Sunday 13 April 2014

Book Review: Zakka Handmades

Time for a book review!

Today I'm reviewing Amy Morinaka's book Zakka Handmades: 24 Projects Sewn from Natural Fabrics to Help Organize, Adorn, and Simplify Your Life.


Zakka Handmades contains 24 projects, divided into four sections: everyday, bags & pouches, baby & young child and handmade kitchen.

Zakka is a term I read a lot on sewing blogs, but I was never sure what it meant. Apparently, "In Japanese, it refers to the small necessities of everyday life"... "charming and practical items".

The projects in the book are mostly sewn but there's also some simple crochet included, as in these delightful little purses (one of my favourite designs from the book). 

Amy's designs use simple shapes and natural fabrics, embellished with patchwork, applique, crochet, embroidery and carved eraser stamps.

They manage to somehow be simple and detailed, plain and colourful, all at once!

I really love this tote decorated with raindrops...


... and these lovely little bird pouches.

Most of the templates are provided at actual size (hurrah!). There are clear diagrams to illustrate the steps and lots of helpful tips throughout the book. It's also nice to see variations included for several of the designs, showing how different a project can look with a change in fabric.

The book itself reflects the simple, unfussy look of Amy's designs with simple layouts and fonts, and some pages that are printed to look like natural brown paper.

Often with "simple" sewing books you see the same projects repeated over and over (e.g. a pencil case, a basic cushion, some bunting, a phone cosy, some coasters), and with good reason - it's hard to come up with new, interesting things to make that are still easy to sew!

The good books make these simple projects seem fresh and interesting, turning a basic "boring" project into an "ooh I want to make that" project. There are lots of designs in this book that made me go "oooh", including these lovely coasters...

... but I was also pleased to see some projects included that I've not encountered before: a rice therapy eye pillow, a key cover (to stop your keys scratching things), an insulated bento lunch bag and a wrap-around chopsticks holder.

The full title of this book doesn't really fit the contents - adorn, yes, there are lots of cute and pretty things in here... organize? I guess, there are a couple of fabric boxes included... but simplify? not really, a bag with a simple design doesn't magically "simplify" your life.

But a slightly odd title aside, this is a lovely little book! I can see it being a great go-to book when you want to make a handmade gift.

Zakka Handmades is published by Creative Publishing International. RRP £14.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy of this book. The Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links].


Manu said...

ohh, the bird pouches... so cute!!

Bugs and Fishes said...

They're adorable, aren't they? Great for using up small scraps of pretty patterned fabric, too :)

Anonymous said...

Are the projects sewn by hand or by machine? I know that in Japan- where this style comes from - they do a lot of patchwork by hand.

Anonymous said...

A bag generally simplifies your life by giving you a means of carrying your shopping rather than wondering how you are going to manage to carry things in your arms without it. The design on the front is unimportant. A purse means you can separate out your money from other things in your main bag. A fabric container gives you somewhere to put your keys and bits and pieces, therefore organising and simplifying things. So I think the title is valid.

Bugs and Fishes said...

Anon - they're machine-sewn projects though I guess you could sew some of the smaller ones by hand if you didn't have a sewing machine.