Monday, August 17, 2009

SouleMama's "Handmade Home"

On Saturday I found a very special package awaiting me at the mailbox - my pre-ordered copy of Amanda Blake Soule's "Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures" plus "Bend-the-Rules Sewing" by Amy Karol. Both are gorgeous, inspiring books written by popular bloggers. I've just began to sew, having only accomplished: 1 flat valence curtain, 1 crayon roll, and 1 blanket repair! Of all of the sewing how-to and household project books I checked out from the library, "Bend-the Rules Sewing" was my favorite. It has a concise, illustrated guide to basic and somewhat advanced sewing a techniques (from sewing a seam to sewing a buttonhole), plus a large selection of adorable, unique projects that are very up-to-date. I liked the book and projects so much, I decided it was worth owning. And, what better way to treat myself than to purchase "Bend-the-Rules" along with the soon-to-be-released "Handmade Home".

For weeks I've been waiting, and now that Amanda's "Handmade Home" finally here, I cannot be more pleased. I bought the book on faith, seeing as how there are no Amazon reviews. My faith was based on my love of her first book "The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections." That magical book is responsible for beginning my adventure into all things Waldorf! It is "family culture" at it's finest and an excellent gift for any mother of little ones.

I wasn't sure what I'd get in "Handmade Home", but now I can tell you! The first part of the book is a primer on the eco-friendly art of reusing old materials. It's filled with tips for getting the best finds at thrift stores, garage sales, etc. She shares what to look for, even with reminders to leave behind those great deals that one doesn't need for the next thrifter - it's "thrifting karma" says Amanda. Excellent advice! There's also brief ideas for setting up a sewing space in a small area.

The second part is a large collection of 30+ projects organized by categories: Nourish (as in kitchen items), Nurture (as in wellness), Play, Seek (as in adventure) and Retreat (as in decor). The categories are loose, but they do give you a peak into the scope of the projects. And they are not "the usual" projects. No patchwork quilts or aprons here. Those are useful patterns (and can be found in "Bend-the-Rules Sewing") that anyone might want, but not what you'll find in Handmade Home. Amanda Soule's book brings many ideas that incorporate childrens' art - "Portrait Bookmarks" - or make use of fabric scraps - "One-Word Banner". She includes several non-sewing projects, often using decoupage. There are useful, but "alternative" patterns for items like cloth diapers, rag bags and women's cloth. And then, there are memory-preserving projects like the "Memory Tree Quilt Art." Everything is beautiful! And, just as with her blog SouleMama, everything is presented along with inspiring photography. Along the way she shares "crafty tips" and "earthy tips" - both of which share ways to craft smart, making safe, eco-friendly choices.

I have only begun to absorb the goodness to be found in this little volume. But, just this weekend, I have finished an embellished bath mat and have begun a "One-Word Banner" for my son's room, using my husband's discarded wool sweater and fabric scraps from my son's crib bedding and nursery items. I think that "Handmade Home" will enrich the life of many a "Green Mama" interested in creating and reusing. Enjoy!
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