The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu has been on my wish list since almost its release in 2014. As I’m trying to reduce the excessive amount of craft books from my stash recently I borrowed a copy of the book from my local library, within 5 minutes of reading I knew I needed my own copy.
I’m not a complete novice bag maker I have made 2 messenger bag and numerous tote bags, zipper pouches but within in the first 8 pages alone of this book I had learnt so much. As the front cover suggests this book is full of useful techniques, tips and tricks. There are some great bag makers out there who have wonderful patterns and fantastic instructions / tutorials that go along with their patterns but sometimes they tell you to do a step but don’t tell you useful gadgets that will help you do the step. If your familiar with bag making sometimes you told to trim back the interfacing / stabilizer from the seam to reduce bulk but how do you do that if it has been fused to the fabric? This book explains how and shows you a tool to use. There was another little cutting tool that was mentioned in this book to cut inner points in corners, I wish I had known about this tool when cutting out the box corners on the make-up pouches it would’ve been handy.
There are 10 bags in this book that you can make. They start at a beginner level and increase in difficulty with each bag adding another layer of skills but all techniques used are covered in the book. To be honest I’m not sure how many of the bags I will make but I will use all the skills from them on other bag projects I’m doing but also sewing projects. The skills you pick up in this book can be used in any sewing project. Whether you’re a novice bag maker or advanced you will get something out of this book. I’m glad I now have it in my stash.
Rhonda Hetzel writes the successful Down To Earth blog and is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. I was lucky enough to do a workshop with her in 2013 and it was wonderful. Rhonda has just published her 3rd book The Simple Home which is a follow up to her book Down To Earth.
From the start once I opened this book I instantly liked the look of it. It just feels warm and comforting which may sound strange but some books just have that affect. The layout, the font, the images. You can see a lot of care and love has been put into this book. Rhonda has this amazing calming nature and it just comes through the pages in her book.
This book is broken up into chapters based on the months of the year but also to coincide with the seasons within Australia (At the end of the book she also suggests ways to follow this book if you were in the Northern Hemisphere which I thought was a lovely touch and shows how she is widely followed by readers from around the world) She suggests areas you could concentrate on each month that will help you living your more simplified life. This breaks it down into more manageable tasks and helps simple living going from a concept to practical things to do day to day. If you’re not new to simple living you might think yes but I know all this. I found it as a reminder to think ok I know this but how much am I actually doing. Thoughts don’t always turn into actions. If you have fallen out of your simple living ways (we all do at times) this book helps get you back on track and helps you focus on things you can do or change.
You could easily read this book without reading her first book. It is a standalone book with its own topics, information and recipes, however it does refer at times back to her first book Down To Earth. I think that actually works really well as it means she has put new material and topics in this book and isn’t just rehashing things she has covered in the past. Instead of publishing all the same recipes and patterns again she points you in the direction of where to locate them and offers new and different ones in this book. I’ve read other books by authors who have done multiple books and often it’s the same information in every book. Another thing I liked was Rhonda refers to modern technologies such as websites and apps to help you in your daily life. You wouldn’t except apps and simple living would go together in the one sentence but Rhonda is moving with the times and is moving the concept of simple living with modern times. We have to face it technology is part of our lives these days, there are plenty of ways it can waste our time but there are also ways in which it can save us time.
If I had to pick a favourite chapter in the book it would the chapter covering crafting as simple living – total surprise right 🙂 It just made me smile and think the gifts that I’m giving are from the heart. There are many areas of simple living and crafting is just one of them.
Oh and my favourite picture in the book is the rolling pin. I really want that rolling pin now, it is just a little bit awesome!
A while back I read “The Shop on Blossom Street” and was looking to read more in the craft fiction genre so when a friend sent me the book A Life In Stitches to read I thought super its craft fiction. I can read it at the bedside to pass the time. I was totally wrong this book is actually the memoir of Rachel Herron so who the heck is Rachel I was thinking? As I read the book I discovered this amazing writer and blogger who had a passion for knitting. She also happens to write craft fiction.
This book I found hard to put down. It made me laugh, it made me cry (really hard to wipe your nose when you’re wearing a hospital face mask) I’m not going to be the crazy craft person who claims to be able relate to everything about Rachel and what she wrote about but there were some parts that of the book I found myself nodding or thinking yep I know the feeling. I also had an even stronger urge to learn to knit socks and a jumper which is something I’d wanted to learn for a while but even more so reading the book.
I ordered 2 of Rachel’s craft fiction books. I loved her non fictional writing so I will see if I like her fiction. Until the postman arrives with my goodies I was motivated to download the second book in the Blossom Street series to my kindle.