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Handmade Living: 40 Step-by-Step Projects for Crafting a Beautiful Home + Win a copy!

Thomas Allen & Son sent me a copy of Handmade Living in exchange for an honest review. Here’s what I think. 

You don’t have to be God’s gift to crafters to make most of the projects in today’s book, nor do you need a lot of time. Which is ideal any time of the year, but especially coming into the holidays when our to-do lists are long and our patience is short. Handmade Living: 40 Step-by-Step Projects for Crafting a Beautiful Home by Willow Crossley has a wide variety of lovely DIYs to gift and keep, many everyday objects made more personal with bits and bobs you might already have around the house. Turn an old book into a secret place for safe-keeping, trim a plain-jane basket with spare ribbon to make a pretty piece, and make a personalized print using old stamps, buttons or Scrabble tiles. AND NOWHERE DID I MENTION A SEWING MACHINE (aka THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE.) Granted there are a few projects where a stitch or two is in order but no one said you couldn’t do it by hand.

Handmade Living is Willow’s third book, this one originally published in 2012 but newly reprinted this year. The UK-based fashion journalism grad previously sold her handmade jewellery, fabric-covered books and other wares at her online shop, Willow Rose Boutique, and now works as a floral and interior stylist.

One of my favourite projects in the book is the block print napkins, which you could easily make using some ready-made linen or cotton napkins and stamps. (Stamping the user’s initials would be lovely too.) Wouldn’t a set make a lovely host or hostess gift?

And the pom-pom paniers are right up my alley too. As easy as sewing your favourite trim and/or handles to a ready-made basket.

“The fleur-de-lis may be the symbol of France, but to me the symbol of Provence is a panier — a straw basket. Having lived in France, I realize that the panier is a way of life. The French use them for shopping, for beach bags, for storage, to collect figs and lavender… There’s something so wholesome and comforting about them: they’re neither flashy nor shiny and there’s not a logo in sight.” — Willow Crossley, Handmade Living

I think we can all agree panier is FAR SUPERIOR to basket.

And the lavender-scented bath salts require just a few simple ingredients and a stir, but pour them into a vintage jar tied with a ribbon and they become a luxurious handmade treat. Willow includes her recipe for rose salts too.

I think new and more experienced crafters would be quite happy to see Handmade Living under the tree, perhaps gifted with a project from the book or some supplies to start one of their own.


Thanks to Thomas Allen & Son, I’ve got one copy of Handmade Living to give away! To enter to win, tell me what you like to craft (do you knit sweaters? scrapbook?) or who you’d give this to and what they like to craft. This entry is mandatory.

For another entry, visit try small things on Facebook and like (or love!) this post and leave a comment, then tell me you did so and your name on Facebook in the comments below. (You don’t have to share, but the holidays are coming and you-know-who is watching!!)  

And feel free to tweet the following once per day and leave the url for your tweet in the comments below (one entry per tweet). Make sure you’re following try small things and thomasallenltd on Twitter for your entry to count.

DIYs to gift and keep —> #Win “Handmade Living: 40 Step-by-Step Projects for Crafting a Beautiful Home” from @trysmallthings https://wp.me/p4xBed-6T2 CAN 11/30 #HandmadeLiving #DIY

The contest is open to Canadian residents 18+ excluding Quebec and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on November 30, 2018. The potential winner (chosen at random) must respond to prize notification within 48 hours and provide the correct answer to a skill-testing question, otherwise another winner will be selected.

Update December 1, 2018: Congratulations Jennifer O! 

Images 2, 3, 4 and the cover from Handmade Living by Willow Crossley. Copyright © 2018. Photographs © CICO Books, 2012. Used with permission from CICO Books.

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Comments (



  1. Jennifer Morse

    Liked and commented on Facebook!

  2. Jennifer Morse

    Oh man, I can’t craft to save my life 😂 But I’d gift the copy to my crafty MIL or SIL for sure!

  3. Joy Mills (@Jemrah1)

  4. ivy pluchinsky
  5. Victoria Ess

  6. Lori

  7. Rachel Williams

    I like to scrapbook as well as diy projects for around the home.

  8. Aarone Mawdsley

    i like scrapbooking

  9. Julie Bolduc

    I like to scrapbook and knit

  10. Sunshine G

    I’ve had the odd painting stint, and hoping this book could get me back into being creative in some way!

  11. Sarah Gillis

    I quilt and sew!

  12. Joy Mills (@Jemrah1)

  13. Victoria Ess
  14. Victoria Ess

    I crochet and sew!

  15. ridgemeadowsphotography

    I’ve left a comment on FB and my name on there is Tanzyn Ambrose 🙂

  16. ridgemeadowsphotography

    I like to crochet little flowers and things…and I am starting to learn how to crosstitch:)

  17. ivy pluchinsky
  18. Heather Swanson

    I like to do embroidery.

  19. Deb Philippon

    I haven’t crafted in a while – I was around too many people who saw crafting as a competitive sport, I’d like to get back into embroidery and tapestry, as I find those the most rewarding.

  20. Sarah

    Liked, commented and shared on Facebook. Sarah Perry

  21. Sarah

    I love painting and trying to find new ways to upcycle things in our home, mostly into storage items. Thanks!! 🙂

  22. Cal

    I like making collages and coloring mandalas.. that’s about it. i would gift this to my mom or her friends who’s into crafts

  23. Margret

    I like making handmade cards but my sister hand makes everything. This book would be a perfect gift for her.

  24. Alison Braidwood
  25. Alison Braidwood

    I’ve liked the post on FB and commented (Alison Braidwood)

  26. Alison Braidwood

    I went through a furniture painting phase a year or so ago, making my own chalk paint, and basically painting anything that wasn’t nailed down. Now I mostly THINK I’m a crafter, but in reality just pin stuff that I’ll never make. So this book might set me on the right path.

  27. Joy Mills (@Jemrah1)

  28. Lori

  29. Lori

    liked the post as lori butler

  30. Lori

    right now i am quilting

  31. ivy pluchinsky
  32. Joy Mills (@Jemrah1)

  33. aly3360

    I like making banners and wreaths. I would keep this for myself as i’ve only just started crafting as a hobby. There’s so much out there to do!!

  34. Phyllis Andersom

    Some people just have a natural talent to come up with something beautiful with no effort at all….. Very Lovely

  35. copelandbarbcopeybarb5008

    I collect Cookbooks, I ave another scrapbook that I cut recipes and tape them into this book, it’s quite thick,but it’s awesome, I will treasure and love ❤️ a new craft, very excited for this Giveaway

  36. Angela MacRae

    Thankyou for the warmth you show through your postings , and thankyou for a chance to win 🙂 I think I liked all of the links that you put up and I did tweet and thensome 🙂

  37. Catherine Burden

    I knit, crochet, sew, needlepoint, crossstitch, garden, woodworking, I may have forgotten something. https://twitter.com/AlwaysARedhead/status/1062881490101510144?s=19

  38. Carey Hurst

  39. Carey Hurst

    I am an avid crafter. Though I am proficient in most to all areas , have to try and figure out how to knit and crochet lol

    1. try small things

      You and me both! Well the knitting and crochet part. 🙂 I have a lot to learn in A LOT of areas ha ha.

  40. Jennifer Oikle

    Commented on Facebook – Jennifer Oikle

  41. Sophie Page

    Would love to win and try new crafty things to do and create;)
    Would love to try to make those straw bags or make face scrubs😊

    1. try small things

      I need to look up a lip scrub recipe. Mine are so dry now that it’s getting colder!

  42. Jennifer Oikle

    I am just getting back in to crafting after an almost 15 year respite. I knit, sew and rug hook. Have a project in each on the go now.

    1. try small things

      Wow! You’re REALLY getting back into it! I hope you’re enjoying it more than ever! 🙂

  43. ivy pluchinsky
  44. Joy Mills (@Jemrah1)

  45. ivy pluchinsky

    Ivy Pluchinsky commented on your facebook post!

  46. Joy Mills (@Jemrah1)

    my heart would love to craft – unfortunately something is lacking in my skill set! my mom and aunt were knitters… I tried. I have also tried making cards… that was fun. While it lasted. I think this book looks beautiful – I would love to be inspired to find a new hobby!

    1. try small things

      I didn’t get very far knitting either but I’d love to pick it up again. Well it’s not at the top of my list but I’d like to know how. 🙂 I hope you’ll be inspired to find a new hobby too!

  47. ivy pluchinsky

    I like doing scrapbooking!

    1. try small things

      A friend is big into scrapbooking too. She’s even gone on weekend scrapbooking getaways with her scrappy friends. 🙂

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