Everyday and Holiday Projects | Crafts/DIY Reviews

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Ames, Lee J. with Erin Harvey. Draw 50 Outer Space: The Step-By-Step Way To Draw Astronauts, Rockets, Space Stations, Planets, Meteors, Comets, Asteroids, and More. Watson-Guptill: Crown. (Draw 50). Jul. 2017. 64p. illus. ISBN 9780399580192. pap. $9.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399580208. ART INSTRUCTION

This 100 percent visual drawing guide presents 50 different sequential drawing exercises of outer space-related subjects: galaxies, planets, moons, various spacecraft and satellites, astronauts in a number of activities, comets, meteor, and more. Each exercise starts with a rough sketch in blue lines, with more blue-lined detail building in a few successive steps, leading to a final drawing shaded in black pencil. Readers can copy each step to arrive at their own version of each illustration, embellishing it with ink or color if they choose, and are encouraged to approach the exercises according to their interests rather than from front to back of the book. VERDICT Although this guide is ideal for children and young adults, artistically inclined readers of any age who are intrigued by space exploration will be entertained.

Fordham, Demetrius. If You’re Bored with Your Camera Read This Book. Ilex: Octopus. Sept. 2017. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781781574317. pap. $14.99. ART INSTRUCTION

All creative people get in ruts from time to time. This book aims to help readers find detours around the creative roadblocks that photographers face. Fordham, an accomplished professional photographer, shares 50 of his own personal tricks, tips, hacks, and exercises designed to refresh one’s outlook. Sections of this resource include: things to do without a camera that can inspire future projects; breaking some of the most common “rules” of photography to create exciting photos; short project ideas that open up new possibilities; and a section on basics, such as shooting on film, using a pinhole camera, or printing in a darkroom, which many photographers haven’t tried in years, if ever. VERDICT This guide is an excellent companion for hobbyist, amateur, or professional photographers looking to perk up their artistic practice.

Fiber Crafts


Karlsson, Maja. Traditional Swedish Knitting Patterns: 40 Motifs and 20 Projects. Trafalgar Square. Aug. 2017. 160p. tr. from Swedish by Carol Huebscher Rhoades. illus. photos by Maria Rosenlöf. index. ISBN 9781570768217. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

The knitting traditions of Scandinavia are often associated with stranded colorwork, and this collection of Swedish knitting designs features traditional motifs on a variety of contemporary garments and accessories. While knitters will find some of the typical yoked sweaters familiar, Karlsson also includes several cardigans (and only one includes steeking) as well as pullovers with all-over patterning. For knitters who aren’t ready to commit to a stranded colorwork sweater, there are plenty of small accessories to knit, including cowls, mittens, socks, and slippers. The yarn weights used vary from light fingering to bulky, so there’s a little something for every knitter. Written instructions with charts for the colorwork are provided for each design. ­VERDICT Knitters seeking contemporary takes on traditional Swedish colorwork will enjoy Karlsson’s beautifully styled projects.

Marth, Susan R. Dresden Quilt Workshop: Tips, Tools & Techniques for Perfect Mini Dresden Plates. C&T. Aug. 2017. 88p. illus. ISBN 9781617455001. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617455018. FIBER CRAFTS

Miniature versions of the popular Dresden plate quilt block in both four-and-a-half and seven-inch sizes are the focus of quilt designer Marth’s first collection. Scaled-down piecing calls for precision, and Marth includes plenty of tips for improving accuracy in cutting, pressing, and piecing. The 13 projects present Dresden plates in a variety of settings, using them both on their own and as part of larger blocks (such as the center of a churn dash) or layouts (a focal point for an Irish chain), and as full circles as well as half- and quarter-circles. The majority of the projects are miniquilts or wall hangings; there’s also a lap-size quilt and a table runner. ­VERDICT Dresden plates are frequently seen in both modern and traditional quilting, and Marth’s petite plates will inspire and challenge confident quilters.

Mornu, Nathalie. Embroider Your Life: Simple Techniques & 150 Stylish Motifs To Embellish Your World. Alpha: DK. Sept. 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781465464859. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781465471130. FIBER CRAFTS

Mornu (Quilt It with Wool) jumps on the hand embroidery bandwagon with this collection of embroidery ideas and ready-to-use motifs. The introductory chapter covers the basics—transferring designs, choosing fibers, standard stitches, and finishing techniques—followed by thematic collections of motifs. Each of the motif pages includes a small selection of traceable motifs, as well as a variety of ideas for use, including the usual (embellishing ready-made clothes, hoop art) and the less common (stitching on paper, embroidered buttons and jewelry). Mornu cleverly balances them between contemporary hipster and traditional style, and the suggested projects may help stitchers devise unique ideas for using embroidery as an embellishment. VERDICT Embroidery is on the upswing among crafters, and Mornu’s nicely organized collection is full of helpful tutorials and clever ideas.

Susa, Sachiko. Sweet & Simple Needle Felted Animals: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide. Tuttle. Sept. 2017. 96p. tr. from Japanese by Leeyong Soo. illus. ISBN 9784805314548. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781462919550. FIBER CRAFTS

Needle felting—a process in which wool roving is punched with a sharp needle and sculpted into shapes—is used to create a menagerie of adorable animals in this collection by expert felter Susa (It’s a Small World Felted Friends). Susa begins with two step-by-step lessons (a miniature dachshund and matryoshka bears), walking crafters carefully through the process of sculpting the individual components, then combining and refining the finished piece. For each pattern, Susa provides handy size measurements for the individual elements, which lets crafters know they are on the right track. The designs are best described as realistic/cute, with details that will appeal to children and adults alike. VERDICT Susa’s approach to needle felting will give beginners the know-how to get started, but experienced felters will also appreciate her whimsical designs.

redstarWolfe, Victoria Findlay. Modern Quilt Magic: 5 Parlor Tricks To Expand Your Piecing Skills. Stash: C&T. Aug. 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781617455087. pap. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617455094. FIBER CRAFTS

Wolfe (15 Minutes of Play) introduces quilters to five “parlor tricks” intended to expand their repertoire as well as build confidence with difficult techniques such as partial seams and Y-seams. Each “trick” begins with an overview of the technique, as well as examples from the author’s collection and a small practice project such as a pillow cover or a miniquilt. A series of larger quilts exploring the technique follows. Most of the quilts include cutting instructions for a variety of sizes ranging from crib to king, and all include thorough instructions for piecing. ­VERDICT Wolfe is known for her remarkably intricate piecing, and this book helps intermediate and advanced quilters achieve a similar effect. Those who follow her advice will find themselves taking exciting risks with both color and piecing.

Interior Design

GAYLE A. WILLIAMSON, formerly with the Fashion Inst. of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles

Leggett, Kim. City Farmhouse Style: Designs for a Modern Country Life. Abrams. Sept. 2017. 224p. photos. ISBN 9781419726507. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781683351054. INTERIOR DESIGN

Growing up in a home that eschewed popular styles for well-worn furniture and whitewashed walls, interior designer Leggett developed an affection for this country look. Here, she visits a baker’s dozen of houses, including those of singer Sheryl Crow and country music band Little Big Town’s Phillip Sweet. The styles range from cozy traditional to sleek modern, all with “shabby chic” touches. Leggett identifies the decorative accessories, furniture, and finishings that define the farmhouse style with choices for color, textiles, and wallpaper highlighted and shown in 200 color photographs. She concludes with a list of flea markets and vintage stores as well as online resources. VERDICT With Leggett’s guidance, these visits into farmhouse decorated homes provide the do-it-yourselfer with ideas for decorating their own abodes.

Holiday Crafts


Ishii, Sachiyo. Mini Felt Christmas: 20 Decorations To Sew for the Festive Season. Search. Sept. 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781782214977. pap. $17.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Ishii (Mini Knitted Toys) demonstrates the basics of soft-sculpture with wool felt in this Christmas-themed collection. Projects include figurines (Santa Claus, a nativity set, elves, reindeer, angels, and snowmen) and ornaments and decorations (Christmas cookies, a Yule log, and a wreath). Ishii begins with a step-by-step overview of the techniques used in the projects via two small designs—a doll and a donkey—which allows her to simplify the instructions for most of the other projects. Larger designs are divided into easy-to-manage pieces, such as the elaborate gingerbread house, which is comprised of numerous components, including a tiny Hansel and Gretel. Full-size templates for each of the designs are provided. VERDICT Ishii’s clever, whimsical pieces are a delightful addition to crafters’ holiday decor.

Pester, Sophie & Catharina Bruns. Homemade Holiday: Craft Your Way Through More Than 40 Festive Projects. DK. Sept. 2017. 144p. tr. from German. illus. ISBN 9781465463265. pap. $14.95. CRAFTS

German crafting entrepreneurs Pester and Bruns, who previously collaborated on Supercraft, return with a collection of holiday-themed craft projects that use a variety of techniques, including knitting, crochet, paper craft, sewing, and cooking. The projects are organized by type (decoration, giving, wrapping, and last-minute ideas) and range from explicitly Christmas-themed items (advent calendars, evergreen garlands) to crafts appropriate for yearround gift-giving (knitted slippers, bath salts, greeting cards). Most are beginner friendly and use simple supplies, with instructions that are easy to follow. A guide to basic techniques for knitting, crochet, sewing, and embroidery, as well as reproducible templates, are included. VERDICT ­Crafters looking for an abundance of holiday-themed projects suitable for decorating and gift-giving will find an array of ideas here.

Shore, Debbie. Sew Advent Calendars: Count Down to Christmas with 20 Stylish Designs To Fill with Festive Treats. Search. Aug. 2017. 96p. illus. index. ISBN 9781782214885. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

In her latest book, Shore (Half Yard Home) turns her attention to advent calendars in styles ranging from whimsical and kid-friendly to country-craft cute. Most of the calendars serve as a 24-day Christmas countdown, and there are options with pockets or pouches that can accommodate a small daily treat as well as those in which the countdown itself is the focus. The items are machine sewn with occasional hand-sewn embellishments such as embroidery or buttons. Shore’s instructions are clear enough for beginners to complete the projects successfully. As a bonus there’s even a dachshund-shaped advent calendar for dogs, featuring a daily biscuit as a treat. VERDICT Sewists interested in creating their own custom advent calendar will savor this collection.

This article was published in Library Journal's October 15, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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