The recent surge in DIY crafts can be seen in the number of bright, attractive books that are available to aspiring crafters who want to explore new, creative endeavors. Young people (okay, girls) are encouraged to learn the basics of sewing, embroidery and related crafts – that maybe skipped their moms’ generation. We’re looking at two of these books today, both of which seek to teach tween girls how to do basic embroidery and hand sewing. They each have their own charms.
BE CHIC & UNIQUE! Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch with Friends (C&T Publishing, $21.95, Ages 10-13) by Kristen Sutcliffe provides instruction for the basic skills needed to complete the fun projects that are featured. The emphasis is on hand-embroidery and hand-stitching, with some felting, leather, and glue gun action. No machine sewing is included. This book’s best attribute is its modern, spare aesthetic. It’s clear that Ms. Sutcliffe loves the look of the Anthropologie store chain; think of this book as the tween-craft harbinger of Anthropologie taste. The designs feature dainty graphics in a hipster palette. There is little variety amongst the images; if you go for the general look, you’ll like the book. If this isn’t your style, try a different C&T book. The introductory material does a good job of presenting the materials and skills that will be needed to create the projects. The basic five embroidery stitches are fully explained in both picture and text. However, not all aspects of the projects are fully taught, and the kid creator might well get confused. For instance, the ‘Easy Wrapped Bracelet’ tells you to use needle-nose pliers to crimp the clasping hardware, but there are no illustrations or even detailed instructions to help the crafter execute the task. Depending on the age of the crafter, this might present a challenging obstacle, especially as the items in question require real manual dexterity. Some of the projects lack appeal for the target age group. The ‘Arrows Wallhanging’ is a head-scratcher – neither the task nor the finished product are tempting, and good luck finding that driftwood. There is a slight disconnect in the book, between the age and experience required to make the crafts, and the appeal of the end results for a tween girl.
GO FROM DRAB TO FAB! Girls Get Stitching! (C&T Publishing, $21.95, Ages 10 and up) by Shirley McLauchlan does a better job of wrangling the interests of the tween craftgirl. Like the previous book, this one fully describes the basic skills and materials needed to start out. However, the emphasis in this book is on cute embroidery designs to embellish items the crafter already owns. T-shirts are enhanced with a darling graphic of a fawn, utilizing both embroidery and simple applique. The design is modern and pleasing, and the tween can use a shirt she already owns. The same is true for many of the other projects in the book, like embellishing an existing pillow, hat or apron. There is also more variety amongst the graphics, along with encouragement to use one’s own imagination in creating the designs. http://youtu.be/nKM5EqCakRw While the aesthetic of Fabric Paper Thread is attractively hip, the actual instructional information of Girls Get Stitching! is more appropriate to the targeted reader. The projects are more doable, both in terms of difficulty and availability of materials. Fabric Paper Thread might be good for a self-starting tween girl who already has some crafting under her homemade belt. Girls Get Stitching! is a better choice for the tween just starting out in the crafting world. This book and a little packet of needles and embroidery floss would make an awesome springtime gift, as well as a worthwhile summer activity.