Mary Brown, our excellent all things sewing related reviewer, weighs in avec plaisir on today’s French-themed book.
Do you go ga-ga for Tin-Tin? Did you hang onto your old Babar books? Do you love the illustrations in your dog-eared copy of The Little Prince? Then you must be très passionné for charming French children’s illustration. The simple lines evoke a bygone era with endearing sweetness. That darling quality is captured on every page of the book Embroidery pour le Bébé: 100 French Designs for Babies and the Nursery (Harper Collins Trade Paperback, $12.99, ages 18 and up) by Sylvie Blondeau.
This little volume (one of three Blondeau’s written) presents small embroidery designs that can be traced onto fabric and made into items for baby. It also includes instructions for a few sewn items that feature the embroidery, such as a pillow, travel case, bib, toys and a hat. The little figures are beyond adorable. There are bunnies and teacups and playthings and all manner of babies and tiny children among them. Each page features a kind of theme for the embroidered illustrations, such as playing house, dress-up, garden, pets, etc.. There is a full-color photo of each design rendered on linen, followed by a page with the line drawings to be copied and traced, along with suggested stitches to use.
The vintage juvenile style is rendered consistently in every single design. Meaning, if this specific brand of cuteness isn’t really your thing, no need to read further. For the rest of us, the kewpie doll charm of the designs will trigger a longing to get out some embroidery floss and get to it. It’s nice that the reader can try out the patterns with nothing more than a needle, thread and a scrap of fabric.
Some prior experience with hand embroidery would be very helpful; this is probably not the best place for the novice stitcher to start out. There are some instructions in the back of the book, and a stitch chart with photos and explanations, but the how-to aspect of the book is minimal. That is especially true of the instructions and templates provided for the sewn items. The explanations are so brief that some sewing expertise would be required to fill in the blanks. That said, the designs could easily be applied to a hat or bib pattern from another source.
You might only make one project using the designs in this book – for that friend who is just ga-ga for Tin-Tin – but you will love having the little volume in your sewing/crafting library. The pictures will bring a sweet smile to your face, whether or not there is a needle in your hand.