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Tilda’s Studio Book Review by Tone Finnanger

Hello, Victoria here. Today I’m reviewing the Tilda’s Studio Book by Tone Finnanger. The book is a beautiful satin-finished paperback with 160 pages and the promise of over 50 fresh projects for you and your home.

I am a newcomer to the Tilda Brand, and this book was a little bit of a mixed bag for me. I have six nieces aged four and under, so I was hoping to find a treasure trove of ideas for handmade gifts for the inching-ever-closer Christmas list. The book was beautiful to look at, with lots of inspiration and ideas, but on closer inspection I was somewhat disappointed in some aspects of the book.

As a coffee table book and source of inspiration, this truly is a lovely book. When I flicked through it I was impressed by the range of images and ideas. I was taken with a pointy pair of slippers on the Pretty in Pink spread, which (funnily enough) was dedicated to the colour pink, and the stuffed cockatoos were another favourite. There are some beautiful quilts, and a host of Tilda Angels, which seem to be a bit of a brand trademark. I was quite satisfied that there would be plenty of projects to keep me busy.

On my second reading, I read the book from cover to cover, and was a little less excited. Perhaps most disappointing was the lack of instructions; there is a page dedicated to quilts and cushions, but it simply explains the images are there “to give you inspiration and ideas, so there are no specific instructions for them”. There are tips on quilting, but I found this section a little redundant; as a quilting newbie the tips aren’t enough to grasp the basics of quilting, and for experienced quilters, the tips are too simplistic to be of any use. This was a big disappointment to me, as I was excited to try to recreate some of the quilts in the book. I planned to make the pointy slippers, but on closer inspection I realised that it was the fabric rose embellishment that there was instructions for, and the slippers were not one of the projects.

The tone of the book is whimsical and light, and I very much enjoyed sitting and reading the book; something I rarely find with craft books. Most craft books are a compendium of projects, to be dipped in and out of, but this was a very pleasant read from cover to cover. I had a little to-and-fro between wanting to make the cockatoos on sticks and the Tilda angels, but in the end I decided I didn’t really have a home for a cockatoo on a stick (and plus I had no white felt), so I set about making my own angel.

My biggest issue with this book was the bare-bones instructions. There was no direction on how much or what type of fabric I would need, so I ended up using scraps of white cotton sacking for the limbs and head, and pink felt for the body. I didn’t know how well these would work together as they are different weights, but as it turned out, they worked nicely together.

The patterns for projects are printed in the book, and one of my favourite things is that each piece is clearly drawn in a thick line, which I could trace off onto printer paper with no problems at all. This was a major thumbs up. The only thumbs down of the pattern pieces is that they are printed quite closely to the join of the pages, which made it fiddly to get into, and impossible to photocopy accurately without damaging the book’s spine.

After tracing off and cutting out my fabric, I was ready to go. The instructions are extremely simplistic, and I must admit I struggled to follow them. I have sewn a lot, but I am new to stuffed toys, and I was baffled by some of the instructions such as “sew on the arms close to the body underneath the shoulder parts”. You can see in the close-up of my finished angel, she has a number of visible stitches that I just couldn’t figure any alternative to, as her shoulders were fully sewn up and stuffed, so there was nowhere to attach them to (if you have any ideas, I’m all ears).

I made a quick skirt from some corduroy and a tape measure ribbon trim. And then she was finished... and I was really quite pleased with her!

From weird, spiky-looking pieces that didn’t seem to fit together, a charming angel appeared. After searching online I decided to give her embroidered auburn hair and freckles. The book recommends using a Tilda Paint Kit, but in the absence of that I used fineliners for her eyes and freckles, and used blusher to tint her cheeks pink.

She is by no means perfect. Her arms have very obvious stitches holding them together, but I’ve actually grown to like it; I love Nightmare Before Christmas, so I’m calling it an unintentional Sally homage!

In short, I had a bit of a rollercoaster with this book. At first I was in love with the whimsy and inspiration, but was disappointed with the lack of projects. I was frustrated by the lack of detailed instructions, and then came back around to liking the book when my project turned out well after all. If you’re a detail person, and prefer concrete project instructions and a book that teaches you new techniques, this probably isn’t the book for you. If you’re a bigger-picture person, and enjoy a beautifully designed book full of inspiration, gorgeous photographs and themed concepts and ideas, then I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Thanks for reading,

Victoria x

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