Sewing for kids…Japanese pattern books reviewed

I’d like to lay money on the fact that you’re far more organised than I am as we look down the barrel of Christmas.  Chez Stitches there is hardly a gift purchased, nor the handmade ones even started. Today the house lies under a layer of dust as the walls are chased out to fit the new patio door.  The decorator is coming on Sunday to finish the last room.

And, although I’m not a gambling woman, I’m sure its safe to say that you’ve already written to Santa, explaining that it really wasn’t your fault and that you should actually be safely ensconced on the “nice” list!

So, whilst sewing is likely the last thing on your mind at the moment, don’t forget that this will all be over in a couple of weeks and normal service will be resumed.  And with that in mind, if you’ve got small peeps in the household, drop everything, fire up the laptop, and send Santa photographic evidence of your innocence and ask, nay beg, him to pop a copy of any, or, indeed, all, of the following books into your Christmas stocking.  Because once the glitter dust of Christmas has settled, you’re going to want to make the wee ones All. Of. The. Things!

First up…Sew Chic Kids by Ruriko Yamada:


Such cute, easy to sew casual clothes for boys and girls aged 2 to 8, with full sized pattern sheets in the back of the book.



Clear diagrams walk you through the construction, with top tips to help you get a great result.


Basically all the beautiful design and inspiration that we’ve come to expect from Japanese sewing books, but in English!  Soooooo cool!

Sew Sweet HandMade Clothes for Girls by Yuri Araki is chock full of adorable outfits for your favourite girl aged 1 – 8.



This time the instructions have written sewing steps as well as detailed diagrams.



There’s even a couple of photographic sewing lessons that walk you through the construction of a little sleeveless dress, but which also shows you techniques that are used in other garments in the book.  Genius!


And last, but not least, is Girls Style book by Yoshiko Tsukiori and H.H.


Aimed at little girls aged 4 – 10 the styling is a little more grown up but still very age appropriate.  And again there are written sewing steps to make the whole process even simpler.


When Tuttle approached me to review Sew Sweet, I was really pleased to do so as I’d been contemplating purchasing my own copy of this having seen the beautiful clothes Sanae stitches for her daughter.  To receive all three books was an unexpected and delightful bonus.


The patterns are all classic styles that can be sewn over and over again for your littlies without their wardrobes becoming tired or dull.  They have clean lines that showcase gorgeous fabrics, and simple closures to make them quick and easy to sew and for small folk to put on and off.

For me this is the hallmark of a great sewing book. Inspirational styling with practical wearability, clear instructions to help you get a beautiful result, and a range of sizes that ensures you’ll get great value for money (I checked the price of these on Amazon UK today and they’ll set you back about £12.  Less than the price of most indy sewing patterns and working out to as little as 50p per pattern dependent on the book!)

So…tell Santa to sort it!  Or treat yourself so that you’ve got something to look forward to in the grey and dismal days of January.  Either way…you’ll be glad you did!

Thanks to Tuttle Publishing for providing me with these books for review. (Guys…I’ve lost your emails in the transfer of laptops…apologies!)  And to Sewing Princess for pointing them in my direction.  As always all opinions are my own, but I can sleep easy knowing that if you’ve got small folk you’ll love these patterns.  And expect to see my little Miss and Mr popping up in makes from them next year

Sweet dreams

Whilst The Husband is working away in London he phones every morning before heading off to work, and every evening before they go to bed, to speak with the munchkins.

Yesterday he was asking Button if she’d had a good night’s sleep.

Button:  Yeah….(yawn)

Daddy:  Did you have any nice dreams?

Button:  I had a lovely dream, Daddy?

Daddy:  Oh, what did you dream about that was so lovely?

Button:  I dreamt my brother left home….

She loves him really, the wee beastie!


The socks of love

If anything in this world proves that I love my hubby (other than his dream Sunday dinner of roast chicken followed by sticky toffee pudding) it is these socks.

argyle socks

Seriously!  Argyle socks.

argyle socks

Knitted flat and seamed.

argyle socks

Learning to mattress stitch…still a way to go!

With the single stitch diamonds added in after in duplicate stitch (Swiss darning).

Just a smidge too big for me...sigh!

Just a smidge too big for me…sigh!

What kind of crazy is that, if not crazy in love?  I do love you, baby!

FYI…the pattern is taken from Country Weekend Socks and the yarn is Drops Fabel.

Plan B

So you know those posts I promised….a couple of new makes and a review?

It would help if all my photos were on my shiny new MacBook Pro (thankyouverymuch Mr Husband) and not on my tatty old machine.  Sigh!  Such First World problems

I’m also spending way too much time trying to quell World War Three which seems to break out Chez Stitches about every 20 seconds.  Little folk don’t take well to Daddy working away all week.

The Mr is home tomorrow.  I’ll get him to shift all the photos over.  With a fair wind I’ll be back next week.  Until then…wish me luck with rampaging small peeps.


I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth…I’m just having new floors fitted throughout the ground floor and the fireplace installed.


Our home looks like a building site…of course…and all other fun stuff is on the sidelines until next week when we’ll have the sitting room and kitchen looking like we live here again.


I can’t wait.

And then I’ll be back with a couple of new makes and a review.

See you on the other side!


We’re back from our Autumn half term holiday in Wales and much the better for it. It’s been 4 years nearly since our last holiday so it was well overdue.  After a delayed start for a day whilst we confirmed that the 100.4 temperature that Button was running wasn’t, in fact, scarlet fever (phew!) the week ran smoothly and we had a relaxed but still very lovely time doing pretty much nothing except walking, eating and watching movies.

Oh, I love these guys

Oh, I love these guys

Of course there was the minor incidents of small folk rampaging out of earshot and the neighbouring holiday makers knocking on our door at 6.30am begging for relief.

And The Incident of the (toy) Dragon in the Nighttime, which included a beanie baby dragon, a table lamp, and a pesky small boy, that could have ended up very badly had Button not realised that the Rubicon had been crossed and come to wake me.

That said, here are a few pics that aptly capture the real essence of our break and the beauty of the Welsh coast and countryside around Cardigan bay.  They are phone photos because very early on I decided that I wanted to actually be in this holiday rather than spending time observing it from behind the lens.  I highly recommend this strategy…making memories is more fun than simply capturing the images.










Searching for shells for Grandad. A very serious endeavour!




Llanerchaeron woodland walk

Tempus fugit

Balmy golden autumnal days have given way to chill and rain here in Northland. Yet still I’m sewing the last dress of summer.

polka dress

So many unfinished things at the moment.  It feels like time is simultaneously held in abeyance and winging it’s way south for the winter.

Obviously at this time of year it becomes all about the knitting and life Chez Stitches is no exception.

argyle sock

These are a work of love and I’m hoping to have them finished by the weekend, when we head off on our holidays.


The decorator has arrived and the first coat of paint to seal the plaster was applied at the weekend.  I really need to get my act together as I’ve got to choose and purchase coloured paint before Saturday.


And whilst I’m at it, I’d better get the flooring, as my builder (who, serendipitously, is also my cousin) is finally free to lay the floors, build a dog den under the stairs and fit the new fireplace.


The ground floor will look like home by Christmas.  The socks will be done.  The dress will be hemmed.  And I’ll do my best to get my last fabric sale post up this week.


May Martin’s Sewing Bible – Review

Recently I have requested from the library a number of knitting reference books and over the next few weeks I hope to share my reviews of them with you. However, whilst in the library this week I noticed May Martin’s new book on the shelf and, obviously, swept it up in anticipation of an evening of delight spent increasing my sewing knowledge.

May Martin's Sewing Bible

I think my enthusiasm may have been premature.

Calling your book a “Sewing Bible” does somewhat set the expectations of the reader that this is going to be a reference tool of some depth and breadth.  Sadly this book falls short. It runs to 320 pages, yet only 100 of them are allocated to sewing techniques and information.  This results in each topic only being covered in summary fashion.

An example of this would be the section on “altering a pattern” which is covered in less than 1 page.  The same amount of space is given to discussing tailor’s dummies.

May Martin's Sewing Bible

Hardly “Sewing Bible” status.

The illustrations are also disappointing.  The book has many artful photographs sprinkled about the place, but illustrations are sparser and, I found, not always accurate.  Surely when stay-stitching a neckline you sew from the shoulder to the centre of the neckline on each side?

Not according to May.

May Martin's Sewing Bible

As for the “vintage” snippets of “sewing wisdom”…I’m frankly perplexed as to their function!

May Martin's Sewing Bible

So far, so not so good.

Surely the projects section, which is divided up into several topical sub-sections, and which occupies the bulk of the book, would be more inspiring?

First up…Crafts.  Table runner.  Napkins. Bunting. Christmas stocking.  Hasn’t every beginner’s sewing book for the last 5 years included a version of these.  It’s so unoriginal.  Even the slightly more imaginative projects such as the puppet theatre have been done many times before…as any 5 minute search on Pinterest will show you.

May Martin's Sewing Bible

The home furnishings section is so dull it should be prescribed as a solution for insomnia. Cushion covers, a roman blind, bag lined curtains.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And don’t get me started about the pleating on that curtain.  It’s just awful…not enough fabric has been used so the curtain is lacking in fullness.

May Martin's Sewing Bible

And if that didn’t work, you could always use the accessories section.

May Martin's Sewing Bible

But wait, what’s this?  Adult and children’s fashion sections!  Surely they will save the day?

Oh look…a cute shift dress. (I’m ignoring the drag lines at this point…!)

May Martin's Sewing Bible

Where’s the pattern pages?  What size does it go up to?


May Martin's Sewing Bible

McCalls M6355!

You mean I have to go out and BUY THE PATTERN?

On top of the cost of the book?

And don’t sewing patterns ALREADY HAVE AN INSTRUCTION SHEET??

As Button is wont to say….What. The. What?

May Martin's Sewing Bible

I’m sorry…I just don’t think that’s good enough.

I know this post isn’t the usual upbeat review that I like to post, but this book clearly sets its stall out to be a “Sewing Bible” yet it’s very obviously a long way away from being such a thing.

May Martin's Sewing Bible

If you were a beginner sewist looking for a good sewing book to set you off on your newly discovered hobby, the title and the back cover, where May’s, not unimpressive, credentials are clearly set out, would probably be enough to persuade you to purchase this book. You’d not, of course, have enough experience to see the not inconsiderable gaps in the content. And, all mocking aside, this is my biggest gripe with this book and one which actually makes me quite cross.

At RRP £25.00 this isn’t a cheap buy. I personally think that even the Amazon discounted price of £12.50 is a bit much for a book which is, in my opinion, not much more than a triumph of style and marketing over substance. It feels very much like it’s been pulled together to take full advantage of the current upsurge in people learning to sew, and to ride on the coattails of the Sewing Bee. I’d have no qualms about this if I thought the content was fresh and inspiring and actually added something to the subject.   But I don’t feel that it does.  Add in the presumptuous title of “Sewing Bible” (there’s the sarcastic inverted commas again), and I find the whole project to be more than a little disingenuous.  Which is a real shame.

Needless to say this is one tome that won’t be making it’s way into my sewing library. Neither would I recommend it.  It’s not a patch on the good old Reader’s Digest sewing book that many of us learned to sew with, nor Tasia’s Sewtionary which has been much feted in the blogosphere over recent weeks, with very good reason.

Save your pennies, dear reader, by not buying this book.  I’d suggest that there are better ways to spend them.

And the winners of the Simplicity giveaway are…..

Helen S


Mother of Reinvention

Congratulations, ladies, I’ve emailed you for your postal addresses.

Autumn cleaning – the fabric sale


I have had, for quite some time, the idea that a stashbusting website would be a marvellous thing.  Think Etsy but just for pre-loved fabric and yarn.  The AutoTrader of the fibre world, if you will.  But no knitted toilet roll covers or Ford Cortina’s allowed.

As that isn’t available, over the next few weeks, I’m going to be destashing here. Not just my stash, but also a selection of fabulous vintage fabrics kindly added to the pile by friends.  I need to clear space, both physical as I’m about to start doing a lot of decorating, and mentally to make headspace for my Autumn sewing plans.

There’s quite a bit of it.  So each week I’ll load up some of the pieces, with a description, cost and shipping charges.  If you’d like any of the fabric, just comment and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice and arrange for the fabric to wing it’s way to you.

The first week will be Prints and Plains – Modern Fabrics.

Week two will be Prints and Plains – Cotton and Linen.

Week Three will be Tweed Week.

Fairly self explanatory, I hope. There’ll be about a dozen or so fabrics in each of the first two weeks.  Slightly fewer in Tweed Week.

Each piece of fabric will be shipped in a sealed plastic postage bag.  Not only does this protect the fabric from water damage, but also keeps the weight, and therefore the shipping, costs down.

If you want more than one piece of fabric then I’ll happily bundle them together and get a revised shipping cost before invoicing you.

If you’d like me to hold onto a piece for you until all the fabric has been uploaded to avoid incurring additional shipping costs, again I’m more than willing to do that. Let’s face it, none of us want to spend more on postage than we absolutely need to.

All parcels will be shipped via Royal Mail.

I won’t be accepting any returns on this sale I’m afraid.  All fabrics are in excellent condition and from a smoke free home.  We do have pets but, as you can imagine, they aren’t allowed within sniffing distance of fabric (perish the thought!).

And one final thing.  At the end of each week when I load the new fabric up, I’ll remove the previous fabric post.  So if you like something, do let me know whilst the post is still up.

Now…I’d better get sorting, photographing and working out the postage.  Watch this space.