Book Review: Handmade Getaway

Handmade GetawayHandmade Getaway by Jacqueline Sava Clarke

I pre-ordered this book at QuiltCon last year. This was a sort of self-published project. Jacqueline Sava Clarke was there doing pre-sales in an effort to get enough funding to finish the book. They also used Kickstarter with great results. A search for Getaway Press leads back to the co-authors’ website, MakeSomething with a hashtag chaser. Karyn Valino is the co-author

I read it as soon as it arrived, which was a few months after I ordered it. It has taken me awhile to get the review posted. The book was on the pricey side, because of the lack of corporate underwriting. I liked the idea and wanted to support some quilt entrepreneurs.

The book is about creating a successful retreat. I have been on many retreats. I love the long stretches of time where I get to sew without the interruption of dishes, meal prep or laundry. Most of the retreats I attend are group affairs where meals are at restaurants or provided by the facility. The Handmade Getaway difference is that the reader is led through planning a retreat at a family cabin or AirBnB-type location.

The first thing I noticed was the fabulous photos. They are not only beautiful but evocative as well. I especially like the photo of the hands basting located opposite the table of contents. The table of contents is extensive. The main sections are:

  • Authors (pg.10)
  • Preface (pg.12)
  • Anticipation (pg.16)
  • Sewing Day (pg.42)
  • The Weekend (pg.60)
  • Long Weekend (pg.96)
  • Week (pg.126)
  • Templates (pg.163)
  • Resources (pg.167)
  • Acknowledgements (pg.168)

Each section is broken down into many, many subsections. Subsections include planning and projects.

The Authors section (pg.10-11) is beautifully written. Jacqueline describes sewing outside and I get an amazing image in my mind of what she experienced.

“These are the place we go when our daily lives seem overwhelming and we need to recharge. …it is often an escape to our handstitching, our sewing machine or our fabric stash.” (pg.12) The words start off the preface. They continue the beautiful writing style we experienced in the Authors section. The Preface tells the story of how the group got started and how they began to organize their retreats (pg.14). One thing I noticed is pets are included (pg.14). The positives of having pets along are discussed, but allergies and fear of dogs is not.

Some terms are highlighted and then show up in other areas of the book as helpful hints or useful tips.

The retreats I have attended have the costs managed by the hotel or retreat center and clearly delineated. that may not be the case if you rent a house, so “it’s important to make sure you’ve got a clear understand of how you are dividing expenses and tasks before you finalize your plans” (pg.19). The page includes a list of financial costs to consider. There are digital versions of all of the charts and worksheets. The link is provided when you purchase the book.

Two charts that are really hand are shown in print form, project planning (pg.21) and food planning (pg.23). The pictures that accompany the food show grilled peaches (pg.22), which I want right now!

The first pattern is tool tags (pg.27), which would be useful at a retreat where tools get strewn everywhere. The accompanying photo (pg.26) shows how they would be used.

Washi tape is also shown (pg.28) as a marking tool for electronics.

The projects in the book are focused around organizing for the retreat or projects to work on at the retreat. To organize, projects include:

  • Tool tags (pg.27)
  • Zip pouch (pg.31-33)
  • Project bag (pg.34-37)
  • Travel ironing station (pg.38-41)
  • Hand sewing kit (pg.46-51)

The first timeframe covered is a single day, like a Craft Day (pg.45). The categories covered are Fabric, Friends and Food. A Hand Sewing Kit project (pg.46-51) is included as a useful bag to bring along. You might compare this particular design to those in Aneela Hooey’s book, Stitched Sewing Organizers: Pretty Cases, Boxes, Pouches, Pincushions & More or one of Sara Lawson’s bags, such as Windy City Bags or her Minikins collections before you decide to make it. There are a lot of good patterns out there. Sashiko (pg.52-55) and block printing (pg.56-59) are put forth as project suitable for one day retreats.

The Weekend section starts on pg. 60. The introduction encourage readers to “list twice pack once” (pg.60) and points out that “sometimes it’s the simplest tools…we forget that cause us the most grief” (pg.60). This is where I like to point out to my students that having a quiltmaking ‘Go’ bag alleviates some of the forgetting. My quiltmaking ‘Go’ bag includes a full set of tools so I can do basic quiltmaking without ever removing a tool from my workroom. Obviously fabric and notions can also be forgotten, but with a quiltmaking ‘Go’ bag you have one less worry.

Again, Fabric, Friends and Food is part of the section. A little more detail on food is included (pg.63).

Weekend Getaway contains a sewing machine maintenance group activity (pg.64-67). This is one of the last things I would do on retreat, but to each her own. Like a lot of things, however, it might be more fun in a group. The issue I see is people having different machines. This activity has basic cleaning tasks such as removing lint and changing the needle (pg.66) which are pretty universal. If have a Bernina, the photos are fantastic. One photo is a reminder to bring your manual. I always ALWAYS do this.

All of the projects relate to getting away from home and the pillowcase is no different. This pattern uses (pg.68-71) French seams, but is not the burrito method I normally use.

Other projects include designing a notebook cover (pg.72-75), a moving blanket with foundation pieced letters (pg.76-85), using foil transfers to make your fabric different (pg.86-89), and big square tote bag (pg.90-95).

The Long Weekend section follows the Weekend chapter. The blurb on the first page of Long Weekends seems a little like a sales pitch. Who really needs to be sold on more sewing or on a book you already bought?

One of the good tips in this section is about acknowledging whether you are a night or morning person. The paragraph ends with “Relax with some hand sewing, a cocktail or chill beside a puppy. Otherwise you be redoing you work in the morning” (pg.98). Truer works were never uttered with regard to morning people. The section also includes some thoughts on being considerate, ‘Cocktail of the Day’ (pg.99), and sharing fabric.

The projects in this section are less about the trip than house stuff in general. Among the projects are placemats (pg.101-107), a quilt using vintage pillowcases (pg.108-114) and directions and tips on creating a group or community quilt (pg.114-119).

A week long retreat can’t be left out of a book like this. “Four to six days allows for long stretches of sewing…” (pg.127). A lot of the tips from the other sections apply here as well, just in greater quantities. There are only two pages of text before the projects start: a picnic blanket (pg.130-135) and cynotype printing plus a napkin project (pg.136-145). There is also a medallion quilt project that includes pieces from those who can’t join the retreat (pg.146-162). the pattern shows how to make all the pieces rather than telling the reader how to incorporate pieces from afar. This isn’t about composition. It is about following a pattern despite what the introduction says. The medallion quilt also provides the authors a clever way to introduce those who regularly participate in their retreats.

The book ends with a list of resources and thanks yous.

All in all this is a beautifully designed book. The paper and photographs are high quality. I love the self published aspect. The projects are a little different, though presented in a relatively standard way. I would have talked more about working on your own projects and how that works away from your workroom. I think the information about organizing a retreat could be very helpful.

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