Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sewing Book Gift Ideas

Most of the Thanksgiving long weekend was spent playing video games with Spousal Unit, but on the Sunday we got a little tired of doing nothing, and ended up sorting through all the book boxes we've had in our storage closet. I figured it was a good time to start going through my craft books, too... of which I have many.

I picked out six books from my collection, for you to check out if you're looking for a great sewing related gift for yourself or someone else!

If you didn't already know or suspect, my crafting interests are quite varied. The majority of my books are knitting related, but I also have books on crochet, sewing (really!), quilting, weaving, embroidery, cross-stitch, dyeing, beading, wirework, scrapbooking, and paper crafts. And this doesn't even include the magazines, or the knitting patterns I have on Ravelry.

(You can also see the top of our selected books to keep, over in the corner!)

My favourite types of books are technique or ideas books; I'm far more likely to use a project book as inspiration, and forge my own path to the end result. That being said, I definitely go through the book to see how different designers make things, and I have many opinions on them.

For this post, I picked out six books from my collection, which I've tagged as one or more of the following:
  • Novice (don't know how to sew),
  • Beginner (can sew a little),
  • Moderate (can sew without help), and 
  • Expert (can sew a lot).

*(Note: Links below are all Amazon affiliate links. Amazon credits me with 4% of an associated purchase. Please consider clicking one if you want to buy one of these recommendations!)

1. Sewing Tips
Threads Sew Smarter, Better, & Faster
Difficulty: Novice to Expert

This large paperback contains tips, tricks, and various techniques from the editors of Threads magazine. I haven't read the entire thing front to back; rather what I've done is pick a page at random, and subsequently become engrossed with the various suggestions contained within. Most of them are super helpful or ingenious.
Example: "How to pin-tuck with a buttonhole foot." WHAT. THAT IS AWESOME. (Of course I manage to pick a page at random, which happens to be in a section about machine feet, haha.)

2. Learn to Sew
The New Sewing Essentials (Singer Sewing Reference Library
Difficulty: Novice to Beginner

I don't have many learn-to-sew books, since I mostly learned in classes, but I do pull out this book as a reference when I can't remember how to do something.

However, it's out of print! Not surprising, since my copy was given to me in 2000. (Thanks, Nicola!)
I did find another sewing basics book from Singer, which on quick glance online seems like it would fit the bill:

Singer Complete Photo Guide to Sewing - Revised + Expanded Edition: 1200 Full-Color How-To Photos

3. Learn to Serge
Successful Serging: From Setup to Simple and Specialty Stitches
Difficulty: Beginner to Moderate

I bought this before I got my amazing serger, and it's given me some pretty helpful tips and explanations on how things work. It ranges from basic (e.g., what a 4-thread overlock should look like, and how to troubleshoot) to more advanced (e.g., specialty seams and decorative stitching). It also has a bit on coverstitch, too, if you need some of that.

Bonus: the coil binding lets it lie flat or fold backwards, which is an indispensable feature if you're trying to sew or manage fabric at the same time while following along.

4. Project Book
Amy Butler's In Stitches: More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects
Difficulty: Beginner to Moderate

I love collecting project books, even if I don't do anything from them. But maybe you do want a project book? This Amy Butler book is a pretty good option, in that case. It has a great range of projects for around the house, and none of them are overly complicated. All of the pattern pieces are included in an envelope, though I would recommend tracing them rather than cutting them out.

What I like the most about this book are the detailed diagrams. Each project is laid out with very easy to follow instructions, and I've used these as reference guides when doing projects that were similar. (Note: also a coil-bound book!)

5. For Quilting with Scraps
130 Mini Quilt Blocks: A Collection of Exquisite Patchwork Blocks Using Ready-Made Fabric Bundles
Difficulty: Moderate to Expert

When I have leftover fabric scraps from a project, I like to cut up the smaller pieces into evenly sized squares, which I stash in a corner. At some point, I'd like to put them all together to make a large quilt, and when I do, you can be sure I'll be getting inspiration from this book.

There are pages of mini blocks, each with a list of pieces, a picture showing how to put them together, and suggestions on how to combine them. This is a great addition for your quilter's arsenal, or if you just like pretty pictures and colours.

6. Fabric Guide
Simplicity® Fabric Guide: The Ultimate Fiber Resource
Difficulty: Beginner

I like this book because it gives some explanation of different types of fabric, but it's relatively quite basic. The images do their best to show what the fabric is like, and they have some great drapey-looking pictures for fabrics like silky, lightweight charmeuse. While it is coil-bound (the main criterion of this post, apparently), the book is a little bulky to take with you when you're fabric shopping, though, and it can be difficult to use it to identify anything in particular. But it's great if you want a quick reference guide, or if you're still learning your way around textiles.

Online references are always great, but I'm a big fan of the book format. Videos are great for showing specific techniques, but inspiration comes easily when you're flipping through these, and guides are better reference materials. Of course, nothing beats a real live class!

Happy sewing!

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