Review: Bag: The Ultimate Fashion Accessory by Sue Huey and Susie Draffan

bagbook1The folks over at Laurence King Publishing generously sent me a copy of one of their latest books: Bag: The Ultimate Fashion Accessory by Sue Huey and Susie Draffman. It’s an absolutely gorgeous coffee table book in a pleasing mini size (so that it incidentally actually fits in your bag! ;-). The bag on the cover appears to be heat-embossed so the quilting seems to jump of the page; that and the gold foiling would make it beautiful just sitting out for all to see.


Inside the 208-page book are sumptuous, high-fashion photographs of the world’s most iconic bags. Chanel, Celine, Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Hermes, Jamin Puech: they’re all there, accompanied by quotes and insights about the designers and the arm candy itself.

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In addition there are interviews with the designers and design sketches: one of my favorite behind-the-scenes things to see that really brings the bags to life and conveys the designers’ intentions.

bagbook7bagbook6The book, though not exhaustive on the history of the handbag (and notably missing a mention of some other iconic brands like Prada and Furla for instance), is a fun and fashionable romp through some of the best accessories out there. If you’re looking for a small addition to your fashion library or coffee table book collection, I’d highly recommend this (if not solely for the chic Chanel piece on the cover!)bagbook1b

Check Out Bag: The Ultimate Fashion Accessory


FTC Disclosure: I was provided 1 copy of Bag: The Ultimate Fashion Accessory for review purposes from Laurence King Publishing. The above opinions are my own. To read my full Disclosure Policy, click here.

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DIY Bell-Sleeve Coat Dress and Sweet Dress Book Review

sweetdressbook_coatdress1 Laurence King Publishing (the same publishers of the incredibly useful DIY Couture by Rose Martin) recently were gracious enough to send me a copy of their newest sewing book, Sweet Dress Book: 23 Dresses of Pattern Arrangement by Yoshiko Tsukiori. sweetdressbook_cover2Translated from the Japanese, this pattern book features 23 tutorials for making a variety of blouses, tops, dresses, cardigans, and even shorts – all engineered from a basic 6 patterns with different darts, flounces, and lengths to switch up the silhouettes. (more…)

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West Elm Flower Recipe Book Event with Studio Choo

flowerrecipebook_10Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event celebrating the release of Studio Choo‘s The Flower Recipe Book at West Elm in Portland’s Pearl District. flowerrecipebook_8Leading the event were authors Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo of Studio Choo, a renowned floral design studio in San Francisco. flowerrecipebook_1They provided tons of tips and tricks for creating beautiful floral arrangements, including creating a bed of greenery at the mouth of the container for the larger flowers to sit on, cutting flowers so their heads would sit right at the container rim, and planning the arrangement around a few key blooms. flowerrecipebook_4The wealth of greenery and gorgeous blooms available to us was breathtaking: enormous peonies, sweet pea, daisies, liliacs, ranunculus, and tulips dotted the benches at West Elm in a carpet of pinks and reds. flowerrecipebook_2flowerrecipebook_7flowerrecipebook_3flowerrecipebook_6We all walked away with a beautiful arrangement we made, a West Elm container, a pair of shears, and a signed copy of the Flower Recipe Book from Jill and Alethea. It was a fun night of learning and a great way to DIY a floral centerpiece for my dining room table.

flowerrecipebook_5flowerrecipebook_9 flowerrecipebook_11If you’re interested in flower arranging at all and are looking for a lovely book to help guide you (as well as jam-packed full of breathtaking photos, a stunning coffee table book in its own right), The Flower Recipe Book provides over 40 step-by-step “recipes” to create your own perfect arrangement, as well as longevity tips and tricks and a host of unusual and tips and tricks to gorgeous arrangements.


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The Perfect Gift for A Budding Seamstress or DIY’er: DIY Couture by Rosie Martin

Rosie Martin, the incredibly-talented sewist and entrepreneur behind the UK-based company DIY Couture has (finally!) released a book by the same name.  She runs DIY workshops and sewing events throughout London, and puts out a biannual line of instructions to create an entire clothing collection from scratch.

This first book, DIY Couture: Create Your Own Fashion Collection contains the instructions to create the base pattern for 10 unique pieces, each of which has an amazing 8 variations included within (and for those who are keeping track, that’s a whopping 80 different garments that can be made from this one single book!)

The basic pattern (or “block”) for each style is actually created by doing a ruboff (or copy) of an item of clothing you already have in your closet that fits the way you’d like it.  The instructions are detailed, illustrated, and very easy-to-follow.  There are no patterns to copy, cut out, or notch; you’re just making a pattern (or drawing directly onto your fabric) for your finished pieces…a huge timesaver in the long run.  (But trace onto paper or oaktag to keep your blocks for all the variations you could do for each Collection!)

Though it’s not “Couture” and you may not end up with a pattern that’s precisely exact to please the discerning patternmaker, you end up with something that is close enough for the purposes of the home sewist or DIY’er.  You can make your blocks using a minimum of tools (usually just marking chalk, pins, and a ruler…no French curves or flexible ruler needed!), and more importantly, since you’re making them using something you own that fits you already, every variation made from that block will also fit you.  No grading or difficult patternmaking needed!

The “Collections” are grouped into specific styles of variations on the blocks, with funky-sounding names like “Coffee Classic,” “Acid Candy,” or “Monochrome Art.”

Though an entire collection may not be to one’s specific taste, you can easily mix-and-match the style, cutting, and details of the pieces to create exactly what you want.  It’s the best road map you could ever want when it comes to DIY sewing.

I love that the style and silhouettes of the pieces are very on-trend and modern – and you can easily tailor the look of anything to mimic other pieces seen on the runways or in retail stores.  Fashion that looks high-end but is totally attainable with your own skills!

For every DIY’er interested in sewing, for every aspiring designer, for every sewist who wants the quickest route from concept to finished product: this book caters to you all.  Though this is tailored more to the sewist with intermediate skills, even beginners can try their hand at the simpler projects and work through the different pieces to gain skills and confidence.

Rating:  (4 out of 4)

Overall: An amazing resource chock-full of ideas and how-tos, using the simplest of techniques to create beautifully on-trend and modern clothing.  A MUST for any sewing or DIY library!  (And a great Christmas gift for the fashionista in your life!)

DIY Couture: Create Your Own Fashion Collection on

Have any of you guys checked out this book, or visited Rosie Martin’s site?  What do you think of a sewing book that has you draft patterns from clothes you already have?  The perfect intro to sewing – or not precise enough to be called patternmaking?

FTC Disclaimer: I received one copy of the book DIY Couture for review purposes.  I have not received any other compensation whatsoever.  The review and opinions above are my own.  To read more about my Disclosure Policy, click here.

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