Essential Sewing Reference Tool: Review and Giveaway!

This giveaway is over.

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Congratulations to Laureen, the winner of the Essential Sewing Reference Giveaway!

When I started sewing for real, about five or six years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about what I was doing. I had never taken a class, never had a mother or grandmother that had taught me any sewing skills, and never really read or seen a book on how to sew. I just found some online tutorials for making simple skirts and pillowcase dresses and started there.

I wish this book had been available to me back then!

Essential Sewing Reference Tool review by

I’m so honored to know the author of the Essential Sewing Reference Tool, Carla Hegeman Crim, aka The Scientific Seamstress. She was a wonderful addition to the Sew Fab Pattern Sale last fall, and (you didn’t hear it here), but rumor has it she’s returning to the Spring Sale. She is a dynamo in the sewing world and to say that this book is a reference book does not do it justice!

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The Essential Sewing Reference Tool covers everything you need to know about sewing in 130 pages (PDF version). Never sewed a stitch in your life? This is the book for you! You say you’ve been sewing for years? This is for you too! I guarantee you will learn something new! For instance, I’ve been sewing for several years and I have never really paid any attention to thread weight… until now. Lookie there! There are numbers assigned to thread weight. How did I not know this?

Essential Sewing Reference Tool review and giveaway by

The photography in the Essential Sewing Reference Tool is top-notch; it’s just beautiful. It’s a visual guide as well as a reference guide, which is what makes it such a handy book to have, and trust me, you NEED this book. There is information on ways to finish seam allowances, every hem you can think of (including one I had never even heard of), how to make your own bias tape, and so much more. I particularly find the Garment Making and Sizing Chart sections to be very helpful!

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I can’t say enough great things about this book because if I told you all of the awesome things about it this post would go on forever and you would leave me.

Plus we’d never get around to the giveaway!

That’s right! I’m giving away one copy of the Essential Sewing Reference Tool. Just leave a comment for me telling me one sewing skill you’d like to improve and you’re entered! Don’t forget to include your email address so that I can contact you if you win.

*International winner will receive a PDF copy, Domestic winner will receive print copy.

Annie’s Penguin (sewn by Abby) and a Gingercake giveaway!

Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope that all of my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of laughter and lots of turkey and pumpkin pie.  Our family is in Chicago for the holiday, headed downtown today to see the decorated windows at Macy’s and The Christmas Market at Daly Plaza… a Christmas tradition every year that we are together in Chicago with my dad.  I know today is Black Friday, but rather than share a bunch of sales with you, I wanted to share about a sewing pattern that Abby and I are loving right now.

Virginia Lindsay and I have been acquainted with each other for about a year now through the Sew Fab Pattern Sale.  Virginia is the owner and designer for Gingercake Patterns, which I’m sure you recognize.  Gingercake has the most adorable collection of softie patterns, bags, and accessories.  Each one is cuter than the last and they all make such great gifts.  Virginia asked me if I would be a part of her Holiday Gifts Sewing Series and I couldn’t resist because it would give me a great excuse to make time to sew up one of her wonderful patterns.  That plan backfired (wonderfully) when Abby asked if she could sew the pattern.   

Abby is one of the most creative little girls that I have ever known, and she is always up for a mommy-daughter project.  I thought that one of the Gingercake patterns would be the perfect introduction to sewing for her.  She has played around a tiny bit on my machine, but has never completed a project on her own.  I figured ten years old was a great age to learn how to follow a pattern and sew up a project that she could call her own!  She chose Annie’s Penguin, a cute stuffed penguin pillow featuring a soft flannel body.

Annie's Penguin by Gingercake sewn by

After the boys were in bed one night we got to work.  I showed Abby how to cut out the pattern and follow the directions on the pattern for cutting on the fold.  I helped her pin the pattern to the fabric and she cut out the pieces herself.  

Annie's Penguin by Gingercake sewn by

By the way, I should mention that she chose the flannel herself, and I think it was the perfect choice.  This blue flowered flannel came from Joann Fabrics.

I have to once again confess my control issues.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop myself from taking over on the machine.  It was hard for me to allow her to do it herself because I would see her starting to go off course and I just wanted to jump in there and save it for her before it was too late and seams had to be ripped out.  I know that’s not how learning happens though and so I did my best to offer suggestions and support as she sewed.  I never want her to think that I don’t have confidence in her abilities.  That trust between a mother and daughter seems like such a fragile thing.

Annie's Penguin by Gingercake sewn by

I have to brag on my girl… she did such a great job on this pattern and that is partly due to what a great pattern it is.  Virginia has a knack for creating sewing patterns that are fun to sew.  Annie’s Penguin is such a great pattern for a beginner sewer like Abby.  She was SO VERY PROUD of herself when she had completed her penguin.  She sleeps with her penguin every single night now.  Having a successful experience with her first project has her excited about sewing more penguins for her Luke and Levi and her two younger cousins.  We are waiting on new Anne Kelle flannel to come in the mail for those.  I love that she will be making handmade gifts for family members this Christmas!  

Do you have children who are learning to sew?  What projects are they starting with?

Annie's Penguin sewn by

Annie's Penguin sewn by

 You can win the Annie’s Penguin PDF Pattern for your own pattern collection!  Just enter through the Rafflecopter widget below and I’ll pick a winner when it closes.  



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Simple Sewing For Baby (and a giveaway!)

Simple Sewing Book Review by

I have not the slightest clue how much time and work it takes to write a book, so I am over the moon excited for my friend Katie Lewis who has just published her first sewing book, Simple Sewing: 30 Fast and Easy Projects for Beginners.  If you don’t know Katie, she is the gal behind The Red Kitchen, super fun, enormously talented, and a blogging friend of mine.  If you bought the Fall 2013 Sew Fab Pattern Bundle then you have her Underpants pattern in your sewing pattern collection right now!  When Katie asked me to be a part of her book tour there was no other choice for me but to say “YES!”.  It just so happened that I had a nephew due when Katie asked me to join the tour, so I flipped right to the Baby section of Simple Sewing and chose a project.


What nephew doesn’t need a cozy little blanket from his auntie to snuggle with?  I’m secretly hoping that this becomes his very favorite.  You know, the one that gets dragged with him to the playground, gets peanut butter and jelly stains on it, and is tucked into bed with him every night.  This baby blanket that Katie has designed is made with flannel on one side and quilting cotton on the other, and there are so many adorable fabrics to choose from.

Simple Sewing Book Review by

The projects in Simple Sewing are perfectly suited for the beginner sewist, and the great thing about them is that they are totally practical projects that you’ll love to use or give.  They are quick and easy sews which make them great gifts when you’re in a pinch for time, but want to give something special.  I wish I had this book when I was first learning to sew, but I’m glad that I have it now.  It will definitely come in handy!

Simple Sewing Book Review by

Simple Sewing Book Review by

My sweet little nephew has arrived since I finished the blanket!  He hasn’t exactly told me but I think he likes it.  Let’s put it this way, he didn’t cry when I wrapped him up in it and I think I see a little smile in the top photo, don’t you?

Simple Sewing Book Review by

Simple Sewing Book Review by

Whether you are new to sewing or have been sewing for awhile, I think you’d love this book.  Simple Sewing has so much to keep you busy, and if you have a young daughter like I do, it’s the perfect resource for her if she is wanting to learn to sew too.  There are a few places that you can buy Simple Sewing.  You can find it at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books & Things.  You can also enter to win a copy below.  Don’t you love a good giveaway?  You can check out more Simple Sewing projects from An at Straight Grain and Jessica at Happy Together.

Thanks to Katie for having me on the tour!  I’m honored to be a small part of this journey.

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I received a free copy of Simple Sewing: 30 Fast and Easy Projects for Beginners to review for this book tour.  All opinions on the book and its contents are my own and are honest.