Tag Archives: review

Book Review: Material World by Perri Lewis

First off, sorry for the bad photos, it’s that time of year again Britain is only light during work hours and it will only get worse!

If you don’t already follow Perri’s blog you should. She puts snippets of latest craft news and trends and events up several times a week, here’s the link. I’ve been following her since I read her column in Making magazine- she used to have the inside back cover and it was nice to read about craft in context rather than specific items made or for sale or specific artists necessarily.

So, onto her book, which doesn’t come out until 1st November (check me out with my advance copy from Ebury Publishing!). The contents cover embroidery, decoupage, printing, encrusting(!), cross stitch, quilling, patchwork, paper cutting…. lots and lots of different stuff. I daresay areas that are easy to access- there’s no knitting for example which can take perseverance to pick up, or reams of embroidery stitches. There’s not even any need for half square triangles or seam matching in the patchwork section, it is very very beginner friendly stuff. It is refreshing to see overlooked crafts like quilling, millinery, macrame and leatherwork getting a bit of exposure though.

It’s quite a minimalist book, it’s more about the words and content than the beautiful pictures, whilst still being a substantial 220+ pages.. Each chapter has technique information, a project, interview-based tips from professional craftspeople within that skillset and finishing up with ways of furthering your newfound skill. The Insider tips to be found with the craftspeople technique interviews are frankly awesome, I mean I never thought of using sandpaper to stop fabric moving when drawing markers for applique!

This is one of my favourite projects, I’ve wanted to try upholstery for a while and of course patchwork in any form will always appeal to me!

All the projects are actually useful things that you would want to make. Unique modern design furniture, making a t-shirt into a dress, a chain based necklace or decoupaged shoes, which is nice and refreshing. Interspersed with these chapters are articles on which Perri has given thoughts on before, whether on her blog or for The Guardian, such as the art vs craft debate, X rated craft, and a small piece on craft business that also says it’s OK to make a crafts business on a different angle to owning an Etsy shop, you can even make money from blogging about craft (ha!), these sorts of features make it an interesting read as well as a general crafts reference book. It would make a good gift for a crafts curious aunt or a sister who likes to make a bit of everything, or a friend who loves customisation especially, with an eye for alternative fashion.

I’ve also noticed that Lily’s Quilts received a copy of this book and blogged about it just under a week ago, click here to see what Lynne says about it.

Material World has an RRP of £18.99 but is currently on Amazon here for £11.69 as a pre-order. Released 1st November 2012- in time for Christmas!


Book Review: Quilt a Gift for Christmas by Barri Sue Gaudet

This review is brought to you by Gina who is kindly guest blogging today. Since we’re in the last 12 weeks of the year it’s time for the C word!

This book covers a wide range of projects for the festive season, though a lot of them could be used for other celebrations with a little bit of interpretation. It has a combination of quilting, embroidery and applique, suitable for all abilities.
Here’s a couple of my favourite projects from the book. The Tinsel Tree Scrapbook projects covers a wide range of skills; patchwork, quilting, stitchery and making felt flowers…
The finger puppet and gift tag projects are great to do with children and can be made in a few hours…
The instructions are clear and concise with great illustrations and wonderful clear photographs. I particularly like the fact that each project has been given a time estimate and where required there are templates. The book gives useful advice about materials, techniques and fabrics, with a list of suppliers should you have problems requiring materials.
Great projects for those long dark nights.
Quilt a Gift for Christmas is available for £11.99 from RUCraft.
In other news, I’ve started to conquer my Everest… 25% of the patchwork bit of the other curtain is done…

Book Review: Pre-cut Combo Quilts by Debra Fehr Greenway

This review is brought to you by Angela who is kindly guest blogging today. Her blog Heart of Charnwood can be found HERE.

When the lovely Kerry wanted someone to do a book review of this book, I jumped at the chance. I love quilting books, and the chance to have a good snoop around a new one was just too good to resist. So, what can I tell you about this book?

Well, the basic premise of the book is quilts made using pre-cuts (surprise), i.e Jelly Rolls, Charm Squares, Layer Cakes etc, which on first glance looks like its been done before, but this book offers something (Ithink) is a little bit different. And thats because it offers the opportunity to use Fat Quarters instead, so if you don’t have the requisite pre-cuts there are alternative FQ cutting guides.

Now for me, that would be perfect, as I don’t buy many pre-cuts, and when I see fabric I love, I buy a few FQ’s from the range, and then sometimes don’t know exactly what to do with them.

Another good aspect of this book, is the final section, which covers the use of panels.

I have a couple of these too, which I thought would make fun, easy baby quilts, but I hadn’t been inspired to use them, until now.

I think my favourite quilt design in the book is Pre-Cuts Potpourri, with its varying sizes of squares, which i think would look great with a good mix of solids, some cute embroidered squares, and some pastel patterned fabrics.

Some of the actual fabrics aren’t exactly my style, I prefer a bigger mix of solid fabrics, but there are some really great designs and the book is very well written, which means it’s well worth a look.

Pre-cut Combo Quilts is available from RUCraft, currently at £12.74.

Book Review – Quilter’s Desk Diary 2013

Since the Christmas in July season is upon us, it seemed apt to look at a diary for next year as my next book review. I don’t particularly enjoy talking about the C word until at least October, and even then only in the context of making some homebrew or spreading the cost of presents.

Anyway, here is the cover of the diary…

Quilter’s Desk Diary 2013 really is a desk diary. It’s hardbacked, a bit big for a handbag (a bit bigger than A5) and it doesn’t have all of that personal information and notable dates pages at the start, it leaps straight into 31st December 2012. This doesn’t bother me because I’m going to use it for birthday reminders (because we always forget someone’s birthday), blog post ideas and targets for getting my quilts finished for forthcoming shows and mailing deadlines for online swaps, etc. With a week to a full page there’s certainly enough room to put in those sorts of reminders.

So what makes it a Quilter’s Diary? Well the left hand page of each week’s spread has a lovely quilt photograph with a little bit of text about it. These feature projects you can make from books also published by David & Charles. It has some Pam and Nicky in there which is great, but I’m not so keen on the Japanese style ones but I know some of you will love those. Here’s some more examples of my favourite pages…

And this one is on my birthday week- a really intriguing painted quilt. I may actually check ‘The Painted Quilt’ book out on payday (it’s half price at RUCraft) as I love art quilts.

The details of the books featured are listed at the back. I actually own a lot of these and can thoroughly recommend The Quilter’s Bible, it taught me everything I’ve ever wanted and needed to know about the craft and I still refer to it often.

If I was grading the diary out of 10 I’d probably give it a 6- I’d have scored it more if it felt a bit less like a book advert and if it had a ribbon to mark the page- essential I think since this book is not spiralbound and so therefore doesn’t lay flat. I don’t think I would personally spend £9.99 (RRP) on any diary either, but I’m a cheapskate!

The Quilter’s Diary 2013 is currently available for preorder at RUCraft at £7.49, but it should be available very soon.

Book Review – Jelly Roll Dreams compiled by Pam and Nicky Lintott

I don’t think I’ve said this before, but I love everything that Pam and Nicky Lintott of The Quilt Room do. They are the precut queens and I bow down to them for that as I’m always a bit flummoxed by them without their books to guide me. Quilts I have made from their books so far? The Snapdragon one I’m finishing tonight(!), the Goldfinch quilt (sans applique) and the sample quilt I made for my grandparents last year.

Anyway, this week I was generously given a copy of Jelly Roll Dreams by the publishers to get my teeth into and I was surprised- here was a Pam and Nicky book I didn’t actually own! I was amazed at my laxness as this book came out three months ago! Jelly Roll Dreams offers 12 patterns for beautiful quilts not by the Lintotts, but chosen by them in a Moda sponsored competition they held where patchworkers had to come up with a quilt design that gets the most out of a jelly roll. And these are the top entries, and very worthy they are too. Look at some of these- it is tempting to make any of these right now and stuff the WIPs!

Something for fans of squares and HSTs…

Something for those crazy people that enjoy curved piecing…

And even some foundation piecing…

Each quilt is made from just one jelly roll and can be made with traditional or contemporary fabrics depending on personal preferences and there’s a good mixture of examples of both throughout the book to inspire you. I hate to use this phrase, but there really is something for everyone in this book, unless you hate precuts of course (but honestly, WHO hates precuts?!). The instructions are clear, the photos are just lovely- both of the original entrants quilts and Pam and Nicky’s fabric interpretations. I don’t think I can honestly find a fault with the book- except maybe the title is a little naff and the greedy side of me wants more than 12 patterns! I will definitely be making a quilt or two from this book once an opportunity arises and my WIP list is reduced a little more.

I think I am going to make this one- I have my special triangle ruler (also from the Quilt Room) at the ready!

The book is currently £10.35 at RUCraft along with other great titles. It’s cheaper than Amazon and they take Paypal on the site too.

Do you own this book? I’d love to know what you think of it too!

Modern Quilting Magazine

Modern Quilting magazine comes out tomorrow! It’s a bimonthly magazine but I am fortunate enough to have found out about it early so I have subscribed and got my copy on Saturday morning- hurrah!

Anyway I was pleasantly surprised. It’s got two Amy Butler projects including the one on the cover (which actually I don’t like that much) but some fab smaller projects including a really cool handbag I must make. A lot of the contributor names you will recognise from blogland (if you read the patchwork blogs like I do) and it has designer interviews which are pretty interesting. There’s a block design competition too where the prize is a sewing machine (I don’t really want the one they’re offering but my MIL does so I shall attempt to win it for her!) and the runner up prizes are unspecified jelly rolls. It might be worth a punt! I’m glad I subscribed, it’s really refreshing compared to some of the stuffier quilting magazines that are out there. I just need to persuade Vick the editor to take some of my projects on as tutorials 😀

Review: AEG 680 sewing machine

I was browsing around on the internet for a review of this sewing machine before I bought it and not much information exists, I suppose this is because AEG only started selling sewing machines in June this year and not many people have gone out to buy one yet. I also thought some people might have similar experiences and difficulties as me (though I must say this is a favourable review!) and so I would share my experiences so far of the last 12 hours of owning the machine- hopefully it will be useful to someone!

Anyway this is the machine (as mentioned in my last post), I bought it for £200 from Argos as an online exclusive…

First up I should mention my experience with this machine is in comparision to the only sewing machine I have owned prior to this which was a mechanical Lervia machine from Aldi. So not particularly a very sophisticated machine so a lot of features I may be struggling with are things that non-primitive machinists will probably laugh at me for 😉

The AEG 680’s general specifications can be found here as it’s not worth me going through absolutely everything, though I will say it has a crazy amount of embroidery stitches and a LCD display for your stitch length and width.

It comes with a zigzag foot, a buttonhole foot, a button foot, a zip foot, a gathering foot and a blind hem foot, as well as needles (including a twin needle) and some samples of Coats thread. I quite fancy some spare bobbins, a walking foot and a free motion embroidery foot for it too, however AEG customer service haven’t been massively helpful and there were no suppliers for extra parts in the manual that was supplied with it (more about that later). I e-mailed AEG and after two days got a simple response that they don’t sell the parts direct and I am to go back to the retailer for them. Since the retailer is a catalogue shop I don’t think that’s particularly helpful so I have replied saying so, I probably won’t find out what I can do til later in the week. However, they seem to be pretty universal and I am sure the screw on feet I bought for my Lervia from HERE will fit. Which is nice because I already have the free motion foot and had hardly used it.

The instruction manual isn’t fantastic and if you like to read about your new buy in detail with a cup of coffee and a biscuit, you will be sadly disappointed. It is pretty to the point though, and so far there are only two sections that I feel could have done with being elaborated on, the first of which lead me to believe my machine was faulty yesterday and I sent another e-mail to AEG to complain!

So my first issue was the feed dogs. I lowered them using the switch on the back, however when I switched it back to up, nothing happened. I tried levering it up with a screwdriver from the bobbin compartment  but it dropped again and this was quite scary since I’d only taken delivery of it at 5.30 yesterday afternoon. What the instructions failed to tell me was that if you switch it to up and then start sewing, it electronically raises, so in fact there was nothing wrong with it. This is weird for me becuase on my old machine they thunked up and thunked down mechanically with a switch so I’m not sure if that’s me being behind in the technology or not!

My second issue is ongoing and is surely operator error. I have not got the hang of the lever and the one step buttonholes- I just got a ripped hole with some dodgy stitching in front of it. My background is in four step button holes so this might be me, but the instructions aren’t clear on what you’re actually supposed to do with the lever and how much user input is needed for creating a buttonhole, so I will have to persevere with this one and try and figure it out for myself.

It took me a little while to figure out the auto threading from the manual’s instructions and for a while I thought it would be easier just to thread the needle the old fashioned way. However with a bit of practise (and now I can do it with one hand rather than two) this should be a useful tool.

Another thing that doesn’t seem to work for me is the reverse stitch button which is supposed to secure the end of your sewing on settings 1 and 2. That keeps doing another stitch forward for me. Maybe I need to try holding it rather than just pushing it. I also haven’t used the start/stop button- it doesn’t work if the pedal is plugged into the machine, which I have been using cos I’m used to it.

Here’s some things I LOVE about this machine now I have gone over my main gripes…

    • I love how quiet it is.
    • The up/down needle feature is really useful for pivoting work and also for releasing the work without it being too premature.
    • The drop in bobbin with the little window is a godsend- I know most machines have this now but it’s awesome!
    • The feed dogs are really good at controlling the fabric and I have never had such neat and secure sewing before I got this machine.

One of the main draws for me was the fact that it was computerised (and the one step buttonhole that currently isn’t working!), but also the vast array of embroidery stitches. Especially this toadstool one, isn’t it cute?!

The one of the little dogs was a bit disappointing though- the picture looks like this on the machine (stitch 88- you can just about make it out)…

When stitched it splits one of the two doggies in half, poor thing! I could manually sew that missing stitch on each dog so it’s not a big deal, it’s just a bit sad really!

So anyway, after a bit of experimenting, some upset at a not-really-broken sewing machine and then going back to it again, I did manage to finish one of my many WIPs- the bag from last post. It’s not fantastic as I put the fastener too low, the straps are a bit weird where they meet the bag because of how I sewed the lining in (i.e. wrongly) and the corners confounded me. However I think it’s quite sweet so I’m going to make another one at some point- learning from my mistakes! Just a shame that cutting pattern pieces from large pieces of fabric is such a tedious and complicated arrangement!

Some more reviews…

I thought I’d share some more feedback for my book to “big up ma bad self”. If you want a copy, you know the drill by now- http://www.penny-dog.co.uk and click on books. You know you want to. By the way, the sequel is in the idea stage with a working title of “Further Adventures in Resin Jewellery”.

Anyway, let’s get down to business!

” Thank you! This book will be a perfect gift. :)”
– Ieva

” Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Well worth the wait of a preorder! If you are into crafting and want to pick up working with resin this book is a great choice!”
– Heather

”Great book, thanks! I’m excited to try some of the things.”
– Lisa

”Fantastic book. Thanks so much!”
– Fiona

Product Review: Soop rings!


So I got some of those lovely animal rings from http://soop.etsy.com that I featured on my blog earlier, a cow and a little goat. They come in various sizes to fit everyone and are perfectly made from translucent acrylics. They feel comfortable to wear although I do find the horns on the goat are a little realistic and can get caught on things! Luckily I layer them (as pictured) so the cow protects his friend from causing any real damage. They come in different forest and farmyard favourites, as well as toadstools and trees being available for extra layering effect. You could create a whole scene on your fingers! Priced at $12 individually, or $50 or $80 per complete set of the forest or farmyard range respectively. Great, unusual gifts for the young and the young at heart, and the fact that they are made from one piece of material means that they will no doubt last a long long time.

SoapyChica review, Part 3 of 3

Yesterday, I tried the honey bar. I don’t want to leave this series of reviews on a downer, as Soapy’s work is fabulous and I’ve absolutely loved the other two soaps, but this had a more floral fragrance, which some people would love, but I am a fruity, spicy scent kinda girl! 🙂 Anyway I can’t complain as it was free! Despite this, it seemed to lather much quickly that the two others, and was really creamy and felt lovely on the skin. I’ve virtually just woken up this morning and came to sit to write this before I forgot, but my skin is still really soft after using it! The colour is a pale beigey-almond colour, which fits in nicely with the other soaps available. Each one has an understated, natural colour, that easily fits in with it’s surroundings, whatever the colour of your bathroom. No brash, in-your-face artificial colourings here!

To summarise, I think everyone should try these soaps! There are bars that look like chocolate, and intricately detailed patterns on more traditional soap fragrances. So lots more for me to try yet!