Tag Archives: books

And the winner is…..

NancyD you’ve won the Basic Black book!  Congratulations.

Please email me your mailing address and I’ll get it in the post to you.


Basic Black – Book Review and Giveaway

With the weather being so overcast and dull, it’s been nigh on impossible to get photos of finished knits and sewing, so I’m taking this opportunity to share another of the books that Tuttle Publishing recently sent me.

This time its a sewing book, Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe by Sato Watanabe.

This is a beautiful book.  I do love the Japanese aesthetic, but often find that it leans a little too much towards simplicity, or, even, too young.  But this one is full of clean, stylish, wearable garments that would be equally at home in the wardrobes of 20-somethings as well as those more *cough* mature, like myself.

The patterns include blouses, dressed, jackets, skirts and coats.  Pretty much a whole wardrobe’s worth of designs.

My personal favourites include:

J. Jumper Dress with Square Neckline

 

K. High Neck Shirt with Three-quarter Length Sleeves

S. Dress with Stitched Skirt

U. Asymmetric Jumper Dress

Y. Flannel Short Coat

Z. Raglan Coat with Pin Spots

See, I told you they were gorgeous!

I particularly like that Flannel Short Coat!  Just the most perfect Autumn jacket.

The instructions are quite basic, in a style reminiscent of Burda magazines, and just list a series of sewing steps.  However, where you’ll need a bit extra help, there are diagrams to assist you.

The sizes are quite generous…these are finished measurements:

Although it’s still not a book for fuller figures, unless you’re happy to do some grading.

Which I’m not.  I just don’t have the headspace for that at the moment.  I’m concentrating on clearing the stash and filling the wardrobe as quickly as humanly possible.

So, I thought that maybe one of you guys would like to have this copy of the book?

Yes?

If so, please leave a comment below, before noon on Friday 3rd November, and I’ll pick a winner after that.

I’m happy to ship internationally.

Good luck!

Disclaimer

The lovely Ann over at @TuttlePublishing supplied me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own and in no way influenced by @TuttlePublishing.


Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible – Book Review

Hello my lovelies!

Whilst I’m very much behind with my book reviews….(I have a stack to share with you…all of them wonderful)…I’ve been holding out with reviewing this one until the publication date (it’s the 10th November, just so you know) got a little nearer for fear of you never speaking to me again for tormenting you with gorgeousness that you can’t get your hot little hands on.

I think I’ve waited long enough!

If you’ve followed this blog for any time you’ll know that I love a good cable knit.  In fact, in about 40 years of knitting, I think I’ve only found one cable pattern that I don’t like.  And it isn’t in Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible: 260 Exquisite Designs by Hitomi Shida.

Happily in English, the book entices you to “discover the beautiful world of Japanese Knitting” with “260 Exquisite Patterns”.  I’ve seen many books on various topics that lure you in which such promises, but fall short once you’re inside the covers.

This book is not one of them.

It is, quite simply, breathtakingly wonderful.

Obviously, the first thing you want to do is look at the glorious photos of the stitch patterns.  These are just beautiful.  They are knitted in yarns that give crisp, clear stitch definition and colours that showcase the pattern rather than obscure it, or, as some older books do, sear your retinas!

As you happily flick through the pages, you’ll notice that the book is actually separated into sections:

  • Lacy patterns
  • Overall patterns and crossing stitches
  • Pattern panels
  • Pattern arrangements 
  • Round yokes
  • Edgings

So whether you want to knit a scarf, a sweater, some mitts or a yoke on a cardigan, the groundwork has been done for you.

The front of the book has a comprehensive “How to Knit It” and “Guide to the Symbols” section, which clearly explains all the technical knowhow you need to knit the patterns.  And the introduction to Japanese knitting patterns makes sure you understand how to read the charts.

The charts themselves are beautifully clear.  I would enlarge them for actual knitting purposes, but that is absolutely personal preference and rubbish eyesight, not a detraction from the book at all.

Because, I’ll be honest, I cannot say anything negative about this collection of  stitch patterns.  There are even four lovely designs for you to make.

Those mitts have my name on them.  I have some red yarn in the stash that’s been waiting for the perfect pattern, and this is it!

Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible: 260 Exquisite Designs by Hitomi Shida is, quite simply, exquisite, and I would recommend it to any knitter who loves cables.

 

Disclaimers

The lovely Ann over at@TuttlePublishing supplied me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own and in no way influenced by @TuttlePublishing.

Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  If you click through and make a  purchase, and I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you!  I only recommend goods or services that I am happy to use myself.


Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics – book review

Hello there!

The lovely guys at Tuttle Publishing have kindly sent me a selection of their new titles, and, as I’ve been very tardy with reviewing them, I thought I’d get to it, without further ado,  and start with Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahasi.

  

This is such a deceptive little book.  There are the usual suspects in terms of some simple totes and wee bags that would make lovely knitting project bags.

But!!!!

There are a clutch (see what I did there!) of really splendid designs that make the book well worth the modest cover price of £6.99 ($9.99).

The checkout basket bag is one.  Such an innovative and cool design that I haven’t seen anywhere else.  Which is pretty unusual when it comes to bag designs, lets be honest.

This Tote Bag with Gusset, which, whilst not as innovative, is a really good shape in different sizes that, in the right fabric, including leather, would look very hip and expensive.

I also love the picnic tote, which is my favourite shape in a tote bag, and which are invariably ridiculously overpriced in the trendy middle-class-mum stores.  This would look amazing in a striped ticking with leather handles.

Finally, the vase shaped bag. Whilst a bit twee for adults, this would be a perfect gift for tweenage girls, particularly with a few lip balms or mini stationery thrown in for good measure.  They’re a great way of busting through fabric scraps.  Or for whizzing up when you get roped into making stuff for the school or church fête!

Would I recommend this book.  Yes indeedy!  It’s got useful patterns that will not only be good for you to make up for yourself, but will also get you out of a bind, without too much stress and faff, should you need a gift or two.  The instructions are simple and clear, and you can easily add more detail, linings, inner pockets, etc., without testing the “leetle grey cells” too much.

Disclaimer:  Tuttle Publishing kindly supplied this book free of charge.  However, as always, the opinions expressed here are my own and unbiased.  I would happily spend my own money to buy this book.


The Gentleman’s Wardrobe – Book Review

Sewing for my man isn’t something I’ve done a lot of in the past, although he’s not short of woolly socks! I’m hoping to do more for him in the future, but there is a dearth of good menswear patterns out there.

So it was with bated breath that I’ve been awaiting my copy of The Gentleman’s Wardrobe, Vintage-Style Projects to Make for the Modern Man by Vanessa Mooncie.

The book is beautiful to look at.  The styling is reminiscent of Japanese sewing books. Moody shots in a modern industrial setting.  Whilst the styling appeals to the “hipster” look my husband likes, the patterns are really quite classic.

The shirts, trousers and a jacket could all be made up in different fabrics to achieve different looks.  They are the kind of patterns that once you’ve got the fit nailed you’d have a set of basic styles that you could make over and over again for the man in your life.

There’s also a selection of useful accessories and nightwear.

It really does cover all the bases.  The only thing really missing would be an overcoat.  But that’s nit picking.

The book is, for a change, not aimed at the beginner sewist.  There are some basic techniques included, but this is not a “learn to sew’ book.

There are full sized pattern sheets included.  They do require tracing but are nowhere near as busy as a Burda pattern sheet so should pose no trouble.

As you can imagine I was really excited to look through this book and was, quite frankly, planning to make everything except the wallet and bow tie and short sleeved shirt for my mister.  The styles are that good and these are the only garments he wouldn’t wear.

And then I checked the size chart.

My man has a 19″ neck.  And his chest is definitely more than a 42! The grading to get these to size would be ridiculous.

And lets be honest.  As with us ladies, the 16″ neck market is widely served with both RTW and vintage patterns.  This was a great opportunity to hit an untapped and underserved market with cool patterns that a wide range of men would be glad to wear.

Sadly it’s an opportunity that once again has been missed.

Thankfully I’d ordered this from the library to “audition” it.  It’s not a book I’ll be buying.

I’m so disappointed!


Stylish party dresses – book review

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I am so late to the party with this review (see what I did there?).  But if you missed other folks thoughts on the matter, then stick with me, because I think this is a super book.

I have a really big soft spot for Japanese sewing books and have to contain myself and not buy all of them just because they are so pretty.  I do have a problem with them, namely  a) I have to grade every single pattern if I want to maintain the proportions, and b) oftentimes the shapes are designed to flatter a more boyish figure.  One thing I’ve never been accused of is having a boyish figure.

Stylish Party Dresses has some gorgeous patterns that not only do I want to make but which would fit my lifestyle and, I think, my figure.

So here are my best picks:

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This is my absolute favourite from this book.  I can see this in a navy silk, with matching cigarette pants and heels for a date night with hubby.  Gorgeous.  But it would also be lovely in linen over shorts for those hot summer days that we’re hoping to get.

A girl can hope, no?

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I don’t know where the urge to wear a jumpsuit is coming from.  I haven’t worn one of those since about 1994!  But this is lovely.  I’d make it in a plain solid with lace or sheer for the yoke/bow.  And, of course, several more inches on the trouser legs!

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This is just gorgeous.  Again I think the hem could drop a couple of inches, but other than that, everything is perfect.  Wouldn’t this be charming for warm summer evenings and dinner on the patio with friends?

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I love this dress for dinner dates with The Husband.  I’m not loving this colour, but change that and I think this has just the right mix of comfort, style and little details. I’m particularly fond of the shaped hem and the gorgeous sleeves.  You could, of course, give it a straight hem…that would then make it quite a timeless piece.

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Last, but by no means least, is this cute swing dress.  Whilst I wouldn’t really consider this a party dress, I’d love it in linen with flats for the summer. It would also be cute if you shortened it a bit and wore with leggings in colder weather.

The pattern sheets will be familiar to anyone who has ever traced a Burda pattern.

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When you consider the cost of a Vogue pattern, or some of the Indie offerings (£12.50 for an elastic waisted skirt!), this book is really quite modestly priced at £12 on Amazon UK.

Whilst I’m very much focussed on sewing basics for myself at the moment, I’m hoping to slip one or two of these into the mix too.

A girl can never have too many pretty dresses.  Wouldn’t you agree?

The disclaimer:

I received a free copy of this book from the kind folks at Tuttle Publishing in return for my review.  As always all thoughts are my own…and you know I call a spade a spade.  For what it’s worth I’d happily pay £12 for this book.  

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She wears the pants….winner!

She_wears_the_pants_1I’m pleased to announce the winner of this copy is Katy M!

Congratulations Katy.  Please drop me an email with your home address and I’ll pop this in the post to you.

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition and the debate.  I’ve really enjoyed the conversation.

 


She wears the pants – review and giveaway

Yay…giveaway time!  I lurve a good giveaway and this one’s no exception.

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The lovely peeps over at Tuttle shared this book with me for review, but you know, as always, all opinions are my own.

So, to the book.  Can we talk about the elephant in the room first?  “She wears the pants”. What were they thinking?  The original title of the book “She has a mannish style” is much more appropriate and really shows how easily things can get lost in translation, and why it’s so important to check cultural norms when carrying out any translation work.  To be honest, my preference would have been for them to include some of the strap-line and title the book “She has an urban style”, which would actually better encapsulate the contents of this book.

Like all Japanese sewing books this is very stylised.  Perhaps a little too much for my taste. Some of the photos are a somewhat too dark to properly see the garment, and you have to rely on the technical drawing. For me, this isn’t a book I’d make lots out of, but that’s because I’m not that hip! I don’t think it’s an age thing, more a personal style thing.

That said there are some garments that with a little tweak would fit perfectly in my wardrobe, you just have to restyle them in your head.

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I love this jacket and think it would be a great trans-season piece in a good weight of ponté jersey.

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This draped cardigan would look great with cigarette trousers and loafers.

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This is a very classic blouse that would work in just about anyone’s wardrobe.

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And with a bit of length added this blouse would work brilliantly with leggings or jeans.

As you’d expect the instructions are minimal but you do have some really clear drawings to help you out.

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And the pattern pieces included in the back don’t have seam allowances, so you’ll need to add them.

Finally, I have one final, but rather large caveat, and that’s the sizing.  Whilst I appreciate that the Japanese market for which this book was originally intended is markedly more petite than the western market this edition is designed for, I’m surprised and disappointed at the very small range of sizes included.

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Even taking the largest size I’d be having to grade that bust up by at least 30%. Which is a real shame because there’s a whole section of the sewing population that would love to dive into cool, Japanese sewing patterns and can’t because they either don’t have the skills or the inclination to carry out such a significant grading exercise.  I probably fall into the middle of both categories.

I really hope the publishers take this on board as more of these books become available in English and that they expand their size ranges accordingly.

However, let’s not detract from the fact that, quibbles aside, this is a great book that I’d definitely recommend if your style leans toward an urban look.

And I have a copy up for grabs!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Japanese patterns in general and sizing in particular, so leave me a comment below before Friday 22nd May and I’ll draw the winner at random.


Sewing for your girls….giveaway winners.

Sewing_for_your_girlsClassic Button…sassy as sassy can be!

But it’s time to pick the lucky winners of the Sewing for Your Girls giveaway.  I used Random.org to select them.

So, Birdie and Katie Sinclair you each get a copy of this adorable book.

sewing fyg

Ladies, please drop me an email with your postal address and I’ll get your copy out to you as quickly as I can.

Thank you to everyone who entered…I wish I had a copy for each of you.  But I’ve another giveaway coming soon.  This time it’s one for the grown ups, so do stay tuned.

 


Sewing for your girls – review and giveaway

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Thanks to the lovely guys over at Tuttle Publishing I received a copy of their new title “Sewing for your girls” by Yoshiko Tsukiori, which is available in the UK from Amazon on  the 15th April 2015.

I decided to road test this book and the blouse I’ve been teasing you with is Basic Pattern #7 (catchy, no?) made up in Liberty Tana Lawn purchased from Washable Fabrics on Preston Market for a tenner.

sewing_for_your_girls_1

This book is delightful.  There are 8 patterns in total, 7 of which has a basic and an applied version, which, as you’ve probably guessed, has a little more going on.   You’ll see from the photo above, which is the blouse I made, that using pattern #7 you can make an adorable blouse or a lovely summer dress.

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As well as the patterns the book also has a wealth of clearly photographed advice to give you the best chance of getting a great result.

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The patterns traced from printed pattern sheets that are stored in the back of the book.  A word to the wise….they don’t include seam allowances to do allow for that when tracing. Ask me how I know!!!

Given the chance I’d change a couple of things about this book, but they are only minor gripes.

So…to the blouse.  I really enjoyed sewing this one.  It’s beautifully drafted with facings to the front and armholes and bias binding to the back neckline.  The front ruffles and round collar add a sweet touch without being overly twee.  This is a good thing.  I’m not mad on ruffles but these hit the mark.

Button didn't want to do photos, so we decided that dancing was the only way forwards.

Button didn’t want to do photos, so we decided that dancing was the only way forwards.

I cut a size 120 for my 116cm tall 7 year old, based not only on height but chest measurements.

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I couldn’t be happier with the result.

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Button loves it too!

The details on this top are really quite lovely.

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sewing_for_your_girls_9Gorgeous, no?

Now, if you, like me, have a very pernickety small girl to sew for then I suspect that you’d like a copy of this book too.  Good job I’ve got a couple of copies to give away, then! 😉

Edited to remove Rafflecopter and say…leave me a comment below to be entered into the draw!