Saturday, 26 February 2011

Sewing Stanley

Whenever I am reviewing a book that contains instructions on making things of apparent loveliness I always try out one of the projects myself.  I  imagine I am an absolute beginner who has chosen to make something for its sheer desirability.  I don't think anyone, greedily gobbling up all this colour and flowery delightfulness comes over all sensible and selects something on the basis that it was suitable for a novice.  It is so disappointing if a book promises more than it delivers

The biggest difficulty I have with the three gorgeous books by Cath Kidston, Sew! Stitch! and Make! is the huge choice.

A union flag pencil case perhaps...

It may look as though I have already made this perfect Cath Kidston take on our national flag but I have not.  It is all down to the great photography and clever styling in this book that all the pictures of the projects look as though you could just reach into the page and appropriate the pieces of Cath Kidtson's whimsical cleverness for yourself.

Perhaps I should make the little purse, all the materials for which are tucked into the cover pocket of Stitch!

In the end I chose Stanley

Each book has some extra goodies in a pocket inside the front cover

As well as the little kit to make the purse described in Stitch! and a needle case filled with needles and a needle threader inside Sew! there are patterns and charts to help make birds, flowers, a plane...

And of course a pattern for Stanley

The model for this  little soft canine bean bag, and a number of the CK doggy fabric prints, is Cath's wire haired fox terrier Stanley.  I wanted my project to be made entirely from my stash of fabric and trimmings and it just so happened I had some Stanley print.  I didn't have any suitable 'beans' for filling so I had the idea of putting  a layer of polyester wadding either side of a piece of heavy duty interfacing, as well as applying a piece of iron on interfacing to each of the outer fabric pieces.

Allocating last evening for making up my project I wanted something that was  hand sewn.  Friday night is not a time for setting up the sewing machine and working away in my craft room while JTH sits by the fire sipping wine and watching something not very challenging on television.

The instructions are simple and very clearly explained.  Any tricky techniques and the reader is referred back to the clearly illustrated section at the front of each book which explains all the basics .  This section also contains more lovely photographs of the equipment everyone needs (or perhaps desires) for a well stocked work basket, set out like beautiful collages. 

Stanley is sewn together on the outside with slip stitching.  This might sound rather labour intensive but as well as the actual act of hand sewing being soothing (well I find it so) it also helps in easing the pieces together to get the shape right.  I also think details such as the curvy tail would be very hard to achieve by the 'rights sides together, seam and turn right way out' method. The instructions were simple straight forward and easy to follow

As I began to sew my little dog up I remembered while I didn't have any polystyrene beads, I did have lavender so I abandoned my poly wadding idea and used lavender following the stuffing method in the book (use a small teaspoon and add a little at a time). 

I didn't have any felt to make the collar and identity disc.  But I did have ribbon and a tiny silver dime, with a hole in it.  I found it on the pavement near my home when I was a child, the dime has been kept with my jewelry and moved from box to box ever since.  I knew it would come in handy one day!

All three books are a real joy.  Full of wonderful projects, good just to look at as well as make and fill your home with happiness. No 1 daughter (whose kitchen contains china and linen in Cath Kidston pinks, blues and greens) spotted the books when she came to call this morning and poured over the illustrations with many oohs and ahs.

As the sun shone briefly this afternoon I nipped out into the garden with Stanley and photographed him amongst the crocuses


Anonymous said...

Gorgeous dog. Those books look fab and how great to have some treats included.

Love the covers too - so vintage :)

Moo and Mouse said...

He's just gorgeous, as are you're lovely crocuses.
Emma x

spinndiva said...

Oh! I love Stanley! These books sound very intriguing! I might have to keep an eye out for them! Thank you for this review!

Florrie said...

Lovely sweet smelling Stanley, a gorgeous bit of stashbusting and the dime collar.
florrie x

Tracy said...

I am rather keen on Stanley. I love the story about the dime on his collar.

It has been fun to find your blog. We lived near Hampshire when I was a young thing and I've enjoyed reading about your doings there. Thank you for visiting me too.