Friday, 24 May 2013

Book Review: Children's Sun Hats by Gill Stratton

If you're feeling inspired to sew after seeing the 'Great British Sewing Bee' then 'Children's sun hats' by Gill Stratton is a wonderful bright bold fun book with some lovely hats in to spoil your children with this summer.

Out of the 20 patterns three are baby hats, seven are for boys, seven are for girls and three are recycled hats.

The templates are half size over five pages at the back of the book which need to be enlarged by 200 per cent. There are eight pages of photo-illustrated basic techniques at the beginning of the book on: 'Using patterns to cut out the fabric', 'Using iron-on interfacing', 'Assembling a brim', 'Attaching the crown to the middle section', 'Attaching the brim to the crown', 'Making and attaching the lining', 'Making a six-part crown', and 'Making and attaching a peak'.

Gill says in her introduction to the book 'Sun hats have become a summer essential to keep the sun from children's delicate faces. However if, like me, you spend most of the summer nagging your children to put their hats on, then this book is for you. I found that if I let my children choose the shape and colour of the hat, they were much more likely to wear it.'

I can say that this is definitely the case. I never had a hat made for me but I wore a cotton dress my mother made for me which was blue with colourful lollypops on to death, and was distraught when I grew out of it. It was a dress she never would have found in any shop and I loved the fabric so much.

'Children's Sun Hats by Gill Stratton was released last month and is available from Search Press.

Thanks to Search Press for sending me this book to review.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Little Cotton Rabbits Patterns!

Top news - Julie from the knitting blog 'Little Cotton Rabbits' has decided to sell two bunny patterns.

Little Cotton Rabbits was one of the first craft blogs I read in 2008 and Julie was very friendly and really encouraged me to learn to knit. Her knitted bunnies definitely inspired me and when I felt like throwing my knitting into the garden I would read her blog to make sure I carried on.

There is now a Ravelry group full of people visibly trembling with excitement at the thought that they too can make a Julie bunny.

I have just switched over from a blackberry to an iPod touch so I can now get feedly which is great as I really was falling behind with blogs. Whenever I switch my laptop on (the fan needs a clean which I will get round to) the fan hums away and when I have it on during the day at the moment it's to job hunt primarily. Any time I switch to a craft blog - whoosh - it's suddenly 5pm and I haven't got any work done, so I don't read them.

I will be knitting the girl bunny but I don't want to buy it until I have cleared the sofa of WiPs and UFOs. I have just finished my camera cross stitch and I'm currently on the hunt for a black frame of just the right size so it can have some white aida around it. It seems to be just too big for the black frames I've seen in the shops I can afford, so it may be a few weeks yet. There's a sock on my needles (I've knitted the right one) and the patchwork. Not much, but I would like to finish the socks before starting Julie's bunny. Saying things like that really motivates me to finish - if you don't do this try it, it really helps.

Anyway, happy knitting!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Book Review: Quilting on the go! by Jessica Alexandrakis

Following on from my last post about my patchwork progress comes a review of the perfect book for beginner or intermediate level quilters.

'Quilting on the go!' by Jessica Alexandrakis is a superb book and a lot of thought has been put into how the book is organised so that you can progress with your own quilt designs.

If you love the idea of sewing on the train or bus to work or in the canteen when you get there then this book is for you. Jessica shows you exactly what you need to get a travel pack together so you can hand stitch patchwork on the go.

There is 18 pages of help in the 'Getting ready' section including advice on how to collate a fabric collection from thrift/charity shops, online, through fabric swaps etc, 16 pages on 'Starting to sew' with advice on tacking, what to do with the borders when you sew hexagons together and where to get the backing material.

There is 42 pages in the third section, which includes ten projects: a tiny sewing kit, a hexagon cushion, a pincushion, a shoulder bag, a small pouch, a laptop bag, a falling stars baby quilt, a tanuki stripe throw, a photo frame and a travel quilt which is in the photo above.

Section four contains 20 pages with features on the different designs you can sew - such as equilateral triangles and squares, half hexagons and 60-degree diamonds with interlocking background. There are then ten pages of graph paper with different patchwork shapes and designs already drawn on so you can colour in and see what works best. There are two pages of templates, one page of which features actual size templates, the other ones you will need to enlarge on a photocopier.

The graphs at the back of the book and the neat organisational feel of the book are what impressed me the most. I loved the look of the book as soon as I saw it and the details inside are so exhaustive. I think you get a lot of advice for your money with this book as it's slightly thicker than average.

Jessica is extremely talented and you can follow her blog 'Life Under Quilts'.

This book was released just last month and you can be amongst the first to own it by shopping at Search Press.

Thanks to Search Press for sending me this book to review.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Photoshop and Patchwork

OK - so this is my first ever post featuring a photo which I've Photoshopped.

You don't have to tell me I need some practise here. I couldn't find a happy medium between darkness and light. I'm so used to my basic camera software and Picasa (which I've used ever since 2008) that even armed with a yellow dummy book I still remain a useless Photoshop idiot for the time being.

I had an enormous laptop crash the other week which deleted all my programmes and Kodak don't do the software drivers for my camera anymore so it's forced me to use Photoshop which I bought at the start of the year, which is no bad thing. Photo quality may decrease before it gets better is all I'll say.

Moving on - the photo is actually showing you that I have managed to sew all three lines of hexagon pieces together, and not only that, have managed to sew two lines together into something resembling patchwork. I started this project a long time ago last autumn and originally it was going to be a draught excluder. It's now morphed into a little throw to put at the end of my bed. Not a quilt, that's too overwhelming for me at the moment as I have a king size bed, but a little mini-quilt will suit me just fine. I love the mixture of fabrics and that I can shop for little packs of more whenever I have the money and build it up as I go. The sewing is not as much of a headache as I thought and I get into a rhythm very quickly. I have quite a few projects on the go which I will tell you about soon.

NB Just so you don't repeat my mistake - you shouldn't put fabrics of the same colour anywhere near each other. Just saying.
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