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Hen & Chicks Softie – Handmade Beginnings Book Review

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Handmade toy time! I wanted to join in with Craft Buds’ Craft Book Month celebration so I sewed up the Hen & Chicks toy out of the book “Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby“* by Anna Maria Horner. I love craft books. I don’t care that there are millions of patterns, free or paid, online and even more cheap paper patterns. There is something indulgent about buying a book full of beautiful pictures and patterns I don’t have to print out and tape together. Sitting on my couch to flip through the pages is much more pleasing than scrolling on my phone; now it’s even more fun because my son likes looking through books with me.

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I’ll share more about the project I sewed first, a mama bird and her baby chicks. The pattern is simple, with Velcro strips to stick the babies on and two wings (which I sewed on upside down because I liked how they covered the Velcro better) to keep them warm.

My addition was a little pocket at the top to hold the babies inside! The only thing I would change is to make it the same color as the bird’s body (I unfortunately ran out of fabric in this instance) and place the internal Velcro strips closer to the top. I did understitch to keep the grey from flipping out, but once it was stuffed and pulling on each side it didn’t matter much.

He didn’t mind! He happily put his golf ball inside to keep the baby birds amused. I should be transparent and point out that this was the extent of his interaction with the toy… I forgot how much he hates the noise of Velcro! We will see if it gets more play this winter.

I added some embroidery to the feathers/edges for a little detail; it’s special to me because I stitched while he was playing in our living room!

I like how it turned out, even if he wasn’t that interested. I think it would be a sweet toy for a young toddler; squish-able and tactile while still having an element of play.

Book:Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby“* by Anna Maria Horner.

Publisher: Wiley Publishing

Focus: Sewing & quilting projects for maternity, family, and baby exclusively in woven fabrics.

Project List Overview:

{Mama Sewing} Empire Top, Thank You Notebook, Flower Slippers, Four Corner Blouse, Layers Skirt, Go Bag, Mariposa Dress

{Baby Sewing} Booties, Trousers, Sleep Sack, Dress, Hooded Jacket

{Family Sewing} Welcome Notes, Baby Doll & Swaddle, Family Portrait Tree, Dad Bag, Center of Attention Quilt

{Nest Sewing} Nesting Cubes, Hen & Chicks, Nap Pillow, Mobile/Lampshade, Wall Decor, Hide & Seek Quilt, Crib Quilt


I found the illustrations to be clear and helpful alongside the written instructions. The pattern pieces are at 100% so no enlarging (hate that!). Many of the patterns aren’t my personal style but were all modern and very gift-able. The mama skirt seemed particularly clever, with a front panel that could be removed and replaced after pregnancy. The photography is beautiful and the subtle mentions of the author’s personal life and her kids was just the right amount for my taste.

I love how diverse the offerings are, and that they talk about the entire family. It’s not just a project book of baby clothes/toys.


It’s partially personal preference/style but I exclusively dress my kid in knit fabrics – they’re so much comfier. I honestly can’t imagine squeezing a 3 month old’s chubby feet into woven cotton booties or pants! I would’ve preferred some knit options. For a few of the women’s clothing patterns, the photographs were beautiful but didn’t show the actual construction very well and there weren’t line drawings of the entire garment.


Here is a shot of the technical illustration & pattern page to give you an idea of what those look like!

I’m reviewing one book a month this year, check out my other sewing/craft book reviews on this page!

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Tuesday 30th of September 2014

Cute - so clever to use feathered fabric for the wings! And the pocket idea is a great one, I love anything that keeps mama from having to pick the same things up over and over.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Tuesday 30th of September 2014

Agreed!! The best toys make it easy for pieces not to get lost :) Thanks for stopping by Jen!


Monday 29th of September 2014

Well with another baby on the way maybe you'll have someone to play with the chicken after-all :) I like your honestly about the review. And yes I agree about knits for kids. I love her wovens, but knit is the best :)


Monday 29th of September 2014

Aww this turned out so cute! I love the handstitching! Probably the most frustrating part of sewing is when your kids don't love what you've made :/ Give it a few months and he'll probably love it!

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