lets sew togetherDon’t just sew for your kids. Sew with them!

Simple sewing techniques make craft time fun for kids and grown-ups alike in Let’s Sew Teogether, with ideas for vintage-inspired clothes, accessories, quirky home decor, cute toys, and sweet gifts designed by the mum behind the popular parenting and craft blog Cakies.

Rubyellen Bratcher has invented 30 simple projects that encourage families to spend more time together through DIY activities. This mum of four learned how to sew at her local fabric shop, but soon found that her daughters were her greatest source of inspiration. Documenting her family’s daily life and DIY adventures online, Rubyellen’s blog, Cakies, has steadily grown into a destination for parents and crafters of all ages. In her first book, she offers 30 projects for kids and grown-ups to make together, including a handpainted skirt, scribbled placemats, a robot friend, easy felt party garlands, overstuffed dollhouse pillows, a gorgeous world-map quilt, and much more. Each chapter also includes no-sew projects, educational activities, play ideas, and reading suggestions to encourage imagination and learning. (description from publisher)

Hey crafters! Have you finished making gifts for the coming Christmas season? No? But you’ve started them, right? Um – do you at least know what you’re going to make for the lucky people on your list? Oh dear – Christmas is just a little over three months away – you need to get busy! Here’s some great new crafting titles to help you out.

Embroidery Companion by Alicia Paulson –  Alicia’s new book is just as fun and charming as her popular blog Posy Gets Cozy. Clear instructions for a variety of lovely projects, with personal stories sprinkled throughout (including the adventures of Clover Meadow, Alicia’s corgi), you’ll be reaching for needle and thread in no time.

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts by Martha Stewart – Martha sets the standard – highest quality workmanship and precise directions covering a wide range of techniques and skills.

More Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson – The first title (Last Minute Knitted Gifts) created a sensation in the knitting world with several of the patterns in it becoming iconic; you can expect the same from this one. The patterns are simple yet sophisticated and modern and cover a range of moods and wishes. One note of caution – your idea of “last minute” and Joelle’s idea might not be the same!

One Ball Knits: Gifts by Fatema Habibur-Rahman – Here’s a great way to use up some of that leftover yarn you might have hiding in a closet. A nice variety of fun and useful projects for everyone from babies to grandparents make this a go-to source. And who wouldn’t love to receive a warm pair of slippers this winter?

Simply Sublime Gifts by Jodi Kahn – Whimsical yet stylish, these crafts are fun, inexpensive and quick to make; many require no sewing. Ideas range from baby onsies to fabric notecards to the amazing Wonder Bread wrapper apron shown on the cover.

Still looking for the perfect gift? Try making something handmade – it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming, it simply needs to come from the heart.

You’ll find lots of inspiration in Stitches in Time by Alicia Paulson. Alicia gently encourages you to keep memories alive and part of everyday life through your own handcrafts. For instance, after going to see The Nutcracker ballet with her niece, she created a Clara doll (seen on the cover of the book) Other ideas include taking a child’s artwork and creating a stuffed toy (such as the adorable Molly the horse), making a pillow using family photos or creating a baby’s mobile using cards given at the baby shower. Alicia encourages you to take her ideas and projects and inject your own special touches; for instance, she shows several versions of the Clara doll and suggests that you create your own doll to look like a favorite book character or family member.

Alicia celebrates the domestic and the homemade, urging you to look for alternatives to manufactured perfection. Basic sewing and embroidery skills are all that’s required and clear and detailed instructions are included. The writing in this book is fun too – Alicia writes with a warm and personal voice and you’ll soon feel like she’s a close friend.

Be sure to check Alicia’s popular blog at Posie Gets Cozy where you can follow her ongoing stories of her family and crafts.

One of the hottest trends in crafting today is the influence of various Japanese crafts and styles. This is showing up especially in knitting, crocheting, fabrics and hand sewing. “Zakka” is the Japanese term for “household goods”, specifically hand-crafted domestic items such as tableware, kitchenwear, containers and even articles of clothing. Zakka Sewing by Therese Laskey is an excellent introduction to the craft – and all the translating has already been done for you!

Projects in this book reflect the Japanese aesthetic – love of nature, of simplified shapes, of careful details, of making even the humblest object into something beautiful as well as functional. You’ll find pot holders, tote bags, coasters, placemats, house slippers, even a squirrel shaped tea cozy! Quick facts about Japanese culture and crafting are sprinkled throughout. Directions are clear and detailed, although some prior knowledge of sewing is helpful. A shopping guide for supplies in both Japan and the US is included.

Spice up your crafting with some international flair!

You might think that aprons are only for stereotypical grandmas, or a throwback to the 50s when “a woman’s place was in the kitchen,” but aprons are making a comeback and for good reason. They’re practical, attractive and fun. And they’re not just for the kitchen anymore – those extra pockets come in handy when you’re gardening, crafting, even working on home improvement projects around the house.

Nathalie Mornu’s stylish book A is for Apron will show you how to make all kinds of aprons, from basic to embellished, with or without pockets, fancy and plain. The first part of the book gives instructions for basic apron construction (aprons are great for beginners because sizing is minimal), advice on materials and equipment, and clear diagrams for sewing techniques, then a brief history of aprons including a gallery of vintage examples.

The rest of the book is devoted to 25 “fresh and flirty” designs. Included are several smock styles as well as aprons for children (great for those messy craft days). Beautiful, modern fabrics make the aprons bright and fun and there’s plenty of room to add your own special touches. So express yourself – and have some fun!