The introduction to the book offers a tutorial on stitches that you'll need to know, as well as the notions required, generally speaking. She also makes recommendations on which stitches are appropriate for which steps. (I have my own personal suggestions, BTW, which can be found here. More advice on felt crafting from my perspective can be found here and here and here)
Now that we got that out of the way...awesome book. I think of it as an extension to Umecrafts' Etsy offerings. The first pattern in the book is for a cake, very elaborate, hundreds of pieces of felt to be cut for extensive, lifelike detail. Wow.
Jeanette really covered everything in this book. It's not just food: there are pattern sets for tools, a doctor bag, a purse and all its contents, office supplies, even plants! (I personally can't wait to make the African Violet. Finally, a plant that won't wither and die in my presence!)
All the patterns are distinctly lifelike, and the detail is amazing. Even if you've never attempted basic embroidery before, you won't be daunted, as excellent instructions are included for each stitch, as well as the basics (whip stitch, blanket stitch, back stitch, etc.).
Frankly, this is one of the best books I've found on felt crafting, and there's many to choose from, so that's saying a lot! So many books on felt crafting are for things that just aren't that interesting or fun - Christmas ornaments, gnomes, holiday items, etc.. Jeanette really brings felt to the mainstream and modern time. You'll be making these items as either play sets for children, or home decor. In other words, FUNCTIONAL! Now that's putting the FUN in functional!!
I rated this book on Amazon as a 5/5, fo shizzle. An essential book for any serious felt (or otherwise) crafter's library!
If this book isn't enough, check out Jeanette's space on Etsy for even more patterns. umecrafts.etsy.com
I only have a few very minor, stupid qualms about the book. And I'm being super anal here. The first being that the pattern pieces, if they are close to the spine (the "gutter") they will be very difficult to photocopy without distortion. I pressed down pretty hard on my copier and creased up the spine pretty good attempting to photocopy one pattern in the center of the book to test it. For those pieces towards the middle, I strongly recommend you use tracing paper that's tacked down to the original page so you can trace it accurately. I did ask the publisher if there are any plans for either a spiral bound edition (not really an option at this price point) or a space online where book owners can download .pdf files - as Jeanette sells her patterns - and that wasn't an option either. However, perhaps in future editions they could offer a CD containing .pdf files, or even a memory card, for the pattern pieces. In the past, I had the luxury of printing out my own pattern pieces from .pdf files, which is terrific, as I have made some items so many times, the paper looks like it's been on a dartboard!
The other thing (and I'm embarrassed to even write this because it's that stupid) is about the suggestion of using "lemon cream" as a color. This really depends on your felt supplier. Jeanette uses Sun Felt (page is in Japanese, look out for some translation issues...I personally had a hard time navigating it due to the language barrier). I personally use Weir Dolls & Crafts, and their "lemon" is a pale yellow. (Bear in mind, I'm in the US.) My very first felt project ever was one of Umecrafts bananas, and for a long time I was cranking out pale yellow bananas with a darker yellow skin, when, in my opinion, I should have ordered "cream." Again, it all depends on your supplier; I strongly suggest you order a swatch card BEFORE you order any of your felt so you know what colors are what. One supplier's sky blue may be another's turquoise. Don't count on what you see on a computer screen to accurately represent a color.
Here's yellow, lemon, and cream, from left to right, photographed with flash, it's pretty accurate for coloring here:
Here also is a banana with cream for the banana, lemon on the inside peel, and yellow for the outside peel.
Again, these are minor, petty differences. Always order the swatch card, and you will save yourself a lot of frustration if your are ordering felt from a supplier other than Sun Felt.
That brings me to another point...for the love of all that's holy, don't use craft felt, especially "Eco-fi" when making felt items. It sucks. Yes, you can find it at any mass merchandiser for a quarter a sheet, but...just don't. If you're going to put this much work into handcrafting something, you need to use quality materials. You may also find wool felt by the bolt at places like JoAnn but it's often mixed with rayon and the color selection is extremely limited. You'll have better luck always when you purchase felt online. I personally prefer 100% wool felt because it rebounds nicely from stretching and doesn't pill. It wears much much better than blended felt, IMO. When I was first starting out with felt crafting, I made a few test pieces with Eco fi. And they are long gone, because the stitches pulled out, the item stretched and just disintegrated. Even better? 100% wool has no grain because it's, well, felted, so you can place the pattern pieces any which way, resulting in FAR less waste of material. If you have material on which the grain has to match, there's going to be a lot of waste.
I also stuff my items with wool mill ends instead of polyfill, but each to their own! Polyfill is certainly easier to find, but I have found while making items for my children stuffed with polyfill (before I sourced wool mill ends from The Sheep Shed Studio) that polyfill compresses over time. Wool holds its shape much better. The items I make from wool are 100% natural, sewn with cotton thread. Rarely, I'll use polyester thread for detail stitching, but from me, you get a 99.9% natural product that's CPSIA certified. I've even machine washed my felt items (I have kids that barf at the drop of a hat) with no discernible difference!
So, you're interested in felt food, but not interested in sewing? Hey, did you know I sell it? Check me out at www.puckleberry.com . I make all my items on demand so they'll take a week or two, but believe me, it will outlast the best that a baby, a toddler, a tantruming kid, and a sexually frustrated cat can deal out (And I've had my items challenged by all 4 of those, trust me)! And they're gently machine washable! Top that! Your grandkids will be playing with my items someday, get yours!!
Now, here comes some fun:
1. On Friday, March 10th ONLY, download the Sundae pattern (featured in Big Little Felt Universe) for FREE from Lark Crafts.
2. I am offering a giveaway!! Get a free copy of Jeannette Lin's totally awesome book Big Little Felt Universe delivered straight to you from the publisher, Lark Crafts, an imprint of Sterling Publishing. How do you enter? Make a comment in the comment section of this post. Contest ends at midnight EST on March 13. Do not comment more than once, that will toss your name out of contention altogether. (And don't be a jerk and make up a bunch of sockpuppets to vote, I can see your IP.) One winner will be chosen at random on March 14! Winners will be named here on this blog on March 14, so if you are commenting, be sure to have some sort of contact info in your profile. If I can't find you by March 16, an alternate winner will be chosen.
Good luck and HAPPY CRAFTING!!
Many special thanks to Linda Kopp of Sterling Publishing, and editor of Big Little Felt Universe, and Jeanette Lim for being an awesome inspiration and a creative genius!!!