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Making Adorable Button-Jointed Stuffed Animals by Rebecca Ruth Anderson sums itself up on the cover as “20 Step-by-Step Patterns to Create Posable Arms and Legs on Toys Made with Recycled Wool” and, well, that mostly covers it.

I first spotted this in a JoAnn book rack, leafed through it and was impressed by the cuteness of the patterns. I decided I had enough projects at the moment, and put it back but later they had a 30%-off sale on books and my resolve faltered.

The critters are made from felted wool sweaters rather than conventional felt (though the latter works too), sewn with seam allowances and not turned. The button joints (which despite the cover blurb sometimes also include necks and tails) make assembly easy while the quality of the patterns means the finished products don’t scream “over-simplified beginner pattern.” The horse, for instance, has a well-shaped muzzle even though it’s two-dimensional.

The patterns are reminiscent of Sewing Tiny Toys but are much larger - I was surprised when I opened the book and saw the size of the patterns.

The book includes generous instructions. It spends many photographs covering types of felt and felted material, what to look for in thrifted sweaters for felting, and so forth. It’s a very photo-heavy book in the construction steps as well.

My only gripe is a big one, and it’s this:

Pattern enlargement instructions

The patterns are a mix of print-at-100% and print-at-110%. Why? My first thought was that extra 10% won’t matter, I’ll just trace the pattern onto freezer paper and make a slightly smaller animal. Nope! Most of the two-page patterns have half of the pattern at full size, half of it print-at-110%. I understand the limitations of fitting patterns inside a standard book size but if you have to reduce one page of the pattern, print them both at that scale so if your customer goofs up at least the pieces are consistent with each other. And print the scale message in bright red or something when it isn’t 100%

Overall, the book is a definite keeper, especially after I scan and print every “110%” page at proper scale and insert it into my copy with library tape.


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