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Book Review: Reinvention by Maya Donenfeld

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If your design aesthetic is defined by softly muted colors, simple and elegant lines, and lots of bits of nature, then you’re probably already familiar with Maya Donenfeld’s popular blog Maya*Made. There she chronicles her adventures as a crafty mama of two, striving to live sustainably and in harmony with natural rhythms.

If you’re interested in making the jump from appreciating Donenfeld’s style to trying to capture it for yourself, then you’re in luck. Her first book, Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials (2012, Wiley) is filled with inspiring projects for you and your home.

Arranged by type of rescued material, Donenfeld gives us four projects in each category: linen, burlap, jersey, wool, denim, Tyvek mailers, and vintage finds.

Because the goal here is to reuse what you already have or what you’ve just stumbled upon at the thrift store, this organizational strategy makes good sense.

Did you (lucky thing!) happen upon a stack of burlap coffee sacks? Just turn to that section and you’ll find ideas best suited to that material. Beginning each chapter is a history of that fabric, suggestions for places to source it, instructions on how to deconstruct items, the environmental impact of that fabric, and general tips on using it. Project difficulty ranges from very simple (Burlap Inspiration Board) to requiring moderate sewing skill (Denim Hammock Hideaway), but all are thoroughly explained, diagrammed, and photographed to make construction as understandable as possible.

It’s hard to describe the simple beauty of these projects. They all seem so sensible and useful while at the same time being utterly romantic. It’s as if Donenfeld put her ear close to these fabrics and listened to their whispers of what they wanted to become. I am especially taken with her patterns for the home.

When first reading through the instructions for the Wool Poufs and the Vintage Summer Bolsters I was thinking that they were lovely, but wondered at the cost of the fiber for filling them. When Donenfeld suggested using out-of-season bedding as the filler, I was sold. A stroke of genius and a true embodiment of the use-what-you-have mentality.

Sprinkled throughout are vignettes about the author’s childhood, family, and sewing experience making this book feel more like a conversation than an instruction manual. I’ve already completed my first project from this book (Tyvek Mailer Banner) and can easily envision the rest of them in my home.

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About Courtney Cable