Tag Archives: Books

Craft Book Roundup & Review

24 Feb

When it comes to books, call me Twilight Sparkle. I’m just a huge bibliophile. Additionally, I tend to want to learn everything I can about subjects I’m interested in. Combine the two, and you have a book hoarder.

I particularly like resource books for all the various crafts I do, so I thought I would share some of my favorite titles for those of you interested in growing your own libraries.

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts – The craft bible from the goddess of crafts herself. This sucker is over 400 pages of projects, tips, templates, patterns, and supply guides. This book covers 32 craft techniques (including scrapbooking, beading, printing, jewelry making, matting & framing, paper cutting, silkscreening, soap making, and more) with several projects for each. One of my favorite things about Martha’s books are the tools & materials guides she includes, which are great for answering all those questions you’ve ever had, especially “…the heck is that for?”

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts – My sewing bible. This is a great comprehensive book for anyone interesting in sewing. It has a similar format as her Encyclopedia of Crafts, but has a far more extensive visual glossary and “Basic Techniques” section. The fabric glossary is super handy for figuring out what fabrics are best for projects. The supply guide is a life-saver. As someone who was self-taught, I really wish I had this book when I was first learning to sew. It  also covers 27 project categories (including aprons, bags, blankets, curtains, organizers, quilts, upholstery, and more) with multiple projects for each. Another handy-dandy aspect is the included CD that contains all the patterns for the book in PDF format. Just print, tape, cut, and go.

Teach Yourself Visually: Crochet – This is the only crochet book you really need. I find too many books focus on patterns which are easier to find (for free) online. While this one does include a chapter with project patterns, it offers far more valuable information on crocheting you didn’t know you didn’t know. This book is perfect for beginners, but you won’t outgrow it; it’s great to refer back to. With over 300 pages of visual, step-by-step instructions, this book is hard to beat.

The Bookbinding Handbook – I have yet to find the perfect book on bookbinding, but this one is a good place to start. This one offers a great selection of bookbinding techniques and projects. It also has a bigger focus on what most of us would consider a traditional book as opposed to folded accordion books or cards that I honestly find to be less sophisticated. There are a few things I dislike about this resource though. Firstly, the supply guide only contains a few photos and not all the tools are pictured. It’s hard to get a firm grasp on what you need if you can’t see it. Secondly, while the projects do contain images, they are illustrated, not photographed. This can be good because sometimes things are easier to understand with a drawing, but it’s also nice to see a real photo as well.

Handmade Photo Albums – This one is pretty much the opposite of The Bookbinding Handbook in terms of what’s good and what’s not so good. The book honestly seems a little backwards. The first half is the “project” section, but that’s not really an accurate term for it…because these “projects don’t have instructions.” Um, what? All they include is a photo of the finished project, a few “tips” that pertain mostly to selecting and arranging photos, and the dimensions of the paper, binder’s boards, and book cloth required. It’s like having a cook book with recipe ingredients, but no instructions. While the first half is virtually useless, I find the second half to be pretty helpful. The tools and material section is more comprehensive and includes better photos. The section on actual techniques for making books is what redeems this book. Each step includes a photo that shows you exactly what to do in a clear manner. I have no idea why this book is so poorly organized, but those 50 useful pages make it good resource that I’ve yet to find elsewhere.

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