4 fabulous gift ideas straight from our bookshelf!

With the holiday season kicking into high gear, we're looking for inspiration for everyone on our list this year. 

These sweet and simple gifts (and the books they came from!) are some of our favorite picks for simple handmade gifts for everyone from your neighbor to your work wife.

  • Dressing up your dishware has never been so easy. Try adding this personalized touch as a host gift at a holiday or dinner party—and top it with home-baked cookies!
  Playful Ceramic Platters  from p. 86 of Anna Joyce's   Stamp Stencil Paint

Playful Ceramic Platters from p. 86 of Anna Joyce's Stamp Stencil Paint

  • For the crafter who you can barely keep up with (also adaptable for other handmade projects: try a smaller version for knit sweaters, pouches, and other sewing projects!)
  Hand-Drawn Quilt Labels  from p. 128 of   The Spoonflower Handbook

Hand-Drawn Quilt Labels from p. 128 of The Spoonflower Handbook

  • A cute and simple way to make something special for someone special.
  Traced Wildflower Hankie  from p. 68 of   Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

Traced Wildflower Hankie from p. 68 of Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

  • We love this simple yoga (-or- ukulele -or- farmers market) bag—easy to customize for friends who are always on the go!    Cecilia Yoga Bag from p. 58 of Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style

Straight from our 2015 shelves:

Have you made anything inspired by STC Craft on your bookshelf this year? We want to see it! Show it off online and tag @stc_craft on twitter or instagram. 

The perfect book to get you in the Mood for sewing

“Designers, we’re going to Mood!”

Chances are, if you've heard of Mood Fabrics you fall into one of two categories: you are either a huge Project Runway fan OR you are an avid home-sewer, a fashion student, or an aspiring designer. Regardless, you know it's New York's go-to spot for anything and everything fabric. 

It was more than 10 years ago that Tim Gunn walked the first batch of Project Runway contestants into Mood Fabrics. This week, the experts behind this fabric power- house bring their fabric and fashion know-how—plus their behind-the-scenes stories—to the sewing public. The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion is the ultimate guide for the home-sewers, fashion students, aspiring designers, and Project Runway fans who want to learn everything they need to know to choose and use quality fabric. Drawing upon the expertise of the Mood staff, the book teaches readers the fundamentals—from where fabric is produced to the ins and outs of its construction—and features a fabric-by-fabric guide to cottons and other plant fibers, wools, silks, knits, and other specialty fabrics.

Intrigued? Hear what Tim Gunn has to say about it

And if you're a frequent shopper at Mood (or would like to be!), take advantage of the promotion that is going on on their site right now! Buy a copy of the book from their site and you'll be automatically entered to win a $250 gift card to the store. 



After a successful book tour, Sherri Lynn Wood is still making waves!

You may have met the multi-talented Sherri Lynn Wood on her cross-country tour to launch The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters this spring.

If you missed her, here are a few lovely recaps from events at Thimble Pleasures in Chapel Hill, NC; Sewingly Yours in Lewisville, NC; and Malaprops in Asheville, NC.

If you managed to catch Sherri on tour, then you may know that she received over 250 requests and 165 completed submissions for the ten test quilt scores in the book. You may have even seen some online or on display at recent shows like Modern Quilt Guild's QuiltCon in Austin earlier this spring.

Good news: if you happened to miss them (or if you can't get enough of them), you can join Sherri for a test quilt blog hop going on right now! Click the link above to see where test quilters will be showing off their variations of Sherri's test patterns, and get inspired to try one out on your own!

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Have you tried one of Sherri's patterns from The Improv Handbook? If so, we'd love to see your results!

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters is Coming to a Shop Near You

The final piece in our fabulous lineup of spring releases is Sherri Lynn Wood's Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously.

For the quilter looking to break free from the confines of step-by-step instructions and predictable patterns, Wood (of Daintytime.net) brings a flexible approach to quilting that knocks traditional instruction aside. Instead, she presents 10 frameworks (or scores) that create a guiding, but not limiting, structure.

To help quilters gain confidence, Wood also offers detailed lessons for stitching techniques key to improvisation, design and spontaneity exercises, and lessons on color.

Every quilt made from one of Wood’s scores will have common threads, but each one will look different because it reflects the maker’s unique interpretation. Featured throughout the book are Wood’s own quilts (more on view here!) and a gallery of contributor works chosen from among the hundreds submitted when she invited volunteers to test her scores during the making of this groundbreaking work. For inspiration, you can check out some variations on her Rhythmic Grid score in this image gallery.

Sherri is also coming to a shop or guild near you! Check back later this week with more info on her in-store national book tour. First stop: this Friday, 5/8, at 6:30 pm at Sew Modern in LA!

And that's not all—all month long, Sherri will be making digital appearances on favorite blogs from Sew Mama Sew to Spoonflower. Check out the full list of blog tour participants here!

Natalie Chanin is Back with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns!

Today is an exciting day—Natalie Chanin, founder and creative director of Alabama Chanin, is back with the book fans have been waiting for: Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns

If you've ever dreamt of creating your own Alabama Chanin wardrobe (and really, who of us hasn't?), this exciting compendium takes the Alabama Chanin library to the next level, offering all the patterns from Chanin’s first three books on a convenient CD, plus instructions and patterns for new skirts, dresses, tops, and jackets, with illustrated guidelines for customizing the fit and style of each. 

Hand-sewists: this is a key guide to customization. This invaluable resource is bursting with information about the ins and outs of refashioning shapes, raising and lowering necklines, taking in and letting out waistlines, and other key skills for creating the wardrobe of your dreams.

alabamastudiosewingpatterns_p015b.jpg

Chanin also provides guidelines for adapting patterns from other popular sewing companies to the Alabama Chanin style: stitched by hand in their signature soft, organic cotton jersey and embellished with swirls of stenciling, embroidery, and beading.

alabamastudiosewingpatterns_p006e.jpg

For more inspiring peeks into the book, check out our image gallery. Or, get your hands on a copy today, wherever books are sold!

Celebrate Fall by Knitting-A-Long with Guest Blogger and STC Craft Author Katie Startzman

Hello! I’m Katie Startzman, author of STC Craft’s The Knitted Slipper Book. I blog at Duo Fiberworks with my twin sister Laura Poulette. Thanks to STC Craft for inviting me to guest post here!


We will soon be deep into slipper season—blustery, gray days and downright cold starlit nights. As someone who delights in making and wearing slippers, I look forward to this time of year. It’s an opportunity of pile on the handknits, make lots of soup, and catch up on my reading by the woodstove. But we’re not quite there yet. Here in Kentucky, we still have a good long stretch of crisp Fall weather ahead of us, and the layers I put on in the morning get peeled off as the day warms up.

To celebrate the changing seasons, I wanted to do a knit-a-long that featured a pair of slippers that would be a good fit for this transitional time of year. The Cotton Loafers from The Knitted Slipper Book are shoe-like slippers that are made from soft organic cotton and rustic jute twine. They’re my knitted mash-up of boat shoes, espadrilles, and loafer moccs. They feature functional leather lacing, and the thick jute sole is sturdy and comfy.

 


I’ll be hosting the knit-a-long on my blog, over the next two weeks. In a series of posts, I’ll share tips and tricks to knitting these quick-to-finish, stylish slippers. You can view the first post here. Since many folks are unaccustomed to knitting with jute, I’ll also be sharing a free pattern that combines the cotton and jute to make a mini-tote.

Thanks to Blue Sky Alpacas, we have giveaways planned too—a sweet kit of organic worsted cotton yarn, jute, and a hand-stenciled canvas project bag made by yours truly.

**To enter the giveaway here, leave a comment between now and Friday, September 26 sharing something that you love about this time of year.** The winner will be announced on Monday, September 29.

Be sure to join us at Duo Fiberworks in the coming days to knit with us and for a chance to win a kit over there too. Here’s the schedule:

Monday, September 22:      Inspiration and design

Thursday, September 25:    Knitting the jute sole, project kit giveaway begins.     
    
Monday, September 29:      Knitting the slipper upper: Also share free pattern for the Bird Nest Mini-Tote

Thursday,  October 2:         Seaming and finishing details, announce giveaway winner

Wind those bobbins...Gertie Sews Vintage Casual is on sale today!

Our latest fall 14 book release comes just in time for the changing seasons. We're thrilled to introduce the latest from Gretchen "Gertie" Hirsch—Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s.

In this follow-up to Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, Hirsch returns with more iconic styles from the mid-20th century. Think sportswear made popular by fashion darlings like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, including knit tops, beach rompers, house dresses, wide-legged trousers, capri pants, and more.

With instructions for creating a 30-plus-piece casual wardrobe plus illustrations by the amazing Sun Young Park, this helpful guide offers all the inspiration and know-how you need to look delightfully dapper this fall.

Read more about the book on Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing, and check out our image gallery here. Plus, stay tuned for news about Gertie's fall pattern collection from Butterick and a new fabric line with Fabric Traditions at JoAnn's stores this spring!

What will you sew this season? Tell us in the comments section!

Celebrate Fall with STC Craft

We're back! We hope you enjoyed a lovely and relaxing summer. We reveled in some lazy warm days and even some exotic getaways, but now we're excited to share our fall news.

We've got a stellar lineup of books to share, bursting with inspiration, ideas, and instruction.

View our full fall 2014 lineup by clicking here, or on the catalog cover below:

 
Quilt back from Roderick Kiracofe's Unconventional & Unexpected

 First up this season is Roderick Kiracofe's brand new Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000, available today!

From the esteemed author of The American Quilt, Unconventional & Unexpected explores the amazing quilts created during the second half of the 20th century.

Get a sneak peek of more from Kiracofe's fabulous collection in our image gallery, and check out what the New York Times had to say about Unconventional and Unexpected here!

We're looking forward to sharing a fabulous season with you!

Spring Refresh with CLOTH by Cassandra Ellis!

There's something wonderful about changing our homes to reflect the change in seasons. When cold winter winds begin to blow in, we nuzzle in to wooly accessories; spring's arrival speaks of light cotton pieces; and linen's cool touch and open weave makes it ideal for the summer months.

For those of us who mark the passing of time in precious pieces and scraps of fabric, Cloth: 30+ Projects to Sew from Linen, Cotton, Silk, Wool, and Hide by Cassandra Ellis is just the inspiration we need for swapping out those woolens for a little spring refresh!

For a chance to win a copy of the book, as well as a bundle of five silk fat quarters, head on over to Spoonflower to enter! And of course, check out the CLOTH gallery for more décor inspiration, and make sure you get your hands on a copy of this beautiful book, available now everywhere books are sold.

Holiday Gift Guide: 15 Books for Sewists & Quilters

Ermine Stitch from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin

Still looking for the perfect gift for the crafter who can do it all? Don't despair! It's not too late to pick up a copy of any of these great titles for your resident sewist or quilter.

For the weekend stitcher:

Weekend Sewing; Last-Minute Fabric Gifts; Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts


For the color-obsessed quilter:

Kaffe Fassett Quilts Shots and Stripes; Denyse Schmidt: Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration; Material Obsession


For sewists who stitch outside the box:

Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing; Alabama Studio Sewing + Design; Stitch Magic

 

For the storyteller:

 

Kaffe Fassett: Dreaming in Color; Alabama Stitch Book; Quilting for Peace


For the little ones:


Wee Wonderfuls; Kata Golda's Hand-Stitched Felt; Oliver + S Little Things to Sew

Stitch Magic Stitch-Along: Pleats

 

Welcome to week three of the Stitch Magic Stitch-Along! My apologies for the delayed post this week. I’m writing to you from lovely Cleveland, where I’m filming an episode of a PBS sewing show.

Today we’re talking about pleating, which begins on page 41 of Stitch Magic by Alison Reid. But first, a note: the author uses the terms pleats and tucks to apply to her own techniques, which are gorgeous (like the beautiful throw pillows pictured above). In the sewing community, there have been downright impassioned discussions about the difference in terms. For this sew-along, don’t worry too much about what the “proper” terminology is, but rather focus on how the author utilizes the techniques in her own designs—and how you can customize them for yourself!

Okay, let's dive in. Pleating requires very precise marking and folding, so I’ve only gone over two design samples this week. There are several more techniques in the book to try; I especially like the origami box pleats, shown below.

 

We’re going to start out with knife pleats, which are flat pleats that are generally uniform in size. Each pleat takes up three times its width. So, for a one-inch pleat, you need to allow yourself three inches of fabric. Make sense?

Start by marking your pleat lines. Mark two-inch pleat sections one inch away form each other. Mark them on the bottom of the fabric as well. Bring one pleat line to the other and pin in place.

 

To retain the soft, sculptural feel of the pleats, we’re not going to press our sample. (If you want crisper pleats, go ahead and press them.) Now take some six-strand embroidery thread and stitch the pleats down in incremental lines with running stitches.

 

It’s hard to get a straight line, so mark your fabric with disappearing ink or some sort of tape that doesn’t leave a residue. Masking tape has worked well for me; you might also want to look for Tiger Tape, a quilting notion that has incremental stitch marks along a tape that doesn’t leave any gunk on your fabric. Genius!

Now let’s try another technique. This is a sort of grid, with small projecting pleats in both the horizontal and vertical directions.

Make ¼” pleat marks on your fabric. The pleat marks should be 1-1/4” away from each other.

Fold and pin the vertical pleats. Now, stitch along the side of the pleat that isn’t folded. Next, do the same with the horizontal pleats. But! When you stitch the sections that intersect, pull back the little flap to form a sculptural detail. Your presser foot will want to do this naturally anyway, so you’ll only need to help it along a bit.

My sample got a little crooked at points (See? Marking well is so important!) but I still like how it looks. In fact, it reminds me of the bodice of a designer dress I saw recently. Zac Posen, anyone?

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at Stitch Magic’s pleating techniques! Next week we’ll be trying cording, which is completely new to me. If you can, get yourself a cording or braiding foot for your machine. This isn’t crucial though—methods with a regular presser foot as well as hand stitches will be shown.

Gertie at STC Craft: A Stitch-Along!

While I’ve been gearing up to do some ribbon embroidery from the new Alabama Chanin book, I’ve also been thinking of ways we can make my posts here more interactive. And what better way than a little sew-along? Or rather, a stitch-along! I’ve been reading the book Stitch Magic by Alison Reid and it has tons of fun ways to spruce up your sewing. I can’t stop thinking about adding pintucks, pleats, and cording to my projects. Being a lover of vintage fashion, I see these details all the time in gorgeous dresses but have never taken the time to properly learn the techniques.

So here’s what I propose: each week we will do a little stitch sample trying out one of the techniques. I’ll guide you through the how-to and give you inspirational ideas for adding these flourishes to your handmade garments. At the end of the stitch-along, you’ll have a little sample book of swatches to refer back to!

The standard supplies needed will be thread, hand-sewing needles, and some cotton fabric. If you have a sewing machine, that's great. If not, I'll give hand-stitching options for each technique. Here’s what I’m thinking for the schedule (with special supplies needed in parentheses):

 

Week of 7/ 25: Quilting (six-strand embroidery floss, batting)

Week of 8/1: Pintucks (twin machine needle, pintuck foot helpful but optional)

Week of 8/8: Pleating

Week of 8/15: Cording (cotton piping cord, cording foot optional)

Week of 8/22: Smocking

 

Are you in? What do you think? Personally, I think this is going to be great fun! Please leave any questions in the comments.



Designing Fabric with Heather Ross--Lucky Me


Last week I hit the jackpot when it comes to being a craft book editor. I learned how to design my own fabric with none other than Heather Ross. We were working together on her next book, Heather Ross Prints, which we will publish in Fall 2012. While Weekend Sewing, Heather's first book, was a tour de force full of gorgeous, doable sewing projects, her next book will focus on all manner of crafts that can be made using fabulous repeating designs, hers (see sampling below) and your own (just keep reading). 

One of the first chapters in Heather Ross Prints is dedicated to teaching crafters how to make their own repeating designs using artwork of their making and/or choosing. Up until last week, this section of the book was making Heather and I feel both nervous (“How exactly will we do this?”) and excited (“It will be so cool if we can do this!”). So, once Heather had written her first draft, I printed it out, wrote out a million notes and questions, and headed downtown to Heather’s apartment. After being treated to an amazing homemade lunch—Heather is 8½ months pregnant, and so, according to her, lunch is a “big deal”—we sat down at the computer and started reviewing the manuscript.

About five minutes into the process, I turned to Heather and said, “I really think it would be most effective if I tried to create my own repeating design following your instructions…you know, to see if it works.” And so she handed over a sketchpad and said, “Sure, what would you like to draw?”

As she warned in her manuscript, this would be the scariest moment of the design process. What should I draw? Can I draw? These questions were running through my head. But before I committed to just drawing a simple circle or star, I thought, I’d like to try to draw my favorite animal: a bear. With some artistic tips from Heather regarding the shape of the nose and the hulk of the belly, I suddenly had a bear (shown below alongside Heather's bafflingly cute donkey.)

Once the sketch was done, we scanned it into the computer and Heather taught me how to turn it into an illustration. It was my first time drawing with a stylus, and true to another warning in her manuscript, it was pretty awkward. While coloring in my bear, I could not stop laughing every time I got near the “outline,” knowing that mine would be super wobbly. But after some practice, I got the hang of it and could make fairly controlled strokes.

After about an hour or so of coloring in the background, playing with different hues, and shading some areas of the bear, we saved the file and uploaded it to Spoonflower—a site where you can print your own designs onto fabric of your choosing and buy it by the yard.

Next we played with the repeating design.

Seeing my silly little bear design up on the screen felt so empowering. It was unbelievable that in just an afternoon, I was able to use my humble artistic skills to create a fabric design that I will proudly use to make pajama bottoms for the whole family next Christmas. How cool is that?

Having gone through the process myself now, I feel confident that this is something anyone can do, and I personally can't wait to sit down and do more. But for now, I should probably get back to the editing.

Thanks again, Heather!

 

Stitch Magic Scarf

 

Stitch Magic: A Compendium of Techniques for Stitching Fabric Into Exciting New Forms and Fashions is one of the new books on STC Craft's spring list, and it's a wonderland of fabric manipulation--how to fold, twist, pleat, and pucker fabric, then stitch it down into the most mesmerizing creations. The first time I set eyes on the photos from Stitch Magic, I'll admit to being a bit intimidated, but once I started reading through the directions, I was shocked to discover that these techniques are actually quite simple to execute. Some may take a little time to create, but the looks you can acheive with these simple twists and turns are so incredible, the time spent is absolutely worth it.

 Stitch Magic is divided into nine sections by technique--cut shapes, folded shapes, pleating, pintucking, quilting, cording, hand-stitch marks, smocking, and special fabrics. Included in each section are directions for the technique, with lots of of ideas for varying it (all shown in photos), plus projects.

The technique that caught my eye first was cording, which is essentially done by laying a piece of cord on fabric, holding it in place, then stitching it down with a wide zigzag. You can swirl the cord to make a meandering trail, hold it down straight and narrow, or twist the cord every few inches to make a loop that hangs freely from the fabric (as shown on this pillowcase.) 

Last week I decided to use the cording technique to make a long scarf that I could wrap around my neck several times. Since I'm a knitter, too, I have a ton of stash yarn on hand. So I used some of my leftover yarn scraps for the cording, and I of course couldn't stop at just one color--I had to have blue, green, gold, light brown, and white.

 

One of my favorite features of the finished scarf is the white zigzag stitches on the reverse side (below). The cording beneath creates ridges on the back, and the white slanted stitches against the yellow provide glints of sheen and a bit of texture.

And here I am wearing the scarf  this weekend. While it may not be perfect springtime weather here in New York, I did manage to find some time yesterday to sit in the park and bare my arms in the sunshine. And with the scarf draped several times around my neck, I was nice and cozy, daydreaming of the leaves that will soon be on the trees.

As you can see, the fun of Stitch Magic is imagining what you can create with each technique. The book includes a number of projects to get your creative juices flowing, but it is also intended to inspire you to strike off on your own. You can add a little embellishment (along the hem of a skirt, perhaps?), or embark on a larger endeavor (wouldn't it be lovely to create an entire quilt top using this cording technique?) The choice, of course, is up to you!

To see a gallery of images from Stitch Magic, click here.