Friday, July 29, 2016

Book review: Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry

Three years ago, I reviewed Cathy Jakicic's book, Jewelry Projects from a Beading Insider.  That link takes you to my review, which includes how to pronounce her last name.  :)  When Cathy approached me about reviewing her newest book, Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry, I jumped at the chance.  The projects in her last book were so cute and versatile, and I couldn't wait to see her new book!

Here's the cover:

Ooh!  Just these few projects are so cute, and I can already imagine experimenting with the components.

Here is how Cathy described her book:
In a nut shell, there are 20+ bite-sized stitching projects of components that can be worked into simple — or more involved — jewelry.  Also, I’m making all the projects and instructions copyright free so someone can sell what they make or teach a project with my blessing.

The audience includes stitching novices, more advanced stitchers looking for a quick project idea — or something they can sell at a lower price point because it didn’t take them an age to make.
Wait... what did she say about selling?  Everyone knows that selling pieces made from another designer is verboten, but Cathy is giving you carte blanche on everything in this book.  You can tell how impressed I am because I sprinkled German and French in that last sentence.  Das ist wunderbar!  C'est magnifique!  That's wonderful!

Why would Cathy do this?  Again I turn to her words, this time from the book's introduction:
And while I would never support teaching or selling someone else's designs without their permission - everything in this book is yours.  I don't sell my jewelry or teach very often, so you're not threatening my livelihood.  These designs were designed for sharing.  Enjoy!
There's even a royalty-free statement on the copyright page.  Personally, I would still tell people where I got the ideas from if asked.  Give credit where credit is due and all that.

Now let's talk about the projects!  Each one has loads of possibilities.  Just those on the cover spark a bunch of ideas in my mind.

The top picture shows a snippet of a necklace, but that could easily be a bracelet.  The project's instructions explain how to make the beaded bead using pinch beads (Can you say "pinch bead beaded bead" ten times fast?) then how to create a chain necklace with bi-colored beaded beads as dangles along with matching earrings.  There's also a discussion of color choices and instructions on how to make the necklace shown on the cover.

What would I do with those beaded beads?  The first thing that pops to mind is a long chain necklace interspersed every few inches with sections of crystals and beaded beads on headpins with loops on either end.  I'd probably make two or three of those necklaces in different lengths and probably with different colors of beaded beads so they could be worn separately or together for a more dramatic look.

The other pictures on the cover show three different stitches.  The earrings are brick stitch over metal rings, and the instructions show a necklace and a bracelet as well as the earrings.  The bracelet has a number of square stitch components in different colors, and the instructions have charts for the different color combinations as well as charts for another multi-colored square stitch project.  The pendant is a peyote banner, and there's a chart for flower/vine placement as well as a chart for a thin banner that looks really cute in triplicate on a simple chain necklace.

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, every project has at least one variation, with many of them having two or more.  Here is an excerpt of the book Cathy said I could share:

The page on the left is the variation for "Circular logic," a cute project using two-holed beads.  I love how the end components have two thin chains coming off of them!  I'm definitely going to keep that in mind!  The page on the right is the beginning of the next project using peyote tubes as dangles on a chain necklace.  The variations for this project are a bracelet with lots of multi-colored dangles and simple pair of earrings..

If you're a beginner stitcher, this book is perfect for sampling a large number of different stitches and techniques.  Along with the ones I've already listed, there's right angle weave, cubic right angle weave, simple bead embroidery, adding stitching to a strung piece or around a larger bead, herringbone, adding fringe, working with two-holed beads, mixing chain and/or metal with beads, and more.  Wow - I nearly got out of breath there!

When you're learning a stitch or technique, it can be daunting to look at a full bracelet or necklace with nothing but that technique.  What if I don't get it?  What if I get halfway through and hate the stitch or the colors I chose?  What if I lay it down and don't pick it up again for months - will I remember how to finish it?  There's none of that in Cathy's book.  As it says right on the cover, these projects are quick and easy.  They're meant to ease you in so you learn something new, complete it in a flash, and have confidence to experiment.

For example, many people have told me that they're scared to try right angle weave (RAW).  The "Bicone Bands" project simplifies RAW - you make a strip, which is the simplest RAW to do.  There are charts to help you along the way.  Once the strip is done, you join the ends to form a little band (made with bicones, hence "Bicone Bands"), and slide them over large dagger beads.  You could do just two to get your feet wet and make earrings (see the variation!), or you could make the necklace as shown.  Then, once you're comfortable, you could take on a more complex RAW project like the "Dagger Snuggie" necklace variation:

There are charts for this as well, with numbered beads, helpful arrows, thread paths, and changes in color so you know which beads you've already worked with and which ones are new to this step.

The charts really are very nice.  They're a lot larger than you typically see in books, and they're very easy to read.  You don't have to take just my word for it, though.  My friend Angela, who is relatively new to beading, was over a week or so ago, and she wanted to look through my vast array of books for inspiration.  I chose a few that I thought were appropriate for her level, including Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry.  I had an ulterior motive, of course, and asked her to give me her thoughts.  She really liked the projects, but right away she remarked that the charts were great and would be easy for her to follow.  Thanks, Angela!

Also, because Cathy's a Beading Insider, there are tips sprinkled throughout the book.  A few tips are on how to get "solid and stiff" beaded beads and components.  Another is on how to turn a component into a link.  A few are about choosing thread colors and when you might want to condition your thread.  A few of them are geared towards helping beginners make sense of what they're doing. And ...

I could go on and on because the more I flip through the book the more I find to write about.  Just know that there's lots more in the book for you to discover and enjoy.  You can find the book in beading or craft stores, or you can order from Amazon here.

If you'd like to keep up with Cathy, check out her BeadingInsider Facebook page.  If you're reading this from 7/29/2016 through 8/5/2016, you can see Cathy's Beads Baubles & Jewels episode (#2403) online here, and this season of BB&J will air on CREATE TV starting August 7, 2016.

Have I forgotten anything?  YES!!  Goodness, there's a lot to tell you!  The August 2016 issue of Bead&Button Magazine has a book excerpt!  They have printed the full instructions for the pinch bead beaded bead main project, "Beader's Dozen"!  You can see if what I said about the charts was true, learn how to make the beaded beads, and complete the chain necklace and earrings.  They've even included the tip on how to make your beaded beads stiff.  So check it out then get the book for all the rest of the projects!


  1. Good to see you blogging again!

  2. Just these few projects are so cute, and I can already imagine experimenting with the components.

    Here is how Cathy described her book: Bridal Sets on sale