Recently I went to an estate sale with one of my two best friends. Ordinarily she loathes such things, but this sale was reported to have vast quantities of fabrics (even velvet!), trimmings, and crafting supplies, so even she was intrigued.
Trying to be considerate of her feelings, and selfishly wanting to grab all I could before she wanted to leave, I quickly went through the books in the dark wood built-ins in the living room. These had been the belongings of an elderly woman, one who crafted Christmas dolls for a living and quilts because she liked them, and a much older version of myself: practically hoarding art and crafting supplies and tools due to a wide variety of interests. So the bookshelves were packed with assorted crafting books (and the house with assorted supplies). I tell you, this was the estate sale of my dreams!
Stashed with the quilting books were a few sewing techniques books. I picked up a hardback book called “Singer Creative Gifts & Projects: Step by Step” partly because it had a purple spine (my favorite color), partly because I like Singer’s books, and partly because all my life I’ve sewn on Singer machines.
And besides, something common in this series of the Singer Sewing Reference Library is that there are photographs for nearly every step of a project. I learn better with photos and doing it myself; descriptions can often be confusing.
So anyway, I flipped through a few books super fast, decided on that Singer book after looking at it for 3.72 seconds, and wandered off into other parts of the house (the fabric room, the Christmas crafting room, the wooden pieces crafting room, and so on – no, I’m not making this up). Because it was the last day of the estate sale, everything was half the marked price, most books ending up costing only a dollar or two and rolls of lace & trimmings about the same. In hindsight, I should have gone with my gut instinct and kept some of those things I put back!
I sat up that evening looking at this book and marveling at the interesting techniques and how well they are explained. Like another sewing techniques book I purchased recently, the fabrics look very dated, suffering from early ’90s fashions. However, once you can get past the geometric prints and overuse of the color teal, it’s a really fantastic book. Its 320 full-color pages include:
- how to make a variety of hand-made buttons and closures
- creative buttonholes and seaming
- decorative machine stitching, even for those of us with the basic heavy-duty machine
- French machine sewing
- how to design and make Battenberg lace
- how to design and make heirloom fabrics
- ribbon work, braiding, and other embellishments
- various fiber arts (patchwork, piecing, rag rugs, etc.)
- a chapter on Creative Projects, including portfolios, bags, belts, and hair accessories
- and a whole lot more stuff
I love this book, and recommend it to anyone who, like me, hasn’t had any advanced sewing classes in more than 20 years or those who benefit from gentle reminders of how to customize anything you can make with fabric. Check your local book stores or look it up on Amazon and eBay; used copies are readily available.