I know at this point it’s almost a cliche to say that sewing people are the best people, but really, they are. This is never more apparent to me than when I get to travel around and meet them. When I was in Seattle last year I had the enormous good fortune to have lunch with the inspiring and smart Sanae Ishida; I had such a real and lasting feeling of true kinship (or kindred spiritship, as Anne Shirley might say) that it has only made reading her lovingly written and documented blog that much more meaningful long after the fact (I can not say enough about her honest and brave accounts of financial recklessness here).
While at lunch, Sanae showed me a galley proof of her new book Sewing Happiness, and I was positively giddy looking at; that feeling was only magnified when a copy of my own arrived last month.
This book is beautiful. It’s beautifully written, beautifully styled and photographed, and beautiful to hold in your hands. It’s the kind of book that you would be thrilled to receive as a gift, and even more excited to give away to someone you love. It’s the kind of book that reminds me why I feel in love with sewing in the first place, and the million tiny ways it has changed my life, given me confidence, and taught me about patience, creativity and mindfulness.
Because Sane is a wonderful writer, this book is filled with writing. Half memoir and half craft, it tells a maker’s story over the course of a year, as Sanae uses sewing as a means to find balance and health after a period of stress, anxiety and illness. Broken down into seasons, Sanae’s story unravels along with simple, lovely projects you can make in an afternoon.
I buy lots of sewing books but not many with the kinds of general projects you’ll find here; having said that, I would love to make almost everything in this book. Many are inspired by Sanae’s Japanese heritage, and the calm, handcrafted, thoughtful aesthetic intent of each project is like holding up a cool compress to your forehead. My stress levels dropped just turning the pages.
Refreshingly, this book does not contain patterns, rather, charmingly hand drawn illustrations at the back of the book walking you though each project. Simplicity at its best and most refined.
Also included is basic instruction in sashiko stitching, a Japanese embroidery tradition. I want to put it on everything in my home.
I think many of us these days are looking for sewing books that push our skill levels, or offer complicated patterns or instruction we can’t get anywhere else. This isn’t that book. What it offers is an inspiring emotional and visual story that I am grateful to have read, and highly recommend to anyone with an appreciation for good writing and design. It’s the rare “general” sewing book that I am very happy to own.