Review: Amanda Blake Soule’s Handmade Home

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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:

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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!”)

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

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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!

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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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Comments

  1. My favorite thing that I have crafted was a blanket made from felted wool sweaters. It took my husband and I ages to get enough sweaters to patch together this little lap quilt, but the hunting, cutting, and sewing was all fun. We didn’t actually keep it in our family, but gave it to some wonderful friends as a wedding gift. They loved it as much as we did and that was perfectly satisfying. I’d love to make another some day, but I know it will take many many trips to the thrift store to get that many all wool sweaters again! In the meantime, my wool sweater collection is being turned into plushies for my boy.

  2. I loved the first book and can’t wait to see this one. I am making a rag rug at the moment from all our old clothes for my daughters bedroom

  3. I would really like to start working with raw wool. I’ve been so inspired by the projects in The Creative Family and I would love to get to know this wonderful material!

  4. I’ve been making diaper covers from felted wool sweaters, and find that they work better for us than the $30 apiece ones we bought. It gives me such satisfaction each time I put one on my daughter.

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  5. I love sewing clothes for my (almost) 2-year-old daughter from vintage sewing patterns, but I’d really love to be able to make cloth diapers for baby #2.

  6. I have always wanted to make placemats and cloth napkins… we have a table with a big lazy susan that doesn’t work well for a tablecloth and also doesn’t really have enough room for the size of placemats I find in the store… so we need homemade ones. My cloth napkins are wearing out and I’d like to cut off the ragged edges and hem them. I’d also love to make some cushions for our window seat and throw pillows; and also curtains. Yes, I guess I need to get my sewing machine fixed! :)

  7. I would love to make braided rag rugs for my girls room. it seems so huge a job that I haven’t started! I would to have a copy of that book also!

  8. ikkinlala says:

    I’ve always wanted to be able to make shoes (I’m starting with sandals).

  9. I want to learn how to sew so bad! There are so many possibilities! There is a serious lack of cute, affordable, little boy accessories and clothes.

  10. I actually just finished a set of curtains for my kitchen window. They are simple enough, but the kitchen window is the focal point of our home, so I wanted them to be bright, cozy and inviting all at the same time! I am pleased with the outcome and most importantly, they were made with love by the one who spends so much time in this room! Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. I recently made a quilt based on Amanda’s lovely quilt that she did with the Good Folks fabrics from Anna Maria Horner. I’ve been meaning to make another one or two, as it is a new family favorite!

  12. Melissa K says:

    We are in the process of trying to sell our house, so crafting has been at a minimum, but as some point I hope that all of our beds are adorned with quilts that I have made. The one full sized quilt that I’ve made and kept is always somewhere in the living room and as soon as the humidity breaks, I’m sure someone will be snuggled under it.

  13. Coming out of lurkdom because this book has been on my wish list for a while. Can’t buy it right now, but winning it would be totally awesome.

  14. Oops! I forgot to say what I’m making. Well I haven’t really started it yet, but I’m planning on making covers for some worn out pillows with some sweaters I got at the thrift shop. They’ll go on my couch, to add some much needed color to the room.

  15. I have been saving our old jeans that have holes and have started to make a denim rag teddy bear. I would like to make one for each of the kids, embroidered with their names and birthdates.

  16. Jenny Rebecca says:

    My favorite crafted item is the birthday crown from The Creative Family! I ordered the good felt and everything and had a wonderful time making it for my daughter last year for her 1st birthday. Last month I added a second flower for her second birthday. It looks a little frankenstein-y on the inside, but it’s my most cherished craft project to date.

  17. I’m pretty proud of some pajamas I made for my 2-year old son. They were my first article of clothing. Now I’ve got a stack of corduroy to makes pants for this fall. I adore Soule Mama’s blog and first book and would luv luv luv to win a copy of her new book!

  18. I’m so excited to read this book! I, too, am a regular soulemama reader. I’ve started an “art blanket” from scraps and I still need to finish it. It’s just scrap pieces that I had and cut to make a quilt. That way my little one can use it to make messes and we can both be happy :). I just need to get it done!

  19. I am a regular visitor to Amanda’s blog and love the atmosphere she creates. Since her first book was wonderful, I have no doubt that the second is a complete success. I would love to have it in our home!

    I have been in the mood to create a patchwork quilt for some time now. Maybe I’ll start it this fall as the weather grows colder and we retreat into the house for new adventures.

  20. Among other projects I’ve made for my family (that we use and enjoy) I would propose this one, made last December for Christmas: http://www.tricotaria.com/2008/12/feliz-natal.html
    It was at living-room and then the picture of it was sent by e-mail as a Christmas card of all of as.

  21. I adore the SouleMama website–can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book!

  22. I am working on a very simple quilt from Amy Karol’s book Bend-the-Rules sewing. Only, I have gotten stuck after finishing the quilt top, as I’m intimidated by the size of the thing now. I’m hoping to finish it once the children go back to school. I’d love to make each of them a quilt to take with them when they leave the nest someday.

  23. Angelica says:

    I started knitting again last year and I’ve enjoy it so much. Last week a friend was telling my daughter how she liked her dress (store bought) and she replied ‘mom can make one for you’. I love how she’s already thinking on creating instead of buying.

  24. I’ve made many things over the years…curtains, clothes, etc. But I have always wanted to make a quilt! I’m made miniature quilted things (a doll bedding set for our daughter and my husband made the little bed) but I want to make a big one! One of these days….=)

  25. I made my very first curtains my first year of college. They followed me around for a while and ended up in my parents bedroom. When I moved to the US, I couldn’t help it and brought them with me (took a lot of space in that suitcase!). Now, after adding some new (second hand) fabric, and some embroidery, they found a new home in our living room… I know those will be around for a very long time and I love the idea!

  26. Melissa L. says:

    When I was little I loved the doll’s clothes that my friend’s grandmother would maker for our dolls. Now I have a little girl, and I would love to make clothes for her and her dolls (she’s only 4 months now) I’ve even been saving dresses that I no longer wear simply because I love the fabric and I want to “downsize” them for her. Did I mention I’ve never done this stuff before? But I am so inspired I can’t wait!

  27. becca l. says:

    just finished knitting some newborn pants for the babe who is due in a month–Amanda Soule was the one who inspired me to learn how to knit!

    I’m excited for the new book!

  28. I love to sew and next up on my list is a rag quilt from old jeans. I am going to sew each square sepratly so that then the edges will fray on the front. I know my little guy will love this when he moves into a twin bed.

    I would love this book to see some new ideas.

  29. I’ve always wanted to make a couple of lap quilts for the sofas so we can tuck our feet under them in winter. Especially since the cats have claimed both the blankets we were using.

  30. I love thrifting old sheets and pillow cases to use as either curtains, re-purposed pillows, or blankets.
    I am wanting to learn to sew a bit more and I hope this book will inspire me to branch out and try new things!!
    Thank you for the offer!

  31. This sounds like such a wonderful book! I would love to make curtains and big throw pillows for my daughters’ rooms — and handmade decorations for holidays throughout the year.

  32. I would love to be able to sew clothes for my kids. My mom gave me her older model sewing machine when she got a new one for Christmas a couple years ago, and I have been playing with things here and there, but I’m still clumsy. Hope to get better with more practice–aka lots of trial and error.

  33. ive always wanted to be able to knit. my sister crochets really well, and knitting always looked so fun and theres so many things u can make.

  34. Someday I’d love to take a thrown pottery class and make a whole set of cups, plates and bowls. Somehow food always seems little bit more nourishing and substantial when I eat from handmade pottery. Making my own seems like another layer of mindfulness added on!

  35. Nataliya says:

    I like to knit mittens and hats for my kids. They also helped me sew some bed linens for my kids’ stuffed animals.

  36. I really want to start quilting. I used to think quilts were ugly and boring, but I have seen a lot of “modern” quilting books recently that have made me fall in love with quilts – and sewing.

  37. Thank you for this wonderful give-away!
    With four children, time is precious, both with quality interactions and with time on my own to create. Inspiration abounds and I have so many projects waiting to come to fruition. My next projects on my list of planned things is a special quilt and doll for my youngest’s first birthday.

  38. I have made quilts for each of my children while we were waiting for them to enter this world. I love sewing and have fun doing up dress-up costumes for the kids. Thanks for the give-away!

  39. i want to learn to sew. i just know that i will absolutely love it and i have a whole host of projects in mind to make once i start. it’s in the near future and i cannot wait!

  40. The garland is so cute! I like your blogs-great and enjoyable info! I keep intending to make a “prayer book” of photos (Christmas cards repurposed) to use in family prayer times. I made a t-shirt quilt from college sorority shirts on one side and my husband’s fraternity shirts on the other.

  41. What an honor it would be to win a copy of this amazing book.

    I really enjoy making & stamping my own cards for friends and family. I also enjoy quilting especially for new babies.

  42. Trachelle says:

    My latest project was painting and re-upholstering a thrift store chair for my desk. I love it and I am excited to try out some of SouleMama’s ideas.

  43. I’d like to make some cloth diapers for my little one!

  44. My favorite project up to this point is my photo wall in our master bedroom. It has a large family photo surrounded by varying sizes of pictures of my kiddos that I have taken as well as professional. I also painted the frames to fit the color scheme.
    Someday I hope to make a quilt.

  45. My last project was decorating my toddler’s room. That included painting the walls, building and nice toy storage bence and some shelves and sewing on curtains. I loved doing it and the outcome was wonderful!

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  46. I have been looking forward to this book for a long time! I recently thrifted an old bedsheet and made a cute skirt for my daughter. I hope to making a matching one for me as well.

  47. At the moment, my favourite project is my knitted tomten jacket for a little girl…

  48. karoline says:

    I love making baby quilts, my favorite had squares of redwork embroidery of images from richard scary

  49. Stephanie H says:

    My favorite thing I’ve made is fabric purses/bags for my girls. They actually aren’t all that great because I didn’t know what I was doing. The girls chose their own cute fabric and they LOVE them because I made them. Even though they don’t look the greatest, it really showed me how much more they love things we make together. It sounds corny, but it is so true.

  50. Jennifer says:

    I really need this book! I have a one year old son, and really want to learn these projects so that we can craft by hand as well as have great family time together!

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