Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sweet and Simple Handmade

Hello friends,
I was extremely pleased to be asked to review Melissa Wastney's book, Sweet and Simple Handmade. First, because I was going to buy it anyway. Second, because I knew I would have no shortage of nice things to say about it.
If you read the Tiny Happy blog you'll be familiar with Melissa's work. She uses new and used materials to make sweet garments, toys, accessories, and home wares that have her own characteristic style, which I would describe as Japanese-Scandinavian-Vintage-Antipodean-fusion.

 
The book
This paperback book is published by Stash Books, and contains 25 projects. It is available here and here and perhaps in your local bookshop, too. Each project is photographed (by none other than her good self), and has paper pattern pieces or measurements and full instructions.

The audience
Melissa notes that it is intended for home crafters; grandparents, friends, aunties, parents who want to make clothes or gifts for the small people they know. It would certainly be ideal for that audience. I found myself wishing that I'd had this book years ago, because there is a simple pattern for all of the essentials that I needed back then; pants, a skirt, a Sunday-best dress, dress-up capes, a cardy, a sweatshirt, a coat, etc. There are small and large versions of many of the patterns, so they will still be useful for me with a 7 and a 9-year old.

 
The projects
As I mentioned above, there is a good selection of essentials, but also some great extras. There is a pattern for those fantastic baby shoes, you know the ones, and a grown-up's bag, a children's satchel, pencil case, a foraging bag, drawstring bags, soft toys, and a cot quilt. There is a knitting project, and some great ideas for wrapping gifts imaginatively and inexpensively. The methods of construction are explained in an easy-to-follow manner. As well, there are new ways of thinking about sewing. For example, it wouldn't have occurred to me to refashion a child's cardy from a piece of adult knitwear, but there are instructions and photos for how to do that in a very stylish way. There are some very simple projects suitable for beginner sewers, and more complex ones for more experienced sewers. If you are a sewer and you have a fabric stash, even a small one, you could likely make at least half of the projects without even going to the shops. If you do need something, you could very likely get it at a charity store. In this way, the book is extremely democratic. You don't need lots of money, designer fabrics, special notions, or advanced technical skills to achieve these looks.
 
 
Other points to note
Melissa's simple and practical techniques could be applied to a whole range of projects for adults or children. I found this book to be a great springboard for ideas- I'm planning to make an adult version of the bias-trimmed cardigan, for instance. I hope this wonderful book is just the first in a series, I would love to see a follow-up that included some of her home wares and accessories, too.
 
Worth buying?
Most definitely!
 
 
 
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10 comments:

  1. I think your comment about it being democratic is spot on. The first thing I noticed was its accessibility - simple projects with things you have available. (I particularly admired that the babies pants were for a cloth nappied baby - ah how green is that!) You really could sit down and sew from it straight away and I do like how it encourages reuse and op shop imagination.

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    1. Speaking of re-use, when are you going to start your new blog and show us your awesome kilt-refashion?

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  2. yay! i can't wait to get my hands on a copy!!

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    1. I can confidently say it will become one of the most well-used books in the collection of a mum who likes to sew!

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  3. thank you jenny! can't imagine a more amazing review. and hooray for recycling and op shop democracy.

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    1. Thank you for writing it! You clever clogs you!

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  4. almost as green as making a pair of boys trousers out of an old orange-checked curtain! Ken

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    1. Mum would like to respectfully point out that the fabric was not from an old curtain, because she didn't have any old curtains. As she recollects, Doug wanted a whole pants suit, comprising flares and waistcoat, and so she took both of you to town to choose the fabric from Penroses. The photo was awfully cute, didn't you think?

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  5. It looks like a great book, beautiful presentation from what you have shown too :)

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  6. Looks like a great book! I can't wait until my copy arrives in the post :)

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