I was drawn to Bernadette Noll, co-author with Kathie Sever of Make Stuff Together, 24 Simple Projects to Create as a Family, the first time I saw her online. Now, it could be that she co-produces Slow Family Living, and here I am at Slow Family Online. Or that she was so friendly when we initially chatted about supporting each other’s efforts. It could also just be — and I suspect this is true for people who know her in person, too — that she exudes creativity and deep connection in everything she does, whether it’s sharing a tutorial on her Future Craft Collective blog, which she created with her Make Stuff Together co-author, the equally compelling Kathie Sever, or candidly revealing lessons learned along her and her family’s journey on her more personal blog, Just a Minute.
That same spirit I initially saw is evident on every page of Make Stuff Together. Bernadette and Kathie put much of themselves into this book, which is as much about creating a joyous and expressive family life as it is about creating objects — though of course the objects are delightful, too. It was on Future Craft Collective that I first read about “upcycling”, and many of the projects in Make Stuff Together feature clever re-use of such items as bird-seed bags, inner tubes, billboards, neoprene and fabric samples, as well as ideas about where to find such things. Fittingly, the authors note that their sense of community deepened during their search for materials — they met and befriended people they wouldn’t have otherwise, and their kids benefited from that experience.
Make Stuff Together also has wonderful information about working with kids on sewing and other crafting projects. I find these deeply helpful and comradely. Among the suggestions, which the authors expand upon:
Let go of expectations
Honor process over project
Decide what your boundaries are, in terms of space, chaos, and materials
It’s okay to help when necessary
Not everything is sacred — sometimes re-doing, un-doing, or starting over is just the right act
Slow down, connect, and enjoy!
Of course, the meat of the book is its projects, and each is delightful, with colorful, inspiring photography and easy-to-follow instructions and patterns. My family and I are especially drawn to the Family Flags and Appreciation Banners the Game Board and Caddy, and the Napkins and Napkin Rings, which are shown in vintage fabrics and buttons.
Many of the projects are as useful as they are lovely, such as the Water-Bottle Holster, Tool Roll and Nature Pouch, Armchair Caddy, and Birthday Crown. There are games to make, items to grace a table, and fun, quick projects that would make wonderful gifts or keepsakes.
Make Stuff Together makes me want to grab my daughter, dust off the sewing machine, dig out our scrap fabric and start creating together.
To celebrate Make Stuff Together I am giving away a copy to a lucky reader. To enter to win, simply leave a comment below by Midnight, U.S. Eastern, Friday, July 1 and tell me your favorite thing to craft or something you’d like to make this summer.
Photos courtesy of Bernadette Noll.