Book Review: Sew Gifts!

Sew Gifts!: 25 Handmade Gift Ideas from Top DesignersSew Gifts!: 25 Handmade Gift Ideas from Top Designers by That Patchwork Place

I wanted to read this book for a long time. I finally borrowed it from the library and found that the projects were all made from very appealing fabric combinations. Also, the photography was very appealing.

There are several interesting projects. I found that the projects are different from other books on making small gifts. Still, I enjoy seeing how other designers deal with zippers or make a pouch in a different shape.

This book has very little text beyond the patterns. It is a compilation of projects from different designers. Mary V. Green wrote the Introduction, which is very short. It doesn’t provide much information except to talk about how great sewing gifts for people is and mentions the variety of occasions appropriate to give sewn gifts. Readers do get a brief view of the patterns included in the book, because of a few of them are showcased on the page opposite the Introduction.

After the brief introduction, the patterns start. The patterns are divided into four sections. Bags, Bags, Bags includes tote bags, zipper pouches, wallets, a key holder and a few other things. The section called Gifts for Special Interests contains a scarf, a knitting needle zipper pouch, a sketchbook cover and matching pencil pouch, a backgammon game and an owl softie. Kitchen Mates shows readers how to make a Little Girl Bake Shop set, a holiday apron, a casserole carrier and mug rugs. Pillow Perfect is all about pillows.

Patterns are about 4-6 pages each and include a lot of photos, which makes making the projects easier and the patterns more understandable. Some of my favorite projects are the Zippered Dresden Pouch ( pg.10-13), Wristlet Key Holder (pg.23-25), Triangular Knitting Needle Case (pg. 43-47), Artist’s Sketchbook Cover and Pencil Case (pg.48-54), and the Hoot Pincushion (pg.63-69). I also like the felt cupcakes (pg.72,74) included in the Little Girl Bake Shop set (pg. 68-74). I am sucker for felt food, though I have no reason to make it. I just like it. The Casserole Carrier (pg.81-85) could also be used as a project carrier. The Pillow pattern designs are interesting enough to be the start of quilts. Basic sewing techniques start on page 105. The section includes brief overviews of binding, blanket stitch, sewing curves, edge and top stitching, felting wool, fusible applique’, satin stitching, seam allowances and zippers. The ‘Meet the Designers’ section starts on page 110. Each designer gets a one paragraph description with some links to blogs and websites.

The Zippered Dresden Pouch ( pg.10-13) is one of the very appealing patterns. After making the Dresden Sew Together Bag, I am enamored with using Dresden Plates for embellishments. The embellisment brought this pattern to my attention immediately. It also included good skills which were well explained for making future pouches, such as using zipper tabs and boxing corners, two skills not always included with zipper pouch patterns.

The Wallet Key Card (pg.14-17) is interesting. I don’t think I would use such a thing, but it might be a good gift. The zipper might need a zipper tab.

The Wristlet Key Holder (pg.23-25) was another interesting project. I can’t think of a time when I only go out with a key, but this might be a good project to make for a child who doesn’t need a driver’s license when s/he is outside playing.

I like the shape of the Casual Crossed Hobo Bag (pg.4-39). The pattern requires enlargement, which is possible, but may not be so easy without access to a copier. The pattern does show how to manually enlarge it.

Triangular Knitting Needle Case (pg. 43-47) uses a shape for a zipper pouch I don’t remember seeing before. I use circular needles for the most part, but I have been thinking about what I could store in this zipper pouch. Pens when I go to guild instead of having them hang in the loops I made in my last Chubby Charmer? Of course, they wouldn’t be as accessible encased in a pouch.

The Artist’s Sketchbook Cover is not that different than the journal covers I make at regular intervals. The Pencil Case (both projects: pg.48-54) is just a zipper pouch. What makes these two patterns fun is the design on the outside. It is fiddly to do so much piecing, but also fun and cheerful.

The Sewing Kit in a Jar (pg. 59-62) is kind of novel and might make an entertaining, if not very useful gift.

The Hoot Pincushion (pg.63-69) reminds me of my Henry Owl Softies. I like the idea of using buttons for eyes and also the pocket for scissors. I was also pleased to see that the designer included supplies to weigh down the pincushion.

For times where you need appealing gifts quickly, this is a book that you could use. There are patterns you could make over and over in different fabrics and with different embellishments. I would have liked to have brief descriptions of the designers’ inspiration for the project, but perhaps I am the only one as that doesn’t seem to be something publishers like to include. Also, I guess I can check their websites to see if they talk more about the projects.

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