Hi all! On today’s blog tour stop I’m heading to upstate New York to visit with Cal Patch of Hodge Podge Farm. Cal and I have been friends for several years now, back when she lived in Brooklyn and had a blog named Hodge Podge Farm and a dream of living in the country. A couple of years ago she made it a reality and moved herself, her cute little Chihuahua Gertie and her blog to an actual farm. With a wood-burning stove and chickens and stuff!

Cal is another one of us multi-crafters; she is a voracious crocheter, sewer, designer and instructor (check her site for her list of classes) – she’s also the author of an amazing book that I really love, Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified. I have to give props to Cal because she’s the one who turned me on to French seams in a class a few years back – I now use French seams in many of my designs, and every time I do, I think of Cal!

So head on over to Hodge Podge Farm to read Cal’s post about Sewing in a Straight Line (including a little interview with me), and to steal a peek at her dreamy life on her little farm. (She’s also giving away a copy of my book!) Thanks for being part of my blog tour, Cal! And for teaching me about French Seams!

And what would a blog tour stop be without some goodies? Up for grabs today is a signed copy of my book and an 18-spool set of Coats Dual Duty Thread. To enter, leave a comment on this post and tell me what is a technique or tip you’ve learned that’s changed your sewing/crafting life (like French seams for me)? THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!

Thanks to Coats for sponsoring this giveaway!

PS: My grand prize contest closes this Friday – so if you haven’t already entered, click here for your chance to win a Singer sewing machine AND a serger!

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  • http://deweydeathmetalsystem.wordpress.com Deirdre

    NEAT!!! Man, I would love chickens. And I would say that learning to embroider – in particular, the seed stitch – has really changed how personal the things I make are!

  • Marni

    ohmygosh, gathering! the kind ladies who taught me how to do it couldn’t believed i had made it to 21 without learning how :)

  • http://ravelry.com/people/loveelle lorraine

    i learned how to make smocking and now i want to smock everything..i have a question..where are you posting the winners of all these giveaways..i see that they are closed but i dont see where the winners are posted or are you waiting till the blog tour is over to draw the winners.. thanks for all these giveaways by the way..they really are fun!

  • http://missingandmurderedchildren.wordpress.com Trisha

    Hi Brett,
    Congrats on the new book. Love watching KCN. The best technique I learned that has been very useful to me is folding a straight piece of fabric either crocheted or cloth in half and then mitering the corners to make a square bag on the bottom. Hope I explained that right. It is great for making purses. You can see it explained in detail by doing a google search for crochet purse pattern derrick.

  • http://thereisnoplacelikehomemade.blogspot.com/ Ashley

    I would have to same french seams as well. I have had a ton of friends who all just had baby girls. I made them all dresses. The french seams just finished everything nicely. You know it just gives it a more polished look. Thank you so much for all these great giveaways!! If I don’t win a copy of your book this will def be on my to buy list!! Thanks Again!

  • Catlyn

    I would say finally figuring out how to work zippers was a game changer for me! It opened up a whole new world of crafty goodness! :)

  • http://yahoo.com Deena Sanders

    I love the tip when you gather material – if you use a heavy thread -in a different color – run a zig zag stitch and catch the heavy thread in it – then when you gather – all you have to do is hold the two ends and then push on the material and it gathers! No more of the two strands and having it break , etc. so much easier too.

  • Amanda

    I use my walking foot a lot-everything from baby blankets to knits to quilts

  • http://mary.emmens.co.uk/ Mary

    I live in a city and have a woodburning stove! Happy to have chickens at the children’s school but not at home! Zips change my life – well not really but I was so pleased to have mastered them and use them a lot now!
    thanks for a great giveaway.

  • http://strungoutdesigns.blogspot.com Amy

    Discovering how EASY it is to make my own straps for tote bags and such! Could. Not. Be. Easier.
    AND it looks sooooo much more unique!

  • Vidya

    My all time favorite technique was to make my own bias tape using a hand sewing needle and an iron. I couldn’t believe it was so easy to make bias tape. Now I have my own stash of designer bias tape and all my sewing projects look so good and professionally finished.

  • Sarah Edmonds

    The internet has changed my sewing/crafting life–in that if there is ever anything I don’t understand in a pattern I am making, I just Google it and usually I can find out–through videos, online instructions, or from reviews of others who have made the same pattern–how to do it! Now that my mother isn’t around to ask, I’m glad I’ve got a computer!

  • Mia

    While this is not a complicated technique at all, I recall being perceived to be superstar by one of my friends when we were about 6 or 7, because I was able to help her put the draw string back in her track-pants with a safety pin while were were at a swim meet. I assumed it was something that everyone knew how to do….guess not.

  • vi

    Hope all is fun in your worldwind tor. The best adice, and perhaps the most basic, is to have an iron nearby so that you can iron seams, fabrics, edges straight. This facilitated much easier and neater sewing. Enjoy the rest of your tour.

  • Mary Ann

    It was so liberating and exciting to learn that I could create beautiful things without a pattern! Not always, but occasionally I’ve had the privilege of crafting with someone who teaches by showing not patterns and it’s an amazing experience.

  • Stephanie P

    Thanks to some amazing ladies out there, I’ve been recently inspired to

    A) repurpose clothes

    B) use clothes that I like as patterns for sewing new stuff.

    Talk about revelations!

    Would love to check out your book.

  • Lee

    I was happy when I learned to manage zippers! thanks!

  • Crystal S

    Tackling zippers has been a fear of mine for a long time, but with a video I found on your site on how to sew a zippered throw pillow has upgraded my skill level above 6th grade Home Ec level. I love to sew my own pillows, and I’ve always made them the way I learned in 6th grade, but a zippered pillow cover makes me feel like I’m a grown up now :)

  • http://mommymoxie.com/blog Nicole at Mommy Moxie

    Learning how to use (and rethread) a serger has been such an eye opener for me. I feel like my projects are so much more professional and finished. Not only that, but it saves me an incredible amount of time!

  • AnnaPK

    I would have to say shirring. So simple and the results are always so cute!

  • Chau

    Good iron and a smoothly-sanded block of wood (about 1in x 6in) are the indispensable tools in my sewing box. Running the wood block immediately over the seam after taking the iron off results in crisp and sharp seam ever. A metal edge would give the same result but watch out for the heat! Thanks for the give-away.

  • Jessica

    Making and using bias tape is something I learned recently and love!

  • Michele

    I would have to say sewing zippers. I was always scared to sew them before, but now, after taking a sewing class, I have no fear!!

  • http://quiltyascharged.blogspot.com robin

    I would have to say changing needles often in my machine.

  • Sandra

    The big find for me was learning to trim seams and corners for a neat finished look. Trimming only one seam allowance makes such a difference for something with a straight seam if the fabric is even just a little bulky. Trimming the corners carefully before turning makes a huge difference on collar points, pillow corners, etc.

  • sandy meyer

    Learn not to be afraid of using the automatic bottom atachnent. For a long time I pretended I didn’t have it then one day l talked myself into using it. Now I use it all the time and don’t think a thing about it. I ve learn don’t be afraid. I see I misspelled button. Lol

  • Jennifer W

    re: crocheting… WORK IN ENDS AS YOU GO!!! & magic circle = fantastic middles. (but I can’t seem to teach any of my other hookers how to do it?! What’s wrong with me!)

  • Katie

    I’d have to say learning to knit cables – it looked like it would be so hard but it really isn’t!

  • Esther Kidwell

    Using elastic thread to make ruffles :b

  • http://stumblesandstitches.blogspot.com Jenny

    I dream of living on a farm in the country too……. Some day….

    Can’t wait to check out your book! One tip I learned a few months (years?) into my sewing “career” is to press everything. Have your iron out as soon as you get your sewing machine out. Now that I’ve been sewing a while, it seems like a no-brainer, but back then, that tip changed everything for me!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Christine

    Neato!! :) I would have to say one of the first techniques I’ve learned – mending a seam. To me that was so very complicated but now I can do it on my own without Mommy :) Horray!!

  • Amanda

    Finally learning to knit, it has mystified me for a long time. I’m not that great yet, but at least it doesn’t seem like a foreign language!

  • http://www.lindsaysews.com Lindsay

    For quilting, I think learning to iron seams open is tops for me. :)

  • MelodyJ

    Sewing on a button. Truly. Decorative buttons can change the whole look of fabric, knit or crochet pieces.


  • Cathy Peskey

    Learning to do the perfect mitered corner. The practice was so worth it!

  • kim m

    This is going to sound silly so please remember I am a beginner. My husband (of all people) told me you can tighten the foot on the sewing machine after watching me try and try and try to get a straight seem. LOL
    mcintosh dot kimberley at gmail dot com

  • Michelle

    Alas, I haven’t learned any quick tricks yet; I’m just getting started! Hopefully your book will help. ;)

  • http://turtlesoupdaily.blogspot.com/ Stephanie

    I’m going to agree with Michelle above… I’m still learning the tricks! One thing I did learn was it’s ok not to attempt to machine quilt a quilt… and rather hand bind it!

  • Ruth D

    It’s princess seams for me. Curves and darts aren’t as daunting anymore.

  • Sabrina

    I still have a lot to learn…. but the bound button opening is the most awesome thing i have so far.
    i wish i could say it was ruffles….. but i am still sooo bad at getting them even that i must use a gathering foot . lol…. i would love to win your book!!!!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Kati

    You tube videos!!

  • Annie V

    tubular cast on and bind off really classed up the sweaters I knit

  • Ariel

    I’d have to say I’m really inspired by quilting freehand (not really sure what the technique is called) getting on the sewing machine and just going with the flow and making swirls and patterns.

  • Kristy

    OK, so this is probably REALLY lame for all you experienced sewers, but I just realized how important ironing well and thoroughly makes a HUGE difference!

  • Katherine

    I learned a great technique for sewing up the holes used for turning fabric. I can now stitich them up so they are really invisible. I love that – used to make me feel kind of disappointed to make something I liked then have a couple of inches of messy, bumpy stitiching at the end.

  • http://www.HonorCrownedCrafts.com Stephanie L.

    Your easy zipper install video has me putting zippers in everything! I’m also mad about gathering & ruffles now, too!

  • amorette

    i am embarrassed to admit that i just figured out that i should be using a walking foot to quilt! it really does make a difference, and i love it!

  • Allison C

    The interwebs. If you don’t know how to do something just look it up. There is bound to be a video or a detailed tutorial on a blog.

  • Jerri

    When I learned to hand stitch letters and flowers it really personalized the items I was sewing, even if it is just edge trimming. I love mixing up the different color threads. I also discovered pleating is easier than gathering!!

  • Kira

    Learning that a all quilt tops are pieced blocks, as in a square, removed much of what was daunting about piecing a quilt. I am still figuring it out, but at least I can figure out the steps on my own. I see lines in a different way.

  • Shannon

    Chain piecing! Oh. My. Gosh. Probably would have given up on several projects were it not for that handy trick!

  • http://sydneylovesjohn.blogspot.com Sydney

    oh, the best trick i’ve learned -hands down- is your zipper tutorial!! seriously saved my life on sewing pillowcases and pouches! thanks a bunch :)

  • Ruwaida

    i would choose learning embroidery.it surely change my sewing experience..

  • Ruwaida


  • Jessica Rindeikis

    This tip helped me sooooooooo much (before I got my awesome Singer). Instead of licking the end of your thread before trying to thread a needle, just lick the eye of the needle! The moisture on the needle works to pull the thread through better than if the thread is wet! Try it, seriously it works!

  • http://wisecricket.blogspot.com/ Cricket

    My latest trick is making my own starch and starching up those really curly thin jersey knits before I sew them. Makes all the difference in the world. And now when I do embroidery – which I do a lot of – I don’t use a hoop at all. I use some thin interfacing to prevent puckering and starch the heck out of it.

  • Katelyn

    To be honest I don’t know many sewing techniques since I haven’t really done much sewing, other than table runners! That is one of the reasons I have enjoyed reading all of the blog posts about your new book and hope that I can learn something from it!

  • http://aboushellandapeck.blogspot.com/ Laura Jane Boushell

    My button holer on my machine has changed my life! I love to make button holes now which is a good thing since I have an obsession with bright colored buttons!

  • Emily

    I wish I had a sewing tip that changed my life but since I’m a super beginner everything counts! Can I say learning to use my new sewing machine?

  • http://tricketsandwhatnots.blogspot.com/ Amy

    I’m still figuring things out – but I am really happy to be learning to make my own patterns for things. Love your blog!

  • Christine H

    I learned how to make a two piece sleeve pattern yesterday and I feel transformed. I find construction and patternmaking facinating, I just can’t get enough. It’s really great to see your book and your great giveaways, truely inspiring.

  • Jane

    My tip is, when sewing in a zipper, sew the entire length of the seam, but switch the stitch length to baste in the place where the zipper will go. Press the seam open on the reverse. Then place the zipper on the basted part and stitch in the zipper with a normal stitch length. Then use a seam ripper to take away the basting stitches.
    Now you’ve got a zipper installed flat and straight, no funky parts.

  • http://www.lelabela.etsy.com Lela

    I learned much from your zipper tutorial. Wish I had more tricks up my sleeve!

  • Lee

    I agree with the French seams! I’m new to sewing, so it’s still such a great trick to me! Love it.

  • Carmen

    Does learning to oil your machine count? Makes my machine run much smoother.

  • Andrea Zimmerman

    Just learning how to sew at 36 – so any tip is a godsend! :-)

  • http://asouthernladysramblings.blogspot.com Katie

    Measure twice cut once. I had to learn this one the hard way.

  • http://sewwell.wordpress.com Amy

    Fabric grain and what all it means for my sewing is one of the most important things I’ve learned about sewing.

  • Claire

    Hi Brett,
    I’m quite new to the site and never commented but I LOVE everything I’ve discovered so far!
    The video on sewing a zipper was a revelation! I never really knew my way around those and that video simplifies the process brilliantly! I went right away to ikea and bought a bunch of different fabric and I’ve sewed 6 cushions already. I love them. (but as a result, I’m getting a little behind my work schedule…)
    So thank you for showing me how simple it can be.
    Claire from France.
    (Sorry for the bad grammar)

  • Maria Largaespada

    well I don’t know a french seam from a french fry- but I sure wanna find out. Love your blog (and book) You inspire me!

  • Patti Smith

    I know very little about sewing but reading your blog sure makes me want to learn! You are fantastic!

  • Sarah

    I have really liked using leaders and enders when chain piecing quilt blocks. It saves on cutting thread tails, plus I’m sewing together scrap blocks while working on other project,

  • Garen Murray

    learning the patience to make my straight seams actually straight!

  • Melissa

    I think the moment that I learned it is OK to make a mistake, that most can be fixed.

  • http://www.fool4thecity.com Laura Elaine

    When I learned about hidden seams, then I thought my stuff really started looking professional!

  • Haley Zimmerman

    I’m a newbie at sewing so any tip would be helpful for me :)
    But learning the foundation sc was a game changer with my crocheting!
    Thanks for a great contest.
    Have a great day :)

  • Lonna

    The importance of ironing your seams! Sounds trivial but it makes a huge difference when your making clothes.

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