Simply titled Softies, this book is a collection of 25 softie projects designed by artists from all over the world that were compiled by Therese Laskey. In case you are not familiar with softies, they are plush toys that first became wildly popular in Japan; soon after, the craze spread to the rest of the world. Softies are like cute, squishy zombies aiming for world domination. They eat brains only in the sense that once you make one, you canít think of anything else.
Like the author, I was introduced to softies when I visited artist Claire Robertsonís website Loobylu several years ago. I visited the website often, admiring her creativity and that of other softie makers that she linked to, but had not been inspired to try my hand at making one until reading this book.
Below is a picture of a dog I made using the Lucky pattern. It was easy to put together, even late at night when I have no business sewing.
The first section discusses the making of softies and includes clear and concise explanations of various assembly and embellishment techniques including illustrations of all of the embroidery stitches that are used on the projects.
The second section is devoted to the softies themselves. The project pages are well done and are fun to read. The introductory page has a bubble at the top that shows the difficulty level, finished size of the softie and the assembly method. Below that, there is another bubble that calls out the materials and embellishing methods, if any. So, at a glance, it is easy to select a project that is right for your skill level and available materials. The detailed instructions are shown on the pages that follow and include a full page photo of the finished softie. Each project also includes an entertaining blurb about the artist that created it.
At the end of the book, there is a resource list for materials and an index for easy searching. On the back cover, there is a pocket that holds full size patterns printed on a nice weight of white paper (*not* tissue) so there is no need to enlarge or trace patterns. You just need to choose a project, cut out the pattern pieces and you are ready to go. There are 25 different projects that are made by sewing (by machine and/or hand), needle felting or crochet. Projects include dogs, a whale, a robot, an ice cream cone, teeth, an elephant, even paper doll dresses (which I think would be adorable to hang in a sewing room) among others. The hardest part might be choosing which one to do first.
I have to take a moment here to give kudos to the photographer, Laurie Frankel. The photographs are delightfully done. Instead of putting the softies against a static background in a studio, she has artistically posed the softies in locations and with props which imbues them with personalities. One of my favorite shots is the photo of three soft-sculpted molars posed in a dental office on a tray with dental tools. The photos make the projects irresistible.
My only complaint, and it is a very small complaint, is that the text is a bit small in certain areas. But, fortunately for these aging eyes, the font style and color used was easy to read. It was not unbearably small, but I did have to look a bit closer than I would normally.
If you would like to see more softies, I have included links to a few of my favorite softie websites.
Softies Central - Author Therese Laskeyís softie site.
Softie Making - This site has links to many softie patterns.
The Toy Society - This is a site with a wonderful mission to share toys.
In the interest of full disclosure, my review copy was provided to me by Chronicle Books. That said, my review is unbiased and reflects my true feelings about the book.