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book review! by kate wells of katydidcrafts

August 3, 2010

Sew Darn Cute: 30 Sweet & Simple Projects to Sew & Embellish by Jenny Ryan. (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009)

Jenny Ryan’s book Sew Darn Cute: 30 Sweet & Simple Projects to Sew & Embellish is chock-a-block full of projects that are just really so darn cute!  Going a step beyond other pattern and project books, Ryan provides a wide variety of 30 projects with encouraging advice about adding cute embellishments out of great combinations of fabric, patterns, and notions.

If you like Japanese crafts, you’ll love her aesthetic.  She takes somewhat traditional projects like quilts, tote bags, clutches and baby toys and brings a sort of vintage-modern appeal to them.  Projects are divided into themes such as Pretties (fashion accessories), Totables (a variety of bags), Nest (items for the home) and Kid’s Stuff (self-explanatory here).  I especially like that Ryan gives tips on how to recycle and reuse materials in new ways and includes creative use of notions for decoration in addition to practical use.

The book does include some beginner sewer how-to’s including some tips on tools and techniques, but overall I think that it’s probably best for somebody with at least a basic understanding of how to sew using a machine and understand sewing instructions.  The instructions and patterns are generally easy to follow.  My only suggestions would have been to add some kind of rating system for difficulty level.  Most of the projects are very simple and easy for a total beginner; however, there are some that would be more appropriate with a little bit more experience.

I decided to use it as an opportunity to learn to sew a zipper and worked on the Merit Badge Wristlet bag.  It was a perfect size for using up some smaller scraps of fabric and I was able to find some lovely fat quarters for sale at Fabrika.  I decided not to add the merit badge embellishment, but I really liked the pattern for the bag itself.  It was a bit tricky to figure out the zipper, but that was more likely because it was my first time putting one in.  I also found the instructions a bit confusing related to the handle and found it easier to make my own.  But overall, I really liked the project, would use the pattern again and was able to finish it within two hours.  And I use the wristlet all the time!

written by Kate Wells

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