GUEST POST: Gretchen Hirsch on her inspiration for 'Gertie's New Fashion Sketchbook'

I’m so excited about the release of my new book, Gertie’s New Fashion Sketchbook! Over the past several years, I’ve been busy writing sewing technique books with an emphasis on retro design (see Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing and Gertie Sews Vintage Casual), so this is a bit of a departure for me. Today I’m going to share the inspiration for the sketchbook and why it was such an important project for me. 

Sewists often think of sketching as something that “real” designers do. But everyone who sews is a designer! The simple act of matching a fabric to a pattern is designing. Even picking out a zipper is a design choice. Every choice you make on a project is part of its design. With so many little decisions to make, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why sketching is such a helpful tool: you can map out your ideas visually, easily changing them if necessary. 

A wonderful tool for sketching fashion ideas is the croquis, a body figure template. That way you don’t have to be able to sketch a realistic figure from scratch! And nowadays it’s easy to go to a bookstore and buy a fashion sketchbook filled with croquis, ready to go. However, the problem with the available fashion sketchbooks is that the figures can look a little bizarre: they’re strangely elongated and spindly, and twisted into strange poses that I like to call the "broken doll" or the "sad alien." That's because fashion people work with a concept called "nine heads," where the figure is nine head-lengths tall. To put this in perspective, actual people are only seven to eight heads tall. Here's an interesting image that breaks it down:

One of my missions over the years has been to write about sewing and fashion in a body-positive, feminist way. So these nine-head ladies were bringing me down. And so the idea for this sketchbook was born and brilliant illustrator Sun Young Park brought it to life. Here's how it works:

The figures are presented in a "nested" configuration (almost like a sewing pattern!), so that you can follow the lines (bigger or smaller) to represent different figures. You can make the figures smaller on top or bottom to replicate a woman's actual curves and proportions. I tested the whole thing out with some wonderful sewing friends, and it really works! But my favorite thing about it is that the height of the figures is actually realistic. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Do you enjoy sketching ideas for your sewing projects? If so, I hope you love this new sketchbook! 

Stamp, Stencil, Paint Your Way to a Colorful Life!

Textile artist Anna Joyce believes that we should all live with color and pattern every day. Now, with the release of Stamp, Stencil, Paint, so can you!

In this beautiful and approachable new book, Anna Joyce shares her signature hand-printing techniques for adding color and pattern to ready-made surfaces like fabric, ceramics, paper, leather, furniture, walls, and more. Inspired by vintage fabric, folk art, shapes in nature, and exciting new color combinations, Anna’s distinctive projects showcase the beauty of the unexpected and the mark of the artist’s hand. Following beautiful step-by-step photography, you'll learn new, easy skills to stamp, stencil, and hand-paint wonderful projects for your homes, wardrobes, families, and friends.

Anna's joy for making things by hand is truly infectious, and if you're in Portland this weekend or New York the week after, you can see for yourself at one of her exciting tour stops:

Portland, Oregon Events

New York City Book Tour

Can't make it to one of the events above (or can't get enough of Anna)? You can still get involved and learn from her with this fabulous giveaway from our friends over at Creativebug, going on now! .

The perfect book to get you in the Mood for sewing

“Designers, we’re going to Mood!”

Chances are, if you've heard of Mood Fabrics you fall into one of two categories: you are either a huge Project Runway fan OR you are an avid home-sewer, a fashion student, or an aspiring designer. Regardless, you know it's New York's go-to spot for anything and everything fabric. 

It was more than 10 years ago that Tim Gunn walked the first batch of Project Runway contestants into Mood Fabrics. This week, the experts behind this fabric power- house bring their fabric and fashion know-how—plus their behind-the-scenes stories—to the sewing public. The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion is the ultimate guide for the home-sewers, fashion students, aspiring designers, and Project Runway fans who want to learn everything they need to know to choose and use quality fabric. Drawing upon the expertise of the Mood staff, the book teaches readers the fundamentals—from where fabric is produced to the ins and outs of its construction—and features a fabric-by-fabric guide to cottons and other plant fibers, wools, silks, knits, and other specialty fabrics.

Intrigued? Hear what Tim Gunn has to say about it

And if you're a frequent shopper at Mood (or would like to be!), take advantage of the promotion that is going on on their site right now! Buy a copy of the book from their site and you'll be automatically entered to win a $250 gift card to the store. 

With the changing seasons, we're shaking things up over at STC Craft

The shifting seasons mean lots of exciting things for us here at STC Craft: a new list of books to share with you, new projects, and new growth and colors all around us. We are excited to present to you a whole new roster of books to get you motivated, teach you something new, and empower you to add a handmade touch to your world. Click on the covers and catalog below to get a feel for what's in store this fall.

We also want to share some news with you. As you may already know, we are entering a new chapter with the departure of Melanie Falick, founding editor of Melanie Falick Books. We celebrate the wonderful program she created here, and we are dedicated to continuing to provide the beautiful, inventive, and inspiring craft books for which STC Craft / Abrams is known. There are many great things on the horizon as the craft and DIY marketplace evolve, and we're so excited to have a front row seat to our readers' creative pursuits— and to broaden and enhance our craft list as a part of it.

Stay tuned! We'll begin to unveil our new crop of projects soon. Meanwhile, kick back, relax, craft on, and savor these remaining weeks of summer.

—Your Friends at STC Craft


We loved learning embroidery from Rebecca Ringquist-- and now you can, too!

Earlier this spring, we were lucky to have Rebecca Ringquist come in the Abrams office and teach us some skills from her latest book, Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops.

Scroll through to see the team in action!

hard at work on our stitch samplers

hard at work on our stitch samplers

Check out this amazing finished piece from Abrams' own Lindy Humphreys, Senior Director of Digital Assets & Technology

Check out this amazing finished piece from Abrams' own Lindy Humphreys, Senior Director of Digital Assets & Technology

If you're interested in learning more about embroidery on your own-- now's your chance! Our friends over at Creativebug are offering this amazing beginner package! Get the details over there, and win a sweet beginner pack (plus the book + a 3-month Creativebug subscription so you can follow along and learn with Rebecca, too!)

After a successful book tour, Sherri Lynn Wood is still making waves!

You may have met the multi-talented Sherri Lynn Wood on her cross-country tour to launch The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters this spring.

If you missed her, here are a few lovely recaps from events at Thimble Pleasures in Chapel Hill, NC; Sewingly Yours in Lewisville, NC; and Malaprops in Asheville, NC.

If you managed to catch Sherri on tour, then you may know that she received over 250 requests and 165 completed submissions for the ten test quilt scores in the book. You may have even seen some online or on display at recent shows like Modern Quilt Guild's QuiltCon in Austin earlier this spring.

Good news: if you happened to miss them (or if you can't get enough of them), you can join Sherri for a test quilt blog hop going on right now! Click the link above to see where test quilters will be showing off their variations of Sherri's test patterns, and get inspired to try one out on your own!


Have you tried one of Sherri's patterns from The Improv Handbook? If so, we'd love to see your results!

Sherri Lynn Wood's Improv Handbook Tour: The Full Schedule

Sherri Lynn Wood is taking the sewing and quilting world by storm with her new book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. And now, she's crossing the country to help spread the word—and you can join her!

We kicked off the tour on Friday, May 8th, with a performance at Sew Modern in Los Angeles. Check out these bright and inspiring images plus a great recap from the event on Sherri's blog, Daintytime, here

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SLW book tour.jpg

And of course, make sure you catch Sherri when she comes to a city near you:

Saturday, May 16, 12 - 2 PM, Conversation

Rosie's Calico Corner, 7151 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92115

Sunday May 17, 9 AM - 4 PM, Teaching

San Diego MQG, Quilt in a Day, 1955 Diamond St., San Marcos, CA 92078. Register in advance. 

Thursday, May 28, 7 - 9 PM, Presentation

United Church of Chapel Hill, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, (919) 942-3540

Friday, May 29, 6 - 8 PM, Performance

Thimble Pleasures, 225 South Elliott Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, (919) 968-6050

Sunday, May 31, 10 AM - 5 PM, Teaching

Triangle MQG, Durham Catering, 3710 Shannon Rd. Suite #117, Durham, NC 27707. Register in advance. 

Monday June 1, 5 - 7 PM, Presentation

Sewingly Yours (Triad Area), 1329 Lewisville-Clemmons Rd, Lewisville, NC 27023, (704) 575-9234

Tuesday, June 2, 4 - 6 PM, Conversation

Malaprops Bookstore, 55 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC, (828) 254-6734

Wednesday, June 3, 6 - 8 PM, Performance

Sewn Studios,3212 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45209, (513) 321-0600

Friday, June 5, 3 - 5 PM, Presentation

International Quilt Study Center and Museum, 1523 N 33rd St, Lincoln, NE 68503, (402) 472-6850

Saturday, June 6, 5 - 7 PM, Performance

Fancy Tiger, 59 Broadway St, Denver, CO 80203, (303) 733-3855

Sunday, June 7, 9 AM - 3:30 PM, Teaching

Front Range MQG, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall 3, 15200 W 6th Ave Frontage Rd, Golden, CO 80401. Register in Advance.

Tuesday, June 9, 10 AM - 12 PM, Performance

Scrap Apple Quilts, 144 W. Brigham Rd. #23, St. George, UT 84790, (435) 628-8226

And if you can't join Sherri as she travels from state to state (or even if you can!), you can be part of the action by following along on her month-long blog tour this May.

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters is Coming to a Shop Near You

The final piece in our fabulous lineup of spring releases is Sherri Lynn Wood's Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously.

For the quilter looking to break free from the confines of step-by-step instructions and predictable patterns, Wood (of brings a flexible approach to quilting that knocks traditional instruction aside. Instead, she presents 10 frameworks (or scores) that create a guiding, but not limiting, structure.

To help quilters gain confidence, Wood also offers detailed lessons for stitching techniques key to improvisation, design and spontaneity exercises, and lessons on color.

Every quilt made from one of Wood’s scores will have common threads, but each one will look different because it reflects the maker’s unique interpretation. Featured throughout the book are Wood’s own quilts (more on view here!) and a gallery of contributor works chosen from among the hundreds submitted when she invited volunteers to test her scores during the making of this groundbreaking work. For inspiration, you can check out some variations on her Rhythmic Grid score in this image gallery.

Sherri is also coming to a shop or guild near you! Check back later this week with more info on her in-store national book tour. First stop: this Friday, 5/8, at 6:30 pm at Sew Modern in LA!

And that's not all—all month long, Sherri will be making digital appearances on favorite blogs from Sew Mama Sew to Spoonflower. Check out the full list of blog tour participants here!

A World of Artist Journal Pages is here!

Next up in our list of spring releases is A World of Artist Journal Pages by Dawn Sokol!


Art journaling is typically a private activity, but anyone who has ever journaled knows that there's no inspiration quite like seeing the work of other artists you admire. In this colorful and exciting new book, Dawn Sokol breaks into the journals of over 230 artists from all over the world to showcase a selection of over 1000 captivating pages.


As an added bonus, behind-the-scenes interviews, plus a list of techniques and materials used for each page, give you a glimpse inside the minds and toolboxes of new and established artists.


A World of Artist Journal Pages is available now, everywhere books are sold! Check at our gallery of sample pages and scoot over to Dawn Sokol's blog for Q&A outtakes.


And enter to win a free copy by entering Dawn's giveaway before April 28 here.

Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops are coming to a bookshelf near you! PLUS a giveaway!

We're thrilled to share our new book Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops--and to tell you about a pretty fantastic giveaway!

Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops is based on the popular classes Rebecca Ringquist, embroideress extraordinaire, teaches around the country. For the novice or experienced embroiderer who appreciates the value of beautiful stitches but also likes to break a few rules along the way, Rebecca teaches everything from the “proper” way to form a French knot and transfer a design to a canvas, to new ways to stitch three-dimensionally, mix and match machine- and hand-stitching, and so much more.

Also featured are instructions for 20 innovative projects, including a cloth sampler designed especially for the book (and packaged in an envelope at the back), table linens, wall art, and clothing embellishments.

Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops is available today everywhere books are sold. To see more gorgeous photos from this book (all taken by the inimitable Johnny Miller), check out our gallery. (To see a few photos that Johnny took that we didn't have room for in the book, be sure to check out Johnny's site.)

For any New York-based readers, don't miss Rebecca's book launch gathering at The City Quilter (133 W. 25th St, NYC) on May 5th at 6 - 7 pm! More info.

Giveaway Alert: We're also thrilled to give all of you a chance to win this amazing embroidery gift pack--an awesome starter kit for the beginner embroiderer, or a great set of goodies for the experienced stitcher. *Three* lucky winners will receive this gift pack featuring the following items:

  • One Pack of Super Solvy Water-Soluble Transfer Material
  • One Sulky Transfer Marker
  • One Pack of DMC Embroidery floss
  • One Pair of DMC Embroidery Scissors
  • One DMC Embroidery Floss Organizer
  • Three packs of Clover Embroidery Needles
  • One Clover Disappearing Ink Marker
  • One Pack of Clover Flower Head Pins
  • One Pack of Weeks Dye Works Embroidery Floss
  • One Pack of Weeks Dye Works 2 Strand Floss
  • One Pack of Weeks Dye Works Perle Cotton
  • One Skein of DyedFiber Perle Tencel
  • One Dropcloth Sampler "Pysanka"
  • Three 3-month Creativebug subscriptions for you + some friends (check out Rebecca's classes here)
  • One copy of Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops
STC Prize Packs-7510.jpg

actual package contents may differ slightly from the photo above.

To enter: just comment in the blog below (tell us why you should win!), andfollow STC Craft (@STC_Craft), Rebecca Ringquist (@dropcloth) and Clover USA (@cloverusa) on instagram between now and April 21st!

Good luck!

The fine print: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington D.C. who are 18 or older as of date of entry between April 14 and 21, 2015. To enter, comment on this blog post and follow STC Craft (@STC_Craft), Rebecca Ringquist (@dropcloth) and Clover USA (@cloverusa) on instagram from April 14 – 21, 2015. Limit one (1) entry per person. Contest ends at 11:59 p.m.ET on April 21, 2015. Three (3) winners shall be selected in a random drawing to receive an embroidery prize pack.Visit for full official rules. Void where prohibited.

Natalie Chanin is Back with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns!

Today is an exciting day—Natalie Chanin, founder and creative director of Alabama Chanin, is back with the book fans have been waiting for: Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns

If you've ever dreamt of creating your own Alabama Chanin wardrobe (and really, who of us hasn't?), this exciting compendium takes the Alabama Chanin library to the next level, offering all the patterns from Chanin’s first three books on a convenient CD, plus instructions and patterns for new skirts, dresses, tops, and jackets, with illustrated guidelines for customizing the fit and style of each. 

Hand-sewists: this is a key guide to customization. This invaluable resource is bursting with information about the ins and outs of refashioning shapes, raising and lowering necklines, taking in and letting out waistlines, and other key skills for creating the wardrobe of your dreams.


Chanin also provides guidelines for adapting patterns from other popular sewing companies to the Alabama Chanin style: stitched by hand in their signature soft, organic cotton jersey and embellished with swirls of stenciling, embroidery, and beading.


For more inspiring peeks into the book, check out our image gallery. Or, get your hands on a copy today, wherever books are sold!

It's time to create your own Pretty Prudent Home!

Jacinda Boneau and Jaime Morrison Curtis, the creative and fashionable ladies behind the leading design and lifestyle site, are back with more of their inspiring advice for making beautiful things, food, and experiences for family and friends. We are in love with all of the charming yet modern projects, ideas, and recipes featured in their new book on sale this week, Pretty Prudent Home: Your Ultimate Guide for Creating a Beautiful Family Home.

Part design book, part DIY guide, Pretty Prudent Home offers us projects both simple and sophisticated, plus decorating ideas, party plans, and more, to inspire us to create a home both stylish and liveable, all interspersed with charming banter from these two long-distance BFFs. 



We've been crushing on so many of Jaime and Jacinda's adorable projects on these pages, and we're excited that we finally get to share to share them with you! Check out our image gallery for more sneak peeks from inside the book, read about their Pretty Prudent-inspired sale (and how you can win a $250 credit at Zulily!), and watch their adorable book trailer below!


Amy Herzog is back with Knit Wear Love!

Thousands of women--of all different body types--discovered Amy Herzog's straightforward methods and friendly advice for creating flattering, fashionable sweaters in her first book, Knit to Flatter. Today Amy is back with more real-talk for knitters in Knit Wear Love. This time Amy is addressing personal style: how we identify what we love best and then how we edit that down to what looks best on us and what we want to knit. Then come the patterns, in 12 sizes and 3 gauges, with a trove of customizable details that we can mix and match. Forget one size fits all, this is couture . . . made easy!


For more smart and stylish sneak peeks from this book, check out our image gallery and Amy's Ravelry group. 

Drawing Is Magic: Grab Your Pen and Discover!

Have you ever been stuck with the problem of not knowing what to draw? Do you  feel a longing to create "something" that is yours alone? "Something" that you can explore and own?

In Drawing is Magic: Discovering Yourself in a Sketchbook, John Hendrix, professional illustrator (maybe you've seen his work in Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, or the New Yorker) and associate art professor at Washington University in St. Louis, takes you on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery and challenge. Pick up a pen and follow his prompts and you are on the path to finding your visual muse.

"Outfitted with your trusty sketchbook as a new lens, you're going to see your everyday life in a new way."

"This sketchbook is a shiny new set of playground equipment. And you are a kind who can't play the wrong way."

So . . . 

Check out more pages from Drawing is Magic here. And head over to John's Tumblr to see doodles and drawings from his students, illustrator friends, and maybe even a guest post or two from us!

Materially Crafted From A Subtle Revelry's Victoria Hudgins Hits Stores Today!

Victoria Hudgins of the blog A Subtle Revelry is one talented lady with an impressive knack for creating easy and stylish DIY projects that bring joy to the everyday. Today she (and we!) are bursting with excitement because her charming first book, Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed, goes on sale. In it she shares her delight for crafting bundles of fun projects, and teaches us the basics of how to work with these essential materials fuss-free: paper, spray paint, wax, concrete, clay, thread, fabric, plaster of Paris, glue, wood, and metal. 

And proving to us that there is probably nothing she can't do, this mother of twins also created this delightful book trailer (in her spare time, we guess).

To see more pretty pics from Materially Crafted, click here. And, of course, you can buy a copy wherever books are sold. 

It's HERE! STC Craft's Spring 2015 Catalog Has Arrived!

We're thrilled to present our fabulous spring 2015 lineup! We're proud of this spectacular list of innovative and gorgeous books, and it's our pleasure to share them with you! Click here to see the full catalog.

We'll begin with a burst of ingenuity. Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops: A Bend-the-Rules Primer is a guide to embroidering free of traditional restrictions (and it comes with a cloth sampler for you to stitch yourself!). Sherri Lynn Wood paves the way for quilters to toss their rulers and templates and forge their own unique patchwork path in The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously.

Victoria Hudgins (of A Subtle Revelry) introduces Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed. Jamie and Jacinda, the ladies of Pretty Prudent, share a treasure trove of easy and budget-minded home decor tips and projects in Pretty Prudent Home: Your Ultimate Guide to Creating a Beautiful Family Home.

And some of STC Craft's bestselling authors are back with new books. Knitting superstar Amy Herzog follows up Knit to Flatterwith Knit Wear Love: Foolproof Instructions for Knitting Your Best-Fitting Sweater Ever in the Styles You Love to Wear and Natalie Chanin and the Alabama Chanin team add to their elegant clothing collection with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns: A Guide to Customizing a Hand-Stitched Alabama Chanin Wardrobe, which comes with a CD that includes all of the sewing pattern for this book and the first three books in the Alabama series. 

If a creative jumpstart is what you're looking for, illustrator John Hendrix is ready to guide you with Drawing Is Magic: Discovering Yourself in a Sketchbook, and art journaling champion Dawn DeVries Sokol showcasess inspriation from around the globe with A World of Artist Journal Pages: 1000+ Artworks, 230 Artists, 30 Countries.

We're also excited to announce that Abrams has just launched a new gift and stationery line, Abrams Noterie. View their full catalog here.

Keep an eye out for more on these books throughout the season!

All books are available for preorder on the Abrams website or wherever books are sold.

And We're Off to QuiltCon!

We here at STC Craft have been very busy at the start of this year, working hard to shape up our fabulous 2015 lineup (More to come on that next week...)

In addition to prepping for some extraordinary spring titles, we've been making the rounds at plenty of shows. We hope any industry folks were able to catch the fabulous Amy Herzog previewing her new book, Knit Wear Love (out next month), in early January at TNNA in Phoenix. And same goes for any NY-area knitters: we hope you were able to stop by and meet some of our authors signing at Vogue Knitting Live in Manhattan last month!

Next up is the expansive (and growing!) QuiltCon event, put on by The Modern Quilt Guild, and beginning in Austin today! Will you be there? We're thrilled to partner with Austin-based Stitch Lab again this year, hosted at booth #216. We'll have books on sale, authors signing and displaying quilts, a special giveaway sweepstakes package with goodies from Windham and Aurifil, a preview of our spring books, and an advance launch of Sherri Lynn Wood's brand new book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.

Will you be at the show? Stop by and say hello!

There's still time to add a touch of handmade this holiday season

Whether you're headed to visit family, planning a dish for a friend's New Year's Eve party, or staying home with the kids, here are some ideas for last-minute gifts to add a little handmade element to your gifting this year.

Last minute stocking stuffers (or gifts for the people you definitely didn't forget):


Textile Bookends from Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti


Wool Rose Fascinator from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza


Pencil Holder Heads from Playful by Merrilee Liddiard


Patterned Stationery Set from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

For the gracious host or hostess:

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Denim Apron from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

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Wool Felt Oven Gloves from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis


Antiquarian Animal Votive Holders from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Gift toppers to add a little flair to your wrapping:


Christmas Corsages from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner


Arts and Crafts Ex Libris Set from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza


Pocket Notecards from Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti


Needle-Felted Snowman from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner


Lavender Wand Sachets from Handmade for the Garden by Susan Guagliumi

Don't see what you're looking for? Try our posts from recent holiday seasons: 6 Quick & Easy Gifts to Complete in an Evening and 5 Handmade Gift-Packaging Ideas