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 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 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 Näh 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 // InstagramThanks 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!