Reported by Erika Martin
I’m such a sucker for craft books and lately, it seems that my drug of choice are sewing books. Especially if they are fast, take few materials and they happen to be crafty sort of projects. I recently got the book, “One Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Projects,” (by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins) and tried some of the projects out. To be honest, the whole reason I bought the book was that nifty clothespin apron in the top right corner of the book cover. I adore hanging out my laundry but bending over to pick up clothespins out of a basket was getting annoying and I’ve always wanted a clothespin apron so I bought the book. That was the first project I started on.
The book has hard covers with 304 spiral bound pages inside. It’s a hefty and sturdy book. When you open the front cover, you’ll see the packet of tissue patterns secured inside.
The table of contents includes a Sewing Fundamentals chapter, which encompasses things like fabric facts, sewing essentials, instructions on how to use patterns, stitch terminology, techniques and more. There’s also 10 chapters of projects categorized by clothing, home decor, projects for your pets, etc.
The photos are colorful and the samples are made from fun and funky patterns that make you want to dig out your sewing machine and your fabric and get to it!
The first project I started on was the “Granny’s Clothespin Apron.” A friend of mine just recently gave me a HUGE bag full of fabric that she cleaned out of her quilting room and there are a bunch of fabrics that have around a yard’s length so they are perfect for working with the projects in this book.
I found the pattern on the tissue sheets for the apron and pinned them to my fabric. Many of the projects in this book have helpful placement guides drawn out for laying pattern pieces and cutting with your ruler and rotary blade.
A very important must have for using this book is a self healing cutting mat, a sharp rotary blade and a quilting ruler. Because many of the patterns call for straight edge pieces, there’s obviously no need to make pattern pieces for those. You’ll need to measure and cut those out with your ruler and rotary blade. For really long pieces, I found it easier to fold my fabric and tweak the measurements to fit the cutting mat that I own, since it’s smaller than most serious quilters’ cutting mats.
All of the directions are written out for the projects, though not all of the projects have visual aids to go along with them to show you how to lay pieces together, etc. You’ll need to read closely and absorb the information, while visualizing it in your mind to see what you need to do. While this is usually easy for those that have been sewing for a very long time, it can be a little intimidating to a newbie.
I was so pleased with how my apron turned out.
I love zig-zag stitch so I changed things up a bit from the directions and used my stitches to give it more charm. I used it the day that I finished it to hang up my laundry. It fits perfectly! I can definitely see myself making more of these for gifts.
Next I made two of the pot holders from the “Household Affairs” section of the book. My mom has been telling me that she needs pot holders and can’t seem to find the old fashioned quilted fabric pot holders in stores. This was a great opportunity for me to try out the project in this book.
One of the things that I found is that these pot holders turned out to be pretty massive. When finished, they’re 9×9 inches square. They’re great for setting big pots on, but a little bigger than I’m used to a pot holder being. The next time I make them, I’ll tweak the measurements a little to make them smaller. The book says that the finished dimensions of the pot holders is 8×8″ but I followed the directions and still came out with 9×9″ pads. It’s not a big deal as, like I mentioned, I can always re-do the measurements next time to make them the size I like.
This book taught me how to make my own double-folded bias tape out of the fabric I was using for my projects. I’ve always used pre-made bias before, so making my own was new for me. I really enjoyed the process and appreciated the fact that I now know I don’t ever have to buy bias tape again as I know how to make my own after following the instructions in the book (very well explained, too).
Believe it or not, but something I’ve never done, in all my years of sewing, is to quilt fabric. I chose to go in a box type of swirl around my pot holders because it was quick and I liked the retro look of it. I put batting between the layers of fabric, but now that I’ve made these once, I’ll definitely be getting some thicker batting. The batting that I used didn’t give them as much insulation as I would have liked, but there were no details in the book about what type of batting to get other than insulated batting. Not all batting is created equal. It was a lesson well learned.
I’m anxious to try these again and use some different quilting techniques with contrasting threads to see what I can come up with.
The third project I made was also from the “Household Affairs” section – the “Picni-tastic Lunch Mats.” The picture in the book shows two matching cloth napkins but doesn’t give the dimensions or instructions for them. They’re easy enough to make by cutting out a square piece of fabric and doing a double hem around them, but for newbies, it would definitely have helped to have those dimensions and instructions.
The directions didn’t call for batting in between the layers, but I added it because I wanted to also be able to use these placemats at our dining room table and without the insulation (which is fine for having a picnic outdoors) it would have allowed hot plates to leave a mark on the table.
The dimensions for the placemats are a bit snug on the fabric when laying them out, especially if you’ve washed your fabric ahead of time to take care of any shrinkage. The materials call for 44/45″ fabric and the dimensions to lay them out are 22 ” so if your selvages tend to be wide or you have a bit of shrinkage of fabric after washing, this could end up being a problem. I turned my fabric to be able to cut them at the size in the book and then realized afterward that my fabric happened to have a scene on it. Oops. That was definitely “operator error.”
I did some quilting on these, as well, to secure the batting in between the layers. I like using fabric placemats as they’re so easy to throw into the washer after clearing the table. I also like the thought of using them on picnics so I’ll be making more. They’d make a wonderful gift to put with some plastic dishes in a picnic basket.
The back of the book has a handy glossary and also includes applique patterns for some of the projects that you can take to a printing store to have enlarged.
With 101 projects to make out of just one yard of fabric, there’s plenty to keep me busy when I want something to sew. I love the practical items in this book and I like that the patterns are easy and fast. I don’t think, at the size I’m currently at, that I’ll soon fit into any of the womens clothing that call for just a yard of fabric, but there’s plenty more projects that I can make. *wink*
Next up, I’ll be making the Yoga Mat Bag. My yoga mat needs a home.
* Book comes with patterns for projects that require them.
* Book is only $20.95 in the US, which is a great price point for all the projects it teaches, as well as the patterns included with it.
* Projects only take one yard (or less) of fabric.
* Project dimensions and instructions can be tweaked by an experienced fabric crafter to accommodate personal preferences and changes.
* Great variety of projects.
* Great informational section in the front of the book – techniques, stitches, etc.
* Not all directions have visual aids to go with them so some newbies might be intimidated and confused by this.
* It would be helpful to have a rating system on each of the projects to help newbies determine if the project is easy, intermediate or advanced.
* Not all projects have patterns so some require you to make your own (shorts, cape).
So, do you have this book? What have you made from it? Leave a comment and let us know!