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Take Gertie Home With You

Monday, September 24th, 2012
By Twistie

If you love to sew and you love vintage, chances are you already know Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing.

It began as a Julie/Juliaesque project wherein Gretchen Hirsch (aka Gertie) worked her way through all the patterns in Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing, published in the 1950’s. Fourteen fabulous vintage outfits later, well, Gertie kept on going. she’s still blogging away about sewing vintage style clothes, and all the issues that go with them. She teaches online courses, and appears on the PBS show It’s Sew Easy.

I guess all that was left to form a complete media empire was to write a book. And that, my friends, is precisely what Gertie has done. Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing features twenty-five vintage-inspired patterns (in ten different sizes, no less!) conveniently located in an envelope attached to the book, instructions for sewing and fitting all the garments (including tips for sizing vintage patterns up and down to fit your body), advice on choosing the right fabrics and sources to get them from, all written in the same breezy style as her blog. The tattooed, bespectacled Gertie herself models all the clothes with aplomb and fabulosity… though I think it might have been useful to have at least a couple looks modeled by someone else instead or in addition to Gertie, just to show how they would look on other body types.

Still, that’s a minor quibble. If you love vintage clothes, if you love Gertie’s teaching style, if you’ve got a stack of old patterns you’d love to use if only you knew how to size them to your body, then this is the book for you.

Best of all, Amazon has it for the bargain basement price of just $22.88 (list price $35.00) and it qualifies for free Super Saving shipping, too.

The Gospel According to Tim

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
By Twistie

You all know how I feel about Tim Gunn. He is totally my gay imaginary celebrity boyfriend and I long to feed him fresh-baked scones.

But I also enjoy reading his books. He’s got a breezy, opinionated flair for language and he knows his stuff, even when I disagree with him on  how to interpret it.

Well, now he’s written Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: the Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet.

Ever wondered what Queen Victoria’s corset has to do with what you’re wearing now? Tim can tell you. What togas then mean for you now? Tim is here to explain it. How the Sixties were the downfall of underwear? Well, my guess is that one is one of those issues where he and I would have a lively (albeit friendly) debate whilst dripping clotted cream in our excitement… but I’m still interested in his argument.

It’s available right now for pre-order on Amazon (release date September 11, just in case anyone is wondering what to get me for my birthday on the thirteenth) for just $16.46 (list price $28.00) and eligible for Super Saving free shipping on your purchase of $25.00 or more.

Oh, and I’d also like to note for my fellow Project Runway fans that in an article that ran on Racked National just yesterday, Tim called contestant Ven Budu ‘atrocious’ and let it be known that the editing in last week’s episode was actually flattering to Ven. Also, gird your loins, folks, he let slip that there’s going to be an upcoming challenge in his least favorite category that ‘will not disappoint you in terms of horrible.’

Get Mod!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
By Twistie

I remember my first – and thus far last – decoupage project. It was in about second grade, an art class project. Of course construction paper and Elmer’s Glue aren’t the best materials for the craft. And of course at seven I blamed myself rather than the materials for my utter, disastrous failure.

But over the last few years I’ve been seriously considering giving it another go. These days I know a lot more about the correct supplies and my personal aesthetic is better defined. Oh, and I discovered the blog Mod Podge Rocks.

It’s an homage to a fabulously versatile and endlessly useful crafter’s tool: Mod Podge. Oh, and author Amy Anderson has written a book about using Mod Podge to decoupage your world. You can see an illustration from it above. It’s available from Amazon for just $10.17 (list price $14.95) and qualifies for free Super Saver Shipping with a $25.00 purchase.

Oh, and to make up the rest of that $25.00, you can also purchase Mod Podge, scissors, foam brushes, or anything else you need for your project.

What To Do When the Washer Eats One Sock

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
By Twistie

It’s a well-known fact that washers and dryers eat socks. It’s equally well-known that they typically eat only one from each pair they attack. I don’t know about you, but after years of dealing with voracious laundry rooms and laundromats, I’ve wound up with dozens of unmatched socks I don’t know quite what to do with.

I’m thinking what I might do is pick up a copy of  Sockology by Brenna Maloney.

In this, her second book of crafty instructions for what to do with leftover socks, Maloney gives us another sixteen adorable stuffed critters to delight folks from three to three hundred. Whether your taste is more toward the super cute ducks pictured on the cover, the wacky toe sock rooster, or the cool aliens in jumpsuits (because in old sci fi movies, astronauts from Earth wear jumpsuits but aliens are often completely naked and Maloney felt it was time for the tables to be turned… though she mercifully does not give us patterns for naked astronauts) and gloriously deranged robots (she manages to make socks into cubes!) you’re sure to find a fun, easy way to upcycle those mismatched socks into something to amuse you or someone you love.

The patterns aren’t difficult, either. They’re sewn by hand using only running, back, blanket, and satin stitch. If you’re an experienced sewer, one of these should take roughly an afternoon to do.

Even if you never make a single pattern from the book, Maloney’s breezy prose will amuse you enough to make the cost worth it. Oh, and the cost? If you order it through Amazon, that would be just $12.08 (retail price $17.95!) plus it qualifies for free Super Saver Shipping on orders of $25.00 or more. At that price, you can afford some socks just to make into monsters from under your bed or big-mouthed frogs.

All A-Twitter About Sale Fabric

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
By Twistie

Are you in the market for fabric for your next quilt, outfit, or home improvement project? Then you’d better head on over to and check out their latest sale. Right now you can get an extra 30% off all clearance fabrics with code: CLEAR612. Spend at least $35.00 (and who can’t spend that even in discounted clearance fabrics when making a quilt?) and you’ll get free shipping, too.

There are plenty of fabrics to choose from, both practical and whimsical. For instance, this cotton fabric based on Twitter is regularly $9.99 a yard at most sources. At it would usually sell for $8.48 a yard. Not bad. But now it’s on clearance for just $4.24 per yard… and then you can take a further 30% off of that! They’re practically paying you to take it away.

So if you’re looking to add to your fabric stash or need a couple yards to complete a project, go check out the sale. You’ll be glad you did.

Bead Week: Where to Get Them?

Monday, June 4th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to Bead Week at Crafty Manolo! All week long we’ll be talking about where to buy them, how to use them, beads in history, and, well, whatever else I can think of having to do with beads.

I love beads. They’re pretty, they’re fun to play with, and you can usually pick up a fair number for a relatively small amount of cash. Today I thought I would share a few favorite sources of gorgeous beads.

The one above is a lampwork bead from Shipwreck Beads. It’s a 27mm dichroic glass bead in shades of blue with a 2mm hole. I love the color, the shape, and the subtle sparkle in it. The price? A quite reasonable $9.99 each.

Shipwreck carries a wide variety of gorgeous beads (glass, wood, ceramic, Swarovski crystal, gemstones, and many, many more materials), findings, tools, books, and even finished pieces of jewelry. If you need a bead or a way to use it, this is a great place to start.


Twistie Gets a New Toy

Monday, April 23rd, 2012
By Twistie

The weather of late has been seriously bizarre. A week ago I was using the heater nearly every day for at least a few hours.  Last week we had torrential downpours complete with a massive thunderstorm. Today, for the second day in a row, I’m fanning myself and seriously considering sticking my head in the freezer and leaving it there for a couple days. Later this week? Rain is predicted.

But whatever the weather decides to do for the next few days, I’m set here in Casa Twistie. I have a gorgeous, huge oven to bake and roast warm, comforting goodies when it’s icy out of doors… and I just got this great new Cuisinart ice cream maker for when I want to take a trip to the North Pole for the weather. It’s even the same, cheery, candy apple red as the one in the picture.

The upside: This sucker makes 1 1/2 quarts at a go with a flick of a switch and a tiny bit of advance prep. Basically, once you put your milk, cream, eggs, sugar, and flavorings into the bowl, you’re roughly half an hour away from icy, creamy goodness. The base is stable and its footprint isn’t large, so it can be used or stored in a kitchen with limited counter space easily. In fact, when not in  use, the cord can be neatly fitted into a depression in the base so it doesn’t get tangled up with anything else. I love that design feature! And while it’s not precisely silent, the motor isn’t terribly loud, either. It’s much quieter than my KitchenAid stand mixer.

The downside: Well… I may find myself eating more ice cream than is necessarily good for me for a while.

The really upside: It’s available at Amazon for just $61.89 (list price $77.99) with free super saver shipping.

Oh, and if you’re thinking that an ice cream maker is great… but only if you have recipes to work from, check out this great site all about ice cream. From recipes to history to trivia, they’ve got it all when it comes to getting the scoop on frozen goodness. There’s even a page for those who don’t have an ice cream maker, but still want to make ice cream.

Daffily Delightful Detritus

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
By Twistie

Now this is a suitcase that won’t get easily lost or mixed up with someone else’s at the airport! What’s more, you can make it – or something quite similar – out of random junk you may already have in your home. If you don’t, you can easily get it at any garage sale or swap meet you happen across.

You see, all you need for this project is a hard sided plastic suitcase, some patterned fabric (in this case a print of the Virgin Mary and some floral motifs), and some Minwax Polycrylic. Not religious? No problem! Pick a floral, a great skull image, or just a cool geometrical motif. It’s all good.

And that, my friends, is the philosophy behind Mark Montano’s The Big-Ass Book of Crafts 2, where you can find more thorough instructions for this suitcase and more than 150 fun projects made of random odds and ends.

The projects range from the practical (a fabulous bejeweled backsplash for a bathroom sink, and a wide selection of homemade bags and purses) to the whimsical (my personal favorite is the corset composed entirely of zippers), to the downright disturbing… but in a harmless way (those baby doll head salt and pepper shakers will probably haunt my nightmares, even though they make me giggle).

Whether the random stuff you have on hand is wooden hangers, zip ties, buttons, colored paper, scraps of wood or fabric, old eyeglasses cases, ribbon, beads, bottle caps, newspaper, or tin scraps, you can find plenty of ways to use them up with this book. Most of the projects could be easily finished in an afternoon, too.

But the really great thing about this book and the other two in the series (The Big-Ass Book of Crafts and The Big-Ass Book of Home Decor) isn’t the specific projects, though they are weird and wonderful in their own right. No, the really great thing about them is that they help you see the potential in the random, the cast off, and the humble. That means these books are a great jumping off point for your own imagination.

Whether your personal taste runs to the bizarre or the gently understated, the silly or the profound, there’s a lot you can do with the discarded to make your life – and those of your friends – more charming and more unexpected.

And at just $12.81 and free Super Saver shipping if you spend over $25.00 on your whole order ($9.99 in the Kindle edition), it’s even inexpensive enough to leave you the money for that bag of baby doll heads on your next visit to the flea market.

I Felt You Needed to Know About This

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
By Twistie

I admit it. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for badgers. When  I was two, my parents took me to the toy store to choose my own teddy bear. I ignored them all, but refused to leave the store without the Steiff badger. I still have him. He was the constant companion of my childhood, but Diggy is still in beautiful shape.

This little fellow may not be Steiff, but he’s absolutely adorable. He’s a felted badger head brooch by UK Etsy crafter lizzieneedles. And right now he’s just $55.00. He’s regularly $78.00.

But wait! There’s more! Right now you can get 10% off of lizzieneedles’ incredible needlefelted  jewelry if you use sale code FELTOFF2011.

Now, do I want this badger, or do I want the white rabbit ring…..

A Window Into the Past, Warmth for the Future

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
By Twistie

In 1922, Farmer’s Wife Magazine polled their readers: “If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?”

More than seven thousand readers responded with letters, discussing their lives candidly. Now the best of those responses have been compiled into a book, along with the quilt squares inspired by them.

The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt offers you the chance to read the unvarnished thoughts of farm wives in 1922, and to create something beautiful inspired by their words. The templates are included on a CD-Rom.

But even if you don’t quilt, the stories are a compelling document of a world most of us can barely fathom today. And yet I see many small connections to the life I lead today. One woman talks of the fun and convenience of ordering dresses from catalogues. That’s not so different from the way I log onto my trusty computer to order goodies from Amazon and other e-retailers.

Speaking of Amazon, The Farmer’s Wife Sampler  Quilt is available from them for a mere $18.47. That’s 34% off the suggested retail price of $27.99! Oh, and it qualifies for Super Saving free shipping if your order totals at least $25.00.

I have to say, I can’t think of anything much cozier than reading some of these letters while curled up in the quilt made from the book.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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