review: The T-shirt Quilt Book

The T-shirt Quilt Book

The T-shirt Quilt Book: Create one-of-a-kind keepsakes, make 8 projects or design your own by Lindsay Conner and Carla Hegeman Crim

Most of us have a bunch of old t-shirts kicking around, many of which we probably don’t wear anymore but we don’t want to let go of because of their sentimental value. This book starts with the techniques you’ll need to master in order to sew your own t-shirt quilt and offers 8 projects you could make with your own tees. Most of the techniques will be familiar to those who have sewn a quilt before, though some may be new if you haven’t worked much with knit fabric before. For instance, the use of interfacing is critical to making t-shirt fabric cooperate in a medium where exact measurements matter. There are many more options here than just the ‘bunch of squares sewn together’ look that you’ve probably seen – not that there’s anything wrong with that design, there are just a lot of other ways to go about it!

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

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review: A New Dimension in Wool Appliqué

A New Dimension in Wool Appliqué

A New Dimension in Wool Appliqué: Baltimore Album Style by Deborah Gale Tirico

On picking this book up, I had never heard of the Baltimore Album style, but apparently this specific type of quilt block was popular during the 1840s in Baltimore. They were created to reflect an image of life at that time, and some reflected (in a somewhat hidden way) not just the day to day of the women who made them, but their political opinions as well. The patterns included here range from table rugs to pillows to sewing notions, and instruction on felting wool, making patterns, and appliquéing with felted wool are provided. These projects have bold color, fine detail, and certainly reflect the skill and time required to create them. Some also include details about the history of the content, such as the symbolism of various fruit used in the cornucopia table rug. Templates are also included.

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

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review: The Magic of Children’s Gardens

The Magic of Children's Gardens

The Magic of Children’s Gardens: Inspiring through creative design by Lolly Tai

Who doesn’t love the idea of a whimsical garden that delights all ages? This book showcases 19 children’s and discovery gardens from all over the United States. For each garden, it provides details of the goal, concept, and design the garden’s creators started with, along with a guide to key areas and a list of plants used. Also listed is contact information and some stats such as size. Accompanying all this information are sketches and design images from the conceptual and planning stages of the garden’s creation, as well as color photographs of the garden at present. There’s lots of good inspiration here for most any gardener, even if you’re not planning something on the scale of these large projects.

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

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review: Sound and Scent in the Garden

Sound and Scent in the Garden

Sound and Scent in the Garden edited by D. Fairchild Ruggles

This book is a collection of essays (some of which are indistinguishable from full-on journal articles) on the experience of being in an intentionally designed outdoor space, with a specific focus on sound and smell. Most of the contributors are academics, but the essays are not all as dry as you might fear. (They do all include full citation lists as you’d expect.) Many illustrations are included as part of the writing, some of which are photographs of gardens as they currently exist, others of which are historical artwork and diagrams that relate to the subject matter. This isn’t a light read by any means, but works well as a ‘dip in and out’ book – read the essay(s) that suit your interest and move on. If nothing else, gardeners will find inspiration in the illustrations.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from Michigan State University via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Stitch, Fabric & Thread

Stitch, Fabric & Thread

Stitch, Fabric & Thread: An inspirational guide for creative stitchers by Elizabeth Healey

This book looks at a variety of techniques and inspiration points and encourages the reader to create unique pieces. Many of the techniques may seem basic, but used in the ways shown, look anything but basic. Most of the techniques will be familiar to crafters. A few of the inspiration points, though, are possibly inappropriate – an African mask is used, but its origin is not given more specificity (Africa is a big continent with many people and one mask cannot possibly be representative of all of them) and a Hula dancer is treated as a pin-up girl, which seems outright disrespectful, for example. It’s a bummer that an otherwise useful book is kind of ruined by these insensitive inclusions.

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

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review: Build a Better Vegetable Garden

Build a Better Vegetable Garden

Build a Better Vegetable Garden: 30 DIY projects to improve your harvest by Joyce Russell, photography by Ben Russell

As I’ve mentioned, my raised bed veg garden has not been my garden priority the last couple of years. I’ve just not been paying as much attention to it, part of the reason is that the trees nearby it have grown and are now shading it more than desired part of the day. I really need to relocate it next summer (although I’m also toying with the idea of trying to grow veggies in among the ornamental plants throughout the garden – I have a feeling that critters will eat more than I will with this approach, though). This book has 30 projects for growing veggies in the garden, ranging from plant supports to planter boxes and raised beds, to tool containers and organizers. Each project is rated for difficulty and includes a complete list of required materials and tools. A series of in-process photos are also shown, though not every step is fully illustrated, so some ability to interpret instructions without a visual is required. Ideas for using each item are also given, such as tips for growing particular crops on a plant support. Several of these have me dreaming about the future – I look forward to the day when our trees bear enough fruit to require the apple storage trays!

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Van Buren District Library via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Go Big, Go Bold

Go Big, Go Bold

Go Big, Go Bold: Large-scale modern quilts by Barbara Cain

Modern quilt – it’s a term that can be defined in a number of ways, but probably falls into the ‘I know it when I see it’ category. One common feature is the use of large blocks, larger than you’d commonly see in many traditional quilt styles, anyway. That’s the basis of these ten quilt designs, each of which includes a list of materials, a cutting list, directions for making templates, fabric recommendations, step-by-step piecing instructions, and palette suggestions.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the East Lansing Public Library via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: The Flower Book

The Flower Book

The Flower Book: Let the beauty of each bloom speak for itself – natural flower arrangements for your home

Fans of flowers will be delighted with the full color photos in this large book. Step by step instructions are provided for creating professional-looking cut flower arrangements and bouquets. Recommended specific flowers are profiled, including a wealth of information in addition to a huge close-up color photo. These flowers are listed individually and then several are used to create a mixed-flower arrangement. Even as someone who appreciates flowers almost exclusively where they grow in the garden, there is a ton of inspiration here – from which flowers might look good together to the facts about the plants themselves.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Grand Rapids Public Library via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Colour Confident Stitching

Colour Confident Stitching

Colour Confident Stitching: How to create beautiful colour palettes by Karen Barbé

Color is such a big part of so many creative projects. Barbé starts out with a primer on color theory, so even if you haven’t studied art, you’ll have the basics. She then moves into using color in the world as inspiration and how to capture the colors you have seen elsewhere in the materials you’ll use to make. Finally, she offers five projects with instructions so you can make them yourself and see the concepts from the book illustrated. DMC color numbers are listed for the sample palettes included.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Baldwin Public Library via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Indoor Edible Garden

Indoor Edible Garden

Indoor Edible Garden: Creative ways to grow herbs, fruit, and vegetables in your home by Zia Allaway

Who doesn’t want to have fresh plants to eat all year round? I for sure do! I have to admit that my raised bed garden has gone neglected the last couple of years – I keep planting, but then I get caught up with other parts of the garden and other projects and end up ignoring the raised bed. This doesn’t bode super well for my success growing things indoors, but perhaps if I were focused on it when the rest of the garden is asleep for the winter, I might do better. This book goes from start to finish, so you can start with finding the best growing spots in your home based on access to light and areas that tend to be cooler than average and go all the way through to harvest. As you might guess, choice of containers and soils is also important and are included here as well. The beautiful photos of flourishing houseplants are inspiring and will have you imagining your own indoor edible garden and the meals you could make from it.

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

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