Monday, June 30, 2014

The Better Bag Maker - Book Review and Giveaway!

Giveaway is now closed.

Hello and happy Monday!

Today I am reviewing Nicole Mallalieu's book, The Better Bag Maker. I love her first book, You Sew Girl! and was very excited to get my hands on this one.  I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Nicole in person some time back and I am so happy to be part of her blog book tour.

What struck me first about the The Better Bag Maker,  is that it is full of beautiful and extremely helpful photographs. Of course there's the bags, oh the bags! All the projects are based on one basic pattern, with limitless variations. The projects are ordered by degree of difficulty, from beginner to advanced sewists.

 "The Melbourne Weekender" bag is definitely on my To Make list!

What makes this book one that I will return to again and again, is the amazing Techniques and Tips that Nicole shares. With her expert guidance, there is no doubt that you too can make stunning bags with really professional finishes. The photos are incredibly helpful and I am so thrilled that I have the opportunity to learn some valuable techniques to improve my own sewing. That is what turns a good sewing book into a staple reference and resource guide that helps one become a better seamstress... and of course a better bag maker.

I absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested in not only making some gorgeous bags, but to everyone who wants to improve their skills and confidence.

I have bookmarked several pages and put a few bags on my To Make list. I think I'll start with this beauty, The Marrakesh Overnighter!

Of course if I ever do go to Marrakesh, I'll be wearing a longer skirt.

You can purchase a copy of Nicoles book, The Better Bag Maker HERE.

Stash Books has generously offered a Giveaway of The Better Bag Maker. You can win a copy of the Better Bag Maker (hard copy in the US, digital version for the rest of the world). All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what sewing skill you'd like to learn or improve. The Giveaway will be open until Monday, July 7th.
Giveaway is now closed.
Please go visit Nicole's blog, You Sew Girl, and say hello!

Also, check out the other stops on the blog tour!
2nd June – Creativebug
9th June – The Littlist Thistle
23rd June – Curly Pops
30th June – Lola Nova
8th July – Ink & Spindle
15th July – Kicki G Just Nu (in Swedish)
Giveaway is now closed.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stitched Journal Project - June

The Stitched Journal Project is: Makers from around the world creating one "page" or piece of work per month and sharing. It is a project to get the ideas flowing, to process the days in a creative way, to try new techniques and to push past fears that keep us from making something.  It isn't about perfection, or getting it "just right," it is about process and perspective.

June has been busy, big, and a little overwhelming. Full of highs and lows... and floods, both literal and metaphorical. The stitched quote in my piece is of course in reference to the 1975 iconic film, Jaws

I used a recycled brown paper bag and worked it until I got the texture I wanted. I printed the boat onto the bag and machine stitched the words next to the print. I really love a good brown paper bag, so many possibilities! 

Even the Engineer likes it, in fact, he wants to make a frame for it out of reclaimed pallet wood - continuing the recycled theme.

Below you will find links to the wonderful makers and their Stitched Journal Project pieces for June. Please keep your eyes on this spot in the next couple of days as more add their links. Be sure to visit them and leave comments!

If you think you would like to join in as well, it's not too late!  We will be sharing our pieces the last Friday of every month at least until the end of the year. We'd love to have you.

All of you wonderful Stitched Journal Project participants please link up below! Remember to add your photos to The Stitched Journal Flickr Group! and be sure to share with Facebook, Twitter, etc!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Frankly, Lola...

I know that I have waxed on about how this blog is my happy, shiny place. More than once, I'm sure.
Most of the time I choose to skip the yucky stuff, you know... the it's a hard day 'cause everything went wrong, the house is a wreck and smells of kitten poo (how is it possible that such a small creature can create so much poop?).  The days that are way too busy, always trying to catch up and always falling short. Those days that I just want to hide under a pile of coats and there's no bloody chocolate in the house! We all have them.

For instance, I don't share my endless disappointment that I have not yet developed the super-power of stopping time... not even for 5 piddly minutes... good gravy! I don't talk about how my striving for balance in this life looks a lot like an elephant in roller skates riding a Tilt-A-Whirl. I don't over-share my past aspirations (I really wanted to be a Solid Gold Dancer! Sadly, I reached full height several inches short of the required leggy-ness. Also, I was not a particularly good dancer). So you see, I don't like to complain. Okay... so sometimes I do talk a bit too much about my tempestuous relationship with The Laundry.

I also try to keep the real personal stuff out of view. Sometimes the real hard times, are quiet family blues; we need to sing them away in private.

I also sometimes forget to share the really great day-to-day stuff. Stuff like reconnecting with an old friend one hasn't seen in ages and ages. Like having a long overdue date night with the Engineer, dinner with friends, and seeing a really great band. I forgot to tell you about a sleepover we had with old friends - our kids have been friends since they were babies and it was so much fun! Or I don't often mention how lovely it is to sit in the garden at the end of a long day.

Sometimes I even go as far as disappearing from this place for days and days.

Yet, when I do spend time here, I am always surprised and so very pleased that many of you stick with me, come back, read my posts, leave wonderful comments and make me smile!

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Where in the world is Lola?

Here I am!

As it turns out, I was not abducted by Aliens, I did not join the witness protection program, nor did the zombie apocalypse begin in the Northwest United States. I've been here all along. You know, just relishing in the abundance of life! That's just one way of saying, "Oh good gravy, life is non-stop action!" 
I'll just do the highlights:

The fruit must be obeyed:

When the "Hoods" come on (Mt. Hood, Oregon Strawberry variety), you have no choice but to drop everything and scoop them up. This old fashioned variety is small in size, quite perishable, and the best tasting strawberry you will ever have! To not immediately run out and make a quadruple batch of low sugar jam, would be tantamount to blasphemy and lead to painful regret and despair. We also ate them fresh and I had enough to try out my new dehydrator making fruit leather.

I really wish this was a scratch-n-sniff picture. So good!

Then came the raspberries. These from our own small patch. It seems my worry over my pruning job this winter was unfounded. They have come on like gangbusters! Fresh handfuls of just picked raspberries are the preferred method of consumption. Still,we had enough to make a small batch of jam, freeze a few pints and they are still going strong.

And there were the cherries! Having never grown cherries and having inherited one sweet and one sour variety when we bought this house; I did some research. I was a bit surprised that the trees were already dropping fruit (a sunnier spring than normal?). So we picked the first go-round. Being a bit canned out, I dried this first batch to use later. The second picking may see some canning of chutney and possibly a cherry Brandy.

There's this kid:

She ended 3rd grade and is moving on to a bigger school next year. We had a week of celebratory classroom community fun. She had a great teacher this year,a lot of challenges, and was ever unflinchingly herself. I am so proud and madly in love with this girl!

And this:

Go on! Get a kitten, you know you want to! Pure joy. No trouble, no trouble at all.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Lovely day for a picnic

Some more Summer stitching in between making strawberry jam, end of school activities and keeping up with the garden (to be honest I'm not keeping up all that well). 

A tunic dress for my girl. I'm calling it The Picnic Dress.

I used Kaffe Fassett shot cotton and cotton print. Vintage ribbons and doily for embellishment. It's a modified version of the Prairie Dress.

It's looking like a lovely day for a picnic!

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The last of the school days

Seeing as there is just a smidge over a week left of school, things have ramped up. Field trips, school carnivals, potluck in the park, etc...
So not much work is getting done on my end if you don't count laundry and the soft opening of the patio for the summer season. I did however, finally manage to make a cushion for the couch. Some Japanese cotton, some hand printing on canvas and a vintage doily or two and voila!

Are you gearing up for summer, or are you on the other side getting ready for winter?

Have a lovely week whatever the geography!