Book Review – Little Sew & Sew by Christine Leech


Mr X Stitch Book Review

Who is it for?

Anyone who has an interest in basic making and embroidery.  I find it ageless, it would suit both the young and the more “experienced” sewers alike.  It is a part of a series of related crafting books published by Quadrille, under the heading of Simple Makes.  This gives away who it’s recommended for doesn’t it?!  However the book does have ideas for those with a little more skill, thus the encouragement here is to begin somewhere and get better, no matter your level.

It is one of those table top books.   It has been reviewed by Marie Claire which gives weight to this idea; they commented that it is “stylish” whisking “craft out of the church hall and into the sitting rooms of hipsters and fashionistas”.  Suddenly craft has become something more than something to do, it has purpose and a place in society.

The projects could be started, paused and begun again, as they are simple yet engaging.

Little Sew & Sew by Christine Leech

 

What does it contain?

The book has two uses as I see it.  Simple sewn projects are divided into sections, some for the home, some for her, some for children.  In each section, we find embroidery ideas to decorate the pieces made; yet these same embroidery patterns could be used on anything, thus we can really have fun embroidering our own objects that we have.

There are over 50 embroidery patterns and 16 projects, so plenty to keep you going and choose from.

I love the paper used inside.  It has a matte card like quality to it and stands away from the more glossy cover.  The book itself is soft back, but isn’t too permeable.

The staging of the projects and the overall style of the book is appealing; small drawings are merged with imagery of the final outcomes, so we can observe the whole process.

 

Helpful hints for what you need to begin.
Introduction and subsequent “pre project” sections.

I liked how Leech explains how to use the book straight off, then gives an introduction.  This means that we never become confused, she has it all planned out for us.  The book itself has a personal handwritten feel.  Within the introduction, she tells us personal stories which went on to inspire pages of this manual.  I liked the comment at the end, where she states that “embroidery is the new yoga”.  I understand where she is coming from, as I am sure a lot of you readers do too….stitching can be very calming and therapeutic.

For the newer members of the sewing brigade, there is a helpful “recipe” of essentials needed for making.  Although this may seem basic to some, it could be invaluable to those who don’t have that prior knowledge, as none of us like to keep asking others or googling; the answers are given here before we ask the questions.

One of the highlights for myself was her notes on using embroidery floss.  To be honest, this is something that could so easily be overlooked when you already embroider, as it just comes naturally; this shows her skill as a teacher.

Embroidery thread advice, clearly illustrated.

Project sections

For The Home

The projects within this section are great for gift giving and for those with and without kids.  One I really liked was the Embroidered Peg Bag.  It is a very easy bag to make and the embroidery is bold.  Anything to make hanging the washing out more fun.  (I like it when I have an excuse to make something and this one definitely has it’s use….of course you could just make the practical bag without the embroidery, but that wouldn’t be much fun would it?!)!

The embroidered peg bag

Note:  On each project there’s a box detailing the stitches used, which are diagram taught at the beginning of the book, thus it all links in nicely making the book as a whole easy to follow).

Stitches are clearly illustrated, shown as you would embroider them yourself.

Other fun projects within this section include:

Not just a comfy seat..an embroidered comfy seat (just remember to remove all the pins!)
Ideas for those storage boxes, which you will have made yourself and find copious objects to store in them.
For Her

I  loved the elephant and the embroidered top within this section.  Again, both are practical objects…what’s not to love?

Embroidered elephant clearly colour detailed.
Easily made top, it could be sized for you or someone else.

Or what about these hanging hearts?  What I like about this project, is that it’s achievable, it’s “doable”….

Hanging hearts, artfully staged for this photo shoot.
For Children

The final one I will mention from this section is the Children’s Keepsake Samplers.  Such a cute idea!!  I have seen children’s drawings on fridges, in frames, even engraved on necklaces.  But never have I seen them embroidered!  I think that it shows real appreciation for your kids time making them if you actually embroider them.  So again it has a dual purpose, good for you both!  The ease of display is also a bonus, the embroidery hoop you used can be left on and hung from any old nail.

Framed and ready to hang children’s drawing, saved forever.
These samplers could be hung grouped together for a nice feature.

Finally, the lettering embroidery tutorials within this section could be taken and used to decorate anything.  They are actually rather beautiful and as monogram art is particularly fashionable right now, they could be used on a jumper, cushion etc.

Beautiful lettering, illustrated in both embroidered and drawn form so that the style is visualised.

Lastly…

At the back, there are all the needed templates for the designs, so no excuses that you can’t draw!  There is also a list of stockists, which is particularly helpful for those who are beginning and need to be directed.

All in all this book is a worthwhile read; it might not be one I would read over constantly, but I would certainly turn to it for ideas for gift giving and even those beautiful embroidered letters.  It focuses of hand embroidery over machine; which can be rare in this world of the quick is best.  Personally I still think that being given something hand stitched is a treasure; it shows thought; whereas in the past it may have been seen as the “cheap” option…now it has become a fashion all levels can embrace.

Little Sew & Sew: Over 30 Delightfully Simple Sewing and Embroidery Projects by Christine Leech is published by Quadrille and is available from all good retailers. Why not buy your copy from our Amazon store?


xAilish
As a freelance artist, designer, lecturer and tutor (how do I narrow down that description?!) I have been contracted by numerous arts organizations to provide Talks, Workshops’ and Masterclasses’ in Textiles, Print Making and Fine Art subjects.  These include branches of the Embroiderers’ Guild, Textile Study Groups and The Women’s Institute.  Every year I teach at The Knitting and Stitching shows and exhibit with the Artist in Action stand. I had my first solo exhibition in March 2016 and have been part of numerous group exhibitions.  Currently I am columnist for textile art publication “Be Creative with Workbox”; having also written articles or had work illustrated in Stitch, Inspired, Embroidery, Selvedge, Daphne’s Diary, Prima (online), Cloth Paper Scissors and the Batsford book ‘Be Creative with Textile Art.'
xAilish

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