Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sewing Happiness Winter Tour - and double giveaway!

Every now and then a crafty, internet event comes along that I am really happy to take part in.

A long time ago I was asked (or possibly I begged, let's not split hairs) to help pattern test for Sanae Ishida's upcoming book - Sewing Happiness


I'm not going to kid myself that I'm "introducing" Sanae to anyone. You already know who she is. You may have already seen her books, or followed the American launch for Sewing Happiness, or maybe you're a Secret Valentine Exchange devotee. In short, if you read my blog and don't know Sanae, you simply haven't been paying attention!

But here I am, and I'm super excited to take you inside the book, oh, and to give you the chance to win a copy for yourself!



Sewing Happiness is unique among craft books that I've seen to date, in that it is as much a biographical tale as it is an instructional sewing pattern book. In the same way that really good travel writers can tell a great story at the same time as making you desirous of travelling to wherever it was they found themselves, Sanae gives us the tale of how she arrived in sewing-land and makes us want to join her there.


Ok, so how she got there wasn't entirely pretty, but that's often the case with travel writing too, and I found her story to be very honest and quite gripping. I read the story parts of the book in one evening, curled up on the couch and the feeling was very much that of having a companion there, telling you their story.


What are these little cushions? This was my pattern test for Sanae, back when the book was in its infancy. They are little tooth fairy pillows, and my brief was to sew one and check the instructions for the others. Of course, as soon as I saw the patterns I couldn't decide which to make, so I made the four of them.


One of the over-riding tenets of Sanae's book is that things you make don't have to be perfect; so when her wolf looked a little like a fox, and quite a bit like a dog, it didn't get redesigned, it got renamed! The Dwox (dog/wolf/fox) tooth fairy pillow is my son's favourite, and kids totally get that kind of logic!

Of course I had to test them for an international audience, so out came the left-over-foreign-currency money bag:


The Australian 50cent coin was the only one that didn't fit, so with my brief note to Sanae that tightarse Aussie parents might be disappointed, my pattern test was complete and I eagerly awaited the book's completion...

The book is divided into four seasons (my tooth pillows are from the Summer chapter), and while the story shifts focus with the seasons so do the projects. I suspected I would enjoy reading Sanae's story, but I'll confess I was unsure about just how much I would use the patterns in the book. We've all been there, right? Thumbed a book, decided there's one or two projects of interest, but we could probably make them without guidance anyway, then put it back on the shelf...

Fast forward a year and Christmas was fast approaching. I had my new copy of the final book (and a spare for you! - hang in there) and I thought Sewing Happiness might give me some inspiration for making gifts.


As if to prove to myself that sometimes the seemingly simple project is exactly the one that you do want a pattern for I chose to make the Triangle Eco Bag (also a Summer project).

This is a delightful tote bag that's perfect for taking to the market. It's infinitely more stylish than those green supermarket branded things I carry and I think I need to make one for myself now! This was a gift for P's teacher - the first of the teachers to declare their love of purple which sent me scurrying to the fabric shop to fill a purple coloured hole in my stash.


The bag is cleverly folded and sewn from a rectangle. The maths is all laid out to give you the correct dimensions before adding seam allowances. That meant my fabric, which was slightly too narrow for the proposed bag size, could be easily measured and cut to produce a bag about 90% of the intended size.

The absence of a pattern sheet and strict rules works well here. Whatever your fabric allowance, it's easy to measure up the right rectangle to fold the bag and have it come together perfectly. My fabric had a horrid, plastick-y backing and so I simply sewed a lining face to face with the outer fabric, turned the rectangle through a small hole, then continued as per the instructions. The hemming allowance was already included so I didn't need to make any changes to my fabric dimensions in order to have my Eco bag lined.

Here it is next to the Genoa Tote:


While it's a simple concept, the bag really is lovely and P and I were both delighted with the gift.

A few other projects in  Sewing Happiness were starting to catch my eye, but I knew that my daughter would adore a felt flower crown...


I found the perfect little flower centre thingies at L'Uccello where I also bought a couple more squares of nice, wool felt. In the floral crown instructions (Fall chapter), Sanae says that the feel of wool felt is so lovely that the synthetic stuff is just never worth troubling with, and I completely agree.


This one is a hand sewing and glueing type of project. The examples in the book are stunning, but every floral crown will be different. The colours can be bright or subtle, the flowers sparse or thickly clustered. The pattern gives the petal and leaf shapes and then instructions on how to create the flowers and the twisted wire headband. The exact design is left entirely up to you, but the images are wonderful inspiration and could be copied if you want the perfectly tasteful versions shown.


I wish I'd taken a photo that showed the back of the crown as it's bare of flowers and I covered the wires in some leftover, metallic grey bias binding from my Koos jacket. It gives it a fabulous magic-twig appearance!

While I could recommend Sewing Happiness just as a pleasant tale to read, I can also put my hand on my heart and say that it is a really good craft book too. All of the projects would be achievable by people with some sewing experience, and most of them by people with absolutely none. But more importantly, the cynical page thumbing type (me, and maybe you?) will also find plenty of projects to make, to gift and to cherish.


Ok, So here's the thanks for your blogpost reading persistence, and a chance to win not just a signed copy of Sewing Happiness, but also a 45 Euro gift card from 1000Stoff  (seriously great fabric!)

Sewing Happiness - 2017 Winter Tour Giveaway

Enter to win using the Gleam widget above, and then check out all the other blog tour participants listed at the bottom of this post, as there will be multiple giveaways running throughout the Winter Tour.
...As you read that sentence, I'm off on vacation for the end of summer school holidays. I probably have a beer in one hand, sausage in bread in the other (it is Australia Day after all, barbecues are compulsory today) and my feet in the river. It's definitely not winter here. Sanae was going to call it her World Tour, but predictably, humility won over and she renamed it. I'm claiming it back for her. It's a World Blog Tour alright!


And because today is Australia Day I have a second giveaway of a copy of Sewing Happiness which will be posted from my place to a lucky Aus/NZ resident. If you're resident in this little bottom half of the world then you can enter both the international giveaway above and this next one as well.

Sewing Happiness - Downunder Bonus Giveaway

I've been very flattered to be in such great sewing company and I strongly encourage you to check out all the other Sewing Happiness tour participants.
January 23 - Ute + Lara
January 24 - An of StraightGrain // Instagram
January 25 - Trine of Groovy Baby and Mama  // Instagram
January 26 - Shelley of Bartacks and Singletrack // Instagram
January 30 - Annika of Nรคh Connection // Instagram
January 31 - Olu of Needle and Ted // Instagram
February 1 - Emi of Just Add Fabric // Instagram
February 2 - Eva of With Love - by Eva // Instagram
Thanks to Sanae for involving me in her book right from the beginning, it's a real gem, and to both Sanae and Lara (of 1000Stoff) for their generosity in making these great giveaways available. Good luck everyone!

83 comments:

  1. Ohh, I love those pillows and flower crown! Happy Australia Day and thanks for the extra book prize opportunity.

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    1. Hi anonymous person. Thanks for your comment, but you need to leave me a name, so I know who you are if you entered the giveaway. Cheers, and happy Australia Day!

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  2. Happy Australia Day! Did you make a green and gold crown for the occasion? Beautiful work!

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    1. Cheers KB. We've had a lovely day today. I feel a bit uncomfortable with austentatious (ha, bad pun) patriotism, but I have been extra smiley and said g'day to a lot of strangers today!

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  3. Such a great idea to incorporate the video! Ha, it does make the pillows look so much more complicated! Sneaky! ;) I need to make a flower crowns with my favorite 6yr old next, your version is gorgeous. And I love that your note about the currency made it in the book! I enjoyed reading your review, it's so nice to have you on the tour as well!

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    1. Thanks Ute, embedding the video was a last minute idea when I realised I had no chance of getting artful photos of the book itself in my house! Happy blog tour to you too.

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  4. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book. Love your bag and the photos!

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  5. I love those shopping bags, now we have to pay for plastic bags here in Wales stylish practical shopping totes are always welcome :-)

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    1. Having to pay is a great incentive to reduce plastic and this book is a great incentive to upgrade from ugly supermarket branded tote bags! Good luck!

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  6. Looks like an inspiring must-have-in-the-sewing-room book. Happy Australia day and it's also my birthday, therefore a good excuse to have twice the amount of beer and sausages. Cheers mate!

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    1. Yay! Happy birthday Deb! You could have a Robbie Burns day Australia Day Birthday sandwich party!

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  7. This post inspired me to immediately purchase the book. Thank you.

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    1. Ha ha Gale. For making me smile I hope you get to win a copy instead!

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  8. Every project looks amazing! I need a Dwox in my life. I'm excited to get my hands on this book!

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    1. I hope you do Emily. Thanks for the lovely comment.

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  9. Hehe. Cynical page-thumber, that's me! Though now I'm thinking that a triangle bag does seem like a step up from my falling-apart reusable bags...๐Ÿค”

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    1. :) I knew I wasn't alone. The triangle bag is perfect for the quick trip to the store for the few extra items while looking as stylish as possible!

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  10. Your daughter and her crown are lovely! What beautiful color choices!
    3dears (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Thank you! I'll admit I vetoed her hot pink, red and lilac choices. Mean mummy, I know. ๐Ÿ˜

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  11. Amazing. I am continuously blown away by each blog tour stop and this post made me want to go out and buy my own book :-). THANK YOU Shelley!! Hilarious, thorough, brilliant, and generous through and through (feeling slightly guilty about having asked you to participate while you're on vacay) - hat's off to you!!! xoxo

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    1. You are funny! It's been a delight to join in.

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  12. World Tour for sure! Thanks for such a terrific preview of Sewing Happiness:D

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  13. Shelley, you hit it out of the park with these projects! I read this book in one evening as well and I also made three projects: the floral crown, tooth fairy pillow and covered journal. I'd love to make the bag you made and the apron. It is a really good craft book (loved your hand on your heart bit!) as well as a great story! Beautiful job!❤

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    1. I might have to give this book the "cover to cover" treatment and make everything. Wanna join me?

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  14. Love the little pillows, so cute.

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  15. The tooth fairy pillows are awesome, but the crown really nails it!!!! I definetly need this book, so thanks for the great giveaway!
    Christina

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  16. Wow, I love the flower crown, so precious! And the bags too! :)

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    1. Thanks Diana, the flower crown is a pretty easy way to impress a little girl! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  17. Beautiful tooth pillows and crown wreath! I would love to make these for my little girl. Thanks for such a lovely review. Even if I don't win, I will be purchasing a copy of this!

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    1. Thanks Gretchen, what a lovely comment to leave. Good luck in the giveaway

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  18. Thank you so much for the opportunity to win this gorgeous book! I love your projects and was enchanted by the idea of a tooth fairy pillow. I know that the little people in my life hope the tooth fairy will leave the *smallest* (gold!) Australian coin, so the inconvenient 50 cent piece is probably redundant!? I look forward to introducing a dog/dingo/fox to our house....

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    1. Ha ha, yes I realised that I was probably being overly cautious even testing the fifty cents piece. I hope you get the chance to win the book and make a little pillow in time for the first lost tooth.

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  19. The Triangle Eco Bag gift looks great and much better than those green bags we all carry around. Oh that felt flower crown looks so pretty and your daughter now needs a new dress to wear with it. After seeing The origami pillows there might be more in this book that I might use.

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    1. Thanks Sharon (my fav blog reader!). She has suddenly grown and I think I will have to refill her wardrobe soon. I like the pillows too and I can see myself making more projects from the book than I would have expected.

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    2. And congratulations Sharon! You were drawn as the winner of the local bonus book giveaway! I've sent you an email.

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  20. Cute tooth fairy pillows and a handy bag, too. Thanks for the opportunity.

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  21. Beautiful projects and beautiful work on your part, Shelley. Those tooth pillows are so cute and the floral wreath is stunning. Triangle bags make great gifts, I reckon - I made something similar for my sister a while back and she uses it a lot. Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Thanks Marisa. I only ever make those kind of bags as gifts, but I really want one for me now. ๐Ÿคฃ

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  22. That is a beautiful crown! Love the other projects, too; looks like a great book overall. Thanks for the chance to win!

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    1. Thank you Miet, it is a lovely book, a real visual feast. Good luck

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  23. Yes it was certainly a HOT Australia day yesterday! A balmy 42 degrees Celsius!! Most of our day was spent indoors in the air con. We ventured outside to watch the local fireworks. Looks like a great book ☺

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    1. Ick! Not quite that hot where we were, but we did spend most of the day in the river/pool. Good luck in the giveaways

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  24. I love Sanae!!! I've been about a year without any sewing and I'd be so excited to do some of these projects. The origami pillows look amazing! Also,my little guy has just lost his first teeth and I lamely put some coins under his pillow that ended up falling on the floor before he woke up, so a tooth fairy pillow would definitely be my first priority!

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    1. Oh that's exactly the kind of thing I would do.... Then bump my head trying to retrieve the tooth and the kids would end up thinking the tooth fairy curses like a sailor! ๐Ÿ˜‚
      This would be a great book to help you rediscover your sewing mojo. Good luck.

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  25. I really like the pillows you made, very cute! And nice to see there's more in the book than the (amazing!) geometric pillows :D

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    1. But aren't they great ๐Ÿ˜‚ I think that's what my mum will be getting for Christmas next year!

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  26. Thank you so much for this giveaway! The book looks great and I love every project I have seen so far!
    Calypso

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  27. Love your floral crown and the origami bag! I've been following Sanae Ishida blog and all her projects are so interesting!

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    1. Oh yes, she can make a failed attempt at baking bread read like a fascinating tale! ๐Ÿ˜‚

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  28. I love those little pillows! Penguins are my favourite :) thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. A penguin pillow is kinda unique! Good luck.

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  29. Cute pillows, and I love that flower crown!

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  30. I had read your blog post on my phone but I hadn't taken the time to leave a reaction yet. So here I am again! I read your post all over again and I laughed as much as I did the first time. Your writing is so funny! And your projects are beautiful. I especially love the floral crown: it looks so sophisticated!

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    1. Awww, thanks! I'm looking forward to seeing all the other tour stops ๐Ÿ˜€

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  31. It's impossible to read this blog post and not want a copy of the book! Lovely projects, too :)

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    1. Ha ha, thanks Miriana. For that delightful comment you have my wish for winning the giveaway! ๐Ÿ˜

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  32. I'm not sure if this giveaway is available in the US? Whether it is or not, I think the book sounds very wonderful. I hope to be able to get a copy one day. Have fun sewing. angielovesgary

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    1. Absolutely! Sorry if I didn't make it clear: the main giveaway is international and is for a signed copy of the book and the 1000Stoff fabric voucher. The second giveaway is for a spare copy of the book shipping from my house - that giveaway is a bonus for the Aussies and Kiwis.
      Good luck.

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  33. Oh my! My innards just gave a little happy skip at the thought of "a year of simple projects for living well". These are delicious creations Shelley & I have some small people nearby the perfect age for such things.

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    1. What a great description of the Sewing Happiness feeling! Good luck in the giveaways

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  34. What lovely reviews everyone writes about the book (and Sanae!), it must truely be as good as it looks! Jo

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    1. I'm not one for BS Jo, so yep, I'd say it is that good. :)

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  35. YOur daughter looks so gorgeous with her crown :) I love those little tooth fairy cushions. We are on a watch for the first visit from the tooth fairy!! Exciting times :)

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  36. Thanks Jenya. Sounds like you need to whip up a little pillow stat.

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  37. Those pillows are just darling. I imagine my children would just love that.
    But tat floral crown is gorgeous. I am always a sucker for those.

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    1. Thanks Melissa, I confess I did try it on myself! :)

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  38. I agree - your review makes me really want to see the inside of this book! The projects look really fun.

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  39. The flower crown combined with the croquet dress- gorgeous.

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    1. THanks Helena, it was pure coincidence but a perfect match!

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  40. I really want this book..seems perfect..little palate clensing projects for when fitting garments is giving you the shits! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰

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    1. Oh that's exactly what it is! A sort of sewing amuse-bouche! (I wish I could give bonus giveaway entries for bad language ;) )

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  41. That crown is just gorgeous!! I know a little princess that would love one too...

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    1. It's a little girl winner for sure! Good luck

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