Book Review: Jelly Roll Quilts

Image from - click for the original

In my ongoing search to find a cool pattern to effectively use my recently purchased Jelly Rolls, I picked up a few books, all by Pam and Nicky Lintott.  This book, which I believe is their first on the topic, is a great book illustrating different quilt patterns using these cool, pre-cut and selected fabric assortments.

There are a number of different quilt patterns included, and they give the dimensions for the quilts they demonstrate – so if you want to make one larger you can estimate how much more fabric you’ll need, or alternately, how much you might have left over if you plan on making one that is smaller.  Although I don’t always care for their colour choices (too bright, or too much contrast for my personal taste), they also have illustrations showing the quilt pattern.  I find these somewhat easier to look at, evaluate the pattern, and see if it’s something that I might want to do.

I also like the addition of the variation quilts.  I can imagine that for the designers, making two quilts that are the same except for a colour variation might become kind of boring, but I think this is a great idea for those of us who can’t really connect with a pattern if the colourway is distracting or doesn’t appeal to our sense of colour harmony.

At the back of the book they include a small quilted tote (use up all of those leftover pieces!) as well as a short section on quilting terms and techniques.

There are a few patterns in here that I really like – first the “bars of gold” -which I’ve known previously as Chinese Coins. It looks pretty simple, but I imagine doing it so the colours blend from one to the other just like they are displayed in the Jelly Roll.  There is also a pattern for a Lone Star quilt – I’ve been wanting to tackle a Lone Star quilt for a while, and have another book full of ideas, but perhaps a Jelly Roll is a good place to start?

Ah.. now if only I had a workable sewing room and the time to sew!

Book Review: Hats in Vogue since 1910

Finished hat on my Styrofoam head (keep in mind the head is smaller than my own..)

In preparation for the Millinery class I took, I started looking at a number of books on hats.  While my main interest was on hat-making rather than just beautiful books on hats themselves, a little inspiration never hurts!

One of the books I picked up was Hats in Vogue since 1910 – written by Christina Probert.  It was published in 1981, and the age is showing in the publication – the most “modern” hats in the book are distinctly 1980’s – and having lived through the 80’s (however young I was), I find the level of taste of 80’s fashions really questionable.

The majority of the images are taken from the pages of Vogue magazine, so this book is as much about hats as it is about what Vogue found fashionable and interesting at the times when the images were published.  A number of the images are paintings with little detail  – more just an impression of the hat rather than something to really learn from.  Some are very nice illustrations – much more useful.  The majority of the images are photographs though, and in many cases the photographs are editorialized – so a hat becomes just an element in the fashion story rather than the story itself.  This makes for a nice photo, but not the most useful photograph.

Ultimately, I took this book back – it just didn’t give me what I was looking for.

Oh… and I couldn’t find a photo of the cover anywhere online… so instead you get a photo of one of my hats from the millinery class!


(Along with an apology I’ve been such a bad blogger lately….  between vacation, a still-chaos-ridden sewing space, and a crazy-work-and-social-life, I haven’t been able to make DDD a priority!)

Book Review: The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts

Photo of the cover

Another book I picked up (from my library- a great way of trying a variety of books before spending money on ones to add to my library) on my seemingly never-ending search for some instruction on how to make ribbon cockades for millinery is The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts by Elaine Schmidt.  Unfortunately the link on Amazon won’t let me grab the cover image for you!  However, as luck has it, Google Books has a little bit of the beginning (all on bow tying I’m afraid though!) for free, so click the link to take a look inside!

Since I was specifically looking for books on ribbon cockades and flowers for millinery, I really thought that this book might be a bit TOO simple.  After all, who needs a book to know how to tie a bow, right?  However, unlike the other books I picked up, this one actually does have a few (albeit very simple 😦 ) cockades along with over a hundred other projects (some valuable, some much less so).

To start off, the book includes sections on:

  • The basics – different types of ribbons, working with ribbon, end finishes, etc.  (yeah, Yawn.)
  • Making bows
  • Ribbon flowers
  • Ribbon embroidery
  • Ribbon tassels, trims and rosettes
  • Ribbon weaving, patchwork and knitting
  • Sew and no-sew techniques
  • Ribbon accessories (taking all your ribbon bits and putting them in your hair, etc)
  • Crafting with ribbon (wasn’t that what we were doing with the other projects?)

The sections I liked the best were the individual-petal flowers (in particular a beautiful orange wired-ribbon day lily) and the cockade like ‘rosettes’ – namely the ribbon wheel rosette, petal rosette, and star-point rosette.  I actually started on one of the simple ribbon-wheel rosettes a while back, but with all of the renovation shuffle, haven’t been able to finish it yet! Boo!

Ok.. so here’s my plea to the readers of this blog… where should I look next for information on making beautiful ribbon cockades?  Help!

Book review: The Artful Ribbon

Image linked from Amazon - please forgive if the link breaks in future - and click to purchase!

A while back I was looking for books on ribbon folding specifically to make cockades.  One of the books I saw recommended online was The Artful Ribbon by Candace Kling.  If I remember correctly, she teaches some workshops on cockade making, and has a great Etsy shop of the same. (If I’m mixing her up with another author, please forgive me… it’s late, and I’m not feeling especially research-y…)

Since I had started looking for books on ribbon work with the idea of making cockades for millinery, I was at first disapointed with this book, as there is next to nothing resembling cockades, and the majority of the flowers in the book seem most suited to attach to fabrics (like garments or home decorating) rather than standing on their own as a decoration that might be removable on a hat or bag.

However, upon further review of the book, I began to see how truly valuable it is.  It is incredibly well illustrated and photographed to start out – and although time (or rather, a lack of time) keeps me from being able to charge right in and start making bouquets of silk ribbon flowers – I imagine that following the instructions would be very easy.  There is also an abundance of information and research about materials, flowers, storage, care, and other information.  This really does seem like a valuable resource for the home crafter.

Sections in the book inlcude:

  • Simple flowers
  • Roses
  • Petals
  • Pansies & Fuchsias
  • Berry buds, stamens and centers
  • Greenery
  • as well as some information on texturing, materials, composition, tools, techniques, etc.

My only complaint – and it’s the same as I have for most crafting books; the successful replication of any of the projects hinges heavily on the ability to source the right fabrics and materials.  I understand that there’s no way to really replicate something, but at the same time, a lot of the projects are SO much more successful when done in certain materials rather than others.  For instance, do you have a source for gold to yellow ombre lace-edge, wired ribbon?  No? Then your daffodil won’t look the same…  How about green pinstriped wired ribbon with stripes in dark green on a pale green surface? No? Then your leaves likely won’t look the same…  I have found that ombre ribbon (let alone wired ombre ribbon) is very difficult to find locally, and the idea of shipping in ribbon seems just a little silly right now frankly.  I’ll certainly keep my eyes open, and when I do find some – this definitly will be a book I’ll return to!

What are your thoughts?  Do you find that a lot of sewing/crafting books rely too heavily on the “right” materials, or would you be perfectly happy with a polka-dot daffodil, if that’s the only kind of ribbon you could find?

Book review: Fun-to-wear Fabric Flowers

I realize that I haven’t posted in a while, and I feel kind of bad about it – but work and the rest of my life has just been so busy lately! In fact, I picked up a few books on ribbon/fabric flowers a while ago, and other than flipping through them, haven’t really had much time at all to read – or for that matter, review – them!

So, am I back on track now? Not really.  I don’t anticipate having a lot more spare time in the near future, but in the meantime, at least I can prepare a FEW little posts!

Image linked from Chapters - sorry if it breaks in future! Click to purchase!

First up, Fun-to-Wear Fabric Flowers by Elizabeth Helene Searle.

The cover art is deceptive – in the sense that it really doesn’t do the rest of the book and the rest of the photos justice.  It seems a bit dated to me, while the book is only from 2006, and other interior photos don’t have that same vaguely 1980’s vibe… Take a look at the back cover instead to get a better sense of it!

Like most crafty/sewing books, the book starts out with a substantial section with the basic how-tos.  Good for those who might be picking up a needle for the first time in a while, but I’m getting to the point where I just skip this section entirely.  From there there are several individual projects, but many of them very, very similar, with variations only in fabric and size.  The types of flowers the book covers includes:

  • Free-motion flowers (not unlike my silk poppy)
  • Gathered flowers
  • Yo-yo flowers
  • Five-petal flowers (if you have more sewing in mind)
  • Roses
  • Ruched flowers
  • Individual petal flowers (again, more hand-work, very much like my “more felt flowers“)
  • Pansies
  • Folded-petal flowers
  • Loopy flowers (not something I’m attracted to personally)
  • Bias strip flowers (again, not really my interest)
  • Poppies
  • and finally, felt flowers.

I found the first half of the book a bit too simple, and a bit too “this doesn’t really look at all like a flower” – or, so highly dependent on having the perfect fabric, as to not really be do-able for what I have these flowers in mind for (millinery of course!).  However, I really liked the look of the poppies (using six strips of fabric for the petals, a black yo-yo for the center and purchased stamens) and there is a good section on folded roses which might be useable.

(From the book, in my own words)

Folded fabric rose

  1. Take a long strip of fabric (the book recommends 4×45″) and fold the long edges together so they meet in the middle.
  2. Fold the strip in continuous 45 degree angles – like twisting it flat.
  3. Stitch one short side and one long side using a gathering stitch
  4. Gather and roll, then stitch to foundation and add folded-fabric leaves.

So… I would love to have some photos to show off in this post of flowers I’ve made from this book. But, alas, I haven’t had hardly any time to sew at all (one alteration and one quick robe that was already cut out pre-renovation…) so there’s nothing to share! 😦