book review, Book Reviews, Blog

Sew Simple Quilts and Patchworks

17 Designs using Kaffe Fassett’s Artisan Fabrics. By Kaffe Fassett

Published by Taunton RRP in UK £17.99

Last weekend was the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham. It is a fantastic event with lots of exciting and stimulating work on show as well as masterclasses and lots to see and do. With this in mind I have reviewed a new patchwork and quilting book by Kaffe Fassett.

Unlike most ‘Sew Simple’ books Kaffe Fassett manages to create easy to make projects and yet at the same time make them look sophisticated and very appealing. I have long been an admirer of Kaffe’s since he first came to the UK as a young painter who morphed into a knitwear designer. He took on tapestries and then mosaic before turning his hand to quilts and fabric design.

The secret of his success has to be his wonderful use of colour and the way he uses different patterns together. He had an exhibition of his work at London’s Fashion and Textile museum and my lasting memory of it, was being enveloped in a riot of colour and pattern.

Throughout this book he uses his artisan collection that is inspired by different types of fabrics from different cultures from around the world. He uses both Ikats and batiks and uses them with quilting cottons perfect for the projects in this book.

The project each come with clear instructions and their own assembling diagrams. The projects include throws, quilts, cushions and simple stylish garments and fun projects for children, a tent and a pillow bed.

A lovely practical book. Distributed in the UK by GMC Publications.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Fat Quarter : Toys

25 Projects to make from short lengths of fabric

By Susie Johns

Published by GMC Publications

Fat Quarter Toys is the latest addition to a fabulous and popular series of stash – busting sewing books. There are 25 cute and colourful toys and games to make for young children, all from fat quarters or fabric scraps to make use of your stash.

         Each project is accompanied by step-by-step instructions and beautiful accompanying photography, and there is the usual useful tools and techniques section for those who are new to sewing. The toys are quick and straightforward to make and none of them require any specialist skills or expensive materials.

         This book is perfect for using left over scraps of fabric or even repurposing old clothes that might otherwise go into land fill.

The projects make great gifts or can be made quickly and easily to sell at charity events. Included in the projects are a tiger rattle, rabbit cuddle blanket, teddy bear, fox in a sleeping bag, fishing set, bean bags, stacking rings, memory game, alphabet letters, number cubes, rag doll, picnic blankets and more.

Susie Johns is a designer, teacher and craft workshop leader. She has written dozens of craft books and works regularly for consumer craft magazines in the UK.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Baskets

Projects, techniques and inspirational designs for you and your home

Tabara N’Diaya

Published by Quadrille £14.99

Tabara grew up in Paris but her family originally came from Senegal a country known for its beautiful Senegalese baskets made from local grasses and coloured strings. In 2017, with her sister, she launched La Basketry, a home ware brand  designed in collaboration with a group of female basket-weavers from Ngaye Mkeka.

         In this, her first book ,she shines a light on the traditional craft of making baskets. However her contemporary designs fit in perfectly with the modern home.

         The book opens with examples of the history and culture of basket making around the world. This is a craft where you need very little in the way of tools and equipment so it is relatively inexpensive to set up. The book is divided into four main types of basket, based on the materials used, grass, cane, rope and twine.

In each chapter the materials are explained and as we now live in the days of the internet they are easy to come by.

         As well as basic techniques being covered the reader is given information on how to display woven pots and how to make them lids.

         I feel the strongest sections of the book are on the grass made baskets and the rope baskets. The techniques used for both are similar and involve turning and sewing although in the case of rope, the baskets are made using an ordinary domestic sewing machine.

         Tabara does basket making for pleasure in her spare time.

“ Basket making allows me to zone out. Hours pass while all I care about is transforming some grasses into a beautiful object, forgetting about my phone and my to do list and just focusing on the present moment.”

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Want to learn a new craft? Why not try Knooking?

Knooking is a new trend in yarn craft it is in essence a combination of knitting and crotchet. Cico books https://rylandpeters.com/have just published a book by  designer, knit & crotchet author  Laura Strutt called Get Knooking .

Yes it is a strange term, but a clever way to create knitted fabrics with the use of a single, cord strung hook. The author says she came to knooking via both knitting and crotchet but claims that even a complete novice can pick up the technique easily.

Apart from the fact it is slightly easier to transport that knitting, having only one implement, that is a crotchet hook with the eye of a large needle at its end, I was not sure of the benefit of this new craft.

However what it allows the maker to do is to create cloth that looks like it has been knitted rather than crotched. In the book five different fabrics have been created including stocking stitch, garter stitch, double rib, single rib, moss stitch. As well as the knitted fabrics you can also create crotched fabrics.

There are small easy projects to tackle first. These include a zipped purse, a headband and arm warmers. The intermediate projects include a very nice block-colour cushion a nautical rope handled bag and knitted storage boxes. The larger projects are more challenging such as a slouch blanket cardigan and a beautiful infinity scarf.

The book comes with a free knooking hook.

So happy knooking.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Want to create a timeless Mid Century look in your home?

 Then look no further than the new book ‘Mid-Century Modern Living’

The Mini Moderns Guide to Pattern and Style, by Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire.

In 2006 Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire launched Mini Moderns, the company that specializes in mid twentieth century inspired, applied pattern. They are known for their striking use of pattern and colour across a range of products including wallpaper, fabrics, ceramics and household accessories.

        The designs are inspired by childhood memories, popular culture and the designs of the mid century greats.

        The book kicks off with Keith and Mark’s mid century inspiration. They then break down the key components that make up a mid-century look- including colour, pattern, materials and accents. Chapters are divided into seven interior looks that explore different aspects of mid century design.

     For a quirky bit of fun, a mid century menu is provided to go with each look plus music of the period.

        As they point out, no one wants to live in a museum so they show ways of incorporating their designs with original fifties and sixties pieces – design classics with a few bits of kitsch thrown in. This should result in you being able to make a space that reflects you and the way you wish to live.

         The Mini Modern Mantra

Build your interior around your passions

start with your collections and cherished possessions.

Don’t Fake it

Splash out on one original mid-century piece, rather than a room of poor quality replicas.

Embrace Pattern and Colour

Don’t be scared, it won’t bite unless you want it to!

Mix old and New

High street basics make the perfect foil for junk shop treasures.

Reuse what you can

Adapt, repurpose and repaint to create personalized space that doesn’t cost the earth.

The reader is  shown where to find the inspiration, the elements that make up the following key looks:

Studio townhouse

Bistro fabulous

Let the sunshine in

Granny takes a trip

Ocean Blue

Beatnik Beach House

Scandi Rustic

There is an excellent resources guide at the end of the book. Images from  style icons such as Robin Day, Hans Wenger, Lucienne Day and Gio Ponti are included.

This is a fabulous book and design resource that you will want to dip into time and again with stylish photography by Jan Baldwin.

Mid-Century Modern Living by Mark Hampshire is published by Kyle Books, www.octopusbooks.co.uk, £20. Photography by Jan Baldwin.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Weave This

Over 30 fun projects for the modern weaver By Francesca Kletz and Brooke Dennis

Francesca Kletz and Brooke Dennis are the partnership who started and run The London Loom, a weaving studio in Hackney,  East London

         London Loom hosts both community workshops and smaller classes where adults and children work alongside each other inspiring creativity. As well as beginners weaving Francesca and Brooke also teach other crafts. This book is not your conventional weaving book, there are many styles and methods of weaving that are covered in the book.

Not all the projects are done on a loom, however the basic different steps are covered, as are tools and materials. These include interlocking, curves, soumak, rya knots and loop stitch.

         There are exciting and inventive ideas such as making a giant loom from a clothing rail or creating your own yarn from scraps of fabric. Tassel making is covered. One is shown how to weave a letter or even how to use a spade to create a wall hanging. Learn how to ice dye and to make a woven fringed back for a jacket.

If you want to create interior accessories there is a really cool shade, an upcycled chair with a new woven seat  a puja mat and some great geometric cushions and a rug. This book is full of exciting projects that takes what can be quite a worthy po faced activity and turns it into something that is fun.

If you want to start a new craft this is a bargain at £14.99.

Published by Hardie Grant Books

Blog, book review, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

On trend : Textile Folk Art

Textile Folk Art  By Anne Kelly published by Batsford

I was just about to review this book, when into my inbox popped the following, prescient quotes, from designer and licenserJehane, from ‘ making art work’

Folk Art  – Folklore ‘Art of the people’ celebrates traditions and rituals from across the world and the relationship between maker and object’

‘Art teaches us to see into things. Folk Art allows us to see outward from within things.’ Walter Benjamin.

This book is an inspirational exploration of folk art from around the world by textile artist http://www.annekellytextiles.com/Anne Kelly.

It includes samplers, quilts, tribal and nomadic cloth. Anne Kelly explores traditional motifs used throughout the world in textile folk art and shows how contemporary textile artists use them in their work today. She demonstrates how to incorporate treasured personal objects- such as garments, stitched samples, vintage lettering and motifs-into textile to create unique works of folk art.

The red horse by Mandy Pattullohttp://threadandthrift.blogspot.com/ mixed media textile, appliqué and embroidery on vintage quilt background

We are shown examples of collections from around the world – Scandinavia, USA, Australia, China and Mongolia. There are some step –by- step projects including collages, screen prints, folding books. We are shown creative collages on garments and even a stitched shed that was shown at the knitting and stitching show. The reader is given resource to some of the best textile artists, such as Nancy Nicholson, Mandy Pottulloh and Sue Stone and you can see their work on their web sites.

Romanian Commission by Anne Kelly, mixed-media textile

My verdict this is a lovely book that more than earns its place on a bookshelf, I will delve into time and again.