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Sewing Happiness book review

by Mar 7, 2018

Sewing happiness is a beautiful book that deserves a place in your sewing library.

I was very excited to discover my local library has recently added Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida to their collection. I had seen this book online but it wasn’t in any of the bookshops I visited while in Brisbane and as we don’t have many bookshop options locally, I had given up finding a copy to browse and help me decide if it belonged in my personal (rather extensive) sewing book library.

After excitedly bringing it home, I wasn’t disappointed. The styling and photography is beautiful and thoughtfully presented, and the 19 projects are all simple and easy enough for a sewing beginner to achieve in a single afternoon. Well, mostly – the projects with sashiko stitching it might take take a bit longer. As a simple but beautiful style of simple Japanese embroidery, the hand embroidery might take a bit longer for a beginner but not that much longer.

What makes this book special is the stories Sanae shares through essays at the beginning of each season.

Sanae describes her catastrophic fall from grace from ‘rising star employee’ to being unceremoniously fired. She also shares how extreme stress prompted a serious autoimmune disorder and how her workaholic tendencies almost destroyed her marriage. What follows next, in each essay, is a gradual rediscovery of the therapeutic benefits of slowing down and reconnecting with handmade creativity.     

It’s no coincidence that the subtitle for Sewing Happiness is “A year of simple projects for living well”, and it’s this philosophy that underpins the whole book. Sanae talks about discovering mindfulness through making, which I’m sure most of us who are a part of the maker movement would understand.

None of these projects are technically challenging, which adds to the book’s charm and accessibility. With 19 different projects on offer, from homewares, bags, accessories, gifts for men as well as babies, and even some women’s clothing, there are plenty of options if one or two don’t appeal to you.

These projects will give you confidence if you’ve never sewn before, and even if you have sewn before, these simple projects are fun, versatile and stylishly elegant. They are not your usual simple sewing projects.

Sanae confesses in her foreword that the projects needed to be ‘straightforward and easy’. Her aim was to make them easy enough for her nine-year-old daughter to confidently attempt them. Despite this, there is nothing childish or twee about this book and it’s very much a ‘personal story about unexpected transformations’. I can absolutely recommend this book deserves a place on your bookshelf, preferably in your lounge room, so you can pick it up and be inspired by the gorgeous photography, empowered by Sanae’s essays, and encouraged to incorporate some handsewn creativity into your life.

To see more sewing books I recommend, see my post Best sewing books for beginners.

Overall rating 5/5
Number of projects: 19
Project difficulty levels: Very easy
Types of projects: dressmaking, accessories, gifts and homewares

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