Friday, April 24

Interview with Retro Mama: a Scrap Happy Sewer

As you probably know by now, I love sewing with scraps. Even the ugliest of scraps can result in an interesting project. In her new book Scrap Happy Sewing Kim Kruzich turns small bits of fabric (just pretty ones!) into lovely items.

The projects are fresh and fun and when you read the book it's easy to imagine how your personal scrap stash can be turned into beautiful projects. I really want to make the scrappy Zig Zag Quilt. And if you are not a scrappy person: many of the projects won't even look very 'scrappy', if you simply use more coordinated fabrics. :)

The book is good for beginners, but the attractive projects will appeal to more experienced sewers too, as many of the patterns can be sewn up quite quickly. I interviewed Kim about her book and Scrappy Sewing.

What is your favourite project from the book and why?

Tough question! I would have to say it’s between the Simply Strippy Sewing Kit and the Pajama Bear Softies. The sewing kit is an easy project that gives you a lot of bang for your buck! Just a few thin strips of fabric look so striking when quilted and bound, and it is so much fun to be creative in decorating the inside pockets. But those bears are so silly and cute that I just love them to bits.

What favourite fabric scrap(s) did you use up until the last tiny bit? And do you even have any scraps left after writing this book?

I am a bit obsessed with Denyse Schmidt fabrics--there are several prints from her Hope Valley, Picnic, and Fairground lines that I have savored to the very last scrap. I also have a measuring tape print by American Jane that I manage to fit into almost every patchwork project that I make! I found a bunch of it on eBay years ago but I still treat it like a precious metal and try to make a little bit go a long way. There is a teal floral and cherries print from Lecien’s Old New line that I adore and wish I had bought a whole bolt, so I will be very careful about using what I have left!

I possibly should be a little embarrassed by how many scraps I still have after writing the book. I definitely dug into my scrap basket and used many of my oldest and most favorite fabrics, but I did get new prints specifically to use for the book, and so I have a bunch of new scraps as well!

How do you sort your scrap stash?

Until recently, I kept all my scraps stuffed in a giant pink tub under my cutting table! It was pretty overwhelming to attempt to find anything in there. But I have finally seen the light and I’m in the process of cutting leftover fabrics into strips that I store together by width in these great transparent boxes that I found. The strips are 1”, 1-1/2”, 2”, etc., so now whenever I want to do a scrappy project I can just pull out the right box and the fabrics are neatly stacked inside.

What are you working on right now?

I’m catching up on sewing projects for myself and friends and family, as well as sketching some new softies and dolls.

A big bag of scraps or a new bundle of fat quarters?

A new bundle of fat quarters! So many times I’ll see a fabric and think, “Ooh! That would make a perfect doll dress or bear pajamas,” so a fat quarter would ensure that I could make a doll or other toy out of it. I’ll take the bag of scraps, too, though, I am a firm believer that one can’t have too much fabric!


Thank you so much Kim for this fun interview! More peeks and projects from the book can be found on various blogs this month. You can follow Kim on her blog and find more patterns in her Etsy Store.

Scrap Happy Sewing is available now in book stores. And find a free sewing pattern for these lovely pleated pincushions on Stitch Craft Create!

Monday, April 20


Last Friday me and my friend Caroline went on a day trip to Amsterdam. It's a little under an hour by train from our hometown of Rotterdam. Our first stop was the Stedelijk Museum. At the moment they have a great Matisse exhibition on, called 'The Oasis of Matisse'.  In the afternoon we did a little shopping. We always visit the Kitsch Kitchen store  on the Rozengracht when we're in Amsterdam. They have lots of oilcloth and pretty, colourful homewares. Another favourite spot to shop is Exota/King Louie in the Hartenstraat, vintage and retro style clothing. I bought a Panda Bear dress in the sale :)

Birdblocks Quilt Shop, photo taken from their website as I forgot to take a photo...
We were on our way back to the train station, when we found a great little Quilt/Fabric store on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 99 called Birdblocks. Quilt shops over here tend to be fairly traditional (think 'beige' and 'batik') and, quite honestly, a bit scary to visit. Birdblocks on the other hand is a shop where you feel welcome. It has a great selection of mostly modern fabric designs. I picked up a few fat quarters: a versatile lettering print, super cute Tula Pink Deer fabric and Heather Ross' Unicorn fabric in green from the reprint of the 'Far Far Away' line. I mostly buy my fabric online (not much lately though!) but it's so nice to be able to see the colours and prints in real life before you buy. Especially in such a friendly place. I'll definitely try and visit Birdblocks again, next time I'm in Amsterdam!

Saturday, April 18

Embroidery Books from the Past

I've added a few older, second hand embroidery books to my collection in the last couple of weeks. I bought some vintage craft magazines too, which I will share in a separate post.

The book on the bottom of the stack is Anchor's '100 Embroidery Stitches'. A small but really useful book with clear diagrams.

Anchor is the name under which Coats sold, and still sell, their embroidery and craft threads. Originally there were two separate companies (Coats and Clark), but later they merged into one company. A lot of Anchor Embroidery books (on various subjects such as canvaswork and Spanish Blackwork) were published over the years. The copy I bought is probably similar to other editions they brought out. You can regularly find them on Ebay for just a few quid.

The DMC books (or rather: booklets) are very different in content. The one with the red cover has a good number of cross stitch designs of animals mostly. When I purchased it online I had mistaken it for an older DMC booklet, with border motifs and such from around Europe. So when the booklet arrived I was surprised to come across patterns of geese, ducklings and forest animals.

The insect repeat patterns are quite groovy though and I like the slightly kitschy stag too.

The other DMC booklet has an interesting variety of evenweave border designs. Both booklets do not have much information about the stitches and colours. You'd have to work straight from the pattern and photographed examples and just guess which colours to use. Or just choose your own which I prefer in most cases anyway. :)

P.S. A few things that I haven't got round to: putting some of my embroideries on sale in the shop and preparing a second blog post about the X and Plus Quilt (including a small tutorial). At the moment all of my sewing stuff and embroideries are packed up due to the rebuilding of the bath room so bear with me for a little longer! The whole house is covered in dust (it's EVERYWHERE) so I'm kind of glad my sewing supplies are safely packed away!

Friday, April 10

Winner, winner, chocolate dinner

Thank you for all the fabulous book recommendations you gave me on my Birthday Giveaway Post. If you are looking to add some books to your to-read list be sure to read the comments. I certainly have added quite a few to mine!

Without further ado: the randomly chosen winner of the chocolate & floss & pattern is Carley Biblin!
Congratulations Carley, I will try and contact you soon!

Friday, April 3

Birthday Giveaway!

I read that it's a good Hobbit custom to give away presents on your birthday.* Not that I'm a Hobbit, but the idea is lovely so I put together some goodies that you will hopefully like: a Princess & the Pea Iron on Embroidery Pattern, a big bar of yummy Dutch Tony Chocolonely Marshmallow/Pecan chocolate (and it's Fair Trade too so you don't have to feel guilty about eating it) and some floss. And remember: don't eat chocolate and then lick your floss, it's not a good idea.

Anyway, one of the presents I received today was a new e-reader (a Kobo Aura) and I would love to hear your book recommendations in the comments! At the moment I'm reading Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore which I really like so far.

So if you want to get the pattern, floss and chocolate in your mail box then please leave a comment before noon (Amsterdam time), 10th of April 2015   giveaway is closed, thank you for entering. winner will be announced shortly. and let me know your book recommendation! This give away is open to anyone, anywhere but please bear in mind that there must be some way for me to contact you if you are the lucky winner so please leave a trail to your blog, twitter, IG or an e-mail address.

Good luck everyone!

*Find lots of tips on how to properly celebrate your Birthday in Hobbit Style here.

Wednesday, March 25

Simply Shading Online Embroidery Workshop!

Often when I post a (progress) photo of one of my embroideries online I get comments like 'I wish I could embroider like that'. That inspired me to start writing and preparing my new workshop Simply Shading. It's aimed at embroiderers (I think even adventurous new embroiderers could join) who want to try their hand at shading but need a little push in the right direction. :) You will learn how to choose colours and shades and use them effectively.

The workshop starts on the 18th of June and will end 4 weeks later. A kit with fabric, needles, floss holders and the Flower & Bird iron-on pattern (finished embroidery pictured above) are included but thread is not included. The lessons will be available as downloadable PDFs and there will be a student and teacher only forum for feedback and questions. And... as my former Furry Nice students know I'm always happy to answer any questions you have via e-mail or on Instagram.

Shading is really a lot of fun and not incredibly complicated but it takes time, practice and patience. I look forward to tell you all about it in the workshop!

You can sign up for the workshop now and if you use the code EARLYBIRDY before the 3rd of April, you will receive a 10% discount. Yay! Hope to see you many of you in the workshop!

Monday, March 23

Little Lady Liberty or How I overcame my Fear of Sewing with Zippers

Alice Caroline has written a book with a bunch of beginner friendly patterns called Little Lady Liberty.* In her gorgeous online fabric store, Alice sells Liberty Fabric so it's no surprise where the inspiration for the book came from! I have a soft spot for Liberty Fabric, hoarding fat quarters (and smaller pieces too) for special projects. And sometimes I use them to embroider on too, although that can be a bit tricky. You may remember that I was lucky enough to attend a talk at Liberty two years ago which definitely increased my love for Liberty fabric design!

lots of eye candy in this book for fans of Liberty fabric!

This household doesn't have Little Ladies anymore (the youngest turns 10 in two weeks time) so no skirts and dolls to sew from the book for me but there are various projects that are very suitable for not-so-little-ladies too. There are pencilcases (that can easily double as craft pouch or make up bag), lamp shades, fabric baskets, cushions and floor pillows.

Now I'd like to think that I'm somewhat past the 'beginner' stage when it comes to sewing except for one thing: sewing with zippers. I have totally avoided it for the past 8 years.

So when I saw these quite simple looking pencil cases (with zipper) in Alice's book I decided in a moment of bravery to try the pattern and overcome my zipper-phobia.

I'm happy to report it worked! It was so much easier than I thought it would be. So many thanks to Alice for helping me with that. :) I used Liberty fabric obviously....

On the inside I used a fabric from my 30's reproduction stash. I think it goes brilliantly with the outer fabric of the pouch. As you can see the pencil case is turned into an embroidery/craft pouch. :)

You can find more posts about this book in the Little Lady Liberty blog hop list and there's a giveaway of the book too. On Alice's blog you will find lots of sewing inspiration.

*I received an e-book version of this book from the publisher, all opinions are my own, as always :)