Summer Sewing

Get out that machine and give sewing a try (again) this summer.

It seems like lots of people have taken an interest in making things by hand these days, whether it be bread or soap or clothing. Some of the library staff have been busy baking sourdough, making masks, remodeling, tidying, and gardening during the time the library was closed, and for some of us the creative frenzy continues even now that we are back in the library.

If you have a sewing machine collecting dust and never really learned how to use it, check out this beginner level class on how to make a tote bag from Creativebug, one of the library’s most recent additions to our online resources.

To see the whole video, follow this link: Market Tote Bag.
You will need to login with your library card number and PIN.

Everyone can use another shopping bag, right? Well, maybe if it’s a cute, lined, one-of-a-kind version! In this session, instructor Cal Patch makes sure to explain the project in terms that any beginner will understand. There’s even a section on how to thread the needle. The good thing about Creativebug classes is that they are broken up into segments; if you don’t need to watch a section just skip ahead.

I tried out this project and found it to be easy to follow, but there are a few places where you can go wrong. I had to take mine apart twice! (It is pictured at the bottom of this article):

1. Make sure to pay special attention to what she does with attaching the straps. The straps must be placed on the outside of your bag cover before you put together the lining and outer cover.

2. Copy exactly what she’s doing when she’s putting the two layers together. The outer piece, whether liner or cover, needs to be wrong side out, and the inner piece needs to be right side out. On my final try I just did what she did and it worked.

The bag and strap dimensions are left up to the maker. I cut my bag pieces to 17″x17″ for a 16″ square bag. You could make yours smaller, larger, or rectangular. Even if you aren’t a beginner, you may be inspired by this project to start sewing again


In addition to lots of Creativebug sewing classes, the library has many books on sewing. Here are a few 2020 titles for you to check out!

Sew Step by Step: How to Use Your Sewing Machine to Make, Mend, and Customize by Alison Smith, would be a great choice for anyone wanting to learn in depth how to sew. With chapters on fabrics, stitches, hems, patterns, pleats, and more, you can’t go wrong with this handy and complete guide.

Maybe your life is focused right now on your kids, or maybe you miss your grandkids and would like to send them a surprise. Animal Friends to Sew: Simple Handmade Decor, Toys, and Gifts for Kids by Sanae Ishida contains lots of simple projects to choose from.

House of Pinheiro’s Work to Weekend Wardrobe: Sew Your Own Capsule Collection by Rachel Pinheiro while not for beginners, has designs for wardrobe staples that you can mix and match to get you through the work week and into the weekend, and there are even accessories. Many of the garments would be suitable for summertime.

If hand sewing is more your speed, Joyful Mending by Noriko Misumi shows techniques for artful mending and reusing of clothing and other worn items that we still enjoy, instead of throwing them away. These attractive repairs will make your clothing more original and you will likely treasure the pieces even more.

Joyful Mending: Visible Repairs for the Perfectly Imperfect Things We Love! (Paperback)

Quilt: Modern Curves and Bold Stripes by Heather Black and Daisy Aschehoug contains 15 different projects for all skill levels. Quilting can be fun to get into because you can make a beautiful quilt entirely with simple straight lines, but the modern designs in this book are heavy into circles, a favorite motif of mine.


Sewing can be peaceful and meditative, and/or challenging and frustrating, but it’s almost always rewarding in the end. Get out that machine and those fabrics you’ve had for years and give sewing another try.

Feeling Lonely?

Stuck at home and lonely. That’s where a lot of us are right now! Let’s be sure not to confuse alone with lonely. Some people are perfectly happy to be alone to work on what they want. Many avoid being lonely by talking to friends on the phone or through Facebook, Zoom or whichever technology they may be using. Sone others, however, can be in a houseful of people and still feel socially isolated and desperate for human interactions that are outside of their family circle.

Hopefully, you are not alone and have family in the house with you and the ability to “be” with your friends.

Of course, being stuck indoors with family can also be annoying! I think everyone should have their own private space set aside where they can take time out from the world. Perhaps your bedroom with the door shut or even hang out in the laundry room or bathroom. Now may also be the time to institute a ‘quiet hour’ where everyone either naps or sits individually with a book or craft.

I have been looking at Creativebug, which is in our online resources, and have seen a lot of family friendly crafts that are easy to do with stuff you have lying around the house. There was an especially easy weaving project where all you need is some leftover bits of yarn and a piece of thin cardboard from the recycling bin to get you started.

Perhaps you have a yard you can sit in and enjoy. Why not have fun with your family and start a small vegetable or flower garden? Ask Ciscoe: Your Gardening Questions Answered by Ciscoe Morris is a great resource to get you started, and Small Garden Style by Jennifer Blaise Kramer will give you great ideas for making use of the smallest garden spaces such as patios or your deck. Early spring is the perfect time to start a garden. You may also want to see if there is a community garden in your neighborhood or a vacant lot that could become one.

While you may not be able to take a vacation right now, you can enjoy planning a trip. We have many Lonely Planet Travel Guides in ebook format to explore. Pretend you are going to Fiji, the South Pacific, Paris or Berlin! Or you can watch a show on Kanopy and take a virtual trip. On the tab ‘sciences’ under ‘zoology’ there are a number of shows about animals from all over the world. And of course, you won’t need a travel guide if you are sitting in your living room!

No matter what you find to do, it is good to remember that this is all temporary. You may even look back on it eventually and say “remember when we were all stuck at home? I kind of miss that.” Stay safe and healthy!

Keep your hands active and your mind engaged with Creativebug

Following the state’s Stay Healthy, Stay Home order is causing many of us to be a little stir-crazy right now. The library is here to help! You now have free unlimited access to over 1,000 online video arts and craft classes with the Creativebug database in our E-Resources page. Create an account with your email and a password and you’re ready to go.

Improve your skills in your favorite craft or discover something new. Ceramics, painting, sewing, quilting, paper crafting, knitting, crochet, baking, cake decorating, and jewelry making are only some of the categories offered.

Learn how to make sparkly slime with your kids, knit a custom-fit dog sweater, get your doodle on, bake peanut butter and jelly cups, or make your own bath bombs. You can spend hours just looking at all that’s available.

For knitters and crocheters there is a pattern library of free downloadable knit and crochet patterns. Crochet a sloth or knit zig-zag knee socks.

Be sure to explore the Creativebug Inspiration Feed. Browse photos of finished projects posted by crafters like you. Follow the Creativebug Instagram feed and their Facebook page for even more ideas. Watch CBTV (Creativebug Television) to meet the instructors, view documentaries and an archive of their Live Facebook videos.

New classes are added daily, so be sure to check back often!

How to stay busy: eBooks to Create, Garden, and Organize

If you are one of those people who just has to stay busy (I know how you feel!) and you’re stuck at home going stir crazy, check out some recently added eBooks that may help inspire you in a new direction.

Arts, Crafts, and Hobbies
Since I can’t do my Create @ the Library programs right now, I wanted to find some how-to arts and crafts books to keep our regular attendees, and everyone else, creating.

Everyday Watercolor and Everyday Watercolor Flowers by Jenna Rainey

Milk Soaps: 35 Skin-Nourishing Recipes for Making Milk-Enriched Soaps, from Goat to Almond by Anne-Marie Faiola

Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You Are Meant to Live by Melanie Falick

Japanese Wonder Crochet: A Creative Approach to Classic Stitches by Nihon Vogue

Crochet Every Way Stitch Dictionary: 125 Essential Stitches to Crochet in Three Ways by Dora Ohrenstein

Sew Bags: The Practical Guide to Making Purses, Totes, Clutches & More; 13 Skill-Building Projects by Hilarie Wakefield Dayton

Gardening (and Nature)
We have had some beautiful weather perfect for gardening, so while we may feel gloomy inside, if we get our hands in the soil, whether in our indoor window gardens, our small urban plots, or the ‘back 40’ we can’t help but feel some hope.

Small Garden Style: A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers by Isa Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer

The Timber Press Guide to Gardening in the Pacific Northwest by Carol and Norman Hall

The Ann Lovejoy Handbook of Northwest Gardening by Ann Lovejoy

DIY Gardening Projects: 35 Awesome Gardening Hacks to Better Your Garden by Cheryl Palmer

Field Guide to Urban Gardening: How to Grow Plants, No Matter Where You Live by Kevin  Espiritu

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy

Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm by Isabella Tree

Home Organizing
If I wasn’t working from home right now I might just try to dig in, toss out or recycle, and get organized. Maybe. If you have more motivation than I do for organizing, check out these titles for some inspiration.

Martha Stewart’s Organizing : the Manual for Bringing Order to Your Life, Home & Routines by Martha Stewart

Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness by Gretchen Rubin

The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals by Clea Shearer

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson

The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism by Kyle Chayka

I hope you enjoy some of these new-to-the-library eBooks and find ways to keep occupied and engaged during these unprecedented times we are living in.

Crafty Double-take Titles

Cover image of I Felt AwesomeFuture me is an amazingly crafty and talented person. I owe this predicted success to the hours I’ve spent hoarding craft ideas on Pinterest. Unfortunately the current me is pathetically unskilled and can only dream of making the upcycled t-shirt tank tops, tiny felted owls, and clever Chicago map quilts my heart desires. Nevertheless, this momentary setback doesn’t stop me from trolling the craft section when I’m on my lunch break. During my most recent foray to the 746’s I found my attention grabbed again and again by book titles. More specifically, I kept doing double-takes at book titles written by authors who clearly shared my slightly off sense of humor. My conclusion? Crafters are a funny, sometimes naughty, group of people.

Here are my top ten favorite crafty book titles found at the EPL:

10. Wild with a Glue Gun by Kitty Harmon and Christine Stickler. My idea of getting wild with a glue gun involves frustration, cursing, burnt fingers, tears of rage, and a half-finished pompom snowman; thankfully the ladies who wrote this book are far more creative and coordinated than I am. Once I’ve acquired some welder’s gloves I’d love to try out their scallop shells party lights idea, or the tin art that’s featured.

Cover image of Men in Knits9. Men in Knits by Tara Jon Manning. If this was a tumblr, I’d subscribe to it. This title gives handy tips to more experienced knitters (or shoppers) about what kinds of patterns are most suitable to different male body types. Patterns featured in this book are best suited for experienced knitters, but the eye candy is nice for the rest of us.

8. Socktopus by Alice Yu. Though I love the name, this is written for experienced knitters. There are loads of really elegant knit patterns, but Socktopus is short on pictures of how to do the actual stitches. Some day.

Cover image of Stitch and Bitch7. Stitch ‘n Bitch by Debbie Stoller. Aside from the catchy title (or perhaps because of it), this series is pretty popular with people looking to learn how to knit and crochet (I purchased their crocheting title, The Happy Hooker, when it was featured in BUST Magazine). Featured within these pages are trendy styles, easy to follow diagrams, and amusing banter.

6. Sensual Crochet by Amy Swenson. This may be more of an unintentionally-funny title than deliberate, because there’s not much that seems sensual about crocheting, or the contents of this book. What it does have to offer are sophisticated, current styles that crocheters can try out. These elaborate patterns are best suited for more experienced hookers.

5. I Felt Awesome: Tips & Tricks for 35+ Needle-Poked Projects by Moxie. This book is useful for beginners and more experienced crafters alike. Early sections explain the equipment needed, and provide loads of great close-up color photos to illustrate step-by-step directions. For the experienced felter, there are many fun, offbeat project ideas, such as scarves that look like racetracks (complete with felted cars) and martini olive necklaces.

Cover image for Joy of Sox4. Sweaters from Camp from Meg Swansen’s Knitting Campers. Aside from the hiking name, this book is more or less window shopping for me until I develop some skills. For advanced knitters, there are many detailed patterns to explore.

3. Too Hot to Handle? Potholders and How To Make Them by Doris L. Hoover. Enter the fast-paced world of potholders, mitts, and other skin-savers with this helpful how-to title. Readers will learn a bit about the history of potholders, as well as where the potholder industry is headed. Later sections of the book are dedicated to a variety of unique pattern ideas, as well as tips on how to upcycle old clothing to make new potholders.

2.The Joy of Sox by Kinda Kopp. This saucy number is ideal for inexperienced knitters who may be interested in adding some pep to their sox life. Early chapters are dedicated to explaining terminology, demonstrating techniques with clear drawings, and helping knitters navigate patterns.

Cover image for Still Stripping1. Still Stripping After 25 Years by Eleanor Burns. This title coaxed an embarrassingly loud snort-laugh from me in the stacks. From the homey cover shot of the author saucily tossing a fabric strip over her shoulder, to action shots of her working her sewing machine in the company of her labs – I feel like I want to get to know Ms. Burns. Thankfully I can in a way because she has a YouTube channel that hosts a large collection of her ‘how to’ videos.

I hope this list has given you the motivation to bust out the pinking shears or home-spun yarn, or at least given you a chuckle or two.