It's time for a book review!
Today I'm reviewing ReCraft: How to Turn Second-hand Stuff into Beautiful Things for your Home, Family and Friends by Sarah Duchars and Sarah Marks (the founders of Buttonbag).
The book begins with an introduction to Buttonbag (who make and sell a range of craft & sewing kits for children) and the philosophy behind ReCraft. They write about how making new things from old, second-hand items can be fun and thrifty and eco-friendly but how it can also spark your creativity: "ReCraft means asking 'what can I turn this into? rather than 'what do I need to make this?'"
They also talk about materials, and how "a second-hand shirt is the ReCrafter's best friend", with a double-page spread of projects from the book that they made from old shirts (though a lot of these projects could be made with any fabric like a pretty vintage sheet or pillowcase). The second-hand shirt is a great example of how charity shops and jumble sales are great sources of cheap-as-chips fabric for your crafty projects, and how if your supplies aren't expensive you're free try out new skills or to really experiment instead of worrying about wasting precious pieces of special fabric.
There's a short guide to the basic supplies and sewing techniques you'll need to attempt the projects, then the 50 projects in the book are divided into categories: Toys, Baby Stuff, Family, Friends, and Home.
Friends is mostly jewellery and accessories (bags, button necklaces, fingerless gloves, etc). Family & Home are both a mix of small gift-y things and homewares - with things like aprons, a lego clock, cushion-covers and jam jar candles under Family and projects like record bowls, decoupage tables, covered notebooks and Christmas decorations under Home.
All the projects are rated to show the level of skill/difficulty involved - from projects where you only need basic skills, to projects where you may need to use a sewing machine, to projects that involve more complicated techniques.
Some of the projects are more detailed with step-by-step instructions (illustrated) and templates provided in the back of the book (if required) others are more like "crafty ideas" with just a photo of the finished item and a paragraph of text about how to make it.
There are several projects where the only photo of the finished item is in the introduction to the chapter - the project page itself just being illustrated with a drawing of the finished piece.
I have to admit that I like craft books that have lots of inspiring, eye-candy photos in them, so I would have preferred to see more photos and fewer illustrations especially as some of the projects aren't shown as finished items at all, just illustrated.
As for the projects themselves I think there's a very nice mix of designs in this book. There are quick and simple crafty ideas but also bigger, more detailed projects... things you could make as gifts for a whole mix of different age groups.... and though there are some projects you've probably seen elsewhere (like making button necklaces or fabric bunting or record bowls) there are some really fun, fresh ideas in there too, like the lego clock and these super cute "hoodlets" (I especially love the dragon one!).
Importantly for a book that's based on going down to your local charity shop and making stuff from your finds, most of the projects are either made from easy-to-source materials or can be adapted slightly to make use of what you can find. The only project that stuck out a bit for me was the idea for rescuing and restoring an old deckchair. I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever seen a deckchair in a charity shop! (Maybe they're really common finds if you live near the seaside??)
I think if you're the sort of person who can't bear to throw old stuff away in case you can make something from it, if you're a fan of the recent trend for "upcycling" or you're a teen or student who wants to make affordable, fun things to decorate your room or as gifts for family and friends you'll find lots to love about this book.
ReCraft is published by Frances Lincoln Ltd. RRP £12.99. It's available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA and many other bookshops.
[Disclaimer: the publisher kindly sent me a free review copy of this book, and the
Amazon links in this post are affiliate links]