Saturday, July 07, 2007

Away, away

(update: Hmmm. Was the leaf project in the Simple Gifts to Stitch book instead? This is what happens when you leave the book at home and write about it from a distance...)

Six weeks is a long time to be away from home, especially when your spouse isn't going with you. Todd started a new job a few weeks ago and needs some time to get acquainted with his role and to meet a few deadlines. Meanwhile, Tsia and I are enjoying the cooler air and a quiet lakefront cottage in Michigan, where Todd's parents own a weekend getaway. Everyone makes out well in this deal: I get a bit of a break, Todd's parents can spend quality time with their granddaughter, and Todd gets a little peace and quiet (and space for himself in our cramped apartment).

I must admit, the New Yorker in me starts to feel a bit uncomfortable at the thought of being so far from my city, my husband, the sewing machine, and all my craft supplies. I took these photos at dinner on our last night in town, because I had to leave these two new books behind when we packed. And what a shame! Amy's Bend-the-Rules book looks like a terrific beginning sewing book; I'll certainly be recommending it to my students next fall when I resume teaching.

My favorite aspects of her book? Well first of all, I like her approach. She gives a good introduction to sewing and takes time to explain all her tricks and favorite techniques. And then there are all those lovely vintage fabrics she used in her samples! Apparently if you live outside NYC you can find fabic at thrift shops and garage sales? I'll be sure to do a bit of hunting for these bargains while I'm away; keep your fingers crossed that my textile stars will be aligned.

Amy has also included 30 projects in her book, and several of them are especially sweet. Like the adorable leaf pillow, which gets it's veins through the clever piecing of corduroy wales.

The hand-drawn sketches also bring a sweet level of charm to the book.

But I'll tell you what I like best about this book: I listened to Amy's interview on CraftSanity the other day, and she mentioned that the title might be a bit misleading. This isn't sewing without rules; it's about sewing with full knowledge of the rules. Once you understand how to sew, you'll know which rules can be broken under which circumstances. I like that approach.

I somehow expected this book to be much smaller in size, but it's a full-sized (um, 11" x 14", I think?) paperback, with folded flaps at the cover that add some durability without the bulk of a hardcover. All in all, I like it.

And guess what? Simple Gifts to Stitch actually makes a nice companion to Amy's; it's filled with fantastically creative, clever projects, many of which are twists on traditional techniques. Truthfully, I didn't take much time to examine the introductory materials, so I can't recall whether the author went into detail with instructions for the beginning sewer. But I certainly saw many appealing projects inside. Wouldn't this rain poncho be a fun project for a stormy day? You could even try it out right away!

I particularly like this bib, which reminded me that Grandma's friend recently gave me several books on chicken scratch after she heard how much I love my apron. The bib is a quick project but still gives the full impact of, and opportunity to try out, chicken scratch. I love how this project has updated the technique for appeal to today's aesthetic.

And here I thought that I had cleverly invented a method of binding for my picnic blanket, but it was in this book the entire time.

Here is another really clever project: by pulling threads in a chambray, you expose the two colors of the warp and the weft threads and create a simple decoration on a coaster.

The book is filled with unique ideas like these, and I'm sure I'll be coming back to it for inspiration.

Meanwhile, you may be hearing a bit less from me over the next few weeks as we enjoy a little sunshine and a little less time online. But I'll still be checking in regularly to fill backpack pattern orders and the like. See you soon!


  1. I may be nuts, but my book doesn't have the Leaf pillow pattern. I'll take a 3rd look. I've only had a 1/2 a cup of coffee, that could explain a lot.

  2. leslie9:51 AM

    enjoy the lake. the quietness. the family. and the anticipation of returning home refreshed!

  3. enjoy your time in the country... hope you get lots of sunshine, fresh air, and new inspiration!
    ps my copy of amy's book doesn't have that pattern either... strange!

  4. Simple Gifts to Stitch has the leaf pillow. I love that and the shirred pillow that she features in it.

  5. I love the look of both these books... so off to amazon we go!

  6. hmmm... I wonder how far you are living from St. Joseph? I hardly ever hear of Michiganders who are bloggers - would love to be able to get together! (and didn't you meet your hubby at Calvin, in GR? My sibs went there, and my daughter just finished her freshman year there!) I have always been curious - Anyway - I love your blog, just had to say hi!

    Diane (Vruwink) Carlson

  7. janet clare11:57 AM

    I love the dress - I'm going to be trying some 'rub offs' myself! I've been wondering whether to buy Amy's book and you might just have convinced me.

  8. Thanks for the chicken scratch idea! I also have a vintage chicken scratch apron. I now know what I'm going to do with the bright red gingham curtains that won't fit in with my decor. Perfect project to take along with me when I go to "the lake!" Time to look for patterns....

  9. I too think Amy's book is a great book. I love the photos of all the projects - but like another poster mentioned - my book does not have the Leaf Pillow pattern/photo ???

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  11. Hey! I was just over at SouleMama's blog this morning where she had a whole post on Amy's book and I went right over to Amazon to put it on my Wish List and now here I am, reading again how wonderful Bend the Rules is. It has officially been bumped up to 'most needed (wanted? same difference) book of the summer.
    Enjoy your peace and quiet!

  12. Yeah I'm umming and ahhing about buying Amy's book but so many people are giving good reviews...