Still looking for the perfect gift? Try making something handmade – it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming, it simply needs to come from the heart.
You’ll find lots of inspiration in Stitches in Time by Alicia Paulson. Alicia gently encourages you to keep memories alive and part of everyday life through your own handcrafts. For instance, after going to see The Nutcracker ballet with her niece, she created a Clara doll (seen on the cover of the book) Other ideas include taking a child’s artwork and creating a stuffed toy (such as the adorable Molly the horse), making a pillow using family photos or creating a baby’s mobile using cards given at the baby shower. Alicia encourages you to take her ideas and projects and inject your own special touches; for instance, she shows several versions of the Clara doll and suggests that you create your own doll to look like a favorite book character or family member.
Alicia celebrates the domestic and the homemade, urging you to look for alternatives to manufactured perfection. Basic sewing and embroidery skills are all that’s required and clear and detailed instructions are included. The writing in this book is fun too – Alicia writes with a warm and personal voice and you’ll soon feel like she’s a close friend.
Be sure to check Alicia’s popular blog at Posie Gets Cozy where you can follow her ongoing stories of her family and crafts.
Ahh, yet another use for duct tape – making handbags!
Fun, whimsical, fresh Simply Sublime Bags by Jodi Kahn has 30 great ideas for no-sew or very-little-sew bags of all shapes and sizes. Use of unusual and unexpected materials is emphasized, from hardware store finds to placemats to pillowcases to candy wrappers, and creativity is encouraged. They range in size from coin purses and makeup bags to totes for the beach. Directions are clear and straightforward and, as promised, require little or no sewing (not all of them call for duct tape, but a few do!)
The great thing about this book is that the results are practical and pretty and are not only fun to make, they’re fun to use!
Although it’s stated purpose is to give you ideas for play and creativity with your children, The Creative Family also functions as a gentle parenting guide with projects that are designed to encourage active participation for child and parent together. Emphasis is on the handmade and imperfect; the goal here is shared experiences.
Although a wide variety of projects are given here (drawing and painting, sewing and embroidering, putting on a play, making music) you’re encouraged to be spontaneous, have fun, explore the world around you.
Included are ideas for celebrating family holidays and events, creating rituals, preserving memories with photos, transforming children’s art into personal displays for your home, and exploring the natural world season by season.
One of the hottest trends in crafting today is the influence of various Japanese crafts and styles. This is showing up especially in knitting, crocheting, fabrics and hand sewing. “Zakka” is the Japanese term for “household goods”, specifically hand-crafted domestic items such as tableware, kitchenwear, containers and even articles of clothing. Zakka Sewing by Therese Laskey is an excellent introduction to the craft – and all the translating has already been done for you!
Projects in this book reflect the Japanese aesthetic – love of nature, of simplified shapes, of careful details, of making even the humblest object into something beautiful as well as functional. You’ll find pot holders, tote bags, coasters, placemats, house slippers, even a squirrel shaped tea cozy! Quick facts about Japanese culture and crafting are sprinkled throughout. Directions are clear and detailed, although some prior knowledge of sewing is helpful. A shopping guide for supplies in both Japan and the US is included.
Spice up your crafting with some international flair!
You might think that aprons are only for stereotypical grandmas, or a throwback to the 50s when “a woman’s place was in the kitchen,” but aprons are making a comeback and for good reason. They’re practical, attractive and fun. And they’re not just for the kitchen anymore – those extra pockets come in handy when you’re gardening, crafting, even working on home improvement projects around the house.
Nathalie Mornu’s stylish book A is for Apron will show you how to make all kinds of aprons, from basic to embellished, with or without pockets, fancy and plain. The first part of the book gives instructions for basic apron construction (aprons are great for beginners because sizing is minimal), advice on materials and equipment, and clear diagrams for sewing techniques, then a brief history of aprons including a gallery of vintage examples.
The rest of the book is devoted to 25 “fresh and flirty” designs. Included are several smock styles as well as aprons for children (great for those messy craft days). Beautiful, modern fabrics make the aprons bright and fun and there’s plenty of room to add your own special touches. So express yourself – and have some fun!
One charming tradition of Valentine’s Day is to make a card for your intended; somehow the fact that you took the effort to make something by hand suggests just how important that person is to you. Love Notes, edited by Jan Stephenson, shows you how creative and beautiful a handmade card can be. Full of exquisite detail and fresh ideas from a variety of artists, the techniques used are generally easily mastered by anyone. So grab the scissors and glue gun and put your imagination to work!