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A Glimpse into the Sewing Books

Antiques are so often a source of inspiration for me, as many of you who follow me know. They are a treasure trove of ingenuity and creativity. Not surprisingly, some of my latest patterns come from ideas of old with my own interpretive take. This week I want to share some of the inspiration behind the Sewing Book & Needle Book Set patterns.

An antique keepsake album I saw along my travels inspired the Sewing Book and Needle Book designs. This particular album had a binding made from scrap fabric sewn together, and it held heavy paper covers around a set of pages filled with memories.

I liked the idea of using fabric as a binding and of using scraps. While I don’t always use scraps when I make these sewing books (though sometimes I do!), I use small pieces of fabric that can be easily dug out of any stash. Once the binding idea began percolating, I had to decide what exactly I would make using this technique.

Of course, I did not want to make an album, so I created something useful for my sewing habits. A pocket for scissors, a pin cushion, a pocket for scraps, and a needle flap are the basics of what I needed to carry my own little workspace around. I began to make different sizes and shapes, selling them as finished pieces at shows and on the road.

Eventually, many people asked for a class. I had included a soft-sided version in my first book, Wool Applique Folk Art, because I just could not figure out how to explain what I did to make the hard-sided one. After many persistent requests, I decided to try it as a class. What is class for but to test out ideas? This time helps me work out the kinks in my instructions, see how people interpret what I say, and what parts of the project they struggle with. It was a very popular class, and I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s a quirky, unusual project, and it’s such fun to make.

After teaching it for quite a while, Kelsey convinced me we could do it as a stand-alone pattern. We even made a video to help you with the hardest part, which you can access using the instructions inside the pattern. Having so much class time behind me really helped with the instructions, so for anyone who participated in one of those class, I’m grateful for your time and feedback!

The other part of these little books that I love is picking out the coordinating fabrics. I have used antique fabrics mixed with new, all new fabrics, and varying kinds. The easiest to start with is quilter’s cotton, which you can find in hundreds of beautiful patterns. If you are looking for fabrics close to my originals, I am offering kits of these projects in my online store. I never know ahead of time how long fabrics will stay in stock, so I wasn’t able to match my originals exactly, but I have chosen other beautiful cottons to replace what I couldn’t find. The kits include the chipboard and hand-dyed wool, too!

I hope you enjoy making these for your own sewing convenience and for others. They would make a great gift! As always, I would love to see what you make, so be sure to share your photos and tag me in them social media, or email them to us so we can delight in your take on this design.

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