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Book Review: Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt

Reported by Rachel Johnson

Kata Golda is an artist who works mostly in felt to create children’s toys and items for the home. She recently published her first project book, Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt: 25 Whimsical Sewing Projects (published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, MSRP $19.95), and I had the pleasure of meeting her during her promotional tour at the Etsy Labs Craft Night in Brooklyn on October 19th, 2009. At the craft event, Golda showed us how to create a felt photo pocket, one of the projects featured in her book.
Golda supplied the wool and wool-blend felt, which came in beautiful muted colors that were hand-dyed at her studio. She also gave us a template to use for the fall leaves on the pockets (in the book, the photo pockets have a botanical motif). The pockets were created by tri-folding a rectangle of felt and using a combination of three simple stitches (straight stitch, whip stitch, and blanket stitch) to secure the applique and close up the edges. The project was a good refresher for me, as I was a bit rusty on all of my stitching techniques. I was very pleased to finish my pretty pocket by the end of the evening!
I was so pleased that I went ahead and purchased the Hand-Stitched Felt book that evening! The beginning of the book covers many of the same things we learned at the event, like simple stitches, knots, and sewing techniques. There is a cute section all about stitching faces freehand. Golda’s stuffed toys are absolutely adorable, and it was fun to get a glimpse into how she creates their cute and expressive faces. The sewing techniques section of the book is only eight pages long and covers the most basic of instruction. It is completely adequate for a beginning stitcher interested in tackling simple sewing projects like those in the book, but more advanced seamstresses could probably skip right over the section.
The majority of the book is devoted to the twenty-five different felt project tutorials. The projects include a pincushion, a purse, stuffed animals, journals with felt covers, finger puppets (seen on the book’s cover), pillows, a baby quilt, a messenger bag, and many more cute felt creations. Each project tutorial is accompanied by multiple full-color photographs by Frank White, and Golda’s whimsical, hand-drawn sketches and diagrams. It was a joy looking through the book trying to determine what I would attempt as my first project. I settled on the “Songbird Mug Cozy and Coaster” as my inaugural hand-stitched felt creation.
I gathered my supplies (three colors of felt, three colors of embroidery thread, scissors, measuring tape, pencil, and buttons) and then hunkered down on the sofa to get stitching! Golda’s pattern for the mug cozy is ingenious, with a little tab that fits through the mug handle and an attached coaster at the bottom of the cozy. Each mug cozy must be custom-made for the mug it is intended to keep warm. I (somewhat stupidly) choose one of my largest mugs. This caused a problem when I discovered that my felt pieces were not quite long enough to wrap the mug. I improvised and added a tab with buttons on both sides to fit under the mug handle.
Even with my slight improvisation, Golda’s instructions kept me on track and reminded me to do simple things (like attach the applique first) that made the process of constructing the cozy go smoothly. (I added the little heart between the birds as my own special touch.) I had a lot of fun making this felt project, and I am very pleased with the results. The cozy is both cute and highly functional!
I have a weak spot in my heart for cute things, which probably was what initially swayed me to purchase Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt: 25 Whimsical Sewing Projects. But even if cute is not exactly your style, the book has many clever and functional project ideas for all ages that can be customized to fit your personal taste. If you are attracted to Golda’s cute characters, she provides all of the character and motif patterns at the back of the book in the templates section – including full-size templates for her signature stuffed companion dolls. The projects in Hand-Stitched Felt are all very simple, and as the title says, they are all completed with hand-stitching. No sewing machine required. So, that means you can work on them in front of the tv or on the subway with ease. Perfect for someone like me who likes quick, but satisfying craft endeavors!
Pros:
  • Wide variety of both functional and whimsical felt projects.
  • Beautiful color photography and detailed project instructions with construction diagrams.
  • The projects are all quick, simple, and can be completed with only the most basic materials.
  • Patterns for the applique designs are provided, but the projects are easily customizable using your own creativity.
Cons:
  • Advanced seamstresses may find the sewing projects to be too simple.
It is hard for me to come up with any substantial “cons” for Hand-Stitched Felt. I really love the book and it has made me more interested in continuing to craft in felt. What other felt craft books should I check out? Do you have a favorite online felt vendor? Who are some other artists or crafters working in felt who inspire you?
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5 Responses to Book Review: Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt

  1. Avatar
    java diva November 19, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    I have a confession: I hate handstitching. I hate stabbing myself over & over! I have now developed a phobia of needles. My stitching is so bad, the pain is not worth it.
    But, shoot! This book makes me want to overcome my phobia. The projects look so cute. Perfect for holiday gift making. Perfect gifts–cute, inexpensive, & from the heart.
    So if I end up caving & doing some 12 steps to overcome this phobia, and I still stab myself & suck at stitching, I’m blaming it all on you! 😉 Then can I pay you to make the projects for me??

  2. Avatar
    rachel johnson November 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    You will love the book, java diva! I didn’t stab myself once while making my projects…. well, ok, I may have stabbed myself once… but the projects really are easy, but very functional (and cute) in most cases. I am definitely going to make some felt holiday gifts!

  3. Avatar
    LuvsCrafts November 21, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    After reading this review I went to the bookstore and got this book. I just loved all the ideas in it. Great review. Thank you!

  4. Avatar
    Erika Martin - Stampin' Mama November 23, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    Oh my word! These are adorable! MUST HAVE!!

  5. Avatar
    Erika Martin - Stampin' Mama November 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm #

    So I just purchased the book online. I HAD to have it. I sent a friend to the site, as well, to read the review and now SHE has to have it!