Upholstery is something I've been wanting to dabble my hand in for a long while. I've even checked out a few books from t...moreThanks to Storey Publishing.
Upholstery is something I've been wanting to dabble my hand in for a long while. I've even checked out a few books from the library on the topic. But all the books I've found have been at least 30 years old, with limited scope and confusing/lacking instructions. Or some combination there of. Spruce is different.
Firstly, its clean and modern. The pages aren't to cluttered, there's lots of white space and it has a nice, easy on the eye colour palette. So much better than all those 70's titles with orange drawings and so much small, crammed text that it's enough to make your head explode. The approach in Spruce is deceptively simple. It only contains 5 in-depth projects: an ottoman, a three-seater sofa, a wing back chair, a pair of slipper chairs and a louis chair. But it provides a genius mix-and-match guide which means that with a little in-depth reading and minimal adapting, you can reupholster anything yourself. It's surprisingly effective; reading through the instructions for each piece it was easy to see how they could be applied to completely different pieces. A final chapter gives helpful (if not as detailed) instructions for sewing matching soft furnishings. The appendix contains plenty (like a bucketload) of useful advice, from essentials in settling up your own upholstery business to fabric variations.
The instructions in Spruce are detailed, thorough and seem achievable if you follow them closely and carefully. The photos and drawings are very clear, and add to the instructions rather than making them more complex.
If I have one small criticism to make its that I wouldn't feel comfortable as a DIY-er just jumping in to upholstery on a Sunday afternoon with this book as my guide. Spruce is almost too professional. The tools are numerous and expensive, the processes lengthy. To some extent this is the reality of fantastic looking upholstery, but on the other hand I've seen other titles that are far more DIY friendly (even if offering a less polished look).
Overall, Spruce is a genuinely interesting and attractive package. Even if it made me more scared of home upholstery than I was before. I'm not sure if I'll be tackling my old wingback quite yet.(less)
Crochet One-Skein Wonders is the latest in the one-skein series from Storey Publishing and the first dedicated solely to crochet. It contains 101 patterns over seven different weights of yarn, including scarves, clothing, toys, jewelry, bags and more.
There are lots of things to like about Crochet One-Skein Wonders. And I mean LOTS. It’s an extremely well-thought out book. Patterns are given in both text and diagram form, hook size is given in USA and UK terms and a pattern essentials sections explains the less common stitches used in each pattern, if any. There is useful information at every turn, such as the panel dedicated to adapting the toy patterns for under three year olds. The patterns are accompanied by a thorough appendix that is a useful flick-to guide for any crocheter, covering stitch abbreviations and diagrams, picture explanations of less used techniques, a glossary of yarn weights and lots more. The only true admission I could think of was a blocking guide – blocking is referred to in a majority of patterns in the book.
On a smaller note, a concrete statement as to whether the patterns use UK or USA crochet stitches would have also been appreciated, something I wish more crochet books would state. Even though Crochet One-Skein Wonders is from a USA publisher, no doubt it will be available all over the world thanks to the wonders of modern technology, and the simple sentence does make life easier for those of us outside of the USA or UK.
The patterns themselves are unique and practical. To many modern crochet and knitting pattern compilation books fall into providing multiple patterns for items that haven’t been in common household use or worn since the 70′s. With the exception of three or four patterns, a tiny proportion out of 101, Crochet One-Skein Wonders keeps itself out of that trap . It was slightly disappointing that the entire lace-weight section is simply variations on scarves, but this is a minor complaint. Just flicking through seven patterns went on my immediate to-do list, which is quite a few for any single pattern book. I’m especially looking forward to starting the Bellisfaire Beanie and I need to find a small child just to have an excuse to try Niles the Crocodile (pictured on the cover, isn’t he cute!). There will definitely be something in here for everyone.
A solid 4 stars, this one is a great addition to any craft bookshelf.(less)
Thank you to Netgalley and Storey Publishing for my advanced reader copy
In Skirt-A-Day Sewing Nicole Smith guides you through the process of designing your own skirts from scratch, using four different styles (wrap, straight, flared and high-waisted) and multiple variations on those styles to create 28 unique projects.
On the plus side, the projects are all unique and appealing. They easily cover the variation in skirts that a home seamstress could wish for. The instructions given are well-written, thorough and easy to follow, with plentiful professional looking diagrams. I can actually say it’s probably some of the best instruction I’ve seen in a sewing title, which so often are wordy with not enough pictures. The instructions here are perfectly clear, using concise language. The diagrams seem perfectly placed to help you through the difficult bits. I’ve seen very few titles on pattern drafting for the modern home crafter (the several I own are all from the 80′s or earlier), so the title definitely fills a hole.
But, I think what it comes down to is that this book just tries to be too much. That, or it’s not being marketed quite right. From the blurb I expected a title that concentrated more on altering four included patterns to suit your needs, rather than drafting completely from scratch. The blurb also specifically states that the book is suitable for the beginners. That is truly a stretch. I think there a very few beginners that would feel confident enough to dive into pattern drafting, despite the wealth of information from fabric types to ironing needs included in the introductory sections. Not to mention the expense that they would have to go to set themselves up. I’d consider myself an intermediate seamstress and getting towards intermediate dressmaker and I own less than half of the equipment listed in the book as essentials for its projects. At the same time, two large chapters are dedicated to topics like interfacing and how to hem neatly, effectively redundant subjects for those with dressmaking experience. By trying to hard to be too much Skirt-A-Day Sewing falls short of the niche where it could be extremely successful: an on-trend and modern guide to beginner’s pattern drafting for the experienced home dressmaker.(less)
I recieved an e-galley of this title thanks to Anova Books. All opinions are my own.
I work full time at a job that requires an hour commute and study...moreI recieved an e-galley of this title thanks to Anova Books. All opinions are my own.
I work full time at a job that requires an hour commute and study part time. Hubby works 60-80 hour weeks in a high pressure job. We're therefore always looking for ways to cut down on our cooking time, while still maintaining healthy eating habits. It's far to easy to revert to food that's full of sugar and salt because you don't have the time to make anything better on a Tuesday night when you've just got home at 6.30pm and you have an audio conference to attend in an hours. I love my crockpot. And I'm learning to love my freezer (though I'm constantly wishing for a bigger one).
This is where Freeze & Easy comes in. Sara Lewis combines practical advice on utilising your freezer to cut down on cooking. The first part of the book is small, informative sections like 'how to use your freezer efficiently' (useful stuff like the optimal temperatures) and 'money saving freezer tips' (like freezing slices of lemon within iceblocks, which is possibly the most fantastic idea ever and will stop me from having half a lemon perpetually going mouldy in my fridge). The second and larger section is devoted to freezer friendly recipes, divided by food type (meat, veggies etc). Each recipe has instructions for freezing, thawing and serving. Many also have suggestions for variations and batch cooking. So practical!
For the most part I really enjoyed the recipes - they are of a high standard, some are even dinner party friendly and there's lots of variation. My one small criticism is that some (by no means all) have either an excessive amount of ingredients or very expensive ones, which seems at odds with the general purpose of freeze cooking - to be time and cost efficient. For example, a recipe for pork tortillas has 19 ingredients.
Overall, Freeze & Easy is a great addition to any time-pressed cook's resources. Like me, you'll soon be wishing you had a bigger freezer.(less)