Happy Stitch:
30 Felt & Fabric Projects for Everyday

by Jodie Rackley

North Light Books, 2012. ISBN 978-1-440-31857-3.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 08/06/2012

Nonfiction: Creative Life; Nonfiction: Arts/Crafts

Jodie Rackley's creative collection of felt and fabric projects is full of fun for the crafter. Focused on hand-sewing and the simple pleasures of embroidery, the book gives us 30 inventive, stress-free, enjoyable and crafty projects, along with an excellent guide to techniques we may not yet have tried.

As always, when I review craft books I pick a few to try myself, so I can tell readers the pros and cons of the book from a crafter's perspective. The Row House Tablet/E-reader Cozies were right up my alley, as I am a fan of house pillows and house-shaped-tchotchke! The basic requirements are felt and embroidery floss...(plus a few assorted items you will have around, like cardboard, and buttons,) and the results are enchanting.

Templates are provided, although I recommend that you go to a print shop for enlarging. For the house cozies project, you can uniquely personalize your colors, styles and adornment to suit your own taste. Although there are no measurements provided for scaling down for an E-reader, I managed to do one for my Kindle by starting out with the suggested measurements and using my reader as my own template. The embellishments are ingenuous, and can be enhanced by adding fabric, using contrasting embroidery floss and, for something different, I would suggest making it look like your own home.

The next attempt was making a Fabric and Yarn Lamp Shade. I have customized lampshades before, but never in such a unique and attractive way. If you have leftover fabric (that you used for upholstery or pillows,) this project would be perfect. Using randomly cut pieces of fabric (contrast is best) you use them crazy quilt mode, fashioning the styling as you go along, pieces of fabric going every which way. Add appropriate lengths of fabric to the top and bottom edges, and voila, a customized shade that is also a work of art. I chose to leave off the yarn accents recommended, but for a young girl's room, they would make a lovely touch. A certain degree of comfort with doing things randomly, without a pattern, is suggested!

My last project from the book was the Geometric Wall Tapestry. It has a very retro feel, with 21 hexagons (and a couple of half-hexes) using 21 colors of felt. I chose to use colors that both coordinated and contrasted with my gold-colored walls, providing a pop of color in a dark corner of my bedroom. I loved working with the hexagon shapes, and I could easily see how one could design the hanging in different shapes of background felt to fit different spaces.

This book provides holiday ideas, ornaments, table decorations (runners, placemats,) bookmarks and even charmingly down-to-earth toys, along with hours of sewing fun and pleasure, instructions, excellent templates and beautiful color photographs to encourage and motivate the crafter. Rackley has done a great job in inspiring crafters to return to our crafting roots, and creating items both useful and unusual.

Jodie Rackley is known for her bold use of color and simple indie craft designs that make up her line of hand stitched eco felt gifts. Her work can be found in beautiful boutiques and gift shops across the country and internationally, as well at Etsy.com. Her felt projects have been featured at the Craft & Hobby Association Trade Show in Los Angeles, CA and Quilt Market in Houston, TX. Jodie is a lover of history, art, and indie craft and loves bringing vintage flare to modern crafts.

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