Stash Happy Applique: 25 Fresh Projects for Fabric Lovers
by Cynthia Shaffer

Sterling/Lark Crafts, 2012. ISBN 978-1-454-70280-1.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 06/14/2012

Nonfiction: Creative Life; Nonfiction: Arts/Crafts

I already have plenty of stash: fabric stash; yarn stash; and things-I-might-be-able-to-use-someday stash. So it was with great delight that I received a copy of Stash Happy Applique for review.

I was not disappointed. I never review a craft or DIY book without actually making something that is in the book. So after exploring the book, which includes 25 projects for fabric applique, I decided upon three projects I would like to explore more fully. Time for Tea Cafe Curtains, Fresh and Shabby Pillow Houses, and Woodsy Gnome Doll appealed to my tastes (and my collections!) the best, although other projects such as the Kid Art Triptych and Flower Power Pendants are also both appealing and unusual.

I started with the Time for Tea Cafe Curtains, which I modified to suit my own needs. I wanted a valance, rather than cafe curtains, so I made one with off-white burlap. Templates are included in the back of the book. (Note: some patterns require the patterns to be enlarged.) I would recommend cardstock on which to print the templates, to make the pattern pieces a bit sturdier. The directions called for paper-backed fusible web scraps; having none, I bought ½ a yard of fusible web—and it was more than enough for this project, and the matching kitchen towels I made later.

For the most part, the directions are excellent. Some previous sewing experience would probably be a good idea—understanding the terms used, and knowing your sewing machine's capabilities would make the projects easier to execute. But if you are a beginner with a bump of curiosity and enthusiasm, go ahead and give some of these patterns a try! The teacups pattern did NOT include a template for the adorable drifts of steam coming off the cups, (as seen on the cover of the book) but I just chose a pale blue fabric, ironed on the fusible web, and drew free-hand steam, and it was easy-peasy.

Whether you're a beginner to sewing/applique or an experienced sewing-crafter, do read the "basics" section first, so you will be sure to have the necessary supplies on hand. Like baking, it is hugely frustrating to start making something and find out halfway that some of the ingredients are not at hand. This section is very thorough, with detailed pictures and a variety of finish techniques and hand sewing ideas. Reading it first will fire your imagination, and help you envision how you want your finished project to look.

I have only cut out the pieces for my second project, Fresh and Shabby House pillows. I am making 3 of them, in colors and fabrics to match the Amish quilt in my bedroom. I am really excited about them, because the pattern is not given for the exact finishing of the fronts of the houses; these are your choice, a cafe scene, a garden, or whatever tickles your fancy. (Shaffer shows close ups of her creations, for ideas) Delicate machine stitching or the decorative stitches provided on some sewing machines will make each house an original, to enjoy or give as a gift. The third project is a dream—that is, it is still in the dream stage; selecting fabrics and felts that suit my vision for the project and the gnomes I want to create.

Hope you enjoy the creative possibilities that Cynthia Shaffer provides. I sure did!

Author Cynthia Shaffer is an experienced fabric artist, enjoying working with quilting and creative uses for fabric. She also enjoys stamping and other crafts. She is married, with two sons, and lives in Southern California. She has written other craft books, and her blog and website provide some good ideas.

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