Makery: Over 30 Projects for the Home, to Wear and to Give by Kate Smith
Published in September 2013, Makery is the product of multi-crafter and owner of The Makery workshop and shop, Kate Smith. From this base in Bath, Kate delivers classes in everything from sewing to printmaking, upholstery to knitting. Her book shares some of her favourite projects, presented across three sections: Fashion, Gifts and Home.
My impression on flicking through the pages of Makery is that at first glance there appears to be far more than thirty projects in this book. It’s quite a thick volume, with quite a lot of page space given to each make. I liked this, as I could tell it would be a book I’d dip into when seeking inspiration for my next project.
The range of projects is vast, covering everything from a clasp purse to a fabric deer head. My criticism of the projects themselves is that I have seen a fair few of them before. The tape measure brooch I have seen in Junk Genius by Juliette Goggin and Stacy Sirk, and many other projects have appeared as well-worn yet more generic design ideas in other craft books and magazines; decorated gift tags, mug cosies and machine-embroidered cushions, to name a few. It’s impossible to say where an idea for a craft how-to originates – and it’s entirely possible that several people at any one time are having the same great idea, especially when they are designing to fit in with popular trends, such as vintage, or upcycling. Its also only fair to note that some of the makes I’ve seen in craft magazines may have been directly donated from this very book by Kate Smith herself, as a way of promoting Makery. On the plus side, it’s not always a bad thing seeing somewhat familiar project ideas all presented together in one book, as let’s face it, I’m never going to get round to cutting them all out of the magazines and carefully filing them away for future use.
My favourite projects are the fabric deer head, which I am seriously considering adapting into a moose to display proudly in my workspace, and a patchwork pouffe, because it’s something I would consider an awkward and difficult make for a novice sewer such as myself, yet Kate presents it in sucha way that makes me add it confidently to my to-make list.
A big thumbs up for the instructions in this book – they are as clear as day and easy to follow. Kate hasn’t scrimped on the detail, which is handy because I often find that methods aren’t tailored to those who have never dipped their toe into that particular craft before. Kate writes as if she is there in the room with you while you make, so it’s as close as you can get to being in The Makery in Bath experiencing one of her workshops in person.
The photography throughout the book gives it a real light and fresh feel, like sitting in a workshop on bright day, working with the sunlight on your back. The makes aren’t presented as being twee or shabby chicin any way, but in being shown in their simplest form allow lots of room for personalisation to fit the maker’s own style. I love how-tos that allow for imagination and flair on the part of the maker. Mostly, Kate has allowed her images to sell her makes, so it’s easy to flick through and glean ideas and inspiration.
The sections for the materials are separate and clear, and there are hints on how much time it should take to construct each project. The fonts used are informal yet easy to read… and somehow friendly and comforting to the eye.
The downside of this book is that I wonder if it really offers anything drastically different to the hundreds of other craft books out there. That said, it serves as a handy compendium for the serious crafter, containing lots of ideas for projects that can be adapted and personalised, and as a reference for, say, looking up how to slip stitch or how to use a sewing pattern (there’s a section for techniques and tips at the back). For the novice crafter, it’s a real treasure trove, and I believe it would serve well to help build confidence in different crafting techniques, as well as a guiding, hand. As the book is designed to be a direct reflection of the workshops requested by those attending The Makery, there must be an eager audience out there for whom this book fulfils demand.
As an experienced crafter myself, I was still able to find plenty to keep me happy, as there is always the craft I haven’t tried yet, or the technique I’m yet to master. But there was an element of ‘yep, seen that before’ that left me wondering whether there might one day be a sequel for the more intermediate crafter.
Makery is beautifully presented, making a fresh, modern craft book for my collection. If you’re quite new to crafting and fancy diving in head first, with the helping hand of experience to guide you, I’d recommend adding this title to your kit.
I give it a Craft Candy rating of 7/10