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Improv Sewing: A Freeform Approach to Creative Techniques; 101 Fast, Fun, and Fearless Projects: Dresses, Tunics, Scarves, Skirts, Accessories, Pillows, Curtains, and More [Paperback]

Nicole Blum , Debra Immergut

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Book Description

May 8 2012
These 101 creative sewing projects can all be completed in less than a day--some in less than an hour! Playful and inventive, the projects include clothing for all ages, accessories, home decor items, and furnishings. Most feature embellishments and decorative effects -- simple touches that personalize a project with charm -- and use interesting textural fabrics, such as jersey knits, linen, and felt...even paper and vinyl! The authors walk readers through the sewing basics, demystify the lost art of simple pattern-making, provide visual guides to stitches, and give easy instructions for techniques such as applique, doodle-stitching, and layering of fabrics.

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Improv Sewing: A Freeform Approach to Creative Techniques; 101 Fast, Fun, and Fearless Projects: Dresses, Tunics, Scarves, Skirts, Accessories, Pillows, Curtains, and More + Alabama Studio Style: More Projects, Recipes & Stories Celebrating Sustainable Fashion & Living + Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Guide to Hand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe
Price For All Three: CDN$ 69.25

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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Free your creative sewing instincts with 101 projects that invite you to try everything you can imagine doing with fabric and thread --- from doodled stitches to stacked applique. There are no patterns here and hardly any rules. Simply choose your fabric (forgiving, stretchy knits work great), take a good set of measurements, and begin sewing.

Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut provide five basic clothing designs that become templates for dozens of stylish dresses, tunics, skirts, and tops, all waiting to be embellished as you like. From a ruffled sundress adorned with ribbons to a flattering t-shirt doodle-stitched with a pebble pattern, this is soft, casual clothing you'll love to wear yourself or personalize for friends and family.

In addition to dozens of wearable projects, you'll find stylish decorative items for every room in your home. From pillowcases and duvet covers to tea towels and placemats, many of these projects can be completed in an hour, and you'll be using them and enjoying their good looks for years to come.

About the Author

Nicole Blum is an artist, crafter, blogger, and sewing entrepreneur who sells her sewn jersey creations through her blog, One Golden Apple, and at craft fairs.

Debra Immergut is a senior editor at FamilyFun magazine. She is co-author of Improv Sewing and blogs with Nicole Blum at Improv Diary.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great easy-to-wear projects you can make to reflect your own style June 27 2012
By Shala Kerrigan - Published on
Improv Sewing by Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut is a collection of projects and patterns that you can make on the fly and sew using a standard sewing machine.

It's my favorite kind of sewing book. It doesn't depend on couture techniques or fussy cut detailed patterns. The patterns are made of simple lines and easy to create in the size you need. They leave some things unhemmed because knits don't come unraveled. Lots of embellishment techniques to create a look for yourself, your child or your home that's unique and artistic.

It starts with an introduction to fabric types and tips for sewing using a sewing machine with those fabrics, how to clip seams , use foldover elastic and ideas for thrift store shopping.

The instructions are very complete. If you're a novice sewer, you'll want to read through the chapters in order to understand how to put together the basic patterns before you get into the embellishments.

The clothes I wear the most are comfortable jersey knit skirts and dresses, and I like things that are easy to make and can be made with thrifted finds. Chapter 2 is Finding Your Fit- starting with how to take measurements, then using a well-fitting teeshirt your willing to cut up to use to make basic patterns. You will learn how to make a pattern for an a-line skirt that will fit perfectly with an elasticized waistband and how to make dress patterns with different necklines using the teeshirt pieces. The patterns use jersey knits for easy sewing.

Chapter 3 is Five Basic Designs. While there are several projects for children in this book, these patterns are for adults. They explain different sleeve types, and the patterns are easy wear casual pieces with lots of style. Tunics that can be dresses and skirts that could easily become wardrobe staples. Two of the skirts use woven fabrics. My favorite is the three panel wrap skirt.

In Chapter 4, Ruffles, Pleats and Trims, you'll use your basic pattern pieces with techniques like ruffles, ruching, shirring, binding and pleats to make dresses and shirts. My favorite project in this chapter is a toss up between the very feminine ruffled dressy dress and the ruffled wrap.

Chapter 5, Lines, uses lines of thread machine sewn for embellishing. This chapter has some clothing, but it also has a bunch of great home accessories that also make good gifts. My favorite projects are the nesting boxes made of canvas with great contrasting thread details and the meandering cardigan made from an old long sleeve teeshirt.

Chapter 6, Doodling, Sketching and Writing, doodle stitching with your sewing machine. Creating images and designs, this chapter has an introduction which explains the basic method. There are great home decor projects in this chapter, as well as a tubular constructed sun dress with a nice detail of leaf embroidery. My favorite projects are the fiddlehead dress with it's delicately spiraled fiddlehead fern shapes, and the potluck dish cover.

Chapter 7, Applique, has both regular applique and reverse applique projects. The scarf from the cover is in this chapter. My favorite projects are the colorful All-Weather Applique Mobile, and the easy to sew Hoodie Scarf which also makes a wonderful gift.

Chapter 8 , Stenciling, one of my favorite techniques, these are freezer paper stencils for nice sharp lines. A monogrammed shaving pouch that makes a nice gift for men and a soft knit wrap skirt stenciled with an umbrella are my favorites from this chapter.

Chapter 9 , Beyond Fabric, is non-fabrics. Sewn paper, plastic, cork, Tyvek and vinyl. I love the pencil pouch that could be made using a favorite sketch and the wind spinner made from card stock.

Chapter 10 is Upcyling! One of my favorite things in the world. Felted sweaters make long mitts, cotton fabric from old shirts and dresses to make very pretty potholders and other wonderful projects. My favorite is the wrap skirt made from 3 men's dress shirts.

Chapter 11 is Instant Gifts, Instant Gratification, super quick to sew items that make great gifts for friends on short notice. These use techniques from the previous chapters to make small, fun gifts. The loose leaf paper machine stitched to look like notebook paper can be hand embroidered with your personal note. I like the idea of stitching that with something like "Michael + Shala= True Love 4-ever" for a newly married couple. The jersey shawl is really easy to make and customize and that's my other favorite project from this chapter.

It finishes nicely with the templates for the decorations, a resources list and a complete index.
[I received a complimentary copy of the book to review on my craft blog- Don't Eat the Paste. My reviews are always my honest opinion]
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best sewing book ever! Aug. 22 2012
By debra - Published on
i had my doubts when i first got this book, as i've seen so many sewing books that are, well, blah...but was i impressed! it totally takes the fear out of sewing your own way. i kinda like doing something original and not having a whole lot of structured (read difficult) instructions and rules when i'm creating, and this book is just the ticket. i've never really made a clothing pattern of my own before, and within a couple of days, i had read through, drew up a pattern, and created the 4-panel dress, and it fits great, looks great, and it was really easy and fun-no kidding! i've converted a top into a cardigan, and i'm just getting ready to make a couple of skirts, and i've only had the book for about a week and a half! it is truly inspirational! if you love to sew, or you want to learn to make really cute, on trend clothing and other items, in a relaxed, creative, and non-stress-inducing kind of way, this is the book for you! you will not be disappointed by this book, trust me!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational May 14 2012
By Jan Whitaker - Published on
I bought the book a few days ago and have paged through it several times already. A friend who was visiting saw it and bought it the next day. It's beautifully put together and shows a lot of thought and talent behind it. I can't imagine anyone who reads it not being inspired to take on a project or two. Personally, I'm a make-it type person and I've always wanted to figure out how I could refashion old t-shirts. Now I've got several ideas in mind and can't wait to get started.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Create Your Wardrobe! Sept. 21 2012
By Amylynn McDevitt - Published on
This book is simply fun and inspirational!

I have some knowledge about knits and have been sewing several years, and wanted to get into garment making. This book really breaks it down and makes it easy. Being a creative right brain person ,sometimes books are not the thing for me, this book really breaks down and makes it easy. I have never made a pattern before but after this book I have made a dress, and two knit shirts! I am now cutting up my old shirts that were loved and worn and creating new shirts and dresses that will last!
Are you tired of buying knits that are too see through and don't last from the department stores. I have been getting tired of investing my money and throwing my clothes out after a few wears, ridiculous! Now I can create my own shirts, and dresses and know the knits are quality, and quality made.

Also check out there beautiful step by step videos on
Worth the investment and can help and inspire a beautiful and simple wardrobe!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick, fun, bold ideas! Toss your patterns! Upcycle! Nov. 9 2012
By C. Frederick - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
- Nice photography of lots of tasteful, artistic, modern sensibility sewing projects, from clothing to home accessories - beyond pillows!
- There is a consistent, low-key, organic, loose-construction, European vibe and concept to many of the designs and embellishments presented. Some ideas are quite unique. Much of what is presented in this book hangs together as a 'collection'.
- The projects are not intimidating and can be made for very little cash outlay. The message here is to get loose and start cutting things up and throwing things together. 'Forget patterns,' the authors urge. 'Be non-fussy!' The overall message winds up being very encouraging and fun! This is the 'gesture drawing' of sewing!
- The pacing of the book is well thought out. Each project introduces a new skill that you can build upon to create your own combinations of ideas.
- If you're like me and have a few boxes of clothes waiting for some creative 'upcycling' you'll find plenty of ideas, and most importantly ENCOURAGEMENT, in here for making new creations that are fun and creative without being tacky.
- Even though many of these project ideas or similar ones are available online, this is a lovely, well-designed book with great illustrations and instructions for each project along with solid basic concepts presented in the earlier sections, that I'd much rather have in a physical format than have to dig up in front of a screen. A book can be curated to a certain aesthetic, which I prefer to the broad cast of the internet.

- Non-fussy occasionally goes too far for me: A few of the clothing projects fell flat for me or seemed poorly implemented, such as the Ribbon Ruffled Sundress or the Ruched Tunic that follows it. A small minority of the clothing projects seem a bit unflattering and/or a touch ill-fitted in the photos. Even so, each design presents an embellishment or construction idea, and the near misses serve to lower the intimidation bar for experimental seamstresses.
- To that end, a few extra tips on adjusting the fit of clothing, or troubleshooting, might be beyond the scope of this book, but would have been nice.
- Many of the ideas presented in this book seem ridiculously simple. One might even categorize this book as a collection of DIY sewing blog entries. This seems to be a common complaint for many DIY books that have been published in the last few years. Not a problem for me, but some might be disappointed or prefer to go online for 'free' and find ideas.

I'm glad I made this purchase. There are quite a few projects I'm putting on my to-do list! It definitely fills a void in my sewing book collection. I will be referring to it as I work on my upcycling pile!

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