Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Book Review Bonanza! Button It Up by Susan Beal

In the last month, some of my favorite crafty gals have released new craft books. This week, I'll be taking a look at each of them, and doing a round up of a few other finds that have recently landed in my lap. Today, I'm taking a look at Susan Beal's Button It Up. Tomorrow, it's Jenny Ryan's Sew Darn Cute, and on Thursday I'll be reviewing Kathy Cano-Murillo's Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing.

One of my favorite things about each of these ladies (aside from them being really nice, creative, fun people) is that I've been able to follow their progress on each of these books through their various blogs/Flickr/Twitter. There's something to be said about getting to be "along for the ride" when someone you admire is tackling a great feat. I'm happy to report that none of them disappoint, and - in fact - they all have blown me away with the variety of projects, contributors and spectrum of styles represented in these three titles.

Let's get started, then!

Button It Up by Susan Beal

I've admited before that I don't have much of a button collection. It's expanded a bit since the CRAFT Release Party back in June, when I ended up with the remains of the picked over buttons we'd provided for the craft project (Which, incidentally, was from Susan's previous book, Bead Simple) but I'm still a few rounds shy of a respectible collection.

That may need to change ... quickly. I've become enamoured with the projects in Button It Up enough that I'm starting to get the button itch in a big way.

Oooooh! So pretty!
Let's talk astehtics. Like Bead Simple, Button It Up is simply and beautifully designed. Pictures are gorgeous, illustrated instructions are easy to follow, and it's a book that's as much fun to flip through an ogle as it is to sit down and work from. If you're someone who's easy to swoon at the sight of colorful vintage button goodness, grab a paper towel 'cause you're going to be sent to drooling the minute you lay eyes on this book.

But what about the details?
Button It Up isn't just beautiful, it's incredibly informative as well. The introduction chapter is a "Vintage Button Primer" and gives a rich history of these fascinating fasteners. (sorry, couldn't resist) Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from this chapter:

"Buttons became tiny canvases to display exquisite art or artistry, tell a story, or reflect on an event or an exciting new trend in politics, literature, fashion or society."
(from the section on The First Golden Age)
"In the 1860s, young women in the United States collected buttons on a string... The superstition was that when a woman's string numbered 999 or 1,000 buttons, her true love would appear. Another version says that upon a woman's engagement or marriage, her husband-to-be would add the thousandth (final) button to complete her charm string."
I defy anyone to read through this chapter without becoming insanely interested in buttons. These few pages alone gave me an incredible appreciation for buttons and left me really excited to see how Susan and the guest contributors used them in the book.

Aside from the primer chapter, the book is filled with a beautiful variety of projects from home dec items, to jewlery to gifts. Most are in the easy to medium category of difficulty, and most seem to be doable in a short amount of time (big points for that!)

Susan, Susan, Susan! Who else can I fawn over?
There are loads of great contributors in this book. I was so happy to see projects from Diane Gilleland, Christina Loft, Jennifer Perkins, Linda Permann, Cathy Callahan, Amy Karol, Leah Kramer and more. Each crafter brings a great new flavor to the book, and leaves the final product very well-rounded.

Right, we get it. You love the book. What else?
More than anything, I'm constantly impressed with Susan's prolific ideas and energy. When I first met Susan last summer in Portland, she was toting her beautiful daughter, Pearl, in one hand, and the proof pages for this book in the other. I was dumbfounded. As a mother of two, I sometimes don't even get a shower every day, let alone find time to write books. And yet not only does Susan write books, blog, freelance, cheer on the Blazers and parent a beautiful child, but she does it all really well. And she does everything with a kindness and sincerety that's hard to come by.

The book is fantastic, and you need to get a copy today (it's official release day!) Want the perfect way to buy one? Susan has generously donated not one, but TWO signed copies of the book to be sold to raise money for Baby Ike. You can head over to her shop right now to purchase one (or both). It's a great way to donate to Ike's cause and get a beautiful, autographed gift for yourself or a friend. Enjoy!

** Edited to add: COOL! It looks like Susan's web site ButtonItUpBook.com will be a place where she'll be blogging regularly about button projects, book updates and more! She's even started a Button It Up Flickr group. I can't want to see what goodies end up there. Check it out!

(and, no, Susan's generous donations did not - in any way - sway my feelings on Button It Up. It's really that darn good!)


  1. Thanks for doing a review! I've been overwhelmed by the amount of crafty-books out there as I venture in to new territories and someone doing comprehensive reviews is precisely what I needed! I look forward to more.


  2. Oh buttons! I love buttons and wish I was one of those people who combed through estate sales and flea markets and found amazing buttons. And fabric.

    Thanks for the review!

  3. I need to send the hubbs out to the po box today to fetch my copy, I can't wait to see! Linda had on her one of her button necklaces a couple of weeks ago when we were shopping so I can't wait to read the instuctions on how to make my own.

  4. Oh fantastic review! This book looks SO awesome, I'm saving it to my etsy favs. We are moving soon so no more purchases for a bit!


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