The Magic Pattern Book Review


I love multi-function and time-saving shortcuts – and pattern books that offer variations on a single pattern are right up my alley. I was thrilled to receive a copy of The Magic Pattern Book: Sew 6 Patterns into 36 Different Styles! by Amy Barickman to review for my blog.

As the founder and designer of the pattern company Indygo Junction by Amy Barickman, Amy is a skilled patternmaker and has sold over 2 million patterns over the past 20 years (!). Amy’s new book is an indispensable guide to sewing an entire wardrobe and its accessories, based on only 6 patterns. It’s a unique DIY spin on sewing basics, which is perfect for what I do all the time!


The book has a detailed introduction that has a great discussion of basic sewing tools, sizing reference, and tips and techniques. (The section on Alterations is worth its weight in gold for a DIY’er since the ability to alter garments and patterns will allow you to work from any raw materials you may come across!)


The 6 patterns included in the book and accompany CD-ROM are a U-neck Tank Top, an A-line Skirt, a gathered-neck pull-on Dress, a collarless Cardigan, a standing neck lapped-front Coat, and an Accessory (3 hat styles, 1 scarf, and 2 drawstring bags. For each pattern, 6 variations (named after women) are included, that may lengthen or shorten the pattern, add design details, or alter the silhouette slightly.

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The instructions are illustrated with step-by-step hand-drawn illustrations. The alterations are quite simple and easy to follow – and just a small variation can create a totally different look in the finished piece!magicpatternbook_review6 magicpatternbook_review7

The book also includes a CD-ROM with patterns and templates for all the projects as well as a how to use the included patterns guide. This means you can start right away with your making!magicpatternbook_review8 magicpatternbook_review9

There are also notations for when you can used repurposed items or fabrics for the projects, as well as suggested fabrics for each design.

The level of the book seems geared to a less-experienced sewist, as there is a great deal of explanation and hand-holding along the way. (GREAT for those who are just graduating from beginning sewing to looking for more of a challenge!)

However, I personally am not a fan of the suggested fabrics or the model styling; though the photography is beautiful the styling choices seem somewhat dated. The fabric choices also leave something to be desired, but it does provide a starting point for your own ideas and choices – and highlights the versatility of a single pattern.


Overall: Book Review: The Sewists: DIY Projects from 20 Top Designer Makers

If you like multi-purpose patterns and adding and removing elements for the ultimate DIY take on your sewing, definitely try out the patterns in this book! The Magic Pattern Book is available on and major booksellers.

Check out The Magic Pattern Book Here



FTC Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the above book from Workman Publishing for review purposes. I have not been compensated for this post. The above opinions are my own. To read my full Disclosure Policy, click here.


Book Review: The Sewists: DIY Projects from 20 Top Designer-Makers

thesewists_book1I was recently sent a copy of the new book The Sewists: DIY Projects from 20 Top Designer-Makers by Josephine Perry to review for my blog. It’s a super-cute, handmade take on the DIY movement, chock-full of neat techniques and profiles of 20 makers.

The projects range from a handmade pincushion to a gathered waist skirt to an adorable stuffed monster plushie to a piece of embroidered jewelry.


Many of the projects use only a small amount of fabric, upcycled materials, or ecologically-sourced items. Textile arts (including textile printing, patchwork, applique, embroidery, screen printing, cross stitch, and hand-sewing) feature heavily in this book, so most of the projects are time- and labor-intensive.thesewists_book3The book truly focuses on the labor of love that is crafting, and features in-depth profiles of many designers and makers in the homemade movement. It’s fascinating to read everyone’s story, and one gains a greater respect for all of these artisans and their work.thesewists_book4 thesewists_book5There is a quaint charm to the projects, which harken back to your grandmother’s time, updated for today.thesewists_book6The book also includes a CD-ROM with patterns and templates for all the projects, which is extremely helpful since no tracing from awkward book pages is required and you can just dive in and start making!thesewists_book7

My only minor quibble with the book is that on the project step-by-step pages there is dearth of visual interest. One would think with these artisan studios full of inspirational items, it would not have been that much more difficult to include more images of their work on the tutorial pages, or at least some illustrations of stitchery, DIY supplies, or other layout extras that could have livened up these areas. However this is only a minor note; the rich introductions to each artist serve as an excellent backdrop to their painstaking projects.


Overall: 3needles

If you’re into trying out a range of different projects and techniques and enjoy handmade crafts, textile arts, and homespun charm, this book is definitely for you! The Sewists will be released on September 16, 2014, available on and major booksellers.

Preorder The Sewists: DIY Projects from 20 Top Designer-Makers Here


FTC Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the above book from Laurence King Publishing for review purposes. I have not been compensated for this post. The above opinions are my own. To read my full Disclosure Policy, click here.

Studs & Pearls Book Review & Giveaway

studsandpearls_book1Studs & Pearls : 30 Creative Projects for Customized Fashion is from the eponoymous blog Studs & Pearls by Kristen Nunez, founded in 2010. We’ve been reading each other’s blogs for quite some time, and we’ve been frequent commenters on each other’s projects. Kristen’s DIY’s are always fun, simple, and have major visual impact. With this book you can get a ton of ideas for how-to’s that can easily take your basics and jazz them up a notch.


The book covers DIY basics, like Tools and Supplies, and then dives straight into the projects. It includes 30 projects, with multiple variations on each so you can put your own spin on them.  studsandpearls_book5It covers a variety of techniques, including fabric dyeing, stamping, no-sew projects, trim embellishment, and painting.   studsandpearls_book8Plus the photography features real-life girls (like in street snaps) modeling the finished creations so you can get an idea of how the DIY’s will look when worn.studsandpearls_book3

Most of the projects are extremely easy so even beginners or kids/pre-teens can get in on the fun. It’s a great jumping-off point for those just getting started to DIY.studsandpearls_book6studsandpearls_book7It also includes many projects that speak to current trends, like the embellished sunglass case-turned-clutch trend, trim-detailed mini-skirts, tie-dye, embellished sunglasses, beanies, mixed media embroidery thread-and-chain bracelets, and cocktail rings. Many of the project use easily-available or unusual materials, so supplies are a cinch to come by. (There’s a directory of sources and where to buy in the back.)studsandpearls_book9

This statement clutch turned out so pretty with some well-placed painting!studsandpearls_book10An interesting take on the plastic tube bracelet.

studsandpearls_book11These cocktail rings from buttons are particularly pretty.studsandpearls_book12 studsandpearls_book13

Overall: It was nice to see all the variations on all of the projects. Many of the techniques are quite simple, which speak well to a young audience maybe not so familiar with DIY blogs and projects elsewhere. (There are 3 projects that do require a higher skill level, with dyeing and sewing a dress, but they stood out as somewhat incongruous next to the other projects.) It does provide inspiration and ideas on the variations, as well as styling tips, so it can be very useful in planning out your project. This would be a great book for a young teenager or someone who is just getting started to DIY.

Score: 3needles


One lucky winner will receive a copy of Studs & Pearls : 30 Creative Projects for Customized Fashion by Kristen Nunez.

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FTC Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Studs & Pearls for review from Laurence King Publishing. I am sponsoring the giveaway and shipping the item to the winner at my own expense. The above opinions are my own. To read my full Disclosure Policy, click here.

Must-Have Books for the DIY Home Decorator

undecorate-christiane-lemiI spotted this over on Joss & Main and thought to re-post here. Though I don’t share a lot about home decor here (I am planning to though, in the near future!), I figured books are easy-access, wonderful sources of inspiration and ideas. Decorate away, fellow DIY’ers!

Must-Have Books for the DIY Home Decorator

And you can always turn to Joss & Main for a chic, on-trend selection of curated home decor finds – it’s been such a source of inspiration to simply receive their newsletters in my inbox showcasing all sorts of possible rooms and design schemes…they always get my crafty cheapskate DIY-or-die mental wheels a-spinning!

Check Out Joss & Main Here (invite link)



Review: Bag: The Ultimate Fashion Accessory by Sue Huey and Susie Draffan

bagbook1The folks over at Laurence King Publishing generously sent me a copy of one of their latest books: Bag: The Ultimate Fashion Accessory by Sue Huey and Susie Draffman. It’s an absolutely gorgeous coffee table book in a pleasing mini size (so that it incidentally actually fits in your bag! ;-). The bag on the cover appears to be heat-embossed so the quilting seems to jump of the page; that and the gold foiling would make it beautiful just sitting out for all to see.


Inside the 208-page book are sumptuous, high-fashion photographs of the world’s most iconic bags. Chanel, Celine, Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Hermes, Jamin Puech: they’re all there, accompanied by quotes and insights about the designers and the arm candy itself.

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In addition there are interviews with the designers and design sketches: one of my favorite behind-the-scenes things to see that really brings the bags to life and conveys the designers’ intentions.

bagbook7bagbook6The book, though not exhaustive on the history of the handbag (and notably missing a mention of some other iconic brands like Prada and Furla for instance), is a fun and fashionable romp through some of the best accessories out there. If you’re looking for a small addition to your fashion library or coffee table book collection, I’d highly recommend this (if not solely for the chic Chanel piece on the cover!)bagbook1b

Check Out Bag: The Ultimate Fashion Accessory


FTC Disclosure: I was provided 1 copy of Bag: The Ultimate Fashion Accessory for review purposes from Laurence King Publishing. The above opinions are my own. To read my full Disclosure Policy, click here.