If you are not familiar with Ellen Luckett Baker and her blog, The Long Thread, take a moment and go familiarize yourself. Please. You will not be disappointed.
Ellen's book, 1, 2, 3 Sew, Build Your Skills with 33 Simple Projects is one of the best beginning sewing books out there. It's also fantastic for intermediate sewers, too. It's organized so that you can increase your skill set project by project. Brilliant, no? The projects are divided into 11 groups, each with 3 different entities. The first project teaches you one thing and the next project builds on the skills you've already learned. For example, in the first chapter, beginning with tea towels, you learn how to hem and make folded corners. The next project is napkins which add mitered corners to your repetoire. Then it's on to a table runner and seamless pockets. It's so wonderfully presented and organized that it is easy to gain an entire skill set just by following the projects in order.
The book includes a wide-range of items to make. There are things for the dining and the kitchen, totes and pouches, children's and baby items, softies, pillows and more. The instructions are very succinct, the photography is straight-forward and gorgeous, the projects do-able. I read a lot of craft books every year and 1, 2, 3 Sew is among my top picks for 2011. I'm so impressed with the range of projects, the simple and easily-followed instructions as well as the great format in which it is all presented. The pattern pieces come in a envelope at the front of the book and are easy to copy/transfer and do not overlap like many others. It is a great resource for any sewist, regardless of experience. Some of my favorite projects are:
Lawn Cosmetic Bag - this, and a few other projects in the book, include the use of stencil/fabric paint on plain fabric. What a great detail!
Change Your Mind Skirt - A reversible and simple, elastic waist skirt for young girls.
Bunny Softie - A cute, squeezable animal for any young person you know.
Circles Floor Pillow - A wonderful project that showcases special fabrics (think Liberty!) and teaches you reverse applique.
Totes - there are three in the book and all are fantastic!
And here are my interpretations of the Mouse Pincushion. I whipped up two - one for Kate and one for Jane. I loved making them - fairly quick with interesting, but easy construction. The girls are excited to have a pincushion of their own, too. I'm psyched that I no longer have to share.
Chronicle Books has generously offered a copy of 1, 2, 3 Sew to one of my readers. AND I am offering a mouse pincushion to one of you, also. That's right - you have 2 chances to win! To enter in the giveaway, please comment on this post before Sunday, July 24 at 4:00 p.m. EST. Tell me what your first sewing project was and how it came out. If you don't sew, tell me why you want to learn. I'll pick two names using the random number generator - one will get the book, the other a pincushion made by me (to be specific, it will not be one of the ones pictured above).
Other stops on the blog tour include:
Monday, July 11 – CRAFT
Tuesday, July 12 – Sew, Mama, Sew & Oh My! Handmade Goodness
Wednesday, July 13 – Handmade Charlotte
Thursday, July 14 – Everything Etsy & Not Martha
Friday, July 15 – Modern Kiddo
Get clicking. I'll announce the winner next week.