books · sewing · Uncategorized

and the winner is…

Thanks to a random number generator, the winner of an e-book version of Sew…the Garment-Making Book of Knowledge by Barbara Emodi is:

Sewing wisdom-clean your machine and change the needle. The machine will run smoother and your sewing will improve.

Congratulations Marilyn!  Please send me an email with your details and I’ll organise for you to receive a copy of the book.

Many thanks to all the people who shared their sewing wisdom – I encourage you to read through all the comments on the previous blog post; there’s terrific information there!  What a wise lot you all are.

books · sewing

Sew – the Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

When I received an email from Barbara Emodi asking if I’d be interested in being part of a blog tour to promote her book, I was extremely happy to oblige.  As it happens, I had already bought her book in the first week of release!  I have been aware of Barbara and her sewing skills for a long time, having read her regular column in Australian Stitches magazine many, many years ago.  I’ve enjoyed following her blog and instagram, and knew that her book would be a valuable addition to my sewing library.  And did you know that the Style Arc Barb pants are named for her?

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

So, another sewing book.  What makes this one different?  To me, it’s a combination of things.  Barbara writes in a super friendly, chatty and wise way.  She often makes me laugh.  And she’s super realistic!  She says things how they are.  I love that!  She’s got a wealth of expertise and knowledge to share, and has written this book to pass on sewing wisdom.  I’ve been sewing for years and have still benefitted from it, but I think it would be especially good for people who have just started out with garment sewing.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

This isn’t a textbook – it’s more written like a conversation about sewing (and don’t those of us who love sewing love to talk about it!) and information is imparted in a variety of ways.  There’s anecdotes, mini-lessons, diagrams, photographs, thoughts and discussion.  Rather than being straight technical advice, Barbara weaves together the information that you need to know in order to sew garments successfully.  She talks about things like when to ignore pattern directions, how to determine what size to sew, and how to choose fabrics.  She does all of these in a practical (and often humourous) way that acknowledges the realities of our bodies and our lives.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

There is also plenty of information across the sewing spectrum.  How to set up a sewing station, what equipment you really need and why, how to alter flat patterns.  The mini-lessons include separate techniques that could be applied to a variety of projects.  Barbara also has a youtube channel where she demonstrates techniques, which is really useful for those who are more visual learners.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

Like Barbara, I learned to sew as a child.  I watched mum sew, she taught me the basics and answered my questions, I read the instructions on patterns, and devoured any Golden Hands magazine that I could get my hands on.  I continued to read extensively about sewing, gave lots of things a go – after all, it’s only fabric – and progressively improved my skills.  However, I reckon that my sewing plateaued for a number of years – until the internet arrived.  Being able to interact so easily with other sewers and talk about my hobby has been such a terrific thing.  It’s that sharing of personal experiences and collective wisdom that has helped me to step things up a notch.  Barbara’s book is definitely part of that conversation and is full of sewing wisdom.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

C&T Publishing have offered to give away an eBook copy of the book to one of my blog readers.  If you’d like to enter please leave a comment sharing a piece of your sewing wisdom on this blog post, and I’ll draw a name on Wednesday 8th August.


Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

The blog tour schedule is as follows:

Pop over to their blogs and see what they have to say and maybe enter their book draws too.  I highly recommend this book to any new garment sewer, plus those who’ve been sewing for a while and still want to learn more.  Many thanks to Barbara for sharing her knowledge so generously.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

Blogroll · books · musings

some sewing (and crochet) related reading

There has been a little bit of reading lately.  Not as much reading as I’d like, but I don’t do as much of many things as I would like.  My crochet output has slowed down quite a  bit recently, and I am focusing on getting my sewing UFOs completed.  Maybe it’s due to being well and truly in the last part of the year – school holidays have just started, and I can see that the last few months will rush to a close.  I’d like to freshen my slate a little.  But back to the reading!

Convertible Crochet - Doris Chan

Convertible Crochet is Doris Chan’s latest book. There are a number of lovely projects in it, most made by reconfiguring motifs and attaching them in different ways. I enjoy the technical aspects of Doris’ books; the fusion of creativity and mathematics and shape and structure. Not sure what I’ll start with from this book, but in the meantime it is lovely to peruse.

The Hundred Dresses - Erin McKean

The Hundred Dresses by Erin McKean has an illustration and an exposition of an iconic dress on every two-page spread. The illustrations are delightful, and Erin writes in a way that is humourous and insightful. She has obviously done her research, but his isn’t an academic book. It’s a light read that is easy to dip into and out of, and worth a look at for anyone interested in women’s fashion.

Fabric Sewing Guide - Clare Schaeffer

Clare Schaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide is SUCH a worthwhile purchase for anyone who sews! Someone asked me recently if I could do a blog post about choosing and sewing with different fabrics – seriously, I point you in the direction of this book. I was lucky enough to buy it half price at a recent craft fair and am so pleased that I now have it as a reference. It is divided into sections, with titles such as Fibre Content, Fabric Structure, Fabric Types, Interfacings and Linings, Sewing Techniques. I think that this book is a must have.

Nowadays I do a fair bit of reading on a Kindle.  I am half-way through Mel Campbell’s book Out Of Shape: Debunking Myths About Fashion and Fit.  It’s an interesting book too.  From Mel’s website:

This volume of literary non-fiction explores the histories and cultures of clothing fit and size. It seeks to cut through the often confused discussions in the Australian and international media over whether we’re in an ‘obesity crisis’; issues of body image and self-esteem; suspicions of exclusionary fashion marketing tactics; and the contemporary passion for all things ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’.

Ultimately, it sets out to answer the question: “Why is it so tricky and unpleasant to find clothes that fit properly?”

Framed as a lively, accessible work of investigative journalism, Out of Shape is explicitly not a ‘fashion’ book. It’s geared to a general audience who don’t necessarily identify as fashion-conscious, and who struggle to feel good about buying and wearing clothes. It represents a unique and exciting investigation into a daily practice everyone participates in, which has a fascinating, sometimes bizarre relationship to commerce and pop culture.

I’ve also just read Already Pretty, by Sally McGraw.  I have been dipping in and out of Sally’s blog Already Pretty for a while.  From the website:

Structured as a fun and accessible self-guided makeover, Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress it Well is the antidote to cookie-cutter style guides. Instead of dumping you into a body type category and restricting what you can and cannot wear, this friendly, funny, body-positive book presents a highly customizable regimen to help you define and hone your own personal style.  A true guidebook to crafting personal style, Already Pretty teaches women to love their bodies, dress impeccably, and embrace the philosophy that dressing well is key to living well.

I have always been a bit of a sucker for a makeover show, right back from spreads in Dolly or The Women’s Weekly to television makeover segments or programs and books like those of Trinny and Susannah.  Reading both Already Pretty and Out of Shape at pretty much the same type has been quite a juxtaposition, although Already Pretty is definitely not a traditional make-over book full of “musts” but rather is about being true to yourself and how you feel in your clothes.  I have also been reflecting on how these books intersect with some of the material I studied back when I completed my Women’s Studies degree, and how my own thoughts and behaviours intersect them all of them.  Hmmm.

And there are a couple of new to me blogs that I’ve been enjoying and would like to share!

Fabric Tragic – a local girl who I’m now waiting to bump into at Darn Cheap Fabrics one day

Sew Manju – an English woman who makes divine dresses for herself and her daughter

He Cooks, She Sews – great garments and some mouth-watering recipes.

books · crochet

crochet noro

Last week my copy of Crochet Noro arrived.  It’s a beautiful book.  Even if I never make any of the projects in it – but I am betting that I will, and sooner than you think – it is worth it just to have it sitting beside my chair for me to glance through when I want to gaze at something exquisite.

Crochet Noro

The blurb from the Book Depository page: For more than 40 years, Noro has been a source of fabulously inventive yarns prized by knitters around the world for their incomparable colours, patterns and luxury. “Crochet Noro” presents 30 vibrant designs from such top designers as Lily Chin, Yoko Hatta and Doris Chan, ranging from an adorable swirly hat and trendy bias miniskirt to a mohair motif blanket. These beautiful items and the yarns they showcase – such as Kureyon Silk Garden and Taiyo – are sure to excite crocheters.

Crochet Noro - Bias Miniskirt

Crochet Noro - Floral Necklace

And the blurb from the back of the book: Crochet designers from around the world have come together to create this stunning volume of patterns stitched in exquisite Noro yarns. Bursting with colour and texture, Crochet Noro brings art and elegance into the everyday. Crocheters of all skill levels will experience the spectacular colourways of these unique yarns in designs that feature an array of delightful stitches. With thirty stunning projects to choose from, including elegant shawls, gorgeous sweaters, playful accessories, and more, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with Noro. If you’re already hooked, you’ll discover even more reasons to Crochet Noro!

Crochet Noro - Bobbled hat

Crochet Noro - Nesting Bowls

They’re right – this book is lovely. I paid for my copy, and thought that it was worth sharing just a few of the project photos. They are so beautifully photographed and styled; absolutely lush!

Crochet Noro - Cap-Sleeve Cardigan

Crochet Noro - Chrysanthemum Shawl

For those of you who haven’t worked with Noro yarns, they have long graduated runs of colour change, so do all the colour changing work for you. Lovely. I’ve used them a couple of times before, and now it looks as though I’ll have to use them again.

Crochet Noro - Daisy Chain Scarf

Crochet Noro - Flower Blossom Purse

Isn’t it nice to come across a crochet book that also doubles as a beautiful coffee table book!

books · crochet

book alert – Crochet Saved My Life

Last week I received my copy of Crochet Saved My Life.

Image of Cover for Crochet Saved My Life

This book has been self-published by Kathryn Vercillo, of the blog Crochet Concupiscence.  I’ve been reading Kathryn’s blog for a while now, and she constantly impresses me with her depth of knowledge, proficient research skills, and her commitment to promoting various aspects of crochet.  It doesn’t hurt that she’s featured a few of my crochet projects from time to time either!  I ordered this book as soon as it became available, and although I’ve only had the opportunity to flick through it so far, I’m already impressed by the quality of the writing and I’m intrigued by the stories within it.  As someone who often replies to the question “why do you sew/craft/crochet” with the response “to keep me sane” or “it’s cheaper than therapy”, I really appreciate the sentiments of the book.  To give you some more information about it, I’ll reproduce some of the press release below.

A new book is available suggesting that the age-old craft of crochet is not just a hobby but can actually be a life-saving tool with benefits for people trying to overcome the difficulties of a diverse range of physical and mental health conditions. Crochet Saved My Life uses a combination of memoir, biography and research to explore how crochet has been used both historically and in modern times to help people heal from depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, pregnancy complications, chronic pain conditions and even early Alzheimer’s.

Kathryn Vercillo wrote Crochet Saved My Life based on her own experience of using crochet in conjunction with therapy and medication to survive lifelong, life-threatening depression. When she first began to tell people that she was writing about how crochet had saved her life, she expected to be laughed at. Instead, she was inundated with story upon story from people who felt that the craft had saved their lives as well. The author went on to interview nearly two-dozen women about their experiences. The group is made up of women who are professionals in the industry, working as crochet designers, craft book editors, and crochet bloggers as well as women from other walks of life. This new book shares their stories along with her own to highlight the many facets of crochet that make it a great therapeutic tool for people of all ages.

Crochet is a popular craft. In fact, a 2010 study by the Craft and Hobby Association found that crocheting is the seventh most popular craft by sales (with estimated annual industry sales exceeding one billion dollars) and the third most popular craft by household participation (with more than 17 million participants). It is more popular than knitting, jewelry making and woodworking and more profitable in sales than card making and wedding crafts. Each of these people may be able to benefit from the craft’s therapeutic value and this book tells them how.

Crochet Saved My Life discusses how crochet can be a healing tool used by individuals as well as in group settings including nursing homes, substance abuse programs and hospitals. The book is designed to be approachable by people who don’t crochet but who may find that the craft benefits them individually or benefits the patients that they work with. That group includes counselors, OT industry professionals, therapists, residential treatment center staff and even teachers.

Crochet Saved My Life (ISBN: 1478190450) is a self-published work. It is available in print through CreateSpace, Amazon US and Amazon UK. This book is also available as a Kindle download. It is part of the Kindle Lending Library and so is free to Amazon prime members who use that service. It is possible for retail stores to purchase the book at wholesale rates using Amazon’s CreateSpace Direct Reseller program. Information on ordering can be found at

Kathryn Vercillo has been a freelance writer for more than ten years. She is the author of two previous books published through Schiffer and has been a contributing author on other book projects. Her work has been published in magazines including Latina Magazine and Skope. Kathryn has worked as a professional blogger for numerous websites including PC World, Dial-a-phone, SF Travel, and Houzz. Her online articles about crochet have been published around the web on sites that include Crochetvolution, Crochet Liberation Front, SF Indie Fashion and Handmadeology. Her Crochet Concupiscence blog ( was voted one of the Top 5 2012 craft blogs in Inside Crochet Magazine and was a 2011 runner-up for a Flamie award from the CLF. More information about the author is available at

I encourage you to have a look at Kathryn’s website and further information about this book, and possibly even order a copy!  It’s a great way to support someone who is doing her utmost to explore and promote a popular handcraft in a way that hasn’t been investigated before, and it’s an interesting read as well.  I look forward to really getting into it and meditating upon the stories of the women within it.

books · patchwork · quilting

modern blocks (and a little giveaway)

I’ve finally got a copy in my hot little hands!  Modern Blocks, published by Stash Books.


Of course, I’m excited because I have a block in there:


But I’m even more excited because there are a couple more Aussies I know with blocks in there as well! They’ve been more prolific than me – Kate has two blocks in the book and Louise has four!

aussies in modern blocks

Kate‘s are the top two and Louise‘s the bottom four. But there are many, many more blocks in this book – in fact, there are 99 in total! It’s beautifully presented with a photo of each block and instructions on how to make it on the adjoining page. There are plenty of blocks in there from well known bloggers and quilters, and I think it’s a wonderful resource for anyone looking for some block designs that are a little bit new or are presented in a fresh way. It’s given me lots of ideas about the next quilt I could make…that is, once I finish the four (or five, or six, or is it seven) that are currently in progress. These are all twelve inch blocks, so translate nicely to sampler quilts, dolly quilts, or to cushions, placemats, table runners and similar. Or to fully blown quilts!

And because the nice people at Stash books actually sent me two copies and to celebrate my 1,111th blog post today, I’m going to give one away! I’m going to make you work for it – leave a comment saying what your favourite things to read about on my blog are – the garments I sew myself, the garments I sew for my girls, my crochet projects, vintage crochet Friday, stash building, pattern purchases, book purchases, patchwork and/or quilting, bags, my occasional blitherings, or something else entirely. I’m interested! I’ll draw a winner on Thursday 1st December.  I am happy to post overseas so everyone is welcome to enter.

EDITED TO ADD: The giveaway is over – thanks to all the people who entered!

books · crochet

a little inspiration

Crochet books from Kinokuniya

These two beautiful crochet books were bought from Kinokuniya when I attended SIT in Sydney at the end of March. It seems like so long ago now! I haven’t made anything from either book yet but spend a considerable amount of time just admiring the pretty pictures. I really like this tunic from Crochet So Fine:

River tunic from Crochet So Fine

And I’ve been admiring this tunic from the Japanese crochet book.

Tunic from Japanese crochet book

There are so many items that appeal to me in these two pattern books. The Japanese one is – unsurprisingly – all written in Japanese, but there are charted diagrams. I’ll need to use Ravelry to get more information on things like yarn weights and hook sizes in order to make myself a garment that fits from it. I think I might just get myself a coffee and have another flip through both books…..