think she is spot on with this design.  It's so simple yet interesting.

City Lot was inspired by parking lots full of new cars that have just arrived on boats.  I totally get it!  I love the bright colors she chose. 

After viewing my three favorite quilts in the book, I'm sure you can now see how much I love organization.  What is better than rows upon perfect rows of blocks of colors?

I stumbled across Stitch magazine sometime last year and was disappointed that they didn't offer a subscription service.  When I got the email last month alerting me that they now offer an option to auto-send you each new issue as it becomes available, I was in!  Here are the Winter 2010 and Spring 2011 issues.

The bad thing about subscribing to Stitch is that there are now dozens more projects added to my project list.  How adorable is the mini mushroom quilt?  Do I have a perfect place to put one, say, on a dining room table where we regularly eat?  No, but that won't stop me from wanting to make one.

We do regularly use dish towels, so this set would be a logical addition to my project list.

I'm surprised that I was so taken with this cuff as I don't currently own any bracelets, cuffs, or watches.  I think this might not make it to the project list, but it might make a nice gift for someone some day. 

I haven't had the chance to give the Spring 2011 issue a thorough reading yet, but at first glance, a few projects caught my eye.

Like this adorable clutch.

And this quilted elephant placemat.

It looks like a project has caught someone else's eye!  I'm pretty sure he's saying, "Please make this for me, Mommy!  I'm such a good boy!"

We will see, little Flick.  We will see.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Craft Books by the Box Full

Nick and I ventured over to Princeton on Sunday morning for the final day of the Bryn Mawr Wellesley annual book sale.  Every year, we go on the last day for the bag sale, where you pay $5 per paper bag or $10 per box full of books.  We have built most of our library this way as their fiction and classic literature sections are pretty well stocked.

In recent years, we've been hitting up the "old books" table, which is comprised of older edition books, and the craft and travel books tables.  This year I got some pretty good gems. 

First up are a couple of sewing reference books.  This Better Homes & Gardens Sewing Book is from 1961. 

It includes standard sewing reference material, such as reading patterns and working with different fabrics.  Like many of the books that I picked up, this one has fabulous illustrations.  Check out this page that lists the different types of fabric that you can get from different animals, especially the little guy in the bottom left-hand corner.  At first glance, I thought this was a giraffe but the longer hair on the chest had me puzzled.  Upon looking up vicuna, I discovered that this guy is a South America camelid who is related to the llama.  You learn new things every day in the most unexpected places!

There is also an extensive guide to properly pressing your garments that I think will prove helpful in the future.  And by extensive, I mean there are 3 whole pages dedicated to it, when in modern sewing books it is rarely mentioned.

I was hoping to find an old copy of Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, but a 1975 copy of The Vogue Sewing Book is a pretty good second place.  Apparently it was meant to be for me to find this copy, because the prior owner was the exact same height as me (5'4 1/2" if you must know)!  I know this because she wrote it in the margin of the figure analysis section. 

There is so much information packed into this 450-pager.  They get pretty specific as far as what styles are most flattering on which body types.  So much so that they include a few pages of charts to make sure that you don't mistakenly think a cut of a skirt or a neckline is flattering on you.  I hope that most owners of this book used these charts as guidelines and not rules.  I'd hate for someone of my stature to refuse to wear shorts because this book says that they are "Not Appropriate."

Fortunately, the guys don't get to escape from realizing their true body shapes either.  I had a nice laugh at this illustration about issues you might run into when fitting men's garments.  I like how a beer gut used to be referred to as a "bay window."  HA!  Adding the cigar for this silhouette is perfection.

One of the sections at the end of the book details setting up your sewing space.  Don't you wish your sewing space looked like this?

These three set-ups contain pieces of my actual sewing space.  If only I had more natural light to work with!

I also found a few quilting books.  I like traditional quilting with contemporary fabrics.  Much like the Modern Log Cabin Quilting book that Susan Beal just released.  I get major anxiety when I see blocks in a quilt that don't match up.  When I saw this Amish Patchwork book I immediately snatched it up.  Once I got home and actually looked at it, I was very excited at what I found.

One of my favorite things about modern sewing and quilting books is all of the great photographs.  This book is quite the opposite in that it doesn't contain any photographs besides the one on the front cover.  In fact, there is no color at all.  Almost the entire book consists of line drawings of patchwork patterns.

Despite it lacking color photos and formatting (the entire text of the short chapters at the beginning and end are in CAPS if you can believe it), I love this book.  The simple line drawings of the patchwork makes it much easier for me to see the designs (obviously) and decide whether or not I like the design without pretty fabric distracting me.  Genius! 

I also picked up Better Homes & Gardens American Patchwork & Quilting from 1985.  There are some 80s gems in here, my friends!

The book contains spotlights of some quilters and a bunch of different styles of quilts.  Like Amish Patchwork, most of the designs stick to traditional quilting patterns.  Here are a few of my favs.

I love the 80s styling in this picture.

I like to think that this quilt belonged to Laura Ingalls.

Check out this amazing quilting space!  In 1985 it belonged to a Ms. Donna Barnett, a Pennsylvania College of Art graduate.  Ms. Barnett, I am highly jealous of your wood floors, tons of sunlight, and what looks like a card catalog on your wall.

The rest of the books that I got are general craft books.  Honestly, I picked these up because of their covers and the awesome illustrations inside.

These books contain information on just about every craft imaginable.  Here we learn how to make puppets for a puppet theatre.  Mr. Squirrel and Mrs. Pig and their Properties!  Love!

The Woodstock Craftsman's Manual doesn't disappoint on illustrations either.

My favorite is this diagram of a tape deck in the section about home recording.  I am very tempted to recreate this as some sort of print for our house.  Stay tuned.

This McCalls magazine from 1964 was pretty fun to look through, even if I doubt I will ever make anything from it.  Most of the projects are knitting and are way above my skill level.  Isn't the front cover hilarious?  Look how happy those two are to be winding that yarn together!  There are details in the magazine to make all of the decorations in their living room too.  How convenient!

I loved looking at all of the old advertisements.  I'm not big into Mad Men, but I did enjoy looking at the clothes in the few episodes I've seen.  These ads are definitely a lot more classy than ads these days.

And yet some of the projects are downright horrifying.  On this page, you see a bunch of paper crafts.  What were they thinking??  I'm so thankful that artists have progressed from this over the past 50 years.

I did like this apple, even if I didn't like the bag that it is appliqued onto.  Perhaps it will make its way into a future project of mine.

We threw this last book in the box just because we liked the cover.  I'm thinking about making something out of it, but I'm not sure what yet.  Any suggestions?

I'm excited for all of the great reference books that I found.  In addition to those, we also picked up about 15 other books, all for $10!

As a bonus, I also found America From the Road, which is getting me pumped for our Great Western Adventure this August.

Here's hoping I run into some prairie dogs along the way!

Check back tomorrow to see some of the new craft books I've acquired over the past couple of months!