A Spoonful Of Sugar Blog Tour

When Lisa sent me a mail about her new book, I was very excited and happy at the same time. The cover was beautifully designed with a catchy word "zakka" right in the middle. It must be a book for me I thought. And indeed, this book is filled with beautiful pictures and amazing projects that you will find it hard to resist making one or more stuff.

A Spoonful of Sugar (same as Lisa's nick in instagram) consists of 20 simple sewing projects that are even suitable for handsewing! In fact, I realised ALL projects in this book are great for completely handsewing if you wish to try.

I had wanted to make the Zakka Dilly Bag with the pretty crochet bottom so I can put yarns in while on road trip but I changed my mind after seeing the cute little panda pouch.

And thankfully, I brought along one pack of purse flex frames with me after moving here. It was such a lucky find! These flex frames can be bought from Daiso with various lengths.

And, here's my version of Pretty Panda Snap Purse! Doesn't it look adorable? I used a different color instead of black and white for panda. I was thinking: "How cute is a purple panda!" But when I finished my last stitch, I was surprised to see that my pouch looks like a little puppy rather than Lisa's version of a panda. I had to laugh out really loud. Is it because of the color? or the mouth? or the floppy ears? I'm not so sure. When I showed my kids and asked what animal do they see, they all answered "PANDA!" And then, I heaved a sigh of relief!

For this pouch, I did "lazy handsewing" as I term my own sewing method. It means it doesn't follow the traditional Japanese way of handsewing since it will take a much longer time and patience which I lack in both. So here's what I always do, for example the ears (or fabrics without added interfacing):

1. Cut out the paper template and glue it on a recycled cardboard. Cut again so you get a rather sturdy hard template.
2. Choose your fabric and place them right sides together. Draw the template on just one side. Then, pin both fabrics together and start stitching on the drawn line. Trim to 1/4" seam allowance (I usually "eye-ball" the allowance  instead of measuring. It's so much faster).

Lisa suggested using spray starch and iron for the eyes and ears. I have never used her method but I think it's a quick and efficient way. I sew the traditional way of continuous stitching and pulling the thread to gather the fabric. Just like sewing yo-yos.

For the ears, I did a little stuffing to make the ears soft and squashy. 

I even added a fabric tag at the back of the purse. Because it's so much love!

The inside of the purse is spacious enough for a lippy, money, keys or other small daily necessities. Very useful and functional. 

This face is so adorable and irresistible, isn't it? I heart his innocent eyes and gentle smile.

All in all, I really love this Pretty Panda Snap Purse pattern. The instructions are straightforward and easy to follow. I handsew it entirely and it only took me four hours from start to finish. Simple yet very satisfying. Well, I'm ready to make another one very soon! xxx

Pretty Playtime Quilt Along by Fat Quarter Shop

If you are not aware of this sweet girly book yet, hop over to Fat Quarter Shop to find out! It's Pretty Playtime Quilts book by Elea Lutz and I tell you it's really a very charming book if you have girls to make things for. My daughter and I could not stop flipping through the pages and say "wow!", She wants me to make everything in the book!

And yes, Fat Quarter Shop is starting a quilt-along for this new book, starting today! There's amazing list of bloggers who will be sewing along with you every week. Each blogger will create one block from the book. I am honoured to be join in the fun this time.

Week 1 - Quilt Along Kickoff
Week 2 - Erin from Why Not Sew?
Week 3 - Wynn from Zakka Art
Week 4 - Anorian from Samelia's Mum
Week 5 - Amy from Diary of a Quilter
Week 6 - Renee from Sewn with Grace
Week 7 - Jemima from Tied with a Ribbon
Week 8 - Amanda from Jedi Craft Girl
Week 9 - Debbie from Happy Little Cottage
Week 10 - Tina from Emily Ann's Closet
Week 11 - Erica from Kitchen Table Quilting
Week 12 - Kristyne from Pretty by Hand
Week 13 - Heidi from Fabric Mutt
Week 14 - Brigitte from The Family Hearth
Week 15 - Lorrie from Sew Mod Designs
Week 16 - Kristin from They Grow Up Too Fast

I have already gathered all my Elea Lutz fabrics ready to sew a block this week. Hope you can join us and sew together! x

Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-Along: Block 10 Ava

I hope everyone is having a fun time sewing along with us for Farmer's Wife Quilt-along! How many blocks have you sewn? Well, I only managed to make three?! That's really slow I know! But don't worry, I'll try to catch up really soon!^_^

It's week 5 of our Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along and here I'm back to share a little about Block 10: Ava. This block is SO easy and satisfying to make. I have absolutely no problems handsewing Ava block! All straight line end-to-end sewing. No Y-seams, no curves... nothing. It takes me only about two hours to complete (from printing to cutting to sewing)! 

The story behind this block is very inspiring. Children were seen as angels or treasures to cherish even during the difficult depression period. The author, Synthetic Mother from Ohio, was an amazing lady who adopted two babies whom she loved so deeply like her own. ".... it's the most satisfying experience I ever had - so much better than going through life with empty arms." she wrote. These words etched so deeply in my heart after reading. I found myself so much more willing to put down my sewing very often these days just to be around with my children. To treasure their presence and to enjoy our lives together as a family. 

The fabrics I chose for this block were pure coincidental. I picked the fabrics just by looking at the block diagram before reading the story. Kids, little chicks, grass, flowers... Then after reading the heartwarming story, I realised, don't the fabrics fit so perfectly into the story?? I was rather surprised with myself! 

I really adore how this Ava turned out to be. It looks a lot better than I imagined! It gives me the kind of fluttery feeling in the tummy whenever I look at it. Super love!

Since the templates are all symmetrical, the drawing of templates on the fabrics is straightforward. I have mentioned a point in IG regarding some of the blocks with asymmetrical templates like blocks 3, 4, 5. It's important to note that the templates are right side up, so you have to flip the templates when drawing on the wrong side of fabric. Or, you can flip the page before printing out the templates from your computer! It's your choice.

To answer a few questions sent to my email, I use Clover Patchwork Needle size 8 or 9 (you can get it here and here) and Fujix hand quilting thread in natural cream color for handsewing. The needle size is good for me to catch more than 7-8 continuous stitches every single time before a backstitch. Continuous stitches is important to ensure a straight sewing line and not a crooked or slanted one. You can choose to use normal (machine) sewing thread but I find it breaks a lot easier so I prefer handquilting thread which is stronger. 

One more question is about how I cut the pointy edges of the templates. I have no specific answer to that because I'm still figuring out! But this is what I normally do. I try to align the ruler perpendicular to the pointy edge with 1/4" seam allowance.  It works most of the time but not everytime. A simpler way is to cut the pointy edges only after  you finish sewing. Well, if you do have a good idea on this question, we will be very happy if you can share with us!

Here's how the back of the block looks like. 

So here it is, block 10 Ava of our Farmer's Wife Quilt-along. Hop over to Kerry's blog to read more about block 9 Autumn and previous blocks. She has many many tips on foundation paper piecing as well as information from other talented blogger friends about english paper piecing! Please continue to sew together with us and enjoy!xx

Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along: Block 1 Addie

Hello everyone! I'm very happy to kickstart this Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along (organised by talented Kerry!) with our first block: Addie. 

fyi: I'll be handsewing all the blocks. Yippee!

Addie is a delightful block with a beautiful and touching story "Happier than ever before". If you read it once, you will wish to read it over and over again just like me. Will you be happy giving up a comfortable life in town and modern conveniences or even material things like electric washer just for two cows, a range and a faraway garage? The author Mrs H. S. L. wrote "... But don't think it's all work and no beauty, for we have a nice garden, sweet smelling pines, and worlds of wildflower..." She definitely sounded so much "happier than she ever have been before".  I can imagine her smiling with contentment watching her kids running wild and free in the farm while she work as a farmer's wife. Now I truly understand, it's really the most simple things that can actually bring the most happiness in life.

Anyway, I handpieced this block without any difficulty using my traditional handsewing patchwork method. There is a diagrammatic instruction in the book for each block on how to piece the templates.  I followed the templates exactly with a seam allowance of 1/4" throughout. And you know what, there is no Y-seam at all! I was mistaken at first sight that there might be Y-seams but actually, all sewing in this block is just end-to-end sewing! Easy peasy! 

For fabric choices, I usually love mixing various or clashing prints and colours. Even for a single colour, I would prefer to choose two or three different fabrics to add to the element of fun and surprise! So you can see from this block, although there are only three colours needed, I chose seven different fabric prints!

When you handsew for some time, you will realise it's almost second nature to know where you should press the seams (more often towards the darker fabric). There's no right or wrong. This is how I did it:

How I prepare each block before handsewing:
- print template to actual size 
- cut out template and paste on cardboard (e.g. cereal box) 
- draw 1/4" seam allowance around the templates 
- use a sharp penknife (I recommend X-ACTO craft knife for precision) and cut around the templates 
- cut out the templates 
- choose fabrics 
- draw templates on fabrics 
- cut fabrics 
- relax and start sewing! 

I love how this Addie block turned out! It looks cheerful, optimistic and really happy!

If you are more keen in paper piecing this block, please feel free to hop over to Kerry's blog learn more! You will be surprised that there's so much you can learn and do with each block!

I hope you will enjoy sewing (english or paper piecing or even handsewing) this Addie block as much as I do! Enjoy!xx

My Pamela Pouch

This pattern is by my talented sewing friend Kristyne from Pretty by Hand and it's an really amazing one. When I say amazing, it means the instructions so easily understandable and follow. I could sew everything from the beginning to the end without stopping to think "hey, is there anything wrong?" Seriously, I'm pretty surprised by myself that I didn't change a thing about sewing for this pattern (I have a bad habit of not following instructions). My pouch looks just the same as the picture (except the embellishments and fabric choice) finally!

I've saved this pretty cheater fabric by Atsuko Matsuyama to make something for myself. It was the best choice for this pouch because I can't stop looking at it everyday.

Embroidery is something I would love to learn well someday. This fabric was great for me to practice!

The back of pouch has a different fabric placement. How can I do without florals?

I didn't realise the most of the zipper part will be hidden but this floral zipper peeking through looks just as lovely too.

I used a simple brown gingham fabric for the lining. It makes the pouch looks very Japanese and very zakka.

This pouch is now my sewing pouch! I carry it everywhere with me. The handles make carrying a breeze (especially from room to room in the house). Look at how roomy it is. I can stuff so many things in one small pouch. Just my ideal pouch size with a giant capacity and functionality.

Definitely a keeper's pattern! I'm all ready to make another one very soon!^_^xxx

You can get the pattern here.