Book review: “Sew Small: 19 little bags” by Jennifer Heynen

I’ve recently come across this book, called “Sew Small: 19 little bags” by Jennifer Heynen, so I thought I’d review it for you. Anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know that I love making bags of various kinds (usually bags for keeping sewing tools in), so when I saw this book, I thought I’d give it a go to see if it might have some different kinds of projects for me to make, and I wasn’t disappointed!

The book is more of a sewing projects book than an embroidery one, as the title suggests, but if you haven’t ever done much sewing, that’s OK, as the projects are clearly explained, with lots of diagrams for each one. It’s got a modern look to the projects, too – not always my thing (I’m an old-fashioned kind of person!), but I did like the innovative projects in this book enough to want to make some of them for friends who really love the contemporary style. And I can see myself adapting some of them, too – just by changing the fabric, a project could easily have a more retro feel to it.

The nineteen projects for the little bags cover all kinds of things – small wallets, a coin purse, a bag to keep your ear buds in, and several bags that are just….well….bags!

I like the way that the contents page lists the projects in a visual format, as well as the more normal text version – it makes it so much easier to find what you’re looking for:

The book starts by covering the basics – fabrics to use, threads and trims such as ric-rac braid that can be applied, beads and buttons, and basic embroidery stitches. These are VERY basic stitches – Jennifer suggests people find online tutorials if they want to use stitches other than these really basic ones of running stitch, backstitch and French knots. But that’s great if you’re a beginner, or want a project finished quickly. She also covers how to assemble the projects both using a sewing machine or by hand stitching.

Then on to the projects themselves – each one has a materials list, a cutting list, and instructions with colour diagrams. There aren’t any photos of the projects themselves during assembly – just the finished item – but the ‘process diagrams’ make it very clear what you need to do. I should think each one could be completed in a day – even the more complicated projects, if you gather all your materials together first.

There’s a lift-out sheet at the back of the book with all the pattern pieces shown at full size, which I think is a real bonus for a project book. It annoys me when patterns are shown in other books with a tiny note that says ‘enlarge by 150%’ or something. How frustrating, when you just want to get started and make something! So, this is one of the biggest pluses of the book, for me. There’s also a note inside the front cover which gives permission to photocopy the lift-out sheet (but not the text of the main part of the book).

There are a couple of projects which really caught my eye:

This one is a jewellery roll in the shape of a log. I love jewellery rolls, and actually have several, which I do use when I’m travelling. I need my jewellery to be protected, and this one would do that.

It’s got several little pockets for ear rings and necklaces, and the whole thing rolls up and is secured by the cords with little leaves on the ends. Isn’t it cute?

This second project REALLY got me! I love little houses! This is a little drawstring bag, only five inches high. Simple shapes are appliqued to the walls for the doors, windows and plants. A cord goes around the top, pulling the roof sides together. I think this is the one I’ll make first. It would be good to put more embroidery on it, I think, in the Carolyn Pearce style, but that’s just me  🙂

If there’s maybe one thing I think could have improved the book, it would be to grade the projects into Beginner/Intermediate/Expert categories. Some of these projects look much more complicated than others, to me, but to someone just starting out, if they picked one that was too difficult for a beginner, they’d get put off, which would be a shame. But that’s a slight niggle.

So, all in all I really liked this book, and I’m looking forward to making several of the little bags from it.

What do you think? Do you own this book already? Interested in buying it now you’ve read the review? Like the projects? Talk to me!

Here’s the details, if you’re thinking of getting a copy for yourself:

“Sew Small: 19 little bags” by Jennifer Heynen

Stash Books, Published 2017

ISBN 978161745332 (paperback)

£19.99 /US$ 26.95 in May 2017

It is available from Search Press in the UK, here.


Are you interested in doll’s houses and stitching? Then why not visit my website, where you can buy doll’s house needlepoint kits to make all kinds of soft furnishings for one-twelfth scale dollhouses. There are over 280 kits to choose from, plus chart packs, fabric project packs, tutorials, and lots of eye candy to inspire you! Kits are available on 18 and 22 count canvas, 28 and 32 count evenweave, and 32 and 40 count silk gauze, so there’s something for everyone – from beginners to experts.


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5 thoughts on “Book review: “Sew Small: 19 little bags” by Jennifer Heynen”

  1. That is a really interesting little project book! I’m always on the look out for different finishing item ideas and I could see quite a few of these being adapted to showcase embroidery designs. Lovely! 🙂

  2. That jewelry roll is a great idea. It reminds me of a jelly roll – maybe make it look like a fancy cake instead of a log?

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