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Simpler than it looks

Girl’s Guide to Sewing by Cheryl Owen (New Holland, $29.99)
Reviewed by by Sophie Robinson (age 12)

Girl's Guide to Sewing HR My best friend has just started college. I was thinking of buying her a little something but I haven’t yet. Now, though, I think I’ll make her a ‘Foxy Key Fob’ out of the Girl’s Guide to Sewing. She likes cute animals and sewing so I think she’ll like a home-made gift from me. In fact I think I’ll make two so we can have matching ones!

The book has 35 projects and is clearly set out with plenty of photos – at least one for every project. The first section ‘Essentials’ has information on equipment, materials, techniques and templates. It explains a lot. The second section has the projects. Each project has a photo and brief description: for example the Jeans Gadget Bag: “It’s often a sad day when we must admit that a favourite pair of jeans are past their best. Don’t despair, upcycle…”. After the description, there is a list of what you will need, cutting-out instructions, and maybe a tip: “Don’t use your skinniest jeans… [for the bag]”. Then there are the step-by-step instructions. Each step has a lot to do, so I think it would have been better to write maybe five shorter steps rather than one very long step. It would save having to re-read each step to find your place again, especially when you’re learning. There are some diagrams: some are fine, but in some cases it could be good to include more detail.

There are lots of fun projects in this book, like the Hedgehog Pin Cushion, the Boxy Shoulder Bag, and also modern things like laptop, phone and e-reader cases. I like how the cover shows photos of some of the projects, plus the colours on the cover design look nice. I like the thick pages, and I like how some of the patterns are full size. If I saw this in a shop I’d want to pick it up and look through – it makes you think sewing isn’t boring. It also sparks ideas. For instance, I thought I could change the Foxy Key Fob, I could change a little bit and make it a cat or dog or rabbit.

It made me want to sew, so when I saw the travel tissue case I decided to make this for my Gran because she likes having a lot of tissues with her. I found the project easy enough, and only needed a little bit of help from Mum (because the bias binding we had was skinnier than in the book, it was harder to keep in place while I was pinning it then sewing it up). I was expecting it to be harder to make than it was, but it was quicker than I expected and simpler than it looked.

The book even has a pattern for making slippers! I’d never thought of making slippers but now I want to and even more so because I’ve lost one of my slippers.

Note from Sophie’s Mum: I agree with Sophie’s comment about the steps containing too many things to do within the one step. However it does have good, achievable projects for beginners. Sophie’s experience: she’s fairly handy with a needle, doing basic hand sewing, and has had a small amount of time on the sewing machine but only doing very basic straight stitch. I’d recommend this for 11-year-olds up who are keen to start learning to sew and having fun making ‘real’ things.