Mandalas to Embroider – book review

Mandalas to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris is a beautiful collection of easy-to-embroider mandala patterns.

I love stitching mandalas so much! (You can find instructions for stitching freestyle mandalas here. And here’s a mandala sun I made using this round graph paper.)

The book is great for beginners, with a short spread about materials and a few pages showing how to do some basic embroidery stitches – all you need for these pretty designs.

There are patterns for 12 large mandalas and 12 small mandalas – and they’re all iron-on transfers.

And – I love this thoughtful detail – the book has a pocket in the back cover to hold those transfer pages after you cut them out.

I love it when the publisher of a book really thinks about how it will be used.

I was going to stitch one of the tiny designs and maybe wear it as a necklace. I love this group – all named after artists. 🙂

But in the end, the paisleys sucked me in. 🙂 I decided on Paisley Constellation.

There’s a two-page spread for each design, showing the pattern, a color chart, stitch guide and the finished design all in one place. I love that!

Here’s a closer look at the information page.

See how clearly everything is laid out?

Of course, I ignored it completely. 🙂

As soon as I got my design transferred (just a super easy iron-on) and hooped in the purple hoop I decided on a bunch of cool colors for a watery-ish look.

I always start stitching the biggest outlines first.

After I was almost done I decided that it need a little pop of warm color, so I made the flowers dark pink, and decided on a light pink for all the little stars.

Here’s my finished hoop!

I’m so happy with how it turned out!

The one thing the book doesn’t have is instructions for finishing your hoop art. But I’ve got you covered. 🙂

There’s a video here showing how to frame art in a hoop – without using any glue.

And there’s a post here showing how to cover up your messy back when you frame it in a hoop. This is especially nice for a project like Christmas tree ornaments, where the back can actually be seen. And all the small designs in the book would make FABULOUS Christmas tree ornaments.

My mandala was so much fun to stitch – I’d love to do another in a completely different colorway. You can transfer each design about 10 times before the ink runs out. That’s a lot of stitching fun!

Get Mandalas to Embroider here. And have fun with it!

Happy stitching!


This post contains affiliate links. That means I make a little commission if you buy something after clicking through.

Mandalas to Embroider – Starting my Project

I’m really excited to finally start my project from the book Mandalas to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris. I’ve admired her work for a long time and this book has been sitting in my pile for far too long. 🙂

I was going to stitch up one of the smaller designs – maybe into a pendant – but I couldn’t resist the paisleys.

I was going to do mine them rich autumn colors, but as soon as I got the purple hoop on, I really wanted to make it in cool colors – purples and blues and greens.

So that’s what I’m doing!

Ready to start stitching!

I’ll be back with a full review of the book as soon as I finish my project. 🙂

In the meantime – want to see another (very different) mandala I stitched?

Zen Stitching - How to Embroider a Mandala with No Pattern (Shiny Happy World)

I did this one without a pattern and it was so much fun! Get all the instructions here.

Happy stitching!


Giveaway: "Mini Knitted" Book Series + Interview with Sahiyo Ishii

Mini Knitted Books

I have an amazing opportunity for you today! Search Press (the publisher of the adorable Mini Knitted series) is giving one reader 5 books, including:

Keep reading for details on how to enter! Sachiyo Ishii is the author of 4 of these books, and she’s joined us to tell us a bit about herself and her process!

Each book is packed with projects (more than 25 patterns per book), using a variety of techniques with simple knitting stitches.

Interview with Sachiyo Ishii

Sachiyo is the prolific author of 4 of the Mini Knitted books, and I was delighted that she took the time to come talk to us! Welcome, Sachiyo!

How did you begin knitting? And when did it take a professional turn?
I took up knitting in my 30’s after my second son was born. I could not knit a stitch until then. I thought dressing my boys in my handmade clothes was trendy and very Yummy Mummy, but soon discovered that knitting requires skill and patience. With my friend’s help, I did achieve my very first piece, but the stitches were messy and uneven, and the sleeves came out in different lengths.

It seemed to me that I had a very long way to go until I would be able to knit a decent garment. I almost gave up knitting altogether, however, I discovered that you can make small toys with basic skills. I practiced published patterns for some time and then, I started creating my own to add personality. I knitted many animals and proposed my current publisher, Search Press the idea of the knitted animal park. It is great to find a channel that I can put my effort into.

You’ve written so many books! Where do you find your inspiration?
I get inspiration from everywhere. When I walk in town, looking through books and magazines, shop windows, everywhere! I am constantly thinking of new designs no matter where I go or what I do. Illustrations and cartoons, felted work and sugar craft are a good source, too. They are already in simplified forms and it is easy to make them into my craft projects.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy attending fitness classes and swimming. When I get stuck with a project, swimming can be the best solution to get a fresh idea. I don’t do enough but I like visiting craft shops and fairs. I guess I cannot completely be free from crafting.

What is your favourite yarn/knitting needle/craft supply?
For many years, my favourite yarns are Rowan. I love felted tweed especially. It is such a delight to knit with quality yarn.
I have been using bamboo needles since I took up knitting. They are less slippery and keep stitches well and the best of all, they feel great in hands. If you are still new to the skill, bamboo needles are must. I have been using Clover Takumi needles.
My favourite is Clover products. My mother loved them for many years and recently I inherited them all. Some are bought over 30 years ago but still in very good condition.

Is there a favourite piece you’ve made? Perhaps for yourself?
It is hard to say since I have many favourites, but I love the knitted carousel. I have a whole set of amusement park in knitting and would love to do a book someday. Most of my creations are for myself except occasional gifts to my friends. It is great to be an author. You get to keep all samples!
knitted carousel Sachiyo Ishii

Thank you, Sachiyo!

Find Sachiyo!

Instagram: knitsbysachi
Ravelry: sachiyo-ishii
Pinterest: knitsbysachi
Twitter: Knitsbysachi

The Crochet Wildlife Guide Review + FREE Penguin Pattern + Giveaway!

I am so excited! I love showing off a great book to you… and there are so many goodies! Keep reading to grab a FREE download of the Chinstrap Penguin by Philip Ha (aka Sir Purl Grey) AND enter to win a digital copy of the book, The Crochet Wildlife Guide.

The Crochet Wildlife Guide

You may have heard me say this before on the blog, but I get a lot of amigurumi books across my desk and for many of them, I say, ‘oh, ok. This has some cute patterns.’ And it ends there.

And I’ll admit it, my books are among them.

Much of the bare-bones nature of many books you see is completely driven by the publisher’s desire to save money. Cute illustrations? You have to pay an illustrator for those. Step-by-step detailed instructions? Nope. That takes too many pages. Fancy shaping techniques? Oh, no. That doesn’t appeal to a wide-enough audience.

For a crocheter who wants extra information either because they’re a beginner (and need the help and explanations) or are adventurous and want to try something new (hence, needing explanations of new and complicated stitches), this formula can be very frustrating.

Needless to say, when a book comes to me that breaks the mold, I jump out of my chair with glee!

The Crochet Wildlife Guide

The Crochet Wildlife Guide is a self-published book by Philip Ha and Jeff Wiehler, and the book is filled with creative crochet ideas and an artist’s touch. I was impressed by the coverage of basic crochet techniques as well as detailed instructions and illustrations for each animal.

The Crochet Wildlife Guide bird

Each project contains a diagram (as shown above) that allows you to see each piece and how they are put together. These photos are often what takes a good pattern and makes it amazing and easy-to-follow. (It’s why I include step-by-step photos in all of my individual patterns… no matter how many words you have, sometimes, you just need a photo!)

I was also enchanted by the darling illustrations in the book (including this table of contents).

The Crochet Wildlife Guide table of Contents

The patterns included in the book walk the line perfectly between wildlife-realism and kawaii cuteness. Amigurumi like the red panda on the cover, have little details so the animal is instantly identifiable and unique, but not fussy and still cute with wide appeal.

The book also includes a table of the skills required for each pattern. This is such a great idea… you can identify the project that’s just right for you!

The Crochet Wildlife Guide difficulty levels

Throughout the book, the authors emphasize places where you can become your own designer, by highlighting small changes you can make or pointing out the design techniques used to create a particular shape.

The Crochet Wildlife Guide Bat

The photography, with animals photographed in nature, is lovely as well.

The book is available for purchase in digital or print form, from The Crochet Wildlife Guide website or from Amazon.

FREE Chinstrap Penguin Pattern

Free penguin crochet pattern

Phillip and Jeffrey have given us a pattern that didn’t make the book for FREE so that you can get started on some crochet cuteness right away!

Click here to download the pattern:  Penguin pattern by SirPurlGrey

Happy stitching!

Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook: Review

This book. Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook. Drool.

I saw it. And I bought it.

I don’t buy a lot of craft books. (Seriously, all of my books fit on one shelf!)

But I bought this one and love it. And I added my old cable stitch dictionary to my ‘Spring Cleaning’ pile. Because I don’t need it any more.

Norah Gaughan's Knitted cable sourcebook

(does this inside cover give you an idea of all of the amazingness inside?)

I had read a lot of amazing reviews about this book, but I’m a bit of a skeptic. I thought, ‘oh, they’re probably just saying nice stuff because Norah Gaughan is really famous’. (geesh, that makes me sound really awful, doesn’t it? It’s just that in my job, I see a lot of books.) And the cable on the cover is nice, but it didn’t make me pass out from the amazingness.

But once my book arrived I discovered that my skepticism was unwarranted. It actually IS really amazing.

The introduction isn’t very long, but it’s packed with pretty juicy information. The topics covered include:

  • Using a double point needle as a cable needle
  • Left vs. Right slants
  • How to slip stitches onto a needle & how to work the held stitches
  • Cable terminology
  • How to read cable charts
  • Tips for keeping your place on a chart
  • A full explanation of Norah’s own Stockinette Stitch Equivalent System (SSE), so you can swap different cable stitches into different patterns
  • How to fix a mistake in a cable
  • How to count cabled rows

I read the introduction and felt like, ‘Wow. That has everything I need to know.’

The cable designs (many not previously published) are just stunning. Look at this one.

Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook


Very few are this complicated… most of the stitch patterns are two notches above ‘simple’, but stunningly beautiful and hovering significantly below ‘crazily complex’. Which is exactly what you want in a stitch dictionary.

I fell in love with the Seed Rib Half Drop (#84 in the book) and cast on for a scarf immediately.

Seed Rib scarf from Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook

Isn’t it gorgeous? (The cable pattern, I mean… not my knitting!) It was so enjoyable to knit… I felt like each cable was a little piece of knitter’s candy. I just kept wanting to get to the next one!

FreshStitches scarf cable pattern norah Gaughan's

The book also contains 15 projects, which are all quite lovely and creative projects using cables, in addition to the more than 150 stitch patterns in the book.

Pullover Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook

Whoa. This book is just plain fabulous. Treat yourself.

Those links are affiliate links. That means I earn a tiny commission if you buy after clicking through. 🙂

Zoomigurumi 5 Review + Giveaway!

Zoomigurumi 5

Today I’m reviewing and having a giveaway for Zoomigurumi 5! I’m really excited about this one… keep reading for details on how to enter the giveaway.

The Zoomigurumi series is published by the folks at, which, in my opinion, is the premiere place for amigurumi patterns. The offerings are curated (giggle, I’ve even had some of my patterns rejected!), so you’re browsing through a lovely selection of both paid and free patterns by the leading designers.  There are over 22,000 amigurumi patterns on Ravelry. It can be overwhelming.

And by the way, Zoomigurumi 6 is available for pre-order! It’s your chance to get one of the first copies!

Zoomigurumi 6

The Review

All of the Zoomigurumi books are curated by the editor of… and the result is 15 amazing and adorable patterns! Other AmigurumiPatterns books (like Amigurumi Circus) are created by customer votes on submissions… isn’t that such a great idea, too?

table of contents for Zoomigurumi

I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but I’m going to say it: this book is as close to a perfect amigurumi book as you can get. At least in my opinion, anyway.

Look at all these cuties!

Zoomigurumi 5It’s a pretty thin book, only 80 pages. So I was expecting compromises. Sometimes small books skimp on the step-by-step photos. Or they don’t include tutorials on the basics, like how to single crochet or do magic ring. Or they write the patterns in a super-cramped format (like “[inc, 2] 6 times”). Or the patterns are crazy simple to keep the instructions really short. But this book doesn’t take any of those shortcuts.

inside of Zoomigurumi 5

The patterns are delightfully complex (not overly complicated, but have significant character) and the pattern pages feature step-by-step photos of advanced parts. The introduction covers all of the basic stitches and skills (with illustrations!) and the patterns are well-written and include the specific rounds in the attaching instructions.

And a beautifully illustrated table of contents and biographies of the authors! How did they squeeze it all in? I have no idea.

caterino the walrus from zoomigurumi 5

Each pattern features multiple photos of the finished object, so you can see it from every angle.  It’s truly very lovely.

Each pattern includes the yarn weight, recommended hook size and yarn shown in the sample, something that is often omitted from amigurumi books. Sometimes you really DO want to know what yarn the author used!

If you love these cuties, then grab this book. I don’t think you’ll see patterns done much more clearly in a printed book. And they’re adorable!


Would you like to win a copy? Sure you would!

To enter, just leave a comment on this page! It’s that easy! A winner will be randomly chosen on Tuesday, February 14th.

Update – The giveaway is closed now.

Good luck!



Meet Noah from YOUnique Crafts!

I’m so excited to have Noah from YOUnique Crafts on the blog today. I stumbled upon his amazing amigurumi creations and original designs on Instagram… and then saw that he’s only 17! What an inspiration!

I really enjoyed chatting with Noah, and I hope you enjoy meeting him to! Pop to the interview below.

Find YOUnique Crafts on:

Whoa! You’re only 17! Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started crocheting?

As you can probably tell, I’m not the typical teenage guy! Crocheting is my favorite way to create art, but I really love it all! When I was about 11 years old, I began looking for knitting tutorials online. After trying over and over again, I still couldn’t get the basics down.

Noah from YOUnique CraftsLuckily, I found an old crochet kit that had been gifted to me a while back. At that point, I had never even heard of crocheting, but after doing a little research, it seemed like so much fun! I looked up some tutorials on the basic crochet stitches and quickly caught on.

It sounds like someone thought to give you a fabulous gift! When did you get started creating your own designs?

Pretty soon after I got my start with crocheting, I began exploring with my stitches, learning as much as I could as quickly as possible. So I guess you could say I started creating my own designs as soon as I learned!

Carroll Koala from YOUnique Crafts

Do you do other crafts as well? What draws you to crochet?

As I mentioned, crocheting is my favorite form of art. There is just something so special about creating an inanimate object and yet being able to give it a character and a personality that almost reflects myself. With that said, I do still enjoy sketching every now and then, but it’s mainly to get ideas for new amigurumi designs.

Do you have a favorite crochet tip to share?

My best crochet tip: Explore! That’s how I started and that’s how I continue to do my work. I recently made two different designs by coming up with “new” stitches/techniques that I could have only learned by exploring. Take that crochet hook on an adventure!

Joke Monkey by YOUnique Crafts

What’s your favorite yarn to work with?

My absolute favorite yarn is “I Love this Yarn.” (Kind of ironic, isn’t it?) It comes in so many simple, bright colors – perfect for amigurumi!

I found you on Instagram… did you begin designing first and then start promoting your business on social media? Or did you post your work first and think, “Hey, I could sell patterns!”?

When I first began designing, I was only 12 years old. At that point, I didn’t have any form of social media. I asked my mom to post on her Facebook page a few pictures of me with my creations, which generated an interest with some family friends. With some encouragement, I opened up my own online shop which later turned into YOUnique Crafts.

Fall Bear by YOUnique Crafts

It sounds like your family is really supportive. Tell us more!

I’ve been home-schooled my entire life, and I absolutely love it! Homeschooling has given me so many great opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I have been blessed with parents who love the Lord and desire for my brother and me to know Him and love Him as well. They have always been so supportive of me going where God leads – without them, YOUnique Crafts wouldn’t exist! “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”-Colossians 3:15-17

And you’re in a book! Tell us a bit about that process.

I still can’t believe one of my designs is in a book. Ever since 2013, has hosted an annual amigurumi design contest, each year with a different theme. The theme of the first contest was “Amigurumi Animals at Work.” After that, I had the opportunity to test one pattern from their then upcoming book that consisted of designs from the previous competition.

Boomer Bird by YOUnique Crafts

This past year (2015), I entered two designs into their “Amigurumi Circus” themed contest. Surprisingly, my Boomer the Cannonball Bird was hand chosen out of over 200 fantastic designs! “Amigurumi Circus” was such a pleasure to be a part of, and it was such an honor to have one of my designs among 12 other designs with some of my favorite artists!

Want to grab the book? Amigurumi Circus is available on Amazon!

Do you have any advice for designers just starting out?

Don’t be afraid to try new things! I remember looking for some kind of “extended double crochet” stitch and just tried a bunch of new ways to make a taller stitch. Later, I found out that I had unknowingly created a treble stitch! If I had not explored and tried new things, I would have missed out on some of the most fun stitches to make that can really add to designs. Always have an adventurous spirit!

Chipster Bird by YOUnique Crafts

Tell us a few of your favorite amigurumi blogs/accounts to follow!

I have had so many crochet artists who have inspired me and some who have personally helped me through this designing journey. Among my favorites is Serah of Tales of Twisted Fibers. When I started creating my own designs, Serah helped me more than I could have asked for, from helping me with pattern layout and picture taking to even helping proofread my first pattern! Other artists that have been huge inspirations and great sources of encouragement have been Dennis of Dendennis, Theresa of Theresa’s Crochet Shop, and Ilaria of Airali Design.

Those are all such amazing feeds! Thank you so much, Noah, for coming by and talking to us!

Review: The Spoonflower Handbook

I purchased this book with my own funds. The links to Amazon are affiliate links. As with all of my book reviews, this post is 100% my honest opinion. I have received no compensation and I did not agree to publish a positive review.

Bringing fabric design to the average person

Traditionally, printing fabric was something that required huge machines and required minimums in the thousands of yards. If you wanted to sew a dress with that great fabric idea you had… you would have ended up with 49,999 extra yards sitting in your garage.

That is, until Spoonflower came along. It’s a website that allows you to print your own fabric, with no minimum order. It’s amazing.

I actually didn’t think much about how revolutionary the site was until I attended the launch for The Spoonflower Handbook at The Textile Center with Stephen Fraser (co-founder of Spoonflower) and Becka Rahn (surface designer, author and sewing teacher).

Corkscrew tie
Check out this tie! My father-in-law collects corkscrews, so for one Christmas, I designed a fabric with a drawing of the specific type of corkscrew he specializes in. I had it printed at Spoonflower back in 2011 and sewed a tie!

I listened to Stephen talk about the technological hurdles they’ve conquered in the quest to allow normal people to print their own fabric in small quantities… and wow. I’m glad they figured it out. And I’m glad it wasn’t me!

The thing I love most about Spoonflower is that it’s become the best site for indie-designed fabric anywhere in the world. You see, you can upload your own design and have it printed. But, you can also allow your design to remain on the site so that others can order it, too! And the designer earns a cut of each sale. It’s fabulous.

And the result is that you can find beautiful fabric in almost any niche. Seriously. Where do you think I found Tour de France fabric for the pillows on my sofa? (And you can check out my tutorial for sewing removable pillow covers!

Tour de France pillow from Spoonflower

I head over to the site whenever I want a fabric that’s a little something special. I know I’ll find what I’m looking for!

The Spoonflower Handbook

All that was lead-in to my review for The Spoonflower Handbook. I was excited when I found out about this book because I had just been making my fabrics willy-nilly. I know nothing about surface design.

Spoonflower cover

I want to applaud this book for being a rare one that dabbles across a number of categories. It covers the basics of using the Spoonflower site, basics of surface design (aesthetic principles and software options to create the designs) as well as sewing projects for using the finished fabric from Spoonflower.

A creative person will have a blast with this book, since it focuses on creating finished projects where you’ve had control over every step of the process. You can create a 3-D plush toy where you picked the colors, drew the fabric and sewed the shapes.

While comprehensive, this book is an overview of these various categories, and makers experienced in any of these areas may find the information too basic. For example, this isn’t a book with very intricate sewing projects. Most of the projects are composed of sewing two pieces together: a tea towel, a simple quilt, a pillow, a shower curtain, etc. The information about how to use the site is wonderful to have in one place, but much of it is information that could be gleaned by searching the information available online. If you’re looking for a book about surface design or to learn how to sew, then there are other books that would better serve you.

Inside Spoonflower handbook

I feel very inspired by the book. Even though I used Spoonflower before, designing fabric wasn’t a part of my creative process. I planned a project and then just bought some fabric. Now there’s a little seed in my brain: making the fabric is part of executing the project.

Since I’m on the more novice end of sewing, thinking about sewing in this way brings my understanding of the craft in line with how I think about my knitting. When I want to make a sweater, I consider yarns (color, content, the ply, etc.) at the same time as I’m shopping for patterns. For example, if I want to make a cabled sweater, I would pick a yarn with smooth definition. But if I am looking to knit with alpaca, I would select a pattern for a sweater with more drape to take advantage of the properties of the yarn.

I’ve already given myself a homework assignment to create a new fabric… now that’s a good book!

Book Review – All Points Patchwork

All Points Patchwork book review

I may have mentioned once or twice here that I really love handwork. 🙂

I love the feel of the fabric and thread in my hands.

I love the little pop I hear when the eye of the needle with the doubled-over thread passes through the fabric, followed by the low shush of the thread.

I love that I can take it anywhere.

I love the slow, meditative pace – and the fact that it allows me to sit and watch TV guilt-free. I’m “working” while I watch. 🙂

I can not believe that it has taken me this long to try English Paper Piecing.

I got interested a year or two ago when I started seeing fun projects popping up on Pinterest – but then I heard that Diane Gilleland was writing a book and I decided to wait for that. I’ve read Diane’s books before and they are always amazing and comprehensive and inspiring.

All Points Patchwork is available now – and it’s everything I knew it would be!

Quite simply – it’s the best craft book I’ve ever read. Even better than Anatomy of a Doll – the book that got me interested in 3D sewing.

Like Anatomy of a Doll, there are no projects – it’s pure instruction and inspiration from start to finish – exactly what I look for in a craft book.

Let me show you what I’m talking about. . .

I love that the front of the book shows a block with some of the pieces flipped over. On the back of the book you see the same block, entirely from the back (so you can see the construction details) and the most basic instructions for English Paper Piecing.

All Points Patchwork book review

Really – that’s all there is to it. Choose a shape and cut it out of paper. Baste some fabric around the shape. Join the bits together.

If it’s that simple, why do we need a whole book?

Because Diane teaches you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW.


The pros and cons of different template materials.

Where to buy pre-cut templates.

How to design your own blocks – on the computer with high-tech drawing tools or on paper with nothing more complicated than a compass and a straight edge.

Different basting techniques.

I could go on and on and on. It’s all in here.

And she doesn’t just throw the information out there. She anticipates any possible problem you might have and helps you fix it. I love this bit on getting the perfect, invisible whipstitch seam, with good and bad seams shown, along with several troubleshooting suggestions.

All Points Patchwork book review

The tone throughout the book is warm and encouraging – like she’s sitting on the sofa next to me helping me learn this new craft. Just what I need!

The book isn’t just for beginners, though. She includes more advanced techniques too, like how to add a pieced, finished edge to your work.

All Points Patchwork book review

So fabulous for a table runner or mug rug where the back will be seen and where you don’t want to square off the edges!

Or this bit, where she shows two different ways to baste diamond shapes, and then explains when she uses each method. Throughout the book she shows exactly what she’s doing (with really terrific photos), and also explains why. This is so rare – and so helpful!

All Points Patchwork book review

After a general intro with all the basics, she moves on to more detailed sections for each type of shape you might use. This, to me, was the real meat of the book.

For each shape she shows how to draft it by hand, and exactly how best to baste it.

All Points Patchwork book review

Then she shares a couple of pages showing sample layouts, the different kinds of arrangements that each shape lends itself to.

All Points Patchwork book review

Finally, she gives tips for how to join individual pieces and larger units together.

All Points Patchwork book review

She does this for hexies, diamonds, jewels, triangles, tumblers, octagons, pentagons and even curved shapes. It’s so comprehensive!

And then there are the “Project Inspiration” pages. They’re scattered throughout the book, and each one shows a finished project, with suggestions for fabric choices and alternate ways of using it.

All Points Patchwork book review

This lovely book cover, for example, is a great way to showcase tiny scraps of favorite fabrics – really setting the bits off surrounded by a frame of solids – and would also be good for placemats, a pillow, or a table runner.

Or this one, showing a softie made with EPP fabric.

All Points Patchwork book review

Basically, she’s showing us how to create fabric using EPP, then showing us how we can use that fabric with any of our favorite patterns!

I’m not sure I ever would have thought of using EPP for a softie, but now that I’ve seen this image, I can’t stop thinking about how great Bailey Bear or Bartholomew Bunny would look with this technique. Their construction is very simple, just like this little guy, and I’m going to have to try it now.

(If you don’t have a favorite pattern for a project, go to where Diane has collected links to tons of different patterns and organized them by category. Handy!)

Most of the projects shown are small, or are larger projects with smaller bits of EPP incorporated into them, like this quilt.

All Points Patchwork book review

These are a few EPP appliqués added to a whole cloth quilt, and she also reminds us that we can add them to a store-bought blanket, or even use them as patches to give a second life to a stained or worn quilt. I love that!

But I also love this. . .

All Points Patchwork book review

It’s a feature of someone who actually made an entire hexie quilt – in less than a year! She shared exactly how she did it – a totally doable approach for anyone who wants to tackle a big project.

All Points Patchwork is a craft book designed for the way most of us actually use craft books. It’s got. . .

  • Instruction! All the information we need, and a lot we didn’t even know we needed – the kinds of tidbits that you pick up from your mother or grandmother, or from years of practice and trial and error.
  • Clear organization with a solid table of contents and index.
  • Beautiful illustrations – terrific photos for all the how-tos and clear diagrams for all the layouts.
  • Inspirational eye candy – also beautifully photographed, and with extra tips for how to take each project in your own direction.

I just finished my first EPP project – this doll quilt.

my first EPP project!

It was so much fun to make that I already started a new project last night – and you can bet there will be more projects to come – including some free patterns here at Shiny Happy World. I know I’ll be referring to this book again and again for years to come. It’s an incredible reference book for anyone – of any skill level – interested in EPP.

Get All Points Patchwork here. And get it now. The first free pattern is coming soon and summer is the perfect season for hand work. 🙂

Happy sewing!

That's me!

My Stitch & Stash Project Bag

I love, love LOVE my new project bag! It makes me smile every time I use it – and I’ve been using it steadily for about two months now.

It’s made with the Stitch & Stash Project Bag pattern from Betz White – reversible, with no zippers or velcro to snag on my work, and with a handy pocket inside to hold my tools. Such a well-designed bag for crafters!

Of course, I had to add some appliqué to the front. Give me a flat surface in a pattern and I will add some appliqué. Guaranteed. 🙂

I only made a couple of simple changes to the project.

The original pattern has snaps on the sides, but I decided not to add them because I know I will never actually snap them and I like the shape without tucking in the sides.

I quilted the outer bag fabric instead of just staystitching the batting around the edges. I love the little bit of extra texture the swoopy quilted waves add to the front. I just quilted the batting to the main fabric – no need to add a backing fabric since the bag is lined. This is how I quilt all my quilts, too.

You might worry that that will make the seams too bulky, but if you use 100% cotton batting (I love Warm & Natural) and press the seams open, it’ll squish nice and flat.

Stitch & Stash Project Bag - in progress

When I work with batting like this I also use sewing clips instead of pins. They’re great for holding bulky fabrics in place with no distortion!

Stitch & Stash Project Bag - in progress

Of course, the main change I made was adding the cute kitty. 🙂

After I did the quilting, I appliquéd the cat in place with fusible adhesive and stitched around all the pieces with black thread. I love the cartoony pop that gives.

Here’s a video showing how I appliqué an image like this.

Stitch & Stash Project Bag - in progress

The cat is one of the blocks in my Cats Quilt, shrunk down a bit. I made the small bag and resized the cat image to be 5 inches tall and 4 inches wide. That left plenty of breathing room between the top of the cat and that awesome big grommet, and fit from side to side nicely. I wouldn’t go any bigger than that in either direction for whatever image you’re adding.

The fabric is a mix of some of my favorite basics from Timeless Treasures – Jazz, Dreaming and Sketch.

I love it! Mine is holding my current EPP project (to be shared soon – it’s almost finished!) and Jo has already requested a larger one with a monster on it, and a tall, skinny pocket inside especially for holding a few crochet hooks. My plan is to make a few more in different sizes (the pattern includes three sizes) to hold various works in progress and hang them on some hooks on my studio walls. Cute AND functional. I see a lot more of these in my future. 🙂

Get the bag pattern here.

Get the cat quilt pattern here.

Happy sewing!

That's me!