Author Archive | Francie Horton

I Love Patchwork Review and Author Interview

Reported by Francie Horton

The Sew Liberated and I Love Patchwork Double-the-Fun Blog Tour: 2 Fabulous Sewing Authors, 2 New Books, 2 Weeks ’til Christmas!

If you’ve been keeping up with the tour you’ll know that I interviewed Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated fame on my blog this past Friday and now I get to talk to Rashida Coleman-Hale about her book, I Love Patchwork: 21 Irresistible Zakka Projects To Sew.

If you’re not familiar with the term zakka, Wikipedia defines it as “everything and anything that improves your home, life and outlook. Zakka has also been described as ‘the art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane’… it also touches issues of self-expression and spirituality.”

The projects in I Love Patchwork are all ones “meant to enhance one’s environment”, to borrow a phrase from the book’s introduction. They marry the organic look of linen with an obvious love of patchwork. The projects include:

Sewing Room
• Travel Sewing Kit
• Sewing Machine Cover
• Pin Cushion
• Fabric Covered Boxes

• Placemat and Napkins
• Coaster Set with Holder
• Table Runner
• Utensil Basket

• Apron
• Mini Patchwork Magnets
• Fold Up Eco Bag
• Kitchen Towels

Around the House
• Flower Pot Cover
• Calendar
• Pillows Lap Quilt

The Wee Ones
• School Tote Bag
• Little Lamb Softie
• Pentagon Balls w/ drawstring bag
• Mobile

Bags and Pouches
• Pencil Case
• Oblong Cosmetics Pouch
• Shoulder Bag
• Wallet
• Coin Purse

There is also a section on tools and materials, techniques and, of course, The Stash. The Stash: Fabric Facts and Care contains important information on the different types of linen and how to care for it and prepare it for sewing, on quilter’s cotton and its care, and on the storage of fabric, something every sewist worth their mettle struggles with once they start building their own stash. Rashida also talks a little about choosing prints and colors, although this is an area where there are no hard and fast rules. The more you play with combinations, the easier it becomes and the better you’ll get at it.

Patchwork is one of those techniques where accuracy is important. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book for someone just learning to sew. Rashida does an excellent job with detailed instructions and illustrations for every project and technique, though, so even if you’re new to patchwork it won’t take long for you to pick it up.

All of the projects can be made with your own color and print combinations. In fact, Rashida encourages you to use your own creativity. You could even substitute a different fabric for the linen. These are good solid designs waiting for your personal touch. If you’re a fan of the handmade aesthetic with a clean simplistic look, this is a must-read.

Rashida, you give lots of of info about linen in the first part of your book and use it in almost every project. I have seen what I thought was linen but it seemed to be very loosely woven and definitely not suitable for using in garments or any type of project that was going to get wear. Was it really linen? Does linen have a certain thread count?

Linen comes in many different weights ranging from a sheer weight all the way to a canvas. You can find linen suitable for just about any type of project, so the fabric you saw could very well have been linen, just not necessarily right for garments.

Linen does indeed have a thread count, you can find linen with thread counts up to 1400. The threads that make up linen are quite thick, so its thread count doesn’t compare to cotton at all. It tends to be significantly lower than that of cotton. A 150 thread count cotton may not be the greatest quality, but a 150 thread count linen can still be a very fine quality.

Do you ever use vintage fabrics in your patchwork? And is it okay to pair them with new linen?

Yes, yes! I’m quite fond of feedsacks, vintage cotton prints, and vintage linens. The backing and binding for the table runner in the book is actually a vintage bed sheet I found on Ebay. I certainly think it’s okay to pair them with new linen. Naturally the vintage fabric should be in fairly good condition.

How would you prepare both the vintage fabrics and the linen?

I like to hand wash vintage fabrics and hang them up to dry before sewing. I also suggest using a delicate soap for washing; the harsh chemicals in today’s soaps can strip the color from older fabrics.

I toss new linen into the washing machine on a hot setting. This temperature ensures maximum shrinkage. Linen loves to shrink! To avoid disappointment after washing a finished project, you may want to wash your linen several times to make sure you’ve washed all the shrink out! Finally, machine dry on a low setting, leaving it a little bit damp if you plan on ironing it.

Looking at the book projects, I noticed a lot of blues, greens, and yellows, used together and separately. Do you find yourself drawn to certain color combinations?

Aqua and turquoise are my favorite colors, so a lot of the fabric in my stash has that color in it one way or another. Pantone named turquoise color of the year for a reason and I may be partially to blame for that. 😛 I am very partial to blues, greens and yellows and I have to force myself to use other colors sometimes!

Do you use a color tool (a wheel, a flip book) or do you eye it (keeping in mind that you’ve had design training)?

My days at FIT have certainly come in handy and so I select my colors by eye. I think I’ve got all the color theory rules and regulations burned into my brain, but I don’t necessarily follow those guidelines. I usually choose one print fabric as my base and use that as the springboard for the other fabric I choose. My fabric stash is kept in color order and that always helps me make selections quickly. The great thing about patchwork is being able to experiment with many color combinations. I love that colors and prints don’t necessarily have to match to make awesome looking patchwork.

Are you inspired by the colors of things around you?

Plants, shoes, cars, coats, chairs, notebooks, food. You name it, I’ve gotten inspiration from it. I take a lot of photos of things that I see when I’m out and about if I like the color or the combination of colors. I can go back and look at the photos so that I can use the colors in a project later.

The adjustable calendar. I love how you mentioned that you thought of the idea and had to immediately jump out of bed to work on it. I think many of us can relate to that. Some people keep a notepad by the bed, some a voice recorder. I have a notepad function on my cellphone.

Yes! My favorite project in the book. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning working on the prototype and was so happy that I did. Tired. But happy. I keep a sketchbook where I draw my ideas as they come to me. Most ideas come from me just sitting at my craft table and playing around with fabric and trims.

Do ideas often strike you in what might seem like strange places? Have you ever lost any because you didn’t write them down or work on them immediately?

I think that happens to a lot of us. The stranger the place the better the ideas! All of my best ideas come when I’m changing a dirty diaper. Okay not really, but it happens.

I usually have a pretty sharp memory and always surprise my husband with the things I can remember. The only time I have trouble is when I’m pregnant. I’m about 30 weeks along now, so pregnant brain has officially taken over! I haven’t lost any ideas(yet) and usually manage to jot them down in some way. On a napkin, a piece of mail, the palm of my hand, my three year old’s forehead. You know, the usual places.

I noticed during Friday’s Twitter party Jaime Guthals (of Interweave) asked you how much sleep you are getting these days. 🙂 Do you pull creative all-nighters even with kids?

I’m naturally a night owl, so I have no trouble staying up really late, especially if it’s to create. I think I do my best work when everyone is safe and sound, tucked in bed and the house is quiet. I can relax my mind and concentrate on just designing. When I was writing the book I would stay up until about 4 in the morning most nights. The children went to daycare and I would work some more during that time as well. The third trimester is certainly taking its toll though, so I only manage to stay up until about midnight now.

And, lastly, everybody’s favorite sewing sites are just a little bit different. What are yours?

Ah, there are so many wonderful sites to behold on the internet. I love them them all, but I certainly have my favorites.

My extra favorites are:
petits détails
Saidos da Concha
smallville studio
Tree Fall
Patchwork Pottery
Pink Penguin

This woman… don’t you love her sense of humor? 🙂 I’m not sure if I would have ever thought of writing ideas on my three year old’s forehead… but then again there was never enough room between his own marker scribbles and that morning’s breakfast. I also love that she freely admits her secret to fitting so much in her day is stretching that day until 4 a.m. sometimes. And then paying for it by being tired but happy. I can certainly relate.

Rashida, thank you for being so generous in sharing your time and your knowledge with our readers. Congratulations on a wonderful book.

Be sure to visit Rashida at her blog, I Heart Linen, and for more I Love Patchwork yumminess check out the Flickr group.

Follow The Sew Liberated and I Love Patchwork Double-the-Fun Blog Tour at:

Friday, December 11:
Meg on (interview)

Saturday, December 12:
Rashida on In the Studio with Cate (studio tour)

Sunday, December 13:
Meg on In the Studio with Cate (studio tour)

Monday, December 14:
Rashida on (interview)

Tuesday, December 15:
Meg on (interview)

Wednesday, December 16:
Rashida on Fabric Shop Network blog (interview)

Thursday, December 17:
Meg on Grosgrain Fabulous (book review and giveaway)

Friday, December 18:
Rashida Twitter event – Noon EST on Twitter with @iheartlinen
Meg on Living Life as Art (interview, review, and project)

Saturday, December 19:
Meg on (book review)

Sunday, December 20:
Rashida on Zakka Life (book review)

Monday, December 21:
Meg on Craftsanity (podcast interview)
Rashida on Craft Critique (interview and book review)

Tuesday, December 22:
Rashida on all buttoned up (interview)

Wednesday, December 23:
Meg on maya*made (interview)

Thursday, December 24:
Designer-to-Designer: Rashida and Meg interview each other on and

Monday, January 4, 2010:
Blog Tour Winners’ Post – to be announced

Does this look like a book you’d put on your Christmas wishlist? Or if you were going to give it as a gift, what sewing tools and goodies might you pair it with?

Post Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Martha Stewart vs. Tsukineko Essential: Glue Pad Wars

Reported by Francie Horton

I may have mentioned in an earlier article that I’m relatively new to the scrapbooking scene. Witness a recent conversation between my husband and me.

“Honey, you won’t believe what I found while I was out running errands and picking up your chips and hot sauce.”


“Martha Stewart has a glue pad. It’s like a stamp pad but with glue on it! So I can use a rubber stamp with it and then really fine glitter. Isn’t that awesome?”

“Mmmmm hmmm.”

“I can’t believe someone didn’t invent one of these a long time ago. This is genius! I’m headed to the art room to try it out.”

“Uh huh. Oh, hey, before you go… did you get chips and hot sauce?”

I decided to do a little research. Any guess what I found out in the process? Yep. Glue pads have been around for quite awhile. In fact, way before Martha had one, a little company you may have heard of called Tsukineko released the Essential Glue Pad. So which one is better? I made it my mission to find out. Purely selfless purposes, of course. The things I do for you guys.

(note: Stewart Superior also has a Stamp and Stick glue pad but because it is heat activated I did not include it in this comparison.)

Both pads start out dry and you have to “ink” them up with the small bottle of glue that comes in the kits. Be advised this is not regular glue. The Martha Stewart glue is not even the same glue as the one she sells separately as a glitter glue. This is super sticky doesn’t-want-to-wash-off-your-hands glue. When you run out, buy the refill. Don’t skimp and refill with a cheaper substitute. You won’t get the same results.

When you ink up your pads be generous but be sure to work the glue down into the pad. You don’t want to have any glue just sitting on the top of the pad. The pads come with a thin plastic piece on top. Don’t throw it away. It will help keep the pad moist. In between each stamping put it back over the pad. It took about a third to a half of a bottle to ink up the pads the first time. After I did 4-5 images I found that I had to add more glue to the Martha Stewart pad. I didn’t need to with the Essential pad. I have read that you will need to refill your pad every time you have stored it for any length of time.

After you have fully covered your stamp with glue quickly move to your project and stamp your image. You have a little more leeway time once you’ve stamped it onto your cardstock or vellum as far as drying time. In fact, test images done with the Essential pad that didn’t make the cut accidentally got glittered 20 minutes later and I noticed that they grabbed and held just as much and as well as freshly stamped ones. But I found that once I had put the glue on my stamp it immediately starting drying and clogging up the finer details of my stamp. This was especially true with the MS glue. I also had to clean my stamp after every single use with the MS glue even if I was going to use it again immediately. The glue just built up so much in the ridges and fine details. The Martha glue is so sticky it will take small chunks out of your hand-carved stamps when used on the pad so do so with caution.

What does this mean? Does it mean superior adhesion? Or does it mean less detail in your stamped image?

Well, I found the adhesion to be about the same in both pads. But the clarity of detail with the Essential pad is miles above the MS one. The red is with the Essential pad and the blue is the Martha Stewart pad. You can see that the red one shows the detail of the design much better while the blue caught the general design.

with Essential pad

with Martha Stewart pad

In the second one, if you look at the original stamp, you’ll see that there are small “tongues” that protrude all around the paisley design. They are very clear on the red image and only in some portions of the blue.

with Essential pad

with Martha Stewart pad

I also tried using the pads with chalk and embossing powder. The images turned out looking exactly like each other maybe because of the fineness of the medium? I know some have complained that they haven’t gotten good results with micro-beads. I don’t think glue pads are the right adhesive to use with those if you want any sort of detail. You can’t even use Martha Stewart’s “Crystal Coarse” glitter. They just don’t provide enough adhesive to hold on the larger items. Use an ultrafine product and you should have great results. (note: I would like to point you to our own Kristine Fowler’s article on the Tsukineko pad. She had beautiful results with micro-beads. Maybe it’s the way you hold your mouth while you’re doing it.)

As far as adhesion there was a little bit of difference. After letting them both dry for 20 minutes I went back and ran my finger firmly over each image. There was no change in the Essential stamped images. There was slight glitter loss with the MS ones. There was also a color change when the glitter particles laid down in a different direction suggesting that maybe they weren’t as well adhered as I thought. Heavy wear might cause more loss.

Something that helped in my tests is that I used vellum and coated cardstock as recommended on the Essential pad. Both of these allowed the glue to “stand” on top and not soak in before I could sprinkle my goodies.

because everybody likes a hot pink mustache

Let’s wrap it up:

Tsukineko Essential Glue Pad



  • Easier to clean (I used a non-alcohol baby wipe which worked fine)
  • Recommends Stazon cleaner which isn’t good for acrylic stamps
  • May be more difficult to find unless you order it online

Martha Stewart Glue Pad:



  • Took quite a bit of glue to fill and stamp 3-4 images
  • Less detail
  • Goobers up in the stamp (Technical term you know)
  • Stamp dries out faster
  • Hard to clean even with stamp scrubber/brush
  • Refill not available in bottle only

Martha, I really wanted to like you. I did.

Do you use a glue pad? If so, what kind? Do you have any tips for anything I might be doing wrong?

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Enchanted Adornments Book Review

Reported by Francie Horton

“Sometimes inspiration is so exquisite, the only explanation for it is magic. …A jewelry maker is summoned to create twenty distinct pieces for a group of mysterious friends. With little backstory. The jewelry maker trusts in her client and sets out, traveling to surreal lands and meeting otherworldly creatures. For each piece of jewelry, our traveler enters a portal to other worlds to meet her subjects. While there, she picks up clues to their personalities, sketches patterns and ideas, and notices colors, all of which come into play to create the resulting pieces via easy and unexpected methods.

She documents each of her visits in a sketchbook, which she shares in this chapter, with a diary entry, illustrations, and project notes. Complete materials lists and instructions follow for each entry, many even including a variation on the technique. The result is twenty unique projects and project variations that are utterly personal to the subjects who inspired them. Join this seeker of curiosities. As her story unfolds, so does the magic, and with it, her techniques, materials, tools, and instructions – all of which are of earthly persuasion.” P. 48 Enchanted Adornments

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Cynthia Thornton of Green Girl Studios has had a couple of buns in the oven this past year. One was their family’s new baby, Max, who was born November 5th. (edit: Max was actually born Halloween. Thank you to his Uncle Andrew, Cynthia’s brother, for the correction.) Congratulations!

The second was this beautiful book, Enchanted Adornments. I’ve been a long-time reader of the Green Girl blog and have watched with fascination as Cynthia designed and developed the book. One of the things she said in the beginning was “I am now very aware of how much work it takes to complete a book and can hardly believe how much is left to do!” I have to say I have never seen anyone put this much detail, work, and love into a book. She was responsible for:

  • Writing techniques and project instructions
  • Writing beautiful stories
  • Pen and ink illustrations
  • Watercolors
  • 20 projects, some with variations, that get progressively more difficult toward the back of the book – I read that Cynthia sketches every project out ahead of time, sometimes several times, and makes test pieces before the final piece.
  • Props for some of the photos

About the only thing she didn’t do was the photo styling and the photography. They’re both done very well, though… perfectly suited to the feel of the book. (Edit: According to Andrew Thornton, Cynthia’s brother, she was involved in this aspect as well. “The other is that she actually did work on photo styling. She went out to Loveland to work with her editor and the rest of the Interweave team and Joe on getting the pictures just right. She was very particular about getting everything just right. Cynthia and I even took our own photos to send out to the team so that they would know what we were thinking.” – Andrew, from the comments)

Cynthia did a video with her publisher, Interweave Press, talking about the book and showing some of her sketchbook pages and projects from the book.

Are you getting antsy? Enough about the pretty pictures, let’s get down to the nitty gritty, already?

The first clue that the basic info section isn’t going to be the run of the mill is that it starts with a chapter called “Finding and Harnessing Inspiration”.

“…The road between an idea and a finished piece is a winding one that starts and stops, changes directions, and may not resemble the original thought in the end.”

Can I get an “Amen, sistah?!” This is something every artist knows and sometimes struggles with. We talk about it on blogs, in art retreats, on Facebook. Finally someone says it in a book of projects. I don’t know about you but to me this says, “Hey! Your project probably won’t turn out exactly like the one in the photo. And that’s OKAY. It is as it should be. It’s the difference between being inspired by someone and doing a direct copy.” Sometimes we need to copy the project to learn the technique, otherwise craft books and magazines would be out of business, but then strike out on your own with your inspiration.

Moving into “The Essentials” is where you’ll find the basic techniques needed throughout the book. Again, it feels as though Cynthia has given just that little bit extra. For example, in the simple wireworking section, she shows you how to make a fine silver fused chain. It’s so beautiful I would wear it as is, no embellishment needed other than the hammered texture.

Things that are covered in “The Essentials”:

wire toolbox, wrapped loops, jump rings, fine silver fused chain, drawing a bead to make head pins, fancy wire wrap

Polymer Clay and Polymer Metal Clay
polymer clay toolbox, discussion of types, everything from conditioning to finishing
technique to look like faux ivory
polymer metal clay toolbox, discussion of types, considerations when working with pmc, sintering, firing, repairing, finishing, adding color to metal clay pieces

Simple Metal Clay Findings
Toggle clasp, Chain, Button, Prong Setting, Bezels – Clay Ball and Clay Cup with Bezel Wire
Texturing Clay
Carving and Sculpting
Simple Texture Tools – pads, cards, stamps – ones you make yourself naturally!

Making a master so that you can make multiple copies of that perfect bead you created wholly by accident.

I have heard more horror stories about artists ruining work with either the wrong ratios of resin ingredients, the wrong humidity, a bad batch, or they just didn’t hold their mouths right. Cynthia gives easy instructions and tips for every step of the way. She also covers inclusions, dyes, and finishing. There is a simple resin pendant step-out shown as well.

And here is where the magical story begins. “Every charm has a Story.”

Every project lists materials, tools and even clay color formulas if needed. Very detailed instructions for each piece are included to ensure best results. Helpful tips and possible variations are shown for some of the designs. And each of the pieces takes you a bit further into the story.

My favorite design from the book is the Woodland Wings necklace.

According to Cynthia’s blog “the crown jewel of the collection” is Mirabelle’s Locket. Beautiful and unique, it also wraps up the fairy tale she has woven throughout the book.

This is a book for the jewelry artist with an imagination. It is a workbook with a wealth of information. It is a fairy tale for grownups who are still in touch with their inner children.

What do you think? Does it look like a book you would like? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!