Book Review: Stitching with Beatrix Potter

ISBN 978-1-61745-610—7

Author:  Michele Hill
Publisher: C&T Publishing (2 Feb. 2017)

RRP £16.99

Content – 10 sewing and stitching projects based on stories and characters of Beatrix Potter. A couple of craft projects relate to Potter’s home at ‘Hill Top’ and the surrounding farmland in The Lake District, UK (now a National Trust property)

Australian Author, Michele Hill talks of being bowled over by the gallery displays of both William Morris and Beatrix Potter inspired quilts at the 2016 Tokyo Quilt Festival. Already conversant and somewhat obsessed with the life and work of William Morris, Hill made connections of these two famous people and began to research Beatrix Potter. Being an award winning quilter, Hill had in mind to write a Beatrix Potter book. Hill had the help and encouragement of history buffs who she names and credits in her welcome message and who also contributed background information, and photographic images from the archives shown in the Life of Beatrix Potter that is presented on pages 7 and 8.

Range of information 8/10
skills: machine applique and sewing machine use and techniques; binding; hand embroidery stitching (represented in step-by-step instruction); quilting – fabric, materials and terminology. Use of other textiles and materials, and patterns. One project suggests the use of a Lightbox, also the mention of IKEA purchases the author made to finish projects.

Quality of information 9/10
We have not checked the patterns but we have gathered and reviewed feedback comments online of Hill’s other work, and have concluded that Hill is an expert in her field and that she has conveyed the expertise she possesses perfectly well in the writing, instruction and presentation of this book. We would place suitability approx 14 years to adult: projects include scissor use, sewing tools, sewing machine skills and use of an iron.
The information detailed under the ‘You will need’ and the ‘Method’ sections of each project will inform a stitch enthusiast or an experienced quilter straightforwardly without having to research elsewhere, unless they are looking for an answer to a question that is more specific.

Layout 9/10 Paperback. Consists of only 64 pages. The craft work from each project features in a staged and styled showcasing on the cover (front and rear). Pattern pages are perforated and can be photocopied for personal use only. Fonts used throughout are a good size, which makes for ease of reading and close following.

Photography/Illustration 9/10 As mentioned credits and copyright information is included in the book’s publishing information and in pages of the text. Colour photography of the project making and the end results are Michele Hill’ s own. The additional work of the art editor enhances Hill’s designs.

Features 8/10
make: a pinwheel (farmyard and fauna) and a floral wall hanging; a Mrs Tiggy-Winkle iron cover (who uses an iron cover these days, but the design is lovely). A Nursery Quilt a baby ball and a lap quilt (all  three of Beatrix Potter’s story book characters). A cushion (a nod to the Tailor of Gloucester story); a box (with Hill Top design in felt); a Double-bed quilt; and a quilt (unfinished).

Conclusion All projects are linked to the stories, the artwork or to something meaningful to Beatrix Potter in real life. Thankfully, and intentionally on the author’s part, the designs are not twee at all. One glaring negative about this book however, is the price, we see lots of craft books and this is not keenly priced in comparison to similar titles of this size and which have similar content. The real triumph, in regard to the projects, is Hill’s marvelous reproduction in applique of the bed quilt from Hill Top Title: 1863- A Wedding Quilt. However, our Editor’s choice has to be the Cherry Twist Cushion as in the story The Tailor of Gloucester the mice used the ‘twist’ that pesky cat Simpkin had hid, and embroidered beautiful stitching detail on the silk waistcoat for the Mayor and saved the day for the work weary Tailor. Hill has represented the design as described in the tale on a rectangular cushion beautifully and exquisitely – a touch of the William Morris right there!



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