Super Stitches Sewing Book Winner

Good morning everybody!  By random drawing…

Super Stitches Sewing Winning Number

…the winner of the Super Stitches Sewing book…

Super Stitches Sewing Book  - Crafty Staci

…is Beth, who said

I started sewing when I was still playing with Barbies – not sure how old I was but I had fun making my dolls clothes. I am teaching a little girl to sew, so this book would be handy!

Congratulations Beth!  I love that this book is going to help teach the next generation how to sew!

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Super Stitches Sewing Book Review and Giveaway

Super Stitches Sewing:  A Complete Guide to Machine-Sewing and Hand-Stitching Techniques by Nicole Vasbinder was provided to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own.

When I first received Super Stitches Sewing by Nicole Vasbinder for review, I’ll admit I didn’t think it would have much to offer me.  I’ve been sewing for a very long time, which by no means leaves me with nothing left to learn, but I figured I at least had stitches down – the ones I needed anyway.  I’m happy to say I underestimated this book.

Super Stitches Sewing Book Review and Giveaway - Crafty Staci 1

There are three main sections to this book:  Machine Stitches, Hand Stitches and Tools and Equipment. 

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The first section starts out with a basic straight stitch and what to do with it before progressing to more specialized stitches.  It covers buttonholes, buttons, stretch stitches, utility stitches and decorative stitches.  There’s a handy 3 spool difficulty scale on each one.  There are also explanations of what each is for, as all machines won’t have all the stitches shown available and you’ll need to be able to figure out an appropriate substitute.

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The hand-stitching section also begins with pretty basic stitches.  I was glad to see a blanket stitch here, because even after using it many times I can never seem to remember how to start.

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There were quite a few stitches I’m already familiar with or can’t see myself using, but if you’re new to hand-sewing there are many that will come in handy.

I love the way the whole needle section is laid out.  It’s very straight forward, with drawings of each type of needle and an explanation of what it’s used for.  Using the right needles really does make all the difference, both when you’re sewing on and machine and by hand.

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The thread and machine foot pages were a good review.  There may be feet described here that your machine doesn’t have, but it will give you a good idea if you should invest in a new one.

I’m not sure the sewing machine descriptions were necessary, as it’s all information that should be specific to your machine and would be found in the manual that came with it.  If you’re in the market for a machine, though, you might find a bit of useful information here.

I found several websites on the Further Reading page near the back that I’ll be checking out.  Don’t miss the Expert Tips sprinkled throughout.  There is some excellent advice there, like this little gem:

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Overall, this book is very well organized and clear about what it’s trying to teach.  It’s a good review for an experienced sewer, but the real target is the person just starting out or investing in his or her first sewing machine.  This would be a great book to keep close by for reference.

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Now for the exciting part – while there is some good info here for me, I feel like this book could be more effectively used by one of you, so I’m giving it away! 

To enter to win, leave a comment here telling me what year it was when you first started sewing and what that project was.  Leave a second message telling me somewhere you follow me outside of my blog (Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) for a second entry.  This particular giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Entries will be accepted until noon, Pacific time on Sunday, October 12, 2014, after which I will draw an entry at random and email the winner.  If I am unable to get a response from the winner by Wednesday, October 15th a new winner will be drawn.

Good luck!

Puffy Fabric Flowers

It probably goes without saying, but you know I’m going to say it anyway.  Weddings generally involve a lot of flowers.  Especially outdoor summer weddings.  We had flowers EVERYWHERE.  Real, fabric, burlap, whatever we could turn into a flower-ish shape, we did.  One of my favorites was the cute puffy fabric version we used on the sign I showed you last week.  Fortunately, with a few basic materials, they’re also a breeze to make.

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All you need is this pattern, some fabric, a little polyester stuffing and a big button.

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Cut out ten petals for each flower you intend to make.  Pin two petals with right sides of the fabric together.  Stitch around the curved edge, 1/4” from the raw edge, leaving the straight edge open.  Repeat for the other four petals.

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Turn the petals right side out and press.

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Add a small amount of stuffing to the inside of each petal.  You don’t want them stuffed tightly, just enough to give them a little fluff.

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Pinch a petal so the seams are touching each other at the bottom.  Using a needle and knotted thread, stitch through both seams. 

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Without knotting or cutting the thread, do the same with the next petal.  Repeat until all five petals are on the thread. 

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Stitch back through the first petal again, creating a loop.

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Pull the thread tightly to gather all the petals together.  Knot the thread, but don’t cut it.  Flatten all the raw edges together in the center and stitch through the center a few times to hold them in place.  You really just want to make sure they’ll be under your button.

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I really like the look of the split petal version.

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Stitch the button to the center.  You could also glue it, but I found stitching it through all the layers added to the dimension of the flower.

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Now you can sew or glue these to whatever needs a little puffy flower perk-up!

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Hot and Cold Pillowcase

I love Oregon, but I find this time of year a little frustrating.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things I love about fall, like apples, pumpkins and boots.  Oh, the boots.  But the inconsistency in the temperature drives me a little nuts.  One minute I’m freezing, the next I’m roasting.  When you live here, you learn to dress in layers.  But nighttime is a little harder to solve.  This project was made to help a friend in the hospital who wanted something soft by his face, but I think I’ve found an easy solution to my freezer/oven problem.

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This is a basic pillowcase, but the secret is using woven cotton fabric on one side and super-soft Minky, or other soft fleece, on the other.  If you’re too warm, flip it to the cotton side for instant cooling.  If you’re trying to warm up, the fleece is the side you want.

To make this, you’ll need 14” of woven cotton fabric, 14” of fleece, 12” of woven cotton for the cuff and 3” of woven cotton for the accent.  The fleece will probably be wider than the cotton (54” vs 42”), so you’ll need to cut it to the same size so each piece is 14 by 42”.

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Sew two of the 42” sides together with wrong sides together and a slightly less than 1/4” seam.  Turn the pieces so the right sides are together and press the seam on the cotton fabric side.  Stitch again with a slightly larger than 1/4” seam.

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What you should have at that point is a piece that measures 27” long and 42” wide with a French seam running down the middle.  Set that piece aside for a moment. 

Fold your 3” accent piece in half with wrong sides together and press.

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Take your cuff piece and lay it face up on your workspace.  Mine is a little deceiving here because I happened to find a piece that was printed with two different colors.  You could certainly piece two prints together if you’d like a different color on each side of your pillow, but what’s shown here is just one piece.

Lay the accent piece on top, lining up the raw edges.  As you can see on the right, they may not match up on the end.  That’s okay – we’ll deal with it shortly.

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Lay the cotton/fleece piece on top of that with the right side down and raw edge matching the others.  If you did piece the cuff, make sure to match up the seams of both pieces. 

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Starting from the bottom edge, carefully roll up the cotton/fleece until it’s past the center of the cuff but not all the way to the top edge.

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Fold the bottom edge of the cuff up and over the roll and match the raw edge to the raw edges at the top.  Pin in place.

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Stitch 1/4” from the raw edge all the way across.  Pull the roll from the inside out one end to turn everything right side out.

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I’d recommend checking your seam to make sure you caught all the layers in it before turning.  The fleece is a little slippery and you don’t want to end up with this hot mess.

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Cut off the accent, cuff and body to match the shortest of the three.

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Line up the edges with wrong sides together and stitch a scant 1/4” seam down the side and across the bottom.  I always go way under 1/4”, just make sure you’re catching both layers.

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Turn the pillowcase wrong side out.  Press the seam on the cotton side.  Stitch a bit over 1/4” from each edge.

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Turn the pillowcase right side out and press the seams one last time on the cotton side.

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I’m ready now, Autumn.  Bring it on.

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Quilt! Knit! Stitch!

It’s been a very long time since I attended a sewing show.  In fact, it’s probably been more than 10 years.  When I saw that Quilt! Knit! Stitch! was making it’s Portland debut, I decided maybe it was time to give it another go.

Quilt! Knit! Stitch!

I got my daughter on board with the Knit! part, but I was a little skeptical that the $10 per person entry fee, plus parking, was going to be worth it.  That seemed a little steep considering I knew it was going to be full of vendors also wanting a peek into my wallet.  I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.  We ended up spending over three hours there!

There were two sides to the show:  display pieces and vendors.  We started on the display side, which was set up like a museum.  The first thing we came to was a Community Garden.  It was a fabric tree covered in flowers made by attendees.  They offered to let us make some to add, but we were anxious to see what was ahead.

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There were some truly amazing works of art.  They started with those made of yarn, like this crochet piece from local Jo Hamilton, representing the city of Portland.

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This quilt, called Gathering Hearty Roses, was made by a group of four quilters from Japan who have been creating together for 20 years.  Aiko Miyata, Norimi Tashiro, Nobuko Kotani and Reiko Terui each made one of the hearts, then put them together.

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I couldn’t get a photo that would do justice to Scarlett’s Crimson by Philippa Naylor from the U.K.  She drafted the pattern, then used piecing, quilting and applique to create this beauty.  She was inspired by 1950’s couture ball gowns.

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I love the color and style of Indian Summer Sunset by Shirley Gisi from Colorado.

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Jane Sassaman was inspired to make Illinois Album by the rural areas of her own state.

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Cindy Hickok, from Texas, had several 3D pieces made with machine embroidery, but my favorite was See the U.S.A.

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Alice’s Kitchen by Miki Murakami of Japan was a real eye-catcher.

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We moved on to the vendor side, which seemed to go on forever.  One the first booths we stepped into remained one of our favorites.  We even went back to it at the end to buy a book and chat with the author, Kay MacKenzie.

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You can visit Kay at her book website and applique blog.  She had so many cute things, but the Studio sign, which is in the above book, is the first thing I want to make.

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There were a few trends we spotted while we shopped.  Wool felt projects were everywhere.  Bertie’s Year, from Bonnie Sullivan, was a particularly fun set of patterns.

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Another prevalent theme was super-tiny quilts.  It really made me want to give one a try.  Imagine how happy we were when we walked by the Moda Bakeshop booth and they handed us each of us a sweet pack of 2 1/2” squares!

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You know how much I love to rip out a seam, but after holding this seam ripper from Lumenaris in my hand, I had to have one.  This thing is the perfect size and weight.  I’ve already used it, and I’m very happy to add it to my tool box.

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Overall, Quilt! Knit! Stitch! was a fun afternoon.  My daughter was hoping for more knitting and crochet patterns, but she enjoyed admiring the yarn.  I’m hoping the show returns next year!

Inside Dress Bra Strap Anchors

This week I’d like to show you something I did for myself for my daughter’s wedding that made my day much smoother.  It seems like a small thing, but trust me, it was important.

Do your bra straps slide off your shoulders?  It seems like no matter what style of bra I buy, this happens to me.  It drives me crazy.  Then I bought a dress with little loops to attach the strap to the inside and it changed my life.  When I chose my mother-of-the-bride dress and it didn’t come with those magic loops, I knew immediately that I needed to add them.

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All this requires is some skinny twill tape or ribbon, 1/4 – 1/2” wide, and two small snaps. 

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Cut the twill tape to 3” long.  Fold one end over a couple of times and sew one side of the snap to it.

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Fold the other end under a couple of times and sew it to the inside of your garment with the snap side down.

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Sew the other side of the snap in the appropriate place on the garment so the snap sides will match.

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That’s really all there is to it.  Mine ended up in slightly different places on each side of my dress, but it doesn’t really matter as long as they can hook around the strap.

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With your garments on, slip the twill tape under the bra strap and snap in place.

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These tiny loops kept everything in its place all day long.  I had enough to think about, so that was a HUGE help.  I kinda want to do this to all my clothes!

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Book Review: Basic Black

I’m here today to share another book review courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.  They have provided me with the book, but the opinions are all my own.

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Happy Homemade Sew Chic and Stylish Skirts so far, and I loved things about all of them, but I’ve unintentionally saved the best for last.   I have lots of black clothes in my closet, so I was bound to find a few things here I liked, but I was pleasantly surprised at how many that turned out to be. 

Book Review Basic Black - Crafty Staci 1

This book was written by the talented Sato Watanabe.  It started as all the Tuttle books have so far – with photos of each finished garment.  Not that it has anything to do with the sewing aspect, but one thing I really liked about this book was the cheerfulness of the model.  With all of the garments being black, the happy expressions versus a typical starving model pose set a good tone.

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I had a hard time narrowing down which favorites I wanted to share with you, but the first one that stood out to me was the Dress with Stitched Skirt.  I love the look of white embroidery on black.

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While a good part of the book features cold weather items, like this Zip-Up Vest with High Neck…

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…there are also plenty of things for the warm season too, like this Whimsical Vest in Chiffon Lace.

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This High Neck Shirt with Three Quarter Length Sleeves would be great for that transition from summer to fall.

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I love the neckline on this Flannel Short Coat. 

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I haven’t made anything from this book yet, but it seems like there’s a pretty broad range of skill levels required for the different projects.  There is a page detailing the different tools needed, as you might find in a book for beginners.  There are many projects with only a small number of pieces to cut out and one page of instructions, like this Asymmetrical Blouse with Tape Trim.

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But there are also a few more complex projects for those who’d like to stretch their wings, like this Seersucker Shirt with Collar, which requires several pieces and has three pages of instructions.

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The patterns come in XS, S, M and L and need to be traced onto drafting paper or pattern tissue to use, as they’re overlapped on the pattern page included.  If you wonder why they do this, here is what 26 ordinary sewing patterns look like.

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Compare that to this book, with it’s skinny envelope in the back.  Makes sense, right?

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My thanks to Tuttle Publishing for asking me to review their books.  It was a real pleasure!

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Late Summer Preview

It’s August, and last time I really felt like life wasn’t made of pure chaos it was April.  I was absent from this space for much of July, but now I’ve caught my breath and I’m ready to dive back in.  To start out, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into what you can expect coming up.

First of all, the wedding was fantastic, and I have so much to share with you!  For the foreseeable future, we’re going to have Wedding Wednesdays.  I have some tutorials for things my husband and I made, and even one from the bride and groom. I also want to show you some amazing stuff, like the ring bearer box my son spent months crafting.  Don’t worry, I’ll try to slip some non-wedding projects in between those Wednesdays.

Here’s a sneak peek from their fantastic photographer, Heather Fitch.

Codi and John

I have a couple of sewing books I’ll be reviewing soon.  Super Stitches Sewing by Nicole Vasbinder and Basic Black by Sato Watanabe have been patiently sitting next to my computer.

Basic Black and Super Stitches Sewing

I also have some exciting news to share with West Coast vacationers from my friends at Undercover Tourist.  Especially timely, since I’ll be among you next month!  You can expect a new Disney craft to add to my collection soon.

Disney Crafts on Crafty Staci

All of my customizable items have been returned to my Etsy shop, including the pencil coffee sleeve that can have your favorite teacher’s name hand-embroidered on it.

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So, there’s a bit of what you can look forward to in the coming months.  I hope you’ll join me!

Embellished Kitchen Towels

Now that my daughter’s bridal shower is over, I can show you what I made for her!  It’s not too difficult to shop for someone who has never had her own kitchen before, but I really wanted to give her something homemade and personal.  She chose her kitchen colors based on the colors of three appliances owned that would be sitting on the counter, but I love them together.

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I set out to find fabric based on her color scheme.  That proved to be more difficult than I expected, but I ended up finding a couple I liked together. 

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I made the apron based on a pattern I came up with last year.  I’ve decided every bridal shower I go to from now on will include one of these in the gift from me.  I added an extra pocket this time, with a little embroidery for the bride.

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And, of course, it’s reversible.

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I love these cotton kitchen towels.  Also known as tea towels, they’re a good size, absorbent and fun to decorate.  For the first one, I decided to add a strip of fabric overlapping the top edge of some eyelet lace.  It reminds me of some of her outfits when she was a little girl.  Sigh.

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For the next one, I just went with two simple pieces of fabric.  I wanted to make sure there was at least one that her fiancé might be willing to use.

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For the last towel I went a little fancier.  I cut seven 4” squares, then folded each corner to corner and pressed.

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Then I folded again to create this shape.

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I pinned them in place on the towel, overlapping to spread them evenly across the space. 

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Next I cut a piece of fabric the width of the towel plus 1/4” on each end, and 4” wide.  I turned all the edges under 1/4” and pressed.

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I stitched the strip on, overlapping the top of the triangles. 

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The turquoise is my favorite of the three, but it wasn’t an easy choice.  Fortunately, the bride loved them all!

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Book Review: Stylish Skirts

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, Tuttle Publishing contacted me and asked if I would review some of their sewing books here on my blog.  I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Happy Homemade:  Sew Chic and Happy Homemade:  Sew Chic Kids already, and today I’m here with Stylish Skirts.  The books were given to me by Tuttle, but the opinions here are completely my own.

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 1

I was really excited when Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe arrived in the mail.  I love skirts, and every year around this time I vow to wear more of them.  They also tend to be one of the easiest clothing items a seamstress can make, with so many options for variations.  This book arrived with 23 choices available, almost every one of them something I would wear. 

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I like the unique touches to classic styles, like this Slub Denim Wrap-Style Panel Skirt, with its extra bit of extended hem.

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Irregular hem skirts have been in style for a few years now, and this version just looks like someone should dance in it.

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The Tiered Look Frilled Skirt adds a twist to the usual tiered skirt by making the layers end at different lengths.

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I really like the white stripe coordinating with the white buttons on this one.

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There is quite a bit of embroidery in this book, which I’ve been loving lately.  Since this skirt is so easy to sew, the extra effort to add the embroidery isn’t much work.

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As far as the way the book is laid out, it’s very similar to the others I’ve reviewed from Tuttle.  It starts out with photos of each skirt on the same dress form, along with page numbers for the instructions.  I miss the personality of human models, but it did make me feel a bit less intimidated that I’m not the size 0 shown in the photos.

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The book includes several helpful pages for beginners or anyone needing a refresher, like this one that covers different closures.

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I really like the way they have diagramed the sewing instructions.  Like my cookbooks, my sewing books can’t have too many photos. 

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The one issue I have with this book is that you have to draft your own patterns.  I understand this is necessary because there’s no way 23 skirt patterns in a variety of sizes are going to fit in an envelope.  However, I was disappointed to find no “How to Draft a Pattern” page, and even with my 40+ years of sewing experience and help from my husband I couldn’t figure out how to make my favorite skirt.

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Granted, I don’t often draft clothing patterns, so this problem may be confined to me.  I did understand some of the other patterns.  My suggestion would be to make a muslin, especially for your first drafted pattern from this book.  I’m still hoping to figure it out, because I have a piece of fabric that would be perfect for that skirt.

The other thing I’d like to see is clearer fabric suggestions.  There are some, but if they were to add that and a page explaining pattern drafting, this book would be perfect.  Still, Stylish Skirts is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a skirt fan like I am!

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