Thursday, 25 October 2018

Wabi-Sabi Sewing Book Hop: Helping Hands

Welcome to the second stop on Karen Lewis' new Wabi-Sabi Sewing Book!  This book tour flows between blogs and Instagram accounts. Check out #wabisabisewing on Instagram to find posts related to the book.  'Wabi-Sabi' is a Japanese aesthetic celebrating beauty in that which is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. It embraces flaws, irregularities, wear-and-tear and finding contentment in what we have.  Karen has created twenty home decor projects embracing a wabi-sabi approach and covering a range of techniques (piecing, applique, sashiko for example).  She uses a variety of natural fibre textiles -barkcloth, linen, quilting cotton, denim- and a restrained colour palette to make a beautifully harmonious sewing book.   

I chose to make the Helping Hands mitten-style pot holder.  Part of the book's ethos is to use what you have so I used offcuts from a couple of projects- barkcloth from a dress and a heavy Art Gallery denim from a bag- along with thread, large eyelets, small hammer style rivets, leather, insulated fleece and wadding scraps all from my drawers and cupboards.

There are cutting plans, photos and diagrams alongside the written instructions so it's a quick, simple make. You can't tell from the book photos, but the upper section is shorter than the back section to make it easier for your hand to slide in.

I added some hand stitching in linen thread as I had such a lovely colour match, I couldn't resist fitting it in somewhere!  

I used a single rather than a double binding as the fabric was quite thick.

For me, Wabi-Sabi Sewing is a springboard type of a book where looking through it leads me on to make something inspired by it, so, after making Helping Hands,  I made another potholder- standard rather than gloved and with other fabric scraps.  This time I used linen left over from my Burnside Bibs and some Japanese print kitchen-themed scraps. I pinned the scrap on to the top layer, frayed the scrap edges and used running stitches and linen thread to attach one layer to another.

 I've recently been trying the Clover open-sided metal thimble for any hand sewing where I need a bit of push and I really like it!   It does leave a bit of a metallic scent on the skin but it is strong and with the adjustable prongs at the front, I found I could easily adjust it for a close fit.  I used a size M.

The quilting was the same sashiko stitches pushed through the layers.  The lines are a little wobbly and uneven as hand quilting is not my strongest sewing skill, but the effect is soft and textural.  For the loop, I used Prym snap pliers to cut out a little hole in the potholder corner and in the leather before slotting the small rivet pieces in and using a hammer to close them together. I've had these rivets for ages and I've put off using them as I wasn't really sure if I'd need a special too, but it turns out that a wack with a hammer is perfect!

Wabi-Sabi is such an appealing idea. We could all do with finding perfection in the imperfect, rather than constantly striving for more.  Wabi-Sabi Sewing is a lovely gentle book which guides you through the projects; nothing too challenging but still plenty to learn, and there are fast or slow makes depending on your mood.  The photos are pure eye candy with Karen's trademark blues, greys and mustards flowing through the imagery, gorgeous! I've got a copy of Wabi Sabi Sewing to giveaway today on Instagram today @verykerryberry and watch out for other's doing the same in the book tour.

Large Eyelets
Small rivets
Wabi Sabi Sewing book - Amazon, Book Depository, signed copy
Insul fleece
Linen thread
Prym Vario Pliers
Clover metal thimble


  1. oh my gosh that is a beautiful potholder! something very special for your kitchen - nice work!

  2. This looks such a fabulous book I know exactly who to get this for for Christmas. x

  3. They both look great! And hwat I think is important too: it looks like they feel nice, am I right?
    Must be a lovely book. I like this style very much and leaning towards it more and more. Do you know a Japanese lady called Akiko Ike? I once met her in France at a Quiltmania show where she worked on one of her samples. Great to see.


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