Stuffed Animals, From Concept to Construction, is Abigail Glassenberg’s second book. Published last year, it was given the accolade of a Best Book by Amazon. In a category as broad as Crafts and Creative Inspiration, making the top twenty best books of the year is high praise indeed. So, does it live up to expectations?
Abigail is a creative entrepreneur, author and teacher, specialising in the design and sewing of stuffed toys. This book was born out of her desire to teach people to create their own patterns. She felt there were plenty of patterns available, plenty of advice on how to make stuffed toys, but nobody told you how to design them. Stuffed Animals was written to fill that gap.
Section 1 covers tools and materials, designing and making. The designing and making sections were surprisingly short, presented more as an overview of key skills and stages. This book definitely assumes you bring your own vision and creativity to the party. The detailed theory — for me, the real treasure that lies within this book — comes later in Part 2, Project and Lessons.
The book contains 16 individual projects (i.e. stuffed toys), with both metric and imperial measurements. From a simple fish to a traditional teddy bear with moving joints, each project demonstrates a series of new methods and features. I love this gorgeous bumblebee — used to demonstrate spheres, stitching techniques and felt details.
There are no fewer than 52 lessons in the book, all linked to specific projects. These lessons, and the additional boxes set aside for more general toy-making techniques, provide an incredible arsenal of skills to draw from when designing your own patterns. By the time you reach the end of the book, there will be little you don’t know about making softies. This is where your imagination will start to fire.
One strong feature of the book for me was the use of page space. This bunny project spans 10 pages, but only one is dedicated to a full-colour photo of the finished toy (and lovely photos they are too). The other pages are packed with step-by-step written instructions, step-by-step photography, lessons, toy-making know-how and design inspiration — not a page wasted. At 192 pages, this book is crammed full of knowledge and is great value for money.
At the end of the book you will find the pattern templates. The bonus is that all but one are drawn at 100%. If you are not keen on the way they are stacked on the page — although I found the ones I tested easy to trace — the publisher supplies them as a pdf download on their website. Print them on to freezer paper and you are ready to go.
We all come across experts in their field, those who produce beautiful products but don’t always have the ability to breakdown that expertise and teach others. Not only is Abigail an expert in her field — and clearly passionate about what she does — luckily for us, she has the ability to teach. I have been busy sketching ideas for my first pattern design. I’m now excited at the prospect rather than apprehensive, knowing I’ve got this lovely tome to dip in and out of.
You can find out more about Abigail’s work on her blog, or why not soak up some of her enthusiasm and watch the book trailer.
Stuffed Animals is published by Lark Crafts. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.
[Disclaimer: the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links.]
Jackie founded her blog It's Organised with the aim of putting joy and creativity back at that the heart of gift-giving. Sign-up to her newsletter and follow her blog for more handmade-gift and wrapping inspiration.
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