Tag Archives: Crafts

Book review: Bust DIY Guide to Life

Bright pink, girly cover of the Bust DIY Guide to LIfe

The Bust Do It Yourself Guide to LIfe: At 368 pages--That's a LOT of book to love!

My first exposure to Bust magazine, I wasn’t even aware of the connection. A friend invited me to a “Stitch ‘n Bitch” in Lansing, Michigan. The name was humorous and perfect – an event for stitching and talking with other women! To be more kid-friendly, we abbreviated the group name to SNB.

Although most of the others were knitting or crocheting, I decided the word “stitch” entitled me to do any kind of stitching. At each monthly gathering, you’d find me hand stitching strips of fabric into quilt squares!

As an aside, I wasn’t the only one with a loose interpretation of stitch. One creative soul used her iron and Stitch Witchery® to make curtains. (If you are not familiar, Stitch Witchery is a fusible “tape” that can be ironed with other fabric to make a hem.) That day the weather was so nice, we sat outside. The girl making the curtains set up her ironing board in the yard and made magic!

Jump to the present. I’ve moved away from Lansing and the SNB crew, but I still quilt, sew, make soap and any other crafty project I come across.

Getting to Know You…

In the last 6 years I started knitting too. As a result, I learned that the founder and editor of Bust magazine, Debbie Stoller, helped to popularize the term stitch ‘n bitch.

Debbie Stoller was one of the 1st feminists to embrace DIY (do it yourself) and helped change the perception of crafts from old fashion to hip. Having a PhD in Psychology of Women from Yale makes her an authority on the subject and an inspiration to me.

Since learning to knit, I have read several of Debbie Stoller’s books including Stitch ‘n Bitch Nation and Stitch ‘n Bitch Superstar Knitting: Go Beyond the Basics. I have even picked up a few second-hand issues of Bust magazine. The magazine is empowering, gritty and gets below the shellac of modern life. It is feminism for now.

The latest book from Debbie Stoller is, “The Bust DIY Guide to Life: Making Your Way Through Every Day” (published in 2011 by STC Craft). This book is empowerment through know-how. The premise is the more we know how to do, the freer we are and the more choices we have. Crafts aren’t to be rejected as some domestic carry-over from the past, but rather, embraced as enjoyable arts and skills.

But Wait There’s More!

The Bust DIY Guide to Life isn’t just about crafts. It literally covers life from the cradle to the grave. To give you an idea of the scope of this book, topics include: camping, clam digging, natural skin care, cooking, but also… home births, DIY funerals (really), plumbing, financial security, among many other topics. As the introduction says, “…DIY is not just about making things – it’s also about making a life.”

Each topic is a stand-alone article that was originally published in Bust. As a graphic designer I enjoyed the fun design, project photos and illustrations curated by Laurie Henzel, Debbie’s co-founder of Bust.


Some people might not enjoy all the double entendre, but that’s simply the Bust coming through! (Did I mention that Bust is sexy like a librarian?) If you have young ones or certain sensitivities, I have to issue a “potty mouth” alert!

This book is smart and sassy. It holds 15 years of accumulated wisdom expressed in the way only Bust does – worldly wise and cut the crap!

Check it out!

P.S. Amazon.com has sample pages from the book, so you can see for yourself!


This IS my Grandmother’s sewing–Part 2

An antique paper measuring tape from Sears.

A paper measuring tape from Sears.

I had so much fun with the first post about my Grandmother’s sewing kit, I thought I’d share more photos.

Taking Measure

The back of the measuring tape above reads:

“It is easy to order clothing from us by mail.
The services of a tailor are not required in taking your measurements.
Any member of your family, or a friend, can take your measurements correctly
by following the simple instructions printed in our catalog.
Compare our prices with prices others ask for clothing of equally high quality.
Remember, we guarantee to send you perfect fitting clothing or return you money.
Sears, Roebuck and Co.”

 This is serious business! I can almost hear the dignified and authoritative MALE announcer reading the copy over the radio.

Contrast & Compare

Advertising was and is everywhere. These artifacts of the 1950s through the 1970’s appealed to the sewer’s rational side. Much different from the emotion-driven ads of today!

The copy was so loooong! Now it would be one phrase repeated over and over.

The biggest difference is customer service! Made to order, custom clothing by mail for the average Josephine is amazing! If you know of a store that offers this TODAY, I’d like to know about it!

More Pictures for Your Viewing Pleasure

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When Shall We Meet Again?

My next post will be a review of  The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. Look for it on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at noon.

See you soon!

This IS my Grandmother’s sewing!

Sewing Thread in teal tackle box

I still have many of my Grandmother's old threads.

Needle Pulling Thread

My first (fuzzy) memory of sewing was at age 3. My Mom must have been mending something and I wanted in on the “action”. Lucky me, my Mom gave me a real needle and thread and a wash cloth to sew. What I remember most: tangling the stitches and asking my Mom for help. I knew I could do better than that! Well, it must have made an impression because I wanted more!

My Dolly & Me

A few years later while playing at my Grandma’s house, my sister and I came across my aunt’s dolls and their complete wardrobes that had been left behind when my aunt moved into her own place. My Grandmother had sewn everything– dress after dress for each doll: an early dark-haired Barbie™, baby dolls and a little girl doll that was nearly life-size at 2 feet tall (still in her original 1960’s vinyl box with a snap closure). My sister and I played for hours and hours.

All those adorable dolls and beautiful clothes inspired us kids to sew for our own dolls. My Grandmother got us started. She gave us fabric and let us dig into the teal tackle box that she used for her sewing notions.

That Tackle Box is a Sewing Kit!

That box contained treasures. It held wooden and plastic spools of thread in a range of colors: lots of greens (pastel to teal to vibrant jungle), the same girly pink shades that my aunt would have loved, bright yellows, light blues, sherbet orange and the requisite large spools of white and black. The threads showed the changing technology: the older threads were cotton on wooden spools. The later ones on spools of plastic and Styrofoam and made of “100% Spun Polyester.”

Of course there was a thimble or two, tailor’s chalk, stitch removers, measuring tapes and needle threaders. But also, stuffed into the box were hefty brass zippers appropriate for my farmer Grandfather; a tiny tool for repairing zippers with special “zipper wax”; lots of biased tape and binding with labels that all proclaimed that they were “guaranteed color fast”. It seems to me that the box tells a lot about my Grandmother. There’s the bright and pretty items. Then there were the practical tools and the darker colors that showed she also had 3 sons and was the wife of a farmer.

Now that my Grandmother has passed on I am grateful for the inspiration and sewing help she gave me. I am thankful I am able to take care of and use the same tackle box for my sewing.

When shall we meet again?

Sunday, 1/29/12,  I will show you more pictures of the sewing kit! Talk to you then!

Patchwork Quilt. Photo credit: Katie Pedersen – sewkatiedid@gmail.com

Katie Pedersen's quilts and tutorials are so inspiring!

Serendipity struck again! I had JUST posted an invite to friends to join me for a quilting party when I saw this awesome photo tutorial about quilting! This link shows you how to  efficiently make two-color squares like the ones shown in the picture.

I love Katie Pedersen’s use of color: in this picture she uses scrappy, multi-colored fabric. What holds the quilt together is the contrast between the lights and the brights set in an off-center diamond pattern.

I will show some of MY quilts in future blogs.

See the tutorial by Katie Pedersen of Sew Katie Did!


Check it out: Sew Katie Did — a tutorial