I’ve been eager to review this book for some time, but I have been overwhelmed by choice. Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts is a substantial volume, to the tune of 400 pages, and so much of it grabbed me right out of the gate. The 250-page project section is organized alphabetically, and let’s just say that I already had too many ideas by the time I got to the “Bags” section.
The first ninety pages explain basic techniques (sewing, applique, embroidery, quilting & patchwork, dyeing, and printing), then comes the A to Z project section, and fifty pages of miscellany (tools & materials, tips & extra techniques, cd patterns & templates, sources, buyer’s guide, index, projects by technique, and photography credits) bringing up the rear. There is also a CD included, with printable patterns and templates on it.
But let’s get back to that project section, because that’s where all of the fun is.
If you are a subscriber to Martha Stewart Living, then you’ve likely seen many of these projects before. Or, if you’re like me, maybe you haven’t… I received a gift subscription to the magazine last year, and while I love the Martha aesthetic, I’ve rarely had time to read the magazines. Twelve issues are currently languishing in my magazine rack, waiting for me to get around to giving them some attention. I just don’t have time for magazines these days, but books? That I can manage. So a compilation such as this one is perfect for me.
These “oilcloth lunchbags” were one of the first things to catch my eye.
As you know, I’ve just started a new part-time job, and since I’d prefer to carry my lunch to work whenever possible, I have been wanting to make a reusable bag. I’ve been drawn to the look of oilcloth lunch bags, so when I saw this project, and later found a great cherry-pattern fabric, I had to try it.
The construction was relatively simple, although my machine had a bit of difficulty feeding the oilcloth through. My bag is not perfect, but I still really like it, and I intend to use it regularly. In fact, stay tuned, because I think I feel an “eco-friendly lunch ensemble roundup” post coming on later this week…
So. What else looks like fun?
- Aprons! I know, last thing I need is more aprons, but I am so eager to get my hands on some ticking stripes and make the “baker’s apron” anyway.
- The “fabric pocket tote bag” is genius, and requires very little sewing. In fact, you could probably skip the outer pocket & embellishment, and the project would be no-sew.
- If my kids had their own bathroom, I’d be all over the “rain slicker shower curtain.”
- I’m considering some “drawstring pants” for our annual beach weekend coming up.
Four appealing ideas, and we’re still only up to the letter C (for Clothing)!
I’m intrigued by some of the projects that involve dye – you all know I’m a big fan of tub dying. For instance, it has never really occurred to me to over-dye fabrics that already have a pattern on them, but this book does some great things with ticking stripes and bright colors. There are also a few projects that involve bleaching a patterned fabric and then over-dying it. It occurs to me, I might be able to save some of my stained Winter cloth kitchen napkins with that technique – enough of the original pattern would remain that they’d still look like they belonged with the set.
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes a Martha project can be too “fussy” or have far too many steps, and there are certainly projects in here that do seem entirely too ambitious for me. That said, the aesthetic is so pleasing, it’s easy to look through this book and be inspired to take aspects of the projects and use them in simpler ways. For instance, I love the look they’ve achieved with their “drawstring bolster” project – a pile of bolster pillows, covered in ticking stripes that have been over-dyed in varying shades of green – but I would prefer to apply that fabric technique to simpler envelope pillow covers that I already know how to make. A pile of them in shades of olive, brown and red would look great on my living room couch!
I expect to enjoy flipping through this book for inspiration for a long time to come.
How about you? Would you like a copy? The nice people at Potter Craft gave me an extra book to share with a lucky blog reader. Simply leave a comment here, and I will choose a winner at random sometime on Sunday, May 9th. If you’d like an extra chance to win, you can use the reTweet button below to spread the word to your Twitter friends (no need to post another comment – I’ll be able to find you via the tweet itself). Good luck! Comments are closed – we have a winner!