Crafting and DIY culture is all the rage these days and there are plenty of books to support emerging and weathered crafters; this is a review of two of those books.
First up is Sublime Stitching: Hundreds of Hip Embroidery Patterns and How-To by Jenny Hart (Chronicle Books, 2006). Embroidery is the craft-of-the-moment and every indie crafter worth her salt has been jumping on that bandwagon. I learned basic embroidery way back in eighth grade and have been improving on my skills ever since. I picked up Sublime Stitching thinking it might help me bring my skills up to date since the book I usually reference was written in 1956. Alas, that old book is infinitely more useful than Sublime Stitching which is primarily a book of patterns rather than a reference -- there are only 48 pages of text (including the index and photos) and the remaining leaves are patterns.
I can't even admit to being very inspired by Jenny Hart's designs, but I suppose for someone who can't draw, they would be useful as guides. Personally, I am happy that I took this book out of the library rather than purchase it but only because my skill level seems to exceed that of Sublime Stitching's intended audience.
Next up is Subversive Seamster: Transform thrift store threads into street couture by Melissa Alvarado, Hope Meng and Melissa Rannels (Taunton Press, 2007) which is on the other end of the inspirational scale. With increasing media emphasis on going green Subversive Seamster's message of repurposing thrift store clothing merges the green and DIY/craft movements.
While there are some projects I would never attempt (there is no way at my age that I would wear a skirt made from a football jersey), others (like the bottle wrap made from a sweater sleeve) are no-brainers. The real message of Subversive Seamster however, is that with a little planning, you can make wearable clothing and useful accessories out of even the ghastliest of thrift-store cast-offs; the authors really empower the reader to think outside the seams and get creative.
If you are a needlecrafter, I heartily recommend Subversive Seamster, but only beginners should pick up Sublime Stitching.
Sublime Stitching : **
Subversive Seamster: ****