With the sale of e-books on the rise, some might say the printed book is headed to the graveyard. I say, don’t buy the headstone just yet. To me, the printed page is alive and kicking. I’ll admit, I’ve got a bit of an addictive personality when it comes to books. I own more than a dozen different sewing books, each with its own focus. There’s one for slipcovers, window treatments, and stuffed animals. And then there are the cookbooks, and the craft books, and the books on gardening. Maybe I ought to feel ashamed about this affliction, but I don’t. While there are a few books that have barely had their pages fanned, the majority of the books we own have helped me acquire the skills to make many of my favorite projects. Here’s a review of several from my stash and the projects I have made, or intend to make, from them.
Stitched in Time, by Alicia Paulson
The first time I saw this book, I fell in love with the doll on the front cover. I was really new to sewing, and had no business believing I could make that or any doll, but it didn’t stop me from fantasizing how my then four-year-old daughter would fall in love with my homemade creation. Thankfully, she did! This book not only contains fabulous sewing projects, but also personal essays, photos, and recipes by the author Alicia Paulson (creator of the blog Posie Gets Cozy). The photos of Paulson’s backyard make me want to crawl inside and have a cup of tea with her.
On my “to make” list: The reusable Happy Birthday banner.
The Sewing Book, by Alison Smith
Sometime before Christmas last year, I was shopping at Costco and I spotted this gem on the stack of books. It is huge, with 400 pages —is anything normally sized at Costco?—and includes incredibly detailed photos and instructions for everything from hand sewing stitches to dressmaker’s techniques. I put it in the cart feeling inspired by the future projects that would be possible just by owning such a book. I’ve recently taken the Craftsy Sew Retro class and have referred to The Sewing Book a few times to refresh the steps for making a muslin and bone up on my hand-sewing skills before I undertake the class project.
On my “to make” list: I have fabric to make a roman shade for our upstairs bathroom. I’m using a combination of YouTube videos and tutorials to make it, including the steps in this book.
The New Homemade: Simple Sewing for Contemporary Style, by Cassie Barden
When I bought this book, I had already made a couple of handbags. The first couple I had made were okay. I used a pattern I found online from the DIY Network (here’s my version). One difficulty I had was in how to sew the lining into the bag neatly. Being a new sewer, I found it really hard to manage the speed of the sewing machine (it felt like a runaway train at first) with the precision required to sew the lining with a professional edge. One thing I love about The New Homemade, is that the illustrations are incredible. Too many books assume too much on the part of the reader and leave out huge bits of detail that they figure you can intuit on your own. This was very frustrating for me as a new sewer trying to teach myself how to sew without any prior knowledge of anything. And because I am a very visual learner and need dumbed-down-to-the-smallest-detail kind of instructions to help me learn how to put something like a bag (or a dress, or a doll) together. This book has them. I’ve referred to Barden’s book many times when making other patterns from other books because the illustrations are so helpful in visualizing the construction.
On my “to make” list: I’ve had my eye on the Bird Watcher Messenger Bag since I first bought this book. While I’m not crazy in love with the fabric choices (olive green and pink wood cut), I LOVE the structure of this bag. Lots of pockets to fill with fun things and I’m a huge fan of the cross-body style.
Papercrafts and Origami, by Hermes House
I received this book about sixteen years ago as a gift from my sister-in-law. I had been in my paper-making phase at the time (I even attempted to make the paper for our wedding invitations—all 250 of them—but decided to buy handmade paper and just make the invitations myself instead). It wasn’t until my oldest daughter was in kindergarten that I rediscovered this gem. We used the pop-up card instructions to make unique valentines for her class. A few years ago, we attempted to make a paper maché bowl covered with fall leaves we collected for a Thanksgiving centerpiece. While that project didn’t quite turn out (the bowl didn’t firm up like we needed in time for the meal), there are hundreds of other fun and unique projects to make to give as gifts or to occupy the kids on a rainy afternoon. I’m sure this book will stay on the shelf for many more years to come.
On my “to make” list: I would love to try that paper bowl project again, as well as some of the Performing Pierrot project.
People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, Boozy Pops
From Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop by Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell, and Joel Horowitz
This book is the newest addition to our overstocked bookshelves. I was inspired to buy it recently after noticing the rampant growth that’s taken place in our raspberry bed over the past few weeks. We anticipate more raspberries than we know what to do with. After making jam, raspberry sauce, and just consuming the berries, we were wondering what else we could do with them. Then it hits me: What better way to enjoy our surplus berries than to transform them into frozen treats! We put the book (and our new Zoku Quick Pop Maker) to the test yesterday, making the Watermelon and Parsley pops. While the melon was store-bought (and organic) the parsley came from our garden. The kids LOVED them. It’s going to be a fun summer.
On my “to make” list: I’m inspired to try some of the other one-of-a-kind flavors in People’s Pops, like Strawberry and Basil, and Honeydew and Ginger.
Well, this is but a VERY small selection of the DIY books we have. I’ll cover some others in a future post. If you have any of these or other books you love, please share in the comments below. I’m sure I could find space for one or two more. 🙂