Monday 29 October 2012

Book Review: All Sewn Up

You know the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover"? Well, in the case of All Sewn Up by Chloƫ Owens you absolutely should judge a book by its cover.

If that photo made you go "oooh", chances are you're going to like what's inside because this book is jam-packed with pretty, colourful, cute, retro designs with vintage prints and decorative details galore - both in the projects themselves and the whole design and styling of the book.

The photos are full of vintage furniture and homewares and every spare bit of space is filled with retro florals, vintage fabric borders, or cute illustrations by Gemma Correll.

The book is a lovely hardback, with a tactile fabric cover. It's got an introduction at the front, 35 projects, and then a techniques/supplies/templates section at the back. The projects are divided into 5 chapters: Cooking up a storm (including a tea towel, placemats and coasters), Cuddly companions (including girl and boy dolls and a cat doorstop), Gifts (including a mini quilt and a laptop cover), Rest your weary head (including cushions and an eyemask), and Decorations (including fabric pictures and a lampshade).

All the projects have a very retro 60s/70s feel to them and many of them feature vintage florals and other patterned fabrics. They range from the quite simple (basic fabric coasters, bunting, lavender hearts) to some very detailed projects, like this gorgeous woodland-themed table runner.

Some of the motifs are repeated between projects - for example there's a raincloud brooch, a raincloud & rainbow quilt, and a "springtime showers" mobile involving rainclouds too. There's also lots of birds (including an owl cushion), butterflies and flowers... but if you're a fan of those things, this is no bad thing!

The projects use a mix of machine and hand sewing, and there's lots of attention to detail, like the pompom trim that's added to the top of the mobile. Each project includes step by step text and clear illustrations.

If you're a minimalist at heart this book would probably drive you a bit nuts, to be honest! However, lots of the designs could be simplified to be slightly less busy if you like the idea of some retro applique but don't want to go for a full on colour and pattern explosion. For example, these Scandinavian style placemats are my very favourite project in the book (they made me say "OOH" out loud when I first flicked through it, and I love the bright colours) but I'd probably sew the applique design onto a plain background instead of the patterned one if I was making them for myself.

The only niggle I have with this book is the templates section. All the templates are squeezed into just 9 pages, and even the smallest motifs need enlarging by at least 200%. Also, not only do different projects on the same page need enlarging by different amounts, so you'd have to get the same pages copied/enlarged multiple times... but different templates from the same projects are also included at different sizes for some of the projects, so you'd have to copy/enlarge the same page twice which is a bit of a faff. However, once you've got your templates sorted I think this book will be a pleasure to sew from.

All Sewn Up is published by CICO Books. RRP £14.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: CICO Books sent me a free review copy of this book, and the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links]


RetroSandie said...

It DOES look like such a cute book!!! But, I agree, why can't they just put full size or mostly full size templates in the books?? I know, unless the project is huge, ... I guess you have to pick and choose which ones you want to do and then copy those!

Craftcherry said...

It looks like an amazing book. I would love to check it out.
The projects are gorgeous!

Bugs and Fishes said...

RetroSandie - Mostly the templates issue bothers me when the projects are small ones, which could easily be squeezed in at full size with a bit of imagination (e.g. by overlapping templates or putting some in upside down / on their side etc to fit them in the page).

Full size (or mostly full size) patterns is such a great selling point for a book - it makes it so much easier to just pick up a book from the shelf and get sewing.

Cerise - they're lovely, aren't they? :)

Unknown said...

Hello! Unfortunately does not exist in Brazil these books... would be great to have books so good ...
I love your blog ...