Kathie Sever and Bernadette Noll recently sent me a copy of their amazing new book, Make Stuff Together, and I’m today’s co-stop on their blog tour along with the lovely Rachel Hobson! Make Stuff Together has 24 projects to create as a family, with tons of encouraging, helpful advice on crafting with kids of all ages, attention spans, and skill levels.
Each project, as Diane pointed out in her review, is broken into three sections so there are natural stopping points and kids can take a break before diving back in the same afternoon. The emphasis is on recycled and reclaimed materials and meaningful, personalized projects, and Kathie and Bernadette offer some intriguing thoughts on sparking and supporting kids’ creativity without overwhelming them or taking over.
How did you two collaborate on the book? Did each of you create certain projects independently, or did you team up on most things as a pair/with families?
Bernadette: For pretty much all of the projects we came up with the list together – we knew we wanted to really stay focused on things that worked towards building family connection. Then Kathie would sew and I was sitting right there writing. Writing up the instructions as she called them out and writing the text as well. It was a really nice process and a good way too for us to make sure we kept from getting too sanctimonious. We’re both good about calling each other on that one!
How old are your kids now?
B: Kathie’s kids are 7 and 10 and mine are 13, 11, 8 and 4.
Wow, that’s a great range for doing all kinds of projects. I’d love to hear your suggestions on the ones that are the most accessible to younger kids – my daughter is 3 and loves to make things, but some of the more advanced projects are obviously further out for us.
B: I’d say the napkin rings would be a good one to do with littles. Or, you could do the flags as a toddler project as well and let your little one do the embellishment on the white fabric. And in some of the others, perhaps have her sit on your lap and do some of the sewing? That’s how my kids all started sewing – by starting first on my lap. And of course, any of the burlap projects are good because you can do the hand sewing on the burlap, which is a really simple fabric for littles.
Do each of you have a favorite project from the collection?
B: I love the appreciation banner. To me this is one tool that can really transform family dynamics. If we are getting too cranky or overwhelmed, the appreciations are a great way to turn that around. Also, if I feel I, or someone else, is getting too “poor me” the appreciations can really bring us to a whole new attitude. AND, I also like the appreciations because it can help me as a parent get more of what I actually do want.
Kathie: My CURRENT favorite project (I’ve had many over the couple years this has been coming to fruition) is the game board and caddy.
I always forget what an amazing tool simple board games and card games are for just being with your family. Summer reminds me of these simple pleasures – and about the evolution of my own parenting skills as I learn to sit with a frustrated child who is losing a game instead of making it a “teachable moment”… plus checkers and backgammon (a game that Bernadette introduced me to) are just damn fun.
My favorite has to be the lunch tote, a hiking-ready bag with lots of compartments and cool bits and pieces. It’s at the top of the dream-project list for when Pearl’s past the burlap and safety scissors stage – I think she would rock out with that one.
Thank you to Kathie and Bernadette for the interview, and be sure to head over to Rachel’s blog for a book giveaway today! Also, they have some cool events coming up, including this one right here in Southeast Portland:
Cafe Au Play Portland, OR July 19th 10:30-noon
Kathie’s heading to Portlandia with a little crafty book signing at Cafe Au Play. Which looks like an amazing family place! Play, craft, eat and childcare all in the same place? Heaven. And even heavenlier with Kathie there signing our book!
See you there! I’ll be the one in the black and white Ramonster dress, which I snapped up the first time I met Kathie (we were booth neighbors at a way-back craft fair in LA… I think 2005?).
I’m very happy to be today’s stop on the fabulous Block Party tour with an interview and giveaway! Block Party is a collaboration between co-authors Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejnieks, along with ten other quilters who did a monthly block swap by mail together, over the course of one beautiful year. The book shows each quilter’s concept, fabrics, and chosen pattern (or improvisational guidelines), from Dresden Plates to stripes, hexagons and confetti. Seeing first the wonderfully varied blocks and then the final quilts unfold is really cool.
I got to ask Alissa a few questions about their gorgeous book and hear a bit more about how it all came together!
How did the Block Party bee get started?
Kristen and I were the original hosts of the Block Party bee that we started after she emailed me asking if I’d like to co-host. We had both seen all of the virtual quilting bees popping up online so we were eager to take part in one ourselves. We figured starting one on our own was a good idea because that way we were able to pick the members and make sure we all had a similar quilting aesthetic.
Did you think it might become a book?
Not at first! We were a couple of months into our bee when Kristen emailed me again saying very casually that she thought there was a good book idea here… structuring the chapters around the months of the bee. I wholeheartedly agreed with her and said “Let’s do it!” We were then off and running with the idea and putting together a proposal.
That’s so cool! Had you met anyone in person, or was it all online?
None of the bee members had met before the bee. We are spread out all over the country. Since the bee and book have happened I’ve met quite a few of the members in person. It’s always so great to feel like a friendship isn’t starting from zero when you meet, but that you already know each other through your quilting, blogs and the fun times had in the bee!
And how did you and Kristen collaborate on the book project together since you live in different places?
Loads and loads of emails and gmail chats!! We also talked on the phone a lot but really, mostly we communicated a ton online. We divided the work up in two and just worked away, consulting with each other when we had questions, ideas or what have you. It really went quite smoothly considering we had never met each other in person! Now we’ve met a couple of times and we’re fast friends!
I really love Alissa’s work – here is one of her photos of a gorgeous baby boy quilt she made for a friend, which she graciously let me include in Modern Log Cabin Quilting as an example of random piecing in a very modern style.
And of course log cabins are dear to my heart (plus my birthday is in January), so her month’s quilt, “Once Around the Block” was an instant favorite!
All 12 quilters’ improvisational log cabin blocks draw the eye so beautifully, and Pearl Bracelet by Lizzy House is one of my favorite prints ever, especially in those gorgeous aqua and orange colorways from Red Letter Day (I’ve used both in a bunch of different projects, and have some precious pieces left in my stash). I love that she also included serene gray and white as elements of the whole lively color story, and the finished 25-block quilt is fantastic.
Her co-author, Kristen, created “Sliding By,” a gorgeous wonky Roman Stripe Quilt in a calm and sophisticated color palette. She included one of my favorite Hope Valley prints by Denyse Schmidt, a botanical pattern in the Piney Woods colorway (Denyse also wrote a lovely introduction for the book on quilting bees and community).
I asked Kristen if her quilt had made it to many picnics so far this summer…
Turns out my quilt was destined for somewhere super special instead – my bed! My husband’s constant complaint is that I have never made us a quilt, yet make quilts for everyone’s else babies. I chose the fabrics for this quilt with him in mind, thinking that I would need the help of fellow bee members to make a quilt large enough to fit a queen bed. I’ve always loved citron and grey together, and aqua seemed to fit right in. Luckily, he loves the final product!
Now – a giveaway! Stash has generously offered up a copy of Block Party to a reader here, so if you’d like to enter to win it, please leave a comment on this post by Friday, July 1 at midnight Pacific time, sharing what your favorite fabric to quilt or sew with lately is. I mentioned my beloved RLD Pearl Bracelet and Hope Valley prints, and I’d love to hear yours…
Thank you to Alissa and Kristen for the mini-interview and to Stash for the book to give away! You can follow along with the whole blog tour right here, and tomorrow’s post will be at Connecting Threads.
I’m today’s stop on the Girl’s World blog tour, following Melissa‘s lovely giveaway post yesterday over at Bolt Neighborhood (look for a post at Everything Etsy tomorrow, too!). Jennifer Paganelli’s colorful, cheerful new sewing book Girl’s World includes 21 projects for girls, sized in a generous range from XS (2-3) to XL (12-14) – all made in her signature Sis Boom fabrics.
I got a review copy from Chronicle about a month ago, and just a few days later, I met Dolin O’Shea, who works at the lovely Bobbin’s Nest Studio in the Bay Area. We were chatting during my Modern Log Cabin Quilting book event at the shop, and she mentioned that she collaborated with Jennifer to create all the graded patterns for Girl’s World! Taking another look at the nuts and bolts of the book after our conversation, I have to say that the patterns are so beautifully done and so professional – I was really impressed. An envelope at the front holds about a dozen sturdy folded sheets printed clearly and ready to cut or trace, with plenty of useful notes and markings.
Melissa made a striking Mary’s Fancy Sash Dress in a gorgeous fabric combination from Bolt (see her post yesterday for all the fabric details) that really shows the pattern itself off. There are plenty of photos of each design in the book, but they’re all in exuberant fabrics, modeled by excited little girls in colorful rooms, so I thought it was refreshing to see an understated take on one of these pretty dresses, too. (Photo by Melissa, thank you!)
I also thought about sewing a dress for Pearl (the Agnes Tunic is at the top of my list – I think she would like it the most of the collection, and it would definitely suit our cool, breezy PNW climate better than the cute strappy sundresses), but time is short around here for glory projects, so I made her a George the Puppy for now. He took me exactly one listening of Radiohead’s Kid A, from opening the book and cutting out the pattern to hand-sewing the last stitches on his little belly. I think he turned out super cute, but he was surprisingly hard to snap a good photo of.
I have my Housetop Quilt on the guest room bed right now, which is also the room where I usually cut fabric… so when I was thinking about what patterns to pair for George, I ended up choosing two favorite cross-hatch prints in shades of brown that also appear in the quilt I made two years ago. What can I say, I guess I like what I like!
You only need a quarter-yard of a main fabric and a remnant of a contrast one, and this project goes together very quickly and easily. Seam allowances are included in the patterns, and this one uses a 1/4″ seam (handy for me, I had a 1/4″ foot on my machine from my last piecing project so I didn’t even have to switch!). My only suggestion on what to watch is that I think clipping curves is a little challenging with such a narrow seam allowance (I’m used to doing it with garments that use a 1/2″ or 5/8″ SA). I think I’m going to be doing a few little hand-stitched repairs here and there where the clipping was more accidental nipping… but next time I’ll be a little more conservative with my Ginghers.
My only variations were top-stitching the ears for a little more sturdiness and definition, and hand-sewing on a grosgrain ribbon collar. I so wanted to add button eyes, but not while the baby is still a baby. Maybe I’ll update this little dude when both kids are decidedly out of the button-in-the-mouth phase.
After snapping some quick photos, I handed George over to Pearl, who immediately renamed him Mic-Mac and spirited him away to her lair of stuffed animals. She has been organizing all her animals into families lately which is super cute, and it looks like he will have a very good home with some other prized buddies. She has already requested “so many more Mic-Macs,” so I think I’ll be revisiting this pattern again soon! So I’ve already picked out two cheerful red and yellow feedsack prints (which happen to be two of the 60 patterns in my Modern Crosses) for the next puppy…
Thank you to Chronicle for the book and the chance to review it on the tour! I’ll be posting as part of Alissa Haight Carlton’s Block Party tour on Sunday, too, another book I totally love. See you then if not before…
Loved Amy and Kate’s book event for Terrarium Craft on Sunday – it was awesome to hear a bit more about the book and their collaboration in design + writing. Amy even made a big, gorgeous terrarium in a glass bowl as a demo, layering different sands to build the base and then adding some lovely succulents, moss, seashells, a crystal and an air plant to create this little world. And I got my book signed x2!
I haven’t had a magical couple of hours to terrarium everything in my path yet this week, but Pearl and I re-made two grizzled old succulent dish gardens with fresh new plants (our side yard is full of hens and chicks) and a few little animals. I followed Amy’s advice about direct watering to start off – the weathered aloe on the left was the only survivor from the original garden and it already looks much happier in a new configuration.
It turns out that when you collaborate on a dish garden with a three-year-old, a fine, gritty layer of potting soil on everything, including the kitchen floor, is the required final step. Oh well, it was super fun, and that’s what the broom is for.
After dipping a toe back in to this lovely world, I made a long-overdue terrarium date with Diane for next week! She just got her copy of Terrarium Craft too, so hopefully we can start off with a trip to Artemisia and go from there…
Speaking of craft books, just wanted to mention that now that I’m pretty much done promoting both of mine, I will be reviewing some great ones over the next few weeks – Girl’s World, Block Party, and Make Stuff Together, with some interviews and giveaways for good measure. In the meantime, I have a day trip to Astoria planned, another collaboration with Pearl (for a Father’s Day present this time), some new projects to sew, and some out-of-town visitors to entertain. And the return of the whale chalkboard dinner project, I have a serious backlog of weeks of dinners scribbled on yellow paper to copy over and snap photos of!
Last, a few things about books + reviews…
-I only write about books I like. If I don’t like a book, I don’t write about it.
-A lot of the books I write about are review copies sent to me by the publisher which I will be sure to mention in future posts. (I did buy Terrarium Craft and by the way, it’s still on a really great sale!)
-I don’t have an Amazon affiliate account, and have never earned a percentage of sales off links (and I’ve never had an ad yet on my blog) – this is a straight-up labor of love. Powell’s has been very good to me as a local writer – I still can’t even believe they put my name up on the marquee for my last event! So, as you may have noticed, I link to Powells.com for all of my book reviews/mentions. I don’t get a percentage or fee from them either, just love them and shop with them myself as often as I can (unless I am buying mysteries, and then I go to my favorite neighborhood store, Murder By The Book).
-And speaking of, thanks to everyone who has ever bought one of my books, or checked one out of the library, and taken a minute to let me know you liked it or made something from it. I really appreciate it!!
Hoping to see lots of Portland folks at the Etsy Craft Party/Quilts for Quake Survivors bee tomorrow! All the details are here and here, and I can’t wait to do some sewing and see our lovely community-made quilts on display at the museum…
Speaking of lovely things: it’s no secret that I am completely crazy about terrariums.
and my Star Wars Terrariums in World of Geekcraft are a true lifetime favorite project.
So I was beyond excited to snap up my own copy of Terrarium Craft after my reading at Powell’s on Sunday. (By the way, all the Timber Press books, including that one, are currently 30% off there – yay!)
It has some beautifully photographed sections on basic techniques, and then a collection of 50 original projects to make in different terra-genres and containers. I haven’t had time to make anything from the book yet, but next time I stop at Artemisia (co-author Amy Bryant Aiello’s lovely shop on SE 28th, where I bought pretty much everything but the jars and the action figures for my three Star Wars Terrariums) I will be choosing a few new favorite things to make these stunning projects…
From the Forest chapter, the Rainforest Raindrop is just gorgeous. I can’t wait to get one of those glossy glass drops and put some cool things inside.
From the Beach chapter, I really love The Lost Beach (which I can’t help but think of as the LOST beach). That tiny bottle!
And from the Desert chapter, I can picture about a dozen of the Test Tube Babies in all different combinations.
If you’re in town or nearby, co-authors Amy and Kate Bryant will be at the Division location of Portland Nursery on Sunday for a book signing and terrarium party! I’m hoping to be there for sure, and I actually just bought two more (giant) vintage Mason jars this afternoon that were calling out to me at Village Merchants.
Plus, twist my arm, an extra trip to Portland Nursery??
What a week! Thank you so much to everyone who came to Powell’s – I had a great time and I hope you did too. And if you couldn’t make it but want a signed copy of the book, here you go! I have to admit that I spent more time talking to friends than taking photos of magnets, but I’ll post some awesome ones people made over at the World of Geekcraft book site. Powell’s has been amazingly supportive of me as a local writer and I was so thankful for all their kindnesses, so just to start with a little thank-you I made them a special set of comics magnets for the store… the first of a few more crafty gifts I’m planning to make them over the next few weeks.
Now I’m helping organize one of the Portland Craft Parties (yes, there are THREE going on in Portland) this Friday, June 10, and I would love to tell you all about it. We are planning some really fun things and it would be great to see you there!
PORTLAND CRAFT PARTY #1!
The I Heart Art/Museum of Contemporary Craft event, a fundraiser for Mercy Corps‘ work in Japan, is really coming together and we are so excited about it! From 11-6, I’m hosting a Quilts for Quake Survivors bee at the Museum, thanks to Modern Domestic generously lending us six Bernina 330 machines for sewing and quilting. We have some beautiful quilts in progress that could use a little love if you have time to jump in with us! All community-made quilts are for sale through Modern Domestic, priced at $125 or $150, and the money raised from sales goes straight to Mercy Corps.
The Museum is also going to display a selection of the QfQ quilts in their beautiful Community Showcase upstairs in the Lab, where the daytime craft party will be taking place. These community-made fundraiser quilts will be on display in the Museum for the month thanks to their generosity! I’ll post a photo as soon as we finish the installation on Thursday…
So, during the day Friday (11-6) you can sew, quilt, bind, or try one of the free crafts offered by I Heart Art:
* 11:00 am–1:00 pm — Japanese-style Papercuts
* 1:30 pm–3:30 pm — Freestyle Embroidery
* 4:00 pm–6:00 pm — Mighty Ugly Project
The evening party will start off at 7pm (tickets here), and your entry ticket includes music, food, beer and wine, tickets to win prizes (including a Modern Domestic punchcard, handmade gifts, and signed copies of both my books, among many other lovely things), and tons more chances to craft – including needle-felting, origami, hand-weaving, and making your own crafty artist trading cards!
PORTLAND CRAFT PARTY #2!
Speaking of our dear sponsor Modern Domestic, they are hosting a lovely sewing party at their shop to celebrate, from 10 am on. Details here:
In celebration of Bernina‘s new partnership with Etsy, we are offering unlimited open-sewing all day long with snacks and refreshements for $10 to all Etsy vendors and customers. In addition, you will get 20% off any one item on June 10th (this offer excludes machines and classes).
PORTLAND CRAFT PARTY #3!
Join us in a celebration of all things crafty (and woolly). Tour the store and the gallery, watch the strange miniature animatronic mill, test out some Pendleton craft supplies, use our enormous cutting tables for your project, and eat some tasty cookies. We hope to have some garments from the Pendleton archive on view, a treat for sure!
(By the way, if you haven’t been to the Woolen Mill Store yet, here’s a video tour.)
If there was ever an afternoon I wish I could be in three places at once, this Friday is the strongest contender yet. Please come by one (or if you’re super ambitious, all) of the parties if you can… we’d love to see you, make some great things, raise some money for Mercy Corps, and celebrate Etsy‘s birthday!
Thanks for the super nice comments and emails on my Oregon photo post! I was so happy to share some pictures of our favorite places along the southern half of the coast. We had such a lovely time. Back to regular life up in the northwest corner of the state, I wanted to spread the word about a couple of free crafty events I’m doing in the next couple of weeks – I’d love to see you at both of them!
First, this Sunday (6/5), I’m doing a World of Geekcraft book signing and craft project event with my fantastic Oregon book contributors at Powell’s downtown! I was totally amazed that they listed me on the marquee – huge thank-you to Powell’s for the kind support for a local book. The event is at 4:00 in the Pearl Room upstairs, and everyone who comes by can make a POW! ZAP! Magnet, or take home all the stuff to make one later! I’m also bringing lots of book projects, so you can try out the LOST Tin-Can Telephones or hang out with a Tribble.
Here are some of the super-personalized comics magnets people made at my last few WOGC events… first, at Maker Faire,
and then last week at WebVisions!
Then, the following Friday (6/10), I Heart Art PDX is teaming up with the Museum of Contemporary Craft to host the Portland Craft Party, our local chapter of the worldwide Etsy extravaganzas!
It kicks off at 11 am with lots of free crafts to try, from paper cutting to freestyle embroidery, and I’m happy to say that I’ll be there hosting a Quilts for Quake Survivors bee. Please come make some cool things at all the different DIY stations, and jump in if you’d like to help us sew, quilt or bind one of our Mercy Corps fundraiser quilts in progress! We would love that.
The crafting and quilting bee continues all afternoon, and then at 7pm the daytime event transforms into an evening party/Mercy Corps Japan Relief fundraiser!
From the post:
At 7:00 pm, the doors will open back up to the Museum and the real party will start! We’re taking over the entire space with complete with food, beer and wine, a DJ, and even more crafting stations. Your door donation will get you an entry into the drawing for a whole slew of crafty prizes (books, gift certificates, handmade goods and more!), some food and beverage tickets, and a lot of crafty fun!
Throughout the evening you can rotate through hand-felting, origami, hand-weaving, and make your own crafty artist trading cards. The quilts made for the project will be on display, and Modern Domestic will have them available for sale and sell raffle tickets.
If you go:
World of Geekcraft book signing and craft event
Powell’s, 1005 W. Burnside St in Portland
Sunday, June 5 at 4:00 pm