Susan Beal is a freelance crafts writer based in Portland, Oregon. Besides being the editor of Stitch Magazine (a U.S. title) and blogger at West Coast Crafty, she has also written for titles such as, ReadyMade, BurdaStyle, and CraftStylish. She is the author of several craft books covering subjects including, quilt making and beadwork.
Hand-Stitched Home is her most recent collection of patterns, ranging from bags and cushion covers to table runners and an Ottoman. It’s an eclectic mix of projects aimed at every level of proficiency. The projects give detailed lists of the materials needed for each project, together with step by step instructions to guide you (although no pictures, which may have been helpful).
Several of the patterns did stand out, which I will definitely be having a go at, although I may need to make a few slight adjustments when it comes to my fabric choices, due to availability. The projects that would be top of my list included; Plaid and Wool Cross Pillows, Soft Baby Blanket, School Days Messenger Bag, and the ultimate challenge… the Jacquard Cube Ottoman.
I do however have one gripe about this book. The constant advertising. The author uses fabrics provided by Pendleton Woolen Mill Inc throughout. It’s clearly a fabric she enjoys working with, and is passionate about (some of it is rather attractive), but it did feel like hard sell to use only Pendleton fabrics for the projects in the book as every page contained some form of advert. Now I know that pattern books generally recommend certain products in order to achieve the same finish, but in this instance, I actually found it a tad off-putting, especially as, being a UK based reader (and the book is available to buy here), it is advertising products that are unavailable over here, as the company does not dispatch outside the U.S. There were no suggested alternatives, which is a minor issue, as it wouldn’t be too difficult to source similar types of wool material.
The book is rounded off with a timeline history of Pendleton Woolen Mill and the development of its fabrics, which is an interesting read, but I would suggest reading this first and just diving straight into the patterns. If you’re a novice sewer then you can’t go wrong by checking out one of the many free online sewing classes, such as, Professor Pincushion, if you run into any problems, or just want to be shown how to do a particular step, before you start work.
Nice book, shame about the adverts.
Book info: Susan Beal | Taunton Press Inc. | 7 October 2014 | 160 pages