In continuation of our staff’s monthly book reviews, I’m excited to introduce you to Stitch Savvy: 25 Skill-Building Projects to Take Your Sewing Technique to the Next Level. This is the latest release from Whipstitch’s Deborah Moebes, a fifth-generation crafter and designer. One practical thing I particularly love about the book itself is that it’s a hardback with spiral-bound pages that will easily lay flat while opened on your sewing table; and it comes with a disc containing printable patterns and templates, which you can use over and over again. I’m quickly becoming a huge fan of printable patterns – no tracing (my least favorite thing) and no worries about cutting mistakes (not that I ever make any…haha!)
Since Stitch Savvy is all about trying new techniques and pushing yourself to the next level, I decided to try out a little sewing something I’ve never done before, and recreated my own version of the book’s cover project, the metal frame clutch. I used some yellow fox fabric from the lovely Sarah Watts‘s new Timber & Leaf fabric line (Blend Fabrics) and I’m absolutely in love! I can’t wait to take it out on the town, and I will definitely be making more of these.
I’ve already got my next project from the book cut out and ready to sew – a lap-size version of the Paving Stones quilt in an assortment of blue, green and mint fabrics from my stash.
Other projects on my must-make list from Stitch Savvy? The ottoman slipcover (I have a red faux leather one on which my kids and cat are doing a number), the lay-flat backpack (my daughter would love the pockets for crayons and paper) and the Enchantment Under the Sea dress (won’t it be fantastic for hot summer afternoons?)
Deborah was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the book, so please enjoy some insight to Stitch Savvy directly from the author below!
Shannon Miller: Hi, Deborah! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. Let’s talk about Stitch Savvy. This is your second book, and it follows the 2010 release of your first, Stitch by Stitch. Are the two related? How is Stitch Savvy different from Stitch by Stitch?
Deborah Moebes:In a lot of ways, Stitch Savvy is a sequel to Stitch by Stitch, in the sense that the projects are designed to pick up where SxS leaves off. Most folks who are new to sewing or who are returning to it after a time will finish the content in SxS and then choose a “track” for themselves, the primary type of sewing they most want to do once they’re feeling confident at the machine; some might choose quilting, others will like garments, many will do handbags, that kind of thing. So Stitch Savvy is designed to meet stitchers there, and then lead them to more challenging and skill-building projects. One of the things I love best about teaching sewing, in person and online, is that every single person who sits down at a sewing machine has something new to discover and something new to share–I wanted to make Stitch Savvy a book that would take them from where SxS leaves off, with confidence and excitement about sewing, and build on that to help them see just how many options and opportunities they have with their sewing machines as they grow.
SM: I love that Stitch Savvy is so much more than just a project book. Give us a brief overview of how the book is set up.
DM:Stitch Savvy has five sections, each one dedicated to one “track”: home decor, quilting, handbags, sewing for children, and clothing. Then in each “track,” there are five projects at increasing levels of challenge, from Level 1 to Level 5. So readers can start at the very first project and work their way through all 25, or they can do all the quilting projects in a row, or all the Level 1 projects in a row. But I also wanted to scoot folks OUT of those “tracks” and challenge them to try things they might not do otherwise, so I added suggested projects at the end of each individual projects that lead to other sewing in the book, like a Choose Your Own Adventure of sewing. I think it’s such a fun format, and really great for folks who are working on finding their niche in sewing and nailing down what it is they most want to do with their machines.
SM: What are some of your favorite projects from the book?
DM:I really love the Paving Stones quilt, and think it’s such a great place to begin to see how quilts are put together. And I am pretty fond of the Lovie Blanket, which turns out so cute no matter how many times I see it sewn up. The Classy Lady Elbow Bag is pretty great, and based on a bag that I remember from middle school–in a good way, that makes me smile when I see the new version. And of course the photo transfer wall art, which I have hanging in my house now!
SM: You’re a busy gal, from running Whipstitch to teaching, traveling, authoring, and of course, your busy family life. How do you manage it all and still have time to sew?!
DM: That’s the biggest challenge! I realized a couple of years ago that the days when I don’t make time to sew, to really sit at my machine and focus on some project, even a tiny one, are the days when I have the toughest time. It really soothes me, so I make time to sew. I work hard to find that balance, like I think all of us do, and to figure out how to fit in the things that matter most. Having my sewing machine out and set up in a dedicated sewing space that’s kid-friendly helps a lot, though!
SM: What’s one of your favorite sewing tips for beginners?
DM: Jump in and give it a shot. I tell my students to think of each new project as a prototype, to not expect perfection the very first time, to take it easy on themselves and be willing to learn as they sew, to work through mistakes, and to have faith that as they put in the time, they’ll find the skills. Anyone can do this, truly, and the rewards are much greater than just the final product, so enjoy the process of figuring it out and working through the steps and allow your sewing to meet you where you are.
SM: What’s coming up for you in the rest of 2013?
DM: I’m refining the different arms of Whipstitch this year, which is daunting and exhilirating, and I’m excited about the new things on the horizon for me. I’m planning on printing my Overmost pattern on paper and offering it in a new format, in addition to the digital format it has been in for the past couple years, and have two new patterns in development. I also have a few new online classes I’m really excited about–including Everyday Handbags this spring and Summer Dresses just as the weather gets really hot–so I have plenty of new video and class content that’s being polished. Not to mention all my own in-progress sewing, which includes finishing up the two postage stamp quilts I started for my girls ages ago! If I can meet my sewing goal and actually sew up every project I currently have cut out, I’ll feel like 2013 was a giant success. I have a lot of ideas percolating, though, so we’ll see how far I get!