Merchant & Mills : A Book Review

by Hannah


A couple of years ago I was on Wiksten Tee kick. After living in those shirts for a few years I started looking for another tee to obsess over. When the new Merchant & Mills book came through the door at Bolt I found my answer, the Bantam Tank! I love the aesthetic of this book and enjoyed sewing from it. The patterns are very adaptable and great for everyday. They suit the casual woman and the business woman alike.

Merchant & Mills is very clear and I’ll be sure to reiterate for them that this book is not for a beginner.  


Their illustrations are beautifully done with clean lines. 


Here’s the Bantam dress which also can be sewn into a t-shirt which is what I chose to make. 


Just In: Handcrafted by Alison Glass, Alexander Henry and Birch Fabrics

We are so excited to have the complete line of Alison Glass's latest edition of Handcrafted, her modern styled batiks. Take a look-see:

To add to the Alison Glass love around here, we also have a couple copies of her applique book that is a delight to page through. Sure to spark some projects!

Yesterday we also welcomed the new group, Beyond the Sea from Birch Fabrics. That means organic cotton! You're not seeing double in the first photo--one of those sweet circle prints is on their lush cotton knit.

The folks from Alexander Henry never disappoint. A couple of apple prints so cute, we ordered them in regular cotton and coated cotton. And, hearts and skeletons--they do them right.

washi dress

By Cameron


Finally, after months of seeing lovely Washi dresses parade through the store and hearing rave review from customers ("it fits everyone", "you can make it up in a day", "I've sewn five of these!"), I decided to give it a try. My expectations were high and I was desperate for some easy to wear dresses, and the Washi did not disappoint.


Made by Rae has put together both a great garment and a fun sewing experience. It's simple to put together, and even simpler to fit thanks to elastic shirring in the back. The finishing details keep the dress looking sharp without adding extra fuss. The original pattern comes with a couple sleeve and collar options, but you can also pick up an expansion pack here, to give yourself even more options. I'll admit that I've wondered more than once if a closet full of Washi dresses wouldn't serve me just as well as the hodgepodge of options I have now...


What really sold me on the Washi is how versatile it is. You can use anything from a voile to quilting weight cotton. I've been dreaming of one in a heavier weight natural linen. I'm sometimes hesitant to sew with prints, but the Washi dress is a great vehicle for prints. The louder the better! An African wax print or one of our hand dyed block prints would be perfect.


Have you made a Washi? Or do you have another go to sewing pattern?


A+ Skirts

A+ skirts from Make it Perfect patterns is a very easy and wonderful pattern. This skirt takes just a couple hours from pattern tracing to completion, and just an extra hour for adding a lining like this skirt sample. The simple A line silhouette is flattering on any body type, and depending on the fabric you choose, this can either be a casual garment or perfect for special events or the office. The pattern comes with 3 variations, that can be spiced up even more for endless options for your favorite A-line skirt. You can add trims, linings, use contrast fabrics for the pockets or yoke, and embellish your skirt with embroidery. Almost endless options! Also, this is a great pattern for all year round sewing. The pattern does not come with instructions for adding a lining, like I did in this sample, so here are some quick tips on how to do so!

You do not have to do this step if you are using a solid fabric on the outside, but since I used an eyelet, I had to back the pocket piece. I simply sewed the lining to the pocket piece so they were one piece and constructed the pocket as instructed in the pattern. You do not do the pocket steps for the lining skirt.

Complete the instructions for the skirt -minus finishing details- for the outer fabric and lining, so you will end up with 2 skirts essentially. Remember, the lining does not need pockets.

Next, sew the lining to the outer fabric at the top of the waistband with right sides together. Edgestitch the seam allowance to the lining. Press right side out, and continue with the pattern's instructions for finishing. A tip for making sure the lining doesn't pop out at the hem: you can hem the lining 1/2" shorter than the outer fabric and add a strand of embroidery floss, or a chain stitch, a little ways up from the hem of both skirts to connect the lining and outer fabric. If you want the lining to stick out, for a cute design detail, do the opposite, and hem the outer fabric more than the lining.

You now have a brand new skirt!

Happy sewing

The Poolside Tote

By Nadia

I had so much fun making the versatile and elegant Poolside Tote by Noodlehead, from the fabric shopping to the edge-stitching. It’s quite a sophisticated design, with enough attributes to be a functional and stylish carryall, but minimalistic enough to have an uncomplicated and rewarding sewing experience. What I love most about this bag (and tote bags in general) is their ability to showcase great fabrics. I decided to keep the colorful and textured exterior fabric as the main focus, accenting it with simple, natural mochi linens for the handles and facing and then a bright lining of shot cotton to really make the orange come alive. 

The pattern instructions and pictures were thorough, although I would recommend perhaps an 1/8 yd more of interfacing than the pattern suggests. The pattern’s current interfacing requirement was just short on allowing me to interface the bag facing. This is the first time that I’ve made a tote bag from a pattern, so really everything was an experiment. I used Stacey Shape flex as the interfacing. I liked the result although the finished product was a much softer bag. If you prefer more structure, you’ll definitely want an interfacing that’s less flimsy. The pattern’s main fabric requirements will also give you a lot of extra scraps. You can choose to either cut back on your yardage a bit (depends on your fabric width) or get creative and use your scraps for some interior pockets, fun appliqués, or even your next quilting project! I also added some extra length to the handles as a personal preference. Whether or not you choose fun embellishments like a key chain or a zippered pocket, this tote will happily accompany you wherever your day takes you be that a beach vacation or trip to the market!