Review: Amanda Blake Soule’s Handmade Home

Last night on our way home from church, my four year old was admiring the painting she had made in her class.  After studying it for a minute, she folded it in half and said, “I’m going to make this into a thank you card!  It is good to re-use stuff!”

handmadehomeAs you might guess, conversations about reworking and reusing “stuff” around the house happen a lot in our home.  The first thing I noticed about Amanda Blake Soule’s Handmade Home (aside from the cozy cover art which features sweet little Adelaide snuggled in bed beneath a handmade banner that says “dream”) is the subtitle:  “Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures.”

Fans of Soule Mama know that Amanda elevates the art of thrifting to the highest heights.  She seems to be able to find the perfect treasure at nearly every thrift store or rummage sale or flea market she pops into survey.  In the opening pages of Handmade Home, she shares with readers why repurposing material to use in crafting is so important to her:

It allows me to live a more financially pared-down and simple life in which it’s possible to work a little bit less and live a little bit more.  It allows me to connect to the past and preserve a more traditional way of life.  It allows me to place value on the work of the hands and the value of human time, energy, craft, and art.  It allows me an aesthetic and a quality of materials that are increasingly harder to find in today’s quick and disposable products.  It allows me to lessen my family’s impact on the very earth we are so blessed to live upon.

She goes on to explain that her desire to create that which is both beautiful and functional laid the foundation for Handmade Home.

At this point, I feel I should confess to you that I am merely a novice in the world of crafting, and I easily feel overwhelmed or intimidated by crafting blogs, websites, and books.  Yet Amanda’s tone and approach in Handmade Home is one that readers will recognize from the creative family – gentle, helpful, warm, and reassuring. From the opening pages to the last, her conversational style pervades the pages, and you can’t help but to be charmed into joining her in the enthusiastic pursuit of handmade and practical projects.

In Part One, Amanda shares some of her tips for finding fabrics and other materials – excellent thrifting tips here, as you can well imagine!  Next she covers some of the basic supplies to collect, but this is not a sewing instruction book.  Amanda shares some of her favorite sewing resources with readers, but readers should know this is not meant to be a “how to” book on sewing.

In Part One, she also offers some loving guidance on how to collaborate with your children as you work together on these projects that will fill a need within your home. This was my favorite part of the opening section, particularly when she reminds readers to “be committed to working with [children] even if their ideas may pull you away from your original vision for a project.  Children are not just the doers; they are the dreamers – don’t deny them that.”  As someone who is always remembering to let go and go with it, this spoke directly to my heart.

The remainder of the book is made up of the projects themselves.  In Handmade Home, you will find thiry-three projects to inspire

  • Family Feasts
  • Wellness and Care
  • Imagination and Growth
  • Adventure and Exploration
  • Calm and Peace

Projects are labeled as beginner, intermediate, and advanced based 0n your crafting experience and skills. I noted that ten of the projects are for beginners and work well for including children.  The lovely photography that delights readers of Soule Mama fills the pages of Handmade Home – both inspiring and explaining the projects.  Amanda’s instructions are simple and straightforward, and readers will find lots of “earthy tips” and “crafty tips” tucked amongst the project pages.

There is much more I could write about the pure joy that is Handmade Home, but I dare not spoil the surprise for you!  Just as the creative family has become the gold standard of resources for families interested in creative living, Handmade Home is destined to become the next book that is sure to become well-worn and dog-eared as families return to it time and again for insight, ideas, encouragement, and motivation.

Of course, I couldn’t wait to start in on a project for our home.  I chose one of the most basic projects – the Fiber Garland from the chapter titled “Retreat: Projects to Inspire Calm and Peace.” Amanda’s garlands are made from scraps of wool; wool – in any form – is hard to come by here on the central plains, so we had to make do with acrylic sweaters.  I also cut pieces of a shiny, satin-y bedskirt I found on a recent thrifting excursion:


This is described as a half-day project, but the cutting of squares took us a little longer than that.  It is summer, though, and distractions abounded.

My four year old squealed with excitement when she discovered I was going to finally allow her to work with the real needles.  (“I don’t need plastic needles anymore!”)


Aunt Emily and I started the garland, and she did a fantastic job of threading piece after piece onto the thread.




In the end, it was decided that this first garland would not be an adornment for our own home, but instead would grace the rather plain and drab exterior of the doll house.  As you can see, Sister Doll is elated to have something some handmade to, um, doll up their pink and purple abode!


As a long-time fan of Soule Mama and as someone who has absolutely worn out the pages of my copy of the creative family, I am so utterly humbled and honored to have been asked by Amanda to receive a copy of Handmade Home for review.  If creative living and responsible stewardship of materials are amongst the things that speak to your heart and your family, I highly recommend that you find a place for Handmade Home in your family’s library.

And guess what?  One Simple Kids reader will receive a free copy of Handmade Home! To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling about your own favorite project that you have created for your home or family OR something you have always wanted to be able to make. This can be anything from curtains to clothing to cloth diapers to quilts and blankets and beyond!

COMMENTS CLOSED!  Thank you for entering!

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  1. My favorite craft was a fleece poncho I made for my infant daughter last Christmas-time. I may have to make another one for her this year. It was easy and the perfect thing to throw on as we leave the house.

  2. Sewing cloth diapers (and lots of them).

  3. Sewing reuseable bags out of t-shirts.

  4. Victoria M says:

    My 2 yr old granddaughter and I have made so many beaded necklaces that we have draped every chandelier and doorknob. The other day I noticed that the dogs were sporting their own special neckwear. So cute!

  5. I just made a quilt for our newborn son and want to make one for every child we have. I am also making him a scrapbook/babybook that I am hoping he will treasure! Would love to have this book!

  6. Adrienne says:

    I have yet to read Amanda’s other book, but both are on my must read list. I am a new crafter/sewer, and am currently “attempting” to sew a duvet cover for my daughter’s toddler bed. I can’t wait to do more things around our home!

  7. I would love to be able to make some beautiful window treatments for our windows. We took down the heavy, depressing drapes in our living room years ago, and have yet to replace them with anything! So, I would love to create something inexpensive that still lets in a lot of light but is stylish and pretty!

  8. Diapers! Although I’d never sewn anything more than some sorority letters on a sweatshirt before, I made all of my son’s fitted diapers and diaper covers. And loved every minute of it.

  9. I want to learn to make homemade dolls for my little girl!

  10. juli spensley says:

    I just love looking forward to creating memories with my 9 kiddos…precious moments spent together! Can’t wait to check this book out!

  11. I have made slip covers and curtains for my living room. I was really satisfied with the pulled-together look I achieved. My daughter and I have also worked together on a couple of sewing projects–she’s made a complete Barbie outfit sewing by hand. It is lovely sharing my love of crafting with her.

  12. I love photography. I capturing and then framing those special moments. Well done review, I am now even more eager to get my hands on this book!

  13. Love the happy doll picture! 😀

    I would really like to make an illustrated family cookbook…but I’m waiting until the kids become less picky :p

  14. I recently made wetbags for carrying dirty cloth diapers home after we’ve been out and about. Found some really great fabric. Was my first time sewing a zipper. Turned out okay! Would love to win Amanda’s new book!

  15. Oh happy day!! This book has been on my “wishlist” for the longest time! To be honest, I’m not so savvy at repurposing things, which is why I need a little inspiration :o) But my 1 year old daughter’s toy chest is full of those little clear “milk collection” bottles that are filled with ribbon scraps, paper scraps, dried beans, bells and knick knacks – those are her favorite toys! Not the cutest or most creative project, but one well loved by my daughter! :o)

  16. I learnt to embroider traditional Hungarian embroidery from both my grandmothers and do it to this day. It has become a natural thing, wheras I remember having to concentrate SO hard to start with (I was 6).-many a pricked finger!I would love my little daughter to carry on this tradition, and to find the satisfaction I do from making things by hand. I want her to be part of the circle of women who passed this gift down.

  17. I have been making things for m and my home for years, but now that my son is here all of the baby crafts have taken on a special meaning. The quilts that I made, that he now uses, are precious items.

  18. Brittany says:

    I would really love to learn how to sew and make some clothes for my family. I’ve gone so far as to find some local (non-big box fabric store) businesses that offer sewing lessons using a sewing machine “thrifted” from my grandmother’s house. I, too, am a huge SouleMama fan and, although I’m already waiting for a copy of this book that I pre-ordered, I would LOVE to win a copy for my sister-in-law. In fact, I discovered Simple Mom and Simple Kids through SouleMama.

  19. I have always wanted to make a quilt, but I’m not there yet (too time consuming and requires more skill than I’ve work up to at this point). However, I have been making some sun tops, tote bags and skirts for my daughter and even mp3 player cases for both children. I love Amanda’s blog and ideas.

  20. Mmmmmm, let`s see… my favorite I think is all the clothes I made to my little girls, they are my inspiration.
    I would like to make patchwork… may be soon.

  21. I am pleased with the new produce bags I sewed up. I embroidered on a few and for the others my daughter and I tried out freezer paper stenciling. Or maybe knitting dishrags because I love using what I make!

  22. Stacey Schmidt says:

    I absolutely Love Amanda’s first book and just recently made her display for hanging children’s artworks. I am teaching myself to sew out of sheer inspiration from her book and blog. Although it’s a humble and easy project for experienced sewers, I was so proud of myself this week, having made 4 toddler pillow cases that I embellished with rickrack. They are so cute!

  23. I’m working on a crib quilt for my son. He’s *only* 14 months so maybe it will be done by the time he’s 3! This book could serve to inspire me to complete it….there is such joy in finishing a project.

  24. Michelle says:

    I have long been a crocheter, but when a broken metal vent cover in our (old) dryer rendered dozens of my husbands t-shirts unwearable, I made my first move into the world of crocheting with fabric. I made my son a wonderful, colorful, comfortable rug for his bedroom out of strips of daddy’s old t-shirts. It felt wonderful to reuse something that would otherwise have been thrown away, and my son now has something “new” that he really loves.

  25. I would love to be entered into Amanda’s book giveaway!
    My 4 yr and I love to craft for fun, but I think he especially loves to felt!

  26. I made a signature quilt (wall size) where all the members of our family and extended family signed a square.

  27. I do love Soule Mama!

  28. My favorite project I’ve created so far are the matching mother-daughter purses I made for my 2 year old and I. I’m looking forward to learning to making cloth diapers though. I’m hoping to adapt them into training pants because she’s too small for the standard sizes in the stores.

  29. I’m a big fan of the soulemama blog and her previous book. She inspired me to relearn to knit (I learned as a child), and am planning to make hats, socks, and even dish clothes (with leftover yarn) for family members this year.

  30. I have made a quilt, pillows, curtains, hot pads, dish cloths and many other small things for our home. I love the handmade over the store bought because it just makes the house cozier!

  31. I want to learn to quilt so very bad. I have been saving the kids tee shirts to build them a tee shirt quilt one day. Also I have been saving their old jeans for the same purpose… one day. I can always say one day…..

  32. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her new book.

  33. My favorite crafted item for the home is the bedside organizer I made from Amy Butler’s In Stitches book. It was a fun project, and I’m pleased with the results. I’ve made a few curtains and pillowcovers that I like, but my next goal is a family quilt.

    Thanks for the review of Amanda’s new book, and for this giveaway. I would love to own this book!

  34. Hmmm, we love making little felted animals for my daughter’s playhouse, she get’s an immediate thrill to use the same tools I use and see her vision come to light, the joy on her face is outstanding and the playtime afterward is abundant!

  35. My favorite handmade project would have to be the first pair of longies (pants) that I crocheted for my son when he was almost 1. I made a matching beanie with it also. I can remember all the love I put into making it. He’s 2 and 1/2 and it still fits, as I made it a bit long at the time so he would be able to uncuff as he grew-loL! Thank you for the opportunity to win *fingers crossed!!!

  36. Quilts. Lots & lots of quilts. I have several started and have finished a couple. But I would really like to finish more.

  37. Currently my favorite project has been pajama/lounging/play pants I’ve made for my twin boys from old t-shirts. They’ve been such fun to create, and so cute & useful. Each week I try to create something new from what I already have. It keeps my creative mind in gear.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!

  38. Looks good! This would be a nice book to have.

  39. With a new son, I’ve got lots of ideas for future projects…but one I’ve actually managed to complete is a set of fabric “rattles” – using scraps of wooly material, sewn together in odd shapes, filled with a bell and decorated with colourful needle-felted shapes. Would love to get more ideas from Amanda’s new book!

  40. Mama Hen says:

    I have been saving the kids’ old clothes (ones they’ve outgrown or are beyond repair) and I plan to make a quilt using these for my bed.

  41. The last project I did for the home was to make a coupon organizer. I love it and because it is handmade, it is perfect for my needs! I love Amanda Soule and can not wait for this book! She is so inspiring! Thanks for the giveaway!

  42. My favorite project that I contributed to our home is a linen facecloth. It is standing up amazingly well. In fact it is getting better with age.
    I love Amanda’s book and blog, she is also the person that told me about the mason dixon knitting books that are great for first time knitter and knitters that are interested in creating ingenious items for the home.

  43. I am making a t-shirt quilt for my son’s bed. Keep the precious ones and use them functionally.

  44. I painted a set of four animal pictures for my son’s bedroom, and I really like how those came out. I’d love to be able to paint the art I imagine having in my kitchen, and I keep saying I’m going to learn to sew….

  45. My favorite handmade project to date is a backpack purse for myself that I made after our latest child was born. Being able to carry things on my back leaves my hands free to shop and handle three kids much more easily. I have been waiting for this book forever!!!!

  46. Angela C. says:

    I have made several outfits that I love for my girls. I really want to make a pettiskirt for them but am too scared to try. Maybe one day. Thanks for the giveaway.

    accoupons at gmail dot com

  47. Making homemade Diwali decorations with my young daughters has by far been the most satisfying crafting experience I have had. They are imperfect, they are wonderful, and they are a wonderful way for this holiday to feel special in a country that does not celebrate it as one of the national holidays. (Our red hanging stars are especially asymetrical!)

  48. My favorite project is the paper crafted letters in my daughters room that spell her name! I would LOVE to win this book!!!

  49. I’ve always wanted to repurpose some of my childrens clothes into something that useful that will remind them that recycling is very cool.


  1. […] And speaking of reading . . . there has been such a fantastic response to the Handmade Home giveaway. If you haven’t already, make sure you read Tsh’s interview with Amanda Blake Soule at […]