Friday, 21 January 2011
Book review: Made at Home by Lisa Stickley
The lovely people at Quadrille Publishing sent me Lisa Stickley's gorgeous new book to review. From first sight it's a delight. The instructions and cutting layouts are quirkily hand drawn in charcoal and white with occasional splashes of red and yellow. The beautiful colour photographs follow this simple colour palette too, misty, atmospheric shots that make you long to stitch up every project and create the same perfect shabby-chic home.
If you own this book the section on basics (equipment and techniques) is all you will ever need to make some lovely hand made treasures. I decided the only way to test the book properly was to make up one of the projects. But which one? Cushions, place mats, napkins or an apron? Hard to choose, but I decided to be prettily practical and begin with the suit carrier. Delving into my stash I came up with remnants from my kitchen/breakfast room curtains (the fabric might look a bit fancy for a kitchen but I was going through my theatrical period when I made them)!
When I sew I tend to use patterns and project books for the ideas and cutting layouts and then launch off on a frolic of my own when it comes to construction. When making the suit carrier I decided to follow the directions to the letter, trying to put myself in the position of someone who had never sewn before. The instructions are very simple, set out clearly and prettily on the page (I like the tiny irons and scissors that dot the page and love the hand drawn-ness of the diagrams).
If I were being very picky I would say a couple of the instructions are a tiny bit confusing. For instance in explaining how to apply the binding Lisa says to stitch it 'all the way round the first front half' then 'repeat this on the corresponding straight edge of the second half' But I think this shouldn't be too much of a bear trap for a beginner, cross checking to the illustration it was clear that the binding is applied to the straight sides only of both halves of the front .
I have made clothes, all my curtains and the odd cushion but not something like this. And despite a more or less efficient system of storing out of season clothes in the wardrobe in the spare room, I have always relied on flimsy dry cleaners' bags. Now I've finished my first Lisa Stickley project I am bowled over by its loveliness, after a rummage in my stash box I have found enough fabric for three more!
Oh and the fabric Lisa uses! Almost all of it looks like good cotton with the same screen printed design, keeping to the charcoal, yellow and red colour scheme. I wonder where I can buy some?!