Have you ever encountered someone whom you just can't say enough wonderful things about? This is how I feel about Wendi Gratz of Shiny Happy World. I seriously love this woman, and hope we get to meet someday. I tell you this because I'm about to offer up a super shiny happy biased review of her book. And yet, I don't think it's all that biased at all. I think her work is just overall awesome.
Creature Camp is a book that is written for children by Wendi and her daughter Jo. It's a book of sewing basics focusing on creating fun stuffed creatures, and it's suitable for new or experienced sewists ages 9 and up. It's kid-tested and approved, because all of the sewing was done by 11-year-old Jo and her friends. Amazing!
The book starts with a few basics, tips, tricks and safety guidelines, then it walks you through different techniques and applies them to 18 different creations. They start out simple with straight lines, then it takes you all the way through to installing a zipper and making reversible toys!
When Wendi asked me if I'd like to review Creature Camp, she asked if my nearly-nine-year-old sister would like to help out too. When the book arrived, Grace gasped and started listing off what she wanted to make. And this was before we even cracked the spine! Harry the Round-Bellied Bear was at the top of her list, but since she's never used a sewing machine before, I suggested we start with something easier.
We settled on a totem pole, which is all straight sewing. I read a few instructions out, showed her the pictures, and explained how the sewing machine works. Although I use our sewing machine on a regular basis (Wendi certainly helped me out with this last year!), I referred to the book for good instructions in a child-friendly (but never condescending) tone. And then Grace got started.
Though I talked her through it and lent a hand from time to time (getting those pins through was sometimes tricky!), Grace sewed her first creation. All by herself.
You have no idea how proud I am of her. My mom says that I couldn't have done this when I was 8. I maintain that at 8 I could have...just not at 28, when I started my sewing machine issues!
A variation on Harry the Round-Bellied Bear is coming up next. We have some freshly purchased safety eyes and super sweet pink spotted flannel ready to go, and she's been begging me to help her get it started. Clearly, this book is a winner. (And don't get me going on Percy the Pig! I'm going to
So now let's talk about this a little more from a grown-up perspective. This is what I love:
1. Creature Camp teaches basic skills simply, and it applies to both kids and adults. Grace wasn't the only one who learned things!
2. Creature Camp has all kinds of great ideas for things you can make for kids...or for yourself!
3. Creature Camp gives you a way to pass on a skill to your children.
4. Creature Camp presents patterns for sewn toys AND it suggests ways to make each project your own.
5. Creature Camp is a great way for kids to be able to make things for gifts (think holidays coming up!).
6. Creature Camp creates an opportunity for you to spend time with your kids.
7. Creature Camp and Wendi Gratz (Jo too!) are awesome.
I think that about covers it, right? With Christmas coming, I can't think of a more perfect book for kids and grown-ups alike. There is just so much cuteness that needs to be stitched and gifted! Find it on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.
Oh, and do yourself a favor and head over to Wendi's blog and sign up for her newsletter. You won't regret it! Thanks, Wendi, all you do and for who you are. I truly mean every word of this review!