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Saturday, 19 May 2018

A Tale of a Double Zipped Five Pocket Pouch & a Book Review

Stitched Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey
Stitched Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey...
Today I am back with — among other distractions — a promised quickie review of Aneela Hoey's Stitched Sewing Organizers (Pretty Cases, Boxes, Pouches, Pincushions & More). Published in mid-2017, it's a sewing book focused on making things to organize your sewing life.

But before I go into its contents, the reason I have this book (borrowed from the library) is an interesting story in itself that I want to share.

A couple of months ago, I came across a tutorial for a double zip triple pouch with five pockets on a YouTube channel. It turned into one of those anomalies for me: something I had to make even though I had no immediate use for it. (An unexpected side benefit is that the resulting project has been insanely popular on Pinterest.)

As I usually do, I read some of the comments under the video to get an idea of how the tutorial was received. It was clear that there had once been a series of "back and forths" about the fact that the tutorial may have been based on a pattern found in some book. Most of the pertinent comments had been deleted, but the name of the person who initiated the mini firestorm could still be ascertained from the remaining comments.

I decided to do a search on that name to see if I could find out the name of "that book".

Seems the person behind the comments is a blogger in the UK who knows Aneela Hoey personally. (Her name is actually listed first in the book's Acknowledgements, so it's obvious she was merely trying to defend her good friend's pouch design.) It didn't take much effort after unearthing that nugget of information to find out the name of the book that contains a similar double zipper, five pocket pouch.

Not knowing the actual contents of those original comments or how they came to be deleted (by the YouTube channel owner? by the person who made the comments?), I don't know why the name of the book was never mentioned. I've already had this discussion: I don't have a problem with anyone taking an existing project, tweaking it, and offering up his/her own take on it for consumption by the masses... as long as the inspiration is acknowledged and credited. To me, that's sufficient; the law requires less. On the other hand, there are those who think that basing a free tutorial on a pattern from a book — regardless of any tweaks or improvements — is wrong, period.

But I'm not going to go down that road again, because it's a winding, twisted road with no end, no beginning and no speed limits. Let me just say that none of us are privy to specific details, so we shouldn't make judgments.

To demonstrate what I mean by that, here is a pattern that I found on Etsy, put out by Napkitten.

Zippered clutch/purse sewing pattern with three pockets by Napkitten
image courtesy of Etsy.com...

Yes, it's the "same" design.

Not having seen the contents of this PDF, I don't know how similar the instructions may or may not be to the book or to the YouTube tutorial, but I can tell you that there are reviews for it dating back to 2010. So it's been around for awhile... way before 2017, in any case. The finished dimensions of the pouch per this PDF pattern is 8" (W) x 4" (H) x 1.5" (D). The finished dimensions of the pouch in the book is 10.5" (W) x 5" (H) x 2" (D). The finished dimensions of the pouch from the YouTube tutorial — at least in my case — was 7.5" wide x 9" high.

And it's only meant as a general observation, but the first two pouches are very similarly sized, unlike the third one.

I have no idea how these three ladies came to create this double zipped five pocket pouch and I'm not about to guess. I find it entirely possible that other talented people may also have "created" this same design, since the concept itself — while unusual — is not beyond the realm of being thought of by the average person. (Which is definitely not the same as saying that the average person can come up with good instructions for how to do it!)

Here is the project from the book.

Stitched Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey
Triple Pouch project from Stitched Sewing Organizers...

The forty instructions describing how to make this pouch span seven pages. All twenty-three of the accompanying graphics are line drawings. (For the record, the instructions from the YouTube tutorial are not the same; the order of construction is also different.) Having seen the video, made the pouch and skimmed these pages, for me, this wouldn't be an easy project to tackle without actual photos. Certainly not impossible, just not easy.

Still, for those who have watched the video but yearn for written instructions, I have two suggestions: buy the pattern or buy/borrow this book.

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And speaking of the book, what about the rest of it?

Stitched Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey
The fifteen projects found in Stitched Sewing Organizers...

As stated at the top of this post, this volume is all about organizing your sewing life. From a cover for your measuring tape to a green tomato pincushion to various fabric boxes, the (fifteen) projects are focused on making things that can help keep your sewing notions in their place. For a sewing book, that's quite a clever theme. For those like me who are constantly conflicted with, that's neat, but what I am going to use it for, this book is filled with projects with a built-in purpose for the reader.

In terms of the contents, there is the requisite "summary of sewing basics" section at the beginning. Since several of the projects use vinyl, the author offers a couple of hints on how best to handle that potentially sticky material. A sheet of pattern templates (in actual size) for some of the projects is also included.

Stitched Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey
The sliding "matchbox" project is unique...
The fifteen projects are grouped into four categories: small things, cases and folios, pouches, and boxes and totes. Were any of them new or radically different? Maybe a few, like the subject of this post. But others are variations of things you've likely seen before. Please don't take that as a criticism, because virtually all sewing books can be described as such.

Within the confines of that predictability, however, I liked how the author gave thought to what projects to include, because there is a cohesive flow to them. For example, one of the small things is a little fold-up pouch. Later we see it inside a fold-up folio, and later we see both the pouch and the folio pictured beside a large zippered pouch. I like that; it gives the reader reason and encouragement to keep going... and perhaps sew up a set of organizers with matching fabric for gift-giving.

Stitched Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey
Projects that relate to one another...

Overall, this book distinguishes itself sufficiently from a "usual" sewing book. Not having made any of the projects, I can't speak to how easy any of them are to do, but there is online evidence of them having been successfully made by others. (Why didn't I try any of them? I'm just very picky. These days, I'm more likely to "see things" and make them my own way. For example, that sliding matchbox project might just make an appearance here in the future, but it won't be done the way it was presented in this book.) In any event, the instructions that I've read appear to be clear and the only truly complex item is the aforementioned five pocket pouch.

If you're the type who likes to learn via books — or if you have the option to borrow from a library — this one is definitely worth a peek or two. At 111 pages, the cover price to buy is $26.95 US.

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