Friday, November 20, 2009

My View: Several Books to Give as Gifts to Others, to Yourself!

I have been very fortunate to review so many amazing and unique books that offer help, how-to, as well as entertainment and pure beauty.

In no particular order, here are three of the delights I've recently enjoyed reviewing! Pictured here is the Moth Orchid qult from Sylvia Pippen's new book: Paradise Stitched.

I do hope you'll give these books a second look or add them to your own collection. --Dawn

Thread Work Unraveled by Sarah Ann Smith

Published by American Quilter's Society, 2009

Sarah Ann Smith has had a very good year which included among other things winning an award at Houston and the publication of her book Thread Work Unraveled. Great title. But just wait until you see what's inside. Sarah has truly unraveled the mystery of thread!

I've been known to skim a book, leaf through them, stop here and there and read the tips and then put it away until time permits a more thorough reading. Not so with this book. For one thing Sarah addresses an underserved niche in the fabric arts -- thread. And lets face it whatever we plan to make using fabric -- will require thread. Lots of thread in most cases.

Sarah writes that the book is about: "Thread, which is as important as fabric and as much fun to collect; Understanding your tools and materials; Learning the skills one step at a time; Mastering th skills with practice; Doing what we love: quilting!" And she makes all of these aspects quite accessible and easy to follow -- as well as encouraging.

This book is written with authority and sound information beginning with the chapter on thread. This author knows of what she writes -- how thread is made, thread types, selecting threads, even a thread tension sampler which she warns readers not to attempt to do the whole sampler at one sitting. And then, as if learning which threads to use wasn't helpful enough, she moves on to needles beginning with the anatomy of a needle.

Her tips are new information to me. Ways to ensure the needle is inserted all of the way into the shaft, the thread industry's new standard of measurement, which needle to use for metallic, holographic and some rayon threads, and on and on. She addresses how to applique and use thread colors to tone down, shade and highlight and thread painting and machine quilting and resources and even workspace ergonomics.

If there is only one book to gift yourself with this holiday season, I suggest this one. It is the most informative and user friendly book I've encountered in a very long time. And the colors and photos and layout are stunning. Beautifully made book and one that I've read cover to cover.

Unforgettable Tote Bags
by Eleanor Levie and Celebrity Quilters

Published by Eleanor Levie, 2009

On first look, you may think this book is about making decorative tote bags. But anyone who's been a fan of the celebrities and legends in the quilting community will quickly see that this is an opportunity to have many of their favorite quilters, designers, artists -- in one book.

Not only do you see tote bags made by Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy, Karen Eckmeier, Virginia Avery, Diane Gaudynski, Jean Ray Laury, Susan Shie.... You get to see these experts at play, having fun designing and decorating a tote bag with their own techniques and personality. And then giving you directions to recreate it! This is like taking classes from 11 creative teachers, tops in the fabric arts and quilting community, legends -- all in one book.

No, you won't become an expert machine quilter like Diane Gaudynski after one tote bag; nor able to handle an air brush with the finesse of Susan Shie, but you can take the first steps. And you'll have a make-you-smile tote bag to help you lessen your carbon footprint.

If you don't want to sew the bag itself -- directions show you how to take a blank already made bag and turn it into a work of art. The author, Eleanor Levie, includes a couple of her own creations along with directions for deconstructing a ready made bag to allow embellishments. The colorful book with a pleasing balance between white space and text offers step by step instructions, color photographs, and most of all, a few moments with your quilting heroes. Who could ask more of a book than that?! I can hope that this is the beginning of a series of books focused on celebrities gone wild! What next -- art vests? Chaps? Dickies? Who cares what they make, I just want to see them make it!

Paradise Stitched: Sashiko and Applique Quilts by Sylvia Pippen

Published by CT Publishers, 2009

Sashiko has become such a popular design element and you'll see it used masterfully in many award winning quilts. Not just a design for hand sewing, machine sewing with the right threads and needles (See Sarah Ann Smith's book) is quite stunning. Yet, the author encourages machine quilters: "...Try hand Sashiko. You might be surprised at how fast it goes and how calming it is to sit down and stitch a beautiful Sashiko design."

But Sylvia is not satisfied to let the beauty of Sashiko stand alone. She paired it with applique and added a tropical twist. Here in Florida Asian and tropical go hand in hand whether it be clothes or decor or art and Sylvia and CT Publishing hit a homerun with the pairings and projects featured.

Not only does Sylvia offer her own designs to reproduce, including full size patterns, but helps readers to take the steps to make their own innovative quilts. For example, she writes "My favorite design tools are my digital camera, a photocopy machine, and a bit roll of tracing paper." She adds that another way to create compositions is to cut flowers and foliage and arrange them on a dark fabric background. Then photograph them. She provides every bit of information needed to make stunning applique and exquisite Sashiko which means this book can stretch to cover more than one technique you may want to try. And I can't think of a more visually alluring book than this one. Eye candy and inspiration abound. For more information or to order the book, visit Sylvia's website.


Aida Costa said...

Ohhh, Thread Work and Paradise Stitched sound wonderful! Thanks for the reviews :)

Dawn said...

You are most welcome! Books like this make reviewing easy! Glad to be helpful.


SewLindAnn said...

Thank you for your in depth reviews. I really like hearing what you have to say about them. I'm past buying books for one or two reasons, they have to be really useful.