I'm not sure what I love more, a new craft/sewing book or making the items that are in it. I tend to hang on to a new book for days, carrying it around with me, flipping through the pages and creating the items in my head before deciding where I'm going to start. When I was offered an opportunity to write a review of Deborah Fisher's new book, Sew Fun: 20 Projects For The Whole Family, I jumped at the chance.
By Deborah Fisher
Interweave/F+W Media; $26.99
Sew Fun has so many thoughtful project in it. Twenty of them, to be exact! Twenty projects that showcase your child and their creativity, whether it's taking their drawings and turning it into a pillow like the ones featured in the "There's No Place Like Home Pillows". I love these! These are what Roo and I are going to work on during spring break.
Then there's the Topsy Turvy Story Quilt, the ULTIMATE project for featuring your child's artwork and encouraging their creativity and imagination. I can see how this quilt would be such a great source of pride for any little boy or girl! And just imagine the hours and hours of quiet play that it encourages!
Every project in Deborah's new book is so beautifully thought out and meaningful. She has written a book full of tips for sewing with children and ideas for encouraging their creativity. She has done a wonderful job of taking the scary out of that first initial step of confidently handing over the scissors and sewing machine and allowing your child to express themselves through an art form that children are naturally drawn to.
I decided to interview Deborah and find out a little bit more about what drives her to create, how she got started and those nonprofit organizations that she is so passionate about. Enjoy!
1. I love this book because the projects are so diverse and appealing, I especially love that they can be personalized with my child's art. What inspired you to write a book for children and their families?
Thank you so much! Many of the projects in Sew Fun were objects I was making for and with my kids anyway, or were ideas I had been wanting to try. The Community Quilt project idea began as a gift I made with my daughter’s kindergarten class for their teacher. I was already using my daughter’s drawings to make faces on the Fun Friends From Odds and Ends. A book seemed like a great way to compile all of my ideas and to share them. I am so happy that it all came together. It has been a wonderful experience!
2. What is your favorite project in this book?
My favorite project is always the Hazel Doll. When I first started sewing I made dolls and I love revisiting the fun that I had with them. There is a special magic in sewing an object that will become someone’s friend. I feel there is a intimacy and sensitivity to sewing a doll that it not as present with other objects.
3. Who taught you how to sew?
My mother taught me to sew! She always had her sewing machine out and ready for us to use. I was very fortunate to grow up in a house where the handmade was valued.
4. What kind of machine do you sew on every day?
I have a Bernina Aurora 430 that is wonderful. For the programs I do with the Bright Hopes Collaborative Quilt Project, we have basic Pfaffs that get tons of tough use and keep on going.
5. What tools are in your sewing basket?
A few good basic tools! I still have the set of Fiskars my mother ordered for me from the back of the Cheerios box many, many years ago and I use them everyday, although I have acquired a few other pairs since then. A few good feet for my sewing machine, such as a 1/4” foot and an edge stitch foot. It was happy dance time when I discovered those! Rotary cutting equipment that I actually thought I could do without when I first started making quilts. Silly me.
6. A lot of parents are afraid to let their child sew (pins, scissors, sharp rotary cutters, the possibility of a sewing machine needle through the tip of a tiny finger). What advice do you have for them on how to let go and let their child experience this world of creativity?
There are so many ways to get kids involved with sewing and reduce the danger level to your comfort zone. And there is a whole section in Sew Fun with tips! Start very young kids off by just stepping on the sewing machine pedal while you sew. Move them onto helping you sew with their hands on top of yours and then your hands on top of theirs. Even rotary cutting can be very safe for kids a bit older if you have them use a cut resistant glove and are standing near them. I think the most important thing is to know the kid and know yourself. Choose activities that will work well with your combined personalities. And remember, if you are nervous, they will be also. Make sure the fun outweighs the safety lessons!
7. In the back of the book, your Nonprofit Organizations, Bright Hopes Collaborate Quilt Project and Bo Twal, are mentioned. Do you have any advice for a fellow sewist who would like to get involved in either organization?
Thank you for asking!
We are SO excited about Bo Twal! Bo Twal means cloth kiss in Haitian Creole. You can purchase our first sewing pattern, the Sewing Smiles Doll, on our Etsy site, www.etsy.com/shop/botwal. For every pattern purchased, a similar doll is constructed in Haiti and donated to a child there. A new pattern for you, income for a sewist in Haiti, a doll for a child in need. Smiles all around! You can find out more about Bo Twal from our website, www.botwal.org. Updates about new patterns and other news are posted on our Facebook page, botwaldolls, so be sure to like us there.
The Bright Hopes Collaborative Quilt Project is a very local organization. Anyone living on Long Island, especially Western Suffolk, is welcome to join us! Otherwise, we accept monetary donations through our website, www.brighthopes.org, or new modern quilting fabric.
8. What is your most favorite thing you've ever made?
My 2 girls! But besides them, the answer to this is always changing. I need distance from what I make to really see the objects for what they are. Sometimes my favorite is a collection, like the projects in Sew Fun. Sometimes it is a doll I made when I was 12, or a sculpture I did in graduate school. Right this very minute my favorite is the Bo Twal Sewing Smiles Doll pattern because it is making other people happy-from the women in Haiti who are sewing the dolls to give to children there, to those who are buying patterns here, to those who received dolls as a perk for being part of our Indiegogo campaign. We are hearing wonderful stories and that is always my favorite part of making.
9. And last, the question I ask everyone-including Keith Urban a few years ago-if you were a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which part of the sandwich would you be and why?
The bread, of course. I’m all about the carbs!
To purchase this book, click here.
Thank you, Deborah, for the fun little interview and for designing such a beautiful, encouraging book! I am looking forward to creating and sewing with my daughter even more this year!