review: Love the House You’re In

Love the House You're In

Love the House You’re In: 40 ways to improve your home and change your life by Paige Rien

It seems like there’s a cottage industry based around people who don’t like the house they bought (I tried watching Love it or List it but the hosts annoyed me so much I couldn’t stand it). This book offers a guide to assessing your home and explores ideas for making improvements. The content covers home improvement considerations including resale value, municipal codes and requirements, planning for your family’s future, and so on. It looks at that type of big picture but also gets to the nitty-gritty of choosing durable fabrics and paint colors. This book refers often to finding inspiration in magazines and online, but does not provide that kind of visual help itself, keeping strictly to the informational content.

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

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review: The Quilter’s Paper-piecing Workbook

The Quilter's Paper-piecing Workbook

The Quilter’s Paper-piecing Workbook: Paper piece with confidence to create 18 gorgeous quilted projects by Elizabeth Dackson

I have not done much paper-piecing yet myself, but though I usually like to freehand things as I go, I’m interested to learn more about this technique to expand my repertoire. This book starts with practice mini-projects and moves from there to rookie, adventurous, and daring levels of projects. Each project comes with cutting charts that show exactly how to cut the fabric and piece it together. As a newb, this seems the most intimidating part so these charts are reassuring. The rookie level projects include blocks that could easily be created without using paper-piecing, which is a nice way for someone like me to see the differences in construction between methods. A CD is included with printable templates.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Bay County Library System through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit

Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit

Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit: A step-by-step guide to kitchen and allotment gardening with 1400 photographs by Richard Bird & Jessica Houdret

This hefty (over 500 pages) guide to growing your own food goes from the history of food gardens all the way through everything a gardener needs to know. It is filled with full-color photos on glossy paper, providing inspiration along with information. Though the design sections are not super lengthy, they provide creative ideas for different ways to set up your gardens, illustrated with photos and hand-drawn diagrams. Directories of vegetables, fruit, and herbs are also provided and include a wide variety of plants (the herb directory especially takes a broad definition of the term and includes a lot more than just the typical kitchen garden herbs).

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

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review: Quilter’s Academy vol. 5 Master’s Year

Quilter's Academy vol.5

Quilter’s Academy vol. 5 – Master’s Year: A Skill-Building Course in Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave & Carrie Hargrave-Jones

This book, the fifth in the series, is intended to offer as inspiration more than instruction (the previous four volumes are more traditional pattern books), and focuses on medallion quilts. A history of medallion quilts is provided and includes some full color photographs of stunning quilts from as early as the 18th century. The authors then give instruction on planning a medallion quilt, making beginner-, intermediate-, and advanced-level medallion quilts, and recreating antique medallion quilts. Finally, there is an extensive section on borders which will be useful to makers of all types of quilts. Plenty of patterns are included throughout for those who wish to create the examples used in the book.

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

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review: The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest by Michael VanderBrug

This book strives to be a start-to-finish guide to growing veggies in the Midwest (defined pretty broadly here as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin). It has basic gardening instruction, planning information, a schedule of what to do January-December, a list of recommended plants, and tables of conversions, hardiness zones, and planting schedules. Printed on matte paper and with line drawing illustrations, this book has a homespun feel that will appeal to many gardeners.

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

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review: Quilting from Every Angle

Quilting from Every Angle

Quilting from Every Angle: 16 Geometric Designs by Nancy Purvis

Geometry is a part of quilting (whether one recognizes it as such or not) and Purvis takes inspiration from the building blocks of squares, rectangles, and triangles. She looks for these shapes all around her in everyday life and then translates those images into quilts (in a non-literal way) and here provides some instruction to the reader on how to do the same. Some aged and slightly broken pavers can inform the design of a quilt block, as can a photograph of a landscape, for example. Some introductory quilting techniques are included. Purvis started writing about quilts on her blog and throughout the book encourages readers to engage others using social media, such as sharing their creations using hashtags. Each pattern includes all the information needed to make it with diagrams for piecing and assembly. I just wish she’d included photos of her inspiration for each one – it would have been really neat to see the inspiration side by side with the resulting quilt.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the St. Charles District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: Gardening with Less Water

Gardening with Less Water

Gardening with Less Water: Low-tech, low-cost techniques * use up to 90% less water in your garden by David A. Bainbridge

We do not live in an area of the country that is frequently in a drought (YET), but I still try to use less water whenever possible. Especially with opportunist capitalist fatcats Nestle trying to take even more of our water (and sell it for a profit, naturally) here in mid-Michigan, it seems prudent to look for ways to reduce our water needs. It also makes sense from a lazy person’s perspective – the fewer times I need to haul the hose and sprinkler around the yard, the better. Ideally I’d like to only need to water when I’ve just transplanted or seeded, so everything can be self-sufficient the rest of the time. This book provides techniques and tips for minimizing water use by making sure that the plants get the water they need just as it is needed and with little to no loss due to evaporation or runoff. The super-efficient irrigation techniques detailed here include buried clay pots, porous capsules, deep pipes, wicks, porous house, buried clay pipe, and tree shelters. There are also a number of other techniques and actions described, as well as instructions for developing your own water-wise plan.

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

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review: On the Go Bags

On the Go Bags

On the Go Bags: 15 handmade purses, totes & organizers – unique projects to sew from today’s modern designers by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay

This book contains instructions for making a variety of types of handbags by sewing and related construction techniques. Most include dimensions for cutting fabric and use minimal computer-generated diagrams to illustrate the how-to of constructing the item. Pattern pieces for a few items are included in a perforated section at the back. While these instructions are fairly detailed, I have been spoiled by the excellent bag patterns created by Erin of Dog Under My Desk, and these just do not measure up. I prefer Erin’s actual photographs to the diagrams here, and her patterns never skim over the little details that make a handmade bag look perfect. The instructions here are fine, just not the level I’m accustomed to.

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

Sources-
www.sewingmachine.today

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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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