Scoops: Beyond the Quilt

by jake on February 10, 2012

We’ve had so many wonderful books come into our office lately that we’ve decided to show off a few more, even though we did recently tempt you with another batch. But, Q-bies, can you ever have too many quilt and sewing books? (Don’t ask Jake this question–she’s never seen a book she could turn away, hence the constant battle over shelf space in her home.) Our theme for this trio? Going beyond the quilt. Because, let’s face it, we’re not just about the batting. When so moved almost all of us can whip up a simple skirt, window valances or an eye-catching, brag-inducing handbag, because we know that our lives don’t stop at the Q.

Sweetwater’s Simple Home: Sew Something Handmade for Every Room

Lisa Burnett, Karla Eisenach and Susan Kendrick

Stash Books, 2011 

Softcover, 144 pgs., $24.95

Mother Karla and daughters Lisa and Susan produce a very popular line of fabrics for Moda under the Sweetwater name. The fabrics come to mind when you envision country fresh designs and colors that always feature words and numbers in some of the prints. Past collections include Hometown, Authentic and Pure. Some of us buy them just for their names, really.

In Simple Home, our gals use their graphic, friendly prints in 35 different projects to be sewn for the home. (Don’t feel you need their fabrics to whip up these project, especially since you can’t even find their next to last collection on eBay; they sell out that fast!) We love that each chapter is a room in a typical house and the projects are tailored for each room. There are four quilts, but the rest of the projects are as practical as they are pretty. We especially liked the innovative and too-needed Birthday Board where your loved ones’ birthdays are gathered by month. The Notepad Covers are also fun and they tell how to make labels for each section of your life that might use a notepad (memories, plans, budget…). There are pillows and cushions galore and some pretty practical projects that liven up our workday, like the Tied Hamper and Clothespin Bag.

This book promises to keep your machine busy and your house looking sharp. And because it’s a Stash Book, it’s photography, design and instructions are first rate.


Make It Sew Modern: Gather, Twist, Pleat, Texture

Vanessa Christenson of V and Co.

 Martingale & Company, 2012

Softcover, 96 pgs., $24.99

Can clean lines marry gathers, pleats and tucks? They can if you’re Blogger Extraordinaire Vanessa and you’re all about bringing texture into the normally stark lines of modern design. That’s what this book is all about–and handhold through the sewing techniques that jazz up our otherwise simple modern looks. And we’re talking about clothing and accessories, not quilts.

Here’s where Vanessa’s brilliance comes in: Almost every project in this book (21 total) are crafted from solid fabrics. But we don’t even notice this fact because we are completely seduced by the use of texture in the designs that our eyes see the fabrics as print. Only a handful of the projects are made from printed fabrics, and they are all quintessential modern-style prints, simple and graphic on their own. Vanessa has served up quite the design lesson with a less is more approach to project design.

Our fave projects are the Cascading Spring Scarf with its big drapey ruffles made from interlock knit. (Yes, there are other fabrics out there besides quilting cottons.) Also, the Decorative Hanging Globes, again made from interlock, which can add just the right touch of elegant whimsy to any room. Some of the other projects are ridiculously simple, like the Decorative Balls and the Flower Rings, which means they are perfect for party crafts or for getting that little girl in your life to fall in love with fabric.

It’s also a well-designed book (we’re starting to appreciate this more and more) that offers great photos and clear directions. You’ll learn lots of sewing tricks in this book that can be use on other projects–those made from scratch and those you upcycle–which makes this a very complete book to add to your arsenal of sewing weapons.


Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Guide to Hand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe

Natalie Chanin

Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012

Hardcover, 176 pgs, $35.00

We LOVE Natalie’s philosophy. Basically, it comes down to the understanding that there are those who can and will buy her wonderfully designed and very expensive clothing, because they can and will. And then there are those who will lust after her clothing, frustrated by their longing, until they discover that Natalie has laid bare all of her secrets to creating her embellished, organic garments for the home sewer to recreate. Love that Alabama Chanin swing skirt you spied in the boutique’s window last month? Check out her first book, Alabama Stitch Book, and you’ll discover the pattern and techniques right there. She baffles her industry peers who’d rather keep secrets, but she understands who we are–the DIY dressers–who are willing and mostly able to try to recreate her designs because in all honesty, we’re likely too busy with raising kids and making a home to ever have enough money to actually buy them on our own.

This is Natalie’s third book, the one that reveals her techniques for jazzing up her garments with many of the same techniques us quilters revere: applique, reverse applique, embellishment. It may be pricey, but if you’re serious about making clothing that reflects who you are, you won’t regret this acquisition. The techniques are sound and clearly written, the photos are top-notch and there are full-sized patterns included in the book’s rear to get you to completion on most of the clothes featured. And yes, even if you’re a quilter, you will glean plenty of information for altering and enhancing your quilts with Natalie’s instructions for stenciling, beading and other fabric alterations. And in case that wasn’t enough, it will always look great on your coffee table! (Yeah, right, try convincing us that this doesn’t matter to you!)

Leave a Comment

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

3LittleBrds Identicon Icon 3LittleBrds February 10, 2012 at 9:03 am

10Am and I have already seen three projects by Vanessa Christenson! I may have to be on the lookout for that book! Just what I need, another book!


Previous post:

Next post: