Category Archives: Book Sharing

Fabric and Fiction, Round 5

Time just buzzes by.  It is one year since I began hosting the Fabric & Fiction book group. Last June, while on vacation in Maine, I thought it would be fun to share a book and see what others thought of it. About five or six readers joined in and we mailed the book from one member to the next, including three fat quarters of fabric that were somehow relevant to the book. Since then we have read Vinegar Girl, Double Bind, and Open House. Currently The Book of Bright Ideas is in route to various readers. It has really been a fun way to build community, enjoy a fun book, and give and receive fabric. As the book is received and read by the members of the group, each person writes a short note about their opinion of the book and then sends it to the next person along with three new fat quarters.

Today marks the beginning of the next book share.  This summer we will share The Hypnotist’s Love Story, by Liane Moriarty. Ms. Moriarty is a prolific auther who has written a number of really good books.  Last summer I read What Alice Forgot and it was excellent.  Liane also wrote Big Little Lies which I haven’t read yet. I am on the waiting list for it at the library though.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story is about a woman who is a professional hypnotherapist who, until now, has not had many successful relationships with men. She meets Patrick, a widower with a young son, and feels like this might be ‘the one’ until she learns of a woman who stalks him constantly. I won’t tell you anymore but to say this is a really good book. I loved the characters, the setting, and the bits of information about hypnotherapy the author tucks into the story. The plot has a suspenseful element to it, making it quite hard to put down. It is a fun summer read and I hope you will enjoy it!

The first six readers to sign up via the comments are in.  As much as I hate to do this, I am limiting this round to readers in the US. We have been sharing within Canada and the UK but it is expensive and shipping out of the country really slows the book down. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone.

Before I close, I want to share the fat quarters I have received through the Fabric and Fiction groups.  I think this photo shows the fabric received from the first two books. The second two books have not completed the rotation completely so I don’t  have the books back yet.  I love this mix and I hope to add to it as we go.  When I have enough I will make a quilt just for me and it will contain fabric from all sorts of quilty friends!!

This group of fabric, sent to me by Rhonda of Rhonda’s Ramblings was a total surprise. She sent it as a thank you for organizing these reading circles. What a sweet gesture and a wonderful treat to open!!

I added the two gray and pink fat quarters to the collection for my quilt. The other two, the ducks and the vintage kitchen piece, will be used for other projects. I love all of them!

If you are interested in joining the summer group, please let me know in the comments!  Also, there is still plenty of time to join in the Summer Sewalong. We will be making a cute shirt with a very simple pattern.  Click here to read the details.

Fiction and Fabric, Round 4

With the beginning of Spring this week, I want to introduce the book we will be sharing for this round of Fiction and Fabric.  I have really enjoyed each of these book sharing events. Just in case you haven’t participated, you can read more about them here and here.  In a nutshell, I select a book that I would like to share. Those interested sign up (very quickly) in the comments. We then start reading it (the same copy) one after the other. I send the book with three fat quarters of fabric that I tie to the book in some way to the first person. Once that person has read the book, she makes a little note in the front cover saying what she liked (or didn’t like) about the book and sends it to the next person with three fat quarters that she chooses, again based on the book.

It has been great fun to hear the thoughts of the other readers as well as seeing what fabric they send.  Beginning with this round, if you are on Instagram, please share a picture of the book and the fat quarters you receive.  Let’s tag it #fictionandfabric. I don’t always get to see the other fabrics people select and it would be nice to see the different choices.  Remember that if you sign up, please don’t keep the book for too long – try to read it within three weeks and have it sent off to the next reader. If you choose “media mail” for shipping it is much less expensive (though it may take a bit longer to arrive). For this round, I am only opening it to readers in the US. We have had people in the UK and Canada participating but the book takes such a long time to get there and it is fairly expensive for the person that has to mail it out of the country as well as the international reader when she mails it back into the states.  I am sorry about this.  If anyone has suggestions on making it more feasible, please let me know in the comments.

More about the book!! I first read The Book of Bright Ideas when it was loaned to me by my good friend, and fellow book lover, MaryAnn.  We meet for coffee each month (we used to work together) and often bring a book we think the other might enjoy.  I loved the book. It is a coming of age story set in small town USA and told  from the perspective of a young girl. She is living in a fairly dysfunctional family when two sisters move into town.  They are free spirits with a very different approach to life. The story follows the friendship of the two young girls, Button and Winnalee, as well as the relationship that develops between older sister, Freeda, Button’s mother, and Aunt Verdella. The story is set in the 1960’s when women were becoming a bit more independent and wanting to experience more in life. As with many good stories, the ending took me by surprise. I read this one quickly because it held my interest throughout.

This is the first book I have read by Sandra Kring. Ms, Kring resides in northern Wisconsin and this is her second novel to be published. She tells us that the idea came to her as she watched two young girls playing dress up and she began to think about the importance of that first close friendship made between two people. From there the character of Button evolved and told the story of how this happened to her one summer. There is a sequel to this book, A Life of Bright Ideas, in which Sandra brings Button and Winnalee back together two years later as eighteen year old young women living in the 1970’s. I haven’t yet read it but I plan to. When the first book ended, I was left wanting to know what becomes of these two little girls. Luckily, I will be able to read about it. 🙂

I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.  Sign up in the comments, first come first served. The group is limited to six people or it takes too long for the book to make its way through the group. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Sign ups are closed. We will do another round of Fiction and Fabric in June!

Winter Bookshare

Who is ready for another book share? The summer book, Vinegar Girl, has made it’s way home to me. The Fall book, The Double Bind, has reached the last reader in the group and should be on it’s way home to me soon. I think that means it is time for the third round!

If you aren’t familiar with this activity, I select a book that I have read and think people will enjoy. If interested, you sign up by leaving a comment (first come, first served) and we share the book. I mail it off to the first person on the list with three fat quarters that I relate back to the book in some fashion. Once that person is done reading it, a note is written in the front cover of the book for others to read. We usually just share a couple of sentences describing our thoughts about the book and then forward it on with a new set of fat quarters for the next person to enjoy. This has been a lot of fun and I enjoy hearing other’s opinions of the book.

For this round, I selected a book by Elizabeth Berg. She is one of my very favorite authors. A prolific author, Ms. Berg has never disappointed me. I believe I have read all of her books except for the  most recent one. (Only because it hasn’t been available at the library when I have checked!)  The book I selected, Open House, is wonderful. So much so, that this is the second time I read it. This novel is about a woman dealing with divorce. It is a heartwarming story of the process that the main character, Samantha, goes through as she grieves the dissolution of her marriage and figures out how to heal and become whole again. One thing she does is open her home to boarders so that she can afford to stay in her house.

Elizabeth Berg has the ability to develop characters that the reader easily relates to. I usually come to love the protagonist and almost always feel just a little sad when the book comes to an end. Berg writes about real people dealing with real life situations. Her stories are not deep or complicated but they are genuine. In this book, she does a good job of developing the secondary characters (the boarders and Samantha’s friends) and I enjoyed each of them. My only criticism is that the happy ending for Sam might have been better served if it hadn’t involved a man. She got to the other side of her divorce a much stronger person and not just because of her new relationship. This is a quick read and one that I am happy to share. This book is not a long one which will be good for the group. It takes a while to get the book to each reader so I thought it might be nice to choose a book that was on the shorter side.

Ope House  is an older book which was published in 2000.   I find it interesting that this was actually Berg’s first novel. After writing it, she decided she didn’t like it and went on to write another one. Later she pulled it out and worked it over, publishing it as Open House. It is often the case that we make something and feel disappointed in it, only to shove it back in the closet somewhere. Then we bring it back out another time, change it up a bit, and give it new life.  There is usually value in our work – it just doesn’t always become apparent at the very beginning.

Books are such a great escape for me. Ray and I both read quite a bit and I am pleased that our children enjoy reading as well. Here is a picture of Julia a few years back.  I found her in her room, looking over her stash of books and somehow she ended up balancing a stack of them on her legs. It made me smile to see this! (Granted, the photo isn’t the greatest quality – I snapped it with my phone.)

 

I will be out of touch for a week or so. My son is getting married next weekend. We are traveling to Toronto,Ontario for the wedding. Things will be back to normal in a week or ten days. Until then, be creative and make something you love. 🙂

Post Update: sign ups for this book share are closed- Sorry to disappoint anyone. Let me know if you wanted in and I will give you a heads up when I post the book for the Spring Book Share.

A Weekly Update

This week I have continued to work on the challenges set forth in Amanda Jean Nyberg’s lesson for the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club.  She suggested a few ideas for creating fabric pulls; not so much to create an actual project, rather just to go through the exercise of gathering fabrics for a certain element. This has been a lot of fun, not as easy as one would think, and a total mess making experience in the sewing room!

For one pull, I selected two pieces of fabric and pulled a selection that would work with them. This is the fabric I selected as the basis.

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Both of these fat quarters are Dear Stella prints. I bought them a long while back and they sit, along with so many others, waiting to be used. For the initial pull, I just quickly selected pieces of yardage or larger scraps  in grays, blues and greens that might work with them.

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Next, I pulled some pinks and reds that complemented the fabric and added different scale and density to the mix.

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I also took a quick minute to put a grayscale filter on the pictures to check for value differences.

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Finally I just put them all together and took out those that were misfits. The Allison Glass text print was a red that leaned to orange. I wanted reds that leaned to pink.  The green floral print looked weird and the Henry Glass light blue print (with the keys on it) was the wrong shade. Ultimately, I kept these in the group.

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This would be a fun pull for a project, right?

Another idea from Amanda was to take a pretty photograph and develop a pull around it. I chose this picture from our peach tree last summer because there are a limited number of colors in it.

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I thought it would be a good challenge to work out a grouping with greens and orange to peachy tones. Here is the first pull.

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Working quickly, so as not to overthink it, I removed both the brightest green and the green/yellow check – both shades were wrong. That left this set of five greens.

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Next I pulled the from the orange, yellow and peach grouping, leaving these.

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All three of the brown fabrics were kept, making this the final pull.

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This is a good pull of cohesive color, different values and large to small scale fabrics. It was very easy to sort through, leaving me convinced that it just takes practice. I doubt myself when I am putting colors together but these little exercises have really been helpful. I think the second pull is more interesting than the first. What could be added to the first one to make it more exciting??

Playtime is over and I forced myself to put all of these pieces back where they belong and get back to the sewing machine. It was fun though and an easy task to do while I endured a wicked cold that Julia so lovingly shared with her mama.

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A few more quick things… I want to share what I think is a really cool event that is coming up next week. Mari, of Academic Quilter is holding a Gratitude Sale. She has decided to do a huge destash (after recently moving, she unpacked her quilting stash and realized there are lots of pieces of fabric that she doesn’t want or need, as well as quilting books and notions). Rather than do a destash sale on IG, she wants to hold a “sale” where the buyer selects the items they are interested in, contributes to a charity and once Mari sees the receipt, she will ship off the fabric. I think this is hugely generous on Mari’s part. She has a list of three very deserving charities for you to choose from. She asks that the buyer pay for the shipping which won’t be terribly expensive with the use of the flat rate envelopes that the post office offers. If you think about it, purchasing fabric in this fashion has now made it a tax deductible event. It’s absolutely a win-win. Mari’s sewing room will be less chaotic, your stash will grow, charities will be supported, and you have another tax deduction come April 15th. I can’t find a problem in any of it! Check out Mari’s sale, running for the duration of next week! See you there. 🙂

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If you want an idea for any book lover on your Christmas list, I just read the sweetest book.

Provided to me for review by Blogging for Books, I read through this book in an enjoyable afternoon. Light and interesting, this book takes approximately 50 sayings from various cultures and explains them to the reader. Ella Sanders, the author of the book, does an excellent job of tying the phrases to a similar phrasing used in the English language. It was entertaining to get this small glimpse into other culture’s idioms and colloquialisms and gave me a bit of insight into what that culture values as important. She chose a collection of phrases and proverbs that are sometimes humorous and always very descriptive. Where possible,Sanders gives a bit of history around how the saying came to be. I think this is an excellent book to gift to a lover of language and vernacular. The illustrations are adorable and the brevity of each page (there is a different colloquialism on each page) makes it a fun book for the coffee table.

Another book I just finished is The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.  I picked up a copy at the thrift store and it grabbed me from the very beginning. Have you read this? It was a thriller that is along the lines of Gone Girl. Crazy good and on the dark side, this was a gripping read. Just a suggestion if you are in need of a suspenseful, somewhat twisted, read. It has been made into a movie which was just released. I haven’t seen it yet though.

Linking to Lorna at Let’s Bee Social today as well as a few others. Find the URL’s at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Quilt Retreat and a Book Review

Remember two years ago when I went on a quilt retreat in Downieville and ended up buying a house? (You can read about that here.)  Well, this weekend was the Downieville quilt retreat for 2016. I had such a great time. When I was packing up and getting ready for the retreat, I was somewhat hesitant because I was not totally looking forward to the classes I signed up for. But that hesitance was all for naught. The weekend was wonderful and both classes so much fun.

Friday I took a class called Reverse Applique. I thought that it was to be a class on traditional reverse applique where the shape is cut from the top fabric, edges are turned under and the second fabric applied underneath the first (showing through the shape that was cut.)  Nope, this class was really a basic applique class but the images were sliced up a bit and stitched back together to show a negative image against the positive. I chose to make a snowflake theme. (There were several to choose from.)  These are really pretty though.

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The process was the basic trace, fuse, and applique. However this was the first time I used a clear polymer thread. Yikes – that was a strange experience.  While my sewing machine was ok with it, my eyes were not!  It was so hard to see what I was doing. There were so many little curves to work around. Once I had them appliqued, we split each one in half and sewed the half triangle to its opposite.

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I am in the process of picking the stabilizer off the backs so I can square these and put them together. I think it will hang up at Downieville. The colors are nice for the living room.

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Friday night most of us met for dinner at the local Mexican restaurant. This is a tiny guild which makes for a small retreat. I like that though because it is easy to get to know the others. There was a string band playing music and we had dinner on the deck. Very relaxing.

Saturday’s class was a paper piecing project. This was the one I was nervous about. I have only paper pieced one block. While it wasn’t awful, it was tricky for me. Remember my lack of spatial perception? That comes heavily into play with paper piecing.

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But what luck. I had the best teacher! She was so patient and even offered to rip out my (numerous) mistakes for me. I didn’t let her do that of course, but it was sweet of her to offer. She patiently explained and explained the process to me and finally it clicked!

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Everything about paper piecing is the polar opposite of how my mind works. Placing the fabric from behind, stitching above where you can’t really see the fabric, trimming up for the next piece – it is a trick for me to put that all together. But I think I’ve got it. At least I hope so. I was able to finish three of the six little Christmas trees for this project. (That took me a good five hours to accomplish.) It will be interesting to see if I can jump back in and get the other trees pieced without a whole lot of difficulty.

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I am excited to have learned this and hopefully with practice, it will become easier!

As with many quilt guilds, The Mountain Star Quilters do an Opportunity quilt each year. They tend to make somewhat traditional quilts and this year’s was just lovely. I actually joined in with the sewing and had fun making some of the blocks (I think they are Sawtooth Stars?) We raffled it off and the proceeds go to the scholarship fund for the local high school. I took a picture of just a portion because there were people visiting and it blocked part of the quilt but you get the idea. It is a queen size quilt though.

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Finally, I wanted to share a bit about a book I recently read. Blogging for Books provided a copy of Still Here, by Lara Vapnyar to me for review. Honestly, I didn’t like the book.

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I chose this book because I thought the plot was really relevant to today’s world. Now that people have such an online presence, there are decisions to be made about one’s on-line accounts, blogs, social media, photos etc once a person dies. For example, when people are writing wills and going through the estate planning process, it is now thought prudent to give someone authorization to deal with your on-line property. Who will close your Facebook account, deal with your blog site or Etsy shop? This is something to consider and (obviously) is something that hasn’t had to be dealt with before the last 15 years or so.  I read the description of the book and thought that was to be part of the story.
However, this was not really the case. The story is that of four friends who are all in their late thirties to early forties and have come from Russia to live and work in the US. Honestly, the story moved incredibly slow. I had to force myself to pick it up and continue to read it. The characters are all a bit morose and their attitudes are quite negative as a rule. Each of the four are going through struggles, with career, marriage, parenting, losing their aging parents. I think it would be difficult to move from one country to another and strive to assimilate into the culture. But the four friends in this book are somewhat shallow minded and self obsessed. I kept hoping something would happen to change this. The ending is mostly positive and leaves the reader feeling that maybe these people are going to make some positive changes and possibly mature a bit.
The author does a decent job portraying (almost satirizing) people who are really steeped in today’s social media frenzy. The story is weak and left me feeling almost depressed. Not a great read.

I do think the subject of one’s on-line property is an interesting one. Have you thought about how you would want your accounts to be dealt with should something awful happen? Kind of morbid and uncomfortable, I know, but with the technology that has become such a large part of our world, it is a subject that will be reckoned with.

Linking up with a few of my favorites. Check them out a the top of the page, under Link Ups.

 

Fall Book Share!

Hi Everyone! I want to introduce the book that will be used for the book share this fall. If you are unfamiliar this is how it works. Last July I wrote a quick review of a book titled Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler. Several readers signed up to then share this book. I sent it to the first person along with three fat quarters that were somehow reminiscent of something in the plot. That person then reads the book, jots a note or some thoughts in the front cover of the book and sends it on to the next person with three fat quarters of their choice, again somehow tying the fabric to the plot. It has been a lot of fun. The book has traveled from California to Wisconsin to Idaho and is currently on its way to the UK.

For the next book I am really excited to share The Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian. I just finished the book and it was a gripping, suspenseful read. I have read a number of books by Bohjalian and loved each one of them. He really gets into the subject matter, becoming very knowledgable before spinning the story for us. This particular book is based on the true story of Bob (Soupy) Campbell, a talented photograper who became homeless late in life. He died, leaving behind a collection of amazing photographs and negatives, many of people quite famous. He lived out the end of his life in subsidized housing which was found for him by COTS, a homeless shelter in Vermont.  Bohjalian is from Vermont, and wrote the story with a Vermont setting. He tells an excellent story of Laurel, a young woman who works at a shelter in Vermont called BEDS. Laurel was the victim of a horrid crime which has caused her to withdraw into herself and her work as a photographer and social worker at the shelter. The way that Bohjalian ties Laurel’s situation to Bobbie Crocker (the homeless man in the story) is genius.  Laurel’s and Bobbie’s stories are also entwined with the story of the Buchanan’s and Jay Gatsby, from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous tale, The Great Gatsby. The author uses a number of the photographs taken by real life photographer, Bob Campbell, in the book. This story is an excellent illustration of how little it takes for a ‘regular’ person to end up on the streets as well as a compelling look at mental illness. I highly recommend the book which was first published in 2007 and then spent a considerable bit of time on the New York Times bestseller list.

This book is all set to go. If you want to join in, share some fabric and my copy of this book, leave a comment.  The first five people to express their interest are in. When you comment, please leave me your email address and tell me if you are willing to ship internationally. That will help me create the route the book will take. When you receive the book, you have four weeks to finish it, jot down a little note and send it to the next reader with three fat quarters of your choice. I hope you will join in and share in this book and fabric adventure!

craftsy sept sale

Are you wondering what is going on over at Craftsy this weekend?  Sale on ALL classes – yep, all of them.  $19.99 each.  Check it out!

Note:  I am a Craftsy affiliate!  🙂

Guest Host – To Do Tuesday Link Up

This week I am helping out by hosting the To Do Tuesday Link Up.  This is a weekly link up that many quilters use to organize their time and better accomplish projects (both quilty and otherwise) during the week. Sometimes it is a matter of organizing and planning all of the other things life requires in order to carve out a bit of time in the sewing room. This link up is usually hosted by Christine over at Stitch ALL the Things.  She is a bit overwhelmed as she works on one house in Oregon and plans her transition back to another house in Arizona. Somehow I don’t think time in the sewing room is in the cards for her right now. In fact, I don’t know that a sewing room exists yet in her Oregon house!

Let’s see. There is always plenty to be done each week but here is the short list.

  1. Work on quilting and binding the vintage sheet patchwork quilt that I showed you on Sunday. I really want to get this one on the bed in my sewing room. It has such a summery feel to it and I don’t want to set it aside, finish quilting it on October and then not use it until next season. So, this is numero uno.
  2. Cut out another Washi dress.  In June I finished my first Washi dress and I love it. It is such a comfortable dress. I want to try making it with a piece of deep goldenrod yellow knit fabric that I have. I am almost certain that when finished, it will be akin to wearing jammies all day. The pattern is that comfy and made in a knit, it will be even more so.  At the very least, I hope to get it cut out. If I spend any time sewing it, so much the better.
  3. Pick out the book for the Fall Book Share here at Needle & Foot.  I recently wrote a review of Vinegar Girl and invited any interested readers to sign up to share the book this summer. There are six of us sharing Vinegar Girl. This is how it works – I sent off the book to the first person after writing a tiny blurb on the inside front cover of the book. I included three fat quarters of fabrics chosen because they are somehow related to the story. The person that received it has four weeks to read and then send it on with their opinion written in the book and three more fat quarters that they feel are related to the story. On and on it goes until the last person has it and returns it back to me.  I am happy with the response to this idea and will host it again beginning in September. I haven’t yet picked out the book but I better get going so I can read it first and then gather a group of readers for the next round. If anyone has a suggestion for a good (fiction) book I would love to hear about it. Leave ideas in the comments.

OK – that is it for this week. The quilting is a big one (literally, queen size) which will take most of my sewing time. How about you? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Need to get organized? Let us know what you have on your plate this week.

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Rules:

  1. Link up to this To-Do Tuesday blog post using the InLinkz linky below. Don’t forget: you can link up Instagram photos! The link up is open all week, and you can link any post for the week even if it’s written on the prior Sunday or Monday. It simply needs to be related to setting, working on, and/or completing your weekly goal(s).
  2. Try to visit at least one or two other blogs and leave a nice comment.


Home Sewn-Book Review

Just this morning I received a copy of Home Sewn, by Cassandra Ellis.  Until now, I have to say I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Ellis’ work. Looking at her blog and this book, it is clearly evident that she is a talented seamstress and has a gift for designing with clean lines and a contemporary look.


Just looking at the cover of Home Sewn makes me want to create something for my home.  It is inviting and doesn’t appear to contain projects that only the most experienced sewist would be able to manage.  Looking at my copy, you will note that I have flagged several pages already for projects that I want to try.


Reading through many of the projects included in this collection, I was impressed by the clear and concise instructions. Ellis must be a very good teacher because she knows what needs to be explained with each pattern. Another bonus is that the book contains gorgeous photos. Looking at the pictures, I am left with the feeling that Ellis’s house must be very peaceful and inviting.


I love the idea of making a log carrier such as the one pictured above. We have a wood burning fireplace and this would be a simple, fun project. When I was reading the instructions, I saw it called for waxed canvas. Not knowing anything about this type of canvas, I wondered where I would buy it. Ellis comes to the rescue. There is a comprehensive list of materials, online vendors and brick and mortar shops that carry items needed for projects in the book. Because Ms. Ellis is from the UK, the brick and mortar shops probably won’t work for me, here in California. But the online vendors are very helpful.

Some of the other pages I tagged were the pillowcases and bolster pillow. Additionally, a project I am interested in is this big, blocky quilt. While the pattern is very simple, it is nice to have the dimensions already calculated for me.


In complete honesty, I can’t say I liked each and every project. This is ok though. I doubt there is a single book where I would be drooling over every single idea. Some of Ellis’ projects are extremely simple (eg. making a cloth napkin). For a beginner, these instructions could be helpful but really, there must be a gazillion free tutorials on making cloth napkins on the Internet. Conversely, there are projects that seem quite difficult. An example is the Silk Roll-up Blinds. They looks like a project that is a bit more intense than what I am willing to attempt. 

Another issue I had was her frequent use of these shimmery silver and copper color leather fabrics. She talks about these at the beginning of the book, telling the reader to look past the shimmery fabrics and take note of the lines of the project. It was like she knew ahead of time that the look of those fabrics wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste. This left me wondering why she didn’t choose a fabric that might showcase the project better and be more to the average reader’s liking. 


The photo above shows some circular leather coasters. These were a huge turn-off for me. They reminded me of a simple summer-camp type of craft for children. Not to my taste at all.

Home Sewn is a beautiful book with several fun projects for both the beginner and the more experienced sewist. I look forward to putting it to use in the very near future.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review.

Summer Reading

One of the best things about vacation is the pleasure of reading. At home I do enjoy reading and I do read quite a bit but mostly in short periods of time, before bed or for just a few minutes in the afternoon. Being on vacation is indulgent, right? Good food, sleeping in, and for me, reading whenever the urge strikes. I have read two books during this trip to Maine. The first one I finished off during the first couple of days. The second one I am still reading though I have just a few pages left. When it ends, I will resort to the back-up books that I have on my iPad.

Here is my take on the first book. Written by one of my all time favorite authors, Anne Tyler, Vinegar Girl was just released this month. If I had to guess, I would say that I have read about 12 of the twenty-one books Anne Tyler has written. Tyler has been writing books since the 1970‘s and her stories tend to center on quirky, hard-working, middle class individuals. Her characters are almost always very relatable and invariably they amuse me no end. If you are not yet familiar with this author, here is a lovely interview with her (of which there really aren’t very many out there.) 

This story, while it isn’t my favorite of her works, did not disappoint me. It is written as a retelling of Shakespeare’s, Taming of the Shrew. Please don’t let that put you off. I am not a fan of Shakespeare, not even a little, tiny bit. I know the basics of the story of Petrucchio and Katherine, but that’s about it. Ms. Tyler has said she is not a fan of The Bard but agreed to write this book as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare program where many of Shakespeare’s books are being rewritten as contemporary novels. The main character in Vinegar Girl is Kate, a grumpy twenty-nine year old woman who lives at home caring for her eccentric scientist father and her ditzy fifteen year old sister. (Her mother died some time back.) During the day, she works at a local preschool as a teaching assistant, even though she clearly does not enjoy the children or the work.  Her father is a research scientist working on an autoimmune project with the help of his faithful research assistant, Pyotr. It turns out that Pyotr’s visa will soon expire and he worries that without Pyotr, his research cannot continue. The father and Pyotr plot to have Kate marry Pyotr so he can remain in the country.  I won’t give any further detail because this book is worth a read. Suffice it to say, the characters are likable and the story is amusing. I enjoyed the sentiment behind the title, Vinegar Girl, which is what Pyotr begins to call Kate. Is the story at all realistic? Well, no, but it is charming. As the story progresses, I became quite fond of Pyotr. At first, he seems to be a puppet, controlled by his puppet master, Kate’s father. As his relationship with Kate grows, he becomes stronger and much more likable. The immigration theme running throughout the story bothered me a bit. In our family, two of my nieces have married men that were in the States on visas. The amount of hassle and extensive documentation that had to happen to support their marriages was quite overwhelming. Reading about the couple of odd texts and cell phone pictures that they planned to use to document Kate’s and Pyotr’s relationship struck me as silly. I believe it was Tyler’s intent, that this show a lack of practical knowledge on the part of the professor and Pyotr. It struck a chord with me though after watching my neices’ lengthy process. The book is a very quick read and would likely be enjoyed by most. If you are looking for a deep, meaningful plot, this book might disappoint you. On the other hand, readers that enjoy a light, almost whimsical, book will be quite satisfied. 

Overall, I get a sense that Tyler wrote this book in support of the project but her heart wasn’t as invested in this story as it has been in prior books. Previous books of hers had a much meatier plot and the characters were far more developed. This book wasn’t ‘laugh out loud’ funny and many of her previous books definitely made me laugh aloud. Others were deeply touching and sometimes sad. 

Who would like to have a chance to read Vinegar Girl and let me know what you think? There is a fun book share going on within the quilting community on Instagram. I would love to give it a try here with interested readers. The way it would work is just tell me if you are interested by leaving me a comment. I will make a list of no more than six participants  (in the order the comments are received). I will mail the book to the first person on the list along with three fat quarters that are somehow related to the book (anything is more fun if fabric is involved!) I will also send along the address of the person that is scheduled to receive the book next. Each recipient has, at most, four weeks to read the book. At approximately 235 pages, it doesn’t take long to read. That person sends it on to the next reader with a few  fat quarters curated to the book. While you have the book, write a little note and sign it inside the front cover. That way I will have everyone’s impressions when the book finally makes its way back to me and other readers along the way will also get to see your thoughts on the book. In the interest of privacy, I won’t share all of the addresses with all of the participants. Rather, when a reader finishes the book, that person will email me for direction on where to send it next.  Hmmm… This leads me to think about international participants.  If you want to participate, leave a comment to that effect and also state whether you would be willing to ship the book and fat quarters internationally. Hopefully, I can work it out to schedule people in the correct order. That will have to be a work in progress, ok? The last reader will return the book to me. Sound like fun? Good, I hope you will join me!

As far as the book I am still reading, What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty, I will share more on it once I finish it. So far I am loving it though. 

Finally, as a disclaimer, was sent to me by Blogging for Books as a pre-release copy in return for my unbiased review.