As you probably know, I’m a huge Amy Butler fan. I so appreciate that she has built a brand that has succeeded in encouraging newbies to sew, while also meeting the needs of experienced sewers/sewists. It’s a winning combination. One of the things I appreciate most about her new book, Amy Butler’s Little Stitches for Little Ones: 20 Keepsake Sewing Projects for Baby and Mom, is Amy’s acknowledgments on the first page of the book,
This book is dedicated to the sewing community at-large. Without your enthusiasm and spirit, the fine craft of sewing would not be as vibrant.
I was really impressed with that shout-out. I believe that one of the keys to ensuring sewing’s long-term success (which is important, otherwise it will be harder and harder to practice our craft because of inadequate supplies and a lack of shared knowledge) is growing a community. It seems that (and this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed this) Amy really understands that we’re all connected and integral to sewing’s success as a craft and industry.
I am a complete doofus when it comes to knowing what to give people as new baby gifts. In fact, I am eternally grateful for the whole “Target Baby Registry” thing or else who knows what I’d have given any number of acquaintances who have had babies over the last few years. However, I have a friend who is expecting his first little one ANY DAY NOW and wanted to make (of course) he and his wife something nice and thoughtful as a baby gift.
But, what to make?
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to receive a reviewer copy of Little Stitches (published by Chronicle) that bailed me out just in time.
The book is very comprehensive, with projects organized in six different categories: “Comforts” (snugly stuff), “Style” (clothes), “On the Go” (bags/bibs), “Decor” (that one’s obvious), “Playtime” (also obvious) and “Memories” (hand-sewn albums). Each of the twenty project is rated according to difficulty level, with a nice distribution from easiest to hardest, with most projects being in the middle of the range. It also comes with the most complex pattern pieces — the simple square and rectangles you draft yourself, as in In Stitches. The clothing projects are available in sizes for babies ranging from newborn to twelve months, with a (rather amusing) illustrated size chart. There are very comprehensive (if you’ve ever sewn an Amy Butler pattern, you’ll know what I mean) written instructions accompanying each project, and one or two illustrations. Each section has introduction pages of photos of the projects that follow. It is also spiral bound –which I so appreciate because it lays flat — and contains a handy pocket for the pattern pieces.
Little Stitches is definitely, and I think intentionally, geared toward people like myself (no, not complete doofuses) who are wanting to make a special handmade gift for new parents. This is definitely not a “quick and easy” type of guide that would be of use to busy soon-to-be parents who want to create some DIY baby projects. Check out what I mean:
Even though some of the projects like the last one I posted are simple from a technical perspective, it’s definitely a labor-intensive endeavor. But, I am sure that anyone of those projects would be absolutely adored by the recipients.
One of the real highlights are the toys. Seriously, I had the urge to just make them all for our friends. They’re that fun and charming. And, they really highlight vibrant fabrics.
These blocks would be great — and probably less dangerous when the little one learns about throwing things and their siblings!
And this cat thingy is just precious…
My favorite, though, is the snail toy that converts into a pillow/cushion.
There are also two bag patterns included in Little Stitches, and both are not only great-looking diaper bags, they both seem as if they’d make really functional everyday bags if you simply omitted or modified the bottle pockets. The “Modern Diaper Bag”, in particular, struck me as just about perfect as a big shopper that would work well for farmers markets — or any other time you need to haul a bunch of stuff around and still want to look cute.
The two “Memories” projects would both make lovely gifts for grandparents especially. The “Brag Book” is rated at the easiest difficulty level and is a simple, folding album with stitched details. It also integrates paper craft, which is pretty cool (love that craft cross-pollination!). I’m also too embarrassed to admit this (but not quite), but when I first saw that particular project, my first thought was “Cool! I should make one about the dog for Josh!” (Yes, I’m a dork.)
My only real quibble with this book is that the font is too small and fine to be easily read, especially against some of the darker backgrounds. My sewing style is definitely more of the glancing at the instructions as a plow through my project, and the typography does hinder that a bit, making it harder to find my place quickly and easily. I know that some people really didn’t care for having to draft out some of the pattern pieces in In Stitches, but it doesn’t bother me. My recommendation would be to create pieces on paper rather than directly on fabric, as Amy advises. That way, you can use the pieces over and over without having to repeat the drafting. Plus, the pocket in the book provides enough space that you can store your self-drafted pieces as well. You should also be aware that this is not a sewing instruction book, it is definitely for someone who knows their way around their machine, or has a good sewing reference book. The techniques used aren’t difficult, but if you’re not confident with the basic sewing techniques (although the glossary in the back is helpful), you may want a bit of support from another source.
All-in-all, I highly recommend this book as a great one for gift-givers. I can see many, many well-loved gifts coming out of Amy Butler’s Little Stitches. I look forward to sharing my project from the book with you soon! (The gift needs a few finishing touches and a trip to the post office. Sorry!)