review: A well-crafted home

a well-crafted home

A well-crafted home: inspiration and 60 projects for personalizing your space by Janet Crowther

This book is part of the current trend of making decor that will appear to be used or vintage. For many of them, you might be able to find materials at an estate sale or flea market, but you could also use new materials from Home Despot or your local hardware store. Each project is designated with a skill level and includes a finished size, so it’s easy to see at a glance if a particular project will work for both your ability and the space you have in mind. This aesthetic of this book, with matte color photos filled with tone-on-tone shades of cream, and its projects will appeal to fans of the decor on Fixer Upper. I feel like a few of these might actually be things that they’ve done on that show! The textiles used in the sample projects make you wish you could put your hands on them – you can almost feel the linen used to make a pillowcase and duvet. The book closes with instructions for a few of the techniques used, including several types of dyeing, a few ways of sewing seams, basic woodworking techniques, leather cutting, and distressing a mirror for an antique look. Like most books of this type, you may end up spending more on materials than you would buying a pre-made shabby chic item at a big box store, but the goal Crowther espouses is to enjoy the process as much as the product.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: The Joy of Stitching

The Joy of Stitching

The Joy of Stitching: 38 quick and easy embroidery and needlework designs by Nina Granlund Saether

This book focuses on projects, providing instructions for making a finished object (or embellishing an existing piece of clothing) that includes embroidery or needlework, but the motifs could easily be used in other contexts as well. Needlework designs are charted in color and black outline sketches are provided for embroidery designs. The designs here are cute but not super stylized – if you looked at the projects all collected together, it would not necessarily be apparent that they were all designed by one person. This could be seen as a negative (the collection lacks cohesion) but could also be viewed as a positive in that you could create all of the items and not have it be obvious that you got every one of them from the same source.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book form the Kent District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Japanese Paper Embroidery

Japanese Paper Embroidery

Japanese Paper Embroidery by Atsumi, Minako Chiba & Mari Kamio

This book offers ideas and inspiration for embroidery on paper (and cardstock, etc) in the form of cards, ornaments, folders, notebooks, frame-able art, and more. The first half of the book consists of color photographs showing the many projects and the second half, the motifs. The motif templates include some basic stitch instruction (the Olympus 25 embroidery thread color number, the number of threads, and type of stitch used) along with (if applicable) instructions for assembling the item. The feel of the whole book is sweet and will be familiar to fans of Japanese culture. The designs include abstract designs as well as letters and numbers, creatures and items from nature, and an assortment of other types of cute things.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Kalamazoo Public Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Pen to Thread

Pen To Thread

Pen to Thread: 750 hand-drawn embroidery designs to inspire your stitches by Sarah Watson

Watson, an illustrator and designer, has collected her favorite motifs to create using embroidery. Also included are instructions for getting started and basic embroidery techniques, illustrated with both color photographs and hand-drawn diagrams. These introductory and instructional sections are robust and well put-together and will be an asset for anyone learning (or improving their skills in) embroidery regardless of whether the motifs are to their taste. The motifs are grouped into categories: made in the USA, food, craft room, tools of the trade, school days, in the kitchen, in the garden, around the house, fun!, the great outdoors, by the sea, animals, plants, frames & borders, and alphabets. With more than 750 designs included, a wide variety of subject matter is covered. I know I often find myself wishing for a specific motif when working on a craft project, and I love to have so much variety in one source. Each set of color photographs of completed motifs is followed by one of black and white outlines for those designs and others not pictured in color. Specific instruction for each motif is not included – it is up to the reader to look at a design and determine which stitch is used where and in what order, and for the designs not pictured in color, up to the reader to make that part up themselves. The style of these motifs is sweet and not fussy. Includes a CD.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Kent District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Manga Art

Manga Art

Manga Art: Inspiration and techniques from an expert illustrator by Mark Crilley

I’m familiar with Mark Crilley from way back – he was a speaker at several youth librarian conferences back when I was heavily involved in planning said conferences (he lives in Michigan, so he was easier to book than some out-of-state folks) and his books became popular in my library (place of work) pretty quickly after he started releasing them. He’s known for his manga illustrations and in this book, he shares information about drawing in the manga style with lots and lots of examples. Lest you think it’s all one thing, these examples are created using a variety of techniques and variations within the manga style, so the illustrations aren’t monotonous – you might not necessarily guess right off the bat that they’re all created by the same person. For each example, Crilley offers a personal story about how, why, and when he created it, all with the purpose of celebrating the process of making art. Appealing for young folks and adults.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: 501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs

501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs

501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs: Irresistible stitchables to brighten up your life by Boutique-sha

I’ve been hoping to do some more embroidery and this wealth of mini patterns will certainly provide fodder for my upcoming projects. A wide variety of embroidery designs are grouped into themes including cute cups, a cozy room, a tidy kitchen, a visit to the flea market, Scandinavian forest designs, adorable items from Eastern Europe, the music’s playing, I love fruit!, sweet things for girls, stripes and polka dots (which actually includes a lot of outdoor/park elements), Japanese celebrations, birds & flowers, tasty tea time, and lace patterns. These are followed by some cross stitch collections including Scandinavian style cross stitch, a cross stitch alphabet, cross stitch cats and dogs, continuous cross stitch patterns. Ideas for using these elements are part of full projects are then provided, including pouches, pin cushions, dishcloths, and more. A short how-to guide includes color photographs for the very basics like threading the needle. The second half of the book is printed in monotone on matte paper and provides somewhat bare-bones instructions for each of the patterns.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Capital Area District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: The Art of Whimsical Stitching

The Art of Whimsical Stitching

The Art of Whimsical Stitching: Creative stitch techniques and inspiring projects by Joanne Sharpe

This book covers a range of stitching techniques including machine and hand sewing, quilting, and embroidery. Sharpe’s goal is to enable the maker to create unique art using the artist’s preferred choice and combination of methods. The pieces shown also use fabric painting, dye, art markers, and more. Some basic information about using these tools and techniques is provided, along with inspiration pieces created by the author. The bulk of the book consists of projects that showcase one or more techniques and include utilitarian items like bags and pillows as well as pieces created purely to be art. Fans of mixed media collage will find lots of inspiration and useful information here.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Capital Area District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: Handmade Heirlooms

Handmade Heirlooms

Handmade Heirlooms: Crafting with intention, making things that matter, and connecting to family & tradition by Jennifer Casa

This book embraces the idea of family heirlooms being special keepsakes that are, more often than not, handmade by someone in the family. One doesn’t often think of creating new heirlooms, but this book challenges the reader to do just that – instead of simply making a gift for a family member, make something that will be loved by that person and handed down over the years. These projects are made using a variety of techniques including knitting, crochet, sewing, and more. They range from traditional baby items like booties and caps to more unique objects like a knitted airplane toy. Some are more utilitarian, like a knitting needle roll and a monogrammed bulletin board.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the East Lansing Public Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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