First of all, anyone who might be expecting something that resembles a "professional" review in any way... well... avert your eyes!!! This is just me rambling on about a book I was lucky enough to win.... ;)
Right! So, Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule, of SouleMama fame;
The day I got the book I couldn't resist having a quick flick through it - and from that I have to say that I was rather disappointed. Being a bit of a craft/repurposing nut, there was little in the form of projects that I haven't seen before, either in other books or on the Internet, so with a sigh I put it aside and went about my business. (I have to say here though that I loved the vibe of the book, the feel of it, the pictures...)
Last night however, I sat down with a cuppa after dinner and actually read it. The whole thing. From cover to cover. Imagine that... actually reading a book... as opposed to just looking at the pretty pictures, as I had done.
Well. That will learn me to just flick through - judge a book by it's cover if you will, because this IS a gorgeous book.
I discovered that Amanda is a woman after my heart, albeit a more productive, eloquent version. ;)
She loves vintage, she loves old, she loves "thrifting" or opping to those of us on this side of the world. She is a 'homebody'. She tries to tread lightly on the earth. She loves to make things for her family and to enjoy them and to dream.
This book is intended for the novice or beginner sewer, in my opinion, as most crafters would have come across most of the projects in this book already, as I had, as we are a curious and searching bunch, but after reading it, I don't think it should be limited to this group alone.
It is also undoubtedly aimed at 'Mamas', although there are projects that anyone could do and enjoy, but there is a lot of using your kids art work or making things for or with your kids - which I loved.
The book is divided into sections;
- Nourish: Projects to Inspire Family Feasts
- Nurture: Projects to Inspire Wellness and care
- Play: Projects to Inspire Imagination and Growth
- Seek: Projects to Inspire Adventure and Exploration
- Retreat: Projects to Inspire Calm and peace
There are things I like in each section; I fully intend to finally make a word banner, for example, and we have a definite need for the 'Beach Blanket To Go' and the repurposed towel rugs for the bathroom, but it really isn't the projects that I love about this book, which is odd, considering it is a craft book, but the sentiments behind them.
The book is punctuated by Amanda's musings on family, creative and home life, and I enjoyed these most of all. The small tips she shares within these sections I also found more inspiring than the projects themselves, but I did enjoy reading about each project and how she came to make each one.
Her talk of the stories behind old things, either thrifted or handed down to her within her own family, speaks to me in the nicest way. Her passion for breathing new life into the old, how she has adapted the old adage 'waste not, want not', and her conscious efforts to reduce her footprint on the earth, all made me eager for more.
The focus on family and showing love within it is pure and honest - just as love should be. The use of 'home' and 'family' in this book is totally interchangeable, I think. Home is where the heart is (except in the case of her cute 'Family Heart' which can be carried along with an intrepid traveller when they are away from home).
One of her tips, more like a side note within a piece of writing entitled 'Comfortably Worn', about how she likes to fill her home with old things, was on 'Patchwork Furniture', a tiny paragraph about patching up old & beloved chairs as they need it, was the inspiration for my latest (as yet unfinished - blasted thing!!) Work In Progress. Another of these little snippets was about how her family has a 'healing basket' which is where the family head when they are sick, tired or out-of-sorts, for some comfort, filled with necessities to make one feel a little better, "...a first aid kit, without the medicine..." an idea I am definitely going to adapt.
As the book is predominately aimed at new crafters, she has included information on repurposing fabrics (the whys and wherefores), where to find vintage fabrics (I don't know if I like that - they're all mine I tell you - ALL MINE!) and setting yourself up to start sewing - all super handy if you're a novice.
All in all, Handmade Home is an inspiring, even nourishing, book. If you are new neither to sewing or repurposing, you will find food for the soul (...or soule... sorry, I couldn't resist...) in this book, it is heartwarming and interesting. After thoroughly reading through it, I found my mind alive with ideas, sparked by something Amanda had written or kicked off by a simpler project - that in itself, the inspiration to think more creatively, or more importantly, live more creatively, is worth the cover price alone (...or it would be, hehe, if I had bought it...!).
I recommend it to Mamas most of all - it might even make you a bit teary - we're a breed prone to that sort of thing - but it will also make you look at your home with fresh eyes, and fresh ideas.