(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!