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115 of 123 found the following review helpful:
Useful, but not encyclopedic guide to sewing Feb 24, 2010
By Janet Perry
"Needlepoint and Bargello author"
When the first Encyclopedia of Crafts was published a few years ago I, like many others, was disappointed because textiles were conspicuously lacking. This book begins to remedy the problem by addressing sewing and fabric crafts.
The book has three sections. The first discusses in detail techniques, materials and tools. While it is a good introduction and is close to encyclopedic when it comes to machine sewing, it is only an introduction, not comprehensive, when it comes to any of the other techniques (embroidery, patchwork, applique, dyeing, and printing) it describes. There is enough there to get you started and to do the projects, but if you know or are interested in the technique, you will want more.
The second part of the book has the projects. Fabric projects from many years of Martha Stewart Living are grouped together by type, so coasters, for example, has oilcloth coasters, machine embroidery coasters, and ones made from bleached and overdyed fabric.
The final section gives additional details on materials needed and the resources in the included CD (not in the review copy).
This is a Martha Stewart book and has all the virutes and vices that go along with that. The projects are stylish, inventive, and beautiful. But if you read her magazine, you have seen them before. The technique information is accurate but not complete. For example in the dyeing section it doesn't bother to say that you should NEVER use pots you cook in to dye in because these chemicals are quite toxic. To my mind this is a glaring omission.
I always feel when reading one of her books that doing any of these projects or techniques is just so easy that I can whip it up in an afternoon and get lovely results without any prior experience. But the world isn't like that. It bothers me, as a fiber artist, that she doesn't take the trouble to rate the projects so that I can figure out which ones are accessible to me.
Ultimately, I think this is a useful book as far as it goes. The information is sound, if incomplete, the projects are nicely explained and beautifully illustrated. But encyclopedic -- NO.
Now I need to wait until she has done enough fiber projects to do that volume, but that will be awhile.
28 of 28 found the following review helpful:
Excellent beginner projects Mar 03, 2010
By Bette As someone who has owned a sewing machine for years but has neglected to do anything with it, this book serves as a step by step guide full of encouragement.
The most basic projects include felt purses, handkerchiefs and potholders to more challenging projects such as dog jackets, patchwork/quilting and stuffed animals. Also of interest are projects that, as someone new to sewing, I never even thought of, such as notebooks and checkbook covers. For the most part the book is full of domestically useful projects: curtains, bed linens, napkins, placemats and upholstery. There are even several basic clothing projects: seersucker pants, wrap skirt, tube dress, sarong, etc.
It is a misnomer to lump this into Martha's "Encyclopedia of" series, as it's more of a basic sewing techniques coursebook with cd of templates and patterns (reviewers did not receive this cd).
This would be wasted on those advanced in the craft, but it would make a great gift for the beginner.
41 of 47 found the following review helpful:
Nice Reference for Martha Fans Mar 09, 2010
By nanapama Let me start by saying I am reviewing a black and white copy without the CD. This is important because I have the Martha Stewar's Encyclopedia of Crafts and color is very important. Just like the magazine,the presentation is a large part of why you want the book. You really can't get the full impact without color. Without the color and CD what am I reviewing? What I can see from the black and white version. So what do you get?
What you will get is a beautiful bound copy of sewing information that is readily available on her website and in many cases in her magazines. But here is the selling point, you get all in one place, in an easy to browse and use format. Everything is here - from the directions, tools to use to additional techniques and suppliers. So the second positive is you can recycle all those magazines you have laying around gathering dust because there is one project in each magazine you know you will get to one day. You can also stop searching the web for that project you remember from some show you saw long ago on cat play toys. It's all here in the book. To me, that alone might be the best reason to buy it.
Let me warn you this is more a crafter's book than a sewing book. It is not for the serious sewer who want to turn out Chanel inspired garments and probably a little boring for the experienced sewer. So why should you buy it? It depends on what you are looking for. I found the Encyclopedia of Crafts a great way to plan projects with my granddaughters who loved looking through the book at all the different projects. I'm planning to use the sewing book the same way. Seeing two little heads going throught a book and planning projects to do with Grandma, priceless.
26 of 31 found the following review helpful:
BASIC is the key word here Feb 24, 2010
By Anonymous Referring to this book as an encyclopedia is incredibly misleading. The instructional part of this book only takes up 90 of the almost 400 pages, and there are a LOT of pictures. VERY basic introductions to each of the six subjects are given, making this book, as far as a reference, suitable to one who has never sewn before or only done very small bits of handwork. I found the inclusion of the dyeing and printing sections to be interesting, yet somewhat ill-fitted, selections to accompany the other subjects and feel that the instructions aren't very in-depth. There are pictures of everything in this book, which I find to be a detriment. I mean, seriously, there is a photographic index of tools in the back, including pictures of items such as pins, needles, measuring tape, bottles of adhesives and an iron. That should be an indicator that this book is very clearly designed for the very beginner. On top of that, while my copy an advance black and white, I am sure the finished version will be in color and having all those pretty pictures will certainly contribute to the cost. To touch on the projects, these are definitely for beginners; basic stuffed animals, pillow covers galore, very, very simple projects that I think one could find instructions for with a quick internet search. My copy did not include the CD with patterns and templates so I cannot remark on that aspect of this book.
I can see this book making a nice little gift for someone who is just learning to sew but for any stitcher wanting to progress beyond the basics, this isn't the book for you. I am giving this book two stars from an experienced crafter's point of view, but would rate it closer to a three for someone who is a beginner.
7 of 7 found the following review helpful:
Great projects! Mar 03, 2010
By Shala Kerrigan
"Glitter it and call it art."
Looking for sewing books to help teach my daughter more about sewing, this book is just the quality I'd expect from Martha Stewart. The first part of the book is tools and techniques which explains the basic tools necessary for sewing and how to do the most essential techniques. This section covers machine sewing, seams, hand sewing and the 3 essential stitches you need to know how to do (running, back stitch and slip stitch), appliqué, fabric dye techniques like batiking and ombre shading, embroidery (including essential embroidery stitches), patchwork, and basic fabric printing using block printing methods. After you get through that section comes the projects. The projects are mostly very simple projects that teach sewing basics in usable ways. The stuffed animals and hand sewn dolls will be my daughter's favorite. She does a lot of hand sewn dolls now. The projects including clothing, dolls, pincushions, quilts and a great many other things. The techniques used to create the projects make it easy to customize them to suit your own aesthetics. Instead of a leaf sewing set, you could use an apple for your basic shape to make a sewing set for a favorite teacher. Unlike a lot of other sewing books, this one has a lot of projects that are easily hand sewn which make perfect take along projects, and many of them use smaller amounts of fabric which means you could use old clothes and vintage remnants for the projects. I love machine sewing, but I'm trying to become a lot neater at hand sewing for it's portability. My favorite project is probably the simplest one in the whole book. Rolled hem handkerchiefs. I can just see my daughter and I making these and hand embroidering them for friends. There is also a wonderful section on aprons and I love aprons so much. It will be a resource I know I'll refer to again and again. My mother was a dressmaker and I still feel I got a lot of good ideas from this book. For my daughter, she hates following patterns and the fact so many of the ideas in this book are very adaptable will make it wonderful for her.