Wednesday, May 5, 2010

handmade beginnings - a book review of sorts

I had to take my car to the Firestone station today and there's a Barnes & Noble very closeby. Soooo, naturally I bought a sewing (in this case, more of an inspiration) book for my reading pleasure while I waited for my service.

Handmade Beginnings by Anna Maria Horner

I haven't really read anything about it (duh, it was only published this week!) and I haven't had much luck with books like this in the past, so I picked it up off the shelf to glance through it, rather than with any intention of buying it.

I was so happily surprised to find at least six projects that I would love to make, and so I bought it!

After reading the introduction (and the title is a dead giveaway, eh?), it seems as though the book is totally about sewing for pregnancy and newborns. BUT I really feel like most of the projects are super versatile. For instance, for the three clothing patterns for women, AMH includes instructions on how to make them in both maternity and non-maternity versions.

I haven't yet tried sewing any of the patterns so I can't speak to their accuracy. Honestly, I'm not expecting much. This is where designer books tend to go astray, in my experience. The pictures, colors, and concepts are great, but when the rubber meets the road (or presser feet come down, in this case) things fall apart. This book, like many on the sewing shelves, is probably more geared towards quilters that are bridging into clothing construction rather than people who prefer to sew couture or ready-to-wear knockoffs. For me, I like them both so I'm super excited about it.

For the price of the book ($18 online at B&N), I saw five or six projects/patterns I plan to make this summer and at least a few that would make great baby shower gifts for the future:

There's a beautiful skirt, complete with instructions on how to convert it from a maternity skirt back to a regular size, that I totally plan to make. Of course, it calls for hand stitching the seam lines for embellishment, so I'll have to figure out how to bypass that and still maintain the cuteness factor.

There are two adorable tops - the Mariposa tunic/dress and a tank-style shirt that can be made into a convertible nursing top (but clearly I won't be doing that).

There's an awesome hooded jacket for kiddos that one or both of my sons will be sporting in the fall, when jackets will be necessary again. It's weird to think they won't be needing one for that long again.

There's a cute little dress pattern for toddlers that will be made up very soon. There's nothing more gratifying than sewing for kids. The pieces are so small and they tend to make up very quickly. Plus, there's no odd body shaping issues to deal with!

I am in love with this beautiful strip work obi belt. I have plans for it already.

And the diaper bag design is perfect.

I spent my lunch hour reading through the instructions on a couple of the projects and I will warn you - they don't seem written for a complete beginner. In fact, the lack of pictures and some of the descriptions could lead to total disaster if you don't have a basic knowledge of clothing construction, or at least a guide who can help you translate.

Hey! Maybe that's how I'll incorporate this book into the blog, I'll do each project as a sort of sew-along tutorial, complete with pictures? It's an idea. Stay tuned.


  1. hmm... i thought i left a comment last night.

    anyways, everything looks cute!!! i love that diaper bag!!!! have fun sewing!!!!

  2. I was going to buy that book on Tuesday! Seriously, but I couldn't find it at Borders, and G was mad that he couldn't eat his candy RIGHT THEN. I don't see myself making the maternity clothes, I'm not that ambitious, but the bag, the baby dress (hopefully, maybe?!) and others look ADORABLE!