Sewing For Boys Book Review

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I don’t really sew for children. Ok, I’ve made like four things and a couple quilts. But I liked this new book so much that I thought I’d review it. I know not every reader here has kids or sews for kids but if you’re interested please continue reading!

There aren’t many good clothes sewing patterns out there for little one, especially boys (not counting Oliver+S, which have super cute designs). Now, I know there are plenty of patterns for little girls, many from smaller companies but most of them have a problem – they’re uber-cutesy.

(sorry, pink fig)

I’m talking patchwork pattern catastrophes like one above (Good God! Why so many ruffles?! Ruffles on the legs, why!?! Make it stop!) which is just an excuse to use as much ridiculous quilting cotton as humanly possible. And I mean, really, what 7 year old would wear that? It looks like Raggedy Ann got in a fight with a bag of jelly beans.

I feel like the guy in those Dos Equis commercials only my tagline at the end would be “I don’t always sew for children, but when I do I prefer them not to look like clowns.”

My sincerest apologies for your children if you like sewing designs like those. If it makes you happy, go for it!

Anyway, this is supposed to be a book review not a rant so the point to all of this is to say that what I like about boy related sewing is that it rarely turns into a candy colored mess of crazy. With boys they get to dress like miniature men only a little more stylish because you can get away with shapes and fabrics and designs that a grown man might veer away from. Boy sewing can be really modern and stylish while the only thing juvenile is the male wearing the clothes.

Which is why I like this new book, simply titled, Sewing for Boys by Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage (who are also awesome kids pattern designers)

The book is organized with a little introduction at the beginning followed by a fashion photoshoot style layout of every project in the book over several pages. Next all those projects you just saw are organized in six sections with four projects each. The first four sections cover clothing by seasons. The final two sections are more crafty.

The sizing ranges from infant to age 7. Not every project is appropriate for a baby so if you buy this book for yourself do so when you’re kid is very young to take advantage of all the projects as he grows.

“Sewing For Boys” doesn’t teach you to sew and the instructions are very similar to regular clothes sewing patterns so the user needs some previous pattern experience. It does include a small glossary of necessary terms along with a helpful list of seam finishes, you know, if you forget how to do a flat fell seam for those Treasure Hunt pants.

This book would be good for both beginning and advanced sewers as the beginners can try new projects and the more advanced can whip out a boy’s shirt in no time!

Most projects are labeled “beginner” or “intermediate.” I only counted three “advanced.”

The patterns are printed on 8 sheets of sturdy, semi-transparent white paper (much better than tissue paper!) The large number of sheets makes it easy to find your project and I especially liked that the sheets were not very big at all, making them easy to trace and fold back up in to the envelope.

Ok, enough with the technical, let’s move on to the fun part – projects!

The styling of these adorable little boy models struck me as very “I’m from Austin/Portland/San Fran and I let my kid’s hair grow out and send him to Montessori school and for his fifth birthday we had a ‘make your own compost’ party.” You know what I mean. Which is totally fine because I am from Austin and if I had a kid I’d probably do all of those things (and I think the authors are from Portland). But if that’s all too granola for you, you can still easily adapt any of these designs for a more suburban, public school lifestyle.

I could see myself making nearly all of the clothing designs. I especially like the coat pattern and the hoodie. I’d probably skip the suspender shorts. They’re a little too Von-Trap family for me.

The clothes are pretty basic but have little twists that make them unique – a hidden pocket here, cuffs on the pants, piping, etc. Lots of possibilities for cool fabrics.

I also liked that they included many patterns for knits because kids practically live in stretchy fabrics at that age.

The crafty sections are more predictable. There’s a notebook cover with crayon holders, appliques on old t-shirts (being eco-friendly), a quilt made from out grown shirts, fabric belts made with d-rings. All stuff I’ve seen before.

The standout project from that section is the race car mat – something a kid can enjoy for several years. There’s also a hat project that’s great for using scraps.

This book would be great for a parent of boys or someone who loves to sew and has nephews or little cousins. Go check it out on Amazon or on the book’s website (they post a bunch of sew-alongs for projects in the book!).

The Crafter’s iPhone Case, or, another way to easily impress your friends

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Cross Stitch iPhone Case

By now you may have seen these puppies on the interwebs. Or maybe you haven’t, in which case (no pun intended) check it out! It’s a cross stitch-able iPhone case! You can make whatever design you want and show off your crafty styling to all your friends. Who really needs an Otter Box, anyway? ;)

Earlier last year you could only order these cases from poorly translated Korean websites but now they’re all over the place! Well, at least two other websites that I found carry them. Justin got me this one for Christmas from Think Geek, a site that sells mostly comic book and Star Wars related chotchkies.

You have the option of blue, black and white cases (you can probably find more colors on other sites) and each come with three little embroidery thread packs and a needle. I didn’t bother using their thread and instead picked from my own stash.

Not really knowing what I wanted to do I went with a simple chevron style design and mixed up my threads and stripe thicknesses.

Cross Stitch iPhone Case 

It took a LONG time. Seriously. I don’t often do cross stitch or embroidery but it seemed like this took longer than it ought to have. I could do about four full lines in an hour. Believe me, I caught up with both seasons of Downton Abbey working on this thing. Part of the reason is that unlike cross stitching or embroidering on cloth you can’t go around stabbing your needle in all willy-nilly. You have to find the designated hole and slip the needle in. Come at it at an angle and your needle dives into plastic and you have to try again. Precision takes time.

Cross Stitch iPhone Case Front

Watch out for your tied off knots on the back. One of my sides was so full of bulging knots that now the case doesn’t fully “hug” the phone on the left side and I find myself constantly trying to push it down correctly.

Cross Stitch iPhone Case Side

Also, my now purple hair has rubbed off onto the white plastic staining it slightly. But don’t think that just because you’ve got nice normal hair that you’re exempt. I’ve had cases like this before so I should have known better that to buy the white but anything that is on your hands or face will get on the phone case and dingy it up – makeup, ink on your fingers, hand dirt, dye from your jeans pocket. I’ve even had lining fabric from a new purse rub off on cases before. You might have better luck with the black or blue but eventually that plastic will discolor.

What’s cool about these cases is that if you get bored you could rip everything off and start again. With so much use the threads are bound to get dirty over time. But since this design took me ages to do I think I’ll keep it for awhile.

One Yard Wonders: Fabric by Fabric – Book Review

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We got this new One Yard Wonders book in stock at the store a couple weeks ago. At first I thought it was just an updated version of the original book but then I took a closer look. I finally decided to buy it because so many of the projects piqued my interest.

This new book is in the same vein as the old one – 101 projects all using just one yard of fabric (plus other notions like buttons, zippers, interfacing, of course). This book is different not only because it includes projects for 9 types of fabric but also because it’s so thick!

Look! The patterns make up practically half the book size!

I like that the book offers so many fabric options because quilting cottons can get boring and with this variety I can utilize more of my stash.

The spiral binding helps make the book stay open – a must for a craft book!

The book also includes introductory sewing basics near the front along with helpful descriptions, recommended needle sizes and tips for sewing each fabric type in the beginning of every section.

 
(Shaggy Chic Chenille Clutch)

The instructions are clear, like the last book, and often feature helpful illustrations.

 
(Kid’s Comfy Chair – yes you can make a chair with one yard! Wow!)

As for projects its a nice mix of clothing, bags, accessories, home dec, gifts, utilitarian, toys, kids and baby items.

(Stroller Tote)

However, if you don’t have kids like me you should know that there are at least 26 projects specifically designed for kids, babies or parents. That’s a quarter of the book! Something to keep in mind if you don’t have any little ones to sew for.

 
(Logan’s Guitar)

Although if you do have kids there are quite a few projects that can work for boys (yay!) but most of the clothing projects are for girls.

 (Jet Set)

The difficulty ranges from beginner to advanced beginner or intermediate.

Many projects are quite useful that could apply to anyone. And with all the aprons, pillows and bag possibilities you could easily make gifts for everyone you know! This book would make a great gift itself to someone learning to sew or who likes craft sewing.

 
(Hi-Fi Habitat)

Some projects are questionable, though. Like these wall mounted iPod player and speaker set. The fabric covered boxes are supposed to conceal speakers but how do you conceal the wires??

(Pig and Piglets)

Or this stuffed pig that gives birth to it’s pigglets from a zipper pouch in her stomach. That just gives me the creeps for some reason.

(Petal Pillow)

My top project picks that are going on my to-do list:

  • Petal Pillow
  • Shaken, Not Stirred Martini Shade (basically a roman shade – I really need to make one for my craft room)
  • Shaggy Chic Chenille Clutch
  • Airliner Bag
  • Farmer’s Market Tote (a nice multi pocket grocery bag)
  • Scruffle Scarf
  • Oranizer Wallet
  • Urban Wabbit Hunting Cap
  • “Work in comfort” neck pillow (great for plane trips or long car rides!)
  • Under the Sink Cleaning Stash
  • Breezy Kite (Perfect for Kite Day!)
  • Smart Girl’s Set Sunglasses Case
 (Scruffle Scarf)
I usually don’t buy crafty sewing books but this one inspired me so much and I’ve already started on one project! If you feel like deviating from garment sewing I highly recommend this book!

Book Review! Colette and BurdaStyle

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I’m interning at a fabric store in Austin and we just got both the new Colette Sewing Hanbook and BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook (yes, they are both “sewing handbooks”) books in stock. I scouared through each, snapped some pics and now I’m sharing my thoughts with you!

First of all, both books are the same retail price, both have beautiful photos and both are spiral bound, making them easy to lay flat on your sewing table as you read.

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Colette’s book is geared more towards beginner garment sewers while BurdaStyle is more for those with intermediate skills.

Colette Sewing Handbook

The Colette book has the classic, streamlined style you know from their patterns.

Colette Sewing Handbook

I love Colette’s approach to teaching. I remember when I first started sewing and I was so excited to work on projects that I skipped learning some essential skills. The book is organized in 5 sections, or “fundamentals”. You learn a few basics then dive into a project. Then you learn something more advanced and work on a new pattern and so on. This way you’re never in over your head but you always feel like you are progressing and putting your skills to work on something wearable.

Colette Sewing Handbook

The patterns are basic but each has a little twist – scallops here, pintucks there. One shirt has bias binding which teaches you to make and sew binding and also allows you to add your style to the shirt. Another dress has enough darts for you to work on a perfect fit.

Colette Sewing Handbook

Each lesson features ample illustrations and photos, just like Colette’s patterns.

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What particularly stands out is the reference section. I love the up close images of different fabric types.

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And I’ve never seen a book with examples of fabric wrapped on dress forms. What a great way to illustrate drape.

On to BurdaStyle -

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BurdaStyle’s book focuses more on fashion and style than technique. Lots of eye candy for fashionista sewers.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

It features lots of input from BurdaStyle.com users from sewing room inspiration to user created variations of five standard patterns (skirt, dress, top, coat, handbag) included in the book.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

Each pattern has instructions for the original look. Also included are a several other variation designs, a few with their own instructions. Every original design is cute but what’s really great is seeing what contributor does with the style to make it his or her own.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

At the end of each variation is a little Q&A with the BurdaStyle user who created it.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

This book is more for the fashion savy sewer who is advanced enough for pattern manipulation and is looking for a creative outlet rather than learning basic fit and construction techniques. If you like the concept behind the Built by Wendy books (basic patterns and alterations to the designs) then BurdaStyle will be right up your alley.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

Each design has a difficulty level and decent instructions but if you are advanced enough to alter patterns drastically you probably won’t need to read the instructions much.

Both books are great but are for slightly different audiences. I’d probably buy BurdaStyle’s for myself as inspiration but the Colette handbook would make a great gift to someone who wants to learn garment sewing.

Has anyone bought either of these books yet?