Book Reviews

We Love to Sew Gifts Review & Pencil Cup

For Christmas, I bought my 10-year-old daughter We Love to Sew Gifts, by Annabel Wrigley. I’ve been following Annabel’s Instagram feed for a while now and I love the projects she does with the kids that come to her sewing studio. It’s the right balance of modern style with fun details that little girls love.

We Love to Sew Gifts Review & Pencil Cup | Radiant Home Studio

We Love to Sew Gifts Review & Pencil Cup | Radiant Home Studio

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for helping to support my business in this way!)

I’ve bought a few kids sewing books for my daughter. My biggest pet peeve with kids sewing books is when they don’t teach proper finishing techniques. The We Love to Sew books don’t do this. Annabel assumes that kids are smart enough to sew the “right” way and the projects are finished nicely, yet she still talks to them in a friendly way. One instruction starts, “Starting at the tippy top of the line…”.

The book starts with instructions for basic sewing techniques & terms. Then it includes 23 projects with varying degrees of difficulty. Annabel doesn’t shy away from teaching new techniques or using new materials in the projects. There is some appliqué, interfacing, & embroidery. She also uses felt, yarn, and oilcloth, in addition to quilting cotton and canvas fabric. The end of the book includes full-sized patterns for tracing or copying. (Check the Amazon preview. You can see several pages!)

We Love to Sew Gifts Review & Pencil Cup | Radiant Home Studio

My daughter has worked on a few projects by herself. She has a basic knowledge of sewing and was able to follow instructions on her own. This week, we worked on making the Scrappy Patchy Pencil Cups with a couple of friends.

We Love to Sew Gifts Review & Pencil Cup | Radiant Home Studio

We started with 3 girls, but one had to leave early. I think it took about 1 1/2 hours for them to finish sewing. That’s about as long as a 10-year-old attention span lasts while sewing, so it was just right for them. I pulled out a bunch of scraps that coordinated, but I think they added a few that weren’t exactly in the color scheme. 🙂

We Love to Sew Gifts Review & Pencil Cup | Radiant Home Studio

I helped with some of the cutting (they can do it, but it’s neater and faster when I do). The girls did all the sewing of the fabric strips. They also did all of the decorative stitching, which was their favorite part of the project. It allowed them to experiment with all of the fun leaf and flower stitching patterns. I did the edge sewing on the top and bottom, which they also could have done. They wanted neat lines and knew I could sew straighter.

We Love to Sew Gifts Review & Pencil Cup | Radiant Home Studio

We Love to Sew Gifts Review & Pencil Cup | Radiant Home Studio

Overall, we enjoyed the project. There was a lot of room for creativity in choosing fabrics and fancy stitches. And the girls were proud of what they made!

We Love to Sew Gifts Review & Pencil Cup | Radiant Home Studio

Based on my experience, I think a 7 to 10-year-old could do these projects with mom assisting. A 10 to 12-year-old with some basic sewing skills can manage the projects alone, and an older girl can most likely teach herself to sew using this book, the sewing machine manual, and some determination. There are several books in the We Love to Sew series, and we will definitely be purchasing more in the future!


Book Reviews, Sewing

Airport Sling from On The Go Bags

Last year I had the opportunity to contribute a pattern to the book On The Go Bags by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay. In order to help with some of the sewing questions from the book, share our projects, and run some sew-alongs, Lindsay and Janelle created a Facebook group for the book. This month, they hosted an Airport Sling sew-along and I decided to join the fun.

Boho Airport Sling from On The Go Bags | Radiant Home Studio

I love the interesting zipper pocket the Janelle included on this bag and I wanted to learn her method for sewing it. With only the book illlustrations for help it might be a bit tricky to sew the pocket, but the sew-along photos and tips are so helpful that the process seemed much easier. Many of the ladies in the Facebook group had never tried a bag with so many details, but they still ended up with beautiful bags and learned some new skills in the process. It has been fun to see so many versions of the bag in so many different styles!

Boho Airport Sling from On The Go Bags | Radiant Home Studio

I used a woven boho stripe fabric (from Jo-Ann Fabrics) for my bag and added brass hardware. I really love how it turned out. It reminds me of a Kavu bag or something that you would see in REI. The weight of the fabric was a little bit heavier, like home decor fabric, which worked well for this bag. I used some Pellon 808 and some fusible fleece at different places to stabilize parts of the bag. I also used solid gray canvas for the lining.

Boho Airport Sling from On The Go Bags | Radiant Home Studio

I made a small mistake when boxing the corners at the bottom of the bag. I double-checked the measurements 3 times (something didn’t seem right), but realized that I used the hypotenuse length instead of the height of the triangle (after I had trimmed the excess…) as my measurement. So my bag is a little bit wider and the bottom panels fold under. Not a big deal—in fact, I like it it wider—but I wanted to point that out in case you use my photos for reference.

Boho Airport Sling from On The Go Bags | Radiant Home Studio

I know it always makes me feel better to know other people’s mistakes, so I thought I would share this one too…I applied the twist lock quickly and ended up putting it on through only one layer like a magnetic snap. Fortunately, the twist lock is easy to remove. All I needed to do was cut through the second layer and screw it back on.

Boho Airport Sling from On The Go Bags | Radiant Home Studio

The bag was designed for travel, with the helpful zippered passport pocket, but it’s really a very functional everyday bag. You can purchase the book (affiliate link) for the pattern and instructions (and many more!). And if you are quick, you can still sew a bag and enter to win a prize pack through May 30th!

Boho Airport Sling from On The Go Bags | Radiant Home Studio

We’d love to invite you to the Facebook group as Lindsay begins a sew-along for the Sporty Strap Pack!

Book Reviews

5 Best Sewing & Design Books I Read Last Year (And 5 More I Plan to Read!)

The beginning of January is one of my favorite times of the year for blog reading. I love the end of the year reflections and I always look forward to reading “best books I read this year” blog posts. I read over 40 books this year, not including sewing project books that I regularly borrow from the library and browse. I love reading theology, books that challenge me to be a better wife & mother, and books about education. But I also enjoy reading books about art, design, and creativity, along with more visually oriented sewing & craft project books. Many of these are new this year, and all are published within the last couple of years. Without any further explanation, these are the 5 best sewing and design books I read last year:

Creative Books| Sewing & Design Books Gift Guide | Radiant Home Studio

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my business in this way!).)

1. How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone – This year, I discovered that I love branding and marketing for creatives. This is a topic I have been reading about for a couple of years, since starting my pattern business. I’m still learning, but I enjoy the challenge of doing my own design work and this book is the perfect guide for creative entrepreneurs like me. I have been working through How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone for a couple of months and have thoroughly enjoyed learning about color psychology using her seasonal branding system. I’m still deciding if I’m an Autumn side of Summer or a Summer side of Autumn. But I’m getting closer to nailing down my brand style as I make mood boards and sort photos.

2. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon – This book has been recommended by many creative business owners and bloggers. This is a short and fun little book, subtitled “10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.” I love the hand-drawn lettering and casual design style throughout the book. It feels as though a good friend is writing you an inspiring letter. There is so much good advice packed into this little book! I’ve read through it a couple of times now and I plan to work through it again, putting the suggestions into practice as I go. I’m looking forward to reading his 2nd book Show Your Work.

3. Handmade Style by Anna Graham – If you are following my blog, I can’t imagine how you wouldn’t already know about Anna at Noodlehead. Her bag patterns are amazing, her photos are beautiful, and her sewing style is just the right blend of modern and classic. I don’t buy sewing project books very often, (like I said before, I tend to borrow them from the library…) but I love everything about Handmade Style. I’ve made several of the projects from the book including, pencil pouches, a makeup travel case, and an organizer basket. My favorite part…all of the patterns are included on an insert at full-size!

4. A Million Little Ways by Emily FreemanIn this book, Emily shares reflections on living an artful life by reflecting the glory of God in the creative work we do. God is beautiful and as image bearers of God, we were created to reflect his beauty. There are so many helpful and inspiring parts of this book. She talks about how God’s grace holds us together when you feel like you are falling apart and how to handle criticism and self-doubt by finding your hope in Jesus. She shares how understanding the love of God keeps you from making mediocre art and how criticism can be a gift. This book is for anyone that desires to live a life sharing beauty in the world as a response to the beauty of God.

5. Present Perfect: 25 Gifts to Sew & Bestow by Betz White – I have to include a little disclaimer with this one…I was a contributor to Betz White’s blog this year, so I received a free copy of this book. Our collaborations aside, this is such a great sewing book! With 25 projects, arranged in categories for special occasions, kids, and home decor, there is truly an idea for almost everyone. I love that the projects are designed to be given as gifts and include extra notes about how to make your gifts personalized for the recipient. Not only does Betz share ideas for personalization, she also gives lots of good ideas for upcycling and repurposing old clothes. This book also contains full-sized pattern pieces and a variety of projects that even beginners can make. I’ve made several projects from Present Perfect and highly recommend it if you enjoy sewing gifts and useful home items.

There are so many amazing and beautiful sewing and design books out there I’d love to use for projects this year, plus some more books with thought-provoking advice and reflections on art and creativity. Here are 5 I have on my 2016 wishlist:

6. Beyond Cotton by Krista Fleckenstein – I love experimenting with other materials for embellishment to my sewing projects. Stamping, printing, and working with leather are some of my favorite ways to add more handmade elements to my sewn projects. Beyond Cotton looks like it is filled with ideas for projects that I would enjoy making, so I am looking forward to Krista’s advice and inspiration in this book.

7. Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style – Lotta’s minimalist style clothing is appealing. This book looks like it includes patterns for lots of basic casual wardrobe items, plus a couple of bag patterns too. I’ve enjoyed Lotta’s other books, and I expect this one is just as good.

8. Making an Impression by Gennine Zlatkis – This book is all about designing and creating stamps. Gennine’s artwork and photographs are gorgeous and inspiring. Her Instagram feed is one of my favorites. I’d love to use this book to experiment with and grow my stamp carving skills.

9. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon – As I mentioned above, Steal Like An Artist was an inspiring and practical book. I hope for more of the same with Kleon’s second book!

10. Refractions by Makoto Fujimura – Fujimura is a Christian fine artist living in NYC. His collection of essays on faith and art looks intriguing. Beautiful art points back to a creative God. I love making connections between creative work and the Creator. I’m hoping for some thought-provoking writing…

What were your favorite creative books? What are you planning to read this year?

Book Reviews, Sewing

On the Go Bags: Van Organizer

This week, I’m celebrating 2 years since I sold my first pattern. I never would have imagined that it would lead to one of my patterns would be published in a book just 2 years later. It’s is a pleasure to join the On the Go Bags—15 Handmade Purses, Totes & Organizers blog tour with some of the best bag designers in the business. These ladies have put together a beautiful book with modern sewing projects that will keep your home organized with style.

I’m also giving away a copy of the book! (This giveaway has ended! Congrats to Lunebeam!) Details are at the end of the post…but first I thought I would share a little about my inspiration for the pattern I designed.

On the Go Bags | Van Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

(This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for helping to support my business!)

I enjoy designing bags and home accessories, but I especially love creating practical items to help you simplify your life. When Lindsay shared the premise for the book—bags and organizers for specific purposes—I knew it would be fun project to work on. I spent a couple of days thinking about what would be helpful to organize around my house. Anyone with kids knows the van can get crazy messy, so I designed this van organizer to contain some of the mess! It won’t magically clean your van for you, but at least it will keep it all from rolling around the floor and out the sliding doors…

This version was made by Lindsay Connor for Art Gallery Fabrics. The new canvas is perfect for this project!

On the Go Bags | Trunk Organizer Radiant Home Studio

The pattern has a variety of elasticated pockets on each side, plus a removable divider. I wanted the inside to be big enough to carry a casserole to a potluck. A 9 x 13 dish will easily fit without the divider. Then you can pop the divider back in (it attaches with hook-and-loop tape) when you want to fill the organizer with smaller things. It’s great for the trunk, but I also thought it would be perfect to have in the front between the seats for road trip supplies. When we take long trips, there’s always a pile of stuff between the seats…and tons of trash. How great would be to throw a grocery bag in one end for trash, while the other side is filled up with snacks?

Now I’m wondering why I haven’t made another one for myself after I sent this one off to be photographed…my van is still a mess!

Here’s a sneak peek at a few of my favorite projects from the book. And thank you to Lindsay & Janelle for including me and for all of your hard work on this book!

On the Go Bags Blog Tour | Mom's Minivan Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

Would you like to win a copy of On the Go Bags—15 Handmade Purses, Totes & Organizers by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay (Stash Books). The book is available this month at and January 7th on Amazon! Add it to your holiday wishlist now, and comment below for your chance to win a copy!

On the Go Bags (Dec. 2015, Stash Books)

To win a copy of On the Go Bags, leave a comment on this post telling us what style of bag is most useful in your everyday life and why. Giveaway ends 12/15 at midnight EST, and I’ll choose one random winner. U.S. winner will receive a hard copy, and winner outside the U.S. will receive an e-Book.

Find out more about the book, the designers, and the projects by following the posts at these blogs!

On the Go Bags Blog Tour

Tuesday, Dec 1: Shannon Fabrics / Sew Sweetness
Wednesday, Dec 2: Clover & Violet / Ann Kelle
Thursday, Dec 3: Radiant Home Studio / Melly Sews
Friday, Dec 4: Sew Caroline / Mia’s Creations
Saturday, Dec 5: ikat bag / imagine gnats
Monday, Dec 7: sewVery / The Girl Inspired 
Tuesday, Dec 8: Stash Books / Fabric Mutt
Wednesday, Dec 9: Pellon
Thursday, Dec 10: Simple Simon and Co / Mrs. H
Friday, Dec 11: Emmaline Bags / Lindsay Sews
Monday, Dec 13: Sew, Mama, Sew


Book Reviews, Pattern Review, Sewing

Basket from Handmade Style

I’ve been following Anna at Noodlehead for years. When I discovered she was working on a book, I knew it was something I would want to have in my sewing book library. Anna has a great style that mixes modern fabrics with handmade coziness. She uses clean simple lines, but always adds extra details that make her projects unique. After debating which project to make first, I decided on some practical gifts for friends that are getting married soon.

Basket from Handmade Style by Noodlehead | Radiant Home Studio

I’d love to make every single project in the book, but I started with this basket. It’s such a versatile design that I’m sure there are dozens of uses for this around the house. Plus, I love the leather handle detail!

This basket is a gift for a friend that is getting married in a few weeks. I always find it fun to choose fabric for my friends. This friend made it easy by registering for lots of clean, natural looking items with blue accents. I used a navy geometric home dec fabric, with linen and leather accents.

Basket from Handmade Style by Noodlehead | Radiant Home Studio

The basket construction is fairly simple, but be sure to check Noodlehead for the pattern errata. There’s a typo in the cutting measurements, so it’s important to find that before you get started. The trickiest part is trying to press and fuse interfacing to the bottom of the basket after it is formed. I used a rolled piece of fabric on the inside as a makeshift tailor’s ham so that I could press the bottom of the basket.

Basket from Handmade Style by Noodlehead | Radiant Home Studio

I managed to finish one more this week. This one is made from a thick upholstery linen. I think the lighter weight home decor fabric worked a little bit better for this project, but I still love the simplicity of the linen and leather for this one.

Basket from Handmade Style by Noodlehead | Radiant Home Studio

I’d love to make some more to store my own sewing supplies! I’m excited about some of the smaller book projects as well, which I hope to try with my daughter and some of her friends that are learning to sew. Add them to my never-ending list of things I want to make…