Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Cosy Nights In

There's nothing I like more when the nights start to draw in, than to cosy up with a big mug of hot chocolate and a good book! As much as I enjoy reading novels, there are times when I prefer perusing textiles books in search of inspiration. I've found a few good ones recently and thought I'd share them with you here (they're all published by Potter Craft and distributed in the UK by GMC publications)...

"A sewing book with a sense of humour and a sense of style". This is how Amy Karol's book is described on its back cover and on closer inspection of the glossy, colourful inside pages it's easy to see why. There are lots of whimsical projects in this book, with plenty of hints, tips and techniques to help you make them. It's like having your own tutor working alongside you with a guiding hand!

The book's divided into 6 sections, the first 3 being about bending the rules in sewing and basic sewing info', from the sewing machine, tools and notions, to sewing vocab' and handy sewing techniques. There are some great things to make for children, the Woodland Elf Hat being my absolute favourite!

The photos in this book are colourful and cheery and let you see the end results in good detail. I thought the introductory chapters were really interesting and great for beginners as well as more experienced sewers who want a recap or learn something new.

There's all sorts to make, from handbags and aprons, to dog collars and a puppet theatre. All the instructions are easy to follow and many have tips to help you avoid making mistakes. There are diagrams throughout too and even interesting introductions to each project to help you choose which ones to tackle first.

Now, I love vintage and I'm all for turning old clothes into something new and fabulous to give them a new lease of life, so this book looked like it was going to be rather a good read. I must admit, when I first flicked through this one, I did look at some of the projects and think, "why would you want to do that to a perfectly decent dress/jumper/jacket?" However, on closer inspection I found that the general ideas were really good. I loved seeing the before and after photos too. My favourite project was the ribbed sweater and top combo ingeniously reinvented as a high waisted skirt - clever! The instructions are pretty good too, with plenty of tips and vintage twist ideas along the way.

The book, which is divided into seasons, encourages creativity and uniqueness. Hoorah for inventiveness!

Now you know what to do with that spare crocheted blanket you have at home!

There are interesting sections on vintage patterns and reproduction fabrics as well as vintage fabrics, plus tips on where to buy vintage and whether a piece should be kept or cut up. There's an extensive list of vintage outfitters and helpful resources. However, these resources and all of the other sections listed above are all geared to the USA...but don't let this put you of is you don't live Stateside - it's an inspiring book whichever side of the Pond you live on.

This is definitely my favourite book of the moment. The front cover had me hooked even before I'd open the pages!

There are over 50 gorgeous projects in this book (by Celine Dupuy) and as the book's description says, "...each with a touch of something wonderfully, whimsically French." Although some of the photos look a little out of focus (just my copy or is this some sort of arty photography?) it's still an absolute delight to flick through the inspiration-filled pages. I defy anyone not to fall in love with this book!

There are lots of tempting photos of all the things you can make and the instructions are really clear (great for both beginners and those with more experience). Projects include a quilt, hammock, chemise and French chef's apron, as well as bags, cushions, drapes, cafe blinds and even an ottoman.

As well as the easy-to-read and follow instructions, there are also lots of diagrams too, which I think are really helpful. Now all I have to do is decide which project to make the meantime, it'll look fabulous on our coffee table!

If there's one thing I love in the world of fashion above anything else, it's bags! They can completely change the look of an outfit in one easy move, you don't have to try them on in the shop (as they always fit!) and, in my opinion, you can never have too many! Jodi Kahn's book is full of 30 gorgeous designs, which all need little or no sewing...perfect for beginners or those wanting a day off from the sewing machine.

This picnic bag made from astroturf made me smile! Other materials used for the bags in this book include printed packing tape, sweet wrappers, Monopoly money, shower curtain fabric, an old t-shirt and placemats...perfect for the make do and mend/recycling ethos that so many of us are getting tuned into these days.

The instructions are clear and well laid out, with plenty of diagrams to help along the way. Too many bags to choose from and so little time...which one to pick first?!

Do let me know if you know of any other good books...

Happy reading!


A Bun Can Dance said...

Hello there Queen Katie!
I love this post and in particular I am very much coveting the french style craft book....!
Thank you for your lovely swap letter - and the bunting makes a great finishing touch! What fun our writing topic was- what next I wonder?
Wishing you a happy weekend ahead,
Happy days to you as always,
Denise x
(Queen Violet)

Country Cottage Chic said...

That's a great selection of which projects are you going to make?


Anonymous said...

I love that bag in the Bend the Rules and the French sewing is a favorite. Must not start more projects, must not start more projects, must not start more projects...