Author: Erica Domesek
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: September 10th, 2013
Read: September 2013
Where It Came From: eARC from publisher via NetGalley*
Genre: Crafts & Hobbies
Rating: 2.5 Glue Guns
The DIY/crafting movement has gotten big the last few years, and like many other internet-goers I have found myself more than a little drawn to it. Tempted by adorable handmade stuff for sale on Etsy, inspired by blogs like Design*Sponge, seduced by all the gorgeously photographed DIY tutorials spreading through Pinterest…it’s easy to want to get involved, and, even better, easy to actually do so. And the best thing is that the tutorials are more often than not for DIY’d things you’d actually want—follow the instructions for well-designed, professional-looking results.
My interest in DIY led me to this book. The author is quite famous in the DIY/crafting world, with a popular website called P.S.-I Made This… and a book by the same name. In fact, while googling for the link to her website, I came across an article headline in the search results referring to her as the “millennial Martha.”
The title of this book led me to believe that it would be about DIY related to parties (themes, decorations, favors, etc.), but it turns out that’s not quite the case. The introduction rather describes it as a book with a “focus on celebration and stylish living.” Most of the projects are for accessories or décor objects. Things you could wear to a party, or use to help decorate for a party, but not quite as party-focused as I had imagined it would be. And that was fine--just a little different than I had expected.
After a foreword from Stacy London of What Not to Wear fame (!) and the author’s introduction, the book is divided into 10 different themed chapters with about 4-5 projects falling under each theme. Themes are things like “Sexy Mexi!” with fiesta-inspired projects, or “Make a Splash!” with outdoor summery projects, to name a couple. Each chapter opens with an explanation of the theme, a tableau featuring people wearing/using the projects for that theme, and then the featured projects pictured and named alongside it, too. The design and photography are gorgeous and bright and fun. The project instructions seem straightforward and easy to understand, with photos to help you along. One really cool thing about the book is that it’s what the publisher is calling a “smart book”—it has QR-code-type-things interspersed throughout the book that you can scan with your phone and see videos with tips about various projects. I like the multimedia aspect, especially because sometimes it’s easier to learn from watching someone do something than from simply reading about it. I also love that there’s a section in the back that provides info on websites where you can purchase the specific materials necessary for every project.
Unfortunately, though, the book ended up not being as much as I hoped it would. Let me be clear, I love the author’s philosophy of DIY and crafting as a creative outlet, as a way for you to be you, and as a way to create a beautiful, fun life. I’m with her there. I fully agree with and support that. But for most of the projects featured in the book, I’m not sure the cost of materials/time needed/look of the finished product equation balances out for me. Some of the stuff looks pretty cool, but maybe not enough to make it worth my time and money that would need to go into it. When I DIY, it’s definitely to have fun, but it’s also important to me that the project doesn’t look overtly DIY. I don’t want it to look “crafty” or “homemade,” to use those words in the Project Runway sense, which usually means not-so-professional-looking or kitschy-in-a-bad-way. And some of these projects looked a little too cheesy or cheap-looking for my tastes. I want it to look just as good as, if not better than, what I could buy in the store or pay someone else for. For example, there’s a project for a fedora with faux stitching where you use Sharpies to color in parts of a straw fedora hat to make it look like a pattern has been stitched on. Cool idea, and I bet it would look good from far away, but I wonder if up close it would look like precisely what it is—a hat colored with markers.
That being said, there were some projects that I liked and would consider trying out. I thought the project embellishing a pair of flats with lace was simple and sweet; a patchwork blanket project would be perfect for picnics and visits to the beach; the turban headband is trendy and cute; and the cork clutch is really, really cool. Additionally, there were some projects that while I wasn’t so into the finished product, there was a really cool technique involved that could be extrapolated to something I would be interested in making. For example, there’s a project involving Sharpies and rubbing alcohol to achieve a watercolor effect on fabric, which is a really awesome idea. The example uses it on a skirt, but I might use it on a light summer scarf instead. There was another project that uses looking glass spray paint and a vinegar-water solution to achieve a mercury glass effect. Fantastic idea! I would probably use it on some decorative vases instead of what was in the book.
Between the projects I would be interested in trying out and the ones where I’d like to try the technique involved on something else, I end up interested in about 11 of the 46 projects in the book. That’s 24% of them, which probably isn’t enough for me to go out and buy the book—I would rather check it out from the library when I got the crafting urge. I was disappointed that many of the projects weren’t to my crafting tastes, but I imagine there are plenty of DIYers out there who would love this stuff. If you are into crafting or DIY, maybe find the book at the library or flip through it at a bookstore to make sure your personal style jibes with the book’s before committing to purchase. If you already know you love Erica Domesek and the projects she posts online, you will probably love this, too!
*As ever, much as we are grateful for the copy, our review is uninfluenced by its source.