23 November 2009

Book Review - Design & Make Fashion Bags & Purses by Christina Brodie

Offering a versatile selection of bag patterns, this fun introduction to bagmaking, ‘Design & Make Fashion Bags & Purses’ uses simple interpretations of fashionable shapes. The author states that most of the bags should be able to be completed in a weekend, and some in just several hours. They are relatively easy due to the logical construction methods.
An informative chapter on Materials and Techniques will get you on your way – advice is offered on woven, non-woven and knit fabrics, and on fusibles and stiffeners. Tools that you will require include scissors, hammer, fabric punch, pliers, pins and needles, markers, chalk, buckles, D-rings, and a sewing machine, among others.
The patterns, which include a feathered evening purse, comfy slouchy shoulder bag, backpack and pendant purse and more, need to be enlarged to full size from graphs, and there is a handy section on creating your own patterns too. Each project has step by step written and photographic instructions, which are easy to follow. Full lists of tools and supplies are given for each design. Softcover, 160pp. Julia

Book Review - Transparency in Textiles by Dawn Thorne

Textile manipulation hits a whole new level in this fabulous book. Remembering the title keyword – transparency – techniques featured cover the traditional, such as open, delicate felting and shadow work on sheer fabric, to the wild, such as the heat manipulation of plastics and the use of fibre optics.
Excitement pervades every page! Use Perspex, cellophane, acetate film, silk, jute, sisal along with plastic netting, Lutrador, drafting film, wire, metal mesh and so much more. Some tools will be required along with the standard textile requirements. They include a glue gun, wet-and-dry sandpaper, a heat gun, soldering iron, and cordless drill, amongst others.
The focus is to create translucency. Learn how to treat paper and fabric with wax and oils; how to use bonding agents, solubles and non solubles; how to apply fibre, thread and stitch.
The chapter on using transparent materials is amazing; a handbag is featured that is right up there in the must have list. A laminator appears to have a lot more uses than I knew it to have, and I would never have dreamed of embedding my artwork or best lace inside a resin block!
The inspiration of the text is superb, the photos tremendous, and the joy of this is that the whole collection seems ‘do-able’. Read this and you really will want to let your inner artist out! Hardcover, 128pp. Julia

Book Review - Fibreart Montage by Judith Baker Montano

There is a book plate preprinted inside the front cover of Judith Baker Montano’s new book ‘Fibreart Montage’. Use it – this is not one that you ever want to risk losing or not finding its way back home! The colours featured lavishly on every page are enough to have me reaching for an order form, let alone the amazing photography featured. There is just so much to learn fibreart!
Five minutes with this wonderful book and I am reaching for my needle, but then I want to grab my camera and replicate the page of window shutters - an item that I never before considered as art. Instead I scamper over to the computer, where I know that I have dozens of fire hydrant images (well, they look really different in other parts of the world, so a bizarre little hobby sprang up) that could just be an ideal focal subject.
It is a text that will have you sighing over beauty and revelling at the artist’s cleverness. There are chapters on getting started, crazy quilting, the collage journey, photography, silk dyeing, landscapes and seascapes, and under water. There are patterns, stitch guides and resource lists. There is so much to learn from this gifted lady, and it is easier due to the fabulous precise diagrams and really clear up close photos. The directions are easy to follow and digest – the whole book will have you nodding your head in agreement.
Judith is clearly a very generous teacher, because she has done what many others do not – photographed so well that you can actually see the intricately fine detail, enough to be able to accurately work from her inspiring montages. The work that will go into your own collage will be well worth the effort when you rejoice in the finished result! Spiral bound inside hardcover, 266pp. Julia .

22 November 2009

Book Review - Making Kimono and Japanese Clothes by Jenni Dobson

Given the ongoing popularity of and fascination for Oriental fabrics, I predict that many people will find Making Kimono and Japanese Clothes by Jenni Dobson a very interesting source book. The history of kimono is covered in the introduction, and I found myself being educated immediately. It is a fascinating subject, and this book makes for terrific reading, let alone pattern making and garment design.
Covered in detail, but most clearly, are sections on history of the garments, using the book and general sewing information, along with chapters on Japanese approach to design, decorative techniques, kimono, mompe, hippari and jimbei, waistcoats, hanten, haori, additional pieces such as obi, the patterns themselves, and Japanese historical periods.
Most importantly, the patterns are resizable, and are clearly graphed to make enlargement accurate and easy. Instructions are included for making clothing for people of all sizes, including men and children. You will be able create marvellous garments with embellishment such as appliqué, patchwork, sashiko, shibori and silk painting. The translated garments are pants, blouses, short coats, jackets, varying length styles of kimono and more. The directions are colourfully illustrated, well photographed, practical and easily understood. As the author is an accomplished dressmaker, quilter, teacher and writer, she has successfully catered to the beginner through to more advanced dressmakers. Softcover, 128pp. Julia.

10 November 2009

Take up the Challenge!

‘Take up the Challenge!’ I hear you all cry. Well, I am. Sandra May has just sent me a fine parcel full of useful stuff. It is so useful that it is frightening. It is languishing next to the sewing machine, and contains all the Skillbuilders I need to learn to Machine Quilt. There, I’ve used the words. Yes, I am going to learn to Machine Quilt. And it is scaring me rigid.
There is of course, an attached saga to this tale of woe. About fifteen (yes 15) long years ago, I wavered from the line of ‘I am a cross stitcher’, and made my first quilt top. It came about in Townsville, at the Vincent Neighbourhood House Craft Group. There was a plethora of interesting, vital, challenging, knowledgeable ladies attending this venue, gathered under ceiling fans, sewing wondrous creations. I watched, and nodded, and said, ‘No, I cross stitch.’ But then, Watercolour Rails happened. Ros, of Chook Shed fame, held up a masterpiece, and announced that it was the next workshop that she, Majella and Jenny were going to teach. That was it. I was in. I toddled off with a requirements list, and filled my first shoe box with fabric. Oh, the choices! Overwhelming. Thankfully, my friend Karen who had a brilliant eye for colour, and who had been at the patchwork game for some considerable time, escorted me on the shopping trip and led me in the right direction. Suddenly I was the proud owner of a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat, along with the aforementioned shoe box.
I loved the whole experience – the hues, varying textures, little gold flecks in fabric, pansies, mellow tones, overdyes, tone on tones, value finding, the soothing repetitiveness of method. Oh, the list could go on forever! It was a turning point in my life! So, I duly made this wonderful top, and I even got some of my points to match. Such pride. I went on over years to make many more tops, and became very skilled at turning them into doona covers (yes, those tips are mine!) Because children and cats throw up sometimes, and covers that are removable are very handy.
Then last year after purchasing a machine that could take a walking foot (always another good excuse), I decided that I really must be able to call myself a quilter, not just an avid collector of fabric (boy have I got some shoe boxes now!!) or a quilt topper / patchworker. Professional credibility and all that. So I whacked together (with extreme care) a flannel checkerboard patterned lap quilt, and faced the quilting challenge. ‘Just stitch in the ditch’, I thought. Well, what a disaster – an unmitigated muck up. Thank Goodness I had a superior quality Clover seam ripper with an ergonomic handle! Every stitch in that thing had to come out. And it took a lot longer to unpick than it did to sew. Several weeks of hockey training and games were spent sitting looking knowledgeable, and unpicking as fast as I could go. Then I looked even more superior, and tied the quilt. A beautiful job. But I still can’t call myself a proper quilter!!
The last bit to the story is that I dug out that inspirational quilt top, the luscious watercolour rails, and decided it had to be quilted, that it deserved better than residing in a crate. I took it to my current craft group, Capital Crafters, planning to be really really brave and quilt it on the quilting machine. I quailed. I balked at the challenge. My masterfully skilled friend Cathie came to the rescue, and did a superb job (after some team unpicking as I forgot to change the bobbin thread – whoops - red on teal did not look flash). The job is done, the top has grown up into quilt at last, and I say a huge thanks to Cathie for her patience, confidence and talent.
The bottom line is; I must learn to do this myself. For my own benefit. If I don’t face this challenge once and for all, I will regret it. Skillbuilder panel 1, and Skillbuilder Companion book, here I come. Stay tuned, and keep the seam ripper sharpened for me please. Julia

09 November 2009

Quilter's Academy

I took the book, Quilter’s Academy Vol. 1 – the Freshman Year, along to my quilting group last week, and it spent the morning circulating the room. I do not think it spent more than moments sitting idle...and surely that is the sign of a very engaging text. I know that in the first few pages of avid reading, I learned new methods, and more importantly, learned the reason why we do things the way we do! It is all very good being taught how to do something, but the why factor is vital too. Harriet Hargraves is the author of several books, and her daughter Carrie has joined her -they combine as a polished writing team. Volume 1 addresses workspace, tools, equipment, and fabric. The quilts featured (there are 11 beginner’s projects to work through) use strips and squares so that you can perfect your basic skills. In each pattern the basics of drafting are introduced, along with cutting, sewing, pressing, size and layout details. The book is presented in 9 classes, with at least 4 lessons to follow within each. It is not surprising that this has been my bedtime read this week, and given that it is the first instalment of A Skill-Building Course in Quiltmaking, comprising 6 volumes, I can confidently state that I will be giving all of them a home on my bookshelf! Julia.

01 November 2009

Pre-Cut Quilting Fabric Terminology

Baking terminology has invaded the quilting world, and the jargon can be a challenge to work out. The main point to remember is that Pre-cuts will usually be offered in matching colourways. The number of fabrics in the pack will be dictated by the fabric company. If there are a lesser number of prints in the range, they will double up on some. Once you have a reference list, you can confidently apply the terms to books and fabrics. Always read the fine print!
Jelly Roll & Bali Pop = a bundle of 2 ½ x 44in strips, usually 40 or more prints.
Turnover = a bundle of 6in triangles, usually 2 each of 40 or more prints.
Honey Bun & Sweet Roll = a bundle of 1 ½ x 44 inch strips, usually 40 or more prints.
Charming Jelly Cake = Charm Pack, Layer Cake and Jelly Roll bundled together.
Layer Cake = a bundle of 10 inch squares of fabric, usually 40 or more prints.
Twice the Charm = a bundle of 5 ½ x 22 inch pieces, usually around 15 pieces.
Dessert Roll = a bundle of 5 x 44 inch strips, usually 10 per pack.
AB Bundle = a bundle of fat quarters, usually 15 – 20 American sized.
Jelly Cake = Layer cake and Jelly Roll bundled together.
Charm Pack = a bundle of 5in squares, generally a quantity of 21 – 44.