Book Review: At Home with Modern June

At Home with Modern June: 27 Sewing Projects for Your Handmade LifestyleAt Home with Modern June: 27 Sewing Projects for Your Handmade Lifestyle by Kelly McCants

This is an older book, but it came to my attention again when I was looking through my books for patterns for raffle prizes. I had plowed through the books I used for my gift grouping for Mary. I looked through other books for interesting patterns that would intrigue someone who makes quilts themselves. I am sort of rearranging the non-quilt books into a group. These books include patterns for pouches, pincushions, bags and other accessories.

The first thing to appeal to me was the color scheme. Red and turquoise is a favorite of mine, as you may have noticed. 🙂

Second was the organization of the book. The table of contents shows projects room by room. The main rooms in any standard house – kitchen, living room, bed, and bath – are all covered. The author also includes sections on creative space, closets and pantry, which are useful additions.

Third, a line in the Foreword appealed to me, “whether you’re moving into a new home, launching a home makeover, or just sprucing up one room at a time…” This line told me that the book could appeal to a variety of different readers and makers.

After the Foreword (pg.4), an introduction (pg.5) and a discussion of mood boards (pg.7-9), the text starts in earnest with a ‘terms and techniques glossary’ (pg.10-19). This section has basic definitions as well as longer explanations. Part of it is illustrated (pg.12, 13, etc). The section is super comprehensive, including topics you may never encounter anywhere else. One tip I thought was very useful was about modifying a sewing machine foot to work with oilcloth (pg.15). I am not sure if this tip would work with vinyl, but it is worth a try.

Ms. McCants also talks about cross-pinning (pg.14). I have done something like it, but never knew it had a name. Other things I like in this section are a bias tape finishing instructions (pg.17) and a chart that provides yardage calculations in decimals, yards and inches (pg.19). This is definitely something to copy and pin to your wall. Very useful.

After the glossary, the author dives into Kitchen and Dining Room projects (pg.20-53). This section has normal projects that fit into the theme with twists. The twists are things like different materials, techniques or tools. The first project in the Kitchen and Dining section is placemats (pg.20-25). Big deal, right? The project uses chalkboard fabric! Other projects include pot holders, a curtain, a reversible floor mat and others. The apron (pg.37-43) is pretty and would make a great gift. I like the barstool makeover (pg.44-49), mostly because I need to redo my kitchen bar stool. Kelly tells the reader how to make the pattern to fit the barstool you own (pg.46).

Living Rooms – inside and Out (pg.54-83) comes next and I thought this section was a little weird. The chapter includes the expected living room projects, such as pillow covers (pg.63-67) and basic upholstery (pg.54-59). In addition, there are a lot of outdoor projects like a picnic tablecloth (pg.69-73) and a potting shed ‘coverup’ (pg.77-83). I guess there wasn’t space for a backyard section and she decided to combine the concepts.

Bed and Bath (pg.84-121) has more expected projects for the theme. The first is a duvet cover (pg.85-89) in which I am interested, though more so if it were quilted. It is pieced, though, so that is a start. The shower curtain project (pg.90-95) is a good use of laminated fabric as well as a good way to coordinate decoration in a bathroom. The Candy Knot Guest Towels (pg.96-97) would be good handwork project. The Makeup Tray (pg.97-101) could be used for any number of items or purposes. Random cooking packets or spices could be organized in a pantry. Quilt pieces could be organized in anticipation of sewing them together using such trays. I like the button detail on the corners. The part also includes a fairly comprehensive section on binding (pg.104-106, 114-115) including directions on finishing the ends.

Closet and Pantry (pg.122-139) has some projects that would be useful, but would also make great gifts for non-quiltmaking friends or house warming or visiting gifts. I particularly like the lined basket project (pg.123-128) and the Clothespin Bag (pg.128-133). I don’t suppose people hang clothes on an outside line anymore, however I have fond memories of my grandmothers having bags like this. Hers was not nearly as cute as the sample shown in the book. The Lined Basket project is customizable for the baskets you may already have around the house. As I was just in the Container Store, I can see the possibilities. 

Throughout the book the author has included “June Suggests” tips boxes. In the Closet and Pantry section, she gives fabric options. A lot of the tips throughout the book discuss fabric usage, but some of the tips also cover bias binding, re-use of patterns and why similar directions for projects differ.

The final section has projects useful on your creative space or studio. Projects include a basic sewing machine cover (pg.152-155) and a hang-up Sewing Supply Case (pg.159-167). The sewing machine cover’s size is customizable so you can make it fit your machine. Take a look at the Undercover Maker Mat and other sewing machine covers about which I have posted so you can review and compare your options.

The Sewing Supply Case remind me of the Board Bag Amanda made for me. The main difference is that this one closes up like a notebook for easy transport. The instructions are quite detailed and the drawings enhance construction. Webbing is used for the handles. I would cover the webbing, as directions in the Running with Scissors case suggests, in order to make them more comfortable to carry. Again, I think it would make a great gift. 

Kelly McCants seems like someone who came to sewing through a different route than quiltmaking. Her patterns for home decor seem more complete and the customization options she offers make the projects less rote. The patterns also require more thinking, but it doesn’t make them less usable even for new sewists.

The author uses bright and cheerful colors in the projects. The tone of the book is positive. This is, in the end, a project book. There is very little information about what inspired her to create these specific projects beyond the house remodel she discusses in the Foreword. Still, I like this book and find the projects useful and interesting. It is a worthwhile addition to your library.

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